The University of Baltimore School of Law has announced its 2018-19 class of Legal Writing Fellows—a specially-selected group of students who provide vital assistance to their fellow students through the school’s Legal Writing Center.
Under the direction of Prof. Claudia Diamond, assistant dean in the Office of Academic Support, any currently enrolled UB law student may visit the school’s Legal Writing Center for one-on-one assistance with a UB Writing Fellow on any writing assignment in law school, as long as the student has the permission of his or her professor.
UB law students, whether highly skilled in their writing or just beginning to grasp the importance of clear and cogent text throughout their work, are encouraged to seek out feedback about their writing as they grow into practice-ready attorneys.
At the Legal Writing Center, students can bring in virtually any piece of substantive writing, from memos and briefs to writing samples for job interviews. This year’s six Writing Fellows are available by appointment, and are capable of providing guidance on how a piece of writing can be made better.
On Constitution Day, Monday, Sept. 17, the University of Baltimore School of Law will host a panel discussion with Professors Garrett Epps, Michael Higginbotham, and Kimberly Wehle, and moderated by Dean Ronald Weich. The topic, “Trump * Mueller * Kavanaugh: The Constitutional Landscape Ahead,” will consider what may result from the policies and actions of the current administration. The discussion will take place in the Moot Court Room in the John and Frances Angelos Law Center (home of the UB School of Law), 1401 N. Charles St., beginning at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; an R.S.V.P. is requested. (Attendance details are listed below.)
Constitution Day is an annual national celebration designed to renew the nation’s familiarity with the tenets of its founding document. On Sept. 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention and prepared for ratification by the states.
Phillip J. Closius, professor in the University of Baltimore School of Law and a sports law specialist, successfully argued before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the revival of a case involving a group of former professional football players and their claim that the NFL violated the law in giving them painkillers without informing them of the side effects.
According to the Daily Record, which published an article about the case on Sept. 7, the lead plaintiff in the case is Richard Dent, a member of the defensive team for the 1985 Super Bowl champions Chicago Bears.
“Dent, the most valuable player of that Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots, alleges that during his 14-year career, doctors and trainers gave him ‘hundreds, if not thousands’ of injections and pills containing powerful painkillers to keep him in the game,” the newspaper said. “Dent claims in the lawsuit that he was never told the drugs would cause him to have an enlarged heart, permanent nerve damage in his foot and an addiction to painkillers.”
Dent is joined in the lawsuit by a number of other retired NFL players.
The 9th Circuit unanimously overturned U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s dismissal of the original claim; Judge Alsup had earlier ruled that the complaint was preempted by the federal Labor Management Relations Act, which points to players’ collective bargaining agreements for the resolution of disputes.
But Prof. Closius argued before the appeals court that the federal law does not apply, because the procurement of illegal painkillers was not addressed in any agreement. The appeal was affirmed on Sept. 6, just days before the league’s 2018 season got underway.
“The NFL has defended a lot of cases by arguing various preemptions and immunities,” Closius told the Daily Record. “This is the first appellate decision that has gone the other way.”
Read about the case in the Daily Record. (Subscription required.)
Maryland’s two public law schools, including the University of Baltimore School of Law, are spotlighted in a Daily Record article on how gender issues are being advanced during contentious times.
At UB, the school’s Center on Applied Feminism “examines legal issues through the lens of feminist theory.”
Interviewing Margaret Johnson, professor of law and co-director of the center, the newspaper says that “Through scholarship, education, mentorship and advocacy, the center examines how feminist theory can benefit legal practitioners in representing clients, shape legal doctrine and play a role in policy development, as well as how practice develops new feminist theory.”
The center, which has been in existence for more than a decade, has hosted a number of globally prominent leaders to discuss issues of importance to feminism, including Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, the article notes.
UB students “are active in clinical work, working directly on domestic violence cases, as well as legislative advocacy,” the Daily Record says. “In this year’s legislative session, students successfully advocated for a bill that requires menstrual hygiene products and another that requires reproductive health care policies in all Maryland correctional facilities. Previously, students successfully advocated for a bill that provides housing rights for persons subjected to domestic violence.”
“This is a time when gender issues have been at the forefront of our national conversation,” Prof. Johnson notes. “The center is a place that gives a voice and space to discuss and consider these issues and how they will impact students as legal professionals.”
Speaking on NPR, Kimberly Wehle, professor in the University of Baltimore School of Law and a former U.S. Department of Justice colleague of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, says the complicated process for the Senate’s vetting of a nominee—complete with an avalanche of redacted papers, witness testimony and a hearing format that seems to encourage theatricality at the expense of insight—is simply not workable. In fact, she says, it’s “traumatizing.”
The process of vetting, nominating and confirming a Supreme Court justice, Prof. Wehle says, is “a structural problem that compromises people’s buy-in to the ultimate confirmation.” This is a problem for Judge Kavanaugh—a nominee with a long track record of work in front of and behind the scenes in American politics and justice—and for the Supreme Court itself.
“We’re in an era where a lot of people are traumatized by this process and it would be good for the country to draw some boundaries there,” Prof. Wehle says.
She points to the continuing question of whether Kavanaugh, if he were appointed to the Supreme Court, would affirm President Trump’s assertion that he could “pardon himself,” and thus avoid a criminal case, e.g., some outcome of the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“We’re living in extraordinary times; as much as all of these issues are important, the notion of an imperial presidency is front and center right now,” Prof. Wehle says.
In an essay for The Aspen Institute, Dionne Koller, University of Baltimore School of Law professor, associate dean and director of the school’s Center for Sport and the Law, says that the rise of flag football in Baltimore’s youth sports culture stands at the intersection of several debates concerning sports and young people: gender equality, personal safety, and the overall popularity of competitive athletic behavior.
“While flag football cannot fully solve our Title IX or football concussion problems, the game does provide a useful lens for considering the types of solutions that can increase access to and interest in sports for all children,” Prof. Koller writes, in a piece titled “What Flag Football Can Teach Baltimore About Improving Youth Sports.”
“Aside from flag football’s role as a possible Title IX fix or a safer alternative to the tackle game, there are important lessons to be learned from its growing popularity. First is that flag football is far less expensive than tackle football and many other sports with heavy equipment, coaching, and insurance costs. These costs are barriers for schools and parents and serve to keep kids on the sidelines. The growth of flag football despite its relatively modest cost shows that kids can be active and engaged with a game that anyone with access to a grassy field can play.
“Second is that flag football provides an opportunity for inclusiveness that many other sports do not. Girls and boys can safely play the game together, making scheduling and allocation of fields far easier for schools. Children of varying abilities and body types can also play, increasing the possibilities for getting kids into the game who previously were not active.”
The University of Baltimore School of Law Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) is providing training, technical assistance, and guidance on a court improvement project in Douglas County, Neb., to evaluate the possibility of implementing a Unified Family Court pilot initiative. The study includes a review of court operations, site visits by CFCC to Nebraska, a stakeholders’ survey and forum, and visits to Maryland family courts by Nebraska court officials.
CFCC Director Barbara A. Babb, Senior Fellow Gloria Danziger, and consultant Diane Nunn led the stakeholders’ forum in Omaha on Aug. 13. The site visits to Maryland courts by the Nebraska delegation are coming up, Aug. 27-28. Maryland courts instituted five family divisions in its largest counties in 1998 to improve outcomes for families and children involved in court matters.
“The forum exceeded our expectations,” Babb, a professor in the UB School of Law, said. “Nearly 80 people attended. They represented Douglas County, local and state court officials, and independent organizations providing services to families and children. We were thrilled to have Nebraska Chief Justice Michael Heavican involved. In our experience, judicial leadership is key in achieving transformational change in court systems. Seven breakout sessions also gave participants a voice and us a clear understanding of their interests and concerns.”
The Nebraska delegation visiting Maryland will tour, observe, and meet with judges and administrators in the Baltimore City Family Division, Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, and Anne Arundel County Family Division. They also will meet with Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera of the Maryland Court of Appeals, State Court Administrator Pamela Harris, and other court administrators.
CFCC has been a leader in family justice system reform since its founding in 2000. Prof. Babb is a frequent speaker at national and international levels on unified family courts and family law decision-making. Her scholarship focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to family law through the application of therapeutic jurisprudence and an ecological/holistic perspective.