New Shannonhouse Honor Society Inductees Are Honored at Jan. 23 UB Law School Ceremony

Sixteen evening students were inducted Jan. 23 into the Royal Graham Shannonhouse III Honor Society, which recognizes UB School of Law students who have distinguished themselves academically after completing 32 credits.

The minimum grade-point average for induction is 3.15. Students who have achieved a GPA of 3.7 or higher are inducted as Distinguished Scholars.

The honor society is named for a longtime, and much revered, UB Law professor. Prof. Shannonhouse has been described as an educator with a passion for the law and a belief that students learn best by being challenged to wrestle with legal concepts, rather than to simply memorize cases and statutes.

Here are the new Shannonhouse Honor Society inductees; an asterisk denotes a Distinguished Scholar.

Jennifer Anderson
Kelly R. Arnold
James M. Bradley
Joseph M. Galvin*
Brittany Herritt
Shannon E. Kreiner
Jenna K. McGreevy*
Ryan McKay
Kristin M. McManus*
Anup D. Patel
Parker Imani Payne
Alan J. Pracht
Keith B. Rohr
Kelsey C. Shindle
Cameron Stang
Cody A. Wicker

Congratulations to all!

 

 

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‘Broken Trust’ Filmmaker and Former Gymnast Visit UB School of Law to Screen Film and Discuss Abuse of Amateur Athletes

Over the past few years, the news media has reported numerous stories of coaches who preyed upon young athletes. The film “Broken Trust: Ending Athlete Abuse,” to be shown at UB School of Law on Thursday, Feb. 6,  gives voice to the brave athletes who have spoken up against mistreatment at all levels of sports. They share their personal stories of sexual and emotional abuse by trusted adults and mentors.

Filmmaker Jill Yesko

Filmmaker Jill Yesko

The free event, Broken Trust: Sports in the #MeToo Era and Beyond, runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the 12th floor reading room at the Angelos Law Center. Following the film screening will be a panel discussion with filmmaker Jill Yesko, attorney Jessica Armstrong–one of the athletes who shares her story in the film–and Associate Dean Dionne Koller, director of the law school’s Center for Sport and the Law. RSVP here.

Yesko is a Baltimore-based documentary filmmaker, journalist and Fellow at the Center for Sports Communication & Media, Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas. Her writing has appeared in Women’s Sports & Fitness, Shape, Fitness Swimmer, and numerous other magazines. She is the author of two crime fiction novels and has been profiled in O, the Oprah magazine.

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Legal Technology Audits and Training Now Available for UB School of Law Students and Staff

Using office technology in an efficient way is useful and, in some cases, vital to success as a new practicing attorney.  In support of UB School of Law’s ongoing efforts to make sure every graduate is practice-ready, we are giving the legal technology audit (LTA) to every member of the UB Law community.

person viewing spreadsheet on computerCreated by a lawyer for lawyers, the LTA by Procertas is a first-of-its kind integrated benchmarking and training platform that pairs competence-based assessments with synchronous, active learning in a completely live environment. Students — and staff, if they choose to — can become COBOT Qualified (Certified Operator of Basic Office Technology) in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and PDF, using an advanced PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Most people don’t know what they don’t know. We are not intentionally avoiding the quality-enhancing, labor-saving features available in common software. These people simply are not aware these features exist, let alone how to use them. Most people believe that the way they are operating is correct (or close to correct). Consequently, they do not recognize the need for training.

The LTA can create that recognition by demonstrating that training is needed with an initial assessment. Then, the assessment pinpoints exactly what training is needed, and provides that training.

Learners must have each of the software programs installed on their machines in order to use the LTA. The length of each assessment will depend on the proficiency of the individual user, but most can be done in 10 to 12 minutes. The learning modules will also vary in length and depend on how many tasks the user must learn for each type of software. Still, the time necessary for learning each task is very short and can be repeated as many times as necessary.

Welcome emails with instructions about account activation were delivered to everyone at UB Law on or around Dec. 20, 2019. For answers to questions, or for another welcome email, contact C.J. Pipins, Associate Director for Public Services at the UB Law Library, at cpipins@ubalt.edu.

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Free Menstrual Products Are Now Offered in UB School of Law Restrooms

In response to a request from law student advocates, free menstrual products are now available in the gender-neutral bathrooms on the Angelos Law Center’s first floor and in the women’s bathrooms on 0, 2, 5, 8, 10 and 12. This action is part of a growing national trend on college campuses and in other public spaces.

menstrual productsThe students, aided by Associate Dean Margaret Johnson and supported by some faculty and student organizations, argued in their proposal to the law school administration that “because menstruation is a natural bodily process affecting over half the population, menstrual hygiene products should be regarded as fundamental necessities to the hygiene of our academic and social environment, as ubiquitous as toilet paper and soap dispensers.”

In 2016, Brown University became one of the first schools to implement a large-scale program to put menstrual products in bathrooms. Since then, several public universities — Ohio University, Texas A&M at Corpus Christi and the University of Illinois among them — have done the same. More recently, students at University of Maryland College Park have been campaigning for widespread access to these products as well.

“The goal of providing these free products is to make sure our students, staff, and faculty of limited income, or experiencing a sudden, unexpected menstrual flow, are not precluded from being fully engaged in the community,” the UB Law students wrote in their proposal. Some students reported having to miss class because they had a sudden, unexpected period, and no products were available, even for purchase, on campus.

Menstrual justice is an emerging issue in communities around the world, with a growing recognition that those who menstruate are subjected to discrimination, harassment, constitutional violations, insults, indignities, economic disadvantages, health disadvantages and exclusion as a result of this natural bodily process.

Law school community members are asked to only take what is needed in order to sustain the service.

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UB Law Clinical Faculty Contribute to Advocates’ Guide to Tax Issues Affecting Victims of Human Trafficking

Directors of the UB School of Law’s Human Trafficking Prevention Project and Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic contributed to a publication intended to assist lawyers and advocates for survivors of human trafficking.

The 28-page publication, An Advocate’s Guide to Tax Issues Affecting Victims of Human Trafficking, offers resources for attorneys and advocates, who likely will encounter more and more trafficking survivors facing tax controversies in the coming year. Other partners on the project, which was released Dec. 17, include the Human Trafficking Legal Center and Ropes & Gray LLP. Funding for the project was provided to the Human Trafficking Legal Center by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Greater Palm Beaches.

John B. Snyder III

John B. Snyder III

Although few people associate human trafficking with tax fraud, human trafficking victims often experience both at the hands of their traffickers, according to a news release accompanying the publication. Victims can be haunted for years after they have escaped their traffickers, fending off IRS investigations resulting from the underlying victimization.

“Traffickers often use their power over victims to commit tax fraud. Traffickers fail to pay employer-side taxes, steal their victims’ identities, file false tax returns in victims’ names, and seize fraudulent tax refunds,” the release continues. “Survivors of human trafficking may also encounter tax consequences as a result of a human trafficking settlement or judgment. Tax issues must be handled in the course of litigation to prevent further disruption in survivors’ lives.”

Jessica Emerson, director of the UB Human Trafficking Prevention Project, who works closely with trafficking survivor clients, said, “It has become increasingly clear that it is not enough for trafficking survivors to escape their traffickers. Survivors also need resources to rebuild their lives. I have seen far too many trafficking survivors struggling under a tax burden created through criminal fraud, which then limits their ability to recover from their experiences. Advocates, armed with these tools, can better support survivors as they work to undo the harm that the traffickers have inflicted.”

John B. Snyder, III, director of UB’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, explained, “Most attorneys instinctively shut down when they see the word ‘tax,’ causing them to brush tax issues aside. Fortunately for human trafficking advocates and their clients, help is available through Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics nationwide.”

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Trauma, Juvenile Justice, and the Myth of ‘Bad Choices’

This post is by Shannon Thomas, a student fellow in the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC). A member of the Class of 2021, Thomas wrote the essay as part of her participation in the Student Fellows Program 1, an experiential course. The post originally appeared on the CFCC blog and is reprinted with her permission.

It has become a commonly known concept that our brains do not completely develop until we are in our early to mid-20s. Every state has a law recognizing that children below a certain age cannot consent to sex. Most states prevent minors from marrying, at least without parental permission. Education is compulsory until at least age 16. In order to join the military prior to turning 18, parents have to sign paperwork.

Shannon Thomas

Shannon Thomas

Clearly, our social and legal norms are connected to the idea that children cannot or should not have complete agency in their lives. We have also finally begun to realize the impact of trauma on the brains of children, especially complex or chronic trauma that remains untreated. In general, protecting children from harm and from the dangerous aspects of their own immaturity has value.

When a child enters the juvenile justice system, the child goes from having little to no agency in the eyes of the law to being an actor who can face adult-level consequences. Suddenly, people start talking about that child’s “bad choices” and how they need to be “held accountable.” This idea makes sense when someone has agency and control over their circumstances. These buzzwords sound good and are an improvement over treating children in trouble like they are simply disposable. But are they appropriate for children? Is this choice-based language really the best we can do? What would happen if we removed the jargon that we use for adults from the juvenile justice system altogether?

This question inevitably is asked: What do we do with children who have committed a violent crime? Don’t they have to be punished? First and foremost, a significant number of children in detention centers around the country are awaiting trial and haven’t been adjudicated delinquent of anything. Secondly, there has to be an area of nuance and exploration between the idea that a child committed a violent crime by choice and deserves punishment and the idea that a child is exhibiting a trauma response to a circumstance they cannot control and that requires treatment.

Unless this area is thoroughly explored in our jurisprudence, we cannot possibly claim that we are doing what needs to be done for children who encounter the police, a courtroom, or confinement of any sort. We certainly will not develop the appropriate means to reintegrate traumatized children who have broken the law into our communities and expect them to become whole, law-abiding, productive adults.

Various experts have stated that one percent of the overall population are sociopaths, people who behave in a dangerous or violent way toward other people and don’t feel guilty about such behavior. It’s fair to say that is not most children. Children who do unlawful things are doing them as beings without complete agency or the capacity to consent. They show their remorse and shame in childish ways. They are often under-supervised, lacking emotional support, and acting out a trauma response. Almost all children who violate the law have the capacity to do better when their safety and emotional needs are met.

A challenge that therapeutic jurisprudence can meet in the juvenile justice system is how to address unlawful behavior by children without placing them in an adult paradigm that further traumatizes them. We are currently a society that imprisons the very same children we say are not old enough to drive or smoke cigarettes. Making detention centers appear more child-friendly is not enough. San Quentin may have enjoyable activities and opportunities for education, but it’s still a prison.

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UB School of Law Prof. Nienke Grossman Speaks at U.N. Panel on Selection of International Criminal Court Judges

Prof. Nienke Grossman, co-director of UB School of Law’s Center for International and Comparative Law, participated in a panel at the United Nations on ways to improve the selection of judges for the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Oct. 31 event focused on a recently published report, Raising the Bar, that sheds light on the nominating and electoral process for judges and recommends reforms in advance of the 2020 elections. According to Open Society Justice Initiative, which produced the 68-page analysis, “Seventeen years after its founding, the International Criminal Court is struggling to live up to its promise, dogged by delays, troubled prosecutions, and a string of controversial judicial decisions. Reform is needed if the Court is to fulfill its potential.” Learn more about OSJI’s findings here.

States are considering proposing modifications to existing procedures at the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Grossman says, for the purpose of enhancing the quality of judges selected. The body is expected to meet in the coming months.

Prof. Nienke Grossman at the U.N.

Prof. Nienke Grossman, at right, speaks at the U.N. about selecting judges for the International Criminal Court.

In her remarks, Grossman discussed the risks of failing to take action to improve selection procedures for ICC judges, including potential harm to the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Court. She spoke about best practices for nomination of candidates at the national level, including at the European Court of Human Rights and in the Inter-American system of human rights protection. During the Q&A that followed, she took the opportunity to advocate for gender balance on the bench.

“It is extremely gratifying to use my expertise on international courts, legitimacy and gender balance,” Grossman says, “to inform and contribute to ongoing important debates about improving the quality and representativeness of international judges and justice.”

Other panelists included a judge on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the executive director of the OSJI, James Goldston. The event was sponsored by missions to the U.N. from the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Finland and Liechtenstein, and by OSJI, and moderated by a legal adviser to the United Kingdom. The meeting took place during International Law Week, when legal advisers to foreign ministries worldwide visit the U.N. for meetings.

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