Tiefer: GSA has its ‘head in the sand’ about Trump conflicts

Professor Charles Tiefer was quoted in a Bloomberg Law Federal Contracts Report about a $1.7 billion contract to build a new FBI headquarters near Washington. Vornado Realty Trust, a company with ties to President Donald Trump and to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is one of three finalists to win the contract from the General Services Administration, according to a news report.

Vornado is a partial owner of two Trump Organization buildings and is a major investor in a Kushner Companies building, ABC News reported last week.

Contract competitors could react by “sprinting to the courthouse to protest and get the award thrown out on organizational-conflict-of-interest grounds,” Bloomberg Law wrote.

Though a federal acquisition regulation exists to mitigate significant potential conflicts, Tiefer said the regulation doesn’t cover situations in which a president has a major financial stake in a bidder.

Vornado’s competitors “could yell and scream about this, but there is no guarantee of an adequate remedy,” Tiefer told Bloomberg News, which noted that Tiefer “expressed a lack of confidence” in the government’s ability to stand up to President Trump.

“A skillful GSA procurement official would know how to tilt the playing field toward Trump’s friends at Vornado without much chance of a successful protest,” said Tiefer, who added that the government’s treatment of Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office building for the Trump Hotel shows the GSA “has its head in the sand” about Trump’s conflicts of interest.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.

Learn more about Professor Tiefer.

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Claudia Diamond receives USM Board of Regents staff award

Claudia Diamond, for blog

Claudia Diamond, J.D. ’95, director of academic support and co-founder of the Legal Writing Center.

Claudia Diamond, J.D. ’95, the law school’s director of academic support and co-founder of the Legal Writing Center, has won a University System of Maryland Board of Regents staff award for her “exceptional contribution” to the law school, Dean Ronald Weich announced Friday.

In granting the award, the Board of Regents cited Diamond’s work to establish the Legal Writing Center, among her other accomplishments. Diamond also serves as an adjunct professor of law at UB.

Diamond, who graduated magna cum laude and at the top of her law school class, clerked for the Hon. John Eldridge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland and for Chief Magistrate Judges Daniel Klein and Paul Grimm of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Her professional experience includes time as a litigation associate at Gordon, Feinblatt, Hoffman & Hoffberger in Baltimore and as a prosecutor for a professional licensing board with the Attorney General’s Office of Maryland. Diamond also has taught legal writing as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

Learn more about Claudia Diamond and about the Legal Writing Center.

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Oxford men: Sellers and Hubbard enjoy sabbatical in England

Oxford hi-res

Professors Mortimer Sellers (left) and William Hubbard at Oxford.

Professors Mortimer Sellers and William Hubbard spent the spring term on sabbatical at Oxford University in England.

Sellers, the H.L.A. Hart Fellow of Jurisprudence, delivered a talk at Oxford’s University College on May 16 titled “Law, Reason, and Emotion,” which Hubbard says was well attended and featured a lively question-and-answer session afterward. Sellers is the Regents Professor of the University System of Maryland and the director of UB’s Center for International and Comparative Law.

Hubbard, the director of UB’s Center for the Law of Intellectual Property and Technology, was a visiting research fellow at the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre.

Learn more about Professor Sellers and Professor Hubbard.

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2L William Suggs wins fellowship to work with union in D.C.

William Suggs

2L William Suggs

William Suggs, a 2L, has been awarded a 10-week summer fellowship by the Peggy Browning Fund. Suggs will work at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union in Washington, D.C.

Before entering law school, Suggs was a researcher and union organizer with the American Federation of Teachers. At UB, Suggs is a member of the National Lawyers Guild chapter.

Suggs was among 400 applicants for 80 fellowships awarded this year, according to a news release from the Peggy Browning Fund.

The fund is a nonprofit organization established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, a labor attorney and a member of the National Labor Relations Board. The group seeks to educate and inspire the next generation of law students to become advocates for workplace justice, according to its website.

To learn more about the Peggy Browning Fund, contact Mary Anne Moffa, executive director, at 267-273-2992 or mmoffa@peggybrowningfund.org.

Peggy Browning Fund news release.

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AFRO highlights Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars Program

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars Program was highlighted in a June 16 article in The AFRO.

Addressing this year’s scholars on June 7 was former Tuskegee Airman Dr. Robert M. Higginbotham Sr., the father of Dean Joseph Curtis Professor of Law F. Michael Higginbotham.

The Tuskegee Airmen is the popular term for the African-American fighter and bomber pilots, and their support personnel, who fought during World War II. The pilots were educated at Tuskegee University in Alabama and trained, among other places, at the Tuskegee Army Air Field.

Dr. Higginbotham, 91, a retired orthopedic surgeon in Beverly Hills, Calif., told the Charles Hamilton Houston scholars to “work hard, be excellent in everything, deal honestly with people and you will earn their respect,” according to the article.

Read The AFRO article here.

The Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars Program helps underrepresented college freshmen and sophomores to develop the academic skills needed to improve their undergraduate performance and to enhance their chances for admission to and success in law school.

The program’s namesake played a significant role in dismantling the Jim Crow laws and trained future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Learn more about the Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars Program.

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Jill Green publishes article, wins 5K race at MSBA convention

Jill 5K win 2017

Assistant Dean Jill Green and Zachary Reichenbach were the 5K winners.

Assistant Dean for Law Placement Jill Green took first place in the women’s 5K race during the Maryland State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section Sun Run on Friday (June 16) in Ocean City. (See story in The Daily Record, which sponsored the race.)

Green also contributed an article, “The Times They Have A-Changed,” to the May/June 2017 issue of the bar association’s Bar Journal.

Read Green’s article here.

Learn about Dean Green and UB’s Law Career Development Office.

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Has Maryland bail reform backfired? In article, Starger says no.

Colin Starger w lights

Professor Colin Starger

Daily Record reporter Heather Cobun, J.D. ’13, writes that criminal justice reforms designed to allow more Maryland defendants to be released without posting exorbitant bail have backfired in one important respect: The percentage of defendants denied bail has risen dramatically.

Read “Is This Bail Reform? A push by top officials in Md. against burdensome bail is backfiring, some defense attorneys say. More are being denied bail.” (The Daily Record, June 11, 2017)

In some parts of the state, the proportion of people denied bail has more than doubled since October 2016, according to the newspaper’s review of data from Maryland’s 12 district courts.

In October, District Court Chief Judge John P. Morrissey wrote a letter to judges and court commissioners reminding them of the purpose of bail and noting that bail should not be imposed simply to keep a defendant in custody, to satisfy public opinion or to punish the defendant. (See Baltimore Sun story here.) Morrissey’s letter followed an opinion from Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh that questioned the constitutionality of the state’s bail system.

Professor Colin Starger, co-director of UB’s Pretrial Justice Clinic, emphasized that state law prohibits the jailing of defendants just because they can’t afford to post bond.

“It’s always been the law that somebody shouldn’t be locked up because they’re unable to pay bond,” Starger said. “However in practice, that happened a lot, so the rule change was kind of necessary to remind people that that’s always been the law.”

Despite the increase in people being held without bail, Starger said the overall trend of more personal recognizance and unsecured bond for defendants is positive.

“The new rule dealt with a very serious problem … that has to do with poor people accused of low-level crimes spending time in jail” because they can’t afford bail, he said.

Starger said judicial officers must not use the accusation of a serious crime as evidence that a defendant is dangerous and should be held without bond: “We’re trying to make the arguments and get them heard and accepted on a broader level that you cannot conflate an accusation of dangerousness with clear and convincing proof of dangerousness and that it’s unrealistic to think that all allegations of dangerousness end up with that kind of proof,” Starger said.

Learn more about Professor Starger and the Pretrial Justice Clinic.

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