Students and Faculty Honored at 27th Annual University of Baltimore School of Law Awards Ceremony

The UB School of Law held its 27th Annual Awards Ceremony on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at the John and Frances Angelos Law Center. The Hon. John Morrissey, J.D. ’89, chief judge, District Court of Maryland, was the keynote speaker.

Leaders of the Jewish Law Students Association accept the SBA Award for Outstanding Service to UB by a Student Organization.
Leaders of the Jewish Law Students Association accept the SBA Award for Outstanding Service to UB by a Student Organization.

For the Class of 2022, Zachary Babo is the projected valedictorian, and Claudia Wozniak is the salutatorian. Paola Flores received the 2022 Pro Bono Challenge Award.

Julianna Felkoski and Aiden Galloway received the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Outstanding Student-Attorney Team Award for their work with the Community Development Clinic. Lindsey Eshelman received the CLEA Outstanding Externship Award.

Clinical Excellence Awards went to Russhell Ford, for her work in the Community Development Clinic, and Sophia Yaple, for her contributions to the work of The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic.

The Student Bar Association recognized Prof. Neha Lall with the James May Faculty Award and Asst. Dean Alyssa Fieo with the Staff Mentoring Award. The SBA named Julianne Greene Student Leader of the Year and recognized Jewish Law Students Association for Outstanding Service to UB by a Student Organization.

View the full list of winners. Congratulations to all!

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University of Baltimore Law 1L Natalie Murphy Earns Second Prize in Legal Tech Fiction Writing Competition

Natalie Murphy, a first-year student at Baltimore Law, has won second prize in the second annual Legal Tech Fictional Writing Competition. The competition is sponsored by the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, in collaboration with the Access to Justice Tech Fellows and WordRake. The contest is designed to engage lawyers and law students in thinking about how technology will impact the field.

The stories were required to be a short, fun fictional read, no more than 1,500 words. This allowed students to switch gears from the typical properly cited legal memoranda and flex their creative muscles. Murphy’s story is called Gideon’s Legacy, and she earned $500 in prize money for her submission.

“I came up with this story after learning about alternative pleading in Professor Wehle’s Civil Procedure class,” Murphy says. “Rule 8’s allowance for contradictory arguments has so much potential for humor. From predictive policing methods that raise Fourth Amendment issues to biased recidivism-risk algorithms used in sentencing, many of the intersections between law and technology are grim.

Natalie Murphy in her college graduation garb.
Natalie Murphy in her college graduation garb.

“So I wanted to write something that drew attention to this,” she says, “and also had a comedic element. My story is about a public defender. Public defenders are my heroes, but it’s no secret that the state assigns poor defendants attorneys who are chronically underfunded and overworked. Technological solutions aren’t going to fix this, because it’s a product of our society’s commitment to economic and racial inequality. So instead, I wrote about how even bad technology can present opportunities for reflection.” 

Originally from coastal Maine, Murphy earned a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies and History at Reed College in Portland, Ore. “I’m at UB now because I fell in love with Baltimore while living with family here as a teenager,” she says.  

Murphy is enthusiastic about her legal studies. “My focus has always been on criminal law, but I’m a science enthusiast at heart,” she says. “I’m obsessed with the law’s struggle to evaluate scientific research. Trying to bridge the gap between law and science is fascinating in an intellectual sense, because both disciplines have vastly different standards of evidence, but it’s also a major justice concern.

“I went to a recent law school talk for Chris Fabricant’s book Junk Science, where he summarized how scientifically suspect research, like outdated psych evaluations or bite and hair matching analysis, has fueled mass incarceration for years,” Murphy says. “To zealously defend their clients in cases with scientific or technical evidence, criminal lawyers must be able distinguish between sound and junk science. I would love to work at this intersection between law and science.” 

The writing competition received 39 submissions from students at over 20 different law schools. All of the stories were well-written, organizers say, and explored interesting areas of how technology might impact the legal field in the future. A handpicked selection of 24 judges from the legal tech, non-profit, and traditional law firm communities narrowed down the 39 submissions to the three winners.

Visit the competition website to read all of the submitted stories.

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UBalt Law Prof. Margaret Johnson Receives Fulbright Scholar Award to Study Menstrual Justice in Australia

University of Baltimore School of Law Prof. Margaret E. Johnson has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award in Law for the 2022-2023 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Johnson will conduct research at The University of Technology Sydney in Australia for her Fulbright project, “Comparative Menstrual Justice in Australia and the United States.” This project builds on Johnson’s work on menstruation and gender equity and has two objectives. The first is to understand how Australian and U.S. law and policy address, or fail to address, the needs of persons who menstruate (menstruators). The second is to use the Australian and U.S. law and policy comparison to explore two theoretical framings:

Prof. Margaret Johnson
Prof. Margaret Johnson
  • Whether, and, if so, how law can promote social change, including “menstrual justice” reforms that reduce and remedy menstruation-related harms or enhance menstruators’ quality of life;
  • How the law’s treatment of menstruation informs law’s relationship with the reproductive system and the body.

“The University of Baltimore School of Law is very proud that our colleague Margaret Johnson has received a Fulbright award,” says Baltimore Law Dean Ronald Weich. “As associate dean for experiential education and as co-director of our Center on Applied Feminism, Prof. Johnson has been a leader in advancing the mission of our law school. The Fulbright will enable her to bring an international perspective to her path-breaking scholarship on menstrual justice and gender equity.”

Johnson is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will conduct research and/or teach abroad for the 2022-2023 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Fulbright scholars engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions.

Upon returning to their home countries, institutions, labs, and classrooms, they share their stories and often become active supporters of international exchange, inviting foreign scholars to campus and encouraging colleagues and students to go abroad. As Fulbright Scholar alumni, their careers are enriched by joining a network of thousands of esteemed scholars, many of whom are leaders in their fields. Fulbright alumni include 61 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 40 who have served as a head of state or government.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. Learn more about the Fulbright program.

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Racial Disparities in Prosecution Discussion to Take Place at University of Baltimore School of Law April 26

Although racial disproportionality in mass incarceration is well-established, less is known about the possible sources of racial inequality in prosecution.

In March 2022, independent researchers from the University of Maryland and Harvard University released a report examining racial differences in cases dispositions, charging and sentencing in Baltimore. The report, which analyzed data from Baltimore City Circuit Court cases in 2017 and 2018, offers new insights into the role that race plays in Baltimore’s criminal legal system.

On Tuesday, April 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the UBalt Law Center for Criminal Justice Reform will host a discussion surrounding the implications of this report for policy and practice. The dialogue, focused on interpreting the findings and where we go from here, will be moderated by Prof. David Jaros, Faculty Director at the Center, and feature the following panelists:

Professor David Jaros
Prof. David Jaros

Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney for Baltimore City

Natasha Dartigue, Deputy District Defender for Baltimore City

Dayvon Love, Director of Public Policy, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle

Brian Johnson, Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland (report author).

The event is open to the public and will take place in the Moot Courtroom at the Angelos Law Center, 1420 N. Charles St., Baltimore MD 21201. It also will be live streamed on Zoom.

Register to attend in person. Register to attend by Zoom.

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Celebrate Baltimore Law Today, April 6, on The University of Baltimore’s Day of Giving

Join the University of Baltimore School of Law today for the University-wide Day of Giving #BowOnPoe campaign – a 24-hour online fundraising campaign that provides a convenient and fun way for alumni and friends to donate to the law school as a community, while unlocking challenges and bonus dollars.

Make your gift here to support the School of Law today.

Today, we celebrate and strengthen the programs, experiences and people that make us proud to be Baltimore Law. Make a gift to any area of the law school most meaningful to you, including priority areas of need such as public interest fellowships, scholarships and bar passage support. Learn more about these funds on our website.

Your gift also earns the law school a silver “Bow on Poe” as part of the University’s annual competition among the four schools, University library, and Student Success. Help the law school take the top prize for receiving the most gifts and raising the most dollars in support of law students. View the #BowOnPoe leaderboard.

If you have any questions about making a gift to the law school, please contact Jason Keller, director of alumni engagement, at jkeller@ubalt.edu.

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Support the School of Law on The University of Baltimore’s April 6 Day of Giving Fundraising Event

On April 6, the School of Law community will participate in the University-wide Day of Giving campaign. This 24-hour online fundraising event is a convenient and fun way for alumni and friends to donate to the law school as a community.

On UBalt Day of Giving, you can make a gift to any area of the law school most meaningful to you, including priority areas of need such as public interest fellowships, scholarships and bar passage support. Every contribution provides direct, student-focused support across the law school, and you can learn more about these funds on our website.

“During this annual fundraising event, we bring together the entire School of Law community to raise critical funds that will support important opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and community,” says Ronald Weich, dean of the law school. “Your donations, however big or small, have an immediate impact and help keep our law school strong and vibrant.”

Your gift also earns the law school a silver “Bow on Poe” as part of the University’s annual competition among the four schools, University library, and Student Success.

Your generosity will help the law school put the most “Bows on Poe” on April 6, but more than that, your support will make a critical impact on our students and their future as they enter the legal profession.

If you have any questions about making a gift to the law school, please contact Jason Keller, director for alumni engagement, at jkeller@ubalt.edu.

Click here to support the School of Law on UBalt Day of Giving, April 6.

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Baltimore Law Prof. Sonya Ziaja Testifies in Favor of Environmental Rights Amendment for Maryland

Among the many measures under consideration in the current Maryland General Assembly session is a proposal to amend the state Constitution to establish that every person has “the fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful and sustainable environment,” and to require the State to “conserve, protect, and enhance the State’s natural resources for the benefit of every person, including present and future generations.”

On Mar. 9, University of Baltimore School of Law Prof. Sonya Ziaja testified before the Maryland Senate in favor of the amendment. Here is the substance of her testimony to the Judicial Proceedings Committee:

On February 28, 2022, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in West Virginia v. EPA. The outcome of that case will determine the course of federal climate policy in the United States. Specifically, it will determine the scope of US EPA’s authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector, and to encourage replacing existing fossil fuel electricity generation with renewable sources, under the Clean Air Act. Given the Court’s growing antagonism to the administrative state, the Court’s reasoning in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, and that the Court took the case, even though it contains standing and mootness defects, most environmental law scholars anticipate that the majority will decide the case on the merits, and that it will severely curtail the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Professor Sonya Ziaja
Professor Sonya Ziaja

Why does this federal case matter to Maryland and the choice before the Judicial Proceedings Committee?

Constitutional rights to a healthy environment can help states to fill in the gap left by the federal government.

Over the past decade, in the absence of meaningful climate action at the federal level, states and municipalities have worked to fill in the gap. West Virginia likely will widen that gap by disabling the US EPA’s ability to systematically regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation account for approximately one-quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

Because these emissions come from stationary sources, and renewable energy generation are known zero-emissions alternatives, regulating emissions from electric generation is among the easiest ways to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Absent federal action, states empowered by constitutional principles and substantive rights, like those in SB 783, can take positive steps through state law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cooperative federalism gives states a role in determining federal regulation in their territory; constitutional rights to a healthy environment can encourage states to be proactive in their negotiations and planning alongside the federal government.

The major federal environmental laws function by cooperative federalism—states work together with federal agencies to develop specific plans to limit pollution, within the confines of federal statutory frameworks. The Clean Air Act works this way. So, too, does the Clean Water Act. If Maryland were to adopt an environmental rights amendment, it could provide an avenue for encouraging the state in its negotiations and discussions with federal agencies to act in the interest of future Marylanders.

For example, the Clean Air Act sets a “floor” for certain kinds of air pollution. But, in developing plans to meet that floor, states have authority to further reduce emissions. By clearly stating the role of the state in protecting the human environmental rights of Marylanders, SB 783 arms the state in its approach to cooperative federalism.

A constitutional right to a healthy environment facilitates inter-systems and inter-sectoral planning needed to prevent and adapt to climate impacts.

The nature of climate change requires broad cross-sector planning. Energy relies on water systems and vice-versa. Existing environmental statutes tend to address single sectors, or are geographically limited. A broad right to a healthy environment, like that of SB 783, can affirmatively encourage state agencies to increase cross-sector communication, monitoring, and planning.

Finally, it is worth noting that what constitutional rights “mean” is decided through generations of the state and citizens engaging with that right. Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment, passed in 1971, spent most of its life subverted by a judicial balancing test, and did not begin to regain its textualist plain meaning until 2013. Looking back deeper in history, it took over 80 years for the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution to take on its current meaning. In both instances, despite the potential, and actual, dormancy of the amendments, the legal rights were there to act on as their meanings evolved.

In light of the history of principled constitutional amendments, and the pressing need for states to build a legal architecture to deal with climate change, I urge you to support SB 783.



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March UB Law in Focus Webinars Look at Juvenile Justice Reform in Maryland and the Surveillance State

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s webinar series, UB Law in Focus, continues in March with discussions of two timely and important topics.

On Wednesday, Mar. 2, from 5 to 6 p.m., we present “Juvenile Justice: Why Reform is Needed Now, a look at legislation currently in the Maryland General Assembly that would make meaningful changes to juvenile justice policy.

panel for juvenile justice webinar

One of the primary goals for advocates is to end the policy of automatically charging juveniles as adults for certain crimes. Maryland is one of nine states that send more than 200 children to the adult system every year. Other initiatives include prohibiting law enforcement officers from interrogating juveniles in custody without legal counsel, and limiting the length of probation in the juvenile system.

Here to discuss the need for these reforms are Jenny Egan, chief attorney, juvenile division, Maryland Office of the Public Defender; Baltimore Law alumna Aneesa Khan, J.D. ’17, assistant public defender, juvenile division, Maryland Office of the Public Defender; and Baltimore chef Michael Singleton, who will share his experience with the juvenile justice system.

Heather Warnken, executive director of the law school’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform, will moderate the discussion. Register here.

On Wednesday, March 30, also from 5 to 6 p.m., the series presents “The Surveillance State: Big Data as Big Brother.” Packaged to the public as tools for better living and safer communities, surveillance technologies actually rob us of our privacy and civil liberties, and threaten democracy. Cellphones, cameras, license plate readers and internet-connected devices like Fitbits track our every move.

Even doorbell cameras have an Orwellian taint to them, as they reinforce stereotypes about what constitutes a “suspicious” person. Companies and governments surveil people for profit and social control in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and homes.

Hear from Prof. Nicole McConlogue, clinic director at West Virginia University College of Law; Aiha Nguyen, program director of Labor Futures at Data & Society Research Institute; and UBalt Law Prof. Michele Gilman, director of the Saul Ewing Advocacy Clinic, about why we should be wary of these surveillance technologies and how law can be reformed to resist the surveillance society.

UBalt Law Prof. Colin Starger, director of the Legal Data & Design Clinic, will moderate the discussion. Register here. All UB Law in Focus webinars are recorded and posted on our YouTube channel for later viewing.

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Three Faculty Book Talks Are Scheduled at The University of Baltimore School of Law

Over the next several weeks, The University of Baltimore School of Law community will celebrate recently published books by three professors of law.

On Thursday, Feb. 24, friends and colleagues will gather to hear about Prof. Jose Anderson‘s book Genius for Justice: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Reform of American Law. Learn more about the book and celebration here.

On Thursday, Mar. 10, from 5 to 6 p.m., the law school will host a virtual celebration for the third book written by Prof. Kim Wehle, How to Think Like a Lawyer — and Why: A Common-Sense Guide to Everyday Dilemmas. In this book, due out Feb. 22 from Harper Collins, Wehle teaches laypersons how to think like a lawyer to gain advantage in their lives — whether buying a hosue, choosing healthcare, or negotiating a salary. She walks readers through the process of breaking down complex issues into manageable pieces for better decision-making.

Wehle’s book talk will take place on Zoom, with a panel that includes MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner, UBalt Law alumna Beatrice Thomas, J.D. ’19, and UBalt Law Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development Michele Gilman, who will moderate the discussion. Register here.

Prof. John Bessler‘s new book, Private Prosecution in America: Its Origins, History, and Unconstitutionality in the Twenty-First Century, will be discussed by a Zoom panel on Thursday, Mar. 31 from 5 to 6 p.m.

This book is the first comprehensive examination of a practice that dates back to the colonial era. Tracking its origins to medieval times and English common law, the book shows how “private prosecutors” were once a mainstay of early American criminal procedure. Private prosecutors—acting on their own behalf, as next of kin, or though retained counsel—initiated prosecutions, presented evidence in court, and sought the punishment of offenders.

Discussing the book will be UBalt Law Prof. David Jaros, faculty director of the Center for Criminal Justice Reform; UBalt Law Associate Dean Michele Gilman, UBaltLaw Associate Dean Colin Starger, and special guest Roger A. Fairfax Jr., dean of the American University Washington College of Law. Register here.

All book talks are open to the entire UBalt community and to the public. Zoom discussions will be recorded and available for viewing shortly after the events on the law school’s YouTube channel.

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UBalt School of Law Community Celebrates Prof. Anderson’s New Book About Charles Hamilton Houston

The University of Baltimore School of Law community will celebrate the publication of Prof. José Anderson’s new book, Genius for Justice: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Reform of American Law, on Thursday, Feb. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The first general counsel of the NAACP, Houston exposed the hollowness of the “separate but equal” doctrine and paved the way for the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing school segregation. The legal brilliance used to champion other civil rights cases earned Houston the nickname, “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow.”

After serving in the segregated U.S. Army in World War I, Houston returned to the United States in 1919 and enrolled at Harvard Law School, where he was the first Black student elected to the editorial board of the Harvard Law Review. Later, as dean of the Howard University Law School, Houston expanded the part-time program into a full-time curriculum. He also mentored a generation of young Black lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall, who would go on to become a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Anderson will be joined by several special guests: UBalt Law professors Michael Higginbotham and Cassandra Jones Havard; Kamali Houston, a lawyer and great-granddaughter of Charles Hamilton Houston; and filmmaker Mick Caouette, who directed the documentary “Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP.” Mr. Caouette has generously agreed to donate to the UBalt Law Library his entire archive of material on both Marshall and Houston from the production of the film.

The book event is on the 12th floor of the law building. To attend in person, RSVP here by Tuesday, Feb. 22. The event will be simulcast on Zoom and recorded for later viewing. Register at this link.

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