Prof. Daniels on What’s at Stake in the Georgia Vote Certification Effort

One week after the midterm elections, votes are still being counted in Florida and Georgia, with tight races hanging in the balance. Even more at stake, however, is the battle for access to the ballot, 50 years after the civil rights movement emerged as part of a broader struggle for constitutional rights. That battle for access has only expanded since a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that erased the oversight provision of the Voting Rights Act, arguing that it was no longer necessary in modern America.

gilda danielsIn a Nov. 13 Christian Science Monitor article about the Georgia vote certification process, UB School of Law Prof. Gilda Daniels put the situation in perspective. “It is a paradox,” she says. “We encourage voter participation, but we have a system that almost crumbles when people participate.

“On top of that, you have this situation … where you have Republican candidates saying that to count every vote is voter fraud, which is absurd,” Prof. Daniels continues. “The democratic process is supposed to ensure that every vote counts, and if every vote counts then we should count every vote.”

Last week, Prof. Daniels traveled to Georgia to work with the national, nonpartisan Election Protection (EP) team in Atlanta. The Advancement Project, where she works as the Director of Litigation, is one of the many organizations that partners with EP.

Prof. Daniels worked in the command center, monitoring the election process in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Issues included long lines and broken machines. Toward the end of the day, she worked to file a lawsuit to force election officials to extend the polling hours in three Fulton County precincts.

Two of the three polling places serviced students from historically black colleges and universities, Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta. Officials at those polling sites were turning students away and/or making them vote provisional ballots. Her team got the hours extended to 10 p.m. to ensure that the students could vote.

Before coming to UB School of Law to teach, Prof. Daniels was a deputy chief in the Voting Section at the U.S. Department of Justice in 2000, when the Bush-Gore recount took place. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Voting in the 21st Century, from NYU Press.

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Prof. Meyerson Opines on Maryland AG’s Suit Challenging Whitaker Appointment

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a motion Nov. 13 in federal court challenging President Donald Trump‘s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting U.S. attorney general after the ouster last week of Jeff Sessions.

Frosh’s motion in U.S. District Court in Baltimore argues the selection is “illegal and unconstitutional” and contends that Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be acting attorney general.

UB 3_Meyerson-4195In a Baltimore Sun article, UB School of Law Prof. Michael Meyerson says that Frosh’s motion could prevail. “Frosh is making a strong argument, but it is certainly not a slam dunk,” he says. “Those in favor of Whitaker have some very plausible arguments as well.”

Prof. Meyerson told the Sun that the argument largely comes down to which of two laws prevails. Frosh’s motion argues that it is the Attorney General Succession Act, which requires that a vacancy in the office be filled with a Justice Department official who had been previously confirmed in their position by the U.S. Senate, starting with the deputy attorney general.

The Trump administration has based its actions on the 1998 Vacancies Reform Act, which gives the president more flexibility in making temporary appointments in the executive branch, the Sun reported.

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Prof. Jaros: Drug Court Judges Should Be Flexible When it Comes to Relapsed Offenders

In a Nov. 13 story about the effectiveness of Ohio’s 245 specialty courts in the online news site Soapbox Cincinnati, UB School of Law Professor David Jaros expressed his views about the pros and cons of drug courts.

Professor David Jaros.

Prof. Jaros, a former public defender, said he believes “the stick” of jail time can force many addicts into treatment who aren’t ready and, when they fail to comply, result in even more jail time than if they hadn’t entered drug court.

“People don’t want to be addicted to drugs,” Prof. Jaros said in the story. “If there were some magic pill out there that would end addiction, they would take it. I think people over-estimate the value of that stick.”

The key to a successful drug court, Prof. Jaros said, is a judge who is flexible enough to make concessions for relapsed offenders rather than throwing them in jail. “If judges don’t realize that users will often fail,” he said, “then they’re not serving the interest of the defendant and they’re wasting valuable resources.”

The article was part of series in the Ohio news outlet called Civics Essential, which educates the public about how government works.

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In Bob Parsons Clinic, Students Support Veterans with Legal, Administrative Challenges

At 11 a.m. today, the University of Baltimore will mark Veterans Day with a brief ceremony near the flagpoles on Gordon Plaza. President Kurt L. Schmoke will deliver remarks, and officials from The Bob Parsons Veterans Center will join members of the UB community in recognizing this solemn occasion.

The School of Law supports veterans through The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic. Students enrolled in the clinic represent veterans before courts and administrative agencies in veterans benefit matters. They also engage in community education, legislative projects and other systemic efforts at law reform.

Hugh McClean

Professor Hugh McClean

For the past three years, clinic students have been active in the development and operation of the Baltimore City Veterans Treatment Court. It’s a criminal court, presided over by District Judge Halee F. Weinstein, who is herself a former Army military intelligence officer.

On Tuesday, Nov. 13, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie will visit the court and speak with defendants. “The Secretary is interested in this program,” says Professor Hugh McClean, director of the Veterans Advocacy Clinic. “Our relationship with our VA partners is very good.”

The Baltimore City Veterans Treatment Docket is a court-supervised, comprehensive and voluntary treatment-based program for former military service members charged with misdemeanors or certain felonies in the District Court. The docket emphasizes rehabilitation over incarceration, similar to a drug court or a mental health court.

Providing supervision and services for up to one year, the program utilizes a Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist to link eligible veterans to assistance and services through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What makes the program work so well with veterans, Prof. McClean says, is that it uses the camaraderie of the military to bolster their efforts at rehabilitation. “They realize they’re not alone. It’s like their unit,” he says. “The court is applying the military ethos that no military man or woman will be left behind.”

 

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Law School to Host Nov. 15 Panel on Maryland Football, Athlete Abuse and the Legal Structure of Sport

The tragic death this past June of University of Maryland, College Park football player Jordan McNair, following complications from heatstroke at team practice, has led to scrutiny of the school’s athletic program, and of college sports programs nationwide. Law professors Dionne Koller, of the University of Baltimore School of Law, and Marc Edelman, of City University of New York, will explore the legal and ethical climate around college sports in a discussion at the University of Baltimore School of Law at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, in Room 202 of the Angelos Law Center.

Dionne -- small fileA sports medicine consulting firm hired to investigate the college football team’s procedures found that the team’s athletic trainers did not follow proper protocols for treating suspected heatstroke in players. An examination of coaching practices found a disturbing culture that included physical and mental abuse of players.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ handling of the findings, and decision to retain the football coach, caused a backlash from students and the public. It resulted in the University President Wallace Loh’s offer of resignation, followed by his decision to fire the coach, which was itself followed by the resignation of the board’s chair.

Professors Koller and Edelman will examine the legal structure of collegiate sports, in which athletes have almost no rights. They will also discuss sexual abuse scandals at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, and explore how systemic weaknesses allowed these behaviors to continue unabated for years, claiming many victims.

Dionne Koller is a professor of law, associate dean for academic affairs, and director of the Center for Sport and the Law at UB School of Law. Her scholarly focus is Olympic and amateur sports law, and she is a frequent media commentator on issues related to sports and the law. Dean Koller has served as chair and as a member of the Executive Board for the Sports Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools and is a member of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s Anti-Doping Review Board. She is also on the editorial board for the International Sports Law Journal.

Marc Edelman is a professor of law at the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York, where he specializes in sports law, antitrust law, intellectual property law, and gaming / fantasy sports law. He also serves as the Faculty Athletics Representative for Baruch College.

In addition to his full-time role as a law professor, Prof. Edelman is the founder of Edelman Law, where he provides legal consulting and expert witness services to businesses in the commercial sports, entertainment and online gaming industries. Some of Prof. Edelman’s recent clients include a Major League Baseball team, the Arena Football League Players Union, and several online fantasy sports providers.

Prof. Edelman is regularly cited by the media on a wide range of topics, including how the Sherman Act applies to professional sports leagues, how gaming laws apply to fantasy sports contests, and how both labor laws and antitrust laws apply within the college sports industry.

 

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Author Tanya K. Hernández to Discuss Her Book on Multiracial Discrimination on Nov. 15

As the mixed-race population in the United States grows, some hold the mistaken belief that racial mixture will bring an end to racism. In her book, Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed Race Stories of Discrimination, author Tanya Kateri Hernández writes that multiracial people still face discrimination.

tanya hernandezHernández, who is Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, challenges suggestions that traditional civil rights laws built on a strict black-white binary should be reformed to account for cases of discrimination against those identifying as mixed-race.

She draws on court cases to demonstrate that multiracials face the same types of discrimination as other racial groups. Prof. Hernández peppers her own legal and political analysis with her own personal narrative as a mixed-race Afro-Latina.

She will speak about her book and ideas at the UB School of Law on Thursday, Nov. 15 from noon to 1:30 p.m., in Room 802 of the Angelos Law Center. The event is co-sponsored by the UB Faculty Research and Development Committee and the American Constitution Society.

 

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A Passion for Pro Bono Drives School of Law Alumna Michelle McGeogh

This weekend, Michelle McGeogh will make her way to Lumpkin, Ga., to a detention facility “in the middle of nowhere,” to spend a week helping detained immigrants prepare for interviews in pursuit of asylum with the Department of Homeland Security. Working pro bono with the full support of her firm, Ballard Spahr, she will help her clients build a case for credible fear screenings, a critical first step in the asylum process.

mcgeogh_michelle_blogIn a credible fear screening, the DHS interviewer questions the detainee about his or her grounds for feeling persecuted: Has the individual ever been threatened or harmed due to race or ethnicity, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because the person belongs to a specific social group? This is a key moment in the interview, because if the applicant’s fear is not attributed to one of these factors, the asylum case is likely to fail.

“The reason I got involved in doing this immigrant work was because I was horrified by the (U.S. government) policy of family separation at the border,” says McGeogh, who earned her J.D. from UB School of Law in 2007. “I have two kids, so the family separation issue is really what inspired me.” She is working in conjunction with the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

She credits Ballard Spahr, where she has been an associate since 2007 and earlier this year was named of counsel, with encouraging her active pro bono efforts. McGeogh has won the firm’s Alan J. Davis Award, which recognizes pro bono work, in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018.

This year’s recognition was for her efforts leading a Ballard team that works with the Maryland Juvenile Lifers Parole Representation Project, or MJLPRP, an effort by UB School of Law’s Juvenile Justice Project and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, in response to the unmet need for legal representation for people serving life sentences in Maryland prisons for crimes committed as juveniles.

The team of 12 Ballard attorneys represent five juvenile lifers, four of whom are imprisoned at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md. “It’s like another world out there,” she says. The lawyers have had to work extremely hard to gain proper access to their clients. Their ultimate goal is to obtain parole hearings for their clients, most of whom are convicted of murder, and prepare them to do well in those hearings.

McGeogh says the pro bono work she has done at Ballard, especially when she was a new associate, gave her opportunities to conduct litigation at a level she would not otherwise have had. “It makes me a better lawyer,” she says.

 

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