Innocence Project Director: Police Misconduct Cases May Become ‘Not as Difficult’

gavelplasmaMichele Nethercott, director of the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic, says in ProPublica that Baltimore’s recent $9 million settlement of a wrongful imprisonment case may point to a shifting legal landscape, where such matters become easier to prove in federal court.

“It may not be as difficult now for plaintiffs [who are claiming wrongful imprisonment] to persuade federal jurors that the police did actually engage in misconduct,” Nethercott said.

The ProPublica article details the saga of James “J.J.” Owens, who was imprisoned for years for a murder he didn’t commit.

“Owens filed his lawsuit in 2011, but it was dismissed from federal court and his lawyers dropped out of the case,” according to the article. “In federal lawsuits like Owens’, it’s not enough to show that an innocent man was put in prison for a crime he didn’t commit; the defendant must also prove there was official misconduct that violated his constitutional rights. Winning on such civil rights claims is notoriously difficult.

“Owens won his appeal, and during settlement negotiations, which had stalled on and off for the last year, a series of decisions made it clear that jurors were fed up.”

Read the ProPublica article.

Read more about the Innocence Project Clinic in the Fall 2012 edition of the University of Baltimore Magazine.

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UB Ranks #3 Nationally in Publication’s Overview of State Clerkships

For SI -- law center dusk

A new Above the Law overview of law schools’ effectiveness at placing students in state clerkships finds the University of Baltimore ranked third nationally, behind only Seton Hall and Rutgers in placing the highest number of the most recent graduating class in state and local clerkships.

“If you’re a law student who’s interested in a clerkship, but you’ve missed the boat on landing a coveted position with a federal judge, worry not — there are still plenty of options for you at the state level,” the magazine writes. “It’s not only the strength of your application that matters for securing a state clerkship. Attending a law school with high placement rates for state and local clerkships can be very helpful too, as it reflects past graduates’ reputation with judges, and the law school’s pull within the local community.”

The ranking reveals the top 10 schools—based on the percentage of the graduating class successfully landing a state clerkship—as follows:

  1. Seton Hall: 59.28 percent
  2. Rutgers: 47.11 percent
  3. Baltimore: 28.57 percent
  4. Widener-Delaware: 25.69 percent
  5. Minnesota: 24.39 percent
  6. Maryland: 24.34 percent
  7. Nevada-Las Vegas: 23.26 percent
  8. South Dakota: 22.39 percent
  9. Arizona: 20.31 percent
  10. South Carolina: 20.29 percent

Ron Weich, dean of the UB School of Law, says the school’s high finish is indicative of the school’s integral relationship with the city and state judicial systems.

“This impressive ranking is an important measure of our law school’s success,” Weich says. “A judicial clerkship is often the springboard to a great legal career. More than a third of the state court judges in Maryland are UB Law graduates, and they are proud to hire and mentor the next generation of UB lawyers.”

Weich noted that this is the highest clerkship ranking the school has received in recent memory.

Read the Above the Law article on clerkship rankings.

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Mike McDonough, J.D. ’82, Caps Off a 30+ Year Career as a Deputy State Prosecutor

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s own Thomas “Mike” McDonough, J.D. ’82, recently retired from the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor after serving more than 30 years as a deputy state prosecutor―including experiences in some of the most high-profile cases in recent Maryland history.

McDonough, known for a “methodical, assembly-line approach to building a case,” as The Baltimore Sun described it in an April 20 article about his retirement, played a role in several impactful prosecutions, including those of former Baltimore County school Superintendent Dallas Dance, former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, former Baltimore Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean, former Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, and former Pentagon public affairs staff member Linda Tripp, who was prosecuted under Maryland’s wiretap law during the scandal involving Clinton White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

McDonough, who attended UB at night, was hired as a law clerk in the Baltimore County state’s attorney office. Once he graduated from law school, he became an assistant state’s attorney in the same office. He joined the state prosecutor’s office two years later.

“McDonough said his motivation came from enforcing the law when power, as the adage goes, led officials to think they could get away with unlawful behavior,” the Sun wrote.

“‘It’s the power that gets them,’ he said.”

Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said McDonough “has been an invaluable colleague who has always had the best interests of the office at heart.”

“Mike has been the consummate public servant,” Davitt said in an announcement about McDonough’s retirement. “He worked tirelessly, never sought personal recognition and always remembered that he was here to serve the citizens of Maryland.”



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Student Herman Brown Wins MSBA’s 2018 Mandell Business Law Scholarship Award

Incoming 1L Herman Brown, who is graduating this weekend from Morgan State University.

University of Baltimore School of Law student Herman Brown received the Maryland State Bar Association’s Steven J. Mandell Business Law Scholarship Award for the outstanding rising 3L business law student. Brown was presented with the award at the Section’s annual dinner on May 7 at the Capital Grille in Baltimore.

The MSBA’s Business Law Section Executive Council approved UB School of Law Prof. Barbara Ann White‘s nomination of Brown for the award. Prof. White serves as director of the MSBA-UB Business Law Clerkship program and editor of the MSBA Business Law Section newsletter.

Brown was a 2015 Baltimore Scholar in the Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence, a partnership among the UB School of Law and Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities.

Learn more about Herman Brown.

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Student Attorneys Train Hopkins Health Care Providers on Hot-Button Topics in Immigration


On April 27, student attorneys in the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law trained about 20 physicians from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on immigration hot topics and patients’ rights. Doctors associated with Centro Sol identified the need for a training and UB law students responded to that need.

The training took place on the Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore.

“Speaking to the professionals at Johns Hopkins was an experience like no other,” says  Ninia Ogbuji, a student attorney in the clinic. “I realized that as a future lawyer, the impact of my voice goes beyond the courtroom and into the community.”

Her fellow student, Bryana Spann, agreed.

“It was an amazing experience to have a ‘professional-to-professional’ engagement with the healthcare community, Spann says. “We now hope that Johns Hopkins health care providers can feel like empowered advocates for Maryland’s immigrant population.”

The students discussed how recent changes to immigration policies and enforcement impact medical patients and hospitals. Additionally, the students empowered the doctors to spot immigration red flags and make effective referrals to local legal services organizations.

Learn more about the UB School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic.

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Prof. Tiefer: President’s Legal Problems Show a ‘Dubious Relationship to the Truth’

Professor Charles Tiefer

Professor Charles Tiefer

Writing in Forbes, University of Baltimore School of Law Professor Charles Tiefer says that President Trump’s ongoing legal problems demonstrate a kind of recklessness when it comes to meeting the legal standards of any holder of high political office. In the ongoing story of former counselor Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to a porn star to prevent the disclosure of the nature of her relationship to Trump prior to the 2016 election, Tiefer says the story’s inconsistencies may add up to a violation of federal campaign finance law.

Trump’s new counsel, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “has shown both Trump and Cohen to be the makers of statements of legal significance with a dubious relationship to the truth. Cohen has said that he made the payment, but that it was made with money out of his own pocket. Trump has denied he made the payment. Now, we’ve learned that Trump repaid Cohen. Giuliani did provide an explanation by saying ‘[Trump] didn’t know about the specifics of it but he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael [Cohen] would take care of things like this,’ Giuliani said. Well, it’s a fig leaf, but it’s one that is getting smaller and smaller.”

Read the Forbes article.

Learn more about Prof. Tiefer.

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Students Complete Moot Court Arguments in Judge Xinis’s Courtroom

lawstudentsinmootcourtAbove, University of Baltimore School of Law students pose with United States District Court Judge Paula Xinis after completing their moot court arguments in her courtroom on the weekend of April 28-29. Judge Xinis taught Introduction to Advocacy, a first-year legal writing and oral advocacy class for the first time this spring semester.

Having completed an appellate brief as their final writing assignment, students then argued their cases before Judge Xinis. This year’s fictional case was Danders Veterinary Practice, Inc. v. Green, a case concerning whether a purloined customer list constituted a protected trade secret under the Maryland Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and the validity of a non-compete clause in an employment contract prohibiting Green from opening a nearby veterinary practice after leaving Danders’s practice.

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