Baltimore Exoneree Attends National Conference on Wrongful Incarceration with UB Innocence Project Clinic Faculty

Clarence Shipley Jr. got long-overdue justice when he was released from prison last December after being exonerated for a slaying he did not commit. He served 27 years in prison, proclaiming his innocence the entire time.

Attendees at the Innocence Network conference.

From left, Prof. Michele Nethercott, Brianna Ford, Jermeka Shipley, Clarence Shipley Jr., Lauren Lipscomb, Brian Ellis and Emily Pate.

Mr. Shipley and his wife,  Jermeka Shipley, traveled to Atlanta from April 11 to April 13 to attend the annual conference of The Innocence Network. They were joined by UB School of Law Professor Michele Nethercott, who had worked with others to secure Mr. Shipley’s release; Brianna Ford, deputy director of the UB Innocence Project Clinic, and colleagues from the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP).

The group included Lauren Lipscomb, chief of the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) at the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office; Brian Ellis, a paralegal and investigator at the CIU, and Emily Pate, a paralegal who works with MAIP and the UB Innocence Project Clinic.

Prof. Nethercott made a presentation, “Starting from the Beginning: Strategies for Evaluating and Working Up Your Case,” which offered participants tools for identifying claims, obtaining records, prioritizing witness interviews, and deciding if and how to work with opposing counsel.

Mr. Shipley and his wife were invited to participate in workshops for exonerees and their families on topics such as, “What Now?: A Journey Toward Healing After Exoneration,” “Financial Management: Finding Your Purpose,” and “Boo’d Up: Building Relationships After Wrongful Incarceration.”

The Shipleys’ expenses were covered by an anonymous donor who wanted to help support exonerees after reading a Jan. 4, 2019 Baltimore Sun op-ed by UB’s Ms. Ford decrying the fact that in Maryland, exonerees receive no remuneration of any kind as they restart their lives after years of wrongful incarceration.

At one point during the conference, all the exonerees in attendance stood together on stage as it was announced that they had served a combined 1,000 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. The group included the so-called Central Park Five, who discussed their ordeal in one of the presentations.

Support the important work of this and other UB School of Law clinics by donating here.

 

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Earn a Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law; Program Now Presented Completely Online

Family law is an exploding field, with over 40 percent of trial court filings in Maryland relating to family law. In addition, family law cases are becoming extremely complex, as they so often involve social and behavioral issues, individuals in crisis, and efforts at alternative dispute resolution.

To help equip lawyers with the in-depth and cross-disciplinary knowledge they will need to excel in the field, the UB School of Law created the nation’s first and only post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law. As of Fall 2019, pending approval by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, this innovative curriculum will be offered fully online. Applications are being accepted through Aug. 1, 2019.

The certificate program is designed for new attorneys just beginning to practice family law, and for experienced practitioners seeking to add this expertise to their practice. The fast-paced curriculum blends theory and practice and offers knowledge and skills that lawyers can use in their practice now through a hands-on, real-world experiential curriculum.

Financial aid is available to students in the program who meet credit requirements for federal financial aid: 6 credits in spring or fall, 4 credits in summer. Applicants who meet the program’s advanced standing requirements may request a course waiver for “The Craft of Problem-Solving and Advocacy in Family Law.”

The 16-credit, five-course program is administered by the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts at the UB School of Law. The program can be completed in 12 months. Hands-on and practical, it offers an interdisciplinary education in all aspects of family law, including child development, financial issues, advocacy and family psychology.

The summer capstone requires students to work through a family law case from start to finish. After completing his capstone in 2018, student Castell Abner said, “This is a great course. This is exactly what I wanted. I am getting my money’s worth. Every lawyer should have this experience.”

The certificate was developed by UB School of Law faculty in close collaboration with an advisory committee of leading practitioners and judges. The law school is widely recognized for the quality and breadth of its family law courses, clinical and experiential offerings, family law center, and the Family Law area of concentration within the J.D. program.

Please direct questions about the Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law to Professor Barbara Babb, director of the Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law, at 410.837.5661, or bbabb@ubalt.edu.

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Three UB Law Alumni ‘Run Into’ One Another in Army JAG Corps Training at Fort Benning

Christopher Numer, JD ’18, wasn’t expecting to make instant friends when he moved to Fort Benning, GA, to begin training for the U.S. Army JAG Corps. But, as he reported in an email earlier this year, “I was pleasantly surprised when I ran into two other guys from UB Law! Matthew Chalker (2008) and Jake Nelson (2018).

“We thought it was really cool and we wanted to share the story with you back at UB,” Lt. Numer wrote. “We just wanted to keep in touch with UB and also would be glad to talk to any students who may be interested/have questions about Army JAG.”

three alumni in Army JAG corps

From left, Lt. Jake Nelson, Lt. Matthew Chalker, Lt. Christopher Numer

The officers are currently in phase two of their training at the JAG Legal Center in Charlottesville, VA. Lt. Numer, who serves in the Army Reserves, says JAG officers perform a wide variety of roles for the Army, helping soldiers with legal problems, credit issues, marital difficulties and military disciplinary matters.

After initial training, JAG officers are assigned to specific areas, such as being chief counsel for a military unit. “They assign you where they need you,” Lt. Numer says. “They provide training as you go.”

Lt. Nelson is on active duty in the Army and will be assigned to Fort Carson, Colorado. “I’m looking forward to being involved in national security,” he said. “I like working for something bigger than myself.”

Lt. Chalker has a legal practice in Arnold, MD, but he joined the National Guard in June 2018, fulfilling a dream he’s had since he was 16. “It was always something I wanted to do,” he said. “But at every junction in life it didn’t really work out. I woke up one day and said, it’s now or never.”

Now that he’s in the service, he said, “It’s awesome. On a personal level it’s been fulfilling. On a professional level, it’s different. It’s brought back some of that excitement I felt when I first got out of law school.”

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Get Ready for Finals with Help from BLSA and the Law Library Staff

It’s almost exam time! Here are some tips and suggestions to help you prepare. We wish all students success on their exams!

Black Law Students Association is hosting final review sessions for the following subjects:

  • Con Law I: Friday, April 26, 3 to 4 p.m., Academic Center 207;
  • Contracts II: Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to noon, Academic Center 207;
  • Property: Saturday, April 27, noon to 2 p.m., Academic Center 207;
  • Evidence: Saturday, April 27, 2:15 to 3:15 p.m., Academic Center 212;
  • Professional Responsibility, Saturday, April 27, 3:15 to 4:15 p.m., Academic Center 212.

Here are some tips from the Law Library to help you prepare:

• Our Exam Extended Hours run 7:30 a.m. to midnight from Thursday, April 25 through Thursday, May 9. On Friday, May 10, we will open at 7:30 and close at 6 p.m. The 9th floor computer labs will stay open until 2 a.m. between April 25 and May 9.

student studying

• Group Study Rooms: Only UB law students may reserve a group study room. Rooms can be reserved up to seven days in advance and must be made by 7 pm the day before the reservation. You must register with VEMS to reserve a group study room. Follow these instructions and be sure to allow at least 24 hours for your registration to be confirmed. You will not be able to reserve a study room until your registration is confirmed, so register early. Questions? Contact Adeen Postar or Harvey Morrell.

• Laptops: A limited number of laptops for use in exams will be distributed from the Exam Control Room (AL 608). Library laptops may not be used for exams.

• Library Exam Refreshments: Coffee, tea and assorted snacks will be available daily on the 7th Floor in the Library beginning April 25 at around 5 pm.

• Need A Study Aid or Hypotheticals? Visit our Study Aids page for suggestions and our Sample Bar Questions by topic to practice answering your essays. Our online collection of West Study Aids will also help you prepare for your exams; some contain practice questions. You may find CALI lessons another good tool to use for studying for your exams – register using your UB email address with the code BALTUVstu14.

• The Library maintains a TWEN page with old exams that you all have access to. Check it out!

• Please be respectful of your fellow students and maintain a quiet and professional atmosphere in the Library at all times. All of us in the Law Library wish you the very best of luck on your exams! If we can be of help during this stressful time, whether it’s recommending study aids or just helping to maintain a quiet environment in the Library, let us know by coming to the 7th Floor Service Desk or by emailing us at lawlibref@ubalt.edu.

• Lastly, have a great summer! For those of you who are graduating, register with Westlaw for 18 months access via GradElite, and congratulations and best wishes from your friendly law librarians!

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Students, Faculty Honored at 25th Annual Awards Ceremony

The UB School of Law held its 25th Annual Awards Ceremony on Sunday, April 14, 2019, at the John and Frances Angelos Law Center.

The Hon. Cynthia Jones, J.D. ’92, a judge on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, was the keynote speaker. She encouraged the graduating students to refrain from too much worry about the future and concentrate on enjoying the beginning of their law careers.

Herman Brown

For the Class of 2019, Katrina Smith is the projected valedictorian, and Herman Brown is the salutatorian. Katrina Smith also received the 2019 Pro Bono Challenge Award.

Amy Valdivia received the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Outstanding Student Award for her work with the Innocence Project Clinic. Clinical Excellence Awards also went to Ariella Bond, for her work in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, and John Whitney, for his contributions to the work of the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic.

The Student Bar Association recognized Lisa Sparks with the James May Faculty Award and Asst. Dean Alyssa Fieo with the Staff Mentoring Award. The SBA named Alana Glover Student Leader of the Year and recognized UB Students for Public Interest Law for Outstanding Service to UB by a Student Organization.

View the full list of winners here. Congratulations to all!

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UB Law Students Visit the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. to Learn About Human Rights

On April 8, 2019, students from three classes at the UB School of Law – International Law, Law and Human Rights, and Immigrant Rights Clinic – traveled to Washington, D.C. for an interactive discussion with staff from the Organization of American States (OAS). Ryan Frace, Class of 2020, prepared this report of the group’s experience.

The Organization of American States, created in 1948, promotes principles of democracy, peace, and regional solidarity; today, the OAS comprises 35 member states. Its mission also includes promoting human rights throughout the Americas.  

The visit began in the General Secretariat Building, with an overview of the OAS’ history from an adviser to the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Mario López Garelli. Following the adoption of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man – the world’s first general human rights instrument – in 1948, the OAS Charter proclaimed that “the true significance of American solidarity and good neighborliness can only mean the consolidation on this continent” to promote the primary principle of “individual liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights [of all people].”

To implement these principles, the OAS established the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) at the American Convention on Human Rights in Costa Rica (the Pact of San José) in 1969, which entered into force on July 18, 1978. The IACHR currently acts as a principal organ of the OAS and works in collaboration with states to improve their laws, practices, policies, and institutions for the protection of human rights. The IAHCR accepts individual petitions alleging violations of human rights, monitors human rights situations in Member States, and advises and provides technical cooperation.

UB Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic and Law and Human Rights classes will be conducting a simulation of the individual petition system on April 15. The students will be judged by Prof. Elizabeth Keyes and Prof. Nienke Grossman, alongside Maria Oehler Toca, who helps to monitor the Rights of Migrants of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

H.E. Hernan Salinas Burgos, left, with Mario Lopez Garelli

Following the discussion on the history and principles of the OAS, students engaged in a discussion with H.E. Hernan Salinas Burgos, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the OAS. Mr. Salinas Burgos discussed his professional and academic involvement as a professor of international law at the University of Chile while reflecting on his role within OAS.

Students asked questions about his role as both lawyer and diplomat in the OAS, inquired into the goals of the organization and of the member states, and how the OAS has evolved over the years. Mr. Salinas Burgos emphasized that his education and experience as a lawyer and negotiator were instrumental in his diplomatic work at the OAS. Addressing the human rights crises in Venezuela and Nicaragua, he stated that legal perspectives and ability to promote agreements through diplomacy were key factors in identifying and restoring liberty in countries facing human rights crises.

Mr. Salinas Burgos highlighted that “democracy is the principle of human rights and security,” and at the core of his job, he strives to establish responsibility of states, to work cooperatively in negotiations to ensure justice is served, and to further the principles of diplomacy for regional protection of human rights throughout the Americas. This experience provided an extraordinary opportunity to hear from the perspective of a prominent international lawyer, and helped encourage students to involve themselves in the creation of a culture where human rights are the foremost concern of international law.

Prior to our OAS Main Building visit, Mr. Lopez Garelli discussed the institutional history and evolution of the OAS. “We have to think about what every person can do in their own environment to help people in need … [We must] make choices about human dignity … [This] change of culture is necessary,” he said. The room grew quiet; the statement was compelling. I think we all took a minute to think about what we were doing at our school, in our classrooms and clinics, in our own neighborhoods, to ensure these fundamental rights are recognized.

When we arrived at the OAS Main Building, the White House was three blocks to the left and the Washington Monument stretched above the trees to the right. The parking spaces were labeled by country – naturally, the U.S. parking spot had a Jeep Wrangler with the top down. As we walked through the front doors, a recent law graduate from Mexico interning at OAS discussed the building’s elegant structure and symbolism, and he addressed the combination of the major cultural influences founded in the Organization.

Upon entering the building, we observed a tropical atrium surrounded by vegetation from the member regions: North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. In the North American corner, the 100-year-old “Peace Tree” reached up to the ceiling, planted there as a gift by President Taft during the building’s dedication ceremonies in 1910. At the center, there was a pink marble fountain surrounded by mosaics of Mayan culture. On the ceiling surrounding the patio are 22 shields – symbols of peace, law, enlightenment, and patriotism within the member states– alongside a scale representing the ever-important principle of law and justice.

After strolling through the patio, we reached the Simon Bolivar Room, where the Organization’s Permanent Council meets. This council is a political branch of the OAS comprised of ambassadors of each member State. Each student sat at a different member state position; we all felt like ambassadors (even if it was only for a moment). The event concluded with walking up the marble staircase to Hall of the Americas – a magnificent ballroom with two bright chandeliers hanging from high ceilings and white columns with Corinthian capitals to the left and right. We took our final picture on the stage with the member states’ flags behind us.

Field trips are not an integral part of law school curricula; nevertheless, they provide a break from the confines of a classroom and offer an unparalleled learning opportunity for students to engage in and align with the practical realities of their education. The trip to the OAS reinforced the principles of human rights we learned in class, provided students access to methods of activism within global organizations, enhanced our knowledge of different cultures and perspectives, and encouraged students to embrace the principles of collaborative learning.

Despite the progress made on various fronts, situations persist that present challenges for human rights at the global level and in the Americas, and we all left more determined to carry out our duties as aspiring lawyers.

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UB School of Law Softball Team Places Eighth of 82 Law School Teams in Annual UVA Tournament

Story and photo by Jordan Black-Mathews, 1L

UB Law Softball participated in the 36th annual UVA Law School softball tournament this past weekend. The tournament takes place at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville and featured 82 co-rec teams. This year’s UB School of Law softball team consisted of 1Ls Jonathan Lucido, Candice Miller, Christine Choo, Jordan Black-Mathews, Kaya Abukassis, Kelsey Lear, Kevin Thornton, Miranda Walker, Morgan Rhoden, Nathan Steelman, Steven Ahlbrandt and William Sasse; 3L Andy Berg, and Prof. Donald Stone.

Pool play began on Saturday with three games. The first game was against Quinnipiac and was an early morning wake-up call for both teams. UB jumped to an early lead in the first and second innings, thanks to solid hitting and fielding. Quinnipiac made an honorable comeback, but came up short and lost to UB 14-10 after four innings.

UB Law softball team

The second game in pool play featured UB against Columbia’s Team A. UB’s bats woke up in this game, and the final score was 23-4 after three innings of play. Kevin Thornton hit a “quasi home run,” which by rough estimates traveled upwards of 350 feet on the AstroTurf field. In the words of Kevin Thornton, “quasi home runs” were also hit by Nate Steelman and Steve Ahlbrandt. The entire UB team played very well and wanted to continue the momentum going into the final game of pool play.

In the final game of pool play, UB played FRCP 12(f), otherwise known as Brooklyn Law School. The momentum from the earlier game against Columbia Team A was carried over and UB won 17-5 after four innings. Kevin Thornton and Nate Steelman both cleared the fences hitting “real home runs,” which caught the eyes of spectators.

The knockout round began Sunday morning at 9 a.m. against the familiar foe of Quinnipiac. This game was very competitive and lasted an hour and 20 minutes. After going into a sudden-death inning, where any pitch, ball, strike, or foul ball was deemed an out, Jonathan Lucido hit a walk-off two run homer to give UB a 17-16 win against Quinnipiac.

Immediately following the hard-fought win against Quinnipiac, UB played Boston University in the round of 16. UB kept the momentum from the first game on Sunday and beat BU 14-6, thanks to solid all-around play from everyone on the UB team. The next game in the quarterfinals pitted UB against Georgetown. Georgetown got the best of UB and ended up winning 18-6.

UB finished eighth out of 82 teams. The trip was very successful and fun for all the participants on the UB softball team. The trip had its featured highlights and the group that went became a close family throughout the weekend. Connections were made with other law students from other schools, and the trip was memorable in more ways than just softball.

UB Law softball would like to thank all of those who allowed this trip to come together in the end. We would not have been able to have enjoy this past weekend without your support!

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