School of Law’s Alumni Reception at MSBA’s Annual Meeting in OC, June 14

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Alumni from the University of Baltimore School of Law are invited to attend a reception as part of the Maryland State Bar Association’s annual meeting in Ocean City, Md. on Friday, June 14 from 5-7 p.m. at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel, 10100 Coastal Highway.

Join Dean Ronald Weich, UB law faculty and UB law alumni for a happy hour at the MSBA’s yearly gathering. The reception will be held at the Horizons Oceanfront bar in the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel.

Register to attend this event here.

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CFCC Leaders: Address Truancy, and Serious Crime May be Stanched

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In an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun, Barbara Babb, associate professor in the University of Baltimore School of Law and director of its Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts, and Gloria H. Danziger, a senior fellow at the center, say their long-time work in addressing chronic school absenteeism could be part of a solution to juvenile crime.

“The voluntary, non-punitive, school-based Truancy Court Program (TCP) identifies and addresses the complex causes of truancy, helping to break the school-to-prison pipeline for at-risk children,” Babb and Danziger write, noting that this therapeutic, holistic approach results in a high rate of return to regular school attendance for a large majority of students.

“While it is easy to assume that truant students are simply ‘problem’ children, that is not the case. Truancy is not an isolated issue in a child’s life and is often an indicator of challenges occurring within the family, school, and/or community,” they say. “The pervasive truancy in Baltimore City is linked to a multitude of psychological, social, economic and cultural problems that affect the daily lives of children and their families.”

Too often, students facing these issues end up in the juvenile justice system. By addressing truancy now, criminality may be headed off later.

Read the op-ed in The Baltimore Sun.

Learn more about the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts.

 

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Prof. Natalie Ram and Bioethicists from Baylor Examine Law Enforcement’s Use of Genealogy Databases

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In a new paper published in Science, Natalie Ram, assistant professor and associate director of the Center for Medicine and Law in the University of Baltimore School of Law, and bioethicists from Baylor College of Medicine examine the emerging issues surrounding genetic databases.

The article is the latest in a series of national media appearances by Prof. Ram on this topic, including The Verge and Science Friday.

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing has gained in popularity significantly in the last few years, with more people sending samples of their saliva to be evaluated in order to learn more about their family ancestry or risk of disease. Individuals can then upload their genetic information to a variety of public databases that will match them to genetic relatives. While the prospects are enticing, there also has been an emerging trend of law enforcement agencies using these databases to solve crimes and cold cases, raising complex questions about ethics and data access.

Framing the conversation around the Golden State Killer case, which recently led to murder charges following an investigation using access to a genetic genealogy database, Prof. Ram and her fellow researchers discuss the process taken by law enforcement in finding a match and the subsequent legal and ethical questions that arise not only in this case but also for other public DNA databases and the consumers who use them.

Historically, law enforcement has used DNA testing to solve crimes by comparing a DNA sample taken from a crime scene with samples collected in NDIS, the federal forensic database, which houses the records of convicted, and in some states, accused criminals.
Now, if the DNA found at the crime scene does not match a known record in the national forensic database, law enforcement can use publicly accessible genetic genealogy databases to find family members of a suspect and pursue the lead from there.

Using this method, law enforcement can take a sample of DNA from a crime scene, sequence it, and upload it to a genetic genealogy database using a fake profile to see if it matches with anyone on the database. From there, they can build out a family tree to find the most likely suspect, who they then follow to collect other pieces of DNA to try to match the sample taken from the crime scene.

As a result of the increased use in criminal cases, many of these databases have updated their terms of use to address privacy more directly. But, the Science article proffers, users and non-users alike ultimately need to be aware that the information they submit is not limited to their own health or genetic profile—it also may unintentionally give clues related to their genetic relatives, both immediate and distant.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Read the paper in Science.

Learn more about Prof. Ram and UB’s Center for Medicine and Law.

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Prof. Hayes: Supreme Court’s Union Case a Reminder of Decades of Precedence in Labor Law

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Michael Hayes, associate professor in the University of Baltimore School of Law, argues in an op-ed in The Daily Record that the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME District Council 31 case does not warrant overturning decades of precedence in labor law.

“The plaintiff in Janus is a government employee who … claims that requiring those who benefit from collective bargaining to pay for the services and representation they receive from unions somehow violates the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected this claim 41 years ago in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, and the precedent has stood ever since. But now, five justices could overrule that decision and disrupt the lives of millions of employees—as well as the taxpayers they serve—in 22 states and the District of Columbia.”

Prof. Hayes explains that unions, including those that represent public employees, are required to use dues only to pay for services provided to the employees they represent.

“[T]he idea that unions faithfully negotiate and carry out the desire of their members is not an idle assertion,” he says. “It’s one backed up by strong legal rules and protections.”

Read the op-ed in The Daily Record. (Subscription required.)

Learn more about Prof. Hayes.

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Second-Year Student Caitlyn McDaniel Joins Rural Summer Legal Corps

The 2018 Rural Summer Legal Corps—a program that connects public-interest law students with various legal aid organizations—launched on May 30 with a training day in Washington, D.C., hosted by Equal Justice Works and the Legal Services Corporation. Among the participants is Caitlyn McDaniel, a rising 2L at the University of Baltimore School of Law, who will serve this summer at the Ohio State Legal Services Association.

According to Claire Cusella, program manager for Law School Engagement & Advocacy, McDaniel joins 29 other public interest law students in addressing pressing legal issues facing rural communities in the areas of housing, domestic violence, public benefits, migrant farmworkers, tribal, and family law. Specifically, she is providing support to the Court Costs Group during her summer Fellowship, which addresses the issue of access in rural courts to record sealing and obtaining certificates of qualified employment.

McDaniel is providing outreach and education surrounding the value of obtaining certificates of qualified employment, and conducting valuable research around court access.

Equal Justice Works accepts applications for the Rural Summer Legal Corps each February for service beginning in late May. All students serve 8-10 weeks, participate in an intensive training from poverty law experts in Washington and receive a stipend of $5,000.

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Prof. Johnson: In the #MeToo Era, Only 1 in 4 Female Employees Are Reporting Harassers. Why?

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Writing in The Conversation, Margaret Johnson, professor in the University of Baltimore School of Law and co-director of the school’s Center on Applied Feminism, explores the continuing reality of workplace sexual harassment in the #MeToo era. Citing Equal Employment Opportunity Commission statistics that show that only one in four women employees is willing to file a formal complaint against a harasser, she says this low reporting rate can be sourced back to hurdles built into the legal system.

“Based on experience litigating sexual harassment cases as well as my research, I have determined there are three legal barriers that stand in the way of workers filing complaints—a critical step to rooting out harassment and protecting employees,” Prof. Johnson writes.

Prof. Johnson, who also directs UB’s Bronfein Family Law Clinic, describes the barriers thusly:

  • Courts have too narrowly defined sexual harassment when it involves a hostile work environment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
  • Employers have been largely shielded from liability when an employee complains of a hostile work environment that fosters sexual harassment.
  • Laws punishing retaliation are insufficient.

Prof. Johnson says the solution to the “one in four” problem is not simple, but legislative steps already are being taken to improve outcomes and, over time, stop sexual harassment cold.

“The EEOC and other researchers have identified innovative methods to address sexual harassment, such as a reward system for increased complaints, promoting more women, bystander intervention and civility training,” Johnson writes. “Congress should pay attention and encourage these methods while also toughening existing law.”

Read Prof. Johnson’s article.

Learn more about Prof. Johnson, the Center on Applied Feminism and the Bronfein Family Law Clinic.

 

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Human Rights Moot Court Team Wins Big

 

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Following their American Court of Human Rights moot court victory, UB School of Law students Shaneel Myles (second from left) and Karilyn Lee (third from left) receive certificates from Claudia Martin (left) and Diego Rodriguez-Pinzon (right), directors of American University’s Academy on Human Rights.

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Inter-American Court of Human Rights moot court team, composed of students Kari Lee and Shaneel Myles, and coached by UB alumnae Julianne Montes de Oca, J.D ’13, and Hayley Tamburello, J.D. ’13, won the award for the best brief in English at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights moot court competition on May 25 at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. UB also was represented by Associate Professor Nienke Grossman, who served as a judge in the final round of the oral competition for the first time.

“For the first time in the 23-year history of the competition, the case was about gender-based violence in a fictitious Latin American country and what states must do to ensure that they prevent, investigate and punish it appropriately, and consistent with their obligations under the relevant international instruments,” Prof. Grossman reports, noting that 90 teams from around the world participated.

Learn more about the School of Law’s moot court teams.

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