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c o n t e n t s
F e a t u r e s
D e p a r t m e n t s
Opening Statement 2 by Dean Jim Rosenblatt
Law Professor, Lifelong Law Student
Briefs MC Law Out-Argues Ole Miss 4
Professor Matt Steffey
All Rise 5
A New Focus on Health 6 MC Law Review Launches a Third Annual Issue 6 No Dissent 7
26 The Inside
Seeking Justice from Coast to Coast 7
Story on Externs
MC Law Gets Grilled 7 “Service is Who We Are.” 8 Learning the Art of Litigation 8 The Home of the Brave 9 Where Medicine and the Law Meet 10
32 For the
The Case for Curb Appeal 12
A Tribute to the Honorable Robert P. Sugg 13 Faculty Focus 14 Practicing What They Teach 20 Building an Interest in Public Interest 22 For She’s a Public Good Fellow 30 A Man on a Mission 40 You Learn Something New Every Day 46
42 A Gift Today for the Students of Tomorrow
The Case of the Double Brides 47
Class Action 50
Alumni and Reunion Weekend 48 Hot Off the MLi Press 49
Hugh Keating recognizes MC Law with a $25,000 bequest
Closing Statement 54
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opening | statement
Graduates and Friends, We’re familiar with the Latin expression pro bono publico, meaning “for the public good.” Often this phrase is shortened to “pro bono,” referring in our profession to legal services provided without charge. The “publico” portion of the phrase is important, though, as it reminds us of the need to ensure that the public in general has access to legal services. Without access to the legal system, people would not have the recourse to protect themselves in financial transactions, ensure the welfare of their families, enjoy property, or receive government assistance. While there is a system in place for providing assistance in criminal matters, access to justice for civil matters is often predicated on being able to afford to pay for professional services. Attorneys have long provided pro bono services on an individual basis, taking on legal work with the understanding that they would not be paid. However,
MC Law Dean Jim Rosenblatt has been appointed by the Supreme Court to serve on the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission. Led by Supreme Court Justice Jess Dickinson, the Commission works to ensure that all Mississippians have access to justice. access to those services is often based on the client knowing an attorney or at least knowing how to reach an attorney. There are many who do not know an attorney and have no idea of how to seek out legal services. Although federal and state-funded programs play an important role, the solution to ensuring access to the legal system for all will not come from these programs. Instead, the solution depends on the willingness of individual attorneys and law firms to provide necessary legal services and to ensure there is pub-
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lic awareness of how to obtain them. To that end, MC Law has an obligation to inspire our students to embrace this responsibility. I use the word “inspire” in a similar fashion as did a marine who spoke of his training methodology during a message to the Corps. His goal, he said, was not to motivate, but to inspire. According to the marine, motivation was like a cup of coffee, the effects of which may quickly wear off. However, inspiration internalizes a concept and produces a lasting change in behavior and attitude. MC Law’s Public Service Law Center, our Mission First Legal Aid Office, and our partnerships with legal service providers all provide opportunities for our students to offer legal services to the underserved. Through these programs and organizations, students see first-hand the desperation of clients who have no idea how to proceed when faced with a legal problem, and they witness the joy and relief these same clients feel when a legal matter is resolved. Our students experience an up-close-and-personal look at how their training and education give them the power to provide assistance for the powerless. MC Law offers countless role models who exemplify the sacrifices and rewards of public interest law. Our students are inspired by the heartfelt work of Patti Gandy ’98 in our Legal Aid Office, observe as La’Verne Edney ’96 provides dynamic leadership to the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, watch our law professors as they assist
“The solution depends on the willingness of individual attorneys and law firms to provide necessary legal services and to ensure there is public awareness of how to obtain them. To that end, MC Law has an obligation to inspire our students to embrace this responsibility.” legal aid providers or provide the handson labor to build a Habitat Home, and note the work of their fellow students on service projects ranging from buying toys for needy children at Christmas to conducting coat drives to warm those less fortunate.
It is our goal that our students emerge from this law school not only with an awareness of the tremendous need for pro bono legal services, but also with a heart geared toward taking the responsibility for providing legal services to the underserved. Only this collective approach
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can begin to solve the problem of providing needed access to justice for all. Jim Rosenblatt, Dean “Let Justice Roll”
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MC Law Out-Argues Ole Miss Each fall, the MC Law and the University of Mississippi School of Law face off in the Ole Miss vs. Mississippi College Trial Competition, a good-natured intrastate rivalry. This year, MC Law 3Ls Erin Brown and Clay Baldwin brought the title back to Jackson after a hard-argued competition in Oxford. Three MC Law teams competed in the November 5-6 event. In addition to Baldwin and Brown, the winning team included 2Ls Tyler Kent and Emily Scott serving as witnesses. All three teams were coached by Eric Brown ’08, Kelly Holl-
ingsworth ’09, and Amy Strickland ’08. “Competing against another in-state school certainly feels different than competing against a law school from another region,” winning team member Erin Brown says. “In some ways it certainly feels like a rivalry match. In other ways there’s a level of friendly spirit that doesn’t exist at national competitions. There’s also some ‘extra-special’ school pride that comes from winning this competition. I personally enjoy making sure those trophies stay safe at home in MC’s trophy case.”
“Each team is aware of the bragging rights that come with the title,” Clay Baldwin agrees. “With that said, I’ve always enjoyed meeting and interacting with the competitors at moot court and trial competitions. As attorneys, we should zealously represent our clients, but we should also strive to be collegial professionals at the end of the day. I think these competitions foster that attitude. It was a pleasure meeting and competing against the teams from Ole Miss, and I look forward to calling them colleagues in legal practice.”
MC Law students competing in the Ole Miss vs. Mississippi College Trial Competition included: Competition Winners: Clay Baldwin, Erin Brown, Tyler Kent, Emily Scott Jamie Ballard, Stephanie Carter, Erin Bachman, James Manley • Nick Crawford, Kyle White, Megan Potts, Michael Saltaformaggio
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MC Law Welcomes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Temperatures below freezing and a rare shower of snowflakes proved no match for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose January 4th appearance in Jackson, Mississippi, attracted a crowd of more than 650 law students, law faculty, judges, and attorneys. Justice Scalia was honored at a luncheon at First Baptist Church Jackson cosponsored by MC Law and the Mission First Legal Aid Office. Welcomed by First Baptist Senior Pastor Stan Buckley ’91, Justice Scalia delivered an address peppered with one-liners on the high court’s use of foreign legal materials, shared a few of the many insights gained in his nearly 24 years on the Supreme Court, then fielded questions from members of
“MC Law is a legal center not only for our students, but also for the state of Mississippi. It’s our pleasure to bring speakers of Justice Scalia’s caliber to Jackson and to share them with the legal community.” Dean Jim Rosenblatt
the MC Law moot court board. The audience showed its appreciation for Justice Scalia’s appearance with a standing ovation. The colorful justice then spoke with guests one-on-one as he personalized 145 copies of his book, Making Your Case: the Art of Persuading Judges. amıcus | 5
Those on hand to welcome Justice Scalia included Governor and Mrs. Haley Barbour, retired federal judge and Scalia’s personal friend Charles Pickering, Mississippi College President Lee Royce, leaders from Mississippi’s legal community, and many enthusiastic MC law students. This was Justice Scalia’s third time to speak at a program sponsored by MC Law in Jackson. “We are always pleased to welcome Justice Scalia,” said MC Law Dean Jim Rosenblatt. “MC Law is a legal center not only for our students, but also for the state of Mississippi. It’s our pleasure to bring speakers of Justice Scalia’s caliber to Jackson and to share them with the legal community.”
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A New Focus on Health MC Law Forms the Health Law Society
In the fall of 2009, MC Law launched the Health Law Society, a new student organization that will work closely with MC Law’s new Bioethics and Health Law Center to promote student interest and opportunities in health-related law. Still in its developmental stages, the Bioethics and Health Law Center is directed by new faculty member Professor Jonathan Will, who also serves as faculty advisor for the Health Law Society. “The purpose of the center is to bring together members of the medical, legal, and policy-making communities to address contemporary healthcare issues covering the spectrum from the beginning of life to the end of life,” says Professor Will. “The great thing I noticed when I initially came to MC Law was that there was already a strong interest in health law within the student body.” That interest was clear when the Health Law Society held its first roundtable discussion on September 24. Hosted by adjunct professor Joseph Blackston, M.D.,
J.D., the lively, well-attended discussion focused on the pros and cons of the proposed healthcare reform. Specific issues raised included a possible shortage of doctors caused by the reform and the potential effects of the reform on individuals. “The formation of the Health Law Society is timely,” says Jennifer Kizer, a
3L law student who attended the roundtable discussion. “I have a background in the healthcare industry and having an opportunity to attend this forum and be a part of an organization that merges both law and health is exciting, particularly considering that this is such a hot topic nationwide.”
Having an opportunity to attend this forum and be a part of an organization that merges both law and health is exciting, particularly considering that this is such a hot topic nationwide.”— Jennifer Kizer, MC Law Student
MC Law Review Launches a Third Annual Issue The Mississippi College Law Review announces the addition of a third annual issue titled The Mississippi Practitioner’s Issue. Attorneys interested in submitting articles on Mississippi law are encouraged to contact email@example.com.
John Helmert Assistant Secretary of State for Elections
Lisa A. Reppeto Watkins, Ludlum, Winter, & Stennis, P.A.
Jane B. Morgan Watkins & Eager, PLLC
Adam Stone Watkins, Ludlum, Winter, & Stennis, P.A.
L. Michele McCain Adams & Reese, LLP
Kenneth D. Farmer Young Williams, P.A.
Mississippi attorneys who contributed to the inaugural issue include:
Bernard H. Booth, IV Adams & Reese, LLP
Jamie Heard Scott, Sullivan, Streetman, & Fox, P.C.
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Stephen Shackelford Delivers A Crowd-Pleasing Lecture
On September 17, the MC Law Moot Court Board presented trial attorney Stephen Shackelford as the latest speaker in its popular Supreme Court Lecture Series. A former law clerk to the Honorable Michael Boudin of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and for the Honorable Stephen G. Breyer of the United States Supreme Court,
Shackelford drew the first standing room only crowd in the history of the Supreme Court Lecture Series. “Stephen delivered an engaging lecture on a topic that’s often misconstrued,” said Nick Crawford, a 3L student and member of the Moot Court Board who attended the lecture. “Our law school was truly the beneficiary in this event, and
that is solely a credit to Stephen. We hope that future Supreme Court Lecture Series events draw this kind of crowd.” Shackelford’s topic was “The Role of Dissent at the High Court.” He made the point that dissents are best used as a means to convince future litigants to try the issue based on an argument included in the dissent. Shackelford brought to light the fact that dissents are often written prior to the deciding of a case and used as a means to convince other justices to join in that particular argument; therefore, once the case is decided, the losing argument often becomes the dissent. Shackelford is now an associate with Susman Godfrey LLP in Dallas, Texas. Born in Oxford, Mississippi, Shackelford graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and first in his class from Harvard Law School. The Supreme Court Lecture Series features lawyers who have argued cases before the United States Supreme Court or clerks and justices who have served at the United States Supreme Court. The series provides MC Law students, faculty, and guests an opportunity to hear first-hand about the varied experiences speakers have had with the High Court.
“Stephen delivered an engaging lecture on a topic that’s often misconstrued. We hope that future Supreme Court Lecture Series events draw this kind of crowd.” Nick Crawford, MC Law Student
Seeking Justice from Coast to Coast Members of the student chapter of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) are taking part in legal and legislative advocacy and building relationships with AAJ executives and trial attorneys from coast to coast. In July, several chapter members traveled to San Francisco to attend the AAJ Annual Convention, which fea-
tured speakers from across the United States discussing topics ranging from admiralty law to mass tort litigation. The convention included a number of events tailored to law students, such as resume workshops and interviewing skills, as well as opportunities to meet and learn from judges and attorneys from all over the country.
MC Law Gets Grilled
Back in Jackson, the chapter hosted energetic and informational meetings for its members and fellow law students. Joey Diaz ’72, an AAJ executive board member and past president who practices with the Jackson-based Diaz Law Firm, spoke with the group about the importance of involvement in AAJ and the benefits available to its members.
The Law Student Bar Association (LSBA) hosted its 14th annual Derrick Milner Barbeque for students, faculty, and staff on September 24th. Milner, MC Law building superintendent and master of the grill, smoked up some 240 pounds of ribs and 160 pounds of chicken for hungry barbeque fans at the MC Law Student Center. “The annual barbeque is by far one of the favorite events at MC Law,” says Brandon Waltrip, LSBA president. “Few functions offer this kind of opportunity for great food and great fellowship.” amıcus | 7
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“Service is Who We Are. Service is What We Do.” “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31: 8-9 The R. Jess Brown Chapter of the National Black Law Student Association (BLSA) takes Proverbs 31: 8-9 seriously, participating in numerous community service and pro bono activities. In October, BLSA coordinated a week of community service activities culminating in Founders Day of Service at the R. Jess Brown City Park, where members provided food, fun, and fellowship to residents of the community and organized a community clean up. Other service projects during the fall semester
included volunteer work for Community Place Nursing Home, Operation Shoestring, the Ronald McDonald House, and Dress for Success, and adopting families for Thanksgiving. Looking ahead to 2010, BLSA has planned programs to foster mentorship and tutoring for youth, as well as activities to enhance philanthropic efforts in the legal profession. In the spring, BLSA will invite local high school seniors to visit MC Law as part of a Law Student for a Day Program. Participants will ex-
perience a full day of law school classes under the auspices of a sponsoring BLSA member. “As future lawyers, we have a responsibility to help the next generation,” says Karen Nazaire, chapter president. “I know I wouldn’t be where I am without the help of my family and community. By working with the next generation we can ensure the cycle doesn’t stop, but presses forward.” BLSA has also formed a strong relationship with Mission First, a non-profit, Christian-based organization providing ministry, services, and support to Metro Jackson residents in need. BLSA members volunteer their time with the organization’s children’s and sports and adolescents ministries, local renovation and Habitat House builds, and other areas of need. BLSA has also contributed countless volunteer hours at the Mission First Legal Aid Office. “It’s our firm belief that to whom much is given, much is required,” says Zandria King, BLSA community service chairman. “It’s our mission to use our resources and our knowledge as law students to encourage and assist individuals in need. Service is who we are. Service is what we do.”
Learning the Art of Litigation An outstanding resource for students interested in trial practice and general litigation, the Advocacy Society organizes programs that increase professional competency, provide networking opportunities with members of the bar, and improve students’ understanding of the litigation process. The society organizes approximately five hands-on training sessions per semester presented by members of the Advocacy Advisory Board, which is comprised of local district attorneys, criminal defense
lawyers, and civil litigation attorneys. Subjects covered in fall 2009 sessions included trial themes and theories, voir dire, opening statements, and direct and cross examinations. The Advocacy Society amıcus | 8
also gathers information about the court dockets from local trial and appellate courts and shares this information with members of the MC Law community who wish to observe proceedings. “I’m pleased that so many of our students are motivated to spend time outside the classroom learning litigation skills,” says Professor Victoria Lowery, the organization’s faculty advisor. “It’s exciting to observe the interaction between mentoring attorneys and student advocates and see both sides enjoying the process.”
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The Home of the Brave
MC Law Continues its Salute to Alumni Who Have Served in the Armed Forces
Sgt. Evelyn Holden ’09 joined the Army in 1996 as a medical specialist. In 2003, she deployed to Iraq with the 28th Combat Support Hospital as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Assigned to a hospital 20 miles south of Baghdad, Sgt. Holden worked 12- to 16-hour days, seven days a week, handling emergency cases and assisting in the operating room and with post-operative care on the surgical wards. “The 28th personnel saw each casualty as one of our own,” Sgt. Holden says. “As I reflected on the faces of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, it became apparent to me that we are all called for a higher purpose, more than we could ever imagine for ourselves. I promised God that if I survived the war zone with a sound mind and body, I would not waste one minute of my life doing anything out of the will of God. I wanted my life to make a difference and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others.” Sgt. Holden made good on that vow. Upon her return from Iraq, she completed her undergraduate degree in political science at Jackson State University and enrolled in and graduated from MC Law. Today, Sgt. Holden is a legal administrator with YoungWilliams Child Support Services, working for the children of Mississippi. “The Army core values are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage,” Sgt. Holden says. “I would argue that all seven values are attributes lawyers must possess in
quarters; and served a three-year tour as Air National Guard Assistant to the commander of Air Force Materiel Command. General Lutz’s command pilot experience totals more than 8,000 flying hours, including over 900 combat missions. He has received 29 awards and decorations, including the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Distinguished Flying Cross. His legal career has been equally distinguished. From 1995-2006, General order to survive the rigor and moral Lutz served as Chancery Court Judge temptations associated with the practice for Holmes, Leake, Madison, and Yazoo of law. In fact, each of my careers has Counties. Today, he serves as a senior led me to and prepared me for the next. status judge, accepting appointments to From my very first job at McDonald’s try cases from the Mississippi Supreme to my military service to law school to Court, and heads Lutz Mediation and my current position, all have been vital Arbitration Services. to shaping me into the citizen servant “My military experience benefitted me when I was on the bench. As a judge, that I have become.” I had to make decisions under pressure, Major General William J. Lutz ’82, which is the same thing a combat leader MC Law’s highest-ranking military alum- does. On the other hand, taking a thrashnus, retired from the service in 2006 as ing in the courtroom by another lawyer the assistant adjutant general and com- pales in comparison to being shot at by mander of the Mississippi Air National someone who wants you dead. Guard. As commander, General Lutz “I enjoyed serving as a judge because I directed Air National Guard operations had the authority to do the right thing,” and ensured mission readiness of an air General Lutz continues. “I realized that in refueling wing, an airlift wing, a combat many cases, I could help people come to communications squadron, and a combat solve their own problems instead of cramreadiness training center, which included ming a decision down their throats. That’s air control and civil engineering squadrons. one reason I enjoy mediation. There are “My passion and calling were always very few military vets who would choose to serve in the military,” General Lutz confrontation over a peaceful alternasays. “My inspiration came from my oath tive. Anyone who has been in combat to support and defend the ideals embod- would never choose to go to war if there ied in the constitution. To me, there was was another possible resolution.” One arena in which General Lutz defino higher calling.” General Lutz fulfilled that calling nitely favors mediation over confrontation with honor. He entered the Air Force in is the home front. Major General William 1968 and served combat tours in Laos Lutz’s wife, Brigadier General Cathy Lutz, and Vietnam. Following 10 years of active is the first female general in the history of duty with the Air Force, he joined the the Mississippi National Guard. Mississippi Air National Guard as a pilot. “People sometimes ask if we salute Over the next 28 years, General Lutz each other, but the answer is no,” General commanded a flying squadron, group, Lutz says with a smile. “I may outrank and wing; served as chief of staff at Cathy by one star, but she’s always been Mississippi Air National Guard Head- in charge.”
mc law graduates with military service records who were not listed in the summer edition of Amicus include: Richard Chotard ’63, Army
Mager Varnado ’74, Navy • Dennis Peters ’79, Army • Bobby Ariatti ’84, Navy, Air Force Reserves John Kirkland ’85, Marine Corps • Craig Miller ’88, Air Force amıcus | 9
Where Medicine and the
Law Meet MC Law’s New Bioethics and Health Law Center
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“The establishment of this new center is one more example of MC Law working to create unique opportunities not only for our graduates, but also for the Mississippi legal community.” Dean Jim Rosenblatt Anticipating explosive growth in the field of healthcare law, MC Law launched a new Bioethics and Health Law Center in the fall of 2009. Still in its developmental stages, the center will connect MC Law students and faculty with members of the medical, legal, and policy-making communities to address healthcare issues covering the spectrum from the beginning to the end of life. The long-term vision for the center includes adding more health law related externships and course offerings, creating opportunities for networking with health law and medical professionals, and someday offering a J.D. with a concentration in health law. The Bioethics and Health Law Center is headed by Professor Jona-
than Will, who joined the MC Law faculty last summer. “Our plan is to offer a program that would allow students to earn a certificate of advanced study in health law,” Professor Will says. “When law firms are looking for health law attorneys, MC Law graduates would have an edge over candidates with a general law degree.” “The establishment of this new center is one more example of MC Law working to create unique opportunities not only for our graduates, but also for the Mississippi legal community,” says Dean Jim Rosenblatt. “Healthcare reform is the hot topic in the United States today. Changes resulting from that reform will create new challenges for the legal profes-
sion as well as for the medical profession. “Outside of the immediate issue of healthcare reform, ongoing developments and advances in medicine often lead to thorny legal and ethical questions,” Dean Rosenblatt continues. “The new Bioethics and Health Law Center will explore the changing role of the law in these emerging medical issues.” “Health law and bioethics are exciting but ever-changing and advancing fields,” Professor Will adds. “MC Law has a great advantage in that the resources are already here in Jackson in both the medical and legal communities, including a medical school and a law school, to begin building an outstanding program today.”
Meet Professor Jonathan Will In addition to overseeing the development of the Bioethics and Health Law Center, Professor Jonathan Will teaches bioethics and the law, health care law, and civil procedure courses. Prior to joining MC Law, Will was an associate with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC in Pittsburgh and served as an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the University of Pittsburgh and a summa cum laude graduate of Canisius College, he holds degrees in English, psychology, and bioethics. amıcus | 11
The Case for Curb Appeal
The MC Law campus received a mini-makeover last fall thanks to a donation of landscaping from Wayne Parker. Parker, a successful real estate developer, member of the Mississippi College board of trustees, and longtime MC benefactor, provided the funding for trees, shrubs, and colorful flower beds that created instant curb appeal for the downtown campus. As a real estate developer, Parker has long known that landscaping is the cosmetic enhancement that delivers the greatest bang for the buck. “MC Law is a tremendous asset to Mississippi College and to Jackson, and the campus itself should reflect that,” Parker says. “First impressions are vitally important to prospective students and others who visit. The campus was already attractive, but the added landscaping gives it an uplifted look. It’s like a wonderful present made even more special by the way it’s wrapped.”
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Honorable Robert P. Sugg
1916 – 2010
by Chief Justice William L. Waller, Jr.*
On February 26, 2009, the Honorable Robert P. Sugg held court one last time at the Carroll Gartin Building in Jackson. That morning, my fellow justices and I gathered for coffee with the 93 year-old former Presiding Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, laughing as he shared stories about his life and experiences on the Court. I have fond memories of that day. Justice Sugg passed away on January 1, 2010, just a few weeks shy of turning 94. He left behind a precious wife, whom he described as his “only sweetheart;” three sons; and countless lives touched by his kindness. Robert Sugg followed a non-traditional path to becoming a lawyer. He attended Wood Junior College in Mathison, Mississippi, and Mississippi A & M (now Mississippi State University), majoring in accounting for two years before deciding to pursue a legal career. Sugg then accepted a job in the Webster County Sheriff’s office and for the next two years, he self-studied Mississippi law. He immersed himself in the Mississippi Code of 1930, reading it through innumerable times, and made acquaintances with local attorneys who shared law books and offered advice. Sugg attended the Jackson School of Law (now the Mississippi College School of Law) for only a semester before taking and passing the Mississippi Bar exam. Even though he never actually graduated, Sugg considered himself an alumnus of the law school and
enjoyed attending alumni events. Upon passing the Bar exam, Sugg opened a law office in Eupora and became a law partner with then-local district attorney J.P. Coleman, who would later serve as a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, Governor, and Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. After partnering with Coleman, Sugg continued as a sole practitioner in Eupora from 1940 to 1950.
“As a husband, a father, a literacy missionary, a lawyer, a chancellor, and a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, Justice Sugg led an exemplary life. His life is best characterized by Micah 6:8: ‘. . . What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’”
At the outbreak of World War II, Sugg tried to enlist as an aviation cadet. Much to his dismay, he failed his physical due to a perforated eardrum. He did, however, participate in the civilian pilot training program at Mississippi State. There, he learned to be a pilot and developed a lifelong love of flying. Later, as a chancellor, he often conducted business
by flying his small plane to the outlying counties in his district. In 1949, Sugg was appointed as Webster County Prosecuting Attorney, his first public office. Two years later, he was elected Chancellor for the Fourteenth Chancery District. He served as chancellor for the next 21 years, until Governor John Bell Williams appointed him to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1971. Justice Sugg enjoyed 12 years on the Court, retiring in 1983 at the age of 66. Justice Sugg continued meaningful work after leaving the Court, accepting special appointments as a senior status judge until he turned 83. Retirement also afforded him more time to devote to a ministry promoting literacy that he and his wife originally began in the 1960s. Justice and Mrs. Sugg conducted workshops all over the country on how to teach people to read and write. Justice Sugg personally taught conversational English and helped immigrants prepare for citizenship in the United States. As a husband, a father, a literacy missionary, a lawyer, a chancellor, and a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, Justice Sugg led an exemplary life. His life is best characterized by Micah 6:8: “. . . What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” All who knew the Honorable Robert Sugg were better for it. I am thankful to have called him a friend.
* I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of my law clerk, Gabe Goza, in preparing this article.
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faculty | focus
Meta Copeland ’98
Donald Campbell Professor Campbell, visiting professor of law, lectured on Current Topics in Legal Ethics at the CLE seminar for State Government Attorneys staged at the state capitol. He also presented on Current Ethical Issues for Bankruptcy Counsel at the 29th Annual Seminar of the Mississippi Bankruptcy Conference. Professor Campbell serves as the reporter for the Mississippi Code of Judicial Conduct Study Committee, which is studying revisions to the current Code of Judicial Conduct. In addition, Professor Campbell presented The Need for a Mythology of Civility at the Central States Law School Association Conference in Columbus, Ohio, and Civility is Dead and I Don’t Feel So Good Myself: The Need for a Myth of Civility at the MC Law Faculty Forum. Meta Copeland ‘98 Professor Copeland served as the faculty coach for the 2009 National Pretrial Competition in Tampa, Florida, October 1-3, 2009. The competition was cosponsored by Stetson University College of Law and the Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar Association. The team included four 3L students, Nick Crawford, Ryan Revere, Gene Taylor, and Kyle
White. Professor Copeland partnered with Bill Lovett ’01, who served as the team’s attorney coach, to coach this talented, motivated team of law students. Shelton Hand Professor Hand completed the Annual Supplement for his book, Hand, Mississippi Divorce, Alimony and Child Custody, 6th Edition, published by West/Thomson. Professor Hand continues to work with various attorneys and Mission First, advising and consulting in reference to cases with emphasis on child custody, child support, and marital issues. Christoph Henkel Professor Henkel published Preparation of Contracts Governed by the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods in Chapter 35 in the Commercial Law and Practice Guide, Commercial Law League of America, Lexis/Nexis in 2009. He serves as coach for the MC Law Jessup International Law Moot Court team. Lee Hetherington The second edition of Professor Hetherington’s book, The Lawyer’s Guide To Negotiation (with X. M. “Mike” Frascogna), was published by ABA Books,
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the official publishing arm of the American Bar Association. Professor Hetherington is working on a second book for the ABA entitled Entertainment Law For The General Practitioner (with Frascogna and Britt), which will be published in 2010. Jeffrey Jackson Owen Cooper Professor of Law Professor Jackson lectured on Current Topics in Legal Ethics at the CLE Seminar for State Government Attorneys staged at the state capitol. He also presented on Current Ethical Issues for Bankruptcy Counsel at the 29th Annual Seminar of the Mississippi Bankruptcy Conference. In July, Professor Jackson and Dean Mary Miller published the Ninth Annual Supplement to their multi-volume Encyclopedia of Mississippi Law. Professor Jackson has also provided advice to the Division of Policy and Research of the Office of the Mississippi Secretary of State on the modification and adoption of provisions of the Model Registration of Agent’s Act in light of the state Supreme Court’s inherent judicial powers.
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Judge Carolyn Jefferson
Judge Carolyn Jefferson Judge Jefferson retired from the bench in New Orleans and joined MC Law as a visiting professor of civil law for the 200910 academic year, teaching civil law obligations and matrimonial regimes during the fall semester. She passed the Mississippi Bar Examination and was admitted to practice in Mississippi in October. Judith Johnson Professor Johnson published an article titled “Reasonable Factors Other than Age: Will the Court Allow Ageist Stereotypes to Control the Meaning of this Defense to Disparate Impact?” in 33 Seattle U. L. Rev. 49 (2009). Wulf Kaal Professor Kaal is working on an amicus brief that will be filed with the Supreme Court in Morrison vs. National Australia Bank. The case involves extraterritorial application of United States securities laws in private suits; specifically Australian nationals are seeking to sue an Australian bank in the U.S. over an alleged securities fraud. The brief will be filed in support of the bank, arguing that the suit has insufficient U.S. ties and should be dismissed. The SEC and
the Obama administration also oppose the suit going forward. Professor Kaal presented Directors and Officers Liability for Taking Excessive Risk in Germany and the United States at the Seton Hall Law Review Symposium, Securities Regulation and the Global Economic Crisis: What Does the Future Hold? in October. Professor Kaal is also working on an article titled, “Abschied vom Verbundprodukt Gesellschaftsrecht” (“Farewell to Corporate Law as a Bundled Product”) with Christian Kirchner. Professor Kaal coaches the Jessup International Moot Court team and has been actively involved in drafting for the ABA securities regulation subcommittee in the context of the proposed “Madoff rule.” Angela Mae Kupenda ‘91 Professor Kupenda has published several academic articles, presented at a number of academic conferences, served as a scholar in residence, and served as a constitutional law consultant on several projects in related disciplines. Kupenda and her co-author, Law Librarian Tiffany R. Paige, had their article, “Why Punished for Speaking President Obama’s Name? And Can Educators Constitution-
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Angela Mae Kupenda ’91
ally Truth-en the Marketplace of Ideas About Blacks?” accepted for publication in the Obama Symposium Issue, Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall Law Review (2009). Kupenda and Paige were invited to present their article at the related law review symposium held in Houston in October 2009. Kupenda also had accepted for publication an article co-authored with Evelyn Holden ’09 and Ke Yuan ’08 titled “Donning Judicial Robes, Cloaking Racial Views: Judicial Speech on Matters Involving Race, Especially on the Jena Six,” Southern University Law Review (2009). Kupenda made a number of academic presentations of her published work and works in progress. She served as the panel moderator and as a presenter on the panel Comparative Cross-National Family and Gender Issues at the 31st International Congress on Law and Mental Health, New York University Law School, in July, and as a panelist at the Communities of Justice, 2009 Concerned Philosophers for Peace Conference and University of Dayton Richard R. Baker Colloquium, Ohio, in November, where she presented her published article analogizing racial dysfunction to domestic violence. She also presented her published paper on affir-
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J. Larry Lee
mative action at the Affirmative Action: Requiem or Renaissance Conference, Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas, in September. In addition, she presented her work in progress titled, The Struggling Class, as a panelist on the Race, Class and Family Panel at the LatCrit Conference, American University, Washington, D.C., in October. This fall, Kupenda taught a course she designed as a constitutional law seminar titled Presidential Powers and the Obama Presidency to a diverse group of law students, and lectured at several schools on the Obama presidential administration. She was the keynote speaker at the President Obama’s First Year, Annual Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Lecture Series held at Jackson State University in October; a panelist at the President Obama’s First Year Law Review Symposium at the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Forth Worth, in October; a panelist at the Law Review Symposium, The Obama Effect on the Legal Profession, at Faulkner University, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law-Fred Gray Civil Rights Symposium, Montgomery, in October; and a panelist at the President Obama’s First Year, Medgar Evers & Ella Baker Lecture Series at Jackson
Victoria Lowery ’98
State University in November. Some of Kupenda’s presentations were to pre-law school students, including her presentation, “From College Freshman to Successful Lawyer: Steps to Success” at the Reuben V. Anderson Pre-Law Program, 2nd Annual Pre-Law Summer Camp on the Tougaloo College and Mississippi College School of Law campuses in June 2009. During her sabbatical and throughout the summer, Kupenda served as the Visiting Scholar in Residence at the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy at Jackson State University. Kupenda also collaborated on several academic projects as a constitutional law resource and an editor including a collaborative grant proposal between Indiana University and Jackson State University to research and create technology to protect the privacy rights of medical patients; an ADVANCE Proposal to the National Science Foundation to assist female faculty at historically black colleges and universities to advance as scholars and through the promotion and tenure process; and on a Students Promoting Interest in Computing supported by Educational Scholarships (SPICES) National Science Foundation Proposal
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Mary Miller ’85
submitted by administrators and faculty at Jackson State University to provide scholarships for underrepresented groups. J. Larry Lee Professor Lee attended the American Bar Association Business Law meeting, the Mississippi Bar Convention, and the Tulane Tax Institute, and is awaiting the action of Congress in an anticipated tax act as a result of the financial crisis, health reform, and other government activities. Victoria Lowery ‘98 Professor Lowery conducted a successful appellate advocacy program in the fall and continues to lead MC Law’s moot court competition program. This year, MC Law will continue to build on its success, fielding a record number of teams for regional and national competitions. Mary Miller ‘85 Dean Miller continues to publish her MLi Appellate Case Update Service, which is distributed electronically on a weekly basis. Her Mississippi Rules Annotated 2009-2010 is in its fourth edition. Dean Miller serves as director of the MC Law Public Service Law Center.
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Alina Ng Professor Ng’s article, “The Author’s Rights in Literary and Artistic Works,” was published in the John Marshall Intellectual Property Law Review. Professor Ng also presented “Owning Literary and Artistic Works” in September 2009 at the 2nd Conference on Innovation and Communication at the University of Louisville and “When Users are Authors: Authorship in the Age of Digital Media,” at Vanderbilt University School of Law. She presented her work in progress, “Taking Copyright Seriously: When Abridging Rights is Wrong,” at Seton Hall University School of Law’s Intellectual Property Conference in October. Mark Modak-Truran J. Will Young Professor of Law Professor Modak-Truran is the co-chair of the Section on Law and Religion of the Association of American Law Schools and will finish his term as chair at the Annual Meeting (January 2010). He presented an article entitled “Beyond Theocracy and Secularism (Part II): The New Religious Pluralism and A Post-Secular Paradigm for Law and Religion (forthcoming in the Journal of Law and Religion),” for the panel Perspectives on Law and Religious Pluralism at the Law and
Society Association Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado in May. He also presented this article for a panel on law and religion at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities at Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts, in April. Professor Modak-Truran will present a paper on Political Theology and A Post-Secular Paradigm for Law and Religion for a panel entitled Political Theory and Law at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (March 19-20, 2010). In addition, he is writing and presenting an article entitled “Pluralism and A Process Theory of Natural Law,” for Politics as a Moral Question: A Conference on Process Philosophy and Political Theory sponsored by the Martin E. Marty Center of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago (October 14-16, 2010). Professor Modak-Truran is also working on several other writing projects including: Book Review, Law & Society Review (2010) (reviewing Prison Religion: Faith-Based Reform and the Constitution (2009)); Book Review, J. Church & St. (2009) (reviewing The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life (2008)); Beyond Theoc-
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racy and Secularism: The New Religious Pluralism and A Post-Secular Paradigm for Law and Religion (book manuscript); and Reenchanting the Law: The Religious Dimension of Judicial Decision Making (book manuscript being revised for publication). Matthew Steffey Professor Steffey was quoted in numerous media outlets last summer and fall related to a series of high-profile legal cases. He coached the MC Law National Moot Court team that won the regional competition and will compete in the national finals in New York, New York in February. Professor Steffey continues his service as the reporter for the Criminal Law Code Revision Committee, the supreme court advisory committee on rules and a group working under the direction of the supreme court drafting rules of criminal procedure. Jonathan Will Professor Will joined the MC Law faculty last fall. During his first semester at MC Law he taught civil procedure and served as faculty advisor for the Health Law Society, a new student organization. Professor Will is organizing a Bioethics and Health Law Center at MC Law.
Learned Law Professor, Lifelong Law Student Going to the Dogs Professor Matt Steffey and his daughter, Erin, share a moment with Kit, the familyâ€™s beloved greyhound. Kit is the fourth greyhound the Steffey family has rescued from the harsh world of dog racing.
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His hair is long, his shirt is hawaiian, and his toenails are painted dark indigo. At first glance, Matt Steffey looks more like a free-spirited student than a tenured law school professor. But in this case, appearances are deceiving. Steffey holds a J.D. from Florida State University College of Law and an LL.M. from Columbia University School of Law in New York. He joined MC Law in 1990, becoming a tenured member of the faculty before his 33rd birthday. Today, Professor Steffey teaches criminal law, constitutional law, evidence, civil rights, and first amendment law, and also coaches MC law moot court competition teams. But in keeping with his youthful demeanor, his favorite part of being a teacher is being a student. “I always had an interest in the law and in academic life. I went to law school with the idea of seeing where it would take me rather than with a finite goal of practicing,” Professor Steffey says. “I love the atmosphere here at the law school. What I like the most about teaching is the idea that I’m permanently studying the law.” When it comes to analyzing the fine points of the law, Professor Steffey is as comfortable in front of a camera as he is behind the podium. Steffey is the go-to legal resource for members of the Mississippi media. When a TV, radio, or newspaper reporter wants a knowledgeable comment on a hot legal topic, he or she contacts Matt Steffey. In recent months, Professor Steffey has commented on several high-profile cases, including the
continued fallout from the Dickie Scruggs judicial bribery scandal and the trial of late Jackson Mayor Frank Melton. “I landed that particular job by default,” Professor Steffey says with a wry smile. “The other members of the faculty have a healthy aversion to seeing their words edited in print or for a sound bite.”
Permission Slips Required
Forget touring the Capitol or the Supreme Court building. Professor Matt Steffey’s idea of a field trip is taking his criminal law class students to the Angola Prison Rodeo, a daylong showcase of daring feats performed by the inmates. Behind the scenes, Steffey has been involved in a number of law reform projects. He serves as the reporter for the Criminal Law Code Revision Committee, the Mississippi Supreme Court advisory committee on rules of criminal procedure. The 15 members of the committee are charged with drafting proposed improvements to the rules of criminal procedure for the state of Mississippi. The five-year project will end in 2010 when the committee presents its recommendations to the Mississippi Supreme
Court for approval. To date, Professor Steffey has invested more than 1,000 hours in the project. “We’re working to make the legal process better in Mississippi, to ensure fair trials for defendants and effective measures for prosecutors to get justice. I consider improving the law and bettering the legal system a great investment of my personal and professional time,” Professor Steffey says, adding that, “The biggest challenge is trying to get judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers to agree on policy.” The many roles he plays within the Mississippi legal community – teacher, competition coach, legal analyst, and advisory committee reporter – ensure that while Professor Steffey loves studying the law, he also understands how the “real world” outside the law school works. “Professor Steffey is practical and real in class. You don’t learn theoretical principles in a vacuum. You learn actual application of those principles and how they play out in the legal profession,” says 3L student Krissy Casey. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in individual facts without examining how a decision or an outcome could affect the next case or the law in general. From Professor Steffey, I’ve learned how important the broader ‘big picture’ is in the legal world.” “All of my experiences have something to teach me,” Professor Steffey says. “It’s very gratifying to watch my students grow into their abilities as lawyers, and to know that I’m always still learning myself.”
“D’oh!” Professor Steffey’s favorite pastimes outside the classroom include travel, reading, cooking, under-
performing fantasy football teams, and spending time with his wife, Adrienne, and their children, 16-year-old Calvin and 13-year-old Erin. He also claims an “encyclopedic knowledge” of the animated series The Simpsons, but expresses concern that Homer and Marge may be taking up a little too much brain space, confessing, “I’m sometimes afraid it limits my ability to learn new law.” amıcus | 19
Jim Craig writes a monthly column for the Greater Jackson Business Journal and is co-editor of Ipse Blogit (http://ipseblogit.blogspot.com), a blog on civic and legal issues.
“Not only does teaching give me a refresher course on three areas I handle on a regular basis, but it also gives me the opportunity to try certain theories on a group of informed listeners and get their input. It’s a tremendous benefit to me to have my students give their input and reactions to hypotheticals that are sometimes mirrored in my ‘real life’ cases.” amıcus | 20
Practicing What They Teach MC Law is privileged to have a number of practicing attorneys serving as adjunct professors. These talented experts bring real world experience to the classroom, serving as an invaluable source of information and advice for law school students. And as Jim Craig can testify, sometimes the adjuncts themselves learn a few new lessons along the way.
James Craig ’85 Before James “Jim” Craig became a favorite adjunct professor at MC Law, he was one of the law school’s most outstanding students. Craig served as editor of the Law Review and graduated first in his class in 1985. Today, Craig is a partner in the general litigation group at Phelps Dunbar, LLP in Jackson and returns to the MC Law campus to teach classes in remedies, product liability, and capital punishment law. Whether he’s teaching the nuances of legal procedures or leading a discussion on matters of life and death, Craig describes adjunct teaching as “invaluable” to his regular practice. “Not only does teaching give me a refresher course on three areas I handle on a regular basis, but it also gives me the opportunity to try certain theories on a group of informed listeners and get their input,” Craig says. “It’s a tremendous benefit to me to have my students give their input and reactions to hypotheticals that are sometimes mirrored in my ‘real life’ cases.” Craig has had his share of memorable moments trying those real life cases, ranging from a custody case in which Craig was “whipped” by a client who represented himself after taking time off
work to prepare by “watching every lawyer TV show he could find” to the excitement of hearing the jury foreman in a civil case announce a $474 million verdict for his client.
“My most fulfilling calling has been to raise my daughter, Ruth Craig. Watching her graduate from Wellesley College last spring was the second most memorable experience in my life. The first was holding her after her birth. I was also present for that event, but confess that I closed my eyes for most of the time it was happening.”
From 1989-1995, Craig served as executive director and lead counsel with the Mississippi Capital Defense Resource Center, where he handled the appeals of inmates on death row. A career highlight was working on the brief and serving as co-counsel for the oral argument in Stringer vs. Black, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that jury instructions used in the cases of 20 death-sentenced prisoners were unconstitutional. As a result of their work on Stringer vs.
Black, Craig and his team prevented anyone from being executed in Mississippi for 10 years. “Mostly, my favorite memories are all the times I stood next to a client at a trial, in a hearing, or in an appellate argument thinking, ‘this person depends on me today,’” Craig says. “This is what I was put on this earth to do.” His eight years of service as an MC Law adjunct professor have also left Craig with some vivid memories. “Two of my former students represented our opponent in a contentious business litigation case,” Craig says. “After one particularly fierce day of depositions, one of the students extended his hand and said, ‘Professor Craig, you always said to give everything you’ve got for your client, but not to take it personally. I hope that’s true.’ And it was. “I owe a tremendous debt to MC Law,” Craig continues. “As a native Californian, I was welcomed to the South with open arms by this school, and its professors instilled in me a sense of pride and responsibility for participating in the legal profession. I’m proud to have graduated from Mississippi College School of Law. I hope I’m able to communicate that sense of pride to my own students.”
A Real Page-Turner Blockbuster author John Grisham has tapped Craig’s expertise in capital punishment law and civil appellate law, using Craig as source of background information for his novels The Chamber and The Appeal. “John was nice enough to mention me in the acknowledgements section of The Chamber,” Craig says, “which my mother had framed for her living room.”
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Professor Meta Copeland, assistant director of the Public Service Law Center; Dean Mary Miller, director of the Public Service Law Center; and Wells Griffith â€˜09 pose outside a Habitat House built by MC Law volunteers.
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Building an Interest in
public interest The MC Law Public Service Law Center No one has to tell Dean Mary Miller about the desperate need for more public interest law attorneys. Her office near the law library provides a front row view of the need. “People come here from all over Mississippi to conduct research in an attempt to represent themselves,” Dean Miller, director of the Public Service Law Center, says. “Some of them are perfectly capable of doing it on their own, but the majority are people in need who just can’t afford attorneys.”
A goal of the Public Service Law Center is to help meet that need by inspiring more law students to explore careers or volunteer opportunities in public interest law. “Public interest law” is not a specialized area of practice per se, but instead refers to the type of people or interests served. Traditionally, public interest attorneys represent the underserved, the vulnerable, and matters that impact society as a whole. Whether it’s representing the elderly in filing Social Security claims or finding legal remedies to
environmental disasters in the making, public interest law is about attorneys making a positive difference in the lives of individuals and communities. Launched in 2008, the Public Service Law Center introduces MC Law students to public service opportunities designed to enhance their legal educations and foster a commitment to helping those in need. “While every student who participates in programs developed through the center may not pursue a fulltime career in public
“The rewards for our students are the intangibles – the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve helped people and made a difference in their lives.” Dean Mary Miller amıcus | 23
Hammering Away at the Need Over the past year, MC Law has partnered with Entergy Mississippi;
Entergy Nuclear; Wise Carter Child and Caraway; and the Mississippi Development Authority on Habitat for Humanity builds. MC Law students are also involved in service projects through Stewpot Ministries, Gateway Rescue Mission, Mississippi Baptist Children’s Home, and many other non-profit organizations, and have the opportunity to put their legal skills to work as volunteers at the Mission First Legal Aid Office.
service, students do have the opportunity to see how they can use their legal skills to make a difference,” Dean Miller says. The Public Service Law Center hosts a speakers series that brings renowned attorneys and scholars with public interest experience to campus; coordinates law student public service projects, including non-legal projects like Habitat for Humanity builds; and coordinates activities with the Public Interest Law Group, the MC Law student organization dedicated to promoting participation in public interest work. The MC Law externship program, a program that matches law school students with government entities and non-profit organizations, is also coordinated through the Public Service Law Center. Another key program is the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), which provides financial assistance to MC Law graduates who choose fulltime careers in public interest law. While the Public Service Law Center is still relatively new, MC Law is already seeing an increased interest in public service law among students since its establishment. “Our students are seeing first-hand that all clients are not companies or organizations with big bucks,” says Professor Meta Copeland, assistant director of the Pubic Service Law Center. “There are real
people out there with real needs and concerns that will never be addressed any other way outside of public interest law. Most of our students have a heart for helping others. The center helps channel that desire to help.” “The rewards for our students are the intangibles – the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve helped people and made a difference in their lives,” Dean Miller says. “But there are also some tangible results. Some of our students choose work in public interest areas after graduating as a direct result of the experiences they’ve had in law school. We also hope they’ll want to participate in pro bono opportunities as attorneys because of their experiences here at MC Law.” Perhaps someday, the work of the Public Service Law Center will be reflected in a decrease in visitors to the law library forced to conduct their own legal research. For today, Dean Miller is proud of all the center has already accomplished and the students whose law school experiences have been impacted by its work. “I’m proud of our students who are reaching out to the community in so many different ways,” Dean Miller says. “They truly care about those in need. I think their experiences here will serve them well as attorneys and prepare them well to go out and serve others.” amıcus | 24
Dean Mary Miller, director of the Public Service Law Center, sees her position with the center as more than just another part of her job description. “I’ve been very blessed in my life and I believe that God requires us to give back,” Dean Miller says. “Luke 12:48 is my motivation for everything.” That verse reads:
“And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom they commit much, of him they will ask the more.”
Public Service Gets A Good LRAP The MC Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program, or LRAP, provides financial assistance to MC Law graduates who pursue careers in public interest law or non-profit work. LRAP recipients receive $5,000 to be used toward repayment of their student loans. “Many law school students who want to pursue a career in public interest law find it difficult to do so because the pay they would receive is too low and their student loan debt is too high,” Dean Mary Miller, director of the Public Service Law Center says. “The LRAP helps close the gap between a career that pays the bills and a career that many would find personally meaningful.” The MC Law LRAP was established through gifts from the Law Student Bar Association; the Moller-Miller Fund, a
fund established by Dean Miller in honor of former law school professor Sid Moller; and anonymous donors. The first MC Law LRAP was presented in December to Lee Willoughby ’09, an assistant district attorney in Clarksville, Tennessee. “It will sound cliché, but the best way to describe how I feel is humbled,” Willoughby says. “There are so many people who are doing what I’m doing or who are serving in a greater way than I am. I’m proud that MC Law has developed this program. The LRAP is the law school’s way of saying it values public interest work.” As a student, Wells Griffith ’09 was an inaugural member of the Public Interest Law Group and helped spearhead the effort to establish the LRAP program. Now working as the Republican Party’s
political director in Mississippi, Griffith is the alumni member on the MC Law LRAP committee, which is charged with further developing the program and choosing the LRAP recipients. “I am very proud to have been a part of establishing an LRAP at MC Law,” Griffith says. “As attorneys, we’re empowered by our law degrees to make a mark on society. The LRAP is a way to encourage our graduates who have the heart to serve the public to be able to do so.” If you or your firm would like to contribute to the MC Law Public Interest Law Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), please contact Thorne Butler, director of alumni and development, at 601.925.7172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applying for the LRAP The LRAP is awarded to MC Law graduates who demonstrate a long-term commitment to serving the poor or underserved populations through direct legal services or policy related work. The next LRAP will be awarded at the MC Law Awards Day ceremony on April 16, 2010.
Requirements for applying for the MC Law LRAP
Graduation from MC Law in 2004 or later • A license to practice law • Current employment in a public interest or public service law job Outstanding educational loans (from any degree, not just a J.D.) with all loans current or in good standing • Salary of $60,000 or less To apply for the LRAP, please complete the application available at http://www.law.mc.edu/lawcenters/pub_service_center/lrap.html by March 10, 2010 and submit to: Jackie Banes • LRAP Committee Member • MC Law • 151 E. Griffith St. • Jackson, MS 39201 • email@example.com amıcus | 25
MC Law alumni Amanda McKenzie, Shundral Hobson, and Matt Duckworth credit externships with helping to prepare them for their current careers.
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The Inside Story On
Externs The same program sent Shundral Hobson to jail, turned Buddy Handey over to the FBI, and landed Amanda McKenzie and Matt Duckworth in judges’ chambers. It’s the MC Law externship program, a course that matches law students with government agencies and non-profit organizations. Coordinated through the Public Service Law Center, the program provides 2L and 3L students with opportunities to hone their legal skills and perform public interest work. “This program is near and dear to my heart,” says Professor Meta Copeland, director of the legal extern program and assistant director of the Public Service Law Center. “It gives our students an
opportunity to experience practical applications of the law while they’re still in school. The program benefits the students and the organizations where they extern, and it’s exciting to me to see the externs transform from students to lawyers.” The extern program is not a job placement service. Instead, students receive academic class credit for their externships and gain valuable, hands-on experience that can only be found through work in the “real world.” Professor Copeland matches the students’ interests against a list of more than 70 agencies, courts, government organizations, and public interest entities in need of externs. There are approximately 45 externs working in the Jackson area each semester, serv-
ing everywhere from the ACLU to Catholic Charities, the Mississippi Supreme Court to Mission First Legal Aid. MC Law emphasizes that the agency or organization must assign the extern actual legal work – not just “busy work” – and must designate a field supervisor, a licensed attorney who will serve as the student’s mentor, for the duration of the externship. “We want to make sure our students are learning what it’s like to be lawyers, not just providing free labor,” Professor Copeland says. “Our students are paying tuition for their externships just as they would for any other class. It’s important that they reap the maximum benefit from the placement.”
“I’ve seen externs grow when they realize that the case they are working on will have an impact on someone’s life. They realize it’s different than law school. Here, their efforts will determine whether someone will stay in jail or go home to be with his or her family.” Judge Kenneth Griffis, Mississippi Court of Appeals
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Preparing to Compete While public interest law may not pay as much as private practice, the competition for public interest positions is still stiff. “Law school students need to understand that while public interest attorneys are needed, the field has become highly competitive,” says Crystal Utley ’05, an attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice, Mississippi’s only statewide, non-profit public interest law firm. “As non-profits, we have limited funding. We can’t hire as many attorneys as we really need, and we have to make sure those we do hire are going to be a real asset. Law students should make an effort to volunteer and to obtain externships with public service organizations so they have the necessary experience. By doing so, they’ll not only broaden their horizons, but also their employment options.”
A strong supporter of the program, Hinds County Court Judge Bill Skinner is happy to provide meaningful work for externs. “We do not use our externs for filing,” Judge Skinner says. “Our externs are in court when I am in court. They try cases and assist defense attorneys, prosecutors, and guardians ad litem with cases. We don’t believe they benefit from doing research all of the time. I see more growth in externs as they learn to try cases and interact in the courtroom.” “Our students take these externships seriously and are committed to learning in the field,” Professor Copeland says. “We receive positive evaluations from the agencies that participate, but the best endorsement of the program is the fact that they continue to participate, and that our list of organizations requesting externs continues to grow.” “Our externs have helped Mission First to process cases more quickly, which is very important in an office like ours,” says Patti Gandy ’98, director of Mission First Legal Aid, which provides legal services to low-income clients. “Our externs have developed checklists, sug-
gested ways to streamline our protocols, and drafted boilerplate forms that have helped us work more efficiently.” “At the beginning of the externship, many externs are afraid to talk to me. Heaven forbid they have to argue with me over a legal point,” says Judge Kenneth Griffis of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. “At the end of the externship, my externs won’t stop talking and arguing about points of law. It’s great to see that confidence and their growth as lawyers.” While the externship program is not a required course, Professor Copeland encourages every student to take it – even students who think they have no interest in public interest law. “It’s not unusual for a student who has little interest in the area to change his or her career path to public interest after the externship,” Professor Copeland says. Cherie Rivera Wade ’09 was one of those students. By the time she was a 3L, Wade had all but committed to a career in business law with a private defense firm. Criminal law had never been on her radar until January of 2009, when she reported for service as an extern in the Jackson County (Mississippi) District
Attorney’s Office. Within one month, Wade was assigned to a murder trial, sitting second chair to the Jackson County D.A. and working under the limited practice act, which allowed her to be an integral part of trying the case. The defendant in that case was convicted, as was the defendant in the next major case Wade worked, a sexual battery trial in which she worked as third chair. By the time Wade graduated in May 2009, her interest in business and defense law had been usurped by the litigation bug. After completing her externship, she accepted an offer to continue working for the district’s attorney’s office for another year in order to gain more litigation experience. “I know it sounds cliché, but in this role, I feel I’m literally helping to clean up the streets of the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Wade says. “And as a young lawyer, this position gives me the opportunity to make decisions that attorneys who’ve been in private practice for years wouldn’t be allowed to make. I have great, experienced mentors who have allowed me to works hands-on in trial proceedings and plea negotiations. You can’t learn this stuff from a book.”
“Our students take these externships seriously and are committed to learning in the field. We receive positive evaluations from the agencies that participate, but the best endorsement of the program is the fact that they continue to participate, and that our list of organizations requesting externs continues to grow.” Professor Meta Copeland
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Innocent Until Proven Guilty Shundral Hobson ’08 worked as an extern in the Hinds County Public Defender’s office, where she assisted on burglary, armed robbery, and drug-related cases. Hobson helped attorneys with hearings, sat in on trials, and even went to the Hinds County detention facility in Raymond to conduct client interviews. After three visits in the company of a public defender, Hobson “graduated” to conducting the interviews on her own. “After the first few visits, I was never uncomfortable there,” Hobson says. “The clients I interviewed were always very respectful – you have to remember that they’re trying to get out of jail. They were happy to see that someone was there making an effort to help them. A few of the inmates made catcalls, but it wasn’t as intimidating as it looks on TV. Most of them were just very appreciative.” Today, Hobson is a judicial clerk with the Mississippi Court of Appeals. She credits her externship with giving her the confidence that helped her land the job. “As an extern, I had to stand up and talk to judges and attorneys about real life cases,” Hobson says. “I felt a big difference in my confidence level and my speaking ability from the first day to the last day of my externship. When I applied for my current position, I’m sure that having that experience on my resume made me a more attractive candidate. “But the most important thing my externship taught me was not to be so quick to judge people because of their circumstances,” Hobson continues. “People tend to assume that someone in jail without an attorney is guilty. My externship showed me first-hand that’s not always true.”
Developing Good Judgment As an extern with U.S. Magistrate Judge Mike Parker ’86, Matt Duckworth’s primary responsibilities were researching issues and drafting orders for the judge.
Judge Parker also encouraged Duckworth ’09 to sit in on conferences and attend hearings. That experience is serving Duckworth well in his current job as law clerk for Judge James H.C. Thomas, Jr. and Judge Johnny L. Williams in the 10th Chancery Court District of Mississippi. “My externship experience directly prepared me for my current job,” Duckworth says. “Many of the tasks I performed as an extern I also perform as a law clerk, even though one position was in federal court and the other is in state court. My externship also helped me feel more comfortable in being around judges in general.” The most memorable experience from his externship came when Duckworth was invited to sit in on a settlement conference. After six long hours of negotiation, the parties were able to settle. “It was interesting to watch the attorneys as they postured for a certain position. Even more interesting is that Judge Parker knew exactly what each side’s next step was going to be,” Duckworth recalls. “That points to the most important thing I learned from my externship, which was that being able to adapt to different situations and different people is a very important attribute to being an attorney or a judge. “But what made this experience so memorable for me was that prior to the negotiation, Judge Parker and I each wrote down a number that we thought it would take for the case to settle. When we revealed our amounts, we had selected the exact same number.“ It seems Duckworth’s externship actually helped him to think like a judge.
From Judge’s Chambers to Front Line Legal Aid Amanda McKenzie ’09 is pursuing a fulltime career in public interest law as an attorney with Mission First Legal Aid, which provides legal service to low-income residents of Jackson. While McKenzie’s experiences as an attorney with a nonprofit bear little resemblance to her experiences as an extern in the chambers of Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Larry Roberts, they do share a common thread. As an extern and as an attorney, McKen-
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zie’s work has been for the greater good. McKenzie’s biggest accomplishment as an extern was drafting an opinion for Judge Roberts that was agreed on and published. Her externship also helped McKenzie build the confidence she needs every day to help clients at Mission First Legal Aid. “On the first day of my externship, I was extremely nervous. I was very intimidated by Judge Roberts and even by his law clerks,” McKenzie says. “On the last day, I was so sad to leave. Judge Roberts allowed me to do ‘real’ law work while I was there and appreciated my help. My job today is very different than my work on the Court of Appeals, but any real world experience is beneficial, and the contacts and friends I made during my time there made the entire extern experience priceless.”
Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity Buddy Handey ’09 completed an externship with the Department of Justice in the Jackson field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and was hired by the agency following graduation. Today, he works with the FBI in Washington, D.C. As an extern, Handey worked in the Civil Rights Unit with cold case files, assisting investigators in researching past civil rights-related crimes. While he’s not allowed to discuss specific cases, Handey does say his externship was important preparation for his work in the “real world.” In addition to learning valuable research, writing, teamwork, and problem solving skills, Handey’s work with the FBI taught him first-hand the value of public service and the motivating force behind the FBI’s motto, “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.” “As an extern, I worked with a group of special agents and support staff in the Jackson field office who deeply valued their role in public service,” Handey says. “Each of these men and women are dedicated to a service that protects the American people. Everything they do is to provide for the security of this nation, and I commend them for teaching me that very lesson. It is a lesson that I have taken with me to Washington and will continue to follow each and every day.”
For She’s a Public
Good fellow Walker Fellows Catherine Homra (seated) and Lisa Reynolds
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A joint effort of MC Law, the Walker Foundation, the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) and the North Midtown Community Development Corporation (NMCDC) is changing the face of Jackson’s North Midtown community and the lives of its residents. Through a $25,000 grant from the Walker Foundation, MC Law provides one extern each semester to work under the leadership of an MCJ attorney on projects related to the revitalization of the North Midtown community. In exchange for 12 to 16 hours of work per week, the extern, know as the Walker Fellow, receives a tuition credit equivalent to one class. While the extern’s job is described as “legal research,” former Walker Fellows Lisa Reynolds and Catherine Homra soon discovered that the experience is not about working with paper, but with people. Reynolds, MC Law’s inaugural Walker Fellow, worked hand-in-hand with Roy Decker of Duvall Decker Architects in preparing a master development plan for North Midtown that includes housing, parks, and space for new businesses. From June – August of 2009, Reynolds conducted research into real estate law, including title searches and imminent domain issues. But her favorite assignment was going door-to-door surveying the residents and business owners of North Midtown in an effort to determine their most pressing needs. The biggest problem they identified was abandoned
All the Jolly Good Fellows
The Mississippi Center for Justice is Mississippi’s only statewide, non-profit public interest law firm.
property and the vandalism, deterioration, and crime that had taken over their neighborhood as a result. “When I initially met with them and told them we were working to revitalize the neighborhood, some of the residents and business owners said, ‘Well, we’ve heard that before,’” Reynolds says. “But once they saw things happening and moving forward, their attitude changed. They were excited about participating in reclaiming their community.” Reynolds’ work also uncovered a need for legal assistance in a variety of areas beyond real estate law, including a need for help with wills, guardianships, family law issues, and landlord/tenant issues. Catherine Homra, MC Law’s second Walker Fellow, served in the position from August – December of 2009. Taking Reynolds’s research on the community’s legal needs a step further, Homra proposed a neighborhood legal fair that would offer information on a number of legal issues and available services at one time, in one location. Homra solicited participants from many legal service providers, including the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, Mission First, Mississippi Youth Project, and Mississippi Legal Services. The legal fair is tentatively scheduled for spring of 2010. “It’s very rewarding to provide legal services to those who are otherwise unable to access them, especially when it comes to issues that most of us take for granted
The Walker Foundation supports projects that enhance the quality of life in Mississippi. Since 1994, the Foundation has committed significant resources and efforts to improving life for the residents of the North Midtown area.
on a daily basis,” Homra says. “It gives much more meaning and purpose to my law degree to know that I can use the skills I’ve learned to help others with less opportunity or access.” The grant from the Walker Foundation was awarded jointly to MC Law and MCJ and is renewable annually. MC Law hopes to continue working with its partners not only to revitalize the North Midtown area, but also to create a model for how to successfully transform other neighborhoods. “The most important lesson I learned was that those in need are willing to accept help from anyone who meaningfully offers it, regardless of your gender, race, or background,” Homra says. “Like many lower income neighborhoods, the residents in North Midtown are used to people coming into their neighborhood and making promises only to never be seen again. I learned that dedication and following through are the basics to making a difference.” “When I started as a Walker Fellow, I was a legal researcher. By the time I finished the externship, I was more of a community worker with legal skills,” Reynolds says. “I’m too young to remember North Midtown when it was still vibrant and well kept, but as part of a generation that is committed to the revitalization of inner city Jackson, I’m honored to have played a part in the continued success of this neighborhood.”
The North Midtown Community Development Corporation works toward the social and economic revitalization of the North Midtown neighborhood located within the boundaries of Woodrow Wilson, Fortification, West, and Mill Streets.
Forman Perry Watkins Krutz & Tardy LLP, a Jackson law firm, has committed to performing pro bono work for NMCDC’s planned housing development. The Walker Fellows work with Forman Perry attorneys in reviewing contracts for NMCDC.
“Having a dedicated law student who can focus on the neighborhood is of tremendous benefit to the work MCJ is doing in North Midtown. The other real benefit is strengthening the relationship between MCJ and MC Law. We’re interested in identifying other opportunities like this one that will allow us to work together.” Bonnie Allen, Director of Training, Mississippi Center for Justice amıcus | 31
Public interest law removes the barriers between justice and “all.”
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good The decision to make public interest law a full time career isn’t a path many young attorneys choose. Public interest work requires sacrifices, not the least of which is a smaller paycheck, and the work can be demanding emotionally as well as professionally. But as MC Law graduates Ben Suber, Crystal Utley, and Lee Willoughby attest, choosing a career in public interest law is about more than building a bank account. For these three alumni, public interest law isn’t so much a career they chose as a calling that chose them.
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And Justice For All Ben Suber ’06
As a staff attorney with the Mississippi Office of Indigent Appeals (MOIA), it’s Ben Suber’s job to represent destitute individuals appealing felony convictions. It’s a job description that doesn’t always win Suber fans, but a position that’s critical to ensuring justice for all. “We’re not here to decide guilt or innocence, but to make sure that every person convicted had access to the justice he or she was entitled to,” Suber says. “I’m real about it. I know there are people out there who are not innocent, but everyone deserves a fair trial and it’s my job to make sure he or she received it.” Every individual convicted of a felony in Mississippi is entitled to an appeal. If the individual cannot afford an attorney, he or she is represented by a public defender or by MOIA. Created by the Mississippi Legislature to lighten some of the workload carried by public defenders, MOIA began operations in 2007. The office handles every kind of felony case except those resulting in a death sentence. One of five staff attorneys, Suber has been with MOIA since the organization opened its doors. Over the past three years he’s handled more than 100 cases, representing clients convicted of murder, rape, child molestation, drug dealing, and felony DUI. Suber’s role is to review each case to be sure the client had adequate representation, the judge was correct in his or her ruling, and the trial was fair.
When Suber’s research is completed, he files a brief with the Mississippi Supreme Court or the Mississippi Court of Appeals. The Attorney General’s office files a brief in response, and the court then issues an opinion on the case. Approximately 90 percent of the convictions are affirmed. While some of Suber’s clients are out on bond, the majority are incarcerated. Face-to-face meetings are rare; Suber usually communicates with his clients by telephone or letter. He has worked with
“The biggest motivation is the idea that you might be able to correct a situation in which someone really was treated unfairly.” many clients who can’t read or write and have great difficulty communicating – an obstacle Suber suspects has sometimes contributed to their convictions. While he doesn’t have a lot of one-onone contact with his clients, Suber does hear from their family members. A difficult, frequent part of the job is telling someone’s mother that her son won’t be getting out of prison. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of sad situations, and only a slim chance that you’ll uncover any reason to overturn a conviction,” Suber says. “The biggest challenge is accepting that you’ll lose 90
percent of your cases. The biggest motivation is the idea that you might be able to correct a situation in which someone really was treated unfairly.” In 2007, Suber was assigned a case in that rare 10 percent. His client had been tried and convicted of murder and was incarcerated in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. Suber came to believe the man was innocent and had not received a fair trial – and in the end, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed. “This particular client had been in the system for 10 years and had always claimed it was a case of self-defense,” Suber recalls. “I reviewed the case in depth and talked to him several times, and I came to believe that he really had been wrongfully convicted.” Upon reviewing Suber’s brief, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed, reversing and rendering the decision. Suber contacted his client in Parchman and told the man he was going to be released. It was the first case ever won by the Mississippi Office of Indigent Appeals and a professional and personal victory for Suber. “My client was so excited and so relieved. I’ve heard from him several times since then and he’s always so appreciative,” Suber says. “In doing a job like this one you really can’t get emotionally involved, but that case really made me feel good. Justice was served and a life was changed. For an attorney, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Approaching the Bench One advantage of practicing public interest law is the opportunity for young attorneys to assume high-profile roles in cases. One of Ben Suber’s most memorable experiences since joining MOIA was the opportunity to argue a case before the Mississippi Supreme Court. “I had a great time prepping and really enjoyed that opportunity,” Suber recalls. “I lost, but it was still a great experience.”
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The Calm After the Storm Crystal Utley ’05
Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on August 29, 2005, leaving a swath of death and destruction and forever changing life along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Four years later, Crystal Utley has had nearly as great an impact on the Coast as the storm that brought her there. “I became an attorney because I wanted to help people in need,” Utley, an attorney with the Jackson-based Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ), Mississippi’s only statewide, nonprofit public interest law firm, says. “After Hurricane Katrina and a lot of prayer, I knew what I needed to do.” Utley was working as a medical malpractice attorney in Charleston when Katrina struck. After learning that MCJ was assisting with legal aid for Katrina victims, she left her job in Charleston and moved back to Jackson to join in the effort, later relocating to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to be closer to the action. In the four years since the hurricane, Utley has heard a lifetime’s worth of heartbreaking stories of loss. But thanks to her efforts, at least some of those stories have had a happy ending. Utley has helped people left homeless get into FEMA trailers, saved Coastal residents whose homes were left standing from foreclosure, and taken action against unscrupulous contractors and scam artists who’ve bilked money from storm victims. Today, Utley is working with the state to find permanent housing for more than 2,000 families still displaced by the hurricane. Many of Utley’s clients represent the most vulnerable members of society – elderly, poor, and disabled people who would otherwise have no source of help.
“We estimated it would take 10 years for the Coast to fully recover and for us to sift through all of the legal ramifications resulting from Katrina,” Utley says. “Today, I can definitely see contractor fraud and housing issues continuing to keep us busy for at least another four years.” To address the massive volume of Katrina-related cases, Utley organized a wide scale pro bono program that matches volunteer attorneys and law school students with Hurricane Katrina victims in need of legal aid. She has recruited and trained more than 600 pro bono attorneys and 500 law school student volunteers nationwide; she and her partners
“I firmly believe that if you strive to fill your God-given purpose, follow your true nature, and really do what lights your fire, then everything else will fall into place.” have provided free legal aid to more than 1,550 Katrina survivors. But for every case resolved, there is another waiting. “It can be overwhelming, but we keep chipping away,” Utley says. “It’s good to be part of the solution. The massive need motivates me, and I believe that when God wants me to switch gears, He’ll let me know.” Utley is also working to garner pro bono support for other MCJ initiatives beyond Katrina recovery, includ-
ing small business development, foreclosure prevention, and access to housing and healthcare. “I firmly believe that if you strive to fill your God-given purpose, follow your true nature, and really do what lights your fire, then everything else will fall into place,” Utley continues. “I’m able to pay my bills, own my own house, and spend too much money on clothes, eating out, and good coffee. The real reward is knowing I’m making a difference for those in need. Honestly, I would never trade my happiness, professional freedom, and ability to do good for more money.” In recognition of her tireless work for Hurricane Katrina victims, Utley received the 2007 Spirit of Service Award presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Utley was one of 11 recipients out of 358 nominations nationwide. While she’s flattered by the national recognition, Utley describes the greatest reward of her work as seeing first-hand that justice really can be for all, including clients like Lydia Easterling, who turned to Utley for help after a contractor took Easterling’s $57,000 insurance settlement and never completed the repairs to her Katrina-damaged Gulfport home. “I felt like a fool because I had trusted this person with my money,” Easterling says. “I came to Crystal at the lowest point I’d ever been in my life. Crystal prayed with me, calmed me down, and matched me up with a lawyer who could help me. It felt so good just to have someone like her in my corner. Crystal Utley is an angel in disguise.”
Becoming a Storm Chaser Crystal Utley is still recruiting volunteer attorneys and law school students for much-needed pro bono support on Hurricane Katrina-related cases and other issues. Lawyers who would like to volunteer may contact Utley at 228.435.7284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Law school students interested in volunteering should contact Whitney Barkley at 601.352.2269 or email@example.com. amıcus | 37
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And the LRAP Goes to… Lee Willoughby ’09
Lee Willoughby attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green on an Army scholarship and dreamed of a career in the military. Willoughby’s plans changed after he fractured his C1 vertebrae – the same bone broken by actor Christopher Reeve – in a diving accident. While Willoughby made a strong recovery, the injury permanently limited the range of motion in his neck, ending his dreams of military service. But while Willoughby’s physical range of motion is slightly limited, his ability to serve has never been greater. “My reason for wanting to join the Army was the idea that I would be serving and that I’d be a part of something greater than myself,” Willoughby says. “When that dream ended, I thought, ‘Okay, let’s look for some other career that has those same positive aspects of service and being a part of the community.’ I found that in public interest law.” As an MC Law student, Willoughby completed an externship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Greenville, South Carolina, where he worked hand-in-hand with federal prosecutors on criminal investigations and prosecutions ranging from drug-related cases to a conspiracy to murder an FBI agent. The experience convinced him that criminal law was the arena in which he wanted to work. Today, Willoughby is an assistant district attorney in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he con-
ducts criminal investigations, prosecutions, and trials on behalf of the people of Tennessee. “Criminal law is one of the last areas in which attorneys regularly go to trial,” Willoughby explains. “So much of the legal practice today takes place in an office. That kind of work is obviously important and necessary, but I enjoy the
“My reason for wanting to join the Army was the idea that I would be serving and that I’d be a part of something greater than myself. When that dream ended, I thought, ‘Okay, let’s look for some other career that has those same positive aspects of service and being a part of the community.’ I found that in public interest law.” experience of being in court. Appearing in court requires you to think on your feet and make something happen in that moment. For me, it’s also a feeling that I’m working with people rather than with paper.” Willoughby’s dream job came with a modest salary and a large price tag. Like many law school students, Willoughby graduated with student loans he describes as both “typical of a private law
school education” and “mortgage-sized.” In recognition of the sacrifices he’s made in order to serve the public good, Willoughby was named the first recipient of the MC Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program award or LRAP. The LRAP provides financial assistance to MC Law graduates who pursue careers in public interest law or non-profit work. Willoughby received $5,000 to be used toward repayment of his law school student loans. Thanks to the LRAP and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, a federal program that will discharge any remaining debt after 10 years of full-time employment in public service, Willoughby’s mortgage-sized student loan debt now looks like a more comfortable, auto-loan sized student loan debt. “It’s refreshing to realize that you can attend a private law school and still feel encouraged to do what you feel makes a difference,” Willoughby says. “In law school, you’re sometimes painted as a failure if you’re not aspiring to a lucrative career, but I’ve never had that as my goal. Instead, my goal was to be a good lawyer. My wife and I aren’t rich, but we’re doing okay. I don’t drive a Porsche, but that’s not important to me. Through this LRAP program, MC Law is saying, ‘It’s not all about making money or working for the most prestigious firm. We care about and value the kind of work you’re doing.’”
From One Public Servant to Another An assistant district attorney, Lee Willoughby has the utmost respect for the public interest attorneys on the other side of the courtroom. “No matter how much money I had, if I found myself in need of a good criminal lawyer, I’d ask for a public defender,” Willoughby says. “When it comes to real life experience, those guys have seen everything.”
A Shrining Light Lee Willoughby’s commitment to public service reaches beyond the courtroom. His record of volunteer service includes membership in the Wahabi Shriners, a fraternity based on the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth. The organization is best known for its network of Shriners Hospitals for Children, a group of 22 international hospitals that provide free specialty pediatric care. “The great thing about Shriners is that you’re helping children and you see the results of what you’re doing immediately,” Willoughby says. “I went to a gathering recently and heard a little girl play the violin with a prosthetic arm she received thanks to the Shriners. It doesn’t get any more moving than that.” amıcus | 39
m i s s i o On
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“John and Anne Lewis have been models of Christ’s love and generosity since the inception of Mission First. Through interceding and petitioning for God to do great things through prayer, reconstructing the ministry campus, supporting us monetarily, and investing their lives by living as Christ did on earth, John and Anne constantly challenge others to reflect Christ’s generosity.” Lee Thigpen, Mission First Executive Director John Lewis ’92 has served on the board of directors of the Mission First Legal Aid Office since the day the doors opened in 2006, but his role with Mission First, the ministry of which the legal clinic is a part, goes back even further. “God allowed me the privilege of being a part of the original vision of Mission First,” Lewis says. “Over the years, the ministry has become an enormous part of my wife and sons’ lives as well as my own.” Lewis’s involvement began some 15 years ago, when First Baptist Church Jackson began searching for a place where God would have the church minister to those in need. The church’s plan included a medical and dental clinic, but the overarching vision was to create a center that would address not only physical needs, but also spiritual needs. A member of First Baptist, John Lewis was part of the team charged with finding the ideal location for such a ministry. The group considered several areas, but when they toured the West Park neighborhood, they knew they had found the right place. Several First Baptist Church members had grown up in West Park and remembered the area as a vibrant neighborhood built around families. The modern version of West Park bore little resemblance to those fond memories. The neighborhood had fallen into disrepair; drugs, crime, and poverty were prevalent. West Park had become one of the most violent city blocks in Jackson. Convinced they were being called to minister in the neighborhood, the group from First Baptist began cultivating
relationships with West Park families. “The better they got to know us, the more they shared their real needs,” Lewis says. “They wanted someone to come in with more than just good intentions. They wanted someone to come in with a sense of permanence.” The first step toward that permanence was finding a physical address for the ministry. The abandoned Rosedown Apartment complex seemed ideal – until the property owner told the group “hell would freeze over” before he would sell the property to the church. But days later, the owner called with a new offer; he now wanted to give the property to First Baptist for the new ministry.
From Lawyer to Landlord John Lewis keeps his law license current and consults on cases at the Mission First Legal Aid Office, but he’s traded the fulltime practice of law for a career in real estate. As the owner/ manager of John R. Lewis Real Estate Services, LLC, he owns and operates 150 residential rental units in the Jackson area. “We were all in shock at first,” Lewis says. “Then we remembered that God moves in ways we don’t always understand, but are thrilled to be a part of.” The apartment complex became the West Park Ministry Center, later known as Mission First. The center included a medical and dental clinic and recreation
and outreach programs, but one need was still unmet. “Since my days with the Christian Legal Society at MC Law, I had had a vision of providing services to those without access to basic legal advice,” Lewis says. “A legal aid clinic at West Park would open the door for people who would otherwise not have access to the help they needed and allow more attorneys to get involved in serving others.” With Lewis’ input and guidance, First Baptist Jackson formed a partnership with MC Law. Legal needs would be met through the assistance of volunteer attorneys and law students, and spiritual needs would be met through the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The result is today’s Mission First Legal Aid Office, where three fulltime staff members, more than 120 volunteer attorneys, and 35 MC Law students handle a steady stream of cases related to family law, consumer law, housing, and debtor/creditor issues. As a member of the board of directors, Lewis continues to work with the staff at Mission First Legal Aid on issues ranging from funding to recruiting attorneys. A rental property owner himself, Lewis also offers practical advice to Mission First Legal Aid attorneys working on landlord-tenant issues. “Few people probably have the opportunity to see a vision come to life,” Lewis says. “Through Mission First and Mission First Legal Aid, God has given me that opportunity. To see the neighborhood come from where it was to where it is now is nothing short of a modern day miracle.”
Mission Hurst Legal Aid Prominent attorney Joe Jack Hurst, John Lewis’s father-in-law, had a reputation for helping the least of these throughout his legal career and was a tremendous influence on Lewis. “Through the years, I’ve had countless people share stories with me of how Joe Jack helped them or others in great need without ever asking for a dime of payment for his legal services,” Lewis says. “My father-in-law showed me how one could have an incredible impact by using his or her legal skills to help others.” Lewis and his wife, Anne Hurst Lewis, were involved in the initial planning between MC Law and First Baptist Church that eventually led to the creation of the Mission First Legal Aid Office. While the legal clinic at Mission First was not founded until after Hurst’s death in 2002, his widow, Marjorie, chose to support the project financially in his memory. “God has used the Hurst and Lewis families to bless many and to inspire other attorneys to apply the truths of the Bible to their practice,” says Patti Gandy ’98, director of the Mission First Legal Aid Office. “What a legacy!” Above: John and Anne Hurst Lewis amıcus | 41
“To this day, I am still so appreciative that I had the opportunity to attend MC Law. That experience has provided friendships, professional relationships and opportunities, and blessings to me beyond my dreams.”
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A Gift Today For The Students Of Tomorrow Hugh Keating recognizes MC Law with a $25,000 bequest Hugh Keating ’79 remembers what it was like to be a law school student balancing work, school, and family and struggling to make ends meet. Keating attended law school at night while working full time for the Mississippi State Highway Department by day. “Becoming a lawyer had been a dream of mine since junior high school,” Keating says. “The main reason I returned to school as a non-traditional student rather than attending immediately after undergraduate school was finances. I had to work my way through law school. It wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely worth it.”
Today, Keating is a shareholder with Dukes, Dukes, Keating & Faneca, P.A., a law firm with offices in Gulfport and Hattiesburg. While he’s built a successful career as an attorney, Keating has never forgotten the challenges he faced as a law school student. The memories of those lean, demanding years and the rewards his law degree have since brought him inspired Keating to include a generous bequest of $25,000 to MC Law in his will. “To this day, I am still so appreciative that I had the opportunity to attend MC Law. That experience has provided friendships, professional relationships and opportunities, and blessings to me
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beyond my dreams,” Keating says. “I felt the need to let the law school know how thankful I am to have had that experience and for all that it’s given to me over the years.” Keating’s gift will be used to create a scholarship for deserving second- or thirdyear students at MC Law. “The scholarship will help students who have already proven they have a strong work ethic and a commitment to studying the law,” Keating says. “The recipients won’t necessarily have to be the top students in their classes, but they should demonstrate leadership ability and drive. It gives me a great deal of
“My parents taught me that when you’re blessed, you have an obligation to share your blessings and your gifts, whatever they might be. Every time I’ve given back some small part of my own blessings or gifts, I’ve been rewarded many times over.”
personal pleasure to think that my gift will help someone who’s a little like the student I once was achieve his or her goals.” His bequest is not Keating’s first show of support for MC Law. Keating is involved in alumni activities in Gulfport, supports the annual fund, and makes it a practice to direct prospective students to MC Law. “Without hesitation, I would recommend MC Law as one of the finest law schools in this region,” Keating says. “Over the past several years, I’ve been proud to see the law school and its graduates devel-
oping a well-deserved, national reputation for excellence.” In addition to his support of MC Law, Keating has contributed his time and energy to several civic and service groups, including the Boy Scouts, Goodwill Industries, the South Mississippi Aids Task Force, Gulfport Rotary Club, Mississippi Coast Crime Commission, Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, and Governor Barbour’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal following Hurricane Katrina. He performs pro bono legal work for the
North Gulfport Community Land Trust, a non-profit organization focused on the redevelopment of lower income communities, and works with the Mississippi Center for Justice. Keating has coached more than 25 seasons of youth baseball and softball. “My parents taught me that when you’re blessed, you have an obligation to share your blessings and your gifts, whatever they might be,” Keating says. “Every time I’ve given back some small part of my own blessings or gifts, I’ve been rewarded many times over.”
The Heritage Society
The MC Law Heritage Society honors those who make planned gifts to the law school, including provisions for MC Law in wills, life insurance policies, and other types of gifts that become effective at the end of the donor’s lifetime. “A planned gift was the best way for me to make a meaningful gift in light of today’s economic environment,” Hugh Keating says. “The bequest allowed me to make a more substantial gift and do more to help MC Law in the years to come.” MC Law Heritage Society Members Include: D. Carl Black, Jr. ’63 • Thorne G. Butler • Lee Cline ’79 • Herman Hines • The Honorable Rex Gabbert ’85 • Hugh Keating ’79 Robert L. Lyle ’88 • David McCarty ’04 • J. Michael Maloney ’80 • Dean Mary Miller ’85 • John B. Rivera • Dean Jim Rosenblatt Mark Sledge ’80 • Professor J. Allen Smith (deceased) • Lowell Stephens ’56
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Making a Bequest to MC Law Are you considering making a bequest to MC Law? Learn more about the rewards and possible tax advantages of making a bequest from a series of articles posted on the law school’s gift planning web site. Go to www.law.mc.edu Click on Alumni & Development Click on Gift Planning Click on Ways to Give Click on Bequests You’ll find helpful articles on the following topics: Getting Started: Bequests Leave your legacy by making a gift to MC Law in your will or living trust. A
bequest is one of the simplest ways to support the law school. Let a Philanthropic Bequest Fit Your Wishes As time goes by and your life changes, you may consider how estate planning will affect your life and the lives of your family members, as well as organizations that are especially meaningful to you. This article explores the options available to best reflect your wishes. Eight Ways to Make a Bequest and a Difference Discover eight ways to make a bequest in your will or revocable living trust.
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Estate Planning With Bequests Explore several smart options for directing the maximum inheritance to your loved ones. Making Sure Your Charitable Bequest Is Deductible A gift from your estate to a charitable organization like MC Law is tax-deductible, but there are certain guidelines you must follow to ensure that deductibility. If you’re planning to make a bequest, here are some points to ponder to make sure your gift will be tax-deductible. For more information about supporting MC Law, please contact Thorne Butler, director of alumni and development, at 601.925.7172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You Learn Some– thing New Every Day CLE Spotlight: Judge Cynthia L. Brewer
No matter what transpired in her courtroom earlier in the day, when Judge Cynthia Brewer walks in the door for her CLE presentation she’s smiling and personable, projecting an upbeat outlook on law and life that’s uniquely her own. Her positive attitude is especially notable considering the types of cases Judge Brewer adjudicates as Chancery Court Judge for District 11 (Madison, Leake, Yazoo, and Holmes counties). Judge Brewer’s days on the bench are filled with family stories. Some are sad stories of families torn apart, others are joyous stories of families united, and most are stories that touch the heart – even the heart of a judge like Cynthia Brewer, who has seen and heard more than her share of stories over the course of her successful legal career. Since receiving her J.D. from MC Law in 1985, Judge Brewer has served in many areas of the legal profession. From 1987 – 1995, she worked as a prosecutor for the municipal court and for
Judge Brewer’s campaign promise was to work every day to improve the judicial system and to uphold the integrity of the judiciary.
Hinds County and began the Courtwatch program for the Metropolitan Crime Commission. In 1996, Judge Brewer returned to private practice while teaching part time at Mississippi College. In 1998, the Mississippi Supreme Court appointed her as a Special Master in Chancery Court. In 2002, Brewer was elected as a county court judge. On December 28, 2006, she was sworn in as Chancery Court Judge for District 11 with the support of 82 percent of voters. Her campaign promise was to work every day to improve the judicial system and to uphold the integrity of the judiciary. So, how does a judge who also promised to keep the court docket current by completing cases find the time to volunteer for CLE presentations? The answer is found in the canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which Judge Brewer takes very seriously. Canon 4 B references the qualification and position that judicial officers have to contribute and the unique prospective that they can bring to discussions. Canon 3 B (2) charges judges to “…be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it.” According to Judge Brewer, preparing and presenting at CLE events is, “…an opportunity to challenge myself and my peers in an educational setting – it’s a win-win situation.” While Judge Brewer never fails to be fair and impartial, it seems even children in her courtroom are aware of her posi-
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tive outlook and her inherent kindness. A little girl observing in court as her soonto-be adoptive parents signed the final paperwork asked Judge Brewer who she was and why she was asking so many questions. When Brewer explained that she was a judge, the little girl replied, “That’s funny. You don’t look like a nasty old judge.” Upcoming CLE Events February 12 12th Annual Guardian Ad Litem Training February 26 Law Review Symposium March 26 Mediation II April 9 MS Juvenile Defender Training April 16 Environmental Law CLE May 7 12th Annual Guardian Ad Litem Training May 21, 2010 DUI Seminar June 11, 2010 MS Juvenile Defender Training June 25, 2010 Criminal Law New & Now III
MC LAW Alumni: Mention this coupon
when registering for any CLE event and receive a
The Case Of The Double Brides case files from the a lee ’03 of kendr
Kendra Lee received a call from a non-profit legal aid organization asking for help with an annulment. It looked like an open and shut case – the groom in question had taken a bride, apparently forgetting that he already had a wife at home. When Lee met with the second bride to sign the final papers, the woman was
furious. It seemed one of her relatives had seen her “husband” out with another woman. “She didn’t think she should sign the papers because he was cheating on her,” Lee recalls. “I explained to her that if he was cheating on anyone, it was on his wife, and that she, in fact, was the other woman.”
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The woman signed, Lee filed, and the case of the double brides was closed – at least until the groom decides to make yet another trip to the altar. Have you handled a quirky, strange, or even scary case? If you’d like to share the story with Amicus, please e-mail a brief summary of your case to email@example.com.
It’s Time To Get Back To Your Roots. Alumni and Reunion Weekend at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum
1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 Friday, April 30
Alumni Dinner and Second Annual Alumni Auction This event is open to all MC Law alumni from every class year.
Saturday, May 1
Reunion Parties Celebrating Classes that End in “0” and “5” 1980 – 30th Reunion • 1985 – 25th Reunion • 1990 – 20th Reunion 1995 – 15th Reunion • 2000 – 10th Reunion • 2005 – 5th Reunion
Look For More Details Coming Soon.
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Hot Off the MLi Press Mississippi Rules Annotated 2009–2010 Dean Mary Miller $135.00 Mississippi Rules Annotated is the most comprehensive compilation of case annotations for the civil procedure, evidence and appellate court rules available on the market. The 2009-2010 edition has been updated to include rules, amendments and case annotations through November 1, 2008. In this edition, the annotations are arranged topically, making it easier to pinpoint cases that discuss a particular portion of a rule. Mississippi Limitations of Actions 2009–2010 Thomas Walter $99.95 Mississippi Limitations of Actions is a valuable reference source for attorneys faced with possible time bars to actions. This publication covers all major changes in the law
of limitations, including Hurricane Katrinarelated changes.
Rules Annotated, MS Chancery Practice, and the MS Jury: Law and Practice.
Damages Law for Mississippi Trial Practice John Corlew $295.00 This publication addresses all elements of tort damages, including suggested jury instructions. In addition, the book catalogues more than 200 million dollar verdicts in all 22 Mississippi Circuit Court Districts and Federal Courts.
MLi Appellate Case Update Bulletin Dean Mary Miller Fee varies
Mississippi Appellate Practice Luther Munford $295.00 This comprehensive guide to appellate practice in Mississippi includes appeals to trial courts, with checklists, forms, table of authorities and index. New features in this edition include new case citations for 2001–2006, cross references to Encyclopedia of MS Law, MS Civil Procedure, MS
(contact the MLi office for specifics at 601.925.7107 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
MLi Press offers an e-mail subscription service delivering weekly summaries of all published Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals opinions, usually within a day following hand down. The facts and legal analysis are presented in a concise format which allows attorneys to determine quickly if the case is one which is pertinent to their practice. A hypertext link to the opinion on the official Supreme Court web site is included for ease in viewing the full text opinion. The summaries are available in WordPerfect or Microsoft Word format.
order form for all MLi Press Publications
❑ 2009-2010 Mississippi Rules Annotated ❑ ❑ Damages Law for Mississippi Trial Practice ❑ nAME
mississippi limitations of actions
tYPE OF pAYMENT:
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Full Name on Credit Card Billing Address
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You may also order on line at www.law.mc.edu/mli/index.html
MLi Press / PO Box 1127 / Jackson, MS 39215 S&H FOR ALL PUBLICATIONS: $10 for 1 book / $16 for 2-4 books / $22 for 5-10 books / $40 for 11 or more books
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C class | action
Please send your Class Action updates to Whitney Whittington at email@example.com. 1970
James Matthew “Jimmy” Hood, Jr. represents the Town of New Houlka and Woodlands, Mississippi, as city attorney, as well as the Chickasaw County School Board and Houston Separate School District. He is also the Houston municipal and Town of New Houlka municipal prosecutor and represents numerous furniture related corporations. 1979
Victor Carmody is one of 10 founding regents for the National College for DUI Defense, as well as a fellow and former dean of the College, and is board certified by the ABA through the National College for DUI Defense. In 2008, Carmody completed two legal volumes, Mississippi DUI Law and Practice and a re-write of Mississippi Criminal Trial Practice Forms by Thomson-West, and served as a contributing author on Understanding DUI Scientific Evidence for Aspatore Books (a division of Thomson-West). ATLA recently listed him in their 100 Best Mississippi Trial Lawyers and Mid-South Super Lawyers listed him in the DUI field for 2009, along with his associate Kevin Stewart ’05, who was listed as a Rising Star. 1981
Phillip Broadhead is director of the criminal appeals program at the National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law and a clinical professor of law at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Broadhead was previously a public defender in Jackson and Columbia, Mississippi. In addition to running the criminal appeals clinic, Broadhead teaches federal habeas corpus law and a section of state criminal trial practice focusing on evidence skills. He is married to Tommie Jean Brock, who also works at the law school as the administrative assistant for the civil legal clinic.
Dennis W. Miller was listed in the 2010 edition of Best Lawyers in America. He works with energy and government relations at Watkins Ludlum Stennis & Winters in Jackson, Mississippi. 1985
James Craig is a partner in the Jackson General Litigation Practice Group at Phelps Dunbar LLP and an adjunct professor at MC Law teaching remedies, products liability, and capital punishment. He is a member of the American Law Institute and participated in consultative groups on the Principles of the Law of Software Contracts and Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation, both adopted by ALI at its 2009 annual meeting.
Trey Phillips was named first assistant attorney general for Louisiana. 1990
Rebecca Wiggins “Becky” Hawkins is associated with Wise Carter Child and Caraway PA’s Jackson office, where she focuses on appellate law and general litigation. 1991
Mark Haire was named deputy insurance commissioner of Jackson, Mississippi.
Lynn Ann Whaley Vogel was elected vicepresident of the Missouri Bar for 20092010. 1986
William Cavanaugh was appointed assistant prosecuting attorney for Rankin County, Mississippi in 2009.
Cynthia Clark Tyler is inspector general with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Development Disabilities, where she supervises the office of licensure, hospital investigators, and internal audit. 1989
Vincent Davis has been appointed by Governor Haley Barbour to the vacant chancery post for Adams, Claiborne, Jefferson, and Wilkinson Counties. He will resign a seat in the Mississippi Senate to assume this position. LeAnn Nealey authored the article “Preserving Summary Judgment Based on the Exclusion of Expert Testimony,” which appeared in the fall 2009 issue of the MDLA Quarterly.
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Beth Rives de Gruy has been appointed United States Administrative Law Judge for the Social Security Administration. 1993
Robert James Dallimore was named associate head coach of the women’s basketball program at the University of Arkansas. 1994
William Harry Wallace, Jr., and his wife, Lorraine, adopted a daughter, Muriel Elizabeth, from China in 2007. The family lives in the Republic of Moldova where Lorraine is a Fulbright Scholar. 1995
Long Westerlund and his wife welcomed twins in 2009. The family lives in Alexandria, Virginia. 1996
Stephen Louis A. Dillard was given an executive appointment by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. He is with James, Bates, Pope & Spivey in Macon and is the president of the Macon Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society.
class | action
Andrea La’Verne Ford Edney assumed the position of general counsel for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project on September 1, 2009. Edney took a two-year leave of absence from her work as a partner with the Brunini firm to assume this position. Alben Norris Hopkins, Jr. and his wife welcomed a son, Cooper Hopkins, in 2009. 1997
James Richard “Jimmy” Schnurr was listed as one of the best business lawyers in Dallas 2009 for zone and land use in D Magazine. Schnurr represents developers, homebuilders, investors, and landowners throughout Texas in all aspects of zoning and land use, boards of adjustment, economic development, platting, vested rights/entitlements, condemnation, annexation, sign regulation, building permits and construction, rightof-way abandonment, general municipal, and code enforcement matters. 1998
Kristi McHale joined the asbestos and mesothelioma litigation division at Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris in Birmingham, Alabama. 2001
Dick Bradford “Brad” Mason IV and his wife, Caroline, welcomed a daughter, Allison Fair Mason, on October 12, 2009. She joins big sisters Ashley and Mary Kathryn.
Melody McAnally was selected as a MidSouth Rising Star for 2009 by the MidSouth Super Lawyers.
Mark E. Power, Jr. opened his own firm, Power Law Firm PLLC, in Madison in 2009.
Justin Lee Smith was named a partner with Cross Poole & Smith, LLC, in December 2008.
Brandi Lewis Bilbo is a staff attorney with Judge George Ward of the 17th District with the Chancery Court in Adams County, Mississippi. Adam M. Cain joined the firm of Timmons, Warnes & Anderson, LLP in Athens, Georgia, as an associate.
Michele Brubaker Fassbender is a managing partner of the Nashville House Counsel Office for State Auto Insurance Company.
Mary Margaret and Kevin Gay welcomed a son, Andrew “Drew” Ayres Gay, on June 17, 2009.
Amy Lowhorn Greenwald is chief deputy clerk for the U.S. District Court for the western district of Louisiana.
Kathryn Smith Rivers and Reginald Jay Rivers, III were married June 6, 2009 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Angelita Fisher was named partner at King & Barlow in Nashville, Tennessee, in May of 2009.
Ellie B. Word and her husband, Scott, welcomed a son, Samuel Scott Word, on November 20, 2008. Ellie was named partner at Krebs, Parley & Pelleteri in Jackson, Mississippi, in January 2008.
Allison “Ali” Carden Sackett and her husband welcomed their second daughter, Madeline Hope Sackett, on April 18, 2009.
Kandi Kelley Collins was elected treasurer of the Jackson-Madison County Bar Association for 2009-2010. She is the assistant public defender for the 26th Judicial District. Walter Leroy Corey and his wife welcomed a daughter, Stella Kate Corey, on November 9, 2009. She joins big sister Madison and big brothers Walter and Ryan. Amber DePriest Massengill and Lee Carter Massengill welcomed their first child, Georgia Kate Massengill, on March 4, 2009. Patrick Alexander “Alex” Vogel and his wife, Kellie, welcomed a daughter, Phillips Kathryn, on May 6, 2009.
Elizabeth de Gruy Appointed Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Rives de Gruy ’91 has been appointed as Administrative Law Judge for the United States Social Security Administration. Judge de Gruy will preside over hearings to resolve disputes between the Social Security Administration and people affected by a decision of the agency. • Prior to her appointment, Judge de Gruy served as a senior attorney for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. During her legal career she has also served as counsel for the Mississippi State Legislature and executive director of the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program for the Mississippi Bar. Prior to her service with the Legislature and the Bar, Judge de Gruy was a solo practitioner. • “MC Law provided a strong foundation for all aspects of my legal career,” Judge de Gruy says. “I am honored to have the opportunity to use my education and experience to serve the public as an Administrative Law Judge.”
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class | action Christopher McKinley Thomas and his wife, Kristi, welcomed their third child, Mary Catherine Thomas, on October 30, 2009.
Megan and Travis Conner welcomed a daughter, Caroline, on May 11, 2009. She joins big brother Will, who was born in February of 2008. Iyona H. Houston and Earl W. Houston II welcomed a son, Earl W. Houston III, on September 13, 2009.
Edgar Clark Trout and his wife welcomed a son, Davis Walker Trout, on June 10, 2009. 2007
David Thomas Ash and his wife, Susannah, welcomed a son, Solomon Thomas Ash, on May 9, 2008. Karen Clay and Jeremy Clay ’09 welcomed a daughter, Caroline, in March of 2008. Susanna Sarah Davis and her husband, Joel, welcomed a daughter, Eden Brooke, in 2009. Mark Lyon accepted a position with the New York office of Huron Consulting Group, a management/litigation consulting firm, managing large scale discovery matters.
Kristi Rogers and David Brown
Kristi Rae Rogers and David Christian Brown ’04 were married on June 13, 2009 in New Orleans. They live in Gulfport, Mississippi. Toni Walker Terrett was appointed Community Court Judge by the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen in June 2009. Terrett has a private law practice in Vicksburg, where she serves as a public defender for the Ninth Circuit Drug Court. She is a faculty member in the department of mass communications at Alcorn State University, where she advises the student newspaper staff. Tyler David Vann and Lauren Stubbs were married March 14, 2009. The couple resides in Alabaster, Alabama. 2006
Joshua Glade Holden was named partner at Fish Nelson, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama. Brendan Sartin and his wife welcomed a son, Walker Clark Sartin, on August 4, 2009.
Blake Anthony Altazon and Ashley Brooke Watford were married October 17, 2009 at First United Methodist Church in Greenville, Alabama. Jordan Liles Ash and his wife, Andrea, welcomed a daughter, Adrianna Faith Ash, on April 8, 2009. Keatings Simmons Coleman and Patrick Haynes Lowery were married July 18, 2009 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Florence, Alabama. The couple resides in Memphis, Tennessee. Paul Ford Lensing, Jr. and Kristin Sievers were married November 7, 2009 at the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home in Monroe, Louisiana. John M. Mussetto joined the law firm of Mooneyham, Berry & Karow in August. Mussetto held clerkships at the Greenville County Public Defender’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He practices in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, automobile accidents and injury, family law, and DUI defense. amıcus | 52
A Change of Venue for La’Verne Edney La’Verne Edney ’96 has taken a twoyear leave of absence from her position as a partner with the prestigious Brunini law firm to serve as general counsel for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project (MVLP). MVLP matches low-income Mississippians in need of civil legal services with lawyers who are willing to handle their cases pro bono. As general counsel, Edney’s focus is recruiting volunteer attorneys for MVLP. “Having such a powerful Mississippi attorney willing to make this type of sacrifice and to give voice to those who are voiceless speaks volumes,” says Shirley Williams, executive director of MVLP. “Honestly, some days I come to work and I still can’t believe she’s here.” Lawyers who volunteer with MVLP handle civil cases including divorce, child custody, guardianships, domestic violence, bankruptcies, and landlord/tenant issues. At any given time, 60 cases are waiting for a volunteer lawyer willing to handle them. Each case represents a real person whose life is on hold until help arrives. Edney’s goal for the next two years is to personally persuade each of the 6,700 lawyers in Mississippi to take just one case for free. “I believe our state’s attorneys will step up if we reach out to them and make them aware of the need,” Edney says. “If they take just one case, they’ll realize it’s not nearly as difficult or time-consuming as they might think and it’s far more rewarding than they imagined.” It’s little wonder that La’Verne Edney makes a strong case – after all, the sacrifice she’s asking her fellow attorneys to make pales in comparison to her own. “I just want to give back to God a portion of what He has given me,” Edney says. “I was taught that when God blesses us beyond our needs, it’s not so that we can live more lavishly. It’s so that we can bless others.” If you are an attorney or a new law school graduate and you’d like to volunteer with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, please contact La’Verne Edney at 601.360.0212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
class | action Ashley Brooke Watford and Blake Anthony Altazon were married October 17, 2009 at First United Methodist Church in Greenville, Alabama.
Joseph Lee Willoughby passed the Tennessee Bar and works with the district attorney’s office in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Jeremy Clay and Karen Clay ’07 welcomed a daughter, Caroline, in March of 2009. Matthew Robert Courtner will complete an LL.M. in taxation from New York University in May 2010. William Ney Cruse and his wife, Morgan, welcomed a daughter, Marcie Ann Cruse, on August 11, 2009. Matthew Duckworth’s wife, Suzanne, was named Mrs. Mississippi in July of 2009. She will go on to compete for the title of Mrs. America. Taylor Elizabeth Dunlop and Jesse Albert Granneman were married August 29 at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Saint Louis, Missouri. Andrew Trimigan Holmes is pursuing an LL.M. in taxation at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri. He will complete the program in May 2010, at which time he will begin a career in estate planning. Penny Lawson accepted a position with Varner Parker & Sessums in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Jeremiah Brown Luther passed the Tennessee Bar. Adrienne Maloney passed the Tennessee Bar and works for the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office. Cherie Rivera Wade was sworn in as a Jackson County assistant district attorney in September of 2009, just five days after passing the Mississippi bar exam.
Jackson School of Law 1943 Daniel E. Breland of Jackson, Mississippi, passed away August 26, 2009. He was admitted to practice in 1943 and continued to practice until he purchased Tillman Finance Company, where he served as president and manager until his retirement in 1990. Breland was a charter member of Riverside Methodist Church and a member and past president of the Mississippi Consumer Finance Association. Jackson School of Law 1950 Bethel Ferguson of Raymond, Mississippi, passed away July 14, 2009. He was admitted to practice in 1950. Ferguson served in the Mississippi Power & Light Company legal department until his retirement in 1984, when he joined the law firm of Green, Cheney, and Hughes. He was active in Parkway Baptist Church teaching, singing in the choir, and serving as a deacon. Jackson School of Law 1953 Audrey Mae Williams Brand of Clinton, Mississippi, passed away August 29, 2009. She was admitted to practice in 1953. Brand and her husband, Sam Brand, formed the firm of Brand, Brand, and Cook. She was a member of Mt. Salus Presbyterian Church for more than 40 years and most recently was a member of St. Paul Presbyterian Church. Samuel Mansell Brand of Clinton, Mississippi, passed away in 2009. Following their graduation from JSOL, he and his wife, Audrey Brand, opened the firm of Brand, Brand, and Cook. Together, they also operated a Jackson clothier, House of Brands, for more than 40 years. amıcus | 53
Jackson School of Law 1965 Henry L. “Bo” Denton of Jackson, Mississippi, passed away October 10, 2009. Mr. Denton worked for several years for General Motors - Pontiac Motor Division. In 1994, he retired after 34 years from Allstate Insurance. He was an active member of Broadmeadow United Methodist Church where he enjoyed delivering Meals on Wheels. Jackson School of Law 1970 Jerry William Blakeney of Jackson, Mississippi, passed away May 6, 2009. He was admitted to practice in 1971. Blakeney served in the National Guard for eight years. An executive vice president with Andrew Jackson Life for many years, Blakeney later founded the Planning Group, LTD, specializing in estate law and financial planning. He retired in 2000. Blakeney served as a board member of Rankin Medical Center, Hinds General Hospital, and Hinds Community College. He was a Lifetime Member of the Million Dollar Round Table and a member of the National Association of Life Underwriters. Blakeney was an active member of Oakdale Baptist Church. Jackson School of Law 1973 John Thomas Dawson of Ridgeland, Mississippi, passed away September 13, 2009. He served in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict, where he was a Navy Corpsman stationed in Guam. He was in the insurance business for more than 40 years, retiring from Amfed Companies in 2004. Dawson was a member of First United Methodist Church in Ridgeland and a former member of Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Jackson. Jackson School of Law 1976 Billy Wayne Lambert of Booneville, Mississippi, passed away March 13, 2009. MC Law 2001 Laurie Williamson Poland of Winnsboro, Louisiana, passed away July 23, 2009. She was admitted to practice in 2001. In 2004, Poland became an attorney with the Louisiana State Department of Social Services, covering an 11-parish area.
closing | statement
Placed in Someone Else’s Path by La’Verne Edney ’96 General Counsel for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project
On September 1, 2009, I began a twoyear leave of absence from my position as a partner with Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hughes, PLLC to serve as general counsel for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project (MVLP), an organization that matches low-income Mississippians with lawyers who are willing to handle their cases pro bono. When my family, friends, and colleagues learned of my job change, their first comment was usually, “I really admire what you’re doing.” Their second comment was usually, “Why in the world do you want to do it?” The answer is simple. I am merely giving back a small portion of all that’s been given to me. Growing up as the youngest of 14 children in a farming family in the Mississippi Delta, one of my heroes was Ben
Matlock, the fictional TV lawyer played by Andy Griffith. I dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but I didn’t think of it as a dream I could actually achieve. After college I accepted a position at the Institutions of Higher Learning, where I worked with several attorneys who encouraged me to apply to law school and helped me with letters of recommendation. Once I was accepted to MC Law, I was blessed with professors and fellow students who encouraged me and with mentors who inspired and shaped my career. There was Professor Matt Steffey, who taught me never to back away from a belief; Judge Robert Gibbs, who allowed me to observe in his courtroom and would later recruit me to Brunini; and Judge Leslie Southwick, who encouraged me to apply and hired me for a clerkship. Becoming a partner at Brunini was literally my dream come true. I never imagined I’d be where I am today, but I know it’s nothing that I’ve done alone. God put all of the people who pushed me to be where I am today in my path for a reason. Now, He’s putting me in someone else’s path for a reason. As general counsel for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, my focus is recruiting attorneys to assist people who simply can’t afford the legal help they need. These volunteer lawyers handle civil cases including divorce, child custody, guardianships, domestic violence, bankruptcies, and landlord/tenant issues.
At any given time, 60 cases are waiting for a volunteer lawyer willing to handle them. Each case represents a real person – often a desperate, frightened person – whose life is on hold until help arrives. If each of Mississippi’s 6,700 attorneys would volunteer to handle just one case, we could eliminate that backlog 100 times over. It is not a cliché to say that as legal professionals, we possess the skills that can literally change people’s lives, and in using those skills to help others, we can also change our own lives. I believe those attorneys who agree to take just one case will realize it’s not nearly as difficult or time-consuming as they might think and it’s far more rewarding than they ever imagined. I also believe that like myself, anyone who has survived the rigors of law school and gone on to enjoy a career as an attorney owes his or her success in part to those who encouraged, mentored, challenged, and otherwise helped along the way. Just as those people were placed in your path for a reason, maybe you are now being placed in someone else’s path for a reason. If you, like me, have been blessed beyond your needs, maybe the reason is so that you can now bless others. If you would like to volunteer with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, please contact La’Verne Edney at 601.360.0212 or email@example.com.
“If each of Mississippi’s 6,700 attorneys would volunteer to handle just one case, we could eliminate that backlog 100 times over. It is not a cliché to say that as legal professionals, we possess the skills that can literally change people’s lives, and in using those skills to help others, we can also change our own lives.”
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