Law School


Corporatization of the Criminal Justice System ASU Law School

This Friday, speakers at ASU Law School will offer a seminar titled “Corporatization of the Criminal Justice System.”

According to organizers, the event will include a variety of speakers including scholars, attorneys, and advocates “working on the pressing issue of the role of private prisons in mass incarceration and immigration detention.”

The keynote speaker will be Ben Jealous, former CEO and President of the NAACP.

The event opens at 1:30 p.m. and ends with an 8:45 p.m. reception.

The complete agenda with panel titles is here.

Other organizations involved include Abolish Private Prisons, Changing Hands Bookstore, Osborn Maledon, the American Constitution Society, and the Carolina Academic Press.

Organizers plan to address numerous topics, including the relationship between private prisons and:

  • the length and severity of sentences and availability of parole
  • mass incarceration’s impact on communities of color

Speakers at the event will examine prisons, parole, immigration detention, bail, and probation.

The complete conference website is here.

The website for the speaker information is here.

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The Slants The-Band-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-thumbnail

The Slants are coming to Tucson

Later this week, the University of Arizona College of Law hosts what has to be the best law-related but not so damned lawylerly event of the year when it welcomes The Slants, all-Asian American band—which is all up in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s business.

The event is on Thursday. It begins with a noon talk (room 164) about their current trademark case pending before the Supreme Court. And then, because law school needs a relief valve, they’ll perform a concert at 8 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

OK, so what is all this about?

“The Slants are known as the first all-Asian American dance-rock band in the world. The band is well known in legal circles due to their battle with the United States Trademark Office with In Re Tam, which is now before the Supreme Court of the United States and known as Lee v. Tam.”

All-Asian American band The Slants

All-Asian American band The Slants

“The friction with the USPTO comes from the band’s name—a reference to their ethnicity—which is the subject of a protracted legal debate. After the band’s request to trademark its name was denied, they took the issue to court. In December 2015, a federal appeals court overturned a previous ruling that upheld the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of the band’s application by striking down part of a law that allowed the government to reject trademarks it deemed offensive or disparaging to others. The majority opinion stated, in part, that ‘[w]hatever our personal feelings about the mark at issue here, or other disparaging marks, the First Amendment forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find speech likely to offend others.’ The band’s frontman, Simon Tam, explained that while the First Amendment should protect the band’s right to use the name regardless of their reasons, they had chosen the name in order ‘to undercut slurs about Asian-Americans that band members heard in childhood, not to promote them.’”

But the USPTO takes its faux disparagement seriously, so now we await a SCOTUS opinion.

If you enjoy more detail that doesn’t come from a law review, here is a helpful article from Chief Justice John Robert’ favorite publication, Rolling Stone.

Meantime, I know you’re curious about the type of music they write and perform. I’ve listened and enjoyed it, but I leave it to the band and the crowdsourced genius at Wikipedia to describe their thang:

“The Slants describe themselves as ‘Chinatown Dance Rock’ and are often compared to electro rock bands such as The Faint or early 80’s synthpop groups such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, Duran Duran, The Cult, and Joy Division. Critics also compare The Slants with modern artists such as The Killers, VNV Nation, and Mindless Self-Indulgence.”

Gotta love me a little synthpop.

The Slants UA flier University of Arizona Law School

Whether you’re an electro-fan or not, the band is here.

You might enjoy this brief video tracking their trip to Washington DC for Supreme Court oral argument regarding their trademark registration. At 1:36, you’ll see the tiniest of concerts they staged on the SCOTUS steps.

And be sure to watch this trailer for The Band Who Must Not Be Named.

You can see more of their work on their own Youtube page.

If you go to the Tucson concert—(please go!)—would a photo or two kill you? Maybe a brief video? A signed T-shirt? Whatever.

asu-law-and-science-mock-trial-competition-header

Today I share an opportunity to participate in moot court—as a judge.

The ASU Moot Court Executive Board seeks volunteer judges for its competition on February 17 and 18. Here is the news from Tyler Carlton, the Chair of the Hosted Competitions Committee:

The ASU Moot Court Executive Board is looking for volunteers to judge the ASU Law and Science Mock Trial Competition on February 17 (Friday) and 18 (Saturday). We are looking for volunteers for all times slots, which are provided below.

Trials will be about three hours longs. We are very excited to host our competition this year in the new downtown Phoenix building with teams from Arizona, California, Colorado, and Texas. Volunteer judges will also be provided both breakfast and lunch. Volunteers can sign up for any times slots that they are available.

First day (2/17):

  • Judge Orientation: 9:00
  • First trial: 10:00-1:00
  • Lunch: 1:00-2:00
  • Judge Orientation: 2:00
  • Second trial: 2:30-5:30

Second day (2/18):

  • Judge Orientation: 8:00
  • First trial: 9:00-12:00
  • Lunch: 12:00-1:00

For more information or to sign up, contact Tyler at tdcarlto@asu.edu.

ASU Law School logo

Justice Sonia Sotomayor greets University of Arizona Professor Rebecca Tsosie, Jan. 23, 2017, ASU Gammage Auditorium, at the annual John Frank Lecture.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor greets University of Arizona Professor Rebecca Tsosie, Jan. 23, 2017, ASU Gammage Auditorium, at the annual John Frank Lecture.

This week, I had the privilege to attend the annual John Frank Lecture at ASU. This year’s esteemed speaker was Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who engaged in a dialogue with Hon. Mary Schroeder of the Ninth Circuit (and its former Chief Judge). I’m happy to share excellent reporting of the event (below) by attorney Ashley Kasarjian, of Snell & Wilmer. She’s also a former Chair of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board, so she’s excellent in multiple ways!

If this blog post were a movie, the opening scene would be the end of the evening—roaring applause and a standing ovation with Justice Sotomayor shaking hands, hugging kids at the end of the aisle, and walking through the crowd at Gammage Auditorium. Now, rewind back… Last night, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor […]

via Justice Sotomayor Visits Arizona State University — Employment and the Law: A legal blog from the perspective of an employment attorney

Keep reading here.

Law students (maybe not really) await their mascot auditions (not really) in a new video from UC-Hastings College of Law.

Law students (maybe not really) await their mascot auditions (not really) in a new video from UC-Hastings College of Law.

There are a lot of things that might stir pride in your alma mater, even including your law school (OK, that’s a stretch.) But I’m not sure what emotion is stirred by a recent humorous announcement that Hastings Law is trying … mascots.

Before you get too deep into law school irritation (yes, it’s a thing), take a deep breath and realize: It’s a joke.

Yes, the University of California–Hastings College of Law did put out a video of a faux mascot competition. But they only did it to drive home the message that they are wholly focused on law, and not those many other things schools of general knowledge spend time on.

uc-hastings-logo-2

Here’s the video, which I rather enjoyed.

But then I started thinking: Maybe a mascot wouldn’t be so bad. Ever so briefly, it might take your mind off tax law, and damages, and civil procedure, and all those horrible things we discovered in torts that a vacuum could do. I mean, what if law schools around the nation lent their imaginations to the effort to select mascots that befit their mission and their clientele? What would they come up with?

And what would you come up with? I really wanna know. Send me a note (arizona.attorney@azbar.org) indicating your best law school mascot idea, which I may share, depending on the absence of obscenities.

Just so you know, sharks or shark-related ideas will be declined by me as the decider. Not because they’re not funny. But just because they’re altogether too easy.

Happy Change of Venue Friday. Enjoy your weekend—and always keep swimming.

A sample of photos by Matika Wilbur, via Project 562.

A sample of photos by Matika Wilbur, via Project 562.

If you’re fortunate enough to have today off for Indigenous People’s Day, I’ve got a suggestion for the best place to spend it: The Heard Museum in Phoenix, which has a series of events to commemorate the day.

Here is a list of the events, which begin at 12:30 p.m.

You may have heard that the Phoenix City Council voted that the city would celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. That makes it the largest U.S. city to celebrate the annual event.

As the news story reported:

The proposal to create Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Phoenix emerged in May, when residents Jeff Malkoon and Carlos Bravo submitted to the city an application for a historical commemoration.

“The city of Phoenix is built on what was the Hohokam civilization,” Malkoon told council members. “We just think this is a significant statement for a city like Phoenix, being such a center point in the Southwest.”

And this is part of a growing national trend, as CNN reports.

In what was a great preview of Monday’s Heard events, audience members at the Heard Sunday afternoon heard from two artists and two lawyers on the intersection of art, Indian identity and law. (I wrote about the event here.)

That gathering included insights from artists Matika Wilbur and Gregg Deal.

Deal’s film “The Last American Indian on Earth” was screened. It shows, in surprising and occasionally humorous ways, the complicated relationship mainstream American society has with Native culture.

Wearing a faux historic Indian costume (manufactured in China, for good measure), Deal strode about Washington DC. The reactions he got were troubling and laden with meaning.

As Deal says in the voiceover, “When you let the cameras roll, Americans, they don’t disappoint.”

As one hand-written sign he holds tells passersby, “My spirit animal is white guilt.”

L to R at the Heard Museum panel on Indian identity, art, and law, Oct. 9, 2016: Matika Wilbur, Kevin Gover, Gregg Deal, Brett Shelton.

L to R at the Heard Museum panel on Indian identity, art, and law, Oct. 9, 2016: Matika Wilbur, Kevin Gover, Gregg Deal, Brett Shelton.

Matika Wilbur then spoke, presenting her itinerant photo experience with Project 562, which aims to photograph citizens of each federally recognized tribe in the United States (there are now 566).

As she describes on her site:

“Most of the time, I’ve been invited to geographically remote reservations to take portraits and hear stories from a myriad of tribes, while at other times I’ve photographed members of the 70 percent of Native Americans living in urban settings. My hope is that when the project is complete, it will serve to educate the nation and shift the collective consciousness toward recognizing our own indigenous communities.”

A longtime educator from Seattle, Wilbur asked, “When are we going to stop asking our children to choose between cultural education and Western education?”

Wilbur also spoke about how Indian identity is “inextricably connected to the land.” Discussing the sensation known as solastalgia—separation from home—she wondered how the Cocopah, for instance, known as the people of the blue-green water, could be Cocopah if access to that water is denied or destroyed.

In the subsequent panel discussion, attorney Kevin Gover addressed that issue and the way violations have been visited on Native peoples by the American legal system. For example, in Fletcher v. Peck (1810), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Indian title to land was not true title, as Indians were itinerant hunters and had never been farmers—an absolute misstatement of the facts. But it was decisions like that which provided the veneer of law to unjust decisions.

In fact, Gover pointed out, the most famous Native-land-title cases were collusive ones, manufactured conflicts presented by land speculators to prod a desired outcome from a compliant Court. To America’s enduring shame, the Court proved a willing co-conspirator in the effort.

The American legal system, Gover said, “played a huge role in the removal and dispossession of Native peoples.”

Through their art, Matika Wilbur and Gregg Deal explore America’s complicated relationship with Native peoples. As a teacher, Wilbur reminded the audience that these mainstream viewpoints are learned ones, and that the dominant Western view of Indians helps shield society from honest appraisals.

To illustrate that, she showed search results in Google images from searches for the simple terms “African American,” “Asian American,” “Hispanic American,” and, finally, “Native American.”

Among all of those searches, the Native American search was the only one that yielded an almost uniform view of Indians as historic beings—and actually as faux historic beings. Nearly every image reconfirms the popular image of Indians as conceptualized 150 years ago.

Google image search results for "Native American," Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for “Native American,” Oct. 9, 2016.

Where are the modern Indians who live among us, Wilbur asked.

They are all about us, Wilbur and Deal said. If people are willing to see.

Again, here are today’s Heard Museum events.

Google image search results for "Asian American," Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for “Asian American,” Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for "African American," Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for “African American,” Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for "Hispanic American," Oct. 9, 2016.

Google image search results for “Hispanic American,” Oct. 9, 2016.

 

Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a "major university" partner.

Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a “major university” partner.

Yesterday afternoon, Arizona Summit Law School in downtown Phoenix issued the following press release regarding its goal to affiliate with a university rather than remain a standalone law school. A school spokeswoman said that they expect to complete the affiliation “within the year.” What such an affiliation “with a major university” ultimately means for Summit is unclear; I’ll be reaching out to school officials in coming days to ask about their strategic thinking. At this point, the school has said that the collaboration would “allow lower tuition, improved economies of scale in pursuit of mission to provide legal education to diverse and non-traditional students.”

 I’ll report more when I learn more. And if you are a Summit student or faculty member, feel free to contact me anytime at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

 Here’s the release:

PHOENIX, AZ (August 15, 2016): Arizona Summit Law School (Summit), one of the nation’s few independent law schools, intends to affiliate with a major university within the year.

“The decision to affiliate reflects the strong commitment we have to our students,” said Don Lively, Summit president. “We conducted a survey of our students and learned that 67% of them would prefer attending a law school that is part of a university system. Toward this end, we are in advanced negotiations with a few universities that share our mission and values. The advantages of this transition are multifold. It will strengthen Summit’s reputation, make its program more affordable, reduce tuition dependency, result in stronger academic support systems and improved outcomes, enhance faculty and institutional development opportunities, create interdepartmental synergies, and significantly enhance the ability to achieve our mission of diversifying legal education and the legal profession.”

AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logoFounded in 2005, Summit was designed and developed by legal educators concerned about the direction of traditional legal education, which has drifted from the realities of the contemporary legal profession. Summit recognizes not only the need for change, but also the opportunity to become a benchmark institution for the 21st Century. Its goals include graduating students who truly are practice-ready and, most importantly, diversifying one of the nation’s least diverse professions.

In its short history, Summit has earned numerous awards for diversity and innovation—including being a two-time winner of the American Bar Association Gambrell Award. Summit students last year logged more than 100,000 public service hours. The school’s career placement rate for JD advantage, bar pass required, and professional positions leads all 50 tier two law schools. It has a student loan default rate of less than 2%, which is one of the best among the nation’s universities and law schools (including many state universities and ivy league schools).

Dean Shirley Mays Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays, Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays notes that, “our mission entails admitting many students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have lower entering credentials but the potential to succeed. Our ability to and record of enabling success is evidenced by an ultimate bar pass rate that complies with ABA standards, our strong career placement rate, and many stories from employers who prefer to hire our graduates because of their preparedness for practice and strong work ethic. Dean Mays added “over the past decade, we have had a profound impact on the legal profession’s diversity in Arizona. In 2004, the state bar’s diversity rate was 8% compared to the overall state population’s diversity rate of ~40%. In 2015, we had a graduate diversity rate of 31% compared with the 15% diversity rate of the state’s other schools.”

Summit’s latest milestone on its mission of diversity is a program offering full scholarships plus $5,000 in living expenses to students with an LSAT score of 150 or above. The program, another market of its innovative mindset, is targeting students who are members of historically or economically disadvantaged groups and is being coordinated in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Legal education traditionally has assumed that schools must choose between high LSAT scores and diversity. The Summit scholarship initiative demonstrates that it can preserve a mission of diversity and, at the same time, increase the entering credentials of its students and ultimately its first-time bar pass rate.

The legal profession has changed dramatically in recent years, but law schools generally have not kept pace. Within this context, new leadership in legal education likely will emerge. Summit is building a school created not only to respond to but lead change and be recognized as an institution of true social utility. For more information, please visit www.azsummitlaw.edu.

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