Dean Search Committee Formed
Dr. David Szymanski, Dean of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, has been appointed to chair the search committee for the next College of Law dean. Members of the decanal search committee are now available.
- A. Christopher Bryant, Rufus King Professor of Constitutional Law
- Sandra Sperino, Professor of Law
- Verna Williams, Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law
- Elizabeth Lenhart, Associate Professor of Practice
- Mark A. Godsey, Daniel P. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and Director, Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project
- Elizabeth Thoman ’15, President, Student Legal Education Committee
- Kenneth J. Hirsh, Director, Law Library and Information Technology and Professor of Practice
- Nancy Oliver ‘90, Associate Dean for Curriculum and Student Affairs and Professor of Practice
- Doloris Learmonth ‘78, Board of Visitors member
- Robert E. Richardson, Jr. ’05, University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees member
The Provost Office has retained Jonathan Fortescue of Park Square Executive Search (Cambridge) as the search firm.
Updates about the status of the search will soon be available as a link on the law school’s website and regular updates about the search also will be provided in future issues of Updates@UC Law.
Class of 1974 Creates School’s Seventh Class Scholarship
The 1974 Class had a lot to celebrate at their reunion event last month—reconnecting with classmates, seeing the evolution of UC campus, and celebrating exceeding their scholarship fundraising goals!
Several months ago class agents Bruce Allman, Barbara Barden, Dan Buckley, Jim Hunt and Steve Wolnitzek proposed a goal to raise $25K for a student scholarship. Recognizing the even higher cost of education today (than when they were in school) and wanting to help students reduce their debt load, the group felt their peers would definitely be on board.
And they were indeed.
The class blew right past their initial $25K goal, raising more than $42,000 in pledges and gifts. Today, they only need $8,000 to reach the endowed scholarship level. “We discussed this as a group and believe our classmates would rather have a scholarship named for the class that lives on in perpetuity than one that disappears after a few years,” said Bruce Allman. “This way, the UC Law Class of 1974 will be involved in providing scholarships to UC Law students for generations to come.”
Once completed this will be just the seventh endowed scholarship created by a graduation class.
If you are a member of the 1974 Class and want to help complete the class scholarship, be on the lookout for a letter coming your way soon. Or, click here to donate.
UC Law alumni from other graduation years who are interested in creating a class scholarship should contact Kim Danker, Assistant Director of Development, 513.556.0066 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Work of OIP Gives Justin Jennewine Broader Perspective on Criminal Law
When it came to choosing between law schools, Cincinnati was an easy choice for Xenia, OH native Justin Jennewine ‘16. He always had a connection with the Queen City and he wanted to stay in state to remain close to family and friends. The College of Law was especially appealing because of the strong sense of community he felt when he visited and because of the small class sized, which he had learned to enjoy while at the University of Dayton.
At UD he majored in finance and economics, keeping his eye on a business career. Jennewine strongly considered pursuing a MBA. In the end, however, he opted to seek his JD, something he had been interested in since high school.
The summer before coming to Cincinnati for law school, he worked at the Dayton firm Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman & Swaim. There, he was able to employ his business background while gaining experience and learning about working at a law firm. “Working at a law firm before law school was an excellent experience,” Jennewine shared, noting that he received useful advice and gained quality experience leading up to law school.
His interest in OIP began when he took a tour of the College of Law. His tour guide was working with OIP and they stopped in the office during their tour. Seeing the work close up, Jennewine was inspired to work there himself. While he still has a strong interest in business law, Jennewine knew that working with the OIP would be an excellent opportunity. Additionally, he wanted to test the waters working in the criminal law context. “It has been such a great experience,” Jennewine said, “but it has actually made my career decisions more difficult. I still find the intersection of law and business very interesting, but I have also very much enjoyed my time with the OIP, and can tell that I would enjoy this kind of work down the road as well.
“From the short time I have spent so far with the OIP, my perspective on the status of individuals after they have been incarcerated has changed,” he shared. “You really have to teach yourself that, no matter what they were accused and convicted of, these are human beings you are working with. This is their life they are trying to regain, and if there is even the smallest chance that they were unjustly incarcerated, we have to do everything we can because we have the skills to help them.”
To current first-years and prospective law students, Jennewine strongly recommends OIP. “If you have even the slightest inclination you might have any interest in it, the OIP is the perfect experience to see what public interest and criminal law offers. I haven’t met more passionate attorneys than the ones I work with at OIP. It has been a wonderful experience thus far. Give it a chance, that’s the one thing I will say.”
Wells Channels Life Experiences into Public Interest Work
Catlin Wells ’16, a Dayton, Ohio native born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, spent her formative years as a military kid, travelling all over the United States with her family. She lived the “military lifestyle” throughout her childhood before returning to Ohio for her collegiate studies, graduating from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in communications. With a growing interest in the area of public interest, Wells decided to focus on a legal education and joined the UC Law community.
Now working with the Ohio Innocence Project, she had been engaged in public interest work for some time. While in Dayton she was involved in an after school care program and worked with special needs children. By the time she moved to Columbus for undergraduate school, Wells knew she wanted to stay involved in this area of work and did so as a Head Start teacher. It was her experiences doing this work that, in part, inspired her to seek a legal education so that she could work to improve the situations for struggling families.
“I was particularly drawn to the OIP from hearing what previous students had to say about it,” she shared. Now several months into her time as an OIP fellow, she has benefitted enormously from her experiences thus far. “It’s sometimes too easy to get lost in the cases you read for class. But my time with the OIP has given me an outlet to apply the sometimes nebulous classroom lessons in a very real, practical setting.”
Wells admits, however, that her work is sometimes frustrating. “The work at the OIP can feel like a losing battle some of the time,” she shared. “I may spend all week calling witnesses who don’t want to talk with me, begging overworked public employees to send me records from dusty and unorganized file cabinets, and trying to find evidence that might not even exist.” It’s at these difficult moments that she remembers her supervisor’s advice on how to channel her frustration: “Don’t get mad for you, get mad for the inmate.”
When asked about her future, Wells shared that she plans to continue working to benefit the community. “I tell people I want to go into politics, but I think that’s a little bit misleading."
She continued, “I was blessed with access to good education, health care, and a house in a neighborhood that was safe enough for me to knock on a stranger’s door when it was time to sell Girl Scout cookies. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life begging for campaign donations and votes, but I’m serious about working with local government officials to make sure that the next generation can say the same thing about their community.”
Jackie Welp Likes Being a Truth-Seeker
“The Ohio Innocence Project was a big factor in my decision to come to UC Law,” shared Jackie Welp '16. While attending the University of Cincinnati (for her two degrees) she was involved with the Pre-Law club. There, she arranged to get an OIP exoneree to come speak to the club. “It was a great experience, and afterwards I almost immediately wrote my personal statement and applied!”
Welp is a 2L working with the Ohio Innocence Project. A Columbus, Oh native, she has strong family ties to the Queen City. After graduating from UC with majors in history and political science, she chose the College of Law as the place for her legal education.
Working on 20 twenty cases (a typical caseload for an OIP student) Welp has been truly immersed in her work. “For one reason or another, myself and other OIP students sometimes have trouble pulling ourselves away from one particular case or another—whether it be the particular facts or our belief that the defendant is innocent,” she shared, noting that the experience is useful and educational from a time and caseload management standpoint. It is also work about which it is easy to become enthusiastic.
Being a ‘Truth Seeker’
Since she began working at the OIP, Welp has found that her perspective on post-conviction work has evolved. “The prosecution (in these cases), in the midst of defending their convictions, look at us as ‘defense attorneys.’ We, however, see ourselves more as truth-seekers,” she explained. She noted that while the prosecutors are simply doing their jobs, it can be frustrating at times when her truth-seeking efforts are resisted.
Welp has always been interested in criminal law, and, in particular, sees herself doing prosecution work after graduation. OIP, while on a different side of the criminal law spectrum, has been an excellent experience for her, and has really reinforced for her the interest she has in practicing criminal law.
Her advice to any students potentially interested in criminal law is to check out OIP. “Get involved in the OIP, even if you are just exploring criminal law. While the experience has really reinforced my interests in criminal law, it has led other students to the important realization that this sort of thing isn’t for them. Either way, you learn how to handle a large caseload and how to work with an office full of your classmates, which is really a valuable skill.”
Donald Caster Talks About Experience, DNA and Making Connections
“My time there [at the Prosecutor’s Office], in part, served to truly eliminate any notion I had of there being ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ when it comes to defense attorneys and prosecutors,” said Donald Caster '03. In fact, his experience as a prosecutor benefitted him in several ways. First, it confirmed for him that he is best suited to appellate and post-conviction work; and second, it confirmed that he is more comfortable on the defense side. Further, it gave him insight into a prosecutor’s point of view on post-conviction cases, which is invaluable in his current position as a staff attorney with the OIP.
A native of Buffalo, NY, Caster attended Youngstown State University before coming to the College as a student. Here, he was a member of Moot Court and the Law Review. Caster was also a fellow with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights.
After graduating, he began building his professional resume in earnest, beginning with a clerkship for the the Honorable Robert C. Chambers, Chief Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia. Thereafter, he returned to Cincinnati to work at a boutique civil rights firm for several years and then spent additional years as a solo practitioner. Most recently, he worked in the Appellate Division of the Butler County Prosecutor’s office.
Training the Next Generation
Caster and the other attorneys supervise the OIP fellows, as well as represent clients in the courtroom. Offering some insight as to how the work OIP does has changed over the past 10 years, he noted that today there is much better access to DNA than there was when the OIP started, largely because of OIP’s work to get Ohio’s DNA testing statute passed. That being said, he noted that there are fewer and fewer “easy” cases. Instead, the majority of cases today involve smaller traces of DNA and, as such, it is often more difficult to convince a prosecutor that the DNA test will answer the question of who committed the crime. Further, the general trend is that the cases are increasingly difficult and complicated. “The work is just as important as ever,” he noted. “I look forward to the challenge as well as working with this and future classes of OIP students.”
The Importance of Making Connections
Caster shared why he believes it is important to be kind to your peers in law school and beyond. His two most recent legal jobs came about in no small part due to his connections with former classmates. He also offered additional useful advice: “ I strongly recommend students take as many practice-oriented classes as possible. Whether civil or criminal, the advocacy and writing skills you learn will be invaluable throughout your career.
“And, to young practitioners, seek mentorship from an experienced attorney, especially if you are on your own practicing criminal law. Those that have come before you can instill in you a wisdom that can help you enormously.”
No Longer a Student, Brian Howe’10 Returns to Work at OIP
Cincinnati native Brian Howe ’10 has never wandered too far from home—the College of Law and the city. Now several years after his graduation, he is back at the hallowed halls of the College of Law – not as a student, but as a staff attorney with the Ohio Innocence Project.
Howe graduated from The Ohio State University in 2003 with majors in philosophy and Russian language. As part of his degree program, he studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia for a summer (now that’s a long way from home!). After graduating from OSU he found work as a media buyer for three years in Washington and Illinois. It was around this time in 2007 that Howe made the decision to return to school for his JD.
“I knew from the start I wanted to do something in the area of public interest,” explained Howe when speaking about his student involvement with OIP. “The opportunity to do something like this through the university is amazing -- it was such an easy decision to want to do this. I was really hungry as a law student for actual, real clinical experience, and the opportunities at OIP are miles ahead of most other first summer experiences.”
Between graduating from UC Law and returning to the College of Law to work as a staff attorney with the OIP, Howe worked here in Cincinnati. He completed a two-year fellowship with Equal Justice Works hosted through the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio. After the fellowship, he was hired on as a full-time staff attorney with Legal Aid, continuing his work defending foreclosures, handling evictions, and assisting with other related cases.
He joined the OIP as a staff attorney in January of this year. As opposed to the caseload that a student handles (about 20 cases), Howe now handles 60-75 cases as a staff attorney, though only about a dozen are in active litigation. Reflecting on his time as a student with OIP and comparing it to his current experience, he noted that the ability to see cases through is something he is looking forward to. “It’s interesting. The cases take so long to develop, almost as a rule, and it is rare for a student to be able to see a case through to its conclusion during their one year with OIP.” One example of this is that a case in his caseload now was one that he worked on as a student years ago. “It is nice as an attorney to be able to know that I can see these cases through as opposed to just a one year window before handing it off to the next class.”
Howe gave these words of advice to law students in the throes of school and looking forward to life after graduation: “It is important to enjoy what you are doing -- it is a luxury that not everyone will have,” he counseled. “I have been really lucky to have the opportunity to do things that I enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis—both as a student and a professional.”
OIP Lecture: CSI and Cognitive Bias
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 12:10 p.m.
Location: College of Law – Room 114
CLE: Application for 1 hour of general CLE has been submitted to Ohio and Kentucky; approval is expected.
Food: Pizza will be provided
About the Program
Dr. Itiel Dror has performed groundbreaking research revealing how cognitive bias makes many types of crime scene investigation expert testimony far less reliable than the criminal justice system and the public generally believe. His research shows that the way experts think—and the way the brain works—makes scientific testimony highly prone to human error. Dror’s research was pivotal to the National Academy of Sciences report in 2009 recommending widespread reform to forensic disciplines in the U.S. He will discuss his findings and make recommendations to improve the state of forensics moving forward.
About the Speaker
Dr. Itiel Dror is the Senior Cognitive Neuroscience Researcher at the University College London. He studies how the cognitive architecture that underpins expertise affects how experts perceive and interpret information. His research demonstrates the influence of contextual information on the judgments and decision making of investigators; for example, he has shown that fingerprint and DNA experts can reach different conclusions when the same evidence is presented within different extraneous contexts.
Dr. Dror has published over 100 research articles, and has been extensively cited in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensic Science and the United Kingdom Fingerprint Public Inquiry. He currently is a member of the Forensic Human Factor Group recently established by U.S. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) & the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
This event is sponsored by the The Rosenthal Institute for Justice/the Ohio Innocence Project and the College of Law’s Criminal Law Society
Bettman’s Legally Speaking Ohio Blog Cited by FindLaw
Kudos to Professor Marianna Bettman and her Legally Speaking Ohio blog, which was recently mentioned on FindLaw for Ohio v. Clark, Darius, a case from the Ohio Supreme Court which was taken up by the Supreme Court of the United States. The writers of FindLaw noted that the Legally Speaking Ohio blog was a resource for information on the case. It was number 4 on the FindLaw list.
Professor Solimine Cited in Election Law Expert’s Blog
One of the country’s most well-known authorities on national and state election politics and blogger on legislation, Professor Rick Hasen at the University of California Irvine School of Law, commented on Professor Michael Solimine’s newest article “Rethinking District of Columbia Venues in Voting Rights Preclearance Actions,” recently published in the Georgetown Law Journal. Professor Hasen noted he looked forward to reading it (Solimine’s article). “Michael leads the field in his writing on election law procedure.”