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Exonerative DNA Obtained in OIP Case


The Ohio Innocence Project, along with co-counsel at Jones Day in Cleveland, announces  that exonerative DNA test results have been obtained in the case of Ohio inmate Douglas Prade.  Prade is a former Akron Police Captain who was convicted in September 1998 of murdering his ex-wife, Margo Prade, a prominent physician in the Akron area. 

Based on the DNA test results, Mr. Prade has filed a petition for post-conviction relief or for a new trial, which the State has opposed.  A hearing is scheduled for August 21, 2012, before Judge Judy Hunter in the Summit County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas.

At trial, an expert for the State testified that the killer bit Dr. Margo Prade during the struggle, leaving a bite mark impression on her skin.  Results of the recent DNA testing on Dr. Prade’s lab coat over the site of the bite mark exclude Mr. Prade as the source of the male DNA that was found there.  This testing was done by the Fairfield, Ohio DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC).  DDC provided testing in this case free of charge as a public service.  

Subsequent testing requested by the State from its own crime laboratory showed that Mr. Prade also was excluded as the source of any identifiable male DNA found under Margo Prade’s fingernails and, further, that Mr. Prade was not the source of any DNA identified on selected items from the crime scene.     

The OIP has represented Mr. Prade since 2004, with staff attorney Carrie Wood currently handling the case.  The OIP was joined in 2008 by David Alden and Lisa Gates of the Cleveland office of the international law firm Jones Day, which has served as lead counsel since that time.  David Alden successfully argued Mr. Prade’s request for DNA testing in The Supreme Court of Ohio and, after remand, before Judge Hunter.  David Alden and James Young from Jones Day also assisted the OIP in obtaining the 2010 exoneration of Raymond Towler, who had been incarcerated since 1981 for a rape that DNA testing showed he did not commit. 

Students for the OIP who worked on the case through the years include Eva Hager Whitehead, Erik Laursen, Kyle Healey, Eric Eckes, Megan McConnell, Curtis Scribner, Lauren Wimmers, Brent Sigg, Jay Kincaid, Chris Kaiser, Byrd Watts, David Sturkey, Peter Link, Aisha Monem, Jonathan Norman, Ryan McGraw, Julie Kathman, Jimmy Harrison, Levi Daly, Thomas Styslinger, and Scott Leaman.

More details about the case, including the briefs, can be found at www.wrongfulconvictionsblog.org

Date: August 2, 2012

News Stories

WLWT-TV (Channel 5-Cincinnati)

Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/2/12)

CantonRep.com

NewsNet5 (8/2/12)

Victor Schwartz Tort Law Chair Established


Cincinnati, OH - The University of Cincinnati College of Law has established the Victor E. Schwartz Chair in Tort Law to be dedicated to teaching and scholarship in the field of torts. The chair is named for renowned Washington DC lawyer and beloved former University of Cincinnati College of Law professor and dean, Victor E. Schwartz, in honor of his career as a teacher, scholar, and practicing attorney in the field of tort law.

Louis D. Bilionis, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law, at the College of Law observed, “Victor was a powerful presence at the College, revered for his passion for teaching, for legal scholarship, and for the well-being of his students. It is only fitting that we establish a chair in his name that recognizes faculty excellence in the field of torts.” Mr. Schwartz has continued his association with the College of Law, serving on the College’s Board of Visitors.

Mr. Schwartz is a partner in the Washington DC office of law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP. He chairs its Public Policy Group. The focus of the practice is to integrate litigation, government affair, and public relations, developing public policy issues that will help improve the civil justice system. Mr. Schwartz has an active appellate practice, and advises product manufacturers on liability prevention, litigation, and public relations issues.

Complementing his legal practice, Mr. Schwartz served as chair of the Federal Inter-Agency Task Force on Product Liability at the Department of Commerce and the Federal Inter-Agency Council on Insurance. He is the principal author of the Uniform Product Liability Act and the Federal Risk Retention Act. He received the Secretary of Commerce’s Award for Professional Excellence for his work.

Attorneys and law students alike recognize him as co-author of “Prosser, Wade & Schwartz’s Torts,” the most widely used casebook in the nation and which is now in its 12th edition. He is also author of the leading text, “Comparative Negligence.” Mr. Schwartz is the author of more than 150 law review articles addressing almost every major aspect of modern tort law and the administration of justice in civil litigation. Indeed, some of his most recent articles have focused on stare decisis in tort law, global warming, the law of public nuisance, and a guide to judges on interpreting consumer protection acts.
Well-known by print and broadcast media, Mr. Schwartz has provided legal analysis and insight for newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, along with appearances on 60 Minutes, Oprah, and network news programs. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including being listed as a Washington DC Super Lawyer for several years, being named one of Washington DC’s Top 30 “Visionary” lawyers of the past 30 years (The Legal Times), and being named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States (the National Law Journal).

Funding the endowment of the Chair was initiated by Mr. Schwartz’s former law students. The long range endowment goal for the Chair is $2,000,000. Interest from that endowment will be used to encourage excellence in the teaching and writing in the subject of tort law. Apart from former students, Mr. Schwartz’s friends, law colleagues and Mr. Schwartz himself have helped contribute to this endowment. Names of contributors will be kept private unless a benefactor wishes to let folks know that his or her name or business helped promote the goals of the Chair.

CORRECTION:  A previous version of this release erroneously reported that a $2 million gift in support of the chair had been made by Mr. Schwartz himself.  That is incorrect and we regret the error and any confusion.

Another OIP Victory: Roger Dean Gillispie Released After 20 Years in Prison


Last week the OIP team was present to welcome home Roger Dean Gillispie from prison just in time for the holidays. Gillispie spent 20 years in prison after being convicted of three rapes in 1988. He was sentenced to 22-56 years in prison. For current and former OIP fellows this case was particularly special as it has the distinction of being the very first case the Ohio Innocence Project took on. On December 15, 2011 a federal judge in Dayton, OH threw out the conviction and on December 22 Gillispie was released.
Students who worked on the case over the years include current students: Caitlin Brown ’13, Chelsea Brint ’13, Megan Collard ’12, and Lindsey Fleissner ’12.
Some of the former fellows who worked on this case include:  Mike Cappell ’05, Ashley Couch ’09, Miranda Hamrick ’09, Ryan Houston '11, Gerri Jones ’06, Melissa Laugle ’10, Jeanette McClellan ‘06, Darryl Osuch ‘11, Amanda Smith ‘10 and Kelly Schukart ’05, and Katie Stanberry ’06.

View the video of his release here: Gillispie release

View the video of Gillispie’s mother’s reaction to the news of impending release: Mother’s reaction

Bettman Recognized as Outstanding Educator by Ohio Magazine


Professor Marianna Bettman ’77 was recognized in the December issue of Ohio Magazine as one of its outstanding educators at colleges and universities around the state. She is the only professor at a law school named in the article. Read the article in the December 2011 issue.

College of Law Bar Exam Results Continue to Be Strong


University of Cincinnati College of Law Bar Exam Results Continue to Be Strong

The bar results for University of Cincinnati College of Law students who took the July 2011 Ohio Bar Exam are in and the College of Law, once again, made a strong showing. UC Law ranked first in the state for overall test takers with a passage rate of 92 percent. This can be compared to an overall passage rate for all takers of 81.6 percent.  

In addition, the passage rate for the College of Law’s first-time test takers was 94 percent, up from 91 percent last year; placing UC’s law students first among Ohio law schools for first-time test takers, sharing the spot with the Ohio State University.  The passage rate for all first-time takers in Ohio was 86.1 percent.

Applicants who successfully passed the examination and satisfied the Ohio Supreme Court’s character and fitness screening were sworn in on Monday, November 7 at 10:30 a.m. during a special session of the Supreme Court at the historic Ohio Theatre in Columbus, OH. The session was streamed live via the Supreme Court and Ohio Channel websites at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov and www.ohiochannel.org.  It is available statewide on the Ohio Channel’s local public broadcasting stations.

The Ohio bar exam lasts two and a half days and is comprised of 12 essay questions, two Performance Tests, and a day-long multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination. The bar exam is administered by the Supreme Court, which regulates the practice of law in Ohio, including the admission of new attorneys, the biennial registration of current attorneys, attorney discipline in cases of misconduct, and the administration of continuing legal education.

Photo: 2011 graduate Sarah Leibel

14th Victory for OIP


OIP staff attorney Carrie Wood and UC third-year students Ryan McGraw, Zach El-Sawaf, Lindsey Fleissner and Megan Collard walked long-time OIP client David Ayers out of prison on Monday, September 12 in Cleveland, OH free and clear of all charges. Ayers served 11 years for a murder DNA evidence proved he didn't commit.  Recent OIP exonerees Raymond Towler and Robert McClendon were on hand to welcome Ayers and provide him with emotional support and advice.

Many years ago the OIP filed for DNA testing in Ayers' case.  The trial court denied the request; however former staff attorney David Laing was successful in getting the Eighth District Court of Appeals to reverse that ruling and order testing.  Meanwhile, as the case was going to testing, the Cleveland Public Defenders were able to get Ayers' conviction overturned on constitutional grounds in federal court.  The prosecutors then said they were going to re-try Ayers; however, so Ayers remained in jail awaiting his retrial.  In the meantime, OIP’s DNA results came back and demonstrated Ayers' innocence. 

Ayers is the 14th person released on grounds of innocence as a result of the OIP's efforts since its founding in 2003.  Two additional clients, Bryant Gaines and Glen Tinney, have had their convictions overturned in 2011 but are still in prison as a result of prosecutors' appeals of OIP’s lower court victories. 

Congratulations to Carrie Wood on a job very well done.  UC Law students who worked on the case through the years include Andrew Brenner (who wrote the DNA brief years ago), Jimmy Harrison, Levi Daly, Ryan McGraw, Julie Kathman, Aisha Monem, Jonathan Norman, Elizabeth Zilberberg and Joshua Ward, among others.

Video footage of Ayers’ emotional release: Ayers' Video

Eichner Family Foundation Entrepreneurship Fellows Program


University of Cincinnati College of Law alumnus Ian Bruce Eichner has collaborated with the College of Law to create the Eichner Family Foundation Entrepreneurship Fellows Program. This new fellowship offers second year students—with both an entrepreneurship mindset and a desire to explore non-traditional career paths—the opportunity for “hands on” legal and business training at The Continuum Company LLC (TCC), a New York real estate development firm led by CEO Eichner.

During the summer two UC Law students will spend 10 weeks at the company in New York. Specifically, they will spend five weeks working with TCC’s general counsel Mike Menola, learning primarily about the legal side of the business. This includes drafting and negotiating leases, partnership agreements, and other legal documents; assisting with investor presentations; and drafting and editing legal correspondence. They will spend five additional weeks with the development team, learning primarily about the business-side of things, conducting property analysis work (ex., researching property values, ownership history, zoning issues); creating financial reports; and participating in site visits and other meetings with the senior team. At the end of the fellowship students will have gained a greater understanding of both the legal and development sides of the real estate industry.

In addition to the work opportunity, Eichner will provide lodging to students at one of his signature properties, The Manhattan Club, a high-rise condominium development in Midtown Manhattan near Central Park.

About Ian Bruce Eichner

Eichner is a developer of urban mixed-use properties. With over 30 years of experience in this field, his portfolio of projects includes developments in New York, Miami and Las Vegas. Prior to entering the real estate development field, Eichner spent almost a decade working in the criminal justice system, including a term as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, NY. He also worked as program development chief of a state agency during Nelson Rockefeller’s tenure. He followed those positions by founding The Continuum Company.

The Continuum Company

A privately held real estate development firm, TCC focuses on the acquisition and development of residential (both for sale and rental housing), office, hospitality and retail space in New York, Miami, and Las Vegas. To date TCC has developed more than 12 million square feet totaling over $6 billion over its 30 year history. Properties include The Continuum (Miami), two luxury condominium towers; The Richmond (New York), a mixed use property that includes luxury condominiums, retail space, professional offices, and storage space; One Broadway Place (New York), a mixed-use property that includes office space, retail space—including movie theatres—parking, and exterior signage; and The Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino (Las Vegas), a mixed use property including condominium-hotel units, casino, retail/restaurant space, meeting/convention space, spa and fitness facility, and a theatre. The company is involved in all aspects of development including acquisition and finance, design and construction, sales and marketing, and project management.

Application Process

Information about applying for the fellowship will be distributed through Symplicity during the summer or fall semester each year.

UN Kyong Ho ’10 Named 2011 LatCrit Student Scholar


As a result of her social justice activism and her scholarly work Sowing the Seeds of Death: The Emergence of Corporate Reproductive Labor & Right Regime, UC Law graduate Un Kyong Ho has been selected a 2011 LatCrit Student Scholar.

What is LatCrit, Inc.? It is a group of counter-disciplinary scholars committed to the ongoing development of critical approaches to the study of law, policy, and society. Each year LatCrit selects at least one student scholar or alumni scholar who has demonstrated commitment to producing quality scholarship as well as pursuing LatCrit’s antisubordinationist goals through social justice activism. They are committed to helping progressive students and recent alums prepare for and succeed in law teaching and the production of critical sociolegal scholarship.

As a students scholar recipient Ho will be able to attend this year’s October conference. She will be a participant in the “Food and Law” concurrent panel and will have the opportunity to publish her paper in the LatCrit XVI symposium volume.

Joel Chanvisanuruk Named the 2011 Nettie Birk/Dottie Sutton/Louise Erway Recipient


Congratulations to Joel Chanvisanuruk, the recipient of the 2011 Nettie Birk/Dottie Sutton/Louise Erway Award. The staff recognition award was formally announced at the Hooding Ceremony on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

As the Director of Academic Success Programs at the College of Law, Chanvisanuruk is in daily contact with law students through the workshops he coordinates and delivers, the one-on-one meetings he has with students to help them adapt to the rigorous law school curriculum, prepare for exams and counseling he provides in order to see that they meet their full potential as a law student.  He also oversees the Pre-Prep Program at the College of Law that helps 3L law students gear up for the bar examination.  Joel’s kindness and determination to help all students succeed in their academics was noted by all of the committee members and highlighted especially by the student members of the committee. 

One nomination boasted of Chanvisanuruk, “Since his arrival Joel has worked hand in glove with members of the faculty to help identify and work with students having difficulty with their course work.  He is also incredibly sensitive and helpful with students who are struggling with issues that impede their learning, counseling with them and making them aware of a number of help options offered at the University.”  While another nomination said, “He is very attentive to what you ask of him.  He does not give you boilerplate answers or pass you on to some website that isn’t helpful.  When you talk with him, it is really apparent that he wants to help you.”

This year’s selection committee included:  law students Joelle Johnson ’11, Austyn Sanders ’12,  Sophia Jannace ’13, professors Marianna Bettman and Michael Solimine, librarians Ron Jones and Lisa Wernke, Dean Jim Schoenfeld, and last year’s winner Jessica Butler.

Five Minutes with Assistant Dean Mina Jones Jefferson


Assistant Dean and Director, Center for Professional Development Mina Jones Jefferson ’90 is a former hiring partner at a National Law Journal Top 250 law firm. She is one of the few law school career services professionals in the country who has been on both sides of the table. Dean Jefferson practiced commercial litigation for nine years before joining Cincinnati Law and was one of the first African-American women in the region elected to the partnership of a large firm. Students benefit daily from Dean Jefferson's practical experience, model of success, and professional network. Her goal is to help students make informed and insightful professional decisions consistent with their personal values.

Jefferson is a speaker on the topic of professionalism, has taught Ethics, and has provided the classroom instruction for the legal extern course. She is active in the community and currently serves, by appointment, on the Ohio Supreme Court Continuing Legal Education Committee; serves as a member on the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati Board of Trustees; and serves as a member of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Board of Directors.

What’s on your nightstand? Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster...I am doing a book club with my 10 y/o daughter and she got to pick the book!  Amazingly the themes are relevant to a lot of my daily interactions!

What are the big topics in professional development for 2011 and beyond? Talent management has taken its proper place in the legal arena.  For the student this means putting skin in the game.  You have to invest in yourself before others, namely employers, will invest in you. 

What sparked your interest in career development?  I like to empower people and the tools for success are not readily apparent in most places.  If someone actively manages his career he will always have options.

What’s the best part about the law/being a lawyer? The ability to abstract concepts and theories, to identify the tools to move beyond the obvious, to not be limited to the four corners of a document or the boundaries of an issue which is the essence of thinking outside the box.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?  The ability to abstract concepts and theories, and to move beyond the boundaries of a document or situation.