Regent Law Professors in the News

Just a week after President Obama’s inauguration and in light of the President’s goals to communicate through mediums such as YouTube, Law Professor Thomas Folsom spoke to Federal Computer Week about the possible ramifications governments face when using commercial media. Federal Computer Week, a part of 1105 Government Information Group, is the leading provider of integrated information and media for the government information technology market.

Professor Folsom recommended that the government consider posting to more than one commercial provider so that it wouldn’t seem to be endorsing that provider’s content or favoring one over the other. The full story can be found here.

Law Professor Kathleen McKee was interviewed in February by WAVY, a Hampton Roads news station, regarding how attorneys defend clients with mental health issues.

Her interview was prompted by the tragic story of a father who killed his son on February 10th, 2009 and subsequently was committed to a mental institution. Professor McKee, who serves a varied population through her work advising Regent’s Civil Litigation Clinic and years with Legal Aid, has significant experience with mentally ill clients. You can read the story here.

Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law Bruce Cameron was happy to read the February 24, 2009 Supreme Court decision handed down in Ysursa v. Pocatello Ed. Ass’n, (No. 07-869); it laid out a victory for him and his colleagues at the National Right to Work Foundation (NRWF).

The issue before the court was whether, under the First Amendment, a state legislature may bar political subdivisions from making payroll deductions for union political activities. In reversing the lower court’s ruling, the Supreme Court relied heavily on the NRWF’s victories in Davenport v. Washington Ed. Ass’n, 156 Wash. 2d 543, 130 P. 3d 352.

In addition to Professor Cameron’s contribution to the Ysursa case, Regent Law students were able to add to the amicus brief the NRWF submitted. Through the Right to Work Practicum, directed by Professor Cameron, students are asked to perform vital research. “The Court early on cites a series of cases (Letter Carriers and Mitchell) that I suggested be added to the amicus brief,” Cameron said. “Thus, we can say we helped in some small part in this victory.”

The Ysursa opinion can be read online here.

Prof. Scott Pryor, presently teaching on a Fulbright at National Law University, Jodhpur, India, was recently featured in an article in an internet-based Indian periodical. Read the article here.

Law Students Assist in Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court Win

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark First Amendment ruling clearing the way for governments to accept permanent monuments of their choosing in public parks.

Regent Law students participating in the American Center for Law and Justice’s summer internship program played an integral role in the critical First Amendment case of Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, in which the ACLJ represented the Utah city in a challenge to a display of the Ten Commandments in a city park.

Click here for the ACLJ's full coverage of this victory, including the opening brief and the reply brief.

The critical question before the Court was, ''Can a city decide which permanent, unattended monuments, if any, to install on city property?''

Regent Law interns spent an intense summer in the ACLJ’s on-campus offices helping prepare ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow to answer this question. They edited legal documents; researched city policies regarding monuments, procedural histories, and Supreme Court justice’s views on government speech; drafted memos for oral arguments; and dissected complex court rulings.

Involvement in a U.S. Supreme Court case is an extremely rare opportunity for an attorney, let alone a law student. Regent Law ACLJ intern Joshua Bachmann notes, “The work we did is all part of the larger picture. A memo, a paragraph you wrote, or outline of an argument that you created is submitted and your legal argument shows up in the final draft. The work we’re doing has directly influenced judges’ opinions – it’s very satisfying.”

According to the ACLJ, this student- supported Supreme Court win represents a resounding victory for government speech, giving the government the right to speak for itself and the ability to communicate on behalf of its citizens.

It's a significant decision that clears the way for government to express its views and its history through the selection of monuments - including religious monuments and displays. This decision also puts a bookend on the litigation surrounding the display of the Ten Commandments that's been taking place for years across the country.

The Court's opinion is located here.

Meet Joshua Bachmann and other Regent Law ACLJ interns here.

Moot Court Team Wins Spong National Moot Court Tournament

For the second year in a row, Regent University's School of Law Moot Court Team took first place honors at the William B. Spong National Moot Court Tournament, sponsored by the College of William & Mary School of Law. Regent's team consisted of 2L students Chuck Slemp (Law-Government) and Audre Honnas, who were coached by Michael Hernandez, faculty Moot Court Board advisor and Law professor.

"This competition is outstanding," said Hernandez. "Chuck and Audre were spectacular. I think their semi-final argument was the best moot court team argument that I've ever seen. Numerous state and federal judges judged several rounds—the exposure to the bench and bar, as well as other law schools, is invaluable."

In preparation for the tournament, Honnas and Slemp had five intensive weeks of practice with many professors, students and alumni. Their efforts paid off—Regent defeated New York University (5th ranked law school in the nation) in the finals and South Texas (currently the top-ranked moot court program in the country) in the semi-finals.

"I must recognize the support of those who helped us prepare," Slemp said. "Particularly Professor Hernandez who encouraged us on an almost daily basis to work harder, dig deeper and—for me at least—to remember to answer the judges' questions concisely and directly."

The William B. Spong Moot Court Tournament was named in honor of William B. Spong, Jr., an esteemed jurist and former dean of the William & Mary School of Law. Tournament organizers extend invitations to compete to a limited number of United States law schools and host approximately 24 to 26 teams each year.

Regent’s First Annual Professionalism Week Provides Rules of the Road for Young Lawyers

Beginning Monday, February 16th and running through Thursday, February 19th, the Regent Law chapter of the American Bar Association and the Student Bar Association are offering the first annual Professionalism Week. The sponsored events are meant to provoke discussion and provide information on how decorum can either negatively or positively affect a law career.

It is the hope of the week’s organizers, third year law students Leandra Rayford and Emily Sheets, that Professionalism Week will create a laid back forum wherein students feel welcome to ask authorities in the legal field candid questions on anything from rules of the court to use of Blackberries before the bench.

Rayford and Sheets were concerned that students are ill prepared for the complex aspects of decorum required in the legal world. While minding P’s and Q’s is common sense, there are enough hoops to jump through when entering a court room, managing clients, or asking for a continuance that other etiquette issues can get overlooked.

Monday, Virginia Beach Court of Appeals Judge Robert J. Humphreys addressed students on professionalism in the courtroom. Speaking to judges’ perceptions of lawyers, interaction between opposing counsel, brief writing, and dress (among other topics), Judge Humphreys confirmed the concern of the organizers. “Overall, there has been a decline of professionalism in the courtroom in the last few years,” he said.

Desiring to give students a boost to lessen the blows of learning from their mistakes, the women have planned the following events:

Monday, February 16th, Judge Humphreys addresses students about professionalism in the courtroom.

Wednesday, February 18th, Commonwealth Attorneys and Public Defenders speak on professionalism in their field.

Thursday, February 19th, Attorneys with the law firm of Pender and Coward speak on professionalism in the firm environment.

Wednesday and Thursday’s events begin at 12:00 p.m. and include a free lunch in Robertson Hall room 107.

Law Professor Named as Chairman of Virginia Bar Association's Environmental Section

Law Professor Eric DeGroff has recently been appointed to serve as Chairman of the Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Section (The Section) of the Virginia Bar Association (VBA).

The Section is one of 19 practice-area sections of the VBA, a voluntary association of attorneys licensed in Virginia designed to enhance the standards of integrity, professionalism and excellence in the practice of law. As appropriate, the VBA seeks improvements in both the substance and administration of the law.

Approximately 125 individuals make up The Section. While these individuals are primarily attorneys from private firms, some are also law school faculty and representatives of government agencies and public interest groups who have a special interest in environmental law. The Section provides conferences and seminars on various aspects of environmental law and other opportunities to help members remain current on changes or expected changes in the law. The Section is also asked periodically to comment on pending environmental legislation.

The Section is administered by a Council consisting of the Section Chair, Vice-Chair, a Secretary-Treasurer and 9 additional representatives reflecting a cross-section of membership. Starting in 2006, DeGroff served as a council member and since 2007 had been serving as the Vice-Chair. His term as Chairman began in January 2009.

DeGroff’s expertise in Environmental law made him an excellent candidate for this leadership role. He has taught Environmental law and continues to publish in the field. Prior to joining Regent Law’s faculty, DeGroff practiced in Environmental law. As Chairman, he will lead members in organizing educational events and facilitating other activities of The Section.

Moot Court Competition Brings Law Schools from around Nation to Regent

Law students hailing from schools including Villanova University, University of Cincinnati and J. Reuben Clark (Brigham Young University) travelled to Regent University's campus to compete in the 2009 National Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. 

Regent's School of Law hosted the event, February 6-7, where 12 teams and more than 20 local attorneys and several judges participated.

At the concluding awards banquet, keynote speaker Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, professor of philosophy and church studies at Baylor University, discussed a topic related to the problem that the teams competed on throughout the weekend: "Can Theology Be Knowledge? What the Intelligent Design Debate is Really About."

Beckwith talked about the intersection of faith and reason, and the rationality of religious claims in the courtroom. He quoted James Hitchcock's book, The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life, as well as from the canon of scholars and philosophers to show the historical debate over the subject. Beckwith said the fact that there is a debate among esteemed scholars evidences religious or moral claims as valid knowledge in the courtroom.

Lindsey Powdrell, Regent Law student and national competition coordinator, presented awards to winning teams at the banquet's closing. Nicholas Miller, Dusty Parson and Meezan Qayumi of Team G—Marshall-Wythe Law School (William & Mary), won the overall competition.

Participating schools in the 2009 National Moot Court Competition were Elon University School of Law, Marshall-Wythe Law School, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Liberty University School of Law, Roger Williams University School of Law, University of Cincinnati College of Law and Villanova University School of Law.

Regent Law Student Named Best Oralist in National Competition

For law students Lindsey Powdrell and Elizabeth Fabick, representing Regent University in the invitation-only 2009 Moot Court National Championship meant both honor and hard work. Their intense preparation for the competition paid off—Regent placed second in the tournament, with Powdrell receiving the award for best oralist.

"Regent's placement was a great result," said Jeffrey Brauch, dean of the School of Law. "It shows wonderful coaching, outstanding talent and preparation."

The tournament, sponsored by the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC), was held in the Federal Courthouse in downtown Houston. Many of the rounds were judged by members of the judiciary and prominent attorneys. "The tournament was held where I'm from," Powdrell said. "My family was able to come and our team had a little cheering section. Regent ranked number one in the semi-finals, and we were thrilled."

Powdrell and Fabick were coached by Regent Law professor Steven Fitschen. Powdrell said that he worked tirelessly to prepare her and Fabick for the competition. After the brief was written and submitted in early December, the girls practiced for two or three hours daily with Fitschen and other professors, except for a one-week Christmas break.

"Lindsey and Liz did a fabulous job," Fitschen said. "Liz was originally not supposed to participate in oral arguments. She was only going to work on the brief, but when we lost a team member, she stepped up to the plate and became a fantastic oralist. And Lindsey won the prize as best oralist for the tournament. So we had a great team...we took it one round at a time."

This win comes on the heels of several other recent Regent Moot Court team victories, including a first place win at the prestigious ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) in 2006.

The teams who competed in the 2009 National Moot Court competition are Campbell University, Chicago-Kent College of Law, DePaul University, George Mason University, Harvard Law School, Loyola University —Chicago, Mercer University, Regent University, Seton Hall University, South Texas College of Law, University of California —Davis, University of California —Hastings, University of Colorado, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Memphis and University of Miami.

L.L.M. in American Legal Studies Increases Regent Law’s Global Footprint

Regent Law already sends students to study in France, Spain, Israel, England, and other international destinations; but recently, the doors to international opportunities have opened a different way. The L.L.M. in American Legal Studies is a unique program that brings international law students to Regent University.

Professor Hernandez, Director of the program, greets interested students below:

Less than one third of American law schools have a program such as this, and Regent Law is the only Christian University to offer foreign law graduates training in American law. Just as a sound understanding of international law is imperative for American students, knowledge of America’s common-law system, standards of res judicata, or basic contract law principles are vital to any foreign lawyer.

There’s also great incentive for graduates of foreign institutions with a J.D.-equivalent and a desire to practice law in the U.S. Many state bar associations allow these students to sit for the bar if they’ve received an L.L.M. of the type Regent Law offers.

Two students, Sheharyar Gill from Pakistan and Clare Huang from China, are currently participating in the program. Mixed in with first year students, the L.L.M. student can influence class discussion with their international perspective while gaining insight from American-minded students. Fabio Correa from Brazil earned his L.L.M. in 2008.

The program began in 2007, and the administration is working to make part or all of it available online by 2010. Regent University has been nationally recognized as having top-tier online programs, and this offering will only increase the range of excellent programs, opening even more international doors.

Regent Law Secures Victory at 12th Annual Statewide Legal Food Frenzy for Third Year Running

Regent University School of Law students, faculty,  and staff contributed to the 1.5 million pounds of food collected by the local legal com...