Regent Law Professor Interviewed by E! Online

Law Professor Kathleen McKee was recently interviewed by E! Online regarding whether child labor laws should apply to the young children featured on The Learning Channel’s program, "Jon & Kate Plus 8," about a family with a set of twins and a set of sextuplets.

McKee agrees with other experts in holding that labor laws do not apply to the Gosselin children. The question, posed by one of E! online’s visitors, underscores a growing area of uncharted law: reality television.

With over 2.5 million users a month, E! Online is the top entertainment news site on the Internet.

Regent Law Professor Selected To Provide Expert Legal Authority in Controversial Case

Occasionally a judge, within the authority granted him or her by judicial canons, will consult an outside legal expert on complex issues of law. Experts provide current insight and invaluable research which allow the judge to effectively consider all aspects of even the most intricate issues.

In late February a justice contacted Lynne Marie Kohm, John Brown McCarty Professor of Family Law at Regent Law, requesting her expertise on the important components of a case involving interstate child custody and recognition of a past relationship.

Under its de facto parent doctrine, a California court granted a woman visitation rights to her former lesbian partner’s natural daughter. The natural mother has since been married, and she and the step-father have lived with the child in Alabama for the past 5 years. Alabama’s judicial and legislative traditions are to protect the natural parent as superior to any other party asserting custodial rights.

It is at the intersection of these jurisdictions that Kohm’s legal expertise on family law has been requested.

“This is a case that most states are not equipped to handle,” said Kohm. “Many middle and high courts are muddled on what is required by the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).”

What’s more, Kohm says the facts of the case present issues that are easily tangled with political agendas, have complex constitutional and state sovereignty questions, and have little precedent from which to guide a decision. “The scholarship on these issues is slanted in favor of homosexual rights,” said Kohm, “but it is clear that a case such as this cannot be about the parent; it has to be about the child. The law really does work to protect the best interest of the child even under these difficult circumstances.”

In addition to being an important opportunity for Kohm to weigh in as an authority on critical issues of the day, she recognizes the educational value of this project for her students. Accordingly, she has created an assistantship with five law students to tackle the research responsibilities.

Since the beginning of March, rising 2L John Bailey and rising 3L’s Jared Birckholtz, Antionette Duck, Joshua Nunnally, and Stephanie Reidlinger have been assisting Kohm in researching the application of the de facto parent doctrine, the effects of granting full faith and credit where the original court’s ruling does not coincide with the current state’s public policy, and the doctrine of the primacy of the natural parent.

Birckholtz, Duck, and Reidlinger have continued the project into the summer and have worked hard to assist Kohm in the final preparation of the memorandum of points of law and authority.

Duck sees the experience as invaluable. “The argument we’re making is the future of family law,” she said. “The crux of the issue is whether one state can define what a ‘parent’ is for a sister state, and subsequently, whether a state must give full faith and credit to a sister state’s parentage rulings.”

Duck believes that as the “family” is redefined, so too will “parents” be, an assertion Reidlinger agrees with. “As long as any third party meets the requisite factors such as a close bond with a child, a significant period of residence with the child, and significant caretaking of the child, that person may assert custodial rights to the child,” said Reidlinger. “If taken to its natural end, natural parents could be faced with any ex-lover(s) coming back and asserting custodial rights over the child as long as they can meet a vague list of factors.”

Involvement in important research that will impact pressing legal issues has ignited a passion for family law in Reidlinger who will turn her research into an article for publication. “At the center of all these cases is always a child,” said Reidlinger. “After reading the bulk of the cases on this issue, it seems to me that many of these ex-lovers, same-sex or not, are using these children as a bargaining chip or a way to advance an agenda and there is absolutely nothing appropriate about using a child for any of these purposes.”

Kohm is certain the analysis of this issue should not extend past that of the traditional basic interests of the child. “Family law must be properly applied to this case, and I am honored to present research which I hope can be a roadmap for other states in the future,” she said.

Keep up with Kohm and hot topics in family law by following her Family Restoration blog.

Regent Law Graduates Behind the Bench

Fifteen Regent Law graduates are currently serving as judges in eleven states. Here are the alumni that are putting their passion for the law to work behind the bench:

Roger E. Binette (’90)
Sandusky, Ohio
Court of Common Pleas

Clarke Coll (’89)
Roswell, New Mexico
Probate Judge, Chaves County

Mary Covington (’93)
Lexington, North Carolina
District Court

Van Hampton (’87)*
Dodge City, Kansas
District Court

Barry Logsdon (’89)
Newport News, Virginia
Juvenile Domestic Relations Court

Raymond Thomas Lowe (‘96)
Sellersburg, Indiana
Town Court

Teresa McCrimmon (’88)
Virginia Beach, Virginia
General District Court

Joseph Migliozzi (’94)
Norfolk, Virginia
General District Court

Eric W. Norris (’94)
Watkinville, Georgia
Magistrate Court

Ron Pahl (’89)
Pendleton, Oregon
Circuit Court

Jason Price (’02)
Williamsburg, Kentucky
District Court

Steven Rogers (’03)
Ocala, Florida
Circuit Court

Greg Wilhelm (’99)
Waxahachie, Texas
County Court at Law

April Wood (’97)
Lexington, North Carolina
District Court

F. Patrick Yeatts (’94)
Rustburg, Virginia
General District Court

* Judge Hampton attended Oral Roberts University Law School for the first two years of his education. During his third year Oral Roberts Law School became CBN University School of Law, what is now Regent University School of Law, from which he graduated.

Regent Law Faculty in the News

Law Librarian Margaret Christiansen had an article published in Spectrum, the magazine of the American Association of Law Libraries, regarding recent renovations to Regent's Law Library.

Law Professor James Duane has been active recently.

After passing the Virginia Bar in February, Duane will soon add this association to his state bar admissions.

This coming fall, in addition to his duties at Regent Law, Professor Duane will enjoy the honor of being a visiting professor at William & Mary Law School.

Lastly, in the Spring 2009 issue of the Virginia Bar Association News Journal, Duane published "She Told Me She Was Scared of Him": The Admissibility of Hearsay Evidence that a Murder Victim Feared the Accused. This article addresses the Virginia Supreme Court ruling in Clay v. Commonwealth*, focusing on the delicacy of using the state of mind exception to the hearsay rule in murder cases.

*33 Va.App. 96, 531 S.E.2d 623 (Va. Ct. App.2000) (en banc), affirmed, 262 Va. 253, 546 S.E.2d 728 (2001).

Embryo Adoption Essay Brings Law Graduate Second Place Award

Carissa Giebel (’09) was recently awarded second place for her contribution to Nightlight Christian Adoptions’ Embryo Law Essay Competition.

The 2009 Nightlight Essay problem centered on identifying the rights and liabilities of fertility clinics when faced with the controversial issue of abandoned embryos. Giebel says she was intrigued by the topic because she knows it is one that could potentially impact many lives in the years to come.

Her winning essay, The Fate of Thousands of Abandoned Frozen Embryos, explores the various options available when frozen embryos are abandoned and outlines the best practices for fertility clinics.

Giebel credits Professors Michael Hernandez and Lynne Marie Kohm for their encouragement and direction in the essay.

Alum Strategically Tackling Issues of Human Trafficking

Regent alumnus Kyle Westaway (’07) is a self-proclaimed “southern boy” from Knoxville, Tennessee. However, from his office in Manhattan, he’s carving out a global impact larger than he ever expected it could be.

Westaway is a sole practitioner primarily representing artists, entrepreneurs and activists. His website proclaims, “We are looking to partner with those who have a DREAM, the ingenuity and courage to CREATE something that will SHAPE culture. We are committed to partnering with you to make that dream a reality.”

“I believe in the power of art to create change,” said Westaway. “But I’m no artist; the only thing I can play is an iPod. So, I’m fortunate to be able to play a key role in that process through my legal work.”

In the last year and a half, however, Westaway has connected with a non-profit that is changing culture in a way that Westaway can contribute to -- through both his legal expertise and his personal passion.

The Blind Project (TBP) is a non-profit that is seeking to leverage art and fashion to empower women vulnerable to, and rescued from, the sex trade. When he’s not managing his practice, Westaway serves as TBP’s Director of Business Development and has been reaching out to potential partners, creating a strategic business plan, and working towards gaining 501(c)(3) IRS status.

His personal passion makes this less of a legal project and more of a ministry.

“Basically, for me, it’s clear that God has a special interest in the poor and oppressed, and we in a rich western nation have the resources to do something about it,” said Westaway. “Once my eyes have been opened about oppression, inaction is not an option.”

While still a student at Regent, Westaway co-founded the campus chapter of International Justice Mission, a national agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Regent’s chapter hosted a week-long campaign to raise awareness and money to fight human trafficking.

Those efforts continue through TBP. “When I learned about what was happening at TBP, I knew I had something to contribute to the team,” he said. “The work we’re doing is about meeting a very practical need for some of the most oppressed people on the face of the planet.”

The plan is simple: poverty makes women vulnerable to the sex trade, so start by tackling the poverty. Thus, TBP has formed a relationship with after-care facilities in Southeast Asia, where women rescued from human trafficking live. TBP’s creative team has designed an apparel line which will be manufactured by these women and sold in U.S. markets. The profits then return to the after-care communities. The women are given a sense of purpose and an economic incentive to stay out of the sex trade.

In addition, TBP aims to raise awareness of the issue in relevant ways. Headquartered in New York City, the organization has the opportunity to do just that.  Westaway points out, “This city is amazing because it is the center of so many industries – finance, media, publishing, entertainment, non-profits, international diplomacy to name a few. To impact this city is to impact the world.”

Crediting the influence of Regent Law Professor Thomas Folsom, Westaway says he’s achieved a place in his professional path that he never expected. And it’s from that place, in his office in Manhattan, that he is able to make ripple effects around the globe.

Regent Law Class of 2009 Commissioned at Hooding Ceremony

This past Friday, Regent University School of Law’s Class of 2009 gathered at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach to share a few last moments remembering their three years together. 

The special Commissioning ceremony is an intimate time set aside to applaud individual success, to pray together, and to perform the ceremonial “hooding.”

Academic regalia such as the doctoral hood dates back to the 12th century. Hoods and gowns were modeled after medieval ecclesiastical dress, likely because it was common for scholars to make vows to God as they began their professions. 

A powerful image of the transition between learning and fulfilling a call, the hooding ceremony continues at Regent today. 

A faculty member places the colorful doctoral hood over the head of each graduate, confirming the completion of the academic portion of their profession. Paralleling the medieval tradition, the graduates are then charged with being lawyers of integrity, committed to justice and eternal truths.

After the hooding ceremony, the law community prays that God will help the graduates uphold these principles as they work out their calling as public defenders, human rights advocates, and small and big firm attorneys.

Congratulations to the Class of 2009!

Regent Law Faculty in the News

Law School Dean Jeffrey Brauch was interviewed on Thursday by a reporter from National Jurist magazine for an article on religious-affiliated law schools. The discussion focused on Regent Law’s distinctives, student life and how the school differs from secular law schools. The article is expected to appear later this year.

Law Professor Brad Jacob made a second appearance on CBN News, on Monday, to discuss the latest aspects in naming a new Supreme Court Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justice Souter.

Regent Law Builds Relationships with Local Legal Studies Academy

On Friday, May 1st, 35 students from the Legal Studies Academy at First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach enjoyed a day on campus interacting with Regent Law faculty, staff, and Jurist-in-Residence Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leroy Hassell, Sr.

The day’s activities included an introduction to the study of law by Justice Hassell, lunch with faculty and staff, and a mock Criminal Law class presented by Regent Law Professor James Duane.

Students participating in the Legal Studies Academy have demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in law or law enforcement. As part of their specialized high school curriculum, the students have been partnered with Regent Law to help them direct their future legal education.

“Regent Law is very excited about its continuing relationship with the Legal Studies Academy,” said Associate Dean Natt Gantt. “The Academy provides a great opportunity for high school students to learn about the law and legal studies. As a local law school, we want to do what we can to help students discover if law is in fact their calling.”

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...