Part-time Law School Students Can Participate in Study Abroad Programs

Oxford, England Professor Francis Grimal with WMU-Cooley Foreign Study students, Kirk Seleski, Janelle Wicker, Eula Bacon, and Susan Watts.

Oxford, England Professor Francis Grimal with WMU-Cooley Foreign Study students, Kirk Seleski, Janelle Wicker, Eula Bacon, and Susan Watts.

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School student Eula T. Bacon participated in WMU-Cooley’s Australia and Oxford, England foreign study programs. Her story is posted with permission of the Michigan International Lawyer and appears on page five in the Summer 2015 edition.


Perhaps the most significant lesson I relearned from my study abroad experience is not to make assumptions by completing your research before making a decision. During my first year at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School (Cooley), a faculty member suggested I consider Cooley’s Australia Study Abroad Program. I thanked her for the information and continued walking to my 6:00 p.m. class. I attend law school part-time, work full time, and commute to Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus. How could I study abroad? The faculty member knows of my part-time status, so why did she think I should consider studying abroad. Perhaps she knew something I did not.

The following year, Cooley launched its Oxford, England Study Abroad Program. Students would live and study at the internationally renown University of Oxford, a university steeping with tradition, located in England, and the origin of American jurisprudence, my new profession. This time I did not let perceived obstacles deter me. I did my research: met with the financial aid and foreign studies staff and discussed a leave of absence from work with my supervisor. Everything came together and on June 28, 2014; I boarded a flight to London, England with great expectations, and two bags each just under the 50-pound weight limit.

I arrived on a Sunday and quickly learned that Oxford is a pedestrian town. I walked from the bus station to campus (with my two bags in tow) on the cobblestone sidewalks present throughout Oxford. My first meal was one hundred percent English: fish and chips at a neighborhood pub. I settled into what would be my home for the next five weeks on Hertford (pronounced “Heartford”) College campus, a comfortable room located in a 100-year-old building near Radcliffe Camera.

Classes started on Monday. Two courses were taught by Professor Jonathan Black-Branch (Magistrate in Oxfordshire, Oxford graduate, international business owner, author and Barrister). He told the class that studying abroad has a different rhythm from the traditional law school campus. The schedule allows students more time to consider possibilities. He was right. While in Oxford, we discussed my options including operating an international business based in Florida, completing an externship abroad and using my law degree to advocate for human rights.

Eula in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Eula in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

My foreign studies schedule was packed: three classes, trips to Bath, London and Paris, high tea, a criminal trial, tours of Middle Temple, Bodleian Library, and Ashmolean Museum, concert at Christ Church, cookout in the park, Catholic mass in Latin (I’m Baptist) and an outdoor matinee performance of the play, As You Like It. The long summer days, with sunrise around 6:00 a.m. and sunsets around 10:00 p.m., gave me time to explore the city. I started each day with an English breakfast of croissants, tomatoes, baked beans, fresh fruit, and of course, hot tea. Learning alongside a German student, attending courses taught by English professors and countless other study abroad experiences, have given me a panoramic view of the world. I am a better law student and a more enlightened individual because of my time in Oxford. I encourage all law students to consider the learning experience of a lifetime. It is within reach; even part-time law school students can study abroad.

Eula hangs out with her foreign study program classmates.

Eula hangs out with her foreign study program classmates.

About the Author: Eula T. Bacon is a part-time law school student in her third year at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School – Tampa Bay Campus. She lives and works full time for a non-profit agency in her hometown of Sarasota, Florida. Ms. Bacon is an active member in the Tampa Bay Inn of Court, Vice Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board, and Associate Editor for the Journal of Practical and Clinical Law. Her community service activities included helping with community legal redress workshops and the Walk to End Lupus Now.

 

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WMU-Cooley student from France pitches a strike during Cooley for Kids Day – and in law school.

WMU-Cooley student Romain Peyret getting ready to throw a first pitch during Cooley for Kids on July  22, 2015.

WMU-Cooley student Romain Peyret getting ready to throw a first pitch during Cooley for Kids on July 22, 2015.

“This was a first for me,” proclaimed WMU-Cooley student Romain Peyret when asked about being chosen to throw out a first pitch during this year’s Cooley for Kids Day. “It was a fun experience and nice that the kids got to go out on the field with the players. It was a great day for a ball game!”

CLICK HERE FOR THE 2015 COOLEY FOR KIDS PHOTO ALBUM

Romain is no stranger to firsts and doing new things.  He’s been all over the world since he was born. His father was in the French Army, so he and his twin brother, Benoit, along with his younger brother Luc, moved a lot. Romain explained that he learned early on how to adapt to new experiences and to think of everything as an adventure.

“We lived in Tahiti, New Caledonia, French Guyana, and just about everywhere in France” shared Romain. “But I lived the last 10 years in Orlando, Florida. I was always interested in the law, but leaning toward a career as an FBI agent. It was after I participated on a mock trial team in college that I was sold. I knew then that I was going to be a prosecutor.”

Romain let's Nathan know that he only has to make it to the catcher - that's it!

Romain let’s Nathan know that he only has to make it to the catcher – that’s it!

Romain started looking into law schools and asked around for suggestions. His friend suggested Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.  He knew about WMU-Cooley and thought the law school would be a good fit for him. He took his friends advice, applied, and was accepted.

One more move for Romain – this time to Lansing, Michigan!  And he’s never looked back. He’s taking in every minute, along with excelling in his studies, meeting law students from all over the world, and making sure to get involved in the law school’s student organizations. In fact, Romain jumped the chance to be a part of WMU-Cooley’s intramural softball team.

WMU-Cooley law students and Parks & Rec kids at Cooley Law School Stadium.

WMU-Cooley law students and Parks & Rec kids at Cooley Law School Stadium.

“I love being busy and involved in all types of organizations and social activities,” stated Romain. “I never really knew much about – forget played – baseball before I came to WMU-Cooley. It just wasn’t something I thought about until we came to the United States. I’m really glad I got some practice in before I stepped on the mound to throw a first pitch at Cooley for Kids though!

Striiike!!

Striiike!!

“It looked like a strike to me,” declared Julie Mullens, WMU-Cooley’s director of the Lansing campus. “Heads up Central Florida! Not only will you have a sharp, fair and direct prosecutor arriving in a couple years, you will also have a highly valued left-handed pitcher!


 

Each year, over 500 kids from Lansing’s Parks and Recreation program join up with law students at Cooley Law School Stadium for Cooley for Kids Day. Nine lucky Parks and Rec kids and law students pair up as part of the game’s Dream Team – where they take the bases with Lansing Lugnuts players on the field before the game. Plus, a law student, like Romain, and a Parks and Rec student get to throw out a first pitch, and a WMU-Cooley law student gets to sing the National Anthem.  There’s a parade around the ball field, lunch, and a fun 7th Inning stretch activity to cap the day’s events.

WMU-Cooley law student Denaye Wallace and Parks & Rec kids enjoying Cooley for Kids "Day with Big Lug" at Crego Park on June 17.

WMU-Cooley also puts law students and Parks & Rec students together for Cooley for Kids “Day with Big Lug.” This year they met up on June 17, 2015, at Lansing’s Crego Park for a day of sun and water fun. WMU-Cooley law student Denaye Wallace and Big Lug give a thumbs up before they head off for another one of the day’s activities.

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Video footage of murder: Is it too prejudicial or probative?

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Karen Fultz

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Karen Fultz

By Karen Fultz

WMU-Cooley Professor Karen Fultz explains why the use of video footage may not be considered admissible in the court of law in Florida’s State v. Dontae Morris case.

In this country we are innocent until proven, by the requisite legal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, guilty. Additionally, lawyers (defense counsel and prosecutors) are prohibited, during criminal trials, from making any attempts to evoke a juror’s sympathy to obtain a favorable verdict.

“Closing arguments must not be used to inflame the minds and passions of the jurors.” Bertolotti v. State, 476 So.2d 130, 134 (Fla.1985). “It is improper for the State to evoke the jury’s sympathy regarding the victim.” See Watts v. State, 593 So.2d 198, 203 (Fla.1992). Thomas v. State, 787 So. 2d 27, 30 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2001)

These rules are enforced by the judiciary. In criminal trials, the judge is the gatekeeper and determines what will or will not be presented to the jury for consideration and deliberation of a defendant’s guilt.  Those rulings must be guided by the Florida Evidence Code.

For evidence related to a criminal defendant’s prior wrongdoing of convictions, the Judges refer to FL. Stat. 90.404(2)(a) which provides, in pertinent part, that “[s]imilar fact evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is admissible when relevant to prove a material fact in issue, including, but not limited to, proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident, but it is inadmissible when the evidence is relevant solely to prove bad character or propensity.” Further, FL. Stat. 90.402 provides that “[r]elevant evidence is inadmissible if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues, misleading the jury, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.” [Emphasis added]

In the State v. Dontae Morris case, involving the alleged murder of Derek Anderson, the prosecution filed a Motion with the Court requesting the right to introduce as evidence the dash cam video and audio footage depicting Mr. Morris shooting and killing Officer David Curtis and Officer Jeffrey Kocab in 2010.

Allegedly, based upon ballistic testing of the weapon used by Mr. Morris to murder Officers Curtis and Kocab, it was also used in the killing of Derek Anderson. The prosecution may seek to use the video footage to show the identity of Mr. Morris as the one who allegedly killed Mr. Anderson.  However, it lends for discussion whether this type of evidence would only serve to evoke the sympathy of the jurors and distract them from weighing other evidence that may be stronger to prove the defendant’s guilt. When the dash cam video and audio footage was released to the media in 2011, Melanie Michael of Tampa Bay News 10 recalled that “[t]he 19 reporters and photographers who watched the video … were stunned and let out an audible gasp when they watched the moment when the officers were shot. Several of them walked out of the room.”

Based upon the emotional impact of seeing the video, it may be more prejudicial to Mr. Morris’ defense than provide any probative value to the charges in the case, especially in light of the other evidence the prosecution had available and Mr. Morris’ constitutional right to not testify in his own defense.

*In November 2013, Mr. Morris was convicted of two counts of murder, among other charges and sentenced to death in May 2014.

**The field of ballistics is able to identify rifling patterns, marks made by using suppressors (silencers), shell casings, powder burn and many other different areas relating to the use of firearms and the evidence they leave behind.

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Fitness Unleashed gives shelter dogs something to bark about.

Shelter dog, Nitro, gets poised and ready to walk the trails at WMU-Cooley's Auburn Hills campus during Fitness Unleashed.

Shelter dog, Nitro, gets poised and ready to walk the trails at WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus during Fitness Unleashed.

WMU-Cooley law student James Langley gives his shelter dog, Diesel, a drink before their walk on the trails.

WMU-Cooley law student James Langley gives his shelter dog, Diesel, a drink before their walk on the trails.

Dogs and WMU-Cooley faculty, staff and law students are teaming up with the Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center to hit the trails this summer for Fitness Unleashed, a cooperative program to help shelter dogs. If you ask participants though, they not only love the idea of giving their shelter dog a much needed walk in the park, they also appreciate roaming the beautiful trails among the spacious 67 wooded acres on WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus.

“I was really impressed by how nicely the trails had been groomed,” exclaimed Cathy Oaten, faculty secretary at WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus. “Even the marshy areas had rocks placed so we could walk easily over them. Law students would pop up in various spots on the trails to help give us directions on the paths too. The dogs loved the time outdoors. My shelter dog, Nitro, was so excited, I could barely keep up with him!”

Twice a month, on Wednesdays, the OCAC is on WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus with dogs that need to be walked.  Participants also admitted that it was a great way to get in some exercise and reduce stress.

“I participated in the Fitness Unleashed program and got to walk a dog named Diesel, a Lab/Great Dane mix,” shared WMU-Cooley law student James Langley. “Diesel really liked to run and take in all the smells on the nature trails.  We both got some exercise and had some fun with other students and dogs. It was a great way to step outside my daily routine and relieve some stress.  It was a great thing to do for some dogs that need some love!”

WMU-Cooley law student Sarah Gorski trys to point her dog in the right direction before hitting the trails during FITNESS UNLEASHED.

WMU-Cooley law student Sarah Gorski trys to point her dog in the right direction before hitting the trails during Fitness Unleashed.

“I recently had the opportunity to participate in the new Fitness Unleashed program offered by WMU Cooley,” said Sarah Gorski, a WMU-Cooley law student.  “The program provides many health benefits to the dogs as well as the students participating. Walking the dogs was not only a great cardiovascular exercise, it was also a powerful antidote to stress. Dogs are inherently active animals and the program provides an outlet for their energy. My experience with the program was wonderful and I would definitely recommend other students to participate in such a great cause.”

The Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center and WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills faculty, staff, and students get ready to walk their shelter dogs during Fitness Unleashed. Those participating in the program give the pets some much-enjoyed attention and take them for walks on the campus’ 67 wooded acres. From left, WMU-Cooley staff member Cathy Oaten joins Brianna Bolton and Cooley students Eric Shepherd and Matthew Super as they begin their Fitness Unleashed dog walk on the WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills campus.

The Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center and WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills faculty, staff, and students get ready to walk their shelter dogs during Fitness Unleashed. Those participating in the program give the pets some much-enjoyed attention and take them for walks on the campus’ 67 wooded acres. From left, WMU-Cooley staff member Cathy Oaten joins Brianna Bolton and Cooley students Eric Shepherd and Matthew Super as they begin their Fitness Unleashed dog walk on the WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills campus.

 

 

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Firefighters and law students take a time out to teach summer safety to kids

Kids take the driver's seat at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Children’s Law Society Summer Safety event on July 13, 2015.

Kids take the driver’s seat at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Children’s Law Society Summer Safety event on July 13, 2015.

Rub a fire truck and some kids together and you create a spark of learning. That’s what WMU-Cooley Children’s Law Society law students did when they hosted a Summer Safety Seminar with the Grand Rapids Fire Department and the Grand Rapids Police Department on Monday, July 13. Their goal was to expose area kids to what firefighters do for the community and to teach them how to have a safe and fun summer.

The kids learned first hand that firefighters not only put out fires, but they do much more. They rescue people from car accidents. They help and work with the police. They save trapped animals. They provide emergency medical assistance. They even deliver babies!

WMU-Cooley Law School’s Children's Law Society, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Police Department and the Grand Rapids Fire Department, hosted a Summer Safety Seminar for parents and children from the Grand Rapids community.

WMU-Cooley Law School’s Children’s Law Society, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Police Department and the Grand Rapids Fire Department, hosted a Summer Safety Seminar for parents and children from the Grand Rapids community.

The kids also got to learn about all the important equipment on the fire truck, including things like hoses, ladders, tools to help save lives, ventilating equipment, first aid kits, warning sirens, two-way radios, and a mobile computer.

Kids loved sitting in the front seat of a fire truck at the Summer Safety event.

Kids loved sitting in the front seat of a fire truck at the Summer Safety event.

Each of the kids got to sit in the front seat of the fire truck and feel what it might be like to be a firefighter. The firefighters and police were also available to answer questions from parents and children alike. After the event, several impressed kids expressed sincere interest in becoming a firefighter when they grow up.  What they really learned was that, although summer is meant to be about having fun, it was also about making sure you are safe.

Along with making sure you know how to beat the heat, how to be careful around water, and how to keep bugs away, here are Summer Safety Tips from the National Safety Council, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Advocating for animals is a passion and commitment for WMU-Cooley law student Alicia Prygoski.

Alicia Prygoski hugs her dog, Patches.

Alicia Prygoski hugs her dog, Patches.

Alicia Prygoski is a third-year law student at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and serves as the president of her Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter. Most recently, she received an Advancement of Animal Law Scholarship from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

The national scholarship is awarded to law students based upon their demonstrated commitment to the mission of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is to advance the interests and protect the lives of animals through the legal system. Alicia was one of four ALDF award recipients nationwide.

Alicia with Chris Green, legislative director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Pam Frasch, executive director of the Center for Animal Law Studies, after the NALC award ceremony.

Alicia with Chris Green, legislative director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Pam Frasch, executive director of the Center for Animal Law Studies, after the NALC award ceremony.

Alicia was thrilled to win an Advancement of Animal Law Scholarship, but was even more excited about the opportunity to compete and network in the annual National Animal Law Competitions held in March 2015.

Students compete in one of three areas; either the Closing Argument Competition, the Moot Court Competition, or Legislative Drafting and Lobbying Competition. All of the competitions challenge students with an animal law topic and the judges are various experts in the field. This year, the competitions were at Harvard, and Alicia competed in the Legislative Drafting and Lobbying Competition.

According to WMU-Cooley Professor Dennis Cichon, “Alicia is a very professional young woman who displays an exceptional commitment to her studies.”

That commitment especially extends to her love and passion for animals. The competition really gave her a flavor for the kinds of things she may encounter in a career dedicated to animal advocacy.

“I was tasked with drafting and lobbying for an anti-animal bill in a mock situation where I was a Representative for a fictional Farm Bureau type organization,” Alicia explained. “Once I made it to the final rounds, the problem’s author turned the tables on us, and then I had to lobby as a representative of an animal welfare organization to kill the very bill I had drafted! I ended up getting second place overall, and an additional award for the ‘best bill and fact sheet.’ The competition was a great experience and I got to network with several individuals who have successful careers in animal law. I even got an offer to complete my externship with the Humane Society of the United States Farm Animal Protection Policy Team in Washington D.C.!”

Alicia plans to use her law degree to advocate for animals through the legislative and policy arena, lobbying to pass animal protection-oriented legislation. Alicia is passionate about helping all animals, but she would like to focus her efforts, in some capacity, on advocating specifically for the welfare and protection of farmed animals.

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Dropping in on WMU-Cooley’s Foreign Study Down Under – Literally!

Katie O'Grady taking the dive in New Zealand!

Katie O’Grady taking the dive in New Zealand!

Katie O’Grady loves a challenge.  And really loves a challenge that includes an adventure! What could make law school more challenging and more exciting? How about taking a semester with law students in WMU-Cooley Law School’s Down Under foreign study program! For Katie, law school never looked this good. Learning the law was a thrill a minute in Australia and New Zealand.

Katie joined up with WMU-Cooley Law School students last winter (Australia and New Zealand’s summer, BTW), and didn’t have time to miss winter in the Windy City – even a little bit.

Surf's up! Who's with me?

Surf’s up! Who’s with me?

She was too busy. Yes, there was class. “The International law courses were fabulous! Especially my Competition Law class in Australia, and the professors were great!”

And there was no shortage of things to do and to experience outside of class. “It was great meeting new people … and I am still friends with my roommate Candace (from WMU-Cooley Law School).”

Here are some of the things Katie most enjoyed during her study abroad Down Under:

  • She loved bungy jumping – at the third largest jump in the world. Did you know that bungy jumping originated in New Zealand?
  • Horseback riding in Queenstown, New Zealand around the Misty Mountains where Lord of Rings was filmed
  • White water rafting in the north island of New Zealand.
  • Diving in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
  • Swim with wild dolphins in Perth.
Meet my twin, Kanga Roo!

Meet my twin, Kanga Roo!

“It was a lifetime opportunity where I was able to do things I never would have been able to do had I stayed in Chicago.”

Katie wanted to bring back something to remind her of her unbelievable time Down Under. What did she bring back, you ask? Exactly. Something everyone would bring home – a Sugar Glider from Australia! Everyone should have a pet Sugar Glider.

Check out Katie’s pet Sugar Glider in her video – so cute and adorable!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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