Military and Legal Career Brings Promotion to WMU-Cooley Graduate Col. John Wojcik

John Wojcik has served his country well. Not only serving as the General Counsel for the Michigan National Guard, which is a joint military organization that has over 11,000 military and civilian employees, three air bases, and two Army posts, and over 50 military facilities, he serves and oversees all state, federal, and administrative litigation for the Guard, with authority over $500 million of federal contracting projects each year.

wojcik

Wojcik is also a nationally recognized Fiscal Law instructor and specializes in federal construction litigation, teaching in the areas of  federal contracting, federal employment law, environmental law, real estate leasing and procurement, federal administrative law, and military justice. He supervises a combination of 25 full-time and part-time attorneys and paralegals.

His outstanding service was recognized this summer in a promotion to Colonel. He received his new rank from his wife Kimberlie in a ceremony at Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing, Michigan.

He has served as the general counsel for the Michigan National Guard since April 2002 and was appointed to his current position in May 2016.

A native of Edensburg, Pennsylvania, Wojcik graduated cum laude from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and was commissioned in 1993 into the Army Reserves as a distinguished military graduate from IUP’s ROTC program. He holds a J.D. from WMU-Cooley Law School. During Wojcik’s 26-year career, he has served in a variety of assignments including infantry mortar man, trial counsel, trial defense counsel, command judge advocate, and assistant state staff judge advocate.

In 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan and served as chief lawyer for a theater detention facility. In his current assignment, he is an adviser to the director of Military and Veterans Affairs, providing strategic legal coverage for approximately 11,000 members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard.

Wojcik is extremely active in teaching military law to lawyers and was instrumental in creating the Ingham County Veterans Court and the Military and Veterans Section of the State Bar of Michigan. In May 2016, he published a guide to assist lawyers in handling family matters that involve service members. He has taught numerous courses at WMU-Cooley Law School.

Wojcik’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

wojcik-family

Parts of this article are reprinted by permission of the Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC, and was previously published in the Ingham County Legal News on Aug. 22, 2016. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Stories and News, Military Feature, Uncategorized

House Criminal Justice Committee Unanimously Supports Bills for the Wrongfully Convicted: Will Michigan be the 31st state to right the wrong?

Take a minute to consider all that you might lose during the years of a wrongful incarceration. Then consider how you would begin to put your life back together. Where would you live? How would you support yourself? How would you explain where you have been when you apply for a job? How would your medical and psychological needs be met? These are just a few of the challenges that Michigan citizens who have been wrongfully convicted face on a daily basis. – Director of WMU-Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project Marla Mitchell Cichon

My client, Donya Davis, is a case in point. Mr. Davis was wrongfully convicted in 1997. Mr. Davis was convicted of criminal sexual assault. At trial, Mr. Davis presented an alibi defense. And there was DNA evidence excluding Mr. Davis from the rape kit. Nevertheless, Mr. Davis was convicted after a bench trial. The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project obtained additional DNA testing in 2013 and Mr. Davis was excluded on all the tested samples and the new evidence pointed to another male contributor. In light of the post-conviction DNA results, the State agreed to the Project’s motion for new trial and all charges against Mr. Davis were dismissed in November 2014.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


In prison, Mr. Davis took advantage of all the education and training he could, including earning a paralegal certificate and attending culinary school. Fortunately, Mr. Davis has strong family support and he has worked hard to get back on his feet since his exoneration. Nevertheless, life continues to be a challenge. This week the House Criminal Justice Committee considered Senate Bill 291. The proposed law would provide compensation for wrongfully convicted Michigan citizens. If passed, Michigan would become the 31st state, along with the District of Columbia and the federal government, to provide compensation to wrongfully convicted individuals.

marla_happy

The Committee also considered  House Bill 5815 which provides exonerees with the access to housing and other services. Both bills were supported unanimously by the committee. Both bills would make a difference in Mr. Davis’s life. These two pieces of legislation will give Michigan exonerees the ability to reintegrate back into society and improve their quality of life. Making these bills law is both right and just.


Blog author, Marla Mitchell-Cichon, is the director of WMU-Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project as well as the co-director of the Access to Justice Clinic for Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. Professor Mitchell-Cichon has extensive practice experience in criminal and poverty law. Her litigation experience includes practicing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Ohio Supreme Court, and trial courts in both Ohio and Michigan.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

Day of Remembrance: 9/11 Day-Long Scout Salute to First Responders

“Everyone remembers where we were on that day and yet when you hear the phrase 9/11, you don’t think of anything other than the events from 15 years ago. We say 9/11 and everyone knows what we feel and what occurred, it was a visceral deep pain.” – Ret. Brig. General and WMU-Cooley Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel

The Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and Museum come together each year on September 11 to honor those who sacrificed their lives during the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, by hosting a Community Day of Remembrance and day-long Scout Salute. 

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Associate Dean and retired Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel, an Eagle Scout himself, was the keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony. He joined scouts and their families, fire, police, EMS, and military personnel, as they saluted the flag being flown at the museum.

“These men along with the men and women who serve our country, whether in the service, police department, or fire department, they are our nation’s heroes,” said McDaniel. We should not be confused with entertainers and sports figures who consume much of the time during national newscasts. At most they could be considered role models, not heroes,” stated General McDaniel.

He continued by talking about the definition of a hero. A hero like Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar who served as a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, and was a priest from McDaniel’s alma mater St. Bonaventure University.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mychal Judge was the first casualty on 9/11, serving in the capacity as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. Although Father Judge was “a very small-framed, quiet, soft-spoken man,” stated McDaniel, “he was a man with the hugest heart of any man I have ever met.”

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, USA (ret.)

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, USA (ret.)

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H.  McDaniel, USA (ret.) is a professor and the director of WMU-Cooley’s Homeland and National Security Law Program. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Strategy. His responsibilities included supervision of the Department of Defense Critical Infrastructure Protection Program and the Global Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Policy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, Military Feature, Uncategorized

WMU-Cooley Law School Celebrates Constitution Day 2016

Each year, in September, WMU-Cooley Law School joins the nationwide focus on the U.S. Constitution, commemorating the formation and signing of the historic document by focusing on a number of timely political and electoral issues. The official annual Constitution Day celebration takes place on Sept. 17, with this year’s observation date falling on Friday, Sept. 16. At WMU-Cooley, the celebration often gets extended, and this year continues into the following week.

beery_brendan-beeryThe WMU-Cooley campus in Tampa will celebrate Monday, Sept. 19, noon-1 p.m. with a political discussion. With election day less than two months away, panelists will discuss Clinton vs Trump as part of the law school’s annual Constitution Day activities. Constitutional Law expert and professor Brendan Beery, recent winner of the Stanley E. Beattie Teaching Award, will lead discussions regarding how results of the election will affect the U.S. Supreme Court and the Constitution.  During the discussion, Beery will analyze how legal issues, such as abortion, affirmative action and LGBT rights, could change depending on who is elected president.

warrenIn Auburn Hills,  the events take place Friday, Sept. 16. In honor of Constitution Day, the Hon. Michael Warren of Oakland County’s Sixth Circuit Court will present “The Presidency: Electors, Elections & Campaigns 1789-Today” at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16. Following the presentation Warren will lead a discussion about how the Constitution’s founders would react to Clinton vs Trump.

ford-statueIn Grand Rapids, events are focused primarily on the WMU-Cooley student audience. In observance of Constitution Day, WMU-Cooley Law School is holding a Constitution Day Scavenger Hunt on Saturday, Sept. 17  at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.  Participants will pick up a list of questions from Professor Devin Schindler or Professor Victoria Vuletich.  Participants will visit the new exhibits at the museum the morning of the 17th, using the exhibits to answer the list of questions.  Professors Schindler and Vuletich will then meet the participants for lunch to discuss Watergate and the pardon at a local restaurant.  Small prizes will be awarded  to the first, second and third place winners.

In Lansing, the celebration will take place later in the month with campus organizers currently working on finalizing activities.

Leave a comment

Filed under Knowledge, Latest News and Updates, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

Military Feature John O’Neill: Sees bright 2nd career in the law after serving country for 28 years

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This month, we feature WMU-Cooley law student John O’Neill who retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 28 years of active service.

Military rank and title: Ret. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel

Why law school and WMU-Cooley: As my retirement drew near, the natural progression for many of my peers was to go into government service or to serve as a civilian military contractor. Yet those options did not appeal to me. Law school did. My biggest concern, though, was time. I knew that I didn’t want to spend three years attending school after I retired. Fortunately I was stationed in Michigan when I heard about WMU-Cooley Law School’s flexible scheduling options and generous scholarships. I was able to start taking classes part-time while I was still on active duty, which allowed me to complete half of my courses before I retired. Now that I have less than a year to go before I graduate from law school, I am looking forward to launching a new second career as a public defender.

Career description:  While serving in Alabama in the ’90s, I completed a bachelor of science degree in Justice Studies from  Athens State College, along with a master of science degree in Management from Troy State University.  I received my commission as an Army Aviator from Alabama A&M University where I was cross-enrolled in their ROTC program. Over the decades, I have served throughout the world, including Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Germany. My military career consisted of: 4 years (1984-1988) as an enlisted infantryman with the second Ranger Battalion in Ft. Lewis, Washington, and 24 years (1991-2015) as a commissioned officer. During the years in between (1988-1991), I also served as a police officer in Huntsville, Alabama.

20160520_140905

Career responsibilities: I have served at every level of management in the U.S. Army, most recently as the Network Integration Lead for the Program Executive Office , Ground Combat Systems, until my retirement. I was responsible for the integration and commonality of all networked systems among the Army’s ground combat fleets, plus the coordination of all staff actions within a PEO that manages the entire Abrams Main Battle Tank fleet, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle fleet, and numerous other ground combat systems.

Decorations: Legion of Merit,  Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2), Meritorious Service Medal (5),  Joint Service Commendation Medal (2) , Army Commendation Medal (3), and  Army Achievement Medal (4)

Skill Qualifications: Senior Army Aviator Wings, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Wings, Expert Infantryman Badge, Air Assault Wings, Jungle Expert Badge

20160520_140943

Leave a comment

Filed under Military Feature, Student Experiences, Student News, Achievements, Awards, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

WMU-Cooley Graduate Andrew Hudson: Path from Teacher to Lawyer Inspired Choice

It made sense for Andrew Hudson, now an assistant attorney general for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, to go into education for his first career. “My grandfather was a teacher and I had a couple of aunts who were also teachers,” remembered Andrew Hudson about his decision to go into education as an undergrad at Western Michigan University. “I was always good in school and I was someone who tutored classmates. I was in the National Honor Society and I made the logical assumption that because I was good in school, I would be good in teaching or education. And I liked it. I like the process of learning, and I liked school, so I wanted to make a career out of it.”

andrew_1

ATTENDING WMU A LOGICAL DECISION

It was also a logical decision for Andrew to attend Western. Not only was WMU known for having a great education department, it also happened to be located in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. “I wanted to be near home. I had grandparents that were elderly and I was helping take care of them. I also wanted an opportunity to work in the local schools where I grew up and went to school, and return for my teaching career.”

“While I was at Western, I actually worked at a local agency with emotionally impaired children and that experience was the real springboard into teaching,” recalled Andrew with a smile. “Working with emotionally impaired kids really helped kick the shyness right out of me! I interned in Kalamazoo Public Schools for a term, then worked for two years in elementary schools, a Catholic school, then a charter school. At the end of my three years, I decided that I needed to reassess teaching as a long-term career, for a variety of reasons. I knew that I was really skilled at the academics, the presentation of the lesson, and the assessment of the children. I was also very good at organizing and delivering the material in the most effective way, but I never found my groove connecting with the kids or the parents. One thing I knew for certain though was that my educational skills and experience would apply to a lot of different jobs that could be a better fit for me.”

DECISION TO ATTEND LAW SCHOOL INSPIRED REASONING

“Looking back, it was strange, I never saw myself as being the lawyer type,” recalled Andrew, “but in my summer breaks, the thing that I loved doing the most was watching court TV. I loved watching trials and watching the lawyers make their arguments and question the witnesses. I liked the structure of it. It was similar to a classroom, in the sense that you had a jury that you were trying to teach the case to. And I thought that was really fascinating. It became clear that my personal evolution and career goals had changed. I felt that being an attorney now was a great fit for me.  I never thought growing up that I would be able to be a lawyer, then suddenly I turned around and now I’m thinking ‘yeah, I can do that.'”

SUCCESS IN LAW SCHOOL ACHIEVED

Not only could he do it, he did it very well.  Andrew graduated second out of 351 students at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and found he had a real knack for winning Mock Trial competitions. “I was in Mock Trial, which was my main extracurricular activity,” said Andrew. “I was in the first-year Mock Trial competition, and I won. My partner and I won. And I discovered I had a talent for it. I signed up the very next semester for the evidence competition, and won that. Then the following semester I went on to the national team for Mock Trial. I enjoyed it. It was fun. I got to use my teaching skills, in a way, to organize and plan things out, then speak in front of people. It seemed like a natural transition for what I used to do, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.”

PATH FROM LAW SCHOOL TO THE AG’S OFFICE

“During law school, I got an internship at the county prosecutor’s office in the economic crime unit,” said Andrew. “I worked there for about two years while I went to law school. My work with that office allowed me to set up diversion payment programs for misdemeanor fraud defendants. I was also responsible for educating and assisting defendants. I was able to transition from there into more court work. I was doing pre-trial meetings with unrepresented defendants on other cases and actually doing jury trials and bench trials by myself.”

Andrew’s initiative and work ethic didn’t go unnoticed. When he was sworn in to Eaton County court, the judge that swore him in, Judge Calvin Osterhaven,  was so impressed with his résumé that he called him a month later and hired him.  “I enjoyed working for Judge O. for six months knowing that he was looking into retirement. Being a law clerk was definitely a great experience and it was something I was very glad I did, but I knew that I needed to look for other work. I had applied for a job at the AG’s office and they ended up calling me about a month after I got the job as the law clerk. After a couple rounds of interviews,  the AG’s Office called me back for a third interview. They brought me up to the 7th floor and walked me into Bill Schuette’s office. That was my final interview. I was hired.”

WMU-COOLEY STILL IMPRESSES

“The best decision I ever made was to go to law school,” stated Andrew. “I grew up in law school. I didn’t realize how, until I looked back on everything. I had matured a lot during that time and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that in law school you are kind of on your own to figure out what is best for you, how to study and prepare, and to figure out what extracurricular activities you want to engage in. But at the same time Cooley has got plenty of help for people who need it. And you can take advantage of it to whatever extent you want to. And so that really helped me mature and grow up as a professional. I really did find the perfect job for me after law school. Cooley really had a lot to do with it. I was not your traditional law school student in the sense that I was a little bit older, I had been in one career already, I wasn’t going from undergraduate to law school, and Cooley kind of catered to that sort of thing, the non-traditional pathway. The scholarship offer was, of course, enticing. It was local, but it was also bigger. Cooley, just because of its size, just had more opportunities. I came here on a tour and the facilities were impressive. It was good to see that there were a lot of mechanisms to help you get through law school. They really did want you to succeed. And if you didn’t, it was probably because you didn’t take advantage of all the avenues of help that were out there.”

andrew_2

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Stories and News, Skills, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

Pioneering WMU-Cooley law students take first classes in Kalamazoo

With the spirit of pioneers, and following in the footsteps of past groundbreakers at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, a small but determined group of students became the first to take WMU-Cooley classes at the Kalamazoo campus of Western Michigan University this week.

The first class of WMU-Cooley law students on WMU's campus in Kalamazoo during orientation — (L to R) students Dustin Blaszczyk, Lee Melde, Christine Doxey, Marla LaMae, and Kenneth Estephan, and WMU-Cooley Enrollment & Clinical Coordinator Bill Fleener.

The first class of WMU-Cooley law students on WMU’s campus in Kalamazoo during orientation — (L to R) students Dustin Blaszczyk, Lee Melde, Christine Doxey, Marla LaMae, and Kenneth Estephan, and WMU-Cooley Enrollment & Clinical Coordinator Bill Fleener.

The students are excited about being the first to take law classes on Western’s campus. Attending WMU-Cooley in Kalamazoo gives these students the advantage of attending class at a national research university with full access to the wide range of services available on Western’s campus, including the state-of-the-art Student Recreation Center, and other facilities and programs. These law students chose the option of first-year classes in Kalamazoo because they loved the location. We look forward to a lasting partnership with the university and look forward to offering Western graduates and the community law classes in a place they already call home.

Find out more about WMU-Cooley’s Kalamazoo location on the main campus of Western Michigan University.

20160831_083153

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized