Criminal defense lawyers must remember that they are impacting the lives of a real person

“Ms. (Valerie) Newman is an inspiration. She is passionate about her work, and her words will have a lasting impact on our students and how they approach their profession.” — WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Lisa Halushka 

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Valerie Newman, an attorney with the State Appellate Defender’s office, was honored with WMU-Cooley’s Integrity Award during its Integrity in Our Communities Speaking Series this summer. The award is presented to legal professionals who demonstrate the highest integrity in their profession.

“Valerie is very deserving of this award – her civility in the criminal justice system and her belief that the system works best when attorneys work together for the common goal of achieving justice,” shared Associate Dean Halushka to the group of faculty, students and community leaders. “She has always urged students to remember that when they practice, especially if they practice criminal defense law, they must remember that they are impacting the lives of a real person. She makes clear to students to never define their clients by their worst day, weakest moment, or biggest mistake.”

In attendance was also Devontae Sanford, a young man who was recently exonerated from a quadruple homicide he was wrongfully convicted of in Wayne County. Ms. Newman, who worked tirelessly to release Devontae from prison, invited Devontae on stage to answer questions from the audience. Devontae commented that Ms. Newman was like his second mom and provided hope to him while he was in prison. He told the audience that he hoped the law students in the audience would become lawyers who cared about their clients.

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Filed under Awards, Ethics, Faculty Scholarship, Uncategorized

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