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An independent, private, non-profit educational institution affiliated with Western Michigan University. The Law School, as an independent institution, is solely responsible for its academic program. Accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. Cooley Law School was founded in 1972 by a group of lawyers and judges led by the then Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Thomas E. Brennan. The school was named for Thomas McIntyre Cooley, a legal scholar and practicing attorney of the 19th century. Cooley Law School teaches students the knowledge, skills, and ethics needed to be a success in the law and a valuable member of society. Cooley has developed a legal education curriculum and program designed to prepare its students for the practice of law through experienced-based teaching of lawyer skills. Students learn to apply legal theory to situations they may encounter as practicing attorneys. As part of Cooley's Professionalism Plan, Cooley students are also taught the Professionalism Principles adopted by the Thomas M. Cooley Law School community. Cooley Law School is also committed to providing a legal education to people from all walks of life. Cooley is proud of its diverse national and international student body where students, through fair and objective admission policies, have the opportunity to learn the law. Cooley Law School is the largest law school in the nation. Founded in 1972, the private, non-profit law school operates its Juris Doctor (J.D.) program, Joint Degree programs, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Cooley recently announced a new Tampa Bay, Florida-area campus, with courses beginning in May 2012. Cooley has more than 15,000 graduates across the nation and worldwide and offers enrollment three times a year; in January, May and September. Cooley is an independent law school, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. Degrees Awarded: Juris Doctor JD/LL.M. JD/MPA; JD/MBA LL.M. - Corporate Law and Finance LL.M. - Insurance Law LL.M. - Intellectual Property Law LL.M. - Self-Directed LL.M. - Tax Law LL.M. – U.S. Legal Studies for Foreign Attorneys

Mock Trial Winners Announced For WMU-Cooley Evidence Competition

The Mock Trial Board at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus recently awarded Mackiesch Taylor and Mayra Puerta winners of the term’s Evidence Competition. The competition featured 10 teams of two students who each had to display their skills introducing evidence as a prosecutor, or defending a client against the evidence that had been introduced.

Mock Trial participants

WMU-Cooley Mock Trial Board recently held its Evidence Competition for the current term at the law school’s Tampa Bay campus. Pictured (left-right) are competition winners Mayra Puerta and Mackiesh Taylor with John Scott, professor and presiding judge for the competition; and runners up Nathan Tamulonis and Trevor Persenaire.

Using the “Hunger Games” as a theme, the case presented during the competition involved a defendant name Katniss Everdeen, who was charged with murdering Peeta Malark by bow and arrow.

WMU-Cooley Professor John Scott, who advises the Mock Trial Board and served as the court’s judge during the competition, said, “Members of the board did a superb job organizing the competition and the event was a great way for students to get practice applying rules of evidence.”

The finals of the competition were held on June 17. Students Trevor Persenaire and Nathan Tamulonis were runners-up for the competition.

Mock Trial participants

WMU-Cooley Law School Mock Trial Board members and competition participants from the law school’s Tampa Bay campus. Pictured (front row, left-right) Nathan Tamulonis, Justin Sblano, Sarah Marin, Mayra Puerta, Mackiesh Taylor, Kim Canals, Thomas Yi, Shederis Lakin, (back row, left-right)Mock Trial Board President Clyde Barrow, Rob Johnson, Andrew Yaktman, Professor John Scott, Tim Saitta, and Trevor Persenaire.

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The “Stand Your Ground” Defense Just Got Easier to Use in Florida

“If ‘stand-your-ground’ laws weren’t controversial enough, Florida has enacted new legislation (backed by the NRA) that has prosecutors fuming and criminal defense lawyers salivating. There was a time in American jurisprudential history when the law favored de-escalation over a more Wild-West approach to antagonistic interactions among humans.” – WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery.

Listen to Professor Beery  in an interview with Bay News 9.

WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery

So the rule used to be that, even if someone else was the aggressor, a person had a duty to retreat before using deadly force; if the person (the non-aggressor) exhausted all reasonable possibilities for escape and had no reasonable alternative, then (and only then) that person was justified in using deadly force. Note the word “reasonable” sprinkled through that rule: that’s an objective test, meaning that a person could only use deadly force in self-defense if a person of ordinary intelligence and temperament would have done the same. In other words, “I’m a hot head” was no defense.

There was a common-sense exception to this rule (this duty to retreat) called “the castle doctrine.” One had no duty to retreat in one’s own home – a burglar-beware sort of rule. After all, if one is already in one’s safest environment – one’s home – then where is one to retreat to?

As a Miami judge, Milton Hirsch, recently pointed out, the “stand-your ground” rule that has since been adopted by many states essentially expands the castle doctrine to apply everywhere; even in a public place, if one is not the aggressor in an affray, then one no longer has any duty to retreat. And that “reasonable person” standard has diminished to the point of near extinction. In other words, if a person fears that he or she is at risk of death or serious bodily harm at the hands of a perceived aggressor, regardless whether a person of normal intelligence and temperament would also harbor such fear, that person may use deadly force against the perceived aggressor. (Although one still sees the word “reasonable” in some of these stand-your-ground laws, it is now largely ignored.) De-escalation is decidedly not the policy objective underlying this new approach.

When Florida first adopted this “stand-your-ground” approach, the state’s Supreme Court created rules for its implementation: since this was a defense that would be raised by the defendant in a criminal case, when the defendant raised a stand-your-ground defense, a trial court would hold a pretrial hearing at which the defendant would have the burden of showing, by a mere preponderance of the evidence (just a slight tipping of the scales in the defendant’s favor) that he or she was in fear of death or great bodily harm – and therefore justified in using deadly force. To most lawyers, this seemed an entirely predictable and appropriate approach; the burden is almost always with the party raising a defense, and the relatively easy-to-meet preponderance standard made sense in light of the policy choice Floridians had made to render the use of deadly force an acceptable means for resolving a brawl, no matter where it occurs.

As forgiving as the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard is, pro-NRA conservatives were not satisfied. So the Florida legislature changed the rules earlier this year: now, instead of the defendant having to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she was entitled to use deadly force, the prosecutor must show by clear-and-convincing evidence that the defendant was not entitled to use deadly force. Not only has the legislature placed the burden on what lawyers call the “non-moving party” (i.e. the party arguing against the claim, not for it), but it also elevated that burden well above the preponderance standard, making it harder to meet.

The upshot is that, when a defendant raises the stand-your-ground defense, a prosecutor must put on his or her evidence twice: once to overcome the stand-your-ground defense at a pretrial hearing, and again in front of a jury or judge at trial. To make matters worse for prosecutors, they must also, at the pretrial hearing, essentially prove a negative: not that something did happen, but that something did not happen.

As my colleague Professor Jeffrey Swartz points out, this is a criminal defendant’s dream in any case where the defendant used deadly force – with a gun or without a gun – and there was no witness to the alleged crime. In such a case, a defendant who produces any evidence that he or she feared death or great bodily harm can put a prosecutor through the proverbial ringer: the prosecutor will have to show that the crime happened as the prosecutor said it happened – first by clear-and-convincing evidence, and then beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judge Hirsch has refused to apply the new rules shifting and increasing the burden of proof, stating that under the Florida Constitution, such procedural rules for resolving cases must be set by the Florida Supreme Court, not the Florida legislature. Other judges disagree. Ultimately, the Florida Supreme Court will have to address that issue. In the meantime, welcome to the Wild West.

WMU-Cooley Law Professor Brendan Beery

Blog author, Constitutional Law expert and WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery  is a summa cum laude graduate of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure. Professor Beery is a frequent legal expert in the media.

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WMU-Cooley ReNita Antoine Makes Law and Leadership Life Priority

The youngest of eight, and a first-generation college graduate and first lawyer in her family, ReNita Antoine has always had a desire to help those who cannot help themselves and be the change people want to see. In high school, she participated in the YMCA’s Youth and Government program, drafting a bill and competing against students in her hometown of Houston, then against students around Texas.

“It was then I realized I could make laws that would affect the entire state,” she says. “I knew getting a law degree would give me a better understanding of how the law works and a ticket to help those who have become victim to unfair, unequal, treatment.”

Antoine earned her undergrad degree in Criminal Justice from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. As a student, she was heavily involved on campus and in the community; she was initiated into the Eta Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; and interned at the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office.

“I wanted to get an understanding of how the criminal justice system works and why so many individuals fall victim to the luring nature of crime,” she says. “The misfortune that plagues individuals almost forces them to experience the system and in turn creates a cyclical effect on the generations to follow. Fortunately, with hard work and commitment, this generational chain can be broken.”

After working as a clerk/receptionist at a Houston firm, and as a co-producer for a local TV show, “Truth & Justice with Vivian King,” Antoine headed to the WMU-Cooley Law School campus in Lansing.

“WMU-Cooley has some of the most knowledgeable, experienced, and engaging professors, who have practical experience coupled with the theory of the law,” she says. “The professors have an open-door policy which allows students to have candid conversations about the law. They are truly there for students. I developed lasting relationships with some professors that will extend beyond law school.”

While in law school, Antoine competed in the National Black Law Student Association Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition, that she believes prepared her for an 11-week internship with the Prosecutors Attorney Association of Michigan (PAAM) in southwest Michigan’s Berrien County.

“I believe this competition is one of the best mock trial competitions in the world,” she says. “It challenges you to think quickly on your feet, make sound arguments, and hone your public speaking skills.”

At PAAM, where her internship involved working as an assistant prosecutor, Antoine counseled with individuals to provide them with appropriate charges and negotiated with defense attorneys for plea deals.

“I received actual trial experience and was exposed to the daily workings of a prosecutor’s office,” she says.

In addition to her studies, she served as the head representative for the WMU-Cooley-Lansing campus for Barbri Inc., a bar preparation company that has been helping students for five decades. She also worked as a data specialist for the State Court Administrative Office Trial Court Services Division, traveling throughout Michigan to collect data for the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program (SSSPP) — a program that targets high-risk felony offenders with a history of probation violations or failures.

“I saw first-hand how someone who would otherwise serve a lengthy prison sentence earns a second chance for a new life,” she says. “I found this position enlightening. I could see how this program worked. Sometimes, all one ever needs is a second chance and this program affords them that opportunity.”

Outside of school, Antoine volunteered with the Building Child and Family Initiatives – MAGIC of Reading Program (MOR), helping children in grades K – 6 hone their reading comprehension skills.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with this program,” she says. “MOR allowed me to be an active participant in the Lansing community and work with the future generation of leaders.”

In her final semester at WMU-Cooley Law, Antoine externed with the Resolution Services Center of Central Michigan (RSCCM) in Lansing. She observed civil and domestic mediations, co-mediated small claims disputes, and conducted intake interviews.

“I believe mediation is one of the best ways to resolve a case, and it allows parties to come to an agreement on their own,” she says. “Equally important, mediation is more economically feasible than a trial, which is good for the judicial system.”

At WMU-Cooley’s honors convocation, Antoine was honored with the Leadership Achievement Award.

Associate Dean Michael McDaniel presents WMU-Cooley student ReNita Antoine with Leadership Award

Associate Dean Michael McDaniel presents WMU-Cooley student ReNita Antoine with Leadership Award

“It was unexpected, yet welcomed and appreciated,” she says. “I was just doing what I was supposed to do, leading. I was not expecting to be awarded for my passion of service. When I took on duties and responsibilities, I did what was right for the student body. So, to be honored with this achievement was a blessing.”

She received further kudos in being awarded the Otis M. Smith scholarship at the 20th Annual Davis-Dunnings Bar Association Otis M. Smith Scholarship Banquet.

Davis-Dunnings Bar Association President and WMU-Cooley graduate Takura Nyamfukudza presents WMU-Cooley student ReNita Antoine with Scholarship Award

Davis-Dunnings Bar Association President and WMU-Cooley graduate Takura Nyamfukudza presents WMU-Cooley student ReNita Antoine with Scholarship Award

The Houston native is taking the Texas bar exam this upcoming July and plans to return to her hometown. Interested in bankruptcy law, estate planning, negotiation/mediation, and politics, she plans to advocate for clients and her community on a local and national level.

This article about WMU-Cooley graduate ReNita Antoine was written by Legal News writer Sheila Pursglove originally published by the Legal News on June 28, 2017. It is reprinted here with permission of The Detroit Legal News. 

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Sacred Beginnings Founder Leslie F. King Tells Powerful Survivor Story to WMU-Cooley Law Students

WMU-Cooley Law School students were gripped listening to Sacred Beginnings Founder and Executive Director Leslie King tell her life story about how she, a human trafficking survivor, was able to transform her life after over 20 years of being exploited, addicted, and trapped. The WMU-Cooley Lunch & Learn education program called Addiction and Human Trafficking was held at WMU-Cooley on Wednesday, June 14. WMU-Cooley law students, in conjunction with the American Bar Association Student Division, hosted the event.

Sacred Beginnings Founder Leslie King tells WMU-Cooley law students her life story of being exploited, addicted, and trapped, until she found the courage to turn her life around.

Sacred Beginnings Founder Leslie King tells WMU-Cooley law students her life story of being exploited, addicted, and trapped, until she found the courage to turn her life around.

“Leslie King was captivating,” declared WMU-Cooley Assistant Dean Mable Martin-Scott. “She was intense and real. This was a rare opportunity for our students to see the impact crime has on victims and to hear first-hand how human trafficking destroys lives. This was a teachable moment. Law school is not about laws, it is about people. When the students heard Leslie’s story, they were initially shocked, but then they started thinking like an advocate, and talk about ways the law could or should protect her. Priceless and excellent seminar.”

WMU-Cooley law student and event organizer Nakita Haynes was grateful to have Ms. King come to WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus to speak.

“I had the opportunity to listen to Ms. King at another conference I attended, and was moved to tears,” recalled Haynes. “I knew if I brought her here to speak, my fellow students would be charged by her energy and inspired by her story of perseverance, strength, and justice; especially as law students and soon-to-be lawyers.”

King talked about the struggles she had endured, until she found the strength and courage in 2000 to break free and commit her life to rescuing and rehabilitating women just like her.

“I went to rehab and kicked my addictions,” stated King. “It was hard. Really hard. But I graduated and went to work as a counselor at the rehab center — the first graduate to do that. God opened doors for me to work with the police department as an advocate for women trapped in the life I once lived.”

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Today Leslie is an award-winning and sought-after expert, speaker, and trainer. In conjunction with her mission at Sacred Beginnings, she works alongside law enforcement and legislators to affect lasting change.

Read Ms. King’s story HERE.

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WMU-Cooley graduate Maurice McDaniel: Parachute Accident Opens Up New Career in the Law

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’s military feature is WMU-Cooley graduate Maurice McDaniel, a retired imagery and intelligence analyst working for the military’s Seven Special Forces Group. After a parachuting accident, Maurice decided it was time to fulfill his lifelong goal of becoming an attorney.

Military rank and title: Military Intelligence Attachment of the Seven Special Forces Group

Tell us about your military experience: I was an imagery and intelligence analyst working for the military’s Seven Special Forces Group. We worked on target packages in Central and South America doing a lot of work with the president’s war on drugs at the time. I was involved with the planning and execution phases of some large operations. I spent time in the Pentagon working with the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with doing counter-insurgency activity in Peru.

WMU-Cooley graduate Maurice McDaniel

Why did you decide to go to law school: I decided to go to law school after a military parachuting accident. I realized that I just wasn’t able to physically perform all my duties in my law enforcement job. I also realized I needed to change directions in my career. I knew I had always been interested in a legal career; ever since I remember. Now was the time to act on that goal. I looked into law schools and decided to attend Western Michigan University Cooley Law School for several reasons. One was the convenience. WMU-Cooley offered flexible schedule options, which included offering classes three times a day; plus weekend classes. I also liked that the campus was geographically close to where I lived. It made it that much easier to get to my classes. And once I started law school, I knew I had made the right decision. I really enjoyed the all staff and faculty of the law school.

Career Goals:  I currently enjoy working in my own private practice in High Springs, Florida, downtown Historic District. My goal is to see my firm expand and to hire more employees and associates into my successful practice.

Tell us a little about you: I am married, and we have five children between us. My wife is the county attorney for Alachua County, in Gainesville, which is also the county I practice in. Our children range from nine to 27 years of age. The 27-year-old is an engineer. Two others are attending college at the University of Florida. One child is a senior at Santa Fe High School, and our youngest is going into the fifth grade this fall. We enjoy living on a little mini ranch of around 56 acres, along with several horses, cows and other farm animals. We love being a part of this small rural community. My daughter is involved in horse riding and jumping. I enjoy watching her competitions, as well as the being involved in the other children’s sports activities.

WMU-Cooley graduate Maurice McDaniel with his wife, Michele Lieberman, County Attorney for the Alachua County Attorney's Office

WMU-Cooley graduate Maurice McDaniel with his wife, Michele Lieberman, County Attorney for the Alachua County Attorney’s Office

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Graduate Aaron Sohaski: WMU-Cooley Law School felt the most like home for me

My first year of law school, I actually didn’t spend at WMU-Cooley. I was at another law school out of state, and while I had a good experience there, it wasn’t the educational outcome that I had desired. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It was disheartening because I usually consider myself a very wise consumer. After my first year there, I had to re-evaluate. This was the first time in my educational career that I had to look again at a school. I know that attending WMU-Cooley was ultimately the happiest decision I could have made. – WMU-Cooley 2016 graduate Aaron Sohaski

I started looking at law schools in the Detroit Metro region because I was offered and took a full-time job there. It was a wonderful opportunity to return to the area. I ultimately decided to transfer to WMU-Cooley Law School. It felt the most like home for me. It felt grounded. I could see that the professors really cared about the students. And the honors scholarship also made it the right economical decision for me.

WMU-Cooley graduate Aaron Sohaski, Lansing campus

Once classes started, and despite coming in a little scared as a transfer student, I felt ingratiated and part of my class right from the get go. As a non-traditional student, I appreciated that there were a lot of other students who also worked full time. It was a refreshing change from where I previously came from. Most of the students were enrolled full-time, just coming out of undergrad, and had no previous work experience. It was different at WMU-Cooley. While there are plenty of traditional students, there were also many students like me.  I especially admired those second career students who balanced work and family while going to law school. It was inspiring.

My time at WMU-Cooley was highly punctuated by strong relationships with my professors. If I ever had a question after class, I knew that I could contact a professor at any time. They were dedicated about their career and their tenure as a professor. What really set them apart from any other professor I had was the fact that many of the professors were working professionals, with many years of practice experience. I knew going into a Contracts II class, for instance, I would hear war stories about something that was going on now and was relevant to the class. That’s how I personally learn the law best – through those examples. I would take a professor’s teachable moment in the classroom and apply them to my life – learning how not to make the same mistakes.

WMU-Cooley graduate Aaron Sohaski, Lansing campus

The professors also understood that people had lives and believed in the law school’s mission of giving students practical skills and experience. Despite my work and law school schedule, I was able to still participate in the estate planning clinic for two semesters. What a wonderful experience. The professors encouraged me to try different things and to ask questions –  to reach outside the box. Professors supported you every step of the way.

I’ve always been somebody who wants to take on forms of leadership in my life, so I immediately became involved during law school. There are so many different organizations, plus tons of opportunities to be involved in your local or state bar associations. The law school really encourages that kind of involvement. And I am still very involved as first-year attorney, including being a member of the Detroit Bar Association, Inns of Court, New Lawyer’s Council for the Oakland County Bar Association, and the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section Executive Council.

My sense is that WMU-Cooley students have a confidence, and they aren’t afraid to venture into anything. And do it at 110 percent, as do all the professors. WMU-Cooley imparted in me to be a lifelong learner. I use my law degree every single day.

It amazes me how many WMU-Cooley grads are involved in organizations and pro bono work.  And it’s not just in Michigan. I’ve met fellow graduates in New York, Florida, California,  just about everywhere. We touch all corners of the United States. It makes me proud to be a part of the WMU-Cooley network.

WMU-Cooley graduate Aaron Sohaski

Aaron Sohaski is a January 2016 graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School. He works for the Henry Ford Health System as an attorney focusing on regulatory compliance and regulatory affairs within the health system. He enjoys learning the ever-changing new healthcare laws and regulations, and focuses on contracts and business association agreements, third party payer agreements, and works directly with others across the healthcare system. Henry Ford is the fifth largest employer in the city of Detroit with over 28,000 employees.

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Supreme Court Sets Up a Travel-Ban Punt

WMU-Cooley Law Professor Brendan Beery

Blog author, Constitutional Law expert, and WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery explains in layman’s terms what the Supreme Court’s preliminary order in the travel-ban case really means and who it will most immediately affect. Professor Beery, a summa cum laude graduate of the law school, teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure at WMU-Cooley Law School, and is a frequent legal expert in the media.

It’s all about the numbers – or the dates, to be precise. Lawyers, pundits, and prognosticators will do a deep dive into what the Supreme Court’s preliminary order in the travel-ban case (agreeing to hear the case in October and allowing the Trump Administration to partially implement the ban in the meantime) means about the Court’s view of the ban’s legality. But the discerning reader can see what the Court (per Chief Justice Roberts, in all likelihood) is really up to. The Court is wriggling out of having to address the ban’s legality in the first place.

The Court’s ruling was a mixed bag for people from the six banned countries wishing to enter the United States. The Court kept in place a lower-court injunction forbidding Trump Administration officials from excluding people with close family ties or legitimate business or educational concerns involving travel to the United States. The bad news for opponents of the travel ban is that, because the Supreme Court lifted the injunction on part of the ban, it will now operate to bar entry into the U.S. by anybody without family or business ties here. That impact is leavened, of course, by the reality that very few people without family or business ties to the U.S. wanted to come here anyway. (In other words, this is not the total victory that Donald Trump will likely represent it to be.)

The people most immediately and directly harmed by the Court’s order are would-be refugees. Refugee designation alone will no longer entitle refugees from the six affected countries to entry into the U.S. They too will have to show some kind of family or business interest to get around the travel ban.

But here’s the rub: the travel ban (contained in Section 2(c) of Trump’s executive order) has an expiration date built into it. Trump’s stated purpose for imposing the travel ban (which lower courts called pretextual) was to give the federal government time to analyze other countries’ immigration controls, make findings of fact, allow other countries to respond, and then adopt appropriate screening protocols for use by federal agencies. No lower-court order stopped the administration from doing any of that while the travel ban portion of the executive order was being litigated.

Since the supposed purpose of the travel ban was to buy time to study a problem and implement solutions, the ban was only to last 90 days “from the effective date” of Trump’s executive order. The original effective date was March 16, so the ban would have lapsed by mid-June. Once that date approached, however, Trump issued a new directive purporting to amend the effective date; he said that the new effective date would be 72 hours after the injunction against his travel ban (the one imposed by lower federal courts for the last few months) was lifted.

It’s not clear that the Supreme Court has bought into Trump’s new effective date; the Court, without any prompting, ordered the parties to the lawsuit to draft arguments about whether the legality of the travel ban became moot on June 14 – the date the ban was originally to expire. The justices must be considering, then, whether Trump’s attempt to extend the ban was valid.

But notwithstanding the question whether the extension was valid, the Court did today lift the injunction against the travel ban – at least in part. That means that the clock starts ticking on Trump’s new 90-day time period on Thursday morning – 72 hours after the injunction was lifted. The Court is set to hear arguments in the case in early October. By then, just over 90 days will have elapsed, meaning that even under Trump’s new timetable, the ban will have expired yet again.

Look where that leaves us: whether the ban’s legality was rendered moot when it was originally set to expire (June 14) or by the expiration of the new timeline (in late September), by the time October rolls around, the Court will be in a position to say that the administration has had ample time to get its act together as to screening immigrants, every conceivable deadline for ending the ban has passed, and the case is moot. This assumes, of course, that the wild card in all this – Donald Trump – doesn’t try to change the effective date again by October, or issue a new executive order altogether. If he does that, though, the Court will likely lose its patience with him.

By inviting the parties to address the mootness issue without prompting, the Court clearly signaled that it will use the issue of mootness to avoid having to address the merits of the case. One can see why the Court would do that: were it to rule on the merits, the Court would have to address whether the sitting President was behaving lawlessly and whether he was acting with animus in discriminating against Muslims. While those are fair subjects for public debate, the Supreme Court usually likes to stay out of such unseemly political fights. By giving each side in the fight half a win and running out the clock, the Supreme Court has signaled what it is likely to do on the merits of the travel ban: punt (and hope that Trump’s mischief-making in this regard is at an end).

Watch Brendan Beery’s Salon.com interview.

Listen to Professor Beery’s interview on the Tom Sumner Program (Interview starts at 6:58).

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Living in Tampa, Florida: Unique study spots for students

So, you’ve decided to continue your education in beautiful Tampa Bay, Florida. Smart choice! If you’re new to the area, finding places to study may seem like a scavenger hunt. There are several quiet nooks and hidden hideouts in this lively coastal region, but here are five student favorites to jump-start the process.

Living in Tampa, Florida

The Oxford Exchange

Located in West Tampa, this European-inspired space is a restaurant, bookstore, coffeehouse,[MS2]  and décor shop rolled into one. In its four years of existence, the Oxford Exchange has become a popular spot for business meetings, study groups, and relaxing. It’s important to note that the OE doesn’t offer WiFi, so it’s a great spot if you’re just looking to hit the books or write term papers. If you do need WiFi, check out the Commerce Club. A membership is required, but it includes access to the Shaw Library which features individual desks, multiple conference rooms, private phone booths, group tables, and couches for comfortable seating. The OE is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Kaleisia Tea Lounge

Voted best teahouse by Yelp in 2014, Kaleisia Tea Lounge has become a staple for students living in Tampa. Located 15 minutes northwest of WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay [MS3] campus, Kaleisia features a sanctuary specifically for people looking for a quiet space to work, study, or reflect. The lounge is closed on Tuesdays but open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 12 to 6 p.m. on Sundays, giving students ample time to pack in a study session.

Ginger Beard Coffee

This local favorite specializes in crafting nitrogen-infused cold brewed coffee. Operating out of the Pour House[MS4]  in Grand Central, WMU-Cooley Faculty Secretary Cody Babb says it’s the best cold-brewed she’s ever had. They also offer three varieties of doughnuts from Datz Dough daily — maple bacon, Fruity Pebbles and Crème Brule. Bonus: they offer discounts to students! Take your books into Ginger Beard Coffee on #TextbookTuesday for 10 percent off. This coffee shop is best for early morning studiers, as it’s open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday – Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The Sail

If you’re looking to soak up some Vitamin D while reviewing your notes, or prepping for your next big exam, The Sail near the Tampa Convention Center is just the spot. Nestled in the heart of downtown Tampa, The Sail is a 360-degree pavilion that provides visitors with spectacular views, delicious food, and a variety of unique drink options. When’s the last time you watched the sun set while studying?  The sail opens at 11 a.m. every morning and closes at 2 a.m.

Brandon Regional and Riverview

If you’re looking for a traditional study space, be aware that there is a plethora of libraries to choose from in the area. Brandon Regional Library and Riverview Branch Library are known to be two of the best for students. Both offer free WiFi, two and a half hours of free computer use, printing, and copying. Riverview’s library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and are closed on Sunday, and closest to the Tampa Bay campus. If you do want to hit the library on a Sunday, the good news is Brandon Regional Library is open. The two-story space located in the Sandy Rodriguez Center, is just five miles from WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12:30 p.m.–5 p.m. on Sunday.

If you’re like most students, you’ll need a change of scenery throughout the year. So use this as a bucket list and try them all. You’ll likely find your own favorites as you settle in. Already have one? Tell us what you would add to this list in the comments section below!

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WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project’s Efforts Free Detroit Man After 42 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment

LeDura (Ledora) Watkins was released today after serving almost 42 years for a robbery and murder he did not commit. Based on the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project’s motion for new trial, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office agreed to vacate the judgment of conviction and dismiss all charges in the 1975 murder of a Detroit woman.

Watkins was sentenced to life without parole on April 15, 1976. The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project filed a motion for new trial on January 19, 2017. The prosecutor’s office agreed that hair comparison evidence used against Watkins does not meet today’s scientific and legal standards. Watkins was sentenced to life without parole on April 15, 1976. The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project filed a motion for new trial on January 19, 2017. The prosecutor’s office agreed that hair comparison evidence used against Watkins does not meet today’s scientific and legal standards.

LeDura Watkins was released after serving 42 years for a murder he did not commit.

LeDura Watkins was released after serving 42 years for a murder he did not commit.

In 2013, the FBI disavowed testimony by FBI-trained analysts, finding they often overstated their conclusions. The Detroit lab analysts, trained by the FBI, tied Watkins to the crime scene based on a single hair.

Innocence Project team members

WMU-Cooley Innocence Project team following the release of LeDura Watkins who served 42 years for a robbery and murder he did not commit.

“Hair comparison is not based on science; it is simply a lab analyst’s subjective opinion and has no place in our criminal justice system,” said Marla Mitchell-Cichon, director of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project. “This is why a state-wide review of hair comparison cases is critical.”

Mitchell-Cichon commended Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office for working with her office to resolve the case. The prosecutor’s office agreed that the new scientific standards are “newly discovered” evidence.

Mitchell-Cichon also noted that over the years, Watkins never stopped fighting for his freedom. He never gave up on the belief that the truth would come out. His family also got their wish; he will attend the annual family reunion in August.

 According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Watkins will be the longest-serving wrongly convicted person in Michigan.

About WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project: WMU-Cooley’s project is part of the Innocence Network, which has been credited with the release of over 350 wrongfully accused prisoners through the use of DNA testing. The WMU-Cooley project has screened over 5500 cases since 2001 and is responsible for the exoneration of Kenneth Wyniemko (2003), Nathaniel Hatchett (2008), and Donya Davis (2014). The Project is staffed by WMU-Cooley Law School students and Western Michigan University undergraduates, who work under the supervision of WMU-Cooley Project attorneys. Staff Attorney Eric Schroeder and Legal Intern Wisam Mikho served as lead counsel in this case. Those interested in donating and supporting the work of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project can email innocence@cooley.edu

About Western Michigan University Cooley Law School: WMU-Cooley Law School resulted from the 2014 affiliation that combined WMU’s status as a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Since the law school’s founding in 1972, WMU-Cooley has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and WMU-Cooley Law School operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.

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Filed under Latest News and Updates, Student Experiences, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized, WMU-Cooley Innocence Project

WMU-Cooley Law School Student Bar Association Awarded $500 Grant from the Oakland County Bar Foundation

The Student Bar Association (SBA) at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus recently received $500 in grant funding from the Oakland County Bar Foundation to support the organization’s Barrister’s Ball.

SBA officers in Auburn Hills

Pictured: WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills campus Student Bar Association officers (left-right) Qasem Belbeisi, Ashli Bynum, Arturo Alfaro, and Shilpa Bodalia.

SBA organizes the Barrister’s Ball annually to celebrate the future of the legal profession and recognize the accomplishments of the law school’s students and nationally recognized organizations. The event also provides students, faculty and staff an opportunity to network with other legal professionals in the community while raising funds to support a local charity.

“We are so thankful to the Oakland County Bar Foundation for this opportunity,” said Ashli Bynum, WMU-Cooley SBA president. “This grant helps increase our capacity to support nontraditional law students by making professional networking opportunities, such as the Barrister’s Ball, more accessible to all.”

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