Category Archives: Achievements

WMU-Cooley Law School Holds Honors Convocation in Florida

On Wednesday, July 12, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus held its Honors Convocation recognizing students for top course grades, Dean’s List, Honor Roll, and leadership and skills competition achievements.

Sheila Lake received the Alumni Distinguished Student Award for her academic success, professionalism, and participation and leadership in student organizations.

Lake also won a Leadership Achievement Award, along with classmates David Lee and Selena Neal. The award acknowledges students who have consistently, comprehensively and effectively provided leadership in a variety of capacities.

Selena Neal with award

Selena Neal

Sheila Lake with award

Sheila Lake

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Filed under Achievements, Awards, Student News, Achievements, Awards, Uncategorized

Ross Berlin: Passion, Core Values and Principles Set the Standard

Ross Berlin, WMU-Cooley (Kavanagh Class, 1981), is the cover feature story in the Summer 2017 issue of Benchmark Alumni Magazine. Berlin was a gifted athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball in college. After obtaining his juris doctor from WMU-Cooley Law School, he began a remarkable career encompassing wide-ranging experiences, beginning as an associate at a Los Angeles sports and entertainment law firm, advancing to general counsel of a public works/environmental systems enterprise; then to Senior Vice President of Venues, 1994 World Cup USA; followed by work as a consultant for the 1997 Ryder Cup in Valderrama, Spain.

He then became PGA TOUR Vice President for Sales and Marketing for the World Golf Championships and then a William Morris sports agent for LPGA phenom Michelle Wie. Ultimately he returned to the PGA TOUR as Senior Vice President, Player Relations.

CLICK HERE to read Ross Berlin’s cover feature story in its entirety. It published in the Summer 2017 Benchmark alumni magazine, along with other interesting WMU-Cooley Law School graduate stories.

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

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 Holds Inaugural Initiation Ceremony for Newest Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International

On May 26, an official chartering and inaugural initiation ceremony was held for Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International’s newest chapter, the Janet Reno Chapter of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus. Phi Alpha Delta Law is a professional law fraternity aimed at advancing integrity, compassion and courage through service to the student, the school, the profession and the community.

Phi Alpha Delta’s District XXXII Justice Jason Harber swore in the officers of the new chapter: Sheila Lake, justice; Kimberly Pinder, vice justice; Christine Simon, clerk; Stuart Bowes, treasurer; Brian Rubright, marshal; Lashawn McQueen, parliamentarian; and Amanda Martinez, constable.

Janet Reno Chapter Justice Lake initiated all other new members in attendance, which included  Robert Johnson, Danny Torres, Jenanah Amatullah-Muqsit, Dremma Sweetwine, Carla Walters, Devan Hardaway, Ayana Clark and Iris Weller. Those who were unable to attend the ceremony will be initiated later this term with the rest of the newest members of the fraternity. Those individuals include Sabrina Franco, Ebony Smith, Amir Behreini, Lauren Pack, Rebecca McCall and Katherine Semone.

More than 15 initiates were sworn into the new Janet Reno Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity during the official chartering and inaugural initiation ceremony on Friday, May 26 at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus.

On May 26, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus held an official chartering and inaugural initiation ceremony for Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International’s newest chapter, the Janet Reno Chapter.

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Filed under About Cooley Law School, History, Achievements, Knowledge, Skills, Ethics, Latest News and Updates

149 Honored with Juris Doctor and Master of Laws Degrees During WMU-Cooley Law School’s Spring Graduation

Graduates from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s three Michigan campuses (Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Lansing) were bestowed with juris doctor and master of laws degrees during the law school’s spring commencement ceremony on May 21, at the Michigan State University Auditorium. WMU President Dr. John M. Dunn provided the keynote to 149 graduates and their family and friends in attendance. Javaron Buckley, who was selected by his classmates, presented the valedictory remarks.

Western Michigan University President Dr. John M. Dunn provides the keynote during WMU-Cooley Law School’s spring commencement on May 21.

Dunn’s keynote marked the first time he addressed a graduating class at WMU-Cooley. He said that many of the graduates may have been among the first students to enroll under the affiliation agreement between the law school and the university that began in 2014.

Dunn also spoke about the current political climate and how recent law graduates may be called upon to re-establish the shared narrative of who and what we are as a nation.

“You are graduating at an unusual time in our nation’s history. This is a turbulent time in which we’re seeing attempts to redefine time-tested values like free speech, patriotism, civil rights and the basic ethos upon which our country was founded,” said Dunn. “You will be on the front lines when it comes to defending those laws and polishing that narrative. I know your commitment to the rule of law and when it comes to making the right decision, I have to say my money is on you.”

Javaron Buckley presents the valedictory remarks during graduation for WMU-Cooley Law School’s Michigan campuses.

During the valedictory remarks, Buckley reflected about their time in law school, comparing it to how the Titanic could have avoided sinking. “If the Titanic would have hit the iceberg head-on, it would not have sunk. There’s a life lesson about avoiding problems in that,” he said. “I stand before a group of remarkable graduates who took the voyage through law school and hit the iceberg head-on. It might’ve slowed some of us down, however it did not sink us.”

Buckley also spoke about their futures as attorneys and said, “As lawyers, we are the guardians of justice and the means by which the law reaches the people. Therefore, when carrying out your duties, remember to refrain from becoming intolerant to people’s problems. I ask that you serve with passion and integrity and with empathy for your clients.”

Each class at WMU-Cooley bears the name of a distinguished member of the legal profession. The spring 2017 graduating class is named after Justice Earl Warren. Warren was an American jurist and politician, who served as the 30th governor of California and later the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.

Pictured (left-right) Don LeDuc, WMU-Cooley president and dean; Dr. John M. Dunn, WMU president; and Lawrence Nolan, State Bar of Michigan president and WMU-Cooley board chair.Chief Justice of the United States.

 

WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc present Veronica Freemon with her diploma during WMU-Cooley Law School’s spring commencement.

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