Category Archives: Latest News and Updates

Official news releases, events and publications from Cooley Law School.

WMU-Cooley students and graduates shine brightly during Davis-Dunnings Bar Association Award Banquet

The Davis-Dunnings Bar Association held its 20th Annual Otis M. Smith Scholarship Banquet this spring at the Crowne Plaza in Lansing, Michigan, and the WMU-Cooley family was represented very well.  Two WMU-Cooley students won scholarships. ReNita Antoine received the Hon. Otis M. Smith Scholarship and Tiffany West received the Stuart J. Dunnings, Jr. Scholarship. WMU-Cooley graduate Taneashia R. Morrell, Esq. was the Rising Star award winner, and WMU-Cooley graduate, Board Chair, and State Bar of Michigan President Lawrence P. Nolan received the Trailblazer Award.

ABA Past President Paulette Brown (center) with WMU-Cooley Davis-Dunnings Bar Association award winners student Tiffany West , graduate Taneashia R. Morrell, student ReNita Antoine, and graduate, Board President, and State Bar of Michigan President Lawrence P. Nolan. (Photo credit: Traci Lee, LLC)

ABA Past President Paulette Brown (center) with WMU-Cooley Davis-Dunnings Bar Association award winners, student Tiffany West , graduate Taneashia R. Morrell, student ReNita Antoine, and graduate, Board President, and State Bar of Michigan President Lawrence P. Nolan.

The Davis-Dunnings Bar Association is a special interest bar association with the mission of inspiring outreach to the underserved and under-represented members of the greater Lansing community. American Bar Association Immediate Past President Paulette Brown was the keynote speaker for the evening.  Brown made history as the first African American woman to head the American Bar Association.

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Takura Nyamfukudza, another WMU-Cooley graduate, was elected president of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association this year. A top criminal defense and appellate law attorney, Nyamfukudza is very active in his community, serving as chairperson, director, treasurer, mentor and volunteer for organizations across the greater Lansing area. He also served 12 years in the U.S. Army. He was recognized in Super Lawyers, Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s “Up and Coming Lawyers,” Ingham County Bar’s “Top 5 Under 35” and the Davis-Dunnings’ “Rising Star Awards.”

(Photo credit: Traci Lee, LLC and WMU-Cooley Law School)

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WMU-Cooley Prof. Brendan Beery: What does the Constitution say about High Crimes & Misdemeanors? Let me explain.

WMU-Cooley Law Professor Brendan Beery

Blog author, Constitutional Law expert and WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery explains what the Constitution says about High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and why issues surrounding impeachment and removal are for Congress – and not courts – to decide. 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.

Much media attention is now focused on whether President Donald Trump or any of his associates are guilty of some crime involving obstruction of justice. As to the President himself, that question might be strictly academic; legal memoranda from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (one dated 1973 and the other 2000) conclude that a sitting president cannot be indicted for a crime because a criminal indictment would cripple the president’s ability to fulfill his or her duties under Article II of the Constitution.

While associates of the President may be indicted (depending on where the evidence leads, of course), the larger concern for the President himself is whether anything he has done – or an accumulation of everything he has done – implicates the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal from office: “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Interestingly, these words in the Constitution – “high crimes and misdemeanors” – follow two specific examples of impeachable offenses: treason and bribery (put all together, what the Constitution says is that an officer of the United States may be impeached and removed for committing “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”). In the law, when a more general term (high crimes) follows more specific terms (treason and bribery), the general term is to be interpreted as meaning something of the same kind as those items specifically mentioned. For example, suppose that a law bans the use of “any saber, sword, dirk, dagger, knife, blade, or other dangerous instrument.” In analyzing the meaning of “dangerous instrument,” most lawyers and judges would look to the specific items listed before that general term to conclude that “dangerous instrument” must mean some kind of stabbing device.

Applying this principle (for the ambitious reader, it’s called – in Latin – e jusdem generis), it would seem that “high crimes and misdemeanors” means something on par with treason and bribery. That’s why most scholars agree that not just any crime will do; we’re probably talking about the kind of misdeed that represents a serious breach of the public trust. (Recall that the issue in the Bill Clinton impeachment was whether lying under oath about an extra-marital affair constituted such a misdeed.)

But this question (as much as lawyers will be involved in fighting about it) is more a political than a legal one. That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case called United States v Nixon (not as in Nixon the president, believe it or not) said that issues surrounding impeachment and removal are for Congress – and not courts – to decide. If and when Congress reaches such questions, the issue for members of Congress will be whether the allegations against the President – that he tried to get federal investigators to drop the Russian-collusion investigation and fired the FBI Director with Russia in mind – establish a serious breach of the public trust. It will be up to the House of Representatives to decide whether any constitutional charges (called Articles of Impeachment) should be brought; and if charges are brought, it will be up to the Senate to decide whether to remove the President from office (that would require a 2/3 vote).

Whatever decisions Congress might reach on these questions will not be second-guessed by any court of law. Our system is designed such that the President is answerable to Congress, which in turn is answerable to the people. Constitutionally, then, the fate of the President is in your hands.

LISTEN to Professor Beery on The Tom Sumner Program (at the 20 minute mark) May 23, 2017.

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ABA Past President Paulette Brown speaks to new WMU-Cooley students at Orientation

“I do not subscribe to the theory that there are too many lawyers,” Brown said. “I don’t believe that because if there were too many lawyers, there wouldn’t be as many people who did not have access to justice.” – Immediate past president of the American Bar Association (ABA), Paulette Brown.

Ms. Brown spoke to WMU-Cooley incoming students, faculty and staff, as well as attorneys and legal professionals from the community, about the need for and responsibility of lawyers during a recent student orientation welcome reception. She also emphasized the responsibility involved with earning a law degree. She urged students to always remember the communities from which they came.

“A law degree is more than a piece of paper, it is a real privilege,” Brown said. “It is a license to do good, and to make sure the rule of law is maintained in this country and elsewhere.”

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Brown is a partner and co-chair of the diversity and inclusion committee at Locke Lord LLP. Brown has held many positions throughout her career, including as in-house counsel to a number of Fortune 500 companies and as a municipal court judge. In private practice, she has focused on all facets of labor and employment and commercial litigation.

Within the ABA, she has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1997 and is a former member of the Board of Governors and its executive committee, as well as the Governance Commission. Brown also chaired the ABA Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice (now Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice) and is a past co-chair of the Commission on Civic Education in the Nation’s Schools.

Brown has served on the Commission on Women in the Profession and was a co-author of Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms. She is a former member of The Fund for Justice and Education (FJE), the FJE President’s Club, and a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

She has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” and by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of the “prominent women and minority attorneys in the State of New Jersey.” She has received the New Jersey Medal from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and serves on its board of trustees.

Brown earned her J.D. at Seton Hall University School of Law and her B.A. at Howard University.

WATCH Immediate past president of the American Bar Association, Paulette Brown’s talk in its entirety (19:54).

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WMU-Cooley Law School Holds Annual Charity Event to Kickstart a Detroit Scholar’s Path to Law School

The Auburn Hills campus of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School will hold its annual charity event, FUNDS – Financing the Undergraduate Needs of Detroit Scholars, on Saturday, May 20, 6-9 p.m., in Room 145. The event will raise money to help a graduate of a Detroit public school attend college through the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Scholarship.

Designed to support individuals interested in law school, and who would otherwise not be able to afford college, the scholarship supports needs not often included in other scholarships or financial aid such as transportation, clothes and food. It is administered by Detroit College Promise, a non-profit organization connected to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. This year’s event will include live entertainment and a silent auction.

Entertainers include: comedian and magician Keith Stickley, music by acoustic duo Lions  to Nowhere featuring Scott and Christine Sawyer, other music performances by Katie Stanley and WMU-Cooley Associate Dean James Robb.

Tickets are $30 per person or $200 per group of eight. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact WMU-Cooley Assistant Dean Lisa Halushka at 248-751-7800, ext. 7737 or halushkl@cooley.edu.

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Professionalism, Honor Code Highlight WMU-Cooley Lansing Orientation

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Amy Ronayne Krause and Alecia Ruswinckel of the State Bar of Michigan spoke to incoming law students about ethics of law during orientation at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus on Friday, April 28.

New students pose for a picture with Judge Amy Ronayne Krause (center) after taking WMU-Cooley Law School’s honor code oath, which Krause administered during the law school’s Lansing campus orientation on April 28.

During the orientation, Krause administered the law school’s honor code oath, which all entering students, faculty and staff take as a commitment to the law school’s ethical standards.

The honor code states that “ethics are as important as academic performance and the mastery of practical legal skills.” It emphasizes ethics as an integral part of the law school experience, and “encourages the development of the ethical values that law students and lawyers as professionals must possess.”

Ruswinckel, professional standards assistant counsel for the State Bar of Michigan, led a discussion with law students about professionalism and the value of ethics in the legal field.

In addition to her service as a judge on the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Michigan, Krause is an adjunct professor at WMU-Cooley Law School. Before serving  on the Michigan Court of Appeals, she served as a judge for the Michigan 54A Judicial District Court for almost eight years. From 2013 to 2015, Krause served on the Michigan Court of Claims. She began her legal career in private practice, and then served for eight years as an assistant prosecuting attorney, followed by six years in the Criminal Division of the Michigan Office of Attorney General.

Ruswinckel joined the State Bar of Michigan in December 2014. She provides education, information, support and guidance in the area of ethics to attorneys throughout Michigan. Prior to joining the bar, she was an associate attorney with Anderson, Stull & Associates, focusing her practice on general civil matters including business, real estate, probate and family law.

Judge Amy Ronayne Krause, Fourth District Court of Appeals in Michigan, administers the WMU-Cooley Law School honor code to entering students at the law school’s Lansing campus orientation on April 28.

Alecia Ruswinckel (right), professional standards assistant counsel for the State Bar of Michigan, speaks with WMU-Cooley Law School incoming students during the law school’s orientation program.

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Perspectives on Mental Health Topic of WMU-Cooley Law Review Symposium

“Mental Health: A Michigan Perspective” will be the topic of discussion at this year’s Western Michigan University Cooley Law Review’s Annual Symposium at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus. The May 19 event will feature a diverse panel of community leaders from a variety of backgrounds including law, healthcare, non-profit, state government and corrections. The group will discuss issues facing mental health today. The event will be held 1-4 p.m., in Room 911 of the Cooley Center, 300 S. Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan.

“Mental Health: A Michigan Perspective” will be the topic of discussion at this year’s Western Michigan University Cooley Law Review’s Annual Symposium

Panelists include:

  • Gov. Brian Calley: Michigan lieutenant governor
  • Beverly Griffor: managing partner, Collis & Griffor, P.C.
  • Milton L. Mack, Jr.: court administrator, Michigan Supreme Court
  • Professor Lauren Rousseau: professor, WMU-Cooley Law School
  • Major Sam Davis: corrections major, Ingham County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mark Reinstein: president & CEO, Mental Health Association of Michigan

First elected as lieutenant governor in 2010, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is an advocate for inclusion in Michigan, working to ensure all individuals can live independent and self-determined lives. Calley chaired the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission, the Prescription Drug and Opioid Task Force and the Special Education Reform Task Force. He also leads the Mental Health Diversion Council. He is committed to developing and implementing strategies to improve outcomes for all students in Michigan, as well as people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and addiction issues.

At Collis and Griffor, P.C., Beverly Griffor handles matters from business law, intellectual property, probate and family law. Upon graduation from the University of Michigan, Griffor was involved in research projects, which focused on self-esteem and achievement, as well as juvenile criminal offenders and recidivism. She received her Juris Doctor from Ave Maria School of Law and is pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at Fielding Graduate University. Griffor is currently doing research in the areas of personality disorders, child testimony, jury perception and forensic evaluations.

Nationally recognized as a leader on issues related to mental health, Milton L. Mack, Jr. frequently presents to judges and the legal community on topics ranging from end-of life decisions to the use of technology to improve court efficiency. Mack was a leader in advocating reform to make the Michigan’s judiciary more efficient and accountable while serving as a Wayne County Probate Court Judge. Prior to joining the bench in 1990, Mack was a private practice attorney and served as a Wayne County commissioner (1983–1990) and city of Wayne councilman (1979–82). Mack became the state court administrator in 2015.

Professor Lauren Rousseau has been a faculty member with WMU-Cooley Law School since 2004. Rousseau is chair of the school’s Civil Procedure and Evidence & Practice Skills Department and has served as an assistant dean with the law school. Rousseau is a strong advocate and frequent speaker on the very personal and painful topic of addiction. She serves on the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations, which include the Home of New Vision, an addiction treatment nonprofit corporation in Washtenaw County; the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities (ACHC), which oversees 16 coalitions in Oakland County focused on substance abuse and prevention and the Oakland County chapters of Families Against Narcotics; and Access to Bankruptcy Court, a nonprofit corporation providing pro bono bankruptcy services to indigent clients.

Prior to working as a correction major with the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, Sam Davis was a teacher, coach and administrator with Lansing Public Schools from 1974 to 2007. The Michigan State University graduate has been the president of the Lansing Wrestling Officials Association since 1992 and is a lead teaching official at Michigan High School Athletic Association clinics.

Mark Reinstein serves as the president and CEO of the Mental Health Association in Michigan (MHAM). MHAM is the state’s oldest advocacy organization for individuals experiencing mental illness. In the past, Reinsten served on the steering committee of Michigan Partners for Parity, a statewide coalition with more than 60 members that seeks the enactment of mental health parity law in Michigan.

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Boy Scouts of America to Honor WMU-Cooley Associate Dean and Ret. Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel

A life dedicated to public service was the continuation of a journey that Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel began as Boy Scout. McDaniel, the Associate Dean of the Lansing campus of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, is the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Water and Woods Field Service Council, for his service on the local, state, and national level.  Water and Woods is part of the Michigan Crossroads Council, Boy Scouts of America. McDaniel will be honored during a breakfast on May 16 beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the Eagle Eye Golf Cub in Bath.

McDaniel joined a Boy Scout troop in his hometown of King Ferry, N.Y., when he was 11 and learned the importance of public service on a smaller scale.

“This gave me the confidence and ability to search out public service opportunities on a larger scale as an adult,” he said.

Scouting experiences encouraged McDaniel to participate in ROTC while in college and to join the Michigan National Guard in 1983.  He eventually went on to law school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“I think it’s absolutely true that the values you learn in Scouting stay with you your whole life,” McDaniel said.  “I could rattle them all off now, but I think the bigger message is that I learned about the value and importance of a life of public service from my time as a Scout.”

Part of his work at WMU-Cooley involves training future lawyers to practice law with the highest degree of ethics.  His own adherence to a strict code of moral and ethical standards has been publicly acknowledged by officials who asked him to take lead roles in investigations into a controversy surrounding Lansing’s Board of Water and Light and later the Flint water crisis.

McDaniel led a Community Review Team that reviewed documentation and conducted interviews with BWL personnel, resulting in a report with recommendations on improvements in customer  service and emergency response.  He got involved as a liaison in the Flint water crisis at the request of that city’s mayor and Gov. Rick Snyder.

“General McDaniel’s decision to pursue a life of public service continues to positively impact the lives of countless individuals in ways too numerous to list here,” said Paul Schwartz, Scout Executive for Water and Woods FSC.  “He is a powerful example of the positive impact Scouting makes on the lives it touches and we are grateful to him for his willingness to share that story.”

McDaniel, who  joined Troop 53 in his hometown of King Ferry, N.Y., said his fondest memories are of time spent at camp as a participant and later as a counselor.

“The idea that you could go out in the woods all summer and go canoeing and swimming anytime you want was great,” he said.  “I had a natural affinity for that life.”

As a child, McDaniel said there were very few activities for kids where he lived and Scouting was a natural progression for him because his mother was a biology teacher who introduced him to outdoor activities such as bird watching and shell collecting.

That interest in nature helped him complete a beautification project at a cemetery in King Ferry for which he earned his Eagle Scout rank.  He said the skills he learned in Scouting as a youth remain relevant today.

“They’re designed to teach Scouts a large degree of resiliency and to be self-supportive,” McDaniel said.  “The lesson as a youth is that if you get lost in the woods, you’ll know what to do and the lesson as an adult may be that if you get lost in the city, you’ll know what to do.

“It’s the moral lessons you learn.  The values in the Scout Law are what you want a young man to learn.”

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