Category Archives: Latest News and Updates

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

Judge Sabella Administers Florida Bar Oath of Admission During WMU-Cooley Swearing-In Ceremony

The Hon. Christopher C. Sabella of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court administered The Florida Bar’s Oath of Admission to recent WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Derek Matthews who has been approved for admission into the Florida Bar. The Oath contains important principles to guide attorneys in the legal profession.

“Students at WMU-Cooley have a unique opportunity to be taught by our local outstanding judges and attorneys,” said Matthews. “I was honored to have Judge Sebella swear me into the Florida Bar at the same place my journey into the law began. I am excited that students nearing their own graduation could see firsthand that WMU-Cooley does prepare them for passing the Bar and that their strong effort will be rewarded.”

Judge swears in new lawyer

The Hon. Christopher C. Sabella (right) of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court administers The Florida Bar’s Oath of Admission to recent WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Derek Matthews during a ceremony on May 24.

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Michigan Lt. Gov. Calley Discusses State’s Mental Health Issues During WMU-Cooley Law Review’s Annual Symposium

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley joined community leaders from a variety of backgrounds including law, healthcare, courts, non-profit and corrections to discuss the challenges present in Michigan’s system for treating and addressing mental health issues, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse, and what needs to happen to improve care and access to care. The symposium, “Mental Health: A Michigan Perspective,” was hosted by the Western Michigan University Cooley Law Review on May 19 at the law school’s Lansing campus.

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley speaks about mental health issues facing the state during WMU-Cooley’s Annual Law Review Symposium on May 19.

Calley began his remarks on a personal level, sharing his own daughter’s early autism diagnosis and the challenges he and his family faced in securing necessary treatment and services on her behalf. He said, “My experience with my daughter was one that really opened my eyes to just how the world works for people with disabilities. The conclusion that I came to at that point was that, if it was this difficult for somebody as well connected as I am to make all the things happen that need to happen, then the average person might have no chance at all.”

Because of his personal experiences, Calley said he became committed to advocating for change and improvement to Michigan’s health care system to better meet the needs of vulnerable populations. He has gone on to chair numerous work groups, think tanks, and boards, bringing all the necessary stakeholders to the table to discuss and propose necessary reforms, and effective management of healthcare funding for these important categories of care. Some of this work culminated in two final reports submitted to the Michigan legislature in January.

Calley also raised concern about stigmas against persons with mental health, development disabilities, and substance abuse problems and the barriers that lack of acceptance present to every person’s right to experience a full life.

“Stigma is still the biggest barrier that we have,” said Calley. “It’s a barrier to living, getting out there and living life and being a part of the world because sometimes behaviors aren’t what we would consider to be normal or typical, and the weight of just being a part of the world in that situation can be enough to cause people to retreat.”

The panelists discussed and agreed that there is a negative impact and public prejudices against the disabled. They also spoke about the need for more sensitivity, understanding, and empathy towards these persons, who, if given the necessary support and opportunity, can successfully manage and overcome their challenges and live meaningful and productive lives.

Other panelists included Milton L. Mack, Jr., State Court Administrator and former Chief Judge of the Wayne County Probate Court; Corrections Major Sam Davis, Jail Administrator, Ingham County Sheriff’s Department; Mark Reinstein, President & CEO, Mental Health Association of Michigan;  Lauren Rousseau: Associate Professor of Law, WMU-Cooley Law School; and  Beverly Griffor, managing partner, Collis & Griffor, P.C.

Major Sam Davis of the Ingham Sheriff’s Department talks about incarceration rates of individuals suffering from mental illness.

Panelists answer questions regarding issues facing mental healthcare in Michigan during the symposium, “Mental Health: A Michigan Perspective,” hosted by the Western Michigan University Cooley Law Review on May 19 at the law school’s Lansing campus. Panelists pictured (seated, left –right) Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley; Major Sam Davis, Ingham County Sheriff’s Department; Beverly Griffor, managing partner, Collis & Griffor, P.C.; Milton L. Mack, Jr., court administrator for the Michigan Supreme Court; and Mark Reinstein, president & CEO of the Mental Health Association of Michigan.

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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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