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    Second chance: Wayne Law grad overcomes early troubles to launch legal career
    On Nov. 22, Wayne Law graduate Bob VanSumeren was sworn in before Hon. Michael Smith, the same judge who sentenced him in 1999 to 70 to 240 months in prison, after VanSumeren robbed a gas station with a BB gun, followed by an unarmed robbery of a bank. The swearing-in, almost 20 years to the day, was in the same courthouse, First Circuit Court in Hillsdale. “The judge didn’t remember me,” VanSumeren says. “I don’t know if he knows how largely he loomed in my mind for many years. I met with him before the ceremony, to make sure he was in fact okay with all of it.’ After his release in 2005, he studied at Jackson College, then headed to Western Michigan University to earn his undergraduate degree in comparative religion, sociology and psychology; a master’s degree in comparative religion; and a graduate certificate in spirituality, culture and health. His next step was Wayne State University Law School, where he earned his juris doctor in 2018. He is deeply appreciative of his law school experience. “Wayne Law was supportive of me—when no other school would admit me because of my past, they took a chance on me,” he says. “I didn’t often tell my story, but some knew it. The professors who knew about my past were caring and helpful. The administration was great, especially Felicia Thomas, then assistant dean of Student Affairs. “If I had it to do over again, I’d spend less time worrying about what others might think about me, because the truth is, the folks at Wayne Law were often a lot more accepting of me than I was of myself,” he adds. “I think sometimes people in my position—formerly incarcerated, people with troubled pasts—hold on to things longer than necessary. I can look back and see instances where I was my own barrier.”  
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    Wayne Law holds rank as Best Value Law School
    For the sixth consecutive year, Wayne State University Law School has been recognized as a Best Value Law School by The National Jurist and its sister publication, preLaw magazine. Of the 58 law schools on the list for 2019, Wayne Law was the only Michigan law school included. The ranking is designed to recognize the law schools where graduates have excellent chances of passing the bar and getting a legal job without taking on a ton of debt, according to the publication. Criteria for selection includes ultimate bar pass rating and two-year pass rate, employment rate, tuition, cost of living and average student debt accumulation. preLaw magazine also recognized Wayne Law among the top law schools in the category of Business Law.
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    The 1974 Supreme Court Ruling On Detroit School Busing That Worsened Segregation
    It’s the early 1970’s. The City of Detroit is still licking its wounds after that black day in July of 1967. White flight to the suburbs is in full effect and, as those families moved out, Detroit’s racial composition began to change. One of the places that was apparent was in the city’s public school system. The NAACP filed a suit challenging lawmakers on the issue, alleging that school inequality reflected the various housing policies and economic redlining present in the city. The key question: How do you integrate a district that, on its own, is becoming less diverse? The solution, known as interdistrict busing, where Detroit public school students cross city borders to attend schools in the suburbs and vice versa, led to the 1974 US Supreme Court case known as Milliken v. Bradley. Peter Hammer, law professor and director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, says the NAACP argued that school integration could never occur where those discriminatory factors are present. “Nobody historically argues about the fact that there was discrimination,” says Hammer. ”The whole controversy in Milliken deals with the remedy.” WDET’s Alex McLenon spoke with Hammer about Milliken v. Bradley, the evolution of regional busing in southeast Michigan, and the lasting legacy of the decision on Detroit Public Schools.
  • Make antitrust democratic again!
    Sanjukta Paul, assistant professor of law at Wayne State University, and Sandeep Vaheesan, legal director at the Open Markets Institute, co-wrote a piece calling on “remaking antitrust law and restoring its historical purpose.”
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    'It's the Neighborhood Watch of 2020,' police say as doorbell cams proliferate
    Recognizing the growing proliferation of home security cameras — in doorbells, on floodlights and porches and at back doors — many law enforcement agencies are jumping on the latest tech bandwagon to spot possible crime trends, share safety information and request videos from app users in an effort to stave off and solve crimes. But Amazon's Ring app (and others like it) and the idea of law enforcement joining the “real-time crime and safety alerts” community is raising concerns about privacy, profiling, less than transparent public-private partnerships and what critics see is another step closer to a Big Brother police state. Peter Henning, law professor and former federal prosecutor, said Ring “plays on people’s fears about home security and so partnering with the police is smart for them. It sends a message we’re here to help, and certainly for the police, anytime they can get video, it’s helpful to them.” Robert Sedler, a constitutional law professor, said that when people are out in public, they should expect their actions can be viewed by others. He said that he’s not troubled by video cameras that observe people in public, saying “it’s in the open.” For example, he said, if police set up a video camera to observe speeders, that’s not a problem. He said he, unlike a lot of civil libertarians, supports the police “as long as they operate within established rules.” However, Sedler said, “we have a right to be secure in our homes."
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    Poll shows Americans believe small businesses can refuse services to Jews, minorities
    Nearly 20 percent of Americans believe small business owners can refuse service to Jews and other minorities based on religious freedom. Back in June of this year, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported a recent poll found that roughly 1 in 5 Americans believe small business owners have the right to decline service to Jews and other minorities if it violates their religious values. Wayne State University Constitutional Law Professor Robert Sedler was not shocked by the data. “It should not be surprising that people who are hostile to gays and lesbians, to minorities, would also be hostile to Jews,” Sedler says. “This should not surprise us. This has always been the case. It is not uncommon for businesses to use religious freedom as a means to defend their discrimination against a differing group.” One example occurred in 2014 when Hobby Lobby was under scrutiny disagreeing with the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide contraceptives, such as an IUD, because the company believed the use of contraceptives resembles an abortion. “The Supreme Court ruled to uphold their claim of religious freedom because as an alternative, Congress simply has the employer notify the insurance company that they’re not covering this and the insurance company will then cover it,” Sedler says. “What you see here is religious groups now using freedom of religion to try to deny women access to contraception,” Sedler says. “You also saw this appear in the bakery case when the baker complained that their religious freedom granted them the right to deny baking a cake for a same-sex couple.”
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    Federal government resumes capital punishment
    On Wednesday, the federal government announced it would resume capital punishment, allowing the federal government to carry out the death penalty after a 16-year lapse. Peter Henning, Wayne State University law professor, was a guest on the Paul W. Smith show talking about the process of resuming capital punishment at the federal level and the potential for legal challenges. Henning pointed out that capital punishment at the federal level has not been carried out since 2001.
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    Michigan Supreme Court hears debate on minimum wage, sick leave laws
    At the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday, an attorney defending actions by Republican lawmakers to weaken citizen-initiated laws to raise the minimum wage and require paid sick leave was asked if he could explain why legislators did it. Attorney John Bursch said he couldn’t answer for certain, though he offered a theory: The GOP-led Legislature recognized that the measures, which had gathered enough signatures to be placed on the ballot last November, would lead to job losses. So they decided that the best outcome for all Michiganders ‒ not just those who signed ballot petitions ‒ was a compromise that limited wage and sick leave benefits as a way to save jobs. Bursch, representing House and Senate Republicans who weakened the proposals, was among several attorneys to argue Wednesday before the state’s high court. The seven justices are considering whether to issue an advisory opinion on the legality of the GOP maneuver: Republican lawmakers adopted the two progressive wage and sick leave proposals last September before the proposals could go to a statewide vote in November. Lawmakers then essentially gutted both measures in December’s lame-duck session, mostly along party-line votes. In the past, when the court has declined to issue opinions, it mostly was because the issues were not considered imminent nor important, said Justin Long, an associate law professor at Wayne State University Law School. “Here, all of the facts and arguments necessary for the Court to make a good decision are in final form, ready for analysis, and the issue will have a substantial effect on the Michigan economy one way or the other,” Long wrote in an email. “So at least the key ingredients for an advisory opinion are present. Of course, it’s always a subjective decision by the Justices to decide whether it makes sense for them to opine or not.”
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    Woman who escaped Nicaragua speaks with Local 4 after winning asylum case in Detroit
    A woman who embarked on a dangerous journey to escape her home country won her asylum case in Detroit. The 27-year-old woman from Nicaragua spoke with Local 4 about her path to asylum, using the alias "Elena." She was placed in several detention centers before she was sent to the Calhoun County Jail in Battle Creek to wait for an answer in her case. The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in Ann Arbor worked on several cases. The organization also connected the women to resources. One of the universities was Wayne State's Law School. "I immediately saw this as a great opportunity to try to help as many people as possible, and that the students would be able to be a big part of that effort," said Sabrina Balgamwalla, the director of Wayne State's Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic. Balgamwalla received a call from the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and told them she had students interested in taking on bond hearing cases. Five of her students worked on six cases. "We get photographs. We get articles, we get letters written by family members, and then we can sometimes translate them and then pass them along to the women at the jail so that they can include it with their asylum applications," she said. The student who fought for Elena's case was Rachel Lerman. "My lawyer, Rachel, told me it was going to be hard on top of all of my problems. The problems in my country are awful. What is happening there [Nicaragua] is the worst thing that can happen to another person. I feel that the journey and the jail stay was hard, but what is happening in my country is worse," said Elena. After waiting in jail for nearly five months, Elena was set free. She won her asylum case in Detroit. 
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    Juneteenth: Freedom's promise is still denied to thousands of blacks unable to make bail
    Matthew Larson, assistant professor of criminal justice, wrote a piece about Juneteenth (June 19) marking “the celebration of the de facto end of slavery in the United States.” (This article is republished from a June 19, 2018 edition of The Conversation). Larson points out, however, that for hundreds of thousands of African-Americans stuck in pretrial detention – accused but not convicted of a crime, and unable to leave because of bail – that promise remains unfulfilled. “While Juneteenth is a momentous day in U.S. history, it is important to appreciate that the civil rights and liberties promised to African-Americans have yet to be fully realized. As legal scholar Michelle Alexander forcefully explains, this is a consequence of Jim Crow laws and the proliferation of incarceration that began in the 1970s, including the increase of people placed in pretrial detention and other criminal justice policies. There are 2.3 million people currently incarcerated in American prisons and jails – including those not convicted of any crime. Black men comprise 40 percent of them, even though they represent just 13 percent of the U.S. population. Larson adds, “Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of black Americans and the long, hard road they were forced to traverse to gain that freedom. But as criminologists like me have maintained time and again, the U.S. criminal justice system remains biased, albeit implicitly, against them.”
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    Step ahead: Former radio talk show host now a ‘LawStart’ student at Wayne State
    Eric Decker once reached a large audience as a radio talk show host under the name Eric Thomas. He launched his career at Banana 101.5, a rock radio station in Flint, then worked all over the country, including several years blogging and hosting at 97.1 The Ticket sports radio station in Southfield where he covered the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons. Now Decker hopes to reach people as an attorney. Recently wrapping up his 1L year at Wayne State University Law School, he is clerking this summer at Maiorana PC, a small patent law firm in St. Clair Shores. “Radio was certainly good preparation for the public speaking aspect of law, but I really benefitted from all the show prep I did over the years,” he says. “The time I spent researching in radio was a good warm up.” A political science major at WSU after studying at Mott Community College and Oakland Community College, Decker is one of two “LawStart” students who were the first in the program to be accepted into Wayne Law. The highly competitive program allows students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to earn both their bachelor's degree and law degree from Wayne State in six years, instead of the usual seven.  
  • As more states create compensation exoneration laws, some run into funding problems
    Richard Phillips was just allocated $1.5 million for three decades that he wrongfully spent in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit, but he’s still going to have to wait a while to see that money. The issue isn’t with his case, but with the money itself: the fund that pays out exoneration compensations in Michigan is nearly empty. Michigan’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act (WICA) went into effect in 2017, and the state has already spent the vast majority of the $6.5 million appropriated to the fund. The fund was set to be refilled with an additional $10 million but that was the target of the state’s new governor’s first line-item veto on a technicality -- though the governor has expressed her support for approving the $10 million appropriation in a separate bill, which those involved believe will come in the next few weeks. But for people close to the exonorees that have not only have spent decades unjustifiably behind bars, but continue to have to fight for compensation, it’s a slap in the face. Marvin Zalman, a Wayne State University criminal justice professor, said that while the details of how newer exoneration compensation laws are ironed out, they should not be addressed in a silo -- as any factors that contribute to the wrongful convictions in the first place should also be addressed. “We should be thinking about these laws," Zalman said. "I certainly don’t want my tax money going into compensating people for wrongs if the wrongs can’t be eliminated."
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    Supreme Court delays redrawing districts in Michigan gerrymandering case
    The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary hold on a federal court order to redraw legislative and congressional districts in Michigan by August. The justices on Friday issued a brief order that stayed the April 25 decision pending the disposition of the appeal of the case or further order by the court. Republican lawmakers two weeks ago filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to suspend the judgment of the lower court, pending the outcome of similar cases that the justices are expected to decide by July. The Supreme Court heard arguments in March in alleged partisan gerrymandering cases from North Carolina and Maryland. The high court's five conservative justices asked at oral arguments whether unelected judges should police the partisan actions of elected officials. The court is simply holding off on the Michigan case, including deciding the appeal, until it rules in the North Carolina and Maryland cases, said Robert Sedler, a constitutional law expert and professor at Wayne State University Law School. "It’s not surprising that the court stayed this case until it decides the cases from North Carolina and Maryland," Sedler said. "That will determine whether the claim in this case — that the Constitution prohibits political gerrymandering — is a viable claim. This is what the court typically does when the result in a lower court case is going to be controlled by cases that the court is already hearing."
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    Wayne Law students honored by National Lawyers Guild
    Two Wayne State University Law School students have been named student honorees by the Michigan and Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Cait De Mott Grady of Ithaca, New York, and Phillip Keller of Frankenmuth, received the honor at the chapter’s 82nd Anniversary Dinner on May 11. Both students graduated Monday, May 13. While at Wayne Law, De Mott Grady was a member of the executive board of Wayne Law’s NLG chapter, a member of the Student Board of Governors and was a junior member on the Mock Trial National Team for the American Association of Justice for the winter semester. In 2018, she was elected student national vice president of the NLG. De Mott Grady is a champion for public interest law. She has interned with the Juvenile Lifer Unit at the State Appellate Defender Office in Detroit and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and has worked for Wayne Law’s Criminal Appellate Practice Clinic and Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.
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    'A giant in law, in civil rights, and in life,' Judge Damon Keith celebrated during funeral service in Detroit
    The late federal Judge Damon J. Keith was laid to rest Monday in Detroit. The Motor City native, civil rights icon, and distinguished jurist passed away at age 96 on April 28. His life and legacy were celebrated during a funeral service at the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church on Detroit's west side. “Damon Keith was a giant in law, in civil rights, and in life," said Dr. M. Roy Wilson, President of Wayne State University, one of Keith's alma maters. A grandson of slaves., Keith died as a celebrated federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was nominated for that position in 1977. Many of his milestone decisions were mentioned during his funeral service Monday, including those that put him at odds with people in power at the time. Keith fought racial discrimination in public housing, schools and police departments.
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    Power play: Hockey player takes aim on a legal career
    A former University of Michigan hockey player, Wayne State University law student Max Shuart likens preparing for a test to preparations to a hockey game—“Down to having a pre-game meal and listening to music before an exam to get pumped up,” he explains. “Along with that, I’ve found that being competitive, prepared to work hard, and managing time properly have been extremely helpful in the first year of law school, which is often very demanding and time intensive.” Approaching the end of his 1L year at Wayne Law, Shuart will spend this summer as a Levin Center legal intern working on the House of Representatives Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight in the nation’s capital. “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to continue developing my legal skills and represent Wayne State, Detroit and Michigan while working alongside people who day after day want to make the world a better place,” he says. In his upcoming 2L year, Shuart will serve as vice president of the school’s Federalist Society, which brings in speakers for dialogue on various topics; he also is a member of the Entrepreneurship & Business Law Society, which recently brought in a panel of Michigan lawyers to discuss their practices and career paths. “All of the people at Wayne Law make it a great place, from professors to students,” he says. “I’m pleasantly surprised to not have any 1L horror stories about any professors, they all conducted class each day in a way that was never too daunting while maintaining high expectations.”   
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    Leaders pay respects to late Judge Damon Keith
    Federal Judge Damon Keith of Detroit died Sunday morning at 96. Dignitaries from around Michigan weighed in to offer their respects. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson: "It’s a sad day. Judge Damon Jerome Keith passed away earlier today, and we are all mourning the loss of this outstanding civil rights pioneer, federal judge and great friend of Wayne State. I had the honor of being sworn in as the 12th president of Wayne State University by Judge Keith, but it meant even more to me to have met the man..."
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    Places, programs named in honor of Judge Damon Keith
    Federal judge and civil rights icon Damon Keith, who died Sunday morning at age 96, left a legacy well beyond the ground-breaking decisions he made from the bench during his career. Keith — who more than five decades on the federal bench first as a  U.S. District Court judge and later on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals — ruled in several high-profile cases during his tenure, including the desegregation of Pontiac schools, President Richard Nixon's and U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell's wiretapping of student radicals in Ann Arbor and against deportation hearings held in private. While Keith may be gone, his legacy lives on. Here are the buildings and programs named in his honor: Damon J. Keith Scholarship. 
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    Wayne Law sex trafficking program draws large crowd
    The conference “(S)exploiting the Vulnerable: Empowering Future Legal Advocates,” held April 12 at Wayne State University Law School, attracted more than 300 attendees from a variety of disciplines including, law, social work, law enforcement and non-profits. Planned and coordinated by Wayne State Assistant Professor Blanche Cook and law students Taylor Hilton, Ben VanSlyke, Lydia Mikail, Rebecca Bundy, and Elisabeth Moore, the event opened with remarks by WSU Law School Dean Richard Bierschbach about the issues of sex trafficking and how future legal advocates can make a change by bringing light to this topic. Wayne Law alumna Angela Povilatis from the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, and Kim Trent from the WSU Board of Governors spoke about the growing world of sex trafficking and how the legal community can work to combat this practice. 
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    (Sex)ploiting the vulnerable
    "Ours is a society that craves vulnerable flesh,” says Blanche Cook, an assistant professor at Wayne State University Law School and a leading national expert on sex-trafficking prosecutions and the commercialization and exploitation of females. Cook, previously an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Nashville, Tenn., specializing in large-scale drug and sex-trafficking prosecutions, is helping organize an April 12 conference, “(S)exploiting the Vulnerable: Empowering Future Legal Advocates to Combat Sex Trafficking.” “Unlike other sex trafficking conferences, Wayne Law’s conference centralizes the point of view of the survivor and uses that point of view to critique the legal process,” Cook says. Cook notes sex trafficking, that victimizes both children and adults, has reached epidemic proportions. Homeless youth, victims of discrimination or domestic violence, and asylum-seekers are frequent targets, and the Internet and substance dependency makes vulnerable people easy prey, often through force, fraud, or coercion. “Sex trafficking is omnipresent and always has been,” Cook says. “Vulnerability is the lynchpin—or epicenter—of exploitation. Geographic location is peripheral, vulnerability is key. “Large scale events like trade shows, where there is disposable cash, large crowds, and an abundance of recreational time and party-like atmosphere are often a recipe for commercialized sex disaster. Vulnerability combined with domination and control by reducing human beings to commodities to be bought and sold on an open market are the essence of commercialized sex.” 
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    Two Generations of Levins Talk State of American Politics on Detroit Today
    The Levin family is one of the most powerful political dynasties in the history of Michigan — and, perhaps, the United States. Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin is one of the longest-serving members of the Senate. Now, his nephew, Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) is one of the newest members of Congress. Both Levins appeared on “Detroit Today” for separate conversations about the state of politics in America. Carl Levin will be a featured speaker today at an event organized by the Journal of Law in Society and the Levin Center at Wayne Law. The event — “Gerrymandering: The Power of Boundaries” — will convene national experts including Sen. Levin to talk about the practice of partisan drawings of political lines. 
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    Uber under the antitrust microscope: Is there a 'firm exemption' to antitrust?
    In a new article titled “Antitrust As Allocator of Coordination Rights,” Wayne State University Assistant Professor of Law Sanjukta Paul explains that antitrust law allocates the right to coordinate decisions such as pricing or output across economic agents, and does so favorably for large powerful firms but unfavorably for workers’ organizations and small businesses or “micro-enterprises.” The ostensible basis to prefer coordination by large firms is promoting competition through the pursuit of efficiency. But even that basis, Paul argues, fails to explain many antitrust decisions that yield significant coordination rights to large firms while undermining competition via concentrating power. To reach parity of treatment between these varieties of coordination, Paul calls for liberalizing horizontal coordination rights beyond firm boundaries while providing mechanisms for public oversight.
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    Is President Trump's emergency declaration for a border wall legal?
    Constitutional law expert Robert A. Sedler wrote an op-ed about President Donald Trump’s executive declaration. Sedler wrote: “In the months ahead, there will be a plethora of commentary about the President’s declaration of a national emergency to obtain funding for his long-promised border wall. Ultimately, the questions we examined here will be resolved within the framework of the American constitutional and judicial system.”
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    Wayne State University has lowest law school tuition, high success rate
    Thinking about going to law school in Michigan? Wayne State University is worth a look. An investigation by the USA Today Network looked into passage rates for the bar exam at U.S. law schools, including those in Michigan. The network looked at each school's share of 2015 graduates who passed the bar within two years. The data shows that of the five law schools in Michigan, Wayne State University Law School has the lowest annual tuition, $31,956, but one of the highest rates for students passing the bar — 96 percent.