Law School Conducts Professionalism Program

Incoming students participate in first-ever professionalism oath and pinning ceremony

Associate Justice Ann Hannaford Lamar, of the Mississippi Supreme Court, delivers the keynote address to incoming UM law students during the annual James O. Dukes Law School Professionalism Program. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

Associate Justice Ann Hannaford Lamar, of the Mississippi Supreme Court, delivers the keynote address to incoming UM law students during the annual James O. Dukes Law School Professionalism Program. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law recently hosted a number of judges and lawyers from across Mississippi during the annual James O. Dukes Law School Professionalism Program, a half-day program conducted by the Mississippi Bar Association as part of fall orientation.

After the program concluded, incoming law students participated in a ceremony that included an oath of professionalism. They also received a School of Law lapel pin as a symbol of their pledge to maintain the highest standards throughout their careers. This is the first year for the ceremony, which law school administrators plan to make an annual tradition.

The Dukes Professionalism Program, which began in 1999, is named for former bar president James O. “Jimmy” Dukes, who had a vision for mentoring law students on professionalism.

“Jimmy was instrumental in helping the bar and our profession focus on the importance of high standards and civility in our practice,” said W. Briggs Hopson, III, president of the Mississippi Bar Association, addressing the first-year students.

“It’s never too early to start talking about the importance of professionalism. The challenges that we face as attorneys are the same challenges that you will face as a law student.”

Associate Justice Ann Hannaford Lamar, of the Mississippi Supreme Court, delivered the keynote address of the Aug. 18 program.

“I hope you all recognize that this is a calling,” she said. “Those of us who have the privilege to be a part of this profession know that it is an honorable profession with the highest tradition of service to our communities and to our fellow man. Lawyers are confidants, and they are counselors who represent clients during the most difficult times of their lives.”

Incoming students in the UM School of Law take a professionalism oath at this year's orientation session for first-year students. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

Incoming students in the UM School of Law take a professionalism oath at this year’s orientation session for first-year students. UM photo by Jordan Thomas

As part of the Dukes Professionalism Program, students participated in breakout sessions, facilitated by lawyers and judges from across the state. The students were given real-world scenarios and asked how they would handle the situation.

“Take a good look at these distinguished judges and lawyers who have taken the day out of their very busy practice to come to Oxford and to take part in this professionalism program,” Lamar said. “They are here to help you understand that ethics and civility and professionalism are not just buzzwords that we use. They are what we strive for in our profession.”

Following the sessions, students and facilitators enjoyed a luncheon sponsored by the Ole Miss Law Alumni Chapter.

Afterward, first-year students participated in the inaugural pinning ceremony. Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs, incorporated the oath and pinning with orientation for several reasons.

“It’s important to stress why being professional, courteous, and trustworthy is so important to the legal community,” Edmondson explained. “Attorneys represent clients’ interests; an attorney’s own reputation should not hinder the ability to represent the client effectively.

“Furthermore, we are a self-regulating profession. Attorneys must conduct themselves and hold other attorneys to high standards. Finally, professionalism begins from day one of law school. A student’s legal reputation begins at orientation, and we felt that the professionalism oath put them on notice of what is expected in the legal profession.”

UM Professors Named National Public Justice Trial Lawyers of the Year

Cliff Johnson and Jacob Howard honored for role in ending unfair bail practices

Cliff Johnson

Cliff Johnson

OXFORD, Miss – Cliff Johnson and Jacob Howard, professors in the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law, are among a team of lawyers that received the 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.

The award is given annually by Public Justice, a national nonprofit firm aimed at ending injustice in the courts.

The group earned the title for their litigation work ending illegal money bail practices in various municipalities, including the Gulf Coast town of Moss Point. The MacArthur Justice Center and Equal Justice Under Law, a nonprofit civil rights organization in Washington, D.C., filed a federal civil rights class action lawsuit challenging Moss Point’s money bail system, which kept many defendants jailed while awaiting misdemeanor trials because they could not afford to pay their bail.

“The law school is so proud of the work that Cliff, Jake and the MacArthur Justice Clinic are doing,” said Deborah Bell, UM law dean. “The impact on Mississippi’s low-income community is profound, and the litigation has ripple effects across the country as well, as this award recognizes.”

The full team consisted of Johnson, Howard, Alec Karakatsanis, Matthew Swerdlin, J. Mitch McGuire, William M. Dawson, Thomas B. Harvey, Michael-John Voss, Katie M. Schwarzmann, Eric A. Foley and William P. Quigley. The award was presented July 24 at Public Justice’s Annual Gala & Awards Dinner in Los Angeles.

“This award is not the end of the story,” said Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center. “This is an ongoing challenge to the abusive money bail system.”

The bail system in Mississippi is flawed, Johnson said.

Jake Howard

Jake Howard

“Bail is used for the purpose of making sure you don’t flee the jurisdiction of a court,” he said. “The way bail is supposed to work requires courts to receive evidence and undertake an individualized analysis of whether or not a defendant actually is a flight risk.

“In misdemeanor cases, it is exceedingly rare for a defendant to skip town or otherwise fail to appear. Moreover, there is no evidence that paying money to a bail bondsman makes it more likely that a person will show up for court.”

All too often in Mississippi, bail is determined based on a fixed schedule that does not take into account an individual’s ability to pay, Johnson said. If a defendant can pay the full amount, he will get his money back when he appears in court.

Defendants also have the option of paying a nonrefundable percentage of the bail amount to a bail bondsman who will post bail for them. Many defendants in misdemeanor cases cannot afford to pay anything, so they sit in jail until their trial.

“These cases have gotten national attention in part because they expose widespread violations of very clear legal principles regarding the proper use of bail and the incarceration of individuals solely because they are poor,” Johnson said. “But for so long, we have been accepting this misuse of bail that results in the incarceration of tens of thousands of poor people without asking the simple questions: When did we start getting this so wrong? Why are we imposing bail in every single case?”

A settlement was reached in November, and Moss Point agreed to stop the practice that routinely jailed poor defendants. The MacArthur Justice Center also recently settled a case against the city of Jackson that resulted in the elimination of money bail in misdemeanor cases there.

The movement is gaining traction throughout the state, Howard said.

“I think that people are starting to realize that it’s a bad policy, and it’s expensive for municipalities and counties to incarcerate people pre-trial,” he said. “The only people benefiting are bail bondsmen. People are starting to realize that we’re using this system just because we’ve always done it this way. The District of Columbia has had a presumption of release for years, and their system is very successful.”

The group is continuing to investigate bail practices throughout the state and anticipates filing litigation against other municipalities, Johnson said.

“Part of what is most gratifying and significant about our work is that we were on the front end of what is snowballing into something really big and really important, and it’s the topic of a lot of conversations nationally,” he said.

The only other country that uses commercial bail bond companies is the Philippines. While most of the United States uses this system, its consequences are felt more in poorer areas such as Mississippi, Johnson said.

“We have more people as a percentage of the population who can’t make bail even when it’s small,” he said. “The significance of incarceration is something we talk about a lot.

“Many studies show that even if you spend only three days in jail, the consequences are severe: you lose your job, you lose your housing. So we’re reminding people constantly that after just three days, things start to unravel, and that’s very bad news for defendants and the communities in which they live.”

The intersection of poverty and the criminal justice system is a focus for the MacArthur Justice Center, which opened at the law school in fall 2014, Howard said.

The center advocates for human rights and social justice through litigation, focusing on issues such as access to counsel, police misconduct, wrongful search and seizure, conditions of confinement and juvenile justice. Students participate in all aspects of the center’s litigation, including case selection, witness interviews, research, discovery and assistance trials.

For more information on the Public Justice Trial Lawyers of the Year Award, visit For more information on the MacArthur Justice Center, visit

New Parental Rights Legislation Designed by UM Law School Team

Law addresses concerns highlighted in landmark case, helps provide better results for children

Members of the TPR Study Group with Gov. Phil Bryant. (L-R): Randy Pierce, Mississippi Judicial College (MJC) director; Patti Marshall, Miss. Attorney General’s Office; Bill Charlton, MJC staff attorney; Gov. Phil Bryant; Carole Murphey, MJC staff attorney; David Calder, associate clinical professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law; Judge John Hudson, Jurist in Residence; and Judge Tom Broome, Rankin County Court judge. Photo by Beverly Kraft, PIO of the Mississippi Administrative Offices of the Court.

Members of the TPR Study Group with Gov. Phil Bryant (from left): Randy Pierce, Mississippi Judicial College director; Patti Marshall, Miss. attorney general’s office; Bill Charlton, MJC staff attorney; Bryant; Carole Murphey, MJC staff attorney; David Calder, associate clinical professor at the UM School of Law; Judge John Hudson, jurist in residence; and Judge Tom Broome, Rankin county court judge. Photo by Beverly Kraft/Mississippi Administrative Offices of the Court

OXFORD, Miss. – On April 18, Gov. Phil Bryant signed the Termination of Parental Rights Act, a piece of legislation proposed by the Termination of Parental Rights Study Group and designed by a team assembled by the University of Mississippi School of Law.

The Parental Rights Study Group was convened at the suggestion of Chief Justice William Waller Jr. and chaired by former Associate Justice Randy Pierce, who is director of the Mississippi Judicial College, a division of the UM School of Law tasked with educating and training Mississippi judges and court personnel.

“After the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in the Chism v. Bright case, it became necessary for the Legislature to modify the then-existing statutes to provide a workable framework in termination cases,” Pierce said. “I was on the court when Chism was handed down and agreed with that decision, as did a unanimous court.

“However, the case magnified a need to study the TPR statutes. Chief Justice Waller asked me to chair a study group and to invite various stakeholders to participate.”

Chism v. Bright essentially reversed a judgment by the Union County Chancery Court that took away parental rights from a father, saying all the prerequisites had not been met to do so. It also upheld the idea that there should be strict standards to apply when terminating the rights of parents.

The study group members included David Calder, UM law professor and director of the school’s Child Advocacy Clinic, and MJC staff attorneys Bill Charlton and Carole Murphey. In addition to resolving the concern raised in Chism, the study group sought to clarify other aspects of TPR cases and improve the fairness and efficiency of those proceedings.

Based on the study group’s recommendations, Charlton worked closely with Calder and Murphey to draft the proposed legislation. Calder provided a practitioner’s viewpoint in shaping the procedures and definitions included in the bill. Murphey assisted in organizing the overall structure of the legislation.

“David Calder, our child advocacy clinical professor, has been a tireless advocate for children for over 20 years,” Said Deborah Bell, dean of the School of Law. “His expertise, research and advice played an important role in the passage of this important legislation.”

The passage of the legislation helps Mississippi take a step toward becoming a model child welfare state, Charlton said.

“It was a special honor serving with the distinguished members of the study group who likewise share that goal, and Justice Pierce’s leadership as chair made it happen,” he said. “All the members of the study group played a significant role in the drafting process. I’m proud that House Bill 1240 passed in both the House and Senate by clear majority votes and with bipartisan support.”

Other study group members were:

  • Eugene Fair, judge of the Mississippi Court of Appeals
  • Cynthia Brewer, chancery court judge
  • Patricia Wise, chancery court judge
  • Tom Broome, county court judge
  • John Hudson, jurist in residence
  • Patti Marshall, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Earl Scales, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Joyce Hill Williams, special assistant Mississippi attorney general
  • Jeffrey Rimes, Taggart, Rimes & Graham PLLC
  • Caryn Quilter, staff attorney at the Mississippi Senate
  • Gwennetta Tatum, staff attorney at the Mississippi House of Representatives

“Playing a role in this endeavor was rewarding and meaningful,” Pierce said. “The Termination of Parental Rights Act work product required an enormous amount of time and effort.

“However, our goal in every case affecting a child is to have the best outcome possible. The new law will help provide better outcomes for children. And for that, I’m grateful to all who came together to get this done.”

Law School Student Publishing Sets New Record

Twenty-eight UM students accept publication offers

A record 28 Mississippi Law Journal student members published this spring.

A record 28 Mississippi Law Journal student members published this spring.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law has enjoyed another banner year for student publishing.

Twenty-eight student members of the Mississippi Law Journal accepted publication offers this spring, with a record 16 of those offers coming from outside journals such as the Gonzaga Law Review, the South Dakota Law Review, the Southern Methodist University Journal of Air Law and Commerce, and the Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy.

Last year, 10 students published externally, with another 19 publishing with the Mississippi Law Journal.

“I think this success speaks to our students’ abilities,” said Ben Cooper, associate dean for academic affairs. “It is quite an achievement for our students to get their articles published in outside law journals where they are competing with law professors, practicing lawyers and judges for publication slots.”

This publishing success is direct result of the Mississippi Law Journal’s rigorous comment development program, a writing program for the journal’s second-year members, who must author articles for potential publication as part of their membership on the journal.

The comment program is run by third-year journal members C.J. Robison and Merry Johnson, who serve as executive notes and comments editors. The comment program provides students with structure and guidance from faculty, third-year-law mentors and their second-year peers.

The writing process starts at the beginning of the fall semester and ends in February. Students attend MLJ seminars, discuss paper topics, create outlines, write drafts and finally submit their finished work to various journals. Most students also write in conjunction with writing courses taught by faculty.

The journal’s success in publishing is a testament to the school’s commitment to both teaching and research, Robinson said. Publishing can be a challenge, especially externally.

“A lot of outside journals will not publish student-written pieces” Robinson said. “They want a practitioner or professor.”

“I think our success in publishing is primarily attributable to two factors,” Cooper said. “First, the hard work and dedication of our students. Completing a comment worthy of publication requires a lot of hard work.

“Second, Professor Jack Nowlin’s outstanding and innovative Academic Legal Writing class. Professor Nowlin has put tremendous effort into developing that class and untold hours helping students improve their comments.”

Nowlin, the school’s associate dean and MLJ faculty adviser, heads Academic Legal Writinga special writing seminar for second-year journal students. Each year, the seminar coordinates with the journal’s comment program, instructs half the journal’s econd-year-law members and helps train students for later third-year editorial work.

Nowlin is a strong supporter of student publishing.

“Student scholarship is very important,” Nowlin said. “It’s a chance as a student to really enter the world of the legal profession and influence law and public policy. And the skills the students learn – research, writing and argument – serve them well for the rest of their careers. The publication credential is also a big help with employment.”

Besides the Academic Legal Writing class, the school offers writing seminars on a variety of other topics such as criminal law, constitutional law, intellectual property, civil rights, international trade and aviation law.

“Our faculty’s dedication to student scholarship has been a major foundation of our success,” Nowlin said.

Cate Rodgers, a second-year law student and new editor-in-chief of the Mississippi Law Journal, is publishing her article with University of Denver’s Transportation Law Journal.

“A publication credential has many benefits,” Rodgers said. “On a personal level, a publication enhances your resume and sets you apart in the job market. There is also a level of prestige attached to an external publication specifically because the student competes on a level playing field with practitioners and professors.”

A list of students who published, with their paper titles and a link to their articles on SSRN, can be found on the Intellectual Life section of the law school website.

To learn more about student scholarship, please visit the Student Scholarship page on the Intellectual Life section of the website.

Business Law Network to Host Spring Conference

Event to feature CLE credit, reception

bus law conferenceOXFORD, Miss. – The Business Law Network at the University of Mississippi School of Law will host a conference April 22 at Regions Private Wealth Management in Memphis, Tennessee, offering three hours of CLE credit to attendees.

The conference and CLE begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by a cocktail reception sponsored by Regions Private Wealth Management, at 6200 Poplar Ave.

The CLE cost is $60 and has been approved both for Mississippi and Tennessee credit.

“We are very excited to finish the school year with our Business Law Network Conference and CLE,” said Gregory Alston, the network’s CEO. “This is the first time in the history of the Business Law Network that the network has expanded out of state for our annual conferences and CLEs, and we are very appreciative of Regions for sponsoring this event.”

Registration will begin at 1 p.m. Participants should RSVP to Alston at

The Business Law Network’s mission is to connect students who have an interest in business law with practicing business law attorneys. The Business Law Network is composed of more than 50 student members of the Ole Miss law school.

For more information, visit

Czarnetzky Named UM’s Teacher of the Year

'Kind, considerate and engaging' law professor receives 2016 Elsie M. Hood Award

UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter (right) congratulates John Czarnetzky at the university's annual Honors Day Convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter (right) congratulates John Czarnetzky at the university’s annual Honors Day Convocation at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – John Czarnetzky does more than teach the law; he infects his students with his enthusiasm for it.

The Mitchell, McNutt and Sams Lecturer at the University of Mississippi School of Law, Czarnetzky is known as a great communicator who earns praises for his ability to engage students in complicated subject matter and nuances of the law, UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter said Thursday evening (April 7).

For this, his passion and dedication to teaching, Czarnetzky has been awarded the 2016 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award, presented by Vitter during the 73rd annual Honors Day Convocation. Czarnetzky, who has taught undergraduate students as well as law students, was honored and humbled.

“I was in the car with my dear wife, and became emotional when the chancellor called and told me I was to receive the Elsie Hood award,” he said. “I am privileged to know a number of previous winners, from longtime colleagues at the law school through Bob Brown, last year’s winner. I was humbled deeply, and still have trouble believing, that with this award I am being grouped with those outstanding professors and colleagues.”

Colleagues affirmed that Czarnetzky is a perfect choice for the honor.

“John Czarnetzky is widely regarded as one of the law school’s best teachers,” said Debbie Bell, the school’s interim dean. “He is a spellbinding speaker and gifted teacher, with the added benefit of being one of the most entertaining lecturers I have ever heard. His students sing his praises. Being named as the Elsie M. Hood Award recipient is a well-deserved recognition.”

Czarnetzky joined the law faculty in 1994, after practicing bankruptcy and commercial law in Chicago and in Richmond, Virginia. He has been honored as outstanding professor four times by the law student body and serves as an adviser to several student organizations and to the Business Law Institute, an innovative collaboration between students and faculty that provides opportunities for students to develop skills in corporate, commercial, tax and business law.

The professor says this is the highest honor he could hope to receive.

“It always seemed out of reach for me,” he said. “Receiving it is the capstone of my 22 years here at the University of Mississippi, an institution I love. Going forward, my task will be to live up to this high honor.”

Students cited Czarnetzky’s enthusiasm and ability to stimulate a classroom amongst his traits that make him a great teacher.

“Few individuals have the ability to not just teach the law, but to animate the law,” one student wrote in a nomination letter. “His passion for the law and for the subject he is teaching is evident from the first moment of each class session, when he comes bounding into the classroom with a textbook – or nowadays, Kindle – tucked under his arm and a grin on his face.”

Another student called him “by far the most kind, considerate, engaging professor I have had throughout my undergraduate and law school tenure at Ole Miss.”

“The courses he teaches, including bankruptcy, civil procedure and secured transactions, are some of the most complicated ones at the law school, but that they are always in demand because he is such an engaging and effective teacher,” the student continued.

These students’ words are reflective of Czarnetzky’s teaching philosophy, which he says he’s developed over his tenure.

“My approach is to treat students as adults unless they are determined to prove me wrong, and to model civility and professionalism in the service of intellectual rigor,” he said. “I try to impart to students my enthusiasm for the subjects I teach and, perhaps more importantly, my dedication to them as persons.

“I also think a bit of humor in the classroom helps avoid the trap of taking ourselves too seriously all the time, whether in the classroom or in life. I am deeply gratified that students believe they benefit from my approach.”

Czarnetzky holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from M.I.T., where he was an offensive tackle on the football team. He served in the U.S. Army as a chemical officer and intelligence analyst before obtaining his law degree from the University of Virginia. He also served as executive editor of the Virginia Law Review and editor of the Virginia Journal of Environmental Law.

He was the first law professor invited to teach in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and helped establish a partnership between the two schools.

“He inspired a love of debating and defending my ideas, and empowered me to continue challenging my and others’ ideas throughout my life,” wrote a student in his Honors 102 class.

“He’s always available, and always has a smile on his face,” said Jess Waltman, law school student body president who also took several courses from Czarnetzky as an undergraduate honors student. “He genuinely cares about our students and our school and wants it to be the best it can be.”

In addition, Czarnetzky serves as a legal adviser to the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations. He has represented the Holy See in negotiations including the establishment of the International Criminal Court and several international treaties, including one on the rights of persons with disabilities.

His scholarly interests are bankruptcy, commercial and international law. Czarnetzky has published in the Notre Dame Law Review, Fordham Law Review and Arizona State Law Journal, and his scholarship also has explored the intersection of Catholic social theory and American corporate and commercial law.

Czarnetzky is married to Sylvia Robertshaw Czarnetzky, an Episcopal priest in the Delta town of Cleveland, where they reside.

Each year since 1966, the university has recognized excellence in teaching by presenting the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award. Based on nominations from both students and faculty, the award includes a personal plaque and a check from the chancellor. Recipients’ names are also engraved on a plaque listing previous winners, which is displayed in the university’s J.D. Williams Library.

UM Named Among Top 25 Law Schools for Practical Training

Rankings based on clinical experience, externships and other 'learn by doing' methods

The spring 2016 issue of the National Jurist magazine named the University of Mississippi School of Law among the top 25 nationally for practical training available to students.

The spring 2016 issue of the National Jurist magazine named the School of Law among the top 25 nationally for practical training available to students.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law has been named among the top 25 nationally for practical training available to students by The National Jurist magazine.

The publication crunched the numbers for all the schools’ statistics and issued a report card in its spring 2016 issue, awarding the Ole Miss law school an A- rating, placing 19th in the nation.

“Our multifaceted skills training program is one of the great strengths of the UM School of Law,” said Debbie Bell, the school’s interim dean. “We offer students opportunities to ‘learn by doing’ through in-house clinics, externships, practicums, simulation courses, the Skill Session and advocacy programs. I am so glad that the scope of our program has been recognized nationally.”

The School of Law has nine in-house clinics, including Child Advocacy, Criminal Appeals, Elder Law, Housing Clinic, MacArthur Justice Clinic, the George C. Cochran Innocence Project, the “Street Law” Clinic, Transactional Law Clinic, the Clinical Externship Program and the Pro Bono Initiative. The Pro Bono Initiative was recently honored by the Mississippi Volunteer Project’s Beacon of Justice Award for public service.

Additionally, two practicums, Tax and Conflict Management, offer law students opportunities to learn through experience, providing income tax assistance for low-income families and learning to resolve disputes between undergraduate students. The Tax Practicum won the 2015 Beacon of Justice Award.

The magazine used data provided by the American Bar Association and individual schools to compile the rankings, which are based on five categories: clinical experience, externships, simulation courses, interschool competitions and other course offerings.

“We look at a number of factors, including which schools have the greatest percentage of students in clinics, externships and simulation courses,” the report said. “We also look at the most robust moot court options.

“However, this year, we also wanted to showcase how these programs do more than just get students out of sterile classrooms and away from their favorite Starbucks.”

Clinical experience was weighted the highest because it provides “particularly practical training,” the report said. Externships and simulations courses were also lauded for helping students develop professional skills.

“The (clinics) provide a great opportunity to experience the real-world practice of law with an actual client in need of representation,” said third-year student Derek Goff. “No traditional case book course allows a student to take on the role of a zealous advocate and hone essential (law practice) skills. The clinical programs are a great resume builder, but more importantly, they offer the unique chance for students to help clients in need.”

The Ole Miss law school also has enjoyed notable success in moot court competitions, collecting eight national competition championships in two years, including back-to-back championships in the Pace Environmental Law competition and, most recently, the Tulane Professional Football Negotiation Competition.

The School of Law is a world leader in air and space law training, offering an LL.M. program in the field. One of the school’s moot court teams won the international championship in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition, held in Jerusalem in October 2015.

Law School to Host Expungement Clinic

MVLP and the Magnolia Bar sponsoring the free service

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, the Magnolia Bar Association and the University of Mississippi Black Law Students Association are sponsoring a free Expungement Clinic to assist low-income residents in Lafayette County.

The clinic is set for April at the UM School of Law and is limited to the first 15 people who call to set up appointments. To see if you qualify for an expungement and to schedule your appointment, call the MVLP at 1-800-682-0047, option 2. The office will take appointments 9 a.m.-noon weekdays through Wednesday (March 30). 

The MVLP is a 501(c) (3) legal nonprofit entity, which has partnered with the Mississippi Bar Association and the Legal Services Corp. to provide free legal services to low-income residents of Mississippi for more than 30 years.

The project assists clients with civil legal matters, primarily in the areas of uncontested divorces, emancipations, simple wills, adoptions, guardianships, name changes, birth certificate corrections, child support contempt matters, child support modifications, conservatorships and visitation matters.

For more information on MVLP or the legal clinics, call 601-960-9577, ext. 103, or visit

UM Law Students Win Second Straight Pace Competition

Triumph is school's 12th national or world title since 2011

John Juricich, Professor David Case, and Mary Margaret Roark

John Juricich (left) and Mary Margaret Roark (right) with their coach, David Case

OXFORD, Miss. –Mary Margaret Roark and John Juricich, both third-year students in the University of Mississippi School of Law, have won this year’s Jeffrey G. Miller Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, held Feb. 18-20 at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York.

The win marks the second consecutive national title for the pair and the third straight for the law school.

In addition, the win means the Ole Miss law school has claimed five of the last six Pace competitions. It’s also the school’s 12th national or world advocacy title since 2011.

“Having two second-year students win a competition like Pace and then return to win the competition again as third-year students is absolutely amazing,” said David Case, UM professor of law and team coach. “I’m pretty sure that has never happened in the 28-year history of the Pace competition.”

Roark, of Cleveland, and Juricich, of Anniston, Alabama, competed against more than 50 law schools from around the country, beating the University of Alabama and University of Houston in the final round. The team won the Best Brief – Petitioner (Save Our Climate) award and Juricich was awarded runner-up Best Oralist for the competition.

The Pace competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country. It provides a rigorous academic experience, testing skills in appellate brief writing and oral advocacy, involving issues drawn from real cases, and providing first-hand experience in environmental litigation.

“This year, there were six issues to argue for three different parties, and more teams were going noteless,” Roark said. “The teams were definitely better in terms of performance.”

Overall, the competition requires intense preparation, including researching and analyzing challenging legal environmental issues, writing persuasive arguments about how the issues should be resolved, arguing the issues orally and having their performances evaluated and critiqued by practicing attorneys at the competition.

The Ole Miss team began writing its brief in October. After filing it in November, they began practicing oral arguments intensely with their coaches.

“We prepared the same, but we were more relaxed because we knew what it took to achieve the end result,” Juricich explained. “We were able to more efficiently use our time.”

Judging this year’s championship round were Steven M. Colloton, a judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; Lynn Adelman, judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; Malachy E. Mannion, judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; and Beth Ward, judge on the Environmental Appeals Board for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Stephanie Showalter Otts, UM professor of law and also an expert in environmental law, helped Case coach the team.

A benefit to participating in a competition of this nature is the payoff it provides students after graduation. Both students said it helped them find their niche.

“It helped me find a joy and thrill in litigation,” Juricich said.

“I started off not having any interest in environmental law, but I grew to love it,” Roark said. “It’s made me want to pursue a career in environmental law, in regulatory administrative work.

“I’ve learned how to tackle issues I might know nothing about, meet deadlines and have picked up certain writing skills I would not have had.”

For more information on the Pace competition, visit the school’s website.

National Sea Grant Law Center Helps with Ocean Debris Legal Research

Project may help speed removal of abandoned and lost fishing equipment

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Fishing for Energy Partnership has provided a $45,000 grant to the NSGLC at the University of Mississippi School of Law for the work.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishing for Energy Partnership has provided a $45,000 grant to the NSGLC at the University of Mississippi School of Law for the work.

OXFORD, Miss. – Abandoned and lost fishing gear can cause tremendous damage to marine creatures, but the laws and regulations concerning the removal of derelict gear vary widely. The National Sea Grant Law Center is helping eliminate the confusion in one region of the country and expedite cleanup efforts.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishing for Energy Partnership has provided a $45,000 grant to the NSGLC at the University of Mississippi School of Law for the work. The NSGLC project, “Increasing Awareness of the Legal Framework Governing Removal of Marine Debris and Placement of Fishing Gear in the New England Region,” will help New England managers to assess the feasibility of implementing innovative derelict fishing gear removal strategies in their states.

“Our work is unique,” said Stephanie Showalter Otts, NSGLC director. “Rather than conducting research to build the strongest argument to achieve our client’s goal, we work with partners to solve challenging management problems through the provision of nonadvocacy research and outreach services on range of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources.”

The NSGLC is a leading resource for research on marine aquaculture, aquatic invasive species and public access to beaches.

Lost nets and other heavy fishing equipment can damage ecosystems as they are moved by tides and waves along the sea floor. They also can affect navigational safety, damage active fishing equipment and boats, and cause economic repercussions for coastal industries and communities across the country.

The laws and regulations governing the removal of abandoned fishing gear vary by fishery and state. The NSGLC will provide information on the legal framework governing derelict fishing gear removal and how existing state marine debris programs are authorized.

The NSGLC also will partner with the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program at the Roger Williams University School of Law to perform research on vessel navigation laws and restrictions on the placement of commercial fishing gear within shipping and boating lanes.

“This research is essential for the development of proactive programs in the region,” Otts said. The two-year project will provide marine debris managers with the information they need to undertake desired legal reforms and implement new control strategies, she explained.

The Fishing for Energy Partnership is supported by the Covanta Corp. and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program.

The partnership, launched in 2008, reduces the amount of abandoned fishing gear that accumulates in U.S. coastal waters by offering commercial fishermen a no-cost opportunity to dispose of old, lost or unusable fishing gear at designated locations throughout the country.

Collected gear and debris is recycled and processed to generate electricity at Covanta Energy-from-Waste facilities.

The partnership also awards grants that prevent gear loss, minimize the impact of lost gear and remove derelict gear from the ocean.

For more information on the NSGLC, go to