Ole Miss Law Wins World Championship in Space Law

Team of three students triumphs over groups from India and Greece en route to victory

UM School of Law wins world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem

A team from the UM School of Law wins the world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem.

OXFORD, Miss – The University of Mississippi School of Law has won the world championship at the 2015 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in Jerusalem. The team beat India’s Nalsar University of Law in the semifinals and triumphed over National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, today (Oct. 15) in the final round.

UM is one of three law schools in the world to offer a Master of Laws in Air and Space Law, but the only school to offer a certificate in remote sensing, air and space law at the Juris Doctor level, a distinction that contributed to the team’s success.

“The law school congratulates our team on their truly outstanding accomplishment – the University of Mississippi School of Law’s first international moot court championship,” said Debbie Bell, UM law dean.

“Success like this only further highlights the strength of our advocacy programs and space law program in general.”

The championship team includes Olivia Hoff of Gulfport and C.J. Robison from Lubbock, Texas, both third-year law students in the space law certificate program. Joining them is Ian Perry of Ellis County, Texas, a 2013 J.D. recipient who is working on his space law LL.M., and Michael Dodge, an adjunct assistant UM professor who graduated from the school’s space law program in 2008.

Competing at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the teams each argued a hypothetical case involving an asteroid mining dispute and liability for a failed attempt to divert an asteroid from colliding with the Earth. Three members of the International Court of Justice served as judges for the competition.

In its 24th year, the competition takes place under the guidance of the International Institute of Space Law, headquartered in Paris, and attracts more than 60 law schools from around the globe. Three members of the International Court of Justice served as judges for the competition.

The team won the national championship March 21 at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition at Georgetown University Law Center, which qualified them to compete in the world finals.

“I am so proud of our students,” said Jacquie Serrao, director of the university’s LL.M. program in air and space law. “Their hard work, determination, substantive knowledge and oral and written advocacy skills really set them apart from others in the competition. That, combined with the amazing professors at the law school who contributed so much of their time in mooting our students, really made the difference.”

This victory builds on a string of successes for the Ole Miss law school’s advocacy programs, which include winning the nation’s pre-eminent environmental law moot court competition in February for the fourth time in five years, winning four national championships in 2014 alone, earning a top 18 national ranking for the school’s moot court board in 2014, receiving second place at the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition last fall, and achieving a top-eight finish at the moot court National Championship hosted by the University of Houston Law Center in January.

UM Team Wins North American Championship in Space Law

Title is second major victory for school's moot court teams this year

Ian Perry (left), C.J. Robinson, and Olivia Hoff

Ian Perry (left), C.J. Robinson and Olivia Hoff

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law has won its second national moot court championship for 2015, this time in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Technically, Ole Miss earned the title of North American Champion and with it, the right to represent the continent at the world finals in Jerusalem in October.

“A success like this, in the world’s oldest and most prestigious space law competition, stands out as a highlight on a student’s resume,” Dean Richard Gershon said. “As an international leader in this unique emerging area of law, Ole Miss helps propel students into careers at government agencies like NASA and the CIA, as well as position students for opportunities in the growing private space industry and at companies like Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX.”

This victory, on March 21, builds on a string of successes for the law school’s advocacy programs, which include winning the nation’s pre-eminent environmental law moot court competition for the fourth time in five years, winning four national championships in 2014, earning a top 14 national ranking for the school’s moot court board in 2014, receiving second place at the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition last fall and achieving a top 8 finish at the moot court National Championship in January at the University of Houston Law Center.

As North American space law champions, the Ole Miss team will compete in the world finals against schools from Africa, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Three members of the International Court of Justice will serve as judges and hear arguments in a hypothetical case involving an asteroid mining dispute and liability for a failed attempt to divert an asteroid from colliding with Earth. In its 24th year, the competition takes place under the auspices of the International Institute of Space Law, headquartered in Paris, and attracts more than 60 law schools from around the globe.

On the road to the championship, the UM law school triumphed over a field that included teams from Georgetown, Nebraska, Hawaii, Temple, St. Thomas, Florida State, University of California at Davis, Arizona State, George Washington University, McGill (in Montreal) and Universidad Sergio Arboleda (Bogota, Columbia).

While all these law schools focus on international law, Ole Miss stands out as one of just a few to offer a program devoted to the law governing aviation, space exploration and satellites. In fact, the School of Law pioneered the field of space law over 45 years ago and the New York Times has recognized it as “an international center for space law studies.” The school’s expertise is embodied in its Journal of Space Law, the conferences it hosts, the service of its graduates in the field and in its curricular programs.

Notably, the School of Law features both a J.D.-level certificate program on remote sensing, air and space law, and an advanced LL.M. degree in air and space law. Indeed, Ole Miss offers the only advanced law degree program in the United States combining both aviation law and space law. For more information on these programs, visit http://law.olemiss.edu/academics-programs/llm/ and http://law.olemiss.edu/academics-programs/certificate-programs/remote-sensing-air-space-law-certificate/

The UM championship team includes Olivia Hoff of Gulfport and C.J. Robison from Lubbock, Texas, both second-year law students in the space law certificate program. Joining them is Ian Perry of Ellis County, Texas, a 2013 J.D. recipient who is working on his space law LL.M.

“I believe a great deal of our success stems from our knowledge of general international law and space law,” Robison said. “Ole Miss has some of the best resources and professors in the country for such study. Our success is definitely a testament to the university’s leadership in this area.”

“I am extremely proud of these students,” said Jacquie Serrao, director of the LL.M. program. “I know they will represent North America and our law school brilliantly at the finals in October. C.J., Ian and Olivia are each examples of the caliber of space law scholars and future attorneys which the J.D. and LL.M. programs produce.”

For Hoff, a physics and mathematics graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, the space law certificate program offered a path to become a lawyer while staying focused on the sciences. “To some degree, pursuing the certificate makes me feel as if, even though I changed fields, I am still staying true to my roots.”

The team is coached by Michael Dodge, who graduated from the UM space law program in 2008 and teaches U.S. and international space law at Ole Miss. Joining Dodge as assistant coach is Michael Mineiro, an adjunct professor who holds a J.D. from North Carolina along with an LL.M. and D.C.L. from McGill University, and works on space law issues for numerous federal agencies and international organizations.

“I am tremendously proud of the team’s achievement,” Dodge said. “In the upcoming months, I look forward to working to prepare them for the next stage of the competition. I know they will compete admirably, and skillfully represent the University of Mississippi and its long association with space law.”

Dodge also praised the student body of the space law program and the school’s placement efforts.

“Our professors have decades of contacts in academia, government and private industry,” he said. “Accordingly, many of our graduates have gone on to realize their dreams, working for such diverse employers as NASA, the FAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, congressional offices, Bigelow Aerospace, Spaceport America, consulting firms, higher education and, of course, private law firms.”

Free Family Law Clinic Set for UM

March 26 event provides assistance to north Mississippi residents on variety of legal matters

OXFORD, Miss. – A free family law clinic is set for March 26 at the University of Mississippi School of Law to assist self-represented plaintiffs in completing pleadings and presenting family law matters.

The Family Law Legal Clinic, scheduled for noon to 4 p.m., is conducted in partnership with the Pro Bono Initiative and the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. UM holds the clinic twice a year.

Students participating in the clinic work with local attorneys to assist area residents. Types of cases handled at the clinics are divorce, child custody, child support, guardianship, adoption, name change and emancipation.

Clients who attend the clinic must be residents of Lafayette County or reside in counties within a one-hour radius of Oxford. Clients must also have incomes at or below 200 percent of the poverty level.

Potential clients must call MVLP at 601-960-9577 to determine if they are eligible for the free service. Walk-in appointments are not available.

For more information on the free family law clinic, contact Tommie Jean Brock at tjbrock@olemiss.edu.

Tyner to Lead Higher Education Lawyer Group

UM general counsel to become head of the National Association of College and University Attorneys

UM General Counsel Lee Tyner (left) has been chosen to lead the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

UM General Counsel Lee Tyner (left) has been chosen to lead the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

OXFORD, Miss. – Lee Tyner, general counsel at the University of Mississippi, has been elected board chairman of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, a group of more than 4,000 higher education lawyers across the country. He begins his new role in June.

UM Chancellor Dan Jones said those who have the honor of working with Tyner on a daily basis aren’t surprised by his selection to head a national group of his peers.

“It’s gratifying that his peers have selected him for this large honor and responsibility,” Jones said. “This brings recognition to our friend, Lee, that he deserves and certainly puts our university in the national spotlight. We value leadership and service. We are grateful to Lee for his leadership and service to both Ole Miss and this important national organization.”

Tyner, a Columbus native, earned a bachelor’s degree from UM in 1987 and his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1990. He worked as a litigation attorney for Butler Snow in Jackson for six years before coming back to Ole Miss in 1998. At UM, he worked for Mary Ann Connell, who was the university’s chief legal officer. When she retired in 2003, then-Chancellor Robert Khayat hired Tyner to become her replacement.

Tyner said NACUA is the best professional organization with which he’s ever been involved.

“My primary goal in my year as board chair is to do no harm because it’s such a highly effective, highly functional and healthy professional association,” Tyner said.

He has been active with NACUA for years and said he’s looking forward to leading the impressive group of lawyers from all levels of higher education, representing many universities and community colleges. He’ll assume his duties at the NACUA annual conference in Washington, taking over from the current board chairman, Tom Cline, vice president and general counsel at Northwestern University.

“I was humbled that my colleagues around the country who do what I do would ask that I serve in this way, particularly when I think of the other lawyers who have played this role nationally, whether it’s my mentor, Mary Ann Connell, who served in this role several years ago, or other professionals that I respect so much who have gone before me,” Tyner said.

The group is full of many dedicated professionals with whom Tyner enjoys working, he said.

“The thing about higher education lawyers is they are lawyers who like their job. They’re happy lawyers, which is not always an easy thing to find. They’re typically very interesting people and highly competent people and they are passionate about higher education. It makes for a pretty good combination of colleagues.”

The job of a university lawyer has become more challenging in recent years as federal regulations have become more far-reaching. The vast network of lawyers is a good resource for members of the group because the members have encountered almost any issue that can arise on a college campus, Tyner said. They often talk by phone or through email.

The group doesn’t take positions on issues, but does help other higher education trade groups with issues they encounter, he said.

“We’re trying to be a resource for these other organizations,” Tyner said. “We don’t take positions, but we’re trying to figure out how to have a seat at the table and have healthy discussions of our regulatory climate and how our student experiences are enhanced and not inhibited by that regulatory climate.”

Tyner was chosen for many reasons, including his record of leadership and service to the group, his commitment to its mission and also his modeling of NACUA‘s values of civility and collegiality, said Kathleen Santora, NACUA president and chief executive officerHe’s also always willing to help his colleagues with any issues they encounter, she said.

“Lee is held in the highest regard by NACUA’s members, and election to board leadership is clear evidence of that esteem,” Santora said. “If you ask NACUA members what stands out most about Lee, though, I am virtually certain they would respond that it is the warmth, graciousness and generosity of spirit with which he treats everyone he meets. It is my honor to know and to work with Lee, and we all look forward to working with him when he becomes board chair at the annual conference in late June in Washington.”

Tyner’s former boss, Mary Ann Connell, served in the same role at NACUA in 1999. Connell works in private practice with the Mayo-Mallette firm in Oxford and is still active with the organization. She said she’s also not surprised by the choice.

“He is the most capable person I think I’ve ever known,” Connell said. “He’s an excellent choice to be board chair. He’s a great leader, he’s brilliant, kind, considerate and hardworking. He gets along with people beautifully. He has all the qualities you want in a leader for such a large organization like NACUA.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Give Advice to UM Law Students

Audience gets glimpse of jurists' real character, perspectives on constitutional law

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – United States Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan offered advice Monday (Dec. 15) to law students at the University of Mississippi during a law school event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The justices told the audience of nearly 1,000 about their days at Harvard Law School, their journey to the nation’s highest legal position and their decisions on some of their most interesting cases.

“The moment I arrived (at Harvard), I thought, ‘This was where I want to be,'” Kagan said.

Scalia added that though his time at Harvard wasn’t “warm and fuzzy,” he had a great experience.
“I probably learned as much from my classmates as I did from my professors,” he said.

Although the justices may have differences of opinion, there is no animosity on the court, Scalia said, adding that he and Kagan are good friends.

“If you can’t disagree on the law without taking it personally, find another day job,” he said.

This is the first time two Supreme Court justices have visited the Ole Miss campus together, said Matthew Hall, the law school’s senior associate dean.

“This is one of the branches of the federal government and it’s led by nine people,” Hall said. “Two of them are here at the University of Mississippi. That’s an extraordinary occasion for the university, particularly for the law students who want to hear constitutional law straight from the source.”

Learning about the justices’ personal experiences really resonated for Marie Wicks, an Ocean Springs native and former Miss Mississippi who is in her second year of law school.

“It’s just such an incredible opportunity,” Wicks said. “It was an illuminating experience to have two Supreme Court justices come and visit my school at the point when I’m halfway through law school. It’s one of those experiences that I will never forget.”

Third-year law student Davis Gates, of Byram, enjoyed learning the views the two justices have of the Constitution, as well as experiencing a little bit of their individual characters.

“I’m really happy that I got to see a different side of the justices,” he said. “It really humanized them.”

Gates added that when he arrived at Ole Miss in 2008, he had no idea that he would witness some of the events that have happened on campus.

“I’ve been all across the nation and to D.C. and never once even caught a glimpse of a justice,” he said. “I’ve been here since 2008, since the presidential debate, so in order to continue to be able to have these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities is definitely amazing.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan to Visit UM

Session is free and open to the public, but tickets are required

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law will host two U.S. Supreme Court justices in December for a session open to the general public.

The meeting, titled “A Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Elena Kagan,” will take place at 10 a.m. Dec. 15 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The session will be moderated by Jack Nowlin, associate dean for faculty development and professor of law at the UM School of Law. Nowlin is a constitutional law expert.

“It would be a great day for the law school and university community if we had just one U.S. Supreme Court justice coming,” said Richard Gershon, UM law dean. “It is truly special to have both Justice Kagan and Justice Scalia at Ole Miss. It is an honor for us to have these outstanding jurists here.”

Everyone must have a ticket to attend. There will be no entry after 10 a.m. Parking will be available at the Ford Center.

The event is being made possible by the James McClure Memorial Lectures Endowment. The endowment was established in 1979 by the Hon. James McClure and Mrs. Tupper McClure Lampton to honor their father, James McClure.

Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan. Photo by, The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Photo by the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Elena Kagan, Associate Justice, was born in New York, New York, on April 28, 1960. She received an A.B. from Princeton in 1981, an M. Phil. from Oxford in 1983, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1986. She clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1986-1987 and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 1987 Term. After briefly practicing law at a Washington, D.C. law firm, she became a law professor, first at the University of Chicago Law School and later at Harvard Law School. She also served for four years in the Clinton administration, as associate counsel to the president and then as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy. Between 2003 and 2009, she served as the dean of Harvard Law School. In 2009, President Obama nominated her as the Solicitor General of the United States. After serving in that role for a year, the president nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 10, 2010. She took her seat on August 7, 2010.

Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, March 11, 1936. He married Maureen McCarthy and has nine children: Ann Forrest, Eugene, John Francis, Catherine Elisabeth, Mary Clare, Paul David, Matthew, Christopher James and Margaret Jane. He received his A.B. from Georgetown University and the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School, and was a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University from 1960–1961. He was in private practice in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1961 to 1967, a professor of law at the University of Virginia from 1967 to 1971, and a professor of law at the University of Chicago from 1977 to 1982 and a visiting professor of law at Georgetown University and Stanford University. He was chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law, 1981-1982, and its Conference of Section Chairmen, 1982-1983. He served the federal government as general counsel of the Office of Telecommunications Policy from 1971 to 1972, chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States from 1972 to 1974, and assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1974 to 1977. He was appointed Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982. President Reagan nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat September 26, 1986.

For more information about the event, please visit http://law.olemiss.edu/event/u-s-supreme-court-justices-antonin-scalia-and-elena-kagan/

For more information about Justice Scalia or Justice Kagan, please visit http://www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographies.aspx

For additional inquiries, contact Jenny Kate Luster at 662-915-3424 or jkluster@olemiss.edu.

Students Place Second in National Sports Law Competition

Showing continues string of impressive finishes for law school teams

Matt Peters (left) and John Michael Allen (right) garnered  second place at the 2014 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego.

Matt Peters (left) and John Michael Allen (right) garnered second place at the 2014 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego.

OXFORD,Miss. – Two University of Mississippi School of Law students finished second in the 2014 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego.

Matt Peters of Birmingham, Alabama, and John Michael Allen of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, both third-year students, competed Sept. 19-21 against 36 teams from across the nation.

“I am very proud of the performance by Matthew Peters and John Michael Allen at the 2014 National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego, California,” said Brad Ryan, chair of the law school’s negotiation board. “The continued successes of the Negotiation Board and all of Ole Miss Law’s advocacy boards is a testament to the students’ hard work, faculty members’ coaching and the comprehensive education we receive here in Oxford which allows us to compete with law schools nationwide.”

The competition’s purpose is to give law students a great experience, competition and place to meet like minds in the sports law world, the event’s website notes. It focuses on current issues in the sports world each year and facilitates students, coaches and judges to negotiate and make decisions on sports topics in an academic setting.

“This achievement is especially exciting when combined with the championship success of Drew Taggart and Brad Cook at last year’s Law Meets Transactional Negotiation Competition in New York,” said Brad Daigneault, a third-year law student and secretary of the law school’s negotiation board.

“When the board was created just a few years ago, the members believed that through hard work and proper preparation our members could be competitive with students from all across the country. Our recent successes show how far we have come in a short period of time and we look forward to continuing to compete in various external competitions while representing our law school proudly.”

Peters and Allen competed against two different Florida A&M University College of Law teams in rounds one and two, and against the University of Maryland School of Law in the finals. Round topics included “Preserving Torrey Pines” (City of San Diego vs. Municipal Golf Committee), “Behind the Mask” (World Umpires Union vs. Wilson Equipment) and “Serving up Supplements” (Fabiana Claudino vs. BPI Sports).

“We were judged by reputable business people across California, California state court judges and federal judges,” Peters said. “They all gave us invaluable insights into the real world that we’ll be able to carry forward as we begin to practice.”

Final round judges included Roger T. Benitez, U.S. district judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California; Joan K. Irion, associate justice, Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One, California Court of Appeal; and Browder A. Willis III, superior court judge, Superior Court of California, County of San Diego.

Law School to Host Annual Mississippi Sports Law Review Symposium

Event to focus on modern communications and sports broadcasting

The Sports Law Symposium is hosted annually by the Mississippi Sports Law Review, the only sports legal publication in the SEC.

The Sports Law Symposium is hosted annually by the Mississippi Sports Law Review, the only sports legal publication in the SEC.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Sports Law Review will host its annual Mississippi Sports Law Review Symposium from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 17 in Weems Auditorium at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

This year’s topic is “Current Telecommunications Issues and Their Impact on Sports Broadcasting.”

“We are excited again to be welcoming a fantastic panel of experts for our fifth annual sports law symposium,” said William Berry, the publication’s adviser and assistant professor of law. “It should be a wonderful discussion that those interested in the intersection between sports and media will not want to miss.”

Each year, the publication brings in speakers to discuss a hot topic in the sports law arena. This year’s panelists include Babbette Boliek, professor at Pepperdine University School of Law; Robert Frieden, professor at the Penn State law school; Kristi Dosh, author of “Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges” and a contributor to ESPN, Fox Sports and Forbes; and Terence High, attorney and NFL agent.

The Mississippi Sports Law Review is a biannual scholarly publication related to the intersection between the law and sports. This student-edited review contains articles from legal scholars, professionals and students addressing a wide range of issues affecting the sports law field.

“The MSLR is the only sports-related legal publication in the Southeastern Conference,” said Connor Bush, the review’s editor-in-chief. “The event attracts prominent members of the sports industry to the University of Mississippi School of Law, in part, because of the various resources attributed to an SEC university and to the law school’s continued support of the sports law specialization.”

The symposium is open to the public. Two hours of free CLE will be offered.

The MSLR and Sports Law Society will host a luncheon on at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the law school with Charlie Hussey, associate commissioner of SEC network relations. The event, in Weems Auditorium, is open to the public.

For more information about the event or the Mississippi Sports Law Review, contact Connor Bush at cjbush1@go.olemiss.edu or visit http://mssportslaw.olemiss.edu.

Khayat Named UM Law Alumnus of the Year

Former chancellor started Law Alumni Chapter while a student

Photo by Robert Jordan

Photo by Robert Jordan

OXFORD, Miss. – At the annual Mississippi Bar Convention in Sandestin, Florida, Robert C. Khayat received the 2014 Law Alumnus of the Year Award from the University of Mississippi Law Alumni Chapter. Since 1974, the chapter has selected one person annually to receive this distinction. The recipient must have made positive contributions to the legal profession, the law school and the university.

“Former Chancellor Khayat is an outstanding law professor, a respected associate dean and is a dedicated alumnus of the law school,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “He is also a great Mississippian, who has done much to help the people of our state. I am honored to work in a building named for him.”

Khayat is one of the law school’s most illustrious graduates. This is noted visibly by the name of the law school building, the Robert C. Khayat Law Center, which was dedicated in April 2011.

Khayat joined the law faculty in 1969, after a successful venture as a lawyer in Pascagoula. He served as a professor and associate dean, teaching local government law, family law, agency and partnership, federal trial practice, torts, civil procedure, and wills and estates. He helped shape generations of legal minds, including noteworthy graduates such as John Grisham.

Gov. William Winter reflected on Khayat’s influence in his address at the law school’s building dedication ceremony.

“Robert Khayat, with a vision of a more open and less insular society, played a major role in the enlightenment of an entire generation of young law students,” Winter said. “He helped develop in them an enhanced appreciation for the majesty of the law and their duty as lawyers to defend our legal and political system against the mindless critics who would profane and diminish it.”

Khayat received a Sterling Fellowship and obtained a master of laws from Yale University and returned to Oxford in 1981.

“The law school experience pulled together everything I had learned prior to 1963, helped me become able to read more retentively, to read more and to understand some of the complex characteristics of individuals and groups of people,” Khayat said. “I learned even more as a member of the faculty; the law school helped me receive a Sterling Fellowship from Yale which culminated in a graduate degree from one of the most respected universities in the world. I doubt that I would have been offered the chancellorship without that degree.”

As an Ole Miss law student, Khayat was articles editor of the Mississippi Law Journal and finished third in his class in 1966.

“From my first class in June of 1963, I felt that the opening of ‘my brain’ happened – I was intrigued, challenged and quickly adjusted to the extensive reading requirements,” Khayat said. “I liked the format of the classes and the interaction between the faculty and among the students. I realized that I was learning that the world is not black and white – that there were usually at least two sides to any issue.”

Khayat also started the Law Alumni Chapter, a group that continues to contribute to the school and alumni base in numerous ways. Coincidentally, his receiving the award at the convention in Sandestin marked exactly 50 years from the formation of the Law Alumni Chapter.

“We typed them on 3×5 index cards,” Khayat said of his gathering information on law graduates for the chapter. “I still remember the first, middle and last names of just about everyone who graduated from the Ole Miss law school.”

Khayat’s leadership extended beyond the walls of the law school. He was an academic All-American football player and was chosen as an All-SEC catcher for the 1959 and 1960 SEC champion baseball teams. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NFL and the Distinguished American Award from the National Football Foundation.

Serving as chancellor of the university from 1995 until 2009, Khayat improved the university in many tangible ways. He increased enrollment by 43 percent and brought in research and development grants of more than $100 million. He also brought the prestigious honor society Phi Beta Kappa chapter to Ole Miss, as well as the 2008 presidential debate.

Most recently, Khayat won a Silver IPPY for best memoir in the nation awarded for his 2013 book “The Education of a Lifetime.”

With this record, it’s easy to see why Khayat was selected, said Mike Randolph, presiding justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.

“I can think of no alumnus more deserving of the award,” Randolph said at the ceremony in Destin. “For those of us who were privileged to study under his tutelage, it’s difficult to think of Ole Miss without reflecting on Dr. Khayat’s positive impact on the university, its law school and the alumni of both.”

“If love is the appropriate word for an institution, I love the law school and its people,” Khayat said.

Other notable alumni who have received this recognition previously include Winter, Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Lenore Prather, Professor Bill Champion and Justice Reuben Anderson.

New Center and UM Law Clinic to Advocate for Human Rights and Social Justice in Mississippi

Mississippi attorney Cliff Johnson hired as director

Cliff Johnson

Cliff Johnson

OXFORD, Miss. – The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, a public interest law firm that advocates for human rights and social justice through litigation, has opened an office at the University of Mississippi School of Law, where the new MacArthur Justice Clinic will provide law students with opportunities for hands-on experience under the direction of experienced litigators.

Veteran Mississippi attorney Cliff Johnson has been named first director of the MacArthur Justice Center, and he has joined the faculty of the law school. He is an assistant professor of law and supervises law students participating in the MacArthur Justice Clinic.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Johnson prosecuted civil and criminal fraud cases in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi from 1996 to 2001. Most recently, Johnson was a partner for 13 years at the Jackson law firm of Pigott & Johnson, where he handled a wide variety of complex civil and criminal matters.

“I am pleased to see our School of Law engage in the issues of social justice,” Chancellor Dan Jones said. “It is yet another way the university is reaching beyond our campus to transform the world around us.”

“The MacArthur Justice Clinic at Ole Miss law will have a positive impact on the lives of the people of Mississippi, while providing a wonderful learning experience for our students,” said Richard Gershon, law school dean. “It is an honor for us to partner with the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation in this important endeavor.”

The MacArthur Justice Center at the law school will work in collaboration with the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago and the new MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans.

Since its founding in Chicago in 1985 by the family of J. Roderick MacArthur, the MacArthur Justice Center has played a prominent role in bringing Chicago police misconduct and torture to the public’s attention and has helped several wrongfully convicted men and women win multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements as compensation for the time they were imprisoned wrongfully. Among its many cases, the center has won major reforms to protect juvenile parolees previously subjected to arbitrary detention and imprisonment, has challenged the detention of terrorism suspects without trial or access to the courts, and helped lead the fight that ended capital punishment in Illinois.

The MacArthur Justice Center opened its New Orleans office last year. It is the lead counsel in Jones v. Gusman, the federal lawsuit alleging pervasive violations of prisoners’ constitutional rights in the Orleans Parish Prison. The center’s New Orleans staff is working to ensure the OPP abides by a consent decree to ensure prisoner safety and adequate staffing at the jail. In addition, the New Orleans office also has worked on capital punishment cases, including advocating for public disclosure of information about drugs Mississippi plans to use to carry out executions by lethal injection.

“There is a historic connection between Mississippi and Chicago, which traces back to the great migration. We are committed to fighting injustice in both locations,” said John R. MacArthur, lead board member of the MacArthur Justice Center. “We look forward to building on the success of our Chicago office at Northwestern law school as we establish a similar partnership with the University of Mississippi.”

“Cliff Johnson is the perfect choice to lead the MacArthur Justice Center at Ole Miss,” said Deborah H. Bell, associate dean for clinical programs and professor of law. “He has a long history of outstanding practice in Mississippi and has the state’s best interests at heart. We hope he will inspire generations of Ole Miss law students to make the state a better place.”

“I am thrilled to join the MacArthur Justice Center and this prestigious law school, and I look forward to beginning a collaborative relationship with the very talented lawyers at the center’s offices in Chicago and New Orleans,” Johnson said. “This will be a formidable alliance of experienced, savvy and successful litigators working with smart and committed law students who have been trained by the best and are enthusiastic about putting what they’ve learned into practice.

“During the past two decades, I have enjoyed a challenging and rewarding litigation practice. I have represented dozens of people in federal courts around the country who have blown the whistle on fraudulent schemes undertaken to wrongfully obtain taxpayer dollars, represented inmates facing death sentences and enduring deplorable prison conditions, and helped wage court battles against discrimination. I also gained valuable experience and insights handling criminal jury trials on behalf of the Department of Justice and, later, representing criminal defendants in federal courts.

“I’m looking forward to engaging in the same kind of fervent advocacy at this new Center and helping train the next generation of attorneys committed to the fight for human rights and social justice,” Johnson added.

Johnson received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Mississippi College in 1989 and a law degree from Columbia Law School in 1992. During 2005-2006, he was a Fulbright Scholar working as a professor at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the Lund University School of Law in Lund, Sweden. Since 2006, Johnson has lectured in Sweden on numerous occasions, including speeches at the Nobel Museum and Wallenberg Institute graduation ceremonies.