Lengthy Pretrial Incarceration Continues in Mississippi Jails

Database creators urge Legislature to establish uniform system of reporting lockup data

The Mississippi office of the MacArthur Justice Center is housed in the UM School of Law. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The vast majority of the 5,534 men and women detained in local Mississippi jails are not serving sentences for criminal convictions but instead are awaiting their day in court to face charges, and nearly half the detainees have been in jail for more than 90 days.

Those are among the findings made available to the public by the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law. The updated version of the center’s comprehensive database identifies the 5,534 detainees in Mississippi’s county and regional jails and can be accessed at https://msjaildata.com/.

The initial version of the database, released in April 2018, identified 7,193 such detainees. Besides the names of those held in jail, the database provides dates of arrest, charges against each detainee, the amount of time each person has been in jail, average length of detention in each Mississippi county and a comparison of the April and November databases. The information used to create the database was obtained directly from “jail lists” produced by Mississippi sheriffs pursuant to court rules.

Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center’s Mississippi office, expressed continued concern regarding lengthy pretrial incarceration.

“Our database confirms that long-term pretrial incarceration of poor Mississippians, attributable primarily to improper and illegal use of the money bail system, continues to be a significant problem that costs counties millions of dollars.” Johnson said. “Our estimate is that Mississippi counties collectively are paying between $80 million and $100 million each year to lock up people who have not yet been convicted of any crime.”

A search of the database reveals that more than 2,600 people have been detained in local jails for longer than 90 days. Of those, 1,603 have been held for longer than 180 days, 1,035 for longer than 270 days, and 675 for longer than a year.

Johnson explained that lengthy periods of pretrial incarceration is of particular concern in Mississippi and is due, at least in part, to a combination of factors unique to the state.

“In addition to the widespread illegal and improper use of money bail, other significant factors are that grand juries meet infrequently in Mississippi’s many rural counties, and that prosecutors across the state, for a variety of reasons, often are slow to present cases to the grand jury,” Johnson said.

“There is no limit in Mississippi on how long a person can be held prior to indictment, so detainees can wait up to a year or more before even being formally charged with a crime. They wait months after that for their trial date.”

The MacArthur Justice Center has asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to adopt a rule limiting the amount of time a person can be held in jail before indictment, but the court has declined to do so.

While the updated database shows a 24 percent decrease in the jail population since the April report, there is no clear explanation for the change.

“I believe the decrease is attributable, at least in part, to our public disclosure of information regarding the people locked up in our jails coupled with recent litigation in Mississippi reminding judges and other participants in the criminal justice system of what the law says about the proper use of money bail and the illegality of incarcerating poor folks for unpaid fines and fees,” Johnson said.

“I also credit the new Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure adopted by the Mississippi Supreme Court last year.”

The new data show that several counties have reduced their jail population since the center’s first report. Among those are:

  • Desoto – from 519 to 219
  • Harrison – from 1,106 to 882
  • Lauderdale – from 245 to 140
  • Lincoln – from 150 to 65

Despite the downward trend, the jail population in some counties increased over the same period. Those include:

  • Hancock – from 124 to 185
  • Hinds – from 625 to 667
  • Leflore – from 86 to 136

The available data does not show whether detainees are awaiting trial, have yet to be indicted, are waiting for mental health evaluation or treatment, or have been convicted and are waiting to be transported to a state prison, Johnson emphasized.

“At this point, we can only provide limited ‘snapshots’ of Mississippi’s jail population at different points in time,” he said. “We urge the Mississippi Legislature to require the implementation of a uniform statewide system of reporting jail data that is available to the public and provides comprehensive real-time information about who is in our county jails and why.

“This tool would enable judges, lawyers, legislators, politicians and the public to make informed decisions regarding how best to make certain that our criminal justice system is efficient and fair.”

“Jail data available to everyone is a valuable tool in our struggle to reform the criminal justice system,” said Andre DeGruy, state defender for Mississippi. “Research shows that people who are in jail pretrial are more likely to get convicted and receive longer sentences for the same crimes as those who are not incarcerated pretrial.

“They are also more likely to need the services of a public defender than the person who can get out and go to work while awaiting trial. Excessive pretrial detention strains every part of the system.

“Being able to see who’s in jail and how long they have been serving allows us to shine a light on the dark places in our system and can facilitate error correction, whether that means getting the person moved to state custody, a mental health facility or back home.”

Gipsy Escobar, director of research at Measures for Justice in Rochester, New York, has reviewed the new database. Measures for Justice works across the country to develop a data-driven set of performance measures to assess and compare the criminal justice process from arrest to post-conviction on a county-by-county basis.

“The MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law has done tremendous work to collect jail data, literally by hand,” Escobar said. “Absent any other information about jails in Mississippi, this is the best we have.

“However, as MJC acknowledges, the data may not be uniformly collected or defined. Thus this terrific effort brings to the fore the urgent need for collecting uniform jail and local criminal justice data in Mississippi in pursuit of ever more reliable measurement.”

The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, known as the PEER Committee, recently issued a report addressing the lack of comprehensive jail data in Mississippi and recommending that the Legislature create a uniform statewide system of reporting jail data.

The report, referring extensively to the efforts of the MacArthur Justice Center, concluded that such information would assist policymakers in making economic decisions regarding incarceration.

“The extended imprisonment of thousands of Mississippians who have not been convicted of a crime is unacceptable,” Johnson said. “Rarely is any effort made to determine whether the release of these pretrial detainees would actually put the public at risk, and current pretrial incarceration practices cost Mississippi counties a fortune.

“We must reform this system that forces Americans to pay cash for their freedom and permits the government to lock people up for months before being formally charged with a crime and getting their day in court.”

The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center is a public interest law firm with offices in Chicago at Northwestern Law School, St. Louis, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and Oxford at the UM School of Law. The MacArthur Justice Center litigates a wide range of civil rights cases, with particular emphasis in the area of criminal justice. For more information, go to https://www.macarthurjustice.org/.

UM Student Awarded Grant for International Law Weekend

Crawford Moore's interest is on issues surrounding air and space law

UM law student Crawford Moore earned a NASA Space Law Network grant to attend the International Law Weekend conference in New York. Photo by Christina Steube/School of Law

OXFORD, Miss. – Crawford Moore isn’t just studying the law to make a difference in his home state and country, but also the world – and beyond.

The second-year student at the University of Mississippi School of Law earned a NASA Space Law Network grant to attend the International Law Weekend conference and learn from the world’s leading practitioners and legal educators about the importance of international law.

Moore, a Meridian native, earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Ole Miss. He is pursuing a concentration in remote sensing, air and space law, which is a large part of the discussion pertaining to international legal issues.

“Space law and outer space are a large part of international law, and there were several panels throughout the weekend on space operations and rules applying to outer space, which is the field I want to pursue,” Moore said. “It also gave me the opportunity to meet people in the industry and learn more about possible career paths in international law.”

The conference was Oct. 18-20 in New York City, hosted by the American Branch of the International Law Association. Moore was among 16 students selected for the grant, which covered the cost of travel and allowed him to attend special career sessions.

“It was an honor to represent Ole Miss, but my attendance would not have been possible without the support of my family and the UM faculty,” Moore said.

Moore’s father is a recreational pilot, which sparked his interest in air and space law. His interest quickly evolved to space law once he began law school.

“With growing technological developments in outer space capabilities, many countries are having to change and update their domestic laws or even create new ones altogether,” Moore said. “Many companies are restricted in what they do with these technologies because of existing legal barriers.

“I’d like to eventually work on the government side of the issue to help streamline the launch and registration process so that it can be done more easily, but in a regulated way.”

Charles Stotler and Michelle Hanlon, UM law professors and associate directors of the air and space law program, encouraged Moore to pursue more opportunities in this rapidly evolving legal sector.

“We are delighted to help our students gain access to important conferences like the International Law Weekend so that they can contribute to the ongoing evolution of our laws, and, perhaps more important, meet peers from all over the world who will be working with them in the future to navigate so many new frontiers,” Hanlon said.

Technological advancements are bringing the world closer together, making international collaboration a necessity, she said.

“No matter what discipline our law students choose to focus on, this next generation of lawyers will work against the backdrop of an international regime,” Hanlon said.

The grant was administered through the Nebraska College of Law.

“We are extremely proud that Crawford, a student in our air and space law concentration, was able to see through this very competitive grant process,” Stotler said.

For more information about the UM air and space law program, visit https://law.olemiss.edu/.

Law Students to Deliver Oral Argument for Criminal Case

Team will present evidence on behalf of appellant Nov. 13 before Mississippi Court of Appeals

UM law students Reid Posey (left) and Brittney Eakins work with professor Phillip Broadhead to practice their oral argument before delivering it to the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Photo by Christina Steube/School of Law

OXFORD, Miss. – In 2013, a Mississippi man was convicted of drug possession, but the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and rendered that conviction three years later. After a nearly five-year delay in bringing the defendant to trial on another pending indictment, a Harrison County judge ruled the second case could proceed to trial, despite the defense claiming a Speedy Trial Act violation.

Two students in the University of Mississippi School of Law are helping the appellant fight this decision through an oral argument before the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

Third-year law students Reid Posey and Brittney Eakins are participants in the law school’s Criminal Appeals Clinic, which offers practical experience in criminal law and procedure. Posey and Eakins will deliver their oral argument in May v. State to the court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 13).

“It is such an honor and a privilege to argue before the Court of Appeals on behalf of our client,” Eakins said. “This is by far one of the best opportunities that I’ve had as a law student, and I am so grateful to our clinical program for giving students the chance to learn and grow as future attorneys, while directly impacting our clients’ lives in a meaningful way.”

The School of Law has 11 in-house clinical programs, including the Criminal Appeals Clinic, that allow students to represent underserved clients in real cases to gain real-world, practical experience.

“I’m extremely excited and grateful for this opportunity,” Posey said. “The Criminal Appeals Clinic at Ole Miss law is a perfect example of the kinds of opportunities this law school provides its students to gain invaluable practical experience before starting their legal careers.” 

This is the 35th oral argument the clinic’s students have delivered since 2002, and it will be broadcast live on the court’s website. Phillip Broadhead, director of the clinic and a clinical professor of law, and his students have successfully argued reversals of 18 cases since 2004.

“The goal of the Criminal Appeals Clinic has always been to provide third-year students with a real-life experience in our state appellate courts that they can carry with them into law practice after graduation,” Broadhead said. “This professional program allows students to collaborate and focus on problem-solving, making their transition from law student to lawyer a much faster and smoother one.”

Earlier this month, Criminal Appeals Clinic students observed oral arguments before the Mississippi Supreme Court in Jackson and toured the court’s facility as part of efforts to continually expose students interested in criminal law to court procedure.

The clinic provides classroom instruction including review of trial documents, exhibits and transcripts; evaluation of legal arguments; and the method of writing briefs. Its students also are admitted to limited practice, which enables them to sign on briefs as special counsel of record and appear in oral arguments before the court.

For more information about the Criminal Appeals Clinic and other clinical programs, go to https://law.olemiss.edu/academics-programs/clinics/.

Associate Law Dean Honored with Diversity Award

Sandra Cox-McCarty recognized for work with CLEO's pre-law institute

Sandra Cox-McCarty

OXFORD, Miss. – Sandra Cox-McCarty, associate dean for administration and diversity initiatives in the University of Mississippi School of Law, has been honored nationally for her equality and diversity initiatives in legal education.

Cox-McCarty is among 30 individual recipients of Education, Diversity and Greater Equality, or EDGE, awards by the Council of Legal Education Opportunity. She got involved with the organization as a law student at Mississippi College and has served as a teaching assistant during CLEO’s pre-law institute at the University of Tennessee.

Her involvement and passion for the organization, which aims to increase minority representation in the field of law, led to her bringing the pre-law summer institute to the Ole Miss law school. During the four years it was held on campus, 2012-15, nearly 200 students participated.

“It’s an honor being selected for the CLEO EDGE award,” Cox-McCarty said. “I was just one of the many people behind hosting the program at the School of Law, and it was certainly a collaborative effort.”

The summer institute prepares students for law school by offering professional activities, extracurricular activities, exams and law classes to help smooth the transition and manage issues of anxiety surrounding law school.

“Several participants had never been to Mississippi, and this really changed the perspectives of our state and institution for some of the students,” she said.

During the program, Cox-McCarty helped ensure that students had a positive experience in preparing for law school.

“She would take time to meet with every student individually, visit them at their dorms, plan meaningful programming and even talk to CLEO students’ parents with questions they had about the program,” said Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs. “Once she commits to something, she will see it through.

“I could tell that CLEO was something she believes in and she wanted all of the students to succeed.”

Edmonson worked with Cox-McCarty during the CLEO program and nominated her for the award.

CLEO’s mission is to champion education, diversity and greater equality in the legal profession. The organization, founded in 1968, has implemented pre-law programs for prospective students, mentorships, placement assistance, academic support, scholarships and bar exam preparation, among other initiatives.

For more information about CLEO, visit https://cleoinc.org/.

Law School to Host Tribute to Sen. Thad Cochran

Contributions will benefit Mississippi students pursuing legal education

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran

OXFORD, Miss. – Former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran has left a lasting legacy on the University of Mississippi, as well as the state and nation. To honor his many contributions to the state, the UM School of Law is hosting a Nov. 11 tribute to the longtime political leader and public servant.

The event will raise funds to support the Thad Cochran Endowment at the School of Law, which will provide scholarship opportunities for future students.

“Sen. Thad Cochran is one of our most esteemed alumni, and we are very excited to honor him next month for all his accomplishments and the work he has done for the state of Mississippi,” said Susan Duncan, law school dean. “We hope everyone will contribute to this endowment so his legacy will continue to impact Mississippians for many years.”

Cochran’s education at the university set the foundation for his many years of leadership and service.

In 1963, he was installed as an officer of the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society. A year later, he was elected Honor Council chairman by the law school’s student body, all while serving as editor-in-chief of the Mississippi Law Journal. He earned his J.D. in 1965.

Education shaped Cochran’s life from the beginning. His father, William Holmes Cochran, was a high school principal and his mother, Emma Grace Cochran, was a teacher.

During his time in law school, Cochran studied international law as a Rotary Foundation fellow at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He has been awarded honorary degrees from five other colleges and universities.

The Thad Cochran International Law Fellowship will recognize the impact of international education by providing Mississippi resident students at the law school with opportunities to study abroad and gain new ideas and perspectives. The former senator hopes these students enjoy the transformational and inspirational perspectives that he gained in his international experience.

Cochran was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. After serving two terms in Congress, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, replacing retired U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland, beginning his career that spanned nearly four decades.

As a senator, Cochran was instrumental in the selection of 23 federal judges and served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Throughout his career, he has touched every higher education institute in the state in some way through his advocacy. He developed a relationship with Hinds Community College through the service of his parents, with Mississippi State University through his work on agricultural research and with his alma mater, which will house and preserve his congressional records.

While he wanted the institutions to succeed, his focus was on the students, working to ensure that Mississippians could get education to become productive and fulfilled citizens.

Through the Cochran Endowment scholarships, Mississippi residents who are community-oriented law students dedicated to service and cultural development will be able to earn Ole Miss degrees.

The school’s Thad Cochran Dean’s Strategic Initiative Fund will recognize his legacy and carry on his mission of training attorneys with the knowledge, skills and temperament to serve the court on and off the bench.

Before his career as a public servant, Cochran practiced law in Jackson, served as an officer in the U.S. Navy and worked as an educator. He taught military law and naval orientation at the Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, with a focus on public policy issues.

The Thad Cochran Military Promise Program will provide law scholarships for students seeking legal careers in the military. It also will provide scholarships for veterans seeking additional legal education and resources for training law students to assist current and former military personnel with legal issues.

On April 1, Cochran retired as the 10th-longest-serving senator in American history. During this year’s UM Commencement, he was honored with the Mississippi Humanitarian Award, which is presented to those with a major impact in shaping the state.

Contributions also will support the preservation, processing and management of the Thad Cochran Collection in the Modern Political Archives, part of the University Libraries’ Department of Archives and Special Collections.

This summer, Cochran donated to the university more than 3,500 linear feet of physical records and 5 terabytes of electronic records spanning the last 45 years of his career. This resource will provide researchers an opportunity to explore correspondence, reports, photographs and recordings, offering insight into some of the most significant political events in recent history.

“Sen. Cochran is one of the university’s foremost champions and advocates,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “He also represents what we hope all Ole Miss graduates will become: an intelligent and hardworking leader with excellent character.

“It’s an honor Sen. Cochran has donated his papers to the University of Mississippi library archives – the contributions raised through the tribute event will ensure we can properly preserve these landmark papers for generations to come. Additionally, the scholarship endowment will allow us to offer talented, bright Mississippians exceptional educations in the field of law.”

Hosts for the event include: former state Supreme Court Justice and Mrs. Reuben Anderson; former Gov. and Mrs. Haley Barbour; Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Canizaro; Mary Ann Connell; Mr. and Mrs. Roger Flynt; Mr. and Mrs. Paul Franke; Mr. and Mrs. Edward Fritts; Martha Scott Poindexter and Robert Guenther; Mr. and Mrs. Keith Heard; Mr. and Mrs. Richard Howorth; Rachelle M. Johnson; former U.S. Circuit Judge Grady Jolly; MSU President and Mrs. Mark Keenum; Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat; Delta State University President and Mrs. William N. LaForge; Mr. and Mrs. William Lewis Jr.; former U.S. Sen. and Mrs. Trent Lott; Mr. and Mrs. Alwyn Luckey; Former Gov. and Mrs. Ray Mabus; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Overby; Ambassador John Palmer; former U.S. Rep. and Mrs. Chip Pickering; Mr. and Mrs. Clarke Reed; Mr. and Mrs. Joe Frank Sanderson Jr.; U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Michael Smith; Mississippi College President and Mrs. Blake Thompson; Chancellor and Mrs. Jeffrey S. Vitter; U.S. Sen. and Mrs. Roger F. Wicker; Curtis Wilkie; and Mr. and Mrs. Williams Yates Jr.

“Thad Cochran was an outstanding, fair-minded senator from Mississippi for 40 years,” said Wilkie, a UM alumnus and journalism professor. “He’s also been a loyal alumnus of Ole Miss for nearly six decades, so it’s appropriate that his public service and dedication to his home state are being honored by these endowments to the law school.”

For tickets or more information about the event, contact Suzette Matthews at suzette@olemiss.edu or 601-937-1497. To donate, visit https://umfoundation.com/SenatorCochran.

School of Law Introduces Living-Learning Community

Freshmen get a glimpse of legal education through program

UM freshmen (front row, from left) Cassidy Grace Porter, Abigail Avery, Katharine Papp, Carley Sheppard and Nicholas DiConsiglio and (back row) Carson Whitney, Dorrian Reagan, Joseph Shelley, Faith Chatten and Virgil ‘Trey’ Ledbetter are participating in the inaugural School of Law Living Learning Community. Photo by Macey Edmondson

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten freshmen at the University of Mississippi will begin their legal education early through the School of Law Living-Learning Community.

This is the inaugural year of the program, which will take these young students interested in attending law school after graduation and introduce them to the law.

The program will provide opportunities for students to learn about the law and legal education; offer guidance on applying to law school; introduce undergraduates to law students who will serve as mentors throughout their freshman year; and educate students on professionalism and what it takes to be a successful lawyer.

“These students are already interested in law school as high school seniors, and they’re really go-getters,” said Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs at the law school. “Through the LLC, they will be part of a tight-knit community, and we’re excited to provide them with resources to enhance their future careers.”

This is a relatively new practice among law schools, she said.

Participating students are Abigail Avery, public policy and leadership and psychology major from Lake St. Louis, Missouri; Faith Chatten, business and art, Erie, Colorado; Nicholas DiConsiglio, political science, Clearwater, Florida; Trey Ledbetter, political science, Iuka; Katharine Papp, history, Austin, Texas; Cassidy Grace Porter, paralegal studies, Bakersfield, California; Dorrian Regan, economics, Tucker, Georgia; Joseph Shelley, political science, Flanders, New Jersey; Carley Sheppard, paralegal studies, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Carson Whitney, business, Edwardsville, Illinois.

Edmondson has coordinated programming for the students throughout the year, including a social event with law Dean Susan Duncan, guest speakers including judges and attorneys, and a field trip to Jackson to gain a better understanding of the legal system and how it works.

“We hope the experience of immersing yourself in the legal field will only strengthen the interest of a legal education for these students,” Duncan said. “Our faculty and students at the Ole Miss law school will work closely with these freshmen to introduce them to the law and foster their educational success.”

The School of Law LLC is one of four offered to Ole Miss students. Other LLCs include the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, School of Pharmacy and FASTrack.

The new program became a deciding factor for some students to attend UM.

Chatten researched colleges and universities for months to find one that offered something unique for undergraduate students who wanted to become attorneys.

“My search had been unsuccessful until one day, I was looking at Ole Miss housing and saw that there was a School of Law Living-Learning Community,” she said. “It was the exact thing that I had been searching for all along in the college process, and I felt extremely grateful to be accepted.”

Her interest in law began in high school through a U.S. government and politics course.

“I took the class looking to fulfill a required high school credit, not knowing that I would grow to love it so much that it would end up being my favorite class that I have ever taken,” she said. “I considered myself pretty studious in high school, but I had never read a textbook cover to cover until this class.”

Chatten’s interest in becoming an attorney was solidified when she participated in the Law and Advocacy National Student Leadership Conference at Yale University the following summer. She participated in mock trial at the conference, which prompted her to search for undergraduate programs related to law interests and become part of the LLC.

“I wanted to build a community of people around me with the same aspirations who will be going through the same things as me, like caring about good grades because law school is on the line and studying for the LSAT,” she said. “I was also so excited to see that the LLC pairs students up with law school mentors, which will be so impactful to have someone giving me advice since they were once in my position.”

Members of the LLC live among peers who are also interested in pursuing law school after graduation.

“We’re excited to offer the School of Law Living-Learning Community for the 2018-19 academic year,” said Jennifer McClure, student housing assistant director for marketing. “Living-learning communities enhance students’ residential experiences by connecting activities and events in their homes on campus to their academic lives.”

Faculty members and students from the law school will serve as community leaders and resources for these students.

“Through these partnerships with faculty, the Department of Student Housing supports student success by promoting engaged scholarship and responsible citizenship,” McClure said.

For more information, visit https://studenthousing.olemiss.edu/.

Assistant Law Dean to Lead National Student Affairs Organization

Macey Edmondson named president-elect of NALSAP for the 2019-20 academic year

Macey Edmondson

OXFORD, Miss. – Macey Edmondson, assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Mississippi School of Law, has been named president-elect of the National Association of Law Student Affairs Professionals.

She will serve as president for the 2019-20 academic year.

NALSAP is an organization for professionals who provide support to law students. The organization was founded in 2016 to serve as a “meeting place” for student affairs professionals to learn best practices, develop ideas, engage in professional growth and discuss issues affecting law students.

Edmondson was a co-founder of the organization, along with Johnny Pryor, assistant dean for student affairs at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law; Rebekah Grodsky, director of academic and student affairs at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law; and Emily Scivoletto, associate dean for academic and student affairs at UCLA School of Law.

“There were plenty of professional organizations out there for other aspects of legal education, but nothing for student affairs,” she said. “We kept hearing that it was needed greatly.”

The UM School of Law was instrumental in helping Edmondson and her student affairs colleagues found the organization. The school’s Transactional Law Clinic assisted the board of directors in obtaining the organization’s business league status as a 501(c)6 entity, allowing NALSAP to provide professional development opportunities.

“Macey and her colleagues from other law schools throughout the country recognized the need for an organization to support student affairs professionals,” said Marie Cope, law professor and transactional clinic director. “NALSAP is an important resource and network of professionals, and Macey will be an amazing asset to the organization during her tenure as president.”

In just two years, the organization has grown, providing professional opportunities to more than 83 institutional members and 435 individual members representing 104 law schools across the country.

“NALSAP has benefited from Macey’s positivity, collaborative spirit and ability to work well with a broad range of constituents to fulfill our mission,” Pryor said. “Because of Macey’s efforts, in collaboration with the other three co-founders, law school student affair professionals have a professional home for resources, support and professional development.”

Each year, NALSAP hosts a conference that includes informational sessions and presentations that focus on resources for law students. Edmondson served as program chair for the organization’s second conference.

“I’m just so proud of NALSAP,” Edmondson said. “It’s amazing how fast our members have gravitated towards this organization.

“It’s a big resource for student affairs professionals in the law school community, and for our members to feel that I can help guide the organization is a huge honor.”

Edmondson’s goals as president includes developing online resources and programming, creating recurring communication updates among members and finding new ways for professionals to have their works published.

“I want to make sure this organization is solidified and maintains good grounding to serve as a foundation for future student affairs professionals,” she said.

Symposium on Opioid Crisis Brings Law and Pharmacy Together

UM students from both schools learn about interprofessional approach to challenge

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood speaks to law and pharmacy students during the interprofessional symposium regarding the opioid crisis in the state. Photo by Christina Steube/School of Law

OXFORD, Miss. – More than 115 people die each day in the United States from opioid overdoses, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

These statistics constitute a crisis, and the University of Mississippi schools of Law and Pharmacy are working together to combat that crisis in an interdisciplinary manner.

Last week, the schools collaborated for an education symposium on “An Interprofessional Approach to the Opioid Crisis in Mississippi.” More than 300 law and pharmacy students attended the event, which included a mock trial in front of Roy Percy, magistrate judge for the Northern District of Mississippi, and a keynote speech by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

“A multidisciplinary approach is great and our university here is the first I’ve seen do this, so y’all are on the front end of addressing the crisis,” Hood said. “These epidemics come and go, but we have yet to see an epidemic affect such a broad cross-section of people.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter provided opening comments at the symposium and commended the schools for proactively addressing the opioid epidemic.

“By working together, we are more likely to understand the full breadth of this challenge and to find innovative solutions,” Vitter said.

Symposium panelists discuss the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to the opioid crisis. Photo by Christina Steube/School of Law

The afternoon panel featured Lauren Bloodworth, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice; Dr. Kenneth Cleveland, executive director of the Mississippi State Medical Board of Licensure; Amanda Criswell, nurse practitioner and instructor of nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and Julie Mitchell, an attorney at Mitchell Day Law Firm in Ridgeland.

Law professor Larry Pittman and pharmacy practice professor Kim Adcock worked over the last year to organize the event to ensure that both professional schools developed an understanding of how different professions are navigating the opioid crisis.

“This interprofessional mock trial and symposium exemplified the importance of interdisciplinary interactions and provided a springboard for our students to begin working together to learn from, about and with each other,” Adcock said.

The goal of the event was to provide students and future practitioners a foundation to make the best professional decisions related to pain management.

“Interprofessional education and collaboration are very important because such efforts are necessary for resolving many of the pressing issues that we as a nation will continue to encounter,” Pittman said.

UM law student Sammy Brown serves as an attorney during the mock trial portion of the interprofessional collaboration between the schools of Law and Pharmacy. Photo by Christina Steube/School of Law

The School of Pharmacy engages in regular interprofessional education with many of the health sciences schools on the UMMC campus, where upper-level pharmacy students receive training, and the School of Law engages in interdisciplinary endeavors with undergraduate programs and other legal entities. However, this is one of the first such events where the two schools collaborated to address a national crisis.

“Law is inextricable from the profession of pharmacy,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “This is an incredible way to demonstrate to our future pharmacy, nursing and law professionals that together they have the power to make real contributions that can lessen or end the opioid crisis.”

Allen and Susan Duncan, dean of the law school, both expressed hope that the seminar would show students that interprofessional collaboration has potential to create solutions for any number of professional issues.

“We are educating future leaders, and it’s so important that they understand the importance in collaborating with those of other disciplines,” Duncan said. “Students in professional schools work well with each other, but it is vital for them to learn from their peers in other schools who can provide a different perspective.”

UM Law Graduates Pass Mississippi Bar Exam Well Above State Average

More than 73 percent of first-time takers passed the state test

Graduates of the UM School of Law taking the Mississippi Bar Examination for the first time scored 25 percent above the state’s average for people taking the exam for the first time. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Graduates of the University of Mississippi School of Law who were first-time takers of the Mississippi Bar Examination passed at a rate of 73.7 percent for the July 2018 cycle, substantially higher than the state’s average of 58.8 percent for graduates taking the bar exam for the first time.

The overall state average is composed of test takers from the UM law school, Mississippi College School of Law and out-of-state schools.

“Despite recent fluctuations in the number of students applying to law school nationally, the University of Mississippi School of Law has maintained the same high admissions requirements we have applied for decades,” said Susan Duncan, UM law dean.

“As a result of this decision and the implementation of new academic support programs, we continue to produce top-notch graduates who are prepared for the bar examination and the practice of law.”

Susan Duncan

Over the next several weeks, the school will receive bar passage reports from other states, which will be compiled into a comprehensive report to examine the continued improvement of bar passage for Ole Miss law graduates.

“Although we celebrate our alumni that passed, we will continue to consider how to improve our pass rate,” Duncan said. “Our focus has always been and will continue to be preparing our students for life after law school, which includes giving students the skills needed to succeed on the bar exam and in their practice or chosen career paths.”

Some 175 students took the bar exam in July. Thirty-eight of those were first-time takers from UM.

For more information, visit https://law.olemiss.edu/.

Law Student to Intern with U.S. Mission to NATO

Anne Karen Tolbert will begin her internship this fall at Belgian headquarters

Anne Karen Tolbert

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi law student is spending the fall semester in Brussels developing her expertise on international law and policy.

Anne Karen Tolbert, a second-year student at the School of Law, has been selected to intern with the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Mission to NATO. She left for Belgium earlier this month.

“Being selected for this internship is a dream come true for me, but what has meant the most is the tremendous support I have received and the opportunity to represent Ole Miss law on an international level,” Tolbert said.

Tolbert, a native of Rogers, Arkansas, who lives in Oxford, will intern in the political section of the U.S. Mission to NATO. The project areas will cover international security issues such as NATO-European Union cooperation, the alliance’s operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, counterterrorism, crisis management exercises and NATO-Russia relations.

“An internship with the Department of State is a great way to get a foot in the door for civil service, so this is something I wanted and needed to pursue,” she said.

Her interest in the U.S. Mission to NATO stemmed from the vital role it plays in international security. Tolbert is pursuing a law degree with a concentration on air and space law, and this opportunity will allow her to gain international knowledge and experience on defense issues.

“I hope to gain a deeper understanding and broader perspective on how foreign policy and international law work together to address current and emerging geopolitical challenges,” she said. “It’s a very interesting time to be at USNATO, and I look forward to developing subject matter expertise on the various issues I will handle.”

Tolbert credits this opportunity to the support she received from classmates and law faculty.

“For someone who believes in shaking hands with opportunity, I don’t always heed my own advice,” she said. “I almost didn’t apply because I was thinking of all the reasons why I wouldn’t be chosen instead of thinking of all the reasons why I might be a good fit with USNATO.”

A few months after submitting her application, she got an email offering her an interview.

“We are always encouraging our students to explore the multitude of options that a legal education provides,” said Ben Cooper, senior associate dean for academic affairs. “We were happy to support ‘AK’ in pursuing this terrific opportunity, and I really appreciate the initiative that she took in seeking out this position and then following through to obtain it.”

During the selection process, the hiring committee mentioned that her air and space law concentration at UM played a role in her selection.

“I think it’s easy to sell ourselves short sometimes, but in reality, we all have unique backgrounds, skills and gifts that make us competitive with the brightest from across the country,” Tolbert said. “I am incredibly honored for the opportunity to serve and represent my country, Ole Miss law, and to work with our valued NATO allies.”

Tolbert, who earned a degree in communications from Belhaven University in 2013, credits her dad for fostering her lifelong interest in aerospace and defense.

“It was always a dream of mine to serve in the Air Force,” she said. “I had a spinal fusion for scoliosis in high school, which disqualified me for service, but there was always a part of me that wanted to serve my country.”

She worked a few years in the communications field but continued to feel that she wanted to do more.

“My passion for legal and policy-related work led me to apply to law school,” she said. “Ole Miss became my first choice because of the air and space concentration, which I thought would open doors to civil service within the defense realm, and that’s exactly what it did.”

After graduation, Tolbert hopes to become an attorney adviser with the State Department, offering counsel on international legal and policy issues.