Category Archives: Latest News and Updates

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

WMU-Cooley Law School Names New Assistant Dean in Tampa

Katherine Gustafson

Associate Dean Ronald Sutton of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay has announced that Katherine Gustafson has been tapped to fill the role of assistant dean.

Gustafson started her career at WMU-Cooley in 2008 as a visiting professor and coordinator for academic resources.  In 2012, she joined the Tampa Bay campus full-time faculty, teaching legal research and writing, skills seminars, and introduction to law classes.  She was appointed to the post of campus auxiliary dean in 2016. Before joining the law school, she was an attorney with Mahjoory, Mahjoory, and Beery, PLC, located in Lansing, Michigan.

“Since joining the law school’s Tampa Bay campus, Kathy has played an integral role in the education of law students both in and out of the classroom,” said Sutton. “In the classroom, she is a dedicated educator who is valued by both her students and colleagues. Outside the classroom, she has helped our students grow by coordinating many of the law school’s philanthropic events designed to help those less fortunate in the Hillsborough County community. I am honored and proud that she has agreed to fill the role of assistant dean.”

Gustafson begins her new role when the law school’s summer term begins in May.

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Go on an Adventure! Study Abroad in Australia/New Zealand Unforgettable Experience.

Law students from Michigan, Texas, and Montana took full advantage of WMU-Cooley’s study abroad program in Australia and New Zealand. The adventure started on a flight taking them to the other side of the world and ended with many unforgettable and amazing experiences, meeting new people and learning new ideas and new laws.

Students  jumped out of a plane, surfed Australia’s beaches, dived and snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, climbed the Grampian Mountains, and fed koalas and kangaroos. They explored rainforests and the grand rock formations along the Great Ocean Road, affectionately called the Twelve Apostles. They traversed the bustling city of Melbourne from Saint Kilda beach, to Williamstown, to the legal district, to the Mornington Peninsula, to the heights of the Eureka Tower. They enjoyed Footy games, beach gatherings, and festivals.

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The law students also learned what it means to be an Australian lawyer. They visited a student-staffed legal aid office where law students offered advice to clients about ordinary legal matters. They visited a barrister who explained the world of litigation. They even got to try on his wig and robe! They listened to hearings in the Magistrate’s Court.

In the classroom, law students studied Comparative International Laws ranging from Business Law, to Torts, to Equity & Remedies. Guest speakers made the experience real by exploring an actual Australian equity case. They studied in the iconic Victoria State Library and visited the impressive Victoria Parliament.

Go on an adventure! WMU-Cooley Study Abroad law students will tell you it’s an experience you will cherish for the rest of your lives.

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Kimberly E. O’Leary directs the term’s Study Abroad program in New Zealand and Australia. She and her students share their experiences.

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WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel Inducted into U.S. Army ROTC Hall of Fame at St. Bonaventure University

Retired Brigadier General and current WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean and Professor of Law Michael C.H. McDaniel was inducted into the alumni ROTC Hall of Fame for the Seneca Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at St. Bonaventure University, located  in Olean, New York, on April 1, 2017. Following the induction ceremony McDaniel presented the keynote during the University’s annual ROTC Military Ball.

On April 1, Brigadier General (ret) and WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel was inducted into the ROTC Hall of Fame at his alma mater St. Bonaventure University.

Brig. General (ret) and WMU-Cooley Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel was inducted into the ROTC Hall of Fame at his alma mater St. Bonaventure University.

During his remarks McDaniel advised the audience of cadets, alumni and guests that what makes our military great is still our people, the men and women in uniform, and always will be.

“It is because of the values not just instilled in us but required of us, as students of St. Francis, here, at St. Bonaventure University, because we take an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, not a loyalty oath to the Commander in Chief​, and because our Army values are based on that legacy,” he said.  “The oath to the Constitution is in the Constitution, significantly placed at the end of the body and before the Bill of Rights. The oath then is to defend both the system of co-equal republican government and the rights of the individuals. And so we fight, voluntarily, for the principles in the Constitution and because of the promise to all Americans embodied in the Constitution.”

McDaniel, a 1975 St. Bonaventure graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in history, then earned his Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1982.  Having been an active participant in the Army ROTC program for two years as an undergraduate student, he applied for and received a direct commission from the Michigan National Guard as a Judge Advocate General Corps officer in November 1985.

He began his career as the staff judge advocate for the Camp Grayling Joint Training Center, then served as trial counsel and then staff judge advocate for the 46 Infantry Brigade, 38th Infantry Division, and  as detachment commander (Mich.) for the 38th Inf. Div. He served as a military judge, then, upon promotion to colonel, as state judge advocate.

His civilian career as a trial attorney with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office began in January 1984. From 1998 to 2003, he was the assistant attorney general for litigation in the Executive Division of the Michigan Department of the Attorney General. His duties included the review of all civil and criminal actions proposed to be initiated by the department in state or federal trial courts, and evaluation of all proposed settlements of every court case.

Appointed by the governor as Michigan’s first Homeland Security adviser in 2003, he served in that capacity until July 2009. In this position, McDaniel was the liaison between the governor’s office and all federal, state and local agencies for homeland security, with responsibility for developing statewide plans and policy on homeland security preparedness. During this assignment, he served concurrently as the assistant adjutant general for homeland security in the Michigan National Guard.

From August 2009 to January 2011, McDaniel was the deputy assistant secretary for homeland defense strategy, force planning and mission assurance at the Department of Defense.  He advised the DOD secretary, undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and assistant secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and America’s Security Affairs on all homeland defense-related strategies (quadrennial defense review, homeland defense & civil support strategies, the mission assurance strategy, and domestic counterterrorism and counter-narcotics strategies, among other efforts).

McDaniel graduated from the U.S. Army War College and earned a Master of Strategic Studies in 2005. He also earned a master’s in security studies (homeland security) from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2007. He was promoted to brigadier general in 2007 and his final military assignment was as assistant adjutant general for Army Future Missions, Michigan National Guard, from January 2011 until October 2012. He retired in December 2012.

Professionally active, McDaniel served as a member of the National Governors Association’s Homeland Security Advisors Council, where he was elected to the Executive Committee in 2006 and 2008. He was named by the Office of Infrastructure Protection, Department of Homeland Security, as chair of the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council in 2007. He joined the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School faculty as a full-time constitutional law professor in 2011 and was promoted to associate dean in 2016.

McDaniel’s military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (1 OLC), Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (with 2 devices) and the Michigan Distinguished Service Medal (Fifth Award).

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Love Your Job. Live Your Life. Say Lawyers and Law Students

“It was very inspiring for our students to learn from a diverse panel group that perceived impediments to a well-balanced life can be overcome despite the demands we all face in the legal profession.” – WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean Joan P. Vestrand

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“Love Your Job, Live Your Life” was the theme of a panel discussion held at WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus. Law student members of the the Women Lawyer’s Association discussed how they manage successful careers, find meaningful time with their families, remain active in social activities, and succeed in practicing law, while maintaining a happy healthy outlook on life.

The panel included Hon. Julie A. Nicholson, Oakland County District Court judge; April McKie, WMU-Cooley Law School graduate; Erin Bonahoom, Canvas Legal PLC founder; Michelle Easter, Easter Law PLC founder; and WMU-Cooley Law School professors Erika Breitfeld and Monica Nuckolls.  

“Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage and push you to keep moving forward to reach your goals,” said Easter. “They will provide the supporting block you need when you feel like you’re failing. Those cheerleaders will help you succeed.”

The program was sponsored by the WMU-Cooley Law School-Auburn Hills chapter of the Women Lawyer’s Association as well as WMU-Cooley Law School’s Career and Professional Development Department.

“It was very inspiring for our students to learn from a diverse group of panelists that perceived impediments to a well-balanced life can be overcome despite the demands we all face in the legal profession,” said Joan Verstrand, WMU-Cooley Law School associate dean.

Law students Love Jobs Live Lives event

(Left to right) Professor Linda Kisabeth, co-adviser Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter); Professor Erika Breitfeld, panelist; Danielle Stone, Executive Board Member Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter); Professor Monica Nuckolls, panelist; Hon. Julie A. Nicholson, 52-3 District Court, panelist; April McKie, J.D., panelist; Michelle Easter, Easter Law PLLC, panelist; Janae Stack, president Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter); Chanavia Smith, Executive Board Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter); Shari F. Lesnick, Co-Adviser Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter).

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Judge Donald L. Allen: Years to Develop your Reputation, Seconds to Destroy it

“We talk a lot about integrity. I think there is one thing people need to understand. It takes years, maybe even decades, to develop a reputation for your integrity, for your professionalism. It takes years and years of doing the right thing, but it only takes seconds for that to be destroyed. Think about that for just a second. Years to develop a reputation that you would be proud of, seconds to destroy.” – Judge Donald L. Allen on integrity during WMU-Cooley Law School’s Integrity in Our Community award ceremony.

Judge Allen spoke to WMU-Cooley law students, faculty and staff about the importance of values, integrity and preserving one’s reputation at the Integrity award ceremony. He went on to say, “The ability to help others challenge injustice and to make sure what is wrong is made right is one of the privileges of a law degree. Law students are learning how to be in a position to earn a living basically helping other people. That is a tremendous privilege. I want to leave you with a quote, and this quote comes from John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He says, ‘With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.'”

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Judge Allen is the presiding judge of the 55th District Court Sobriety Court, which focuses on the rehabilitation of repeat offense substance abusers in Ingham County. He has spent most of his professional career as an assistant attorney general at the state’s attorney general office. In 2005, Allen was appointed deputy legal counsel to Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The following year, Granholm appointed him to serve as director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, which he served until his 55th District Court appointment in 2008. Judge Allen was appointed chief judge of the court by the Michigan Supreme Court on Jan. 1, 2016. Watch Judge Allen’s speech (25:31)

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When One Special Legislative-Staff Career Ends, Another Begins

WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Bob DeVries recently received a rare, special, and entirely fitting tribute to the end of a decade-long legislative-staff career.  In politics, timing is everything, and Bob had the benefit of impeccable timing.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich give speeches in tribute to Meekhof's departing Chief of Staff, Bob DeVries.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich give speeches in tribute to Meekhof’s departing Chief of Staff, Bob DeVries.

Ten years ago, Bob was a senior at Grand Valley State University, looking for an internship. His father connected him with Arlan Meekhof, who was preparing to run for state representative. Meekhof won the campaign with Bob’s tireless support, just as Bob was graduating. Representative Meekhof then hired Bob for his legislative staff.

Four years in the State House led to six years in the State Senate. During the last two years, Senator Meekhof was Senate Majority Leader, making Bob his Chief of Staff. The role gave Bob staff responsibility for the Senate budget and staff, not to mention a central role in advancing legislation through a Senate and House under the same party’s control, with a same-party governor.

Bob matriculated at the law school in the middle of his 10 years working in the legislature, and persevered over the next several years to earn his law degree. Bob also married Jackie with whom he had three beautiful daughters, with a fourth child on the way.

The law degree strengthened Bob’s research, drafting, reasoning, and advocacy skills, along with improving his understanding of the legislative process, law subjects, and legal issues. Bob’s chief-of-staff role for a state senate majority leader also gave him the opportunity to travel to a national conference, expanding his network.

While deeply appreciative for Bob’s legal skills and acumen, Senator Meekhof, in his tribute to Bob on the Senate floor, emphasized Bob’s outstanding character.  The tribute also included a rare and glowing acknowledgment by an appreciative representative from the opposing party.

Bob’s next career step is with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., where he will represent corporate, community, and professional-association clients advocating their public interests in Michigan and beyond. In politics and in life, timing indeed means a lot, but character is everything.

nelson millerBlog author Nelson Miller is the Associate Dean and Professor at WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus. He practiced civil litigation for 16 years before joining the WMU-Cooley faculty. He has argued cases before the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, and United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and filed amicus and party briefs in the United States Supreme Court. He has has many published books, casebooks, book chapters, book reviews, and articles on legal education, law practice, torts, civil procedure, professional responsibility, damages, international law, constitutional law, university law, bioethics, and law history and philosophy. 

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Law school and journalists discuss Fake News: What can be done about it?

This story was written by Grand Rapids Legal News writer Cynthia Price and was originally published by the Legal News on March 24, 2017. It is reprinted here with permission of Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC.

It is difficult to find anyone who is in favor of what has come to be called “fake news,” but for some, the challenge it poses to truth and the rule of law is a subject they view as of overriding urgency.

Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School Professor and Auxiliary Dean Martha Denning Moore is one of those people.

At a panel discussion Wednesday hosted by WMU-Cooley and sponsored by the Michigan Capital Chapter, American Society for Public Administration (known as ASPA/MICAP), Prof. Moore led out with a fiery speech about the need to hold purveyors of news accountable for the information they put foward.

“Truth is not optional,” she said. “It is necessary for maintenance of our democracy. Not only will the truth set us free, it will keep us free. So, we can’t just go our merry way — we can’t be passive consumers of information.

“Truth matters. We must seek it, we must pursue it. Truth is not the same as the most persuasive argument, and it is not a merger of options. We have to hold people accountable for their actions.”

Moore knows whereof she speaks. Prior to joining WMU-Cooley, she practiced in legal ethics and legal malpractice defense as an attorney for Moore and Pozehl; before that, she was staff counsel for the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission.

A firm believer in a strong ethical system in the law and in life, Moore has published a number of articles consistent with her philosophy, including “Reclaiming Civility”and “The Ethical Duty of Communication.”

As Moore finished, Moderator Meegan Holland, herself a former journalist and now the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Senior Policy Advisor, commented, “I love your passion.”

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Holland also noted that she agreed with Moore’s reluctance to use the term “fake news.” The title of the event, “Social Media and the Ethics of Fake News,” notwithstanding, both Moore and Holland said they find the term misleading, since it implies there are shades of truthfulness permissible in reporting.

The other panelists were both working journalists: Emily Lawler, a reporter for MLive who covered the Trump campaign in Michigan and currently has the capitol beat for the statewide news organization; and John Lindstrom, the long-time publisher of Gongwer News Service.

In his welcoming remarks, WMU-Cooley Dean and President Donald LeDuc noted, “I’m opposed to poor ethics in any context.” Also referring to himself as “an unrepentant former public administrator” (working primarily in State of Michigan offices), he thanked ASPA/MICAP for putting the panel together.

Then Dean LeDuc added more seriously, “Our country’s embroiled in the greatest test of our country’s structure since the Civil War. There’s never been a more interesting time to be a law student, or to be in government — certainly not to be in administration of the law.”

Lindstrom, a seasoned professional whose specialty publication is aimed at decision-makers and politicians, pointed out that, historically, there has always been fake news, including falsely staging influential events. What makes it different now is the ability to disseminate information immediately, and without the filter that fact checkers provide.

“From the standpoint of a practicing journalist,” he said, “there’s an old saying ‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out.’ That’s the essence of what we are supposed to do as an industry, and in many respects that’s really what we should do as citizens of a free republic, and, frankly, as adults.”

Lawler is more of the generation that grew up comfortable with social media, but she expressed dismay at what widespread use of Twitter and Facebook has done to her own profession, and the distrust that causes in the eyes of the general public.

She said, “One of the most enlightening articles I read, right after the election, was in the Washington Post. They profiled some producers of fake news, including those with a for-profit model. One man was pretty honest in admtting that he’d manufactured the story about Hillary [Clinton] supporters being paid to go protest at Donald Trump’s events.

“He made a fake ad looking for people to go interrupt Trump campaign stops on a couple Craig’s List sites, and then he manufactured a story based off his own ad.

“That was something that made it into the natural rhetoric, and Donald Trump made some nods to that in his speecies, including one I covered.”

Lindstrom also noted that over the past 20 years brain science has made significant discoveries about human’s cognitive function. He said these add to an exploration of why “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest,” quoting the Paul Simon song “The Boxer.”

When Holland asked whether it was likely that news outlets could be persuaded to eliminate covering, for example, Donald Trump’s early-morning tweets, Lawler gave a fairly subtle response: one of the effects of social media is that stories can become so widespread independent of traditional media that they require journalistic coverage, and debunking, in order to assure that any semblance of truth continues to exist.

Moore drew parallels to the legal profession. “One principle that’s critical to achieving justice is for people to ask, ‘Where is the evidence?’ As lawyers, we’re trained not to just take somebody’s word but to find and look at the evidence.”

About 30 people attended the event at WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus, drawn from a variety of places. Some were WMU-Cooley students, some members of ASPA/MICAP, and a few were members of the general public who had heard about the panel. The questions posed were thoughtful and ranged in topic from the need for viable business models for news organizations to the potential for ongoing sanctions and punishment if news was found to be false.

Pictured from left to right: WMU-Cooley Professor and Auxiliary Dean Martha Moore; MLive Capitol Reporter Emily Lawler; Veterans Affairs Agency Senior Policy Advisor Meegan Holland and Publisher of Gongwer News Service John Lindstrom.

Pictured from left to right: WMU-Cooley Professor and Auxiliary Dean Martha Moore; MLive Capitol Reporter Emily Lawler; Veterans Affairs Agency Senior Policy Advisor Meegan Holland and Publisher of Gongwer News Service John Lindstrom.

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