Category Archives: Latest News and Updates

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

Is the President immune from conflicts of interest? Con Law Prof explains what the Constitution says

There’s been much national debate and discussion over whether or not the President of the United States is, or is not, immune from conflicts of interest. WZZM-TV recently interviewed Constitutional expert and WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Devin Schindler about what the Constitution says and to explain and interpret the Constitution in terms of conflicts of interest. Watch the interview here.

devin

schlinder_devinProfessor Devin Schindler is a frequent commentator on numerous Constitutional and healthcare issues, having been interviewed over 200 times by radio, television, print and internet media sources.  His comments have appeared in Time Magazine, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and numerous local media outlets.  For 15 years, Professor Schindler hosted his own radio program, “The Constitution among Friends” on WGVU public radio. He is a frequent author and has made hundreds of speeches on constitutional law issues and health care compliance. He most recently published articles in the Whittier Law Review, Case Western Reserve’s Health Matrix: Journal of Health-Medicine, and in Quinnipac Universities’ Health Law Journal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, Uncategorized

Sometimes Football and Law School Row Together #RTB

In 2013, the WMU football program had a record of 1-11. One win, and 11 losses. This year, the team has gone undefeated with a record of 13-0. Fire up the bandwagon, and jump on! The Broncos are rowing to the 2017 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on January 2! You may be wondering, “What does the football record have to do with the law school?” The similarities may surprise you, but I will use some Bronconese to explain it to you.

rtb

Bronconese is the language created by head football coach, PJ Fleck, to articulate life lessons to his players and to create a culture of success. While there are over 200 words and phrases in Bronconese, I’m going to use just a few to illustrate how the attitude of success on the football field mirrors the attitude of success in law school.

“Row The Boat.”  If you’ve heard anything about WMU football, you’ve likely heard the team’s mantra—“Row The Boat.” It is everywhere here in Michigan, but not many people understand its true meaning. According to Coach Fleck, “Row The Boat” has to do with the amount of effort you put into your task, the constant drive toward your goals, and the teamwork necessary for a team, a community, or a cause to succeed. It also refers to the idea that everyone has a choice to make every day—you can give up and pull your oar out of the water, or you can keep your oar in the water and persist toward your goal.

Here at WMU-Cooley, we expect our students to never give up—keep their oars in the water. We expect them to keep driving toward their goal of succeeding in law school and passing the bar exam. While law school appears to be a solo effort, there are multiple people helping, encouraging, and driving students toward success. We – faculty, staff, and alumni – all have an oar in the water for every one of our students.

“Change your best.”  This phrase is just what it sounds like – you can always do better. If you are simply doing your best, you are staying the same and not growing. In law school, your best isn’t limited to grades. As an attorney, you will need to constantly gROW and change in order to keep up with changes in the law, growth in your practice, and personal growth as a dedicated member of your community. We encourage our students to always strive for better: better grades, better careers, and better, more fulfilling personal lives.  Your best can always be better, and we’ll help you continually find a new “best.”

“F.F.F.”  Fuel. Fierce. Finish. Fuel comes from within. Each student at WMU-Cooley has a reason for being here. They have a goal, maybe even a dream, and it is that goal, that dream that fuels them every day. Fierce refers to the attitude of a champion. Without a fierce determination, law school can be overwhelming. We encourage our students to be fierce in their pursuit of their dream. Finishing is the hardest part. Finishing only happens by grit. Finishing is the drive to push through setbacks when fuel is low and success seems unattainable. We know that one of the greatest indicators of success in law school is a person’s grit and determination, and we challenge our students to finish every day.

“Heartwork.” Hard work with pride and passion. The pursuit of a law degree and the practice of law are as much about taking pride in your work and having a passion for what you do as they are about simply working hard. Everyone has the ability to work hard, but those that have a passion for what they do and the pride to do it well are what set WMU-Cooley students apart. Our students pursue their goals with purpose and a work ethic that leads to success both in the classroom and in life.

So while you may not think the intellectual pursuits of law school have much to do with football, the WMU football team and the law school share many of the same core values. We both seek excellence, self-determination, and we’re willing to sacrifice to achieve our goals. We put our oars in the water everyday so that we may live the life of champions.
Go Broncos! Good luck in the Cotton Bowl, and always ROW THE BOAT!


Blog author Professor Emily Horvath currently serves as the Director of Academic Services where she works with students and faculty to develop programming to improve student success.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

Applauded Leadership Program Expands Participation for Community Members

The Leadership In Times of Crisis program was recently featured in, and endorsed by, the Grand Rapids Business Journal in a recent article. The successful program is now expanding participation in the next session for community members.

leadershipThe program, a one of a kind collaboration between the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Western Michigan University and Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, is looking to encourage and craft principled leaders of integrity to lead in times of crisis. The program uses several of President Ford’s difficult and controversial decisions as vehicles for exploring leadership with integrity. The final session of the fall program, to be held Nov. 12, features Kalamazoo County Commissioner Kevin Wordelman leading a discussion on President Ford’s handling of the New York City bankruptcy and its relevance today.

Earlier sessions featured Brigadier Generals Thomas Edmonds and Michael McDaniel exploring leadership lessons from the fall of Saigon and the Helsinki Accord, and Professor Devin Schindler exploring lessons from President Ford’s pardon of former President Richard Nixon.

The class is open to all members of the community. Reservations are being taken for the next three sessions in 2017, which will be held on three Saturday mornings – one in January, February and March. Interested individuals should contact WMU-Cooley Professor Victoria Vuletich at 616-301-6800, ext. 6960, or by email at vuleticv@cooley.edu.

Participants who successfully complete the program receive a certificate from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum reflecting their participation in the program.

The program has also received the support of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.  The foundation provided each of the students with a copy of the DVD, Gerald R. Ford, A Test of Character,  which was commissioned by the Peter F. Secchia Family.

vuletich_victoriaWMU-Cooley Law School Victoria Vuletich teaches Professional Responsibility. She is chairperson of the American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Professional Responsibility Continuing Legal Education Committee. She was a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Client Protection 2004-2008, and was formerly president of the Shiawassee County Bar Association.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ethics, Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, Uncategorized

Everyone needs estate planning, no matter the age: Five Topics to Discuss with an Elder Law Attorney

Sixty Plus students and faculty spend hours talking to citizens who are over the age of 60. One thing is certain. By the time you reach the age of 60, you are usually comfortable discussing end-of-life planning. The fact is, everyone needs estate planning, no matter the age. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how many people are in your family, what you did in your career, or your level of education. People of even modest means should sit down with an attorney who has expertise in estate planning. – WMU-Cooley professor and elder law expert Kimberly O’Leary
elderlaw

Even if you are not over the age of 60, you probably know of people who could benefit by having this conversation. Here’s why. Don’t wait for the crisis. End-of-life issues affect everyone. If you wait until it’s too late, your options may be limited or decisions will need to be made by someone other than yourself.

Those conversations can include:

  1.  Independence planning:  If you become ill or disabled at some point in the future in any way that makes it difficult for you to take care of your personal business or your life, you can appoint a trusted friend or family member to assist you.  Such illness or disability might be temporary or might be permanent, and in either event, you can plan for help.  You do not have to be old or ill to need this kind of help, although statistically you are more likely to need help the older you are.  If you do NOT have anyone you trust to help you, this type of conversation can be even more important.  Planning these kinds of arrangements long in advance of when you may need them gives you a greater say in how your life will unfold in the event you become ill or infirm.
  2.  Medical decisions: You may have a time in your life when you are unable to make your own medical decisions.  If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness, and unable to make end-of-life decisions, who would make them for you?  You can plan that in advance.  A good elder law attorney can sit down and discuss all of the factors you will want to consider.  You can write this in any way that makes sense to you.
  3.  Wills, trusts, transfer on death deeds and bank accounts:  Everyone should plan how to leave their assets after they  pass away.  There are pros and cons to different approaches and not every approach is right for every person.  If you draft these documents yourself, you may unintentionally trigger a bad consequence you had not considered.  Sometimes people who own property of small value monetarily have items of great personal value to their family and friends.  You can decide how you want those items divided.
  4. Long-term care financial planning:  If you might need to enter a nursing home, or receive long-term care at home, in the future, how will you pay for that?  A good elder law attorney can help you understand Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, long-term care insurance and how all of these program interact.
  5.  Other miscellaneous issues:  If you are 60 years of age or older, seeing an elder law attorney rather than a general practitioner is a good idea, even for legal work unrelated to “typical” elder law topics.  This is because an elder law attorney will be looking for things a GP will not necessarily see: how a divorce settlement interacts with Medicare is one example.  Are there signs of financial exploitation or elder abuse?  Are there hints someone might file for a guardianship?  These are the types of issues an elder law attorney can help.

If you or someone you know needs assistance in elder law, and you live in the Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton, Michigan counties, please contact Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic to assist  you with your needs at 517-372-3484.

Professor Kimberly O'Leary

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Kimberly O’Leary supervises and teaches third-year law students in its Sixty Plus, Inc. Elderlaw Clinic. The clinic works to help older adults by drafting documents to help them plan for the future, allowing them to maintain independence for as long as possible. Professor O’Leary has written extensively in the field of attorney-client counseling, housing law, diversity training, the relationship between social justice goals and clinical law offices and clinical teaching.  Other blog articles by Professor O’Leary: Aging parents should plan ahead to avoid being another exploitation or scam statistic and Sixty Plus, Inc. Elderlaw Clinic recognized for decades of service to older adults.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, Skills, Student Experiences, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

Presidential Decision Will Affect American Life and Culture in Profound Ways

Anyone thinking that he or she will sit out the upcoming election (or cast a “protest vote”) might want to think again. While the media has vast swaths of the electorate distracted by such matters as Donald Trump’s testosterone levels and Hillary Clinton’s pulmonary functioning, we stand poised to make a decision that will affect American life and culture in profound ways. The Supreme Court hangs in the balance – WMU-Cooley Professor and Constitution Expert Brendan Beery

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Brendan Beery on Bay News 9 in Tampa

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Brendan Beery on Bay News 9 in Tampa

To illustrate the stakes, I will outline a few issues where conservatives and liberals, respectively, have enjoyed some success, and where each side stands to lose just about everything if its candidate loses.

As backdrop to this discussion, I note (even if it is a bit unseemly) that one Supreme Court seat is open (the seat once held by Antonin Scalia) and that the next president is likely to fill not only that seat, but potentially a total of two, three, or even four. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a liberal) is 83; Anthony M. Kennedy (a small-government conservative who often sides with liberals on social issues) is 80. Stephen Breyer (a liberal) is 78. The rest of the five remaining justices are 68 or younger.

Assuming that Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are the most likely candidates to retire and be replaced by the next president, one can see the trajectory of the Court. Either Clinton or Trump could replace one conservative (Scalia), the Court’s “swing vote” (Kennedy), and two liberals (Ginsburg and Breyer). Now to the issues.

Conservative Successes

  1. The Second Amendment. In two 5-4 decisions, the Court has upheld the right of the individual to bear arms (at a minimum, to possess firearms in the home for personal safety) that applies against state attempts to impose certain gun control measures. If Trump wins, these decisions become etched into our jurisprudence and likely expand – for example, to the right to bear more and larger weapons in more and varying places. A Clinton win would mean the narrowing and possible overruling of these two cases.
  2. Voting. Conservatives won the day in two cases: Citizens United (the case striking down campaign contribution limits) and Shelby County (the case striking down parts of the Voting Rights Act that protected minority voting rights). Both decisions were decided by a vote – you guessed it – of 5-4. If Trump wins, these cases remain good law; Clinton has pledged to appoint justices who would overrule them.
  3. Prayer and religion. Conservatives won one case (5-4) in which the Court allowed prayer at a city council meeting and another (again, 5-4) in which the Court upheld the right of an employer (Hobby Lobby) to refuse to provide insurance-related contraceptive coverage for employees when the employer objected on religious grounds. If Trump wins, these religion-friendly decisions are likely to remain good law for decades; if Clinton wins, they are vulnerable.
  4. The death penalty. This one is simple; most scholars say that there are four votes against the death penalty on the Court right now; four justices would hold that it violates the Eighth Amendment in all circumstances. They await a fifth vote.

Liberal Successes

  1. Abortion. Only five justices think that a woman has a right to have an abortion. If Clinton wins, abortion rights are here to stay. If Trump wins, Roe v. Wade could well be overruled.
  2. Marriage. The recent Obergefell decision (the same-sex-marriage case) was a 5-4 decision. If Clinton wins, it will be the law of the land for all time. If Trump wins, he will put justices on the Court who will be inclined to overrule Obergefell and return the marriage issue to the states, meaning that same-sex marriage will be legal in liberal states and illegal in conservative states.
  3. Affirmative action. There are five votes right now to allow public entities to establish affirmative action programs in higher education and employment. A Clinton win would keep the status quo in place; a Trump win would mean the end of government-run affirmative action programs.
  4. Public unions. The Court recently upheld the right of public unions to collect union dues from non-members. That decision, in the absence of Justice Scalia, was 4-4. A Clinton win would mean these unions could continue to finance themselves; a Trump win would likely mean the end of public-employee unions.

Of course, there are many other issues at stake as well. But again, if any of these issues is important to you, this election may be the last chance – either to cement the Court in the place where you want it or to flip the Court in the direction you’d prefer.

Professor Brendan BeeryBlog author, Constitutional Law expert and WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery, illustrates the stakes for both conservatives and liberals in this coming election. Professor Beery, a summa cum laude graduate of the law school, teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure at WMU-Cooley Law School, and is a frequent legal expert in the media.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Knowledge, Skills, Ethics, Latest News and Updates, Uncategorized

House Criminal Justice Committee Unanimously Supports Bills for the Wrongfully Convicted: Will Michigan be the 31st state to right the wrong?

Take a minute to consider all that you might lose during the years of a wrongful incarceration. Then consider how you would begin to put your life back together. Where would you live? How would you support yourself? How would you explain where you have been when you apply for a job? How would your medical and psychological needs be met? These are just a few of the challenges that Michigan citizens who have been wrongfully convicted face on a daily basis. – Director of WMU-Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project Marla Mitchell Cichon

My client, Donya Davis, is a case in point. Mr. Davis was wrongfully convicted in 1997. Mr. Davis was convicted of criminal sexual assault. At trial, Mr. Davis presented an alibi defense. And there was DNA evidence excluding Mr. Davis from the rape kit. Nevertheless, Mr. Davis was convicted after a bench trial. The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project obtained additional DNA testing in 2013 and Mr. Davis was excluded on all the tested samples and the new evidence pointed to another male contributor. In light of the post-conviction DNA results, the State agreed to the Project’s motion for new trial and all charges against Mr. Davis were dismissed in November 2014.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


In prison, Mr. Davis took advantage of all the education and training he could, including earning a paralegal certificate and attending culinary school. Fortunately, Mr. Davis has strong family support and he has worked hard to get back on his feet since his exoneration. Nevertheless, life continues to be a challenge. This week the House Criminal Justice Committee considered Senate Bill 291. The proposed law would provide compensation for wrongfully convicted Michigan citizens. If passed, Michigan would become the 31st state, along with the District of Columbia and the federal government, to provide compensation to wrongfully convicted individuals.

marla_happy

The Committee also considered  House Bill 5815 which provides exonerees with the access to housing and other services. Both bills were supported unanimously by the committee. Both bills would make a difference in Mr. Davis’s life. These two pieces of legislation will give Michigan exonerees the ability to reintegrate back into society and improve their quality of life. Making these bills law is both right and just.


Blog author, Marla Mitchell-Cichon, is the director of WMU-Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project as well as the co-director of the Access to Justice Clinic for Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. Professor Mitchell-Cichon has extensive practice experience in criminal and poverty law. Her litigation experience includes practicing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Ohio Supreme Court, and trial courts in both Ohio and Michigan.

2 Comments

Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized, WMU-Cooley Innocence Project

Day of Remembrance: 9/11 Day-Long Scout Salute to First Responders

“Everyone remembers where we were on that day and yet when you hear the phrase 9/11, you don’t think of anything other than the events from 15 years ago. We say 9/11 and everyone knows what we feel and what occurred, it was a visceral deep pain.” – Ret. Brig. General and WMU-Cooley Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel

The Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and Museum come together each year on September 11 to honor those who sacrificed their lives during the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, by hosting a Community Day of Remembrance and day-long Scout Salute. 

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Associate Dean and retired Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel, an Eagle Scout himself, was the keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony. He joined scouts and their families, fire, police, EMS, and military personnel, as they saluted the flag being flown at the museum.

“These men along with the men and women who serve our country, whether in the service, police department, or fire department, they are our nation’s heroes,” said McDaniel. We should not be confused with entertainers and sports figures who consume much of the time during national newscasts. At most they could be considered role models, not heroes,” stated General McDaniel.

He continued by talking about the definition of a hero. A hero like Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar who served as a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, and was a priest from McDaniel’s alma mater St. Bonaventure University.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mychal Judge was the first casualty on 9/11, serving in the capacity as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. Although Father Judge was “a very small-framed, quiet, soft-spoken man,” stated McDaniel, “he was a man with the hugest heart of any man I have ever met.”

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, USA (ret.)

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, USA (ret.)

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H.  McDaniel, USA (ret.) is a professor and the director of WMU-Cooley’s Homeland and National Security Law Program. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Strategy. His responsibilities included supervision of the Department of Defense Critical Infrastructure Protection Program and the Global Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Policy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, Military Feature, Uncategorized