Law School in the news

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UAW corruption investigation casts shadow at the bargaining table as GM workers strike

GM workers have been on strike since midnight Monday. Company and union leaders are back at the bargaining table in Detroit. They’re trying to hammer out a new contract after GM workers walked off the job for their first strike since 2007. But there’s a third, unseen presence at the bargaining table this time. It’s the U.S. Justice Department, and its investigation into alleged corruption by some UAW officials. Peter Henning is a professor of law at Wayne State University and a former federal prosecutor. He says that when the feds investigated union leaders in the past, it was usually over suspected ties to organized crime. But this may be something entirely different. “It appears that it was essentially treating some of the funds like their own little piggy bank,” said Henning. Some UAW officials allegedly devised a scheme to use union member dues for personal expenses, like California luxury accommodations and golf. These are only allegations, and neither Jones nor Williams has been charged. Despite GM’s profits right now, the automaker is looking at a possible looming recession, weakening demand, and tariff challenges. It’s leaning heavily on truck and SUV sales, as the industry is becoming more technologically complex and electrified. Marick Masters teaches business and labor studies at Wayne State. He says the UAW will inevitably have to make a less-than-perfect deal for its members—but with many union members’ skeptical of the leadership’s credibility, leaders are more likely to “play to the crowd” and less likely to make a deal. “And that becomes a vicious circle in which inflexibility on one side leads to inflexibility on the other side,” said Masters. “I think at this point in time, the company has the leverage, because of the cloud that hangs over the UAW leadership.”
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Former radio talk show host now a ‘LawStart’ student at Wayne State

Eric Decker once reached a large audience as a radio talk show host under the name Eric Thomas. He launched his career at Banana 101.5, a rock radio station in Flint, then worked all over the country, including several years blogging and hosting at 97.1 The Ticket sports radio station in Southfield where he covered the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons. Now Decker hopes to reach people as an attorney. Recently wrapping up his 1L year at Wayne State University Law School, he is clerking this summer at Maiorana PC, a small patent law firm in St. Clair Shores. “Radio was certainly good preparation for the public speaking aspect of law, but I really benefitted from all the show prep I did over the years,” he says. “The time I spent researching in radio was a good warm up.” A political science major at WSU after studying at Mott Community College and Oakland Community College, Decker is one of two “LawStart” students who were the first in the program to be accepted into Wayne Law. The highly competitive program allows students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to earn both their bachelor's degree and law degree from Wayne State in six years, instead of the usual seven.  
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Supreme Court delays redrawing districts in Michigan gerrymandering case

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary hold on a federal court order to redraw legislative and congressional districts in Michigan by August. The justices on Friday issued a brief order that stayed the April 25 decision pending the disposition of the appeal of the case or further order by the court. Republican lawmakers two weeks ago filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to suspend the judgment of the lower court, pending the outcome of similar cases that the justices are expected to decide by July. The Supreme Court heard arguments in March in alleged partisan gerrymandering cases from North Carolina and Maryland. The high court's five conservative justices asked at oral arguments whether unelected judges should police the partisan actions of elected officials. The court is simply holding off on the Michigan case, including deciding the appeal, until it rules in the North Carolina and Maryland cases, said Robert Sedler, a constitutional law expert and professor at Wayne State University Law School. "It’s not surprising that the court stayed this case until it decides the cases from North Carolina and Maryland," Sedler said. "That will determine whether the claim in this case — that the Constitution prohibits political gerrymandering — is a viable claim. This is what the court typically does when the result in a lower court case is going to be controlled by cases that the court is already hearing."
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Wayne Law students honored by National Lawyers Guild

Two Wayne State University Law School students have been named student honorees by the Michigan and Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Cait De Mott Grady of Ithaca, New York, and Phillip Keller of Frankenmuth, received the honor at the chapter’s 82nd Anniversary Dinner on May 11. Both students graduated Monday, May 13. While at Wayne Law, De Mott Grady was a member of the executive board of Wayne Law’s NLG chapter, a member of the Student Board of Governors and was a junior member on the Mock Trial National Team for the American Association of Justice for the winter semester. In 2018, she was elected student national vice president of the NLG. De Mott Grady is a champion for public interest law. She has interned with the Juvenile Lifer Unit at the State Appellate Defender Office in Detroit and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and has worked for Wayne Law’s Criminal Appellate Practice Clinic and Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic.
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Power play: Hockey player takes aim on a legal career

A former University of Michigan hockey player, Wayne State University law student Max Shuart likens preparing for a test to preparations to a hockey game—“Down to having a pre-game meal and listening to music before an exam to get pumped up,” he explains. “Along with that, I’ve found that being competitive, prepared to work hard, and managing time properly have been extremely helpful in the first year of law school, which is often very demanding and time intensive.” Approaching the end of his 1L year at Wayne Law, Shuart will spend this summer as a Levin Center legal intern working on the House of Representatives Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight in the nation’s capital. “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to continue developing my legal skills and represent Wayne State, Detroit and Michigan while working alongside people who day after day want to make the world a better place,” he says. In his upcoming 2L year, Shuart will serve as vice president of the school’s Federalist Society, which brings in speakers for dialogue on various topics; he also is a member of the Entrepreneurship & Business Law Society, which recently brought in a panel of Michigan lawyers to discuss their practices and career paths. “All of the people at Wayne Law make it a great place, from professors to students,” he says. “I’m pleasantly surprised to not have any 1L horror stories about any professors, they all conducted class each day in a way that was never too daunting while maintaining high expectations.”   
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Leaders pay respects to late Judge Damon Keith

Federal Judge Damon Keith of Detroit died Sunday morning at 96. Dignitaries from around Michigan weighed in to offer their respects. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson: "It’s a sad day. Judge Damon Jerome Keith passed away earlier today, and we are all mourning the loss of this outstanding civil rights pioneer, federal judge and great friend of Wayne State. I had the honor of being sworn in as the 12th president of Wayne State University by Judge Keith, but it meant even more to me to have met the man..."
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Places, programs named in honor of Judge Damon Keith

Federal judge and civil rights icon Damon Keith, who died Sunday morning at age 96, left a legacy well beyond the ground-breaking decisions he made from the bench during his career. Keith — who more than five decades on the federal bench first as a  U.S. District Court judge and later on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals — ruled in several high-profile cases during his tenure, including the desegregation of Pontiac schools, President Richard Nixon's and U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell's wiretapping of student radicals in Ann Arbor and against deportation hearings held in private. While Keith may be gone, his legacy lives on. Here are the buildings and programs named in his honor: Damon J. Keith Scholarship. 
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Wayne Law sex trafficking program draws large crowd

The conference “(S)exploiting the Vulnerable: Empowering Future Legal Advocates,” held April 12 at Wayne State University Law School, attracted more than 300 attendees from a variety of disciplines including, law, social work, law enforcement and non-profits. Planned and coordinated by Wayne State Assistant Professor Blanche Cook and law students Taylor Hilton, Ben VanSlyke, Lydia Mikail, Rebecca Bundy, and Elisabeth Moore, the event opened with remarks by WSU Law School Dean Richard Bierschbach about the issues of sex trafficking and how future legal advocates can make a change by bringing light to this topic. Wayne Law alumna Angela Povilatis from the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, and Kim Trent from the WSU Board of Governors spoke about the growing world of sex trafficking and how the legal community can work to combat this practice. 
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(Sex)ploiting the vulnerable

"Ours is a society that craves vulnerable flesh,” says Blanche Cook, an assistant professor at Wayne State University Law School and a leading national expert on sex-trafficking prosecutions and the commercialization and exploitation of females. Cook, previously an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Nashville, Tenn., specializing in large-scale drug and sex-trafficking prosecutions, is helping organize an April 12 conference, “(S)exploiting the Vulnerable: Empowering Future Legal Advocates to Combat Sex Trafficking.” “Unlike other sex trafficking conferences, Wayne Law’s conference centralizes the point of view of the survivor and uses that point of view to critique the legal process,” Cook says. Cook notes sex trafficking, that victimizes both children and adults, has reached epidemic proportions. Homeless youth, victims of discrimination or domestic violence, and asylum-seekers are frequent targets, and the Internet and substance dependency makes vulnerable people easy prey, often through force, fraud, or coercion. “Sex trafficking is omnipresent and always has been,” Cook says. “Vulnerability is the lynchpin—or epicenter—of exploitation. Geographic location is peripheral, vulnerability is key. “Large scale events like trade shows, where there is disposable cash, large crowds, and an abundance of recreational time and party-like atmosphere are often a recipe for commercialized sex disaster. Vulnerability combined with domination and control by reducing human beings to commodities to be bought and sold on an open market are the essence of commercialized sex.” 
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Two generations of Levins talk state of American politics

The Levin family is one of the most powerful political dynasties in the history of Michigan — and, perhaps, the United States. Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin is one of the longest-serving members of the Senate. Now, his nephew, Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) is one of the newest members of Congress. Both Levins appeared on “Detroit Today” for separate conversations about the state of politics in America. Carl Levin will be a featured speaker today at an event organized by the Journal of Law in Society and the Levin Center at Wayne Law. The event — “Gerrymandering: The Power of Boundaries” — will convene national experts including Sen. Levin to talk about the practice of partisan drawings of political lines. 
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Uber under the antitrust microscope

In a new article titled “Antitrust As Allocator of Coordination Rights,” Wayne State University Assistant Professor of Law Sanjukta Paul explains that antitrust law allocates the right to coordinate decisions such as pricing or output across economic agents, and does so favorably for large powerful firms but unfavorably for workers’ organizations and small businesses or “micro-enterprises.” The ostensible basis to prefer coordination by large firms is promoting competition through the pursuit of efficiency. But even that basis, Paul argues, fails to explain many antitrust decisions that yield significant coordination rights to large firms while undermining competition via concentrating power. To reach parity of treatment between these varieties of coordination, Paul calls for liberalizing horizontal coordination rights beyond firm boundaries while providing mechanisms for public oversight.
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Is President Trump's emergency declaration for a border wall legal?

Constitutional law expert Robert A. Sedler wrote an op-ed about President Donald Trump’s executive declaration. Sedler wrote: “In the months ahead, there will be a plethora of commentary about the President’s declaration of a national emergency to obtain funding for his long-promised border wall. Ultimately, the questions we examined here will be resolved within the framework of the American constitutional and judicial system.”
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WSU has lowest law school tuition, high success rate

Thinking about going to law school in Michigan? Wayne State University is worth a look. An investigation by the USA Today Network looked into passage rates for the bar exam at U.S. law schools, including those in Michigan. The network looked at each school's share of 2015 graduates who passed the bar within two years. The data shows that of the five law schools in Michigan, Wayne State University Law School has the lowest annual tuition, $31,956, but one of the highest rates for students passing the bar — 96 percent. 
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Bills flying in lame-duck frenzy could be unconstitutional, legal experts say

Republican lawmakers may be violating the state constitution with fast-tracked bills in the lame-luck Legislature that curb the powers of incoming Democratic officeholders or water down proposals backed by Michigan voters, legal experts say. "They're just going crazy," said Robert Sedler, a Wayne State University law professor. Sedler, who has taught at Wayne State since 1977 and wrote a book on American constitutional law, cited a range of problematic bills — from a package the Senate passed Thursday to strip enforcement of campaign finance laws from the secretary of state to one that restricts the incoming governor's choices to head the Michigan State Police, and bills that meddle with legislation and constitutional amendments backed by Michigan voters. "In the 40 years that I've been here, I have not seen any such effort to curtail the powers of the governor and the executive branch," Sedler told the Free Press Thursday.
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Opinion: Lawmakers pull a 'bait and switch'

Robert Sedler, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University, opined about the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature passing bills “that would amend significantly – or more accurately gut completely – the minimum wage and sick leave laws that the Legislature enacted in response to an initiative proposal just prior to the 2018 election.” Sedler continued: “In accordance with Art. II, sec. 9, the Legislature responded to the initiative petition by enacting the initiative laws without change or amendment. But at the same time, the Republican leaders stated that they were enacting these laws only to prevent the people from voting on the initiative and that after the election they would amend the laws to make them more favorable to business interests. This “bait and switch” strategy shows utter disdain for Michigan voters and for the Constitution. The plain language of the Constitution and the structure for legislative initiative that the Constitution establishes is absolutely clear. The initiative law has come from the people, not the Legislature. This being so, it is not like other laws. It is not a law that the Legislature can amend at will. Under the Constitution, once an outgoing Legislature has enacted a law in response to an initiative petition, and prevented the people from voting on the initiative, that Legislature cannot amend the initiative law in the same legislative session. Sedler concluded: “We live under a Constitution and the rule of law. The Legislature should have respected the Constitution and allowed the minimum wage and sick leave laws to take effect without change or amendment.”
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Immigration experience sparked her faith in the ‘American justice system’

When Asma Al-Khshali and her family moved from Qatar to the United States seven years ago, their application for permanent residency was initially declined. The family hired an immigration attorney — Al-Khshali’s first exposure to the legal system in the U.S. “I was very intrigued by it,” she says. “The immigration judge who ultimately granted our stay in the country changed my family’s life, and my faith in the American justice system was cemented right there and then. I wanted to contribute to the system’s legacy ever since.” She headed to Wayne Law School a year ago, following her older brother — an attorney — into the legal world. 
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Sears facing bankruptcy: Here's what consumers need to know

Sears may be days away from bankruptcy. The long-troubled retailer has reportedly started making the moves for a filing, leaving nearly 1,000 Sears and Kmart locations on the chopping block. The company is $134 million in debt and hasn't turned a profit since 2010. Laura Bartel, professor of bankruptcy law at Wayne State University, has been watching it decline as the retail industry as a whole goes under, and online shopping takes over. Over the past decade, Sears has closed a lot of stores to downsize but hasn't been able to get its finances under control. In Michigan alone, in May, consumers learned four traditional Sears stores were closing. Then in July, it was announced the Sears at Oakland Mall and eight other locations would buckle by September.
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U.S. Supreme Court status after Justice Kavanaugh confirmation

Robert Sedler, Wayne State law professor and constitutional law expert, was a guest on the Craig Fahle Show discussing the state of the U.S. Supreme Court following the addition of Justice Kavanaugh. Sedler suggested that the public should ignore the media hype and the political statements from both sides. He said the Supreme Court acts as an institution and only about a third or less of its 70 or so cases each year are constitutional cases adding that the greater part of the Court's work is interpreting and applying federal laws and deciding questions involving the workings of the federal government. 
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Rolling the dice with Enbridge, Line 5 and the Great Lakes

It's hard to look at a deal announced this week between the State of Michigan and Canadian oil giant Enbridge and not feel like Gov. Rick Snyder is really rolling the dice: Gambling that aging, damaged Line 5, an oil pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac, won't have a significant breach or rupture in the 7 to 10 years. "This is a state and a department of environmental quality that have an absolutely horrendous record of everything from technical judgement to oversight, to, frankly, fundamentally protecting people’s water and people themselves. It’s like a bad deal between the two worst actors," says Noah Hall, a professor at Wayne State University Law School and founder of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center.