"The fight between Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas and the state’s judicial branch has escalated, with the governor last week signing into law a bill that could strip state courts of their funding.
The measure, at the end of a lengthy bill that allocated money for the judiciary this year, stipulates that if a state court strikes down a 2014 law that removed some powers from the State Supreme Court, the judiciary will lose its funding.
"Victims of human trafficking face overwhelming obstacles in escaping their captors for good.
In more cases than one might think, what they need more than anything else is a lawyer.
With this in mind, Kansas University clinical associate professor Katie Cronin taught KU’s first Human Trafficking Law and Policy class this spring. While earning credit for the course, law students went to work on real cases.
"Female lawyers have seemingly overcome systematic exclusion, but many still struggle with stress, influence and power as they are paid less and do more on average per week in terms of work (domestic and professional) than men.
'I regularly encounter people who believe that because there may be de jure gender equality there is de facto gender equity. The glass ceiling is real and it persists to this day,' reveals the Honorable Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner, who serves as the Director of the Tribal Law & Government Center at the University of Kansas School of Law."
"A budget advanced by Kansas legislators would eliminate funding for state courts if a judge strikes down a controversial law passed last year.
Republican senators and representatives agreed Monday on a two-year judicial budget that would self-destruct if any court blocks or overturns a 2014 law that stripped the Kansas Supreme Court of some administrative authority, giving local courts control over their own budgets and leadership.
"More than 250 sexual assault kits were never sent off to the state's crime lab at three of the area's largest law enforcement agencies.
But what experts are now learning is that when investigators choose not to test every kit, it comes at a high price. In some cases, it has allowed predators to keep preying.
'Offenders in some cases would have been off the street and wouldn't be able to commit more crimes,' says Corey Rayburn Yung, a University of Kansas associate law professor, who has studied America's hidden rape crisis.
LAWRENCE — The common perception of human trafficking might be that of young people forced into prostitution or substandard working conditions. The ways in which attorneys, and even law students, can help prevent and respond to human trafficking might not make the headlines, but a new class at the University of Kansas School of Law is helping those on the front lines fight human trafficking and serve victims.
Katie Cronin, clinical associate professor at the law school and in the Department of Family Medicine, taught Human Trafficking Law and Policy for the first time this semester. Cronin, who also directs the law school’s Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, said she wanted to teach this new class to help law students understand that attorneys in many different specializations will likely encounter this issue at some point in their careers. The course introduced students to international protocols and domestic laws that are designed to prevent human trafficking, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators and those who benefit from human trafficking. The students, in turn, wrote papers that speak to a particular facet of human trafficking or produced projects that will provide resources to attorneys, health care workers, police and shelters who assist human trafficking victims here in the state of Kansas.
“Human trafficking has been viewed as a coastal problem. People don’t always grasp that its victims originate in the Midwest as well,” Cronin said. “There are victims of all ages, both male and female, and it’s a problem both foreign and domestic. Sex trafficking often garners most of the media attention, but, statistically, labor trafficking is happening at a much higher rate, and there can be sexual victimization happening in the labor trafficking context. To think of sex and labor exploitation as always being two very distinct things is false.“
In addition to learning about laws like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the class produced projects specifically designed to assist attorneys, victim advocates, police and health care workers in helping trafficking victims. The projects included a manual for pro bono attorneys working T visa cases, an immigration remedy available to foreign national victims, prepared with the help of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Lauren Bavitz prepared a Know Your Rights brochure for trafficking victims served by the Willow Domestic Violence Center. There are a host of legal issues for victims to consider, from protection orders to immigration issues to housing matters.
“I was interested in the class to understand the legal nuances in combating the issue. For example, I wanted to learn the different legal remedies between non-citizen versus citizen victims and the most effective way to prosecute perpetrators,” Bavitz said. “My project connects a victim-centered approach with practical legal resources, because often, legal remedies are unattainable for those who do not know where to look. I hope that in distributing the brochure throughout Kansas, I can connect a few victims and families to the legal remedies they need.”
Marci Mauch, a student in the class and a former MLP Clinic participant, produced training materials to help police officers and health care professionals at the University of Kansas Hospital recognize signs of human trafficking and appropriate ways to ask questions, respond and offer help. Trafficking victims often come into contact with police or medical professionals, and it is not always immediately clear that they may be involved in a trafficking situation.
“While working at (KU’s) Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, I learned that health care providers are in an excellent and unique position to identify victims of trafficking. I hope it will make a difference for all those that use it – for the health care providers to be able to identify the victims, the victims to receive the help they need to escape or overcome their situations and attorneys and law enforcement to be able to identify the traffickers, build a case against them and help the victims,” Mauch said. “Trafficking victims can be hidden in plain sight. If something seems off, it is better to say something than to ignore it. So many trafficking victims are rescued by good Samaritans that noticed something was wrong and reported it to the authorities.”
Students also researched and wrote about a range of topics, including:
Human trafficking and connections to the U.S. military
Ensuring multinational corporations are accountable and their supply lines are free from trafficking
LGBT youth and trafficking
Victims who are minors
Immigration and trafficking.
The value of examining the topic of human trafficking in a broad legal sense lies in the fact that the problem touches so many areas of law, Cronin said. Whether the students go on to work in immigration or corporate law, prosecution, victim services or numerous other specialties, they’ll be able to make a difference.
“We have this cohort of law students who will graduate and pursue a range of legal work but who will now have awareness of this complex problem,” Cronin said. “Knowing students have that awareness at the beginning of their careers excites me.”
Providing services and resources to those already working in the field also gives students valuable experience while proving they can help address societal problems while they are still students.
“I think the class was solution-focused. Of course, we started by gaining an understanding of what the problem is and its basis in the law, but then we looked at ways to use the law as a tool to tackle it,” Cronin said. “That corresponds with my understanding of what KU Law students are truly capable of achieving, and I think it corresponds with the abolitionist values of our state and university.”
LAWRENCE — Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has approved promotion and the award of tenure where indicated for 67 individuals at the University of Kansas Lawrence and Edwards campuses and 46 individuals at KU Medical Center.
Chancellor Gray-Little, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter, who chairs the University Committee on Promotion and Tenure on the Lawrence campus, and Dr. Douglas Girod, executive vice chancellor at KU Medical Center, issued a joint statement of congratulations.
“Congratulations to the outstanding faculty and researchers who’ve reached the next milestone in their careers. KU’s dedicated scholars and educators are addressing the challenges of our changing world and propelling this university forward as a major research institution. Their enthusiasm and contributions further our mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The commitment they have to ensure students succeed is inspiring.
“As always, the University Committees on Promotion and Tenure on both campuses did an excellent job evaluating the many eligible candidates. We hope the entire university will join us in recognizing these educators who uphold the institution's ideals through research, teaching and service.”
"Washburn University’s suspension of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity this week following disclosure of crude text messages and a photo of a topless woman raises questions of free speech and how much power public colleges hold over students’ behavior.
Washburn’s investigation centers on whether the fraternity members violated the student code of conduct. In an email to faculty and staff, President Jerry Farley said appropriate sanctions will be imposed once the inquiry is completed.
"Booker, 20, is charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State. He had his initial court appearance Friday and will have a preliminary hearing April 20. He is being represented by a public defender.