Business law professor receives Chancellors Club Teaching Award

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas Medical Center cancer researcher and a longtime business law professor will be honored respectively for their research and teaching by KU Endowment’s Chancellors Club.

Shrikant Anant has been selected as the 2017 Chancellors Club Research Award recipient. Edwin W. Hecker Jr. has been selected as the 2017 Chancellors Club Teaching Award recipient. Each will receive a $10,000 award and will be recognized at the Oct. 6 Chancellors Club celebration in Lawrence.

Shrikant Anant

Shrikant Anant, a leading researcher in the biology of cancer, cancer prevention and new therapies, has been a faculty member at KU Medical Center since 2010. He is the Tom and Teresa Walsh Professor of Cancer Prevention, the Kansas Mason Professor of Cancer Research and vice chair of research in the Department of General Surgery at the KU Medical Center. He also is the associate director of Prevention and Cancer Control at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute designated center.

Anant came from, as he put it, a “family of overachievers” — mathematicians, physicists, engineers — and he was the only biologist.

Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, is glad Anant took that path and enthusiastically nominated him for the Research Award. Jensen said Anant played a critical role in bringing the National Cancer Institute designation to the cancer center.

“He is not only an outstanding scientist but also a person with servant leadership qualities. When Shri gets involved, good things happen, not only for him, but also for all those around him and the entire institution,” Jensen said.

Much of his research focuses on cancer biology, RNA-editing proteins and the discovery and evaluation of products for cancer prevention and therapy, especially in the field of colon cancer. He also teaches, advises and mentors medical students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. 

“This recognition is not just for me, but also for my mentees and the people in my lab,” Anant said. “I believe that successful mentoring pairings are reciprocal relationships, for I learn as much if not more from mentees as they learn from me.”

Career highlights:

  • Anant worked with the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation and the KU School of Medicine’s Urology Department to develop CicloMed, a new drug to treat bladder cancer. It is positioned to go to clinical trials.
  • Anant has 132 publications of his research, most of it in peer-reviewed journals.
  • He has developed several cutting-edge research projects, including a “tumor in a dish” method to study tumor metastasis, and the discovery of a cancer stem cell in the intestine along with a protein that marks those cells and suppresses them.

 

Edwin Webster Hecker Jr.

Edwin Hecker, who goes by Webb, joined the faculty of KU Law in August 1972. His focus is primarily on business law, including mergers and acquisitions.

He went into teaching because “law practice didn’t have enough law.” A reluctant public speaker, he couldn’t sleep the night before he taught his first class; now thousands of students have taken his courses. He encapsulates his experience in two words: Students first.

Hecker considers the Teaching Award recognition a great honor.

“Teaching, broadly defined, has been my life for 45 years,” Hecker said. “To be singled out in this respect is very emotional. People talk about being honored and humbled, and those words just can’t describe how important this is.”

KU Law School Dean Stephen Mazza appreciates Hecker’s influence on students during and after law school.

“Webb personifies ‘teaching’ broadly construed as encompassing not only classroom teaching and student mentoring, but much more as well. To him, ‘teaching’ means putting students, and the interests of students, first in everything he does professionally,” KU Law Dean Stephen Mazza said in his nomination letter.

Career highlights:

  • Hecker serves as inaugural co-director of the Polsinelli Transactional Law Center, which is a hub for transactional law courses, symposia and programming related to business transactions.
  • KU Law alumnus J.R. Walters established the Edwin W. Hecker Jr. Teaching Fellowship in 2015 through KU Endowment to show his appreciation for Hecker’s influence during Walters’ time at KU as well as Hecker’s help in encouraging Walters’ daughter to attend KU Law.
  • Among many honors, he received the Immel Award for Teaching Excellence in 1996 and the W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2000. He was chosen for the Frederick J. Moreau Advising Award in 2008 in recognition of his commitment to counseling students, and he was named Centennial Teaching Professor of Law in 2015.

The Chancellors Club, formed in 1977 by KU Endowment, recognizes both donors of major gifts designated for specific purposes on any of KU’s campuses and annual donors to the Greater KU Fund.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

Environmental justice overlooked in Dakota pipeline saga, legal expert says

Monday, September 11, 2017

LAWRENCE — Even though there have already been leaks since oil began flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline this spring, American Indian tribes still have a chance to stop it, according to a University of Kansas professor.

In her new article, “Environmental Justice: A Necessary Lens to Effectively View Environmental Threats to Indigenous Survival” — published in the Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems Journal — Elizabeth Kronk Warner writes that there are a number of bases under which affected American Indian tribes might reasonably challenge the pipeline in court. Kronk Warner is a professor at the KU School of Law and director of the school’s Tribal Law & Government Center.

A court has already ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that approved and permitted a segment of the pipeline’s cross-country route, met the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act and adequately consulted the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as to that path, which brushes up against the tribe’s reservation.

But Kronk Warner writes that there are other issues over which the tribes might sue and prevail, including the basic unfairness of re-routing the pipeline away from the mostly white city of Bismarck, North Dakota, for fear of contaminating its water supply and toward the Standing Rock reservation.

“The environmental justice claim has not yet been fully adjudicated,” Kronk Warner said. “There are still cases ongoing.”

Then, too, Kronk Warner writes, there are legal issues related to the fact that American Indian tribes have national sovereignty.

It is well-established, she writes, that the federal government has a “trust responsibility” to American Indian tribes owing to the tribes’ “many cessions of both land and external sovereignty” in years past. Courts, she writes, have ruled that the federal government has “fiduciary obligations related to the management of tribal trust lands and resources” and that “statutes affecting Indians are to be construed liberally in favor of the Indians...”

Thus, under certain circumstances, “the federal government owes to Native nations a duty that it ensures natural resources are sustained.”

The pipeline, portions of which are buried below Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, threatens not only those water resources on which the tribes depend, but also land that was originally American Indian territory.

Kronk Warner devotes a section of her article to outlining the “Unique Tribal Connection to the Land and Environment,” stating that indigenous communities’ claims differ from others in that “indigenous cultures and traditions are tied to the environment in a manner that traditionally differs from that of the dominant society.” For American Indians, she writes, land is “the source of spiritual origins and sustaining myth which in turn provides a landscape of cultural and emotional meaning.”

If that weren’t enough, Kronk Warner writes, tribes opposed to the pipeline might challenge it based on international law. The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the United States has signed, provides guidance meant to preserve “indigenous self-determination,” she writes, including restitution or compensation “for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.”

Finally, Kronk Warner writes, the Standing Rock Tribe’s current case before the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals questions whether the government adequately consulted the tribe under a nationwide system of water-crossing permits established under the Clean Water Act. Tribal representatives failed to appear at several scheduled meetings.

“The big takeaway from this is that even if you disagree with the method of consultation, you should show up,” Kronk Warner said.

Even so, Kronk Warner believes there are flaws in the consultation process involved in DAPL. She writes that the Army Corps’ Nationwide Permit No. 12, issued in 2012, “pre-approved construction without any consultation on the pipeline’s impacts on the tribe’s sacred sites.” “That permit authorized Dakota Access to make a unilateral determination of impacts and hence the tribe never had an opportunity to participate in the National Historic Preservation Act process except in a handful of areas.” The consultations that did occur “focused only on the narrow area of the Corps’ direct Clean Water Act jurisdiction, ignoring the pipeline route outside these jurisdictional areas,” she writes.

A challenge to the national permit might be a fruitful avenue for the tribes to pursue, Kronk Warner said.

“How do you engage in effective consultation with a nationwide permit?” Kronk Warner asked rhetorically. “I’d encourage tribes and municipalities to come together to push for an end to these nationwide permits for pipelines.”

Photo: Screenshot from "#NoDAPL - Water protector "Happi" American Horse in North Dakota" at about 0:09.

KU law school providing free legal assistance for DACA renewal

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Update, Sept. 18: Originally, the DACA renewal walk-in clinic was intended only for Douglas County residents, but an outpouring of volunteer support now makes it possible for the clinic to serve anyone, regardless of residence.

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law will provide free legal assistance to individuals eligible to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) authorization before the Oct. 5 deadline set by the White House.

Through the DACA Renewal Clinic, KU Law students and faculty will help eligible Douglas County residents complete and submit renewal applications so they may continue to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. In addition, KU students may seek assistance through a separate service by Legal Services for Students (see information below).

“These applications must be finished and mailed in time to be received by the government by October 5,” said Melanie DeRousse, associate clinical professor of law and director of Douglas County Legal Aid. “Any applications that are received after that date will result in a denial of renewal, and the work authorization and protection from deportation will expire on the date listed on the person’s work authorization card. The timeline is very short, and the consequences of not getting paperwork done in time are extremely harsh in this scenario.”

Schedule
The walk-in clinic will operate out of the Douglas County Legal Aid Society office in 105 Green Hall, 1535 W. 15th St.

  • Tuesday, Sept. 19 | 3:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 21 | 3:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 24 | Noon-6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 26 | 3:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 28 | 3:30-6:30 p.m.

No appointment is necessary, but please call 785-864-5564 in advance with questions or if an interpreter or other accommodations are needed. Please park in the Allen Fieldhouse garage, located on Irving Hill Road just west of Naismith Drive. Bring parking garage tickets to the clinic for validation.

Eligibility
Clients eligible to attend the clinic to apply for a two-year renewal of DACA must:

  • Have DACA status and a work permit that expires on or before March 5, 2018, and
  • Not currently be involved in immigration proceedings.
  • Be prepared to pay the $495 government filing fee upon submission of the renewal application. (KU Law services are free, but the application requires a fee.)

If the above does not apply, please refer to this advisory from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (English | Spanish) and contact an immigration attorney to determine your next steps.

What to bring
Please bring with you:

  • Your work authorization card,
  • Your Social Security card,
  • Your state-issued ID, if you have one,
  • A copy of your first DACA application and approval notice,
  • Two passport photos, and
  • If you have been arrested, charged with a crime or received a ticket, any paperwork related to that offense.

DACA allowed people who were brought to the U.S. as children to obtain the ability to work, attend school and remain free from deportation for two-year periods as long as they met strict eligibility criteria. Those criteria included being enrolled in or having graduated from high school or participating in military service, and being free of any criminal convictions for felonies or serious misdemeanors. Nearly 6,000 Kansans obtained lawful work authorization and protection from deportation through the DACA program by meeting those strict requirements; many will now require immediate legal assistance to determine their eligibility for renewal and to process renewal paperwork before the deadline.

While the KU Law DACA Renewal Clinic is prepared to serve the broader community, Legal Services for Students is available specifically for KU students. KU students who wish to speak with a lawyer about issues related to the DACA program and its pending rescission should contact Legal Services for Students at 785-864-5665. The office is located in 212 Green Hall and open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All personal information will remain completely confidential.

Law professor awarded tenure

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

LAWRENCE — Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has approved promotion and the award of tenure where indicated for 62 individuals at the University of Kansas Lawrence and Edwards campuses and 77 individuals at the KU Medical Center campuses.

Chancellor Gray-Little, along with Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Neeli Bendapudi, who chairs the University Committee on Promotion and Tenure on the Lawrence campus, and Dr. Douglas Girod, executive vice chancellor at the KU Medical Center, issued a joint statement of congratulations.

“This is an important career milestone achieved only by exceptional faculty and researchers. They are to be congratulated. KU’s dedicated scholars and educators are addressing the challenges of our changing world and driving this university forward as a major research institution. The faculty on our dynamic campuses deliver comprehensive research and outstanding educational experiences, and take part in professional, clinical and service activities required of their field. Their service, passion for their disciplines, and dedication to students is inspiring and is at the core of KU’s vision to educate leaders, build healthy communities and make discoveries that change the world.

“The University Committees on Promotion and Tenure on both campuses did an excellent job evaluating the many eligible candidates. We encourage all members of the university community to reach out to these educators and share appreciation for their hard work.”

At the KU Lawrence and Edwards Campuses

To full professor

  • Yoshiaki Azuma, molecular bioscience
  • Tamara Baker-Thomas, psychology
  • Barbara Barnett, journalism & mass communications
  • Barbara Bradley, curriculum & teaching
  • Paulyn Cartwright, ecology & evolutionary biology
  • Clint Chadwick, business
  • Stuart Day, Spanish & Portuguese
  • Stephen Dickey, Slavic languages and literatures
  • Tamara Falicov, film & media studies
  • Laird Forrest, pharmaceutical chemistry
  • Lisa Friis, mechanical engineering
  • Omri Gillath, psychology
  • Nils Gore, architecture
  • Tanya Hartman, visual art
  • P. Scott Hefty, molecular bioscience
  • Lena Hileman, ecology & evolutionary biology
  • Tien Lee, journalism & mass communications
  • Steve Leisring, music
  • Xingong Li, geography & atmospheric science
  • Patricia Lowe, educational psychology
  • Margaret Marco, music
  • Sanjay Mishra, business
  • Mary Morningstar, special education
  • Robert Moyle, ecology & evolutionary biology/senior curator, Biodiversity Institute
  • Uma Outka, law, with tenure
  • Steve Spooner, music
  • Michael Taylor, geology
  • Jonathan Templin, educational psychology
  • Georgios Tsoflias, geology
  • Margot Versteeg, Spanish & Portuguese
  • Yan Zhang, communication studies
  • Hui Zhao, physics & astronomy

To Associate Professor with Tenure

  • Ferhat Akbas, business
  • Ryan Altman, medicinal chemistry
  • Mazhar Arikan, business
  • Peter Bobkowski, journalism & mass communications
  • Jody Brook, social welfare
  • Hongyi Cai, civil, environmental & architectural engineering
  • Hyesun Cho, curriculum & teaching
  • Jacob Dakon, music
  • Elizabeth Esch, American studies
  • Germain Halegoua, film & media studies
  • Trent Herda, health, sport & exercise science
  • Yunfeng Jiang, mathematics
  • Michael Kirkendoll, music
  • Melinda Leko, special education
  • Fengjun Li, electrical engineering & computer science
  • Adi Masli, business
  • Erik Scott, history
  • Shuanglin Shao, mathematics
  • Randy Stotler, geology
  • Jason Travers, special education
  • Yang Yi, electrical engineering & computer science
  • Jiso Yoon, political science

Tenure only

  • Joe Colistra, associate professor, design
  • Suzanne Shontz, associate professor, electrical engineering & computer science

KU Libraries

  • Jon Giullian, to librarian                     
  • Elspeth Healey, to associate librarian

Academic staff promotion, effective Fiscal Year 2017

  • Marcellino Berardo, Applied English Center, to associate specialist                          
  • Elizabeth Gould, Applied English Center, to associate specialist                              
  • Jude Kastens, Kansas Biological Survey, to associate research professor      
  • Molly Steed, Pharmacy Practice, to clinical associate professor         

 

At the KU Medical Center Campuses

To professor (previously tenured)

  • Navneet Dhillon, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine
  • Wen-Xing Ding, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics
  • Aron Fenton, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Joseph Fontes, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Patricia Kluding, School of Health Professions Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
  • Xiaogang Li, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine
  • Jonathan Mahnken, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Biostatistics
  • Susana Patton, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pediatrics
  • Liskin Swint-Kruse, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Shahid Umar, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Surgery
  • Darren Wallace, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine
  • John Wood, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
  • Wolfram Zueckert, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics and Immunology

To professor (affiliate track, Stowers Institute, nontenure track)

  • Kausik Si, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

To associate professor with tenure

  • Brian Andrews, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Plastic Surgery
  • Julie Carlsten Christianson, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
  • Qi Chen, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics
  • Jeremy Chien, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Cancer Biology
  • Babalola Faseru, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
  • Moben Mirza, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Urology
  • Reena Rao, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine
  • Irfan Saadi, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
  • Ryan Schroeder, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Psychiatry
  • Chad Slawson, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Pamela Tran, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
  • Jo Wick, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Biostatistics

To associate professor on clinical scholar track (nontenure track)

  • Michael Abraham, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Neurology
  • John Ashcraft, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Surgery
  • Dhaval Bhavsar, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Plastic Surgery
  • James Birch Jr., School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Family Medicine
  • Roukoz Chamoun, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Neurosurgery
  • Koji Ebersole, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Neurosurgery
  • Shelby Fishback, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Radiology
  • Kiran Kakarala, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Otolaryngology
  • Shobana Kubendran, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Pediatrics
  • Michael Lewis, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pediatrics
  • Joel Mermis, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine
  • Jay Nachtigal, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Anesthesiology
  • Atta Nawabi, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Surgery
  • Jeffrey Norvell, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Alan Reeves, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Radiology
  • Dawood Sayed, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Anesthesiology
  • Siddharthan Sivamurthy, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Pediatrics
  • Tracy Williams, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Family and Community Medicine
  • Abdulraheem Yacoub, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine

To professor on clinical scholar track (nontenure track)

  • Wendy Biggs, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Family Medicine
  • Paul Camarata, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Neurosurgery
  • Deon Cox Hayley, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine
  • Mark Cunningham, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Talal Khan, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Anesthesiology
  • Monica Kurylo, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Science
  • Da Zhang, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Timothy Schmitt, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Surgery

To clinical assistant professor (clinical track, nontenure track)

  • Regina “Gina” H. Johnson, School of Nursing-Kansas City
  • Heather Nelson-Brantley, School of Nursing-Kansas City

To clinical associate professor (clinical track, nontenure track)

  • LaVerne Manos, School of Nursing-Kansas City

To clinical associate professor (clinical track, full-time, nontenure track)

  • Marc Parrish, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics

To clinical associate professor (clinical track, part-time, nontenure track)

  • Susan Sharp, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Science
  • Utku Uysal, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Neurology

To clinical professor (clinical track, part-time, nontenure track)

  • Joy Weydert, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pediatrics

To professor (clinical track, part-time, nontenure track)

  • Amit Rastogi, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine

To professor (clinical track, volunteer, nontenure track)

  • Sharad Mathur, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

To clinical associate professor (clinical track, volunteer, nontenure track)

  • Rajat Barua, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Internal Medicine
  • Eric Ecklund-Johnson, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Neurology
  • Akash Joshi, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Radiology
  • Caleb Pearson, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Neurology
  • Wassim Shaheen, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Internal Medicine
  • Shadi Shahouri, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Internal Medicine
  • Erin Stahl, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Ophthalmology
  • Patty Tenofsky, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Surgery
  • Jonathan Wilcher, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Emergency Medicine

To clinical professor (clinical track, volunteer, nontenure track)

  • Rangarai Selvarangan, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

To associate professor (educator track, part-time, with tenure)

  • C. Scott Owings, School of Medicine-Salina Department of Family Medicine

To professor (educator track, full-time, with tenure)

  • Nancy Davis, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Family and Community Medicine

To research associate professor (research track, part-time, nontenure track)

  • Gina Berg, School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Family and Community Medicine

To research associate professor (research track, volunteer, nontenure track)

  • Matthew Gibson, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

To research associate professor (research track, full-time, nontenure track)

  • Eric Vidoni, School of Medicine-Kansas City Department of Neurology

Double vision: KU Project for Innocence frees wrongfully imprisoned man after finding doppelganger

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Exoneree Richard Jones hugs Alice Craig, supervising attorney with the University of Kansas Project for Innocence, after being released from prison.

LAWRENCE — The outlook for Richard Jones appeared bleak when University of Kansas School of Law Project for Innocence interns Chapman Williams and Chad Neswick took over his case in 2015.

Despite maintaining his innocence from the start, Jones had already spent 15 years in prison for aggravated robbery – convicted after the victim and witnesses of a purse snatching identified him in a police lineup. Without new evidence to counter the eyewitness testimony, relief seemed unlikely.

Then something happened that made everyone see the case differently.

Inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility — where Jones was serving his 19-year sentence — started mistaking him for another guy on the inside named Ricky Amos. Jones reported the look-alike confusion to the Project for Innocence, and Williams and Neswick tracked down mug shots of Amos.

“They looked like they could have been twins,” Williams said. “From there, other pieces of the puzzle began fitting together.”

Nearly two years later, Jones is enjoying a new view. He walked free this month after a Johnson County judge reversed his conviction and ordered his release. Jones held his 2-year-old granddaughter for the first time and enjoyed a barbecue with family and friends.

“Working on Richard’s case has taught me to look at every case with care,” said KU Law student Brenna Lynch, who helped draft the petition that won Jones another chance to challenge his conviction. “It’s bittersweet. We were able to help Richard, and now he gets to be with his family and live as a free man again. But it’s hard knowing that almost 20 years of his life were taken from him for a crime he didn’t commit.”

‘No other option’

On May 30, 1999, Jones celebrated his girlfriend’s birthday by hosting a Memorial Day weekend barbecue in Kansas City, Missouri. The next day, he was home all day cleaning up.

Exoneree Richard Jones embraces KU Law student Nikki Multer, who helped work on his case as an intern with the University of Kansas School of Law's Project for Innocence.A few miles across the state line in Kansas City, Kansas, three people who had been driving around smoking crack went to a neighborhood where they could buy more. They picked up a man named Rick at a known drug house. He told them to drive to a nearby Walmart, where he attempted to steal a woman’s purse in the parking lot. She fought back, sustaining minor injuries, and the assailant got away with only her cell phone.

Neither the victim nor the Walmart security guard got a good look at the attacker. According to court records, they could only describe him as a thin, light-skinned black or Hispanic man with dark hair.

Through a series of identification procedures, police and witnesses came to believe Richard Jones was the assailant. He was arrested nine months after the attack and convicted of aggravated robbery in 2000.

No physical evidence tied Jones to the getaway vehicle, the victim or the robbery. Despite presenting a verified alibi, he was convicted based solely on eyewitness identification.

“Richard Jones’s case highlights the flaws in eyewitness identification and the importance of proper procedures,” said Alice Craig, supervising attorney with KU’s Project for Innocence. “Witnesses were presented with no other option but to choose Jones in the lineups as created. None of the other photos matched the description provided by the witnesses.”

Manifest injustice

Those flawed identification procedures became strikingly clear after Jones drew the attention of Project for Innocence advocates to the existence of his doppelganger, Ricky Amos.

As students Williams and Neswick dug deeper, they discovered that Amos had committed other crimes consistent with the one for which Jones was serving time. They also determined that Amos had lived in the Kansas City area and was associated with the address of the duplex where Jones had allegedly been picked up before the robbery.

“With all of these facts, we were able to build a case, including meeting with the victim of the crime and witnesses who were at Walmart that day,” Williams said.

None of them could tell Amos and Jones apart. “I am no longer certain I identified the right person at the preliminary hearing and trial,” Tamara Scherer, the robbery victim, said in an affidavit last year. “If I had seen both men at the time, I would not have felt comfortable choosing between the two men and possibly sending a man to prison.”

Indeed, Jones was the only light-skinned man in the police lineups shown to Scherer and witnesses.

Project for Innocence students Brenna Lynch and Nikki Multer took over the case in 2016. They drafted the motion to vacate Jones’s sentence, compiled exhibits, made trips to get statements from the original witnesses, researched problems with eyewitness testimony, searched for experts to testify, met with the Johnson County District Attorney’s office and eventually helped file the case.

Although Jones had previously exhausted his appeals, the 10th Judicial District Court in Johnson County agreed to hear the new evidence to prevent a “manifest injustice.” 

Improving the system

Former Johnson County Assistant District Attorney John Cowles, who prosecuted the original trial, testified at the June 7 hearing that it was rare for him to try cases based solely on eyewitness identification because of its known “pitfalls.” He said new evidence presented by the Project for Innocence, in partnership with the Midwest Innocence Project, undermined his confidence that Jones’s trial produced a just result.

Exoneree Richard Jones holds his 2-year-old granddaughter for the first time while giving a TV interview after his release.In a ruling from the bench, Judge Kevin P. Moriarty wrote that no reasonable jury would convict Jones if he were tried again, especially in light of evidence linking Amos to the crime.

“When Judge Moriarty finally said what we all had been waiting hours to hear, it was almost surreal,” said Lynch, who attended the hearing and was at the Johnson County Jail when Jones was released the next day. “The effect of that ruling didn’t even really hit me until I saw Richard get to hug his daughter, something he probably hasn’t done for 17 years. Members of his family, people I had never met before, were thanking me and hugging me. That’s a really good feeling, knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life like that.”

Multer and Lynch both said working on Jones’s case taught them the importance of vigilant advocacy.

“Our criminal justice system is flawed, so we as lawyers have a duty to make it better,” Lynch said. “I had the privilege of working on a case that had a happy ending, but, unfortunately, that’s rare. There are hundreds of other cases — and maybe hundreds of other people like Richard — who never get this chance.”

Recent independent studies conservatively estimate that between 2 and 5 percent of inmates in the United States are innocent. More than 70 percent of those wrongful convictions are the result of mistaken eyewitness identification, especially across racial lines, according to Cardozo Law’s Innocence Project.

“Cases like Mr. Jones’s give our students the opportunity to examine the causes of wrongful convictions, as well as the valuable experience of working with a client,” said Beth Cateforis, supervising attorney with KU’s Project for Innocence. “When we achieve an outcome like Mr. Jones’s, the students get to see the result of their perseverance and know that their efforts changed their client’s life.”

Williams, who graduated in May, characterized Jones’s exoneration as the most important accomplishment of his budding legal career.

“More importantly, I’m extremely happy that Richard is free,” he said. “His resilience and determination made it all possible. I hope he is compensated for those 17 years of lost time.”


PHOTOS (from top): Exoneree Richard Jones hugs Alice Craig, supervising attorney with the University of Kansas Project for Innocence, after being released from prison; Jones embraces KU Law student Nikki Multer, who helped work on his case as an intern with the Project for Innocence; Jones holds his 2-year-old granddaughter for the first time while giving a TV interview after his release.

KU law professors provide research, development of Kansas' innovative public benefit corporations legislation

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


LAWRENCE — Since 2010, numerous states have passed legislation providing for the establishment of public benefit corporations — for-profit businesses that choose to also make promoting the public good part of their corporate purpose. Kansas recently enacted such legislation, with aspects that make it one of the most innovative and unique in the nation, supported by a drafting team led by University of Kansas School of Law faculty and alumni.

Corporations that make furthering public good part of their mission are becoming increasingly more common. Whether they are outdoors recreation outfitting companies like Patagonia that support environmental sustainability, or a clothing company such as TOMS that provides shoes to children in need for every pair sold, public benefit corporations are increasingly dotting the corporate landscape.

As of 2017, 37 states have approved legislation allowing such organizations to incorporate within their borders. What makes Kansas’ legislation innovative, KU Law professors say, is its combination of Kansas’ traditional reliance on Delaware law as a model and transparency requirements that originated in legislation proposed by B Lab, a nonprofit entity that fosters the use of business as a force for good.

“The idea is to create a corporate focus where the owners of the company are obligated to pursue one or more benefits for the public good. Traditionally, companies could do that as a byproduct of their work, but this is part of the fiduciary duties of a public benefit corporation,” said Virginia Harper Ho, professor of law at KU. “What’s special about this is the dual mission. You have the for-profit mission and the public good. Had we not done this, businesses that wanted to use the public benefit corporation model would have had to incorporate somewhere else." 

Harper Ho and Webb Hecker, Centennial Teaching Professor at KU, were part of a committee working on behalf of the Kansas Bar Association to research, draft, and recommend to the Kansas Legislature a comprehensive update of Kansas General Corporation Code. They were joined by KU Law alumnus William Matthews, who chaired the committee, and attorneys Robert Alderson, Garrett Roe, William Quick and William Wood.

Delaware law made sense as a starting point because its business entity legislation is traditionally looked to as the gold standard, and the state is widely viewed as business friendly. The Delaware General Corporation Law, updated annually, is touted as the most advanced and flexible business formation statute in the nation. In addition, the Delaware Court of Chancery is a one-of-a-kind business court that, over the years, has developed a high degree of specialized knowledge and created a wealth of modern U.S. corporation case law.

Kansas has a history of modeling business legislation after Delaware dating back at least to the 1940s, and, in more recent times, Kansas courts have recognized Delaware Supreme Court and Court of Chancery opinions as persuasive precedent.

“Delaware is attractive because they have courts that are highly respected, have written good case law and left few unanswered questions,” Hecker said. “So what you can do is pattern your legislation after Delaware’s and take advantage of their statutes and judicial opinions.”

Hecker also said the impetus for special public benefit corporation legislation is the belief that corporate law requires the directors of for-profit corporations to pursue single-mindedly the goal of profit-maximization for the benefit of the corporation’s shareholders. Therefore, the fear is that if a corporation wants to do well and do good, it will open itself up to suit by one or more disgruntled shareholders, hence the need for statutory relief.

The Kansas special committee, however, did not simply want to recreate Delaware’s public benefit corporation legislation. Rather, the committee combined the best of the Delaware and B Lab models with some unique features of its own. The result is a statute that:

  • requires the directors to manage the corporation in a way that balances the monetary interests of the shareholders, the public benefit(s) the corporation has elected to pursue and the best interests of those affected by the corporation’s conduct
  • requires the corporation to prepare an annual benefit statement on the basis of a transparent standard created by an independent third party entity
  • requires the benefit statement to be distributed to the shareholders and be made publicly available
  • requires a two-thirds supermajority shareholder vote to elect or terminate public benefit corporation status (while providing appraisal rights to dissenters)
  • requires that a person be a shareholder in order to enforce the corporation’s duty to pursue a public benefit

House Bill 2153 passed in the 2017 Kansas legislative session was signed by the governor and takes effect July 1. Hecker and Harper Ho said the unique nature of the legislation gives the state an edge in supporting business innovation and will also serve as a model for other states in supporting public benefit corporations while the enhanced reporting and transparency mechanisms will prevent “greenwashing,” the practice of claiming to support public good causes for a competitive advantage without following through.

“We thought we could get the best of both worlds by strengthening the reporting mechanism,” Harper Ho said. “This is another path. Kansas is now the only state to merge the Delaware approach and greater transparency requirements.”

KU law students make honor roll for pro bono service

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

LAWRENCE – Ten University of Kansas School of Law students contributed nearly 600 hours of free legal services during the past year, earning a spot on KU Law’s inaugural Pro Bono Honor Roll.

Students prepared tax returns for low-income residents, interviewed and advised asylum seekers at a family detention center, and served as court advocates for victims of domestic violence seeking protection orders. 

“Participants in the Pro Bono Program had the opportunity not only to give back to individuals and communities in need of legal services, but also to gain hands-on legal experience that will help them become more effective and empathetic advocates,” said Meredith Schnug, associate director of KU’s Legal Aid Clinic.    

The following students completed 15 hours or more of pro bono service during the 2016-2017 academic year. Students are listed by name, graduation year and hometown:

  • Travis Freeman, 2017, Olathe
  • Brett Pollard, 2017, Leawood
  • Rachel Shannon, 2017, Hutchinson
  • Ramona Sole Suchomel, 2017, Asuncion, Paraguay
  • Patrick Sullivan, 2017, Wichita
  • Karly Weigel, 2017, Southlake, Texas
  • Samantha Yianitsas, 2018, Industry, Texas
  • Karlee Canaday, 2019, Manhattan
  • Davide Iacobelli, 2019, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • Lauren Johannes, 2019, Overland Park

In addition, six students were honored at graduation with Pro Bono Distinction for having completed 50 hours or more of pro bono service throughout their law school career:

  • Travis Freeman
  • Brett Pollard
  • Ramona Sole Suchomel
  • Patrick Sullivan
  • Karly Weigel 
  • Shelley Woodard, 2017, Garden City

Graduate Travis Freeman volunteered at the South Texas Family Detention Center, helping women who were detained at the border – many with small children – with their asylum claims.

“Many of them had harrowing journeys, subjected to robbery, fraud, kidnapping, and physical and sexual violence. But they persevered,” Freeman said. “It was a humbling experience being brought to tears on a daily basis as they told me their stories.”

Other organizations that benefited from the students’ work include the Willow Domestic Violence Center, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, KU Athletics, Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Kansas Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, KU Traffic Court and the Kansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office.

KU law school’s moot court program continues top-20 national streak

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

KU Law's National NALSA Moot Court Competition team

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law’s moot court program is 17th in the nation, according to rankings published this month by the University of Houston Law Center.

Led by several top-three national performances, KU Law students accumulated enough points to break into the top 20 for the second year in a row. Pamela Keller, clinical professor of law and lawyering skills director, helped advance KU Law's moot court program two spots above last year’s No. 19 ranking.

“This year every team in our program made it to what we call the ‘knockout’ rounds – the advanced rounds – of a national or international competition,” Keller said. "This means that every team performed at a very high level, which also means our students are ready to perform at a high level in actual legal practice. To have so many teams win awards, and to have our program be nationally ranked, is icing on the cake.”

Accumulating the most points toward KU’s ranking was its performance at the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition in early March. Megan Carroll, Wichita, and Bill Madden, Topeka, placed second in the NNALSA competition. Carroll won the award for second-best oral advocate out of 128 competitors.

Other highlights from the 2016-2017 moot court season:

  • Ciara Malone, Overland Park, and Nikki Marcotte, Manhattan, placed second in the Wechsler First Amendment National Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.
  • Ashley Billam, Olathe, and Sam LaRoque, Shawnee, won the regional round of the National Moot Court Competition in Topeka, then advanced to the Sweet 16 at the national rounds in New York City.
  • Will Easley, Overland Park, and Bill Madden, Topeka, took third place at the Federal Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall National Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.
  • Chris Wolcott of Oakwood, Ohio, and Kyle Crane, Overland Park, advanced to the quarterfinals of the PACE National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition in White Plains, New York.
  • CJ Boyd, Dallas, and Dalton Mott of Independence, Missouri, advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Tournament in San Diego, and Mott received the third-best oral advocate award.
  • Erica McCabe, Emporia, and Max McGraw and Kriston Guillot, both of Shawnee, advanced to the regional quarterfinals of the National Moot Court Competition in Topeka.
  • John Truong, Wichita; Joe Uhlman, Sedgwick; Bridget Brazil, Chanute: Kyle Klucas, Silver Lake; and Cecelia Crookston, Kansas City, Kansas; advanced to the regional quarterfinals of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Denver.
  • Skyler Davenport, of Blue Springs, Missouri, and Nathan Kakazu, of Madison, Wisconsin, advanced to the regional semifinals of the ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Hannah Schoeb and Cody Wood, both of Leawood, were quarterfinalists in the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition in Los Angeles.

Most KU Law students who compete in national tournaments were the top finishers in the school’s in-house moot court competition during their second year of law school. Competitions generally consist of writing an appellate brief and presenting a mock oral argument before an appellate court.


Photo: Megan Carroll, Wichita, and Bill Madden, Topeka, placed second in the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition. Carroll won the award for second-best oral advocate out of 128 competitors.

Law school honors 2017 graduates for scholarship, leadership and service

Thursday, May 25, 2017

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law honored Class of 2017 graduates at a hooding ceremony May 13. During the ceremony, nine students received awards for distinguishing themselves in scholarship, leadership and service to the law school and to the community.

The recipients are:

  • Craig Boyd, Dallas, Texas, Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
  • Hannah Brass, Wilmore, Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award
  • Ethan Brown, Flower Mound, Texas, Janean Meigs Memorial Award
  • Tyler Childress, Coffeyville, Robert F. Bennett Award
  • Kriston Guillot, Shawnee, Janean Meigs Memorial Award
  • Beth Hanus, Elm Grove, Wisconsin, Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award
  • Erica McCabe, Emporia, Class of 1949 Leadership Award
  • Matt Scarber, Tucson, Arizona, Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award
  • Cody Wood, Leawood, Class of 1949 Leadership Award

Hanus also served as the 2017 banner carrier, an honor bestowed upon an honor student who exemplifies excellence in his or her program.

The award winners were part of a class composed of 121 recipients of the Juris Doctor, as well as one Master of Laws in American Legal Studies and two Doctor of Juridical Science graduates.

Funds for the awards are managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1981, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

Student award recipients are listed below by hometown.

Hannah Brass

COMANCHE COUNTY
From Wilmore
Hannah Brass received the Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished him or herself through leadership in the law school. Brass served as editor-in-chief of the Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy and a member of the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council. She is the daughter of Dave and Mindy Brass and a graduate of South Central High School and the University of Oklahoma.

Cody Wood

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Leawood
Cody Wood received the Class of 1949 Leadership Award, given to the student who has contributed most significantly to the overall experience of students in Green Hall. Wood served as vice president of the International Law Society, a Dean’s Fellow and a KU Law Student Ambassador. He represented the law school in the KU Student Senate and served on the Student Bar Association Executive Board. Wood was also a member of the KU student chapter of the Federal Bar Association and Traffic Court. He is the son of Brian and Lorrie Wood and a graduate of Blue Valley North High School and the University of Kansas.


Kriston Guillot

From Shawnee
Kriston Guillot received the Janean Meigs Memorial Award, given to students who have demonstrated a caring spirit in service to the students of the law school or the community at large. An intern at the Douglas County Legal Aid Society and Legal Services for Students, Guillot served as president of the 3L class, a justice on Traffic Court, a KU Law Student Ambassador, and a member of both the Moot Court Council and the Black Law Students Association. He served as a teaching assistant for the course Lawyering Skills and was a member of the winning team in KU’s 2016 In-House Moot Court Competition. Guillot is the son of Kirby and Joyce Guillot and a graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest High School and the University of Kansas. 


Erica McCabe

LYON COUNTY
From Emporia
Erica McCabe received the Class of 1949 Leadership Award, given to the student who has contributed most significantly to the overall experience of students in Green Hall. McCabe served as editor-in-chief of the Kansas Law Review and distinguished herself on several committees, including the Academic Affairs Committee and the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council. She also served as a Dean’s Fellow and a KU Law Student Ambassador, and she was a member of the winning team in KU’s 2016 In-House Moot Court Competition, receiving the award for Best Oral Advocate. McCabe is the daughter of Jennifer and Brenton Bennett and a graduate of Emporia High School, the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.


Tyler Childress

MONTGOMERY COUNTY
From Coffeyville
Tyler Childress received the Robert F. Bennett Award, recognizing a graduate whose undergraduate degree is from a Kansas university or college and who has demonstrated leadership qualities through public service. Childress served in leadership capacities for the KU Law Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council, the KU Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Group, the KU Student Senate, and the KU Law student division of the Federal Bar Association. He was a note and comment editor on the Kansas Law Review and vice president of OutLaws & Allies. Childress worked as a legal intern at the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted two jury trials during his third year of law school. He is the son of Tracey and Lisa Childress and a graduate of Field Kindley Memorial High School and the University of Kansas.


Matt Scarber

ARIZONA
From Tucson
Matt Scarber received the Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award, given to the graduate whose service to his or her fellow students demonstrates the greatest promise for contribution to the legal profession and society. Scarber is known for standing up for causes he believes in and engaging in difficult, but important, conversations. He served as the president of KU Black Law Students Association and was a leader on the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council, along with supporting and assisting many other organizations at the University of Kansas and in the Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City communities. Scarber was a student finalist for KU’s inaugural Diversity Leadership Award. He is the son of Freddy and Lillie Scarber and a graduate of Cienega High School and the University of Arizona.


Craig Boyd

TEXAS
From Dallas
Craig Boyd received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement, which goes to the graduating student selected by the faculty as having made the most significant contribution toward overall legal scholarship. Boyd’s article, “Appraisal Arbitrage: Closing the Floodgates on Hedge Funds and Activist Shareholders,” was published in the Kansas Law Review and cited in a Vanderbilt Law Review article written by experts in the field. Boyd served as note and comment editor for the Kansas Law Review. Additionally, he was a member of a KU Transactional LawMeet team that reached the semifinals of the Southwest Regional Round and received the award for best buyer’s side draft agreement. Boyd served as a Dean’s Fellow and was a member of the KU team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2016 National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Tournament. Boyd resides in Lawrence with his wife, Sara. He is the son of Craig and Gina Boyd, and a graduate of Flower Mound High School and MidAmerica Nazarene University. 

 


Ethan Brown

From Flower Mound
Ethan Brown received the Janean Meigs Memorial Award, given to students who have demonstrated a caring spirit in service to the students of the law school or the community at large. Brown served as managing editor of the Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy and as a KU Law Student Ambassador. He was a Dean’s Fellow, president of the Student Intellectual Property Law Association and vice president of the KU student chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He participated in KU’s Medical-Legal Partnership Field Placement Program at KUMC and worked through Kansas Legal Services to serve the elderly population as part of KU’s Elder Law Field Placement Program. Brown helped community members file taxes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Brown is the son of Norman and Lori Brown and a graduate of Northern State University.


Beth Hanus

WISCONSIN
From Elm Grove
Beth Hanus received the Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished himself or herself in the combined areas of scholarship, leadership and service. Hanus served as executive note and comment editor of the Kansas Law Review, overseeing each of the scholarly pieces written by fellow law students. Her comment, “Rape by Nonphysical Coercion: State v. Brooks” was published in volume 64. Hanus also served as a KU Law Student Ambassador and a student member of the Academic Affairs Committee. She was a teaching assistant for the Lawyering Skills course and served on the executive board of Women in Law and as a member of the Business and Tax Law Society. Hanus graduated at the top of her class. She is the daughter of Susan and Michael Hanus and a graduate of Brookfield East High School and Macalester College. 

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