Professor: Universities underreporting sexual assault by as much as 44 percent

Monday, February 02, 2015

LAWRENCE — Universities across the country are likely underreporting on-campus sexual assault, new research by a University of Kansas researcher shows. While there is not one clear reason why the crimes might be underreported, data show that the numbers of sexual assaults were low, increased during periods of audit, only to return to the lower numbers after the audits were over. To address the problem, increased audits and fines may be necessary, said Corey Rayburn Yung, professor of law.

Yung analyzed crime-reporting data from 269 universities in the United States and found that sexual assault is likely an estimated 44 percent higher than reported numbers. More than 11,000 schools in the United States are required to submit campus crime information to the Department of Education by the Clery Act. He limited the study to schools with 10,000 or more students to get consistent, comparable statistical data. The article was published in the journal Psychology, Public Policy, and Law.

Since 2001, only 31 of the 269 institutions with 10,000 or more students were audited in regard to their crime numbers. Many schools, especially smaller institutions, often reported zero sexual assaults.

“It just seemed like the norm was to assume there is nothing wrong,” Yung said. “I looked at those 31 to see how their numbers changed before the audit, during the audit and after the audit. Based on their interactions with auditors there seems to be a systematic undercounting.”

The numbers showed that during the 31 investigations, reported sexual assaults rose nearly 44 percent. However, after the investigations the rates dropped back to a level statistically indistinguishable from the rates before the audit. Yung also examined the reported rates of aggravated assault, robbery and burglary. No statistical variations appeared for those crimes during the investigations. While they are different crimes, the numbers paint a troubling picture, he says.

“Each of those crimes has a very different dynamic,” Yung said. “I don’t mean to say they are a direct comparison. But the only one that shows this fluctuation during the audit is sexual assault.”

There are many potential reasons campuses could underreport sexual assaults, he said. While all schools need to attract new students, none want to portray themselves as a dangerous place with high crime numbers. Campus police, like municipal police departments, can often be under pressure to show they are reducing crime as well. Sexual assault, especially on a campus setting, often involves an acquaintance and questions of consent or incapacitation. Given that there are often two competing stories, sexual assault can often be more easily dismissed than other crimes due to “lack of evidence” or contradictory statements, Yung said.

Further complicating matters, campuses are required to adjudicate claims of sexual assault within 60 days; however evidence including DNA and drug and alcohol analysis are often not available within such a short timeframe. The public nature of the Clery Act crime statistics — data must be provided to both the Department of Education and students — could also be an incentive to undercount.

“I think it varies substantially from campus to campus why sexual assaults may be underreported, but the evidence shows that undercounting is taking place,” Yung said.

Two clear steps can be taken immediately to help address the problem of underreporting. First, Yung suggests that more audits take place. Currently, the Department of Education can launch an investigation either at random or if it is triggered by a specific on-campus event or notable problem. Since 2001, only 54 such audits have been conducted. Second, stronger fines should be levied against universities that are shown to have knowingly underreported crimes. Currently the cap for such fines is $35,000. Data shows that even institutions that were fined for underreporting returned to rates of reporting sexual assault before an audit. The Campus Accountability and Safety Act, currently before Congress, would increase maximum penalties from $35,000 to $150,000.

Whatever the reason for undercounting sexual assault, the biggest problem is that it can allow serial rapists to prey on more victims if they are not prosecuted for previous offenses. A 2010 study by Kimberly A. Lonsway of End Violence Against Women International showed that more than 90 percent of rapists are serial rapists, Yung said. Legislation, combined with more scrutiny and treating sexual assault as a public safety crisis could help combat the problem of underreporting as well as preventing future crimes and serving justice for victims.

“I think increased auditing and more severe punishments for those shown to be undercounting are certainly the first steps,” Yung said. “As it is, schools could undercount for decades. There’s almost no deterrent. It would be good to have an incentive for schools to count these crimes accurately.”

Professor argues standards for cutting-edge science need to consider intellectual property

Monday, January 12, 2015

LAWRENCE — The development of a new “open language,” or standard means for communicating data and results between researchers, to guide collaboration in the cutting-edge science of synthetic biology shows valuable potential. But it must take intellectual property issues into account at the outset to avoid legal problems that can be destructive to the process of standards setting, a University of Kansas law professor argues.

Andrew Torrance, also a visiting scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, co-authored a commentary in the leading journal Nature Biotechnology, arguing that if intellectual property concerns are not included in the development of a Synthetic Biology Open Language, or “SBOL,” scientific progress could be thwarted and wasteful legal battles ensue. The commentary was written as a response to an SBOL proposal written by Galdzicki et al., previously published in Nature Biotechnology. Torrance co-authored the commentary with professors Jorge L. Contreras of the University of Utah and Arti K. Rai of Duke University. All three specialize in law, biology, intellectual property and technical standards setting.

The Synthetic Biology Open Language is a set of technical standards intended to serve as a common language to allow diverse research groups to collaborate in the field of synthetic biology without need for technical translation. The language would be part of standards “accelerating scientific progress in synthetic biology and for the eventual commercialization of resulting technologies,” Torrance and co-authors wrote. However, patent and other intellectual property issues highly relevant to the adoption of SBOL were not mentioned and should be considered.

“Standardization and the standards setting process has greatly benefited other fields of scientific endeavor, such as engineering and computer science, and is similarly important to synthetic biology,” Torrance said. “Just as standard worldwide language for air traffic control has enhanced both efficiency and safety, thus spurring air travel, standard language for information exchange should lead progress in synthetic biology to be faster and more meaningful. However, the biological research landscape is replete with patent rights, so standard setting must grapple about intellectual property at the outset.”

Torrance and colleagues recommend including patent holders and legal experts in ongoing negotiations to develop standards such as the Synthetic Biology Open Language. Failing to do so could result in patent holders filing lawsuits, either immediately or once the standard has been adopted, thereby slowing, frustrating or thwarting scientific progress. Such dangers could also drive up the cost of innovation. Failing to consider legal issues has “bedeviled standard developers over the past two decades in industries ranging from wireless networks telecommunications to computer networking to semiconductor memory,” the authors wrote.

Designing standards without considering legal implications would be like designing a top-of-the-line automobile without ensuring there will be a road system on which to drive it, Torrance said. Not only would the vehicle be unable to show off its power and speed, it would almost certainly hit damaging potholes before it got anywhere.

One of the guiding philosophies in the field of synthetic biology is to be open and to share progress with all who are interested. The authors salute and support the “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” ethos this reflects, but they urge those trying to set technical standards not to overlook intellectual property issues with the potential to derail progress in service of that ideal.

“In general, I think the synthetic biology community has shown impressive awareness of potential legal hazards,” Torrance said. “Our letter was a way of reminding the synthetic biology community that issues of law, especially patents, are of vital importance and impossible to ignore. We urge such issues to be considered as an integral part of the standards-setting process so that technical standards are free from legal impediments from their initial adoption. Synthetic biology promises to be one of the great beneficial technologies, generating powerful medicines, more efficient and cleaner industrial processes, and perhaps even self-repairing consumer goods. We want to help ensure that legal impediments to achieving such worthy goals are avoided.”

Professor to argue before Supreme Court on states' rights

Monday, January 12, 2015

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas law professor will make his second appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court this term, arguing on behalf of Kansas and more than 20 other states in a case focused on natural gas, alleged price fixing and authority between state and federal governments.

Stephen McAllister, E.S. & Tom W. Hampton Distinguished Professor of Law, will argue on behalf of the plaintiffs in ONEOK Inc. v. Learjet Inc. at 9 a.m. CST today, Jan. 12, at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. He also argued before the court in October on behalf of Kansas in a case regarding water rights between the state and Nebraska. A ruling in that case is expected soon.

At issue in today's case is natural gas and setting prices for the commodity. The federal government controls the wholesale part of the market, while states can regulate commercial sales, McAllister said. The states are arguing their consumer protection laws prevent federal laws on the transportation and sale of natural gas from setting prices artificially high, or “price fixing.”

“It is an interesting collection of entities represented in the suit,” McAllister said. “There are hospitals, school districts and other private entities such as Learjet. They all have a common interest here and were required to pay way more than they should have for natural gas.”

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked McAllister, who is also solicitor general for Kansas, to write the amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs. McAllister, who regularly offers legal assistance to the state, will make his seventh total appearance before the Supreme Court. He will dispute the defendants’ and federal government’s position that state antitrust laws are pre-empted by the federal Natural Gas Act. The defendants argue the pre-emption extends to the retail market.

Kansas-based entities Learjet Inc. and Topeka Unified School District No. 501 are among the plaintiffs who claim the defendants illegally drove up the price of natural gas. Similar cases from across the country were consolidated into a multidistrict case in Nevada, and the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with their claims.

McAllister said he was drawn to the case not only for the chance to serve the state and to appear before the highest court in the land but also for the chance to relate the experience to his students. He teaches classes and conducts research in federal and state constitutional law, civil rights actions and tort law.

“It’s a thrill for me both personally and professionally,” he said. “I think it speaks well for Kansas and the voice of Kansas when cases such as this show up at the Supreme Court. Plus, it always gives me something I can bring back to the students and my scholarship.”

Professor: Supreme Court case illustrates problems with judicial elections, campaign fundraising

Friday, January 09, 2015

LAWRENCE — A case set to appear before the Supreme Court addresses important issues about the funding of judicial election campaigns and raises broader questions about the impartiality of judges. A University of Kansas law professor has written an article examining judicial impartiality and arguing that its core — equal application of the law — may be threatened by judicial campaign fundraising.

Stephen Ware, professor of law, has an article forthcoming in the Vanderbilt Law Review En Banc, on Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, a case that will be argued in the Supreme Court on Jan. 20. The case arises out of Florida, one of many states in which voters choose among competing candidates in judicial elections much as they choose among competing candidates running for legislator or governor.

“However, states tend to regulate the conduct of judicial candidates more tightly, and these regulations are sometimes challenged in court,” Ware said.

In the case before the court, Lanell Williams-Yulee, a candidate for a Florida judgeship, violated a state law prohibiting judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions. Florida, like most states, but not Kansas, requires that judicial campaign-fund solicitation be conducted not by the candidate but instead by the candidate’s campaign committee. The Florida Bar sought to reprimand Yulee for her violation of the law, and the Florida Supreme Court convicted her. Yulee argues that the law violates her right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The case brings three important questions to the fore, Ware said. The narrow question is whether prohibiting a judicial candidate from personally soliciting campaign funds is constitutional. This question is intertwined with broader questions about how to fund judicial election campaigns and, at the broadest level, whether to have judicial elections at all.

Ware does not believe judges should be elected, in part because the funding of judicial election campaigns is so troubling.

“Many reasonable people worry that judicial campaign contributions can threaten a judge’s impartiality,” Ware said, by tempting a judge to apply the law differently to a case involving a contributor than to a similar case not involving a contributor. This would violate the core of judicial impartiality which the Supreme Court has explained “guarantees a party that the judge who hears his case will apply the law to him in the same way he applies it to any other party.”

The serious risk judicial campaign contributions pose to judicial impartiality is not, in Ware’s view, solved by requiring contributions to be solicited by campaign committees, rather than by judicial candidates themselves, because judges can usually learn who contributed to their campaign committees, and lawyers and litigating parties know that judges can easily discover who contributed to their campaign committees.

Ware examines three possible reforms to judicial campaign funding: having judges recuse themselves from cases involving campaign donors; making donations anonymous and publicly financing judicial elections. While Ware sees in some of these reforms potential to reduce risks to judicial impartiality, he does not believe any of them would go far enough without creating other problems.

“I’m skeptical that there is a good way to fund judicial elections,” Ware said, which is one of the reasons he believes judges should be appointed rather than elected.

However, he said he differs from many of his fellow attorneys who believe that they should have special powers in appointing judges, as they currently do in appointing the supreme courts of Kansas, Missouri and several other states.

By contrast, Ware prefers the Constitution’s method of selecting federal judges — in which the president nominates and the U.S. Senate confirms judges — and points out that in about a dozen states the governor’s judicial nominee is similarly confirmed by the state senate or other democratically elected body. Ware says democratic appointment of judges, rather than an appointment process that privileges lawyers over their fellow citizens, better fits the position of state-court judge, which involves the power to make law.

As the Supreme Court said, “Complete separation of the judiciary from the enterprise of ‘representative government’ might have some truth in those countries where judges neither make law themselves nor set aside the laws enacted by the legislature. It is not a true picture of the American system. Not only do state-court judges possess the power to ‘make’ common law, but they have the immense power to shape the states' constitutions as well, which is precisely why the election of state judges became popular.”

In other words, Ware said, the Supreme Court recognizes that democracy is appropriate in selecting judges, especially the state supreme court justices whose “immense power” to hold laws unconstitutional affects a range of widely contested issues like school funding, same-sex marriage and the death penalty. Ware says constitutional language on these topics is often vague or ambiguous, so reasonable people can disagree about how to interpret it and judges' interpretations seem to correlate with their policy preferences, all of which strengthens the case for democracy in selecting judges.

“While judges make law, they do so in different ways than legislators and governors, so I think state judges should be selected by the sort of indirect democracy that selects federal judges, as opposed to the direct democracy of judicial elections," he said.

Also, doing away with judicial elections would do away with the challenges of funding judicial election campaigns and thus help ensure an impartial judiciary, he said.

Tribes can serve as laboratories in fight against climate change

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

LAWRENCE — Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that states had the opportunity to serve as laboratories, testing new ideas and policies in the American federalist system. A University of Kansas law professor has authored a study arguing that American Tribal Governments are in a unique position to serve as laboratories for the fight against climate change and innovation in environmental law, especially given the federal government’s lack of action on the matter.

Elizabeth Kronk Warner, associate professor of law and director of the Tribal Law & Government Center at KU, has authored a study examining how 74 tribes in the United States are taking the lead in forming laws and measures to fight and adapt to climate change and lead in environmental law. The tribes are embodying Brandeis’ idea at a critical time and could have lessons to teach the rest of the country.

“That’s how we have viewed states from a legal view, as laboratories for new ideas, but why can’t we view tribes the same way, especially in terms of environmental law where the federal government has really stalled out?” Kronk Warner said. “I thought it would be interesting to look and see what we can learn from tribes and how it can be applied to states.”

In previous research Kronk Warner studied tribal codes to learn how they addressed climate change. For this study, which will be published in the Arizona State Law Journal, she analyzed tribal court decisions, regulations, customary laws, vision statements, tribal constitutions and other tribal legal documents. Many tribes, such as the Nez Perce in Idaho, Confederated Salish and Kootenai of Montana and others are already taking innovative legal actions to fight climate change and develop innovative environmental law.

Many tribes have adopted or are now forming climate change adaptation plans. The plans, which spell out how the tribes will form laws to adapt to the realities of a changing climate, are notable because environmental law largely takes a mitigation stance. While a good idea in spirit, mitigation laws, which aim to stop carbon emissions and prevent further damage from climate change, are incredibly difficult to pass politically, and in many cases it may already be too late to prevent all forms of damage, Kronk Warner said.

The tribal plans also largely consider culture as part of the legal landscape. Maintaining cultural heritage is vitally important to many tribes and is reflected in one plan that calls for preserving certain plants through means such as greenhouses and similar means, for example. State and federal law could stand to gain from considering American culture as more of a factor in the formation of laws, Kronk Warner said. Her research also found that tribal governments are keenly aware of the knowledge their ancestors have of the land on which they live.

“I think that especially could be a valuable lesson for states and the federal government,” Kronk Warner said. “Environmental knowledge is intensely regional. Having people share what they’ve learned in 100 years or more of living in an area can teach many lessons.”

Tribal governments are in a unique position to experiment with environmental law because they often are not bound by the same restrictions and regulations state and federal lawmakers are. That freedom to act not only allows tribes to be creative, it allows them to act more quickly.

“In theory, you could argue that they have more authority than states. They are sovereign entities, and they did exist before the formation of the federal government,” Kronk Warner said. “Tribes can also embrace the idea ‘we don’t need the federal government to be productive. We can do a lot on our own.’”

There are numerous examples throughout U.S. history of states experimenting, both successfully and unsuccessfully, with legal ideas. Slavery, legal drinking ages, speed limits, same-sex marriage, abortion and taxing philosophies all fit the mold.

Some of the tactics tribes are experimenting with have already started to show up in state and local governments. Cities such as Seattle and Miami, which face serious threats of salt water infiltrating fresh city water, have begun to enact climate change adaptation plans.

In future research, Kronk Warner plans to study how and whether tribes can use treaty rights to address climate change threats and how tribes enforce their environmental laws.

“I think it’s great and very empowering,” Kronk Warner said of tribes experimenting with environmental law. “It’s largely what the United States was intended to be, a group of states that can experiment with laws and ideas and the best ones are adopted. We’ve gotten away from the idea of states taking the lead. But this is a chance for tribes, states and local governments to seize the lead on environmental law.”

Constitution Day program to address same-sex marriage

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas and KU School of Law will welcome guest speakers Tom Fisher and Roberta Kaplan, and moderator Stephen McAllister, for the 2014 Constitution Day program “Same-sex Marriage – Constitutional Right or the State’s Decision.” This program will explore U.S. Supreme Court cases surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage.

The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21. The event is free and open to the public.

The panelists will discuss the state of constitutional law regarding same-sex marriage, the arguments in favor of and against the recognition of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear several recent decisions on this issue, and the likely future direction of litigation and the law.

Recent refusal to rule by the Supreme Court on cases in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin seeking to keep same-sex marriage bans in place has cleared the way for same-sex unions in those states. This development has increased the current number of states allowing same-sex marriage to 19.

“The topic is obviously very timely,” said Barbara Ballard, Dole Institute associate director. “Additionally, the representation of both sides highlights the process of constitutional law that we celebrate with this program each year.”

The annual Dole Institute Constitution Day program features attorneys or practitioners on opposite sides of timely constitutional issues who will discuss specific cases, as well as the constitutional law more generally. Stephen McAllister, E.S. & Tom W. Hampton Distinguished Professor of Law, will moderate this year’s discussion between Fisher and Kaplan.

“I am pleased we will be able to host speakers who have both been involved in the recent litigation at the highest level,” McAllister said.

Thomas Fisher is the solicitor general for Indiana, acting as the chief litigation policy adviser to the attorney general and providing oversight of state and federal litigation. A two-time recipient of the National Association of Attorneys General Best Brief Award for excellence in U.S. Supreme Court brief writing, Fisher has argued three times before the court, most recently in 2008 when he successfully defended Indiana's voter ID law in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board and persuaded the court to permit states to require mentally ill criminal defendants to have trial counsel in Indiana v. Edwards. He has also argued significant Indiana constitutional law cases involving abortion regulations, same-sex marriage, toll road leasing, educational funding and attorney general authority over charitable trusts.

Fisher has taught as an adjunct professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and is a frequent speaker at a variety of continuing legal education forums. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Fisher worked in private practice in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., and clerked for Judge Michael S. Kanne of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Roberta Kaplan is a partner in the litigation department of law firm Paul Weiss, New York office, with extensive experience representing a diverse group of clients on high-profile matters ranging from stock recommendations, mutual funds, credit regulations, data confidentiality and constitutional rights. She has been selected as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers” and one of the top “40 Under 40” lawyers in the United States, as well as a 2013 “Litigator of the Year” by The American Lawyer and 2013 "Lawyer of the Year" by Above the Law. She was ranked as number 5 in this year's "Politico 50." Kaplan has also been profiled in a documentary produced by the PBS MAKERS series.

Kaplan successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of her client Edith Windsor in United States v. Windsor, the landmark Supreme Court case. In Windsor, the nation's highest court ruled that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act violated the U.S. Constitution by barring legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the wide-ranging benefits of marriage conferred under federal law.

The Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics.  It is located on KU’s west campus and, in addition to the Robert J. Dole Archive & Special Collections, offers free public programming with world-renowned guest speakers on a variety of topics that intersect politics, as well as opportunities for students of all ages. 

For more information on this or any Dole Institute events, visit www.doleinstitute.org or call (785) 864-4900. The Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics. It is located on KU’s west campus next to the Lied Center.

 

Symposium to explore legal elements of human migration

Thursday, October 16, 2014

LAWRENCE – Leading scholars in international, immigration and human rights law will explore the legal complexities surrounding human migration at the 2014 Kansas Law Review Symposium.

“Statelessness and Belonging: Perspectives on Human Migration” will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, at the University of Kansas School of Law. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register and preview the complete schedule at law.ku.edu/stateless.

Speakers from across the country will discuss topics such as: refugee and asylum adjudication; ethics and values in the U.S. immigration system; citizenship and global public health crises, including Ebola; children awaiting adjudication at the U.S. border; human rights and allocation of vital resources to indigenous peoples; home state’s sovereignty over undocumented immigrants abroad; and individuals, corporations and the properties of citizenship. 

“There are an estimated 4,000 ‘citizens of nowhere’ in the United States today. A much higher number of people possess a formal nationality but live a similar experience to that of stateless persons: discrimination, loss of legal rights and lack of access to basic resources. Their marginalization touches many of the human rights crises of our time, domestically and internationally,” said Tamara Combs, symposium editor and third-year KU law student. “This is a broad and timely issue to explore as the nation continues to talk about possible reforms to the current immigration system.”

Speakers will include:

  • Lillian Aponte-Miranda, human rights lawyer and former associate professor, Florida International University College of Law
  • Maryellen Fullerton, professor of law, Brooklyn Law School
  • Bill O. Hing, professor and Dean's Circle Scholar, University of San Francisco School of Law
  • Polly Price, professor of law, Emory University School of Law
  • Jaya Ramji-Nogales, professor of law and co-director, Institute for International Law and Public Policy, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • Marcia Yablon-Zug, associate professor of law, University of South Carolina School of Law
  • Lua Yuille, associate professor of law, University of Kansas School of Law

Scholarship associated with the symposium will be published in a spring 2015 issue of the Kansas Law Review. Questions? Contact Symposium Editor Tamara Combs at kulawrevsymposium@gmail.com.

Professor with extensive Supreme Court experience to share highlights from career serving KU and Kansas

Wednesday, October 01, 2014
 
LAWRENCE – Kansas Solicitor General Stephen McAllister will share his experiences arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court and other career highlights during his inaugural lecture as the E.S. & Tom Hampton Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas.

McAllister is set to deliver “The Supreme Court and Kansas: A (Solicitor) General Talk about Studying, Teaching and Serving the Law” at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, at Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union. The lecture is free and open to the public.

A Kansas native, McAllister earned degrees from KU and its law school before clerking first for Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and then for Supreme Court Justices Byron R. White and Clarence Thomas. He worked for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., before returning to KU to join the law faculty in 1993.

McAllister served as dean of the law school from 2000-2005, and he currently teaches constitutional law, civil rights actions, state constitutional law and torts. He has written on a wide variety of constitutional topics, including affirmative action, capital punishment, federalism, freedom of speech, the powers of Congress, sex offender laws and Supreme Court history.

During his years at KU, McAllister has served a number of Kansas Attorneys General and the Kansas Legislature as a legal adviser and litigator, beginning with his work on the sex offender civil commitment case (Kansas v. Hendricks) that went to the Supreme Court in 1996, and continuing through today as he prepares for Oct. 14 arguments at the Supreme Court in the case of Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado, a dispute over water in the Republican River Basin. In between, he has worked on cases involving a variety of constitutional issues, including the death penalty, the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, school finance and freedom of speech.

McAllister’s Supreme Court advocacy has resulted in two Best Brief awards presented by the National Association of Attorneys General. In November 2010, the Supreme Court appointed McAllister to brief and argue in defense of the judgment in a case called Bond v. United States after the United States decided it would not defend the lower court’s ruling. 

McAllister has played a role in bringing several Supreme Court justices to KU and Kansas, and he persuaded two justices to teach in the law school’s summer program in Turkey. In 2013, McAllister and his family spent two weeks with Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife in Innsbruck, Austria, where Thomas and McAllister co-taught a course.

McAllister assumed the Hampton professorship in September 2013. The E.S. & Tom W. Hampton Professorship was established in 1985 by the family, law firm and friends of Salina lawyers E.S. and Tom W. Hampton. E.S. Hampton was a 1929 graduate of the law school and senior partner at Salina firm Burch, Litowich and Royce. His son Tom graduated from KU Law in 1959 and joined his father’s practice. The professorship honors the Hamptons’ legacy and aims to attract and retain quality faculty at KU Law.

Law alumna and former professor elected to KU Endowment board

Friday, September 26, 2014

LAWRENCE — KU Endowment’s Board of Trustees elected The Hon. Deanell Reece Tacha as new board chair and Charles E. Heath as vice chair, and elected five other University of Kansas alumni as trustees at today’s annual meeting of the association’s Board of Trustees. Tacha, the first woman to chair the board, succeeds A. Drue Jennings, of Prairie Village, who served four one-year terms.

The new trustees are Steve Lightstone, Kansas City, Missouri; Cathy Reinhardt, Lawrence; Annette Rieger, Seattle; Elizabeth “Beth” Stella, Lawrence; and Thomas Walsh, Leawood.

The Hon. Deanell Reece Tacha, of Lawrence and Malibu, California, graduated from KU in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in American studies and earned a juris doctorate at the University of Michigan in 1971. Since 2011, she has been dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law. From 1985 to 2011, she served as a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, and was chief judge from 2001 to 2007. Earlier, in 1974, she joined the KU School of Law faculty, becoming associate dean in 1977. In 1981, she was appointed KU’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, a position she held until 1985. She was elected to the KU Endowment Board of Trustees in 1992.

Charles E. Heath, of Lawrence, earned two degrees from KU — a bachelor’s in business in 1964 and a master’s in business administration in 1966. He is an independent director and compliance committee chair for Tortoise Capital Advisors’ closed-end funds. He also serves on the boards of directors for Corridor Energy and DCCCA. From 1971 until his retirement in 1999, he was employed by Employers Reinsurance Corporation, where he served from 1989 to 1999 as chief investment officer. He is a past president of the Kansas City Society of Financial Analysts and attained the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1974. He was elected to the KU Endowment Board of Trustees in 2006.

Steve Lightstone earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management in 1967 and a master’s degree in finance in 1970, both from KU. His wife, Terry, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from KU in 1968. Steve is a managing director with CC Capital Advisors, an investment bank and a division of Country Club Bank. He serves on the Board of the KU Medical Center Research Institute and the medical center’s Far Above campaign committee. He has served on the KU School of Business Board of Advisors, the KU academic medical center’s Advancement Board, the Kansas City chapter of the KU Alumni Association and the KU Alumni Association Honors Program, among others. Steve is a life member of the Chancellors Club and the Alumni Association.

Cathy A. Reinhardt graduated from KU in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in history and in 1983 with a J.D. She and her husband, Norman St. Laurent, live in Lawrence. Cathy is president of Reinhardt Financial Services Inc. She is a past member of the KU Law Alumni Board of Governors. She is a member of the Elizabeth Watkins Society and a life member of the Chancellors Club and the Alumni Association.

Annette Rieger graduated from KU in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and social work. Her husband, Roger, earned a bachelor’s in business in 1967; they live in Seattle. Annette and Roger are owners of a private family foundation, the Tudor Foundation, which creates programs focusing on mentoring, counseling and financial support of low-income, inner-city students. Annette worked in Protective Services for Children. She was named to the KU Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006. She is a former member of the Women Philanthropists for KU Advisory Board and is a life member of the Chancellors Club and the KU Alumni Association.

M. Elizabeth (Beth) Stella graduated from KU in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in piano. She also earned master’s degrees in piano and in human development and family life and a doctorate in developmental and child psychology. Beth’s husband, Valentino (Val), is a distinguished professor in the School of Pharmacy. Beth retired as an associate research scientist at KU in 1998 and is a community volunteer. She serves on the Hall Center Advisory Board and on the center’s Far Above campaign committee. She also served on the Women Philanthropists for KU Advisory Board. She is a life member of the Chancellors Club and the Alumni Association.

Thomas J. Walsh graduated from KU in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Tom and his wife, Teresa, live in Leawood and have three grown children, two of whom also are KU alumni. Tom is co-chairman of Silpada Designs Inc., a company co-founded by Teresa in 1997. He joined the Silpada Board of Directors in 2013 after the founding families reacquired the company from Avon. Tom is also a partner at Think Big Partners, and he has founded and developed several successful businesses, including Central Interchange and H2O Resources. Before that, he was part of the executive leadership team at Jack Henry & Associates for 14 years. Tom is a member of the KU academic medical center’s Advancement Board and a life member of the Chancellors Club and the Alumni Association.

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.

Law students taking on more cases through new partnership with Midwest Innocence Project

Monday, September 22, 2014

LAWRENCE – Since 1965, the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies at the University of Kansas School of Law has worked to obtain new trials for convicted individuals whose constitutional rights were violated. In the last five years, 38 Project clients have been granted new trials. But a lack of access to funding for forensic testing and expert testimony has hampered the Project’s ability to prove actual innocence, where the ultimate goal is exoneration. 

A new partnership with the Midwest Innocence Project aims to change that.

The Midwest Innocence Project, a member of the national Innocence Network, is dedicated to the investigation, litigation and exoneration of wrongfully convicted men and women in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska.

Through the collaboration, KU’s Project for Innocence will take on Kansas innocence cases that originate with the Midwest Innocence Project. The KU clinic will receive financial support for investigation and litigation – including potential expert testimony and DNA and forensic testing costs – and will gain access to resources available through the Innocence Network.

“The partnership will benefit everyone involved,” said Jean Phillips, clinical professor and director of KU’s Project for Innocence.

“Despite generous private support from alumni, we don’t have the financial resources to pay for extensive testing,” she said. “A single DNA analysis runs $1,400, and one case frequently requires several tests for comparison purposes, which can add up quickly. This partnership will expand our capacity to serve clients who may be incarcerated unjustly and provide additional opportunities for our students to gain insight into the criminal justice system.”

According to the Midwest Innocence Project, recent independent studies conservatively estimate that between 2 percent and 5 percent of all inmates in America were falsely convicted. Some estimates reach as high as 7 percent, including up to 4 percent of inmates on death row. This equates to somewhere between 2,000 and 7,000 people in the MIP’s five-state region.

“After a conviction, the appeals process focuses more on finality over fairness. It is designed to be incredibly difficult and is very expensive,” said Tricia Bushnell, MIP legal director. “We are one of the few places indigent inmates can turn to regain their freedom when the legal system has failed. This partnership with the University of Kansas School of Law helps us expand our capacity to take cases and gives us a presence in the classroom to teach the next generation of lawyers, investigators and lawmakers how to identify and prevent these injustices.”

The partnership will have an immediate effect on the KU clinic’s work with clients like Floyd Bledsoe, who is serving a prison sentence for a first-degree murder conviction. Bledsoe has always maintained his innocence, but despite extensive efforts to establish he did not receive a fair trial, he remains incarcerated. With support from the Midwest Innocence Project, KU’s Project for Innocence will be able to continue to move forward with DNA testing in the Bledsoe case.

“The Midwest Innocence Project has many cases from Kansas waiting to be investigated,” said Alice Craig, supervising attorney for the KU clinic. “We have already begun to incorporate these cases into our caseload.”

Former KU law professor Paul E. Wilson founded what was then the Defender Project in 1965 to help prisoners who otherwise might not receive legal representation. Students in the clinic represent state and federal prisoners in appellate and post-conviction litigation in state and federal courts. Their work includes conducting fact investigations, drafting pleadings, filing motions, preparing for hearings and creating case strategy.

In addition to challenging convictions, in 2009 and 2011, a Project team won rare grants of executive clemency for three men convicted of robbery during a racially charged Civil Rghts-era trial in Wichita.

The Project receives more than 200 letters a year from inmates seeking assistance.

Pictured above, from left: Pete Smith, president of the Midwest Innocence Project board of directors; Tricia Bushnell, MIP legal director; Professor Jean Phillips, director of KU's Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies; and KU Law Dean Stephen Mazza

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