New class takes first-of-its-kind approach to applying literature to international law, improving legal writing

Monday, October 09, 2017

LAWRENCE — William Shakespeare is no stranger to college campuses. But his works and those of Albert Camus, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Franz Kafka and E.M. Forster are usually read and discussed more in theater and English classrooms than in law schools.

A new University of Kansas School of Law class is mixing the bard and the bar to help budding lawyers consider how classic literature applies to all manner of international law and how history’s great writers can help them become better legal writers.

International Law and Literature is a first-of-its-kind class now in its first semester at KU Law. It is taught by Raj Bhala, associate dean for international and comparative law and Brenneisen Distinguished Professor. The class takes the idea of a relatively standard law class and puts an international spin on it, considering work of authors from around the world and how their work can help the understanding of treaties,international law and improve legal writing.

The course has three sections: law as literature, law in literature and rhetoric. For the first, students read legal documents like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, known as GATT, and apply literary theories and schools of thought to them as a better means of understanding. In a recent class, students considered how post-structuralism, deconstruction and Marxist literary interpretation could help in the understand of China’s nonmarket economy status and legally ambiguous wording that has led to anti-dumping lawsuits working through the World Trade Organization, U.S. Court of International Trade and U.S. Commerce Department.

An expert on international trade law and long-time literature lover, Bhala said courses have looked at law in literature for roughly a century. However, by scanning syllabi from law schools across the country, he found few that applied international law to literature, viewed law as literature, or took a comparative look at legal systems of different cultures.

“I wanted to put together a course that was international and comparative, that had a heavy dose of treaties and statutes and preserved the best of other courses, and that met the American Bar Association standards for practical legal writing training,” Bhala said. “The ABA has been encouraging law professors to develop courses that help students learn how to draft documents better. This study of some of the world’s greatest authors — coupled with the perspective that treaties, decisions and memos are a genre of literature susceptible to insights from literary interpretative methodologies — helps them write and get more of that practice.”

The writing practice comes throughout the course, both in reading legal and literary work and by written assignments melding the two as well in the course’s rhetoric section. The students are required to write a speech on a topic of international legal significance. That includes the South China Sea dispute over the “Nine Dashed Line,” balancing their points in a thoughtful, legally sound argument, having studied Aristotle’s principles of rhetoric, as well as speeches on international crises, such as President Kennedy’s October 1962 address on the Cuban Missile Crisis.

For the law in literature requirement, students read works including Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” and “Othello”; Camus’ “The Stranger;” Forster’s “Passage to India;” and Kafka’s “The Trial”; selections of novels from George Bernard Shaw and James Joyce; and poems from William Butler Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Rabidrath Tagore. The works are all selected for not only their discussion of law, but also for their law-related themes such as justice, poverty, discrimination, wealth, racism, commerce, misogyny and others, all of which are regular topics addressed in international law.

By considering law in literature, along with law as literature, students appreciate how one style of writing can inform the other. Plus, courses have tended to focus on work almost solely by U.S. authors or works originally written in English, leaving out a vast amount of work applicable to international law.

The focus on writing not only helps give students a unique way to approach the practice, but it also meets the ABA’s call for more globalization, better writing and more practical, clinical training for law students. Plus, the landscape of law firms and K-12 education has changed over the years, with less time for professional mentoring and reduced education funding contributing to students needing more help in writing and critical thinking.

“Practicing lawyers don’t have the time to train junior lawyers that they used to,” Bhala said. “The old-fashioned way of senior partners as mentors is under pressure from the expectation of the role of senior partner as rainmaker. We at KU have to be innovative in responding to these needs, both in writing and practical education.”

The class has drawn a wide swath of law students interested in humanitarian, international, nonprofit and other areas of law, as well as students interested in international problems such as aiding re-unification of North and South Korea via commerce. Others say they have always loved literature or were intrigued by the idea of applying the lens of literature to legal writing.

For many, literature is an escape, something done in personal time for enjoyment. Bhala said the course is intended to be fun, just as much as it is to improve legal writing and broaden horizons of legal thought. Law students make a big investment of money, time and work in their education and should expect to be able to enjoy what they do. That goes for the teacher as well.

“It’s a huge challenge and great stimulation,” Bhala said of the class. “I have to learn or re-learn works of literature and literary theory that I haven’t read for many years in some cases. And there’s a great deal of cross pollination among these topics that I really enjoy.”

While many of the students have read some of the assigned works in high school or studied literature before coming to law school, re-reading classics and considering them in a different light opens up new perspectives and helps consider ideas in a new way, a useful tool for a practicing lawyer.

“Experiencing great works again and re-reading opens you up to new things and can give you a new appreciation for something you may have already read,” Bhala said. “I’ve read GATT a million times; I love it. And I always learn something new.”

New law professorship honors memorable KU educator

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas School of Law alumnus Art Piculell of Scottsdale, Arizona, has made a $500,000 gift to establish a professorship honoring the late Professor William R. Scott, who taught law at KU from 1947 to 1979.

“We just basically are paying back for what we got,” Piculell said. “Dee and I were very fortunate to get our educations and to benefit from that.”

The William R. Scott Law Professorship is the third professorship Piculell has established at KU Law. In 2014, Art and his late wife, Dee, established a law professorship honoring late Professor Earl Shurtz, and in 2004 they created the J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law.

KU Law Dean Stephen Mazza expressed his gratitude for the gift.

“Art and Dee have been incredibly generous toward KU Law over the years,” Mazza said. “They have chosen to name the chairs they’ve established as tributes to Art’s former professors. But it’s the legacy of the Piculell family that will live on and benefit the next generation of KU Law faculty.”

Art met Dee at Emporia State University, where in 1959 they both earned bachelor’s degrees, Dee in music education and Art in psychology and sociology. The couple married and moved to Wichita, where Art became a social worker with the Sedgwick County Board of Social Welfare and Dee was a grade school teacher. Later, they moved to Scott City, where Art was the county welfare director of both Scott and Wichita counties, and Dee taught school. In 1962, they moved to Lawrence so that Art could attend law school. Dee taught grade school in Lawrence and served as president of the law wives’ club.

After Art’s graduation, the couple moved to Cimarron, where Art practiced law. In 1972, they moved to Portland, Oregon, where they started companies that focused on real estate development and investment. He and Dee divided time between Oregon and their home in Arizona before Dee’s death in 2014.

William Scott, affectionately known as “Scottie,” was a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1942 and served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps until 1946, when he left the service to join the faculty at KU. He taught more than 2,000 students during his 32 years as a professor at KU Law, and Art was among them. Scott earned a reputation as an authority on property law and contributed articles to the Kansas Law Review and the Kansas Bar Journal.

Scott, who was born in 1908 in Nevada, Missouri, died in 2002 in North Andover, Massachusetts. A remembrance by KU Law Professor John Peck after Scott’s death said, “Professor Scott was a rare individual: kind, compassionate, brilliant, happy, and witty; deeply religious, but never wearing his religion on his sleeve. He taught us property law so we could practice property law. Perhaps more importantly, he left us with many funny stories and happy memories.”

Scott’s dry witticisms were so well-known, Peck recalled a booklet of Scottie stories and jokes compiled by law students. Recollections included Scott’s conversations with students who complained about grades and his witty replies.

Piculell said he was fortunate to be able to take every course that Scott taught at KU and fondly recalled Scott’s passion and sincerity mixed with laughter. He recently recalled a story from a class: 

“It was a Saturday morning class, and some students in the back row were falling asleep.  Professor Scott quietly walked to the back of the room and said, ‘I have something very important to tell you in understanding the law, then you can go back to sleep. You will get a call one Saturday morning, and it will be a client. You will be in bed. All you have to say is, ‘The keys go with the house.’ Now you can go back to sleep.’”

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.

Photo: Art and Dee Piculell.

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.”

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.

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.


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