Follow GULawWeekly on Twitter

Court Reports

Admissions Office hosts inaugural Family Weekend

By Victoria Valencia

Photo courtesy Daniel Cima/Georgetown Law

On September 12-13, 2014, Georgetown University Law Center held its first-ever Family Weekend.

It all began last spring, when the Admissions Office realized that in all of their events, there had been nothing yet created specifically for families. “We knew families would be interested and proud of their kids, and we wanted to include them in the community … there’s no expiration date on being proud of your kids,” said Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt.

After successfully integrating families into their spring events, the Office decided to plan their first Family Weekend.

Over 500 people were in attendance at the inaugural event, with families representing states from Washington to Florida. Entire families came out in support of GULC student family members, and learned more about Georgetown and what law school is all about.

“We wanted parents [and families] to hear speakers and administrators, see a Supreme Court moot, but most importantly we wanted to make them feel a part of the community,” said Cornblatt.

Included in the Family Weekend experience was a current student perspective, aimed at revealing more about the law school experience. “This helped them to understand law school and relate to their kids’ lives right now. Parents learned about how to be supportive, and got to hear about what classes kids were taking. Parents got to connect to their kids in a way they maybe wouldn’t have otherwise,” said Sarah Rutherford, Special Assistant to the Dean of Admissions.

Current student Jenadee Nanini spoke of the opportunities that Georgetown Law offers students through generous financial aid. 

It is incredible how the action of donation, big or small, can make a dream come true and make law school a reality for students who normally would not be able to attend due to their circumstances,” Nanini stated at the event.

Nanini also spoke to the heart of what Family Weekend was all about: providing a welcome environment and saying thank you to the people who helped us reach our goals. “I firmly believe that regardless of what you have achieved or where you have been, you have not gotten there without the support of others,” she stated. “Expressing gratitude and thanking those around you for all they have done is extremely important to me.

“We wanted parents to feel the warmth of this place,” said Dean Cornblatt.

One highlight of the weekend was guest speaker Kenneth Feinberg, Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. 

“One thing that was [special] about this year was that Ken Feinberg spoke on the day after September 11th. He was able to talk from personal experience and it was so timely. And for a lot of parents that particular talk was one of the most memorable from Family Weekend,” said Rutherford.

Ultimately, the weekend was a success, and provided a welcoming environment for families of GULC students. 


Gilbert & Sullivan Society begins new season

 A new season began for the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society theatre group with a presentation of the organization’s fall showcase, “The Year of the Swords.” Held Sept. 11 on the 12th floor of the Gewirz Student Center, the event was aimed at recruiting new students and showcasing members’ many talents. 

“Honestly, I remember being at this event last year as a 1L, and looking around at everyone, and everyone was laughing and having a great time and knew each other,” said Anna Bodi, the group’s Membership Chair. “I just thought, ‘I want to be friends with all these people! I don’t know who they are, but I want to be friends.’ So for me it’s really exciting to be here a year later, kind of doing the same thing for the 1Ls now.”

According to president Jeff Asjes, the goal of the group is to entertain and have fun.

“We are a group that likes performing, but that’s not all we’re about. We’re one of, I think, the best outlets on campus to be involved with a student group that isn’t about more law,” he said. “It’s a wonderful way to just put that all aside for a minute and have fun. And you can have fun by wielding power tools that you’ve never used before. I’ve taught people to use a hammer drill or a saw. [Or] you can do it by deciding to operate a spotlight, which is something you may have never done before. If you play an instrument, it’s a great outlet to play the instrument in front of an audience. So even if you’ve never wanted to be on stage, it’s a great organization — and we have great parties every Friday!” 

Technical Director Xander Tapling said there are a large amount of positions open within the organization.

“We’re pressing very hard for 1Ls, 2Ls, transfer students, LLMs — people need to just come out and join our society,” he said. “So we wanted really tonight to be about connecting the alums who graduated with the new students who would be interested in coming out for Gilbert & Sullivan Society, and I’m actually really happy with how it turned out.”

The event contained a variety of skits, musical numbers and presentations from current members and alumni. Interested students were also given information on how to join the society, as well as how to audition for the group’s upcoming show, “Spamalot.”

Tapling stated all who are interested in participating will be given a position in the show.

“It doesn’t matter your skill level; it doesn’t matter anything other than your interest level. If you want to do it, come out and do it,” said Tapling.

Auditions will be held Monday and Tuesday on campus, and “Spamalot” will run from Nov. 6 to 8. Interested students should contact, or send an email through the Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s OrgSync page.

 “I encourage everyone to come,” stated Asjes. “You will see fish slapping, sword fights, people’s limbs getting chopped off, the whole bit! It’s going to be a lot of fun.”


International Women’s Day Symposium: Taking Global Action for Women’s Rights

Each year, Professor Jill Morrison selects a group of women and men to join the Georgetown Law community as Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) and Women’s Law and Public Policy (WLPPFP) Fellows. The LAWA program trains human rights lawyers, judges, and professors from Africa who are committed to advancing the rights of women and girls in their home countries. Each Fellow earns an LL.M. degree over the course of the Program. Similarly, the WLPPFP Program provides fellowships for public interest lawyers in the United States with the mission of advancing the rights of women and girls. Throughout their Fellowships, WLPPFP work with various public interest organizations in D.C. or Georgetown Law clinics to gain practical experience working on women’s issues.

On Friday, March 21, 2014, the Georgetown LAWA and WLPPFP Fellowship Programs joined with Human Rights Action-Amnesty International, the Human Rights Institute, and several student groups at the Law Center to present a day-long symposium centering on international women’s human rights. The day began with opening remarks by Professor Morrison, Executive Director of the Fellowship Programs, and ensued with a series of panels and speakers.

Moderated by the Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law, Professor Edith Brown Weiss, the first panel focused on the importance of women’s representation in government, gender-sensitive legislative decisions, and gender-based employment policies. LAWA Elsy Chemurgor Sainna, an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and Senior Program Officer at the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists, began by discussing the need to reconceive the link between gender and fiscal policies and to enact affirmative action laws centered on representing the everyday “Joe the Plumber” (“Wanjiku”) in government. Next, LAWA and legal practitioner Fagbenle Oluwseun Oyindamola explained how “energy is something that is vital to every aspect of devel- opment,” stating that “Nigerian society is such that they do not see energy as a gendered issue.” Ms. Oyindamola called for a review of the Renewable Energy Master Plan, repositioning of the Nigerian Gas Sector, and the integration and imple- mentation of gender-based energy frameworks. WLPPFP Vasu Reddy, Fellow at the National Partnership for Women and Families, finished up the panel by discussing discriminatory workplace practices in the United States and the legislative efforts being taken to counter gender disparities, such as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The second panel centered on the issue of gender-based violence against women in Kenya, Uganda, Kurdistan, and the United States. “The government has a responsibility to protect its victims,” stated LAWA Alice Kinyua, Legal Officer and Manager of the Mudzini Kwetu Center Advocate of the High Court in Kenya. Ms. Kinyua explored the significance and difficulty of collecting and preserving evidence in sexual violence cases. LAWA Maria Edith Jurua, Coordinator of Law and Advocacy for Women in Uganda, then gave a vivid depiction of the detrimental effects female genital mutilation (FGM) has on girls and communities, challenging the audience to answer, “Where is the justice for these young girls lying down on the floor?” WLPPFP Courtney Cross, Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Domestic Violence Clinic, provided an overview of domestic violence statistics and services in D.C., while student Cynthia Reed (J.D. ’16) discussed her research on FGM in Kurdistan. Moderator Jennifer Long, adjunct professor and Director of AEquitas, contributed to the discussion by using her prosecutorial experience to analyze the criminal justice response to domestic violence, highlighting the importance of thoughtful prosecution and a comprehensive civil response to domestic violence survivors. 

The final panel, moderated by the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic Director and Professor of Law Susan Deller Ross, explored the issue of gender-specific health services for women in Ethiopia, Cameroon, and the United States. To begin, LAWA Angelina Atabong, Judge and Investigating Magistrate in Cameroon, presented her research on improving awareness and access to emergency contraception, emphasizing the need for a reproductive health law, stronger human resources, and awareness on multiple levels, particularly in the media. LAWA Behailu Teklehaimanot Weldeyohannes, Law Professor and Vice-Director of the Legal Aid Center at Jimma University in Ethiopia, then spoke on the need for women-based health care in Ethiopian prisons, explaining how “the prison system is designed to fit men, not women.” To provide a United States perspective, WLPPFP Sara Kluberdanz discussed her work at the Women’s Collective, stating how the organization has found housing and homelessness to be the number one concern among women living with HIV and AIDS in D.C. Aram Schvey of the Center for Reproductive Rights concluded the panel with a presentation on the harms of unsafe abortion worldwide and the effects of U.S. foreign policy, taking the audience through an examination of the Helms Amendment and other U.S. laws.

Two featured speakers also participated in the Symposium. Sara Ibrahim, Advocacy Counsel for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First, served as the keynote speaker for the event and described the importance of protections for women through the lens of her experience with refugees. “The rights of all are bound to the rights of women,” Ms. Ibrahim told the audience in between stories of former clients, quotes by Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt, and a poem by Ruth Forman. Director of the Human Rights Institute and the Center for Applied Legal Studies Clinic, Professor Andrew Schoenholtz, provided introductory remarks and led a discussion with Ms. Ibrahim following her speech.

Additionally, during the luncheon, Caroline Hubbard of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) provided an overview of NDI’s global democratic consulting efforts. Ms. Hubbard specified three conditions for women to meaningfully participate in public and political life, including a cultural environment in which women are perceived as equal to men, the confidence and capacity of individual women, and an eco-system with effective institutional and structural processes linked to the political participation of women.

HRA-AI member and Wrongful Convictions Committee Chair Madison Mélon directed the coordination of the Symposium and of a screening of the film Girl Rising leading up to the Symposium. Student group co-sponsors included Advocates Against Sexual Violence, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, American Constitution Society, GULC Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, American Civil Liberties Union-GULC, and the Women’s Legal Alliance. 


Hill’s Angels narrowly defeat Hoya Lawyas

The Hoya Lawyas, made up of Georgetown Law Faculty and Staff, looked poised to get back in the win column going into the final minute of last Wednesday night’s game, but a last second steal by the Angels extended their win streak to four in the annual charity basketball tournament.

Home Court hosted its 27th annual charity basketball game on Wednesday March 26, 2014, at the Trinity Center at Trinity Washington University. The game pitted the Hoya Lawyas against the Hill’s Angels, a team made up of Congressmen and Congressional staffers. The event and associated fundraising raised over $600,000 for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.

Senator Bob Casey coached Representatives Tim Huelskamp, Mike McIntyre, Cedric Richmond, Cheri Bustos, and Thomas Rooney against the Deans Mitch Bailin and Michael Frisch-led Hoya Lawyas. Deans William Treanor and Everett Bellamy, Ronnie Reese, David Koplow, Alexandra Phelan, Tom Clark, Laura Donohue, Perry Russell-Hunter, John Hasnas, Danny Johnson, Henry Richardson, Yasmine Harik, David Vladeck, and Eli Northrup rounded out the Hoya Lawyas team.

A special ceremony during the first half honored former Dean Bellamy, a longtime supporter of Home Court, and Rep. Mike McIntyre by retiring their jerseys. Rep. McIntyre has announced that he is not running for re-election this year.

Andy Hogan, 3L, chaired this year’s game with Kraig Ahalt, 2L, Kathryn Ardizonne, 3E, Arielle Bardzell, 1L, Eleanor Erney, 2L, Kimberly Fetsick, 2L, Matt Hofer, 2L, Keir Lamont, 2L, and Matthew Taylor, 2L, serving as the leadership team.

The Legal Clinic, founded in 1987 at Georgetown Law, advocates and represents those experiencing homelessness in DC. Home Court is the primary fundraising event for the Legal Clinic and has been played each spring since 1988. Home Court also hosts a dodgeball tournament between Hill Staffers and Law Students each fall. 


Dean announces that Section 3 has been traded to Vermont Law School

After nearly 30 years of putting up with the “socially conscious do-gooders” of Section 3, Dean Treanor announced Tuesday that he and Vermont Law Dean Marc Mihaly had come to an agreement moving Section 3’s faculty and students to Vermont Law School’s campus in exchange for Dean Treanor receiving a free week per year at Dean Mihaly’s mountain cabin.

“This decision finally allows us to get rid of those Critical Legal Studies troublemakers.” said Dean Treanor.

Professor Randy Barnett made similar comments: “Perhaps Georgetown Law can regain some prestige now that we don’t have to serve gluten-free tofu at every event.”

Dean Mihaly expressed excitment about the prospect of adding 110 socially-aware students to their law school community. “After enrollment declined 23% last year, we’ll really take just about anybody—and we already have an excellent selection of quinoa in the cafeteria.”


New strategy “paves the way” for eliminating snow days

In an effort to combat the recent increase in snow days, Georgetown University officials have implemented a new strategy: the Law Center’s very own fleet of snow plows.

“Snow isn’t a big deal, and I don’t know why students don’t understand that,” stated Director of Weather Management Jackson F. Rost. “We needed a way to convince students that walking in it really isn’t that bad. After all, this is DC.”

Beginning this fall, a fleet of three snow plows will stand ready to face the inclement weather and pave the way— literally—for setting new class attendance records. In the event of a snowstorm, the plows will pave all sidewalks on the Law Center campus, most notably the walkway between McDonough Hall and the Gewirz Student Center. Administrative officials note that this will cancel all “snow days” and ensure no classes will be missed on account of Mother Nature. “Students will now be able to walk to their classes without stepping on any snow, which is all you really need to fight inclement weather,” said Dean William Treanor. “With the new snow plows, we can increase a student’s time in the class- room while comforting them in the face of weather they may find scary. This really is a win-win situation.”

While most students have opposed the new policy on various social media platforms, there are some who feel it will increase the value of their law school education.

“I am quite excited that the administration agrees with my sentiments,” said Gregory Gunnerson, a self-proclaimed “attendance enthusiast” in Section 3. “I love being in the library, but more than anything, I love talking about everything I read in the library while I’m in class. Keeping both those buildings open rain, sleet or shine is a dream come true!” 

Administrative officials declined to answer questions concerning how students off campus will be affected by the new snow day policy, referring to the upcoming Gewirz expansion that will tempo- rarily close down campus.