More than 50 attendees were present at the event, hosted by the Estate Planning and Elder Law Program.
Third annual elder law event great example of community engagement

Local attorneys presented at the Elder Law Symposium.
Local attorneys presented at the Elder Law Symposium.

A Dean’s life is full of events. Some are especially memorable — especially for a law Dean — because they demonstrate the impact a school has in the community it serves most immediately.

Goldburn Maynard
Goldburn Maynard

Community engagement has become an important part of the School of Law and of the University of Louisville more generally in recent years, and this was very evident at a terrific event I attended in West Louisville, at the Southern Star Baptist Church on Saturday, September 15, 2018.

Law students gathered before the event.
Law students gathered before the event.

A group of our students, under the auspices of the Estate Planning and Elder Law Program run by Professor Goldburn Maynard, organized the third annual Elder Law Symposium. The event attracted more than 50 seniors and their friends and family from across the community for a program that featured estate and elder law practitioners, Metro Councilwoman Jessica Green and Judge Denise Brown.

It made me so proud to be associated with a School where faculty and students bring their dedication to serving the community in an important and much-needed way. As Professor Maynard reminded those assembled, the singer Aretha Franklin died without a will — and none of us should do that! The day was a terrific and important event and showed the importance that law has for our individual lives.

Be sure to read another account of the day in this blog post written by Estate Planning and Elder Law research assistant Joe Zurschmiede.

Dean Crawford shares one of the best part of his job: connecting with alumni.
Getting to know Louisville Law alumni

Dean Crawford and a group of 2011 alumni
Dean Crawford displays his school spirit with a group of 2011 law school alumni.

One of the great pleasures of this new job — perhaps the greatest pleasure, next to getting to know our students — is getting to meet our alums and learn about their lives and careers. Two recent experiences really brought the truth of this fact home for me.

The first was a reunion the School of Law hosted for members of the classes from 1969-1971. These were small classes due to the Vietnam War, which is why we combined the reunion group. The impulse for this was the return to campus of Murray Klein, class of 1970. Murray, who now lives in California, had not been back to the School of Law for years and returned to award a very generous scholarship to third-year student Bethany Beal.

Martha Schecter and Murray Klein
Martha Schecter and Murray Klein, both of the Class of 1970

The scholarship was created by Murray and his wife, Elayne, in honor of his mentor, a fabled teacher at the school, the late William Read. We held the event at the Omni Hotel, downtown Louisville’s newest smart spot.

I saw some already familiar faces, like the always amiable Wyatt partner Grover Potts (class of 1969), and also made some news friends, like the Pikeville lawyer John Baird, class of 1971, and Richard Beliles, class of 1971, the Kentucky state chair for Common Cause.

I also met Martha Schecter, class of 1970, whose fame preceded her. Martha is a longtime legal aid lawyer and since I arrived in January people have told me she is someone I need to meet. Why so? Because she is known and respected as someone who has spent her career working to make this a better place. Martha still sizzles with the intensity of her social commitment and I hope we can lure her back to campus this year for some women in law leadership events we are planning.

Grover Potts Walt Swyers
From left, Grover Potts (1969) and Walt Swyers (1971)

This event was bracketed for me by yet another reunion — the reunion of a group of men from the class of 2011: John Nawara, Ryan Polczynski, Kyle Samons (UofL football fans may remember Kyle’s star career as the “white thunder” as a Louisville running back), Greg Thompson, Fernando Valdizán and Gulam Zade.

This group, which formed in law school, calls itself the “B-90.” That is “B’ as in ”bottom” and 90 as in 90 percent — those who were not getting the fancy law firm jobs from law school. These guys gather every year, coming from far and wide — Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; Morgantown, West Virginia, and yes, from Louisville, to relive old times and to plan their fantasy football leagues. Sadly, not all of them could attend that Saturday at a pizza parlor in the Highlands, but the ones I met were an incredibly diverse bunch: a lawyer for the Social Security Administration, an in-house counsel recently named as one of Nashville’s “40 Under 40,” a crazily busy plaintiff’s attorney and a sports agent, to name just a few.

Most impressively of all, what may have been a bit of a regret in law school — to be part of the “B-90” — was now a badge of honor: All of these guys have, in a relatively short time, established very successful careers, a testament to the fact that class rank is not everything. They are also very loyal alums and promised to start a scholarship endowment later this year.

These meetings were welcome occasions to me for another reason. This School has not had a great tradition of reunions — something I hope to change. Indeed, we will soon be sending out notices for an all-class reunion on the Friday of Homecoming weekend, October 26. We have never done this before.

At that event, I will be announcing plans to start having small, class-based reunions. Whenever possible, we hope to do these at the School of Law. Indeed, the 1969-1971 alums asked why we had not brought them back to campus, “to visit the old place.” We plan to start doing that, and soon!

The complexity of and difference in rules for accommodations for those with disabilities in various settings is confusing, Professor Rothstein says.
Exploring the rules of animal accommodations in public spaces

My colleague Laura Rothstein, Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Law, is an expert on disability law, among other things. This expertise has led her to work recently on questions involving the extent to which animals are welcome in public places. Her guest blog entry below lays out some of the issues. Be sure to read to the end — so that you enjoy the photo of Skip!

Professor Laura Rothstein
Professor Laura Rothstein

Although the United States is a pet-loving country, American culture (unlike Europe, where small dogs are seen in many public places) has historically not supported having these guests in most public places. The exception was the traditional “seeing eye” dog — the German Shepherd or the Lab. The desire to bring our four-legged and two-legged friends (and even no-legged snakes) to public places, however, has increased dramatically in recent years. Recent news stories report about turkeys on planes, parrots in backpacks and kangaroos at McDonald’s. Which of these animals is legally permitted as an accommodation for an individual with a disability?  

This issue was the topic of my most recent publication (which also has the longest title of anything I’ve ever written): Puppies, Ponies, Pigs, and Parrots:  Policies, Practices and Procedures in Pubs, Pads, Planes and Professions:  Where We Live, Work, and Play, and How We Get There:  Animal Accommodations in Public Places, Housing, Employment and Transportation, 23 Animal L.13 (2018)

The article is one of several in a symposium issue that resulted from a panel at the annual Association of American Law Schools conference in January 2017.

The complexity of and difference in rules for accommodations for those with disabilities in various settings is confusing. The increasing presence of the Noah’s Ark of creatures in public places and other settings, however, requires that airports, hotels, restaurants, college campuses, employers, hospitals, landlords and courthouses prepare those on the front lines about what to do when someone shows up with an animal. A Supreme Court case even addressed this issue in the context of a 13-year old girl seeking to bring Wonder, her service dog, into a public school to assist her with mobility issues and to facilitate independence.  

Several federal laws apply — the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Air Carrier Access Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The application of these laws varies depending on whether the animal accommodation is requested for an employment, housing, transportation, public service or public accommodation setting. It can be particularly complicated when a setting such as a college campus is involved with students, staff and faculty and visitors who go to class, attend football games, live in fraternity and sorority houses and eat in food courts on campus.  

The confusion on college campuses can be illustrated by considering whether and where Elle Woods (from the movie Legally Blond) could bring Bruiser, her famed Chihuahua. In the movie, she starts out at a public university in California where she lives in a sorority house (might be private club exception under ADA). She then moves to attend Harvard Law School (a private university) and lives in campus housing. She works as a research assistant for a professor, at a firm, and goes to court. She goes to a beauty salon and spends time on campus and at the local park. What if she went to a sports event on campus?  

So in which settings would Bruiser be allowed? The question was never an issue in the movie, but it highlights the many locations where it could be an issue. Answering that question would require a determination of whether Elle had a disability, what documentation she would be required to present about her disability and about Bruiser’s training or certification, whether Bruiser was a service dog or an emotional support animal, and whether the particular setting was covered by one of the relevant federal statutes or even a local or state law. Even if Bruiser were eligible for the setting, he could be removed if he was not under control or harmed or disturbed others. What if others were allergic or had phobias?  

Health care settings have other sets of concerns relating to health issues. The presence of a dog in a waiting room presents different concerns than bringing it to a delivery room or allowing it to remain in the hospital room with a patient. Airline travel is also particularly challenging because different statutes apply to the flight service than apply to the airport facilities themselves.  

The article explores the specific requirements under federal statutes and in the various settings. It also sets out some areas that would benefit from attention. What makes animal accommodations particularly unique is that they are one of the few accommodations that might require another individual (not just an entity) to accommodate the disability. 

Skip the dog
Professor Rothstein's dog, Skip

This is increasingly being highlighted in situations where others have phobias or allergies, with little federal guidance about how to resolve the tensions between the individual needs. The article also makes clear how important it is for those on the front line in various settings to be trained about what questions are permissible to ask the person with an animal. 

Disability accommodation with support or service animals is an issue of great current interest to many of the conference attendees where I speak, particularly college and university administrators. I also enjoy discussing this issue in my property and torts classes, where they learn that not all dogs get one bite!  

My dog, Skip (a rescue dog), provided emotional support while I wrote the article on this topic.

Professor Justin Walker, former clerk for Brett Kavanaugh, praises the judge's 'exemplary character'
Guest blog: Reflections on Judge Brett Kavanaugh

My colleague Justin Walker recently blogged about his admiration for and time spent clerking with retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Days later, the news broke that the president was nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh, of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat. Because Professor Walker also clerked for Judge Kavanaugh, he became something of a media star, doing more than 75 radio, television and print interviews in a little over a week. I wanted to take this opportunity to allow Professor Walker to share some personal reflections on Judge Kavanaugh. Here they are:

Justin Walker
Justin Walker

When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, speculation about his replacement quickly swirled. The president was reportedly considering a handful of judges, including his future nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Since I clerked for Judge Kavanaugh and Justice Kennedy, I began to write and speak about both. Here are a few thoughts on that process, and on Judge Kavanaugh.

My summers tend to be quite quiet and solitary. But a couple Thursdays ago, I paused my summer research, pulled up Skype on my laptop, and sat for an interview with a local news station in New York. The journalist was a former college classmate, and the interview was so unexpected that I had to borrow a collared shirt from a friend whose house I was working at.  

Even more unexpected was that over the next two-plus weeks, I’d do about 75 more television, radio, and print interviews. Over one particular 30-hour period, I found myself on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News (twice), Fox Business (three times), Bloomberg TV, WHAS, and Mitch Albom’s radio show. That final one was a particular treat for me because as a kid, I used to watch Albom on ESPN, and I listened to his tear-jerker Tuesdays with Morrie on a road trip with my mom.  

In many of these media interviews, I emphasized that Judge Kavanaugh is exceptionally qualified. With 12 years on the second-most-important court in the country, 300 opinions, and an unparalleled 13 vindications by the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh’s credentials are, to put it mildly, strong. The day after his nomination, a front-page USA Today article began, “On paper, Brett Michael Kavanaugh may be the most qualified Supreme Court nominee in generations.”  

In addition, I’ve also talked to the media about Kavanaugh’s character, and I’m not alone there. Several critics have written columns saying they’re tired of hearing from all of Kavanaugh’s supporters about how he coaches his young daughters’ basketball teams, serves meals to the homeless, and thinks of his trailblazing mom — a teacher, turned prosecutor, turned state judge — as the real “Judge Kavanaugh.” Who cares, they say, that Brett Kavanaugh’s a nice guy?

Those critics have prompted me to reflect on why I’ve spent so much time talking about Judge Kavanaugh’s character.  

First, and perhaps most simply, I’ve talked about his character because nothing else about him has mattered more to my life and my career. To his former clerks, the judge is a mentor, an advocate, and a friend. His decade of supporting me through thick and thin is what first comes to mind when I think of him, rather than, for example, whether he believes courts tend to be overly deferential to administrative agencies (he does) or whether judges should be faithful to judicial precedents (yes on that one too). As another former clerk, Amit Agarwal, wrote: 

“It has been 11 years since I left the judge’s chambers, and . . . I still call him for guidance whenever I have to make an important decision. His response is always the same: He listens carefully, offers his own view, and then asks a simple but extraordinarily generous question: ‘How can I help?’ I can count on one hand the number of people in my life who regularly ask me that question and mean it. It is astonishing to me that one of them is a former boss who also happens to be one of the most distinguished judges in the country.”

Judge Brett Kavanaugh
Judge Brett Kavanaugh

Second, the framers believed character mattered. Not to go all law-nerd on you here, but when referring to the Senate’s “Advice and Consent” function, Hamilton’s Federalist 76 talked about qualifications and character — and only qualifications and character — when it said the Senate will “prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity.” Since Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications are self-evident, I’ve tried to share with viewers and readers my insights about his character.

Third, my point about Kavanaugh’s character goes beyond “he’s a nice guy.” Take, for example, his approach to hiring law clerks. Because he hires left, right, and center, his clerks have gone on to work for liberal, conservative, and moderate justices, including Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer. As Professor Amy Chua of Yale wrote:

“Many judges use ideological tests in hiring clerks. Judge Kavanaugh could not be more different. While his top consideration when hiring is excellence — top-of-the-class grades, intellectual rigor — he actively seeks out clerks from across the ideological spectrum who will question and disagree with him. He wants to hear other perspectives before deciding a case. Above all, he believes in the law and wants to figure out, without prejudging, what it requires.”

This suggests Kavanaugh values independence and fair-mindedness in his approach to his job as a judge. We can learn something about the kind of justice he will be from the kind of employer he has been.

Take another example related to clerk hiring: more than half his clerks have been women, and more than a quarter have been diverse. Taken alone, that statistic doesn’t tell us much. But his female clerks eloquently expanded on this in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“We know all too well that women in the workplace still face challenges, inequality, and even harassment. Among other things, women do not enjoy a representative share of prestigious clerkships or high-profile legal positions. But this Committee, and the American public more broadly, should be aware of the important work Judge Kavanaugh has done to remedy those disparities. In our view, the Judge has been one of the strongest advocates in the federal judiciary for women lawyers.”
One of Judge Kavanaugh’s former clerks, Caroline Van Zile, recently wrote about this from a personal perspective:

“In a profession that often feels overwhelmingly male, the judge has been a champion for women. The vast majority of women who clerked for the judge have gone on to secure prestigious Supreme Court clerkships. They have also worked in all three branches of government. Every time I have faced a career decision, the judge has been there for me, willing to write a letter, make a phone call or just talk things through.”

I’m new to talking to the media, and cable news interviews usually last only a few minutes. Nevertheless, in hindsight, when I’ve done media interviews about Judge Kavanaugh, I wish I had been more precise about why I think his character matters and why his personal qualities speak to values that matter in a judge. I’m grateful to Dean Crawford for the opportunity to begin to do that here.

See a compilation of Walker's media appearances.

Professor Justin Walker, former clerk for Justice Kennedy, shares what he admires about the retiring justice.
Guest blog: Reflections on Justice Anthony Kennedy

My colleague Professor Justin Walker clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy from 2011-2012, and, in my time as Dean and getting to know Justin, it is clear that the Justice remains a major influence on him — not just for his intelligence and ability, but for the values he embodies. As a result, I was delighted that Justin agreed to offer some reflections on Justice Kennedy, the man. I am pleased to share this revealing look at what made Justice Kennedy such a special member of the Court.

Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justin Walker
Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justin Walker. Walker clerked for Justice Kennedy from 2011-2012.

On the Supreme Court of the United States, the center of gravity shifts with time. The pendulum swings back and forth. The cycle spins on.

But men like Justice Anthony Kennedy don’t just come and go. He symbolized something fundamental to our nation’s great experiment with democracy. Something precious. Something that is vanishing.

That something is civility. Sure, he took tough stands. But he never met venom with venom. When possible, he gave his critics the benefit of the doubt. The Chief means well, he would say. Nino is just being Nino.

As we turn the judiciary into another tribal battlefield, this approach — to life and to the law — is at risk. And that’s why I do not look forward to the coming fight to replace Justice Kennedy. The rhetoric and viciousness will be unprecedented because the stakes are unprecedented. And lost in the middle will be the civility that Justice Kennedy brought to every aspect of a career spent championing the better angels of our nature.

This is not to say I agree with every opinion Justice Kennedy wrote. But I love Justice Kennedy. I loved working for him. I loved learning from him. I loved his intellectual curiosity. I loved his devotion to his adoring children and wife of 55 years. And I loved his life-long love affair with the law.

A few stories that came to mind when I heard the news that he was leaving:


About midway through my year clerking for Justice Kennedy, I arrived at 7 in the morning to deliver some bad news. At his request, I had been driving his car with my wife (long story). It had been clipped by a taxi. The damage to the car was not major. But I worried the damage to my reputation would be harder to fix. I’d dreamed for years of clerking on the Supreme Court. Now was I going to be known forever by the Justice as “that clerk who wrecked my car”?

I should have known better. Don’t worry about it, he said with a smile. It’s just a car. That’s what insurance is for. He was more concerned about my worrying than he was about the car.


At the end of that term, Justice Kennedy dissented in a major case, and he knew I’d want to see his dissent from the bench firsthand. “I’ll take care of it,” he said. I kept helping him with his statement’s final edits until long after all the clerks’ seats were taken. That’s when I arrived in the courtroom and saw the seat he’d reserved for me — in his family box, next to Mrs. Kennedy.


I once heard an unverified story from previous clerks about how Justice Kennedy created a reading list partly in response to the Arab Spring. The long list was a primer on freedom. And its audience was anyone who wanted to learn more about individual liberty, the rule of law and the values that make a democracy endure. The reading list is now online, intended as a guide for young people on freedom and democracy.  

Although the list’s origins may have had nothing to do with the Arab Spring, I like to imagine Justice Kennedy reading about a young fruit seller in Tunisia, who was marching in the streets, opposing autocracy and looking to build a better world. And what does that fruit seller need? Among other things, a reading list! 

If that’s what Justice Kennedy thought, his insight was right. But more than that, it was exceptionally idealistic. How beautiful that after three decades in our cynical capital, and in an era of shouting pundits and shock-talk DJs, Justice Kennedy thought part of the answer to global crises should be found in the words of Shakespeare, Jefferson, and Lincoln — as well as dozens more thinkers, and a few of his favorite movies (including Legally Blonde).  


At the end of the musical Man of La Mancha, on his deathbed, Don Quixote dies while reimagining that he is a knight errand fighting for virtue and justice. But in the original novel, it’s Quixote’s realization that he isn’t a knight that kills him. It breaks his heart.  

Justice Kennedy never tilted after windmills.  And his calling — the law, in all its complex majesty — was different than Quixote’s. But he was like the aspiring knight in this way: If Justice Kennedy had not been able to fulfill his calling, it would have broken his heart.  

It’s fortunate for him that he spent his life in the service of that most noble of callings.

And for those of us lucky to work for him and learn from him, it’s fortunate for us as well. 

I hope Justice Kennedy is looking forward to this next chapter of his life. I know he will bring to it the same civility and idealism he brought to each one that preceded it.

Dean Crawford introduces a new discussion series called Rules of the Game.
Rules of the Game

The University of Louisville is turning a page under the leadership of our exciting new President, Dr. Neeli Bendapudi. One sign of that change happened Tuesday night, June 19, in an effort in which I was privileged to be involved.

This exciting new initiative at the University of Louisville, made possible through the generosity of university supporters Matthew Barzun and David Jones, Jr., is called “Rules of the Game.” Matthew and David both deeply believe, as do I, that a great city and a great university need one another. To that end, we started this novel discussion series. Rules of the Game seeks to feature one of the university’s “leading lights or rising stars” to consider, from their individual disciplinary perspectives, the rules we live by, the rules we break, the rules we ignore, and why.

Rev. Dr. Tim Mitchell comments during the event discussionBen Chandler joins in on the discussionBridget M. Bush comments during discussion
Rev. Dr. Tim Mitchell, Rector of the Church of the Advent, (blue shirt) enters the conversationBen Chandler, Former Congressman and Executive Director of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, offers an opinionBridget Bush, Landrum & Shouse and former Courier-Journal columnist, (back left) makes a comment

Assistant Professor Justin Walker Opening Remarks
Justin Walker delivers opening remarks

Tuesday night was the first iteration of this series, which took place in the Cinema Lobby of the Speed Art Museum. The guests included a former Congressman, a federal judge, the director of a major arts institution in the city and a chief of the mayor’s staff – as well as numerous other people from a wide range of careers and walks of life. It was a diverse and fascinating group. What everyone brought to the table was a curiosity and desire to explore the evening’s topic,“Rules for the Rulers: the President vs. the FBI.” The “rising star” to present was the School of Law’s own Assistant Professor Justin Walker.  Justin opened with a brilliant 10-minute presentation on the rules the “rulers” live by and the tensions their prerogatives create in our system of government; the group then had a robust hour and a half of discussion.

In short, the event showcased the intellectual vitality and energy we have at this university. I look forward to helping organize and host many such events in the future – and am again deeply grateful for the generous support and passionate commitment to this university of Matthew Barzun and David Jones, Jr.

Matthew BarzunNat Irvin, II David Jones, Jr. and Justin Walker
Matthew BarzunNat Irvin, II, College of Business,
offers a personal testimony
David Jones, Jr. (left) and Justin Walker (right)
Dean Crawford reflects on his experience at the annual Kentucky Supreme Court review during the KBA Convention.
Annual Kentucky Supreme Court Review at the KBA Convention

The KBA Convention ended for me with a marathon but rich and interesting session – the annual Kentucky Supreme Court review. The moderator was our 2004 alum, State Representative Jason Nemes. Rep. Nemes has become the Kentucky Bar’s unofficial statistician, and his breakdown of cases and decisions was enlightening. Most interesting to me was his observation that the Court’s decision show high degrees of collegiality. To be sure, there is dissent and disagreement among the Justices, Rep. Nemes observed, but far fewer of the sharp divisions we see on many federal tribunals, including, notably, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Representative Jason Nemes
Representative Jason Nemes, 2004 alum

Rep. Nemes began with some provocative and interesting comments – in line with things I have heard at lawyer events outside Kentucky. Specifically, he noted the decline in jury trials, which may be the result of increasing reliance on arbitration and mediation. Though Rep. Nemes did not say so, I know that many lawyers worry about this trend because it results in less written law – and in a legal system that relies on stare decisis that is a concern. 

Rep. Nemes also noted a worry that the Supreme Court docket increasingly was devoted disproportionately to criminal and employment law cases – again a likely result of increased reliance on out-of-court settlement by other means. For the reasons I note above, such a trend must concern us.

Space does not permit me to share the range of cases the panelists covered over two hours but suffice it to say that the review brought me back to my time in law school; the fundamentals still matter! Consider these examples:

  • Torts: in a case involving a distressing canine attack, the Court considered whether evidence of comparative fault could be introduced although Kentucky has a strict liability standard for such torts;
  • Evidence: in a family law case, The Court explored whether extrajudicial information obtained by a judge who searched a defendant’s criminal record during a recess could not be admitted because it was found to undermine the basic integrity of the judicial system;
  • Torts: in a tragic case of the suicide of a middle-school student who had been bullied, the Court considered whether there was a causal connection between the bullying and the student’s death;
  • Constitutional: the Court examined whether a university could claim sovereign immunity when faced with an employee’s claim against it.

There were many others, including some novel issues – or at least novel to me. The criminal law commentator, for example, examined cases on “prosecutorial vindictiveness” and the reach of the doctrine of “collective knowledge” among law enforcement officers. These were entirely new notions to me. Another, civil case considered whether, in a constitutional Equal Protection case, back pay could be considered an equitable remedy. Pay as an equitable remedy! All of these were reminders of the way law and legal arguments constantly evolve.

Kenyon Meyer, 1995 alum and Dinsmore partner
Kenyon Meyer, 1995 alum and Dinsmore partner

For this teacher of Property, however, the case that most interested me came at the end of the session, in a presentation by our 1995 alum and Dinsmore partner, Kenyon Meyer. Kenyon reviewed a case where a plaintiff exercised a right to purchase real property. The parties disagreed as to the amount and the case went to litigation. The Court ordered specific performance at a particular price, even though the defendant objected to the price. But the defendant-seller conveyed a general warranty deed and, the Court concluded, had not taken any one of a number of actions to preserve his objections to the sale. That is enough to keep any real estate lawyer awake at night.

At the end of the session, I almost wanted to be back in law school again – as a student.

The grandson of 1895 graduate and former U.S. Solicitor General supports our National Moot Court Team.
National moot court team thrives thanks to generous supporters

Lowry Watkins and National Moot Court Team
Lowry Watkins Jr. and the National Moot Court Team pose in front of a portrait of William Marshall Bullitt. From left, Professor Samuel A. Marcosson, Rick Whetstone, Lowry Watkins, Irina Strelkova and Katherine Tapp. Not pictured, Jake Smith.

One of the joys of my job is having the opportunity to form relationships people who have deep ties to our law school.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting with Lowry Watkins Jr., whose connection to the Brandeis School of Law stems from his grandfather, William Marshall Bullitt, who served as U.S. Solicitor General from 1912-1913. Mr. Bullitt graduated from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1895.

Mr. Watkins has ensured that his grandfather's legacy lives on at the law school through a variety of avenues, including the William Marshall Bullitt Memorial Lecture in Law, a Chair in Business Law, a scholarship for Kentucky natives, gifts to the Law Library and a constitutional law scholarship.

We at the law school are incredibly thankful for Mr. Watkins’ generosity, and today I want to talk about another area to which he contributes: The William Marshall Bullitt National Moot Court Team. Through an endowment, established in 2005, Mr. Watkins makes it possible for our students to travel to and participate in the National Moot Court Competition.

I spoke with Professor Sam Marcosson, who has coached the team for more than 20 years, about the impact Mr. Watkins’ gift has on the team — and on generations of future lawyers.

Professor Marcosson is proud of the team’s record of success — it has advanced deep into regional finals in six of the past seven years, often beating our ACC rivals — including Duke University School of Law — and schools like Wake Forest University School of Law and William & Mary Law School. Arguments for the regional finals are held at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

This year, the team comprised 2018 graduates Katherine Tapp and Rick Whetstone and rising 3Ls Jake Smith and Irina Strelkova. They worked in two-person teams to address two problems. Each team writes a brief that argues both sides of the assigned problem. This year, the problems dealt with First Amendment issues surrounding alleged retaliatory arrest and Fourth Amendment issues of government searches.

Professor Marcosson praises the dedication and hard work that this year’s team put in preparing for the competition and says that for him, having the chance to work one-on-one with students keeps him engaged in the team. Professor Marcosson, who worked for the appellate staff at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C., before entering academia, says he also appreciates the opportunity to teach the next generation of appellate attorneys.

“I love to use what I did and the experience I gained to develop these skills with students,” he says.

And, Professor Marcosson acknowledges, none of this would be possible without dedicated supporters like Lowry Watkins Jr. He, I and our students — as well as the legal profession as a whole — owe him gratitude for carrying on his grandfather’s legacy in this practical way. 

Dean Crawford reflects on his first KBA convention.
Celebrating the impact of Brandeis stakeholders across the commonwealth

Conventions tend to be whirlwind events, with people to meet, events to attend and always more things to do than one could ever manage. This was certainly true for my first Kentucky Bar Association Annual Convention, which has been richly satisfying.

Dean Colin Crawford and Caitlin Kidd
Dean Colin Crawford and Caitlin Kidd

The last 24 hours were especially so. I began last evening at the opening reception, where I not only saw many new friends but also ran into our rising 2L Caitlin Kidd. Caitlin is at the convention as part of her summer fellowship. Caitlin was selected by Legal Services Corporation and Equal Justice Works for a Rural Summer Legal Corps student fellowship. She is one of 29 law students nationwide, and two from Brandeis (the other is Lauren North, also a rising 2L). Caitlin’s summer is focused on launching the Justice Bus, a mobile, “pop-up” legal office sponsored by Legal Aid of the Bluegrass. Caitlin and her LAB co-workers will be taking the bus to 10 rural counties in Kentucky to provide free legal assistance to underserved individuals in those areas.

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass Justice Bus
From left, Dominic Donovan, Caitlin Kidd and Joshua Fain with Legal Aid of the Bluegrass' Justice Bus.

The project reveals the ingenuity of lawyers as they seek to find novel ways to provide justice access, and I wish them the greatest success. 

Then I headed to our alumni reception, generously hosted at the Lexington offices of Bingham Greenebaum Doll. We had more than 50 alums and friends show up and it was a great chance to share with them what is happening at the school of law. It could not have been possible without the organizational efforts of 2014 alumus and Bingham attorney Aaron Marcus and 1988 alumna Bonnie Kittinger.

Michael Whiteman
Michael Whiteman

Thursday, June 14, began with an extended breakfast with the other area law deans, including Dean David Brennen of UK, Interim Dean Verna Williams of Cincinnati and NKU Interim and our 1994 alum Michael Whiteman.

I then rushed to a terrific panel moderated by outgoing KBA President Bill Garmer on the judiciary, entitled “A Co-Equal Branch-Judicial Selection and Independence in an Age of Anxiety.” The panel included my colleague Professor Sam Marcosson and his frequent sparring partner, Professor Paul Salamanca from UK. These two constitutional scholars debated the status of the judiciary in President Trump’s US — Sam from the left and Paul from the right. It was a spirited and very respectful debate, as the best legal argument is.

Chief Justice Minton
Chief Justice Minton

Next came a luncheon for the Kentucky Bar Foundation. The KBF luncheon was opened by Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. The event began with the announcement of the new KBF Life Fellows, including my colleague Professor Les Abramson.

The KBF event not only announced the award of a generous scholarship to each of the law schools in the Commonwealth but also made a $5,000 award to the Central High School Partnership run in conjunction with the school of law by my colleague Professor Laura Rothstein. We at Brandeis are very proud of the Central High Partnership and of the work of Professor Rothstein and others like Professor Cedric Merlin Powell, Professor Enid F. Trucios-Haynes and Professor Justin Walker, who help teach in the pipeline program.

Harvest Johnston and Guion Johnstone
Harvey Johnston and Guion Johnstone

The host was our 1972 alum Harvey Johnston, from Bowling Green. Harvey and his wife, Sarah, have been generous supporters of the school of law and his tenure as KBF head has been distinguished by fundraising success. Under Harvey’s stewardship — having raised more than $2 million, all of which gets distributed to worthy entities across the commonwealth. During his tenure, Harvey worked closely with KBF Executive Director Guion Johnstone, a 2011 Brandeis grad.

The evening’s banquet brought more kudos for a distinguished alum, in this case the Chief Justice’s Special Service Award for 1968 graduate Grant Helman. Since 1982, Grant has been chairman of the Character and Fitness Committee, administering the oversight of character and fitness evaluations of generations of Kentucky lawyers.

Grant Helman and Colin Crawford
Grant Helman and Colin Crawford

In short, the past 24 hours made me proud of the variety of ways in which some of our stakeholders — students, faculty, and alums — are serving the commonwealth and the profession. Brandeis is a key player in the health of the rule of law and professional service in Kentucky and beyond.

Professor Ariana Levinson shares her experience testifying at a Supreme Court Rules Hearing.
Will Kentucky adopt a new hearsay exception?

On May 13, I attended my first meeting as a member of the Commission on Continual Judicial Education. The Chair, Justice Bill Cunningham, arrived slightly late because he had been delayed at a Supreme Court Rules Hearing held here at the KBA Convention. Justice Cunningham said that he could scarcely remember a proposed rule that attracted more comment and more diverse points of view on the proposed change to Commonwealth evidence rules. I was also told by another alum, a circuit court judge, that a Brandeis colleague had testified in favor of the rule. Therefore, I was extremely pleased to learn from my colleague, Professor Ariana Levinson, that she had testified and would be willing to share her experience in a guest blog post. Here is what Professor Levinson had to say.

Terrance Sullivan
Terrance Sullivan testifies at a Supreme Court Rules Hearing held at the June 2018 KBA Convention.

Thank you to Dean Crawford for letting me guest blog about the Supreme Court Rules Hearing at the KBA Annual Convention. Comments on an interesting, and apparently controversial, proposal to amend the Kentucky Evidence rules to add KRE 807, were heard by the Court. The proposed rule provides an exception to the prohibition on hearsay evidence contained in KRE 802. The exception would make admissible, in certain circumstances, out-of-court statements by a child who was physically or sexually abused, about the abuse. You might wonder what I, a law school professor, was doing at this hearing.

I have been teaching Evidence at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law since 2011. This past semester, we had a particularly interesting time following the enactment of this hearsay exception through the legislative process. A student in my Evidence course, Samantha Wright, had the wonderful opportunity to work with Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) over the semester through a Cooperative Consortium for Transdisciplinary Social Justice fellowship. KYA is a non-profit that advocates for policies and programs that benefit youth. Samantha was the first legal intern the KYA has had, and we are hopeful that future students interested in youth advocacy will also be able to intern with them. Throughout the semester, Samantha reported to the class about the work KYA was doing promoting the exception.

Samantha had the good fortune to be working closely with Terrance Sullivan, who is a 2012 Brandeis graduate. Terrance was inspired by Professor Sam Marcosson to find a position that involved constitutional law. After working at Metro Council, he went on to do work on legislative committees at the Kentucky Legislature, with one of his committees being Election & Constitutional Amendments, and eventually became the policy director at KYA. He loves his job advocating for youth and is happy to speak with any Brandeis law students about alternative career paths that differ from litigation. Terrance and Samantha invited me to speak about the proposed rule change, and that is how I ended up at the hearing.

In preparation for the hearing, another student, Natalie Nelson, assisted me in research about other states that have similar hearsay exceptions. She found the subject matter very interesting and is now following the process of the proposed rule along with us.

At the hearing, I spoke about how the proposed rule 807 incorporates the same level of necessity and indicia of reliability as the existing hearsay exceptions. Terrance provided testimony that focused on the reliability of children’s statements of abuse, the inapplicability of the Confrontation Clause to the statements encompassed within the proposed exception, and the similarity of an Ohio hearsay exception under which an admitted statement of child abuse was upheld by the Supreme Court. He mentioned my colleague Professor Cedric Merlin Powell’s comments, during the Evidence course Terrence took, about the dying declaration exception. He concluded by emphasizing this exception would not be a hammer or screwdriver in a prosecutor’s toolbox, but rather that one special tool that is used only infrequently but is absolutely necessary in that instance (think of IKEA furniture).

I am sure in addition to Terrance, other Brandeis graduates spoke both in favor and against the proposed rule. I was impressed at the diversity of perspectives and the quality of the advocacy, and am proud to be connected with such fine alumni and attorneys.

The Supreme Court is taking written comments through the end of July. The Evidence Rule Commission is chaired by Honorable Justice Venters.