Professor Noah Weisbord designed and moderated a panel discussion at the 108th annual meeting of the American Society of International Law in Washington DC. The theme of the meeting was the effectiveness of international law and Professor Weisbord’s panel, addressing a packed room, compared law enforcement in the fields of international human rights and international trade. The speakers were Chantal Thomas (Cornell), Marco Bronkers (Leiden) and Jim Goldston (Open Society Justice Initiative).
Alumnus Rob Manning ’06, of the law firm Dean Mead in Viera, Florida, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida. Manning’s practice includes business litigation, construction law, employment law, real estate litigation and community association law. He is the record counsel for multiple community associations across the Space Coast. Manning also serves on the Board of Directors of the Space Coast Tiger Bay Club. He is a member of the Brevard County Bar Association, and served as President of the Young Lawyers Division of the Brevard County Bar Association in 2010. Manning is also a graduate of Leadership Brevard Class of 2009. Manning is an AV-Preeminent® rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. Prior to practicing law, Manning worked as a television news reporter and anchor at network affiliated stations across the Southeast.
You could have heard a pin drop inside FIU Law’s large courtroom as appellate attorneys, dressed in full military regalia, were preparing to argue the case of United States v. Jones before the five federal appellate judges that make up the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
There was one person in the courtroom who wasn’t dressed like the others.
He was Rey Martinez – a third-year FIU Law evening student – who was playing the part of amicus curiae (or friend of the court). As amicus, Martinez is not a party to the case but offers information that may assist the court in its final decision.
It was an experience of a lifetime and one he volunteered to take on.
“This was one of the best experiences of my life. I was humbled and honored to be able to represent FIU Law in front of a federal court of appeals,” Martinez shared. “I felt like all of my hard work and time had paid off – and for those very brief 10 minutes, I was an attorney.”
FIU Law Professor Eric Carpenter, who teaches Evidence and Military Justice, is a former Judge Advocate and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel. With his ties to the military, Carpenter helped bring the hearing to FIU Law, which included an invitation for one student to serve as amicus. Martinez was inspired to take on the challenge while taking Carpenter’s Military Justice course.
The opportunity to use a law school student in a real-life hearing is part of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces’ Project Outreach program. The program allows law schools, military bases and other public facilities to be used as the courtroom for these hearings.
Unlike cases in traditional law school moot court competitions where the case in question is fictional, this case was real.
“[It’s] a real life federal bench, where someone’s life is at stake, someone who is facing real consequences. This case has the potential to rewrite military law,” said Martinez.
Under the supervision of Professor Carpenter, Martinez wrote and submitted a 15-page brief. Although Martinez is not yet a licensed attorney, he argued confidently during his 10 minute presentation in court – which was often interrupted by questions fired by the judges.
“You could not tell that Mr. Martinez was a student rather than an experienced appellate litigator. He is an example of the great students that we have at FIU Law, and his performance should make us all proud,” said Carpenter.
“I spent hours reading any case the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces had written on the matter and studied the opinions. I had so much help from Professor Carpenter, my classmates, as well as other professors, namely, Professors Klion, Walter, Wasserman and Rickard, in mooting me and preparing to appear before the five judges. The professors asked the tough questions, and I felt confident standing in front of the court that I was prepared.”
The judges will issue an opinion within the next few months.
Judge Scott W. Stucky, who has served on the court since 2006, believes that moving from their home courthouse in Washington, D.C. to other locales and allowing law students to participate in the hearing is unique.
“I don’t know another court that does this,” said Judge Stucky.
For Martinez, appearing in front of a federal court won’t be a once in a lifetime experience – he hopes to one day achieve his dream of becoming a JAG officer.
“After the conclusion of the hearing, I was honored to receive a military challenge coin from the Court as well as to receive kind words from the judges and many high ranking military personnel from the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Associate Professor Charles C. Jalloh has just published a comment on the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s last judgment in Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor in the American Journal of International Law (AJIL), January 2014, Volume 108, Number 1 at pp. 58-66. AJIL is widely considered the number 1 peer-reviewed international law journal in the world. The piece is posted on SSRN here.
Maria D. Garcia, of Zumpano Patricios & Winker, was appointed by the President-Elect of the Florida Bar, Gregory W. Coleman, to serve on the Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee. This standing committee assists the Governor of Florida and the judicial nominating commissions throughout the state in discharging their respective duties under Article V, Section 11, of the Constitution of Florida, as well as advises the judicial nominating commissioners on new or proposed legislation related to the judiciary and the judicial selection process.
Professor J. Osei-Tutu presented her new research project on the global criminalization of intellectual property at the 2014 Intellectual Property Scholars Roundtable at Drake Law in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference, which was held March 28 and 29, was attended by intellectual property academics from across the United States as well as from Canada, India and China.
Professor M.C. Mirow will receive the Golden Quill Award, Outstanding Florida History Article, for 2014 from the Florida Historical Society at the Society’s annual meeting next month. The article “The Constitution of Cádiz in Florida” explores the constitutional history of St. Augustine and East Florida from 1812 to 1821, during Spanish rule of the region. The article was published last year in the Florida Journal of International Law and may be found here. Mirow is also the author of the book Florida’s First Constitution, The Constitution of Cádiz: Introduction, Translation, and Text (2012). “I am honored to have my scholarship recognized by the premier historical society of Florida. While legal historians know a great deal about the colonial legal history of New York or Massachusetts for example, the materials for Florida have been unexplored and are equally as fascinating, complex, and integral to the legal, constitutional, and political history of United States. Because a lot of the materials are in Spanish and deal with colonial Spanish law, special training is needed to read and to understand what you are looking at,” said Mirow. He added, “I’ve been fortunate to have studied legal and Spanish palaeography at various stages in my career through York University’s Borthwick Institute and Cambridge University in England, and here in the States at the Newberry Library in Chicago. All of this work has brought me back to the unexplored materials of colonial Florida. It is, for me, my Atlantis, an undiscovered colonial legal world.”
FIU Law students Anthony Rouzier, a fourth-year, and Allan Zullinger, a third-year, have been leading the local Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation effort by providing assistance to hundreds of FIU students and families. Rouzier and Zullinger, who are both “certified application counselors” trained by the Health Council of South Florida, have been meeting with FIU students and their families since February 2014 to counsel them on their health coverage options through the ACA Marketplace.
Rouzier, who graduates this May with a dual JD/MBA degree, has a background in health care as co-founder and president of Henry Gets Moving, a childhood obesity awareness campaign. He became interested in the ACA because it aligned his experience in health care with his FIU education inboth law and business. As a certified application counselor he has had the opportunity to apply his health care, legal, and business knowledge to benefit FIU students, as ACA enrollment involves complicated issues of tax, family, and immigration law. He intends to use his experience providing ACA counseling in his career as a social entrepreneur and health advocate.
Zullinger, began learning about the ACA this past fall semester as a student attorney in FIU Law’s Health Law and Policy Clinic, when he successfully represented a medically-underserved Miami woman in a Social Security disability hearing. Through the hearing he experienced the devastating effect that long-term lack of health insurance had on his client’s wellbeing. After sufereing from a bike accident last semester, Zullinger’s experience with the healthcare system became personal, and he wrote an op-ed that was published by the Washington Post. He has since been invited to share his health care story at events where he shared the stage with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and at a separate event, First Lady Michelle Obama. As a certified application counselor, Zullinger has worked to ensure that young people at FIU are able to access affordable health coverage and avoid the health and financial consequences of lacking health coverage. Zullinger graduates from FIU Law in May and is looking forward to a career in health law or government.
Their effort to assist their peers, fellow “young invincibles,” at FIU has garnered national media attention. To date, Rouzier and Zullinger have helped nearly 100 FIU students and their families enroll in affordable health coverage through the ACA Marketplace.
Spring Break is notorious for relaxing, recharging and kicking back, but for two FIU Law students and Caribbean Student Bar Association (CSBA) executive board members, it was the perfect time to give back and make a difference.
CSBA executive board members Jeremy Thompson, a second-year law student, and Lisa Smith, a third-year, used their spring break vacation to give back to a group of young people living in Quibdo, Colombia – one of the country’s poorest areas.
Thompson and Smith went on a five day journey that included two plane rides, transportation via motorbikes called ‘rapids’ and even a hike to reach students in this rural community. While there, they brought school and music supplies to students in need. They also filled their itinerary with visits to judges and had conversations about possibilities, future plans and FIU Law.
Thompson had the idea for the international exchange through his experience with the Health through Walls – a non-profit organization that helps Caribbean, African, and other resource-poor countries implement replicable models and sustainable improvements in healthcare services within their penitentiaries. The exchange also helped to fulfill some of the required pro bono hours FIU Law students must fulfill in order to graduate.
Thompson is passionate about helping the underserved and underprivileged.
“The reason I took the trip to Colombia and the reason I want to be a lawyer is to help uplift the African diaspora across the world,” he shared. “Many Americans do not realize how the devastating effects that stemmed from slavery, segregation, and racism continue to plague Black’s across the world. Blacks not only live in impoverished areas in America, but also in Colombia and many other areas across the world. I plan to fight these devastating effects in America as a civil rights attorney.”
During their time, the team also met with judges and shared the fundamental differences between the United States common law system and Colombia’s civil law system – Quibdo is in the early stages of transitioning to a common law system. They also met with Quibdo’s police department to explain community policing and techniques on effective policing.
But, their best moments were the times they spent with the students.
“It was amazing the amount of questions the students had; they’ve even contacted us through Facebook to continue our conversations,” Smith shared. “They were curious about what it’s like to live on the campus of an American university and what our experiences are like as students. We explained to them how to apply to become an FIU international student and encouraged them to study hard.”
Smith hopes to be able to continue visiting developing cities like Quibdo to help uplift the African diaspora out of poverty and challenges more FIU students and faculty members to take similar mission trips.
Preparing for the trip began last August and garnered support from CSBA and the International Law Student Association (ILSA), but it didn’t end there. Thompson got word that one Quibdo’s music schools was in need of supplies, so he reached out to FIU’s College of Music and Assistant Professor Marcia Littley who helped facilitate the donation.
“I think what the students did was incredible. I was so pleased and intrigued to hear his (unusual) request specifically for cello strings and rosin. I know these can be so costly, especially in other countries like Colombia. I read a little about the orchestra there in Quibdo which was recently initiated. An ensemble like that is doing a great service to young people in a city with high crime and I thought that anything we can do to help out is going to mean something to those children. Manuel Berberian from Allegro Music generously donated strings he had available and it all came together very quickly. I am so impressed with your students’ initiative!” Littley shared.
On top of the demands of law school and their work with CSBA, Thompson and Smith keep a busy schedule.
Thompson started the Theta Mu Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. in Quibdo this past October and the Eta Sigma Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. at FIU while he was earning a master’s degree, he is the Evening Representative with International Law Students Association (ILSA), has an externship with Judge Michael Rothschild (17th Circuit of Florida), works at a Halfway House with federal inmates and is a research assistant for Professor Phyllis Kotey.
Smith is vice president of the CSBA, a member of the H.T. Smith Black Law Student’s Association, a member of the trial team and works as a paralegal in the Pena Law Firm in Miami Lakes.
TerryAnn Howell CSBA president appreciates Thompson’s and Smith’s efforts. “Jeremy and Lisa were true FIU Law ambassadors and did a tremendous job,” she said. “My hope is that they will inspire our members to participate in CSBA’s upcoming trips to Haiti and Jamaica and continue to get involved and reach out on an international level.”
Kristin Drecktrah ’11 of Gomm & Smith was a panelist at the recent Bahamas Young Arbitrators Conference. The panel of attorneys discussed the role young practitioners are playing in promoting the Bahamas as a center for international arbitration in the Caribbean. Drecktrah and others also offered insight into how they developed their practices in international arbitration and gave advice on how to enter the field.
“Right now, there isn’t really a ‘go-to’ seat for international arbitration in the region,” said Drecktrah. “My fellow panelists and I discussed the importance of working to help make the Bahamas the regional hub.”
The Bahamas Young Arbitrators Conference was held on the eve of the International Centre for Commercial Arbitration’s (ICCA) conference. This year, the ICCA chose Miami as the host city for their worldwide, biennial conference.
Drecktrah’s interest in international arbitration started at FIU Law when she enrolled in Professor Gomez’ course on the subject. “It struck me as a thriving and fascinating area of law,” she said. While in law school, Drecktrah also participated in a number of international competitions including the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. “I am able to put the skills I learned at FIU Law into practice at Gomm & Smith where I focus on commercial arbitration, commercial litigation, and investment arbitration.