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Professor Sweeny’s article cited in Kentucky Supreme Court’s teenage sexting case

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments last week for a case involving the relatively new issue of teenage sexting. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, a 15-year-old boy sent two nude photos of himself to his 13-year-old girlfriend’s phone. She responded with a photo of herself.
The girl’s parents discovered the photos and requested a warrant from the Woodford Circuit Court. The boy was subsequently charged with sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor, and possession of child pornography, a felony.
As part of his defense, the boy’s attorneys have extensively cited U of L Law Professor JoAnne Sweeny’s recently published article on the potential constitutional challenges to the prosecution of teenagers under child pornography laws because they have "sexted" each other nude or erotic photos of themselves.
In her article, Sweeny argues that sexting teenagers should have freedom of expression protection under the First Amendment since there was no harm inherent in the creation of the content. Conversely, child pornography is not protected under the First Amendment because child pornography images are the product of child abuse.
According to Sweeny, “[t]hat’s why it’s child pornography is illegal - to protect children from abuse. For sexting teens, the photographed acts are consensual and there is no adult manipulation. This situation between the two teens in this case is not the same thing as child pornography and the harm inherent in child pornography simply doesn't exist here,” Sweeny said. “This is an inappropriate charge. You’re charging the group that was meant to be protected by the law. It’s meant to protect children but that’s who you’re taking to court.”
Sweeny said this case is even more frustrating because only the boy is being charged. She adds that, until now, no state or federal appellate or supreme court has ever squarely dealt with a freedom of expression claim in a case where sexting teens have faced child pornography charges.  An important precedent will therefore be set by the Kentucky Supreme Court.
“The way the law is written now, if a teen takes a naked self image and shares it with no one, they’re still in possession of child pornography. The child pornography laws that exist were passed in the 1970s or 80s. Kids didn’t even have cameras then,” Sweeny said. “All you need is one zealous prosecutor and these teenagers could become registered sex offenders. The law shouldn’t be left open to such an absurd result.”
According to Sweeny's article, under the current law, approximately one-third of all teenagers in Kentucky could be charged with a felony sex offense.
There is no date set on the ruling for B.H. v. Kentucky but the Supreme Court of Kentucky usually rules three to four weeks after oral arguments.

The Diversity Committee Presents: Our Country, Appalachia, and The Never-Ending Path To Poverty

On Tuesday, March 3, the Diversity Committee will host a discussion on the current state of poverty in America and the role of law in promoting or hindering economic equality. Although the program will discuss the intersection of poverty and the law from a national perspective, the emphasis will be on the Kentucky region (Louisville and Appalachian) in hopes that it will allow students to truly understand the realities of poverty within our own communities. The program will include a diverse group of panelist from the fields of law, economics, and public interest work. Students with a desire to work with indigent clients through practice public interest law or that will be applying for one of the summer public interests fellowships are strongly encouraged to attend. Lunch will be provided! 


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cox Lounge

12-2 PM


Suggested Readings:

 “New IRS Data Gives Fresh Look at Income Inequality,” available at


“Robert Reich:  10 ways to close the inequality gap,” available at


“A New Majority Research Bulletin:  Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation’s Public Schools,” available at:

Environmental and natural resources law expert headlines Boehl Distinguished Lecture March 3

The Brandeis School of Law’s Boehl Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Policy is set for 6 p.m. on March 3 in Room 275. This year’s event will feature Professor J.B. Ruhl, J.D., Ph.D., the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law and Co-Director of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program at Vanderbilt University.

Ruhl’s topic is “Localism and the New Language of Conservation,” which will cover how and why local land use policies and laws are increasingly important in environmental conservation.

Brandeis Professor Tony Arnold, who has the Boehl Chair in Property and Land Use, calls Ruhl “one of the nation’s leading environmental scholars” and said the topic is both timely and interesting for Louisville.

“Urban conservation is a really important issue in the Louisville community right now as we’re trying to green the city. We have heat island concerns and a need for urban tree conservation, more green infrastructure and water quality protection,” Arnold said. “With a scholar bringing in a new perspective and new ideas for planning and public policy, the lecture series is important to the law school, the university and the city.”

Ruhl said this particular lecture melds two of his interests: How new ideas in conservation science evolve and become represented in law and policy, and how environmental law increasingly must rely on local government scales for innovation and implementation.

“The talk will take on two parts. First, I'll explore the new language of conservation through concepts such as socioecological systems, resilience, and adaptation. Then, I will make the case that these ideas are profoundly connected to the local governance scale,” Ruhl said. “Tony's and the (Brandeis) law school's work on local environmental law made this a perfect venue for exploring this convergence of themes.”

Ruhl has published extensively on ecosystem services, climate change adaptation, endangered species and wetlands policy, and adaptive ecosystem management and governance. Eight of his articles have been selected by peers as among the best published in environmental law throughout the past 25 years.

He has taught in law schools at Harvard, Florida State, George Washington, University of Texas, Vermont and Lewis & Clark. Ruhl holds a J.D., an L.L.M. and a Ph.D. in Geography.

The Boehl Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Policy is open to the public. It is supported by the Herbert Boehl Fund, the Kentucky Research Challenge Trust Fund and the Center for Land Use & Environmental Responsibility.

Office of Admissions engages prospective students with interactive microsite

Some of you may be curious about the Brandeis School of Law’s microsite,, accessible through the Office of Admissions page on the school’s website.

The microsite features new branding highlighting the BrandeIS marketing campaign (a take on “Brandeis is”), which kicked off with a printed viewbook and which will carry over into the law school’s new website, set to go live later this semester. The BrandeIS tagline and complementing microsite fit the school’s objective to increase its digital marketing efforts.

The microsite officially launched on Dec. 1, 2014 and is one of the many ways the Admissions Department is engaging prospective students to either visit or apply to the law school, according to Admissions Counselor, Camilo Ortiz. He said the process from ideation to implementation took a little under three months and was a collaborative effort between admissions and UofL’s Office of Communication and Marketing.

“It’s all about the experience. A microsite provides an exclusive environment for our users to interact, engage and learn about our school without feeling overwhelmed like they would with a traditional website and, hopefully, doing away with any preconceived notions they might have had about our school. We can start anew in many ways,” Ortiz said.

The microsite’s main priorities are to engage, inform and provide a call to action. It also features a responsive design so it can be viewed the same across all devices and help the Admissions Department to reach a larger audience.

“With a microsite, we have the ability to tell our story in a more customized and relevant way. The creative design portrays our brand in a new light. The ease of the site’s interactivity makes ‘the experience’ more enjoyable and the brevity of the site allows us to tailor our message in a way that is concise and to the point,” Ortiz said.

Microsites are temporary by nature but elements from will be carried over as the law school's website goes live. Ortiz said this includes a snapshot of the different ways the school is a unique place to study.

Professor Weaver brings international experiences back to the classroom

Professor Russ Weaver was a speaker at Duke Law Journal’s 45th Annual Administrative Law Symposium on Feb. 6. He spoke specifically on Appointment Politics alongside Steven Friedland, a professor of law and senior scholar at Elon University School of Law.   
This appearance followed closely on the heels of Professor Weaver’s speech at Washington and Lee University’s 2015 Lara D. Gass Symposium, held in late January in Lexington, Virginia. This year's symposium topic was "Cybersurveillance in the Post-Snowden Age."

These two events are just the tip of the iceberg that is Professor Weaver’s busy travel schedule.

In March, he’ll participate in a symposium in Paris, France, on the topic of government transparency.

He is also involved in a symposium on April 1 on cybersurveillance at the Université Aix-Marseille, in Southern France.

On April 17, Professor Weaver will participate in a panel called “What is (should be) the scope and limitation of police power to track suspects?” as part of Texas Tech’s 9th annual Criminal Law Symposium. The event will feature distinguished legal scholars discussing the application of the Fourth Amendment in today’s digital world.

Toward the end of April, Professor Weaver will speak on media and free expression at an event in Budapest, Hungary.

And in May, he’ll head to the University of Lisbon (Portugal) to teach for a week, as he does every year.

His schedule remains full through June and July, with discussion fora in Paris (arranged by Professor Weaver); a privacy discussion in Sorbonne, France; discussion fora on administrative law in Luxembourg; a speech in Mainz, Germany, on free speech issues; and a presentation on the freedom of expression in Boca Raton, Florida.

This sort of schedule is nothing new for Professor Weaver. Last year, for example, he logged 148,000 miles. He said it’s important to keep up such a pace, as it connects him to prominent scholars around the world and allows him to learn different cultural perspectives on his area of focus.

The specific area of cybersurveillance, for example, has changed radically in just the past five years because of the advancement of technology. Professor Weaver said it’s important to expand his angle on the topic to keep up with these changes and anticipate societies’ adaptations.

He brings these diverse cultural interpretations back to his classroom. Such travel and participation, he said, informs his teaching and is professionally enlightening.

Negotiation course--time change

The Negotiation course will meet at 5:15 instead of 4:45 for tomorrow, February 19 only.

Brandeis student's campaign for U.S. soldiers featured in Courier-Journal

Brandeis School of Law student Brandon Sword, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq in 2006, and his mother Metro Councilwoman Madonna Flood, were featured in a story published by the Courier-Journal last week highlighting their campaign called “Doing Our Part from the Heart.”

Flood started the campaign in 2007 in response to her son’s requests for basic toiletries such as deodorant, razors and baby wipes. She wanted the campaign to coincide with Valentine’s Day. In the years since, she has sent more than 1,200 care packages to soldiers.

In the story, Sword said the boxes helped negate some of the isolating effects of war, adding that combat troops do not typically have access to retail options.

Sword also said donations have dwindled in recent years as the wars are no longer front page news every day.

More information about Doing Our Part from the Heart is available via its Facebook page or through Councilwoman Flood’s office at 502-574-1124.

Interest session on Central HS Law Magnet Program scheduled for Feb. 24

The Diversity Committee and the Central High School Partnership will host an interest session on the Central High School Law Magnet Program at noon on Feb. 24 in Room 275.

The interest session will include students from the program, law students who are currently teaching in the program and UofL students who went through the program and plan to attend law school. In addition to an overview, forms to apply will be available during the event.

It is open to those who would like to teach street law, writing skills or civil liberties issues at Central High School next year, either to meet a public service obligation or receive academic credit. The session is also open to those who just want to know more about the program.

Property Panel rescheduled for March 10

The Property Panel originally scheduled for Feb. 17 has been rescheduled due to weather. It will now be held March 10 from 4:15-5:45 p.m. in room 275.

All three panelists will be present for the event, which is co-sponsored by the Career Services Office. They include:

  • Professor Tony Arnold, the Boehl Chair in Property and Land Use, teaching in both the Brandeis School of Law and the Department of Urban and Public Affairs.  He also directs the interdisciplinary Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility and is the faculty advisor to the JD-MUP dual degree program in law and urban planning.
  • Fred Joseph, Counsel at Stites & Harbison, where he was a partner for more than 20 years and chaired the firm’s real estate section. He is listed in the "Real Estate Lawyers" and "Land Use Lawyers" sections of The Best Lawyers in America: A Corporate Guide (all editions, 1983-2014) and was recently named by that publication as the 2010 and 2014 "Best Lawyer of the Year for Real Estate Law - Louisville" and in 2013 as “Best Lawyer of the Year for Land Use and Zoning—Louisville.”
  • Stephen Tullis Porter, Attorney-at-Law; owner and principal broker of Steve Porter Realtors; co-owner of 1840 Tucker House Bed and Breakfast; and adjunct professor at Brandeis.

Brandeis alum named DelCotto Law Group member

Jamie L. Harris has been named a member of the DelCotto Law Group in Lexington. She will focus her practice on individual and business Chapter 11 bankruptcies and workouts.

For the past 8 years, Harris has represented clients in numerous industries including healthcare, nonprofit, trucking, construction, commercial real estate and telecommunications. She is a frequent author and presenter on business insolvency issues.
Harris is a leader in DLG's bankruptcy, business restructuring and debt workout practice areas. She helps companies and individuals expand, reorganize, buy, sell and liquidate. Her practice is focused on clients in transition who need assistance in acquisitions, debt restructuring, refinancing, workouts and turnarounds.
Harris received her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Centre College and her JD from the Brandeis School of Law.