Latest News

Kentucky Innocence Project in 2015-2016

Brandeis strongly connected to U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming same-sex marriage case

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments sometime in April on the Sixth Circuit’s decision in the fall to uphold bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The decision abruptly halted a swift wave of momentum favoring same-sex marriage – in the past year alone, state statutes or amendments banning same-sex marriage rights have been overturned in 28 other states.

SCOTUS will hear from plaintiffs challenging these bans in each of the four states. Kentucky’s case was brought by two sets of plaintiffs; one group that included couples who married in other states and are seeking recognition in the Commonwealth, and the other group of couples who are seeking the right to marry in the state.

All of the attorneys who have represented the plaintiffs from the beginning are graduates of the Brandeis School of Law. They include Laura Landenwich, Daniel Canon and L. Joe Dunman, from Clay Daniel Walton & Adams, and Dawn Elliott and Shannon Fauver, from the Fauver Law Office.

To underscore the significance of such a rare opportunity for these alums, the Supreme Court’s website claims that Justices grant review on about 100 of the more than 10,000 petitions filed with the court each term.

“Most lawyers don’t get this opportunity and it’s not something I ever would have believed was possible,” Landenwich said. “We all view this as the major civil rights case of our era. It’s hard to imagine another case in our lifetime that will have such a big impact nationally on the development of the law, Constitutional law and our understanding of who deserves protection.”

Landenwich said the legal team purposefully worked around the clock to get the petition filed in time (they had one week) to put it in front of the current court.

“Everyone had the opinion that the Supreme Court may not look the same the next term. The uncertainty if we waited was too great and would affect too many people,” she said. “It was intense. It still is.”

Landenwich credits her moot court training at Brandeis – and Professor Sam Marcosson’s coaching – for helping her prepare for some of that intensity. She also said the Louisville legal community in general has rallied around the team.

“There is a lot of support from the law school and the Louisville Bar. There is a definite comradery. The university has played a central role in providing support and knowing that your peers are behind you has helped motivate us through the process,” Landenwich said.

In addition to boasting alumni who will be facing the bench in this landmark civil rights case, Brandeis is also connected via its current students and faculty as well.

“The law school’s involvement in this case embodies the best qualities of our law school in the ‘how’ the people are involved,” said Professor Jamie Abrams, who was part of a team of 56 family law professors who signed and submitted an amicus curiae brief in the Sixth Circuit cases. Abrams worked with a team of Brandeis students to research the underlying Kentucky law. Those students worked for public service hours.

The plaintiff’s legal team is also being supported by students working for pay, student legal scholars, faculty scholars (Professors Sam Marcosson, David Herzig) and more. Additionally, Herzig’s article, “A Taxing Decision: The Supreme Court will rule in favor of gay marriage for the most practical of reasons,” was published by Slate.

“All law schools have faculty who can publish, teach and serve. What we do uniquely is integrate all of them,” Abrams said. “To me, the work on this case embodies everything that we value at Brandeis in terms of how to be a student and a professor and a graduate.  It’s not necessarily what we’re doing but how we’re doing it: we’re getting students involved and engaged and we’re supporting our alumni.”

Since the fall decision, Marcosson has also put together moot courts to prep Landenwich – a throwback to her time as a student – and the others.

“I can’t overstate how much the moot courts and Sam have prepared me for this. It was the most valuable experience I got at law school,” Landenwich said.

Landenwich adds that she is optimistic about the case and said the nation is ready for same-sex marriage. Marcosson’s optimism comes from his personal experience with the legal team.

“I am confident in all of them that they’ll do a brilliant job,” he said. “This just shows that you don’t have to go to the biggest schools to have an opportunity to make a difference on the biggest issues on the biggest stage.”

Professor Rothstein moderating Individuals with Disabilities panel

Professor Laura Rothstein will moderate a panel of individuals with disabilities, titled “A View from the Inside,” on April 1 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Chao Auditorium.

The panel is part of a four-day program titled “Embracing Disability for an Inclusive Campus,” presented by the Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality. It is being co-sponsored by the Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Disability Resource Center.

The event begins March 30 with a presentation on how to create accessible courses. Sessions will be held on both the Belknap Campus and at the Health Sciences Center.

For more information or to register, visit

Professor McNeal speaking at ASU's School-to-Prison Pipeline event

Professor Laura McNeal has been invited to speak at Arizona State University's "School-to-Prison Pipeline in Indian County" symposium and town hall meeting. The event is Friday in ASU's The Great Hall.

Professor McNeal's talk is titled: “Managing Our Blind Spot, The Role of Implicit Bias and the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” She will be discussing her research conducted through the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School regarding how to minimize the effects of implicit bias in school disciplinary referrals.

"This work is important to me because I strongly believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that every child has the opportunity to fulfill their potential and receive a high quality education. The bottom line is when children are not in school due to suspensions for non-violent offenses, such as using disrespectful language against a teacher, they are not learning," she said. "It is time to stop criminalizing normal adolescent behavior because it is denying our children the future they deserve by funneling them into the juvenile and criminal justice system."


Professor Giesel's attorney-client privilege article published in Lawyerist

Professor Grace Giesel's article, titled "The Difference Between Confidentiality and the Attorney-Client Privilege," was published on last week.

In it, Professor Giesel writes how the ethical concept of the duty of confidentiality and the evidence concept of the attorney-client privilege are often confused. 

"As a general matter, both the duty of confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege encourage clients to trust his or her lawyers," she writes. "In contrast, the evidentiary principle of the attorney-client privilege is usually a creature of common law." 

Professor Giesel cites the judicial opinion in United States v. United States Shoe Machine Corp. as the typical definition of the latter.

Read her full article online

Professor Arnold participates on roundtable panel with Prince Charles

On March 20, Brandeis Professor Tony Arnold participated on a Health and the Environment Roundtable discussion panel with Prince Charles of Wales during his visit to Louisville with Duchess Camilla.

Their visit included the Harmony and Health Summit, which featured global, national and local leaders, as well as Professor Arnold’s roundtable, which was on the connections between health and the environment.

“The Roundtable was held in a tent at the Big Four Bridge, a location that illustrates the opportunities that our region has to improve both human health and our care for the natural environment,” said Arnold, who participated as part of his role as Chair of the University of Louisville’s interdisciplinary Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility, interdisciplinary scholar at the Brandeis School of Law and the Department of Urban and Public Affairs, and vice chair of the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy-Kentucky Chapter.

He spoke specifically about the need to think about the resilience of interconnected ecological, social and institutional systems, making a case for the importance of equity or justice, participatory governance and laws addressing health-environment interconnections.

The Roundtable was co-sponsored by the Institute for Healthy Air, Water, and Soil and by the Louisville Sustainability Council.
Other participants from Brandeis and the University of Louisville included:

  • Tom FitzGerald, Executive Director of the Kentucky Resources Council and an adjunct in environmental and energy law at the Brandeis School of Law for the past 27 years.
  • Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology
  • Dr. Mahendra Sunkara, Director of the University of Louisville's Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, also participated in the Health and the Environment Roundtable.
Photo by Al Cross, Kentucky Health News.

Litigation and Transactional Skills Certificate Program

Current 2L and 3L students may apply for acceptance into the Certificate of Accomplishment in Litigation Skills or the Certificate of Accomplishment in Transactional Skills Programs. These Programs allow students priority registration in designated litigation or transactional skills courses. Currently there are nine placements available in the Programs. Students are eligible to receive a Certificate of Accomplishment in Litigation or Transactional Skills upon graduation if they satisfy the Certificate requirements regardless whether they enroll in the Certificate Program. Contact Dean Nowka, room 213, for additional information or to apply.  Application deadline is March 31, 2015, noon.

‘One of America’s great lawyers’ speaks to Brandeis students

David Boies, one of the most prolific and successful litigators in the country, stopped by Brandeis School of Law Tuesday afternoon for a brief Q&A facilitated by Professor Sam Marcosson. Boies was in Louisville as part of the Kentucky Author Forum event at The Kentucky Center for his recently released book, “Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality.”

Boies is a distinguished American trial lawyer who has litigated some of the highest profile cases in recent history, including the landmark Supreme Court case which struck down Proposition 8, reinstating the freedom to marry for gays and lesbians in California. Among other accolades, he has been named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine and the Global International Litigator of the Year by Who’s Who Legal an unprecedented seven times.

Here are some highlights from his appearance:

Q: Boies was asked to explain his decision to challenge Prop 8.

David Boies: (The case) started the debate and process of people thinking about this issue and we felt it was work that had a lot of value. We thought it was important to go after not just California, but North Carolina, Virginia, (Kentucky, etc.).

Q: Boies was Vice President Al Gore’s counsel during the Bush v. Gore trial that decided the 2000 presidential election. His opponent was Attorney Ted Olson. The two joined forces to win the Prop 8 battle. Professor Marcosson asked Boies how two prominent attorneys with such opposing views could team up for another high profile case.

David Boies: I’ve never worked on a case more intense than (Bush v. Gore). You get to know the lawyer on the other side in a case like that and one of the things that impressed me about Ted was his intelligence, his integrity and his passion. He was a person of enormous judgement.

After that, we were looking for something to work on where we were on the same side and it wasn’t always easy because we’re so different politically.

But if you can work with someone you’re that different from, you can make progress. We can all find common ground if we just look for it.

Q: During the Prop 8 case, much attention surrounded Defense Attorney Charles Cooper’s answer, “I don’t know,” to the judge’s repeated questions asking how same-sex marriage would harm heterosexual marriages. Professor Marcosson asked him to describe that moment during the trial.

David Boies: When you go into a courtroom, you need not just theories, but evidence. Cooper couldn’t come up with an answer. When your opponent, who is trying to justify a discriminatory ban, says “I don’t know,” it cuts the ground out of their argument. I’m not sure he’d have an answer today.

Q: The plaintiffs’ attorneys opened the Prop 8 case by putting the plaintiffs on the stand first. Professor Marcosson asked Boies about this approach.

David Boies: There was a documentary about the case on HBO that reveals the human side. I wish everyone in the country could see it. When the plaintiffs were on the stand it was one of the most powerful parts of the trial. It was at the beginning because we wanted the judge to see that this is about human beings. We wanted everyone in that courtroom to see how their government telling them they’re not equal affected them. If people could see that testimony, I think we’d move much faster on this issue.

Q: In April, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments for the Sixth Circuit ruling against same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee. Boies was asked if he thinks the ruling being overturned.

David Boies: I do. What you’ve seen all over the country, from Republicans and Democrats, is people deciding that the Federal Constitution truly does guarantee equality. I’m optimistic.

Brandeis’ Wagner Moot Court Team makes it to quarterfinals at NYC event

Brandeis School of Law’s Wagner Moot Court Team made it all the way to the quarterfinals at the Wagner Labor and Employment Moot Court Competition last weekend in New York City, before losing to Alabama. This is the second year in a row the team has advanced to the elite eight.

Members are Carolyn Purcell (2L and facilitator), Emily DeVuono (3L) and Megan Diffenderfer (2L). Coaches are Ben Basil and Leah Smith.

Brandeis alum named to Frost Brown Todd’s intellectual property group in Nashville

Frost Brown Todd has named Attorney Douglas W. Schelling to its Nashville office and Intellectual Property Practice Group. Schelling joins approximately 50 other professionals on the IP team, and will focus his practice on counseling and representing clients in matters related to patents, trademarks, domain name disputes and trade secrets.

Frost Brown Todd’s IP group recently received recognition as one of the world’s top trademark practices in the 2015 edition of World Trademark Review 1000 and has also been named one of the top patent practices in the region by Chambers USA.

Schelling has an advanced technical background and degree. In addition to his law degree from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, he has a B.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Kentucky. He leverages this technical background to assist clients across industries in evaluating the patentability of inventions, preparing and prosecuting patent applications, evaluating potential trade and service marks, enforcing trademark rights, preparing and prosecuting applications for trade and service marks nationally and abroad, and drafting and negotiating various intellectual property related agreements.

Frost Brown Todd IP attorneys focus on trademark work as well as patents, copyrights, trade secrets, licensing, interactive media, advertising, and first amendment and media. They counsel and represent clients in prosecution, litigation and portfolio management, assist with anti-counterfeiting measures in the U.S. and abroad, and work on cases involving ongoing enforcement efforts for world-famous brands.