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The Legal Discrimination of "DOMA"

The Legal Discrimination of “DOMA”-

By: Leslie Arsenault, President of Diversity Alliance at MSL.

On April 4, 2012, I watched history in the making. As the President of MSL’s Diversity Alliance, I was invited to watch the oral arguments concerning the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act or “DOMA” in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. I cannot describe the emotion and gratitude I felt upon hearing Attorney Mary Bonauto from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Maura Healey, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, telling the three federal justices how DOMA blatantly discriminates against same-sex couples; how it hurts an entire class of people; and how it hurts me.

In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court became the first court in the history of the United States to hold that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated state constitutional equal protection principles in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.[1]  This landmark case resulted in Massachusetts becoming the first state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry. However, the federal government already had a law in place to stop same-sex couples from being granted any of the over 1,100 different federal rights and benefits of marriage they grant to heterosexual marriages. [2] This discriminatory law, the Defense of Marriage Act, is commonly known as “DOMA”.

DOMA was enacted in 1996, when it appeared that Hawaii would soon legalize same-sex marriage and opponents worried that the federal government as well as other states would be forced to recognize such marriages.[3] Even though the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) is required to defend DOMA in litigation, last year President Obama instructed the DOJ to stop defending the law because he believes that laws which discriminate based on sexual orientation are presumptively unconstitutional. Although section 3, which defines “marriage” as “the legal union of one man and one woman,” has been found unconstitutional in two Massachusetts court cases (which are now under appeal) and a growing number of DOMA related cases, the House of Representatives decided to take over the defense of this law in place of the DOJ.[4]

Obama is right; equal protection should provide same-sex couples with the same legal and economic benefits that opposite-sex couples are given, yet we are denied these civil rights based solely upon with whom we form a family. Did you realize that up until 1967, blacks and whites could not be legally married because of the ban on interracial marriages?  Did you know that those laws were changed by the courts and not by a vote on a ballot?[5] We all know how that vote would have gone 45 years ago. Those laws are now seen as absurd and discriminatory, which they were, yet many people back then ignored the plight of the inter-racial couples who wanted to marry and have families, much like the way many Americans have been turning their backs on families like mine.

Let me tell you about my family. My wife and I are both in our fifties and have been together for ten years and legally married in Massachusetts for almost five. We have five children between us and three grandkids.  She is an Army veteran and a registered nurse who last year was recognized as “Addictions Nurse of the Year” by the Massachusetts Nurses Association. I have run a small house-cleaning business for 25 years and am currently a 2L student at MSL.

We have each paid into the U.S. Social Security System for over 40 years, yet when one of us dies, the other one does not get her Social Security survivor’s benefits which are granted to every eligible heterosexual surviving spouse in America. Why? Because we are gay and for no other reason. Our federal government legally considers us to be “roommates” instead of “family”, so we, and ultimately our children, are not entitled to receive over 1,100 of the very benefits and protections afforded our “straight” counterparts. We are denied the right to an estate tax exemption and next-of-kin status when one of us dies leaving assets to the other; the right to take unpaid family leave if one of us becomes seriously ill, and the right to file our federal taxes together. We have to file jointly as married for the State; then both file separately as single for the IRS, which of course costs more. In fact, my wife has to pay over $2,000, annually, in a federal “luxury tax” for putting me on her health plan. When I fill out my financial-aid forms for law school, I can’t check off the “married” box, because it is a federal form. This is humiliating and reminds me how my own government considers me a second-class citizen. Additionally, gay U.S. citizens are unable to sponsor their non-citizen, same-sex spouse for legal permanent residency. How is this fair in a country that claims “Equal Protection For All?”

Most opponents of same-sex marriage argue that marriage is for the purpose of raising children, and that two parents of the same sex are not adequately equipped to raise children. There is no basis in fact for this opinion: studies show that children do well in homes where they are nurtured and loved, regardless of parental gender, and “homosexuality per se is irrelevant to parenting ability.”[6] In fact, the nation’s leading child-welfare experts - the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the National Association of Social Workers - all support gay and lesbian couples adopting and having children. They all agree that children raised by gay and lesbian parents physically and mentally are as healthy as other children.[7]

Furthermore, many gays and lesbians, like me, have biological children as the result of trying to conform to society’s pressure to be “straight” by having heterosexual relationships, which ultimately fail. Is it fair to deny these children the same benefits and protections that their cousins, friends, and neighbors get? Additionally, many gay couples are so committed to having a family that they either go through tremendous costs, both financially and medically, to have children through means such as in vitro fertilization, or foster and/or adopt children.  It is interesting to note same-sex couples have adopted more disabled foster children than opposite -sex couples, at a rate of 14 percent to 11 percent. There is insufficient data to prove same sex couples are in fact more nurturing than opposite-sex couples, but evidence suggests heterosexuals prefer to adopt “healthy white” children, whereas same-sex couples are more willing to adopt the disadvantaged.[8]

Secondly, many heterosexual couples choose not to or are unable to have children, yet their marriages are considered valid. Other opponents fear that gay couples will somehow “make their children gay.” This is a ridiculous assertion since no one has ever been able “to make” someone gay or straight.[9] My parents couldn’t make me “straight” even though they “made” my other nine siblings that way. As we say in the gay community: “If you want to end homosexuality, tell the straight people to stop making gay babies!” By the way, up to this point, all five of the children I’ve been raising are heterosexual.

I know that many people, especially religious leaders, believe that homosexuality is a chosen behavior that does not deserve protection under the law. But who would choose to be a second-class citizen, teased, bullied, and discriminated against (even by their own families) for most, if not all, of their lives? Homosexuality is an inborn trait that is NOT chosen, just as surely as we don’t get to choose the color of our eyes or our skin.[10]
Some religious leaders also say that allowing gay marriages will give a stamp of approval to a behavior that they believe is immoral.  But what about the “separation of church and state” in America? As I like to say, “Jesus did not write the U.S. Constitution!”
Marriage is a civil right granted to us all constitutionally. No one requires a church’s approval to be legally married. Even inmates can get married, yet I’m pretty sure the behavior that landed them in jail wouldn’t be considered “moral.” [11]

The nation will now wait for the First Circuit’s decision concerning the constitutionality of DOMA to be handed down. This is a giant step toward marriage equality which GLAD believes will likely end up being decided before the nation’s highest judicial authority within four years. [12]  
I have no doubt that the U.S. Supreme Court will be on the right side of history by striking down DOMA, unless Congress decides to repeal this statute before then. 

 Hopefully, I have persuaded some of you to look at DOMA and the plight of your fellow citizens, who happen to be gay, in a new way. We are all part of the same race, the human race, and we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect by one another.   Like it or not, we humans are much more similar than you think: we all want to be happy, healthy, and accepted. Please help the last group of people who are legally discriminated against (around the world) to enjoy the same rights we are all born free with as human beings. As Thurgood Marshall said in his victorious fight for equality in education for African-Americans in Brown v. Board of Education,[13] separate is not equal.[14] Most of all, remember that not only are “All Men Created Equal,” but “We The People” means EVERYONE!  

   Thank you, Leslie Arsenault, President of the Diversity Alliance at the Massachusetts School of Law, Andover, MA.

[1] Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 440 Mass.309, 798 N.E.2d 941 (2003).
[3] 1 U.S.C. § 7: 28 U.S.C. § 1738C (1996). (DOMA). Pub. L. 104-199, 100 Stat. 2419 (Sept. 21, 1996).
[4]  Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, 699 F.Supp.2d 374 (2010); Massachusetts. v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 698 F.Supp.2d 234 (2010);  Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management, Document 96, February 28, 2011, "List of Pending cases where the Defense of Marriage Act is being challenged”, http://www.scribd.com/doc/497553; Milton J. Valencia, “Appeals court in Boston to hear Defense of Marriage challenge.”, Boston Globe (April 3, 2012).

[5] Loving v, Virginia, 388 U.S. 1; 87 S.Ct. 1817; 18 L.Ed.2d 1010 (1967).
[6] Bezio v. Patenaude, 381 Mass. 563, 410 N.E.2d 1207 (1980).
[7] Glad Briefs, Experts Weigh In On DOMA, 4 Winter (2012).
[8] Macomber, Jennifer E. & Kate Chambers, Adoption and Foster Care by Gay and Lesbian Parents in the United States , The Urban Institute, (March 23, 2007)http://www.org/publications/411437.html.
[9] Hunter, Rob, Gay Rights Needed to Protect Equality, University Wire, May 6, 2005; Adoption ban on gay couples “wrong”, Daily Telegraph, October 31, 2002.
[10] Science Daily, Homosexual Behavior Largely Shaped By Genetics & Random Environmental Factors, June 28, 2008
[11] Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 98 S.Ct. 673 (1978); Turner v. Safely , 482 U.S. 78, 107 S.Ct. 2254 (1987).
[12] http://www.glad.org/doma .
[13] Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483,  74 S.Ct. 686  (1954).

 [14]  Id. at 491.
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Debt, Demographics, and Destiny

Nicholas Halks
On the Right and Never Wrong

Debt, Demographics, and Destiny

            On April 15, on Meet the Press, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner adamantly told host David Gregory, that there is, “no risk of that” of America facing the catastrophic debt problems which rocked Greece’s economy.

            Mr. Geithner gave that very same answer, in the same month of 2011, when faced with a different query. Last year the question posed, was whether there was a risk of the United States credit rating ever dropping below AAA rating. To which he replied, “no risk of that.” Four months later came the Congressional debt limit ceiling battle, the precipitous plunge of the stock market, and for the first time in history, the downgraded US bond rating.

            Mr. Geithner’s artful assurances about the United States systemic debt crisis are about as useful as last year’s calendar.

            This country does indeed face some very hard decisions regarding its profligate spending, aging population, and unrestricted immigration. While, compared in terms of GDP, Greece may be tiny to the United States; our debt to GDP ratio is on a parallel trajectory as theirs. The demographic dilemma facing the two countries is also worthy of evaluation

            Consider first, Greece, with a 2011 population of 11.2 million.

            More then 24% of Greeks are aged 60 or older. Every year, 10 Greeks die for every nine which are born. It is a population growth is below replacement rate. Meaning the country of Greece is aging, and slowly passing away. This low birth rate finally culminated with Athens’s financial ability to pay pensions and benefits crumbling like feta cheese.
            Over the past year the world has watched Greeks object to the devaluation of their currency and ECB imposed austerity measures with violent protests.

            Yet what does the future hold for Greece by mid-century?

            In the year 2050, the population will have fallen to 10.8 million. The percentage of Greeks aged 60 or older will have jumped to 37.4% of the entire population. Perhaps a better illustration of this unsound economic model is that while today, there are four Greeks under 60 for every Greek over 60. By 2050, each Greek over 60 will only be supported by 1.7 Greeks.

The conclusion is staggering, barring a colossal devaluation of the Drachma, pension funds will collapse.
     Like Greece, America too must face her demographic destiny. Our native born population has been reproducing at below replacement levels for 30 years. Instead, it has been aging at a rate little slower than Greece. Today, 40 million people in the United States are ages 65 and older, but this number is projected to more than double to 89 million by 2050.

            With this expansion of seniors comes skyrocketing outlays in entitlement spending from programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and pensions. But the revenue necessary to pay for these growing expenditures is not certain.

2009 marked a milestone for the United States: only half of the country paid federal income taxes, according to the Heritage Institute. The authors of the report explain, “The percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes, and who are not claimed as dependents by someone who does pay them, jumped from 14.8 percent in 1984 to 49.5 percent in 2009.” American taxpayers continue to decline in number.

America’s solution, if one desires to call it that, to its aging population and loss of taxpayers has been massive immigration from the third world. Currently, more then 1.2 million legal immigrants enter every year. They are accompanied by an estimated 1 million illegal aliens, whom are predominantly poor and uneducated.

This replacement of the native born Americans, in theory, should offset the aging population, in terms of workers supporting retirees.

But this halcyon thinking defies reality.

Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs did not exist when the earlier waves of immigration came before 1965. Yearly expenditures on these programs are well in excess of $1 Trillion. Though they are far from alone in their consumption of these assistance programs, immigrants are devouring a far greater percentage then native born Americans.

Instead of supporting current and future retirees by funding entitlement programs, the majority of immigrants are receiving taxpayer money. According to a 2010 study by the Center for Immigration Studies, 57 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal and illegal) with children used at least one welfare program.

Households with children with the highest welfare use rates are those headed by immigrants from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (75 percent), and Ecuador (70 percent).

Those with the lowest use rates are from the United Kingdom (7 percent), India (19 percent), Canada (23 percent).

Like the Greeks, Americans have an aging population, without the tax revenue to support their promised entitlement programs. As the baby boomer generation has only just begun to hit age 65, these expenditures for programs such as Social Security and Medicare will only soar higher. Sadly, the tax payers in the country have declined to such a degree that half the country pays no federal tax at all. Add to this, the influx of immigrants, whose consumption of welfare programs is much higher then was ever imagined and one can see that the American model of entitlement spending is indeed on the road to ruin.

 Though the systemic problems are deeply intertwined, our Treasury Secretary should have the courage to tell Americans the truth:

Without far-reaching spending cuts on everything, we as a country will indeed face a debt crisis not unlike Greece though probably far worse.

Yet, what is the likelihood of Mr. Geithner telling us how it really is?

“No risk of that.”
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American's, Hostage to Political Affairs

American’s, Hostage to Political Affairs

By: Gary Hychko

With President Obama’s first term coming to an end, the standoff against his opponent Mitt Romney is becoming more imminent. As the incumbent, Obama has the upper hand, only three times dating back to World War II have they been defeated-Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Busch. But don’t count Romney out yet, according to the Gallop Poll, President Obama’s approval rating has drifted between the low to mid 40% range, and all of the incumbent president’s (except George W. Busch) who have been reelected had approval ratings at levels above 50% at the time of election.

President Obama won in part because he campaigned on changing Washington and slogans such as, “yes we can”; however most American’s don’t feel he delivered on his message. President Obama was able to relate to a wide range of people, and records were set for voter turnout at the polls. He was able to rally people and get them excited for something new, but like all new things they eventually become old. The excitement for President Obama may be over, as he passed a health care bill they know nothing about, and has doubled the nations debt, giving billions of dollars to banks and Wall Street. 

One thing President Obama has going for him is his competition Mitt Romney, who has continually failed to relate to the American people. Romney has been quoted on CNN stating, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” In neighboring state New Hampshire, Romney was quick to use poor wording again, stating, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me...” The quotes referred to people that provide poor quality of services, nonetheless American’s don’t relate to using the words “fire people”.

With this election there will be plenty of important headline topics for debate. Republicans and Democrats have been going at it since the summer of 2009, when President Obama pushed through his health care reform law before the summer recess. Another heavily debated topic is how to deal with the nations energy crisis. American’s consume 20% of the entire world supply of oil; yet depend on foreign nations as its source.

Debate brings out the best in President Obama, and is his strong point; Mitt Romney on the other hand, loses his cool under the pressure. As reluctant as the Republican Party has been to anoint Romney as their representative, President Obama had his own struggles, having to come from behind to beat Hillary Clinton. For President Obama, it is all about having momentum going into November, if the unemployment rate continues to fall and gas prices are down, Republicans will have to have a new strategy. One thing that is for certain- even if the economy is booming and a new Golden Age is in effect, or if America goes into a double dip recession, both parties will blame each other, and the American people will be the ones who suffer. 

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Audio Courses by Our Professors Work Great


By: Nadia Klystov

“Any, any, any . . .” I know that you immediately grasped what it’s going to be about! No one can escape the famous dictum by Dean Coyne on hearsay. I know it even though I haven’t taken Evidence with him – it is that powerful. You just cannot miss it if you’ve been a student at MSL. The hearsay definition will linger in our minds probably forever, and we are very grateful for that.

But there is much more than a hearsay definition in Dean Coyne’s audio course on Evidence, which I bought at the school Book Store and listened to during my Evidence class. This audio helped me understand some Evidence issues I found unclear, thanks to Dean Coyne’s talent of explaining difficult things in a simple and easily memorable manner. Now, I am turning back to it before I have to take the Evidence section of the Comparison course, and I am finding it very helpful in my preparation for the bar exam.

It is so time-saving and convenient to listen to a lecture while driving to and from work and school, to have someone tell you about all the essential rules of Evidence right in your car. And it really makes you memorize the law – for the class, for the bar and for your practice after law school; where evidence rules are indispensable for a lawyer. Sometimes you may miss something in class because of being preoccupied with taking notes, or because you had to miss a class, or because you came in late. An audio course ensures you don’t miss anything essential. It also allows you to go back and listen to something you forgot.
Evidence is not the only audio course Dean Coyne makes available. There is also one on Remedies, which many of us don’t have time to take, though this class is extremely useful. And Dean Coyne is not the only one to provide students with audio courses. I also have Dean Sullivan’s audio course on the essentials of the UCC, which worked great for me to listen to before and after I took her class.

Audio courses worked really well for me, and I am sure that they will benefit any other student.

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Collective Bargaining Agreements and What Has Changed in the NBA and NFL

Collective Bargaining Agreements and What Has Changed in the NBA and NFL

By: Brittany Forgues

Recently in the world of professional sports, there has been a lot of talk about what the ramifications of collective bargaining agreements are and how they affect certain professional sports leagues. On behalf of the Sports, Management and Entertainment Society at the Massachusetts School of Law, we would like to offer this brief article on some of the important elements of collective bargaining agreements and how the NFL and the NBA have changed their collective bargaining agreements lately.

What are Collective Bargaining Agreements?

Collective bargaining agreements, in the context of professional sports, are the agreements reached between a particular league’s players and the league owners. A league’s collective bargaining agreement establishes specific elements of how the league will operate, such as: division of league revenues; team salary caps; free agency requirements; restrictions on player mobility; provisions regarding the drafting of players; disciplinary rules; and other general regulations of the league. In addition, many of the leagues incorporate their constitution and bylaws into the collective bargaining agreements. These bargaining agreements are the primary authority for players, their agents, team owners, and other league officials.
What Are the Major Changes to the NBA’s New Collective Bargaining Agreement?

The biggest change in the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement is the percentage of basketball-related income that will be divided between the players and the owners. Although there were other heavily contested issues, such as player salaries, rookie contracts, and specifics regarding trades, the revenue split seemed to be most in dispute. Under the previous agreement the owners received 43% of basketball related income. Under the new agreement the owners will receive between 49% and 51% of basketball related income. As reported in the Forbes magazine article, “NBA Owners Win Big With New Collective Bargaining Agreement,” this change in percentage results in an increase of income for NBA owners of approximately 270 million dollars. It is also important to keep in mind that an increase in the share that goes to the owners effectively decreases the amount that can be distributed amongst the players. Although some would argue that the players are already paid a fortune-so, what does it matter if they experience a little set back there is also an argument to be made that in the end it is the players, not the owners, who pay the price for the grueling workouts and games that they put their bodies through each season, and that when their career finally does come to an end most of the athletes have nothing to fall back on except for the money they made while they were playing.

What Were the Major Issues Negotiated in the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement?

The revenue split between owners and players was also one of the hot topics when the NFL was trying to get a new collective bargaining agreement signed in July of 2011. In the end the players and owners agreed that the players would receive 47-48.5% of all revenue, which was a slight decrease of approximately 4% from the previous agreement. However, under the new agreement, the owners were no longer allowed to take 1 billion before the revenue split. Another issue that was discussed but not changed in the negotiating process was the number of regular season games that encompass each NFL season. Obviously the owners would like to increase the number of games in the regular season, which would in turn increase the amount of revenue for both sides. This would also, however, put a greater strain on the player’s bodies and health. Professional football players put their bodies through immense training during the sixteen week regular season, adding any more games to the schedule would likely have lasting effects on their health both during their playing days and after they stop playing in the National Football League.

Collective bargaining agreements are also used in other employment situations. The negotiation process is a valuable tool that allows employers and employees to communicate and resolve many major aspects of the working relationship. Although it appears from the above analysis that collective bargaining agreements merely decide how much money players and owners will make in the professional sports leagues, they in fact play a substantial role in shaping how the league will operate, and how players will be treated both while they are playing and after they retire.

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The Sullivan Verdict

Sullivan Interview
While searching for the next faculty member to interview for The Verdict’s faculty interview series, I was in search of someone not only inspirational, but also one whose passion truly emanates throughout the school.  And in doing so, I spoke with various faculty members regarding who would be such a fit.  My searches lead me to Professor Dianne Sullivan, who one faculty member referred to as “the soul of MSL”.   

I began the interview by asking Assistant Dean Sullivan some questions pertaining to her background. 

Question:  I head that your family worked at a paper mill; what effect did that have on your character?

Professor Sullivan:  I learned about doing what you needed to do to help your family.  It provided my work ethic, and I have great respect for my father.  He worked fifty-to-sixty hours a week in hot conditions to provide, so we could have a better way of life.  So I’m very appreciative of that and I learned family and hard work matter most.

Question: You had a very unique educational path; can you please describe your path through college and law school?

Professor Sullivan:  When I graduated from high school, I took a job as a teller at a bank making sixty dollars a week I wanted to go to college but there weren’t resources for that.  I started saving money in a piggy bank, so that when I saved up, I went to college one course at a time.  I did my undergraduate at night at Fitchburg State, and then went onto law school from there. 

Question: Is there any truth to the rumor that you stayed in the library so often that you actually were given a key?

Professor Sullivan:  [Laughs]   I don’t remember that I had the key, but I certainly was in the library until closing. I was usually the last to go. 

Question: What motivated you during to time as a student?

Professor Sullivan:  To do well?  Me: Yes.  Professor Sullivan I was appreciative of the opportunity so that’s really what motivates me.  I had ill parents and a much younger brother and sister.  It was my hope that they could go to college during the day so I wanted to be able to help my family.  It was my motivation, I saw law school as an opportunity, and I wanted to be an attorney since I was knee high.

Question: Do you see similar qualities in your current students?

Professor Sullivan:  (Slight breath)  In some students, I see stories far more compelling than my own.--   students who have overcome tremendous obstacles to get a law degree here.   I think some students don’t seize the opportunity they’ve been given and need to work harder, so I don’t think there’s a canned answer to that question.

Prior to joining the faculty of MSL, Professor Sullivan worked at a bank.  My next series of questions are regarding her experience while so employed.

Question: You worked at a bank before teaching at MSL; did you always plan on working at the bank once you graduated from law school?

Professor Sullivan:  I worked at the bank from the time I graduated high school until two years after I became a full time faculty member here.  So what I’m saying is that I worked in banking throughout my entire educational experience.  I always anticipated going onto top management at the bank.  I never anticipated really practicing and clearly not being a full time faculty member. 

Question: What role does an attorney take on at a bank?

Professor Sullivan:  As in-house counsel you are often involved with commercial transactions.  I was at a commercial bank, so the types of things I would be involved with were:  troubled loans; closing down companies; calling in promissory notes; and interpreting regulations.  Also, I monitored that we were in compliance with all types of laws. 

Question: What skills did you acquire while working at the bank that has made you a better law professor?

Professor Sullivan:  Well, in the courses I teach -particularly the UCC Articles 3, 4 and 9- are all Banking Law, so I’m able to combine the practical side and the theoretical side.  Interpreting the UCC is very easy for me because that’s what I did all day.  With respect to Contract Law, I was responsible for loan agreements and bank accounts.  And as your know, a loan agreement is a contract and a bank account is a contract. 

It is no secret that Professor Sullivan is an avid animal advocate.  As such, I asked questions with hopes of learning exactly how and why that passion is so strong.

Question: Everyone knows of your love of animals.  If you had to trace your passion for animals to a single event, what would it be?

Professor Sullivan:  My father and I going to the supermarket to buy a turkey at thanksgiving, and my realization that the carcasses of the turkey looked like the turkeys my father and I would feed at what was called in Fitchburg Coggshall Park.  We went there pretty regularly to feed the ducks.  So the realization that the carcasses were the equivalent of the ducks I feed in the pond was more than I could stomach.

Question: Why the Shadow Fund?

Professor Sullivan:  You know, it is interesting that people see the Shadow Fund, my creation of the Shadow Fund as being an outreach to animals.  It was in part Dean Coyne’s suggestion: you know, I was helping a veteran and for this veteran the only positive in his whole world was his dog.  The dog needed surgery, as the story unfolds, to the tune of thirty-eight hundred dollars.  Originally I was helping the veteran, and then we engaged in fundraising in conjunction with the Andover Animal Hospital and we raised more money than we needed to help this veteran.  So, it was Dean Coyne who suggested it and Robert Burke who owns Shadow, that we put the surplus in a fund to help similarly situated individuals.

Question: What is the ultimate goal of the Shadow Fund?

Professor Sullivan:  To help people who love their companion animal but life circumstances have them in a position that they can’t afford an extraordinary medical expense that would necessitate that pet being euthanized, if that money isn’t raised.  I don’t want people like Robert Burke to have to choose between living in a home or, living in the streets with their pet to give them the necessary medical attention.

Question: What can students do to get involved in the Shadow Fund?

Professor Sullivan:  See me, there are a couple of main events we do for fundraising.  Animal Law Day in April it’s always the Saturday before Easter; we could use help.  They could help in selling our book, Please, Can we Keep the Donkey? and then our golf tournament we hold on Columbus Day.
I now transitioned into the current employment of Professor Sullivan and her various duties within the MSL community.

Question: What role do you most prefer here at MSL: your teaching duties; role of assistant 
Dean; or your duties as producer and moderator of MSLAW’s Educational Forum?

Professor Sullivan:  My primary obligation is being a professor. That’s what I care most about.   Being in the classroom and helping students to master the subject matter, that’s my primary goal.

Question: What has been the most outside-of-the-box teaching method you’ve employed while teaching here?

Professor Sullivan:  Probably giving watermelons and sending students out to the banks to cash them, I think that.

Question: Name one thing that students do well and one thing students should improve upon?

Professor Sullivan:  They advocate well.  I think writing is something that MSL students need to work at.  There are two things we do as lawyers: we speak and we write.  So, I think those are two things we need to do a little bit better.

Question: Besides your duties at school and any legal duties, what else is a priority to you?

Professor Sullivan:  I have four nephews that are extraordinarily important to me.

Question: Why is that?

Professor Sullivan:  One of my reasons to go to law school is I wanted to be able to help my brother and sister have a better way of life, because I had no children, so their children have become like my own and are very important to me.  My dogs are also very important to me; I consider them family members.

Rate My Professor is a website dedicated to informing curious students about student opinion on various professors.  After visiting the site, I decided to ask some questions regarding Professor Sullivan’s ratings and reviews.

Question: I want to ask you some questions about Rate My Professor, I’m not sure if you familiar with the website (Professor Sullivan: You know I have not been on it but I’ve heard of it, I don’t know much about it though).  Then you must not be aware that you are one of the highest rated professors at the school.  Why do you think that is?

Professor Sullivan:  No, that would astound me actually.

Question: Well, not only that, but you are actually rated almost twice as high as the average rated professor: just .1% shy.  What would you say has garnered such attention?

Professor Sullivan:  You know I don’t know what the criteria is for rate your professor so, I couldn’t answer that.  If I had to speculate why I might get a good rating, similar to what I hope my evaluations produce at the law school, I hope the students understand that my motivation is to have the students pass the bar, so I give it my all, as much as I expect the student’s all.

Question: What would you say is the root cause of your deep commitment to MSL community?

Professor Sullivan:  Appreciation of the opportunity I was given.

In Closing

Question: If you could change one thing at MSL what would it be?

Professor Sullivan:  I’m going to think on that one. This is probably not the answer you want, but I am committed, as a voting faculty member, not to change the school dramatically.  The school is about opportunity, and so I don’t want to see the school change very much.  I guess if I could change one thing it would be that students and others respect the Reserved parking.  (Laughs)  I think we are a profession drawn by rules, so I think you have to adhere to rules.  So If I was going to change one thing, I would say, “if it says Reserved parking and you are not someone who it’s reserved for, you don’t park there.” 
Thank you.

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We Support Our Troops

Massachusetts School of Law Veterans Association:
We Support Our Troops

            A group of students, predominately 1Ls, including both veterans and non-veterans, teamed up to form the Massachusetts School of Law Veteran’s Association (MSL VA).  At the beginning of the Fall semester, the MSL VA members, with the assistance of Professor Thomas H. Martin, came up with an idea to raise money to erect a flagpole outside of the school building.  The group knew raising funds would be an obstacle to overcome; however, they took the idea as a challenge, and are currently halfway towards their goal.  The flagpole represents America and all the troops who continue to fight every day, as well as those who have died to protect us.  As many of you may know, there is a bench located in the front of the school in remembrance of a prior student’s son who lost his life fighting overseas. The flagpole will be erected adjacent to the bench.

            Our first fundraiser consisted of a 50/50 raffle, and we sold approximately 75 raffle tickets.  After the name of the winner was drawn, he donated the winnings back to the organization.  Next, the MSL VA sells T-shirts in order to raise money for the flagpole project.  The front of the shirt reads, “Massachusetts School of Law” and the back reads “Veteran’s Association” with “We Support Our Troops” right below it.  We have currently sold approximately 150 t-shirts, making us halfway completed towards our goal of raising funds for the flagpole.    

            On April 1, 2012, the members of the MSL VA attended the “Run/Walk for the Troops 5K.”  The purpose of this event was to show support for our troops and to help raise money to build homes for the returning disabled soldiers.  In collaboration with Paula Colby-Clements, Director of Admissions, the MSL VA was proud to be a part of this event and we look forward to attending future events in support of our troops. In addition, we would like to thank the Massachusetts School of Law Student Bar Association for their generous donation towards MSL VA.  Thanks to them, we are one step closer to our goal.

            Aside from our goal of constructing a flagpole, the MSL VA’s next project will concentrate on raising funds to send care packages overseas.  Our group feels that instead of sending miscellaneous items to the troops, we would rather send essential items upon request from the individual units.  Nothing brings us more happiness than helping those who have helped us.

MSL VA would like to personally thank the troops for their dedicated and loyal service to our country.  We deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made to keep America safe.  We are always looking to recruit new members to our team.  For more information and current updates please “Like” us on Facebook at Massachusetts School of Law Veterans Association or contact Deanna Deveney, the president of MSL VA, at Ddeveney2006@aol.com to purchase a T-shirt.

Poonam Choythani
MSL VA Member

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MSL "Goes Green" by Recycling!

MSL “Goes Green” by Recycling!
By Kelley Fahy, Felicea Robinson, Jane Ceraso, and Michael Britto

Every year, Massachusetts disposes of enough trash to fill 74 Fenway Parks. Disposal of solid waste carries a significant cost to our economy and environment, including contributing to the problem of global warming through greenhouse gas emissions. As landfills close and disposal options become more limited, municipalities, businesses, and educational institutions look for innovative solutions to the problem of higher waste disposal costs. The Massachusetts School of Law has started recycling as an important first step in “greening” our school. 

Increasingly, educational institutions are implementing recycling programs because of the multiple benefits they provide.  Recycling: 1) allows schools to help prevent a substantial portion of their waste from entering our already overflowing landfills; 2) allows materials to be reused to create new products, reducing energy and the need for extracting new materials; and 3) mitigates waste disposal costs because manufacturers will pay for the recyclable materials.  In recent years, new technologies have substantially simplified the recycling process, allowing for all recyclables to be placed into a “single stream” of materials that are later sorted at recycling materials processing plants.

The Massachusetts School of Law’s recycling program was launched at the beginning of the 2012 through the tireless efforts of Student Trustee Felicea Robinson, a third year student at MSL. Felicea compared services and prices of trash haulers, discussed the logistics of pickup and collection, spoke with Associate Dean Michael Coyne and faculty, and proposed a plan for comprehensive recycling throughout the campus. 

After careful consideration, the recycling program offered by Waste Management, Inc. was chosen. The new recycling program, based on the innovative single stream or co-mingled recycling process, does not require MSL students and staff to separate any of their recyclables; all recyclable materials such as paper, cans, and plastics can be thrown together into the recycling containers, and sorted later in processing plants that use technologies such as sorters, optical scanners, and magnets to separate the materials.  Most importantly, the new recycling program reduces the amount of solid waste MSL sends to landfills by two-thirds, and saves MSL about $500 every month!  For a video demonstration of how the separation processes work, you can view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GroeqVYSkGk

The single stream recycling process increases recycling efficiencies by collecting more material with less labor and less energy expended on transportation. Single stream allows people to place more material in their recycling bins by giving them larger bins and by simplifying the system. High-quality sorted materials can be sold to a wide variety of markets and used as raw material for a whole range of products that can be made with recovered materials.
Since the MSL recycling program’s inception in the beginning of 2012, 20 cubic yards of material are now recycled at the school every week. This means that, on a monthly basis, over two tons of material that had been previously sent to a landfill are reprocessed into other materials, such as paper products, decking, and even clothing, like Polartec fleece.   
We need your help to keep this effort successful!  While the single-stream recycling process does allow for most plastics, glass, paper and aluminum to be deposited into recycling bins together, there are certain materials that, when put in the recycling bins, contaminate and compromise the separation of the waste materials. Additionally, these “non-recyclables” often create a mess in the recycling bins and extra work for the intrepid volunteers who empty the bins.

Please do not put the following materials into the recycling bins: food; food containers; Styrofoam (such as-Dunkin Donuts cups); sharp objects; plastic bags; bubble wrap; cling wrap; potato chip bags; CDs; or porcelain.  Please take the time to dispose of non-recyclables in the trash, rather than throwing them into the recycling bins. Also, please empty your bottles prior to depositing them in the recycling bins.

To those of you who have been carefully depositing your recyclables into the recycling bins and assisting MSL Green with weekly collections; thank you for helping make this new and important MSL initiative successful! We need everyone’s involvement – take a moment to make sure you empty your containers, throw recyclables into recycling bins, and trash into trash bins. We welcome all volunteers to help with this program. Please speak with Felicea Robinson, Kelley Fahy, or Jane Ceraso, or email MslGreen@Msl.edu if you would like to get involved.  

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Are Law School Kids Not Keen on Stories?


Are law school kids not keen on stories anymore?

Not even when the stories are about law?

It turns out that we missed a great opportunity to combine work and pleasure this semester by ignoring a class that would give us this benefit – Constitutional Law Stories. I was looking for courses to take last year, and I ran upon this newly offered course. “Wow!” – I thought. – “How awesome it would be to fit this course into my schedule!” I mean – how often do they offer you stories as a class in law school? With our semester load, you’ve got to take one class that would be a pleasure. Besides, these are not just stories but stories about constitutional law - the subject we’ll be tested on at the bar exam. With that in mind, I bent my schedule and registered for the class. However, soon after the registration, I was very disappointed to learn that the class was cancelled because less than eight students signed up. The same thing happened again this year. Come on, guys, what’s the matter?

Think about it: how often do they offer you a storytelling course and also give a credit for that? This course allows you to learn in depth the big cases of the Con. Law that you merely skimmed through during the general course because there was so much to read, and bring these cases into the modern setting. This is the course that would teach us how law interacts with politics and what interests or problems lay behind those renowned cases. It would provide a closer look at the United States Supreme Court and, ultimately, at how the law works in this country, which is what every lawyer wants to know. Yet this is not going to happen because, while looking for the fish that seem big but then turn out to be buried in the past as we get out of school and go on with our lives, we lost one golden fish that could make our wishes come true.

Someone would say - how could it make wishes come true? The answer is that only by digging into the law in depth can we become good lawyers; only by fishing deep can you catch great fish. Constitutional law is the best place to dig, because it is the law of the laws, the cornerstone of our system, the foundation upon which our society rests. In constitutional law, we learn, together with the law itself, about history and about policy, which brought this law into existence. We begin to understand where we came from and what values we stand for and why. This not only enriches us as individuals and as members of society, but also highly benefits us as advocates, making our legal arguments convincing through historic analogies; making our audience breathe the spirit of James Otis and John Raleigh, taking our legal cause beyond the gray paperwork routine and into the realm of living justice.

The stories will come from a judge with a tremendous experience on the bench, a brilliant speaker, a guru in Massachusetts evidence and criminal procedure and what not. With him, you will never be bored or frustrated, and you’ll learn a ton. He is very nice to students. If I could, I would take every class this professor teaches. I regret very much that we overlooked such a cool class. Law school brevit est – let’s make it enjoyable. Let’s take the Con. Law Stories with Judge Agnes next year if it is still on the list!

Nadia Voronova (Klystov)

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The Verdict | by Darryl Caffee ©2010