UM Law News
Legislators OK bill giving domestic violence victims choice for mediation
By Gwen Florio
Dateline: April 23, 2013
A bill approved by the Montana Legislature gives victims of domestic violence – both physical and emotional – the power to choose whether they want mediation in family law cases.
“I’m thrilled. It’s a victory for women and children in Montana,” said Chris Herb, whose niece, Heidi Hendershott of Lost Prairie, was the subject of a 2011 Montana Supreme Court ruling that spurred the bill.
Hendershott herself said Monday that she was glad the bill’s backers “were able to put my history to such good use. It’s definitely been very humbling and powerful at the same time.”
In the Hendershott case, the Supreme Court ruled that courts couldn’t force domestic violence victims into mediation. And, it included suspected emotional abuse along with physical and sexual abuse in cases that would demand “an absolute bar to mediation.”
House Bill 555, approved 43-3 Saturday in the House of Representatives, addressed that “absolute bar.”
“We thought that the absolute bar disempowers survivors and basically substitutes the state’s prerogatives for women’s choice,” University of Montana associate law professor Eduardo Capulong, who with four students in the law school’s mediation clinic wrote HB 555.
The bar “revictimizes survivors by robbing them of control over their lives – in particular, the way in which they choose to resolve disputes with their abusers,” according to a list of talking points on the bill.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, was backed by a coalition including domestic violence and mediation groups, as well as judges, Capulong said. Although the bill originally failed to make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a second attempt won unanimous support among committee members.
“I really credit (the victory) to a broad coalition of people interested in the issue,” said Linda Gryczan, president of the Montana Mediation Association.
When people do opt for mediation, the new law requires in certain cases that a mediator be trained in domestic violence.
“That means we really need to make sure there’s a pool of mediators trained in working with domestic violence for people who choose this option so they can do it fairly and on an even playing field,” Gryczan said. “It’s very important that we let the public know there’s different types of mediation so they can choose what’s right for them.”
As many as a quarter of filings in district court are family law cases, with 50 percent to 80 percent of those involving allegations of domestic violence, Capulong said.
Without the option for mediation, “we’re talking a lot of cases, 10,000-plus, that would go back into the court system,” he said.
The bill now awaits action by Gov. Steve Bullock.
Trial Team Competes at National Trial Competition – San Antonio, Texas
Dateline: April 9, 2013
Coach Randy Cox, Esq.
Matt Jennings and Mac Morris represented the University of Montana Law School at the National Trial Competition held April 4 through 6 in San Antonio, Texas. For the third straight year, a Montana team won the regional championship and competed at the national level in the National Trial Competition, the most prestigious national trial competition in the United States. Approximately 350 teams competed in 14 regions for the right to advance to the National Competition.
The National Competition is sponsored by The American College of Trial Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association. The National Competition drew 28 teams to the national finals and the 2013 national championship was won by a team from Georgetown University Law School. All rounds are judged by Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers and/or state and federal trial judges from around the country. State district court judge Karen Townsend, a Fellow in the College, served as one of the judges in each round – though not in rounds involving Montana.
The team performed well but unfortunately did not advance to the quarterfinals. In the first round, Mac and Matt narrowly lost a 2 – 1 decision to eventual national champion Georgetown. In the second round they beat a very strong team from the University of Akron Law School and then lost an extremely close match to William & Mary Law School. Every round was very close and could have gone either way. The talent level at the National Competition is extraordinarily high and the Montana team performed admirably.
The team is coached by Katie DeSoto of Garlington, Lohn & Robinson and Randy Cox of Boone Karlberg. During the practice trials leading up to the national competition, Mac and Matt had the good fortune of trying the case against two prior Montana teams with national competition experience – Tracey Neighbor Johnson and Tim Dailey (2011 regional champions) and Zach Franz and Justin Cole (2012 regional champions). We greatly appreciate those lawyers giving of their time and experience to help the trial team prepare.
Special thanks to trial team members – 2L lawyers Rachel Wandersheid and John Newman and witnesses Allie Harrison, Andrew Person, Zach Coccoli and Zane Aukee.
UM Law ABA Mediation Team places Second in Northwest/West Regionals
Dateline: March 1, 2013
From Coach Professor Eduardo Capulong
Third-year students Christine Brauer and Wesley Parks deserve congratulations for re presenting the Law School so ably at the regional ABA Representation in Mediation Competition this past weekend. The annual competition trains students to represent clients in mediation--an essential lawyering skill, as court-ordered mediation becomes standard in civil matters.
After two preliminary rounds, Wesley and Christine beat 12 teams (from UC Berkeley, UC Hastings, Pepperdine, Seattle, Idaho, and South Dakota) to face off with Chapman in the final round. We were given the final problem the evening before the final, and they prepared tirelessly through the night against the top-ranked Chapman team.
Despite their stellar performance, however, Chapman beat us by the narrowest of margins. We're disappointed, of course. But the real reward lay in the judges' evaluation. They told Christine and Wesley that they did "a beautiful, very impressive job." Judge Richard Collier, an seasoned mediator, commented that their "level of thoroughness, preparation, and thoughtfulness was astonishing. I forgot that this wasn't real life."
Congratulations, Wesley and Christine! You make Montana proud!
Montana Justice Foundation Honors Two UM Law Professors
The Montana Justice Foundation honored two UM Law professors for their service to the organization at the group’s recent Lunch for Justice in Missoula. Associate Professor and Director of the UM Law Land Use Clinic, Michelle Bryan Mudd and Adjunct Professor of Insurance Law Mark Williams both received recognition for their work. Prof. Bryan Mudd served two terms as the president of the Montana Justice Foundation board, while Williams served the organization on its board for over 17 years in a variety of capacities, including as president. UM Law graduate and Justice of the Montana Supreme Court, Mike Wheat, was the key note speaker for the lunch.
Dean Russell, who attended the luncheon, expressed her admiration for the work of Bryan Mudd and Williams. “Access to justice is an important and pressing issue. All of us at the School are proud that our faculty continue to show dedication and leadership in this important cause.” In addition, UM Law Professor Andrew King-Ries and Director of the Clinical Programs Klaus Sitte serve on the newly created Equal Justice Task Force Commission of the Montana Supreme Court, with Professor King-Ries serving as co-chair.
UM Environmental Law Moot Court Team Reaches Quarterfinals at Pace Competition
Dateline: February 22, 2013
White Plains, NY
From Coach Heidi Fanslow
Congratulations to Alan Zackheim, Keif Storrar, and Bradley Jones who advanced to the quarterfinal round at the 2013 Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition. As one of 27 teams out of 72 advancing, Montana met the University of California-Berkeley and Wayne State. Montana competed well, but was bested by Berkeley who advanced to the semifinal round.
In the three preliminary rounds, Montana competed against University of Florida, Georgetown University, Florida Coastal University, University of Wisconsin, University of Denver and American University. Alan Zackheim earned the best-oralist award in the third round against Denver and American.
Montana has advanced to the quarter-final round in four of the last eleven years. In 2005, Montana competed in the championship round. In 2002, team member KD Feeback won the overall best-oralist award at the competition
The team and I owe a debt of gratitude to the many local attorneys who volunteer their time and expertise in preparing the team for competition. Without their help, Montana would not be as competitive at this event.
UM Jessup International Moot Court Team Places Third
Dateline: February 19, 2013
From Coach Kristen Juras
Congratulations to the UM Jessup International Moot Court team, which placed 3rd of 19 teams this weekend at the Rocky Mountain Jessup Regional Competition. Team members include 3Ls Amber Henning and Samantha Stephens and 2Ls Mark Handelman, Josh Henning, and Morgan Shaw. This year’s problem involved the rights of migrants forced to abandon an island state that became submerged as a result of climate change, and the effect of the loss of territory and displacement of its people on the island state’s obligations to repay certain international loans.
The UM team advanced to the quarter-finals after defeating teams from William Mitchell College of Law (MN), Louisiana State, and the University of Iowa. In the quarter-finals (comprised of 8 teams), the UM team defeated third-ranked Washburn University (KS). The UM team narrowly lost in the semi-finals to the University of Kansas. The UM team’s written memorials placed third in the regional competition.
In addition to myself, Sally Cummins and Tal Goldin co-coached the team. Sally, a career attorney from the Legal Office of the Secretary of State, provides an incredible breadth of knowledge about international legal issues. Tal, a former UM graduate and Jessup team member who currently practices in Missoula, has a theater background, and spent extra time with the students on their diction, style, and presentation. These two are just one more example of the invaluable volunteer services contributed by local attorneys for the benefit of the law school and our students.
Trial Team wins regional to Compete at National Competition in April 2013
Dateline: February 12, 2013
From Coach Randy Cox
The University of Montana Law School trial teams competed in the Regional Trial Team Competition held in Siuox Falls, South Dakota, February 8 - 10. There were two UM teams - the 3L team of William "Mac" Morris and Matt Jennings, and the 2L team of Rachel Wandersheid and John Newman. The trial competition is sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association.
Twenty teams competed in the regional competition. Making their debut in trial team competition, 2Ls Rachel and John won two of their first three rounds and, with that, the right to advance to the semifinals. This was a great accomplishment for a 2L team. In the semifinal round, Rachel and John faced, and lost to, a very strong, polished 3L team from the University of Denver. The loss in the semifinals will serve as incentive to return next year with the hope of advancing to the national championships.
The 3L team advanced through the competition with wins over, among others, the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. In the championships, Mac Morris and Matt Jennings avenged the loss suffered by the 2L team and prevailed over the 3L team from the University of Denver in an extremely hard-fought trial. The trial judge in the semifinal round was a Justice from the South Dakota Supreme Court and, in the final round, a United States District Judge from South Dakota was the presiding judge. Other scoring judges were either Circuit Court judges or Fellows in the American College of Trial Lawyers.
With their win in the regional competition, Mac Morris and Matt Jennings earned the right to advance to the National Competition in San Antonio, Texas, April 4 through 7. This is the third straight year that UMLS has placed a team in the national championships.
In 2011, the team of Tracey Neighbor Johnson and Tim Dailey advanced to the national championships in Houston and in 2012, Zach Franz and Justin Cole advanced to the national championships in Austin, Texas.
The team is co-coached by Randy Cox of Boone Karlberg and Katie DeSoto of Garlington, Lohn and Robinson. Judge Karen Townsend provided special assistance during preparation as did a long list of Missoula lawyers. Special thanks to Hon. Dana L. Christensen for clearing a half day of his busy calendar to preside over a 3L v. 2L practice trial and to then, afterwards, provide invaluable advice and perspective.There were also four witness team members who devoted substantial time to the preparation and team practices: Allie Harrison, Andrew Person, Zane Aukee and Zach Coccoli.
National Moot Court Final Rounds
Dateline: February 12, 2013
NY, New York
By Larry Howell
Numerous people have asked how the National Moot Court team did at the final rounds in New York City the first week of this semester, so here is a brief report. The UM team, consisting of Nick Brooke, Talasi Brooks, and Tiffany Nunnally, earned a spot in the national finals as one of the top two teams at the Northwest regional competition last fall. Along with a team from the University of Washington (tuition: $21,870/$41,840), UM’s team joined the top teams from the 14 other regions, with approximately 150 law schools participating overall. So just making it to the national final rounds as one of the top 30 teams in the country is a significant achievement.
The final rounds, held at the headquarters of the New York City Bar Association in mid-town Manhattan, begin with two nights of preliminary rounds, after which the top 16 teams advance to the single-elimination rounds. The UM team handily defeated Ohio State ($27,886/$42,836) on the first night, but then lost narrowly to Loyola Chicago ($40,785) the next night. Because of the point differential between the large win and the narrow loss, UM not only advanced to the elimination rounds, but was the highest ranked 1-1 team to do so, breaking into the top 10 as No. 9 seed. UM’s third round was against the No. 8 seed from McGeorge School of Law at Pacific University ($41,394). On the third night of the four-day tournament, UM lost to McGeorge by 1.5 points out of 100 in a round that Professor King-Ries and I thought could have gone either way.
Although Nick, Talasi and Tiffany were disappointed not to have advanced to the quarterfinals, Andrew and I could not be more proud of their performance and the incredible amount of work they did. That’s also true of the students on the UM team that didn’t advance -- Bryan Dake, Daniel di Stefano and Amy McNulty -- but who also would have done well in the finals. This year’s teams more than lived up to the stellar reputation that UM has earned in the competition. In fact, a conversation I had with the McGeorge coach before the last round brought home what UM students have accomplished over the years. He said he had been coaching for 12 years and was thrilled, and relieved, that one of his teams had finally made it to New York. Fortunately, he didn’t ask whether UM had advanced before, so I didn’t have to tell him our students have been to the finals 12 of the last 15 years.
UM's Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program Featured In High Country News
Dateline: January 30, 2013
The University of Montana’s Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program is featured in the January issue of High Country News. The annual “natural resource education” issue of the regional magazine features some of the best programs that are inspiring and training future leaders. UM’s Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program was featured on page 18.
To read the full article online, visit http://bit.ly/VIYc9T.
“This is a terrific affirmation of the University’s commitment to a unique graduate program,” said Matthew McKinney, founder and chair of the program. “The NRCR program regularly attracts students from 15 different departments and includes faculty and deans from UM’s College of Forestry and Conservation, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Law.”
The program was created in 2006 and has conferred more than 60 graduate certificates in natural resource conflict resolution. Graduates have gone on to leadership positions in conservation organizations, government agencies, private businesses and the practice of law.
John Senn, deputy communications director at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was one of the first graduates from the program.
“The NRCR program gave me the unique and invaluable opportunity to work on critical real-world natural resource and environmental public policy issues, often times directly with stakeholders and decision-makers,” Senn said. “NRCR faculty are tremendously dedicated to ensuring each student in the program is able to hone skills and identify opportunities related to their particular interests or field of study.”
“The NRCR program’s focus on critical thinking and negotiation skills provided me with the professional tools I needed to succeed after graduate school,” said Shoren Brown, Bristol Bay campaign director for Trout Unlimited and a 2007 graduate of the program. “Anyone interested in participating in contemporary policy debates should take a hard look at UM’s Natural Resources Conflict Resolution Program.”