AJMLS Professor’s Non-Profit Organization Receives $1 Million Grant from Department of Justice

Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced a total of $6.7 million in grants to state and local criminal and civil legal services organizations across the country that provide legal defense services for the poor.  The non-profit organization of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School professor Jon Rapping was one of the organizations chosen to receive a grant.

Gideon’s Promise, a nonprofit organization that partners with public defender offices to build a community of attorneys committed to indigent defense reform,was awarded $1 million.  The funds will provide 25 new attorneys, including criminal defense lawyers working on tribal lands; establish training and leadership development for public defender trainers and supervisors and a semi-annual leadership summit for chief defenders; and create an advisory council to test measures and indicators showing the outcomes of providing effective counsel for all individuals.

These grants from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) are part of the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to improve indigent defense, which is often underfunded and understaffed, and to support training, mentoring, technical assistance, leadership development and research to enhance the effectiveness of adult, juvenile and tribal indigent defense practices.

Professor Rapping feels that the grant is another indicator of the type of education students can receive by enrolling in the law school’s J.D. Honors Program in Criminal Justice. He said, “through the Honors Program in Criminal Justice, our students are getting the kind of preparation for careers in criminal justice that the Department of Justice recognizes is critical.  Three of our Honors Program faculty (Professors Rapping, Fulcher, and Saviello) are also core members of this organization that the Department of Justice is investing in as a real solution to the criminal justice crisis we face.”

For more information on the other organizations chosen to receive grants, click here.


Professor Rapping Gives Keynote Address at University of Iowa Law School

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Professor Jon Rapping was recently the keynote speaker at the University of Iowa Law School’s “Fifty Years of Gideon” symposium. Professor Rapping was chosen based to his work with Gideon’s Promise, his nonprofit organization that works to inspire, mobilize and train legal professionals to provide the highest quality defense representation to people unable to afford an attorney. Gideon’s Promise was later featured in an HBO documentary titled Gideon’s Army which aired July 1, 2013. The symposium commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision granting all indigent defendants the right to counsel, Gideon v. Wainwright. Following Professor Rapping’s keynote address, a renowned group of panelists discussed the history of Gideon, the current state of indigent defense, and future developments for the right to counsel. For more on Professor Rapping’s work with Gideon’s Promise, click here. To learn more about the University of Iowa Law School symposium, click here.


AJMLS Moot Court Team Finishes Third in Stetson National Pre-Trial Competition

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Moot Court/Mock Trial team advanced into the semi-final round of the Stetson National Pre-Trial Competition and finished third behind LSU and Texas Tech, and ahead of Baylor. This competition involved a pre-trial civil issue and requires both appellate and trial advocacy skills.  It includes written briefs, oral arguments, direct & cross examinations of witnesses, and a closing argument. AJMLS also received the award for Best Defendant’s Memorandum of Law.  This is the second year in a row that AJMLS has won a best brief award at this competition.  That is certainly a compliment to our writing professors.

The following students are on the team: LoriBeth Westbrook (4L part-time); Jason McClendon (4L part-time); Michelle Sandler (3L); and Nickolas Kitchens (2L).   They have been coached by our alumnus, Thomas Lyman, who also dedicated many hours to their preparation. The schools entered in the competition were Baylor, Chapman, Charleston, Chicago-Kent, Fordham, Golden Gate, LSU, Mississippi College, Northern Kentucky, Pace, Regent, Texas Tech, UDC, UMKC, and William & Mary.

The pairings of teams for the first two rounds was random.  Our first round on Friday morning was against Northern Kentucky and we were assigned to be plaintiffs.  The second round on Friday afternoon was against Regent.  Our defense team was up.  We were unfortunately assigned to a small seminar room, instead of a courtroom, and so, the technical aspects of presentation were challenging.  The third round pairing of teams was power matched, meaning the pairings were based upon ranking of the teams. We were paired against Chicago-Kent and our defense team was up again. In the fourth round we competed against LSU.

These students and their coaches have worked tirelessly for the past several weeks and performed outstandingly at the competition.  Congratulations on behalf of the law school.


AJMLS Alumnus Burl Finkelstein Featured in Atlanta Business Chronicle

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Alumnus, Burl Finkelstein (’05), was recently featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle for his work outside the courtroom.

Finkelstein is an engineer-turned-lawyer and is the Vice President and General Counsel at Kason Industries. Outside the office, he spends his time building model rockets and the engines and propellant systems powering them.

He also is one of the supervisors for the NASA University Students Space Initiative, is a contractor for Pyrotecnico and travels the United States managing fireworks shows and attending rocket launch events.

You can read the full article here.


Mass Swearing In Ceremony on November 13, 2013 for July 2013 Bar Exam Passers

The Alumni Office will hold a mass swearing in ceremony for the July 2013 bar exam passers and any other AJMLS alumni who would like to be sworn into the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court of Georgia.  We will be honored by Justice Carol Hunstein of the Supreme Court and Judge T. Jackson Bedford of the Fulton County Superior Court.  There will also be a representative from the Court of Appeals.

The ceremony will be held at 5:00 p.m. on November 13, 2013 at the G. Alan Blackburn Conference Center.  After the ceremony there will be a reception with light hors d’oeuvres.  Please plan to arrive at 4:00 p.m. to arrange the necessary paperwork.

In order to be sworn in to any or all of the courts, you must have ALL checks and paperwork into the Alumni Office no later than Tuesday, October 29, 2013.

Superior Court – For admission to the Superior Court, the Alumni Office will need the Original Certificate you receive from Bar Admissions.

Georgia Supreme Court – For the attorney admission form for the Supreme Court, please go to:  http://www.gasupreme.us/admissions/ and complete the application.  Very important – AJMLS will provide the sponsoring attorneys so please leave that portion blank.  The cost to be sworn into the GA Supreme Court is $30 and must be paid through the website.  Please attach a copy of your PayPal receipt with your application.

Court of Appeals – For the attorney admission form for the Court of Appeals, please go to:  http://www.gaappeals.us/admission.php.  The cost to be sworn into the Court of Appeals is $30 and checks are to be made payable to the Clerk of the Court of Appeals.  Please send in your check and application to the Alumni Office.

Parking will be available in the AJMLS parking deck and other local decks.

For more information, please contact the Alumni Office at (404)872-3593 ##Ext. 287.

Professor Rapping Named the 2013 Public Interest Scholar in Residence at Touro Law School

Professor Jon Rapping was recently selected as the 2013 Public Interest Scholar in Residence at Touro Law School. Through the Distinguished Public Interest Lawyer in Residence Program, Touro Law Center recognizes attorneys who have made significant contributions to society by representation of individuals or groups historically denied access to justice. Honorees visit the Law Center to meet with students, guest teach classes and deliver a public lecture. The program attracts distinguished visitors who are active in the field of public interest who inspire and teach members of the Touro Law community. On behalf of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, congratulations Professor Rapping on another outstanding accomplishment. For the full story, click here.

AJMLS Founds New Student Organization – Veteran Law Students Association

Students at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School recently founded the Veteran Law Students Association to support all veterans regardless of their branch of service, time of service, or any other distinguishing characteristic. VLSA was also created to promote continued service by the members of its organization.

Membership is neither based on past military service nor lack thereof.  Students  pursuing a Juris Doctor (J.D.), Master of Laws (LL.M) or any other degree programs authorized by Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School qualify for membership in the VLSA.

President of VLSA and AJMLS student Domonique Jackson-Russell strongly encourages student, faculty and staff support of the newly founded organization. In a recent announcement to the law school, Jackson-Russell said, “We hope that you will consider joining and supporting the VLSA as we continue to serve, whether that be at the law school, legal community or general public.”

VLSA’s first meeting will be October 7, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 707. During the meeting members will discuss VLSA’s upcoming scholarship fundraiser event. Non-members are welcome to attend.

Visit VLSA’s OrgSync page for further information regarding the organization. For immediate questions, contact Dwayne Clay, Brian Huckaby or Domonique Jackson-Russell. To view a complete list of the law school’s student organizations, click here.

AJMLS Meets with Local Lawmakers to Discuss Recidivism and Re-entry Support for the Formerly Incarcerated

The Office of Pro Bono and Experiential Learning kicks off Pro Bono Month with two separate meetings with some of Atlanta’s most influential political  and community leaders to discuss strategies to reduce recidivism, ensure successful re-entry and increase public knowledge. The law school was identified as a major contributor helping formerly incarcerated persons effectively re-enter society. The first meeting will be with Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner followed by a meeting at  the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry.

The department is also excited to announce their 4th Annual Re-entry Forum to be held at the law school’s Blackburn Conference Center on October 24, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Every year Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School partners with individuals, agencies and organizations that support prisoner re-entry efforts by breaking down barriers, helping individuals and families’ transition, and advocate just treatment and transition that support preventing or reducing recidivism.

In addition to recognizing the individuals and organizations that are making great strides in the community, we also facilitate informative and interactive public discussion between academics, community, religious leaders, ex-offenders, government agencies, non-profit groups, and law students. The forum will culminate with the development of an action plan that will make the criminal justice system less devastating for families and communities impacted by incarceration.