News - June 2005
Law School summer starters demonstrate diversity
June 27, 2005
In late May each year the University of Michigan Law School welcomes a new class of summer starters. As in the past, this year's group of 90 matriculants represents a fascinating array of interests and experiences, guaranteeing that the Law School remains a lively place.
Matt Muspratt, Antonia Eliason, and Dr. Larry Perlman, three members of the class, agreed to share a little about their backgrounds and goals, and in doing so provide a sampling of the diversity represented in this year's group.
"I'm turning 30 this summer, and at this 'advanced age' I have thought a lot about how a law degree can fit into my background in African development and environmental issues," says Muspratt. After spending time as a Peace Corps volunteer, development worker, and master's student, he says he's "encountered all kinds of poverty, health, and governance issues throughout West and Southern Africa." He's decided that a law degree will prepare him to work more deeply and effectively in these fields. Muspratt sees Michigan's international programs and "faculty and staff's enthusiasm for helping students pursue less-traveled interests" as a significant advantage.
"I chose the Law School because of its strong international law program as well as the collegiate atmosphere," Eliason says. She presented her paper, "Russia and the Near Abroad: The Politics of Energy," for a panel at the Association for the Study of Nationalities 2005 World Convention at Columbia University in April. She says, "The paper was inspired by the internship I held at the Department of Commerce's Office of Energy while I worked on my M.A. in European and Eurasian studies."
Dr. Larry Perlman has practiced internal medicine in suburban Detroit for the past three years. He says, "While medicine was immensely rewarding, I was drawn to the type of analytical reasoning intrinsic to the study of law. Starting in the summer has been great. Just a few weeks into it and we're not only learning to think like lawyers, but aided by the small size of our group, we're doing it together, more as a team than a group of unrelated individuals."
This year's summer start class also includes a hula dancer; a former legal assistant in a Korean law firm; two military veterans; a student who worked in Brazil for the prevention of child abuse; a Fulbright scholar who studied in Japan; and a woman who tutored in Ecuador and taught dance classes in an Ecuadorean women's prison to name just a few of the interesting backgrounds represented by class members. Assistant Dean for Admissions Sarah Zearfoss says, "We talk about how important diversity is in the classroom for the total learning experience, and we see it unfold as each new class brings such different life experiences and goals with them."
Are nonprofit hospitals worth their tax exemption?
While still in law school at Harvard, University of Michigan Law School Professor Jill Horwitz wrote her third-year paper on hospital ownership. Ten years later her interest in healthcare hasn't wavered. Recently, Professor Horwitz shared some of her research findings with the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means. Her testimony focused on evidence that shows large, systematic, and long-standing differences between for-profit and nonprofit hospitals. (The complete report can be found at waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?fformmode=view&id=2717.)
Horwitz' research found that "for-profit hospitals are more likely than their nonprofit counterparts to offer the most profitable services, and less likely than either nonprofits or government hospitals to offer services that are unprofitable yet valuable, even essential." In her testimony, she used the example of psychiatric emergency services versus open heart surgery. Psychiatric emergency services are considered "extremely unprofitable" while open heart surgery is "so profitable that it is often referred to as a hospital's 'revenue center.'" According to her research, "for-profit hospitals were 7 percent less likely than nonprofits and 15 percent less likely than government hospitals to offer psychiatric emergency services." In contrast, Horwitz found that for-profit hospitals were 7 percent more likely to offer open heart surgery services and 13 percent more likely than government hospitals to provide these services.
Horwitz believes that her findings, that show that nonprofit hospitals are more willing than for-profit hospitals to offer "unprofitable services" such as psychiatric emergency care, AIDS treatment, alcohol and drug treatment, emergency rooms, trauma services, and obstetric care, are important in shifting lawmakers' perceptions about what makes nonprofit hospitals important to the public and worthy of the nonprofit hospital tax exemption.
"Among policy makers who have considered the
nonprofit hospital tax exemption, there has been
what looks like an almost single-minded focus on the
differences in charity care provision," Horwitz
says. "While charity care is important, I hope that
my research demonstrates additional ways that
nonprofits serve the public good and differ from
Fight terror with freedom by giving uncharged suspects fair treatment: Guantanamo pits rights against terror safety concerns
Detroit News Commentary
June 16, 2005
"Fight terror with freedom by giving uncharged suspects fair
treatment: Guantanamo pits rights against terror safety concerns"
by Associate Dean for Clinical Programs and Clinical Professor of Law Bridget McCormack
In this commentary, Professor McCormack points out the inconsistencies between our nation's efforts to bring a constitutional democracy to Iraq and our treatment of detainees in Cuba. McCormack contends that the detainees, whether guilty of terrorist acts or not, need to be treated in ways that are consistent with our country's values and legal system. Most basically, they should be informed of the charges against them, have true access to legal counsel, and have an opportunity to present or contest evidence. She points out that treating the Guantanamo detainees fairly by providing them with the legal rights that our constitutional democracy requires will be difficult but well worth the effort.
Legal challenges on behalf of three Guantanamo Bay detainees
June 13, 2005
A June 13, 2005, Detroit News article states that University of Michigan Law School Associate Dean for Clinical Programs Bridget McCormack is participating with two other Ann Arbor attorneys in filing legal challenges on behalf of three Guantanamo Bay detainees. According to the article, their lawsuit is one of about 50 such suits for detainees.
Death Penalty Defense College saves lives
June 6, 2005
Discussions about the use of the death penalty in this country elicit varying but always strong opinions. One thing for certain -- if you ever are accused of a capital offense, you want an attorney who knows what he or she is doing.
In late May, the University of Michigan Law School hosted its sixth Clarence Darrow Death Penalty Defense College, which is designed to help defense attorneys hone their skills through hands-on workshops that focus on the attorneys' current death penalty cases.
According to the college's founder and director, Andrea Lyon, the college is "not about innocence. It's about saving people's lives." And the program has been successful in that goal. Since 2000 when the college was started, attorneys have brought more than 120 capital cases to the college. Lyon knows of only one case among the 120 that did not result in a plea bargain or life instead of a death sentence. That one exception was a case in which the defendant dismissed his attorney and asked to be executed.
Lyon, who is currently an associate professor at DePaul University College of Law, began the program at the University of Michigan while she was on the clinical faculty here. At DePaul, Lyon also directs the Center for Justice in Capital Cases and supervises that law school's Death Penalty Legal Clinic. Next year the college will be hosted by DePaul, although the U-M Law School will continue its sponsorship along with the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Office of the State Appellate Defender of Illinois.
"I'm very grateful to the University of Michigan Law School for housing it, sponsoring it, and supporting it," Lyon says. "It's very important work. It could not have been done without the support of U-M Law School."
"Whatever one thinks of the death penalty in the abstract, judicial reversals of capital sentences over the past several years underline the importance of providing the best possible criminal defense in death penalty cases. The Clarence Darrow Death Penalty Defense College provides hands-on assistance for attorneys who are currently representing death-eligible defendants," says University of Michigan Law School Dean Evan Caminker. "The University of Michigan Law School has been pleased to host the college from its inception in 2000. As DePaul University College of Law now assumes the role of host for the 2006 college, we look forward to continuing our sponsorship of this valuable program."