Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Missouri Law Review Spotlight: Kristen Wagner

My name is Kristen Wagner and I am a third-year law student who will be graduating in May of 2015.  While I attended the University of Missouri-Columbia school of law, I was involved in many of the different organizations the school has to offer.  I participated on the Board of Advocates, as a candidate I was the assistant director for the negotiation competition, and as a board member, I ran the Polsinelli Fall Moot Court.  While serving on the Board of Advocates, I was a member of the school’s arbitration team.  I also got involved around school by serving as the President of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys student chapter.  I was also the vice president of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Organization, as well as, the vice justice for Phi Alpha Delta, the law fraternity. 

Some of the most valuable lessons I learned while attending law school were those that I learned by participating in the organizations the school has to offer.  Some of the most valuable experienced I gained throughout my time at law school was what I learned while participating in the Missouri Law Review.  As an associate member my second year in law school, we were required to write two papers, either a case note or a law summary.  These assignments give you a chance to pick a topic that interests you and to research it thoroughly.  Learning how to do advanced legal research helped me immensely throughout the internship I held the summer after my second year.  Writing these papers also gives you experience in thinking critically and organizing different arguments in a coherent, persuasive manner.  These skills have also proven to be very useful so far in my internships as I had to assess the changes in law and explain policy behind such changes. 

Not only did the Missouri Law Review prepare me to be a better attorney, the Missouri Law Review also provided many opportunities that make the law school experience more enjoyable overall.  For instance, there was a welcome bar-b-q at the beginning of the school year to welcome new members.  The Law Review also puts together a team to play together in the school’s softball tournament.  This team plays against teams put together by the other journals at the school.  This provides a chance to relax and bond with classmates.  There are also fun activities on a week to week basis, such as tasty treat Thursday, where a Law Review member can sign up to bring snacks for the rest of the Law Review.  Although it may sound juvenile, it is the small interactions such as these within the law school community that makes the law school experience an enjoyable one.  Overall, I am very pleased I joined the Missouri Law Review and am thankful for the tools it has provided me with as I move forward into the field of practicing law.

Next year, I will be working for a mid-sized litigation firm in Kansas City, Missouri.  I will be practicing toxic torts, medical malpractice defense, and insurance defense.  Although I have a criminal emphasis, I am very interested in these types of civil litigation and am extremely excited for the opportunity.  One of the aspects of the job I am most excited about is the chance to take depositions.  The firm is adamant about the fact that I will hit the ground running and will be taking depositions in the first six months.  Although intimidating, I am very excited for the next chapter and am thankful for my time spent at the University of Missouri-Columbia law school, for I think that it has provided me with the knowledge and tools I need to succeed in the field of law. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Article Summary: Extramarital Relationships and the Theoretical Rationales for the Joint Property Rules - A New Model, by Yitshak Cohen

Cohen's article examines the impact that extramarital relationships have on property distributions at the time of divorce under the laws of the varying United States as well as Israel, and then using these laws the author proposes a new model accounting for extramarital relationships in property distribution where they are the dominant cause for divorce.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Article Summary - Defending the Guilty: Lawyer Ethics in the Movies

In the Article, Defending the Guilty: Lawyer Ethics in the Movies,[i] author J. Thomas Sullivan takes the reader on a journey through the legal and moral dilemmas faced by a criminal defense attorney when the guilt of his client is known, and the implications of such knowledge, using an interesting twist.[ii] The Article discusses these complicated and intense topics by using various motion pictures with relevant and relating topics within.  The Article first discusses a defense attorney’s obligation to his client and the preserved moral dilemma of representing a client whom is believed to be guilty.  [iii]  Sullivan uses the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird[iv] and the attorney in that film, Atticus Finch, to show that an attorney has a duty to zealously advocate for his client, despite a perceived notion that the client is guilty.[v]  The Article goes on to discuss the differences between moral guilt and legal guilt, and the difficult task for criminal defense attorneys to separate the two in their representation of clients.[vi]  Films like Path of Glory,[vii] Judgment at Nuremberg,[viii] Tom Horn,[ix] Primal Fear,[x] A Reasonable Man,[xi] and The Exorcism of Emily Rose,[xii] are used to demonstrate this conflict and provide relatable examples for readers.[xiii]
The article then moves to considering the previously discussed topics in light of a central pillar in our criminal justice system, that of a criminal defendant’s right to counsel.[xiv]  The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant the right to counsel,[xv]and this right was extended to felony cases in the landmark United States Supreme Court decision of Gideon v. Wainwright.[xvi]  In Defending the Guilty: Lawyer Ethics in the Movies, the importance of the right to be represented by counsel is illustrated by Sullivan’s examination of the film, The Ox-Bow Incident.[xvii]  While the outcome of the “trial” in The Ox-Bow Incident, was not up to the requirements of justice that we are now accustomed, the importance of our current standards was all the more exemplified by the injustice that the three main characters experienced.[xviii] 
After using several films to demonstrate a client’s expectation of effective assistance of counsel, the Article moves to debating the merits of a defense attorney’s knowledge of his client’s culpability.[xix]  The Article discusses both the pros and the cons of a lawyer knowing his client’s guilt, including the ability to argue his innocence, a client’s desire for his attorney to think he is innocence because he believes the attorney wont fight for him if the attorney knows he is guilty, and understanding realities when negotiating plea bargains with the prosecutor.[xx]  Using the film, Young Mr. Lincoln,[xxi]the Article demonstrates that when an attorney does not know the guilt of his client, he is in a better position to advocate for his client’s innocence and can be more creative with his arguments.[xxii]
Defending the Guilty: Lawyer Ethics in the Movies[xxiii] provides its readers with an interesting and original medium for discussing and viewing a cornerstone topic for lawyers – ethical behaviors.  The Article’s use of films to posit hypothetical situations and then provide insight into the moral and ethical dilemmas presented in the film’s plots is both refreshingly original and intellectually astute.  The analysis and thought on a wide array of ethical situations that lawyers are faced with in representing criminal defendants, “discussed through the lens of film,”[xxiv] was a fresh perspective on the frequently discussed, but incredibly important topic of legal ethics, specifically the moral dilemma of representing a “guilty” criminal defendant. 

- Cameron A. Beaver

[i] J. Thomas Sullivan, Defending the Guilty: Lawyer Ethics in the Movies, 79 Mo. L. Rev. 585 (2015).
[ii] Id.
[iii] Id. at 585-90.
[iv] To Kill a Mockingbird (Universal Int’l Pictures 1962).
[v] Sullivan, supra note 1, Introduction.
[vi] Sullivan, supra note 1, Part I.
[vii] Paths of Glory (United Artists 1957).
[viii] Judgment at Nuremberg (United Artists 1961).
[ix] Tom Horn (Warner Bros. 1980).
[x] Primal Fear (Paramount Pictures 1996).
[xi] A Reasonable Man (African Media Entertainment 1999).
[xii] The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Screen Gems 2005).
[xiii] Sullivan, supra note 1, Part. I.
[xiv] Sullivan, supra note 1, Part II.
[xv] U.S. Const. Amendment VI.
[xvi] 372 U.S. 335 (1963).
[xvii] The Ox-Bow Incident (Twentieth Century Fox 1943).
[xviii] Sullivan, supra note 1, Part II.
[xix] Sullivan, supra note 1, Part IV.
[xx] Id.
[xxi] Young Mr. Lincoln (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. 1939).
[xxii] Sullivan, supra note 1, at 629-31.
[xxiii] Sullivan, supra note 1.
[xxiv] Sullivan, supra note 1, at 590.