Category Archives: News

Stories about the news – whether it be campus news, news about the legal world, or national news that relates to campus life!

Notes on Construction Notes

mlyniec-wally_1[1]The name Wally Mlyniec should be familiar to any current Georgetown student.  Professor Mlyniec served as director of Georgetown Law’s pioneering Juvenile Justice clinic from 1973 to 2015, a whopping 42 years of service.  However, most students probably know Mlyniec’s name from Construction Notes, the sprawling tomes of information that grace the entire campus’ inbox.

As I prepared to leave campus in a few days, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Professor Mlyniec to discuss Construction Notes, his interest in construction, and what he thinks Capitol Crossing will do for the area and for Georgetown Law.

Construction Notes have been a constant across my experience at Georgetown Law.  The ambitious Capitol Crossing project, the plan to cover and develop the segment of I-395 adjacent to campus, served as an environmental alarm clock for me during my 1L year.  The construction crew’s bright floodlights shining into my corner room at the Gewirz Student Center encouraged me to work well into the night.  The first e-mails I received from Professor Mlyniec were not welcome, often informing me of a water shutdown.

As the fog of 1L faded, I began to read these curious e-mails called Construction Notes, filled with the kind of trivia that I desperately needed between reading assignments.  Eventually, I would ask people on campus – “So, how about those e-mails from Wally Mlyniec?”  There are two responses to that question: blank stares, or instant recognition and mutual understanding.

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First Daughter Tiffany Trump Is Poised to Become a Hoya Lawyer

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By now, you’ve been able to connect the dots between the flurry of “Make Georgetown Law Great Again” comments across social media. 23-year-old Tiffany Trump will be attending Georgetown University Law Center. President Trump’s second daughter will presumably become a 2020 graduate of GULC (GULC has confirmed the First Daughter’s position in the new cohort of accepted students).

While students are buried in exam preparation and taking, some practical questions abound about what fall 2017 will look like on campus. No doubt, Trump will have security detail, which has the potential to cause some inconveniences. But news about a member of America’s First Family is prompting some varied reactions.

“I hope every one treats her with respect, whether they agree with her father’s politics or not,” Sarah Naiman said, an incoming evening division student. “She is part of the community and needs to be treated as such. And at the very least, this is probably the safest this campus will ever be!”

“She is the President’s daughter and therefore has her choice of law schools. That she chose Georgetown is a testament to the schools offerings and capabilities, regardless of her reasons for choosing our school over others,” 1E Christian Dibblee said. “It’s unsettling that some are advocating against her being at the law school just because of who her father is.”

While Georgetown Law has already admitted students for the incoming class, there are students on waiting lists. And the impact of this news might even influence student’s decision to attend GULC, now labeled a “T-15” school according to the latest U.S. News & World Report edition.

“Having Tiffany Trump in the classroom will no doubt affect the students’ experience of law school,” Jana Sneed said, a prospective law student. “Discussion in the classroom regarding our nation’s politics could either be provoked or restrained due to her presence among the students. It’s hard to say whether it will be a positive or a negative impact.”

Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett weighed in on the action through social media. According to his Twitter page, he said he hopes Trump will attend events at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution (which he directs).

Regardless of what happens in a few months time, Trump will be poised to join a long list of famous GULC alumni too exhaustive to list. Greta Van Susteren and, Savannah Guthrie are among GULC’s alum on TV, while Hoya Congressmen include John Delaney, Richard Durbin, Steny Hoyer, and Patrick Leahy.

Dean Calms Fears After Georgetown Law Rankings Slide

Georgetown Law has long been an elite law school, consistently earning a position in the coveted top 14 spots in US News & World Report’s annual law school rankings. However, in the 2017-2018 rankings, Georgetown dropped from 14th to 15th, the first school to ever drop out of the “T-14.” UT Austin, who previously was tied for the 15th spot with UCLA, moved into Georgetown’s historic spot, causing panic among Georgetown students afraid of the implications this will have on their job prospects, concern that the quality of education is decreasing, and larger debates among legal academics as to the efficacy of law school rankings, and whether or not US News really deserves to be the “gold standard.”

The legend of the T-14 law schools began because since US News started ranking law schools in 1989, the same fourteen institutions have always remained at #14 or higher. The legend of the T-14 is not that these fourteen schools were in any way vastly superior to the schools ranked #15 or lower, but in the fact that the schools had remained the same. This fact has led many academics and practitioners (yes, even in big law) to argue that the distinction – and the weight put on it by prospective students – is largely arbitrary. As Dean William Treanor insinuated when speaking to students at a Student Bar Association open forum, Georgetown’s drop in ranking simply means that there are more good law schools, not that Georgetown has become worse by any measure.

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CALS Students Win Asylum for Burundian Rape Victim

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Rachel Hitchins, left, and Leigh Ainsworth, right, recently helped their client Sasha win asylum.

This story was written by Center for Applied Legal Studies staff.  The Law Weekly was not involved in writing the content of this article, but edited it and deemed it necessary to publish.

Sasha (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) fled her home country of Burundi after a powerful Hutu general threatened, raped, and left her for dead because she is a Tutsi woman.  When she first came to the United States in 2012, Sasha’s application for asylum was rejected by an immigration official. Sasha, unrepresented at the time, was then placed into deportation proceedings. While that case was pending, Sasha found the Center for Applied Legal Studies, the Law Center’s asylum law clinic. Over the course of their semester in CALS, Sasha’s student representatives, Leigh Ainsworth and Rachel Hitchins, worked intensely with Sasha to develop an evidentiary record and write a legal brief to convince the immigration judge that Sasha should be allowed to remain in the United States.  Ultimately, the hard work paid off – the judge granted Sasha asylum, putting her on a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

Ainsworth and Hitchins had enrolled in CALS hoping to learn about immigration law, develop practice skills, and serve a vulnerable client.  “I wanted to learn firsthand what it meant to represent a client in immigration court and to help a client navigate a complicated—and at times, frustrating—legal system,” Ainsworth said.  In the students’ first meeting with their client, Sasha broke down in tears. She revealed that when she was only fifteen years old, the general began harassing and threatening her.  He made sexual advances toward her, using his position of authority to stalk and threaten her when she refused him.  Sasha’s family hid her by sending her to boarding school, and while she was there, her mother died under suspicious circumstances.  Not long after, the General found her again.  He then kidnapped and brutally raped her, and left her for dead in a forest.  Sasha was rescued by a kind woman who found her there.

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Visiting Scholar Tara Helfman on originalism, the Constitution and her new status at Georgetown

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Of all the labels swirling around to describe Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch before his confirmation hearings beginning March 20th, patriotic is likely among them, according to Tara Helfman, who is on loan from Syracuse Law School while she works as a Georgetown Center for the Constitution Visiting Scholar.

Helfman’s recent slate of articles reflect her ongoing scholarship that includes executive powers, the Constitution and originalism.  While at Georgetown for the 2017 spring semester, Professor Helfman hosts GULC students in her “Freedom and the Framers” reading group, where she guides students through an exploration of the ideas and events that helped shape the American Constitution.

The purpose of the group, Professor Helfman says, is to allow students to enrich their understanding of constitutional doctrine and thereby become “useful and effective lawyers. [The reading group] is a lot more free-wheeling than a normal Socratic-oriented course. We read interesting things, and everyone is motivated to be there because they’ve chosen to be there.  It’s not for credit.”

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Georgetown Faculty Senate Passes Resolution on Travel Ban 1.0

At their February 15 meeting, Georgetown University’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution regarding the January Executive Order on Immigration issued by President Donald Trump. The Faculty Senate “is a university-wide faculty governance body that advises the University President on academic, administrative, and financial issues that affect all three campuses.” The resolution labels the Executive Order “an affront to human decency” and a threat to the “basic values we stand for as a university.”  The resolution follows a January statement by Georgetown University President John DeGioia that was critical of the Trump Administration’s policy and cautioned students affected by the ban to consult an immigration attorney.

Law Center Professor Laura Donohue, who also serves the law campus’ Faculty Senate Vice President, shared her personal thoughts on the resolution as it relates to the original Executive Order.  Donohue stressed the importance of Georgetown as an “institution that was built on the exchange of views,” both differing and alike. She communicated that the sharing of ideas with those different from oneself allows for “intellectual growth” and a fuller discussion in the classroom and in the world beyond us.  Donohue reflected on the original executive order as “contrary to the history and legacy of Georgetown as a Jesuit institution,” and the subsequent Faculty Senate resolution as a symbol of Georgetown’s commitment to social justice for all. Georgetown’s commitment was further demonstrated as faculty immediately mobilized and headed to Dulles Airport to provide legal support for those directly affected by the order.

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SBA Prepares for Spring Elections at Open Forum

While there are two months of classes remaining in the semester, Georgetown’s student government is already preparing to turn over power to a fresh set of leaders.  With the elections coming up on March 7-8, candidates have just a week left to make their case. Voting is conducted online, but staffed polling stations will be available in McDonough Hall.

The Student Bar Association (SBA)’s meeting on February 28th, the penultimate meeting of the current class of delegates and executive board members, featured a town-hall style forum where candidates for various executive board positions, including President, both Day and Evening Vice Presidents, Secretary, and Treasurer, were able to articulate their platform and answer questions from attendees.

Half of the 45 minutes allotted for the forum was occupied by the two candidates for SBA President.  2L Delegate Joshua Branch and 1L Delegate Ryan Shymansky both introduced themselves and their platforms in a one minute speech before they were asked questions by the attendees.  Shymansky drew attention to his relative inexperience, characterizing his run as  something he had not been planning for long.  Noting that it was unusual for first-year students to run for SBA President, he leaned on his experience and prior connections during his undergraduate years at Georgetown’s main campus.  Branch, who heads the Community Enrichment committee that has organized the speakership series, spoke about his ability to take a middle ground and his level-headed nature as beneficial to his candidacy.

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