Archive for the 'School of Law' Category

Roscoe B. Stephenson Jr. ’43, ’47L Dies at 89

Justice Roscoe B. Stephenson Jr. '43, '47L

In the eight years that Washington and Lee alumnus Roscoe B. Stephenson Jr. served as judge of the Alleghany County Circuit Court, his decisions were never reversed. That is surely one of the reasons that Stephenson was elevated to the Virginia Supreme Court in 1981. He served as a justice for 16 years before retiring in 1997 at the age of 75.

Justice Stephenson died Tuesday in Covington, Va. He was 89.

A native of Alleghany County, he had attended the public schools there and, following a year in the Army, entered W&L, receiving his B.A. in 1943 and his J.D. in 1947 from the School of Law.  Known as “Rocky,” Stephenson began in partnership with his father in Covington and served as commonwealth’s attorney for Alleghany County for eight years before returning to private practice. He was elected as a judge to the 25th Judicial Circuit of Virginia in 1973 and subsequently to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Among the decisions he wrote for the court were ones upholding the state’s cap on awards in medical malpractice cases and affirming the use of DNA evidence in the case of Timothy W. Spencer. The 1989 Spencer case became the first in which a man was sentenced to death based largely on DNA evidence. Known as “the Southside Strangler,” he had been convicted of raping and strangling four women over 11 weeks in 1987. There were no surviving victims, no fingerprints, no confession. Then DNA tests linked the crime scenes with Spencer. He was executed in April 1994.

In the Richmond Times-Dispatch story on Stephenson’s death, Justice Harry L. Carrico, a former chief justice, said: “He was a wonderful person, he was a wonderful judge, he was a highly ethical person and highly caring person and just an all-around wonderful human being.”

When Stephenson retired in 1997, he stayed on as a senior justice. His departure led to a deadlock in the General Assembly about his successor, who was ultimately appointed by then-Gov. George Allen. The seat was filled by Justice Cynthia Kinser, who is now the court’s chief justice.

A funeral will be held Friday in Covington. Survivors include Roscoe B. Stephenson III, a member of the W&L Law Class of 1981.

Ohio State Coach Goes with a Pro

Gene Marsh '81L

College football fans know who Jim Tressel is. And they probably know that the embattled former Ohio State coach is charged with hiding information about players receiving impermissible benefits and with lying to the NCAA about his knowledge of those violations. They may not necessarily know, however,  Gene Marsh, the man who will be sitting beside Tressel when the Buckeye coach, who resigned late last month, faces an NCAA hearing later this summer.

Gene, a 1981 graduate of Washington and Lee’s School of Law and perhaps the leading expert on NCAA compliance issues, has seen cases from both sides. He served as the University of Alabama Faculty Athletics Representative to the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA from 1996 through 2003. He also chaired the University’s compliance committee. He has extensive experience in the NCAA infractions process: he belonged to the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions from 1999 through 2008 and chaired it from 2004 to 2006.

So when Tressel found out he would need his own lawyer for the Aug. 12 hearing with the NCAA, he chose Gene, who practices with the Birmingham law firm Lightfoot, Franklin & White L.L.C. and has considerable experience in a variety of these cases. In fact, just last year Gene and a fellow lawyer from the firm represented the University of Michigan in its case with the NCAA. What’s interesting is that Gene is a Dayton, Ohio, native who received his B.S. and M.S. from Michigan’s bitter rival, Ohio State University. In stories about his decision to represent Tressel, Gene said that he was never a rah-rah Buckeye fan and didn’t even attend a football game while he was a student.

Perhaps a headline in the Birmingham News summed up the way many see Gene’s experience: “Jim Tressel brings out big guns for NCAA hearing: Gene Marsh.” And a columnist for CBS Sports wrote that “Gene Marsh is a pro. Gene Marsh has seen every angle of the NCAA enforcement process.”

That same columnist referred to Gene’s sense of humor, recalling what he once told an audience on academics and athletics: “Being a faculty athletic rep at a big Southern university is like working at a high school as the vice principal in charge of chastity. It’s a tough job.”

The DA

Julia Slater '93L

The Ledger-Enquirer newspaper in Columbus, Ga., published a major feature story this weekend on the first female prosecutor of the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit — Washington and Lee alumna Julia Slater, a 1993 graduate of the School of Law. The story was based, in part, on a guilty verdict that Julia had won in a 25-year-old murder case back in April.

Julia had been an upset winner for district attorney in her home town of Columbus, Ga., in 2008, and she told the Ledger-Enquirer that she intends to run for re-election. She had served as an assistant district attorney, specializing in juvenile crimes, from 1994 to 2003. Now, as DA, she is very much in the spotlight and has been particularly active in prosecuting so-called “cold cases” that have been brought to her by police. Such cases, she said, are not only important to the families of the victims but also to the community.

Given the nature of the job, she is not without her critics, according to the media, and Julia admits that she doesn’t fit the model of the DA to which the community has been accustomed. In the interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, she said: “It’s not a perception carried by everybody, and I wouldn’t even say the majority of people. But there are some that think the DA should be a man, that all lawyers should be men. Some people just come from that school, from that way of thinking that decision-makers and those in charge should be men. I’ve faced some challenges with people that believe that way.”

The newspaper story includes a video at the bottom of the page in which Julia talks at length about her work.

Law Grad Competing on The Bachelorette

West Lee '07L

When ABC-TV’s popular series The Bachelorette begins its new season on May 23, one of the bachelors will be West Lee, a 2007 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law.

West is one of 25 who will vie for the affections of Ashley Hebert, the 26-year-old bachelorette from Philadelphia who was a former contestant on The Bachelor.

A Clemson graduate, West had been practicing as an assistant attorney general in the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office from September 2008 until he entered the competition in March.

Here is West’s official bio on The Bachelorette’s website.

Another Good Draft for Law Alumnus

Sports agent Malik Shareef '06LMalik Shareef, a 2006 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law, had an interesting few days last week as he waited to see where one of his clients, Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams, would go in the National Football League draft.

In a story published this past Saturday, The Washington Post chronicled Williams’ experience and included Malik’s observations on the process. Among other insights into the relationship between a sports agent and a football star, the Post piece said that Malik had slept in his client’s room on the night before the draft to make sure he didn’t miss any of his appointments the following day. Not only that, but apparently Malik even ironed Williams’s shirts for him — not exactly something he would have studied in Lewis Hall. (Malik is pictured with Williams in the first photo of a Post slideshow.)

This was the second year in a row that Malik and his partner, Joshua Hare, who have a firm called Dimensional Sports, have had one of their players invited to attend the draft in New York. Such an invitation is based on whether or not it appears that the player will be a high selection and will walk onto the stage at Radio City Music Hall once his name is called. Last year Malik’s client, Joe Haden of the University of Florida, was the No. 7 choice in the first round by the Cleveland Browns. Last July, Malik completed negotiations with the Browns that resulted in a five-year, $50-million contract.

Williams wasn’t as fortunate as Harden; he was not drafted on the first day. But the Post article still captures the excitement that those around Williams felt when the Arizona Cardinals picked him on the second night of the draft. He was the 38th player selected.

Malik set the stage of the draft from an agent’s perspective with a piece that he wrote for Politic365.

Access to Justice

Members of the School of Law's Access to Justice Practicum lead a seminar in Liberia. Prof. Speedy Rice is seated at left, in partial profile. David Brooks is standing, and to the right are Simon Herr and Anna Katherine Moody.

Earlier this month, members of the Washington and Lee School of Law’s Access to Justice: Liberia Practicum provided a synopsis of its work during a trip to Monrovia, Liberia, with law professor Speedy Rice. Here is how the four W&L 3L students — Simon Herr, Massie Payne, Anna Katherine Moody, and David Brooks — described their work:

“Traveling and working here has been a great way to wrap up law school and has certainly been a learning experience and a challenge for all of us. It has been great to put some of our professional skills to use while helping a legal system rebuild and the rule of law develop.”

“The bulk of the Access to Justice Project involves preparing and running training sessions for various criminal justice actors here in Liberia. Liberia has been rebuilding since their devastating civil war,s and a lack of resources and corruption prevents the justice system from operating effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, prisons are overcrowded and detainees can be held for years without trial. We focus on the rights of these citizens caught in the criminal justice system and try to give all involved the educational tools to work towards making systemic justice a reality. We have already held successful workshops with the Monrovia City Police and the Liberia National Police. Over the coming days, we will work with corrections officers from the Monrovia Central Prison and city solicitors, who serve as misdemeanor prosecutors. So far the police have been receptive to our ideas and have been open and active participants in our discussions and activities. While we know that real change in Liberia is going to take years of hard work, we take comfort in the fact that we are influencing the thoughts and work practices of the individuals we come in contact with and that we doing our small part to make a difference.”

“Our class is partnered with local students from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law here in Monrovia. They participate in our classes throughout the semester courtesy of the U.S. Embassy public library videoconferencing system and help us with all trainings. It is great to have a Liberian perspective in everything we do, and it makes people even more receptive to our ideas. We have had several opportunities to socialize with our Liberian colleagues, so it has been a pleasure to develop personal and professional relationships with these young lawyers, who represent the future of the profession in Liberia.”

“The trip hasn’t been all work, however. Liberia is a beautiful country and the people are warm and welcoming. Life and culture is radically different from Lexingto,n and it has been a blast to explore Monrovia. Since he has been working in Liberia for years, Professor Rice has been able to introduce us to many different people in Liberia who do a variety of jobs. We have been able to have drinks and informal chats with people from all over the world working in many different government departments. This helps us to really understand life in Liberia and the future of its institutions. We have also found time to enjoy the beach and several great restaurants in Monrovia. The trip here has been exhausting and exhilarating, but it has certainly been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!”


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