School of Law News

Dial-A-Lawyer Program Serves Community

Posted Thursday, November 20, 2014

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On October 22, Western New England University School of Law hosted the Massachusetts Bar Association’s (MBA) monthly Dial-A-Lawyer call-in program. Residents with legal concerns and questions are encouraged to call for free legal advice. Volunteer lawyers from the MBA answered dozens of phone calls between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m.

“This is a great service for anyone who has a legal concern, but they don’t know where to start,” explained Michael Vigneux, media and communication manager with the MBA. “It’s completely confidential, the attorney doesn’t know the identity of the caller and the caller does know who the attorney is. That gives people a sense of comfort, especially when asking questions about criminal matters." Vigneux added.

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Since March 1991, the MBA has sponsored the monthly Dial-A-Lawyer program. Twice a year, in the spring and fall, the program is hosted at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield and also sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Bar Association. This program was created to assist people who have fallen through the cracks of the legal and criminal justice system.

Attorney Stephanie Fitzgerald, (seen below in blue) with Fitzgerald Attorneys at Law in East Longmeadow, was among the volunteers. “We get a substantial number of domestic relations questions, some questions about past criminal records and how to expunge them, and then some landlord issues and real estate questions. We often can’t solve the caller's problem over the phone, but we can guide them to the right resources where they can get the answers or services they need.”

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To learn when the monthly program will be held, visit the MBA event calendar.

To use Dial-A-Lawyer when held in Boston call 617-338-0610.  To use Dial-A-Lawyer when held in Springfield call 413-782-1659.

If you are an attorney who would like to volunteer for Dial-A-Lawyer, contact the MBA's Boston Office at (617) 338-0556 or the Springfield Office at 413-731-5134.

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New U.S. Citizens Take Oath at Law School

Posted Monday, November 3, 2014

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The Western New England University School of Law hosted naturalization proceedings for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday, October 24, in the J. Gerard Pellegrini Moot Court Room. Nineteen immigrants from western Massachusetts took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America and were sworn in as U.S. citizens during the ceremony, including Silvia Pickrell, a housekeeper employed at the University (seen below with Professor Art Wolf). The citizenship candidates include immigrants from Jamaica, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar, People’s Republic of China, Ghana, Canada, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, Germany, and Uzbekistan.

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 Dean Eric Gouvin presented poignant welcoming remarks to the new citizens and their families. The Honorable Mark Mastroianni L'89, Federal District Court Judge, then ruled on the motion to accept the applications of the new citizens, while U.S. District Court Deputy Clerk, Theresa Pelegano administered the Oath of Allegiance to the applicants.

“The great strength of our country is its ability to attract new citizens from all around the world who come for their own personal reasons but who contribute their talents, culture and values to enrich the country as a whole,” remarked Eric Gouvin, Dean of the School of Law. “The naturalization ceremony is a celebration of that strength and we are honored to host it,” Gouvin added.

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Senator Gale Candaras, L’82, gave an emotional keynote speech at the ceremony and reflected, “We are, and always will, be a nation of immigrants, who are the renewing spirit of our country. My father was one of those immigrants who courageously left his village in northern Greece to make a new life here, and he never let me forget how lucky I am to be an American." Senator Candaras explained.

gale_candarasjpg"I am honored and moved to be part of the naturalization ceremony to help celebrate this final step for all of you, who will swear allegiance to our country, become citizens, and be able to participate fully in the civic life of this great nation.” Senator Candaras added.

The audience was filled with proud family members of the newly naturalized citizens. With election day only days away, the court administrators arranged for the news citizens to register to vote immediately after the naturalization ceremony.

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U.S. Supreme Court Review Conference Held 

Posted Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Western New England University School of Law recently held its annual two-day U.S. Supreme Court Review Conference focusing on several federal court decisions handed down this year, mostly concerning discrimination. Law Professor and Director of the Legislative Institute, Art Wolf, moderated the presentations.

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Professor Harpaz discussed six cases, five that dealt with 1st Amendment issues and a sixth, the Hobby Lobby case, that dealt with the interplay between the Affordable Care Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.In commenting on the cases as a group, Professor Harpaz concluded, "There is a distinct pattern in these recent cases which use First Amendment principles to invalidate progressive legislation and wrap conservative causes in constitutional protection.”

Law Professor Bruce Miller discussed the Schuette vs. BAMN case involving a voter-approved referendum banning racial preferences at Michigan universities (affirmative action). The Supreme Courtbruce_miller_2jpg ruled the referendum is not the equivalent of racial discrimination, a decision that drew an impassioned dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Professor Miller concluded that this decision was profoundly confusing and will be debated for some time. “A ‘discriminating’ law is just the tip of a much bigger social and political iceberg. The insidious wrong here is the ongoing subordination of people, the infliction of second-class status on a group or segment of society,” explained Professor Miller.

Law Professor Jennifer Levi analyzed the impact of the Court’s refusal to hear seven cases in which federal courts of appeal struck state constitutional provisions that exclude the right of same-sex couples to marry.  Professor Levi said that as a result of that decision, the number of states in which same-sex couples can marry rose to 24 and will likely rise soon to at least 35.  “This means that same-sex couples can now marry in Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and beyond.  It is a huge step forward in the national struggle for marriage equality.” 

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For more information about the School of Law Legislative Institute, click here.

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School of Law News Headlines:

Senate Candidates Spar During Western New England University Debate
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Law Students Raise Funds by Chasing Ambulance
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Domestic Violence and the NFL Forum Held
Friday, October 3, 2014

Standing Room Only At Constitution Day Event 
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Western New England University School of Law to Host Federico Fabbrini on September 15
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Constitution Day to Explore Ferguson MO
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Four District Attorney Candidates Debate At Western New England University
Thursday, September 4, 2014

Law School Hosts Legal Institute for Local Students
Friday, July 18, 2014

Kandace Kukas Joins School of Law Staff
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Law Student Receives National Scholarship
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Two Law Alum "Rising Stars"
Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Supreme Judicial Court Announces Judicial Youth Corps in Springfield
Thursday, June 12, 2014

Law Students Honored for Their Ethics
Monday, June 9, 2014

Law Alum Mark Mastroianni Confirmed as Federal Judge
Wednesday, June 4, 2014

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