Located in Arlington, Virginia, in close proximity to the nation's capital, Mason Law is a rich blend of individuals who come to Mason from all over the United States and from various nations around the world, representing people from every walk of life. Each brings a history and experience unique and valuable, and it is those individual differences that comprise the strength of the law school's student community.

Mason Law is the only law school in Northern Virginia and is part of the higher education system of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The 151 students entering the law school in fall 2013 hailed from four countries, including the United States, and 31 states and the District of Columbia, with 46% of matriculants coming from outside Virginia.

Students at Mason Law represent a true diversity of age and experience, as law students just out of college are joined by a significant contingent of working adults who bring their talents and real-world knowledge with them to the classroom. Students at the law school are offered a choice of day (full-time) or evening (part-time) programs from which to select the program best suited to their individual needs, with opportunities for participation in law school activities open and accessible to all.

While Mason Law students are a collegial group and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the Ballston-Clarendon corridor of Northern Virginia in which the law school is situated, their performance on the Virginia Bar Exam attests to their solid commitment to academics. Following an established pattern, Mason Law students' first-time and overall pass rates for the July 2013 Virginia Bar Exam were significantly higher than the statewide pass rates for the same groups.

Read About the Experiences of Some of Our Law Students


Catherine WautersCatherine Wauters

Wauters Wins Public Interest Fellowship

Mason Law third-year student Catherine Wauters was selected for a new one-year Barbri Public Interest Fellowship at the global nonprofit Save the Children.  See the announcement here.

Contestants submitted personal videos about why they would like this opportunity to improve the lives of children. In her video, Wauters spoke about how her Peace Corps service in West Africa working to improve nutrition for infants and children solidified her decision to “pursue the law as a vehicle for greater social change.”  A panel of legal professionals narrowed dozens of entries to ten, and the semi-finalists were determined by a public vote.

After the bar exam, Catherine will spend a year working at Save the Children's Office of General Counsel in Westport, Connecticut.


Megan MarinosMegan Marinos

Student Comment by 2012 Graduate Marinos Cited in Federal Circuit Court Opinion

A student comment by Megan Marinos, former Editor-in-Chief of the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, was repeatedly cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Sutterfield v. City of Milwaukee (751 F.3d 542), decided May 9, 2014. The court upheld the legality of a forcible entry into a private home and a warrentless search by police officers who were executing an emergency detention of the homeowner for purposes of a mental health evaluation.

The comment by Marinos focuses on the issue of warrantless home entries and searches by police officers acting in their “community care-taking capacity” rather than in response to an immediate threat or emergency. The court notes that Marinos “argued in favor of a community-caretaking warrant as a means of guarding against unnecessary intrusions into the sanctity of the home and against police abuses.” However, the court concluded that such a warrant was not currently available to the police.

Marinos graduated from George Mason University School of Law in May 2012.

Her comment is available on the Civil Rights Law Journal’s website:
Comment, Breaking and Entering or Community Caretaking? A Solution to the Overbroad Expansion of the Inventory Search, 22 Geo. Mason U. Civil Rights L.J. 249, 261 (2012).


Kelsey WilbanksKelsey Wilbanks

Wilbanks is National Finalist for Legal Writing Award

Mason Law third-year student Kelsey Wilbanks was a national finalist for the Judge John R. Brown Award for Excellence in Legal Writing for her Comment published in the George Mason Law Review

Wilbanks’s Comment, The Challenges of 3D Printing to the Repair-Reconstruction Doctrine in Patent Law, explores potential patent law implications that arise when consumers use 3D printing to create replacement parts for objects. Specifically, when someone 3D prints multiple replacement parts to a patented object during one time period, they risk running afoul of patent law through infringing “reconstruction.” Patent law currently holds that a person has the legal right to "repair" a patented object, but not the right to "reconstruct" it. The Supreme Court has said that repair means preserving an object’s useful life, whereas reconstruction occurs when a person makes a second creation of a patented product. This legal distinction becomes more complex and context dependent when a person replaces several parts to an object at one time, which, Wilbanks argues, will become very common in the wake of 3D printing.

Wilbanks argues that the Supreme Court should adopt refined standards to make the repair-reconstruction analysis more clear, consistent, and predictable for patent holders and consumers who use 3D print technology. Her first proposed standard is an “all-or-nothing” standard. If the entire device is not copied, it does not qualify as infringing “reconstruction.”  Her second proposed standard shifts the burden of proof to the plaintiff patent-holder when defendants use “repair” as an affirmative defense. In her third and final proposed standard, Wilbanks advocates an approach set forth by Justice Brennan in a concurrence of an early Supreme Court repair-reconstruction case. This standard considers several factors—the patent holder’s intent, the user’s intent, and the life, importance, and cost of the part replaced in relation to the patented whole—to determine whether a consumer repaired or reconstructed a patented item. Any of these three approaches, Wilbanks argues, would lessen the ambiguities within the current repair-reconstruction legal doctrine.

Wilbanks's Comment can be read here.


Matthew McGuire Matthew McGuire
Elise DorseyElise Dorsey

Antitrust Scholarship Organization Recognizes Law Review Essay Authors

An organization devoted to promoting antitrust scholarship has recognized two recent George Mason law graduates for an essay published last summer in the George Mason Law Review.

Elyse Dorsey (’12) and former George Mason Law Review Executive Editor Matthew R. McGuire (’12) are among the nominees for an Antitrust Writing Award, through which the Institute of Competition Law and the George Washington University Law School Competition Law Center annually recognize the best scholarship in antitrust and law and economics.

Their essay, which appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of the Law Review, is entitled “How the Google Consent Order Alters the Process and Outcomes of FRAND Bargaining.” It explores the approaches the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have taken toward the possibility of injunctive relief in the context of standard essential patent negotiation. The essay analyzes the desirability of the agencies’ approaches and examines both the limited evidence of patent holdup in FRAND negotiations and the unintended consequences of disallowing injunctive relief.

Dorsey and McGuire’s essay can be found on the Law Review’s website at www.georgemasonlawreview.org/doc/Dorsey-McGuire_Website-Version.pdf. To cast a vote for the piece, visit awards.concurrences.com/academic-articles-awards/article/how-the-google-consent-order.


Garrett Van Pelt Garrett Van Pelt

Van Pelt Serves Armed Forces Through Legal Clinic

Law student Garrett Van Pelt, an Army veteran and reservist, was profiled in a news article for his pro bono work with Mason Law's Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers and Veterans (CLASV).

Van Pelt is one of the 20 to 22 Mason Law students who work at the clinic each year, serving active duty service members, their dependents, and military veterans through their efforts in handling a variety of non-criminal legal cases at no cost to the client. 

To date students participating in CLASV have donated over $1 million in pro bono services through the clinic, which serves primarily Northern Virginia clients.

A majority of the cases handled through the clinic involve family issues. Currently Van Pelt is working on an uncontested divorce and a step-parent adoption, in addition to a contract dispute and a landlord-tenant case. For his involvement in the clinic, Van Pelt will earn two academic credits; however, it would be difficult to quantify the value of the trial experience gained. 

"I'm still in the Army Reserve, so it's nice to be able to help soldiers," Van Pelt told the article's author. "I'll be graduating already having trial experience....Hopefully that translates into job offers." 

Van Pelt expects to graduate from the law school in December.


Spencer Nelson Spencer Nelson

Spencer Nelson Wins Award in Religious Freedom Student Writing Competition

Spencer Nelson, a 2013 graduate of the School of Law, received an Honorable Mention for a paper he submitted as a student to the 2013 Religious Freedom Student Writing Competition sponsored by the D.C. Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and Brigham Young University Center for Law and Religion Studies.

Nelson's paper, written during his final semester in law school while a student of Professor Helen Alvaré, was entitled, "Determining the Scope of the Ministerial Exception After Hosanna-Tabor: An Analysis of the Ministerial Exception with Test Suites."

As an award winner, Nelson was an invitee to the 2013 International Religious Liberty Award Dinner held in Washington, D.C., in October.


Tom Randall Tom Randall

Randall Wins Virginia State Bar IP Section Law Student Writing Competition

May 2013 law school graduate Thomas R. Randall has won the Virginia State Bar Intellectual Property Section award for its Law Student Writing Competition. The event is an annual writing competition for law students studying in Virginia or who reside in Virginia even if they attend an out-of-state law school, and it features a prize of $4000 for the winner.

Randall received the award for his student submission entitled, "Patent Harmonization in the 21st Century: Narrowing the Issues."

Randall's paper argues that in the past twenty years, U.S. patent law has changed dramatically as globalization has driven pressure for lawmakers to bring U.S. law more in line with international norms and that further harmonizing patent law across borders would provide benefit for U.S. companies and patent applicants. 

"From what I can tell, I'm the first GMU student (and first non-GWU or UVa student) to win the award," says Randall, who is currently working at King & Spalding LLP in New York.


Lora Barnhart Driscoll Lora Barnhart Driscoll

2013 Graduate Driscoll's Law Review Comment Cited in SCOTUS Brief

A student comment authored by former George Mason Law Review Senior Articles Editor Lora Barnhart Driscoll received a mention in an amici curiae brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.

The brief quoted from Driscoll’s 2011 article titled, "Citizens United v. Central Hudson: A Rationale for Simplifying and Clarifying the First Amendment’s Protections for Nonpolitical Advertisements." The article appeared in Volume 19, Issue 1 of the Law Review.

“They actually quoted from a portion of my analysis section, which makes it even more terrific since student pieces are usually only cited for background,” Driscoll said.

The brief was submitted by a trio of nonprofit organizations advocating the rights of free speech and the press. It sought Supreme Court review of Hunter v. Virginia State Bar, a 2013 case in which the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that a state bar association did not violate a lawyer’s First Amendment rights when it disciplined him for posting potentially misleading content on a blog. The federal court declined to take up the case.

Driscoll was a member of the Law Review’s 2011-12 editorial board. She graduated from George Mason University School of Law in May 2013.


Alexandra Rhodes Alexandra Rhodes

Alexandra Rhodes Meets With Publication Success

As Alexandra Rhodes begins her third year of law school, she already has two knotches on her belt through publication of a pair of articles she has written in law reviews.

This fall Rhodes's article "Saving Apes with the Laws of Men: Great Ape Protection in a Property-Based Animal Law System" will appear in Animal Law Review. The article's focus is recent legislation protecting great apes in the U.S. from abuse in the medical community and the entertainment industry. The article addresses American law, international animal welfare law, and the emerging idea that animals could be considered legal persons (similar to a corporation's status).

"Ultimately, it concludes that recent legislation like the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act--which is very pragmatic and economically-focused -- is better suited for America's current social and legal culture than the seemingly radical movement for personhood, because unlike other countries, we are somewhat resistant to the idea of animal rights, as a people," Rhodes remarks. 

In fall or winter, a second article written by Rhodes will appear in the Dartmouth Law Review. "Veganism as a Nontraditional Religion: First Amendment Protection for Employees and Prisoners" evaluates recent cases of discrimination against vegans in the workplace and in prisons and explores the claim that veganism is a constitutionally protected religious belief. Evaluating the dominant method for determining protection of a "nontraditional religion" in Supreme Court and other cases, the article suggests a more broad definition may be necessary to properly protect practitioners of nontraditional faiths.

Rhodes, who is an articles editor for the George Mason Law Review, will begin an internship this fall with the Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration's Office of General Counsel. She is a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where she was awarded a BA in History and Political Science.


Olivia Seo Olivia Seo

Olivia Seo Wins ABA Student Writing Competition

Mason Law student Olivia Seo has won the top prize in the ABA Criminal Justice Section's 2013 William W. Greenhalgh Student Writing Competition.

Seo's entry, "Government Monitoring of Social Networks and the Reach of the Fourth Amendment," was selected for the award by a committee of practicing criminal law attorneys. 

In addition to earning a $2,000 cash prize, Seo's entry is eligible for publication in the Section's scholarly magazine, Criminal Justice, which is published quarterly for a national audience of criminal law practitioners, judges, and academics. 

Seo's award is to be presented at a Section meeting, to which Seo will receive airfare and accommodations. In addition, ABA's Criminal Justice Section will present the School of Law with a plaque to commemorate Seo's win. 

Seo, who just completed her second year of law school, is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a BA in Philosophy/Psychology.


Timothy Geverd Timothy Geverd

Law Student Geverd to Have Two Articles Published

Law student Timothy Geverd's writings have been selected for publication in two different law journals, an accomplishment to which not many law students can make claim. 

Geverd, who currently serves as the George Mason Law Review's executive editor, will see the first of his articles, "Failure to Warn: The National Hockey League Could Pay the Price for Its Pursuit of Profit at the Expense of Player Safety,"  published in the New York State Bar Association Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Journal in summer 2013. 

"The paper analogizes the NHL's pursuit of profit at the expense of player safety to the 'false controversy' that cigarette companies propagated regarding the addictive nature of cigarettes," Geverd explains. "In doing so, the paper aims to distinguish the general risks associated with playing contact sports, that participants assume when they play, from particular risks—such as the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries—that participants do not necessarily assume simply by playing the game. The paper's ultimate argument is that the NHL could be held liable for failure to adequately warn participants of these particular risks."

Geverd's second article will appear in the Veterans Law Review in 2014 and is titled "Of Locke and Valor: Why the Supreme Court's Decision on United States v. Alvarez Does not Foreclose Congress's Ability to Protect the Property Rights of Medal of Honor Recipients." The article discusses the history and importance of military honors, in particular the Medal of Honor, and argues that bona fide Medal recipients earn a property right in the honor and reputation the Medal represents. The article also argues that Congress can do a better job of constitutionally protecting those interests by prohibiting false claim to the Medal in a manner analogous to the constitutionally permissible common law prohibition on commercially appropriating another's name, likeness, and reputation.

Geverd is a graduate of St. Michael's College with a BA in Political Science. He expects to earn his law degree as a member of the Class of 2014.


Matthew Brown Matthew Brown
Jonathan Rhodes Jonathan Rhodes
Daniel Rodriguez Daniel Rodriguez
Spencer Nelson Spencer Nelson
Mark Probasco Mark Probasco

Vis Moot Team Brings Home Honors from Vienna

George Mason University School of Law recently sent a team of five law students to compete in the 20th Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna, Austria. The Vis Moot was started in 1994 by the United Nations Commission on Trade Law (UNCITRAL) as an educational competition to promote understanding of international commercial law. It has grown to be one of the most prestigious moots in the world, considered to be the “Olympics of international trade law.” 

Of the nearly 300 teams competing in this year's moot, George Mason advanced, tying for ninth place overall in the competition for the second year in a row, and all of the team members eligible to receive individual recognition did so. Matt Brown (3L), Jonathan Rhodes (3L), and Daniel Rodriguez (3L) all received Honorable Mentions for Best Individual Oralist. More than 1,800 students from 67 countries competed in this year's competition, among whom only 71 students  (roughly 4%) received such a distinction. George Mason was one of only five schools to have all three of its eligible students achieve individual recognition.

Brown, Rhodes, and Rodriguez argued alongside fellow teammates Spencer Nelson (3L) and Mark Probasco (3L) in the general rounds. Due to the rules of the competition, Nelson and Probasco were not eligible to compete for individual recognition, yet remained essential to the team's ultimate success.

The Vis Moot is structured by having each team compete in four general rounds. After those rounds, the top 64 of the 290 participating teams are selected to advance into a single-elimination bracket system.

As a team, George Mason repeated the success of its inaugural appearance at last year's competition. Once again, Mason advanced to the round of 64, where it defeated Jagiellonian University (Poland) to continue in the round of 32. The team then faced The University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), which it defeated by unanimous decision of the judges to again find itself in the round of 16. However, with several team members battling the onset of cold symptoms, George Mason was narrowly defeated in a 2-1 vote by Bucerius Law School (Germany).

In preparation for such a large competition, many schools compete and practice in “pre-moots” organized around the world. George Mason had the privilege to participate in the D.C. Pre-Moot held at DLA Piper's offices downtown, as well at the Central European Pre-Moot held in Budapest, Hungary. At the Budapest Pre-Moot, George Mason ranked second overall among the forty teams that participated, outranked only by the City University of Hong Kong.

City University of Hong Kong would go on to achieve success as the champions of the entire Vis Moot in Vienna, defeating Monash University (Australia) in the final round.

Through the course of arguments in the pre-moots and in the Vis Moot itself, the George Mason team competed against 14 different teams from 12 different countries: The United States, Lebanon, The Netherlands, France, Russia, Poland, Indonesia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Paraguay, and Argentina.

While the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society was able to send only five members overseas for the competition, students Tiago Bezerra (3L), Michelle Caton (2L), Anthony Kanakis (3L), Xin Nie (3L), Chenenye Okafor (2L), Michael Volz (2L) also participated as team members in the drafting of the two briefs for the event.

While the George Mason team traveled on its own to the competition in Budapest, it was accompanied in Vienna by its three dedicated coaches, adjunct professors Jack Tieder, Shelly Ewald, and Kathy Barnes, from the firm Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald, L.L.P.


Victoria Walker Victoria Walker

Victoria Walker Elected National Chair of the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA)

Mason 3L Victoria Walker has been elected national chair of the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) for the academic year 2013–14, after serving for the past year as chair for the organization's Mid-Atlantic Region. 

NBLSA is a national organization of African and African-American law students that works to further the professional needs and goals of black law students, to foster and encourage professional competence, and to instill in black attorneys and law students a greater awareness and commitment to the needs of the black community.

“The theme for my term is Road to 50: An Evolving Legacy,” says Walker. “NBLSA will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2018, and I hope to continue to build up the infrastructure of the organization to support the celebration of such a momentous occasion.” In addition to that goal, Walker adds, “We will also continue to implement our advocacy and networking programs.”

In her role this year as chair of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Walker oversaw the implementation of all regional programs for the academic year, including foundational programs such as the Annual Job Fair, academic retreats, pre-law camps, and the Annual Regional Convention. Regional members were also introduced to some new initiatives, such as Mock Interview Day, a Voter Suppression Series, and a Winter Break Service Trip.

“I have been involved at the local, regional, and national levels of NBLSA because I believe the professional networking opportunities that are presented by this organization are simply unparalleled,” Walker explains. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know many of the current and future leaders of the legal profession (and other professions). NBLSA does a great job of helping law students get the most out of their law school experiences, and this is why I continue to participate in the organization.”

Mason Law has an active chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) for which Walker served as the 2011–12 president and the 2012–13 treasurer. The local chapter works to provide a solid academic and social support system for its members and sponsors a number of community service activities. For information, go to org.law.gmu.edu/blsa/.


Michael Brody Michael Brody

Michael Brody Comment Published in Law Journal

A comment written by Mason Law student Michael Brody was published recently in the Legislation & Policy Brief, an American University law journal, and subsequently cited in an article in PoliticsPA.com, a resource for observers of the Pennsylvania political scene. 

Brody's comment is entitled "Circumventing the Electoral College: Why the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact Survives Constitutional Scrutiny Under the Compact Clause." 

Under the national popular vote plan, votes cast in large and small states would have equal weight, thereby eliminating the need to focus campaigns on the swing states and allowing presidential campaigns to truly reflect a national vote. 

"I think the Electoral College is one of the most misunderstood components of our national election system," says Brody. "The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) would only complicate matters, but it might present the only realistic opportunity for this country to move to a direct national popular vote for president. I chose to focus my article on the legality of the NPVIC under the sparsely cited Compact Clause in Article 1 of the Constitution."

Brody is a 2013 JD candidate. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, where he was awarded a BA in journalism.

Read Brody's comment


 

Geoffrey Wistow Geoffrey Wistow

Wistow Wins CAVC Bar Association Writing Competition

Geoffrey Wistow, a third-year law student, recently won a writing competition scholarship from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association.

The five students selected for this honor will receive a paid registration to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims 12th Judicial Conference to be held April 18 and 19 at the Grand Hyatt Washington, as well as free registration to the Bar Association's half-day component event which follows. The conference will include presentations from notable authorities in the field of Veterans Law.

The subject of Wistow's essay was the current problems facing the VA disability claims processing system, specifically focusing on problems caused by the disability rating system itself and how PTSD is both diagnosed and treated.

 "I found it striking that the current number of VA disability claims is expected to increase, adding to an already staggering backlog of cases and lengthening wait-times through out the system," Wistow comments. "The VA disability system recently became an important issue for my family, and after Professor Goldberg helped guide me to write a seminar paper on the subject last semester, I felt compelled to write another paper on the issue."

Wistow holds a BA in Economics from Gettysburg College. He will graduate from the law school  in May 2013.


 

Martin Desjardins Martin Desjardins
Michael Mortorano Michael Mortorano
Kyra Smerkanich Kyra Smerkanich
Alfred Bender Alfred Bender
Rebecca Hartrick Rebecca Hartrick
Kelly Van Voorhis Kelly Van Voorhis

Mason Moot Court Team Advances to ABA National Finals for Second Straight Year

The law school's Moot Court Board Nationals Team advanced to the national finals of the American Bar Association's National Appellate Advocacy Competition, to be held April 4-6, 2013, in Chicago. This is the second straight year that a Mason team has taken top honors at the Washington, D.C., regional competition. This year, over 200 teams competed nationwide in six regions to qualify for the national competition.

The Mason Law team of Martin Desjardins (2L)Michael Mortorano (3L), and Kyra Smerkanich (3L) was one of five teams out of thirty-nine participating in the 2013 regional competition in Washington, D.C., to be selected for this honor. En route to victory, the team was the number one overall seed, and it went undefeated in its preliminary and elimination matches. Last year's team of Erin Bartlett ('12), Michael Mortorano, and Allison Tisdale ('12) reached the octofinal round at the 2012 national finals, where it split a 3-2 decision against the eventual second-place team from Pepperdine University.

A second Mason team consisting of Alfred Bender (3L)Rebecca Hartrick (3L), and Kelly Van Voorhis (2L) made it into the first advancing round of the Washington, D.C., regional competition this year.


Patrick J. Austin Patrick J. Austin
Frank A. Barber Jr. Frank A. Barber Jr.
Brendan Cassidy Brendan Cassidy

National Security Law Journal Publishes First Issue

The National Security Law Journal (NSLJ), newest of George Mason's law journals, has published its inaugural issue. The organization's mission is to publish innovative, thought-provoking articles focused on the field of national security law.

The inaugural issue comprises three scholarly articles and two student notes. The scholarly article topics include a comparative analysis between the United States military and the People's Liberation Army of China, an analysis of how best to balance the right to self-defense with the prevention of civilian casualties in military combat, and an overview of international port security law. Student notes include a discussion on the issue of due process and citizen targeting by the commander-in-chief and the right to counsel for Guantanamo detainees.

Patrick J. Austin serves as editor-in chief for the journal. Frank A. Barber Jr. and Brendan Cassidy function as executive editor and managing editor, respectively.

Also of note, the NSLJ will sponsor a spring symposium on cybersecurity the evening of Tuesday, April 2, at the Washington, D.C., law office of Arnold & Porter, LLP. General (Ret.) Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency, will headline the event.

Read the inaugural issue of the NSLJ.


 Matthew Lafferman Matthew Lafferman

Lafferman Comment Published in Law and Technology Journal

Matthew Lafferman, a third-year law student, is the author of a comment recently published in one of the top law and technology journals in the country, Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal (ranked 6thin Science, Technology and Computing by Washington and Lee’s Journal Rankings). The journal’s website currently lists Lafferman's article among its Most Popular Papers.

Entitled “Do Facebook and Twitter Make You a Public Figure?: How to Apply the Gertz Public Figure Doctrine to Social Media,” Lafferman’s comment discusses whether courts will, and should, treat Facebook and Twitter users as public figures who would be subject to establishing a higher burden of proof to recover for damages when bringing defamation suits.

“The Comment addresses the main problem surrounding this issue—whether social media users have ‘significantly greater access to the channels of communication,’ which the U.S. Supreme Court relied on as a major rationale for finding certain individuals public figures in the seminal case Gertz v. Welch,” says Lafferman. “The Comment goes on to reconcile these legal and policy challenges and suggests an approach to help courts avoid any legal or policy repercussions from adopting alternative approaches.”

“This topic really piqued my interest upon discovering that in the last three years alone, there has been a 216% rise in defamation suits, due to the recent discovery that most homeowner's insurance policies cover libel liability,” explains Lafferman. “As social media use continues to spread, this increase in suits signals an almost inevitable rise in defamation suits between social media users, forcing courts to eventually deal with the issue.”

Lafferman, a May 2013 JD candidate, also holds a BA in History, magna cum laude, awarded by Sewanee: The University of the South in 2009.


 Jeremy Camacho Jeremy Camacho

Camacho to See Publication of Two Articles in Law Journals

Third-year law student Jeremy Camacho will celebrate his final semester in law school with the publication of two of his articles in law journals.

Camacho's article, "I Could Have Been a Contender: Arbitration and the Ali Act," will be released next month in the Sports Lawyers Journal, at 20 Sports Law.J. __ (Spring 2013). A second article, "Is the E-Reader Mightier? Direct Publishing and Entry Barriers," has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Scholarly Publishing, at 44 J. Scholarly Publ'g __ (July 2013).

Camacho, a graduate of the University of Virginia with a bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing, credits several of his law school professors for their valuable contributions to the writing of his journal articles.

"'I Could Have Been a Contender: Arbitration and the Ali Act' emerged from my strong affection for the sport of boxing," says Camacho." Having interviewed world champions and covered world title fights, I felt the need to comment on the business of the sport." He offers these words from the abstract: "People often say the sport of boxing is corrupt, and in 2000, the United States Congress passed the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to stop the corruption. However, the Ali Act failed to fix boxing because litigation was too slow and expensive for boxers. Arbitration can help the Ali Act return to its original legislative purpose: stopping corruption and fixing the boxing business." Camacho cites Professor Ilya Somin as being very helpful in formulating his thoughts for the Article.

"'Is the E-Reader Mightier? Direct Publishing and Entry Barriers' came out of a longstanding interest (and one shared by many lawyers, I believe) in novel-writing and the publishing market," Camacho explains. Here is an excerpt: "First-time authors face a choice: do they pursue traditional publication through major publishing houses, or do they instead utilize online direct publishing? This Article asks: what would a young John Grisham do today with his first novel in hand?" "Professor Thomas Hazlett and Professor Tyler Cowen gave very instructive input during the writing of this Article," Camacho comments.


 Wesley Weeks Wesley Weeks

Weeks' Law Review Comment Cited in Dissenting Opinion

Third-year law student Wesley Weeks recently learned that his student comment written for the George Mason Law Review was quoted in an Alabama Supreme Court dissenting opinion.

Weeks’ comment is entitled Picking Up the Tab for Your Competitors: Innovator Liability After Pliva, Inc. v. Mensing, 19 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 1257 (2012).

The Alabama case was Wyeth, Inc. v. Weeks, in which the court held that a brand-name manufacturer could be held liable for fraud or misrepresentation based on statements it made in connection with the manufacture of a drug in an action brought by a consumer who was allegedly injured by a generic version of the drug.

Alabama Justice Murdock cited Weeks’ comment to support the idea that even proponents of the majority’s outcome conceded the result as unfair to brand-name manufacturers.

Weeks, a 2013 JD candidate, is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, where he earned a BA in Anthropology. He currently serves as articles editor of the George Mason Law Review.


 Lisa Goldstein Lisa Goldstein

Lisa Goldstein Takes Award in Writing Competition

Law student Lisa Goldstein's student Note in the George Mason Law Review, entitled "The Janus-Faced Supreme Court: The Decision in Janus Capital Group and Implications of the Court's Third Look at Secondary Liability for Securities Fraudhas been selected for the second-place award in the Association of Securities and Exchange Commission Alumni (ASECA) Writing Competition. 

The decision in  Janus Capital Grp., Inc. v. First Derivative Traders is the most recent in a line of cases examining what is necessary to allege primary versus secondary liability under the securities laws. 

The writing competition is held in the fall and open to students currently enrolled at an accredited degree-granting law school in the United States. The topic may be any subject within the field of securities law. Submissions are screened by a panel of judges consisting of securities practitioners and law professors, with winners chosen by the Board of Directors of ASECA from among the top papers.

Goldstein's second-place finish brings with it a cash prize of $3,000, which will be awarded at the annual ASECA dinner in Washington, D.C., on Friday, February 22, 2013.

A 2013 JD candidate, Goldstein currently serves as Associate Editor of the George Mason Law Review. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a BA in Economics and Environmental Studies.

Read more about the competition


Spencer Nelson Spencer Nelson

Student's Law Journal Article Cited by Time Magazine

A recent story appearing in Time magazine relies heavily on its citation of an article by law student Spencer Nelson arguing that allowing private military contractors to be sued in some circumstances is the correct course of action.

The January 7 Time article by David Isenburg examines the U.S. military establishment's traditional immunity for casualties that occur to those in uniform and whether immunity is warranted in cases involving civilian contractors. Isenburg discusses several pertinent cases and cites Nelson's conclusion that the Koohi case presents the most appropriate handling of the issue.

"When considered in light of Legislative and Executive Branch intent, the Koohi holding is appropriate because it recognizes that private contractors have a duty of care and risk civil and criminal liability, but that risk excludes those 'against whom force is directed as a result of authorized military action,'" writes Nelson.

Nelson's article, "Establishing a Practical Solution for Tort Claims Against Private Military Contractors: Analyzing the Federal Tort Claims Act's 'Combatant Activities Exception' Via a Circuit Split," originally was published in the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, for which Nelson serves as Articles Editor.

Nelson, a third-year day student who expects to graduate in May, hails originally from Payson, Utah, although he is currently an Arlington resident. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, where his major was English.

Thinking of Suing a Private Military Contractor? There May be a Way...
, Time, January 7, 2013. By David Isenberg.
Read the article

Tom Randall Tom Randall
Mark Henderson Mark Henderson

Student Articles to be Published in ITC TLA 337 Reporter

Articles written by two Mason Law students while they served as summer associates have been selected for publication in the Paul J. Luckern Summer Associate Edition of the ITC TLA 337 Reporter.

Mason Law students Tom Randall (far left) and Mark Henderson, both of whom expect to graduate in May 2013, recently received the news that their papers had been selected for the honor. In addition, on November 7 Randall and Henderson each will receive an award at the annual meeting of the International Trade Commission Trial Lawyers Association in Washington, D.C., for having written one of the top three submissions to the publication.

Randall's article is titled "Standard-Essential Patents and Exclusion Orders: Weighing the Public Interest" and generally discusses the International Trade Commission's authority to decline to issue exclusion orders for products that rely on standard-essential technology, using the Commission's "publlic interest" authority. Randall wrote the article while spending the summer in the IP group at King & Spaulding LLP's New York Office.

"The selection for publication and the award are a great honor, and I'm looking forward to the ITC-TLA (Trial Lawyers Association) with Chief Judge Rader of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals," commented Randall. "The topic itself is of growing importance in patent law, and I was glad to have the opportunity to write on it."

Henderson, who was a summer associate at Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt L.L.P., was co-author with Siddharth Narayan of "Deep Impact Or Business As Usual? An Analysis Of The Potential Effects Of The AIA On Section 337 Investigations." Narayan is a University of Maryland JD candidate.


Daniel Wisniewski Daniel Wisniewski

Wisniewski Wins 2012 Hughes-Gossett Student Essay Prize

Daniel J. Wisniewski, a May 2012 graduate of George Mason University School of Law, is the recipient of the Supreme Court Historical Society's 2012 Hughes-Gossett Student Essay Prize for his paper entitled, Heating Up a Case Gone Cold: Revisiting the Charges of Bribery and Official Misconduct Made Against Supreme Court Justice Robert Cooper Grier in 1854-55.

In addition to winning a cash prize of $500, Wisniewski's paper will be published in the Journal of Supreme Court History. Wisniewski and a guest have been invited to attend the June 2013 Annual Meeting and Dinner at the Supreme Court, where a Justice will present him with a piece of marble from the Supreme Court building as a memento of the honor.

In the mid-1850s, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert C. Grier was investigated by Congress for allegedly soliciting a bribe and releasing inside court information in connection with the case Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co. (1856). Wisniewski's article uses two newly discovered letters from Grier to Hendrick B. Wright, the Congressman responsible for investigating him, to corroborate some of the charges leveled against him and to suggest that Grier had a heavy hand in the preparation of his own exoneration.

In congratulating Wisniewski, Journal of Supreme Court History Managing Editor Clare Cushman said, "We are especially thrilled to have a paper on Grier, who has not gotten much attention in our pages."

In addition to the JD he was awarded at the May 2012 law school convocation, Wisniewski holds a BA in History/Political Science from Monmouth University. He credits Professor Ross Davies for the inspiration to write the paper, as well as for Davies' suggestion he submit the article for the Hughes-Gossett Award.

Says Davies, "The award is very well-deserved—Dan wrote a great paper." 


Sean Clerget Sean Clerget

Sean Clerget Becomes Sixth Mason Law Student in a Row to Receive Burton Award

For the sixth consecutive year, a Mason Law student is the recipient of the prestigious Burton Award for excellence in legal writing, with 2012 honors going to Sean Clerget, a graduating third-year law student.

Clerget was Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and received the award for his student comment, "Time is of the Essence: Reviving the Neutral Law of General Applicability Standard Writing and Applying it to Restrictions Against Religious Face Coverings Worn While Testifying in Court." Clerget previously had received the 2011 Adrian S. Fisher Award for the Best Student Note or Comment for the same article. He is a graduate of the Wabash College where he was awarded a BA in Political Science.

As a Burton Award winner, Clerget has been invited to attend the organization's 13th annual black-tie presentation of the Burton Awards at a reception and dinner in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on June 11. Among the guest speakers and honored guests for the event will be U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens (retired).

Founded in 1999, the Burton Awards program is run in association with the Library of Congress and its Law Library. Nominations for the award are made by law school deans and managing partners of the 1000 largest U.S. law firms. Fifteen Burton Award law school winners are selected annually from law schools across the nation to receive this award, which honors partners in law firms and law students who set a high standard for clarity and effectiveness in legal writing.

The awards are selected, generally, by law professors from selected universities. Judge Richard Posner (7th Circuit US Court of Appeals), Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Circuit US Court of Appeals), U.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., Chairman Spencer Bachus, Judith Kaye (Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals) (retired), and Supreme Court Justice Carol Corrigan of California are honorary members on the Board of Directors.

Read more about the Burton Award


Emily Barber Emily Barber
Linda Santiago Linda Santiago

Students Barber and Santiago Bring Home Moot Court Honors

Despite the fact that neither of them is a member of Mason Law's Moot Court Board, law students Emily Barber and Linda Santiago brought home honors from George Washington University's McKenna Long & Aldridge "Gilbert A. Cuneo" Government Contracts Moot Court Competition.

While most of the competitors are GWU students, outside teams do compete in this event. Barber secured an award for Excellence in Writing Advocacy, while Santiago was given an Overall Excellence award. In addition, the two were the first team outside GWU ever to advance to the semi-final rounds.

The annual intrascholastic competition is open to JD and LLM students. Each student has the opportunity to argue both sides of a government contracts case before experienced practitioners as well as sitting judges from the Boards of Contract Appeal and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Each team submits two briefs, one for each side, which are used during oral argument questioning. The final round is argued at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the competition problem and best briefs are published each year in the Public Contract Law Journal.

Adjunct Professor Brandy Wagstaff (’09), who supervised an independent study program for Barber and Santiago and attended the semi-finals with them, spoke of the wonderful feedback the two received from the competition's two faculty advisors, saying both advisors approached her separately to compliment the pair's oral and written advocacy skills. "I was sincerely impressed with the quality and quantity of work they did, " Wagstaff said, adding that she would like to see Mason Law students continue to participate in the event in future years.


Tashina Harris Tashina Harris
Tyson Johnson Tyson Johnson
Mark Scirocco Mark Scirocco

Mason Law Teams Take First Place, Honors, in Billings, Exum & Frye National Moot Court Competition

The Mason Law team of 2Ls Tashina Harris, Tyson Johnson and Mark Scirocco walked away from the second annual Billings, Exum& Frye Moot Court Competition as first place winners in the event after defeating the second place team representing William & Mary Law School in the final round of the competition. In addition, Scirocco tied for the Best Oral Advocate award in the final round.

Also competing in the event as a semi-finalist was the Mason Law team of 2Ls Al Bender, Rebecca Hartrick and Kyra Smerkanich, who secured the Best Brief award among Petitioners’ Briefs. The Mason teams won 12 of their 13 matches, the only loss coming in the semifinal round in which the two teams faced each other

“The quality of competitors at this year’s competition was phenomenal, and the award winners should be extremely proud of their accomplishments,” commented Alan Woodlief, Associate Dean for Administration, Associate Professor of Law, and Director of the Moot Court Program at Elon Law.

The Mason Law teams were among 33 teams of law students representing 21 law schools at the event, which was held on March 30 and 31 at Elon University School of Law. Competitors were judged on the quality of their appellate brief and oral arguments in a hypothetical First Amendment case before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Read more about the competition.


Alison Tisdale Alison Tisdale
Erin Bartlett Erin Bartlett
Michael Motorano Michael Mortorano

Mason Law's Moot Court Board Nationals Team Advances to Finals

The law school's Moot Court Board Nationals Team advanced to the finals of the American Bar Association's National Appellate Advocacy Competition April 12-14 in Chicago after qualifying in the Regional Championships held in Washington, D.C., in March. This year over 200 teams competed nationwide in six regions to qualify for the national competition.

The Mason Law team of Allison Tisdale, Erin Bartlett, and Michael Mortorano was one of five teams out of forty participating in the regional competition in Washington to be selected for this honor, winning four of its five matches, including elimination round match-ups against American University and Washington & Lee and preliminary round matches against William & Mary and Elon. The team will be the first to represent Mason Law in the highly competitive national finals.

In addition, Allison Tisdale was named fifth-best oral advocate from approximately 80 students eligible for the award.

A second Mason team consisting of Nanda Davis, Kristen Kugel, and Daniel Rodriguez won all three of their preliminary match-ups against Georgetown, Nova Southeastern, and the University of Alabama, fallling to Liberty University in their first elimination match. 


Adam Aft Adam Aft
Craig Rust Craig Rust
Alex Mitchell Alex Mitchell

Mason Law Alums Launch New Journal of Legal Metrics

Three Mason Law Alumni have launched a new law journal designed to solicit and publish the efforts of scholars whose work demonstrates the explanatory power of numbers and statistics in the legal context.

The Journal of Legal Metrics came about through the efforts of editors-in-chief Adam Aft (’10), Craig Rust (’10), and Alex Mitchell (’11) and is part of Mason Law Professor Ross Davies’ Journal of Law project that acts as an incubator for law journals.

The content of the Journal of Legal Metrics is scholarly in nature but allows the reader immediate access to data from all aspects of the law, legal education, and legal practice. While the authors offer their thoughts on the data, it is presented for others interested in the law to examine and draw their own conclusions.

“We live in a more and more data-driven world as computing and technology improve to allow us to access more data at our fingertips,” says Aft. “We hope to be a home for that data in the law, from data on law schools to the Supreme Court.”

The first issue of the new journal contains historical data articles, including a Supreme Court Sluggers update regarding Justices Fortas and Goldberg; Dave Hatton and Professor Jay Wexler’s Original Jurisdiction Standings dealing with how the states have fared at the Supreme Court; and information on the law-making process in Congress, with articles about the Tea Party, maverick voting, and the bills viewed on THOMAS.

In addition, Aft and Tom Cummins (’10) consider a new metric for measuring the United States Courts of Appeal and how they fare at the Supreme Court, while Rust examines the numbers resulting from Justices Stevens’ and Scalia’s time on the court and offers some conclusions about what can be learned from those numbers.

The journal also presents updates to two annual metrics on law schools and law reviews: the law school website rankings (in which Mason Law was ranked tenth) and Davies’ annual law review circulation numbers.

Aft, Rust, and Mitchell are no strangers to the collection and summation of data. Aft and Rust are part of Davies’ Supreme Court Sluggers baseball card project, for which they collect and refine data for each justice. Mitchell concentrates his efforts on the student-run FantasyLaw project, tracking data regarding Congress and its members to facilitate scholarship and a game modeled on fantasy sports. As separate entities, the Sluggers and FantasyLaw projects lend editorial support to the new journal.

“With the common theme of numbers and metrics throughout our projects, we wanted to capitalize on the potential synergies and join forces to produce the Journal of Legal Metrics,”Aft explains.

Aft, Rust, and Mitchell enjoy the support of an editorial team that includes several other alumni of the School of Law.

Read the inaugural issue of Journal of Legal Metrics here.


Chrissy Kendall

Chrissy Kendall Receives Supreme Court Historical Society Literary Award

Chrissy Kendall (’11) was honored in the spring by the Supreme Court Historical Society with the award of the student Hughes Gossett Literary Prize for her article "Because of His Spotless Integrity of Character, The Story of Salmon P. Chase: Cabinets, Courts and Currencies."

The award is given to recognize the accomplishments of those who work to preserve the history of the Court and contribute to the Society's educational mission. Kendall's article was written as part of her legal history seminar with Professor Ross Davies and was submitted for the prize prior to her graduation from the law school in May 2011.

Kendall's award was presented to her at the Supreme Court Historical Society's 36th Annual Meeting in June and was conferred by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

The recipient of an undergraduate degree from George Mason University, Kendall holds a BA in Russian Studies and Psychology.



Lisa Goldstein

2L Lisa Goldstein Named Steele Scholoar in Business Law

Mason Law student Lisa Goldstein has been named a Steele Scholar in Business Law.

The Steele Scholar Program is named in honor of Chief Justice Myron T. Steele of the Delaware Supreme Court, a noted business jurist who also has developed a substantial body of corporate legal scholarship. The program is administered by the Corporate Federalism Initiative (CFI) at Mason Law, which is directed by Professor J.W. Verret.

Steele Scholars are selected based on a competitive process involving academic performance and submission of an article. During their terms, Steele Scholars receive a substantial stipend and commit to writing an article of their own, as well as assisting faculty researchers at the CFI in their investigations into corporate law and financial regulation.

Goldstein, a graduate of the University of Vermont with a BA in economics/environmental studies, began her studies at Mason Law in fall 2010 and is currently a second-year law student.

Those interested in applying for the Steele Scholar Program should contact Professor Verret.



Peter Cockrell

Student Peter Cockrell Wins 2011 Burton Award

Third-year law student Peter Cockrell received a 2011 Burton Award for excellence in legal writing, making this the fifth year in a row that the prestigious award has been given to a Mason Law student.

Cockrell, who graduates in May 2011, has been a member of the George Mason Law Review and received the award for his student comment, "Subprime Solutions to the Housing Crisis: Constitutional Problems with the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009." Cockrell previously had received the 2010 Adrian S. Fisher Award for the Best Student Note or Comment for the same written piece. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds a BA in Foreign Affairs.

As a Burton Award winner, Cockrell has been invited to attend the organization's 12th annual black-tie presentation of the Burton Awards at a reception and dinner in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on June 13. Among the guest speakers and honored guests for the event will be U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.

Founded in 1999, the Burton Awards program is run in association with the Library of Congress and its Law Library. Nominations for the award are made by law school deans and managing partners of the 1000 largest U.S. law firms. Fifteen Burton Award law school winners are selected annually from law schools across the nation to receive this award, which honors partners in law firms and law students who set a high standard for clarity and effectiveness in legal writing.

The awards are selected, generally, by professors from Harvard Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, the University of California at Irvine School of Law, among others. Judge Richard Posner (7th Circuit US Court of Appeals), Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Circuit US Court of Appeals), U.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., Chairman Spencer Bachus, Judith Kaye (Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals) (retired), and Supreme Court Justice Carol Corrigan of California are honorary members on the Board of Directors.


Peter Huntsinger
Brian Goldberg

Mason Law Students Secure Prize for Best Appellant Brief

Graduating Mason Law students Peter Huntsinger and Brian Goldberg were awarded a prize for the Best Appellant Brief in the Northeast Regional Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition held in Boston from March 11-13, 2011. The two advanced to the semi-final oral argument round before falling to a team from Harvard that received a prize for the best Appellee Brief.

In addition to Huntsinger and Goldberg, the Mason team of Adam Fowles and Kel Rose also participated in the competition, which included law school teams from American, Brooklyn, Catholic, Duke, Duquesne, Georgetown, Harvard, New England, Rutgers, Suffolk, Temple, Baltimore, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh.

The competition is sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and named for the late Honorable Giles Sutherland Rich, a Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The competition’s focus is issues of patent and other intellectual property law.

Addressing the Mason team’s win, Adjunct Professor Bradford Kile remarked, “This is quite a significant achievement for these students to have their Appellant’s Brief judged to be better than competing briefs from other top fifty law schools such as Harvard, Duke, Rutgers, Georgetown, etc., since in the real world Federal Circuit appeals are almost always won on the briefs and not oral argument.” Kile teaches Law 123: Giles Rich Moot Court Competition, a course designed to help prepare students for the competition.


Erin Heenan
Brandon Bierlein

Mason Students Place in National Rounds of ABA Negotiation Competition

The law school's Alternative Dispute Resolution Society has announced that Mason first-year law students Erin Heenan and Brandon Bierlein recently secured an eighth-place finish in the ABA Negotiation Competition National Rounds in Atlanta, Georgia, held in February.

The Mason Law team advanced to the National Rounds of the competition, which consisted of a field of approximately 40 teams, after a third-place finish at the regional competition in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Heenan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill with a BS in chemistry and a PhD in biochemistry/biophysics.

Teammate Bierlein graduated from Princeton University with a BA in political science.


Catherine Meshkin

Student Catherine Meshkin's Article Published in Federalist Society Journal

Third-year law student Catherine Meshkin is the author of an article published in the December 2010 edition of Engage: The Journal of the Federalist Society's Practice Groups, a publication that also contains the writings of Professors Ilya Somin and Adam Mossoff in the same edition.

Meshkin's article is entitled "Unchecked Data: A Tool for Political Corruption?" Using a discussion of issues surrounding the concept of global warming, Meshkin cites the need for disclosure of information that is both reliable and accurate and calls for an objective body to ensure that is the case. "In the absence of objective third-party review and debate, the likelihood of political corruption and wide-scale abuse increases," says Meshkin, adding, "Not only could this negatively affect costly legislation, but it will also affect the pocketbooks of all tax-paying Americans."

A busy mother of three as well as a law student, Meshkin is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, with a BA in political science. She currently serves as Executive Vice Justice and Judges Committee Chair for the law school's Moot Court Board. She was awarded second place in the Annual Client Counseling Competition and was an Upper Class Competition Mooting Finalist. In addition, she serves as a Writing Fellow and has been a Legal Clinic Student Advisor for Mason Law's Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers, where she provided pro bono services for three active duty servicemembers.

Read Meshkin's article


Alex Mitchell

Study By Mason Law Student Alex Mitchell Cited in New York Times

A study by third-year law student Alex Mitchell published in The Green Bag caught the eye of New York Times writer Brian Steltner, who cited the study's findings in an article entitled, "Seeing a Tilt in Sunday Talk."

For his study, Mitchell tracked appearances on Five Major Sunday Morning Talk Shows” – Face the Nation (CBS), Fox News Sunday (Fox), Meet the Press (NBC), State of the Union (CNN), and This Week (ABC) – by U.S. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives and found that those appearances were not representative of the diversity of either the nation as a whole or the population of Congress.

"In 2009 the talk shows told us (by their selection of Congressional guests) that the people who matter are disproportionately white, male, senior and Republican - disproportionate not just when compared to the American population overall, but also when compared to the population of Congress itself," Mitchell concluded.

"Explanations aside, the empirical effect of predominantly interviewing one demographic (white, male Senators who have served more than six years in Congress) is that the wealth of diversity of ideas that make up our nation is stifled. The legislative branch consists of 535 individuals who represent 535 unique constituencies in Congress; each is supposed to hold one equal vote in the lawmaking process. Yet Sunday morning talk shows are subliminally telling viewers that these lawmakers are not equal in the media – and that a small, concentrated pool of perspectives is sufficient to discuss and debate issues of national interest," wrote Mitchell in his article.

Mitchell is a graduate of Colorado State University and holds a BA in Sociology/Pre-Med. He serves as an editor of the Congressional Record FantasyLaw Edition, a supplement to The Green Bag.

Read Mitchell's article

Read the New York Times Article


Brendan Mullarkey
Mark DiGiovanni
John Sandell

Mason Law Students Present Research on Baseball and the Supreme Court

Along with Professor Ross Davies, three Mason Law student research assistants appeared as presenters on the topic The Supreme Court and Baseball at the 2010 Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Convention in Atlanta in early August.

Second-year law students John Sandell, Mark DiGiovanni, and Brendan Mullarkey helped develop and present a 4-foot by 4-foot poster based on their research of baseball in Supreme Court cases, which centered on the concept of "baseball as a language of the law"—the idea that judges use baseball language to analogize and explain complex legal concepts.

In analyzing court precedent arising from baseball's legal issues, Davies and his student researchers identified more than 200 baseball-related decisions by the Supreme Court and also researched some of baseball's other intersections with the law, including the antitrust exemption, player-team tax disputes, criminals with baseball bats, denials of ceriorari, and more.

The group's presentation categorized decisions according to several factors, including linkage to baseball, types of laws involved, and institutional levels of baseball (such as amateur/professional, major/minor leagues, etc.). Ultimately the researchers hope to develop a pamphlet showing the results of their efforts to digest and characterize the cases.

As one might expect, all three students are avid sports fans. DiGiovanni, a alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a devoted Kinston Indians and Durham Bulls fan. Sandell, from Seattle by way of the University of Tulsa, favors the Mariners and Seahawks. Mullarkey, who graduated James Madison University, has joined the ranks of Washington Nationals devotees.


Christina Black

George Mason VBA Pro Bono Society Recognized by ABA

At its annual meeting in San Francisco, the American Bar Association's Law School Division, comprised of all ABA-accredited law schools, awarded the George Mason VBA Pro Bono Society an honorable mention in its Community Service Organization category. The award recognizes a student organization's outstanding contributions to the community. Mason's VBA Pro Bono Society was nominated for this award by Judge Robert W. Wooldridge, Senior Lecturer in Law.

The Virginia Bar Association (VBA) Pro Bono Society is a student-run organization that focuses on assisting students with real-world legal experience in helping communities in the Washington, D.C., region that need assistance.

In early fall 2009 under the leadership of Christina Black, president, the VBA Pro Bono Society developed and implemented a partnership with the National Youth Justice Alliance (NYJA). NYJA is a non-profit organization that seeks to reduce juvenile recidivism by teaching youth in detention about their constitutional rights and responsibilities, while aiming to enhance their civic engagement. The Society’s work with NYJA began when NYJA’s executive director contacted the Society and expressed a need for volunteers.

The Society responded quickly by scheduling a training session and recruiting volunteers. The program’s launch was a success, and since its implementation, student volunteers have regularly instructed youth at the Youth Services Center in Washington, D.C., on topics such as constitutional law and criminal procedure. The majority of the Mason Law students who participate in this program are 1Ls, and despite the challenges of their first year, these students have committed to teaching every three weeks for at least three consecutive evenings. In fact, Mason Law students have quickly become the predominant group volunteering with NYJA.

In addition to the direct impact the Society’s volunteers have had on the community through their pro bono efforts, the Society also has been successful in raising awareness of the public interest cause among the student body at Mason Law. Because one of its primary goals in 2009–10 was to encourage other student organizations to get involved, a number of the Society’s events were co-hosted with fellow law school student organizations. For example, during the academic year the Society co-sponsored a “Double Jeopardy Legal Aid Fundraiser” with Mason Law’s Christian Legal Society that was attended by law faculty and more than 125 students, many of whom were not presently active with the Society. The Society also partnered with the Black Law Students Association, the Arab Law Students Association, the Muslim Law Student Association, the Christian Legal Society, and the Student Bar Association to raise more than $2,100 at the Haiti Fundraiser held this past January.


Murat Mungan

Murat Mungan Receives 2010 Whitney Prize

Second-year law student Murat Mungan is the recipient of the 2010 Scott C. Whitney Student Writing Prize.

The Whitney Prize is named for the late Scott C. Whitney who taught at the School of Law. It is awarded annually to a Mason Law student for excellence in formal written work. Papers submitted in any course, including Legal Research, Writing and Analysis classes, are eligible for submission to the selection committee for consideration of the award.

Mungan's paper, entitled Optimal Warning Strategies in Law Enforcement, was among the nominated papers for the Spring, Summer, and Fall 2009 semesters.

Mungan holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as a Ph.D. in economics awarded by Boston College.


Justin Main
 Abraham Young

Main and Young Awarded Best Brief in Federal Bar Association Moot Court Competition

Third-year law students Justin Main and Abraham Young secured the award for Best Brief out of 30 competing teams in the Thurgood A. Marshall Memorial Moot Court Competition held in Washington, D.C., on March 25 and 26.

The two advanced to the quarter-finals in the competition, with Main also placing second out of 60 participants in the category of Best Oralist.

The competition is sponsored annually by the Younger Lawyers' Division of the Federal Bar Association and is held to coincide with the Federal Bar Association's mid-year conference in the nation's capital. Final rounds take place at the Court of Military Appeals. This year's competition problem pertained to the free speech rights of students.

Main is a graduate of James Madison University with a bachelor's degree in Economics/Philosophy. Young holds a bachelor's degree in English from Wheaton College in Illinois, in addition to an MBA from the University of Mary in North Dakota.


Joshua Newborn

Graduating Student Joshua Newborn Becomes Fourth Consecutive Burton Award Winner for Mason Law

Joshua Newborn is winding up his final year of law school as the recipient of a 2010 Distinguished Writing Award from the Burton Foundation, adding an additional achievement to his successes as a Mason Law student.

"I am thrilled to receive a Burton Award for my student comment, which I think is also a reflection of the quality of the George Mason Law Review. Our Board of Editors worked tremendously hard this past year, and I am glad to see our accomplishments recognized," Newborn commented.

A graduate of St. Vincent College, Newborn served as senior research editor of the George Mason Law Review and was an active member of the Moot Court Board. Along with his teammates, Newborn won the Region IV Qualifying Rounds of the National Moot Court Competition sponsored by the City Bar of New York and the American College of Trial Lawyers earlier in the academic year. At the National Moot Court Competition itself in New York City, Newborn and teammates were National Octofinalists and had the 4th best brief. In addition, Newborn served as a writing fellow for first-year law students for the past two semesters, teaching a section of LRWA for about a dozen students each semester.

Securing a Burton Award is no small task. Founded in 1999, the Burton Awards program is run in association with the Library of Congress and its Law Library. Nominations for the award are made by law school deans and managing partners of the 1000 largest U.S. law firms. Fifteen Burton Award law school winners are selected annually from law schools across the nation to receive this award, which honors partners in law firms and law students who set a high standard for clarity and effectiveness in legal writing. Newborn's receipt of the 2010 award marked the fourth consecutive year that a Burton Award has been won by a Mason Law student.

As a Burton Award winner, Newborn was invited to attend the organization's 11th annual black-tie presentation of the Burton Awards at a reception and dinner in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on June 14. Among the guest speakers and honored guests for the event will be U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and authors Jeffrey Toobin and Bryan Garner.


Alyssa DaCunha

George Mason Law Review Student Author Cited in Brief to Supreme Court

Third-year law student Alyssa DaCunha, Editor-in-Chief of the George Mason Law Reviewfor the 2009-2010 academic year, had her student casenote recently cited in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court in City of Ontario v. Quon. Quon arises from the City of Ontario’s review of text messages sent by a member of a police SWAT team on a government-issued pager andasks whether there is a constitutionally-based right of privacy in text messages for employees of a government agency.

The Petitioner’s brief inQuonlooked to DaCunha’s casenote, Txts R Safe 4 2Day: Quon v. Arch Wireless and the Fourth Amendment Applied to Text Messages, 17 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 295 (2009), to draw attention to the complex nature and difficult application of the Stored Communication Act as applied to text messages. DaCunha’s casenote, which examined both the statutory and constitutional protections for text messages, argued that the current statutory protections under the Act are both outdated andinadequate.

Winner of the Arthur E. Schmalz Award for the best entry in the 2009 first-year write-on competition, DaCunha was published in the Law Review's most recent fall issue. She is a graduate of George Washington University, where she was awarded a B.A. in International Affairs.


Alicia Oman
Jared Bomberg

Alicia Oman and Jared Bomberg Receive Bryce Harlow Foundation Fellowships

On March 24,second-year law student Alicia Oman and first-year student Jared Bomberg attended the 29th Bryce Harlow Foundation Awards Dinner held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., where they were recognized as recipients of Bryce Harlow Fellowships for the upcoming year. As awardees, Oman and Bomberg received $6,000 tuition awards, as well as the opportunity to work with mentors and participate in ongoing support activities.

The Bryce Harlow Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization whose mission is to promote an understanding of the role professional advocacy plays in the development of sound public policy. Since 1985 the foundation has made fellowship awards to highly motivated students pursuing careers in professional advocacy  whose graduate studies are undertaken on a part-time basis while working full time.

Oman is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a BA in Political Science and History. Bomberg holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics and a BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of Michigan.


Kelly E. Rose
Adam C. Fowles

Kelly Rose and Adam Fowles Awarded SKGF Scholarship

Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C., an intellectual property law firm in Washington, D.C., has announced the selection of first-year law students Kelly E. Rose and Adam C. Fowles as the recipients of the 2010 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox Intellectual Property Scholarship at George Mason University School of Law.

Since its inception in 2001, the scholarship has been awarded to 14 recipients who have been selected on the basis of exemplary academic achievement. Entering first-year law students in the Intellectual Property Law Track are eligible for this scholarship to help cover expenses during the first year of study.

Rose earned a BS in Microbiology from the University of California—Santa Barbara. Fowles received a BS in Electrical Engineering, an ME in Electrical Engineering, and an MBA from Utah State University.

Founded in 1978, Sterne Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C. specializes in the protection, transfer, and enforcement of intellectual property rights. The company has over 100 patent attorneys, agents and technical specialists representing a broad range of clients.


Craig Rust

The Intersection of Law and Baseball?

When third-year law student Craig Rust matriculated at Mason Law, he probably never dreamed he would be in the business of researching and producing an unique line of baseball cards prior to his May 2010 graduation from law school.

Enter Professor Ross Davies, editor-in-chief of the Green Bag, an entertaining journal of law he publishes in conjunction with Mason Law. Davies is well known in legal circles for producing a highly sought-after series of Supreme Court bobbleheads that he bestows upon some lucky subscribers and a select few others.

For several years, Davies and an artist friend have been fiddling with the idea of producing images from the Supreme Court and its history that combine fine artistic work with modern cultural sensibilities. The first result is a series of classic, old-fashioned baseball cards featuring the sitting Supreme Court justices as the starting line up for a Supreme Court Sluggers team that will eventually include their predecessors on the nation's highest court. Like the bobbleheads, the cards are distributed, complete with a stick of "thought bubble gum" (in reality a flexible pink magnet imprinted with a pithy saying) to certain fortunate Green Bag subscribers and friends.

The front of each baseball card is emblazoned with an original portrait of a justice decked out in baseball attire and equipped for his position on the team, with the first two card editions featuring Chief Justice John Roberts as pitcher and Associate Justice John Paul Stevens as catcher.

The reverse side of each card contains a veritable treasure trove of statistics and quotations drawn from the subject’s judicial work—and this is where Rust enters the picture.

In order to develop and share comparable measurements of the work of members of the Supreme Court, Rust and Davies had to design a reliable search method that could be used to locate all of the opinions each justice had been involved in throughout his or her judicial career. The methodology used to do this is described in a paper written by Davies and Rust entitled Supreme Court Sluggers: Behind The Numbers.

Davies credits Rust with a deep involvement in the project since its very inception. More recently, third-year law student Adam Aft (Class of 2010) joined the effort to research and develop data for this exciting new series of baseball cards, which Davies hopes will be useful, interesting, and informative for those who will come to enjoy them.

Tagged by some of his professors as a man who never sleeps, Rust holds the distinction of having an article published recently in the Touro Law Review: "When Reasonableness is Not So Reasonable: The Need to Restore Clarity to the Appellate Review of Sentencing Decisions After Rita, Gall, and Kimborough." Rust is a graduate of the University of California—Davis with a BS in Managerial Economics.

Read a related article in the ABA Journal


Anthony Peluso

Anthony Peluso Receives Arthur E. Schmalz Award

Second-year law student Anthony Peluso, who will be executive editor of the George Mason Law Review for the 2010–2011 academic year, received the Arthur E. Schmalz Award recognizing the law student who submits the best write-on competition entry each year.

Peluso received his award from alumnus Arthur E. Schmalz (’93), a partner at Hunton & Williams LLP, at a reception honoring current and alumni members of the law review that was hosted at Arent Fox's Washington, D.C., office.

At the event, current editor-in-chief Alyssa DaCunha detailed the Law Review’s successes over the past year, which included producing four successful issues, spearheading the alumni newsletter, and receiving numerous accolades from authors for the quality of the Law Review’s publication process.

Peluso is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he was awarded a BA in Criminology.


Joshua Newborn
Rosie Rust
Kathryn Ciano
Amir Katz
Tim Silvester
Nicole Burns

Mason Law Moot Court Teams Sweep Top Awards in Regional Competition

On November 20 and 21, 2009, two Mason Law moot court teams swept all possible top awards in the Region IV qualifying rounds of the National Moot Court Competition sponsored by the City Bar of New York and the American College of Trial Lawyers. Held at the Federal Courthouse in Richmond, Virginia, the qualifying round was extremely competitive, drawing participants from 20 top law schools from Virginia and surrounding states. This year's competition represented the first time that both Mason Law teams reached the semifinals of the Region IV qualifying event.

Mason's team of Joshua Newborn (Saint Vincent College), Kathryn Ciano (University of Florida), and Tim Silvester (Bob Jones University) finished in first place, with Silvester receiving the award for best final round oralist. The team of Rosie Rust (UC—San Diego), Amir Katz (Dartmouth College), and Nicole Burns (Catholic University) secured the award for best brief and reached the semifinals, where they suffered a narrow loss to their classmates by only 0.53 points. Combined results of nine matches for the two teams yielded eight wins, with the match between the two teams representing the only recorded loss.

Appellate Advocacy Professor Ernest Isenstadt, who helped both teams prepare for the competition, watched both the semifinal and final rounds and was very pleased with the teams' exceptional performance. "The teams' success in a field that included many strong competitors is a testament to their talent and hard work (and maybe just a tiny bit of good luck, as well!)," Isenstadt said.

Having won the competition after five rounds of arguments, the team of Silvester, Newborn, and Ciano became one of 28 teams nationwide (two per region) that will compete in the national rounds in New York City.

Mason Law teams have competed in the Region IV qualifying rounds for seven years, with this year marking the fourth year that a Mason Law team has advanced to the national finals in New York.


Natasha Clay
Steve Fugelsang
Juli Porto Juli Porto

Mason Students Visit Gitmo

Three Mason Law third-year day students traveled to Guantánamo Bay Naval Base during the last week of July 2009 as guests of Joint Task Force Guantanamo on a trip arranged by the Department of Defense (DoD) for about two dozen Army and Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps summer interns.

Natasha Clay, Steve Fugelsang, and Juli Porto left Andrews Air Force Base on Monday, July 27, on board a contracted civilian aircraft bound for GTMO (the DoD abbreviation for the naval base). Until their departure from Guantánamo Bay on July 30, the three were billeted in air conditioned military tents featuring plywood floors and partitions at Camp Justice on the base.

The primary purpose of the trip was to tour the base facilities and legal operations, which included a visit to the Expeditionary Legal Complex (ELC), built for the Office of Military Commissions (OMC), including the state-of-the-art courtroom and holding cells in which Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other detainees in the War on Terror were tried by military commission. The visit allowed for briefings on the history of military commissions, as well as the background and present status of the military commission process, and included discussions with a prosecutor, a defense counsel, and a military commissions judge for a full perspective on the commissions process.

A bus tour of Camp Delta allowed the group to visit six of the detainee prison camps on base, viewing the exteriors of the camps and disembarking for a closer view of one portion of the prison area. The chief of detainee investigations and a representative from the detainee medical corps charged with overseeing the health and well-being of the 230 prisoners on base briefed the interns during their visit.

An additional destination was the Marine Corps East Gate to Cuba, the designated Cuban-American border area where U.S. and Cuban officials conduct monthly meetings to discuss issues pertaining to the American presence on the island.

“It was an intense and sobering experience,” said Porto, an Army JAG intern at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, and a graduate of New York University. “I gained a perspective of the legal and practical issues facing the United States regarding how to manage the Guantánamo Bay detainees that I don’t believe can be gleaned from second-hand reports.”

Fugelsang echoed Porto’s sentiments, saying, “After seeing the unrivaled dedication and professionalism of our uniformed men and women at Guantánamo, I’m more committed than ever to serving our country in the Armed Forces." An Air Force JAG intern at the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals at Bolling Air Force Base, Fugelsang hopes to join the U.S. Army JAG Corps after graduation. He earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame.

Clay, an Air Force JAG intern at the Eleventh Wing Base Legal Office at Bolling Air Force Base and graduate of the College of William & Mary, comments that, “I had an incredible experience, and I’m really looking forward to applying to be an Air Force JAG after graduation.”


George Ingham

2009 Murphy Prize Awarded to George Ingham

Attendees at the August 2009 Welcome Back reception were privileged to witness the award of the 2009 Richard S. Murphy Memorial Prize to third-year law student George Ingham.

Ingham, a graduate of the College of William & Mary with a degree in economics, was selected by Dean Polsby for the honor based upon demonstrated excellence in the study of law and promise of contributing to the thoughtful study and analysis of the law. Ingham begins a clerkship with The Honorable Harold Albritton of the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama, upon his graduation in May 2010.

Family, friends, and former students established the Richard S. Murphy Prize and Scholarship Fund to honor the memory of Richard S. Murphy, a popular young professor at the law school from 1994 until his untimely death in the spring of 1997. Murphy received his JD from the University of Chicago. After law school, he clerked for The Honorable Frank H. Easterbrookof the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and practiced law at Kirkland & Ellis. At Mason Law he taught courses on contracts and privacy. After his first year of teaching, he was nominated by the student body for a university teaching award.

Extending his legacy further, Murphy is honored by his former students, who host a yearly pool tournament in his name to raise scholarship funds. In 1999, a bronze and granite plaque was placed at the base of a tree planted on Fairfax Drive in Murphy's honor as a permanent tribute to his contributions to the law school.

Ingham expressed his gratitude to the Murphy family, saying, "I am deeply honored to be selected as the recipient of the 2009 Murphy Prize. It was a pleasure to meet the Murphys. I am very grateful that they are so generous, both in tribute to Professor Murphy as well as in support of George Mason."

The Murphy family members, which include Richard Murphy's parents, widow, and two children, are valued and long-time supporters of the School of Law. The family can be seen frequently at the law school at events held in the late professor's honor.


Jennifer Bradfute

Jennifer Bradfute Name Steele Scholar in Business Law

Mason Law student Jennifer Bradfute has been named a 2009 Steele Scholar in Business Law.

The Steele Scholar Program is named in honor of Chief Justice Myron T. Steele of the Delaware Supreme Court, a noted business jurist who also has developed a substantial body of corporate legal scholarship. The program is administered by the Corporate Federalism Initiative (CFI) at Mason Law, which is directed by Professor J.W. Verret.

Steele Scholars are selected based on a competitive process involving academic performance and submission of an article. During their terms, Steele Scholars receive a substantial stipend and commit to writing an article of their own, as well as assisting faculty researchers at the CFI in their investigations into corporate law and financial regulation.

Bradfute, a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a BBA in business administration, began her studies at Mason Law in fall 2007 and is currently a third-year evening student.


Elizabeth Maher Elizabeth Maher

Student Elizabeth Maher Wins 2009 Burton Award for Distinguished Writing

Graduating law student Elizabeth Maher (’09) was awarded a 2009 Distinguished Writing Award from the Burton Foundation. Fifteen Burton Award law school winners are selected annually from law schools across the nation to receive this award, which honors partners in law firms and law students who set a high standard for clarity and effectiveness in legal writing.

Maher's receipt of the 2009 award marked the third consecutive year that a Burton Award has been won by a Mason Law student. Alumni Andrew Grossman and Miranda Jones won the award as students in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Maher, a Harvard University graduate, was invited to attend the organization's 10th annual black-tie presentation of the Burton Awards at a reception and dinner in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Monday evening, June 15, 2009. Included among the honorees and speakers for the event was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Other honorees included retired Chief Judge Judith Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals, author Bryan Garner, and television screenwriter David E. Kelley. Vonda Shepard of the television program Ally McBeal performed at the event.

Founded in 1999, the Burton Awards program is run in association with the Library of Congress and its Law Library. Nominations for the award are made by law school deans and managing partners of the 1000 largest U.S. law firms.


Rick Pehrson

Mason Law Student Honored by President

Utahn Rick Pehrson began his time as a Mason law student in an unusual manner: lauded by President George W. Bush at a White House South Lawn reception on September 8, 2008, honoring Americans who have had a significant impact on their communities as volunteers.

Pehrson signed on to a project to enlist the support of and help train 1,300 fellow Utahns to host the reopening and rededication of the Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City. For his efforts, he was singled out by Bush as a community hero and a member of the "armies of compassion" at work in cities and towns across America.

According to an account in the Salt Lake Tribune, Bush addressed the volunteers, saying, "I believe you are a constant reminder of the true source of our nation's strength, which is the good hearts and souls of the American people."

The Utah State Capitol Building,dating to1916, underwent a massive reconstruction and seismic stabilization effort over a period of six years, giving way to anhistoric renovation that alsofeatures a new fountain plaza and a memorial walkway with over 500 cherry trees. Cost of the project was $227 million,with the dedication occurring on January 4, 2008, the 112th anniversary of Utah's statehood.

Pehrson, from South Jordan, Utah, is a graduate of the University of Utah and the 2009–10 president of Mason Law's J. Reuben Clark Law Society.