Faculty in the News

Our faculty have been weighing in on a variety of cultural and legal topics lately. See what they have say!

Welcome ’16′ers!

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It’s the start of Orientation and the Class of 2016 is finally here! We are so fortunate to welcome this great group of talented, passionate, diverse, and experienced first-year law students to Northeastern and the entire Office of Admissions cannot wait to see what wonderful things they accomplish over the next three years.

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Prof. Daniel Medwed on Morning Edition about Ortiz

From WBUR: U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz was criticized for her office’s prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who killed himself in January. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Northeastern University School of Law professor Daniel Medwed said it is shocking that a federal case could get out of the grand jury, let alone go to trial, without the prosecutor speaking to the alleged victims. The episode raises concerns about whether there are adequate checks and balances in the office, he added — something many critics of the Swartz prosecution noted as well.

“One of the jokes in New York is that they would indict a ham sandwich,” he said. “Well, here in Massachusetts, it seems a federal jury doesn’t even need the protein. It seems it would take only a couple of loaves of bread, given how flimsy and un-nutritious these cases were.”

–from WBUR‘s investigation of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, “Ortiz Under Fire

‘Genius’ NUSL alumna advocates for elder-​​abuse reform

Marie-Therese Connolly, a 1984 School of Law graduate who received a prestigious MacArthur Foundation grant in 2011, returned to campus this week as a Daynard Distinguished Visiting Fellow. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Abuse is endemic among the nation’s senior pop­u­la­tion, with a large per­centage of older Amer­i­cans suf­fering from often-​​unreported cases of abuse, neglect, or exploita­tion, according to School of Law alumna Marie-​​Therese Con­nolly. And with the number of Amer­i­cans entering their golden years about to sky­rocket as the baby boom gen­er­a­tion ages, Con­nolly is leading the charge to pro­tect one of society’s most vul­ner­able cohorts.

“Elder abuse top­ples over oth­er­wise autonomous people’s lives,” said Con­nolly, a 1984 law grad­uate who in 2011 was awarded a Genius Grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foun­da­tion. “The trauma is so depleting that they often don’t have the ability or the time to recover the way younger people do.”

Con­nolly is back at North­eastern this week through the Day­nard Dis­tin­guished Vis­iting Fel­lows Pro­gram, which brings notable prac­ti­tioners of public-​​interest law to campus for a three-​​day visit. Con­nolly deliv­ered a lec­ture to stu­dents and fac­ulty on Monday and will par­tic­i­pate in a round­table dis­cus­sion on elder abuse on Wednesday at noon in 240 Dockser Hall.

Richard Day­nard, center, a Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Law, and his wife, Carol Iskois Day­nard, sup­port the Day­nard Dis­tin­guished Vis­iting Fel­lows Pro­gram. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

The bian­nual series was estab­lished in 2004 and is sup­ported by Richard Day­nard, Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Law, and his wife, Carol Iskois Day­nard. In October, the series fea­tured Leslye Orloff, director of the National Immi­grant Women’s Advo­cacy Project.

Con­nolly, who is director of the Life Long Jus­tice ini­tia­tive at the Apple­seed Foun­da­tion and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Inter­na­tional Center for Scholars, said elder abuse is a growing problem that lacks a cohe­sive infra­struc­ture for advo­cacy. Without strong orga­ni­za­tions working to combat the issue, it is dif­fi­cult to frame a national con­ver­sa­tion, draw aca­d­emic atten­tion, or craft mean­ingful solu­tions, she explained.

Her pro­posed Elder Jus­tice Act—which was con­sid­ered by Con­gress five times before a lim­ited ver­sion was enacted in 2010—is mod­eled after 1974’s Child Abuse Pre­ven­tion and Treat­ment Act and 1994’s Vio­lence Against Women Act, both pieces of leg­is­la­tion whose impact still res­onates strongly today.

Con­nolly said law stu­dents can approach the issue of elder abuse from myriad angles, working any­where from within grass­roots orga­ni­za­tions to posts at the highest level of fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Because most Amer­i­cans do not con­sider elder abuse to be a per­sonal issue, the cause needs legal pro­fes­sionals to serve as advo­cates who can influ­ence change.

“The target audi­ence is not just old people—we have to reach everyone,” Con­nolly said. “These are issues that impact your par­ents or your grand­par­ents or some­body else that you know and care about.”

Con­nolly said North­eastern was the per­fect place for her to hone her skills and foster an advocacy-​​focused mindset.

“The way North­eastern went about edu­ca­tion was the best—and maybe the only—way I could learn about the law,” Con­nolly said. “North­eastern is full of people like us who want to use the law to make real change … and it helps us to buff out those rough edges and get to work.”

Article from news@Northeastern by Matt Collette