Faculty on the Cutting Edge


 

Dear Prospective Student,

We are living in extraordinary times, and we are all witnesses to potentially fundamental changes in the law, policy, and culture that shape our daily lives. As always, lawyers will play a profound role in steering and shaping these changes – not only by making, enforcing, and challenging the law, but also by leading movements for change within and beyond the law.

 

As the next generation of lawyers, you will be on the vanguard of these changes. The faculty at Thomas Jefferson School of Law will be there too, and we are eager to help you get started. Like you, we are immersed in the most compelling issues of our time. And, as teachers at a small, student-focused, practice-oriented, and very diverse law school, we are passionate about empowering you to use the law to make a difference on the issues and in the communities you care most about.

 

Click the links below to learn more.    

 

Please feel free to call 619-961-4247 or email if you would like to follow up regarding our exciting program and faculty expertise.

 

Sincerely,

Joan Bullock
President and Dean

 


Police Brutality and Civil Rights | Professor Maurice Dyson

#MeToo, Time's Up, Unleash Equality and the Law | Professor Rebecca Lee

Decriminalizing Marijuana, Reforming Drug Law | Professor Alex Kreit

Where Art, Pop Culture and Law Collide | Professor KJ Greene

Decriminalizing Vice, Humanizing Justice | Professor Anders Kaye

Solving the Gerrymandering Problem | Professor Steve Semeraro

Mediation for the 99% | Professor Ellen Waldman


Police Brutality and Civil Rights

From Eric Garner to Michael Brown, Walter Scott to Freddie Gray, Philando Castile to Stephon Clark, the use of lethal force by the police has dominated headlines in recent years, raising deep questions about the violence police use and about the roles of race and class in American criminal justice.  

 

Professor Maurice Dyson, who has worked tirelessly on civil rights issues impacting children, immigrants, and people of color for years, has recently turned his attention to police brutality.  He has pushed to diversify civilian review boards, to thoroughly investigate police brutality, and to develop a public statistical report card for each city on how well the city is implementing reforms, including diversity hiring and implicit bias training for officers, investigators, and elected officials. He has also worked to increase the number of PERT (psychological emergency response team) clinicians in San Diego that can help assist police in encounters with the mentally ill in order to de-escalate conflict and save lives.

 

“The power of a law degree cannot be underestimated," he says.  It comes with "enormous power that should be used to protect the vulnerable, fight for those who are being bullied and to be a voice for the voiceless. Law school is the last bastion in society where ordinary citizens are equipped with the knowledge to fight abuse, expose corruption, curb greed and empower those everyday people so that their voice is heard.” 

Professor Dyson teaches Torts and an array of electives related to his civil rights interests.

He is the co-founder of the Crawford Legal Institute Mentorship Bond (CLIMB) program, an educational pipeline mentorship initiative.


#MeToo, Time's Up, Unleash Equality, and the Law

In 2017, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements were born, putting a blazing new spotlight on the pervasive problems of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence in Hollywood and Wall Street, politics and the judiciary, journalism and sports, and in workplaces and schools everywhere.    

 

Professor Rebecca Lee’s work has recently taken her deep into the conversation springing from the #MeToo movement. She is one of the founding members of Unleash Equality, a group of law professors working to advance the cause of the #MeToo movement in the legal and policy arenas. Her recent work has looked especially at how even the most progressive and egalitarian institutions and leaders can fail to effectively address sexual misconduct in their own halls until a movement like #MeToo creates new pressure to do so.   

 

Professor Lee is a forceful advocate for inclusion and empowerment of women and people of color in institutions that wield political, legal, and economic power.  She has written and presented extensively on the importance of diversity in such institutions and the urgent need for strong and active institutional leadership in achieving these goals. And she believes the next generation of lawyers will play a vital role in the changes to come. As she states, “Current sex harassment law has its problems, and so much more work needs to be done, but we are seeing an enormous change in how claims of sex harassment are being received: women are speaking up, and they are being heard. It will be up to the new generation of lawyers to push the cause further and bring about the legal and leadership changes we need.”

Professor Lee teaches Contracts, Business Associations, and employment law electives.


Decriminalizing Marijuana, Reforming Drug Law

America has long been immersed in a “war on drugs,” but the last decade has seen a sea change in American attitudes about the legal regulation of drug use, and especially the regulation of marijuana.  And this change has been borne out in the law: since 2012, twenty-nine states have legalized medical marijuana, nine have legalized adult use, and many more appear poised to do the same.  

 

Professor Alex Kreit is at the heart of this transformation.  He got his start reforming the nation's draconian drug laws when he was still in college, as one of the founders of the now-nationwide Students for Sensible Drug Policy – whose mission is “replacing the disastrous war on drugs with policies rooted in evidence, compassion and human rights.”

 

Today, he is a leading authority on drug law (with the only published twenty-first century casebook on the subject), and an important player in the drug law reform efforts that have swept through American states in recent years. He is also a go-to resource for media coverage of marijuana law, appearing regularly on television, on the radio, and in print.

 

And he is dedicated to preparing students to grapple with drug law issues: “I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that no development has had a bigger impact on our criminal justice system over the past four decades than the war on drugs. Yet, while modern drug laws have dramatically changed our criminal justice system they have been strangely absent from the curriculum at most law schools.”  Recognizing that the current generation of students “have a real enthusiasm and interest in” learning, discussing, critiquing, and perhaps even reforming  American drug law, Professor Kreit has made it a mission to give them the tools to make a real impact doing so.

Professor Kreit teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and courses on drug crime.

He also Co-Directs the Center for Criminal Law and Policy and the Criminal Law Fellowship Program.


Where Art, Pop Culture and Law Collide

Professor KJ Greene began as a working class kid from Jamaica, Queens. He did a stint in Asia in the US Marine Corps, and made it all the way to Yale Law School and corporate litigation and New York’s premiere Wall St. law firm. He has represented iconic entertainment industry clients including his first client, Time-Warner/HBO, as well as Public Enemy, Spike Lee, Bobby Brown, and funk music legend George Clinton.

 

Professor Greene connects students to the IP, Fashion, Entertainment and Sports industries by hosting conferences at the law school. Recent conferences, featuring leading industry attorneys, have explored fashion and intellectual property law (followed by a student-run fashion show), cannabis business and IP issues, film and television issues, and IP and Sports Law. His students have secured positions from internships to jobs at Universal/NBC, Viacom, Sony Interactive, Netflix, Playboy, Telepictures and True Religion Jeans, and have been assuming leading roles in the emerging cannabis industry.

 

Professor Greene is also a passionate teacher of Contracts, Entertainment Law and Music Law. He uses music and video clips and exciting current cases involving Snoop Dog, Lil’ Wayne and Serena and Venus Willams among others to bring Contracts law to life.

Professor Greene teaches Contracts, Entertainment Law, and Music Law.


Decriminalizing Vice, Humanizing Justice

American criminal law has long been obsessed with stamping out the so-called “vices” – “immoral” behaviors that don’t have any obvious victims. Prostitutes, drug users, gamblers, sexual performers, and people with disfavored sexual preferences have perpetually been targeted by the justice system. Indeed, we devote extraordinary resources to detecting and punishing their human vices.

 

Professor Anders Kaye invites his students to reconsider this crusade against vice. His courses on Vice Crime and on Prostitution and Other Non-Violent Sex Offenses push students to imagine a different kind of justice system, and a different social response to the vices. Students look at the social costs of punishing vice, at the moral reasons for and against doing so, and at how our law treats those who it deems to be “indulgent,” “sinful,” or “deviant.” His most recent article, on the relationship between prostitution and pornography, grew out of insightful and challenging questions raised his Vice Crime students. 

 

As a teacher, Professor Kaye draws on his work as a public defender in New York City, where many of his clients were charged with vice crimes. In light of these experiences, Professor Kaye seeks humane alternatives to traditional criminal justice, and believes the next generation of lawyers is the best hope for shaking off tradition and developing new and better paradigms. 

Professor Kaye teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Vice Crime, Evidence, and other criminal law electives.

He also Co-Directs the Center for Criminal Law and Policy and the Criminal Law Fellowship Program.


Solving the Gerrymandering Problem

The American political process has been put under unprecedented pressure in recent years, and the pressure has put a spotlight on some of its weaknesses.  One of the most troublesome weaknesses is gerrymandering -- the practice of drawing voting district lines to favor one political party at the expense of others, no matter how strange and unnatural those district lines might appear.  

 

Maryland’s 3rd District

 

In Wisconsin, strategic gerrymandering gave Republicans more than 2/3s of the seats in the state legislature despite Democratic Party candidates receiving more than 50% of the vote. In Maryland, Democrats redrew a long-time Republican's district lines to force him from office. Nearly everyone agrees: no matter what your political persuasion, this is a profound problem for the democratic system. Even so, the courts have been unable to find a test that would separate legitimate line-drawing from unconstitutionally partisan efforts.  

 

Professor Steve Semeraro has been working on a solution. His recent article, Partisan Gerrymandering: Is There No Shame In It or Have Politicians Become Shameless, argues that that Constitution and legislative practice throughout our nation's history shows that the desire to keep distinct communities together in a single district is the only goal that justifies drawing district lines that favor one party. When lines are drawn that ignore historic district boundaries, anything other than a result that closely reflects state-wide vote totals denies disadvantaged voters equal protection of the laws. It is a natural, intuitive solution to a problem that has frustrated citizens of every political persuasion who value a fair democratic process.

Professor Semeraro teaches Property, Antitrust, Civil Procedure, and Intellectual Property & Competition Law

He also directs the Intellectual Property Fellowship Program


Mediation For The 99%

As the Occupy and 99% movements have highlighted, modern America is struggling with wealth disparities that favor a very small economic elite while disadvantaging the other “99%.”  These issues arise in the law too, especially when it comes to the legal services available to the economically disadvantaged.

 

Professor Ellen Waldman, who founded and supervises the school’s Mediation Program, is grappling with these issues.  She has been assessing whether, “in a world of increasing social and economic inequality, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) looks different depending upon the socio-economic status of the client.” In her view, “the one-percent receive a very different mediation experience than the ninety-nine-percent.”

 

Working in her clinic, Thomas Jefferson students can help address that disparity. The mediation program provides students an opportunity to practice alternatives to traditional adversarial litigation by mediating disputes in small claims court. “In our mediation clinic, we strive to deliver justice to the small claims litigants we serve while continually revisiting the question of how justice in a non-adversarial process differs or resembles our more traditional conceptions of fair process.”

Professor Waldman teaches Remedies, Mediation, and Bioethics.

She is the founder and supervisor of the Mediation Program.