Opening Doors

The Future of Courtroom Technology

The Union of
Church and State

In a Class by Itself

As Seen by the Dean

GW Law Briefs
Public Interest Corner
Faculty File
International Update


Alumni Events

Law Newsmakers

Contact Us
Alumni Association
Law Alumni Association
GW News Center

GW Law School 2002 Commencement Celebrates Individual Achievement, Public Service | Professors Note | Law School Establishes F. Elwood and Eleanor Davis Professorship | Moot Court Success | Students Set Judicial Clerkships Record | Early Law Alumna Honored in Mississippi | Ashcroft, GW Law Celebrate Claims Court Anniversary | GW in History

GW Law School 2002 Commencement Celebrates Individual Achievement, Public Service

The GW Law School celebrated its 135th commencement on Sunday, May 26, in the company of a large audience in the campus’ Charles E. Smith Center. Commencement traditions were fully observed as both Law School Dean Michael K. Young and University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg participated in the festivities. Trachtenberg officially conferred degrees on the class as a whole and Young presented individual graduates’ diplomas. In all, 443 juris doctor students, 93 master of laws students, and two doctor of juridical science candidates received degrees.

With hundreds of family, friends, and members of the University community watching, former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell delivered a brief and well-received keynote address May 26.

His remarks concentrated on the benefits and responsibilities of American citizenship. “You’ve had the good fortune to receive an advanced education. So each of you will have an important role to play in preserving and improving our way of life.”

Mitchell continued, “If you believe as I do that every American child is entitled to a good education, regardless of background or family wealth, you must oppose any actions which have the effect of denying them that opportunity. If you believe as I do that all of us have an obligation to leave for future generations the very basics of healthy human life on earth—clean air, pure water, unpoisoned land—you must demand public policies to honor that obligation. If you believe as I do that every American is entitled to good health care, especially those in the vulnerable early and late years of life, you must support policies that meet that objective. And if you believe as I do that every American is entitled to a full and equal opportunity and equal justice you must stand up and speak out against all forms of injustice and discrimination. Never ever forget that in the presence of evil, silence makes you an accomplice.”

Mitchell's speech was interrupted several times by applause.

The speaker also extolled the virtue of taking pride in what you do. He quoted John Gardner’s oft-cited comparison between an excellent plumber and an incompetent philosopher: “ ‘A society which scorns excellence in plumbing because it is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.’”

Mitchell’s life in public service was especially appropriate preparation for such a commencement address. His career included service in the U.S. Senate, to which he was appointed in 1980 to complete the term of Sen. Edmund S. Muskie, who had resigned to become secretary of state. Mitchell was then elected to the Senate in 1982, and re-elected in 1988—the latter with 81 percent of the vote. More recently he served as chairman of Peace Negotiations in Northern Ireland, in which position he led the way for the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the political parties of Northern Ireland to reach a historic accord, ending decades of conflict and endorsed overwhelming by voters there in 1998. He received the highest civilian honor the U.S. Government can bestow, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for these efforts. He also served President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush by chairing a committee on Middle East Peace, which culminated in “The Mitchell Report.” Among his many honors and awards is an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from GW, awarded in 1990.

In addition to degrees in course and Mitchell’s speech, the awarding of honors was a feature of the day. Professor Todd D. Peterson received this year’s Distinguished Faculty Service award, voted each year by the graduating JD class. Also receiving awards, in this case for outstanding adjunct faculty teaching, went to Judge H. F. “Sparky” Gierke, Col. Francis A. Gilligan, and Jane M. Edmisten. Finally, three student awards were announced. The John Bell Larner Award went to Stefanie R. Alfonso-Frank for the highest cumulative average in the entire course for the JD degree. Brian D. Smith received the Anne Wells Branscomb Award for the highest cumulative average in the part-time evening division. Akil A. Vohra received the Michael Dillon Cooley Award, voted by his classmates.

Professors Note

GW Law Leadership Ranks First in Racial Diversity
By Alfreda Robinson, JD ’78
Associate Dean, Strategic Management and Skills Training
Associate Director, LLM Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program

Raj Bhala

Reneee DeVigne

Carol Izumi

Alfreda Robinson

GW Law is number one in the nation for racial diversity of law school leadership. As set forth in my forthcoming article titled, “The RoPay Study of Racial Diversity in Law School Leadership,” GW Law leads the nation for the largest number of deans of color of 178 in the United States. Moreover, GW Law has more women deans of color and Asian American deans of color than any other U.S. law school.

Dean Michael K. Young is delighted by the exciting news that The George Washington University Law School has more deans of color than any institution, excluding the historically Black and Puerto Rican institutions.

“This wonderful diversity in our administration is a reflection of the extraordinary diversity found in our faculty, our administration, and our student body,” says Young. “But this also reflects the world into which we launch our students and in which they will spend their entire professional lives. Like our faculty, the work of all deans is informed and guided by their diverse background and life experiences. At the same time, by their very presence in these senior administrative positions, our administrators serve as wonderful role models and teach as much by example as anything else they do.”

GW Law’s top ranking was discovered during research associated with my scholarship on issues of corporations, race, reparations, and financial investments, including a forthcoming Fall 2002 Rutgers Law Review article titled, “Corporate Social Responsibility and African American Reparations: Jubilee.” This scholarship, including the RoPay study, was made possible through generous institutional funding for my research assistants, particularly 3L Perry Payne Jr., who compiled the RoPay study data.

GW Law has four deans of color: two African American associate deans, one South Asian American associate dean, and one Japanese American assistant dean. They are: myself, Associate Dean Alfreda Robinson (Strategic Management & Skills Training), Associate Dean Raj Bhala (International & Comparative Law), Associate Dean Renee DeVigne (Student Affairs), and Assistant Dean Carol Izumi (Clinical Affairs). All but one were appointed by Dean Young.

The RoPay study found that deans of color are rare in U. S. law schools. Forty-seven percent of the 178 schools have no law deans of color of any rank, title, or responsibility. The RoPay study ranks the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and Yale Law School, second and third place respectively. The RoPay study is based on statistics drawn from the most recently available reports of the American Association of Law Schools and the American Bar Association.

As I argue in the forthcoming article on the RoPay study, a dean of color can provide a unique perspective and voice on critical issues that affect law school policy. Thus, the law school’s leadership should reflect the value the academy has championed to other institutions, like the Fortune 500 corporations: a racially diverse group at the highest policy- making levels. The composition of the law school’s decanal ranks reflects institutional values and goals. The presence of racial diversity in the dean’s office represents the institutional commitment to and appreciation of racial diversity, justice, and equality. Clearly, GW Law has made racial diversity, justice, and equality significant institutional values and goals. GW Law serves as a wonderful model for other law schools.

Law School Establishes F. Elwood and Eleanor Davis Professorship

The occupant of a newly endowed chair honoring GW trustee and Presidential Medal recipient F. Elwood Davis, JD ’43, has been selected. He is Ira C. Lupu, a nationally recognized scholar in constitutional law, whose special focus is on the religion clauses of the First Amendment. “I am truly honored to be the first occupant of the F. Elwood and Eleanor Davis Professorship,” said Lupu. “From this day forward, I will aspire in all that I do as a scholar and teacher to live up to the responsibility that accompanies that honor.”

In remarks announcing the establishment of the chair, Dean Michael K. Young noted that “Elwood has been a pillar of the legal community in Washington for more than 50 years. His support of both the University and the Law School is unparalleled and we are deeply honored that he has chosen to endow a professorship here at the Law School.”

A Washington, D.C., native, Davis earned his law degree at GW in 1943 before becoming an ensign in the U.S Navy. After the war, Davis worked in the Trust Department of Riggs National Bank and later co-founded the law firm of Reasoner, Davis & Vinson. Davis served as general counsel to The George Washington University and has worked extensively on the issue of Home Rule for Washington, D.C. An endowment from the Davis family established the endowed professorship.

Lupu, the holder of the new chair, brings impressive credentials to the endeavor. A graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was case editor of the Harvard Law Review, Lupu practiced law with the Boston firm of Hill & Barlow before joining the law faculty at Boston University. He taught there from 1973 to 1989. He then joined the U.S. Department of Justice for a year as professor-in-residence on the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. His affiliation with the GW faculty began in 1990.

As is expanded upon on page 14, Lupu is currently co-director with GW colleague Robert Tuttle of the Project on Law and Religious Institutions and on the Legal Tracking Project of the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare, which studies government partnerships with faith-based organizations in the delivery of social services.

Front Row, left to right: Amanda Hammond and Amanda Weiner (runner-up team and best brief authors), Jessica Tillipman (student competition coordinator and author of the competition problem and bench memorandum), and Professor Steve Schooner (faculty adviser); Back Row, left to right: David Kasanow and Sandy Hoe (McKenna Long & Aldridge); Grant Kronenberg and Erik Petersen (winning team); Not pictured: Professor Fred Lees (faculty adviser)

Photo: Abdul El-Tayef/WPPI

Moot Court Success

The final round of the McKenna Long & Aldridge Government Contracts Moot Court Competition was held on April 9, 2002, at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Chief Judge Lawrence M. Baskir, Judge Diane Gilbert Sypolt, and Judge Ruth Burg, JD ’50, presided over the final round of the competition. Many other judges from the court and from the agency boards of contract appeals participated in the preliminary rounds, alongside more than two dozen senior government officials and private practitioners. Once again, the competition was intense.

In addition to the award winners pictured (right), Alyssa Schindler received the best oralist prize. Special awards for written advocacy were presented to Bridgette Ahn and John Charters. Corey Shapiro received a special award for oral advocacy. The best briefs, authored by Hammond and Weiner, along with the competition problem and bench memorandum, appeared in a recent issue of the Public Contract Law Journal.

Students Set Judicial Clerkships Record

Once again, GW Law has set a new record with the number of judicial clerkships obtained by its students.

“This past year our students broke all previous records for clerkships, and we are enormously proud of their achievements,” says Professor Robert Brauneis, who oversees the clerkship program. Included among this year’s list is the selection of graduate Courtney Gilligan to serve as a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist (see story, page 43).

Following a successful 2002, the current academic year poses new challenges for students wishing to obtain clerkships because of some possible changes in the selection process. “In the coming year, we face the challenge of tracking the efforts of federal appellate judges to impose a year-long hiring moratorium, but in the long run we know that judges will continue to be impressed by the high caliber and industriousness of students at GW Law,” Brauneis says.

The following is the tally of clerkships that GW Law students reported to the Judicial Clerkship Committee within the last year. 

Student Judge or Justice Court
Samantha K. Abeysekera, ’02 Thomas P. Olivieri N.J. Superior Court
Stefanie Alfonso-Frank, ’02 Daniel Friedman U.S. Court of Appeals, Fed. Cir. 
Karen Alt, ’02 unassigned Conn. Superior Court
Jeffrey J. Barham, ’03 William Nickerson U.S. District Court, Md.
David F. Blundell, ’03 Glenn T. Harrell Jr.  Maryland Court of Appeals
Jeffrey M. Brennan, ’02 Anne McDonnell N.J. Superior Court
Lisa Brown, ’02 Eric T. Washington D.C. Court of Appeals
Ryan Campbell, ’02 J. Ramsey Johnson D.C. Superior Court
Edward Chang, ’02 Ann O’Regan Keary, ’74 D.C. Superior Court
Johanna Cohen, ’02 Deborah Robinson, Magistrate U.S. District of Columbia
Kevin Cookler, ’02 James F. Merow, ’56 U.S. Court of Federal Claims
Harsimran K. Dang, ’02 Alfred A. Nance Baltimore Circuit Court, Md.
Silvia Dominguez, ’01 Thomas J. Motley D.C. Superior Court
Brooke Sara Ellinwood, ’03 S. Martin Teel Jr. U.S. District of Columbia, Bankruptcy
Kathryn M. Elmer, ’01 Gary R. Jones, Magistrate U.S. Dist. Court, Middle Dist. Fl.
Justin Endres, ’03 Kenneth F. Ripple, LLM ’72  U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Cir.
Christina Ferris, ’02 Rodney Warren Anne Arundel County Circuit, Md.
Austin Fulk, ’03 Edward Damich U.S. Court of Federal Claims The Hague
Tina Giffin, ’99 Int’l Criminal Tribunal  The Hague
Courtney Gilligan, ’02 William H. Rehnquist U.S. Supreme Court
Timothy Greszler, ’03 Phyllis Kravitch U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Cir.
Matthew Hank, ’01 Daniel Manion U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Cir. 
Nadje Harrigan, ’01 Ishmael Meyers, ’72 Territorial Court, Virgin Islands
Andrew Alan Harris, ’02 Robert M. Gross Fla. State Dist. Court of Appeals
Eleanor Hunt, ’02 Peter B. Krauser Maryland Special Appeals Court 
Matthias Kamber, ’02 Sharon Prost, LLM ’85, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fed. Cir.
Stephen Kameny, ’01 Brenda J. Hollar Territorial Court, Virgin Islands
John L. Kammerer, ’03 Karen Williams U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Cir.
Antonella Karlin, ’03 Lawrence S. Margolis, ’61 U.S. Court of Federal Claims 
Paul Levine, ’03 John W. Darrah U.S. District Court, N. Dist. Ill.
David D. Lin, ’03 Paul J. Kelly Jr. U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Cir.
David J. Long, ’01 Elizabeth Kelly Erie County, Common Pleas, Pa.
Emile Loza, ’01 Sergio Guttierez Idaho Court of Appeals
Tameika M. Lunn, ’02 Bonita Dancy Baltimore Circuit Court, Md.
Heather Major, ’03 Marian Blank Horn U.S. Court of Federal Claims
Shawn P. McKenna, ’02 Melvin R. Wright D.C. Superior Court
Gardner B. Miller Jr., ’02 Natalie Combs Greene D.C. Superior Court
Sarah M. Minchener, ’02 Margaret Seymour U.S. District of South Carolina
Rodney C. Mitchell, ’02 Zoe Bush D.C. Superior Court
Ivonne Neslen, ’02 D. Warren Donohue Montgomery County Circuit, Md.
Michael A. Orozco, ’02 Thomas E. O’Brien N.J. Superior Court 
Daniel Ortiz, ’02 M. Langhorne Keith Fairfax County Circuit Court, Va.
Angela Parsons, ’02 Joseph Visalli Cape May, N.J., Superior Court
Emily Redman, ’01 John M. Campbell D.C. Superior Court
Robert J. Rhee, ’91 Richard L. Nygaard U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit
Melissa Rock, ’01 Nan R. Shuker D.C. Superior Court
Jeffrey Ross, ’01 John M. Glynn Baltimore Circuit Court, Md.
Aaron Schlossberg, ’02 John A. Peterson N.J. Superior Court
Sarah Seelig, ’02 Francis Schultz Hudson County Superior, N.J.
Amy Serino, ’99 Jeffrey Howard U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit
Samantha Sherman, ’02 Hayden W. Head Jr. U.S. District, S. Dist. of Texas
Sara Elena Solfanelli, ’03 Linda S. Dalianis New Hampshire Supreme Court 
Michael Allen Splete, ’02 James Baker U.S. Court of Appeals, Armed Forces
Jeffrey Sun, ’02 Janice Rodnick Ambrose Md. State District Court
Miranda Tsai, ’04 Daniel R. Foley Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals
Gregory Tomczak, ’02 Francis DeStefano Monmouth County Superior, N.J.
Miriam Valoy, ’02 Anita Josey-Herring  D.C. Superior Court
Aaron Van Nostrand, ’02 Jack Lintner N.J. Superior Court, Appeals Div.
Angelia Dione Wade, ’02 David W. Young Baltimore Circuit Court, Md. 
Monica Watson, ’01 Joan Glazer Margolis, Magistrate U.S. District Court, Conn.
Deborah Alexis Weiner, ’03 James Lawrence King U.S. District Court, S. Dist. Fla.
Alisha Weiss, ’01 Joan Zeldon D.C. Superior Court
Keith Wesley, ’03 Ferdinand Fernandez U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Cir.
Stephanie Yu, ’02 Unassigned Massachusetts Superior Court
Rachel Zakar, ’02 Carlos Lucero, ’64 U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Cir. 

Early Law Alumna Honored in Mississippi

The memory of Burnita Shelton Matthews, LLB ’19, the first woman to be appointed and confirmed as a federal trial judge in the United States, was honored this fall in Jackson, Miss.

During her distinguished career, Matthews presided over several noteworthy legal actions, including the bribery trial of Jimmy Hoffa and the passport denial of singer and communist activist Paul Robeson. Matthews, born in 1894, was admitted to the bar in 1920 but was unable to find a private firm or government agency that would hire a woman. Her solution was to open a practice of her own. Subsequently she became an ardent suffragist and feminist.

Appointed by President Harry Truman in 1949 to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Matthews served on the court (and, by designation, on the U.S. Court of Appeals as well) until she took senior status in 1968. She retired from the bench in 1983.

President Ronald Reagan wrote of Matthews that her “diligence, distinguished efforts, and pioneering spirit serve as an inspiration to us all.”

Her newly installed portrait (above) was dedicated in the Mississippi Hall of Fame in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Old Capital Museum in Jackson on Sept. 1, 2002.

Ashcroft, GW Law Celebrate Claims Court Anniversary

The four chief judges since the court’s establishment in 1982: (from left) Senior Judge Loren A. Smith, Judge Edward J. Damich (current chief judge); Judge Lawrence M. Baskir; and Judge Alex Kozinski.


The Law School was pleased to play an active role in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims 15th Judicial Conference, held at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C., Oct. 3-4, 2002. The two-day conference, “Perspectives on Suing the Sovereign—Here and Abroad,” celebrated the court’s 20th anniversary, deriving from the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982.

The first day of the conference featured participation by all four of the court’s chief judges since its establishment in 1982 (then as the U.S. Claims Court). The court’s first chief judge, Alex Kozinski, currently serves on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court’s second chief judge, Loren A. Smith, remains on the court in senior status. Edward J. Damich, the current chief judge, recently took over the reins from Judge Lawrence M. Baskir. George Washington Law School faculty members Richard Pierce and Steve Schooner participated, in addition to Daniel Meador of the University of Virginia, Judith Resnick from Yale, Richard Seamon from the University of South Carolina, and Gregory Sisk of Drake University.

Attorney General John Ashcroft discusses the need for senatorial action to fill judicial vacancies.


The second day of the conference featured a speech by Attorney General John Ashcroft. The day’s proceedings, which focused upon suing the sovereign abroad, began with presentations by James Pfander from the University of Illinois College of Law, Vicki Jackson from Georgetown University Law Center, and Dean Claudio M. Grossman of American University’s Washington College of Law. This eclectic day included lively discussion involving academics and judges from China, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, and, of course, the United States.

The judges primarily responsible for the conference content, Eric Bruggink, Nancy Firestone, and Bohdan A. Futey, participated alongside many of their colleagues. Federal Circuit judges William Bryson, Jay Plager, and Randall Rader, JD ’78 also contributed to the discussion.

The proceedings of the judicial conference will be published in upcoming issues of The George Washington Law Review and The George Washington International Law Review. To commemorate the court’s 20th Anniversary, the contents of both journals will be bound into a single book. To pre-order the book, contact Ingrid Torres at (202) 994-2955.

GW in History

25 Years Ago

The Oct. 5, 1977, edition of The Advocate student newspaper contained a major special Bakke Section. The edition, however, was dedicated to the founder of South Africa’s black civil rights movement, Steve Biko, who had died while in custody of a reported brain injury.

50 Years Ago

February 25, 1952, witnessed the birth of Amicus Curiae, a law school newspaper published by the Student Bar Association. A photo of law Dean O. S. Colclough appeared on the front page, along with the dean’s endorsement of the paper’s purposes—including “intramural communi-cation, interchange of legal ideas, general news coverage of the school,” and even cartoons. The four-page bimonthly newspaper’s first editor was Don Cassity. (A reflection of our culture’s changed attitudes toward smoking can be seen on page 2, where there is a prominent ad for Chesterfield cigarettes.)

100 Years Ago

A Columbian University publication from 1902 notes that, among other criteria for admission to the Law School, candidates for a degree must be at least 18 years of age and must have an “education equivalent to a high school course.” The publication also proudly alludes to the fact that the building is lighted by electricity and “adapted to the work for which it is designed.”

The Magazine gratefully acknowledges the assistance of University Archives in the identification of historical information. Readers who wish to learn more about GW’s history can find the University Archives Web site by accessing The site’s Historical Almanac is especially informative.

Back to top | Fall 2002 Table of Contents