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UNL offers free legal help to students

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College students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) campus can get legal advice on campus and even hire a lawyer  – for free. The university gives free legal help and represents students through a department called Student Legal Services. It’s a program that’s paid for completely with student fees. Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor who’s based in Washington, D.C., and specializes in defending college students, said calling a lawyer should be the first thing you do if you think you could be in trouble. It’s a “no-brainer,” Wu said, particularly if the consequences of your offense – like suspension or expulsion – could affect your education. Of the 1,250 cases that Student Legal Services handles at the university each year, 25-30 percent of them are criminal charges. Of those cases, the majority are alcohol-related offenses. Jeffrey White, an attorney for Student Legal Services, said it’s crucial to get a…

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Baltimore prosecutor on woman reporting rape

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The U.S. Justice Department released a 167-page bombshell of a report August 10 on the Baltimore Police Department. Although the report was released in response to the controversy surrounding the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, buried at the bottom of the report was a disturbing find: Officers with the Baltimore Police Department often mishandle or dismiss sexual assault complaints. According to the Justice Department’s findings, detectives frequently neglected to interview suspects or send DNA for analysis. In a four-year period between 2010 and 2014, just 15 percent of adult sexual assault rape kits were tested. Even more troubling is that the “gender bias” of police officers was a major factor in officers choosing not to properly investigate sexual assaults. Officers are accused of asking women questions like, “Why are you messing up that guy’s life?” In 2015, 17 percent of sexual assault reports concluded with an arrest….

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Remembering Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis

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The longest-serving lawyer in the United States Justice Department died on July 12th.  Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis was 76. Margolis began his service at DOJ under Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach who had been Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s Deputy Attorney General.  Margolis served under 19 U.S. Attorney General’s over the span of 51 years.  The very definition of a career government lawyer, Margolis was a maverick in his dress code (he regularly wore T-shirts to meetings with Attorney Generals) but a loyalist in his heart.  His obituary appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, and NPR to name but a few.  Much ado about a mere civil servant. In the leadership offices at the Justice Department, one’s stature is marked by the difficulty of the matters placed in one’s “portfolio.”  Margolis had the most difficult ones; including being tasked with the search of White House Counsel Vince…

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NPR Feature: Outrage Grows Over Jail Sentence for Stanford Sexual Assault

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Outrage over a six-month jail sentence for a Stanford student convicted of the sexual assault of an unconscious woman is intensifying. A leaked statement from the perpetrator’s father saying his son was being unfairly punished for “20 minutes of action” went viral, as did a wrenching letter by the victim to the court. Thousands have signed petitions demanding a lengthier sentence and for the judge who oversaw the case to be removed from the bench. NPR forum, including Shanlon Wu, discusses the Stanford case and the problem of campus sexual assault. Article Link: http://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2016/06/06/2010101855045/ Listen to the show here TRANSCRIPT: Outrage Grows Over Jail Sentence for Stanford Sexual Assault Krasny: from KQUED public radio in San Francisco. Coming up on forum this morning on our opening hour outrage over a 6-month jail sentence for a Stanford student convicted for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman is intensifying. A lead statement from the…

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Baylor is hit again with accusations of Title IX violations

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Per usual, Baylor’s football team is making national headlines. However, this time it has nothing to do with the team’s performance on the field. Rather, it has to do with its performance off it. According to a USA Today article entitled “Baylor faces Title IX Lawsuit over Sex Assault” by A.J. Perez, this past March, a woman Jasmin Hernandez was raped by a former Baylor football player, Tevin Elliot. However, Hernandez claimed the school “failed to properly respond to the accusation of sexual abuse and dating violence” and therefore filed a suit against Baylor for IX violations. In an attempt to bolster its PR and salvage itself after these accusations were made public, Baylor fired both its football head coach and athletic director as well as removed its president Ken Starr. However, it may just have been too little too late. Now, according to Perez, less than two months after…

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Stanford rape case: ‘It happened in full view’

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The circumstances surrounding the Stanford rape case that made international headlines for the rapist’s seemingly light prison sentence are, indeed, unique. As reported in The New York Times, former Stanford University champion swimming Brock Turner was convicted in March of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman behind a dumpster. Like many campus sexual assault cases, it happened after a liquor-fueled party at a frat house, and Turner initially claimed that the encounter was consensual. But unlike many other cases, Turner’s actions were halted by two graduate students who happened to be riding bicycles when they saw Turner on top of the victim, “thrusting his pelvis toward her.” In this article, Thomas Fuller of The Times interviewed defense attorney Shanlon Wu, who specializes in defending college students and also in college sexual assault cases. Wu told the reporter that this case “had unimpeachable witnesses.” “Someone was basically caught red-handed,” Wu said. Turner…

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The Education of a College Student Defense Attorney—Chapter 2

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The First Case: Parallel Proceedings My first college student defense client was a university student who had been arrested for assaulting a taxicab driver. To my surprise, the case quickly evolved into a “parallel proceedings” case. I had been familiar with parallel proceedings in the context of white-collar defense where a corporate executive or a corporation can face simultaneous criminal and civil investigations—with a fraud case, for example, being investigated criminally by the United States Department of Justice and, simultaneously, being investigated civilly by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I did not expect, however, the same situation to occur in what originally appeared to be a straightforward criminal defense case. The criminal charge for my student defense client was “simple assault.” As a misdemeanor, simple assault carries a maximum jail sentence of no more than six months, though that would rarely be imposed on a first-time offender like my client. The university student conduct code violation allegation that followed…

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The Education of a College Student Defense Attorney | Chapter 1

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I am a college student defense attorney. My clients are college and university students accused of violating their school’s conduct and academic honor codes, students who require criminal defense against the criminal charges that often arise with school conduct violations, and students who need help bringing complaints either in the university system or the criminal justice system. My team and I are good at what we do. In 2015, we won every campus sexual assault defense case we undertook. And campus sexual assault cases are very difficult cases to win. Ask around. But it’s been an education. And an evolution. I started out on the other side—as a prosecutor. For eleven years, I served as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., where I tried and investigated cases ranging from shoplifting to political corruption. For a number of those years, I specialized in prosecuting sex crimes against adults and children. My…

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