2L Tyriese Robinson Named as the Inaugural Recipient of the NDNY FCBA Hon. Norman A. Mordue ’66, L’71 Law Scholarship

The first recipient of a scholarship established in the honor of the Hon. Norman A. Mordue ’66, L’71 is 2L Tyriese Robinson.

The Northern District of New York (NDNY) Federal Court Bar Association (FCBA) Hon. Norman A. Mordue ’66, L’71 Law Scholarship provides a Syracuse University College of Law student with the means to pursue a legal education and follow in the footsteps of Judge Mordue, a decorated war hero who served as chief judge for the NDNY and taught trial practice at the College of Law as an adjunct professor. The NDNY FCBA established the scholarship after the passing of Judge Mordue in December 2022.

Robinson, a native of South Carolina, served in the U.S. Air Force.   He was a GeoBase Engineering Technician and Lead Honor Guard Trainer at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii After the Air Force, Robinson completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Clemson University where he served as a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Federal Work-Study student, President of the Clemson Student Veterans Association, and in a number of volunteer roles across many campus initiatives.

After graduating from Clemson University, he selected Syracuse Law for his legal studies due to the University and College’s dedication to serving veterans.

“I decided to come to law school because I felt that there was tension between how my community viewed the law, and how the rest of the country viewed the law. I was already familiar with one aspect of the tension, so I decided to learn the other. I wanted to learn the law,” says Robinson.

At the College of Law, Robinson is a student attorney in the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic, a member of the Military and Veterans Law Society, and a volunteer with the Cold Case Justice Initiative.

Judge Mordue served as the senior U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of New York, where he was a judge from 1998 until his passing in December 2022. A 2022 recipient of the College’s Law Honors Award, Judge Mordue was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for actions during the Vietnam War as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

When informed that he was receiving the Mordue Scholarship, Robinson reflected, “The astonishing things that Judge Mordue has done, both in uniform and on the bench, inspire humility. To me, being selected as the inaugural recipient of this scholarship means that I must continue to strive for excellence in honor of Judge Mordue’s legacy. Judge Mordue’s scholarship will serve as a valuable resource so that I can not only graduate but graduate in a manner that upholds the dignity and reputation of Syracuse Law,” says Robinson. Upon graduation, Robinson plans to become a prosecutor.

The scholarship will be awarded during a tailgate celebration held at the College of Law Saturday morning before the Syracuse Orange takes on the Army West Point Black Knights in football at the JMA Wireless Dome on September 23.

Those interested in supporting the Mordue Scholarship, please visit the Mordue Scholarship web page.

Professor Paula Johnson Provides Insight into Law Enforcement’s Relationship with Communities of Color

Professor Paula Johnson, director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative, recently spoke with CNY Central in the wake of an Onondaga County Sheriff’s deputy’s fatal shooting of two Black teenagers.

Johnson said all communities should trust law enforcement because that’s who is called in the case of an emergency, but says when you keep on seeing these outcomes, some may find it harder to trust, “These are the kinds of things that give the community pause to say, ‘Does the law treat us differently?’”

Professor Cora True-Frost G’01, L’01 Spearheads and Leads Important International Disability Law and Theory Discussions with European Scholars and Legal Practitioners

Bond, Schoeneck & King Distinguished Professor Cora True-Frost G’01, L’01, along with Professor Jan Grue at the University of Oslo, conceptualized and received a grant to convene leading European disability scholars to present and discuss work on the timely topic: Unburdening Access and Inclusion: European Tribunals, International Disability Law: from Disability Studies to Studying Ableism.”  Funding for the workshop was provided by PluriCourts – Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Role of the Judiciary in the Global Order at the University of Oslo. This workshop was an outcome of Professor True-Frost’s 2022 Fulbright Scholarship at PluriCourts.

Presenters discussed themes including the shift from the medical to social model of disability, the need to shift from disability studies to studying ableism; positive and negative rights in international disability law; and European legal doctrine regarding accessibility, capacity, and reasonable accommodation. Professor True-Frost presented her draft work ‘Unburdening Access: Clarifying Accessibility, Reasonable Accommodation and Anti-Discrimination Rights before the ECHR.”

Professor True-Frost also taught a course on international disability law to European lawyers and judges at the European University Institute Academy of European Law as part of the Summer Human Rights Seminar at the Academy of European Law in Florence, Italy.  The course, “Equality Before the Law: The Difference Disability Makes”, encouraged students to analyze the ways in which the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) interacts with and sometimes conflicts with conceptions of equality in international human rights law.  The course provided a doctrinal and theoretical assessment of major issues pertinent to the substance of disability equality through two central case study inquiries: 1) who has legal capacity before the law, and 2) who is able to exercise a fundamental liberty of movement within their community, their home country, and the global community.

PluriCourts workshop.
Participants in the Summer Human Rights Seminar at the Academy of European Law

Professor Kat Macfarlane Provides Guidance on a Sensitive Question About Workplace Accommodations

In a recent New York Times Magazine The Ethicis column, a reader submitted a question: My Disabled Colleague Is Struggling at Work. Am I Responsible for Her Care?

Professor Kat Macfarlane, director of the College of Law’s Disability Law and Policy Program, provided some insight and guidance in helping to answer the question. Macfarlane notes that “that people with disabilities may hold on to a position because they need the health care benefits that come with it.” The response says “Managers would do well to consult with your colleague to figure out ways of accommodating her limitations without imposing a hardship on other employees.”

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Craig M. Boise to Conclude Tenure as College of Law Dean at End of Academic Year

When Craig M. Boise stepped into his role as dean of the College of Law in the spring of 2016, he described his vision to create “a sustainable law school that leverages the knowledge, skill and imagination of its faculty and staff to expand legal education in innovative ways.” Seven years later, Boise is announcing his decision to step down as dean at the end of the 2023-24 academic year with that vision achieved. The college is on strong financial and academic footing with new, innovative programs, partnerships and modalities, and students and graduates performing at high levels during and after their legal education. Following a sabbatical, Boise will return to the College of Law to teach, mentor and continue his work as a legal scholar. Information on the search effort to identify Boise’s successor is forthcoming.

“Craig’s impact has been transformative,” says Gretchen Ritter, vice chancellor, provost and chief academic officer. “Under his leadership, the College of Law has been exceptionally strong in research, which is not traditional for law schools, and it has been innovative and entrepreneurial, particularly as it relates to evolving the legal education space to meet the needs of today’s students, increasing accessibility and opening doors to those who may come from post-traditional pathways. Craig has been an outstanding leader, partner and innovator and will leave behind an incredible success on which to be built.”

Boise came to Syracuse University from Cleveland State University College of Law during a period of great stress in legal education when there were substantially fewer law school applicants and a soft legal job market.

“Craig saw these challenges as opportunities,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “He knew that law schools that could quickly pivot and creatively figure out ways to develop collaborative, interdisciplinary, novel and relevant course offerings and degrees would stand out competitively and attract talented students and faculty. With the launching of the JDinteractive online J.D. program and other innovations in legal education, enhancing the college’s fiscal stability and expanding experiential learning and international program opportunities, Craig has propelled the College of Law to new heights. I look forward to his continued contributions to Syracuse University as a legal scholar and colleague.”

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Professor Kat Macfarlane Co-authors “A Categorical No to Categorical Accommodation Denials Related to COVID-19?” Essay

Professor Kat Macfarlane, director of the College of Law’s Disability Law and Policy Program, and Professor Irina Manta, Founding Director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, have co-authored an essay on COVID-19 accommodations denials.

At the Bill of Health blog, Macfarlane and Manta write that post-2021, faculty and students with disabilities’ requests for accommodations to teach or attend classes remotely have not been met. The essay examines Oross v. Kutztown University where the plaintiff requested remote teaching and office hours accommodations due to health reasons. They were denied by the defendant and deposition testimony revealed that university staff had developed form language used to deny all remote teaching requests by Kutztown University faculty.

The Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment in Oross’s favor as to his Rehabilitation Act claims for intentional disability discrimination and failure to accommodate.

The authors conclude that “In any case, the Oross decision represents a victory for individualized assessment, and a rejection of categorical bans on COVID-19 accommodations. Universities should heed the case’s warning and halt any pro forma denials.”

Professor Shubha Ghosh Discusses the Microsoft AI Copyright Case with Bloomberg Law

In the Bloomberg Law article, “How Risky Is Microsoft’s Pledge to Defend AI Copyright Lawsuits?” Crandall Melvin Professor of Law Shubha Ghosh brings up how outputs of generative AI programs may be analyzed under copyright fair use provisions.

Ghosh, director of the Syracuse Intellectual Property Law Institute, noted that AI companies may have refuge in the Second Circuit’s Google Books opinion from 2015.

Professor Gregory Germain Discusses U.S. District Court’s Application of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (EFAA)

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois recently rejected Rivian Auto’s request to send a sexual harassment and hostile workplace environment case to arbitration. This was one of the first applications of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (EFAA).

In the Society for Human Resource Management article “Court Rules Employer Can’t Compel Arbitration in Sexual Harassment Case”, Professor Gregory Germain says “There will continue to be skirmishes in cases where the acts of harassment predated the EFAA. I suspect that future courts will not accept the Rivian court’s argument that acts of harassment that took place entirely before the EFAA will not be covered.”

Transforming Setbacks into Success: A Journey from Law School Challenges to Starbucks General Counsel

Zabrina Jenkins’ G’97, L’00 journey to become a lawyer was anything but conventional.

Arriving at Syracuse Law in the summer of 1994, she was full of hope and excitement for her future as the first person in her family to graduate from law school. She kept her head down, studied hard, and fully dedicated herself to her classes. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.

A series of events over the next six years led her down a different path to obtain her law degree, from taking a Leave of Absence from law school to attend the Syracuse University School of Education, to obtaining her Master of Science in Higher Education degree, and finally re-enrolling in the College of Law in 1997 with a new perspective, attitude, and life experiences. This time around, Jenkins learned the importance of balance. She made time for extracurricular activities, a job, and studying smarter, not harder. The new approach paid off, as she made the Dean’s List and graduated cum laude in the spring of 2000.

“My journey here was one that’s very different than most people share,” Jenkins explains. “I have fond memories of my time spent at Syracuse Law. It was a time in my life that was very personally transformative. People tend to go into the law thinking they have to be on specific path, but the journey is not always linear. You can learn a lot from the experiences you have along the way. Things are not always going to be easy, but if you move outside of your comfort zone and open yourself up to new experiences, it will pay off in the end.”

Two degrees later, Jenkins was prepared to utilize the knowledge she gained at Syracuse University as she embarked on her professional journey. After four years in private practice, she landed a job at Starbucks, where she advanced through the ranks over 18 years to become the only person in the 52-year history of the company to go from the most junior lawyer position as a corporate counsel to the top seat as general counsel.

Jenkins currently serves as an executive advisor to the company. She also plays a vital role as an executive champion for the Starbucks Black Partner Network and serves as an advisor to the diversity committee in the Law & Corporate Affairs department.

Zabrina Jenkins 2023 Convocation Remarks
Click the image to view Zabrina Jenkin’s 2023 Convocation Remarks.

A Lasting Connection

Through her many career triumphs, highs, and lows over the years, Jenkins never forgot the place that she accredits with setting the foundation for her career trajectory—Syracuse Law. It is a rich connection that inspires her to give back to current students now in the shoes that she once wore, and the place to which she believes she owes so much.

Jenkins returned to Syracuse Law this academic year as the College’s 2023 Opening Convocation speaker. She also led a Fireside Chat discussion for the August 2023 JDinteractive residency, “Trailing Blazing General Counsel: Keys to Success for In-House Legal Practice.” 

“Knowing that I can be a role model and an inspiration to others is something that is very important to me. I truly appreciate having such a welcoming invitation to interact with the current students at Syracuse Law, and am thankful to Dean Boise for engaging with alumni like me to bridge the relationship between the alums and the current law students.”

In addition to her new connections with current Syracuse Law students, Jenkins remains in touch with many of the classmates and friends that she made during her educational journey. One of her classmates even ended up marrying her brother and became her sister-in-law.

“Law school is such a unique experience. When you go through it together with your classmates, you establish lasting relationships and connections with people who are experiencing it all with you.”

The Evolution of Syracuse Law

When Jenkins attended Syracuse Law, the space that is now Dineen Hall was a parking lot. A lot has changed over the past 20+ years as the school has evolved to equip students with a modern legal education.

“I couldn’t be more proud to see the growth of the JDinteractive program in particular,” Jenkins stated. “Seeing how hard Syracuse Law has worked to be more inclusive in meeting students where they are shows how forward-thinking the school has become. When I was in law school, the expectation was that you would attend full-time, graduate in three years, and go into a traditional field upon graduation, like working at a law firm. This online law program provides greater flexibility to our students, fosters more diversity in the classroom, and prepares graduates for jobs beyond the path of a traditional law career, which is so important.”

The Value of a Syracuse Law Degree

Jenkins chose to attend Syracuse Law because it was important to her to have a sense of campus community. She liked the fact that the law school was a part of a large institution that offered other graduate programs while also being close to a small, close-knit city.

“Syracuse Law taught me to challenge myself and to think about things and tackle issues in a different way,” Jenkins says. “It taught me how to really push myself beyond my comfort zone, which is something I have to do constantly at work and have had to do throughout my career.”

In talking about the proudest accomplishment of her career, Jenkins discussed the way she was able to merge her personal values with her professional life as Starbucks navigated a crisis following the highly publicized arrests of two customers at a store in Philadelphia in 2018.

Jenkins is proud of the role she played in managing the crisis, saying, “Being able to lead with empathy and turning that situation, which could have resulted in a negative outcome, into something productive where we have established an ongoing relationship with both young men is one thing I’m incredibly proud of.”

zabrina jenkins sitting in front of classroom full of students, speaking

Paying it Forward

At the end of her visit to Syracuse Law, Jenkins reiterated the importance of giving back as a way to pay it forward and support the next generation of legal professionals. 

“My fellow alumni are all great examples of where a Syracuse Law degree can take you post-graduation. It is so important to share what you’ve learned with others so that you can help someone as they are on their journey.”

U.S. Army Captain 2L Lu Weierbach, a Tillman Scholar, will be honored as the Hometown Hero at the Syracuse v. Colgate Football game on September 2

The ambition to make the world a better place is a common characteristic among Tillman Scholars. Some aim to have far-reaching global impact while others want to address problems in their local communities. For U.S. Army Captain Luis “Lu” Weierbach L’24, that ambition comes from experiencing poverty at a young age.

Continue reading Lu’s story…