Georgia State Law Professor Partners with High School Students
Timothy Lytton, associate dean for faculty development, Distinguished University Professor and professor of law, helped members of the Young Israel of Toco Hills examine and compare the preambles to three of history’s most important legal documents: the Code of Hammurabi, the Ten Commandments and the U.S. Constitution, during a Nov. 19 session on Thanksgiving and Law.
“Each of these preambles provides reasons for why those subject to them ought to obey, and they provide insight into how law works that is, how a ruler can govern a population using not brute force but obedience to law,” Lytton said.
The Code of Hammurabi was one of the earliest and most complete written legal codes, proclaimed by the Babylonian King Hammurabi, who reigned from 1792 to 1750 B.C. The Ten Commandments are a set of biblical laws from the Old Testament.
And, the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. One of the main takeaways from the discussion was that Ancient Near Eastern Law Codes attempted to secure fidelity to law by convincing subjects to be grateful for all of the benefits provided by the law maker.
By contrast, the U.S. Constitution attempts to secure fidelity to law by offering a vision of a shared future (“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility….”). The session offered insights into how law works–how it secures obedience without overt violence, which is a significant advance in the technology of governance.
Student Organization Spotlight: Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) is a fairly new organization at Georgia State University College Law, determined to provide its members with unique experiences.
While you can tell a person’s character by the company they keep, these students can’t be defined just by the adorable dogs and cats they have taken into their homes and hearts, including foster pets from Hurricane Harvey. The student organization is a close-knit group of friends, who are aware of the rigors of both school and animal rights issues. They rely on monthly SALDF social events to unwind, a time when they close their casebooks, relax and have some fun to maintain a happy school/life balance.
The three-year old group is already connecting with the law community and working on legislative measures to ensure the welfare of animals. Bailey Edwards (J.D. ’18), the president of the organization, said “We are currently assisting Tamara Feliciano, a managing attorney at Coleman Legal Group, who is suing Petland, a pet store that maintains an inventory of dogs from puppy breeding mills.”
Feliciano filed suit with the national chapter of ALDF, and because the case is in the Northern District of Georgia the GSU chapter is hoping to help her with legal research to effect policy changes.
Policy and legislative measures are at the forefront of the organization’s mission. Most recently, the chapter held a “lunch and learn” event, where Feliciano spoke about the importance of being active at the Georgia State Capitol. She urged students to become familiar with reading legislation, as well as approaching and speaking to legislators, emphasizing how gaining those skills will make students better lawyers.
The learning experience for SALDF isn’t limited to just those interested in saving animals. “We know animal rights will most likely not be someone’s sole area of focus, but we do want to encourage it as a pro bono opportunity in an area that needs significant assistance. And because animal law covers a lot of different laws, you gain lawyerly skills in various areas,” said Edwards, referencing Feliciano’s upcoming research project on tax liens to illustrate the diversity of learning experiences.
SALDF Treasurer Honey Shaw (J.D. ’19) said the organization also participates in volunteer work in the community. “The majority of lawyers we work with have access to resources that we can use to help the Atlanta community, so we try to participate in local festivals like the East Atlanta Strut. It’s where we meet a lot of our volunteer partners. Plus, it’s fun to do good work while hanging out with friends.”
Stay up to date with SALDF’s upcoming projects and meet-ups by following them on Facebook>>
Student Organizations Host Social Justice Week
Georgia State Law students focused on the topic of social justice during their second annual Social Justice Week from Oct. 23-26 with multiple events throughout the week to help tackle important social issues and come together to advocate for change in our community and nationwide.
The week begin with a discussion co-hosted by American Constitution Society and the Black Law Students Association on “History or Hate: Discussion on the Removal of Confederate Monuments,” and included information on the history of these monuments and arguments on both sides. Speakers included Professor Ryan Rowberry, Lula Gilliam from the NAACP Atlanta and Sara Patenaude from Hate Free Decatur.
Later that evening Public Interest Law Association and the Family Law Society presented “Underrepresented and Navigating Through the Education System,” a panel that addressed how poverty, race, immigration status, and disability can effect a parent and child’s ability to access the education to which they are entitled.
On Tuesday, author Richard Rothstein presented his latest book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, which outlines the ways in which racial segregation resulted from flawed urban planning and policy decisions that promoted discriminatory patterns still in place today. The Black Law Students Association and National Lawyers Guild co-hosted the event.
The Jewish Law Students Association, National Lawyers Guild and Muslim Law Society held “#50StatesAgainstHate: Efforts to Establish Hate Crime Legislation in Georgia.” Shelley Rose, senior associate regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, discussed how students can help push for a hate crimes law in Georgia, along with the legislation is needed and what the draft bill covers.
Georgia is only of one of five states in our country without a hate crimes law. The Anti-Defamation League’s #50StatesAgainstHate campaign has put pressure on the Georgia General Assembly to introduce and pass a hate crimes bill. At the event, students were given a sample letter to send to their legislators.
The American Constitution Society, Sports and Entrainment Law Society and the Black Law Students Association held “Taking a Knee for Justice.” Panelists included civil rights attorney Mawuli Davis (J.D.’02), NFL agent Mitchell Moorer, and First Amendment expert Derek Bauer. The panelists begin with Collin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem. They also brought up the history of athletes expressing political views and receiving negative backlash.
“While athletes may not have First Amendment rights in respect to their job’s as athletes, students on public campuses do and public campuses are an important forum for the right to protest” Bauer said in answering questions on how politics in athletes and protests on college campuses relate,
“From Law School to Public Service,” a panel organized by the Latinx and Caribbean Law Student Association, featured Rep. Beth Beskin, Jason Carter, and Judge Dax Lopez talking about what influenced them to run for public office and how the law has helped them in their profession.
The panelists also discussed their journey to public office, their time in service, and steps law students should take if they have a desire to serve in a public capacity. The best advice the panel left with the law students was on what steps to take now to prepare for running for office later. “We live in a digital world and everything stays on there, this can impact everything you do,” said Judge Lopez.
Rep. Beskin encouraged students to “get out there and meet people” the first step in gaining people’s trust is to meet them.