In Memoriam: An Interview with Professor J. Gordon Hylton

Professor J. Gordon Hylton passed away May 2, 2018 after a battle with cancer. To honor his memory, the Virginia Law Weekly republishes this Spring 2016 discussion between Features Editor Lia-Michelle Keane '18 and Professor Hylton.

Homeruns  and  History  with  Professor  Hylton 

Lia-Michelle  Keane '18

As  a  staff  member  of  the  newspaper,  it  is  always  exciting  to  interview  a  Law  Weekly alumnus, and  that  is  especially  true  when  the  individual  in  question  can  say  that  he served  on  the  paper the  year  that  it  was  cited  by  the  United  States  Supreme  Court.  While  that  is  a  greater  claim  to fame  than  most  people  can  even  dream  of,  for Professor  J.  Gordon  Hylton,  his  involvement  in publishing  the  famed  edition  is  merely  a  line  on  an  impressive  list  of  professional  achievements.  

In  addition  to  teaching  at  institutions  such  as  Marquette  Law  School  and  the  Chicago-Kent College  of  Law  of  the  Illinois  Institute  of  Technology,  Hylton  is  also  a  past  member  of  the American  Bar  Association’s  Diversity  Committee,  as  well  as  a  former  chair  of  the  Association  of American  Law  Schools’  Sections  on  Legal  History.  On  his  journey  to  becoming  a  professor,  Hylton obtained  a  J.D.-M.A.  from  the  University  of  Virginia,  along  with  a  Ph.D.  from  Harvard  University. Although  Hylton  has  stated  that  his  interest  in  academia  was  sparked  as  a  student,  he  took  the time  to  clerk  for  Justice  Albertis  S.  Harrison  and  Chief  Justice  Lawrence  l’Anson  of  the  Virginia Supreme  Court,  and  then  worked  at  the  Massachusetts  Commission  Against  Discrimination  before ultimately  returning  to  the  classroom  to  begin  teaching.    

Although  Hylton  speaks  of  his  time  at  Marquette  Law  fondly,  he  readily  acknowledges that  he  is happy  to  be  back  at  his  alma  mater,  noting  that  “[a]lthough  the  law  school that  [he]  attended  in the  mid-1970s  was  a  more  diverse  and  more  cosmopolitan institution  than  it  had  been  in  the past,  today’s  faculty  and  students  of  law  school  in general  are  far  more  representative  of  the American  population  as  a  whole  than  was the  case  in  [his]  student  days.”  Something  that concerns  Hylton,  however,  is  the  fear that  current  students  recite  the  names  of  individuals  such as  John  Barbee  Minor  and William  Minor  Lile,  yet  few  know  who  they  were.    

Notably,  for  those  UVa  Law  School students  who  enjoy  participating  in  the  North Grounds  Softball League,  you  can  thank Hylton  for  helping  to  expand  the  role  of  the sport  within  our  community. A Double Hoo  with  a  vision,  Professor  Hylton  and  a  group of  friends  founded  the  league  during the fall  of  1976,  leaving  behind  a  legacy  and time-honored  tradition  that  would  continue  for  decades to  come.  In  fact,  as  Hylton  happily pointed  out  during  our  lunch  in  Stone  Dining  Room,  NGSL  will celebrate  its  40th anniversary  in  the  fall,  which  makes  the  student  organization  one  of  the longest running at  our  school.  When  asked  if  he  continues  to  play  softball  in  his  spare  time,  Hylton replied  that  although  he  is  on  a  team,  his  love  of  sports  has  largely  shifted  from  the field to his  research.

Indeed,  as  a  legal  historian,  Hylton  has  examined  historical  and legal  developments within  the sports  industry  to  write  on  such  topics  as  the relationship  between  baseball cards  and  the modern right  of  publicity,  as  well  as  the  longstanding  tradition  of  using Native  American  team names. Hylton’s  work  is  not  confined  to  the  sporting  realm, however;  he  is  also  well-known  for  his scholarship  pertaining  to  the  history  of  African-American  lawyers,  a  fact  that  our incoming  dean,  Professor  Risa  Goluboff,  praised  him for  extensively  when  he  permanently  joined  UVa  Law’s  faculty in  2015.  Currently,  Hylton is  examining  the  history  of  legal  education  at  UVa  Law,  focusing  in particular  on  the law  school’s  beginnings  in  1827  and  the  changes  that  it  underwent  up  until  the mid-1970s.  He  hopes  to  track  the  development  of  the  Law  School  and  “the  role  of  the University of  Virginia  in  the  larger  story  of  the  history  of  American  legal  education.” Further,  Hylton  stated, “One  of  the  great  attractions  of  doing  non-ideologically  driven history  [research]  is  that  you  don’t know  what  you  are  going  to  find  until  you  actually do  the  research.

Despite  his  impressive  credentials,  Hylton  maintains  a  tremendous  sense  of  modesty, which  he wears  along  with  an  unfailingly  jovial  attitude.  Professor  Hylton’s  passion  for teaching  is  apparent, and  he  notes  that  one  of  the  things  that  he  likes  most  about being  a  professor  is  having  the opportunity  to  speak  with  students  after  class  and during  office  hours.  Additionally,  Hylton  admits that  although  he  realizes  1L’s  are  under a  great  amount  of  stress,  he  nevertheless  enjoys teaching  first-year  law  school  students because  they  are  typically  the  most  focused  and  well-prepared. Perhaps  that  is  why  Hylton’s  favorite  class  to  teach  is  Property,  though  he  paused  to  add  that Trusts  and Estates  was  a  close  second.  He  described  the  latter  as  an  extension  of  Property, noting that  both  courses  involve  elements  of  “death  and  greed,”  which  bring  human  aspects  to  otherwise  technical  subjects.  He  claims  to  appreciate  the  relationship  between  material  possessions  and  how  people  relate  to  those  objects,  offering  a  unique  way  to  think  about  future interests  and  the  right  to  exclude.  In  addition  to  the  courses  noted  above,  Hylton  also  teaches Professional  Responsibility  and  African-American  Lawyers  from  the  Civil  War  to  the  present.  

Although  Hylton  derives  great  joy  from  his  time  lecturing,  he  does  have  one  major complaint about  teaching  at  UVa  Law.  Shaking  his  head,  Hylton  lamented  that  he  is occasionally  tasked with teaching  in  WB128  and  similar  classrooms  where  the  lectern  is positioned  far  away  from  the  first row  of  students.  If  it  were  up  to  him,  Hylton  said that  he  would  hold  his  classes  in  the  rooms located  on  the  second  floor  of  Slaughter Hall,  which  he  described  as  being  “much  better” than their  counterparts  in  Withers-Brown  Hall.  Finally,  when  asked  to  offer  a  piece  of  advice  to students,  Hylton  earnestly replied,  “Giving  good  advice  has  never  been  one  of  my  strong  points; however,  I  think the  legal  profession  will  be  better  off  if  lawyers  are  as  concerned  about  what the  law should  be  as  they  are  in  knowing  what  the  law  is.”

Court of Petty Appeals: Greene, et al., v. Coleburn, et al.

Greene, et al. v. Coleburn, et al. 863 U.Va. 120 (2018)

Zablocki, J., announced the opinion of the Court in an opinion joined by Dostal, Ranzini, and Malkowski, JJ. VanderMeulen, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in part, dissenting in part, and concurring in the judgment.

Justice Zablocki, for the Court.


Petitioner Greene, who represents an entire class of individuals frustrated at their roommates’ environmentally unfriendly tendencies, prays that we recognize the following claims against the class known by the surname of named respondent Coleburn: (1) temperature-inflicted assault and battery, (2) wanton waste and/or destruction of natural resources, and, of course, (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress.

On the first claim, Petitioner Greene alleges that during our balmy Virginian summers, his final approach to his apartment is routinely filled with trepidation at the blast of frigid air which will blast him upon opening the door. Petitioner has described this experience as both physically and mind-numbing, referring to his confusion at what necessitates a 65°F thermostat setting. This bewildering effect is especially consternating, Petitioner has explained, in light of the fact that come crisper fall days, the switch is immediately flipped to the heat setting, with the thermostat set to 72°F—a temperature significantly higher than that preferred during warmer months but which is similarly in opposition to the natural temperature and which leads to similarly unwelcoming homecomings.  And then the thermostat may perhaps be flipped back to AC later that same day when the sun’s warming rays streaming in through the window have a greenhouse effect, boosting the temperature to—gasp!—78°F.  In her amicus brief, Chief Justice Emeritus Goldman, who recused herself in order that she be allowed to join in protest of such absurd practices, said the following: “You know it’s out of control when the Floridian says the heat is on too high and the Minnesotan says a bit of Southern heat and humidity would be a welcome respite from the AC.” 


That Petitioner has made Respondent aware of the torturous results of such temperature settings upon Petitioner, and yet that Respondent continues to indulge himself, satisfies this Court that Respondent is intentionally causing Petitioner this angst, thus satisfying the key elements of the assault claim.  Temperature swings á la left hook/right uppercut are, of course, de facto battery. 

This Court therefore finds Respondent liable for assault and battery, and decrees that Respondents’ behavior in setting the thermostat in opposition to Mother Nature, apparently in some show of the power of humanity over nature,[1] is absurd and should cease. 



On the second claim of wanton waste and/or destruction of natural resources, this Court sympathizes with Petitioner. Just because Respondent has the wherewithal to pay astronomical electric bills in order to adjust his apartmental microclimate does not mean Respondent should. In the first instance, this Court loathes such entitlement and views such a practice as a clear step along the pathway to driving a Hummer. In the second, more paternalistic instance, this Court is puzzled why any student would wish to take on additional loans just to fight Mother Nature. In the third instance, which has nothing to do with saving the planet, it’s kind of shitty to unilaterally boost your roommates’ electric bills in order to make yourself comfortable while making them miserable. However, as there is no private cause of action by which Petitioners may do battle on behalf of the planet, this Court chooses to use its equitable powers to expand upon the tort of douchebaggery (see Student Body of UVa v. Thimpson Sacher and Offerees Thereof, 27 U.Va. 203 (2017)).  As described above, Respondent’s behavior is intentional, outrageous (lolz Law Student v. Mother Nature), douchey, and distressing; ergo, without further ado, we find Respondent liable for direct douchebaggery.


This Court takes judicial notice that 65°F is 65°F and 72°F is 72°F no matter the season. We’d cite some scientific principle, but unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately, as at least this isn’t what public funding and grant money is being used for these days—the mathematical property read as “A = A” was deemed too duhhh for anyone to want to take credit, put his (it would totes be a his) name on it, and be immortalized as the person who pointed out the obvious.[2]  In addition, while in the grand scheme of things it is a relatively novel idea, as such innovation has only been around for roughly half a millennium (vs. the wheel c. 3,500 BC), opening or closing a window is in fact an ecological method of climate control with tremendous effectiveness limited to a single room! For instance, if it is November, 71°F in the apartment, and 62°F outside, one can contrive to mix the cooler (fresher!) outdoor air with the warm, allegedly stale air inside the building by sliding the panel of glass up, rather than turning on the AC.  The additional benefit of this method of climate control is the ability to customize one’s own space to personal preference, rather than inflicting such preference upon all cohabitants.


With regard to the IIED claim, this Court is sick and tired of adjudicating such whiny bullshit.  Therefore, rather than going through the motions, the Court leaves it to Respondent to consider whether it is better to have an increasingly pissed-off roomie or, well, oneself constantly hovering on the brink of pissed off due to lack of sleep?  In so ruling, this Court congratulates itself on ensuring a constant stream of future litigation as passive aggression becomes outright aggression and the roomie situation escalates.


In sum, happy Earth Day.  Quit wasting electricity and making your roommates miserable—rather, show a touch of respect for the planet and your fellow humans.


The decision of the court below, enforcing injunctive relief against Respondent and damages of public shaming, three-quarters of recent power bills, two strawberry milkshakes, a bouquet of petunias, and some lemonade, is hereby affirmed.

It is so ordered.


Chief Justice VanderMeulen concurring in part, dissenting in part, and concurring in the judgment.

I join the judgment of the Court, which I find to be judicious and precise. Respondent’s ridiculous manipulation of the apartment thermostat ends here, and the damages due to Petitioner ought to justly redress the class’s injury.

Rather than the Court’s enviro-Marxist nonsense, I uphold the judgment of the Court like a red-blooded American: through objection to waste and entitlement. The environmental impact of Respondent’s profligacy is next to nil, but the vice and sheer outrage of such wastefulness is very real. Respondent demonstrates his moral vacuity and blameworthiness by way of his deplorable self-indulgence, which has inflicted grievous cost on Petitioner and demonstrated Respondent’s own depravity. Only the most despicably self-obsessed among us indulge their own comforts with so little regard for the natural way of the world and their roommates’ pocketbooks.

With this in mind, I join Parts III-A, IV, and VI of the Court’s opinion. I’ll celebrate Earth Day like any good salt-of-the-earth American: by driving a four-wheeler out to a bonfire full of old-growth cedars through a Wetland. But I join with the Court to condemn the vicious waste here occurring.

[1] Because if there’s one thing the last few hurricane seasons have shown, it’s that humanity > nature.

[2] This despite endemic mansplaining—so maybe it’s something beyond obvious even?

Alumni Corner: Former Law Weekly Editor Curtis Romig '98

As part of our Alumni Corner feature, Law Weekly staff will be periodically interviewing UVa Law graduates. To nominate a graduate, please email with contact information.

To begin our Alumni Corner feature, we thought we’d show some nepotism and reach out to a former Law Weekly editor-in-chief. Curtis Romig ’98 is currently a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner[1] in Atlanta. Before joining Bryan Cave, he clerked in the Norfolk Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, specifically for Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr.

 Curtis Romig '98. Photo courtesy Bryan Cave.

Curtis Romig '98. Photo courtesy Bryan Cave.

Romig was editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Weekly during a transitional time in the history of the paper. He described how the growth of different academic journals at the Law School caused the paper, which for much of its history had served as a platform for publishing scholarly articles from professors, to change directions. His staff started focusing more on what was happening at the Law School from the eyes of the students. The issues also started to contain more humor about the student body. His favorite issue was the “April Fools” issue where the front page contained Onion-like satirical articles. One article was about UVa Law’s U.S. News and World Report ranking plummeting; Romig remembers people coming up to him saying they couldn’t believe it. “I said, ‘Did you even read the article?’” Romig remembers chuckling.

Romig treasures his time on the Law Weekly, telling members of the editorial board that the editing experience was invaluable. Becoming editor-in-chief also gave him the opportunity to learn about managing people that he didn’t receive elsewhere in law school, an experience he says he’s valued as he has ascended to partner at his firm. Romig still feels pride in his staff and the content they produced when he looks at the issues—he keeps a bound copy in his office of the Law Weekly volume produced during his time as head of the paper. Infusing the issues with fresh humor was his favorite aspect. Where the current Law Weekly issues feature a sudoku and a cartoon, the old issues featured pictures submitted by the student body with humorous captions created by the editorial team. Although Romig always focused the humor on the student body as a whole, he recalls that one student featured in a photo did not appreciate the joke in the caption and called him angrily, threatening to physically harm him. The experience allowed Romig to see the wide reach and potentially damaging effects of his words, a valuable experience for an aspiring lawyer.

Romig was also influential in stepping up the amount of sports and Law School news coverage in the Law Weekly. During his time, he included weekly updates from NGSL as well as UVa athletic team updates. The NGSL column, called Vanguard of Democracy,[2] played the role that Around North Grounds plays today, anonymously and good-naturedly lampooning various aspects of the Law School’s culture.

Today, Romig leads the litigation department at Bryan Cave’s Atlanta office, winning the largest verdict in the history of Brooks County, Ga., in 2016. Romig’s advice to current students is to understand the culture of the firm or office you are entering with an eye towards how they handle their employees’ needs. He also stressed the importance of understanding how the person who gives you assignments gets their assignments. Is there room to advance directly? Being aware of the business aspects and plans of your office is very important when entering. Other than that, he encourages everyone to “network, network, network.”

“You don’t have to network with people you don’t like," he clarified. "Network with the people that you do like.” That’s a smart method to ensure you are maximizing your time networking with those you respect and want to emulate.

When asked about what he’s glad he didn’t know when graduating law school, Romig laughingly replied, “The ongoing and constant weight of time entry." Romig encourages new lawyers to be smart about recording their time so it doesn’t pile up. Reminiscing fondly about his days in Charlottesville, Romig urged current students to treasure the time they spend in law school and at UVa. And of course, he advised all students to pick up copies of the Virginia Law Weekly.

[1] Bryan Cave recently merged with Berwin Leighton Paisner to form Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. Hooray for the ever-expanding, monstrous behemoths of BigLaw!

[2] Unless something dramatic has changed in NGSL in the last 20 years, this was surely another attempt at satire.

Faculty Lunch: An Afternoon With Career Services

M. Eleanor Schmalzl '20
Executive Editor

 Kevin "Savior of Rising 2Ls" Donovan. Photo courtesy of the University of Virginia School of Law.

Kevin "Savior of Rising 2Ls" Donovan. Photo courtesy of the University of Virginia School of Law.

 Marit "Goddess of Employment" Spekman. Courtesy of University of Virginia School of Law.

Marit "Goddess of Employment" Spekman. Courtesy of University of Virginia School of Law.

As the end of 1L spring quickly approaches, I can’t help but look back on all the things I’ve learned. One of the biggest learning curves during this first year was understanding the legal market; how people get jobs, the right thing to say in interviews, and how to best market myself. And while I have found it challenging to find just my own path to success, Kevin Donovan and Marit Spekman, Senior Assistant Dean for Career Services and Senior Director of Law Firm Recruiting, respectively, make it their business to help everyone in the school find gainful employment.  Knowing this, members of the Law Weekly staff sat down with these two last week to learn more about their paths to UVa, their experiences at the Law School, and what makes their job worth it.

On advice to students going through the job search process, Donovan and Spekman both had insight to share. “Employers want a strong mix of skills,” Spekman explained. “Stay engaged and view it as a marathon, not a sprint.” Dean Donovan echoed Spekman, saying, “The goal isn’t to avoid messing it up, the goal is to have it go great.  Stay positive, be bold, work with us and don’t get demoralized by the ups and downs.” Dean Donovan also stressed the importance of not checking out and trying to manage the process on your own. They both agreed that the students who struggle the most in the job process tend to be the ones who don’t utilize Career Services in navigating the search process. 

With that response, the Law Weekly group asked the duo how students who may be nervous to come to Career Services to ask for help should approach doing so. As part of the 1L class that has the reputation of “not going to anything”  in terms of firm events, I was particularly curious about their advice to students who may worry that the Career Services team would be mad that students hadn’t come in sooner. “We’re very forward-looking,” Donovan explained. “We’re not going to look at someone and tell them they should’ve been here sooner. Our goal is to move forward, not look back.”

Dean Donovan’s positive response led us to ask about his and Spekman’s favorite part of their jobs. “Seeing the evolution of people from their 1L to 3L,” Dean Donovan responded. It was clear he enjoyed seeing the transformation of students, from knowing so little to being prepared to enter a major legal market with a strong firm job. Spekman, along the same vein, said her favorite part of the job is “helping students find what they want to do and then helping them succeed in it.” Spekman, reflecting on her decision to come to UVa for this position, said she “couldn’t do it anywhere else.” For Spekman, the people and the environment of UVa are part of what make the stress of the job worth it. Dean Donovan echoed her applause of the UVa community, discussing how Charlottesville was such a great fit for him and his family when he decided to make a career shift. The UVa office was the only place he applied when he was looking to leave the firm life. It’s history from there. 

As the meeting came close to the end, the conversation shifted to the OGI process. Being the only 1L in the bunch, I talked about how daunting OGI can seem and asked how 2Ls and 3Ls, after finishing OGI, felt looking back. “Everyone’s nervous, but it’s not the worst experience,” Donovan noted, pointing out that once students get into the rhythm of the process, it can be a really positive experience. Spekman felt similarly, saying, “After a relatively quiet summer, OGI is kind of a fun way to kick off the next school year.”  Spekman talked about how there’s a lot of adrenaline and life at the Law School during that time, and how great it is to see that shift. Students enjoy getting to see their classmates, many of whom they haven’t seen in months, and de-stress together in the halls. There’s a sense of camaraderie about that moment where all the people in the hall knock on their respective interview doors; it can be a really uniting experience.

After hearing about the positive side of the OGI process, I asked the loaded question: What are some of the top recent OGI horror stories? Donovan took this question, reflecting on two natural disaster scenarios the school has faced during this process. The first bizarre incident he discussed was an actual beehive inside the school during OGI. The school called someone in to extract it and that area obviously wasn’t usable during the rest of the interview process. A fun twist, though: the honey from the hive was sold at next year’s PILA auction to fund unpaid public service jobs.  And second, the year an earthquake hit during the OGI interview timeframe. Interviewers wouldn’t go back inside after the earthquake happened, so there were interviews conducted in Spies Garden instead.

The meeting ended with the duo asking us how we felt about the job search process. They wanted to learn more about our experiences and where we felt it could improve, showing their commitment to making this process as effective and painless as possible for students. Given all the angst and uncertainty that comes naturally with the job search process, the Law Weekly is glad the leaders of Career Services are so accessible and frank. Students with questions about getting a job after law school should be sure to utilize the resources Career Services offers.  It might all seem intimidating and mysterious, but the office, including Donovan and Spekman, are here to help. 


Hot Bench: Clayton Bailey '18

Hot Bench: Clayton Bailey '18

1. What are you most excited for during your summer? 

Charlottesville during the summer is just delightful. I’ll spend some time studying for the bar, drink some wine, and hit all the classics I won’t see again until I come back down to “recruit,”  “go to alumni events,” or “do other things that I’m actually going to do and don’t belong in quotation marks.” 

2. What is your favorite word?   

The abbreviated version of “casual” that you can’t spell in a way that seems right. 

3. Where did you grow up?  

Kentucky . . . not many people know that. 

4. What’s your favorite hobby to avoid the stress of law school?  

Re-watching The West Wing. Still great. 

5. Where is your favorite place to vacation? 

Ireland. The ground is never dry but the people are hilarious. There’s a lot of really cutting sarcasm and everyone looks vaguely like my grandpa. Great craic!  

6. What’s something you wish you’d known about law school before coming to UVa Law? 

The most accurate part of Legally Blonde is the scene where Elle gets asked a question, she answers it in a dumb way, and everyone laughs. No one means it in a mean way, but pay attention—you’ll see it. 

7. What did you have for breakfast this morning? 

Scrambled eggs . . . is this a question about legal realism? We get it, this school really leans toward the rules side of the rules-standards debate. 

8. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? 

Wait, there are options outside of New York and D.C.? 

9. What’s your least favorite sound?  

I restarted playing Candy Crush a couple of weeks ago for some reason, and the music is starting to seep into my dreams. 

10. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? 

The gift of friendship. And I receive it every day. That’s what UVa Law is all about. #UVALawDay #Retweet #Collegiality 

11. Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC? 

*NSYNC. My birthday is in May, so “It’s Gonna Be Me” is sort of a personal anthem. 

12. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be? 

When attending karaoke, “Piano Man” is best left until the end of the night. 

13. What’s your favorite food? 

There’s this little sandwich place in Lexington called Dad’s Favorites, that has the best cheese spreads. I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but I do miss it dearly. 

14. If you won the lottery, what would you do with it? 

Fund a PAC to advocate for a less regressive government revenue stream. Also, buy a jet ski. 

15. If you had Matrix-like learning, what would you learn? 

Caleb Nelson’s casebook. I’m pretty sure it secretly contains every viewpoint on every legal issue. 

16. If you could be in the winter Olympics, which sport would you compete in? 

Last year, I walked from Ivy to the Pavilion in like a foot of snow, so I think I’m pretty much qualified to compete in any of them. 


UVa Law's Winningest Animals, or, the Pets Who Made Paw Review

Ali Zablocki '19
Articles Editor

 Molly Guerinot. Photo courtesy of Brian Guerinot

Molly Guerinot. Photo courtesy of Brian Guerinot

Queen of Dogs: Molly Guerinot (posthumous)

 1) How did Molly come to be a part of your family? What is her adoption story?
My family went to the local animal shelter and fell in love with her. She was supposed to go with another family, but as luck would have it, they weren’t able to take her, and she joined our family.

2) How did you choose the name Molly?
Not sure how we settled on Molly. Sounded like a great name for her and very fitting.

3) Roughly how old was Molly? How long did you have her?
Molly was fourteen. My family had her from the time she was about six or eight weeks old until last week.

4) What were Molly’s favorite things to do? Least favorite?
Molly loved her walks. As soon as she saw her leash, her tail would start wagging. She also loved her belly rubs and jumping on your bed as soon as you got up in the morning. She did not like thunderstorms, loud trucks, or fireworks.

5) Is there an anecdote that illustrates Molly’s personality?
Our neighbors called her our “lawn ornament” because she loved to lay outside and look around. She would move to the shade as the sun moved across the yard.

 6) Given the opportunity to say whatever she’d like in Law Weekly, what do you think Molly might have chosen to say?
I think she would say, “I loved my family very much. They took great care of me, let me sleep in their beds, and rubbed my belly. They taught me to sit, stay (most of the time), and army crawl. I taught them to fetch since I was always too lazy to do so. I will miss them all.”

Editor’s Note: Molly passed away during Paw Review. However, she was the most winning animal to participate, raising roughly $200 of the more than $1,100 Paw Review won for Caring for Creatures, a no-kill animal shelter/sanctuary located just outside Charlottesville.

 Jupiter Optimus Maximus Rowe. Photo courtesy of Brielle Rowe.

Jupiter Optimus Maximus Rowe. Photo courtesy of Brielle Rowe.

 King of Cats: Jupiter Optimus Maximus Rowe

1) How did JOM come to be a part of your family / what is his adoption story?
My senior year in college I guilted my parents into agreeing to let me get a Sphynx cat (hereinafter naked cat). After some research, I came across a picture of a newborn male naked cat that was available for sale. (I wanted to adopt, but there really aren’t any naked cats available in shelters). Once he came of adoptable age, I went down to Palm Springs with my mom, picked him up and drove the eight hours home. We really bonded during that time. At first he didn’t trust me, but after an hour or so he was comfortable enough to fall asleep in my arms, only waking up to scream every so often. Though he didn’t trust me immediately, for me it was love at first sight. As soon as I saw his barely-open eyes, I knew that we would be best friends forever.

 2) How did you choose the name Jupiter Optimus Maximus? Is JOM (“johm”) his nickname, or does he go by something else? (Not sure I’m reading it right!)
I was an Ancient Greek and Roman History major in college, and Jupiter (Optimus Maximus) is the Roman god of gods. To be fair, I had the name before the cat. I needed a cat that could live up to the name, and this little naked dude fits the bill. He is basically omnipotent. As I like to say, he’s semi-omnipotent. While Jupiter Optimus Maximus is his given name, JOM is one of the many names I call him. His other nicknames are derivatives of JOM (for example, JOMmy, JOMmo, JOMmer, JOM-boy, JOMerson, etc.).

 3) Roughly how old is JOM? How long have you had him?
JOM is just over two years old. His birthday is 2/16/16. He and I were united on May 13, 2016. We haven’t looked back since.

 4) What are JOM’s favorite things to do? Least favorite?
JOM has many favorite things. For one, he likes to snuggle with his brother Osiris (who does have fur) until Osiris tries to bite his skin. He also likes to stand on my books while I’m trying to read and then refuses to move when I need to turn the page. JOM also loves to get under my blanket in the middle of the night, wait until I fall back asleep, and then endlessly twist himself in the blanket until he has all of the blanket and I have none. His all-time favorite thing to do is to get brushed with a bath brush. To this day I’m not sure how we figured out that a bath brush was a good naked cat brush, but he loves it. Some of his least favorite things are getting his nails clipped and baths. I have to regularly bathe JOM, otherwise he gets greasy. It’s not fun in the moment, but he gets lots of treats after. He also really hates plane flights (understandably).

 5) What’s an anecdote that illustrates JOM’s personality?
There are so many stories I could tell about JOM, but I will limit myself to one. When we first met, I gave JOM a little stuffed lion that was creatively named Little Lion. He pretended not to like it for a few days, but then wouldn’t be caught without it. He played with it so much that he ended up ripping giant holes in it. Every time he ripped a hole in it, he would bring it to my bed and put it on my pillow, expecting me to stitch it up. Of course I did. Every single time. He loved Little Lion so much that it ended up with an appearance worse than Frankenstein’s Monster. When I finally had to throw Little Lion out, JOM was so upset that he didn’t sleep in my bed for a week. Over a year later, I still think he’s mad at me. Long story short, he’s basically a child who knows how to hold a grudge.

 6) Given the chance to say whatever he’d like in Law Weekly, what do you think JOM would choose to say?
He would have so much to say. Where to begin? First, he would demand treats, and then tuna. Then he would like to say that despite his wrinkles, there’s no need to call him ugly. It’s rude. They say not to judge a book by its cover, so don’t judge a cat by his wrinkles and belly fat. Also, he would like to say that you shouldn’t be afraid to pet him. He feels like velvet, not a lizard or a shark or anything like that. Velvet. He would also like to give thanks to all the good people who voted for him, but more importantly donated to a good charity.

 Gary Coughlin. Photo courtesy of Anne Coughlin.

Gary Coughlin. Photo courtesy of Anne Coughlin.

Emperor of All Other Animals: Gary Coughlin

 1) How did Gary come to be a part of your family? Why did you choose a toad as a companion?
Gary chose us as companions.  He took up residence in a linen closet that happens to be contained in my home.  I believe, but cannot confirm, that our cat, Trixie, encouraged him to look upon us with favor.

 2) How did you choose the name Gary?
We did not choose the name Gary.  Gary's parents chose his name, just as, I assume, your parents chose yours.

 3) Roughly how old is Gary? How long have you had him?
It would be impolite to ask him his age.  He has lived with us for three years.

 4) What are Gary’s favorite things to do? Least favorite?
Favorite things:  Posing for photographs.  Napping.  Hiding in the watering can.  Least favorite:  Being chased by our dog, Sebastian.

 5) What’s an anecdote that illustrates Gary’s personality?
On summer nights, Trixie frequently opens the door and leaves it ajar.  On many of these occasions, Gary has taken it upon himself to stand upon our doorstep, guarding against intruders.

 6) Given the opportunity to say whatever he’d like in Law Weekly, what might Gary say?
Whatever he might say would be uttered in a pleasing, but difficult to decipher, medium-pitched trill.

 7) Does Gary feel that this year’s victory has made up for any perceived slight by Paw Review in the past?
Gary has a thick skin, impervious to slights.   His campaign manager is another story.  She is thinking of suing Paw Review for otherizing this noble toad.


Court of Petty Appeals: From the Docket, 4-4 2018

The Court of Petty Appeals is the highest appellate jurisdiction court at UVa Law. The Court has the power to review any and all decisions, conflicts, and disputes that arise involving, either directly, indirectly, or tangentially, the Law School or its students. The Court comprises four associate justices and one Chief Justice. Opinions shall be released periodically and only in the official court reporter: the Virginia Law Weekly. Please email a brief summary of any and all conflicts to



            Christopher J. Macomber


            Jansen VanMeulen [sic]

(In his official capacity as Editor of the Law Weekly and in his personal capacity) 

The facts are as follows:

  • On March 27th, I was sitting in Scott Commons (“ScoCo”) with an unnamed Bystander[1]. We were joined by Mr. Jansen VanMeulen [sic], hereinafter the Defendant.
  • I had laid out my belongings across a side ottoman and a table nearby. This included one (1) bag of Skittles that I recovered from the Copy Center after a recent trip there.[2]
  • I left the area for a moment and brought about half of my belongings to go to my locker nearby. I left behind my water bottle, backpack, and the unopened bag of Skittles. I made no mention that I was leaving permanently.
  • Upon my return, within 1-2 minutes, my Skittles were missing. I alerted those around me, including the Defendant, that the Skittles were missing. Defendant immediately admitted that he “took” them. As confirmation, he revealed the opened package of Skittles. Several were taken from the package.[3]

Seeing as the Defendant admitted guilt, I am only seeking COPA’s attention for the proper remedy. 

Prayer for Relief:

  • On the claim against the Defendant in his official capacity:
    • I am seeking a formal and genuine apology, printed in the Law Weekly; and
  • On the claim against the Defendant in his personal capacity
    • I am seeking an injunction against him from committing similar acts of theft

Respectfully submitted,

Christopher J. Macomber ’19


Mr. Macomber:


The Court of Petty Appeals thanks you (pettily) for your submitted complaint. Unfortunately, there is no "Jansen VanMeulen" known to the Court. As such, the Court is forced, with utmost (petty) regret, to dismiss your complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, pursuant to Petty Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2).




VanderMeulen, C.J.

Honorable C.J. VanderMeulen:

Thank you for your rule correction and order. Because I was dismissed without prejudice (as is the baseline for all 12(b) motions) I have submitted an amended complaint pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure - Rule 15 Amended and Supplemental Pleadings.

 As I am sure you know, your Honor, 15(a) confers essentially an automatic rehearing of the merits on the first amended complaint by the complaining party. I hope this court will honor the text and spirit of the rule.


- Chris Macomber

Mr. Macomber:

The Court thanks you for your submission. While you have most eloquently stated your case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, unfortunately for you, this Court does not follow the FRCP. We follow the Petty Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 1 of which is "We do what we want." (See, e.g., GOOGLLE v. Dugas, 9 U.Va 1 (2017) ("Certainly, the defendants cannot mean we do not have the power to create such rules. As Petty Rule of Civil Procedure 1 points out, 'We do what we want.' Implicit in this statement is the power to do whatever we want.") (opinion of HADEN, C.J.). There is substantial overlap between the Federal and Petty Rules of Civil Procedure, so you can be forgiven for conflating the two.

However, Rule 18 of the PRCP states, "Justices shouldn't be assholes," and we take that rule very seriously. As such--and in the spirit of comity surrounding the Easter and Passover seasons--I have referred to the Court your petition for amended complaint. May God (and Justice Malkowski) have mercy on your soul.


VanderMeulen, C.J.

Court of Petty Appeals


In re Skittles


Statement of VANDERMEULEN, C.J.


No. 17-123                                 Decided April 2, 2018

 The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. Petitioner has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to Petty Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(7),[4] but the Court’s pretty tired at this point in the year and doesn’t really want to argue about it, tbh. Also, as Justice MALKOWSKI writes in her eloquent concurrence, the petitioner spelled my name wrong. He should spell difficult surnames correctly.


MALKOWSKI, J., concurring in the denial of certiorari, in which SHMAZZLE, ELICEGUI, ZABLOCKI, RANZINI, G., and RANZINI, D., JJ., join.

Certainly, the Court of Petty Appeals is at the point in the semester at which sleep deprivation, lack of timely submitted assignments by one Justice Jani, and a general ennui with regard to Matters Pertaining to People are most prevalent. That said, this Justice concurs in the denial of certiorari to note disgruntledly that it denies this Court the valuable opportunity to rule on the important matter of the botching of difficult surnames. This Justice has been assured repeatedly that this profession concerns itself with “attention to detail.” In practice, this principle to which we allegedly adhere has been contradicted by incomprehensible assertions that this Justice’s name is “Markowitz,” “Malkowitz,” “Mallowsky,” and in one inexplicable incident, “Ashley.” This Justice shares this information to protect members of the University community, to promote correct identification of individuals without control over their Slavic or otherwise non-English roots, to help reduce the likelihood of future name-related crimes, and to raise awareness of how to seek prompt assistance (read: blind fury) should future misidentifications occur.

The concurring Justices have all had their names badly botched by cretins like the petitioner. While we're all really too tired to do anything about this case, we hope the Court will jump at the first opportunity in the new school year to take a stand for individuals with maligned surnames.

Accordingly, the petition for a writ of certiorari is DENIED.



[1] This Bystander may be liable for not intervening in the Defendant’s actions but that will turn on if this jurisdiction has a “Good Samaritan Law.” As of the filing of this suit, they are not a listed party.

[2] The Skittles were free and available to all at the Copy Center. This fact does not abrogate my possessory rights once I claimed possession of them however.

[3] This is hearsay but it is still admissible under 801(d)(2)(A) (Party Opponent Exception). [sic]. The Court notes in passing that material admitted under Rule 801 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is not excepted from treatment as hearsay, as under Rules 803 and 804, but rather it is excluded from the definition of hearsay altogether. First the names, and now this? [Ranzini D., J.]

[4] Yeah, that's right, 7. We do what we want.

Law Weekly Special Feature: Historical COPA

Pursuant to the settlement reached with Karl Lockhart ’18 in Anonymous 3L v. Court of Petty Appeals, and Justices thereof, in their official capacity, but especially Chief Justice Goldman and Justice VanderMeulen, Docket 17-139, October 4, 2017, the Virginia Law Weekly has agreed to publish old decisions periodically. It is with great pleasure that the Court of Petty Appeals publishes the following decision from the October 14, 1965 edition of the Virginia Law Weekly. While the current Court would never refer to members of Law Review as “degenerate,” “gallows-birds,” or, heaven forbid, “lickspittle caitiffs,” the Court is intrigued that, despite all the changes over the decades, some things remain constant.

Old COPA.jpg

Do the Login Two-Step, But Read the Fine Print

Law Weekly Staff

The Virginia Law Weekly applauds the University’s recently publicized initiative to require two-factor authentication for all students and faculty. In the interest of providing the Law School community with the most complete information possible regarding this change, we conducted interviews this past week with Law IT User Support Manager Jason Bayers, Strategic Projects & Initiatives Senior Project Manager Dale Dew, Information Security Liaison Stacey Sties, and Chief Information Security Officer Jason Belford. The Law Weekly thanks them for their attention to our concerns. This statement summarizes certain relevant findings, based in part on our meetings, and presents the Law Weekly’s recommendations to the Law School community and to UVa Information Security going forward.

Why the change?

According to CISO Belford, the move to two-factor authentication has been in the works since the summer, 2015 hacking incident, popularly known among some in the community as “that time we got hacked by China.” In response to this incident, the University established a security enhancement program called SecureUVA. Details about this program are available at (NetBadge access required to view.)

The “two factor” in “two factor authentication” refers to systems which make authentication depend both on a password (“something you know”) and a secondary form of identification, such as a code sent to a pre-designated phone, an automated voice call, or a physical device. (“Something you have”). This secondary check reduces the risks associated with password theft or phishing. UVa Information Security is concerned that phishing poses a significant threat to the community and to systems, such as SIS, which protect highly sensitive financial data.

What should students do now?

First, enroll at as soon as possible. The system which the University has selected, Duo Security, offers a variety of options to use as a second factor, but all users must designate at least one telephone number at which they can be reached. Users may elect to install the Duo mobile application, which allows for authentication by responding to a push notification. Privacy-conscious users should be aware, however, that the Duo mobile application contains features which may collect some potentially sensitive information, such as what other applications are installed on the user’s device. CISO Belford has informed the Law Weekly that UVa has not purchased a license to make use of those features and has no intention of ever collecting that kind of information on students; however, as other means of authentication exist which are similarly easy-to-use, it is entirely feasible to pass on the mobile application.

Second, generate a set of backup codes and store them in a safe place. If you lose your phone, you will need one of these backup codes to regain access to your NetBadge-protected services. Consider making use of an encrypted password vault to store your passwords and backup codes. KeePassXC ( is one free and open-source, cross-platform option. UVa Information Security has informed the Law Weekly that they plan to provide UVa students with licenses to use a proprietary password vault system in the near future.

Third, remain vigilant against phishing attacks. Always hover over links you receive in emails before you click them, and make sure that they lead where they purport to lead. Never enter your password on a login page sent to you via email. Remember that the University will never ask you to send your password via email. If you suspect that you have received a phishing message, do not open it. Instead, forward it to immediately.

What remains to improve?

In the time that we have had to test Duo Security, it has proven to be a reasonably reliable and easy-to-use two-factor system. No system is perfect, however, and the Law Weekly has identified three points which we would like to bring to the attention of UVa IT Security.

1. As presently configured, Duo delivers a set of ten one-time-use passcodes all at once to users who elect to receive codes by SMS. Although this approach offers a marginal time and bandwidth savings, the Law Weekly is concerned that providing multiple codes in this fashion does not fully protect users against “shoulder-surfing”: a hypothetical malicious actor who video-recorded a student entering their password could also, just as easily, record them checking their text messages, thereby getting enough information to log in to NetBadge at their convenience. The Law Weekly recommends that UVa IT Security either reconfigure Duo to send only one code at a time or disable the SMS feature altogether in favor of the voice call option.

2. Having had the opportunity to test Duo’s support for FIDO U2F hardware security dongles (a.k.a. “YubiKeys”), the Law Weekly asks UVa IT Security to officially offer interested students and faculty the option of purchasing and making use of such devices. Although hardware dongles have limits—in particular, UVa IT Security has informed the Law Weekly that limited browser support contributed to their decision not to officially support YubiKey devices at this time—the Law Weekly feels that they could offer the UVa a robust and easy-to-use alternative to phone authentication.

 A Yubikey, which provides an alternative token to phones for two-factor authentication. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

A Yubikey, which provides an alternative token to phones for two-factor authentication. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

3. The Law Weekly is troubled by UVa IT Security's practice of sending links to NetBadge-secured resources by email. Spear-phishing, in which the attacker creates a convincing-looking false login page that intercepts user credentials, relies on user complacency toward emailed links. System administrators, therefore, should not allow their users to become accustomed to using emailed login pages. The Law Weekly asks that UVa IT Security consider adopting a no-hyperlinks policy. In the instant case, by way of illustration, it would have been a far more responsible approach to simply instruct students to keep an eye out for the orange information box on the NetBadge login screen and provide an example of what that box should look like.


The Vagina Monologues, or The V-Word Takes Center Stage

Elizabeth Sines, '19
Guest Columnist

I will never forget the way I felt when I saw The Vagina Monologues for the first time. I was a sophomore undergrad who had just declared a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies, but I had considered myself a feminist for years. I thought I was very comfortable in my own body and, for the most part, I could talk about sex with ease.

 But as the monologues began, and a woman dressed in head-to-toe red took center stage to discuss her journey to love her own pubic hair, I felt myself simultaneously intrigued and incredulous that I was about to spend the next two hours listening to women fearlessly talk about their vaginas, their pleasure, and their sexual relationships. This was completely novel for me. I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and had always been taught that “ladies” did not discuss such “private and intimate matters” in public. In fact, even the word “vagina” was taboo. Throughout my life, vaginas were referred to by a series of cartoonish names—a "peep," a "coochie," ormy mother’s personal favoritea bugaboo. Growing up, quite frankly, it seemed to me that the right way to refer to a vagina was by any word other than vagina.

 Because no one other than my gynecologist could bear to even speak the v-word, it should come as no surprise that discussions about women’s sexual pleasure were not something I was used to. My favorite shows and movies depicted the sexual development and experiences of male characters quite often, but noticeably absent was any acknowledgment that women, too, were sexual beings capable of experiencing sexual pleasure. Seriously, I watched Jason Biggs pleasure himself with an apple pie before I ever saw a woman discuss masturbation with her friends on a television screen. So I was floored when, an hour into The Vagina Monologues, a lingerie-clad woman with a whip burst onto the stage and gave a powerful speech detailing the various ways she loved to make herself, and other women, moan in bed. I was in awe of the way she so confidently and unashamedly discussed orgasms. It was the first time I had ever heard a woman talk about orgasms as though they were something she had control and autonomy over. Pleasure was not just something women could hope to receive in their sexual encounters with others, but something they had a right to actively seek out and, even more importantly, something that they could provide for themselves without shame.

Flash forward four years, and I am now co-directing The Vagina Monologues with Courtney Koelbel and Amanda Lineberry, two women I befriended when I performed in the show for the first time last year. My views on sex, sexuality, and womanhood have evolved greatly since my first time watching the show, and I now recognize that there are aspects of the original conception of The Vagina Monologues that are outdated and exclusionary, especially of transwomen. That is why, this year, we have worked hard to make the show more inclusive by incorporating outside pieces amplifying the experiences of women of color and centering monologues that acknowledge that womanhood is not determined by having a vagina. Our hope is that the show will be a celebration of every woman and her sexual freedom.

 Please, come out to the Domestic Violence Project’s presentation of The Vagina Monologues on March 30, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. in Caplin Auditorium.  Tickets are available all week from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Hunton & Williams Hall or at the door for three dollars. Light refreshments will be served, and all proceeds will be donated to the Shelter for Help in Emergency.

Libel: A Gift From Above

Editor’s Note: This week, the Virginia Law Weekly solicited reflections from the cast of Libel 110. The following, unedited, is what we received for publication.

 My favorite part of the show is tech week. Tech week is the last week of rehearsals right before the show. They’re long and tedious, but it’s the only time the whole cast is there, and we really bond. We also get to see the whole show come together for the first time, and there’s something really cool about seeing a bunch of these weird stand-alone sketches and putting them together to form a cohesive show. In the beginning you’re all strangers. It’s a little weird but just four days later, it’s you hanging out with your new best friends.  

Jeremiah Kirstein ‘18
Assistant Director

Libel 110 for Law Weekly - 6 of 7.jpg

This experience has taught me the important and unique role that the Libel Show plays at UVa Law School. It’s an opportunity to laugh amidst our many stressors, to point out the many quirks and foibles of our school and the legal profession, and to bring the Law School community together for an evening of revelry and merriment. But more than that, it is also important for our participants as they are able to use their many creative talents to express their thoughts and ideas in a manner very different from what they are generally asked to do in law school. I am so grateful to our entire cast and crew who pulled off an amazing show; they are such an incredibly talented group of actors, singers, dancers, band members, technical experts, video and sound editors, and more. It is their enthusiasm and dedication to Libel that has made this process more rewarding than I had ever imagined. As I close out my time as co-Director, I am thrilled and hopeful as I know, with them at the helm, the future of the Libel Show is bright indeed.

Katerina Siefkas ’18

“I think my favorite part is it would always take us a solid 20 seconds to figure out if it was him on stage before we started yelling.”

“We really expanded his fan club, there were people yelling for 2L Jade even by the end.”

“I think it would be gauche of me to comment on my own role.”

The 2L Jake Fan Club ’19

Libel 110 for Law Weekly - 4 of 7.jpg

Being a part of Libel is a ridiculous amount of fun, but it’s also amazing to see how much talent and skill people have outside of class/other “normal” law school things. I felt that last year while playing in the band and watching my classmates on stage, but I felt it even more this year being a part of Junta and seeing how much work and creativity go into the making of the show. For a bunch of law students with minimal free time, it’s mind-blowing that we’re able to pull off a production of this caliber year after year.

Courtney Koelbel ’19
Technical Director (Sound) / Band (Viola) / Cast

Libel 110 for Law Weekly - 7 of 7.jpg

My favorite moment had to be from the night when the professors were in the audience. There was a sketch where a bunch of students were impersonating professors teaching a high school sex-ed class, and the sketch-version of Anne Coughlin attests that she has had sex within the past two days. The real-life Professor Coughlin, sitting in the front row of the audience, triumphantly fist-pumped in response. It was a wonderful moment.

Emily Brown ’20
Band (Banjo & Flute)

Free Meek

Julie Dostal '19

Features Editor Emeritus

As the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles waited in the tunnel, fans’ ears perked up. It was announced before the game that the team would run onto the field to a Philadelphia anthem.[1] The intro dropped. The relentless beat coupled with the harsh voice of a 25-year-old North Philadelphian filled U.S. Bank Stadium. For those not following the Eagles, the song caught them off guard. Despite the heavy editing, the last line hung over the stadium as the camera zoomed in for a close up of Tom Brady: “these ----- want me dead and I need to make it back home.”[2] Some viewers expressed feeling alienated by the choice of such a “violent rap song.”[3]

For those familiar with this portion of Meek Mill’s iconic "Dreams and Nightmares," we continued the verse in honor of one of the most notable Philadelphians not physically present in Minneapolis. Instead, Robert Rihmeek Williams, AKA Meek Mill, was in Chester State Correctional Institution, a mere thirteen-minute drive from the airport where his football team’s jet left the tarmac.[4] Thirty minutes from Broad Street where thousands would play "Dreams and Nightmares" through phone speakers, car radios, or open apartment windows.[5] Accompanying the music would be chants of “Free Meek!” #FreeMeek trended on multiple social media platforms.[6] The Eagles won. Fans flocked to the streets. The city finally got a Super Bowl parade. Robert Williams, known as Meek Mill, remains in prison. Another victim of a uniquely spiteful judge. Another victim of a particularly corrupt narcotics unit. Another victim of a system that punishes young men for growing up in the wrong neighborhoods, standing on the wrong corners, but most apparently for being black. Meek Mill’s words may have alienated some Super Bowl viewers, but his imprisonment should collectively repulse a country that believes in the "justice" part of the criminal justice system.

 Meek Mill. Photo courtesy  Hypebeast.

Meek Mill. Photo courtesy Hypebeast.

Following his father’s murder at age five, Meek Mill moved with his mother and sister to Berks Street in North Philadelphia. Described as the black sheep of the family, Meek Mill rarely spoke. Only his special affection for motor vehicles, specifically dirt bikes, motivated him to speech. Instead, he remained in his room filling journals with words that rhymed, eventually developing verse after verse for his rap battles.[7]

Philadelphia is not a kind city for aspiring MCs. Before Meek Mill, the city boasted Will Smith on its list of top five hip-hop artists. It’s a city so lacking in success stories, Beanie Sigel tops the list of rappers achieving mainstream success.[8] For those lucky enough to discover Meek Mill on YouTube early in his career, each video was a raw, lyrically quick recitation of life in North Philly,[9] one of America's most murderous localities. Meek had ten friends die while he lived in North Philly, and another six or seven while he was on the city’s south side.[10] Meek Mill’s adolescence coincided with an unprecedented rise in violent crimes in Philadelphia.[11] His raps are saturated with this struggle to survive within the violence of his city.

By 2007, Meek Mill was achieving more mainstream success. He released a well-received mixtape and hoped to sign with fellow rapper T.I.’s label. Then, the testimony of a crooked Philadelphia cop sent Meek Mill to prison for the first time. What follows is a chronological account of how the criminal justice system has not just continued to fail Meek Mill, but further how Philadelphia police and one Philadelphia judge exploited the lawspecifically the parole systemto continually imprison an individual typifying the type of rehabilitation allegedly envisioned by the creators of the criminal justice system.

At 4:45pm on January 27, 2007, Philadelphia Narcotics Field Unit (NFU) detective Reggie Graham claimed to see Meek Mill selling crack to a confidential informant on the corner of Jackson and 22nd Street.[12] Meek insists he was in a Center City courtroom with a large group of family members watching the trial of his cousin Thelonious. The trial lasted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Multiple witnesses corroborate Meek’s whereabouts.[13] The Center City courthouse is a minimum thirty-minute commute from the location of the alleged crime.[14] There is no forensic evidence Meek Mill was in court that day. Neither is there forensic evidence from the alleged drug bust. Detective Graham either failed to lab-test the crack he allegedly seized from the Jackson Street bust or the lab test failed to be transferred to the court.[15] Based on his testimony of the purported drug bust, Detective Graham received a warrant to search Meek Mill’s cousin’s home, where Meek spent a majority of his time.[16]

The following night, officers from Philadelphia’s Narcotics Field Unit arrived at the home. Based on Meek’s own testimony, he was sitting on the front stoop when the officers arrived. He tossed the gun he carried for protection from his person and hit the ground.[17] The police then lifted his body and, using his head as a truncheon, bashed in the door of his cousin’s home. The police confiscated $30,000 from Meek’s cousin’s room.[18] His cousin dealt marijuana for a living. No crack was found in the home.[19]

As a result of the raid, Meek Mill faced nineteen counts in the Court of Common Pleas. Roughly a third of the charges involved carrying an unlicensed gun. Other charges involved drugs and assault. Detective Graham also claimed Meek Mill pointed his weapon at Graham and another officer. Mill waived his right to a jury trial, due to the thousands of dollars it generates in additional legal fees. He claims he barely saw his lawyer before trial; a situation that likely contributed to the wholly inadequate defense offered by his attorney. Meek’s defense lawyer failed to call witnesses that would contradict Graham’s initial timeline of the crack sale. He also failed to question other officers from the day of the arrest at Meek Mill’s cousin’s home.[20] Judge Genece Brinkley acquitted Meek’s co-defendants. She found Meek Mill guilty of seven charges, four involving the weapon. She sentenced Meek Mill to two years in prison and eight years of strict probation.[21] This was Meek Mill’s first conviction.

In the fall of 2009, after almost two years in prison, Meek Mill walked out a free man, a free man very aware of his eight years of strict probation. He went right to work selling mixtapes of songs he wrote in prison with the help of new manager Charlie Mack. Again, his story may seem alienating. He suffered an injusticeone so common it captivated listeners across the DMV area, catapulting Meek Mill to more mainstream popularity.[22] In 2011, he signed with Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group. Meek Mill then released "Dreams and Nightmares," his debut album, an absolutely epic “freshman” effort from such a seasoned MC. Meek Mill ascended to the throne of Philly rap and seemed destined for more national acclaim. "Dreams and Nightmares" peaked as the number-two album in America.[23]

On his way to the Philadelphia International Airport to attempt to fly through Hurricane Sandy to make a show in Atlanta, Meek Mill was pulled over by the police. The officers stated that his windows were tinted and they smelled marijuana. The officers arrested the rapper and impounded his car. Hours of searching produced no evidence. After an evening in jail, Meek Mill was released with no charges. But Judge Brinkley was so aggravated by the last-minute changes to Meek’s travel plans (his involuntary overnight stay in prison), she requested he take a drug test. The test came back clean. She ordered another test. The second test also came back clean. Yet Judge Brinkley barred Meek Mill from touringa decision that likely cost him $6 to $8 million dollars.[24] She assigned him a new parole officer, who demanded an hour-by-hour schedule of the rapper’s daily life.[25]

 A more bizarre turn occurred when both the Judge and Meek Mill’s new parole officer, Treas Underwood, began praising the rapper’s former manager, Charlie Mack, during Meek’s subsequent court appearances.[26] Meek Mill was managed by Mack during his initial rise to popularity from when he was released from prison in 2009 to when he signed with Maybach Music Group in 2011. For the next five years, Judge Brinkley would systematically stop Meek Mill from touring, send him back to jail, and extend his probation. These events often occurred parallel to an album release.

The latest example of Judge Brinkley’s abuse of the system happened just last year. Meek Mill was in New York City to film a segment of The Tonight Show. As he was driving uptown, a group of kids on dirt bikes pulled alongside his Rolls Royce. Meek rolled down his window and asked if he could borrow one of the bikes for a ride. A kid happily obliged and Meek Mill joyfully popped wheelies down the streets of New York with his cameraman filming for his Instagram followers. The next day Meek Mill was arrested by the NYPD on a felony count of reckless endangerment. The charge was later downgraded to a misdemeanor, then dropped. Meek Mill was then ordered back to Philadelphia, after being found in violation of his probation. Judge Brinkley sentenced Meek Mill to two-to-four more years in prison.[27] Both the Philadelphia District Attorney and Meek Mill’s parole officer opposed jail time.[28]

The NFU detective who originally testified to Meek Mill selling crack on the corner of 22nd and Jefferson Street quietly retired last year from the force, plagued by rumors of dishonesty and deceit. In early 2009, as Meek Mill continued to serve out his first sentence, a group of Philadelphia NFU officers were caught on security cameras robbing bodegas in North Philadelphia. All members involved in the scandal maintained their positions, while taxpayers shelled out almost $2 million in damages to the robbery victims.[29]

The NFU has appeared repeatedly in the news for intentionally robbing people’s homes, usually in North Philadelphia.[30] The detective at the center of Meek Mill’s arrest was corrupt. He was a known liar and his partners testified to his dishonesty. A list recently leaked from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office placed Reggie Graham on a list of officers too dishonest to be trusted as a source of testimony.[31] It is especially damning information considering the word of Detective Graham was the sole evidence in the granting of the original search warrant.

Since his original conviction, Meek Mill has been sent back to prison four times. His original sentence called for twenty-three months in prison. He has served almost four years and earned an additional fourteen years of probation. Many see Meek Mill’s case as a stark example of Pennsylvania’s broken parole system.[32] In his moments of freedom, he has released three albums, toured the world, and attempted to start a record label to help other up-and-coming artists. Meek Mill has not been convicted of so much as a misdemeanor during his time outside of Chester State.[33]

In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed he doesn’t allow many visitors to Chester State Correctional. He says he’s not alive in prison.[34] Meek Mill is currently appealing the probation violation sentence. His attorneys have requested Judge Brinkley recuse herself. The FBI is aware of her problematic sentencing habits. In 2016, the agency asked Meek Mill to wear a wire while meeting with Judge Brinkley. Meek Mill refused.[35] The Philadelphia  prosecutors’ office is reconsidering the case in light of the new report from the District Attorney concerning Graham’s trustworthiness. There may be hope for Meek Mill. Until his release, Meek Mill’s case demonstrates the corruption and abuse of the criminal justice system by individuals in positions of power in Philadelphia. Meek Mill’s music may alienate some listeners. The nightmares of his reality should alienate everyone. Free Meek.



[1] Chris Chavez, Watch Eagles Take the Field to Meek Mills Dreams and Nightmares, Sports Illustrated, (2/4/18),

[2] Id.

[3] Warren Tudd Huston, The Philadelphia Eagles have Announced the Team Will Run out onto the Field at Super Bowl LII to a Highly Controversial rap song that Critics call Sexist, Racist, and Violent, Breitbart News, (2/4/18),

[4] “Directions from Chester State Correctional Institution to Center City Philadelphia,” Google Maps, (last visited 3/14/18).

[5] Keith Caulfield & Kevin Rutherford, Meek Mill’s Dreams and Nightmares Earned 1.4 Million Streams on Day After Superbowl, Billboard, 2/7/2018,

[6] Deena Zaru, Phildelphia Eagles Show Solidarity with Imprisoned Meek Mill During Super Bowl Entrance, Cnn, 2/5/2018; Specific Philadelphia Eagles have showed continued support for Meek Mill, showing up at a rally protesting the rapper’s latest prison sentence. See Evan Grossman, Eagles Using Meek Mill as Their Super Bowl Soundtrack, and the Motivation is Mutual, (1/26/2018),

[7] Paul Solotaroff, #FreeMeekMill, Rolling Stone, 3/14/2018.

[8] Ryan Beagle, Top 10 Hip Hop Artists From Philadelphia, Hip Hop Golden age, (Last visited 3/16/18),

[9] 13 of Meek Mill’s Best Throwback Freestyles, Youtube, (Last visited 3/15/18),

[10] Solotaroff, supra note 7.

[11] Jon Hurdle, Philadelphia to Quell an Epidemic of Gun Violence, N.Y. Times, 4/15/2007 (“From 2004 to 2006, the number of homicides in the city rose 22 percent.”). See also Murder Rates in 50 American Cities, The Economist, 2/17/2017,

[12] Solotaroff, supra note 7.

[13] Id.

[14] “Directions from Center City Court of Common Pleas to the Corner of Jackson and 22nd Street,” Google Maps, (last visited 3/14/18).

[15] Solotaroff, supra note 7.

[16] Id.

[17] "First day I ever felt safe outside was when I got me that Sig Sauer." Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Officers on the scene that day have since signed sworn affidavits they never witnessed Meek Mill raise his weapon. Id.

[21] Id.

[22] Jake Denton, The Criminal Justice Data Behind Meek Mill’s Latest Prison Sentence, Pacific Standard, 11/9/2017,

[23] Caulfield and Rutherford, supra note 5.

[24] Solotraoff, supra note 5.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Kristine Phillips, Meek Mill Denied Bail Again as Judge Calls Rapper a “Danger to the Community,” Wash. Post., 12/4/17.

[28] Id.

[29] Solotraoff, supra note 5. See also Walter Olson, Cops Walk in Philadelphia Bodega Robbery Scandal, Cato Institute, 5/14/2014,

[30] Haimy Assefa, Six Philadelphia Officers Arrested on Corruption-Related Charges, Cnn, 7/30/14,;  See also Melissa Hellman, Philadelphia Narcotics Cops Charged with Stealing Drugs and Money, Time, 8/1/2014.

[31] Julie Shaw and Chris Palmer, Here are the 29 Philly Cops on the DA’s ‘Do Not Call’ List, Philly Inquirer, 3/6/2018,

[32] “The problem with Pennsylvania’s laws are that they allow probation to exist in perpetuity. You can be on probation forever in Pennsylvania because you do not receive time served for being on probation.” Sidney Madden, Meek Mill’s Sentencing Generates Protest, Calls for Probation and Parole Reform, NPR Music, 11/15/2017,

[33] Meek Mill has failed to notify his parole officer of trips outside of Philadelphia, failed to make court appearances, and tested positive for Percocet in a 2015 drug test. Each minor infraction led to additional prison time or additional probation. Id.

[34] Solotraoff, supra note 5.

[35] Id.


Murder in Antarctica: Just Asking Questions

Eric Hall '18

Editor Emeritus

Over winter break I took a cruise to Antarctica. The wildlife and natural wonders were life-changing. I saw glaciers that engulfed whole mountain ranges, and icebergs the size of aircraft carriers. I waded through seas of penguins, tiptoed by snoring elephant seals, and photographed a ballet of breaching blue whales. In law school, people always talk about escaping to nature to find “perspective.” In Antarctica, I took a heavy dose. Grades, the bar, even the law itself felt vanishingly insignificant while I was down there, like warm breath on a glacier.

Regrettably, we’re not in school for marine biology or environmental science. Although I’d love to write about playful seal pups, and calving glaciers, we are law students and this is the Law Weekly. Thus, with some casual research, I discovered that even at the frozen end of the world, where there are no courts, police, or politicians, there is law.

 If this penguin committed murder, who would prosecute? The answer may surprise you. Photo Eric Hall /  Virginia Law Weekly

If this penguin committed murder, who would prosecute? The answer may surprise you. Photo Eric Hall / Virginia Law Weekly

There is no government of Antarctica. Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom each claim a slice of it, but since 1961, the rest of the world has not recognized their claims. In that year, twelve countries—including the seven claim-holders—signed the Antarctic Treaty which continues to govern land and sea south of the 60th southern latitude. The treaty guaranteed that no country would enlarge its claim while it was in effect. Despite having no claims, both the United States and the Soviet Union were signatories on the original treaty, representing remarkable cooperation during the heart of the Cold War. The Cold War hints at the original treaty’s purpose and scope. Its key stipulation provides that Antarctica will be used for peaceful purposes only, and that no military presence can be installed there. Later amendments prohibited member nations from exploiting Antarctic natural resources and protected marine life, but the core of the treaty has always governed the relationship between people and nature in Antarctica. Thus, the primary source of law below the 60th southern latitude offers little to govern the relationships between people and other people in Antarctica.

So what happens when people in Antarctica commit crimes against each other? Is it possible to get away with murder in the most remote location on Earth? The answer appears to depend on who you are and what you’re doing down there.

Most people go to Antarctica on a cruise, like I did. Therefore, in the most likely criminal scenario, a tourist voyages to the bottom of the world, beyond the reach of airports or cell towers to dispose of an enemy or loved one. This is not recommended. If you’re an American on board an American vessel, you generally bring your criminal laws with you as you travel south. In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act. The law requires cruise lines to provide passengers a “security guide” that reveals which jurisdiction applies on board. The law also requires cruise ship personnel to report any crimes to the FBI immediately after an incident, and provides criminal and civil penalties for failure to comply. When I asked him, the safety officer on board my ship confirmed (with some suspicion) that he had a pair of handcuffs and a jail he could use for such an occasion. Although data on the incidence of cruise ship crimes are scarce, what happens to such criminals is well-settled and the same no matter where you sail. The more interesting question—and the one savvy killers should be asking—is what happens when someone is murdered on continental Antarctica.

 Potential crime scene Palmer Station. Photo Eric Hall /  Virginia Law Weekly

Potential crime scene Palmer Station. Photo Eric Hall / Virginia Law Weekly

Unfortunately (or fortunately), Antarctic homicide is too uncommon to offer well-settled answers. The Antarctic Treaty offers minimal guidance. And the few examples since its ratification generate conflicting results. The Treaty specifies that scientific personnel and “observers” (officials designated by each signatory to enforce the terms of the treaty) are subject to the jurisdiction of their home country for all “acts and omissions occurring while they are in Antarctica for the purpose of exercising their functions.” The treaty is silent on tourists, however. And regarding scientific personnel, the treaty appears limited to acts that fall within the scope of their employment in Antarctica, i.e. not homicide.

In the year 2000, an Australian astrophysicist mysteriously died after a coughing fit in the middle of the Antarctic winter. He was working on an American Base in territory claimed by New Zealand. Interestingly, the New Zealand authorities investigated. But since the scientist died in the winter, they couldn’t retrieve the body to perform an autopsy until October. Consider that for a moment, the other 50 staff members had to carry on for months not knowing whether a murderer was in their midst! When they finally completed the autopsy, they concluded that the man died from methanol poisoning, but without examining the crime scene it was impossible to determine if it was a suicide, and accident, or the continent’s first recorded murder.

 The author mugs for the camera, thinking little of the legalities that would complicate investigation of his murder. Photo Eric Hall /  Virginia Law Weekly

The author mugs for the camera, thinking little of the legalities that would complicate investigation of his murder. Photo Eric Hall / Virginia Law Weekly

In October 1996, on a huge American base called McMurdo Station that also sits on land claimed by New Zealand, one American cook attacked another with the claw end of a hammer. On American bases, the station chief is commonly deputized as a U.S. Marshal. In this case, he used his authority to arrest the murderous cook, locking him in a supply shed. This time, the U.S. was able to immediately dispatch three FBI agents to investigate and take the cook into custody. Inexplicably, Australia sent a mediator.

Thus, it seems to matter in what season and on which country’s base the murder takes place, but generally, investigating violent crime in Antarctica is ad hoc, and relies on international cooperation. It’s a dissatisfying answer born of the continent’s extreme remoteness and weather, the same conditions that make Antarctica so worthwhile to visit in the first place.


Eric Hall

Grit & Focus: Women at the Top

By Katherine Mann '19

Features Editor

Serena Williams is one of the most successful tennis players in history. With thirty-nine Grand Slam titles, she is ranked third on the all-time listof all players, not just women. If you ask most people what makes Serena special, the first answer you might hear is “talent.” 

But according to Dr. Milana Hogan, Chief Legal Talent Officer at Sullivan & Cromwell, Serena might point out the thousands of hours of pure hard work she has put in during her career. “If we only tell one side of the story, then we don’t really appreciate the efforts of hard work.” Hogan spoke last week at Women at the Top, an event sponsored by Virginia Law Women. The focus of her talk was the concept of "grit", which she defined as the behavioral persistence in the face of adversity. There is no doubt about Serena’s talent, but her passionate pursuit of her goals, even when facing difficulty, sets her apart from her peers.  

Hogan recently published a book called “Grit, The Secret to Advancement,” which details the work of the Grit Project, an ABA initiative to find out what makes women lawyers successful. The idea is to uncover and teach relevant traits to women starting out in the field in order to increase their advancement, and her focus has been on the impact of grit and growth mindset on the success of women lawyers. 

The concept of grit is closely related to having a growth mindset. Hogan set out a spectrum to illustrate this concept. A person might have a “fixed” mindset, in which they believe that their inherent ability, level of talent, or intelligence is fixed, and that it can’t be improved through any kind of practice. People with a growth mindset, however, don’t believe in any ceilings for themselves. “They believe in the power of effort,” she explained. Her research showed that women lawyers fall about in the middle of this spectrum.  

Research into intelligence measures, such as SAT or LSAT scores, has shown that intelligence is far less fixed than we used to believe. Furthermore, “we’re finding that these tests are not very good predictors of success,” she said. While they can illustrate your intelligence at any one time, your mind is like a muscle. “If I decided to improve my IQ, I could,” she said.  

Hogan views mindset as a huge opportunity for improvement for advancement for women in law. For example, she noted that women react very differently to performance reviews than men do, while acknowledging that this is a generalization and that individuals are different. One of her colleagues told the story of having an overall positive review from her evaluators, but on hearing that her writing was “pretty good,” she started catastrophizingmentally spinning out scenarios where a single remark led to a career disaster. “If you don’t digest feedback in a healthy way, you’re in trouble,” Hogan said. People who are more growth-minded can resist the urge to take feedback personally and, instead, turn it into an opportunity for learning and success.  

Grit, and its focus on overcoming adversity, goes hand-in-hand with having a growth mindset. Hogan studied women in all areas of lawnonprofit, government, in-house counsel, solo practitioners, judges, and law firmsand found a statistically significant relationship between grit and various measures of success in all these domains. It is closely related to overall quality of work. She also found that while many highly successful women lawyers display a growth mindset when facing challenges, there is room for improvement. Judges have a slight edge when it comes to grit, and nonprofit lawyers have a slightly higher growth mindset than those at law firms. She also found that growth mindset is also a good predictor of seniority within an organization. 

She ended her discussion by talking about strategies for women lawyers entering the workforce. “Get comfortable with failure,” Hogan advised, even if that means hearing supposedly negative feedback in a new way. Reframing the phrase “pretty good” as an opportunity for learning allows you to improve your work product. She also encouraged women to inspire criticismin other words, to have a positive reaction to criticism in order to ensure that you continue to receive feedback. It’s important that your superiors know you want feedback so that they will freely give it to you. She also encouraged the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” strategy. Just pretending you don’t have a personal ceiling can allow you to go further. Finally, she stressed the importance of finding meaning in your work and focusing on long-term goals. She noted that if women don’t find meaning in their work, they are much more likely to leave their job. “Passion is the lynchpin of grit,” she said.  

Retention and promotion are still issues for women in the legal field. Firms and other organizations have begun to implement programs to address these needs, but women can use the strategies suggested by Hogan to complement these programs. It’s fair to say that only very few women will be able to win the Australian open while eight weeks pregnant. But women in the law should feel free to work without a ceiling.


Katherine Mann