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Dean's Blog

Dean Fountiane  

Welcome to the Dean's Blog


This blog will keep you up to date on what is happening at SIU School of Law and in the legal community. I will be introducing you to the members of our law school community, sharing news about exciting events occurring here at the law school, and commenting on topics affecting the legal profession. Check back often.

If you have any comments or suggestions for topics you would like to read about on this blog, please email me at
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SIU Law hosts the Law & Leadership Institute (LLI)


participants in LLI

SIU Law was pleased to host the Law & Leadership Institute (LLI) this summer.  The Institute is a collaborative partnership between Just The Beginning Foundation (JTBF) and the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA). 

Professor Alice Noble-Allgire was instrumental in the development of this program.  She received the ISBA's Board of Governors Award in 2008 for helping to design a statewide Diversity Pipeline program. The program was launched as the ISBA/JTBF Law and Leadership Institute in 2011, and expanded to include its first residential camp at the SIU School of Law in the summer of 2012.

This statewide initiative is designed to assist students from minority, ethnic, and other groups who are currently underrepresented in the legal professions achieve academic success and aspire to a career in the law. The LLI is open to students entering the 9th or 10th grades.  Thirty-three students participated in the program at SIU the week of June 23 - June 29, and a second group will participate in a similar program at John Marshall Law School in Chicago later this summer.

The interactive activities aim to help participants sharpen their critical reading, writing, oral advocacy, and leadership skills. The academic schedule introduces students to topics ranging from the profession of law, leadership, problem solving, writing, oral advocacy and citizenship.  See photos of some of the activities here.

As the ISBA notes, “Diversity Pipeline programs like LLI provide a truly life-changing experience for students who may not otherwise be exposed to these opportunities. The program helps them envision a rewarding legal career on their horizon and traverse the educational pipeline into that career – or a host of other careers – through which they can enrich their own lives, communities and the lives of others.”

This program would not have been possible without the willingness of the attorneys, judges, faculty and others who volunteered their time, expertise, and facilities.   On behalf of the SIU School of Law, ISBA, and JTBF – thank you to everyone who volunteered.  See list of volunteers here.  

Thanks also to those who provided financial support for the program.  See list of donors here.



Fifth Appellate District Listening Conference


Judge Prost

From left: Commissioner Timothy Kelly; Judge and Commissioner Debra B. Walker; Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, Illinois Supreme Court; Assistant Dean Michael Ruiz, SIU Law; Dean Cynthia Fountaine, SIU Law; Commissioner Michael Fiello, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance; Jeff Colman, chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice; Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, Illinois Supreme Court; and Danielle Hirsch, executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice.

Lawyers, judges and social service providers attended the “Fifth Appellate District Listening Conference” on June 5, 2013, at Southern Illinois University. Approximately 70 participants in Edwardsville combined with 22 in Carbondale.

The listening conference was a program of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice which is devoted to doing whatever it can to improve access to justice for everyone, but with an emphasis on improving access for the poor and vulnerable. The purpose of the Fifth Appellate District Listening Conference was to hear from people engaged in the judicial system about problems confronting the poor and vulnerable in our communities, and also to hear about possible solutions.

Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier attended from the Illinois Supreme Court, along with Chair Jeffrey D. Colman and Commissioners Michael A. Fiello, Judge Debra B. Walker and Timothy W. Kelly of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice.

Assistant Dean Mike Ruiz participated on a panel and spoke about ways SIU Law and our faculty and students are working to improve access to justice in our community and state.

A few of the issues and suggestions that were discussed include:

Have courtroom personnel go through customer service training.

Improving signage in the courthouse.

Have law students, college students, or volunteer attorneys act as docents in the courthouse.

Help fund loan repayment assistance programs for graduates entering public service.

Have pro-se days or special pro-se docket calls at the courthouse.

Utilizing technology such as Skype to ease wait times during docket calls.

I am grateful to the Illinois Supreme Court for providing a forum for this important discussion, and look forward to continuing to work with the Commission on Access to Justice toward the common goal of providing equal justice for all of the citizens of Illinois.

Access to Justice Reception

Pictured: Participants at the SIU School of Law Courtroom in Carbondale.



Commencement: Spring 2013

2013 Law Graduates

This past Saturday, May 11, 2013, Southern Illinois University was pleased to celebrate the graduation of many of its students. Among the graduates were 114 students who received their JD and two students who received their LLM from the SIU School of Law. Eight law graduates received dual degrees: three JD/MBA; two JD/M Acc; two JD/MD; and one JD/MS ECE. Two students received MLS (Master of Legal Studies) degrees. The keynote speaker at the University’s commencement was Frank Abagnale, Jr., a security and fraud expert, whose life was portrayed in the movie Catch Me If You Can.

Following the University’s commencement ceremony, the School of Law hosted a luncheon for the graduates and their guests. This luncheon included several speakers; among those who spoke were graduate Joel Mitchell, Professor Trish McCubbin, The Honorable James Wexstten and myself. The graduating Class of 2013 picked Joel Mitchell from among their peers to be the student speaker. Likewise, Professor Trish McCubbin was selected by the Class of 2013 as the Outstanding Faculty Member. The Distinguished Alumni Speaker was the Honorable James Wexstten. Judge Wexssten is a graduate of the charter class of the School of Law and now serves on the Illinois 5th District Appellate Court. In his career, Judge Wexstten has also served in various positions in the Illinois Judges Association, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, the Judicial Advisory Polls Committee, the Illinois State Bar Association and the Jefferson County Bar Association.

Along with these speakers, the School of Law recognized The Honorable Maria Lourdes Afiuni with the Faculty Rule of Law Citation. The Rule of Law Citation is presented to a legal professional who has stood firm in support of liberty and justice in the face of oppression and, by their words and actions, honor and support the Rule of Law even at great personal risk. Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni is a Venezuelan judge who fought for justice while on the bench, taking actions which led to her wrongful arrest. Judge Afiuni is leading a life that exemplifies support of the Rule of the Law in the face of the breakdown of the rule of law in Venezuela.

We were very fortunate to have so many incredible speakers and honored guests to honor our graduates during the Commencement Ceremony and luncheon.

We are very proud of the accomplishments of the Class of 2013, and look forward to seeing their future successes in the legal profession.

*Correction:  The original post incorrectly noted that there were six graduates who received dual degrees and listed two JD/MBA and one JD/MD.  There were actually eight law graduates who received dual degrees including three JD/MBA and two JD/MD. 




Judge Sanchez

Judge Migna Sanchez-Llorens visits SIU Law as the 2013 William L. Beatty Jurist in Residence

This week we were delighted to welcome The Honorable Migna Sanchez-Llorens as our 2013 William L. Beatty Jurist in Residence.  Judge Sanchez-Llorens  is a Circuit Judge in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Dade County, Florida.  She received her B.A. from Wellesley College, a Master of Economics from Trinity College, and her J.D. degree from New York University.  

Judge Sanchez-Llorens's legal career has focused on public service.  She worked as a public defender in state and federal court, and has devoted much of her time to addressing domestic violence issues.

During her visit, Judge Sanchez-Llorens visited with criminal law and criminal procedure classes and she spoke with a group of students who work in the SIU School of Law domestic violence clinic.  She also spoke to the Professionalism and the Law class and met with various groups of students and faculty.  The law school was greatly enriched by her visit and we are very grateful to her for visiting with us.

The William L. Beatty Jurist in Residence program is designed to supplement our traditional curriculum with the perspectives and experiences of the judiciary.  This experience is made possible by a cy pres award granted in memory of William L. Beatty to the Southern Illinois University School of Law by The Honorable David R. Herndon, United States District Judge for the Southern District of Illinois (SIU Law Class of 1977).



SIU Law moves into Top Law Schools tier in recent ranking

This week, the U.S. News released their annual ranking of law schools

I am pleased that SIU was included in the list of Top Law Schools. It is an important recognition for our faculty, staff, alumni, and students who all contribute to the strength of our excellent, student-centered program. It will help our visibility among prospective law students and employers.

I understand that the methodology used for employment data was revised this year to give more weight to full-time jobs that require a J.D., or for which a J.D. is an advantage.  Our graduates, many of whom work in small or mid-size firms, have continued to find employment in legal jobs, despite the changes in the legal market. I think that is, in part, due to SIU’s reputation for excellence in skills training and emphasis on the professional development of each student. 

 You can read more about changes in this year's rankings in the National Law Journal.




SIU Law Students Travel Abroad to Study International Legal Systems


Judge Prost

March 8, 2013

Follow Southern Illinois University law students as they travel in Europe as part of a course on Legal Globalization and Comparative Law focusing on international legal and political systems, with emphasis on Germany. Eleven students and Dean Fountaine will visit sites of legal and historical significance in Munich, Nuremberg, Luxembourg, The Hague, and Brussels. While they travel, they will blog about their experiences here.

You can also follow students in Professor Lucian Dervan's course - Legal Globalization: Sydney Australia. Here is their first entry:

Over the next week, nine students from Southern Illinois University School of Law will travel to Sydney, Australia as part of a legal globalization and comparative law course regarding international white collar crime. During their travels, they will meet with various officials from the law enforcement community and the legal community to learn first-hand about this evolving and dynamic field. We hope you will follow along through this blog here.




United Nation’s first Ombudsperson for al Qaeda Terrorist Sanctions Committee speaks at Southern Illinois University School of Law


Judge Prost

Judge Kimberly Prost speaks at SIU School of Law – January 28, 2013

This week the SIU School of Law community had the opportunity to hear the unique perspective of the first and only person to hold the office of Ombudsperson for the United Nation’s al Qaeda Terrorist Sanctions Committee.  Judge Kimberly Prost served for almost twenty years as a federal prosecutor for the Canadian Department of Justice.  She has also served as the Head of the Criminal Law Section of Canada’s Commonwealth Secretariat, Chief of Legal Advisory Section of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, and as a member of Canada’s delegation for the negotiation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Read more about Judge Prost's visit




Julie Rea talks about her battle for exoneration


Julie Rea

from left: Erica Nichols Cook, staff attorney for the Wrongful Conviction Grant, Illinois Innocence Project, Professor Bill Schroeder, and Julie Rea.

When Julie Rea spoke yesterday at the SIU School of Law, she commanded the full attention of our students (and everyone else) in the audience – something that is not easy to do in our technological age. In 2002, Rea was convicted by a jury of the 1997 murder of her 10-year-old son, Joel.  Shortly after her conviction, child serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells confessed to the crime.  She was acquitted at a second trial in 2006.  She has also been granted a Certificate of Innocence.  Read more about the case at the Illinois Innocence Project’s website here.

Read more about Julie Rea and the work of the Innocence Project





Elizabeth Kelly Dedication


Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Kelly and his wife Kimberly.  Mark is the son of Elizabeth (Liz) Slusser Kelly who served as a cataloger on the founding staff of the law library for the SIU School of Law from 1973 until 1978.  At that time the law school was housed in temporary, former fraternity buildings. I understand from this memorial article in the Law Library Journal that Liz's office was the former housemother’s room.  During that time period she also earned her J.D. and raised four children of her own.

Roger Jacobs Liz KellyLaw Library Director Roger Jacobs with Liz Kelly (center) and two other staff members (mid-1970s).

From the time of her law school graduation in 1978 until 1984 she served as our Law Library Director and Associate Professor. In the early part of her tenure as Library Director, one of her duties was service on the law school’s New Building Committee for the planning of our current Lesar Law Building.  Among many other responsibilities, that committee solicited, reviewed, and selected the quotes that appear on the tablet on the front of the building.  In recognition of this, as well as her many other contributions to the establishment and success of the law school, we have hung a smaller version of the tablet in the Law Library.

Read more about the Liz Kelly dedication





21st annual National Health Law Moot Court Competition includes distinguished final round panel of judges

winning team

Professor Gene Basanta (far left) and ACLM President Kent E. Harshbarger, MD, JD, FCLM,
(far right) with winning team members Carrie Gilbert and James D'Angelo, Loyola University Chicago School of Law. 


This past Friday and Saturday, November 2-3, 2012, teams representing law schools from all over the nation competed in SIU Law’s annual National Health Law Moot Court Competition.
The vanguard issues argued this year were whether there is “a constitutional right to confidentiality in patient medical records maintained by a municipal government, and, if so, what is the scope of that right” and whether “the inadvertent release of private patient medical records violate the patients’ rights of substantive due process.”

Read more about this year's competition here.

The success of this long-running event is the result of countless hours of work by many individuals. On behalf of the law school, I thank everyone who worked on this competition.

Read more about the judges and final results





Appellate Advocacy Program concludes with discussion of case Lincoln argued at Appellate Courthouse in Mt. Vernon


Dean with judges

From left:  Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier, Dean Cynthia Fountaine, Clerk of Court (5th District Appellate Court) Jack Flood, Appellate Judge Richard P. Goldenhersh, and Appellate Judge Melissa A. Chapman


We were very pleased to host a CLE program yesterday, Practical Skills for Appellate Advocacy, which  was organized by the Appellate Lawyers Association.  It was great to see so many attorneys who were able to attend.  Thank you to T.J. Hunter who helped organize the program, along with program speakers Brad Elward (SIU Law Class of 1989) Vice-President of the Appellate Lawyers Association, SIU Law Professor Keith Beyler, Michael Dahlen, Feirich, Mager, Green & Ryan and the members of the Judicial Panel: Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier, and members of the 5th District Appellate Court - Judge Melissa Chapman, Judge Richard Goldenhersh, Judge Bruce Stewart (SIU Law Class of 1976), and Clerk of Court Jack Flood (SIU Law Class of 1978). 

Read more about the reception following the CLE




SIU Alumna Ashley R. Neibur tells students how the Semester in Practice Program positively impacted her career


Britton, Neibur

Ashley R. Neibur, Class of 2010, visited Professor Britton’s Legislative and Administrative Processes class this week to talk about her work with the Illinois Municipal League (IML).  Neibur, a Madison County native, began her work with the IML through the law school’s Law and Government Semester-in-Practice Program which Professor Britton started in 2009.  Neibur was in the first group of students to participate. Shortly after her graduation she began working as a staff attorney at the Illinois Municipal League. She is now a successful lobbyist for local communities, ensuring that lawmakers understand the limited resources of revenue to local government and the impact it has on communities when states cut money from local funds.

Read more about Semester-in-Practice programs




SIU Law Students Achieve Freedom For Innocent Man


After serving 14 years for a murder he did not commit, Anthony Murray, 40, of Chicago gained his freedom Tuesday. The Illinois Innocence Project, including students and faculty at SIU School of Law, helped make this possible.

Murray was convicted of first-degree murder 14 years ago for his alleged involvement in the death of Seneca Jones in Centralia, Ill. 

With the help of the Illinois Innocence Project, an in-depth investigation yielded new evidence of Murray’s innocence. “Given new evidence of Anthony’s innocence, it is clear that Anthony was not even at the scene of the murder,” said Larry Golden, executive director of the Illinois Innocence Project.

Read more about SIU Law Students Achieve Freedom for Innocent Man




Alumni Conversations


One of the best parts of my job is traveling around to visit with our alumni. In the last couple of weeks, I've had the pleasure of visiting with alumni and friends of SIU Law in St. Louis, Chicago, and Indianapolis. I enjoy hearing about the wonderful work our alumni are doing.

Read more about Alumni Conversations




1L Students Blogging Their Way Through the First Year of Law School


This year, as a new component of their Professionalism and the Law course, the first year students are keeping a blog. They are writing about all sorts of things--from what it's like to be a first year law student to their thoughts about the legal doctrine they are studying to their reaction to legal issues in the news. Check it out here ( Be sure to click back to the older posts too so you don't miss any of the outstanding posts. 




SIU School of Law is a 'Best Value Law School'


Southern Illinois University School of Law was selected by The National Jurist magazine as one of the 2012 Best Value Law Schools in the U.S.

The formula used to determine which law schools made the Best Value ranking included:  in-state tuition, average student debt, the percentage of graduates employed nine months after graduation, and bar passage rates.

Read more about SIU School of Law is a "Best Value Law School"




SIU Alumna Elizabeth Gastelum


The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin recently published a story by Josh Weinhold about SIU Law alumna Elizabeth Gastelum.  Gastelum is currently Associate General Counsel to Lieutenant Governor Sheila J. Simon. The article chronicles how, with focus, drive and determination, Gastelum has accomplished great achievements despite formidable obstacles. She lost virtually all of her hearing ability when she was just 18 months old.

Read more about Elizabeth Gastelum



Induction Ceremony



On October 5, 2012, first year law students at Southern Illinois University School of Law participated in the 11th annual Induction Ceremony.  Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier led them in the recitation of the oath (Statement of Professional Responsibility) that they drafted together during a workshop component of their Professionalism and the Law class.

The Professional Development Program, including the oath drafting workshop, was started at SIU in 2002, and gained national recognition in 2004 when it was awarded the American Bar Association’s E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award.  The Gambrell Award recognizes a commitment to promoting legal professionalism.

Read more about the Induction Ceremony



Mr. Lincoln Comes to SIU Law


Lincoln 10 17

From left: Assistant Professor Steve Macias, Dean Cynthia Fountaine, Law Library Director Doug Lind, and Lincoln Scholar John Lupton.

SIU Law is located deep in the heart of Lincoln country. This is where Abraham Lincoln practiced law, riding circuit throughout Southern Illinois, representing people in “every kind of business that could come before a prairie lawyer.”  Thus, it is especially exciting that we have the opportunity to host the exhibit “Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War” at the law school this fall. 

Read more about the Lincoln Exhibit. 



Carol McCann honored by the Illinois Women's Bar Foundation


On October 4, 2012, third year SIU Law student Carol McCann was honored with the 2012 Illinois Women's Bar Foundation Scholarship.  Carol is in good company; past winners have included Angela Rollins (2011) and Michelle Hook Dewey (2010).  The Illinois Women's Bar Foundation "awarded its first scholarship in 1966 in honor of Judge Mary Barelme."  Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships to outstanding women law students.

Read more about Carol McCann. 







May it Please the Court


Moot Court teams & Judges

Photo from left: Championship team,Thomas Drysdale and Abbey Fritz, Professor Steve Macias, Assistant Professor at SIU Law, the Honorable Lloyd A. Karmeier, Supreme Court of Illinois, the Honorable Justice M. Carol Pope, Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, and runners-up, Margaret Malloy and Susannah Price.

There are few things that take place at a law school that are more exciting than a moot court competition! Over the last two weekends, the Advanced Appellate Advocacy students, under the direction of Professor Cheryl Anderson, Director of Appellate Advocacy Programs, participated in the 2012 Intramural Moot Court Competition. This competition gives students experience arguing before an appellate level court. Nineteen students participated over both weekends.

Read more about May it Please the court.




SIU Law Raises Awareness and Funds for the American Heart Association


On September 29, 2012, the SIU School of Law participated in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk at John A. Logan Junior College in Carterville, Illinois. The School of Law Team, which was the part of a larger SIU group, included Nathan Rice (3L and team leader), Veronika Jones (3L), Kyle Boehmer (3L), Alexandra Brown (3L), Jessica Nardulli (3L), Megan Smith (3L), and Michael Levy (1L). Two of these students, Nathan and Kyle, are survivors of heart disease or heart conditions.

Read more about SIU raising awareness and funds.




SIU Hosts New Mock Trial Competition


Last Saturday, SIU Law's trial team participated in a competition that was the first of its kind. SIU Law's trial team invited the trial team from the University of Missouri Kansas City law school to southern Illinois for a special tournament. The SIU team faced off against UMKC at the Williamson County Courthouse in Marion, Illinois. The competition centered on a civil trial, and the participants litigated the case from voir dire to verdict. 

Read more about the Mock Trial Competition.




Study Finds That Large Numbers of Innocent People Plead Guilty


A study co-authored by SIU Law Professor Lucian E. Dervan, and featured in the Wall Street Journal, finds that large numbers of innocent people plead guilty.

In this article, Professors Dervan and Edkins discuss a recent psychological study they completed regarding plea bargaining and innocence.  The study, involving dozens of college students and taking place over several months, revealed that more than half of the innocent participants were willing to falsely admit guilt in return for a benefit.

Read more about the study.



Class of 2015 Declaration of Professional Commitment


Last Friday, the first year class participated in an Oath Drafting Workshop, drafting their declaration of professionalism. Each student had a part in considering the important components of their oath and drafting it. Practicing lawyers, judges, and professors met with students to brainstorm on what values they believe a model lawyer embodies. They considered everything from obligations to society, obligations to a client, obligations to the legal profession, and obligations as law students.

Read more about the Class of 2015 Declaration of Professional Commitment.



New Faculty at SIU Law


Our new school year is well underway, and there are several new faces around the law school. We are pleased to welcome four outstanding new faculty members this fall. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce them to you.

Read more about new faculty.