March 19, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine – Emerging from more than three decades of war, oppression and isolation, the women of Afghanistan are speaking up and fighting for their rights and future, Dr. Sima Samar said during her visit to Maine this week.

But they need the support of the international community to prevent them from being forgotten again, said Dr. Samar, a prominent champion of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

“We have achieved a lot in the past 13 years, with a lot of sacrifice by the people of Afghanistan and the international community,” Dr. Samar said, referring to the period since U.S. and allied troops arrived in the country. She said more than 3 million Afghan girls are now in school, and women make up 25 percent of the Afghan Parliament, but the movement “still has a long way to go.”

Dr. Samar visited Maine on March 17-19, 2014, as the lecturer for the Justice for Women Lecture Series, hosted by the University of Maine School of Law. She participated in a number of community events, as well as delivering the lecture on the evening of March 18, to a diverse and enthusiastic crowd of more than 500 people at the Abromson Community Education Center in Portland.

Since 2004, Dr. Samar has served as chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She is also founder of the Shuhada Organization, dedicated to the welfare and progress of Afghan citizens, with a primary focus on the empowerment of women and children. The organization operates 55 schools and 15 clinics and hospitals. Dr. Samar served in the Interim Administration of Afghanistan and established the first-ever Ministry of Women’s Affairs. She is a recipient of the Profile of Courage Award, and is one of the central subjects of the 2004 documentary, Daughters of Afghanistan.

“We lost a lot in Afghanistan,” in the past 35 years, said Dr. Samar, whose own husband was kidnapped and killed in 1979 because of his resistance against Soviet rule. “We lost our educated people. When I go anywhere, including Bangladesh and the Philippines, I see Afghans.”

The Taliban regime, which rose to power in the 1990s, “closed everything down for women,” Dr. Samar said. Women were routinely beaten in public, and local leaders ordered families to keep their windows covered, so women would not be seen. This past decade has witnessed a gradual restoration of women’s rights, particularly in education. There are shelters in the cities, to safeguard abused women and children. A new law passed in 2009 criminalized acts of violence against women, yet it is rarely implemented.

That momentum remains fragile, however. As the United States continues to draw down its military presence, Dr. Samar has urged American and international leaders to remain invested in Afghanistan, while the nascent government, Army and police forces earn the trust of the public. People in her country do not want to be ruled by outsiders, she said, but they also do not want to be isolated, opening the door to another civil war, or the resurgence of the Taliban.

During her visit to Maine, Dr. Samar spoke at Deering High School to an assembly of students from all three of the city’s high schools. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan presented her with a key to the city. She spoke to other local high school students, college students and community members at CIEE in Portland. At the Law School, Dr. Samar was the featured speaker at a lunchtime panel titled “Afghanistan Futures: Local and Global.”

The University of Maine School of Law is committed to promoting social justice in Maine and around the world. The Law School established the Justice for Women Lecture series in 2010 with leadership and support from attorney and civic leader Catherine Lee. The Lecture Series is supported in part by the generosity of community partners, including CIEE, and other donors.

Previous lecturers were the Hon. Unity Dow (2012), the first woman to serve as a judge on Botswana’s High Court; and Leymah Gbowee (2013), an activist and women’s rights advocate who won a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end civil war in Liberia.

Learn more at “Justice For Women Lecture Series” on Facebook. For information about supporting the series, please email the law school at mainelaw@maine.edu.

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Dr. Sima Samar, a renowned human rights and women’s rights advocate from Afghanistan, will visit Portland on March 17-19, as part of the Justice for Women Lecture Series hosted by the University of Maine School of Law.

Dr. Samar will participate in a number of community events to discuss her work in Afghanistan and strategies to promote justice for women and girls around the world.

Since 2004, Dr. Samar has served as chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She is also founder of the Shuhada Organization, dedicated to the welfare and progress of Afghan citizens, with a primary focus on the empowerment of women and children. The organization operates dozens of schools and 15 clinics and hospitals. Dr. Samar served in the Interim Administration of Afghanistan and established the first-ever Ministry of Women’s Affairs. She is a recipient of the Profile of Courage Award, and is one of the central subjects of the 2004 documentary, Daughters of Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, March 18, Dr. Samar will speak at Deering High School to an assembly of students from all three of the city’s high schools. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan will present Dr. Samar with a key to the city at 9:30 a.m. At 1:30 p.m., Dr. Samar will give a presentation to other local high school students, college students and community members at CIEE in Portland.

Also on March 18, Dr. Samar will deliver the University of Maine School of Law’s third annual Justice for Women Lecture, titled “Women’s Rights in Afghanistan.” The event will be held at 7 p.m. at the Abromson Community Education Center, 88 Bedford St. With more than 500 people registered to attend, the event is filled to capacity. However, there is limited space in an overflow room, where the lecture will be live-streamed. Those interested in reserving a seat should contact the Dean’s Office at mainelaw@maine.edu, or 207-780-4344.

On Wednesday, March 19, the University of Maine School of Law will host a lunchtime panel at 12:10 p.m. titled “Afghanistan Futures: Local and Global.” Panelists will include Dr. Samar; Bill Nemitz, columnist for the Portland Press Herald, who recently traveled to Afghanistan on assignment; and Tom Barfield, a professor of anthropology at Boston University. The discussion will be moderated by Maine Law Professor Charles Norchi, who has worked extensively in Afghan matters. The event will be in the Moot Court Room at the Law School, 246 Deering Ave, in Portland.

The University of Maine School of Law is committed to promoting social justice in Maine and around the world. The Law School established the Justice for Women Lecture series in 2010 with leadership and support from attorney and civic leader Catherine Lee. The Lecture Series is supported in part by the generosity of community partners, including CIEE, and other donors.

Previous lecturers were the Hon. Unity Dow (2012), the first woman to serve as a judge on Botswana’s High Court; and Leymah Gbowee (2013), an activist and women’s rights advocate who won a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end civil war in Liberia.

Learn more at “Justice For Women Lecture Series” on Facebook. For information about supporting the series, please email the law school at mainelaw@maine.edu.

Stan Tupper has been elected by his classmates to speak for the 2014 graduating class at commencement ceremonies for the University of Maine School of Law. Commencement will be held Sat., May 17.

The election process was overseen by the Graduation Committee at Maine Law. Tupper earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Maine. He is currently studying maritime and admiralty law in Hong Kong, through an exchange program with the Hong Kong Maritime and Transportation Law Centre.

Professor Dave Owen’s research is featured this month in Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots), an online journal that seeks to highlight the best new legal scholarship, culled from more than 300 law reviews in North America.

Owen’s article, Critical Habitat and the Challenge of Regulating Small Harms, originally published in the Florida Law Review, was noted as a gem within recent environmental law scholarship. Click here to read the post.

“Two recent articles—Dave Owen’s piece, Critical Habitat and the Challenge of Regulating Small Harms, and David E. Adelman’s article, Environmental Federalism: When Numbers Matter More than Size—are welcome efforts to address the gaps in our understanding of how small harms matter to environmental law and why they matter. Moreover, they both are outstanding examples of a recent trend in environmental law to jump on the empirical legal studies bandwagon—both collect and use substantial amounts of data in their analyses.”

Jotwell is overseen by Professor Michael Froomkin at the University of Miami School of Law, and is edited by contributors from law schools nationwide.

After graduating two students in 2013 during its first year of existence, the LL.M. (Master of Laws) program at the University of Maine School of Law has seven students enrolled this academic year. There are two students from Rwanda, two from Saudi Arabia, and individuals from Colombia, France and Georgia.

During the fall semester, LL.M. students visited judges at the Cumberland County Courthouse, as well as attorneys at the Portland law firm of Bernstein Shur. The visits were organized and supervised by Professors Martin Rogoff and Charles Norchi, and Reference Librarian Julie Welch.

At the courthouse, students met with Chief Justice Leigh Saufley (’80) of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and Chief Justice Thomas Humphrey of the Maine Superior Court. Chief Justices Saufley and Humphrey described the organization and work of the Maine courts, answered questions from the students, and engaged in probing dialogue with them as they compared the American judicial system with the judicial systems of their home countries.

LL.M. students participating in the visits were Yasir Alessa (Saudi Arabia), Ana Chechelashvili (Georgia), Michel Kanyambo (Rwanda), Sebastien Nahimana (Rwanda), Andrea Navarro (Colombia), and Justine Touzet (France). Other student participants included: Juanjuan Yuan (Visiting Scholar from China), Mileva Vignjevic (auditor from Croatia), and Elena Zaltser (exchange student from Russia).

The LL.M. program at Maine Law is primarily intended for international students and practitioners who have earned a law degree outside of the United States. Participants design a curriculum suited to their individual interests and choose from advanced courses in specialized areas of law. Students wishing to sit for a state bar exam (for example, Maine or New York) may complete the requirements through their course of study at Maine Law.

Reporter Judy Harrison of the Bangor Daily News published an excellent profile of Judge Peggy Kravchuk, who retired in January after serving for nearly 30 years on the state and federal bench in Maine. Judge Kravchuk is a 1976 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. Her last job was as a U.S. Magistrate judge in Bangor.

To read the Bangor Daily News article, click here.

Jeff Thaler, a visiting professor at the University of Maine School of Law, is a leader of a unique public service program that places students from his alma mater, Williams College in Massachusetts, in the homes of Portland immigrants and asylum seekers.

Thaler was recently interviewed about the program by reporter Seth Koenig of the Bangor Daily News. Click here to read the full article. Here’s an excerpt:

Jeff Thaler, the Williams College alumnus and Portland lawyer who helped found the Williams-at-Home program, said the families who host the students learn more about their new home country and build connections with young people who are fluent in American culture.

“This must be like the moon to them,’ Thaler said of the host families. “They come from Africa to here, where there’s subzero weather, and they have to survive.”

Thaler is Visiting Professor of Energy, Law & Ethics at the University of Maine and the University of Maine School of Law.

Governor Paul LePage this month nominated two District Court Judges for promotion to the Superior Court, and five first-time nominees to sit on the District Court bench.

Of the seven nominees, five are graduates of the University of Maine School of Law.

Judges Robert Mullen (’79) of Waterville, and Daniel Billings (’03) of Bowdoinham are nominated for the Superior Court. Andrew Benson (’88) of Athens, William Schneider (’93) of Durham, and Lance Walker (’00) of Falmouth are nominated to fill vacancies on the District Court. The two nominees for the District Court who are not Maine Law alumni are Barbara Raimondi of Auburn, and Eric Walker of Belmont.

“As Governor, I have the utmost respect and have been impressed with the high quality work of the Judicial Branch. In choosing judges, my focus is on the qualifications, demeanor, and integrity of the candidates, not politics. These nominees reflect those priorities,” LePage said.

Click here to read more about the nominees, in a news release issued by the Office of the Governor. All Gubernatorial Judicial nominations will be heard by Judiciary Committee of the 126th Legislature and public hearings will be scheduled in the near term by the Committee.

Professor Sarah Schindler of the University of Maine School of Law appeared on NPR’s Marketplace on Feb. 5, to discuss abandoned big box stores, and the legacy of poor planning.

The link to the story is available here. A longer version of her appearance is available from an NPR station in Ohio here.

In another media appearance, Professor Schindler was a guest on the Oral Argument podcast, hosted by Professors Christian Turner and Joe Miller, of the University of Georgia School of Law. She was described as “land use and property expert, hipster scholar, and lawn destroyer.” The link to that media appearance is available here.

Professor Schindler teaches property, land use, local government, real estate transactions, and animal law. Professor Schindler received the Professor of the Year award in 2013. Prior to joining the Maine Law faculty in 2009, Professor Schindler clerked for Judge Will Garwood of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas and practiced in the area of land use and environmental law at Morrison and Foerster in San Francisco.

She was named the Distinguished Young Scholar of 2013 by the Pace Environmental Law Center at Pace Law School.

The University of Maine School of Law, a national leader in the area of data privacy law, co-sponsored the 7th annual conference, “Computers, Privacy & Data Protection,” held Jan. 22-24 in Brussels, Belgium.

The event is one of the largest data privacy conferences in the world, with more than 650 participants from dozens of countries, and more than 60 panels, workshops and side events. Participants included policy makers, academics, computer scientists, consultants, practitioners and activists. Discussions covered a wide range of topics including the data protection reform in the European Union, PRISM, big data, privacy by design, cloud computing, biometrics and e-health.

Maine Law hosts an annual Information Privacy Summer Institute, in collaboration with the International Association of Privacy Professionals, which is led by Maine Law alum Trevor Hughes (’95). Also this year, the Maine Law Review dedicated its annual symposium to the topic of data privacy. The Feb. 21 event is titled “Who’s Governing Privacy?” For details, click here.

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