ASU partners with Phoenix Police, Maricopa County to help families of missing persons

October 16, 2015

Patricia Williams was 19 years old when her mother was seen getting into a car near the intersection of 21st and Campbell avenues in Phoenix, on Nov. 25, 1993. She has never been seen again.

Officials estimate that more than 600,000 people are reported missing nationwide every year. Kimber Biggs speaks about her missing sister Kimber Biggs, whose sister Mikelle is still missing after disappearing in 1999 at age 11 while waiting for an ice-cream truck, speaks at a press conference about the grief, confusion and unwillingness to give up on finding a missing loved one. She plans to participate in Missing in Arizona on Oct. 24 on ASU's West campus. Photo by: Phoenix Police Department Download Full Image

That statistic inspired Robbin Brooks, a lecturer in Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, to begin a collaboration to stage Missing in Arizona, an event dedicated to connecting people with the resources to find their long-term missing loved ones.

The event, to be held Oct. 24 at ASU's West campus, is the result of a partnership between the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions, the City of Phoenix Police Department and Maricopa County.

Missing In Arizona is open to the public. Families of the missing are encouraged to attend to access help from law enforcement as well as share identifiers such as dental records, fingerprints and photographs that can be instrumental in solving cases. Support groups and private meetings will also be available to help families cope.

Similar events have yielded successes in other states. In Michigan, a similar event held for the last four years has resolved more than 50 cases, some dating back to the 1970s. This will be the first "Missing In ..." event held in Arizona.

“ASU’s participation in the event forms a link between society, law enforcement and social services,” Brooks said. “This event provides a great educational opportunity for students and educators who will be working side-by-side with law enforcement in gathering important information from families for the investigators.”

Stuart Somershoe, who has been involved with Phoenix Police’s missing-persons unit since 2007, and Christen Eggers, medicolegal death investigator for the Office of the Medical Examiner of Maricopa County, report that there are more than 2,000 people on the National Crime Information Center’s missing list in Arizona alone. They say that number could be higher due to many cases being mishandled or never investigated at all.

“Our goal is to resolve cases,” Somershoe said. “We want people to come forward and file reports, no matter how old. Unfortunately, a lot of families get the runaround. This event allows for families to come forward and file a report.”

Somershoe also acknowledged that some families fear reporting a missing person due to possible illegal-immigrant or criminal status. He assured them that this event is not about prosecuting people.

“Everyone has somebody who cares for them, loves them and wants to know what happened to them,” he said. “That’s part of the reason why we’re having it at ASU: We want to have a safe, non-law-enforcing environment, where people can come forward and we can help them.”

Friends and families of missing persons will be able to file reports on site, and they are also encouraged to bring medical and dental records of the missing individual, as there are many undocumented persons in the Maricopa County system.

“All of our unidentified information, demographic information does still get uploaded,” Eggers said. “A lot of people just don’t come forward when they have a missing person, so we don’t have the information to do a comparison with.”

But perhaps the most important aspect of the event will be the outreach and support groups that will be offered to family members.

Williams plans to attend Missing in Arizona with hopes of getting new information about her mother, but she also would like to help those who are going through the same thing.

“I was so young, I didn’t know anything except the tools she gave me, be strong, be a fighter, that’s how she raised me,” Williams said. “I hope to be that example to show people that you can live through the pain, and still keep the spirit and the memory of loved ones alive.”

Missing in Arizona will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24, at the ASU West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road, in Glendale. For reservations and more information, contact Detective Stuart Somershoe at 602-261-8065 or

Written by Christopher Hernandez.

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Sun Devil law school students, faculty and alumni make headlines

October 16, 2015

Sun Devil quarterback Mike Bercovici is leading the list of talented Sandra Day O'Connor law school members making lasting imprints across the country. An additional 30 students, faculty and alumni are acknowledged in the quarterly roundup of the ASU law school case file.

Student Achievements Download Full Image

Mike Bercovici (MLS Candidate) was the focus of a USA Today article entitled, “Moving Pocket: QB transfers change how coaches recruit, manage the position.” Among other things, this article referenced Bercovici’s experience as a student in ASU Law’s Master of Sports Law & Business program. The Arizona Daily Star also examined Bercovici’s football career and highlighted his choice to continue his education.

Anton Leonov (JD Candidate) has joined Torres Consulting and Law Group in Tempe as a law clerk.

Shauna Stein (JD Candidate) had her article, “You Did Not Win: Reflections on My Relationship with a Holocaust Survivor,” published in Jewish News. The piece recounts the relationship Stein built with a Holocaust survivor and lessons learned. Stein is president of the Jewish Law Student Association.

Ashley Votruba (JD Candidate) published an article in the summer 2015 issue of the Judges' Journal. This article examines problems courts face by discussing "deceased" forensic sciences that are no longer recognized as valid. The article was co-written with Professor Michael Saks.

Faculty Scholarship

Professor Charles Calleros will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from Arizona's Hispanic Bar Association, Los Abogados. Professor Calleros also presented his article, “Advocacy for Marriage Equality: The Power of a Broad Historical Narrative During a Transitional Period in Civil Rights,” at the Applied Legal Storytelling Conference at Seattle University School of Law.  

Professor Adam Chodorow discussed post-graduate legal education at the Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, in May.

Professor Linda Demaine presented her paper, “Modernizing the ‘Reasonable Consumer’ Standard,” at the Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, in May.

Professor Ira Ellman’s research was featured in an article on Vox entitled, “How the Supreme Court used a made-up statistic to expand sex offender registries.” The article examines, based on Professor Ellman’s Casetext essay and paper, the effects the statistic in question may have had on two major high-court decisions regarding sex offenders. Professor Ellmann's paper will be published later this fall in Constitutional Commentary. An opinion piece on Professor Ellman’s research was also published in the New York Times.

Professor Aaron Fellmeth’s upcoming book under the working title, “International Human Rights Paradigms: Theory, Policy and Law,” will be published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee will be honored as the Woman of the Year at the 2015 Arizona American Excellence in Leadership Awards. The ceremony will be held on November 19, 2015. Professor Ferguson-Bohnee is the faculty director of the Indian Legal Program.

Professor James G. Hodge, Jr. wrote a guest column in the JURIST, “Doctors, Patients, Guns and the Public's Health: Wollschlaeger II.”

Professor Orde Kittrie recently published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal looking at Senate overrides of international agreements signed by the executive branch. In the piece, “Congress Can Rewrite the Iran Deal, he wrote that the Iran nuclear agreement is not a treaty, so, “Congress should be comfortable sending one back for renegotiation.” Professor Kittrie is a former lead U.S. State Department attorney for nuclear affairs.

Associate Professor Rhett Larson produced an op-ed for the National Post that debates the question, “Can Canada responsibly export bulk quantities of fresh water?” Professor Larson sets forth three safeguards that “can help achieve a sustainable and responsible bulk water export policy.” His piece is also referenced in the article, “The Drilldown: Ontario seals deal with Hydro One workers,” on the Canadian news site iPolitics.

Professor Myles Lynk published the article, “Implications of the UK Legal Services Act 2007 for U.S. Law Practice and Legal Ethics” in the periodical, The Professional Lawyer. The article examines how changes to the regulation of lawyers and those who perform legal services in England and Wales point to possible adaptations for U.S. legal providers.

Professor Marcy Karin wrote an opinion piece on domestic violence for The Huffington Post. Professor Karin writes about the effects domestic violence has on the workplace. She focuses on the work some states and localities have taken by passing laws that require employers to grant victims of domestic violence access to paid safe time.

Associate Professor Troy Rule was quoted in a recent issue of the Arizona Capitol Times. The article focused on customers taking advantage of new utility-owned solar programs. Professor Rule is also the faculty director of the Program on Law and Sustainability.

Professor Michael Saks was the lead author of an amicus brief filed in the California Supreme Court concerning the challenge of bite mark evidence. The brief was cited in the Washington Post blog, “The Watch.” In April, Professor Saks was elected to the Executive Committee of the International Law Association, American Branch. He also published an article in the Summer 2015 issue of the Judges' Journal. Titled, "… and the courts have been utterly ineffective," the article looks at the problems courts face by discussing "deceased" forensic sciences that are no longer recognized as valid. The article was co-written with Ashley Votruba (JD Candidate).

Professor Rodney Smith was quoted by and in their coverage of the Gila River Arena lease and management agreement between the City of Glendale and the National Hockey League team, the Arizona Coyotes.

Regents’ Professor of Law Rebecca Tsosie was quoted in the Arizona Republic article, “For Native Americans, fight for gay marriage isn't over.” Professor Tsosie is also the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Community Engagement at ASU.

Alumni Notes


Robert Schmitt (JD ’73) received the State Bar of Arizona’s President’s Award. Schmitt founded the Prescott law firm Murphy, Schmitt, Hathway & Wilson with his friend Mike Murphy in 1993.


Michèle Huff (JD ’85) will teach a five-week class on mindful negotiating starting October 27 through the University of New Mexico’s continuing education program. The class is based on her book, "The Transformative Negotiator: Changing the Way We Come to Agreement from the Inside Out." She is an attorney with UNM working on technology, research, and intellectual property.

Robert J. McWhirter (JD ’88) and the ASU Alumni Law Group had a win in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The verdict holds that courts cannot categorically deny pretrial release to undocumented people charged with the crime of reentry after deportation. McWhirter is the Supervising Criminal Attorney for the ASU Alumni Law Group.

Leon Silver (JD ’89) celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Liberty Project. The Liberty Project is described as a reproductive rights think tank made up of young lawyers, law students and other interested individuals working for the preservation of reproductive rights and sexual health.


Ian Fischer (JD ’08) is part of a complex litigation team that has joined Lewis Roca Rothgerber. Fischer’s practice focuses on complex litigation, class action defense, insurance coverage and bad faith, and white-collar defense and investigations.

Rebecca Lumley (JD ‘07) celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Liberty Project. The Liberty Project is described as a reproductive rights think tank made up of young lawyers, law students and other interested individuals working for the preservation of reproductive rights and sexual health.

Kyrsten Sinema (JD ’04) will be the featured speaker at the meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Phoenix Chapter on October 14. Sinema is the U.S. Representative from Arizona’s 9th Congressional District.


Justin Graham (JD ’15) was hired as an associate at Lewis Roca Rothgerber. Graham is in the business transactions practice group in Phoenix.

Lindsey Herzog (JD ’15) was hired as an associate at Lewis Roca Rothgerber. Herzog joins the litigation practice group in Phoenix.

Heather Todd Horrocks (JD ‘11) joined Ballard Spahr in Phoenix as an associate in the litigation department, where she advises clients in complex corporate and commercial litigation matters.

Blair Moses (JD ‘10) has accepted a job at the State Bar of Arizona to work as Attorney/Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) Bar Counsel. She will handle intake and investigation of ethics complaints, and help with litigation.

Lea A. Phillips (JD ’11) is one of three finalists for the ATHENA Young Professional Award sponsored by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Phillips is an environmental law associate at Ballard Spahr. ATHENA finalists are selected for “their excellence in business and leadership, dedication to the community, and support and mentorship of other women.”