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ASU Law program raises the bar for Arizona attorneys

ASU Law workshops provide continuing education for attorneys and public alike.
June 9, 2017

Continuing Legal Education courses appeal to alumni while showing the public how law and justice intersect

Lawyers know how to talk, but what if they were trained what to say?

Scientists know exactly how people think, but what if they shared that information with people who could make the most use of it, and do it persuasively?

That was the thinking behind a recent science and law seminar at the Phoenix Convention Center, one of a series of silo-busting interdisciplinary workshops hosted by Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law that keeps attorneys sharp while offering the public a glimpse how law and the justice system intersects.

“ASU offers these programs to attorneys because we want to appeal to our alumni while staying connected to the lawyering community,” said Christopher G. Marohn, director of ASU Law’s Continuing Legal Education program. He added that Arizona attorneys are required to have 15 hours of continuing education credit every year by June 30, the end of their fiscal year.

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Christopher G. Marohn

Marohn said although their programs are designed for attorneys, they are open to the public to “inform society how laws are made and to give them a better understanding of how lawyers operate in society.”

It’s a philosophy that Phoenix attorney Wendy Laskin appreciates. Laskin, a sole practitioner who specializes in mental health, probate and elder law, has attended several of these programs.

“As an attorney I can go and get credit, but it also stretches my mind as a community member,” said Laskin, who attended sessions on the Fourth Amendment, firearms and immigration, providing her “with another set of knowledge.”

This approach fits in with ASU Law’s dedication to inclusiveness and the university’s interdisciplinary approach to problem solving that has led to collaborations between business and computer science, sustainability and poetry, and science and art

The Continuing Legal Education Program hosts approximately 40 seminars, conferences, workshops, and panel discussions a year, tackling issues such as the corporatization of the prison system, design and construction, negotiation strategies, data management and emerging technologies.

Marohn, a former public defender from California, selects the curriculum, which is a mix of traditional and topical subjects.

“I pick a lot of subjects based on what’s trending in the law,” Marohn said. “Sometimes we fly off the handle and see what’s fun to do.”

That was the thinking behind “The Corporatization of Criminal Justice,” which evolved from a casual conversation Marohn had with a friend over coffee.

The April 14 conference featured civil rights leader Benjamin Jealous and tackled issues arising from the for-profit prison system, claiming it has influenced the length and severity of sentences, disproportionately harming communities of color and contributing to social inequity and oppression.

Jane Dacey, who works for the Arizona-based non-profit called Abolish Private Prisons, helped coordinate the conference with Marohn after another law school fell through. She said the free conference was attended by approximately 100 attorneys, advocates and community members, and streamed to hundreds of others online.

“The conference went over well because it featured presenters with a different perspective on mass incarceration,” Dacey said. After the conference, Dacey said she often checks with ASU’s calendar listing because “the university has so many interesting things going on.”

Two weeks later the Continuing Legal Education program hosted, “The Science of Decision Making: Persuading Judges and Jurors,” featuring national experts and Nobel Prize-winning research on human decision-making in the courtroom when presented sophisticated scientific information.

“Courtroom persuasion is all about trying to anticipate how jurors and judges will think, feel and interpret the arguments they are presenting,” said Jessica Salerno, an assistant psychology professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences division of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, and a researcher with the newly established Program on Law and Behavioral Science.

Her April 28 seminar presentation “Hot and Cold: How Decisions are Affected by Emotions and Gore,” demonstrated the emotional impact that crime-scene photos, videos and documents can have on juries, often leading to anger and a rush to judgment.

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Jessica Salerno

“When we have negative emotions aroused, that might lead jurors to prosecution evidence and ignore the defense,” Salerno said. “Anger and disgust can lead people to want to more punishment, longer sentences and larger damages.” She said defense attorneys could reduce the emotions of a jury by forcing verbal testimony over video, presenting photographs in black and white rather than color and showing them at the end of the trial rather than at the beginning.  

For criminal law attorney Robert J. Weber, a member of ASU Law’s inaugural class, although he enjoys the “exciting and thought-provoking curriculum,” he said it’s mostly about staying connected to his alma mater.

“Even though I graduated in 1970, I like to stay in touch with the university,” Weber said. “ASU changed my life.”

The Continuing Legal Education Program will host the Great Adverse Depositions and Attacking the Liar's "I Don't Remember" seminar on June 30 at the Beus Center for Law and Society on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

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ASU institute forges new partnership with university in Indonesia

ASU's Critical Languages Institute adds travel program to Bali.
June 9, 2017

Critical Languages Institute offers program in strategically important Bali

As Indonesia looks to become a bigger player on the world stage, Arizona State University is forging ties that recognize the country’s growing importance.

The Critical Languages InstituteThe Critical Languages Institute is part of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies at ASU. at ASU has started offering classes in Indonesian through a partnership with the University of Ngurah Rai in Bali, an island province of Indonesia. Eleven students are currently taking an intensive eight-week language course on ASU’s Tempe campus, and they then will travel to Bali for a four-week immersion experience in July.

The new offering fills a need that wasn’t being met, according to Kathleen Evans-Romaine, director of the Critical Languages Institute.

“Indonesia is a huge country with the largest Muslim population in the world, and it’s in a strategically vital location, with a lot of shipping and tourism,” she said.

“Other schools are teaching Korean and Vietnamese, but Indonesian was being neglected.”

The institute specializes in teaching languages for which there is a shortage of proficient speakers. Currently, the institute offers programs in Albanian, Armenian, Bosnian, Croation, Hebrew, Persian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Turkish and Uzbek, plus Indonesian.

The languages are designated as “critical” by various U.S. agencies, who need skilled speakers with a cultural understanding of the countries.

The Critical Language Institute’s programs are tuition-free, paid for with funding from federal agencies, sponsors or donors. Last year, the ROTC Global Officer Project agreed to fund the Indonesian program. Non-ROTC students are eligible to apply for the program as well. All of the institutes’ programs are open to non-ASU students, and many clients are mid-career professionals.

The model of combining on-campus instruction with immersion in the country is ideal, but not all of the institute’s languages are taught that way.

“The flip side to working with critical languages is that very frequently, the reasons they’re critical is that there is unrest or security concerns in the country that speaks them,” Evans-Romaine said.

“One of the downsides is that we lose countries on a fairly regular basis. We still teach Turkish, but we no longer go there.”

Programs in Tajikistan and Ukraine also were ended because of unrest. That’s why Indonesian was a good addition to the institute — travel to Bali is safe for Americans.

Dan Fellner (left), a faculty associate at ASU, lectures at the University of Ngurah Rai in Bali, where Nyoman Riasa, a teacher at the university, translated.

 Nyoman Riasa is the director of the partnership program for Ngurah Rai University and is a teacher of English and Indonesian there, mostly to Australians. He is at ASU teaching the students Indonesian for eight weeks and then will return to Bali, where he will teach them at Ngurah Rai.

He appreciates the Americans’ learning strategies.

“We spend less time remembering words for them,” he said. “I told them to look on the internet and find the numbers one to 20 in Indonesian. They came in this morning and, no problem, they knew the numbers from one to 20.”

Riasa also is in charge of finding host families for the Americans, which isn’t easy. ASU sets minimum housing requirements, such as indoor plumbing, which rules out a lot of potential host families.

“When I said, ‘These students come from America,’ the families think they’re tourists, and tourists require a long list of things,” Riasa said. “Meals, for example. The families ask, ‘Will they need to eat cheese and butter?’ They think an American coming to Bali won’t eat rice.”

Evans-Romaine said that typically, finding host families gets easier with every passing year of a program, as the communities find that hosting is a rewarding experience.

ASU’s ties to Indonesia extend beyond the language lessons. Earlier this year, Riasa and Ngurah Rai University hosted an ASU faculty member, who became the first American to lecture at several universities in Indonesia while he was there on a Fulbright grant.

Dan Fellner, who worked with Evans-Romaine in acquiring the Fulbright, specializes in inter-cultural communications and talked to Indonesians at six universities about how different cultures can best relate to each other. He also taught them about “crisis communications,” a delicate topic for a country that depends on tourism.

“I talked to engineering faculty about sustainability tourism and water issues. With the political science department, I talked about politics, and with the law faculty, I talked about the First Amendment in the U.S.,” said Fellner, a faculty associate in the Interdisciplinary Humanities and Communication unit in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at ASU's Polytechnic campus.

He answered a lot of questions about American politics and “fake news” and spoke about the cultural differences between the two countries. The Balinese love signs and made special banners with the ASU logo everywhere he went.

One big cultural difference is the level of religious devotion in Bali, where most of the population is HinduThe rest of Indonesia is majority Muslim..

In fact, the Critical Languages Institute made a special request of the ROTC Global Officers Program to pay for ceremonial clothing for the students as part of the scholarship, because it’s so important.

“They’re incredibly devout,” Fellner said of the Balinese.

“My farewell was a special blessing in the Hindu temple on campus. They taught me how every day, people pay homage in different ways.”

Find out more about the Critical Languages Institute at ASU here.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now