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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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Open ASU event Saturday in honor of International Day of Yoga, which is June 21.
Yoga comes from an ancient Sanskrit word meaning "to unite."
ASU expert: 5-10 minutes of yoga a day better than single 1.5-hour class a week.
June 15, 2017

Learn more about the practice, history and benefits from ASU's experts; take part in community event this weekend

Thirty years ago the phrase “downward dog” was likely to raise a few eyebrows when overheard in conversation, but nowadays you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t recognize it as a yoga pose.

The United Nations seemed to think so when in 2014 it sought to give the more-than-5,000-year-old practice the recognition it deserved by establishing June 21 as the International Day of Yoga. From 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, the Arizona State University student chapter of the Art of Living Foundation will host a community yoga celebration on the Tempe campus’ Hayden Lawn.

The gathering is part of a nationwide event to spread awareness of the practice, and an estimated 50 to 100 people are expected to show up, according to Alicia Nelson, global studies undergraduate and president of the Art of Living ASU student chapter.

Nelson took her first yoga class at ASU a few years ago and began teaching it around the Valley in early 2016.

“Yoga is that time where you say, OK, I’m going to pause everything I’m doing in the outside world and focus on what’s going on inside,” she said. “When you give yourself that time, you’re more aware of how you’re going through life, and it gives you the power to have a deeper experience and come to happiness in the moment.”

Yoga featured prominently at the recent opening of ASU’s Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience, a new initiative that will bring together researchers, practitioners and educators across disciplines to collaborate, study and spread ideas about mindfulness, compassion and resilience throughout the university and surrounding community.

“I’m really excited about the new center,” ASU health sciences lecturer Julia PearlJulia Pearl is a lecturer in ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. She holds the following certifications: E-RYT 500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher); YACEP (Yoga Alliance Certified Education Provider); ACSM-CPT (American College of Sports Medicine, Certified Personal Trainer); and AFAA- CGFI (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, Certified Group Fitness Instructor). said. She has been teaching yoga since 1995 and hopes to incorporate her specialty, Ashtanga yogaAshtanga yoga is a style of yoga popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century and consisting of eight “limbs,” or branches, of which physical poses are only one. “Power yoga” is a generic term that may refer to any type of aerobically vigorous yoga exercise derived from Ashtanga yoga., into the center’s offerings.

In preparation for Saturday’s event, ASU Now tracked down some of the university’s foremost experts on yoga to create a mini guide on its practice, history and benefits.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

An age-old practice

The word “yoga” comes from an ancient Sanskrit word that means “to unite,” as in uniting the body, mind and spirit. The practice originated in India more than 5,000 years ago with the goal of enlightenment and self-realization.

“In almost any culture, there’s this desire to understand why are we here, and now that we’re here, how do we live this life,” said attorney and Desert Song Healing Arts Center yoga instructor Alisa Gray. “People have always sought answers to these questions, and we’re still seeking answers.”

Desert Song Healing Arts Center is a community partner of ASU’s Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience. Gray, who earned her undergraduate and law degree from ASU, also teaches yoga and mindfulness to law students and legal professionals.

Gandhi, as it turns out, was also both a lawyer and a yogi, though not in the sense we might think. He practiced Ahimsa, or non-violence.

“Gandhi was a yogi in the sense of practicing what’s called karma yoga — good works,” Gray said. “So he was a yogi although you wouldn’t see him doing downward dog.”

Western vs. Eastern

Yoga only recently became commonplace in Western countries. Some trace the origin of yoga in the West to the yogi Swami Vivekananda’s visit to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, where he demonstrated various poses. Almost a century later, during the 1970s, University of Massachusetts Medical School professor Jon Kabat-Zinn helped boost its popularity in the U.S. when he integrated the teachings with scientific findings.

Since then, yoga has seen the endorsement of celebrities like Sting and Madonna and has even been incorporated into professional athletes’ training regimens.

“Gosh, it’s changed so much over the last 22 years,” Pearl said. “The biggest way is just how mainstream it’s become. … It’s very normalized. Much more so than when I first started in Seattle, when I was involved in the ‘Earthy-mama’ movement.”

And yoga is no longer thought of as a solely religious practice meant to achieve enlightenment.

“Western yoga is definitely more fitness-oriented,” said ASU health sciences lecturer Christina BarthChristina Barth is a lecturer in ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. She holds the following certifications: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist; Registered Yoga Teacher., “but it still helps us to manage stress, learn to relax and increase our overall sense of well-being.”

More than just striking a pose

There are several schools of yoga, including Bikram (hot yoga), Yin (slow-paced) and Ashtanga (power). One of the main components of Ashtanga is deep breathing, which Pearl said “almost sounds like Darth Vader” in an otherwise quiet studio.

That breathing aspect is very important, though. In fact, breathing is one of the eight “limbs,” or branches, of yoga. Other limbs include meditation and ethics.

The poses we generally associate with the entirety of yoga actually only make up one limb, called the “asana” limb, and there is some debate among yogis as to where they all came from, since ancient writings mention just one: the seated meditation pose. One theory, according to Gray, is that the plethora of modern-day yoga poses originated from calisthenicsCalisthenics are gymnastic exercises intended to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement..

There’s also the mental and emotional aspects of yoga to consider, said Devi Davis-StrongDevi Davis-Strong is a lecturer in ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. She holds the following certifications: Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Teacher Certification; American College of Sports Medicine Health Fitness Specialist and Personal Training Certificate; American Council on Exercise Group Fitness and Personal Training certifications; Certified Health Education Specialist., ASU exercise science and health promotion lecturer. It’s those aspects, as opposed to the physical poses, that have kept her coming back over the roughly 15 years she has been practicing.

“The poses are challenging, but that’s not really the point of yoga,” Davis-Strong said.

Research to back it up

Among the benefits of yoga are lessened insomnia, anxiety and depression; lower heart, respiratory and blood pressure rates; increased serotonin levels; and improvement in body image. And those benefits have been scientifically proven, something that satisfies Westerners’ desire for empirical justification, Gray said.

Barth, who has been doing yoga for 10 years, has seen firsthand the positive effect it has had on clients at her private practice, who are recovering from eating disorders.

“I’ve seen a big change in them as far as mindful eating,” she said.

Research has also shown that yoga can shift the body from a state of “fight or flight,” our bodies’ natural response to stress, to a more relaxed one.

“We live in such a fast-paced, stressful society, we need a way to calm ourselves, to soothe ourselves,” Davis-Strong said. “The stress response is quick; it’s a survival mechanism” that can muddle the circuitry in our frontal cortex, which helps us make good decisions. “Yoga can help us slow down so we can make better decisions and respond better to challenging situations.”

Anyone can be a yogi

Incorporating yoga into your life could be easier than you thought. Pearl recently helped create a video demonstrating 10 stress-relieving postures that can be done at your desk.

“You don’t even have to go to a gym; you can practice mind-body exercises at your desk when you get an email that makes your blood pressure go up,” she said. “You can do something about it right then that will be better for your well-being.”

When it comes to setting goals, she advises against putting too much pressure on yourself or forcing yourself to do something that’s too difficult.

“With all behavior change, it’s really about starting with the ‘smart’ goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-oriented. Things that somebody will actually be able to do, because consistency is key. If you can do five to 10 minutes of yoga a day, that’s better than one, one-and-a-half-hour class a week,” Pearl said.

Adding to that, Davis-Strong said it’s important not to be intimidated and to just enjoy the experience.

“I just encourage people to give it a try and see how they feel,” she said. “Just feel good, have fun and enjoy your body.”


Sun Never Sets on Yoga

What: Yoga session open to the public.

When: 6:30-8 p.m. Saturday, June 17.

Where: Hayden lawn, Tempe campus.

Admission: Free; donations accepted.

Details: Bring mat, water bottle and small meditation cushion. Find more information at ASU Events.


Top photo: ASU health sciences lecturer Julia Pearl does yoga at ASU's Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Anna Werner