ASU professors on U.S. interest in central Europe, Black Sea region


August 26, 2019

In the 70 years since the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty established an international alliance to prevent future devastation like that which was wrought during the First and Second World Wars, threats to the liberal democratic way of life continue — from Russian military occupations to religious conflicts in Turkey to civil unrest in China.

This summer, Paul Carrese, founding director of Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, addressed these and other issues of concern at the Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum in Romania. man standing and talking at a podium Paul Carrese speaks at an event hosted by ASU's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership in January. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now Download Full Image

“Both American leaders and the leaders of the Three Seas InitiativeThe Three Seas Initiative is a forum of 12 states in the European Union, located in Central and Eastern Europe, that aims to create a regional dialogue on a variety of questions affecting the member states. states know that it is in the enlightened self-interest of all the liberal democracies to support each other, globally, in an era of unprecedented global connectedness but also uncertainty and threats,” Carrese said.

The annual forum seeks to enhance the security cooperation as well as political and economic cooperation among a dozen states bordering the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas. Other speakers included distinguished current and former diplomats from greater Europe and the U.S., current and former generals from NATO member states, scholars, institute directors and observers from NATO and the European Union.

Ileana Orlich, President’s Professor of Romanian studies and comparative literature in the School of International Letters and Cultures at ASU, was instrumental in helping to arrange ASU’s involvement in the forum. A native of Romania, Orlich first arrived at ASU as a graduate student in 1977. In 1998 she established the Romanian language program, with only 10 students. Since then, it has expanded into the largest Romanian studies program in the world and the only freestanding Romanian studies program in the U.S. In 2018, Orlich was honored with high distinction by the president of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis, for her efforts to promote the Romanian language and national identity abroad.

A group of students poses for a photo in Cluj, Romania.

ASU President's Professor Ileana Orlich (first row, second from right) with the ASU summer study program in Cluj, Romania.

ASU Now asked Carrese and Orlich to provide some insight into the issues currently at play in central Europe and the Black Sea region.

Question: What were some topics of concern at the forum?

Carrese: I addressed the reasons why, as a matter of the grand strategy and foreign policy of these liberal democracies in central Europe, it is a very good idea to pursue a regional initiative on security cooperation and economic development from the Baltics to the Adriatic, including the states on and near the Black Sea. This makes great sense for these dozen or so states in central Europe, making plans for peaceful mutual development among states with shared principles, values, forms of government and market economies. This also is an important initiative given the threatening posture and actions of the Russian government under President Putin against liberal democracies in the region, and against other former states of the Soviet Union, from the Baltic states to Ukraine and Georgia.  

Q: Why should Americans be concerned about security in the region today?

Carrese: Our security and prosperity have immensely benefitted from being the global leader of an alliance of liberal democracies since the 1940s. The U.S. has worked to expand the number and range of our partners in helping to provide for a more peaceful, stable and prosperous world over the past 75 years. NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance more generally, to include the European Union, are international pillars of this U.S.-led effort to promote liberal democracy, economic prosperity and security that directly benefits America as well as other states and peoples. The Baltic, Black Sea and Adriatic states are members of NATO or the European Union or both. Serious threats to liberal democratic life in these states now are coming not only from the current Russian government but also from the governments of Iran (not very far from this region, especially given its intervention in Syria) and from China; and while China is seemingly far away from central Europe, it is a very large presence in global economic and security issues, including its current support of illiberal or anti-democratic policies of Russian and Iran.

Orlich: The Black Sea and the Bosphorus, which links the Black and Mediterranean seas, is of great strategic importance as a fault line between Western, Orthodox and Islamic civilizations. The rich history of the Black Sea goes back to the old Greek and Roman civilizations, the Byzantine control of the region and the exploits of the Ottoman Empire competing with Tsarist Russia for supremacy. Today’s Black Sea region remains the arena of conflicting interests for superpowers and regional powers. Putin’s Russia is reasserting itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union ended Russia’s time as a superpower. Russia is militarily involved in Ukraine and Syria and has occupied Crimea and strategic areas in Georgia. To counter that threat, the U.S. is emphasizing its relationship with Romania, a strong U.S. ally and member of NATO since 2004 and the European Union since 2007, and reasserting its presence in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, although a longtime member of NATO, Turkey has been moving away from the West and toward the Islamic world, testing its relationship with the U.S. and the European Union. 

Q: How can ASU students benefit from faculty scholarship in this area?

Orlich: The forum, organized by the New Strategy Center based in Bucharest but connected with prestigious universities both in Romania and in the European Union, brings together scholars, high-ranking military personnel and diplomatic representatives to discuss this strategic fault line. ASU students have much to gain from the involvement of faculty at a time when Russia is reasserting itself militarily, Turkey is testing its secular institutions and the U.S. and European Union seek to support the Black Sea democracies born out of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Covering disciplines ranging from political science to religion, this is a robust academic debate with timely real-world consequences to which ASU can contribute and from which it can gain.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

ASU Law clinic wins argument to unseal documents in high-profile trial


August 26, 2019

The trial of Scott Warren took center stage this summer in the nation’s passionate debate over immigration. Warren, a humanitarian aid worker with the group “No More Deaths,” was facing felony charges — and up to 20 years in prison — for aiding immigrants in the southern Arizona community of Ajo. That assistance included providing water and other basic assistance and, according to the federal authorities, helping them avoid detection. To government prosecutors, he was a felon aiding and abetting in illegal immigration. To his defenders, he was simply a compassionate Samaritan following a moral calling to help those in desperate need.

But despite the national spotlight and intense media scrutiny, little was known about the investigation that had led to Warren being charged in the first place. A journalist with The Intercept had hit a roadblock trying to gain access to sealed court documents, and on June 11, jurors were unable to agree on a verdict and the case ended in a mistrial. For the First Amendment Clinic at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, it was the perfect case. photo of First Amendment Clinic staff and students First Amendment Clinic staff and students outside of the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse in Tucson, Arizona: (from left) Wayne Unger, Stephanie Deskins, Ryan Bailey, Executive Director Gregg Leslie and Orin Bellizio. Download Full Image

Answering the call

The clinic was launched in fall 2018 with the mission of helping to protect and advance freedom of the press and train future lawyers on First Amendment issues. When Executive Director Gregg Leslie received the call for help from a longtime associate at The Intercept, there was no hesitation.

“It was the perfect opportunity for us, so we jumped at the chance,” said Leslie, himself a former journalist.

The case was not only unfolding in Arizona, in federal court in Tucson, but Warren had been a faculty associate in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Faculty associates are hired on a course-by-course basis.

The work began, with neither the clinic nor The Intercept knowing exactly what they might uncover.

“When we talked about these documents, all we knew is that something was attached to a motion to dismiss, and that it involved conversations, probably, among Border Patrol agents,” Leslie said, adding that when somebody is prosecuted for a crime in federal court, there should be little to no secrecy surrounding the details of the investigation.

“There were allegations that the Border Patrol was trying to go after somebody because he was providing water and other assistance to people who might otherwise die as they were crossing a desert,” Leslie said, underscoring the passion that surrounded the case. “And, of course, the point other people would make is that that crossing into the U.S. without documentation is itself illegal, and that's why the government is going after them. But Scott Warren had this fundamental belief that he could not stand by and watch people die in the desert. So if he was being targeted for that belief, and he was being prosecuted, it was important to know exactly what the Border Patrol did and didn't do leading up to the arrest.”

The trial was approaching when the summer semester began. Ryan Bailey, one of the clinic’s summer students, would soon be playing a key role.

photo of Gregg Leslie and Ryan Bailey

Professor Gregg Leslie (left) and Ryan Bailey (right) during a meeting of the First Amendment Clinic this past summer. 

Students can be provisionally licensed to argue in state court if they’ve taken two semesters of law school. But an extra semester is required for federal cases. Ryan was the only student who fit that criteria.

Other students worked with Bailey on the briefing and all the research that went into it, but if they were granted oral argument on the motion to unseal the documents, he would have to be the one to argue before U.S. District Judge Raner Collins.

Bailey welcomed the challenge.

“I hadn’t taken a First Amendment class, so I was learning and having to apply what I was learning at the same time,” he said. “Thank goodness for Professor Leslie, though. He’s amazing and can always answer any question.”

The argument to unseal

In federal criminal cases, the Brady Rule and the Jencks Act govern most discovery issues. Under the Brady Rule, prosecutors are required to turn over potentially exonerating evidence to the defense at trial. And the Jencks Act covers incriminating evidence, requiring that prosecutors turn over verbatim statements or reports made by witnesses — but that is only required to be turned over after the witnesses have testified.

To speed things up, evidence is often shared in advance, as was the case in the Warren trial. And at the prosecution’s insistence, the two sides entered into a nondisclosure agreement to keep that evidence sealed; otherwise, the prosecution was going to be less forthcoming with disclosures.

But as Leslie points out, the First Amendment guarantees the public the right to access the information, and the government must provide a compelling reason to seal such documents. A nondisclosure agreement doesn’t supersede the public’s First Amendment rights. But it’s not uncommon for attorneys, and sometimes judges, to be mistaken on the issue.

“That comes up in a lot of cases in a slightly less formal context where a party will turn over this material to the other party and expect it to be kept confidential, and they incorrectly assume the right to confidentiality” Leslie said, noting that magistrate judges, not Collins, had been involved in the initial decision to seal the documents. “So in that sense, it wasn't that surprising that the prosecution in this case made that argument. But it’s problematic.”

Leslie says every case is different, so there’s no textbook approach for the clinic’s students to follow.

“You have to do research, begin to formulate your arguments, then do more research and build a strategy as you go,” he said. “There is no real lesson plan to follow in a clinical case like this.”

Oral arguments were made before Collins on July 9. Bailey had been in a federal courtroom before, as an extern for U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine, but never in a situation like this.

“ASU Law is one of the best programs in the country. The professors are very knowledgeable, and you’re surrounded by smart students who challenge you. So you just learn more in that environment. And as far as the First Amendment Clinic, I was able to get a comprehensive experience, with all the research, writing and talking to clients. I never imagined that I’d be arguing something in federal court.”
— Ryan Bailey, third-year ASU Law student

“Normally when you're in federal court, there's a couple of people on defense, a couple people on the plaintiff side, some of the court people, and that's it,” he said. “But for this, it was a pretty full courtroom. I knew my argument backward and forward and I knew the cases, but still, it was a little bit nerve-wracking.”

The prosecution’s argument was simple: The two sides had entered into a nondisclosure agreement, so the documents should remain sealed. Bailey countered that without a compelling reason to keep those documents sealed, the two sides did not have the right to strike an agreement to keep that information from the public.

Bailey thought he was on solid legal ground and that the prosecution had not made much of a counter-argument.

“I was pretty confident,” he said. “You never know how things will go, but I was confident that we were on the right side of the argument.”

Collins made his ruling three days later, on July 12, agreeing with Bailey that the government’s request to maintain the nondisclosure agreement could not be reconciled with the public’s right to know.

It was a big win for the media, as the Arizona Republic, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and the Associated Press had also signed on as clients of the clinic in the pursuit of the sealed documents. And it was a big win for the First Amendment Clinic and Bailey, the third-year law student practicing with a provisional license.

“It was pretty amazing,” Bailey said. “I was smiling ear to ear. I called my parents. I don’t think these opportunities happen very often for law students, especially in federal court.”

The documents were made public on July 19, outlining the more than eight-month investigation that led to Warren’s arrest. The Intercept and other media outlets published detailed accounts of the investigation, allowing the public to see how and why Warren was arrested, and how the federal government allocated its resources.

And that, Leslie says, demonstrates how critical public access is to a free and democratic society.

“We're talking about an incredible power of the law enforcement apparatus, with the courts able to deprive people of their liberty,” he said. “And they're doing it in the name of the people. So if that's happening, it's essential that anything that the government relies on in depriving someone of their liberty be public so that we know exactly how the government is acting in our name.”

And if there is no oversight or accountability, he said, corruption will follow.

“We just know that,” he said. “We know that from how human institutions work. Special interests will be favored or certain interests will be favored over others, and we won’t get to know about it. So you really need constant public oversight, to keep the government accountable. And that's essentially what these cases are about.”

Thankful to be at ASU Law

For Bailey, it was the latest twist in an academic journey that initially took him to Arizona Summit, a downtown Phoenix law school that lost its accreditation with the American Bar Association in July 2018 and closed shortly thereafter. Upon transferring to ASU Law, he was astounded by the contrast.

“It’s beyond comparison,” he said. “Just so many more opportunities. Especially opportunities like this, the First Amendment clinic and the externships. You learn about the law in the classroom, but you need to learn how to apply it as well. And without those kinds of opportunities, you’re really not prepared to be an attorney.”

Leslie said that in addition to giving students like Bailey the knowledge and experience to be successful, the clinic has an expansive mission to protect all elements of the First Amendment.

“We want to be involved in anything affecting the First Amendment, whether it's this kind of public accountability, through open-records requests, defending libel cases or defending protesters,” he said. “It’s a broad mandate, but it essentially all comes down to the fact that we want people to feel free to exercise their First Amendment rights.”

Bailey said he can’t recommend ASU Law, or the First Amendment Clinic, highly enough.

“ASU Law is one of the best programs in the country,” he said. “The professors are very knowledgeable, and you’re surrounded by smart students who challenge you. So you just learn more in that environment. And as far as the First Amendment Clinic, I was able to get a comprehensive experience, with all the research, writing and talking to clients. I never imagined that I’d be arguing something in federal court.”

Nicole Almond Anderson

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

480-727-6990