Professor John M. Burman: A Tribute

The people of Wyoming and, especially but not exclusively, her judges and lawyers lost a 0015BurmanJColorHiResmajor asset with the passing of Professor John Burman.

A life so full cannot be captured in a short tribute, so I will not make an attempt to do so here. Instead, those looking for more detail on John’s amazing life are encouraged to review the packet of letters written to support our nomination of John for the ABA’s Michael Franck Professionalism Award, which is linked here: John M. Burman Nomination Packet. Suffice it to say that John, perhaps more than anyone we know, “filled the dash” with a truly amazing life.

But I will mention two aspects of his career that cannot go unnoted. First, he was an amazing teacher of the law. The College of Law’s outstanding professor plaque has John’s name on it. Eight times! At a law school with a wonderful faculty, winning that award once is an amazing accomplishment. Eight times?!?!

Perhaps even more importantly, when John’s phone rang, he answered it. Regardless of whether you were the Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court or a “just trying to get by” newcomer to the practice of law, he answered every inquiry from every judge or lawyer who found themselves in an ethical bind. I doubt that there has ever been anyone in the history of the practice of law who kept so large a group of lawyers on the ethical high road.

My law practice and teaching career has taken me to many states. Ours is the only one I know where a law professor is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most popular lawyer in the state. Most places, there is a wide gap between the academy and the practice. John bridged that gap better than anyone.

There is so much more to say about this remarkable man, but I will leave it to others to say it. I will finish by quoting a song that, when I hear it, always makes me think of John. From the musical “Wicked,” Stephen Schwartz’s song “For Good” starts:

I’ve heard it said

That people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return

Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true

But I know I’m who I am today

Because I knew you

                John had that kind of effect on us. So many of us.

The song’s ending is mighty applicable, too: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

How fortunate we were to have had him in our lives.

~Stephen D. Easton | William T. Schwartz Professor of Law



Clinic Highlight: EENR Visit to the Legislative Session

Students in the EENR Clinic meeting with legislators and visit the U.S. Supreme Court

On Friday, February 8, 2018, the Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources Clinic visited the legislature in Cheyenne. During the spring semester, the clinic focuses on specific areas of Wyoming energy, environmental and natural resource law, including how those laws are made through the Wyoming legislative process. The visit to the legislature, which is currently in session, provided the students with an overview of the legislative process and allowed the students to learn how the Wyoming lawmaking process works. Hosted by Cindy Delancey of the Wyoming Business Alliance, the students were able to meet a number of legislators and to talk to them about how serving in the legislature is a potential opportunity for them in the future as well.

While in Cheyenne, the clinic students also had an opportunity to sit down with the incoming attorney General Bridgit Hill to talk about the role of the Attorney General’s Office in state lawmaking and the enforcement of those laws.

The visit to the legislature is just one of the many educational expeditions that students in the clinic have undertaken this year. The clinic regularly travels to Cheyenne to meet with members of the Attorney General’s Office, and each clinic student has attended and participated in a Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission hearing, conducting show cause hearings in front of the Commission.

In December the students in the Clinic travelled to Washington D.C. where they watched the United States Supreme Court oral argument on the important Wyoming case, Herrera v. Wyoming.

3L Shelby Hayes appears before the WOGCC on three show cause docket items under the supervision of the WOGCC’s attorneys and the Attorney General’s Office.

A main staple of the EENR clinic is the practical learning application that results in the students being well-informed in all aspects of their legal field. By connecting with legislators and practicing attorney’s, as well as performing in actual hearings, students are better equipped to enter the practice of law.  The College of Law is extremely grateful the members of the Bar, the legislature, and other regulatory entities in Wyoming for their willingness to engage and educate our students.

(Pictured above: EENR clinic students John Fritz, Christine Kelly, Jada Garofalo, Shelby Hayes, Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr, Wyoming Business Alliance President Cindy Delancey, Senator Chris Rothfuss, Representative Eric Barlow)

Student Highlight: Jenna Niehl Argues Before the Wyoming Supreme Court

DSC_1566Third-year law student Jenna Niehl argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court on January 16th, 2019. The oral argument was part of her assignment in the Prosecution Assistance Clinic.

Working closely with the Prosecution Student Clinic Director, Kate Mercer, and the Attorney General’s Office, Niehl wrote the brief in support of the state’s position regarding an abuse of discretion case, Requejo v. State. Under a very strict deadline and small window for turnaround, Niehl put in over 60 hours of work. The result however, provided Niehl with a robust knowledge of the case, priming her for the argument.

Niehl fine-tuned her oral argument and prepared for all of the possible issues that could have arisen through a series of moots with the Clinic Faculty Director, Professor Darrell Jackson. Jackson was pleased and impressed with the work that Niehl put forth.

“Jenna argued with skill and dexterity far beyond what is usually seen or expected from a law student,” praises Jackson. “This is a testament to her tireless preparation and it was vividly seen during her progression from one week to another.”

“The oral argument was extremely nerve-racking at first, but once I was up there I was grateful for how prepared I actually was and felt confident in my abilities,” says Niehl.

Niehl also credits the Supreme Court Justices for making the experience welcoming, professional, and instructive for students – which is no small feat when the stakes are high for real clients.

“You could tell that the Justices like that students are in the court making the arguments,” she says. “They were extremely informative but still asked tough questions. I appreciated that they had faith in my abilities to be prepared and to competently argue.”

The ability to argue before the Wyoming Supreme Court is a unique opportunity that is extremely rare for most law schools, and yet prevalent for Wyoming law students. The clinical programs provide students with an incredible set of skills in client counseling, oral advocacy, appellate writing, and client-based decision making. Niehl reflected on those advantages her education has provided at the conclusion of her oral argument.

“It wasn’t until afterwards that the full gravitas of what I had done really hit,” she comments. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I hadn’t come to Wyoming for law school. It has been the best decision for me since day one.”

Throughout her legal education Niehl has been engaged in the college and outgoing in her endeavors. She served as the Potter Law Club Bookstore Manager, and participated in the ABA Negotiations Competition where she competed at the regional level. She credits the competition experience in helping her to prepare for the unknown in oral arguments and the ability to answer any possible curve-ball questions. She also did an externship with the University of Wyoming Athletic Compliance Office, an experience that has garnered an interest in sports law and opened the door to a unique career opportunity.

Following graduation she will be headed to Indianapolis, Ind. where she will be working in a post-graduate internship with the NCAA working in the eligibility department.

“My entire law school experience has been phenomenal,” she says. “I love that I have earned a degree that is so versatile that I will be using it to do something outside a courtroom, but it still gives me the flexibility to decide that if I ever wanted to do something different, I’d be prepared to do so.”

The College of Law is exceedingly proud of Jenna and all that she has accomplished!

Faculty Highlight: Professor Righetti Guides Grant Funded Research

Professor Tara Righetti is heavily involved in securing grants for interdisciplinary DSC_1162research activities at the University of Wyoming. She is the go-to authority on energy law for the University and is sought out for her expertise, her enthusiasm, and her willingness to help advance the mission of important research grants.

Not only does she play an essential role in the advancement of the University as a land-grant institution, she never loses sight of the fact that the education of students is a vital component of each grant-funded endeavor. She is diligent to ensure that students are able to benefit through practical experience, paid research projects, scholarships and other opportunities to advance their theoretical and applied knowledge.

Over the past year and in varying capacities, Professor Righetti has been involved in some major grants and research efforts at UW.

Righetti recently brought in a substantial grant to the University from a private foundation. The grant is intended to support the work of students in both the College of Law and School of Energy Resources, as well as important research on issues related to carbon capture.

The student portion of the grant funds a student research fellow, and supports the prestigious Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship and the Energy Negotiations Competition at the College of Law. Wyoming has excelled in the competition, making a name for itself among dominant energy law schools in Texas by having a team finish in the top tier every year that it has participated.

The research component of the grant will help to facilitate important conversations surrounding carbon capture. As the principal investigator, Righetti is leading a project that will highlight the opportunity for collaboration between industry and environmentalists on achieving global carbon reduction goals. With current third-year law student and Salt Creek Scholar Madeleine Lewis serving as her research fellow, Righetti is producing three policy briefs relative to CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) as a carbon dioxide reduction technology and tool in climate mitigation. The briefs will describe the existing regulation of EOR, as well as provide a state-by-state overview and informative background for both state and federal lawmakers. Kipp Coddington, the Director of Energy Policy & Economics in the School of Energy Resources, and Associate Lecturer Kris Koski (J.D. ’08) are also collaborating on the policy briefs.

In addition to actively writing grant proposals, Professor Righetti is an integral part of the multi-million dollar grant funding the Wyoming CarbonSAFE Feasibility Project.  During Phase I of the venture, Professor Righetti worked with former student Salt Creek Scholar Casey Terrell (J.D./M.A. ’18) to do the initial legal pre-feasibility analysis. Terrell even based his Master’s thesis in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources on the research he did with Wyoming CarbonSAFE and continues to engage in research relative to carbon storage in his new role as an associate attorney at Crowley Fleck in Sheridan.

Now that the project has entered Phase II, Righetti is working to assess the carbon storage feasibility on the ground. Righetti is heading the legal portion of the project and overseeing work with external legal consultants in Wyoming. The team will support project’s feasibility assessment by presenting an in-depth analysis of the established legal and regulatory infrastructure in Wyoming and facilitating data acquisition within the proposed project area.

Finally, Professor Righetti has been an integral part of other major research endeavors on campus. Righetti worked with the Energy Regulation Research Group for the School of Energy Resources, publishing an article “Siting Carbon Dioxide Pipelines” in the Oil and Gas, Natural Resources and Energy Journal through the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She also worked with a team of researchers in the College of Engineering on an EPSCoR Track 2 grant project. The project is exploring the impacts of bio-energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to reduce carbon emissions consistent with limiting global temperature increases.

Through both of these collaborative efforts, Righetti was able to facilitate opportunities for law students to participate in the research process as well. Cole Gustafson (J.D. ’18) was a student intern on the SER Energy Regulation Research grant, and third-year student Mick Bondi worked with the EPSCoR research team. The experience was not only helpful in subsidizing the cost of their education, but also provided valuable skills in analytical research.

“I have worked really hard to find interdisciplinary and multi-faceted opportunities that are inclusive to students, while advancing the land-grant mission of the University and supporting topics that are important to the state,” says Righetti. “Being able to work on several projects that are interwoven in my area of expertise has been tremendous. Moreover, I’m pleased that they are encouraging student-driven research and supporting our students directly and indirectly through scholarships and support of enrichment activities.”

The College of Law is extremely proud of the effort Professor Righetti puts forth to engage in outside research, cooperate with external entities, and bring new resources to the law school. Through these initiatives she helps to position the University (and its students) as a leader in the increasingly important fields of energy exploration and climate mitigation.

Faculty Highlights: Published Works and Accolades

The University of Wyoming College of Law faculty are known for their expertise and wealth of experience in teaching. In addition to the long hours put into the classroom, our accomplished professors are continually striving to expand scholarship in their specific areas of study, and to contribute valuable academic resources for the wider legal community. Here are a handful of recent publishing accomplishments and contributions from some of our faculty.

(top to bottom) Prof. Kalen, Prof. Jackson, Prof. Righetti, Prof. Smith, Prof. Robison

In September 2018, Associate Dean & Centennial Distinguished Professor of Law Sam Kalen published the book Energy Follies: Missteps, Fiascos, and Successes of America’s Energy Policy, in collaboration with Robert R. Nordhaus.

The book explores failed energy policies and the challenges that Congress and other federal agencies face when trying to remedy unsuccessful past decisions. It further investigates how misguided energy policy decisions caused or contributed to past energy crises, and how it took years to unwind their effects. Finally, this work recounts the decades-long struggles to change market supply and pricing policies for oil and natural gas in order to encourage competition in the electric power industry. The book was published with Cambridge University Press and is available for purchase here.

In addition to his academic and administrative roles at the College of Law, Kalen is the Co-Director of the Center for Law and Energy Resources in the Rockies at the University of Wyoming.

A second faculty member published a book in 2018 as well. Professor Darrell Jackson, who recently was granted tenure at the College of Law published Black Men in Law School, Unmatched or Mismatched with Routledge Publishing.

Grounded in Critical Race Theory (CRT), the book is the polished end result of years of qualitative research. Black Men in Law School refutes the claim that when African American law students are “mismatched” with more selective law schools, the result is lower levels of achievement and success. Presenting personal narratives and counter-stories, Jackson demonstrates the inadequacy of the mismatch theory and deconstructs the ways race is constructed within American public law schools. He further offers an alternative theory that considers marginalized student perspectives and crystallizes the nuances and impact that historically exclusionary institutions and systems have on African American law school students. This compelling book is available for purchase here.

A dedicated researcher, Professor Jackson was recently profiled for his current area of interest, the intersection of criminal law and museums. In addition to his scholastic endeavors, Jackson also serves as the Director of the Prosecution Assistance Clinic at that College of Law.

Another current publication comes from Professor Tara Righetti, who wrote a foreword in the recently released Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation manual, Joint Operating Agreement: Applicability and Enforceability of Default Provisions. This book provides a comprehensive guide to the parties’ rights and remedies in the event of default under a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA), as well as illustrates risk management tools related to the possibility of default while contracting. It guides the reader seamlessly through a comprehensive and pragmatic review of the default provisions in a JOA and their operation across a multitude of realistic circumstances in both common law and civil law jurisdictions. An acknowledged authority in energy law and policy, Righetti contributes a succinct explanation of content and credibility to the book.

Professor Righetti is an Associate Professor of Law and serves as the Director of the Professional Land Management Program in the School of Energy Resources. She was recently named a trustee-at-large with the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. The book with Professor Righetti’s foreword is available for purchase here.

Meanwhile, Professor Michael Smith’s established writings are being cited to improve the area of the law in practice. In an opinion written by Justice Fox, the Wyoming Supreme Court recently quoted Professor Smith in resolving an issue on the nature and function of a factor test under Wyoming law. (See the Opinion here). More specifically, the Opinion referenced a passage in Smith’s 2002 book, Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing. Recognized as a leading expert in the area of persuasive legal writing, Professor Smith’s work has been lauded as groundbreaking.

Smith is the Carl M. Williams Professor of Law and Ethics, the Director of Legal Writing at the College of Law, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Written Advocacy. For more information on Professor Smith’s leading publication, visit here.

Finally, Professor Jason Robison has been hard at work in the area of Environment and Natural Resources. In addition to his recent projects (See more here), Robison has another accolade to add to the list. His article, The Colorado River Revisited was selected as a finalist in Thomson Reuters’ Land Use & Environmental Law Review. The annual volume is a compilation of peer-selected articles that have been published in other journals and law reviews. Articles ultimately selected for inclusion are vetted through a two-stage peer review process. This year, 50 legal scholars selected 20 articles as finalists from a pool of over a 100 applicants, of which Robison’s article was included. From there, the panel selects 5 for the reprint issue. The prestigious reprint anthology is well-known and recognized by environmental law academics as one of the best.

Though ultimately not selected, consideration of Robison’s article for publication is an accomplishment in itself. Recognition as a finalist is a tremendous acknowledgement to his expertise, skill, and the respect that his work has garnered in the field.

Robison is an Associate Professor of Law and teaches courses in Water Law & Policy, American Indian Law, and Federal Courts, as well as serves on UW President Laurie Nichols’ Advisory Committee on Native American Affairs.

The College of Law is extremely grateful to all of the hard work that our faculty put into the law school, both in their pragmatic teaching and doctrinal research. We are excited to see the continued works of expertise being produced by our team of hardworking professionals!

Student Highlight: Student Argues before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

DSC_0738On Friday, November 16th, third-year law student Jada Garofalo argued a criminal case before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of her internship with the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne.

Garofalo interned with the office during the summer of 2018 and spent a substantial amount of time in the courtroom and working on various criminal cases, often appearing before Federal District Court Judges in Wyoming. While she gained a wealth of knowledge and skills, her biggest project during the internship was to prepare an appellate brief for one of the attorneys in the office. After she completed her final draft, the attorney described her as a “rock star.”

Garofalo worked closely with U.S. Attorneys Thomas Szott (J.D. ’13) and Stuart S. Healy III, who served as her primary supervising attorneys. They were very complimentary of her work.

“We really enjoyed having Jada as an intern in our office over the summer,” says Szott.  “She has many good qualities, but her work ethic and professionalism are especially noteworthy.”

Garofalo continued to work on the case well into the fall semester of her final year of law school, preparing the oral argument scheduled to appear before Tenth Circuit with dedication and fervor. While preparing for the oral argument, she demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the record and issues, and represented the United States skillfully before the Court.

Jada Garofalo on the steps of the Byron White U.S. Courthouse in Denver, Colo.

Healy, who was supervising Jada during her appellate argument, had this to say about her:  “We knew after our moot court experience with Jada that she was going to do an outstanding job before the Tenth Circuit Court judges.  And, sure enough, she acquitted herself just as we predicted.  Under tough questioning from the panel, she responded with poise and with a comprehensive grasp of the facts and law.  After her argument, the presiding judge even quipped, ‘Ms. Garofalo, you did not introduce yourself as a student intern.  But we know you must be a student based on the kind of respect you showed this court!’”

“Arguing before the Tenth Circuit was amazing,” says Garofalo. “It was such a significant and humbling way to conclude what was such a valuable experience with the Department of Justice.”

“I am so grateful for the experience and everything I learned from Mr. Szott and Mr. Healy,” she adds. “They were such good mentors – very kind and professional. Their guidance and knowledge will continue to influence me throughout my professional career.”

Hot off the heels of the College of Law’s Summer Trial Institute in Anchorage, Alaska, Garofalo began her internship with confidence in her abilities and a passion for the courtroom. Being able to immediately apply her advocacy skills in a professional setting was energizing and she was also grateful for the opportunity to cultivate her legal writing abilities.

A native of Colorado, Garofalo graduated in 2010 from Colorado State University with a degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. She earned her Master’s Degree in Climate Science and Policy from Bard College in 2014 and later worked as a Climate and Policy fellow for the Center for Disease Control in Fort Collins, Colorado. While in law school, she has been active in the Energy, Environmental  & Natural Resources curriculum (EENR), including the EENR Clinic. In addition to serving as student director for the Center for Law and Energy Resources in the Rockies (CLERR), she has authored an article she is currently endeavoring to publish that advocates for holistic recovery planning for the four ESA-protected fishes endemic to the Upper Colorado River Basin.

With a passion for litigation and natural resources work, Garofalo hopes to continue to dazzle in the courtroom with her preparedness and competence. The College of Law is extremely proud of all that Garofalo has accomplished and looks forward to all that she will accomplish. In final praise of Garofalo, Szott remarks, “Jada has been a great teammate, and she is going to be an outstanding lawyer.”

Stealing Culture: The Intersection of Criminal Law and Museums

Professor Darrell Jackson of the University of Wyoming College of Law, and Nicole Crawford, Chief Curator and Assistant Director of the University of Wyoming Art Museum, will be giving a presentation on their groundbreaking research, Stealing Culture: The Intersection of Criminal Law and Museums.

The November 15th presentation is being hosted through the UW Alumni Association and begins at 6:00 PM at Redline, in Denver, Colo. It is worth 1 hour of Continuing Legal Education credits in both Wyoming and Colorado.

In 2017, Crawford and Jackson were part of a pilot group of UW Professors participating DJ and Nicolein the inaugural UW in Scotland Program.  UW in Scotland is a collaborative and transdisciplinary research and teaching project that manifested as a residential colloquium at Walter Scott’s House at Abbotsford. The aim of the project was to build, sustain, and enable faculty commitment to international and transdisciplinary research, and to exploratory teaching in Scotland.

UW faculty members that demonstrated an active interest and dedication to academic exploration across broad topics were selected to participate in the program.

The resulting project from Crawford and Jackson is a resounding success story of the mission of the program.

Born out if the Abbotsford group, Crawford and Jackson have embarked on a collaborative research project that is not only the first of its kind, it is so unique that it has the potential to have a large-scale impact throughout the art community world-wide. Their research investigates the intersection of criminal law and museums.

The unique partnership seeks to understand the issues that arise from museum artifacts and collections that have a questionable history of acquisition, and to further explore the potential legal repercussions of such items.

“We are looking at specific objects of questionable provenance (i.e.: looted artifacts, pure theft, forgeries, fraud), and then asking both the theoretical and practical questions of how that should work, both retroactively and going forward,” says Crawford. “Currently there are no concrete rules governing these situations or any academic research to rely on, so we are asking the tough questions and hopefully creating guidelines for the world to follow.”

Traditionally the topic has rarely been discussed in the museum world, however, it is becoming more and more prevalent. The research from Crawford and Jackson is sparking new discussions in two disciplines that rarely converse, and garnering a lot of interest on both sides.

The duo has been invited to speak about their research throughout the United States as well as abroad, including France, England, The Netherlands, and Canada. Additionally, they have been approached by publishers to produce book chapters, journal articles, as well as a full book on the subject.

The project development itself is in three phases.

Phase one of the project is the investigative research portion. With the help of several travel grants in support of their work, Crawford and Jackson spent the past summer traveling Europe to forge new relationships and visit with prominent museums. The purpose was to learn more about collections overseas, particular those in countries with histories of colonization. They also spent time doing a tremendous amount of research on similar-themed projects.

Phase two of the project will hone in on specific objects and collections of questionable origin, and look at case studies in which ambiguously acquired art has been requested for repatriation and denied. Phase two will also feature a course on the topic taught through the Honors Program at the University of Wyoming. The course is available starting in the spring 2019 semester.

Finally, phase three of the project will feature the release and publication of much of the research in both museum and law publications, with the hopeful creation of a protocol which museums can follow, and authorities can rely on.  Phase three will also see the teaching component on an international scale with a study abroad course being offered in Abbotsford in 2020.

For Professor Jackson, the experience has been both exciting and exhausting.

“It is challenging and humbling to be at the forefront of something and work towards building the foundation on an unexplored subject,” says Jackson. “We are literally leaders in the field, but with that comes a tremendous amount of responsibility.”

While the subject matter may be new, there are no two people who are better suited to explore it.

nicole-crawfordNicole Crawford joined the administration at the UW Art Museum in 2009. Prior to her current role as the Chief Curator and Assistant Director, she served as the Curator for Collections. In her role, she was instrumental in expanding the UW Art Museum audiences on an international scale, as well as creating new study abroad and learning opportunities for students. Before coming to Wyoming, she was the Gallery Director at the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. During her tenure with the gallery, she managed the exhibits, conducted research, and worked with numerous collectors. Prior to that, she spent two years as the Assistant Curator at the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska.

Darrell Jackson joined the College of Law in 2012. He is the Faculty Director of the darrell_jacksonProsecution Assistance Clinic and teaches courses in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Adjudication, and Critical Race Theory. Before coming to Wyoming, he briefly served as an Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity Services at the George Mason University School of Law. Prior to joining academia, he practiced law as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia and as an Assistant County Attorney in Fairfax County, Virginia. He also served as a judicial law clerk to The Honorable L.M. Brinkema in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and to The Honorable Marcus D. Williams in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of Virginia.

Jackson’s research interests dovetail nicely with the current project since his writing has traditionally focused on historically marginalized communities (HMC) as they struggle to obtain an equitable share of power within truly democratic societies.

The intersection of art and law is a new avenue on which Crawford and Jackson can continue their professional journeys and lead an innovative discussion.

Any interested individuals wishing to attend their presentation are encouraged to RSVP to