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Gift expands Maurer-linked conservation law program to McKinney students

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Nature can’t always defend itself, but a recent gift to the Conservation Law Center in Bloomington will further the work of preserving environmental resources and open doors to more students drawn to a clinical experience in conservation law.

The Indiana University Maurer School of Law recently announced a $2.5 million gift that will endow the Glenn and Donna Scolnik Clinical Chair at the center. “It’s a tremendous boost for the program, and probably most importantly, the beginning of a foundation that’s going to allow us to be able to offer this service for a long, long time,” said Executive Director and IU Maurer Professor William Weeks.

chair-clifty-creek-15col.jpg The Conservation Law Center has assisted groups protect thousands of acres of pristine Indiana properties. Among them: the Clemens Place on Clifty Creek (Photos courtesy Sycamore Land Trust/John Lawrence)

Weeks said the gift will allow a greater number of second- and third-year law students to gain experience working on real environmental matters with clients and staff lawyers at the center. It also will allow the center to serve more clients who rely on its legal help.

The center’s mission is to provide free legal service to conservation groups, improve conservation law and policy, and offer students clinical experience.

Since its founding in 2005, more than 100 interns from IU Maurer have received clinical experience, Weeks said. This year, the center also will offer internships to students at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

weeks Weeks

The center is an independent nonprofit that has maintained an affiliation with IU Maurer, but it relies on donations to carry out its work. Weeks said the gift will fully fund one of two permanent staff attorney positions at the center, which also employs two graduate fellow attorneys.

Glenn Scolnik, a graduate of the Bloomington law school who’s also on the center’s board of directors, said despite a national reputation for the quality of the Conservation Law Center’s work, “It’s always something that could have stopped” without reliable funding.

Scolnik, chairman of the private equity firm Hammond Kennedy Whitney & Co. Inc., said the gift in his and his wife’s name also will cement the center’s relationship with IU Maurer.

“These guys are as good as anybody in the country when it comes to conservation law,” Scolnik said.

Promoting stewardship

Christian Freitag, executive director of the Bloomington-based Sycamore Land Trust, said the Conservation Law Center’s work has helped safeguard about 8,000 acres of wetlands, forests, farmland and other property in southern Indiana that the trust owns or protects through conservation easements.

chair-trevlac-bluffs-1col.jpg A 57-acre Greene County site and Trevlac Bluffs Nature Preserve that features rare eastern hemlock trees. (Photos courtesy Sycamore Land Trust/Jeff Danielson)

“Among other things, they’ve allowed us to be confident in the knowledge that we are on the cutting edge of the legal side of conservation,” Freitag said of work the CLC has done for Sycamore. That’s particularly true regarding conservation easements – contracts drawn up by landowners that place permanent development restrictions on land.

“It’s the Sycamore Land Trust’s job to enforce those restrictions,” said Freitag, himself a Maurer grad. “These contracts are complicated, and it’s an emerging area of law,” even after about 50 years.

Landowners who obtain conservation easements may sell or bequeath the protected land, but the development restrictions remain. There are tax benefits for placing land in conservation, and Freitag said the complexity of enforcing the easements is due to compliance with different sets of state and federal requirements. The center’s staff keeps up to date with laws and regulations that often are in flux.

“It’s actually the only center or clinic of its kind in the country that is focused on conservation law – how do you save land, how do you save the best land, and how do you do it in a way that does that in perpetuity,” Freitag said.

freitag Freitag

Tim Maloney, senior policy director at the Hoosier Environmental Council, said the center also has helped assure conservation groups a voice in court. He pointed to a decision affirmed after multiple appeals in Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp., et al. v. Save the Valley, Inc., et al., 953 N.E.2d 511 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011).

Maloney said that case – argued in appellate courts with assistance from the CLC – had a broad impact in ruling that the Hoosier Environmental Council and other groups had standing to challenge a landfill permit. That decision, he said, established the right of associational standing in Indiana and “benefits any membership organization who may want to pursue a legal action on behalf of its members.”

Attorneys at the CLC “work with a very credible network of environmental attorneys and nonprofit groups, and I think their advice is sought out,” Maloney said. “Obviously, we have a high regard for them.”

Freitag recalled Weeks and staff at the center also assisted in an unusual situation in which a former Superfund site near Bloomington was donated to Sycamore as part of a 400-acre gift. Known as Neal’s Landfill, the site had undergone a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-supervised cleanup of carcinogenic PCBs to bring it to industrial development standards.

Nevertheless, Freitag said the gift posed a dilemma for the land trust. “Rather than running for the hills,” he said, he turned to Weeks and the staff at the center to see what could be done. “After about $60,000 worth of free legal research, we determined Sycamore Land Trust could take that land without any fear of heightened liability.”

While any development on the site must be low-impact, Freitag sees possibility. “Even if it’s just as demonstration solar panels, it’s a way to take something bad and find a way to make it positive, and we could only have done that with the center’s assistance.”

Hoosier teamwork

Scolnik and Weeks have a friendship that dates back to the early 1970s when both were members of the IU football team, though Weeks says there was a difference: “He was a star football player.”

Scolnik was a good enough receiver to set IU records at the time. He went on to play four seasons professionally – two in the National Football League and two in the Canadian Football League – after which he returned to Bloomington to earn his law degree. Weeks and Scolnik later worked together at Sommer Barnard P.C., a predecessor firm to Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.

scolnik Scolnik

Scolnik said Weeks “is a brilliant lawyer, and then I saw him really sacrifice to go pursue a lifelong passion of conservation of wildlife and our ecological systems, to really pursue the mission of conservation.”

But Weeks said the work is rewarding, and typically there is more interest in internships in the clinic than can be served. In addition to the typical 10 or so IU Maurer students who intern, Weeks said opening the program to IU McKinney students likely will add another seven or so positions, and perhaps as many as 10 more in time.

“One of the things that makes this a special place to work is we really care about what we’re working on, not just as a professional matter, but as a personal matter,” Weeks said. The staff “really care about making a difference in the natural world.”•

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  1. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  2. A high ranking bureaucrat with Ind sup court is heading up an organization celebrating the formal N word!!! She must resign and denounce! http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

  3. ND2019, don't try to confuse the Left with facts. Their ideologies trump facts, trump due process, trump court rules, even trump federal statutes. I hold the proof if interested. Facts matter only to those who are not on an agenda-first mission.

  4. OK so I'll make this as short as I can. I got a call that my daughter was smoking in the bathroom only her and one other girl was questioned mind you four others left before them anyways they proceeded to interrogate my daughter about smoking and all this time I nor my parents got a phone call,they proceeded to go through her belongings and also pretty much striped searched my daughter including from what my mother said they looked at her Brest without my consent. I am furious also a couple months ago my son hurt his foot and I was never called and it got worse during the day but the way some of the teachers have been treating my kids they are not comfortable going to them because they feel like they are mean or don't care. This is unacceptable in my mind i should be able to send my kids to school without worry but now I worry how the adults there are treating them. I have a lot more but I wanted to know do I have any attempt at a lawsuit because like I said there is more that's just some of what my kids are going through. Please respond. Sincerely concerned single parent

  5. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

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