Kali A. Gardner (1L), CLA Vice-President, Guest Blogger
Hello! We are the Criminal Law Association (CLA)! With over 125 members, interested in the field of criminal law, in one aspect or another, the CLA board arranges for social gatherings and events involving criminal law current events or professionals from all across the field.
This year (2010-2011) the CLA has provided a large opportunity for involvement and learning experiences. From 1L students on our board of officers, to assisting in the planning of the largest public event held at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, ever.
The CLA board started off the year with a fun and exciting happy hour at a local downtown Minneapolis establishment. We gave away over $100 in gift cards and prizes, not to mention getting the tab on the food! This was a great event to get to know new members, incoming 1Ls and what types of topics our members were interested in seeing throughout the year.
CLA members were able to take part in an invitation only, secret presentation from Deanna Coleman whom was involved in the Tom Petter’s federal prosecution. Not only were we able to get an inside look at a “whistleblower” in one of the United State’s largest ponzi schemes, we were able to get an in depth look at the effects of our federal criminal justice system.
Later in the year, along with the UST Federal Bar Association Student Chapter, the Business and Corporate Law Society and the Holloran Center, we organized a true public forum here at UST surrounding the Tom Petter’s trial. We were privileged to have a number of the key attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s office and those representing defendants and the financial interests in the case. This became the largest public event in our law school’s history with over 400 people in attendance!
In addition for our members and UST Law students, we held a professional panel session consisting of UST alumni who are now practicing as defense attorneys or prosecutors in the Twin Cities area. We were able to ask them how they were able to achieve their career positions and what helped them along the way.
Our board of officers were able to experience a once in a lifetime lunch conversation with a convicted sex offender who has done his time in prison and is now trying to live a normal life. We were able to hear about his story, why he committed the crime he did, what his experiences were in the criminal justice system and prison, and how he felt about his legal representation.
Furthermore, the CLA raised money through fundraising efforts and personal donations to help children of parents incarcerated or on probation that were not going to get gifts for Christmas in 2010. With our help the John Servaty Memorial Toy Drive, put on through Hennepin County Community Corrections and Rehabilitation, were able to give over 100 families and 250 children gifts last year.
Finally, we have two very exciting events planned for the spring semester including a speaker on our probation system and the difference of treatment between men and women in our criminal justice system. In addition, we will be having a public forum with two offenders who will tell their story and answer student questions.
We look forward to meeting you this fall, if you have any questions about the Criminal Law Association or our Board of Officers, please send an email to: Kali Gardner at firstname.lastname@example.org.