Friday, May 28, 2010

The Tradition Continues: Celebrating the Graduates From the Sturm College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program

Our lives are often filled with the mundane, the routine, and indeed sometimes the sadness that mark the lives of all humans. On the other hand, there are other days that are moments of happiness, achievement, and fulfillment. These latter types of days more than make up for the former types.

Last Saturday, May 22, 2010, was a day that will be long remembered as a moment of success by the May 2010 graduates of the Sturm College of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program. Many years from now when these individuals take stock of their lives, I am confident that last Saturday's event will be remembered as one of the proudest moments in their lives.

But rather than take it from me, please visit the website (click here) that captured the day and recognized our graduates. In particular, pay close to attention to the first six minutes of the video -- you will see many familiar faces.

As I watched the video, and saw the familiar scenes of students who I have gotten to know, I was struck by my own feelings of gratitude towards the many of you who have touched my life, Assistant Director Lucy Daberkow's life, and the life of our program. To each of you, we are deeply indebted. For the reality is that while we may have taught you things you did not know, you have equally taught us things we did not know.

In closing, the words of Sir Winston Churchill, war-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, come to mind:
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts."
Ms. Daberkow, all of the faculty who taught you, and I have the sincere privilege of wishing you wonderful, healthy, and fulfilling lives as you undertake the next chapter in your on-going journey of life.

--Don Smith

Thursday, May 27, 2010

View From My Window: From "The Land of Enchantment" Santa Fe, New Mexico

Several weeks ago the blog introduced what will be an on-going feature called "View from my window." The idea is to encourage readers of the blog to send us your pictures, which we will post and attribute to you.

Today's "View from my window" are two wonderful views of Santa Fe, the state capital of New Mexico. The photo was taken by Prof. David Thomson,
Director of the Lawyering Process Program at the Sturm College of Law.

Prof. Thomson is in Santa Fe working on a book about discovery. But obviously he had a few moments to take these wonderful shots of a late spring morning in Santa Fe. No wonder New Mexico is called "The Land of Enchantment."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Director Don C. Smith Named to "Manual of European Environmental Policy" Editorial Board

Don C. Smith, Director of the University of Denver Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program, has been named to the Editorial Board of the Manual of European Environmental Policy (MEEP). The MEEP is written by the London- and Brussels-based Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), the preeminent center for the analysis and development of environmental and related policies in Europe.

In mid-2010, the newest version of the MEEP will be published by Earthscan, one of the world's most authoritative publishers of information about environmental and development issues. The preface by Nigel Haigh, chairman of the editorial board, to the upcoming version explains the coverage and importance of the MEEP:
"This manual is intended to provide a complete account of EU environmental policy. Every item of EU environmental legislation is therefore, of course, included, but since the EU Treaties say that 'environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of Union policies and activities, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development,' the Manual must also include an account of how environment policy is being integrated into other EU policies such as those for agriculture, transport and energy."
In response to the invitation to join the Editorial Board, Mr. Smith commented on the importance of EU environmental law and policy:
"While there are many important governmental bodies involved with environmental regulation, none has been more important from a leadership perspective in the last decade than the EU. That is one of the reasons why the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2004 added 'EU Environmental Law & Policy' to its already outstanding curriculum of environmental courses. We want students studying in Denver to know about the 'state of the art' when it comes to environmental policy, and the EU clearly plays a major global role in this regard."
For more information about the EU course, please click here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Environmental Law Clinic Director Mike Harris Authors "Top Ten" Paper on Social Science Research Network

A new law journal article, "Environmental Deliberative Democracy and the Search for Administrative Legitimacy: A Legal Positivism Approach," written by Prof. Mike Harris, Director of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Environmental Law Clinic, was recently listed on the Social Science Research Network's Top 10 download list in the category of democratic theory.

The abstract for the paper says:
"An emerging body of scholarship suggests that legitimizing environmental lawmaking will require the inclusion of greater public discourse within the context of administrative decision-making. In this article, I examine this claim through the lens of modern legal positivism. It is argued that legal positivism provides the tools necessary to test for and identify the specific structural deficiencies that undermine the legitimacy of the administrative state as a lawmaking institution, and more importantly, to determine what legal changes to agency practice and procedure must be implemented to correct those deficiencies. I reject, however, that the appropriate rule of recognition to measure bureaucratic legitimacy in the American system is the U.S. Constitution. Instead, it is proposed that legitimacy of the administrative state ultimately relies on fashioning rulemaking procedures to address American’s innate distrust of official power. My own view of such a reformed regulatory state is one where regulators continue to function as the technical and scientific experts, and in making policy determinations weigh the expert knowledge with the informed opinion of electorate and peer officials in the political branches of our government."

Prof. Harris' paper will be published in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 44 2010.

Prof. Harris is one of the country's top environmental clinicians. Students who study at the Sturm College of Law have the option of participating in the Environmental Law Clinic, which Prof. Harris directs.

To see the full-text of the article, please click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Greening Justice, New Report on Global Environmental Courts and Tribunals, Featured Today on Australian Broadcasting Corp. On-Line News Service

Greening Justice, the new report about environmental courts and tribunals (ECT) co-authored by University of Denver Law Professor George (Rock) Pring, is attracting growing attention across the globe including in today's Australian Broadcasting Corporation on-line news service.

The ground-breaking report (the full-text is available by clicking here) analyzes environmental courts and tribunals across the world and offers a list of "best practices" associated with those courts and tribunals. Prof. Pring's co-author is his wife Catherine (Kitty) Pring, a specialist in alternative dispute resolution and a professional mediator. Working as a team, the Prings' report is based on 150 interviews undertaken over two years.

The report was commissioned by the Access Initiative, one of the world's largest civil society networks focusing on "ensuring that communities have a voice in decisions concerning their natural resources."

The ABC story noted that, "Australian environmental courts were particularly praised by the Prings because they use innovative methods such as mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes."

To read the full-text of the story please click here. The website associated with the ECT study can be accessed by clicking here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 2010 University of Denver Law Student Frank Bingham Provides Inspiring Words in Commencement Remarks to Graduates

Saturday was a joyful and fulfilling day for the graduates of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program. The recognition of a job well done by these graduates was celebrated in a happy event shared by parents, spouses, significant others, children, friends and the entire University of Denver community. Over the coming days, the blog will post various pictures from the day's events.

However before sharing some of those moments, it is well worth reflecting on the story of Frank Bingham, a 2010 juris doctor graduate (who also has a Ph.D. in Education) who has taken several environmental and natural resources courses and who was chosen by the class of 2010 to speak at commencement (click here to see a video of Dr. Bingham's remarks). During those courses, I got to know Frank. In brief, Frank Bingham is one of the most remarkable persons I have ever met. And I am confident the same feeling is held by all those who know Frank.

In November 2006, first semester law student Frank Bingham, his wife and two small children were walking in downtown Denver. They were hit by a drunk driver. Frank was the only one of the four who survived. And consequently, despite the overwhelming joy of graduation day 2010, in many respects Frank was alone. And yet, at the same time he wasn't. Nearly three and a half years after that fateful day there was Frank -- on the stage before about 6,000 people -- talking about his life, his struggles, and his hope for the future.

Frank's message was one of looking to the future, yet living in the present. He was not bitter. He was not defeated. His words were an inspiration to anyone who has suffered a setback, a tragedy, a loss of confidence.

Before Frank said one word, the entire audience rose in unison to recognize this brave and wise man. During his speech, those attending the graduation ceremony paid rapt attention. Afterwards, he was warmly greeted again with prolonged and heartfelt applause.

No one could pretend for a moment to suggest that he or she really understands Frank's losses. But I can say without equivocation that all of us have a great deal to learn from the grace, the dignity, the courage of Frank Bingham.

It has been my privilege to get acquainted with Frank. When it comes to matters of life (and in this case death), Frank has been the teacher and I the student. It is difficult to fully express my admiration for this kind man, this strong human being, this exemplar of success in the shadow of tragedy.

May Frank's road ahead be filled with happiness and fulfillment. And may those of us who know and love Frank learn every day from his example.

Godspeed Frank Bingham. May the sun always shine on you, those you love, and your destiny as one our society's greatest examples of courage, tenacity, and hope.