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Faculty Research Highlights

Cooper, Aceves, and Jefferis

In addition to preparing the next generation of lawyers to fight for justice, California Western faculty are using their expertise to effect change now. Here we highlight three such efforts focused on prison reform, human rights, and the rule of law.

Prisoners’ Rights - Federal Supermax and Its Impact on the Civil Justice System
Danielle C. Jefferis, Assistant Professor of Law

Professor Danielle C. Jefferis and University of Denver Sturm College of Law’s Visiting Assistant Professor Nicole B. Godfrey have united in an empirical research project which examines if the federal supermax prison in Colorado, known as the “ADX,” has impacted the civil justice system in a measurable way.

Their research dataset comprises nearly three decades of cases brought by men incarcerated at the ADX, as well as comparable cases brought during the same timeframe by men incarcerated in Colorado’s state supermax prison. The analysis compares the outcomes of those cases and assesses if there is any meaningful difference between the cases brought by ADX prisoners and state supermax prisoners.

Human Rights, Justice, and the Rule of Law
William J. Aceves, Dean Steven R. Smith Professor of Law

Professor William J. Aceves, long-time human rights activist and international law scholar, has taken an active role in multiple pro bono activities that reflect his commitment to public service and justice and his interest in the law's practical application.

Professor Aceves recently submitted an expert declaration on behalf of the plaintiffs in Black Lives Matter Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles, which addressed international restrictions on the use of force against peaceful demonstrators.

He served as counsel to several international law scholars in an amicus brief filed with the Taiwan Supreme Court that addressed the permissibility of extraterritorial litigation for environmental harms. He also wrote and submitted another amicus brief to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on corporate liability under international law. He recently filed a similar brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving corporate complicity in the use of child slave labor.

Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Rights
James M. Cooper, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Professor of Law

Associate Dean James M. Cooper’s research focuses on the plight of the Aborigines of Taiwan and the legal protections of their traditional knowledge. While Taiwan continues to face diplomatic isolation as a diminishing number of states recognize the Republic of China, the island’s government has taken steps to recognize the language, cultural, and economic rights of its Indigenous Peoples.

Dean Cooper recently produced and directed a documentary film, to be featured on the website of the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law alongside his new article, which details the views of Taiwanese Aborigine leaders, scientists, law makers, the president’s spokeswoman, and scholars on the current regulation of traditional knowledge within Taiwan. The video can be viewed at vimeo.com (Password: TKTaiwan).

This project builds on Dean Cooper’s more than two decades of research and fieldwork to promote indigenous rights around the Americas.