Dedman Law Faculty Scholarship in Action

Dedman Law Faculty Scholarship in Action


Prof. Beth Thornburg’s article, The Curious Appellate Judge: Ethical Limits on Independent Research, 28 Review of Litigation 133 (2008), discusses ethical problems with judges going outside the record to investigate facts. The article won the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers’ Eisenberg Prize, and has been a popular subject at judicial conferences, including the Fall 2015 Judicial Education Conference held by the Texas Center for the Judiciary. Most recently, it was cited in a Seventh Circuit opinion, Rowe v. Gibson, 2015 WL 4934970 (7th Cir. Aug.19, 2015), highlighting the policy conflicts discussed in Thornburg’s article. Dissenting Judge Hamilton chastised Judge Posner for having done extensive Internet research about the medical needs of the pro se plaintiff, while Judge Posner argues that "it is heartless to make a fetish of adversary procedure if by doing so feeble evidence is credited because the opponent has no practical access to off-setting evidence.”

Prof. Jeff Kahn’s latest book, Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlistsmade him the go-to choice for lawyers who brought the first (and so far only) lawsuit challenging the U.S. Government’s No Fly List to reach the trial stage. Accepted as the plaintiff’s expert witness in Ibrahim v. Department of Homeland Security, No. 06-cv-545-WHA (N.D. Cal.), Professor Kahn testified and was cross-examined on the uses and abuses of this controversial program. After a five-day bench trial, the court found for the plaintiff, ordering unprecedented remedial scrubbing of numerous government watchlists. The case has been cited in every major subsequent No Fly case to date.

Prof. Christopher Hanna’s large corpus of tax law scholarship led to an appointment in May 2011 as Senior Policy Advisor for Tax Reform to the United States Senate Committee on Finance. His treatise, CORPORATE INCOME TAX ACCOUNTING, and article, Corporate Tax Reform: Listening to Corporate America, 35 Journal of Corporation Law 283 (2010), were cited extensively by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation in its document on the interaction of Federal income tax rules and financial accounting rules. Professor Hanna was the principal drafter of the Senate Finance Committee report entitled, Comprehensive Tax Reform for 2015 and Beyond, which was released in December 2014. The 340-page report has been widely cited since its release ten months ago, and its discussion of corporate integration has generated renewed interest in the topic among policymakers and scholars.

Prof. Mary Spector’s scholarship on credit reporting was the subject of her 2012 testimony in a hearing by the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and Consumer Credit. It was also the subject of testimony at a 2012 hearing held by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Where the FCRA meets the FDCPA: The Impact of Un-Fair Collection Practices on the Credit Report, 20 Georgetown Journal of Poverty Law & Policy 479 (2013).  In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cited her 2011 study of consumer debt collection litigation, Debts, Details and Defaults: Exploring the Impact of Debt Collection Litigation on Consumers and the Courts, 6 Virginia Law & Business Review 257, in its report on the debt-buying industry. Her ongoing research makes her a regular participant in FTC and CFPB events. In 2015, she also served as an expert at a Civil Legal Aid Workshop convened by the Department of Justice and the National Science Foundation.

Prof. Meghan Ryan’s article, Remedying Wrongful Execution, 45 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 261 (2012), argued that states should create a legal mechanism to determine whether executed prisoners were actually innocent and compensate the families of those wrongfully executed. Her article inspired the American Bar Association (ABA) to commission Prof. Ryan to write a proposed resolution and report addressing the problem. In 2014, the ABA passed a resolution adopting her recommendation. The resolution urges each federal, state, and territorial jurisdiction where capital punishment is permitted to adopt a judicial procedure to determine actual innocence and award monetary compensation.

Prof. Nathan Cortez’s article, Adverse Publicity by Administrative Agencies in the Internet Era, 2011 BYU Law Review 1371, argued that Congress, courts, and agencies should reconsider ways to regulate the use of publicity by agencies, particularly in light of new information tools such as web sites and social media. His article inspired the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), an independent federal agency dedicated to improving agency procedures, to reconsider its 1973 recommendations on the topic. ACUS commissioned Prof. Cortez to draft a report and recommendations, which are currently being considered by ACUS after feedback from agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Prof. Jenia Iontcheva Turner’s article, Effective Remedies for Ineffective Assistance, 48 Wake Forest Law Review 101 949 (2013), was featured by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in its Getting Scholarship Into Court Project. Her article argues that trial courts should read the recent Supreme Court decision in Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S. Ct. 1376 (2012), narrowly and should grant sentencing reductions as needed to restore defendants to the position they would have occupied had their counsel represented them adequately during plea bargaining.

Prof. Chris Jenks’ research on military and law enforcement use of drones and autonomous weapons, including his article, State Labs of Federalism and Law Enforcement ‘Drone’ Use, 72 Washington & Lee Law Review (2015) has led to several collaborations with foreign governments and international organizations. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense invited him to work with the Colombian military as they incorporate autonomous weapons and non-lethal police tactics. In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross featured Prof. Jenks’ work on autonomous weapons in a recent article.

Natalie Nanasi

Director, Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women

Natalie Nanasi’s work involves teaching and supervising students who represent survivors of gender-based violence – including domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking – in a broad range of legal matters.

Prior to arriving at SMU, Professor Nanasi was a Practitioner-in-Residence and the Director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at American University, Washington College of Law (WCL), where she supervised students’ representation of survivors of intimate partner violence in family law and immigration cases. Before joining the faculty at WCL, Professor Nanasi was the Senior Immigration Attorney and Pro Bono Coordinator at the Tahirih Justice Center, representing immigrant women and girls fleeing human rights abuses such as female genital mutilation, domestic violence, human trafficking, forced marriage, honor crimes and sexual violence. She also served as counsel in the landmark asylum case of Matter of A-T- and as an Equal Justice Works Fellow from 2007-2009, with a focus on the U visa. Prior to her work at Tahirih, Professor Nanasi was a law clerk to the Honorable Lynn Leibovitz of the District of Columbia Superior Court. 

Professor Nanasi received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she earned an Equal Justice Foundation fellowship for her work at the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Center in New Delhi, India and assisted in representation of HIV-positive immigrants at Whitman Walker Clinic Legal Services. Prior to her legal career, Professor Nanasi was a rape crisis counselor and assisted single teenage mothers at a transitional residence facility in Boston.


Chante Prox

Director, VanSickle Family Law Clinic

Chante Prox’s work in the VanSickle Family Law Clinic encompasses teaching and supervising students who will represent low-income residents in matters such as divorce, annulment, paternity actions, custody and visitation, and child and spousal support.

Prior to joining the faculty at SMU Dedman School of Law, Professor Prox was managing attorney and mediator at Barnes Prox Law, PLLC, which focused exclusively on family law matters. She began her career as a Child Protective Services caseworker, then transitioned to working as a legislative aide to Texas State Senator Royce West.

Professor Prox’s experiences as a caseworker helped shaped the health and human services legislation she spearheaded for Senator West which enhanced the lives of many families across Texas. Most notably, she recommended the “Grandparents’ Bill” which provides financial assistance to grandparents raising their grandchildren with the goal of preserving family ties. Tenets of this bill have expanded to federal kinship care legislation. Professor Prox received a B.S. from Texas Woman’s University, M.S. in Social Work from The University of Texas at Arlington with a concentration in child welfare law, and her J.D. from The University of Texas School of Lawn.