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Leading Experts Shirin Sinnar, Ronald Tyler, James Sonne to Join Stanford Law School

Publication Date: 
October 02, 2012
Source: 
Stanford Law School

STANFORD, Calif., October 2, 2012—Stanford Law School today announced that three leading experts will begin teaching fall 2012: civil liberties and national security scholar Shirin Sinnar, criminal defense expert Ronald C. Tyler, and religious liberties expert James A. Sonne.

Shirin Sinnar joins the faculty as assistant professor of law. Ronald Tyler joins the faculty as associate professor of law and director of the Criminal Defense Clinic, within the Mills Legal Clinic. James A. Sonne joins as lecturer in law and director of the Religious Liberty Clinic within the Mills Legal Clinic.

“I am delighted to welcome these new faculty members, who are all leading experts in their fields, to Stanford Law School,“ said Dean M. Elizabeth Magill. “Shirin, Ron, and Jim bring both expertise and experience that will enrich our curriculum and advance our understanding of their chosen fields—national security law, criminal defense, and religious liberty.”

Shirin Sinnar

Shirin Sinnar, assistant professor of law, is an expert in national security law, administrative law, and civil procedure. Her scholarship lies at the intersection of national security, individual rights, and institutional design.  Her most recent work explores the capacity of Inspectors General, internal watchdog institutions within federal agencies, to provide oversight of national security programs that affect civil rights and liberties. Other research interests include comparative national security oversight, accountability mechanisms for domestic intelligence gathering, and the impact of counterterrorism policies on U.S. immigrant communities.

“At a time when national security issues are at the forefront of policy and legal debates, Shirin’s scholarship on the interplay between security imperatives and civil liberties could not be more relevant.   She has a remarkable amount of practical experience in the field, and her scholarship has already taught us about some of the surprising ways our system handles civil liberties issues in the national security context,” said Dean Magill. “I am certain that her creative work will help shape the design of institutions that are charged with protecting our national security in the coming years.”

Assistant Professor Sinnar’s work includes a forthcoming article, Protecting Rights from Within?  Inspectors General and National Security Oversight, which will be published in the Stanford Law Review in 2013; Questioning Law Enforcement: The First Amendment and Counterterrorism Interviews (Brooklyn Law Review 2011); and Patriotic or Unconstitutional? The Mandatory Detention of Aliens under the USA Patriot Act (Stanford Law Review 2003)—which received the Burton Award for legal writing.

“I am delighted to be joining a faculty renowned both for its influential scholarship and for its commitment to transforming legal education,” said Sinnar. “There is no more exciting place to teach, learn, and contribute to justice than Stanford Law School.”

More on Shirin Sinnar:

Prior to her faculty appointment, Sinnar taught Legal Research and Writing and Federal Litigation to first-year law students as a Stanford Law Fellow. She previously served as a public interest attorney with the Asian Law Caucus and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of San Francisco, where she represented individuals facing discrimination based on government national security policies and unlawful employment practices. Sinnar also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School (J.D. 2003), Cambridge University (M. Phil. International Relations 1999), and Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges (summa cum laude, A.B. History 1998).

Ronald C. Tyler

Associate Professor of Law Ronald Tyler will direct the Criminal Defense Clinic after a twenty-two-year long career as an assistant federal public defender with the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of California. A dedicated defense attorney and nationally recognized expert, he has litigated at trial and before appellate courts covering the full gamut of federal criminal cases. A founding member of the faculty of the Federal Trial Skills Academy and a faculty member of the Office of Defender Services Training Branch, he teaches regularly at seminars for criminal defense attorneys, investigators, and paralegals. He also teaches at the annual National Criminal Defense College in Georgia. He taught trial advocacy at UC Hastings College of the Law as an adjunct professor for many years. He is also active with several nonprofits including the American Civil Liberties Union, serving on its national board of directors.

“Ron’s depth of experience as a public defender will provide an extraordinary experiential learning opportunity for our students,” said Lawrence C. Marshall, associate dean for clinical education and David and Stephanie Mills Director of the Mills Legal Clinic. “Not only does he bring direct courtroom litigation experience to the clinic classroom, but his innovative pedagogical methods will help students develop expertise in a broad array of critical areas. These include understanding ways in which the facts and factual development affect the lawyering process; dealing with clients, courts, witnesses, and prosecutors; a contextualized appreciation of legal ethics and professional responsibility; problem-solving skills; and the ability to collaborate effectively and work as part of a team.”

Under the supervision of Associate Professor Ronald Tyler, students in the Criminal Defense Clinic will represent indigent individuals accused of crimes in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County at all stages of criminal proceedings, including conducting fact investigation, interviewing witnesses, plea negotiations, working with experts, suppression motions, and trials. The cases will encompass a wide range of misdemeanor offenses and some of the more common charges include drug possession, assault, theft, and weapons possession. At every stage of a case, the clinic’s goal will be to provide zealous, client-centered representation.

“I am excited to teach criminal defense to the extraordinary students at Stanford Law School,” said Ron Tyler. “And to be able to shape clinical experiences that stimulate deep reflection on the lawyering process, which is essential to serving one’s clients well—regardless of the practice areas my students ultimately choose. I am also honored to be joining my preeminent colleagues on the Stanford Law faculty.”

More on Ronald C. Tyler:

Associate Professor Tyler received his BS in computer science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981 and had a brief career in high tech before changing his career focus to public interest advocacy. He began law school as a Tony PatiƱo Fellow at Hastings College of the Law and earned his JD from UC Berkeley School of Law in 1989, where he served as notes and comments editor on the Ecology Law Quarterly. After law school, he clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel.

James A. Sonne

Jim Sonne is lecturer in law and director of the new Religious Liberty Clinic of the Mills Legal Clinic, the only one of its kind in the country.  Sonne is an experienced teacher and practitioner, with expertise in law and religion issues—particularly in the workplace.

The Religious Liberty Clinic will offer participating students a dynamic, real-world experience representing a diverse group of clients in disputes arising from a wide range of religious beliefs, practices, and customs in a variety of circumstances. Students will learn in class and apply in practice the laws affecting religious liberty, whether statutory or constitutional, and will be expected to counsel individual or institutional clients and litigate on their behalf.

Students will handle a discrete accommodation project, such as representing a prisoner, student, or employee facing obstacles in the exercise of his or her faith—and participate in a longer-term project involving religion in the public square, for example, representing a small church, synagogue, or mosque with zoning issues, or a faith-based group seeking access to public facilities. Opportunities to draft amicus briefs may also arise. The clinic will involve administrative, trial, and appellate practice.

“The launch of this new clinic is a significant moment in the development of Stanford’s clinical program,” said Lawrence Marshall. “The Religious Liberty Clinic will expose our students to clients and causes quite different from those of other clinics, thereby expanding their horizons while developing their expertise as lawyers. And it is difficult to imagine anyone more fitting than Jim Sonne—with his vast experience and teaching skills—to run this program.”

“I am thrilled to launch this one-of-a-kind clinic that will offer students an opportunity to learn about the ‘real practice of law’ in a unique and fascinating way,” said Sonne. “It is an honor to join the first-rate clinical program here at Stanford, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to equip our students with both the technical skills and professional values critical to their future success in law and life.”

More on James A. Sonne

Before teaching at Stanford Law School, Sonne served as an associate professor of law at Ave Maria School of Law, as a labor and employment lawyer for McGuireWoods LLP, and as an appellate lawyer for Horvitz & Levy LLP.  Sonne received his BA with honors from Duke University and his JD with honors from Harvard Law School.  He is a former law clerk to Judge Edith Brown Clement of ­­the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School (www.law.stanford.edu) is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.