DRI Faculty List

Civil Rights and Governmental Liability Seminar Seminar

San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter Hotel | San Antonio, TX | January 31 - February 1, 2019

Art Acevedo
Houston Police Department

Art Acevedo was sworn-in as Chief of the Houston Police Department (HPD) on November 30, 2016. Chief Acevedo leads a department of 5,200 sworn law enforcement officers and 1,200 civilian support personnel with an annual general fund budget of $825 million in the fourth largest city in the United States.Chief Acevedo believes good communication is vital for a successful community and steadily works to strengthen the bond between the community and its police department. A proponent of community policing, Chief Acevedo refers to the proven practice as "Relational Policing," an opportunity to forge a relationship with each citizen an officer comes in contact with.

Jon Akers
Kentucky Center for School Safety

Jon Akers has served as the Executive Director for the Kentucky Center for School Safety since his appointment in December of 2000. He has 47 years of experience in public education, which includes: teaching Civics for four years and serving as a secondary school principal for 25 years: Bryan Station Senior High and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. He served as a national trainer of Emergency Management for the United States Department of Education. A few of his awards and recognitions include: Administrator of the Year (1993), Distinguished Educator (1996) and 1998 High School Principal of the Year awarded by the Kentucky Department of Education.

David Bachman
Asst. Vice President, Claims
Brit Global Specialty USA

David Bachman is Assistant Vice President of Claims at Brit Global Specialty USA. His primary responsibilities include providing oversight of the Public & Non Profit Self Insured , Criminal Justice and Excess Casualty Programs. He joined Brit Global Specialty's Chicago office in 2013. Prior to joining Brit, David had seven years in the insurance industry handling public sector claims and five years practicing law handling insurance defense and personal injury cases.

Christopher D. (Chris) Balch
Balch Law Group

Christopher D. (Chris) Balch is the go-to crisis response lawyer for cities and counties in Georgia as well as the City Attorney in Brookhaven, Georgia. He has assisted clients with determining an appropriate course of action for out-of-control elected officials, employees whose conduct and misconduct ends up on CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC, and employees and supervisors who create a hostile work environment and undertake retaliatory acts. In addition, he represents cities and counties throughout Georgia in litigation related to city operations and 42 U.S.C. 1983. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Chris is uniquely qualified to assist local governments and their lawyers in navigating the extraordinary challenges presented by the present general distrust of all levels of government.

Karen M. Blum
Research Professor of Law
Suffolk University Law School

Karen M. Blum is a Professor Emerita at Suffolk University Law School where she taught for forty-three years in the areas of Federal Courts, Police Misconduct Litigation and Civil Procedure. She received her B.A. from Wells College, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, and an LL. M. from Harvard Law School. Professor Blum has been a regular faculty participant in Section 1983 Civil Rights Programs and Institutes throughout the United States. Since 1990, she has served as a faculty member for workshops sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center for Federal District Court and Federal Magistrate Judges. She has authored numerous articles in the Section 1983 area, including her most recent piece in the 2018 Notre Dame Law Review Federal Practice & Procedure Issue, Qualified Immunity: Time to Change the Message. She is co-author, along with Michael Avery, David Rudovsky, and Jennifer Laurin of the treatise POLICE MISCONDUCT: LAW AND LITIGATION.

Melissa S. Caldwell, PhD, CCHP-MH
Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc

Melissa S. Caldwell, PhD, CCHP-MH holds a doctorate in Clinical/Community Psychology with specialization in Development and the Law. She is a Certified Correctional Healthcare Professional with mental health speciality by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, recognizing professionalism and excellence in the industry. She has 25 years' experience working with correctional-forensic populations – as a researcher and practitioner in hospitals, prisons, and detention facilities. She is frequently requested as a speaker on the state and national level and serves on several committees to improve the quality of care among incarcerated persons and among the officers entrusted to manage them.

Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean of School of Law
UC Berkeley School of Law

Erwin Chemerinsky became the 13th Dean of Berkeley Law on July 1, 2017, when he joined the faculty as the Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law. Prior to assuming this position, from 2008-2017, he was the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, at University of California, Irvine School of Law. Before that he was a professor at Duke University from 2004-2008, and from 1983-2004 was a professor at the University of Southern California Law School.

Robert L. (Bob) Christie
Principal Member
Christie Law Group PLLC

Robert L. (Bob) Christie is the founding principal of Christie Law Group, PLLC. A trial lawyer for over 37 years, Bob has tried nearly 100 cases throughout Washington State and the U.S. District Courts in Washington and Alaska. Bob is widely recognized as one of the foremost lawyers defending police officers and their agencies in civil rights cases in Washington. He is also licensed in Idaho and Oregon, and resides in Seattle.

The Honorable Keith F. Giblin
Magistrate Judge
US District Court Eastern District of Texas

The Honorable Keith F. Giblin Requested Bio

Jeffrey W. (Jeff) Halstead, Ret.
Chief of Police

Jeffrey W. (Jeff) Halstead, Ret. is a 30-year veteran serving in law enforcement as a sworn employee and consultant. From 1988-2008, he served with Phoenix PD and retired as a Commander. He served as Chief of Police in Fort Worth from 2008-2015. Chief Halstead has worked as a Senior Consultant with Axon (formerly Taser) and created "The Halstead Group", a law enforcement consulting firm. He has shared his experiences and successes with other police agencies and police administrators in 35 state and 6 countries.

Christopher L. (Chris) Heigele
Coronado Katz LLC

Christopher L. (Chris) Heigele is a trial attorney and member of Coronado Katz LLC in Kansas City, Missouri. His litigation practice focuses on defending Missouri and Kansas municipalities and other governmental enti-ties in civil rights and other personal injury or tort liability claims, and representing and defending indi-viduals and companies in personal injury, products liability and construction defect cases. He has suc-cessfully argued numerous appeals in the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District of Missouri, the Kansas Supreme Court, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He is the Program Chair for this seminar, past publications chair for the committee and a member of the steering committee.

Peter R. Jennetten
Quinn Johnston Henderson Pretorius & Cerulo

Peter R. Jennetten started out with a bachelor's degree in Ecology, Ethology and Evolution and a master's degree in Biology before turning to law school. He completed his law degree cum laude from Georgetown University in 1996 and is currently a member of his firm's Management Committee and the practice group leader for the firm's Tort, Insurance and General Litigation Practice. Peter practices primarily in Federal Court, defending police officers and police departments, municipalities, jailers and medical care providers who work in jails against claims for injuries and civil rights violations. He also defends municipalities and businesses in federal and state employment discrimination claims, handles general tort defense, and oversees litigation for a correctional medical contractor.

Tara L. Johnston
Erlingson Banks PLLC

Tara L. Johnston is a partner at the law firm of Erlingson Banks, PLLC, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She concentrates her practice in the area of correctional liability defense, law enforcement defense, and civil rights litigation for local municipalities and law enforcement agencies in both Louisiana State and Federal Courts. She also serves as counsel to law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities on various issues including review and preparation of policies, risk management and operational issues.

Ryan M. Kunhart
Dvorak Law Group LLC

Ryan M. Kunhart an Atorney with Dvorak Law Group, LLC in Omaha, Nebraska. He focuses his practice on employment law and civil litigaton and is experienced representing municipalites and the local transit authority in defense litgaton issues concerning politcal subdivisions, alleged civil rights violatons, personal injury claims, and other maters common to municipalites. In his employment practce, Ryan advises clients on day-to-day employment maters, including hiring, discipline, discharge, discriminaton, employee vs. independent contractor classifcaton maters, non-compete agreements, and compensaton. He has extensive experience representng clients in state and federal courts and administratve agencies, including the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Natonal Labor Relatons Board.

Nicholas J. (Nick) Lanza
Lanza Law Firm PC

Nicholas J. (Nick) Lanza represents parties in complex claims involving wrongful death, torts, business disputes, breach of contract, commercial trucking, automobiles, construction defect, negligence, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Texas Insurance Code, products liability, property, and premises liability. He also represents various professionals in professional errors and omissions liability claims. His clients include hotels, bars, retailers, apartment complexes, families, individuals, insurance agencies, trucking companies, insurance companies, and businesses, small and large. Mr. Lanza is proud of the fact many clients become long term friends after litigation is concluded. Nick Lanza has successfully taken over 150 complex cases to trial by Judge and jury throughout the State of Texas. Mr. Lanza is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (less than 2% of Texas attorneys are Board Certified). He was selected as a Texas Super Lawyer (2011-2016). Mr. Lanza was also selected as a Texas Top Rated Lawyer and America's Best Lawyers (2014-2016).

Brian H. Leinhauser
The MacMain Law Group LLC

Brian H. Leinhauser is a founding Partner of The MacMain Law Group, LLC. He concentrates his practice in the areas of labor and employment matters, School Law, civil rights, and business advising. His experience includes representing public and private entities in matters relating to labor relations, collective bargaining negotiations, personnel and human resources consultation, employment discrimination claims, internal investigations, charter school formation and operation, and general litigation matters.

Pamela A. Leist
Ennis Britton Co. LPA

Pamela A. Leist is a shareholder with the firm of Ennis Britton Co., LPA. She has dedicated her practice to the representation of K–12 public school districts throughout Ohio. She assists clients in the areas of general counsel, special education, and labor and employment, among others. Ms. Leist has represented clients before state and federal courts and administrative agencies including the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

David J. MacMain
Managing Parter
The MacMain Law Group LLC

David J. MacMain is the Managing Partner of The MacMain Law Group, LLC, located in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His practice focuses on defending a wide variety of civil rights, employment and school claims, and is often specially retained to defend 1983 and municipal liability cases throughout the country. David has tried over 125 cases to verdict in favor of his clients. He has been named a "Pennsylvania Super Lawyer" each of the past 13 years in the field of Civil Rights, and is rated "AV" Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. Prior to legal career, David served as a Pennsylvania State Trooper.

Laurie K. Miller
Jackson Kelly PLLC

Laurie K. Miller is a member in the Charleston, West Virginia ofce of Jackson Kelly PLLC. She practces in the frm's Litgaton Department within the Health Care Practce Group where she represents hospitals, doctors, nursing homes and other health care providers in litgaton maters. She is also experienced in pharmaceutcal/medical device litgaton, product liability, and commercial litgaton. Ms. Miller is a member of DRI's Law Institute.

Paul V. Mullin
Sugarman Law Firm LLP

Paul V. Mullin is a Partner with the Sugarman Law Firm of Syracuse, New York (since 1996). He is a former Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney (1985 to 1990) and is admitted to practice before all the New York State Courts, the U.S. District Court for the Northern and Western Districts of New York, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States.A graduate of Siena College (B.A. Political Science), St. John's University (M.A. Public Administration) and Syracuse University College of Law (J.D.), Mr. Mullin's practice includes representing the State of New York, many County, City, Town and Village governments as well as their officials. He also serves as a lecturer to governmental agencies and lawyers on handling civil rights claims brought against municipalities.

Kevin Quinn
Arizona School Resource Officers Association

Kevin Quinn has been a Police Officer for the Chandler Police Department since 1995 and assigned as a School Resource Officer from 2001-2018.Kevin is currently the President of the Arizona School Resource Officers Association (ASROA), an advisory board member for Safe and Sound, A Sandy Hook Initiative and the former President and PIO of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). Kevin has travelled the United States training School Resource Officers from around the country since 2003. Kevin is an AZPOST instructor in Firearms, Defensive Tactics, High Risk Vehicle Stops and others. He is a regular presenter at the Chandler Police Citizens Academy and Guardians Academy as well as a facilitator for the Youth Academy.

Lisa Soronen
Executive Director
State and Local Legal Center

Lisa Soronen is the Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC). In this role, Lisa files amicus curiae briefs to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of members of the Big Seven (National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of State Governments, National League of Cities, United States Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, and International City/County Management Association) in cases affecting state and local government. Prior to joining the SLLC, Lisa worked for the National School Boards Association, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, and clerked for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. She earned her J.D. at the University of Wisconsin Law School and is a graduate of Central Michigan University.

Monté L. Williams
Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

Monté L. Williams, a former state trooper, works to protect his clients at trial, managing litigation, negotiating settlements, conducting investigations, or partnering with them to find ways to avoid future problems. Monté collaborates with his clients long before litigation is a reality to protect them and fight for the best possible outcome.