Daily Briefs, August 12

Four law school graduates sue alma mater over job stats
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Four graduates of Thomas M. Cooley Law School have sued their alma mater, claiming the school misrepresented its post-graduation employment statistics to attract students.

The suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan by New York law firm Kurzon Strauss, seeks class-action status and $250 million in damages. It claims Cooley counts part-time jobs or employment outside of the legal industry in its numbers.

Kurzon Strauss claims Cooley said about 75 percent to 80 percent got jobs within nine months of graduation, the Detroit Free Press reported. The number with a full-time permanent job requiring a law degree is lower, said David Anziska, a lawyer with the firm.

“There are many, many recent grads out there who have not secured gainful employment and are staring down the barrel of tens and tens of thousands of dollars in bone-crushing and soul-crushing debt that they really have no realistic option of ever paying off,” Anziska told the Lansing State Journal.

James Thelen, Cooley’s associate dean for legal affairs and general counsel, said the school stands by its post-graduation employment and salary statistics.

“Any claims that prospective students or our graduates have been misled or legally harmed by our reporting are simply baseless,” he said in a statement.

The Lansing-based school earlier sued the law firm, claiming it was defaming the school in online ads seeking potential plaintiffs who attended Cooley.

The firm maintains that the suit was an effort at intimidation. Cooley plans to move forward with its own lawsuit.

Cooley has about 1,000 graduates a year and about 4,000 students enrolled, with campuses in Lansing, Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills and Grand Rapids.

Judge’s jail terms for drunken drivers challenged by attorney
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) — A lawyer and a Wayne State University law professor are challenging a Detroit-area judge’s decision to send first-time drunken drivers to jail, saying she is violating the defendants’ constitutional rights.

Attorney Robert Larin and professor Kenneth Mogill made the arguments in a motion Wednesday in 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills.

The motion is on behalf of one of Larin’s clients, a 67-year-old West Bloomfield man with a drunken driving case before Judge Kimberly Small. They argue that she is legislating from the bench, should disqualify herself and has shown a bias in drunken-driving cases.

Small's office told The Associated Press on Thursday that she couldn’t comment, saying it would be inappropriate to discuss a pending case.

Small is the judge who recently sentenced ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose to 20 days in jail in a March drunken-driving crash.

Last month, a Detroit Free Press review of drunken-driving sentences found Small exceeds most judges in the area and nationwide when sentencing first-time offenders. She previously told the newspaper she believes sentencing drunken drivers to jail sends a message that it is a serious crime.

“We have to decide if we’re going to get serious about this or not,” she said.

Under Michigan law, first-time drunken driving is a maximum 93-day misdemeanor, but there is no minimum mandatory jail time.