Musser Gains Fellow Distinction from American Bar Foundation

THE JOURNAL RECORD, July 22, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Musser Gains Fellow Distinction from American Bar Foundation


R. Clark Musser has been named a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. The number of Oklahoma lawyers in the organization is limited to one-third of 1 percent of the lawyer population in the state.

Musser is immediate past president of the Oklahoma County Bar Association, during which time it was named the outstanding county bar in the state.

He also is immediate past president of the William J. Holloway Jr. American Inn of Court. He recently retired from teaching at the University of Oklahoma, where he served 20 years as an adjunct professor of oil and gas law in the colleges of Engineering and Business.

New advisory committee

Jane Wheeler, assistant state attorney general, and Curtis Hendricks, senior counsel at Kerr-McGee, will co-chair Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma's new Pro Bono Advisory Committee, which will oversee the expansion of pro bono opportunities for lawyers who are not in private practice.

The committee has three initial objectives.

* Oversee Legal Aid's efforts to help agencies, companies and firms develop policies on pro bono legal and volunteer services.

* Government, public sector and corporate attorneys on the pro bono panel will be identified and informed of new options for volunteering.

* Local nonprofit organizations serving low-income people and senior citizens will be contacted about needs for lawyers and how to use them.

The organizational meeting of the Pro Bono Advisory Committee is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 2 at Legal Aid. Contact Peggy Big Eagle, pro bono coordinator, at 521-1302 for more information.

New UCO degree

A new degree to be offered by the University of Central Oklahoma beginning in spring semester 2000 will enable more nurses, criminalists and others involved in crime scenes and the analysis of evidence to keep the evidentiary "chain of custody" tight, thus lowering the likelihood that a verdict of innocent or guilty will boil down to a question of carelessness versus conspiracy.

The master's of science in forensic science degree, approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education June 30, has attracted great interest from law enforcement agencies, forensic laboratories and nurses, said Fred Grosz, chair of UCO's Department of Chemistry.

"We've done a variety of surveys," he said. "Also, responses to questions we posted on the Internet regarding the need for this program clearly established a demand that extended well beyond the borders of Oklahoma."

UCO will be the only institution of higher education in the region to offer the degree, Grosz said, noting also that UCO also offers a bachelor's of science in forensic science.

"The University of Alabama offers a master's degree," he said. "But I think that's as close as it gets to this region, except for us."

Many of the professionals who work crime scenes -- nurses, technical investigators and criminalists -- learn the "chain of custody" aspects of their respective jobs while on the job, said Patricia LaGrow, chair of the UCO Department of Nursing.

"Equipped with the academic credentials to back them up," LaGrow said, "forensic nurses are more able to testify in court without their expertise coming into question."

The presence of forensic nurses in emergency rooms often keeps doctors from getting entangled in the criminal justice system, she added.

The degree consists of a common core of 13 hours, with an additional 21credit hours to be completed in one of three options -- technical investigations, criminalistics or forensic nursing.

Administered through the UCO Department of Chemistry, the degree program also will involve the biology, journalism, nursing, political science, and sociology and criminal justice departments.

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Musser Gains Fellow Distinction from American Bar Foundation
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