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Last month, Attorney General Sessions described civil forfeiture as “a key tool that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, take back ill-gotten gains, and prevent new crimes from being committed.”  Politicians and media outlets on both sides of the aisle were skeptical about his decision to curb some fairly recent federal restrictions on the practice.  But what, exactly, is civil forfeiture and how did the practice come about?  A new wex article by Cornell Law student Stephanie Jurkowski answers those questions and more.  Read it here:

If you’re asking yourself why the last name Gameros sounds familiar it might be because you’re thinking of Bill Gameros. Bill was featured in last month’s Alumni Profile for his work with the LII Bulletin. The West Point grad and former Army Officer was the first editor in chief of the Supreme Court Bulletin.  Fortuitously, his successor was Kathryn Becker; an art enthusiast with a passion for helping others who today goes by Kathryn Gameros. The two met while attending Cornell and later married. Kathy served as an editor on the first ever editorial board and became the first female editor-in-chief the following year. For the sake of curiosity we couldn’t interview one without the other, so we talked with Kathy about the Bulletin and how she utilizes her career to make a difference.

You attended the Harley School in Rochester, NY?

I grew up in Fairport, NY and graduated from the Harley School.

After attending the Harley School, you went to college to study Fine Arts?

I went to Middlebury College and received a degree in Studio Art and Women’s Studies.

So how did you transition to Law School?

While I was in undergrad, I decided that I wanted to try and make a difference. I thought that law made the most sense with the background I had with women’s studies. I didn’t exactly what I was going to do, I was lucky to attend a liberal arts school and I also changed my major a few times as an undergrad.

What made you choose Cornell?

I visited law schools on the West Coast and also on the East Coast before I fell in love with Cornell. I may have to admit it could’ve been something to do with visiting on negligence weekend and I have always loved upstate NY. I liked the size of the school and I thought it was a good fit given I was coming from a small undergraduate institution.

What is negligence weekend and what about it specifically played a role in you choosing Cornell?

When I was visiting campus and later when I attended Cornell Law School, one spring weekend was designated Negligence Weekend. Many law students took time away from studying to lounge, play games & even enjoy a beer outside. The weekend that I visited campus, the weather was absolutely lovely. It was a warm sunny respite after a long winter in Middlebury, Vermont. All the law students that I met were friendly and seemed so relaxed. Obviously, not every weekend in law school was like that. There were notes to write and edit, classes to prepare for, moot court and other time pressures. Negligence weekend provided a counterpoint to those busy weekends.  

You were an editor with Bill, and then the following year became Editor in Chief. Did you make any changes or notice any changes that you wanted to make the second year around?

At that point I think we had worked together pretty well as a team. All of us on the journal collaborated to establish the format for the bulletin. We were still focused on the Court of Appeals in New York and I had taken over doing the HTML preparation of the Opinions as they came down and then we would make a selection. We worked on our selection criteria for which cases we were writing about. We did not analyze every single case that came out during those years. We continued to evolve but we did not make any wholesale changes that second year.

Based on wanting to make a difference, did that influence your career path after Cornell?

I ended up taking a more traditional career path after I graduating. I worked at three law firms since 1997. In 2013, my partner and I opened our own law firm. Over the course of my career , I was able to use my legal education on pro bono matters as well as serving on a number of nonprofit boards. When my partner and I left Jones Day, we were able to represent students and their families in the area of education law. Special education law is a growing portion of our practice. The majority of my practice  remains product liability defense. It took a while to get there but I am committed to taking on social issues as a lawyer.

Do you use the LII during your work day?

I do! Not every day but I tend to use it when I want to see Supreme Court opinions. I looked at the write up on the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District decision. That actually fits right into the area of Special Education Law that we’ve been working on.

Could you elaborate on some of the nonprofit boards that you serve on? I know that you were involved with the Leadership Arts Institute and also the Texas Discovery Gardens.

Leadership Arts Dallas was a training program that I was invited to participate in because I was a lawyer. The purpose of that group is to prepare professionals to get involved with nonprofit boards of directors. As a result of Leadership Arts, I was placed on the board of the Texas Discovery Gardens where I currently serve as the Parliamentarian. Texas Discovery Gardens is an organic garden with educational programs for both children and adults. It’s in the heart of Dallas and uses sustainable practices including native plants and Hasan indoor insectarium which is commonly referred to as the butterfly house. The Discovery Gardens also does work in the community. For example, when Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings joined a group of other Mayors across the country in creating “way stops” for migrating monarch butterflies, he partnered with the Texas Discovery Gardens to create the Mayor’s butterfly garden outside Dallas City Hall.

It has been a great organization for seeing what’s going on in Dallas including people’s changing ideas about using public spaces in Dallas in a way that is “water wise.” And I’ve learned about monarchs and other species that are endangered or becoming endangered. Last year, I served as the Chair of PC TAG which is a non-profit that works with the school district that my children attend.  

I hear you have 3 daughters, how old?

Yes we have 3 girls. They are 13, 11, and 8.

Will any of them plan on attending Cornell or going into law?

You know they’re not sure right now. Actually they’re all involved with acting so maybe we’ll be using those Tom Bruce connections. Over the years, we have run into people that know Tom all over. Last summer it was at the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts. Apparently Tom had done some theater in Boston related to Edward Gorey and we ran into people that told us that they knew Tom for his work. My girls got a kick out of it.

Kathy has been successfully managing her own firm, Atwood Gameros LLP, since 2013. In addition, Bill has been at Hoge & Gameros LLP since 2002. Bill and Kathy reside in Dallas where they moved post graduation. Together they live with their three daughters, 2 gerbils and dog.


Today at SCOTUS -- 1/14/14

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Jan 142014

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) the powers of bankruptcy courts; (2) the taxation of unemployment benefits; and (3) federal property statutes:

(1)  Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkin [see our preview at];

  • Does Article III of the Constitution permit bankruptcy courts to enter final judgments in “core” proceedings as defined in 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)? If not, can bankruptcy courts exercise jurisdiction over litigants through their “implied consent”?

(2)  US v. Quality Stores, Inc.s [see our preview at]

  • Are supplemental unemployment benefits paid to laid-off employees considered “wages” under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), and therefore taxable as income?

(3)  Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. US [see our preview at]

  • Does the United States have a reversionary interest in a railroad right-of-way created by the General Railroad Right of Way Act of 1875 after the federal government granted the lands underlying the right-of-way to a private party?

Today at SCOTUS -- 1/13/2014

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Jan 132014

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in cases about (1) recess appointments and (2) misbehaving debtors in bankruptcy:

(1)  NLRB v Noel Canning [see our preview at]

  • Can the President exercise the recess-appointment power during a recess while the Senate is still in session? Can the President exercise this power when the Senate convenes every three days in pro forma sessions?
  • Can the President use the recess-appointment power to fill any vacancy that exists during a recess, or only to fill those vacancies that arose during the recess?

(2) Law v. Siegel [see our preview at]

  • If a debtor in bankruptcy commits misconduct during bankruptcy proceedings, can statutory exemptions previously granted to him be revoked as punishment for his misbehavior?

Today at SCOTUS - 12/11/2013

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Dec 112013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a cases about (1) self-incrimination in a capital punishment trial and (2) the statue of limitations for child custody petitions under the Hague Convention:

(1)  White v. Woodall [see our preview at]

  • Does a trial court’s rejection of a non-testifying defendant’s request for a no-adverse-influence instruction during the sentencing phase of a capital punishment trial violate that defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when the defendant has pled guilty to all of the alleged crimes and aggravating circumstances?

(2) Lozano v. Alvarez  [see our preview at]

  • Can a district court considering a petition under the Hague Convention for the return of an abducted child to the child’s home country toll the running of the one-year filing deadline when the abducting parent has concealed the whereabouts of the child from the other parent?

Today at SCOTUS - 12/10/2013

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Dec 102013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a cases about (1) EPA rulemaking and (2) the Child Status Protection Act :

(1)  EPA v. EME Homer City Generation [see our preview at]

  • Did the EPA permissibly interpret the phrase “contribute significantly” when it balanced achievable emission reduction levels against the cost of achieving such emission reductions?
  • Can states wait for the EPA to adopt a rule quantifying each state’s “good neighbor” obligations before they adopt a state implementation plan prohibiting emissions that “contribute significantly” to other states’ pollution problems?

(2)  Mayorkas v. Cuellar de Osoria [see our preview at]

  • Does the Child Status Protection Act grant relief to an alien who qualifies as a child derivative beneficiary at the time a visa petition is initially filed, but who reaches age 21 (“ages out”) when the visa becomes available to the principal beneficiary?


Today at SCOTUS - 12/9/2013

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Dec 092013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) airline immunity under the Transportation Safety Act when an employee files a false report; and  (2) if a court’s decision is “final” when contractual attorney fees remain unresolved:

(1)  Air Wisconsin Airlines v. Hoeper  [see our preview at]

  • Can a court deny an airline immunity under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act for a report made by its employees to the Transportation Security Administration about another employee, without first determining that the airline’s disclosure was materially false?

(2)   Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Central Pension Fund  [see our preview at]

  • Can a district court’s decision that does not resolve a request for contractual attorney’s fees be a “final decision” under 28 U.S.C. § 1291?

Today at SCOTUS - 12/4/2013

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Dec 042013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case about the rights of citizens of public roads cutting through military installations:

(1)  US v. Apel  [see our preview at]

  • Can 18 U.S.C. § 1382, which prohibits a person from reentering a military installation after a commanding officer has ordered him not to reenter, be enforced on a portion of a military installation that is subject to a public roadway easement?

The other case scheduled for today, Township of Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Garden Citizens in Action, Inc., settled.  You can nevertheless read our preview at, and some thoughts on the settlement here. 

Today at SCOTUS - 12/3/2013

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Dec 032013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) preemption of state law tort claims under the Airline Deregulation Act and (2) standing to bring a false advertising claim under the Lanham Act:

(1)  Northwest, Inc. v. Ginsberg  [see our preview at]

  • Does the Airline Deregulation Act preempt a state claim for breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing concerning a frequent flyer program?

(2)   Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc. [see our preview at]

  • What is the appropriate framework to determine standing in a false advertising action under the Lanham Act?

Today at SCOTUS - 12/2/2013

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Dec 022013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) the role of federal courts in private arbitrations and (2) the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act:

(1)   BG Group, PLC v. Republic of Argentina  [see our preview at]

  • Does an arbitrator or a court decide whether a precondition to arbitration has been satisfied?
  • To what extent can federal courts review such decisions?

(2)   Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community [see our preview at]

  • Can a federal court exercise jurisdiction over a state suit alleging violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act where the gaming activity is not located on Indian lands?
  • Does tribal sovereign immunity bar a state from suing a tribe in federal court for violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act?