March 18, 2009

Law school to host Skoglund as jurist-in-residence

by Pete Rosenbery

Marilyn Ruth Signe Skoglund
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Marilyn Ruth Signe Skoglund, an associate justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, returns to Southern Illinois University Carbondale next month during a visit to the SIU School of Law.

Skoglund, who earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from SIUC in 1971, will serve as the law school’s William L. Beatty Jurist-In-Residence. During her visit, April 1-4, Skoglund will visit with students in several classes and in informal groups. She also will discuss current issues in legal education and the legal profession with law school faculty.

The Beatty Jurist-In-Residence program is one of three the law school created from proceeds received in 2004 from the settlement of a multi-million dollar national class action consumer protection lawsuit.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to meet with Justice Skoglund during her stay. Contact Alicia Ruiz, the law school’s director of communications and outreach, at 618/453-8700, to arrange interviews or for more information.

Then-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean appointed Skoglund to the state’s district court in 1994 and to the state supreme court in 1997. A native of Chicago, Skoglund attended elementary and high school in St. Louis before coming to SIUC, according to her biography.

Skoglund moved to Plainfield, Vt., in 1973, and has resided in Montpelier since 1983. In lieu of attending law school, Skoglund completed a law-office clerkship at the Office of the Vermont Attorney General, and went on to serve as an assistant attorney general, chief of the civil law division, and chief of the public protection division.

The opportunity for law students to interact with judges is extremely important, said Dean Peter C. Alexander.

“Our faculty work very hard to teach students about the law, but it’s equally important to have people who are applying the law currently and who are engaged in the practice of law or the interpretation of laws to interact with the students,” he said. “Justice Skoglund brings a perspective that most members of the faculty just could not provide. It is a unique opportunity for our students to interact with a sitting member of a state supreme court.”

Skoglund is the second woman to serve as an associate justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, according to her biography. She chairs the Vermont Supreme Court’s Judicial Education Committee, co-chairs the court’s Justice for Children Task Force, and served on the judicial nominating commission for the federal district court.

Skoglund has a distinction of being one of only a few members of a state supreme court who did not attend law school, studying for the bar exams under an attorney’s apprenticeship, Alexander said. Earning a law license that way is very difficult to do, he said.

She is the fifth Beatty Jurist-In-Residence. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth B. Lacy, U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit Judge Harris L. Hartz, Howard H. Dana, Jr., an associate justice of the Maine Supreme Court, and Julio M. Fuentes, U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit justice, are the four previous Beatty Jurist-in-Residence judges.

U.S. District Court Judge David R. Herndon is serving as host.

In July 2004, the law school received $425,000 in unclaimed funds from a 2001 settlement reached in the Southern District of Illinois in a case involving MCI and rates for direct-dialed long distance telephone calls. MCI did not admit liability in the settlement, which totaled $88 million, with $10 returning to MCI.

In class action lawsuits, courts distribute unclaimed funds in a manner consistent with the basis for the lawsuit. Herndon is a member of the law school’s second graduating class in 1977.

The law school used the funds to create three endowed programs:

  • Joseph R. Bartylak Public Interest Fellowships -- five law school students receive a $2,000 stipend to help pay rent, utilities and other basic living expenses; priority goes to students participating in public interest summer jobs in the Metro East.
  • William L. Beatty Jurist-In-Residence Program -- honors the late Justice Beatty, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois and Judge Herndon’s mentor. Beatty died in 2001.
  • Consumer Protection Award: endowment generates about $1,000 annually that funds a cash prize to a student who excelled in the Consumer Protection course.