World-class scholars

West selected as Knight Institute visiting scholar

sonja westBrumby Distinguished Professor in First Amendment Law Sonja R. West will join the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University as a visiting senior research scholar for the 2023–24 academic year.

She will work with the University of Utah’s RonNell Andersen Jones to “explore how law and policy can better protect journalism and core press functions in the United States.” The pair will engage scholars and practitioners in law, media studies, technology, history and political science in a series of regional workshops and blog posts, leading up to a major symposium on the “contours and future of press freedom” to be held spring 2024.

West was also recognized with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Harry W. Stonecipher Award for Distinguished Research on Media Law and Policy for her article titled “The U.S. Supreme Court’s Characterizations of the Press: An Empirical Study.” The article was co-authored with Andersen Jones and published in the North Carolina Law Review. Notably, this is West’s second time to receive the Stonecipher Award. The first was in 2017.

Specializing in constitutional law, media law and the U.S. Supreme Court, West’s scholarship has been published in numerous law reviews and journals including the Harvard Law Review, the California Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, the Northwestern Law Review and the Washington & Lee Law Review.

A former judicial clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, West joined the School of Law faculty in 2006. Her Brumby Professorship is a faculty position that is shared by the law school and UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.


Dennis remains authority on raps lyrics as evidence

andrea dennisAndrea L. Dennis, the coauthor of Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America (The New Press, 2019) continues to be an authority on the use of rap music evidence in criminal cases.

Rap on Trial, written with University of Richmond Professor Erik Nielson, has received national and international attention. Courts and media nationwide have cited their research. Also, their work has spurred legislative proposals in several states and Congress.

In 2022, Dennis published “Schoolhouse Rap” addressing K-12 student discipline for rap music in the peer-reviewed journal Popular Music.

She participated last fall in the “Narrating Rap/Narrating Law” conference, a two-day symposium hosted by the University of Virginia Sound Justice Lab and inspired by Rap on Trial. The event featured academics, lawyers, artists and journalists reflecting on the issue of rap music being used as evidence. Locally, in February 2023, she presented on an ACLU of Georgia and Inner-City Muslim Action Network panel titled “Rap on Trial: A Discussion on Free Speech and Racial Justice.”

Dennis currently serves as the law school’s associate dean for faculty development and holds its Martin Chair of Law. A member of the law school faculty since 2010, the student body honored her in 2021 with the O’Byrne Memorial Award for Significant Contributions Furthering Student-Faculty Relations and selection as a graduation faculty marshal.


Orford secures grant-related projects

adam orford

Assistant Professor Adam D. Orford – who came to UGA in 2021 and teaches in the areas of environmental law, climate change law, and renewable energy law and policy – is an active contributor to a number of grant-related projects.

He is the lead principal investigator of the Georgia element of the National Zoning Atlas project, which is a nationwide undertaking that aims to depict key aspects of all U.S. zoning codes in an online, user-friendly map. It will enable comparisons across jurisdictions, illuminate regional and statewide trends, and strengthen national planning for housing production, transportation infrastructure and climate response. The national project has received financial support from multiple organizations.

In coordination with the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Orford organized and hosted a Blue Carbon Law Symposium this spring that examined the emerging legal and policy issues in coastal and marine carbon sequestration and management, with funding courtesy of the National Sea Grant Law Foundation and private donors.

Orford, as a co-principal investigator, has joined several ongoing grant proposal teams with collaborators across campus, including an initiative to assess legal and policy barriers to transport electrification in the Southeast, a group seeking digital humanities support for the National Zoning Atlas, and a multi-university initiative to create a center to study emerging negative emissions technologies.

His scholarship has appeared in the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, the Georgetown Environmental Law Review, the Georgia State University Law Review, the UC Law SF Environmental Law Journal and the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. He was also selected to present forthcoming work at the 2023 Sabin Colloquium for Innovative Climate Law Scholarship at Columbia Law School.