Indian Legal Clinic offers rights restoration to the Hopi Tribe

On Nov. 30, the Indian Legal Clinic (ILC) partnered with the Hopi Tribe and hosted a Rights Restoration Workshop to offer free legal assistance with restoring civil rights after a felony conviction. Student attorneys Maryam Salazar (3L), Clayton Kinsey (3L) and Natalia Sells (3L) traveled with Director Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Democracy Director Joel Edman to Kykotsmovi Village, Arizona on the Hopi Reservation to meet with the Hopi Chairman, Timothy Nuvangyaoma, and other tribal members to present information on rights restoration. During the workshop, the student attorneys presented information on the rights restoration process for single and multiple felonies, marijuana expungement and the set aside process.

“It was an enriching experience to go out to the Hopi reservation and have their tribal leaders really engage with the information we were sharing, including how they could implement it into their tribal community programs,” said Natalia.

In Arizona, if a person is convicted of a felony, they automatically lose certain civil rights. These include: the right to vote, to hold public office, to serve on a jury and to possess a firearm.

Native populations are disproportionately impacted by these punitive laws due to being overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Arizona has more restrictive felony disfranchisement laws than 40 other states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU) of Arizona. The Sentencing Project reported Arizona disenfranchised over 5% of the voting population in 2022, almost half of those disenfranchised had completely served their sentence.

The ILC remains dedicated to supporting citizens’ equal opportunity to vote.

“It’s insane to see how much rights restoration workshops are needed in the community and how many people would benefit from having their rights restored who may or may not know they need it,” said Natalia.

“This experience was great because it allowed us to apply what we learned in the classroom setting to the real world, especially in tribal communities. Working with real clients shows the impact our legal education can have in our own communities.”

We look forward to future community partnership events and appreciate the Hopi Tribe for hosting the Rights Restoration Workshop. 

ILC photographed with Hopi Tribe Elections Board

For more information, please contact Joel Edman at jedman@asu.edu. If you need your rights restored in Arizona, please submit this form.

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Honore Callingham (’18)
Law Fellow, Indian Legal Clinic, ASU Law

Student attorneys representing in Tribal Courts

 

In September, Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and the Indian Legal Clinic students Autumn Adams (3L), Clayton Kinsey (3L), Maryam Salazar (3L), Natalia Sells (3L), Sophie Staires (3L) and Alexandra Trousdale (3L) traveled to the Gila River Indian Community Courthouse in Sacaton, Arizona and observed arraignments in person.

While at the Court, the Clinic student attorneys were sworn in to the Gila River Indian Community Court by Chief Judge Anthony Hill (’06). Judge Charles Aragon led an informative tour during which the students met other judges and staff. Before visiting the courthouse, the student attorneys met with members of the Gila River Prosecutor’s Office. ILC student attorneys work with the Gila River Prosecutor’s Office on traffic trials. Staires was prepared to represent the Gila River Indian Community in a civil traffic trial, but exercised prosecutorial discretion after investigating the facts.

On Sept. 29, Kinsey, Sells and Trousdale made their first appearance in the Ak-Chin Indian Community Court with supervising attorney Kate Rosier, to represent defendants at arraignment hearings.

Kinsey and Trousdale share their student perspective with the ASU Indian Legal Clinic.

Kinsey: Getting the opportunity to take on cases through the Ak-Chin Tribal Court, as a defense student attorney, is some of the most meaningful work I’ve done in law school. We get to work directly with real clients that are often facing substantial consequences if convicted. It’s a pleasure to provide them legal assistance while gaining real-world experience.

I would advise anyone considering a clinic to jump right in. In two months, I’ve learned so much about the courtroom, evidentiary proceedings, and working with actual clients. Working in Tribal Courts is something that so few law schools offer—I feel privileged to attend a law school that prioritizes such a connection to the surrounding Tribal communities.

Trousdale: Practicing in tribal court as a law student is a great experience. As someone who wants to be a litigator in tribal court, my experience in the clinic gives me time and experience to learn about the process, procedures and practice before entering my career. I enjoy having the opportunity to work with real clients. It helps prepare me for different situations I may face when I begin working. As well, it gives me a better understanding of applying the law to different cases.

My advice for future clinic students is to go in with an open mind. There are a lot of valuable learning experiences in the clinic. You may have an idea of the kind of work you want to do after school, but the clinic can show you other fields of work you may enjoy that you have otherwise not considered or ruled out completely.

On Oct. 5, Salazar made her first appearance with supervising attorney Ferguson-Bohnee, also to represent a defendant at an arraignment hearing. 

The Indian Legal Clinic appreciates the Gila River Indian Community and Ak-Chin Indian Community for providing clinic students formative career experiences.

Consulting with ILP students

In August, ILP students Keely Driscoll (2L), Shandiin Herrera (2L), Morgan Oakes (2L), Sophie Staires (3L) and Natalia Sells (3L) traveled to O’ahu to assist Professor Derrick Beetso (’10) with a consultation project involving Native Hawaiians and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). 

“It was great learning how different communities can participate in the rulemaking process,” said Oakes. “There is nothing that can replicate listening to community members discussing their past experience and concerns with proposed regulations.”

“I really appreciated the opportunity to attend the Honolulu session and learn more about Hawaiian governmental structures and histories that guide the consultation process and responses there,” said Driscoll. “I learned just how distinct the conversations taking place in Hawaii are from those taking place in the states.”

Also pictured: Colin Kippen, interim CEO, OHA.

Indian Law articles published by ASU Law students

We are so proud of our recent grads! ASU Law’s legal writing program has prepared ILP alumni Noah Goldenberg (’23) and Claire Newfeld (’23) with valuable skills needed for the legal profession. 

Goldenberg was one of 25 recipients of the Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award – Law School from the Burton Awards for his article “Indian Embryos as ‘Indian Children?’

Newfeld won The Scribes Law-Review Award for her paper “Indian Boarding School Deaths and the Federal Tort Claims Act: A Route to a Remedy.”

Both of their articles were published in the Arizona State Law Journal.

Read more in the ASU Law Newsroom article: ASU Law students win national legal writing awards

Call for articles

The Law Journal for Social Justice (LJSJ) at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is seeking articles, notes, or comments for our Spring 2024 issue. We publish articles on a range of interdisciplinary topics at the intersection of law and social justice. In our Spring 2024 publication, we are looking for articles on topics centering around violent crime, Indigenous issues, and social justice. 

If you would like to submit your work for publication in Volume XIX of the Law Journal for Social Justice, you can submit your article to ljsjeic@gmail.com or to Managing Editor Tyler DeMers at tjdemers@asu.edu

Additionally, LJSJ is currently seeking out Symposium panelists who are interested in speaking on the topics of violent crime, Indigenous issues, and social justice for our Spring Symposium in February of 2024. If you have legal scholarship or research on these topics and are interested in participating in the Symposium, or if you have any questions regarding the Symposium, please feel free to contact Symposium Natalia Sells (3L) at nlsells@asu.edu

For more information regarding the Law Journal for Social Justice, please go to: https://lawjournalforsocialjustice.com/.

Indigenizing the legal profession

The ILP teamed up with its Native American Pathway to Law Initiative partners – University of California, Berkeley School of Law’s Admissions Office, Michigan State University College of Law’s Indigenous Law and Policy Center and Pre-Law Summer Institute, and American Indian Law Center, Inc. – and hosted its ninth annual Pathway to Law workshop at ASU Law. The program brought together 43 Native American students representing 30 tribes to learn about the law school admissions process, and tools and resources to support their law journey.  

Stacy Leeds, Willard H. Pedrick Dean and Regents Professor of Law, gave a warm welcome to the class, discussed brief Indian Law history, and shared her wisdom and tips. Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, ILP Faculty Director, also extended a hearty welcome to the students. 

Wenona Singel, Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center at Michigan State University (MSU Law) presented “Indigenizing the Legal Profession” and provided insight on Native American lawyers in the United States. 

Kristen Theis-Alvarez, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Berkeley Law, provided her expertise in several panels covering the law school admissions timeline and how to create a strong application packet.

To empower the students, Native law professionals Diandra Benally (’05), Torey Dolan (’19), Joseph Flies-Away (’04), Michelle Fox, Kiyoko Patterson (’03) and Denten Robinson presented on a panel “Why we need more Native attorneys.” Law students Gabe Dowell (2L), Keely Driscoll (2L), Shandiin Herrera (2L), Maryam Salazar (3L) and Berkeley Law 2L Robin Martinez shared their current experiences in law school during the panel presentation “Our journeys, in our own voices.” Both panel sessions were moderated by attorney Jeremy Aliason. 

Simon Goldenberg (’17) and Cassondra Church discussed an overview of law school in their presentation “3 years in a Nut Shell.” 

“One of the first courses you’re going to take in law school is Property Law,” said Professor Trevor Reed in his mock class. “It’s a complicated subject because it’s all about ownership.” Students were given cases to read and prepare for Professor Reed’s class and learned about briefing the case and best argument.

ILP Executive Director Kate Rosier and Theis-Alvarez co-presented “Choosing where to apply.” 

Pathway ICT Kate interview

During the Pathway to Law Workshop, Rosier joined Indian Country Today and talked about the history of the Native American Pathway to Law Initiative and positive outcomes of the program. 

Rodina Cave Parnall, Executive Director of the American Indian Law Center presented on “Extending the pipeline: an intro to PLSI.”

Joseph Lindsay, Director of Admissions and Operations at Berkeley Law, presented “Financial aid: resources and considerations for Native law students.”

We appreciate all of the partners, ILP faculty, staff and alumni, attorneys and law students for supporting these motivated Native American students and their bright future.

This was the largest workshop to date, congratulations to the Pathway to Law national team: Cassondra Church and Wenona Singel, Indigenous Law & Policy Center, Michigan State University College of Law; Joseph Lindsay and Kristin Theis-Alvarez, Berkeley Law; Rodina Cave Parnall (’01), American Indian Law Center, Inc.; and Kate Rosier, ILP at ASU Law.

Appellate Advocacy class

On May 8, the Appellate Advocacy class visited the Arizona Court of Appeals and the chambers of Judge David Gass (JD ’94). Students had the opportunity to speak with Judge Gass and Judge Andrew Jacobs about the law, their future aspirations, and working in the judiciary. While in Appellate Advocacy, the students had the opportunity to practice their oral arguments before Judge Gass. Judge Gass provided feedback to students based on his experiences on the bench and from having presided over many appellate oral arguments.

ASU Law students enrolled in the Appellate Advocacy class develop oral and written advocacy skills with the short-term goal of participating in the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition. The long-term goal is to familiarize students with appellate advocacy through the stages of legal research, writing, and oral argument with emphasis on appellate advocacy for Tribal clients on Federal Indian law or Tribal law issues.

This year’s class included Chad Edwards (2L), Ashleigh Fixicio (3L), Noah Goldenberg (3L), Samir Grover (2L), Clayton Kinsey (2L), Ryan Maxey (3L), Autumn Shone (3L) and Chanel Simon (3L).

Thank you to Judge Gass and Judge Jacobs for taking the time to work with our students, teach them about the Arizona court of Appeals, and show them around the court. 

2023 Native Vote recap

The Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project (the Project), as part of its work with ASU Law’s Indian Legal Clinic (ILC), focused on preparing for the 2022 midterm elections. ILC Director and Clinical Professor of Law Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Native Vote Fellows Torey Dolan (’19), Blair Tarman-Toner (’21) and student attorneys worked on several issues: legislative tracking, community outreach, revisions to the Elections Procedures Manual, litigation and election protection.

Outreach

The ILC coordinated with Tribes, counties and voting rights organizations leading up to the 2022 elections. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) hosted monthly strategy sessions bringing together these stakeholders to talk about ongoing democracy issues in Arizona. The Project regularly presented at these meetings on issues of proposed legislation, litigation, election results and data on voter engagement and access in Arizona Tribal communities.

Fellows Tarman-Toner and Dolan were active participants in other community coalitions including the Arizona Voting Rights Coalition, the Native American Voting Rights Coalition, the Arizona Election Advocacy Group, and Election Protection Arizona.

In March 2023, Ferguson-Bohnee was appointed by Governor Katie Hobbs to serve on the Governor’s Bipartisan Elections Task Force. The task force was created pursuant to Executive Order 2023-03 with the task of studying and making recommendations to strengthen election laws, policies, and procedures in the state of Arizona.

On April 17, Ferguson-Bohnee presented at the Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference on the state of Native American Voting Rights. Ferguson-Bohnee spoke about the recent legislation passed in Arizona impacting voting rights, ongoing litigation and the Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project’s 2022 program.

Litigation

ILC Director Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Dolan, and Tarman-Toner responded to reports of a polling location in rural Pinal County that opened nearly four hours late on Election Day during the primaries. The ILC, along with the Lawyers’ Committee, filed a complaint and application for temporary restraining order on behalf of the Arizona Democracy Resource Center and Rural Arizona Engagement. The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief requesting that Pinal County extend the hours of operation in light of the delayed opening. Despite acknowledging the violation of law by failing to open for four hours thereby denying equal voting time for the voters in that precinct, the County failed to act. While the Court recognized that the harm was not de minimis, the Court failed to grant any relief. During the General Election, Arizona Native Vote Election Protection volunteers reported polling locations in Apache County that failed to open on time on Election Day. The ILC worked with the ACLU and Navajo Nation to file a complaint and application for temporary restraining order on behalf of the Navajo Nation, and the Court extended the time for the polling locations in Apache County to remain open. 

Midterm Election

The Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project – Ferguson-Bohnee, Dolan, Tarman-Toner and ILC student attorneys Chad Edwards (3L), Brittany Habbart (3L), Michael LaValley (3L), Mallory Moore (3L), and Ruben Zendejas (3L), Autumn Shone (3L) and its partners – operated its Native Vote Election Protection Hotline throughout the early voting period and on Election Day during the 2022 Primary and General elections. In addition to operating the hotline for the General Election, the Project had 66 Election Protection Volunteers stationed at multiple polling locations across 9 Tribal communities. Review more in the ILP blog post: Your vote, your voice.

ILC student attorneys Moore and Shone led and conducted two training sessions for volunteers. After completing her final semester, Moore enjoyed working with the Project. “It was honestly one of the most difficult, time consuming, and rewarding things I have done in law school,” said she said. “I am so grateful to have had this opportunity because I feel like it was a great way to learn and grow as a person.”

“Thank you to Torey Dolan and Blair Tarman-Toner for answering every silly question I had about Native Vote and NNALSA Moot Court,” said Shone. 

2023 Elections Procedures Manual

The Arizona Native Vote Election Protection Project joined its voting partners to prepare comments, analysis and recommendations to the Secretary of State’s office on the proposed Election Procedures Manual (EPM). The EPM is a comprehensive source of law on the administration of state and federal elections in Arizona. The Project commented on the 2021 proposed EPM drafted by then Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and is similarly preparing comments for now Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.

Planning for 2024

During the Spring 2023 Semester, the ILC, including Student Attorney Kristina Major (2L) began to focus on planning for the 2024 Election Cycle.  The Clinic will continue to work with its partners throughout the summer to plan for the next election cycle. 

2023 Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance program recap

The mission of the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs (the Programs) at ASU Law is to equip professionals with a background in federal Indian law through meaningful learning experiences, career development and exploration. This year, 25 enrolled students actively engaged in focused curriculum in Indian Gaming, Tribal Self-Governance or Federal Indian Law or Tribal Policy, Law and Government taught by Director Derrick Beetso (’10), Professor Michael Hoenig, Professor Jay Spaan and Professor Paul Spruhan.

In August, to kick-off the academic semester, the Programs hosted the webinar “Indian Gaming in Texas: A Discussion About a Recent Supreme Court Victory.” Beetso joined attorneys Brant Martin, counsel for Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, and Fred Petti, counsel for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, to discuss the recent 5-4 victory for the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo in a pivotal gaming dispute with the State of Texas before the United States Supreme Court.

In October, Beetso taught the Indian Legal Program’s (ILP) traveling class Federal Advocacy for the Tribal Client in Washington, DC. The class, held over the fall semester break, introduced 17 students to how federal Indian policy is shaped, moved, and implemented inside the Beltway. Students visited key offices and federal officials during their week in D.C., and local practitioners were gracious enough with their time and stopped by ASU’s Barrett and O’Connor Washington Center to share some practice tips. The fast-paced week ended with an amazing conversation between the students and ASU ILP alumni working in D.C.

On Oct. 22, the Programs helped support the democracy and self-governance of the Navajo Nation by moderating a presidential candidate debate in the W. P. Carey Armstrong Great Hall between the two final candidates running for President of the Navajo Nation: then-President Jonathan Nez and current President Dr. Buu Nygren. Beetso moderated the proceedings while Diné students and staff announced the questions submitted by the public. Many Navajo citizens living in the Phoenix-area attended this event and appreciated the law school’s support for Navajo democracy.

For Indian Legal Clinic Director and Associate Dean of Inclusive Excellence, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Beetso, and several ILP students – Clayton Kinsey (2L), Maryam Salazar (2L), Natalia Sells (2L), and Chelsi Tsosie (2L) – the holiday season was synonymous with Indian water rights. Together, the team of Sun Devils filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Diné Hataałii Association in the U.S. Supreme Court case Arizona v. Navajo Nation. This effort required lots of research and writing in a short period of time, as well as visits to the Navajo Nation to discuss the case and the brief’s approach with the Diné Hataałii Association, Inc.

Beetso co-presented with Heather Whiteman Runs Him, director of the Tribal Justice Clinic at the University of Arizona, for a water rights discussion hosted by ASU’s Native American Law Student’s Association and the American Constitution Society that provided an overview of the Supreme Court case.

While teaching Indian Gaming iCourse, Faculty Associate Michael Hoenig was appointed as the new Vice President, Associate General Counsel – Gaming for San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

“Indian Gaming law is a rather complicated subject,” said recent online MLS graduate Edward Morris (’23). “Professor Hoenig somehow made all of this make sense. Indian Gaming II continued an exploration of the subject matter began in Indian Gaming I. Whereas Indian Gaming I was more of a survey course, in Indian Gaming II we were able to get ‘into the weeds’ of the topic. Specifics of auditing requirements and management contractual issues featured but we also delved into environmental laws and even regulatory efforts related to human trafficking. Professor Hoenig was perhaps the most professional of any of the excellent professors I’ve had at ASU. His opinions never entered the equation. This definitely was a course of law, not politics. That’s important because gambling as a topic and as an industry is very controversial, and the course could have developed in a different way.”

During the spring semester, Beetso had the opportunity to teach his first full-time courses: Indian Gaming and Indian Law and Taxation. “The opportunity to teach these classes hopefully provided more targeted education for our students in these niche areas of practice,” said Beetso. “A strong understanding of Indian gaming law and tax law and policy as applied to Indian tribes can go a long way for future attorneys working on behalf of tribal governments.”

For 2L Maryam Salazar, she liked the hands-on, practical approach to learning. The class toured the Desert Diamond Casino, an enterprise owned by the Tohono O’odham Nation in Glendale, Arizona.

“Having the opportunity to ask the gaming staff our questions, from the executive director to the machine technical staff, was really cool,” said Salazar. “I don’t think I’d get an opportunity like that outside of this class and I really took a lot away from it. Learning more about sports betting was the most interesting part of the trip for me.”

Visiting law student Morgan Gray recounts her first day of Indian Gaming class. “I recall Professor Beetso taking the time to ask me about myself, my interests, and my desire to spend a semester visiting ASU,” said Gray. “This simple gesture may not seem extraordinary to those familiar with the Indian Legal Program, but to a visiting student like me it left a lasting impact. Since then, Professor Beetso has offered me helpful advice, words of encouragement, and initiated connections with other professionals in his network currently working on projects of interest to me. While my experience is in no way unique (given that he provides each of his students such guidance and support) it is simply a testament to his commitment to help support and guide the next generation of advocates committed to serving tribal communities. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from an advocate and educator as passionate and dedicated to serving his community as Professor Beetso.”

Paul Spruhan, ASU Law’s Faculty Associate and Assistant Attorney General for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, published his article “Tribal Labor and Employment Law: The Evolution of the Navajo Preference in Employment Act” in the Arizona Attorney Magazine. ASU online learners enrolled in his “Civil Jurisdiction in Indian Country” class, learned about what laws and regulations apply to civil conduct within Indian country. “I obtained perspective and an appreciation for the work he does for the Navajo,” said online MLS student Randy Bouchard. “His teaching method is incredibly engaging. He is a demonstrative lecturer, which leads to humor and engagement with the class.”

With a variety of offerings each year at ASU Law, the Programs offers both online or in-person curriculum. Every week leading up to her graduation, MLS student Mariam Valenzuela joined her online classes from Barrow, Alaska.

She enjoyed both classes – Tribal Self Governance I and Tribal Self Governance II – instructed by Faculty Associate Jay Spaan, Executive Director of the Self-Governance Communication & Education Tribal Consortium. “I appreciate being taught by a Native professor about Indian topics,” said Valenzuela. “Professor Spaan is responsive, easy to understand, and knowledgeable about initiating tribal self-governance. He provides a perspective that encourages self-governance for the betterment of tribes and looks beyond agency barriers for solutions. My experience in Professor Spaans class has been valuable. The material taught in the Indian Legal Program is so relevant to tribes today that I have already applied what I have learned within my community. Quyanaq (Thank you) ILP for offering a Tribal Self Governance course!”

Finally, the spring semester marked the inaugural Yuhaaviatam of San Manual Externship Program. This paid externship program was made possible by the generous support of the Yuhaaviatam of San Manuel Nation and is intended to provide Native law students the opportunity to seek their ideal externship placements without worrying about whether they will be financially compensated by the employer. The first-year cohort included several recent graduates of the ILP: Chad Edwards, Brittany Habbart, Lena Neuner and Ravynn Nothstine. We looked forward to helping provide similar externship opportunities for our students in the near future.

This year, we recently graduated nine students representing 7 tribes: 8 MLS students and 1 LLM student. These students focused on Federal Indian Law, Indian Gaming and Sports Law and Indian Self-Governance. We are proud of our newly minted alums and congratulate them on their successes. This celebratory occasion was the perfect capstone to a great academic year.

All in all, the 2022-2023 academic year was full of productive and meaningful experiences and the Programs thanks the ASU Law community for its unwavering support.


Repatriation of cultural objects

This year, the Indian Legal Clinic (ILC) student attorneys Brittany Habbart (3L) and Ruben Zendejas (3L) prepared a comment on the repatriation of cultural objects for a new Austrian repatriation project created by the Advisory Committee for Guidelines for Collections in Austrian Federal Museums from Colonial Contexts convened by the Federal Ministry of Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport (BMKÖS). BMKÖS requested comments and suggestions while Austria is considering new laws and policies about when to repatriate and the process of repatriation for a variety of materials. Certain items within Austria’s collections have a history of colonialism, violence, or otherwise did not have meaningful consent. The country has opened the important discussion about the way museums acquired their collections, including Austria’s federal museums, and how to address those items present-day. 

The ILC comment suggests, “that meaningful repatriation policy consider all cultural items from historically colonized communities to be subject to and open for repatriation; make considerations for formally recognized indigenous governments, as well as other smaller indigenous communities and even, if necessary, individual claimants; and, the burden of proof be not placed solely on Indigenous communities, but on the western institutions themselves. Further we advise the museum to consider the possibility of digital repatriation — the authorization of licenses, copyrights, etc. — where physical repatriation is not wanted, needed, or possible.” 

The Indian Legal Clinic worked with Professor Trevor Reed to prepare the comment.

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Helen Burtis (’07)
Faculty Associate, Indian Legal Clinic, ASU Law