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2015 NIU Law Review Symposium Speakers

Featured Speaker

Dan LinnDan Linn began researching cannabis and its prohibition in the late 1990s. His career began by learning how other states were approving the medical use of cannabis.  He began to engage the lawmakers to change these policies.  From 2004-2008 he was a personal assistant to a c6/c7 spinal cord injury quadriplegic friend who used medical cannabis illegally to treat his muscle spasms.

After the defeat of a medical cannabis bill in an Illinois House Health-care Availability and Access Committee sponsored by the late State Representative Larry McKeon, Mr. Linn started working directly with the lawmakers, patients, doctors and other advocates to push this issue to the forefront of Illinois political discourse. In 2009 he founded the Illinois Cannabis Patients Association to organize and lobby on behalf of medical cannabis patients in Illinois who at the time were considered criminals.  He successfully lobbied the passage of Senate Bill 1381 through the Illinois Senate only to fall 10 votes short in the House in 2009. 

Mr. Linn has participated in numerous panel discussions, appeared in a vast array of news stories, published many letters to editors of newspapers and was the leading medical cannabis advocate for the entire state of Illinois.  His legislative work can be directly attributed to the sunset clause that makes the medical cannabis program a pilot program, shifting the number of dispensaries from 59 to 60, a previous title of the legislation and securing the needed 30th vote in the 2009 SB 1381 Senate passage. 

He is a registered lobbyist and has been working as a cannabis activist for well over ten years.  He has testified before committees at the Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, been published and quoted in numerous newspapers and news broadcasts in Illinois, is a co-author of the book The Cannabis Papers and is has been a leading voice for ending cannabis prohibition in Illinois.  Mr. Linn has publicly debated the former head of the DEA on television, and spoke on a panel “Sex, Drugs & Taxes” for the 2012 American Bar Association’s conference detailing different regulatory and tax models for legal cannabis markets.  In June of 2014 he spoke at the first ever National Cannabis Industry Association’s Business Summit in Denver Colorado about the market potential for medical and recreational cannabis in Illinois.  In the fall of 2014 Mr. Linn spoke at the National Law Journal’s Chicago Regulatory Summit detailing the impact that cannabis legalization has on the legal field and employers’ rights.  Mr. Linn currently serves as a volunteer as the executive director for the Illinois chapter of NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws) and works as the Director of Government and Public Relations for the Illinois Cannabis Industry Association.

Panelists and Moderators

Daniel AbrahamsonDaniel Abrahamson founded, and currently directs, the Office of Legal Affairs at the Drug Alliance in 1996. He has been the co-author of various legislative initiatives, including California’s Proposition 36, a very successful treatment-instead-of-incarceration law. In 2001, he received the Robert Wood Johnson Developing Leadership in Reducing Substance Abuse award in recognition of his efforts to expand access to drug treatment while reducing the rate and length of incarceration for drug law offenders. Currently, he serves as an adjunct professor of law at the University of California Berkeley where he teaches an upper-level seminar on the social and legal implications of the war on drugs. Previously, he has taught courses on criminal justice and capital punishment at Yale University, Fisk University, and Hastings College of Law.

John F. DunnJohn F. Dunn is a senior vice president in the state government relations group and a partner with McGuireWoods LLP. In addition to his legal practice, he assists clients with national, state and local lobbying efforts. Prior to joining McGuireWoods Consulting, Mr. Dunn served for eight years in the office of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, most recently as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA). He was responsible for Mayor Daley's appointments to and relations with boards and commissions, including the Chicago Public Schools, RTA, CTA, Park District, Chicago Housing Authority and the McCormick Place Authority. John worked on every major issue and project in the mayor's office, including four major public-private partnerships.

Prior to the Mayor’s office, Mr. Dunn was a senior attorney with AT&T, practicing before state public utility commissions and serving as AT&T's Midwest legislative attorney. Between college and law school, he served four years as a U.S. Navy officer aboard two ships, and made two Western Pacific deployments. Mr. Dunn was the lawyer and lobbyist for Cresco Labs, which was awarded three Illinois cultivation center licenses.  Cresco received the three highest scores in the entire program.  He spoke recently at the New York State Bar Association’s annual meeting, on a panel discussing medical marijuana.

Mr. Dunn received his J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of Law in 1992.

Marc FalkoffMarc Falkoff teaches a variety of courses in criminal law, criminal procedure, the federal courts, and lawyering skills. Professor Falkoff joined the NIU College of Law faculty in 2006. Since 2004, he has been a principal lawyer in the habeas representation of suspected terrorism prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. He edited the bestselling book of prisoner poetry entitled Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak. His primary teaching and research interests are in the rule of law and the practice of public interest law. He has clerked for Judges Carlos F. Lucero of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and Jack B. Weinstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In 2009, Professor Falkoff was awarded Northern Illinois University Award for Faculty Excellence.

Professor Falkoff received his J.D. from the Columbia Law School.

Saby GhoshrayDr. Saby Ghoshray is the President of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies. With more than a decade of corporate experience with premier investment banks and Fortune 500 corporations, Dr. Ghoshray founded the Institute to foster and disseminate advanced legal scholarship premised on multidisciplinary approach. Besides serving in various executive positions from Global Mergers & Acquisitions to Corporate Compliance, he has been a prolific researcher in multi-faceted disciplines. His current work focuses on emerging challenges from technological innovation, especially in areas of intellectual property law and constitutional law. His transactional expertise stems from his specialization on cyberspace transactions and evidentiary issues in electronic medium.

Dr. Ghoshray is the author of numerous law review articles and book chapters including a recent presentation entitled Tenth Amendment Revisited: Exploring the Tension with the Commerce Clause through the Prism of State’s Right to Decriminalize, (Wayne Law Review Symposium (Jan. 27, 2012)).

Dr. Ghoshray’s work has been published in various prestigious journals, such as the Albany Law Review, ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, Fordham International Law, Santa Clara Law Review, European Law Journal ERA-Forum, Toledo Law Review, Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review, Catholic Legal Studies, Santa Clara Law Review, Loyola Law Journal, Michigan State International Law Journal, Georgetown International Law Review, and Miami Law Review, among others.

Hon. Kathleen KauffmanJudge Kathleen Kauffman was appointed as an Associate Circuit Judge in Ogle County in January of 2003. Judge Kauffmann was an Assistant State’s Attorney in Ogle and DeKalb Counties from 1991 through 1997. In the fall of 1997, she began a solo practice in Ogle County, concentrating in Family Law and Criminal Defense. During her private practice, she was a city prosecutor for Byron, Illinois and later served as a contract Public Defender for Ogle County. For many years, Judge Kauffmann presided in juvenile court (both delinquency and child protection) and drug court, as well as a variety of other calls including dissolution/custody cases, preliminary hearings, and criminal misdemeanor jury trials. Currently, Judge Kauffmann is primarily assigned to domestic relations, hearing family, dissolution and custody cases. Judge Kauffmann has served on the Illinois Judicial Conference Committee on Education since 2006, currently serving as Co-Chair of the 2016 Judicial Education Conference and as Chair of the Illinois Judicial Benchbook on Domestic Violence.

Alex KreitAlex Kreit is an Associate Professor of Law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law San Diego. He has clerked for the Honorable M. Blane Michael on the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. While an associate at Morrison & Foerster his practice focused on securities and appellate litigation. He continues to represent indigent defendants in state criminal appeals as a member of the Appellate Defenders Inc. panel. He has authored the casebook Controlled Substances: Crime, Regulation, and Policy and is co-author of the reference book Drug Abuse and the Law Sourcebook. Additionally, he has had articles appear in the University of Chicago Legal Forum, the Harvard Law Journal of Law and Public Policy, the Oregon Law Review, and the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal.


Joe McMahonJoe McMahon is State’s Attorney for Kane County. State’s Attorney McMahon began his legal career in the State’s Attorney’s Office originally as an intern and worked as an assistant state’s attorney in the traffic and misdemeanor division, felony trial unit, the gang unit and served as Chief of the Criminal Division. In addition he was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois, serving as Deputy Chief of Criminal Prosecutions, where he prosecuted public corruption, healthcare fraud and provided trial assistance to state’s attorneys in downstate counties. As a prosecutor State’s Attorney McMahon has personally tried cases ranging from misdemeanor to first degree murder. Before returning to the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office, State’s Attorney McMahon spent 9 years in private practice as a partner with Hinshaw & Culbertson and McMahon Williams. As State’s Attorney, he serves as the Chief legal and law enforcement officer in Kane County, Illinois and is the State Director for the National District Attorneys Association. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa, the John Marshall Law School and the University of Notre Dame.

Robert MorganRobert Morgan ('05) is an alumnus of NIU College of Law and currently serves as the Statewide Project Coordinator of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program in Illinois’s Office of the Governor. In this role, he oversees five state agencies and over 50 employee creating program rules and fees, laboratory testing and database systems, a selection process for licensed dispensary facilities and cultivation centers. The Illinois Governor appointed him to develop and implement a legislative initiative permitting the legalized sale of medical cannabis to a limited group of eligible patients. He has previously served as the General Counsel to Illinois’s Department of Public Health and as Deputy General Counsel concerning Employee Benefits in Illinois’s Department of Central Management Services.


Jeffrey ParnessJeffrey Parness is a Professor Emeritus at NIU College of Law. He teaches a variety of civil procedure courses as well as administrative law at Northern Illinois University College of Law. He taught for six years at the University of Akron School of Law prior to arriving at Northern Illinois University in 1982. He has been appointed a visiting professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, Southern Illinois University School of Law, Case Western University School of Law, The John Marshall Law School (Chicago), and Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He served as law clerk to Judge James B. Parsons of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois from 1974-1976. His primary areas of scholarship include federal and state civil procedure laws, maternity and paternity laws, the legal status of the unborn, state constitutional equality laws, crime victim registration, witness abuse in civil litigation, and judicial rulemaking. In January, 2006 Professor Parness was named by The Chicago Lawyer as among the 10 Best Law Professors in Illinois. Professor Parness received his J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Mitch PickerillMitch Pickerill is an Associate Professor in the NIU Department of Political Science. His teaching and research interests include American politics, law and courts, constitutional law and theory, and federalism. Professor Pickerill’s current research focuses on the relationship between the Supreme Court and the other branches of government. He is the author of Congress and Constitutional Deliberation: The Impact of Judicial Review in a Separated System (Duke U. Press 2004) as well as various book chapters and articles in journals such as Perspectives on Politics, Publius, Polity, Georgetown Law Journal, Santa Clara Law Review and Law & Policy. In 2008, Professor Pickerill, together with Paul Chen, published an article titled Medical Marijuana Policy and the Virtues of Federalism in Publius: The Journal of Federalism.

He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, his J.D. from Indiana University (Bloomington), and his B.A. from Purdue University.

Marc J. RossMarc J. Ross is a founding partner of Sichenzia Ross Friedman Ference LLP, a firm he started in 1998, which specializes in corporate and securities law.  He represents public and private companies, brokerage firms, registered representatives, high net-worth individuals, and hedge funds, both nationally and internationally, on securities, corporate, regulatory, and litigation/arbitration matters.

In the securities and corporate area, Mr. Ross advises companies with their 1934 Act reporting requirements as well as their NASDAQ, AMEX, NYSE and other exchange listing and compliance matters.  In addition, he assists companies going public and advises clients on investment and capital raising transactions. In the litigation and regulatory area, Mr. Ross represents clients in commercial/securities matters from arbitrations before FINRA, the AAA, and JAMS, to court cases nationwide.  He also counsels clients in civil regulatory and possible criminal investigations before self-regulatory organizations, state agencies, or federal agencies, and he regularly appears before the SEC, FINRA, and state securities agencies in connections with investigations.

Mr. Ross also specializes in advising marijuana and marijuana-related companies.  He often speaks on the legal issues associated with marijuana and marijuana-related businesses, including the interplay between state laws which legalize recreational and/or medical marijuana uses, and federal laws which bar such uses. As an adjunct professor at Hofstra University School of Law, Mr. Ross is currently teaching a law school course on marijuana titled Business and Law of Marijuana.  In his course, Mr. Ross introduces students to the rapidly-developing legal questions encountered in the operation of marijuana-related businesses.  The course uses a fictional business, Cannabis Inc., to explore (1) the interplay between state laws legalizing recreational and/or medical marijuana uses and the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA); (2) enforcement and application of other regulatory regimes governing the operation of marijuana-related businesses, such as banking and securities laws; and (3) the ethical considerations for an attorney advising a client engaged in a marijuana-related business. In November 2014, Mr. Ross participated on a panel for a CLE accredited webinar discussing the Financial Implications to Marijuana-Related Businesses.

He received his J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law in 1987, where he was an Associate Editor of Law Review and President of the Trial Advocacy Club. 

Luke ScheuerLuke Scheuer is currently an Assistant Professor at Widener Law School, Delaware Campus. He teaches and writes in the areas of corporate law, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, and corporate finance. Mr. Scheuer previously held adjunct positions at Boston College Law School, the University of Massachusetts School of Law, and Boston University School of Law, where he taught advanced legal skills courses on contract and corporate drafting. Before teaching, Mr. Scheuer held a judicial clerkship in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and also worked as a corporate associate at Goodwin Proctor LLP in Boston.

Mr. Scheuer presented on the conflict between legal marijuana businesses and state business entity law at a conference in Boston, Massachusetts. He also continues his work as a director for Common Cause of Delaware, a nonpartisan watchdog group whose mission is to promote open, ethical, and accountable government.

Mr. Scheuer received his J.D. from Boston College Law School.

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