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On trials, honor and synchronicity

A scholarship that came from tragedy continues to inspire law students and alumni

Corinne Miller ('14, MSU College of Law) received the 2012 Eve August Moot Court Scholarship

When Corinne Miller (’14, MSU College of Law) heard about the Eve August Moot Court Scholarship, it pushed her to do more. And for her, that’s saying a lot.

The Tacoma, Washington, native chose MSU specifically for the hands-on opportunities in trial practice, opportunities she’s made the most of ever since she arrived.

She’s earned positions as the Michigan State Law Review managing editor, a member of the Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute and a member of the Moot Court & Trial Advocacy Board. She earned the highest grade in the Moot Court Competition Class and represented MSU in a regional Moot Court competition where she argued before a chief justice of the State Supreme Court of Tennessee.

Corinne likes being under fire. Her eye is on becoming not only a trial lawyer, but one who will have a positive influence on the criminal justice system.

“Everyone talks about fixing it, but you have to be in the system to do anything,” she says. “The best part of MSU College of Law is that I can have so many practical experiences. Anything I will do as a lawyer, I will have already done at least once as a student.”

Corinne was selected last fall as the 2012 recipient of the Eve August Moot Court Scholarship, an annual award that began from a decades-old tragedy. In June of 1982, a disgruntled client went on a violent shooting rampage at a law firm in downtown Detroit’s Buhl Building. Dozens were injured, and Eve August—a 24-year-old Detroit College of Law student who was clerking at the firm—was killed.

The scholarship has honored Eve’s memory for the past 30 years, long enough that some of the previous recipients have become donors to the endowment.

David Ottenwess entered DCL, now MSU College of Law, the year after Eve August’s death and received the Eve August Moot Court Scholarship in 1984.

“I was putting myself through law school, and that scholarship money was very welcome,” he recalls.

In 1997 David and a partner, later joined by his wife Stephanie, started their own law firm and set up shop, coincidentally in the Buhl Building. But it wasn’t until a chance meeting with building visitor Lou August, Eve’s brother, that David learned his firm’s office was the actual site where Eve had been shot. At the same time, Lou learned that David was one of the first recipients of the scholarship named for Eve.

That chance meeting led to a memorial service at the firm last summer to mark the 30th anniversary of the shooting. It also led to a heartfelt gift. David and Stephanie and their firm, Ottenwess, Allman & Taweel, recently pledged $50,000 to the Eve August Moot Court Scholarship.“I thought it was time to start giving back,” David says of the decision. “I didn’t grow up with a lot of advantages. DCL gave me an opportunity—a once in a lifetime opportunity. It gave me an opportunity to be happy at what I do.”

David hopes their gift will inspire others to support the cause—and it already has—as well as to honor Eve’s memory.

“I’m exceptionally proud of David for all he’s accomplished and for his generosity,” Stephanie says. “This scholarship will help law students who are trying to do what Eve wanted to do with her life.”

That’s abundantly evident in the 2012 recipient.

“Receiving the scholarship is a much appreciated privilege,” says Corinne. “I feel very motivated because the donors have invested in me to become a good lawyer, just like Eve August was trying to do. It says something about Eve’s character that she died at work. Now, 30 years later people still talk about how great she was and what she wanted to do. It makes me want to be a contributor, too."

For more information on making a gift to the MSU College of Law, contact Director of Development Tina Casoli at casoli@msu.edu or call (517) 432-6842.