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Student wins Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing

May 08, 2012

Kaitlyn Redfield-Ortiz, a 2012 College of Law graduate, recently won the Burton Award for Legal Achievement 2012 Distinguished Legal Writing Award for her article, “Government by the People for the People? Representative Democracy, Direct Democracy, and the Unfinished Struggle for Gay Civil Rights.”

Redfield-Ortiz said she was excited and pleased to receive the prestigious award.

The award is given to 15 people each year to reward great achievements that range from legal writing to publications to the greatest reforms in law. The principal focus is awarding effective legal writing to those who use plain, clean and concise language in their writing. The award recipients were selected from nominations by deans of all the law schools in law America.

“I’ve always been interested in gay civil rights,” Redfield-Ortiz said.

Redfield-Ortiz’s article was an empirical study of James Madison’s theory that direct democracies allow tyrannical majorities to “sacrifice to (their) ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens” and that only republican government “promises the cure for which we are seeking.” She applied this theory to a case study on civil rights for gay people in order to determine whether representative democracy is a better guarantor than direct democracy of gays’ and lesbians’ civil rights in housing and employment. Redfield-Ortiz said her results indicate that Madison was correct.

Redfield-Ortiz will attend the awards program at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., in June. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens (ret.) will be the guest speaker.

Redfield-Ortiz will take the Bar exam in June. She will then clerk for Arizona Supreme Court Vice Chief Justice Andrew Hurwitz.