Law students hear from judge in Nasser case


During a recent speech to law school students, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina urged those in attendance to stand up for their beliefs and use their voices to make a difference.

“That is one of the joys of being a lawyer, that voice, for yourself first and foremost, and then for others,” said Aquilina in her remarks earlier this month at the International Women’s Day luncheon at Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus. “Never forget that mission; never lose that voice.

“It is kryptonite to the rest of the world. It is absolute power to you. Use it wisely and use it well, and remember that you define yourself.”

Aquilina presided over the sentencing in January of disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. She sentenced Nassar to between 40 and 175 years in prison for sexually abusing the women and girls he treated.

She vowed to let every victim speak and more than 150 women and girls gave statements.

Prior to the judge’s luncheon addresss, Hai Bui, a WMU-Cooley student currently enrolled in Aquliina's Family Law class, provided introductory remarks about the judge.

“Throughout her life, her accomplishments sent ripples of positive change towards the progressive movement of equality,” Bui said. “Recently, her craft was showcased in a paramount case in which she gave voice to women who had voices, but didn’t know how to use them.”

“You can’t counterfeit integrity or virtue and this woman is a woman of both,” Bui said. “She encourages her students to do magnificent things because she believes that we can. Her successes are quiet, but the results make history.”  

Aquilina emphasized the importance of attorneys’ ability to advocate for clients and be their voice in the courtroom.

“As a lawyer, you have the gift of speaking for those who can’t. You have the gift of being part of changing victims into survivors,” she said.

Aquilina also discussed overcoming stigma by embracing one’s accomplishments, maintaining individuality while growing in the legal profession and doing what is right regardless of others’ perceptions, or fear of rejection.