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After growing up in the shadow of EKU, Dr. Mohanty went to the University of Cincinnati, planning to be pre-med, but later switched to law and continued on to law school at Temple University in Philadelphia. In 1995 she received her JD and passed the bar exam, and then returned to Richmond to serve as a public defender. She argued cases from juvenile crimes all the way up to death penalty cases. She also began teaching as an adjunct in the EKU Paralegal Program. In 2012, when the Paralegal program needed a new full time professor, Dr. Mohanty switched careers to full time academia.
Professor Mohanty covers several classes in the paralegal program, including Intro to Law, Legal Research and Writing, and Criminal Law. In 2013, she redeveloped the Administrative Law class (law dealing with the bureaucracy and agencies of government) to shift away from the theory of administrative law to the practice and skills of advocacy in the administrative setting. Dr. Mohanty draws on a wealth of experience in law and a network of contacts within the legal community to keep her classes exciting and fun. She invites lawyers and judges and other legal practitioners to talk to her classes, and she keeps her classes open and participatory to students.
Her past as a public defender also influences her research. Since coming to EKU, Dr. Mohanty has started exploring issues relating to criminal law, and especially to forensic law standards –the laws governing the scientific analysis of evidence. Usually, forensic labs are part of a law enforcement agency, but national standards have indicated this arrangement leads to a conflict of interests for the labs. Therefore, the national forensic organizations have recommended the labs be made independent of law enforcement. Professor Mohanty studies the extent to which these recommendations have been carried out.
In Winter Break 2013-14, Professor Mohanty is taking a class to London for a course entitled “Murder, Mayhem, and Dungeons.” The class will explore the development and eventual abolition of the death penalty in England, the reform of the British Penal System, and the differences between British and American policing.
She says that students will only get as much out of their classes as they put into them. If students put the work into making a class interesting and fun, it will be. Students should strive to get as much out of their education as they can.