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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 12, 2006

Local Attorney Speaks About Prisoner Rights At Oct. 18 Lecture

Phil Mears, an Iowa City attorney, will discuss "Why Defend Prisoners? The Importance of Prisoner Rights" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in the International Commons, Room 1117, of the University Capitol Centre. His lecture is the third in the continuing University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) Careers for Change lecture series, designed to introduce students to careers in social justice and human rights.

While the talks are geared toward students interested in post-graduation careers in human rights-related fields, the series is free and open to UI faculty, staff and the public.

Mears is an Iowa City attorney whose practice focuses on the representation of prisoners, not only to free prisoners but also to improve the conditions of the prisons in which they are held. Mears, who practices law in Iowa City, has appeared on numerous occasions before both the Iowa Supreme Court and the Federal Court of Appeals for Iowa, the Eighth Circuit.  He graduated from Grinnell College and the University of Iowa College Of Law.

The lecture series will continue Nov. 9 with a talk by David Bedell and Michelle Yehieli titled, "Helping the Underserved: Problems in Immigrant Health Care," at 7 p.m. in the International Commons, Room 1117, of the University Capitol Centre. Bedell, an assistant professor of family medicine, was a volunteer physician in El Salvador for eight years before coming to Iowa. He presently directs the Lone Tree Family practice Center, which provides health care to at-risk populations, especially immigrants and the rural elderly. Yehileli is an associate professor in the Division of Health Promotion and Education at the University of Northern Iowa and is currently the executive director of the Iowa EXPORT Center of Excellence on Health Disparities, which seeks to improve health equity for underserved populations.

For more information or special accommodations to attend any of these events, contact the UICHR at 319-335-3900 or

Founded in 1999, the UICHR is a direct outgrowth of Global Focus: Human Rights '98, the yearlong UI commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of Dec. 10, 1948. Initiated by a multidisciplinary group of faculty, the center's mission is to support the promotion and protection of human rights at home and abroad by providing leadership in human rights research, education, and public service to the UI, its surrounding community, the state of Iowa, and beyond.

The UICHR is affiliated with International Programs, which enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Amy Weismann, 319-335-0483 or Liz Crooks, UICHR, at 319-335-3900; Writer Eashaan Vajpeyi