Judge Rosemarie Aquilina visits Greenlee media ethics courses


Students in Distinguished Professor Michael Bugeja’s online media ethics classes were joined by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina from her courtroom in Michigan Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Aquilina is a judge of the 30th circuit court in Ingham County, Michigan nand presided over the Larry Nassar case in 2018. She spoke about social justice, the legal system, #MeToo, and women empowerment to the students, who were also joined by faculty and Cyclone athletes and coaches.

Bugeja counts Aquilina as one of his heroes. Students in his media ethics course have studied her rulings since 2018.

“Judge Aquilina and I are of Maltese descent. We share a surname as my grandmother is an Aquilina, a surname that means “eagle,” given to those whose vision is far-reaching. She is truly an exceptional judge in as much as she adds to retributive justice, or punishment, layers of restorative justice (healing) and narrative justice. Narrative justice is a new phenomenon. Judge Aquilina holds a journalism bachelor’s degree and allowed 156 survivors in the Nassar case tell their stories. The Nassar sex-related and assault crimes are heinous with long-lasting impact on survivors. Her triple-tier approach to justice—retributive, restorative, narrative—helps the healing process and stands as a model for jurisprudence not only in Michigan but nationally,” Bugeja said.

Several students in the course shared they had long-admired Judge Aquilina and the experience was a highlight of their undergraduate experiences.

“After [Judge Aquilina’s] landmark decision in the Larry Nassar case, I have always wanted to hear her speak about the experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would ever actually happen. Her decision is very close to home for me and I cannot tell you enough how proud I am to tell others that I was given the opportunity to hear her speak and answer questions,” said Mary Miller, senior in public relations.

“Growing up I was a gymnast and then after getting injured, I quit to start coaching. I did that for 5 years and one of those I was a certified coach for USA Gymnastics, so gymnastics has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I followed the Larry Nassar case heavily when everything started coming out and have watched all the documentaries to try to understand how this could happen. I thank Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for giving so many women a voice including some of my favorite gymnasts,” said Danielle Tesch, senior in advertising.

Media Ethics, Freedom, Responsibility (JL MC 462) is a required course for Greenlee majors focused on ethics and professionalism in the practice of journalism, public relations and advertising.

You can view Judge Aquilina’s presentation in this YouTube video.