Photo: Sonia M.  Gipson Rankin

Sonia M.  Gipson Rankin

      Associate Professor of Law

    Education

    • J.D. University of Illinois College of Law
    • B.S. Morgan State University, Computer Science, summa cum laude
    • Member of the New Mexico Bar
    • Recipient of Garrett W. Flickinger Faculty Excellence Award, 2021-2022

    Contact Information

     Ph.: 505-277-1266
     Office: 3213
     

    Profile

    Sonia Gipson Rankin teaches in the fields of Torts, Family Law, Technology and Law, and Race and Law.  Professor Gipson Rankin’s scholarship and activism combine her computer science background with her passion for racial justice.  Her work focuses on two areas: 1. Race, technology, and law; and 2. Black family and community empowerment.  Her 2021 article, “Technological Tethereds: Potential Impact of Untrustworthy Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice Risk Assessment Instruments”, was published in the Washington and Lee Law Review and explores the impact of cyberattacks and the unintended consequences of unmonitored AI on criminal justice risk assessment instruments.  Professor Gipson Rankin is a member of the Interdisciplinary Working Group on Algorithmic Justice—a collaboration of computer scientists, legal scholars, and social scientists from New Mexico who provide insight to attorneys and government officials on issues related to artificial intelligence.  She regularly presents on topics such as AI, kinship care, criminal justice reform, implicit bias, inclusive leadership, and Black community empowerment.  Regarding these issues, Professor Gipson Rankin has been quoted in numerous media outlets, including BBC World News and National Public Radio.

    Before joining the University of New Mexico School of Law faculty, Professor Gipson Rankin served as the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Program Development in University College and as a Senior Lecturer in Africana Studies, both at UNM.  In 2016, Professor Gipson Rankin was named one of 10 Outstanding First-Year Advocates by the National Resource Center for her work related to first-year college students.  In 2018, she was honored as a Woman of Influence Award by the Albuquerque Business Journal.  She is former President of the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association and a member of the NM Supreme Court Commission on Equity and Justice.  Her mission is to inspire students, communities, and systems to seek justice with a spirit of excellence.

    In the News

    Courses

    Practicum

    Please see instructor for description.

    Torts

    Torts introduces the law of civil liability, where private parties bring actions against other private parties for the breach of a particular duty. This is a far reaching range of human conduct that the law attempts to address. Punch in the nose. Car accidents. Environmental pollution. Defective products. Medical malpractice. School shootings. Cyberbullying. Tort law must unpack not only a multitude of potential harmful behaviors, but must sort through limitless varieties in fact patterns.

    Through tort law, we never diminish loss, we only shift it. Determining how this shift occurs and when is decided daily by judges and policymakers. Course coverage will focus on the tort of negligence, where we will consider: general and specific duty categories; standard of care; causation, both proximate and legal; damages; and defenses. We will also explore intentional torts, such as assault, battery, false imprisonment, and infliction of emotional distress, harms to property interests, and lay the foundation for strict liability and products liability. In this course, you will receive an introduction to the legal method, the tort litigation process and the social, economic, and political policy considerations and implications underlying tort law.

    Family Law

    The aim of this course is to introduce students to a dynamic field of law that concerns a foundational social institution: the family. Topics include defining and regulating marriage (including the evolving landscape concerning marriage, parenting, and adoption by same-sex couples); formal and informal marriage; cohabitation and alternatives to marriage; common law incidents of marriage and transformation of the common law; traditional and “no fault” divorce; property division; spousal support; child support; child custody; regulating parenthood; advanced reproductive technologies; changing structures of family life; and issues of federal and state jurisdiction over and recognition of marriage. In the course, we consider some of the most interesting and challenging questions in our society from the perspective of law, policy, and morality, examining how family law is situated within the United States’ social, economic, cultural, and political constructions.

    Students will also be introduced to the role of negotiation, mediation, and other forms of dispute resolution in the practice of family law. Our readings and discussions will encourage you to look beyond doctrine and consider what role the law should play in defining and regulating our most intimate relationships, and what policies the law should effectuate.

    By the end of this semester, you should be able to address and answer complex issues and important questions such as:

    • What is a "family"?
    • How does and how should family law address the evolving structure of families?
    • What is the appropriate balance between family autonomy and state regulation?
    • How do race, gender, and class affect family law?

    Lawyering in the Digital Age

    Please see instructor for description.

    Race and the Law

    This course has been developed to explore the controversial and complex topic of race through a legal lens. We will consider the historical and contemporary relationship between law and society, analyzing law as an expression of cultural values, a reflection of social, economic, and political structure, and an ideological instrument of social control and social change. We will examine the legal construction of race as it relates to individual, institutional, and structural racism. Complimenting this general perspective will be an examination of selected legal institutions, such as the court system, the police, regulatory agencies, and the legal profession.

    Publications

    Articles

    Creating Lightbulb Moments: Developing Higher-Order Thinking in Family Law Classrooms Through Court Observations, J.L. & EDUC. (Forthcoming). 
    Available at: SSRN

    Technological Tethereds: Potential Impact of Untrustworthy Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice Risk Assessment Instruments, 78.2 WASH & LEE L. REV. (Spring 2021).
    Available at: UNM-DR

    Black Kinship Circles in the 21st Century: Survey of Recent Child Welfare Reforms and How It Impacts Black Kinship Care Families, 12 J. CHILD & FAM. ADVOC. 1 (2013).
    Available at: UNM-DR

    Why They Won’t Take the Money: Black Grandparents and the Success of Informal Kinship Care, 10 ELDER L. J. 153 (2002).
    Available at: UNM-DR

    Reports

    Regarding Docket No. FR-6111-P-02, HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard (Federal Register HUD-2019-0067-2823, October 18, 2019) (co-authored with Alfred D. Mathewson et al.).
    Available at: Federal Register & UNM-DR

    Presentations

    Who is Caught up in New Mexico's Criminal Justice System? Considering Race, Ethnicity, Class, Gender, University of New Mexico Libraries (March 2020).

    Arcing Towards Justice: Dr. King’s 2020 Vision, Sandia National Laboratories and Kirtland AFB Martin Luther King Jr. Observance (January 2020).
    Available at: UNM-DR

    Improving Retention and Graduation Rates in a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Reinvention Collaborative RC20/20 Higher Education Conference (2018).
    Available at: UNM-DR

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