Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Katie Short (’80), attorney for David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, leads his defense team at federal court in San Francisco.
Katie Short (’80), attorney for David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, at federal court in San Francisco.

When David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress first devised his plan to expose Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting and selling the organs of aborted babies, he knew he would need legal advice. So the undercover journalist turned to San Francisco’s Life Legal Defense Foundation and its co-founder and vice president, Katie Short (’80). Mrs. Short and others helped Mr. Daleiden to prepare for the inevitable legal challenges and to navigate the myriad laws in several jurisdictions.

Katie Short (’80) with David Daleiden of the Center for Medical ProgressKatie Short (’80) with David Daleiden of the Center for Medical ProgressNearly three years later, that effort has proved to be a tremendous success, drawing national attention to Planned Parenthood’s gruesome practices and fueling a Congressional movement to strip the abortion provider of federal funding. Predictably, the abortion industry’s premier trade group, the National Abortion Federation, has struck back with a lawsuit designed to ruin Mr. Daleiden and suppress his findings. And so the young filmmaker has turned to Mrs. Short once again, asking her foundation to defend him against a fevered legal onslaught.

“We at Life Legal have fought for decades to guarantee the First Amendment rights of pro-life activists,” says Mrs. Short. “Usually this happens on a small scale right in front of an abortion mill. Now we are seeing the same drama play out on a grand scale in the public eye, as the NAF throws its resources into crushing David Daleiden’s witness. There’s really little else that they can do, as David truly has the goods on the abortion industry in general and on Planned Parenthood in particular. Only by doing our all at this crucial juncture can Life Legal keep the truth about Planned Parenthood available to the public.”

A home-schooling mother of nine children, Mrs. Short has written numerous briefs for state and federal courts, including petitions for certiorari and amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court and California Supreme Court. She co-authored the text of Propositions 73, 85, and 4, California ballot initiatives aimed at requiring parental notification before a minor can obtain an abortion. She additionally served as co-counsel in People’s Advocate v. ICOC, a suit challenging the constitutionality of the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the agency established by Proposition 71 to fund embryonic stem cell research.

Last week Mrs. Short was at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, leading Mr. Daleiden’s pro bono defense team during his deposition — one small step in what promises to be a lengthy, exhausting, and expensive legal battle. “The case has extremely high stakes for all participants,” says Mrs. Short’s husband, Bill (’80), a fellow attorney. “Please pray for Daleiden, the project, Katie, and the rest of the legal team, and encourage others to do so as well.”

David Shaneyfelt (’81) and Raymond Tittman (’94)David Shaneyfelt (’81) and
Raymond Tittman (’94)

Two alumni attorneys who practice on opposite ends of the law recently teamed up with the honor of presenting a national webinar for the prestigious American Law Institute. David Shaneyfelt (’81), who represents companies in disputes against insurance companies, and Raymond Tittman (’94), who represents insurance companies, presented a continuing legal education course for attorneys entitled, Insurance Bad Faith: Strategies for Avoiding or Pursuing Claims. Mr. Shaneyfelt practices with The Alvarez Firm in Calabasas, California, along with fellow alumnus Justin Alvarez (’97), while Mr. Tittman is the founding partner of Edison, McDowell & Hetherington LLP’s Oakland, California, office. The two have never actually had a case against each other. Not yet, anyway.

David Halpin (’79)Please continue to pray for the repose of David Halpin (’79), husband of Natalie (St. Arnault ’80) and father of Rose (’06) and Margaret Tannoury (’08), who died on March 6. Below is the text of his obituary, penned by the Halpins’ daughter Elizabeth:

... for God is greater than our hearts
and all is known to Him.
— 1 John 3:20

David B. Halpin, attorney at law, of Chesterton, Indiana, passed away Friday, March 6, 2015, in South Bend, Indiana. He was 63 years old. A true renaissance man, Dave lived and worked wholeheartedly for the Catholic faith and his family. He is most lovingly remembered by all who knew him. David is survived by his wife, M. Natalie Halpin (St. Arnault) and their children — David, Eugene, Rose, Margaret (Tannoury), Elizabeth, Gertrude, Thomas, James and Seth Halpin — along with their grandson, Alexander Tannoury, and son-in-law, Chadi Tannoury. Also surviving are his mother, Margaret Kathleen Halpin (Nolan), and his siblings — Philip, Patrick, Timothy, Margaret (Ortiz), Mary Ann (Shapiro), Peter, Kathleen (Santoro), and John Halpin — along with their spouses, children, and numerous extended-family members. He is preceded in death by his father, Eugene Philip Halpin.

Born to Peggy and Gene Halpin on October 21, 1951 in Seattle, Washington, Dave grew up in South Pasadena, California. His childhood recollections were of a bygone era — attending parochial grammar school with the nuns, playing the drums in a rock ’n roll garage band, working his father’s catering truck route in downtown Los Angeles and surfing the Pacific Ocean waves before it was “cool.”

After graduating from South Pasadena High School in 1969, Dave enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. It was through the Guard that he learned the importance of discipline and the necessity of higher education. He was honorably discharged in November 1974. In the fall of 1975 he began his undergraduate studies at Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California. He received his Bachelors of Liberal Arts in 1979. While attending the College he was ordained to meet his life partner and wife, Natalie St. Arnault. They married December 29, 1979, at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado.

Dave graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1983. Subsequently he was sworn and admitted into various jurisdictions, courts, and state bars. He was licensed to practice law in Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, and Indiana. He was also licensed in Native Tribal Law for the Navajo Nation, White Mountain Apache, and Zuni Pueblo.

Dave and Natalie moved to Indiana in November 1991. They raised their nine children in the Chesterton/Duneland area — a semi-rural community in Indiana on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Dave led the family by example with prayer, hard work, and quiet acts of love. He was a great storyteller and fantastic impersonator; he had a knack for making a room burst into laughter with his keen sense of humor and wit. He was an avid reader, swimmer, and bicycle enthusiast. He took pride in the Halpin homestead — sweating in his yard most summer Saturdays or snow blowing the drive in the bleak of winter.

Dave was a member of St. Patrick Parish, its Men of St. Joseph, and the Knights of Columbus. His life will be honored by family and friends with love, laughter and prayer.

In lieu of flowers, checks can be made payable to Dave’s widow, M. Natalie Halpin. Please post farewells, stories and/or condolences via the White-Love Funeral Home website.

God’s blessings and the peace of Christ to each and every one touched by Dave’s life.

Dr. John. J. Goyette (’90)Over the weekend the Ventura County Star published a lengthy feature about the latest assault on human life in California — physician-assisted suicide, now euphemistically dubbed “aid in dying.” The story includes quotations from both prominent supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 128, which would permit doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients. Among those opposed to the measure is an alumnus and tutor of the College, Dr. John. J. Goyette (’90).

“The very idea of physician-assisted suicide is an implicit judgment that a life that involves suffering is not really worth living,” Dr. Goyette tells the Star. “It’s seeing human beings as disposable.” Framing the controversy not so much as one of religion but of human dignity, he adds, “Natural law forbids taking innocent human life,” a prohibition of which “faith reminds us.”

Dr. Goyette continues by observing that assisted suicide’s supporters have a grimly utilitarian view of the end of human life. “The underlying assumption is that a death with pain and suffering is somehow meaningless or undignified — that doesn’t really fit with our experience,” he says. “Suffering is an opportunity for people to show care and compassion. A death that’s filled with compassion, that’s not a meaningless or undignified death.”

The full story is available on the Ventura Star website.


Five years after his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College, Tim Cantu (’10) returned to campus this past weekend to offer advice to students who hope to pursue careers in law.

An attorney with Pepple Cantu Schmidt PLLC, Mr. Cantu works with the firm’s Clearwater, Florida, and Seattle, Washington, offices. After graduating from the College in 2010, he attended Notre Dame Law School, graduating in 2013. While there he was a Notes & Submissions Editor for the Notre Dame Law Review, and he spent his summers working for Professor Richard W. Garnett and at the law firm of Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His current practice focuses on the acquisition, sale, development, and financing of multifamily housing and related business and litigation matters.

Read the full story.

Nathan Haggard (’99, standing) and Justin Alvarez (’97, seated) were two participants in a recent on-campus panel for students interested in business and technology. Mr. Haggard is a systems engineer at Apple, where he manages the company’s technical relationship with some of its largest enterprise customers, such as Disney, Amgen, and Toyota. Mr. Alvarez is the founder of The Alvarez Firm, a law corporation based in Camarillo, California. Read the full story.

Luke Macik (’87)Luke Macik (’87), headmaster of The Lyceum in South Euclid, Ohio, recently appeared on the From the Median program on the Salem Radio Network’s WHK in Cleveland. There he discussed the school he leads, its commitment to Catholic liberal education, and the tremendous success it is enjoying. His appearance was part of an ongoing series titled, “The Importance of Teaching Our Students to Think Critically in a World Filled with Sound Bites,” which in December included an interview with Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean.

“Your school is just like the city on the hill,” host Molly Smith told Mr. Macik, who replied that the Lyceum adheres to a simple but proven educational philosophy: “Have students read really good texts, that is, original works. Have them study Latin and Greek. Don’t dumb things down for them, and get to the real business of education.”

In just its 11th year, the Lyceum has become one of the top Catholic high schools in the nation. It earned a spot on The Cardinal Newman Society’s 2014 Catholic Education Honor Roll of schools “marked by the integration of Catholic identity throughout all aspects of their programs and excellence in academics.” A quarter of the Lyceum’s graduates are National Merit Scholars, Finalists, and Commended Students, having scored in the top 1 percent to 5 percent on the PSAT, and the school’s average SAT score is in the top 14 percent of the nation.

During the interview Mr. Macik cited his own education at Thomas Aquinas College as evidence of the great versatility of a classical education, particularly his work as an attorney prior to become a full-time educator:

“I had this kind of education in college. I studied the liberal arts, studied the great books … then found myself going to law school and then — of all places in the world — I had an opportunity to practice law among the Navajo Indians.… I’m probably one of very few people who can qualify as an expert in Navajo court in their own law system, but it just shows you the applicability of the liberal arts. I did that for 15 years. I was their insurance defense counsel.… The real training I had for the practice of law in Navajo court was not what I did in law school — I had no courses on Navajo law — it was what I did in my undergraduate work.”

Streaming and downloadable audio of the complete interview are available courtesy of From the Median:


John Tuttle (’98), during his days a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Source: U.S. Army

“I left the Army,” writes John Tuttle (’98), “but am still with the federal government.”

Having completed his service as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Mr. Tuttle (’98) is now a law clerk in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for the Honorable Daniel A. Manion, a Reagan appointee whose chambers are located in South Bend, Indiana. Mr. Tuttle follows in the footsteps of several other Thomas Aquinas College graduates whom Judge Manion has hired over the years. Previous clerks for the Seventh Circuit include Kurt Van Sciver (’02), Luke Reilander (’02), and Paul Alarcon (’07).

“Don't like abortion? Don’t have one.” So read the pro-abortion bumper sticker of bygone days. There’s now an addendum: “But pay for mine.”

Thus begins an op-ed piece by Catherine Short (’80), who — as part of her 35-year effort in defense of the unborn — is taking on a new California policy that requires all insurance plans to provide abortion coverage. (Thomas Aquinas College is, mercifully, exempt from the mandate because it self-insures.)

As the legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which she helped to found, Mrs. Short recently sent a letter to the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), decrying its shoddy legal pretext for the new policy:

The DMHC decision apparently rests on two untenable positions. The first is the self-evidently false proposition that all abortions, including elective abortions, are “medically necessary” and thus must be covered pursuant to the Knox-Keene Act. In the context of abortion, “medically necessary” and “elective” are antonyms. Second, the decision asserts that the California Constitution prohibits health plans from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy. The California Constitution, a s currently interpreted, prohibits the state from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy, by withholding funding for abortions. CDRR v. Myers , 29 Cal.3d 252 (1981). This decision does not prohibit private actors such as religious employers from deciding what services its employee health insurance policies will cover.

The letter additionally notes that the state’s policy is in plain violation of federal law. The 2004 Weldon Amendment prohibits states, such as California, that receive certain forms of federal funding from imposing abortion-coverage requirements without conscience exemptions. “California’s violation of federal law is clear,” writes Mrs. Short on “Equally clear is the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate to enforce that law. What remains to be seen is whether the Administration will follow through on President Obama’s personal pledge to ‘honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.’”


David A. ShaneyfeltThe latest issue of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine includes an article by David A. Shaneyfelt (’81), Liability Insurance Considerations for Wage and Hour Class Actions (PDF). The article advises fellow attorneys on what to do when insurance companies deny coverage for the costs incurred in class-action lawsuits over wage and hour complaints.

After serving for five years as a shareholder with the New York-based law firm of Anderson Kill, Mr. Shaneyfelt recently joined The Alvarez Firm, a law corporation in Calabasas, California, headed by fellow Thomas Aquinas College graduate Justin Alvarez (’97). For nearly 30 years Mr. Shaneyfelt has litigated complex civil matters in state and federal courts, often insurance-coverage disputes. Previously he served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, in Washington, D.C.

In addition to being an attorney, Mr. Shaneyfelt is a devoted husband and the father of seven children who now eagerly awaits the imminent birth of his second grandchild.