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April 2006


The New York Times

April 30, 2006
In Baldwin, It's Revival for Some, Survival for Others 
THOMAS MERRILL was quoted in a story about the proposed use of eminent domain to condemn properties in Baldwin, displacing several thriving businesses and the tenants of 47 apartments, and then turning the seized land over to private developers. The Town of Hempstead wants to redevelop the area with upscale shops and a new home for the old Nunley's Carousel. ''Hempstead wouldn't want to get into a situation with enormous controversy, because there may be endless litigation,'' Prof. Merrill said.


The New York Times

April 30, 2006
In Leak Cases, New Pressure on Journalists

A Columbia Law Review analysis of a 1917 espionage law, co-authored by HAROLD EDGAR, was cited in a story about the Bush administration's possible criminal prosecutions of reporters under the espionage laws.


ABC News
April 27, 2006
World News Tonight

JOHN COFFEE commented on Exxon Mobil's soaring profits, most of which have been used by the company to purchase shares of stock. Of this use of the revenue, Prof Coffee said, "Re-purchases tend to raise, tend to spike stock price in the company--which benefits all shareholders, and particularly management which hold stock options."


The Chronicle of Higher Education

April 27, 2006
The Fight for a Toll-Free Internet: Colleges Worry That Telecom Companies Will Be Allowed to Favor Certain Content
TIM WU was named as one of two law professors (along with Lawrence Lessig of Stanford University) to popularize the term ‘net neutrality' and join a diverse group called the SavetheInternet.com Coalition.  The American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries, as well as Educause, are also part of the group. The coalition announced on Monday that it was planning a rally on Capitol Hill and was urging its members to write letters to newspapers and to contact lawmakers.

Prof. Wu also appeared on NPR's "Fresh Air" to discuss recent cases of government regulation of the Internet, including France's insistence that Yahoo! take Nazi materials off its auction site, Chinese censorship of search engines, and the U.S. government's subpoena of Google's records, of which Prof. Wu said, "What was relevant was that it suddenly became obvious to people that government has the power to get from companies like Google, companies like Yahoo!, everything that you've ever looked for in your life ... this case suddenly made it a lot more obvious to Americans that government has the power over the Internet that other countries have been more obviously exercising."

New York Law Journal
April 27, 2006
Five New Members Named to Judiciary Committee

MARY MARSH ZULACK was one of five new members appointed to Mayor Bloomberg's Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. By executive order, the committee must find qualified candidates for the Family and Criminal courts before appointment. Similarly, the committee must approve of candidates the mayor considers for one-year interim Civil Court appointments. When vacancies arise on those courts, the 19-member committee gives three names from which the mayor must make his choice.

Salon.com
April 25, 2006
A Miller Whitewash?
Adjunct professor SCOTT HORTON commented on the Army's investigation of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a central figure in the detainee abuse scandals, in which they found he did not lie when he told Congress he held no "direct discussions" with top Pentagon officials -- even though he met with Rumsfeld aide Stephen Cambone after visiting Abu Ghraib. Outside legal experts called the inspector general's semantic distinction ridiculous. "It depends on what the meaning of 'is,' is," joked Prof. Horton in reference to President Clinton's linguistic sophistry about the Lewinsky affair. "It is that level of completely absurd splicing."

NYTimes.com
April 25, 2006
Democrats Pledge Fight over Net Neutrality
 
TIM WU testified at a hearing yesterday in front of the House Judiciary Telecom Task Force to discuss net neutrality. A summary of the hearing appeared on the New York Times website, which quotes Prof. Wu: "These companies are making more money than they ever had before, with a neutral network. What the committee has to really understand is the trade-off. The trade-off is the distortion of competition...there are other ways for them to make money that are less discriminatory."

The event was also covered by Communications Daily, in which Prof. Wu called the proposed rollout by telecoms the "Tony Soprano model of networking, where some companies get better service than others." Companies can "through implicit threats of degradation, extract a kind of protection money for those with the resources to pay up," Prof. Wu said, adding it's govt.'s responsibility to ensure consumers get fair treatment: "This is a classic duopoly. It's the duty of Congress to see that this doesn't happen."

Los Angeles Times
April 24, 2006
Foes Aim to Limit Company Oversight

HARVEY GOLDSCHMID '65 commented on a federal panel's proposal that smaller public companies should be shielded from certain rules intended to prevent accounting fraud, which is the latest shot in a growing rebellion against corporate reforms. "You really don't need the same framework for a mom-and-pop operation as you do for General Electric," said Prof. Goldschmid. "That being said, there is a need for internal controls at all companies." Of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, created under Sarbanes-Oxley, Prof. Goldschmid said, "They're shooting at the heart of Sarbanes-Oxley in very important ways ... (the accounting board) is a critically important provision. This is no small change."

The International Herald Tribune
April 22, 2006
George W. Bush's Italian problem: Arrivederci, Silvio

RICHARD GARDNER penned an editorial to discuss the Italian election, in which Romano Prodi's center-left coalition won a narrow victory over Bush-supported Silvio Berlusconi's center-right alliance. The win "ushers in what is likely to be a complicated period in U.S.-Italian relations," Prof. Gardner wrote. He concluded: "A solid Italian-American relationship is still an important part of the European-American alliance, never more important than today in the face of grave transnational security, economic and environmental challenges. In Italy as well as in the United States, in other words, the quest for a favored trans-Atlantic political partner must take a back seat to the pursuit of those common interests that still unite the two countries."

The Dallas Morning News
April 22, 2006
1 Immigration Tip Led to 1,200 Arrests: U.S. Says Firm's Bosses Hid Illegal Workers
Lecturer-in-law TED RUTHIZER '72, a former president of American Immigration Lawyers Association, spoke about this week's immigration workplace raid, the largest in U.S. history. Authorities nabbed nearly 1,200 IFCO Systems workers in 26 states on immigration violations. Prof. Ruthizer described the IFCO case as outside the standard for companies skirting immigration law. "If the allegations are true, it's pretty bad stuff," he said. "This does seem like certainly much more the exception than the rule."

Financial Times
April 19, 2006
Defences Rest on Shaky Foundations in Japan

CURTIS MILHAUPT is featured in an article about the rise of US-style corporate governance in Japan, including an increase in hostile takeovers and the rise of poison pills. "The poison pill represents a huge new business opportunity for Japanese lawyers, and potentially even for US lawyers and financial advisers," Prof. Milhaupt said, adding: "In this case, Japan is not trying to adopt a specific rule, they are trying to adopt 20 years of highly complex judicial doctrine developed at a very different era in the US ... That is an extraordinary experiment."

The Washington Post
April 18, 2006
Reform's Knockout Act, Kept Out of the Ring
PETER STRAUSS commented on the Congressional Review Act, saying he is not convinced the benefits outweigh the costs. He particularly dislikes the aspect of the law that prevents an agency from adopting a similar rule after Congress disapproves the original rule. "What if a Labor secretary wants a rule now? What kind of risks will you run in doing that, and how will a court interpret that?" asked Prof. Strauss, referring to the use of the act to kill a controversial rule issued by the Labor Department under President Clinton.

New York Times
April 17, 2006
Outrage at Funeral Protests Pushes Lawmakers to Act

MICHAEL DORF commented on attempts by lawmakers to prevent protests by a fringe religious group at the funerals of soldiers. "A funeral home seems high on the list of places where people legitimately could be or should be protected from unwanted messages," he said.

Salon.com
April 17, 2006
The Corporate Toll on the Internet 
TIM WU addressed a proposal by AT&T to charge online businesses for faster service through its DSL lines. Prof. Wu said that historically in the telecom industry, "there's been this instinct toward control." He also mentioned that AT&T's own services could benefit greatly from the new plan, including an AT&T voice-over-the-Internet phone plan called CallVantage that competes with Skype, a free service owned by eBay. If AT&T determines that letting Skype onto the fast lane will cause it to lose customers and, thus, revenue, it could decide to only let Skype ride the slow lanes. "If you're going to lose $10 billion to Skype by letting them on, why give them that money?" Prof. Wu added that under current regulations, this practice would be perfectly legal.

Chicago Tribune
April 16, 2006
For Enron Foes, Some Similarities
JOHN COFFEE provided comment on the upcoming cross-examination of former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling by Sean Berkowitz, the head of the Enron Task Force. It will be a cross-examination for the books, predicted Prof. Coffee. "I think it will be long and extensive and it will make all the difference," he said. "You won't see a flash of lightning. It will be like a slow drip of water."

Prof. Coffee also spoke about the elements prosecutors will be required to prove to convict baseball player Barry Bonds of perjury in a New York Times article on April 15. ''You have to show that he knowingly told a false statement, a statement that he did not believe to be true,'' he said. Coffee said that a person could offer a misleading or deceptive answer, but, if the answer was literally correct, he would not perjure himself.

New York Law Journal
April 14, 2006
Columbia Wins Court Contest

Columbia Law's moot court win in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the first in 16 years for a team from the United States, was announced in the New York Law Journal. Columbia Law took home the winning trophy after beating out 556 teams from 89 countries in a series of competitions. For more on the win, click here.

NPR
April 11, 2006
"The Diane Rehm Show" 
RICHARD GARDNER appeared on the NPR program "The Diane Rehm Show" to talk about the results of the elections in Italy. A link to an audio file of the program is available here. Prof. Gardner also appeared on the "Charlie Rose Show" the previous day to discuss the same topic.

The Economist
April 8, 2006
Don't Feed the Zombies: Bankruptcy

EDWARD MORRISON was quoted in an article about bankruptcy policy in the United States. He said the system has improved since the 1980s, when bankruptcy let entrenched managers at troubled firms avoid restructuring. Now, Prof. Morrison says, creditors have become much more powerful and can push through real restructuring plans reasonably quickly.

The National Law Journal
April 6, 2006
Making Their Mark

JIM TIERNEY spoke about his experience as an attorney general in an article about the changing role of AGS: "For AGs to do what they did in the past, today often requires crossing state lines," he said. "When I sued a pharmacy 25 years ago for price-posting violations, that pharmacy didn't have stores in 30 states, and it didn't have an on-line sales presence. That's no longer true." AGs work at the intersection of law and public policy, noted Prof. Tierney, adding that businesses--not consumers--trigger much of the multistate litigation. "The American business community regularly asks AGs to take action, but they usually don't do it publicly ... Most businesses play by the rules and expect AGs to make sure that their competitors play by the rules, so that they can compete on an even playing field."

WNBC Evening News 
April 5, 2006 
Stadium Plans

REED SUPER, senior clinical staff attorney at the Environmental Law Clinic, appeared on WNBC's evening news to comment on the planned Yankee's stadium and developers' failure to perform the proper environmental impact studies. After three decades of regulation, "you'd think they'd get it right," he said. "But they don't."

To view the segment, go to http://www.wnbc.com/news/8471810/detail.html.

The Economist
April 1, 2006
Fair Comment or Foul?

JOHN COFFEE spoke about the recent lawsuit against a hedge fund and research firm that claims they manipulated share prices, noting that proving manipulation by short-sellers is "exceedingly difficult" and that the firms are not subject to the rules of self-regulatory organizations.

Prof. Coffee also commented on the ongoing Enron trial, in which defense lawyers will present their case beginning on Monday. "It's been a very successful Act I," he said of the prosecution's case. "This trial is being run by a skilled and experienced judge. Given what can go wrong in a trial, nothing has gone wrong. The trains are running on time." He added that it will be almost impossible to convince 12 jurors from the Houston area that criminal behavior at Enron was limited to Fastow's embezzlement of funds, which may be part of the defense strategy. "The opening statement took the incredible position that there was no problem at Enron ... that anything hidden was done by Andy Fastow and he cheated us, we're the victims. That's a fatal error, equivalent to denying the Holocaust."