Print

July

July 29 - 31, 2007

BOSTON REVIEW: Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?
July/August 2007
``The early 1990s were the age of drive-by shootings, drug deals gone bad, crack cocaine, and gangsta rap. … An interesting case in point is New York City. Analyzing arrests by residential neighborhood and police precinct, the criminologist Jeffrey Fagan and his colleagues Valerie West and Jan Holland found that incarceration was highest in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, though these were often not the neighborhoods in which crime rates were the highest.’’

NEW YORK TIMES: Vick’s Co-Defendant Agrees to Plea Deal
July 31, 2007
“One of the men indicted with Michael Vick on federal dogfighting charges pleaded guilty Monday and has agreed to help prosecutors make their case. … Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School and a former assistant United States attorney, described the plea agreement as an important step for the investigation. ‘A witness like this is the only way to really get inside information without tracking the crime while it is happening,’ Richman said. ‘This is the government’s way of signaling to the other defendants that it has significant evidence and that they should seriously consider pleading guilty themselves.’”

FCC (press release): FCC Commissioner Copps Issues Statement Regarding Revision of Rules on 700 MHz Interoperable Public Safety Communications, Promote Wireless Broadband Deployment
July 31, 2007
“The Federal Communications Commission issued the following statement: ‘…Today we set the ground rules for how some of the most valuable spectrum on earth will be used. … I find it extremely heartening to see that an academic paper-in this case by Professor Timothy Wu of Columbia Law School-can have such an immediate and forceful influence on policy. Credit is due to Professor Wu as well as many tireless advocates in the public interest and high-tech communities for bringing this idea to the fore.’”
This story was picked up by Free Press and other media outlets.

CAN WEST NEWS: Bre-X Case an 'Embarrassment' for Canadian Law: Expert
July 31, 2007
“Investors who lost their life savings a decade ago in the Bre-X gold hoax reacted with outrage Tuesday as the now defunct company's last man standing walked away, vindicated of any wrongdoing. … ‘Canada has an enforcement problem,’ said Columbia University Law School John Coffee, who sat for two years on the Canadian task force that sought to re-evaluate this nation’s securities laws. ‘Bre-X is and will remain a synonym for securities fraud.’”
This story was picked up by National Post (Canada), Canada.com, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader-Post, The Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette and other media outlets. 

NPR's MARKETPLACE: One Company’s Trash Is Another’s Lawsuit
July 31, 2007
“ALEX GOLDMARK: ‘Old soda bottles, left over beer and worm poop. That may sound like the aftermath of a weird agricultural college party to you and me, but to 25-year-old CEO Tom Szaky, it’s a business plan. … Columbia University Law Professor Scott Hemphill says the confusion claim is weak. He says Terracycle’s motley mix of used soda bottles distinguishes it from Miracle-Gro — and even the color argument could be difficult to defend.’ SCOTT HEMPHILL: ‘The problem here is that green and yellow are pretty common. And moreover that green and yellow, the colors they have in mind, invoke — naturally enough — grass and sun. That’s bad news for Scotts, since it’s tantamount to claiming a monopoly on the use of red and green in Christmas packaging.’” 

SCOTUSblog: Academic Round-Up
July 31, 2007
“This week, I am back to posting primarily legal scholarship about the Supreme Court and the cases decided this past Term. … Michael Dorf (Columbia Law School) has a new essay posted on the Harvard Law and Policy website, see here, which asks the following question: ‘Does Federal Executive Branch Experience Explain Why Some Republican Justices ‘Evolve’ and Others Don't?’ The piece is quite short, but enlightening. As Dorf points out, all of the Justices appointed by Republicans without executive branch experience in recent years have turned out to be more liberal than those with such experience.” 

LINUX PR: Microsoft Discusses Open Source Standards
July 31, 2007
“4Linux welcomes Microsoft for a discussion on open standards with internet users - including Jon ‘Maddog’ Hall … Some English questions were already done by people as Eben Moglen - professor of Columbia Law School, Evan Leibovith - former president of Linux Professional Institute (LPI) - and Jon ‘Maddog’ Hall - Linux International president.”
This story was picked up by Groklaw and other media outlets.

BUILDING BRIDGES (Prison Action Network blog): August 2007 Edition
July 31, 2007
“As you are well aware, there are many ways the system needs changing. Prison Action Network finds it impossible to select only one to work for. … So if you are tired of complaining and want to start working, please set aside Saturday, October 20 to come to Columbia Law School and make it happen. … EDUCATING FOR CHANGE, FAMILY EMPOWERMENT DAY 3, Saturday, October 20, 2007, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm, Columbia Law School, 435 W.116th St.”

July 31, 2007
“The idea that local attorney Teddy Gordon is due any special consideration for his performance in the school desegregation case is fairly absurd. … Columbia law professor Michael Dorf, a former clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy, wrote that Mr. Gordon's brief was so ‘extraordinarily weak’ that the high court took the extraordinary step of giving lawyers for the Bush administration -- which supports the Gordon position -- an additional five minutes to argue. Mr. Dorf said of the Gordon brief, ‘It is something you'd expect from a prisoner’ representing himself.”
July 31, 2007
“It’s time again for the census of law professor bloggers. … Schools in the U.S. News Top 25 rankings account for 104 bloggers: … Columbia(2) … Michael Dorf, Petros Mavroidis…”

FINDLAW: New York State Imitates the U.S.-Attorney-Firing Standoff but with a Key Difference: An Elected Attorney General
July 30, 2007
BYLINE: MICHAEL C. DORF
“High-ranking Executive Branch aides attempted to use law enforcement resources for partisan political ends. The legislature learned of the illicit effort, but was stymied in its investigation by invocations of executive privilege. That sounds like the controversy surrounding the firing of U.S. Attorneys, allegedly for their failure to pursue partisan prosecutions, right? Yes, but it also perfectly describes a scandal in New York State that threatens to derail the ambitious policy agenda of Governor Eliot Spitzer,” writes Michael C. Dorf, the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.

Back to top

July 22 - 28, 2007

NEW YORK TIMES: Request for Players’ Names in Steroid Inquiry Is Denied
July 28, 2007
“A federal judge on Friday denied a motion filed by The Associated Press to unseal the original version of a search warrant affidavit in which several major league baseball players were implicated in the use of performance-enhancing drugs. …Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School and a former lawyer in the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, said, ‘The law is pretty settled that the public does not have a general right of access to search warrant materials while an investigation is pending.’”

BUSINESS WEEK: SugarCRM's Sweet Taste of Freedom
July 27, 2007

BYLINE: EBEN MOGLEN

“A momentous event occurred in the history of software this week … [A] company called SugarCRM, a provider of software that helps companies manage customer relationships, threw its weight behind the latest version of the GNU General Public License, which governs the use of freely distributed software. …CEO John Roberts and his colleagues are experienced businesspeople and technologists who understand that the way to prosperity in the 21st century software sector is by making the best possible shared software that draws a community of committed voluntary contributors—users who have a stake in improving the program for themselves and everyone else—to make the best even better,” writes Eben Moglen, chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center and a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University Law School.

VERIZON – POLICY BLOG: Another Look at Wireless, US v Europe
July 27, 2007
“I commented in a post recently about the suggestions Tim Wu and others have made that the U. S. cellular market compares poorly to European markets in terms of consumer choice of phones and services, innovation and the build out of advanced wireless networks. The picture painted by some is that the U. S. is behind Europe in these areas and this is one of the principle arguments used to support the notion that conditions and government restrictions must be imposed on spectrum to be auctioned in the 700 Mhz band.”

JERUSALEM POST: In the Diaspora: With a Whimper
July 26, 2007
“Early in 1952, a psychologist on the staff of the American Jewish Congress by the name of Isidor Chein took the witness stand in federal district court in Virginia. He was testifying on behalf of the NAACP, America's leading civil rights organization, in…Brown v. Board of Education. …Thurgood Marshall's right hand at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund was Jack Greenberg, who had risen from Brooklyn through a segregated Naval unit in World War II to Columbia Law School. ... And so while Jack Greenberg cast the Jewish role in Brown as one of universal values – ‘It was a matter of human liberty,’ he said at one point – there is no shame in acknowledging just how much a practical recognition of common goals created the transracial alliance.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Hearst Continues Pursuit of Names of Steroid Users
July 26, 2007
“The Hearst Corporation, which is suing the federal government to reveal the names of dozens of current and former major league baseball players who may have been provided performance-enhancing drugs, filed response papers in federal court yesterday. …According to Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School, Hearst's response highlighted the clash between the government's treatment of Mitchell as a cooperating investigator, and Hearst's effort to paint Mitchell as a member of the public. `Given the deference usually paid to the government's investigative concerns, Hearst still has an uphill battle to gain disclosure,’ Richman said.”

July 26, 2007
“In addressing Senator Durbin's question on how to use wireless (sometimes referred to as ‘spectrum’), we must first abandon the industry frame that this is a question of a ‘free market’ v. ‘government control.’ … Building on a dialog sparked by Professor Tim Wu's groundbreaking expose of wireless industry practices, Free Press has launched a Free the iPhone campaign.”

FINANCIAL TIMES: Illegal Immigrants Deserve to be Treated with Decency
July 25, 2007
BYLINE: JAGDISH BHAGWATI
"Everyone knows that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. But few know that even if it is broke, it still may not be wise to fix it. One could make matters worse. The well-meaning proponents of US immigration reform learnt this lesson the hard way: their efforts finally collapsed in the Senate on June 28 and the nation was left more polarised than ever. What went wrong?" writes Jagdish Bhagwati, a university professor of economics and law at Columbia University, and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

CITY JOURNAL: Grading Mayoral Control
July 2007
“Mayoral control, the hot new trend in urban school reform, began in Boston and Chicago in the 1990s. Now it’s the New York City school system, under the authority of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, that’s become the beacon for education-mayor wannabes like Adrian Fenty of Washington, D.C., and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. … What’s left of the mayor’s new reorganization plan is the sophisticated data management system, developed by Columbia Law School professor James Liebman. It promises to go further in charting how much students in the city’s schools are learning than any tool available in any school system in the country. Kudos are certainly in order for Bloomberg, Klein, and Liebman.

July 25, 2007
“In 1921, a small company in New York -- you might call it a tech start-up -- invented a solid-state device to ease the social discomfort occasioned by the advent of the telephone. … Skype's not the only thing you can't get on a cellphone. As the law professor Tim Wu has pointed out, phone networks have blocked handset manufacturers from adding GPS services, Wi-Fi, Web browser and e-mail software, file-transfer applications, and a host of other software and hardware capabilities that could potentially eat into carriers' profits.”
 
NEW YORK TIMES: Bonds’s Former Companion Will Pose for Playboy
July 24, 2007
“Barry Bonds’s former longtime girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, will appear nude in the November issue of Playboy, a spokeswoman for the magazine said yesterday in a telephone interview. The issue is expected to reach newsstands Oct. 1, right as baseball’s postseason is beginning. … According to Daniel C. Richman, a former assistant United States attorney and now a professor at Columbia Law School, the government is not likely to be pleased that one of its potential witnesses has decided to pose nude for money. ‘The government is generally interested in protecting the credibility of their witnesses, and if there is any reason to believe the witness is trying to profit from her involvement in the case, it is usually something defense lawyers seize on,’ Richman said.”
 
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Roads Safer When Drunk Drivers Immediately Lose License to Kill
July 24, 2007
“Nearly 40 percent of all fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. involve drinking, resulting in annual death toll of 17,000, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. … ‘Theory would predict that celerity of punishment marginally adds to the deterrent effects of criminal punishment,’ says Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia University law professor. But Fagan also cautions that whisking away a driver's license instantly following a breathalyzer test has implications for people's rights. ‘Even if there is a public safety value to imposing punishment immediately [without due process of law], that may expose someone to an unjust punishment if their arrest violated their civil rights and procedural safeguards,’ he says.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Spitzer Looks to Smooth Things Over with Bruno After Cuomo's Report
July 24, 2007
“In May, freshman Gov. Eliot Spitzer had huge support in the general public but little in the Legislature as he took on Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, the state's top Republican. … Professor John C. Coffee, a securities law expert from Columbia Law School and Spitzer watcher for nearly a decade, said the governor is in an especially tight spot. Spitzer rose as a defender of the little guy, but now is snared in a particularly difficult trap of being connected to apparent government violations of civil liberties. ‘I'm not sure this has yet shown Spitzer not to be squeaky clean,’ Coffee cautioned. ‘I don't know that this has yet been laid at his doorstep, even though his aides have been found to have been doing it.’”
This story was picked up by WCBS-AM, The Post-Star and other media outlets.

NEW YORK TIMES: When Mobile Phones Aren’t Truly Mobile
July 22, 2007
“Wireless carriers in the United States are spiritual descendants of dear Ma Bell: they view total control over customers as their inherited birthright. …Then, in February, Timothy Wu, a law professor at Columbia University, published an influential paper, ‘Wireless Net Neutrality,’ which made a well-supported case that the government should compel wireless carriers to open their networks to equipment and software applications that the carriers did not control. Mr. Wu called his proposition a call for ‘Cellular Carterfone,’ referring to the 1968 Carterfone ruling by the F.C.C. The Carterfone was a speakerphone-like gadget that permitted a phone sitting in a cradle to be connected with a two-way radio.”
This story was picked up by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and other media outlets.
 
July 22, 2007
“Convicted former Qwest chief executive Joe Nacchio hired an attorney with a stellar record before the nation's highest court, a place that experts say his case may never go. … ‘I think his chances are with the 10th Circuit. If he loses there, I don't think the issue is sexy enough for the Supreme Court justices to consider,’ said Columbia University law professor John Coffee. ‘I don't see any general legal issues for the Supreme Court to decide.’”


Back to top

July 15 - 21, 2007

July 20, 2007
“The indictment of former senior officials at Engineered Support Systems Inc. in connection with a stock options backdating scheme may come as no surprise to those who have followed the company. …`It looks like poor corporate governance. That's easy to say,’ said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School and corporate governance expert.
 
July 20, 2007
Patrick Fitzgerald won the convictions of four Osama bin Laden associates in May 2001. In March, he got Lewis `Scooter’ Libby. Last week, he nailed Conrad Black. Fitzgerald, 46, isn't saying what may be next in his career. …Daniel Richman, a Columbia Law School professor who worked as a prosecutor with Fitzgerald, disagrees. `I think that something that's gotten lost in the focus of his role in the Libby investigation is how committed and excited he's been to be working in Chicago,'' Richman said. ''And he certainly seems to be in a target-rich environment.’”
 
July 19, 2007
“Whole Foods CEO John Mackey certainly violated the rules of common sense when he made anonymous online postings about his company. But did he break any securities laws or regulations? The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an inquiry into the postings …. John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University, says a disclosure on a message board could be considered selective and violate Reg FD because stock message boards are populated primarily by shareholders who are likely to trade on information they find there.
 
July 18, 2007
“There are two coalition armies in Iraq: the official one, which fights the war, and the private one, which supports it. This latter group of civilians … may change the makeup of US military forces….`A very large part of the total force is not in uniform,’ Scott Horton, who teaches the law of armed conflict at Columbia University School of Law, said in congressional testimony last month. In World War II and the Korean War, contractors amounted to 3 to 5 percent of the total force deployed. Through the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War, the percentage grew to roughly 10 percent, he notes. `But in the current conflict, the number appears to be climbing steadily closer to parity’ with military personnel. `This represents an extremely radical transformation in the force configuration,’ he says.”
 
July 17, 2007
“Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. secured the support of the Dow Jones board late Tuesday for its offer to buy the parent of The Wall Street Journal for $5 billion in cash. That leaves just one hurdle for Murdoch to clear: gaining the approval of the Bancroft family, whose members hold 64% voting control in Dow Jones. …As shareholders, the Bancrofts would be free to vote as they please on any proposed buyout offer, according to Columbia Law School professor and corporate-governance expert Jack Coffee. Besides, Coffee noted, most takeover-related litigation is aimed at eliminating `poison pill’ provisions put in place to discourage would-be acquirers. In the case of Dow Jones, no such measures have been implemented.”
 
July 17, 2007
Larry Ribstein, a law professor at the University of Illinois, wears his hate for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 on his sleeve. On his blog he sells a T-shirt featuring a clothes line clipped with two socks, one labeled Sarbanes, the other Oxley, with the caption “Hanging business out to dry.” Ribstein, co-author of The Sarbanes-Oxley Debacle, is not alone. …Many issues have been laid at the act’s door which, on closer inspection, have nothing to do with the text or spirit of it. The effect of Sarbanes-Oxley is getting lost in translation, according to Harvey Goldschmid, a Columbia Law School professor and former Securities and Exchange commissioner. `When I took office the day after Sarbanes-Oxley was signed, the markets were in turmoil and the business community in disrepute. Five years later, the atmosphere has dramatically improved and Sarbanes-Oxley gets a good deal of credit for the change,’ said Goldschmid.”
 
July 16, 2007
“Christopher Bancroft, a member of the family that controls Dow Jones & Co Inc, is trying to block a takeover by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, a source familiar with the situation said on Monday. …Columbia Law School professor Jeffrey Gordon said there may be no legal recourse for ordinary shareholders. `I don't think as a legal matter they could object. They knew how the stock worked going in,’ he said.”
 
This story was picked up by the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald and the Brisbane (Australia) Courier-Mail.

July 15, 2007
“Recent revelations about the conduct of Whole Foods chief executive John Mackey on an Internet message board are raising a question once unthinkable: Has the founder of the organic food grocery damaged his ability to lead the company? …Jack Coffee, a securities expert at Columbia Law School, told USA Today that Mackey's actions undermined the company's strategy in the Wild Oats purchase and were `reckless.’”
 
July 16, 2007 (From News.Com)
“Imagine a day when you can buy the newest, coolest phone you can get your hands on--and use it on any wireless carrier's network. Right now that's almost impossible in the U.S. …`Imagine buying a television that stopped working if you decide to switch to satellite,’ Tim Wu, a professor from Columbia Law School, told lawmakers last Tuesday at a House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing that examined wireless innovation and consumer protection. `Or a toaster that died if you switched from Potomac Power to Con Ed. You'd be outraged, for when you buy something that usually means you own it. But it's not quite so when it comes to wireless devices.’”
 
July 15, 2007
Columbia University professor John Coffee: ‘[Black] defence council can say that they won acquittals on nine of 13 charges but frankly that's a very pyrrhic victory. This is a little like having 13 bullets shot at you, and if you dodge nine of them but four hit you between the eyes you can't call that a victory.’”
 
July 15, 2007
“Giuliani's other campaign trump card is his crime-fighting success as mayor of New York. Crime in the city had started to decline before he took office. …Criminologists like Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia Law School's Center for Crime, Community and Law, say other factors, including the waning crack epidemic, pre-Giuliani housing initiatives for the poor, and more stable immigrant communities, contributed mightily to the decline. `It's a grandiose claim to say a single cause drove down something as complicated as crime,’ he says.
Back to top

July 8 - 14, 2007

July 14, 2007
“Dethroned press baron Conrad Black could spend decades behind bars after a jury yesterday found him guilty of looting millions from investors in his Chicago newspaper company …`Some observers are calling it a mixed verdict,’ John C. Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University, said. ‘But I would tell you if someone were to fire 13 bullets and miss you nine times, but hit you right between the eyes with four bullets, I don't think you'd feel like that's a victory. He's a felon.’”
 
July 14, 2007
“Conrad Black's legal team signalled shortly after yesterday's verdicts that the convictions would be appealed, but several lawyers familiar with the trial say that Judge Amy St. Eve has left little room for Lord Black or the other defendants to appeal. …His view was backed by John Coffee, an expert on securities law and a professor at Columbia University in New York. `Frankly, I think the issues of this case will be issues about jury instructions or evidence that do not reach the level of the Supreme Court,’ Prof. Coffee said. He agreed with the other two observers that Judge St. Eve had run a tight trial. Prof. Coffee believes the grounds on which to base an appeal are limited.”
 
July 13, 2007
“Anyone who thinks that posting anonymous comments on an Internet bulletin board is a harmless diversion should pay close attention to what happens to John Mackey. Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, was outed this week as `Rahodeb,’ a frequent visitor to Yahoo chat rooms dedicated to stock trading. … `This evidence raises more doubts about his sanity than his criminality,’ says Jack Coffee, a securities law expert at Columbia Law School. `The merger is a major business strategy, and he's undercut it with reckless, self-destructive behavior. It's a little weird, like catching him as a Peeping Tom.’”
 
July 13, 2007-07-16
“The slick ads for Apple's ‘revolutionary’ new iPhone promise to ‘put the Internet in your pocket.’ But the only way to get one of these gadgets is to sign on with AT&T -- which limits what you can do and where you can go on the wireless Web. …On Wednesday Professor Tim Wu testified before Congress that there's ‘something weird’ about America's wireless market. ‘It's not like consumer electronics or software markets. It's not like the Internet.’ Instead he compared the current wireless market to the old vestiges of the AT&T monopoly model. ‘It's that model which has failed us.’”
 
July 12, 2007
“The Wall Street Journal’s great story about Whole Foods (WFMI) CEO John Mackey’s pseudonymous postings on stock-market chat forums — more than 100 posts from 1999 to August 2006 — naturally has everyone (including my editors) wondering: what exactly are the legal issues here? I called some securities law experts, but they all seemed to think that the problem was a bit broader than that. …`This episode raises more questions about his sanity than his criminality,’ says Columbia Law School professor Jack Coffee. `He does not appear to have made any materially false statement . . . and he did not release material information. The real issue for the future is what his board should do. Can it have confidence in someone with judgment this poor?’”

LINUX INSIDER: Open Legislation, Part 1: What If Everybody Got to Write Laws?
July 13, 2007
“It’s probably safe to say that most Americans, at one time or another, have felt they could do a better job of governing the nation than their elected officials. It may even be safe, in fact, to say that that has never been more true than it is today. ‘Bush’s approval ratings are as low as it’s possible for a president to go, but they’re still slightly higher than those of Congress,’ noted Eben Moglen, professor of law at Columbia Law School and founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center. ‘People don't trust their legislators to take good care of their interests.'"

July 13, 2007
“Even though the FBI claims that organized crime, Mafia division, is essentially a thing of the past, things have never been better for mobsters in the movies and on TV. …The big talker here is Michael (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who had escaped the old neighborhood to attend law school at Columbia.”

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Close Look at Risky Businesses
July 12, 2007
“The rush by private equity and hedge funds to go public has set off a rush of activity in Washington. … ‘They have designed this so they have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages’ of going public, says John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University. ‘They have gotten the minimal amount of tax and regulation by having the limited partnership form. This is an issue because Blackstone may become the prototype for a host of other offerings. If KKR, Apollo Management, Carlyle Group, Bain & Co. were all to go public, we would see an asset class of $100 billion or more of publicly traded partnerships with the worst possible corporate governance,’ Coffee said in an interview.”

July 12, 2007
“The head of the organic food giant Whole Foods has been caught touting his company and trashing a competitor in anonymous writings on the Internet. …Professor John Coffee (Law, Columbia University): ‘Frankly, I think this meant - raises more issues about this gentleman’s sanity than his criminality. …It looks so out of character for what you expect of the chief executive. You want someone who is a leader, not a gossip – someone not telling malicious tales, but coming up with strategies. And I think these all makes him look a little childish.’”
July 12, 2007
“The Wall Street Journal’s great
story about Whole Foods (WFMI) CEO John Mackey’s pseudonymous postings on stock-market chat forums — more than 100 posts from 1999 to August 2006 — naturally has everyone (including my editors) wondering: what exactly are the legal issues here? … ‘This episode raises more questions about his sanity than his criminality,’ says Columbia Law School professor Jack Coffee. ‘He does not appear to have made any materially false statement . . . and he did not release material information. The real issue for the future is what his board should do. Can it have confidence in someone with judgment this poor?’”
Professor Coffee also discussed this issue on Bloomberg Television: Final Word

July 12, 2007
“You would think that after 218 years, 43 Presidents and countless partisan battles, the Federal Government would have worked out the rules for when Congress gets to question White House officials. … In 1788, James Madison described in the Federalist papers a system that would give each branch the ‘constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachment of the others ... Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.’ As Michael Dorf, a constitutional-law professor at Columbia University explains, this means that Congress and the President are ‘supposed to play out their conflicts in public, with each side posturing so it has more bargaining power.’”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Lawmaker Upset by IPhone Termination Fee
July 11, 2007
“The Apple iPhone has enjoyed favorable reviews since its recent debut, but it came in for some rare criticism on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. …Timothy Wu, a law professor at Columbia University and commentator on technology issues, described the cell phone industry as ‘spectrum-based oligopoly’ where customers have given up their property rights. ‘Imagine buying a television that stopped working if you decided to switch to satellite,’ Wu said. ‘Or a toaster that died if you switched from Potomac Power to ConEd.’”
This story was picked up by CBS News, Fox News, Houston Chronicle, Guardian, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, PhysNews.org, mlive.com, Cleveland.com, Federal News Radio and other media outlets.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: More Oversight for Private Equity Urged
July 11, 2007
“Private equity firms that sell shares to the public should be designated as investment companies, a category that would have meant more regulation for Blackstone Group, Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday. … John C. Coffee, a professor at Columbia University Law School, told the House members that there are other ways to increase the oversight of partnerships like Blackstone. The SEC should urge the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq to require partnerships to accept similar corporate governance rules that the exchanges require of other companies, Coffee said, such as an independent board of directors and shareholder voting rights. Partnerships are currently exempt from such rules.”
This story was picked up by Forbes, AOL, Yahoo! News, Business Week, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Hemscott and other media outlets. 

IDG NEWS: Congress Weighs Cell Phone Flexibility
July 11, 2007
“U.S. consumers should be allowed to take phones along with them when they switch wireless carriers, and spectrum to be auctioned through the U.S. Federal Communications Commission should include rules requiring the winning bidders to sell access to competitors at wholesale rates, some U.S. lawmakers said Wednesday. …While wireless customers usually have to switch devices when they switch carriers, U.S. television subscribers don't have to buy a new TV set when they switch from cable TV service to satellite, added Timothy Wu, a professor at the Columbia Law School and supporter of open access rules. ‘There's something strange about this industry,’ he said. ‘Even the rules of personal property ... seem to be suppressed.’”
This story was picked up by InfoWorld, PCWorld, Calibre MacroWorld and other media outlets.

NEW YORK TIMES: Union Gets Approval to Intervene in Steroids Case
July 11, 2007
“The Major League Baseball Players Association won approval yesterday to intervene on the side of the United States attorney’s office in San Francisco in the effort to prevent the names of current and former major league players from being made public in a case involving performance-enhancing drugs. …Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School, said it was common for United States attorneys to cooperate with a third-party investigator like Mitchell. ‘The government encourages corporations to take the lead in cleaning up their own house and will often help them to do so,’ said Richman, who is a former United States attorney.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Commentary: Telecom Time Warp
July 11, 2007 (Subscription required)
“Calls for non-discrimination rules in telecom arise periodically from disadvantaged groups of rivals. … Proponents of ‘wireless net neutrality’ seek to prevent wireless operators from imposing limitations on certain bandwidth-intensive applications available over their networks. In particular, the Internet telephony (VoIP) companies, such as Skype and Vonage, want regulators to force the wireless companies to allow their subscribers to access these VoIP services through unlimited data plans, thereby allowing subscribers to completely bypass the wireless network owners' voice services. This proposal has been developed by Columbia law professor Timothy Wu.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Govt. and Union are on Same Side of Suit
July 10, 2007
“The United States attorney’s office in the Northern District of California disclosed that it had not provided George J. Mitchell the names of current and former major league players linked to two cases involving performance-enhancing drugs. …According to Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School and a former United States attorney, the government has improved its chances of keeping the names sealed. `By making clear that it isn’t selectively disclosing parts of the affidavit to Mitchell and not to the public at large, the government has strengthened its case for withholding the names,’ he said. `It also sounds like it is working hard to protect the secrecy of its own ongoing investigation.’”

BLOOMBERG NEWS: States Push Subprime-Lending Laws as Congress Lags
July 10, 2007
“State lawmakers, faced with a record number of constituents who may lose their homes, are pressing to pass their own laws to halt mortgage-lending abuses, saying they can’t afford to rely on the U.S. Congress to act. … The state activity this year is keeping ‘the pressure on for some kind of federal action,’ said Gillian Metzger, a constitutional law professor at Columbia University in New York.”

“A former senior partner of a pioneering law firm that won billions for clients in securities fraud cases pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy. …The plea agreement by Milberg Weiss ex-partner David Bershad in what the government has described as a kickback scheme ratchets up the pressure on William S. Lerach, another former partner of the firm, as well as on firm co-founder Melvyn I. Weiss. …Bershad's plea in Los Angeles federal court `makes it practically inevitable’ that the prosecutors will indict Lerach and Weiss, said John C. Coffee, a Columbia Law School professor. `This is playing out with the slow inevitability of a Greek tragedy,’ Coffee said.’’

ON THE BEAT: DAVID MENCONI ON MUSIC (News & Observer blog): Sue Me, Sue You Blues
July 10, 2007
“Legal opinions seldom make for scintillating reading, but there are exceptions. For example, the Columbia Law School Arthur W. Diamond Music Plagiarism Project, a cross-referenced list of copyright disputes going back to 1845….”

SCIENCE BLOGS: The Constitution Is Great. What Does It Say Again?
July 10, 2007
“Oh good, Americans support the Constitution: …Michael Dorf had a column a few years ago about a survey of Americans and what it found: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs - one of Karl Marx’s most famous maxims - describes what Marx believed to be the proper means for distributing resources in a communist society. … [A] new survey of a representative sample of over a thousand Americans conducted by Columbia Law School … found that sixty-nine percent of respondents either thought that the United States Constitution contained Marx’s maxim, or did not know whether or not it did.’”

July 9, 2007

“A criminal case against one of the nation's most successful class-action law firms gained momentum Monday when one of the firm's former partners entered a guilty plea in federal court in Los Angeles. David Bershad, 67, a former managing partner of Milberg Weiss & Bershad, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to obstruct justice. …`It is reasonable and prudent to predict that the government is going to indict partners A and B,’ says Jack Coffee, an expert in securities law at Columbia University.’’

July 9, 2007

``ARC Systems today launched the first online tool specifically designed to let consumers take control of their credit card debt. …`If the biggest problem with the credit card is a fearsome complexity of fees and contract terms that no reasonable person would take the time to understand, then Debt Logistics provides a welcome response -- a simple tool that helps people make the most of the money they have to pay credit card issuers,’ says Ronald Mann, nationally recognized scholar and professor at the University of Texas Law School and Columbia Law School, and author of many financial books including Charging Ahead: The Growth and Regulation of Payment Card Markets Around the World and Electronic Commerce.’’

July 9, 2007 (Subscription required)

``If you are looking for the future of legal scholarship, chances are that you may find it not in a treatise or the traditional law review, but in a different form, profoundly influenced by the blogosphere. Law-related blogs are proliferating on the Internet …. A significant number of the blogs -- sometimes called "blawgs" -- are hosted by law professors. … In the same issue, John Fortier, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, responded that Tio's proposal was unconstitutional, and his response was followed by an article from Christine Duffy Burnett of Columbia Law School asserting that, constitutional or not, it was a bad idea.

INFORMATION WEEK: Linux-Based OpenMoko 'Anti-iPhone' Debuts
July 9, 2007
“OpenMoko, an initiative to develop an open mobile smartphone backed by Taiwan-based First International Computer, today began selling its Linux-based Neo 1973 phone to developers. … ‘But the iPhone is -- so far -- not a product that will turn any industry inside out,’ wrote Columbia law professor Tim Wu in a Slate.com essay on the day of the iPhone’s release.”

FOOTNOTED (The Chronicle of Higher Education blog): No Precedent
July 9, 2007
“How do you teach law students the theory of precedent? It’s getting harder in the era of the Roberts Court, says Michael C. Dorf, a law professor at Columbia University. …The court ‘has added a new technique: Now the ascendant conservative majority does not even acknowledge that what it is doing is completely inconsistent with prior liberal precedents, thus at least requiring a new exception….’”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Trial Set for Banana Workers Claiming Pesticide Left Them Sterile

July 8, 2007
“The pesticide was designed to kill worms infesting the roots of banana trees on Latin American plantations. …‘The administration of justice in developing countries in comparison to the administration of justice in the U.S. – there’s a big gap,’ said Alejandro Garro, a Columbia University law professor. ‘The significance of it is we’re talking about a global economy where big business does business all over the world and where we don’t have a uniform type of justice,’ he said.”

This story was picked up by the International Herald Tribune, Fox News, CBS News, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, Newsday, St. Petersburg Times, Houston Chronicle, Austin American Statesman, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Buffalo News, Philadelphia Daily News, New Orleans Times Picayune, Pravda, The Drudge Report and other media outlets.

Back to top

July 1 - 7, 2007

ETHICAL CORPORATION: GovernanceWatch
July 2007
“…Rupert Murdoch has offered to set up an ‘independent, autonomous editorial board’ for the Wall Street Journal should his $6 billion hostile takeover bid for the paper’s parent company, Dow Jones, succeed. …Professor John Coffee of Columbia Law School, New York, cautions: ‘Remember that whatever you provide, Mr Murdoch may be able to induce an editor he wants out to resign by in effect bribing him or her to leave.’”

INFORMATION WEEK: Can the iPhone Break the Carriers’ Death Grip?
July 6, 2007
“At first glance the conclusion reached by IDC mobile and wireless analyst Shiv Bakhshi, in his report this week titled ‘Apple’s iPhone Hits the Market, But Can It Change the Game?’ is absurd … At the same time the iPhone is sweeping across America, former FCC chairman Reed Hundt is using his position as co-founder and vice chairman of Frontline Wireless, a startup backed by Silicon Valley heavyweights to be a major player in the upcoming 700-MHz spectrum auction, to rail against the ‘spectrum oligopoly’ (as Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University School of Law, called it in an … influential report on wireless network neutrality and carrier control) of the Big Four.”

TECHNICAL SERVICES SIS (blog): New Catalogers Roundtable
July 6, 2007
“TS-SIS New Catalogers Roundtable, Saturday, July 14, 2007, 5:30-6:30 p.m. @ Hilton-Chequers; Speaker: Melody Lembke, Director of Collection Management Services, Los Angeles County Law Library; Facilitator: Monica Kauppi, Diamond Law Library, Columbia Law School”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Hackers Bypass iPhone Limits

 July 6, 2007

“Less than one week after the much-ballyhooed release of Apple Inc.'s iPhone, hackers have figured out ways to override some of the restrictions imposed by Apple and AT&T Inc., the device's exclusive service provider. …Consumer advocates have been critical of the iPhone requirements. Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University, said that in many other countries consumers can use their handsets on any network they choose. ‘I'm not sure these are terms that consumers should be subjected to,’ he said.”

July 6, 2007

“In the summer of 2000 … Sen. Herbert H. Kohl drafted a bill that would allow members of OPEC, the international oil cartel, to be sued under U.S. antitrust laws… [the] measure -- dubbed NOPEC -- …is now one of the most popular elements of energy bills emerging from Congress and is backed by lopsided, veto-proof votes. …Antitrust experts are split. George A. Bermann, a professor at Columbia University Law School, doesn't think the passage of NOPEC will cause problems overseas because the proposal only allows the Justice Department, rather than individual citizens, to sue OPEC members. That would allow the president to weigh the foreign-policy effects before deciding whether to sue. ‘He couldn't hope for more, because the right to litigate is taken out of the hands of private claimants,’ Mr. Bermann says.”

July 6, 2007

“… [A]s buyout firms prepare to bring more than $300 billion in high-yield debt to market to finance transactions, investors are shying away. Several deals have been postponed or sent back to the drawing board in the last couple of weeks. ‘There is the sense that the pipeline is crowded and debt holders are getting more leverage,’ said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. ‘There is the sense that conditions will not get better but will get worse.’”

  INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR: If KKR Floating, Can Others Be Far Behind?

July 2007

“No sooner than The Blackstone Group began trading publicly and Och-Ziff Capital Management announced plans to go public, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has decided to follow the same route to the New York Stock Exchange. ... [S]ome are saying the acceleration of going-public plans may be an ominous sign that IPO performance may not be what people expect. ‘If you see a series of firms rushing to try and exploit a window of opportunity, then it is reasonable to think that the market has peaked,’ Professor John Coffee of Columbia University Law School told Reuters. ‘Typically firms go public when insiders believe that the value has reached its top most point and won't appreciate any more,’ he said.”

July 5, 2007

“…Columbia University Professor Tim Wu, who coined the term ‘network neutrality’ a few years ago, has written an excellent article on the odd and anti-consumer decision by Apple to hitch the iPhone to AT&T exclusively, which you can read by clicking here. He makes a comparison with the computer business. ‘Imagine buying a Dell that worked only with Comcast Internet access or a VCR that worked only with NBC,’ writes Wu.”

This was cross-posted on Reclaim the Media’s blog.

July 5, 2007

“Fri. July 13, NYCLA: Discussion of 2006 Family Court Conference, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Morning: National Perspectives on the Recommendations. Afternoon: Town Hall Meeting on the Recommendations. A symposium issue of the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems containing the Family Court Conference recommendations, working group reports, commissioned articles and replies available for attendees prior to the forum. Co-sponsored by NYCLA and Columbia Law School’s Child Advocacy Center.”

TELEGRAPH (UK): FSA Is Losing Insider Dealing Battle
July 5, 2007
“Twenty years on from the film ‘Wall Street,’ inside information can still turn investment into a one-way bet, says Tom Stevenson. …Critics of the FSA say it has been toothless, especially when compared with its American counterpart, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). John Coffee, from Columbia University in New York, pointed out in a recent study that the SEC had imposed penalties worth $1.8bn in 2005, 60 times as much as in the UK.”

THE HINDU (India): Share and Share Alike
July 5, 2007
“Richard Stallman is often considered the father of the free software movement. He is credited with authoring the tenet upon which the movement is based, the GNU General Public Licence (GPL). But the legal eagle behind GPL is acknowledged to be Eben Moglen, often referred to as Stallman’s right hand. …A professor of law at Columbia University, Moglen became involved with the Free Software Foundation (FSF) in 1994. He founded the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) in 2005 to defend the free software community.”

DRM WATCH: Free Software Foundation Releases GPL v.3
July 4, 2007
“The Free Software Foundation (FSF) last Friday released Version 3 of the GNU General Public License, the agreement that governs distribution of most open source software. …The primary legal authority behind the GPL is Eben Moglen of the Software Freedom Law Center, a tenured law professor at Columbia University and formerly General Counsel of the FSF.”

REUTERS: Hedge Fund IPOs No Sure Fire Way to High Returns

July 3, 2007

“Some hedge funds are ready to sell themselves to the public, but owning a piece of these loosely regulated portfolio companies is no guarantee for future strong returns, industry analysts warned on Tuesday. … ‘If you see a series of firms rushing to try and exploit a window of opportunity, then it is reasonable to think that the market has peaked,’ said Columbia University Law School professor John Coffee. ‘Typically firms go public when insiders believe that the value has reached its top most point and won't appreciate any more,’ he said.”

INFORMATION WEEK: Analysts: IPhone Breaks the Carrier Stranglehold
July 3, 2007
“Beyond its stylish design and functionality, Apple's iPhone is likely to have the most significant impact on the relationship between cell phone makers and wireless carriers in the United States, according to a study released on Tuesday by research firm IDC. …In his February report on wireless network neutrality and carrier control, Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University School of Law, called U.S. wireless carrier practices a ‘spectrum-based oligopoly,’ where the industry is dominated by a small number of players instead of many competitors.”
This story was picked up by CommwebNews.com, Techwebnews, and other media outlets.

USA TODAY: Tokyo Court Supports ‘Poison-pill’ Defense
July 3, 2007
“Jittery managers are breathing a little easier and foreign investors are rethinking their plans to shake up Japanese business practices after a Tokyo court approved an obscure condiment company's controversial takeover defense. … ‘Given the newness of the poison pill in Japan … every case is potentially of landmark significance in shaping the rules,’ says Curtis Milhaupt, director of Columbia University’s
Center for Japanese Legal Studies.”

TUCSON CITIZEN: Should All Ex-cons Have Voting Rights Restored?
July 3, 2007
“If one of the goals of the criminal justice system is to keep ex-convicts from returning to prison, alienating them from society is a bad way to go about it. …A 2005
Columbia University Human Rights Law Review study found that ex-felon voters in 1996 were about half as likely to be rearrested from 1997 to 2000 as nonvoting ex-felons were. ‘Voting appears to be part of a package of pro-social behavior that is linked to desistance to crime,’ the study said.”

NEW YORK TIMES: No Oil Yet, but African Isle Finds Slippery Dealings
July 2, 2007
“A decade ago, geologists found signs that one of Africa’s least-known countries, the tiny island nation of São Tomé and Principe, might hold a king’s ransom in oil. …A Columbia University team and others helped draft a new oil law that contained safeguards to make sure São Tomé spent its oil-related revenue properly.”

STAR TRIBUNE (Minneapolis-St. Paul): Editorial: Court Strikes Blow to School Race Policies
July 2, 2007
“Over the past 55 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has been the premier force for racial integration and the principal protector of Americans' civil rights. Last week, however, a high court ruling turned back the clock. …Jack Greenberg, who worked on the Brown case and is now a law professor at Columbia University, said the plaintiffs in Brown ‘were concerned with the marginalization and subjugation of black people ... that's how race was being used.’”

NPR: TALK OF THE NATION: High Court Ends Term with Landmark Decisions
July 2, 2007
“The Supreme Court ended its term last week taking on some of the country's most politically charged issues on abortion, race, free speech, the separation of church and state, and the death penalty. Guests Nina Totenberg, NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent; Michael Dorf, professor, Columbia Law School; clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, 1991-1992; Theodore Olson, partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, former Solicitor General discuss this term's Supreme Court decisions.”

BUSINESS WEEK: An Upside to Inequality?
July 9, 2007 edition
"Is the American Dream dead? Some seem to think so. They point to studies showing that income for the rich is growing faster than for the poor. …But new research suggests that greater inequality may be both fair and beneficial. …The NBER study by economists Thomas Lemieux, W. Bentley MacLeod, and Daniel Parent shows that, after controlling for factors like the increasing value of education, 24% of the increase in inequality from 1976 to 1993 occurred because of the increase in performance pay (enjoyed most by managers, salesmen, craftsmen, and professionals). "

July 1, 2007

"The Supreme Court decision Thursday overturning school integration programs in Seattle and Louisville prompted outrage in some quarters, starting with the court itself. …Columbia University law professor Jack Greenberg, a veteran civil rights litigator, likened the decision to Southern opposition to the famous Brown vs. Board of Education verdict outlawing school segregation: "This is essentially the rebirth of massive resistance in more acceptable form."'

NEW YORK TIMES: Sunday Book Review: Korean War
July 1, 2007
"In the first chapter of “Free Food for Millionaires,” Casey and her mild-mannered younger sister, Tina — home from M.I.T. — have returned to the family apartment in Elmhurst. While their meek mother prepares one of their favorite dishes, their taciturn father, just back from his job running a Manhattan dry-cleaning shop, slurps whiskey and glowers. Casey has been accepted at Columbia Law School, but has decided to engage in what rat-race-averse college grads throughout the world call “finding themselves.”

Back to top