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June

June Faculty Clips

   
June 29, 2007
The Free Software Foundation on Friday released version 3 of the General Public License, a highly influential legal document that embodies the principles of the free- and open-source programming movement. …"If you want to protect your business model, you must be model citizens of the environment. If you shrink, political pressure will grow to constrain your rights to secure the rights of everyone else," Eben Moglen, the Columbia law school professor who shepherded the GPL 3 creation … said in a May speech. "Upon the behavior of Google much depends."
 
June 29, 2007
Constitutional scholars Marci Hamilton and Nate Persily join host Marty Moss-Coane to talk about the rulings issued by the Supreme Court this year and what they tell us about the new make-up of the Court. (Click on link, then look up June 29 to hear audio of show).
 
June 29, 2007
Some election law specialists wonder who will be first to test the waters after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week that, in effect, strikes down a ban on corporate and union advertising during the two months before an election. … That, says Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault, looks like a return to the magic words of the 1976 Buckley case. “It might be all right now for any discussion of issues that also mentions a candidate, even if in a way designed to help or hurt, so long as an issue is discussed and avoids magic words of express advocacy,” says Briffault.
 
 
June 29, 2007
The five opinions that made up yesterday’s decision limiting the use of race in assigning students to public schools referred to Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 school desegregation case, some 90 times. …Jack Greenberg, who worked on the Brown case for the plaintiffs and is now a law professor at Columbia, called the chief justice’s interpretation “preposterous.” “The plaintiffs in Brown were concerned with the marginalization and subjugation of black people,” Professor Greenberg said. “They said you can’t consider race, but that’s how race was being used.”
 
June 29, 2007
The second federal prosecutor to oversee the investigation of Barry Bonds will leave the position next month, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office for the Northern District of California said yesterday. …Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School and a former federal attorney, said: “Who the U.S. attorney is in this case should not matter all that much because assistant U.S. attorneys have handled much of the case. The Department of Justice in Washington is likely to be substantially involved in any decision to indict because the case is so sensitive and high profile.”
 
June 29, 2007 (Subscription Required)
In one of its most bitterly divided rulings of recent years, the Supreme Court sharply restricted how school districts can racially integrate their student bodies, reflecting deep disagreements over the meaning of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. … By contrast, Columbia Law School professor Jack Greenberg, who argued the Brown case before the Supreme Court, said yesterday's decision represents not Brown's legacy, but that of those who opposed school desegregation and the civil-rights movement. “The massive resistance" to Brown during the 1950s and '60s "has transmuted into a low-level refusal to acknowledge the legacy of slavery and legally imposed segregation” he said.
 
June 28, 2007
A divided U.S. Supreme Court, with President George W. Bush's appointees tipping the balance, put new limits on public school integration by striking down two programs that considered race in making pupil assignments. … ``It's neither a clear victory nor a clear defeat for either side,'' said Michael Dorf, a Columbia University law professor.
 
June 28, 2007
After the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for documents associated with the firing of federal prosecutors for political reasons, President Bush has invoked executive privilege. Columbia University law professor Michael Dorf lays out possible legal scenarios for resolving the growing confrontation between the White House and Congress.
 
June 29, 2007
Building new schools on neighborhood boundaries and devising more complex ways to assign students to schools are among the techniques to achieve racial balance that school officials will resort to after yesterday's Supreme Court decision limiting the authority of cities to assign students according to race. …"I think a lot of schools are going to give up," a Columbia Law professor, Nathaniel Persily, said of how he expected schools to react to the opinion.
 
June 29, 2007
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, is open to considering legislation that would raise taxes on hedge funds and private equity firms. … A professor at Columbia Law School, John Coffee, said the subject of raising taxes on hedge funds and private equity funds could well become an election issue. He said senators Grassley and Baucus have constituents in Iowa and Montana who do not particularly like seeing New York financial managers making a billion dollars a year and paying taxes at a lower rate than they do.
 
June 27, 2007
A record number of voters went to Cumberland County polls on a short-sleeve day in November 1964. The Democrats swept every office, led by Lyndon Johnson’s victory over Republican Barry Goldwater for president. … “At-large elections dilute black voting in the South, enhancing the majority at the expense of blacks,” said Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia Law School. Persily said the persistence of racially polarized voting has caused civil rights leaders to be “especially vigilant in keeping the Voting Rights Act covering most Southern states.”He noted that literacy tests have been repealed and that voter turnout across the country is about the same. These changes indicate that the Voting Right Act is working, he said.
 
June 27, 2007
``Confronted with barriers to legal U.S. immigration, a small number of foreign lesbians are seeking safety through political asylum. A recent court opinion expanded the definition of persecution in the case of a Ugandan lesbian. …Law students with the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia University School of Law in New York spent 400 hours compiling extensive evidence, including an affidavit from a former U.S. ambassador, about the risks faced by lesbians in the predominantly Muslim culture of Turkmenistan.’’
 
June 27, 2007
As IntercontinetalExchange reiterated its bid in a letter to Chicago Board of Trade shareholders on Wednesday, it turns out shareholders might as well flip a coin in making their decision on whether to accept the Chicago Mercantile Exchange merger. …John C. Coffee, the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law at Columbia University, said that by law CBOT’s board of directors can choose to accept the lower offer from CME if the board believes that a merger with CME provides “greater long term value and will be worth more in several years than the stock shareholders receive from ICE,” Coffee explained. “The law protects the board if it is properly advised and it reaches an informed decision that there are greater synergy gains with CME even if it’s offering a lower premium.” But Coffee also warned that synergy gains are “often illusory and shareholders may be skeptical.”
 
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Taking the Risk With Hedge Funds
June 26, 2007
“They are beginning to target the upper middle class – the reasonably wealthy professional rather than the millionaire or the super-rich,” said Columbia University Law Professor John Coffee.
 
June 27, 2007
``Investors following the near-collapse of two hedge funds managed by Bear Stearns Cos. might be a little bit like a homeowner watching the house down the block catch fire. …"The investors in the hedge fund that goes down can be those ordinary Joes on the block," said Harvey J. Goldschmid, a former commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission who now is the Dwight Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. … "A few big hedge funds going down can spread an awful lot of harm among real people."
This story was picked up by Business Week, Forbes, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Houston Chronicle, San Diego Union Tribune, Tampa Tribune, Raleigh News & Observer, Anchorage Daily News, New Orleans Times Picayune, Sacramento bee, Winnipeg Free Press, Canada East, and other outlets.
 
June 26, 2007
As states begin to require that drug companies disclose their payments to doctors for lectures and other services, a pattern has emerged: psychiatrists earn more money from drugmakers than doctors in any other specialty. …These and other stories have helped to fuel a growing interest among state and federal officials to document and restrict payments to doctors from drugmakers. At a gathering last month at Columbia Law School in New York, state attorneys general from across the country discussed ways to get similar data for their states.
This story was picked up by the Chicago Tribune and other outlets.
 
June 27, 2007
``Sometimes, Rebecca Charles wishes she were a little less influential. She was, she asserts, the first chef in New York who took lobster rolls … and lifted them to all-star status… she has ruefully watched the arrival of a string of restaurants she considers “knockoffs” of her own. Yesterday she filed suit against … the most brazen of her imitators. …Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, said that this almost seemed an inevitable result of bringing lawyers into the kitchen. “The first thing a lawyer would say is have all your people sign nondisclosure agreements,” he said. “It’s a classic American marriage between food and law.”’
 
June 26, 2007
``Free speech rights take precedence over government restrictions on political advertising, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a decision that opens the door for greater influence by interest groups in the closing days of an election. …"Fundamentally what this case does is destabilize the state of campaign finance law as it existed when Justice (Sandra Day) O'Connor was on the court," said Nathaniel Persily, professor of law and political science at Columbia Law School 
This story was picked up by the Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Forbes Online, Newsday, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, San Diego Union Tribune, Indianapolis Star, Austin American Statesman, San Francisco Chronicle, Florida Times Union, Modesto Bee, WCBS Radio in New York, WFAA TV in Dallas, WTOP Radio in Washington, KCBS Radio in San Francisco and many other outlets.
 
June 26, 2007 (Subscription Required)
``…Instead of relying on U.S. News, Mr. Singer scanned independent online sites and research papers. …at least a dozen upstart Web sites, academic papers and blogs have stepped in with surveys of their own to feed the hunger for information on everything from the quality of the faculty to what a school's diploma might be worth to future employers. …The blogger invited students to share figures on school representation in law firms' summer-associate programs (one finding: Columbia is the perennial winner in New York)…
 
June 25, 2007
``The stage is set in the final days of the Supreme Court's term for the divisions that narrowly but decisively split the justices on social issues to be on full display. …What is unusual about the year is the attention Stevens and Ginsburg have drawn for their comments from the bench. …"I wouldn't call it 'angry,'" said Michael Dorf, a Columbia University law professor and a former Kennedy clerk. "I think frustrated is the better word." …"Now, they have to get Kennedy - there's only one chance instead of two - and on most issues he's more conservative than O'Connor.’’
 
June 25, 2007
``… The U.S. Supreme Court last week came up with a test for assessing intent to defraud that makes it harder for shareholders to show that accused executives knew they were misleading investors. If they can't show it, their lawsuits die an early death. …The 8-1 ruling is ``very much a compromise decision,'' says John Coffee, professor of securities law at Columbia University. ``It's just about midway between the positions of plaintiffs and the defendants.''
 
June 22, 2007
``There is one thing that tops the list of complaints about the cost of doing business in the US, it is the risk of getting caught up in what business groups say is its heavily litigious legal system. Three high-level reports issued recently have blamed excessive litigation for discouraging companies from entering the US markets. …Jack Coffee, professor at Columbia Law School, said the court had "crafted a compromise" that was "the best outcome that plaintiffs could have hoped for". 
 
June 25, 2007
``Once relatively indifferent to government affairs, Google Inc. is seeking help inside the Beltway to fight the rise of Web censorship worldwide. …One likely source for Google's censorship idea is a paper written two years ago by Timothy Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, who argues that downloading a Web page hosted in another country effectively imports a service.’’
 
This story was picked up by Business Week, Forbes, USA Today, the New York Post, Houston Chronicle, Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee, Dallas Morning News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, Detroit Free Press, Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Lexington Herald-Leader, Kansas City Star, Jerusalem Post, Austin American Statesman, Columbus Dispatch,  Florida Times-Union, Hartford Courant, Raleigh News & Observer, and many smaller publications.
 
June 25, 2007
``The Blackstone Group's successful debut as a publicly traded company Friday sparked all sorts of flashbacks to the 1980s, and not just because Tom Wolfe, author of the 1987 Wall Street novel Bonfire of the Vanities, attended the opening on the New York Stock Exchange. …"The publicity is creating a deja vu all over again," says Jack Coffee, an expert in securities law at Columbia University. "To anyone who was around Wall Street in the '80s, Blackstone reminds them of the powerful role of Drexel Burnham. They were also masters of the universe."
 
June 23, 2007
``The Associated Press has become the second news organization in a month to file a motion asking a federal judge to make public the names of baseball players linked to performance-enhancing drugs in government documents. …Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School, said that Hearst had a stronger case because there was more evidence that information had been selectively given to a third party.  
 
``Wall Street … has devised increasingly complex ways for sophisticated players to make more money and pay fewer taxes. Now, with last week's move to boost taxes on publicly traded private-equity firms, lawmakers conveyed their determination to tap this … vein. …"The tax law is riddled with inconsistencies in which you can make the same economic bet and get very different tax treatment," said David Schizer, a tax-law professor and dean of Columbia University's law school. "This is especially true with sophisticated investments."
 
June 22, 2007
The Supreme Court set down strict guidelines yesterday for investors who want to sue company officials for fraud, another victory for business in what has been a resoundingly successful year before the nation's highest court. … John C. Coffee Jr., a securities law professor at Columbia University, said plaintiff lawyers can take comfort in the fact the standard was more modest than what the government had wanted. "I think what the plaintiff's bar will say when they read this is, 'We dodged a bullet,' " he said.
 
June 22, 2007
Byline: Susan Harrigan
``A U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday raising the threshold for bringing lawsuits against companies for securities fraud shouldn't prevent many investor claims from going forward, experts say. …Tellabs, supported in amicus briefs by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, argued the phrase means that to survive a motion of dismissal, plaintiffs must "plead facts giving rise to the strong possibility there was fraud," said John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia Law School.
 
June 21, 2007
``New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked playfully this week about running on a U.S. presidential ticket with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the legal obstacles that prevent the Austrian-born California governor from serving as president also would block him from the nation's No. 2 job, legal scholars say. …"The law is very clear, but it's not 100 percent clear that the courts would enforce that law rather than leave it to the political process," said Columbia University Law School professor Michael Dorf. …Nate Persily, who teaches law at Columbia, said a Schwarzenegger candidacy could open a tangle of questions that touch on ballot-access laws, the Electoral College and legal jurisdiction.
  
June 19, 2007
Byline: Walter Hamilton
``Wall Street won a major victory Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people who lost money on initial public stock offerings in the late-'90s Internet boom couldn't sue their brokerages under U.S. antitrust laws. …The suit was filed under U.S. securities law. The plaintiffs are seeking to have the class recertified but are facing an 'uphill battle,' said John Coffee, a Columbia University securities law professor.
 
June 19, 2007
Byline: Leigh Jones
``Harvard's strategy of decreasing the number of students per faculty member and to replace aging faculty members who have retired has created a trickle-down movement, say observers, that has resulted in a flood of job changes among professors at other top schools. The school's plan, combined with one by another giant, Columbia Law School, to sharply boost its faculty size, has intensified the cutthroat competition, with law schools finding the need to watch their backs more than ever. …In addition, Columbia Law School announced a 'record-year of appointments,' which, last month, included adding to its faculty roster Phillip Bobbitt from the University of Texas School of Law and Ronald Mann from the University of Michigan Law School. The school's dean, David Schizer, vowed three years ago to increase the size of its faculty by 50 percent in order to improve student-faculty ratios and expand its areas of expertise.

BBC NEWS: DR Congo Reviews 60 Mining Deals
June 11, 2007
“A Democratic Republic of Congo commission is to review at least 60 mining contracts signed in the last decade, the government says. … Professor Peter Rosenblum from the US-based Carter Center is a consultant to the commission. ‘The tragedy of the many tragedies in the Congo was that the people woke up after years of war and found that the family wealth had been given away, or sold off, or at least as far as people knew, it seemed to have just flitted away.’”