December 23 - 31, 2007

December 31, 2007
``Zohar Goshen, a professor of law at Columbia University, will succeed Moshe Tery as the chairman of Israel's Securities Authority. Goshen, who was chairman of the Securities Authority's committee on corporate governance from 2004 to 2006, will take over when Tery's term ends Jan. 31, the Jerusalem-based Finance Ministry said in an e-mail today.” 
December 31, 2007
``Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On on Sunday decided to name Prof. Zohar Goshen chairman of the Israel Securities Agency, succeeding Moshe Terry, who will leave the position January 31.Goshen, a professor of securities law at Columbia University Law School and the Ono Academic College School of Law, served as chairman of the ISA's Committee on Corporate Governance Code in Israel from 2004-2006 and is chairman of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's Committee for Reevaluating the Antitrust Act.’’
December 31, 2007
`` Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On has selected Prof. Zohar Goshen as the new chairman of the Israel Securities Authority. Goshen, who is a professor of law at Columbia University in New York and a lecturer at the Ono Academic College, is an expert in company and antitrust law.’’

December 28, 2007
``… Five New Yorkers are among this year's 47 newly elected members of the Philadelphia-based American Law Institute, which selects legal scholars, judges and practitioners `through a highly selective process that recognizes people for their significant professional achievements and a demonstrated interest in the improvement of the law,’ according to Michael Traynor, the institute's president. Among the new members named this month are Professor Sarah H. Cleveland of Columbia Law School…’’

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Complex pricing of credit cards should be simplified
December 27, 2007
``Pop quiz: what's the interest rate on the credit cards you're carrying? How about the default rate? Do you know what constitutes an event of default? What will trigger a penalty fee or surcharge? How much are those fees? If you're like most Americans, you probably cannot answer many or all of these questions. …  Dollar for dollar, as Ronald Mann of Columbia Law School has shown, people with credit card debt are more likely to file for bankruptcy than people with any other types of debt.’’

This story was also picked up by the Baltimore Sun.
NEWSDAY: Experts: Judge, not jury, focus of White appeal
December 26, 2007
``Any appeal of John White's manslaughter conviction will more likely be determined by any pressure the judge exerted on jurors eager to get home for Christmas rather than pressure they put on each other, legal experts say. … Dan Richman, a Columbia University law professor and a former federal prosecutor, said White's lawyers would face an `uphill battle’ to prove the jury was rushed by the judge. `So long as a judge isn't on the record as rushing them,’ that doesn't establish `much of a grounds for overturning the verdict,’ he said.’’

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW Newsletter: Notes from the President: Torturing the Law (Again)
BYLINE: José E. Alvarez
December 26, 2007
```This government does not torture people.’ President Bush, October 5, 2007. Wolf Blitzer: `So you think that this Administration has engaged in torture?’ Former President Jimmy Carter: ‘I don’t think so; I know it.` Televised Interview, October 10, 2007. These comments by President Bush and Former President Carter were occasioned by a report in the New York Times on October 4, 2007 that secret memos by Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department dating back to February 2005 provided explicit authorization for the harshest interrogation techniques ever known to be used by the CIA, namely combinations of `painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning, and frigid temperatures.’ The new memos suggest that the much-touted efforts by Assistant Attorney General James B. Comey and others to renounce the infamous Yoo/Bybee `torture’ memos of 2002 had ephemeral effects – at least with respect to the CIA.’’

BALTIMORE SUN: Nuclear power has new shape
December 25, 2007
``A doughnut-shaped building that looks like a sports arena may soon rise beside the Chesapeake Bay - a cooling tower for a huge new nuclear reactor proposed at the Calvert Cliffs power plant in Southern Maryland. … `Power plants that don't have cooling towers slaughter fish by the millions - they kill fish eggs and microscopic organisms that are an intricate part of an ecosystem like the Chesapeake Bay,’ said Reed Super, senior staff attorney for the Columbia University Environmental Law Clinic, which represented the Hudson Riverkeeper, an advocacy group, in a lawsuit that forced the new regulations. `So, reducing the intake of water by 95 percent or more is going to reduce the fish kills by an equivalent percentage,’ Super said.’’

 MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL: Inmate officer investigations snarl system
December 25, 2007
``State inmates are using - and many say abusing - an unusual, 168-year-old law to spark often meritless investigations of correctional officers, tying up courts and creating new headaches for officers. … The John Doe law has been on the books since 1839, before Wisconsin became a state. Jim Tierney, a former Maine attorney general, said it was rare for states to allow people other than prosecutors to launch a John Doe. `It's highly unusual and highly disfavored,’ said Tierney, who now runs a program that studies state attorneys general at Columbia Law School in New York.’’

NEW YORK TIMES: Tomato Pickers’ Wages Fight Faces Obstacles
December 24, 2007
``In a colorful, often clamorous pressure campaign that has relied on support from college campuses and church groups, a group of farmworkers has persuaded McDonald’s and Taco Bell to have their tomato suppliers pay their pickers more. … But Mark Barenberg, a law professor at Columbia University, said, `The only possible antitrust violation is by the growers since they seem to be conspiring among themselves to refuse to deal with fast-food companies that want to buy supplies made under certain specifications.’’’

BARRON’S: Failing Grade
December 24, 2007
``THOUGH WALL STREET WAS SLOW to realize it, July 10 turned out to be Pearl Harbor Day for the global credit markets. On that day, credit-rating giants Moody's (MCO) and Standard & Poor's both shocked investors by announcing separately that they were taking negative rating actions against nearly $20 billion of 2006-vintage subprime-mortgage bonds because of spiraling delinquencies and foreclosures on the loans. … Industry expert and Columbia Law School professor John Coffee Jr. has suggested an elegant solution to bolster rating-agency quality control, both to Barron's and in recent congressional testimony. He wants the SEC to require raters that have been granted official status to disclose in a central database the historical default rates of all classes of financial products that they've rated. Regulators and investors would thus have an effective means of assessing the raters' rigor. Furthermore, Coffee argues, the SEC should discipline miscreant agencies by temporarily yanking their registration in areas where their ratings have been notably wrong.’’

BOSTON GLOBE: Creative vigilantes
December 23, 2007
``…Over the past 15 years, the rise of digital technology and the global economy has made it ever easier to copy, distribute, and profit from the fruits of other people's creativity - from the new Fergie album spreading across peer-to-peer networks to pirated `Spider-Man’ DVDs showing up on the streets of Shanghai. … Critics are quick to point out that tattoos and hairstyles do not qualify as key sectors of the American economy, and they question whether the dynamics the scholars have found in relatively intimate industries could apply in such diffuse, globalized, and popular industries as music and film - the businesses at the heart of today's intellectual-property debates. `A world has to be sufficiently closed and intermarried for its members to enforce behavioral norms,’ says Jane Ginsburg, a well-known intellectual-property scholar at Columbia University. `That might work in the culinary arts, but I can't think of any huge industry that has a workable norms-based system.’’’

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December 16 - 22, 2007

THE NATION: The audacity of Oprah
Issue of December 24, 2007

BYLINE: Patricia J. Williams
``This Christmas, the film The Great Debaters will come to theaters nationwide. Starring Denzel Washington and produced by Oprah Winfrey, it tells the story of an award-winning team of debaters from Wiley College, a small, historically black institution founded in 1873 in Marshall, Texas. … The role of media, particularly the entertainment media, in allowing us to understand our civic life is not to be underestimated. … I say all this because I'm intrigued by the brouhaha attending Oprah Winfrey's decision to endorse Barack Obama's candidacy. The Internet is positively foaming at her decision to campaign for him. Celebrities – from Toby Keith to Sammy Davis Jr., from Barbra Streisand to Jon Bon Jovi – have always stumped for candidates, but a lot of people seem to feel that Oprah is different.’’
This column ran in the 12/16/07 issue of the Sacramento Bee.

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW: President’s Column: Musharraf’s Legal Black Hole
BYLINE: José E. Alvarez
December 20, 2007
``General Pervez Musharraf’s November surprise inspires ambivalent reactions about international law’s progress. For those who have observed other leaders all over the world who have brazenly attempted, often successfully, to perpetuate their own tenures in office, Musharraf’s apparent bid to do the same is all too familiar. His declaration of a state of emergency last November 3rd, suspension of the Pakistani constitution, and proclamation of martial law seems to present yet another case of international law’s inefficacy. Once again, lawyers have been reduced to letter-writing and petitions, sympathy protests, and other ‘mobilization of shame’ tactics to respond to a basic (and obvious) assault on the right to democratic governance and human rights.’’

NEW YORK TIMES: How a Middle School Can Be ‘Dangerous’ and Still Get an A
December 19, 2007
``When Shawn Carson taught last year at a middle school named the South Bronx Academy for Applied Media, he entered his room on many days to find a message from his students on the blackboard. In graphic and vulgar language, as he recalled in a recent interview, it described him committing a homosexual act. … The A grade, though, may also have something to do with the fact that the progress reports weigh all safety factors as only 2.5 percent of a school’s total grade, said James S. Liebman, the Education Department’s chief accountability officer. He has said the department decided not to give safety more consideration because statistics on school violence rely on self-reporting and tend to be deceptive. … `This is a school that’s doing remarkably well on the progress side, and ‘remarkably’ isn’t a word I use lightly,’ said Mr. Liebman, who is also a law professor at Columbia University, where this reporter is on the journalism faculty.’’

NEW YORK TIMES: Trainer’s Steroid Testimony Followed Deal With Prosecutors
December 18, 2007
``Brian McNamee, the former Yankees strength coach who says he injected pitcher Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone, signed a proffer agreement with federal prosecutors last summer, McNamee’s lawyer said Monday. … Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia University Law School and a former federal prosecutor, said it was extraordinary to see prosecutors compel an individual to cooperate with a private third party like Mitchell.’’

BLOOMBERG: Dodge Says Canadian Banks Need `Incentives' for Innovation
December 17, 2007
``Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge said the country needs to look at how to boost `incentives' for banks to become more innovative and efficient. … Canada loses about C$10 billion ($10 billion) a year in economic output because of the fragmented regulation, according to a government-commissioned report by John Coffee, a Columbia University Law School professor.’’

FINDLAW: The EPA Versus the Department of Transportation: Three Puzzles in a Federal Court Ruling and the Pending Energy Bill
December 17, 2007

BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf
``Last week, two developments in environmental regulation called into question a number of familiar chestnuts about how best to make decisions whether and how to regulate national industries. First, a federal district judge rejected an industry challenge to California's proposed carbon emissions standards for automobiles, finding that a recent Supreme Court decision authorizes such regulations notwithstanding the fact that they are stricter than the federal standards promulgated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Second, although oil and automobile industry lobbyists succeeded in killing some of the strictest regulations contained in the pending energy bill, they failed to strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its authority to issue what are, in effect, gasoline mileage requirements. Congress is expected to pass, and President Bush is expected to sign, the bill later this week. Collectively, these decisions by all three branches of the federal government raise at least three questions going to the heart of regulatory policy in the American system of government: (1) Is it sensible to give different agencies within the federal government overlapping regulatory authority over the same subject matter? (2) Is it sensible to give the state and federal governments overlapping regulatory authority over the same subject matter? And (3) Are gas mileage requirements a better or worse means of demanding fuel-efficient automobiles than a steeper gasoline tax? After explaining the decision in last week's case, I will tackle these questions in turn. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.’’

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December 9 - 15, 2007

``Robert Armstrong says it's not fun, this business of `opening up the closet for the skeletons to be seen.' ... So can the Mitchell report really change things, not just in baseball but in other professional sports? `I would think you'd have to put that question to [MLB players union chief] Donald Fehr,' said Robert Kheel, an adjunct professor of sports law at Columbia University and a partner in the litigation department of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in New York. `Really, there's nothing coming from this but public relations. Players aren't losing their livelihood over it. What [Mitchell] wanted to generate was a change in landscape. A big bang, which is how you get things done in our society.' Kheel, who has represented Major League Baseball in litigation, including successfully representing it in a racketeering lawsuit pushed by the former limited partners of the Montreal Expos, said the report intentionally falls short as a disciplinary document. `This was something designed to generate momentum to go forward,' Kheel said. `If it was a matter of discipline, you'd simply whisper into the commissioner's ear that 'John's done something wrong. Go get John.' ' ''

LOS ANGELES TIMES: This figures to test union's cooperation
December 14, 2007
``Former Sen. George Mitchell's blistering 409-page report on steroid abuse in baseball, released Thursday, amounts to a road map for further tightening of the sport's anti-doping policies -- one that is likely to put intense pressure on the baseball players' union to agree to a tougher program of drug tests and possibly tougher sanctions for abusers. … `Under labor law, they can tell baseball to whistle Dixie,’ said Robert J. Kheel, a labor lawyer at Willkie Farr & Gallagher and a lecturer at Columbia Law School. But he also questioned whether that would serve the union's overall membership. Kheel noted, for example, that the Mitchell Report identified only 86 supposed users -- all but a handful of them middle-of-the-pack talents whose careers were not noticeably lengthened or enhanced by drug use. Also, with some of those 86 linked to drugs as long ago as nine years, he argued that the report demonstrates that the vast majority of players are clean. `That means the majority didn't do anything [wrong] and were unfairly cheated’ by the guilty, Kheel said. `The union should say, we work for every player.’’’

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: Question of credibility
December 14, 2007
`` spoke with two legal experts to get a deeper understanding of the Mitchell Report, its fallout and what the next steps should be. Eric Delinsky, a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder in Washington, D.C., is a white collar criminal litigation attorney. The other is Robert J. Kheel, who taught a course on Sports and the Law at Columbia Law School and is a partner in the litigation department at Wilkie Farr & Gallagher in New York emphasizing on sports and labor law. (Wilkie was a former representative for MLB in labor negotiations in the 1980s and early 1990s and handled some litigation for MLB earlier this decade. Kheel represented MLB in some drug grievances cases in the 1980s.)''

WASHINGTON POST: Kaine to Overhaul Mental Health System
December 14, 2007
``Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) is expected to propose spending more than $40 million today to begin overhauling the state's mental health system, which has come under intense scrutiny since 32 people were killed this year at Virginia Tech by a gunman with a history of psychiatric problems, according to government sources. … The problem comes back to money, said Paul S. Appelbaum, a psychiatrist at Columbia University and past president of the American Psychiatric Association. The shortage of psychiatric hospital beds -- the number of beds in Northern Virginia dropped to 196 from 402 from 1990 to 2006 -- plays into the real-life consideration of where to put a person who needs help. `In the absence of sufficient inpatient resources to meet the likely demand,’ Appelbaum said, ‘it doesn't matter how much you loosen the standards for commitment if there are no beds. Clinicians standing at the metaphorical front door have to ratchet up the standards they apply, regardless of the state's law.’’’
Paul S. Appelbaum is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law.

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE: Report shows steroids a 'serious threat' to baseball
December 14, 2007
``After more than a decade of winks and whispers, more than 20 months of investigation and more than 300 pages of evidence, Major League Baseball revealed yesterday that steroid use among players has reached a level of scandal not seen since the notorious `Black Sox Scandal’ of 1919. … `The players are best off now if they get real quiet and not talk to anybody about this,’ said Stephen D. Sugarman, a law professor at the University of California Berkeley, who is a visiting professor at Columbia Law School. `They're not going to get anywhere by talking about it or pursuing (legal recourse). Who benefits from this? It will give the owners more leverage against the union to get a tougher drug scheme. There could be a lot of public pressure on the players,’ Sugarman said. `I see nothing criminal coming out of this, though. I see no lawsuits coming of this. I just think it gives the owners a chip in collective bargaining that they didn't have before.’’’

THE TOWN TALK (Alexandria-Pineville, Louisiana): Our view: Change La. law only if it helps victims of rape
December 14, 2007
``The constitutionality of a Louisiana law that allows the execution of a convicted child rapist soon will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. … Central to this issue is how society benefits. Each execution can cost between $2.5 million to $5 million, according to `Capital Punishment: Deterrent Effects and Capital Costs,’ by Jeffrey A. Fagan, co-director, Center for Crime, Community, and Law at Columbia Law School.’’

BALTIMORE SUN: Segui denounces Roberts' inclusion in Mitchell Report
December 14, 2007
``Former Oriole David Segui is mentioned continually throughout baseball's newly released Mitchell Report on steroids, but what irks him most is that his ex-teammate Brian Roberts is also implicated as a drug user based on what Segui believes is a combination of hearsay and inaccuracies from a trusted mutual friend. ... Gripe or not, Roberts has very little legal recourse, according to Robert J. Kheel, an attorney and Columbia University lecturer-in-law. `All that Mitchell is doing is that he is reporting a fact,' he said. `That is not libelous. It's a factual report about what someone said. It could be true; it could be untrue. ... [Mitchell] is not vouching for the correctness. He is just reporting that this is the information that was provided to him.' Kheel said it's difficult for a public figure, which Roberts is, to prove defamation. `Assuming his innocence, his remedy is public relations,' Kheel said. `No one is saying he should go to jail. No one is saying his career should be interrupted. Someone is just saying something that may or may not be true and he can have a press conference and say that is wrong.'''

BLOOMBERG: Steroids Flood Baseball, Mitchell Says; Clemens Named
December 13, 2007
``Major League Baseball players and management ignored a flood of drug use in the sport, according to findings of a 20-month investigation that said All-Stars such as Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Miguel Tejada used steroids or human growth hormone. …  Robert Kheel, who teaches sports law at Columbia University, said the report would be a useful foundation for future efforts at monitoring performance-enhancing drugs. `I don't see it as the end,' Kheel said in a telephone interview.’’

MSNBC: Live with Dan Abrams: Bush League Justice: Alabama outrage (Scott Horton introduced at 2:14)
December 13, 2007
``Tonight the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to hold in contempt former presidential adviser Karl Rove and Chief of Staff Josh Bolten after they refused to testify about the politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys. … Joining me now…Scott Horton, a Columbia Law professor who has covered the case extensively for Harper’s Magazine.’’

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Mitchell Report set to rock baseball
December 13, 2007
``Kirk Radomski was just one of the many kids who hung around Shea Stadium in the late '80s and early '90s, a go-fer who picked up a few bucks by running errands and fetching lunch for the Mets. … Radomski is now the primary source for the 300-plus page report on baseball's `Steroid Era’ to be released today by former Sen.George Mitchell. … `I'm convinced this will not be the end of the story,’ said attorney Robert Kheel, a Columbia law school lecturer and partner in Wilke, Farr & Gallagher who has represented MLB on labor issues. `This is just another installment in this story.’ … Kheel said the report will slam the union for its failure to cooperate with the probe and will fault both sides for allowing a drug culture to infiltrate baseball.’’

HARTFORD COURANT: Checking In With His List
December 13, 2007
``The Mitchell Report, 20 months and $20 million in the making, will be unveiled to the public today. … `I think [baseball] would like this to be the end of it, but it won't be,’ said Robert J. Kheel, lecturer at law at Columbia Law School, where he teaches a course on sports and the law. `They did not have subpoena power, players could not be compelled to talk. These are severe limitations. [Mitchell] is likely to point these out.’ The limitations on Mitchell, Kheel predicts, will draw Congress back into the steroids investigating business. It does have the power to subpoena, as used by the House Government Reform Committee's hearings on steroids in sports in March 2005. `I would be shocked if [Congress] didn't become involved again,’ Kheel said.’’

FINANCIAL TIMES: EU wary as Russia puts a velvet glove on its iron fist
December 12, 2007
``A decade or so ago, Russian companies - Gazprom excepted - were almost invisible abroad. Since then, they have been growing fast, with the pace of foreign expansion accelerating. A study published this week by Moscow's recently founded Skolkovo school of management in partnership with the Columbia Program on International Investment shows that the foreign assets of Russia's 25 biggest multinationals increased 2.5 times to nearly $60bn (€40.8bn) over the past two years. Since 2004, their exports have doubled to $200bn, and so have their foreign salaried workers, who now total about 130,000.’’

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Judges use leeway in Black, Vick cases
December 11, 2007
``Crack-cocaine dealer Derrick Kimbrough, media magnate Conrad Black and football star Michael Vick might have little in common on the surface, but court decisions Monday in their separate criminal cases provide high-profile evidence of a new flexibility in sentencing America's federal felons. … In the aftermath, many judges were uncertain how far they could go and hewed to a safer course that, not coincidentally, spared them the work of having to justify in detail a decision to depart from the guidelines, said Jack Coffee of the Columbia University law school. `The courts have given the judges increased discretion, but judges still have this tendency, based on lack of energy and fear of reversals, to sentence within the guidelines,’ Coffee said.’’

BLOOMBERG: Russia's Biggest Businesses Doubled Foreign Assets in 2 Years
December 11, 2007
``Russia's 25 largest overseas investors, led by OAO Lukoil and OAO Gazprom, more than doubled their foreign holdings over 2005 and 2006 as soaring fuel and metals prices boosted profits at the country's biggest companies. Russia accumulated $157 billion of foreign direct investment at the end of 2006, second only to Hong Kong among emerging markets, according to a study published today by the Columbia Program on International Investment at Columbia University, New York, and the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management.’’

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Lost tapes may entangle CIA
December 11, 2007
In reconstructing the events leading up to Sept. 11, 2001, the blue-ribbon commission investigating the terrorist attacks got a lot of help from the CIA. … Daniel Richman, a professor of criminal law at Columbia University law school in New York, said obstruction cases often were fought over what constitutes a pending proceeding. He said that failing to preserve evidence because Congress had `a general, unarticulated interest in everything that executive agencies do’ would not suffice.’’

USA TODAY: Conrad Black sentenced to 6½ years in prison
December 10, 2007
``Conrad Black, the international press baron who gave up his Canadian citizenship to become a British Lord, will soon have a new identity: prison inmate. … `He did what he did, not for some justification of making his company better, but to enrich Conrad Black,’ says Jack Coffee, an expert in securities law at Columbia University. `This is a soap opera about a very arrogant man who reached over the head of his board of directors.’’’

REUTERS: Group urges US challenge Chinese censorship at WTO
December 10, 2007
A California free speech group whose board of directors includes Google…and Yahoo…said on Monday it had asked U.S. trade officials to challenge China's Internet restrictions as a violation of global trade rules. … The case relies on a legal theory developed by Columbia University Law Professor Timothy Wu, who argued in a law review article last year that WTO agreements on goods and services could be used to challenge government censorship of the Internet.’’
This story was picked up by Guardian and other media outlets.

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: Achieving Transparency (subscription required)
December 10, 2007

``Heads have rolled, huge write-downs have been taken, but still equilibrium has not returned to the debt markets. Unless the credit meltdown can be halted, a recession looms. Consumer spending has been recently responsible for roughly 70% of U.S. gross domestic product, and it is, in turn, financed today primarily through securitizations. Thus, destabilize the financing of consumer spending and the economy falters. So far, the response of policymakers has largely been to fashion accommodative monetary policies that will either bail out imperiled financial institutions or relieve overextended homeowners. Such policies may alleviate the symptoms, but they will not cure the liquidity crisis that is paralyzing the debt markets. By definition in a liquidity crisis, trading slows and prices become deeply discounted because most investors cannot determine the real value of the affected assets. Normally, the crisis ends only when the 'smart money' offers deeply discounted prices at which risk-averse holders are willing to sell their gridlocked securities. But little movement in this direction has been visible. … John C. Coffee Jr. is the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and director of its Center on Corporate Governance.’’

NPR’S WBUR-FM: ON POINT: The Gender Vote in 2008 (Patricia Williams begins at 5:24)
December 10, 2007
``It was the Double O Express, as Oprah Winfrey pumped up crowds for Barack Obama on Saturday from Iowa to South Carolina to New Hampshire. …
This hour, On Point: the gender vote up for grabs. Guests: … Patricia Williams, professor of law at Columbia University and columnist for The Nation magazine.’’

DEMOCRACY NOW: Did CIA Destroy Tapes Showing Waterboarding and Involvement of Psychologists in Torture?
December 10, 2007
``AMY GOODMAN: `The Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have launched a joint probe into the CIA’s destruction of at least two tapes documenting prisoner interrogations at a secret CIA prison. … I’m joined now by two guests. Scott Horton is remaining with us, teaches at Columbia Law, is a contributor to Harper’s Magazine, where he writes the blog, No Comment.’’’

COLUMBIA SPECTATOR: Women May Be More Affected by Law School Stresses
December 10, 2007
``Despite the rising enrollment of women in law schools, new research shows that women face particular pressures that may explain why they fall off the legal pipeline. … The discomfort women feel in law school has little to do with intelligence and confidence, said George M. Jaffin Professor of Law and Social Responsibility Susan Sturm. `Law school is a culture that rank orders people on a single metric of success, measured by a single exam at the end of the semester, where performance in class establishes a pecking order within the social setting of the students. Law school is set up so that classroom participation is about performance rather than necessarily about learning.”’’

COLUMBIA SPECTATOR: Minorites Make Up Less of Law School Classes
December 10, 2007
``The number of minority applicants to law school has skyrocketed over the past decade, but the proportion of black and Mexican-American law students has not. Over the past 15 years, research by Law School professor Conrad Johnson and his clinic notes that as the number of total law school students has risen—with an increase of about 4,000 matriculants—black and Mexican Americans have been applying to law school in constant numbers. … `You would think steady demand, increased quality, and greater capacity for enrollment would lead to greater numbers, but that’s not the case,’ Johnson said. `It’s a little-known fact and a stunning outcome, and it probably reflects a number of things. But it’s something I think most people don’t see. They see some diversity around them and assume diversity.... If they don’t like affirmative action they think there’s too much of it.’’’

NEW YORK TIMES: How to Solve a Subprime Mess? An Iowan Says, Let’s Caucus
December 9, 2007
``A HALF-DOZEN years before subprime mortgages were on the national agenda, Tom Miller, the attorney general of Iowa, led teams of state officials from around the country in negotiating settlements totaling more than $800 million with two large home lenders that were accused of misleading and overcharging borrowers. … And despite his Midwestern pragmatism and laid-back sensibility, Mr. Miller sees a big role for himself and his office on the national stage. In the 1980s he realized that to have an impact on the forces affecting farmers, an important constituency for any Iowa politician, he would have to become involved in issues being decided far from Des Moines, said James E. Tierney, director of the national state attorneys general program at Columbia Law School in New York and a former attorney general of Maine. `He believes that the best interest of Iowa will not be effected only in the four corners of Iowa,’ Mr. Tierney said.’’

BOSTON GLOBE: Letters: Law clinic provides representation, too
December 9, 2007
``When law students have the chance to step out of the classroom and apply their skills in the real world, the students and the surrounding community can both benefit ("Same-sex marriage is law clinic's focus," Dec. 4). … One quick point of information - although your article describes Columbia Law School's Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic as focused only on legislative and public policy advocacy projects, the clinic has, from its start in 2006, provided legal representation to clients. … Suzanne B. Goldberg, Director, Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, Columbia Law School.’’

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December 1 - 8, 2007

THE ECONOMIST: They're behind you
Print issue of December 8, 2007
```WE STARTED out abroad as ‘accidental tourists’,’ says Anand Mahindra, managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra, an Indian maker of tractors and off-road vehicles. Owed money by a Greek manufacturing plant, it took an equity stake instead, and so Mahindra Hellenic was born in 1984. … Like parvenus everywhere, these emerging multinationals often buy their way into the top ranks. Supported by high share valuations, many have rejected organic growth in favour of bold acquisitions. … In addition to BCG's list, Columbia University's Programme on International Investment is carrying out a similar exercise, and released a report on Brazil's multinationals on December 3rd.’’

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Controversial milestone: 25 years of lethal injection
December 7, 2007
``Charlie Brooks Jr., 40, with a self-etched Born to Die tattoo on his left forearm, lay on the gurney in the Texas death chamber 25 years ago today and became the first person in the United States to die by lethal injection. … Columbia University law professor Jeffrey Fagan did an extensive study of capital murder in Harris County from 1976-2003. Fagan said the capital punishment does little to halt murder. `We find no evidence of any marginal deterrent effect over and above whatever deterrent effect the criminal system may be creating by incarceration,’ Fagan said. `We don't see capital punishment adding anything to that effect.’ Fagan's study in Harris County found that capital-eligible crimes grew in Houston from 1990 on during the same period that executions were on the rise, but non-capital murders declined. `A good, efficient criminal legal regime that finds offenders once they commit crimes, calls them to account and punishes them proportionately and appropriately will keep crime rates in check,’ Fagan said. `You gain nothing by putting execution on top of that.’’’

ABA JOURNAL: 25th Birthday for Lethal Injections
December 7, 2007
``Exactly 25 years ago today, strapped to a gurney in a Texas death chamber, 40-year-old Charlie Brooks Jr. became the first person in the U.S. to be executed by lethal injection. … A professor at Columbia Law School who studied capital murder cases in Harris County, Texas, for more than 20 years, says the death penalty is an ineffective deterrent to crime, the Chronicle reports: `A good, efficient criminal legal regime that finds offenders once they commit crimes, calls them to account and punishes them proportionately and appropriately will keep crime rates in check,’ says Jeffrey Fagan. `You gain nothing by putting execution on top of that.’’’

REASON: Barry U.S. Bonds
December 7, 2007
``The thing to realize about the BALCO steroids scandal, which lurches into its most headline-grabbing phase yet today when baseball home run king Barry Bonds is arraigned on five counts of perjury and obstruction in a San Francisco courtroom, is that the federal government's underlying criminal case has been closed for more than 28 months. … Barry Bonds was investigated—by two grand juries—on a more serious charge as well: tax evasion. But all that's left now is a case in which, as Columbia Law School professor John C. Coffee Jr. recently put it in the New York Times, `Bonds's prosecution seems likely to rely to a greater degree on circumstantial evidence, making it harder for the government than in its recent prosecutions of Martha Stewart and I. Lewis Libby. Those cases involved factual disputes. Bonds, however, is contesting not whether he consumed steroids, but only what he believed he was doing.’’’

IN THESE TIMES: The Democrats’ Path to Victory
December 6, 2007
``Voters are likely to choose the next president primarily on economic issues, especially if the financial crises deepen. … Proponents of labor rights disagree about how enforceable the labor and environmental protections may be, given the wording of the Peru treaty. AFL-CIO experts believe that the treaty’s reference to the international labor organization’s core labor rights includces the more specific and enforceable ILO conventions. But Columbia law professor Mark Barenberg argues that in several regards the Peru agreement is `even worse than existing [trade and labor rights] law.’’’

PBS: Nightly Business Report (clip begins at 6:17)
December 5, 2007
SUSIE GHARIB: `Several powerful Wall Street firms have received subpoenas from the New York State attorney general's office over their role in packaging and selling debt tied to high-risk mortgages. … Joining us now for more analysis of this development, John Coffee, securities law professor at Columbia University law school.’’’
Video available at
Transcript available at 

BLOOMBERG: Canada to Propose Law for Securities Regulator, Flaherty Says
December 5, 2007
``The Canadian government plans to introduce a new law for a common securities regulator next year, which would also be given to each province for approval, Finance Minister James Flaherty said. … Canada loses about C$10 billion ($9.9 billion) in economic output each year because of its fragmented securities regulation, according to a government-commissioned report by John Coffee, a Columbia University Law School professor.’’

ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: High-tech companies scramble to boost H-1B visas
December 5, 2007
``With little time left in the Congressional calendar, high tech companies are scrambling to get an increase in H-1B visas this year, but the prospects are fading. … Ted Ruthizer, chairman of the Business Immigration Group at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, a New York law firm, said it would be `disastrous’ for Congress to leave the H-1B cap at 65,000, the same limit as in 1990. ‘This ought to be a no-brainer,’ he said. `Having a number that was set almost 20 years ago for the H-1B quota is just an insanity given how the economy has grown.’ Ruthizer, who teaches at Columbia Law School, also said that lawmakers are responding to election-related political pressure to be tough on immigration. ‘Nobody gets any extra votes by being pro-immigants,’ he said.’’

FINDLAW: What's at Stake in the Latest Guantanamo Bay Case?
December 5, 2007
``The Supreme Court hears oral argument today in Boumediene v. Bush, which presents the question whether the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is unconstitutional. Boumediene is the third in a string of cases involving the scope of the right of habeas corpus for foreign detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. In the Court's two prior rulings--in Rasul v. Bush in 2004 and in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in 2006--the Court invalidated Bush Administration policies regarding Guantanamo detainees. In those cases, however, the Justices managed to duck the question whether the detainees' constitutional rights were violated, relying on statutory and treaty grounds instead. Today's case squarely places the constitutional issue before the Court. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.’’

GLOBE AND MAIL: Ex-Nortel officials closer to SEC deal
December 5, 2007
``U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission staff reached an agreement in principle to settle a lawsuit against three of the less well-known players in the alleged accounting fraud at Nortel Networks Corp. … The SEC doesn't always give the green light to such settlements, said John Coffee, a professor of securities law at Columbia University.’’

DETROIT NEWS: Plan calls for voting shake-up
December 5, 2007
``Seeking to capitalize on widespread frustration with the chaos of the 2008 presidential primary calendar, two prominent Michigan officials on Tuesday released a plan to end the first-in-the-nation status of Iowa and New Hampshire and spread out presidential contests from March to June. … `The ultimate question is what to do with Iowa and New Hampshire,’ said Columbia University election law expert Nathaniel Persily. `Can you figure out a way to buy them off into a process that is more representative of the country? Because they have power that is vastly disproportionate to their population.’’’

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: S.C. pension bets on mortgages
December 5, 2007
``South Carolina's pension plan has committed $100 million to a fund that aims to invest in risky mortgage debt, looking to benefit from a sell-off in distressed subprime-related investments. … Savvy investors typically try to benefit when a financial cycle nears the bottom, said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University and director of the school's Center on Corporate Governance. Hedge fund Citadel Investment Group last week agreed to pay about 27 cents on the dollar for E-Trade Financial Corp.'s risky mortgage debt, he noted. `I think there will be a number of smart money investors who will seek to buy assets at extreme discounts,’ Coffee said. `Most of them will make money. Not all of them will. There's always risk.’’’

BOSTON GLOBE: Same-sex marriage is law clinic's focus
December 4, 2007
``To address the unique legal dilemmas raised in part by the state's legalization of same-sex marriage in 2003, Harvard Law School has opened a legal clinic that will represent low-income clients. … Few other schools have similar initiatives. Last year, Columbia Law School launched a Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, but its focus is legislative advocacy, public policy analysis, and public education, rather than legal representation of clients.’’

NEW YORK SUN: Tidal Wave of Lawyers Nears, Bar Applications Forewarn
December 4, 2007
``Even with 91,000 practicing attorneys in the five boroughs last year, a new wave of lawyers is hitting the city, as a record number of law school students are taking and passing the state bar, according to data provided by the New York State Board of Law Examiners. … This year, New York University Law School, Columbia Law School, and Cardozo-Yeshiva Law School had the highest bar pass rates for first-time takers, according to the New York City Bar Association.’’

CNBC: Squawk Box: Google’s Telecom Guru
December 3, 2007
``The driving force behind Google's strategy, with Tim Wu, Columbia Law School professor and CNBC's Becky Quick.’’

EE TIMES: First crack in mobile carriers' fortress?
December 3, 2007
``Someday, users may be able to buy any mobile device they want and hop onto any cellular network, in the same way they now buy a PC and plug into the Web. … `The ground is starting to move, and if this is real it will shake the foundations of the wireless industry,’ said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who has widely advocated more openness in cellular networks. Wu sees opportunities for both established and new handset makers. `A company like Nokia could establish its own retail presence and sell directly to consumers. Right now they have to sell through a relatively strange channel,’ he said. `It could also lead to new, nontraditional handset entrants, such as an HP or a Dell.’ In the long run, `that's got to be good for the industry, although if I were a Motorola I might be a little nervous right now,’ Wu said, referring to one the largest handset makers, which is currently slipping in the market standings.’’

BRAZZIL MAGAZINE: New US Study Shows Brazil as Agressive Foreign Investor
December 3, 2007
``A new survey released this Monday, December 3, by the Columbia Program on International Investment (CPII) and the Brazil-based Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC) in New York reveals that Brazil's top multinational enterprises (MNEs) have made the country the second largest outward investor among developing countries in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) outflows in 2006. … Adds Karl P. Sauvant, Executive Director of the Columbia Program on International Investment, `Brazilian firms, led by CVRD, are becoming important players in the world FDI market.’ … The Columbia Program on International Investment (CPII), headed by Dr. Karl P. Sauvant, is a joint undertaking of the Columbia Law School and The Earth Institute at Columbia University.’’

TORONTO STAR: OSC chief takes it all in stride
December 3, 2007
```What keeps you awake at night?’ `I sleep pretty well.’ In a small, antiseptic meeting room at the Ontario Securities Commission, David Wilson quickly stops himself. … John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University in New York and a member of the aforementioned securities task force, addresses the so-called `Canadian discount,’ a reference to having to sell more securities in Canadian markets to raise the same amount of money as an issuer would, say, in the United States. `Part of the explanation for the Canadian discount can be placed on weak enforcement, part of it can be placed on poor corporate governance in the sense of dual-class capitalization and part of it can be placed on regulatory fragmentation,’ says Coffee. `If there is a discount you're dealing with something that has a chilling macroeconomic effect on the Canadian economy,’ continues Coffee. `I think that's the point where regulators should start.’’’

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Myth of Deterrence: Death penalty does not reduce homicide rate
December 2, 2007
``In theory, the death penalty saves lives by staying the hand of would-be killers. … Some recent studies purport to show that executions actually deter murders. These studies have been analyzed by others and found to be fatally flawed – `fraught with numerous technical and conceptual errors,’ as Columbia Law professor and statistics expert Jeffrey Fagan testified to Congress.’’

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Studies suggest sending kids to adult courts counterproductive
December 1, 2007
``Laws that send teen offenders to the adult justice system `do more harm than good’ in reducing violent or other criminal behavior, according to a task force report reviewing studies conducted over two decades. … The two groups of kids were studied over seven years during the 1980s and 1990s and those who were prosecuted as adults were 28 percent more likely to commit violent crimes, according to Jeffrey Fagan, a professor of law and public health at Columbia University. The research he led was conducted in separate decades with separate examples and the reached the same conclusion. Fagan said the two groups were matched on several counts _ including age and prior crimes and incarceration _ and the higher rate was consistent, even when the New York kids didn't end up in prison.’’
This story was picked up by Newsday, San Diego Union-Tribune, Record and other media outlets.

CBS NEWS: Terror Suspects Near Verdict  
December 1, 2007
``The `Miami 7’ are set to stand trial, a product of the government's legal strategy of prevention by prosecution. But were the suspects caught in the act or rounded up too soon? Michele Miller reports.’’
Professor Daniel C. Richman is interviewed in this news segment.

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