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February

February 24 - 29, 2008

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW: President’s Column: The Evolving Foreign Investment Regime
February 29, 2008

BYLINE: José E. Alvarez

“This past fall, Columbia University’s Program on International Investment (CPII), led by Karl P. Sauvant, formerly of UNCTAD, released a comprehensive report evaluating the receptivity of the world, on a regional and country-by-country basis, towards foreign direct investment. … A month later, CPII organized an impressive conference of leading academics, policy-makers, and practitioners on the subject of future investment policy… Both the Report and the conference came to the same ambiguous conclusion: while the prospects for ever-rising levels of FDI are bright and most countries continue to encourage free investment flows within a framework of continuing liberalization of their FDI laws and an expanding, interlocking network of bilateral and regional investment and free trade agreements, there are growing signs of discontent both with certain forms of FDI and with the legal rules by which these are governed. Like much else in international law, the FDI regime that governs much of global capitalism may be shifting in fundamental ways. More interesting still, the shifts are occurring not only in predictable places (e.g., Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela or Evo Morales’s Bolivia) but in places where such change would be least expected, including Bush’s United States and Harper’s Canada.”

NEWSDAY: Stop-and-frisk tactic, subject of conference
February 29, 2008
BYLINE: Sarah Portlock
“The stop-and-frisk controversy moved from the streets to the halls of academia yesterday during a daylong conference on the practice, with participants calling for more transparency from the New York Police Department. … Among the findings was an analysis of stop-and-frisk data released by a Columbia University law school professor.
Jeffrey Fagan, a director of the Center for Crime, Community and Law at Columbia Law School, said his research found that there were more unconstitutional stops in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of blacks and Hispanics, that police were more likely to make unconstitutional stops in neighborhoods where they are more aggressive in stopping people, and that the greater the rate of unjustified stops, the fewer arrests those stops produced. ‘All these excess unconstitutional stops may have nothing to do with crime because they're not able to affect an arrest,’ Fagan said. ‘It may be based on some kind of very amorphous suspicion, it could be contextual stops, but the fact that they don't arrest them suggest that the police are actually quite conscious that if they bring an unjustified or unconstitutional stop to court, it will be thrown out.’”

NEW YORK SUN: Judge To Mull $695 Million Legal Fee
February 29, 2008
BYLINE: Josh Gerstein
“A federal judge will consider today whether to award what some are calling the largest legal fee in a class action lawsuit in the history of America, nearly $700 million, in litigation stemming from the collapse of Enron Corp. The $7.2 billion in settlements paid by Enron's banks and advisers also set a record, eclipsing the $6.2 billion shelled out over the demise of WorldCom. ‘This is the most successful class action ever,’ a Columbia law professor, John Coffee, said.”

HUFFINGTON POST: In Boston: A Shot Heard 'Round the Internet
February 29, 2008
BYLINE: Timothy Karr
“Something may have been lost in this week's brief media frenzy over ‘seat-gate’ -- the much discussed incident where Comcast hired people off the street to keep out the public from Monday's FCC hearing in Boston. … ‘There a single fact here that [Comcast] cannot deny,’ explained Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu during Monday's hearing. ‘Users of the Internet sought to use an application in a certain way, and they were blocked.’”

ECONOMIST: In the stocks
February 28, 2008
“THE vast gaps in the regulations governing China's financial markets are no secret. … Plenty of studies demonstrate the role of a good legal environment to financial markets. But Benjamin Liebman and Curtis Milhaupt, two professors at Columbia Law School, argue in a forthcoming paper that, whatever the limitations of the scope and enforcement of China's laws, another form of regulation has quietly emerged.”

CFO.COM: Who's Your Auditor's Boss?
February 28, 2008
BYLINE: Sarah Johnson
“The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is considering whether to bolster its regulations to guide audit-firm reviews of the work that their individual auditors do for client companies. … The 2002 law requires that firms' supervisors and others associated with a firm be held responsible if they believe an audit was deficient or someone acted inappropriately and they did nothing about it, explained Columbia Law School professor John Coffee during the PCAOB's Standing Advisory Group meeting on Wednesday.”

NEW YORK SUN: Freedom For Religion
February 27, 2008
BYLINE: Richard John Neuhaus
“Martha Nussbaum straddles several disciplines, holding appointments in the philosophy department, the law school, and the divinity school at the University of Chicago. … In his magisterial 2004 study, ‘Separation of Church and State,’ Columbia law professor Philip Hamburger underscored the ways in which Black's long-standing animus toward Catholicism led him to turn the Religion Clause on its head.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Motion Would Take Aim at Clemens’s Top Lawyer
February 26, 2008
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt
“Lawyers for Roger Clemens’s former personal trainer Brian McNamee said Monday that they would file a motion next Tuesday to disqualify Roger Clemens’s lead lawyer. … Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University, said there were ethical barriers to cross-examining a former client based on confidential information obtained from representing the client. ‘Whether that will prevent Hardin from representing Clemens will have to be decided by a judge,’ Richman said.”

WASHINGTON POST: FCC Head Says Action Possible on Web Limits
February 26, 2008
BYLINE: Cecilia Kang
“The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission yesterday sharply questioned Internet service providers who control consumers' Web access over their networks, and suggested the agency could intervene against the practice. … ‘Martin has never had a clearly elucidated position on this, but we're seeing what Martin thinks now and he has the swing vote on this,’ said Tim Wu, a professor of law at Columbia University, following his testimony at the hearing. ‘He thinks that it's a consumer rights issue; whether that is a principle for the ages or principle for the case we don't know, but he certainly sent a message.’”

BUSINESSWEEK: The FCC, Comcast, and Net Neutrality
February 26, 2008
BYLINE: Peter Burrows and Olga Kharif
“As Comcast Executive Vice-President David Cohen began his remarks at a hearing held by the Federal Communications Commission at Harvard Law School on Feb. 25, he knew he was in for a rough day. … Big carriers have every incentive to use their networks to delay or block traffic for their own purposes—whether it's to favor a homegrown video service over a competing one or to stifle political speech—academics, including Columbia University law professor Timothy Wu, have argued.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: FCC Ready to Curb ISP Traffic Management
February 25, 2008
BYLINE: Mark Jewell
“Federal regulators on Monday said they are ready to discipline Internet service providers who secretly favor certain types of data traffic, like Web surfing, over others, like file sharing. … ‘Whatever we think reasonable network management is, it should not include blocking lawful applications,’ said Timothy Wu, a Columbia University law professor credited with coining the term Net neutrality.”

FINDLAW: Did Justice Stevens Pull a Fast One? The Hidden Logic of a Recent Retroactivity Case in the Supreme Court
February 25, 2008

BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf
Last week, in Danforth v. Minnesota, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state court was free to give greater protection to defendants' rights than the Supreme Court itself requires. Stated that way, the decision is hardly news. In our system of federalism, federal constitutional law is not a ceiling, but a floor. It sets out the minimum protections to which people are entitled. If states--through their constitutions or otherwise--choose to add protection, that is their prerogative. Yet Danforth was no ordinary application of the floor-but-not-a-ceiling principle, because the question in the case was not whether Minnesota could interpret its own state law more broadly than federal law. Everyone accepts that it (like every other state) can. The question in Danforth was whether Minnesota could over-protect federal law. Perhaps surprisingly, the Supreme Court said yes. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.”

WIRED: Commission Ready To Act in Net Neutrality Fight, Says FCC Chief
February 25, 2008
BYLINE: Sarah Lai Stirland
“The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said Monday that his agency is ‘ready, willing and able to step in if necessary,’ to crack down on network operators' discriminatory activity on the Internet. … ‘There is such a thing as reasonable network management .... but not secret blocking,’ said Tim Wu, a Columbia University professor. Such unclear policies will undermine new investments into innovative companies such as Vuze because of the uncertainty over network owners' bandwidth policies, Wu argued. ‘Who's going to invest in a business like that?’ he asked. ‘That’s why this has to be clarified and a rule about network transparency must be made by this commission.’”

NEW YORK TIMES: Bits (blog): Net Neutrality Hearing: When Is an Internet Traffic Delay O.K.?
February 25, 2008
BYLINE: Stephen Labaton
“The Federal Communications Commission is considering new rules and enforcement decisions that would force the cable and telephone companies to more clearly disclose to consumers the circumstances in which they might delay some traffic. … Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, encapsulated the difficulties facing regulators. ‘I went to law school here,’ he said. ‘I have this terrible fear we are going to have an exam after this on what is reasonable network management. And we are all going to fail.’”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Comcast Faces Criticism at Hearing on Net Neutrality
February 25, 2008
BYLINE: Corey Boles
“A senior executive from Comcast Corp. clashed Monday with academics and a public interest group over whether the company is managing the traffic that flows over its broadband Internet network in a reasonable manner. … But academics including Timothy Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and Yochai Benkler of Harvard Law School said that is exactly what Comcast is doing. ‘Whatever we think reasonable network management is, it should not include blocking lawful applications,’ said Mr. Wu.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Ahead of the Bell: Data Discrimination
February 25, 2008
“Legal scholars, technology experts and corporate executives on Monday will tell federal communications regulators what business they think Internet providers have in controlling online traffic. … Timothy Wu, a Columbia University law professor who is credited with coining the term Net neutrality, is also scheduled to speak.”

This story was picked up by Forbes among other media outlets.

LAW TIMES: U.S. prosecutions cast long shadow
February 25, 2008
BYLINE: Julius Melnitzer
“There exists in the international community the perception that Canada, in the words of Columbia University Law Professor John Coffee, is ‘a securities market enforcement-free zone compared to the U.S. and other countries.’”

FINANCIAL WEEK: What Cox leaves on the table may trump what he brought
February 25, 2008
BYLINE: Nicholas Rummell
“As christopher cox enters the home stretch as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, his legacy is likely to be marred somewhat by unfulfilled promise and regulatory stagnation. … ‘I think he'll be regarded as a well-meaning and generally moderate chairman...but not an important reformer,’ said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. ‘He was not really able to realize his agenda. Now he is surrounded by two Republican commissioners who appear to be more ideological and less pragmatic than he is.’”

INVESTMENT NEWS: Plaintiff's lawyers said to lack accountability
February 25, 2008
BYLINE: Bruce Kelly
“Plaintiff’s attorneys in securities class actions often lack ‘accountability,’ according to a prominent law professor. ‘Accountability is lacking in class and representative litigation — largely because clients cannot control their agent, the plaintiff’s attorney,’ John C. Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University Law School in New York and director of its Center on Corporate Governance, wrote in a paper presented Feb. 8 at a conference on securities fraud litigation. As a result, large institutional investors, including public-pension funds, increasingly are opting out of securities class actions. If that continues, such lawsuits ‘may be abandoned by its most sophisticated users,’ wrote Mr. Coffee. ‘Instead, a two-tier system of securities litigation will emerge in its place, under which the largest investors will opt out and sue in state court individual actions, with the class action becoming the residual vehicle for smaller investors,’ he wrote.”

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE: OTB: Strapped For Cash, Racing Toward Ruin
February 25, 2008
BYLINE: Phil Helsel
“Although state officials and New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. began meeting almost immediately after the wagering franchise voted last week to close in June because of cash problems, a legal dogfight could be in the making. If the matter does go to litigation, the key issue could be just how Off-Track Betting failed. … ‘This is a complicated state/city relationship and the state may have a little more power, but it's hard to see how they could force the city to operate something at a loss,’ said Columbia law professor Richard Briffault, the school's Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation and an expert in the interplay between local and state government. ‘Maybe the city can't dissolve OTB, but if they stop paying for it, the operations will cease.’”

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February 17 - 23, 2008

MS. MAGAZINE: A Preference for Deception
Issue of Winter 2008
BYLINE: Kimberle Crenshaw

“A legal scholar shows how the language of civil rights is stolen by those trying to halt affirmative action.”
A discussion of this article appears on the African American Policy Forum’s Web site.

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: Countrywide in Crosshairs as Mortgage Crisis Fuels Litigation
February 22, 2008
BYLINE: Amy Miller
“Sandor Samuels has, quite possibly, the least enviable in-house legal job right now in corporate America. … In fact, legal departments will need lots of outside help, says John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University Law School. At the same time, litigation chiefs such as Onorato and Samuels should consider implementing new controls and new procedures on mortgage-backed securities and other asset-backed securities, to prevent future problems, Coffee says. ‘I don't think that's going to happen in the next six months,’ he says. ‘We've just had 'Jaws' come through the water, and no one is rushing back into the water right away.’”

REUTERS: Clinton has one last chance to stop Obama
February 20, 2008
BYLINE: Steve Holland
“U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's loss to rival Barack Obama in Wisconsin and Hawaii on Tuesday leaves her one last chance to stop her surging opponent, in the next contests in Texas and Ohio. … Nathaniel Persily, a political expert and professor at Columbia University of Law, said Clinton not only has to win both states, but win them big enough to take a majority of the nominating delegates, given Obama's overall lead in delegates. … ‘If she loses those states, then she's lost,’ Persily said, adding that it is still possible she can pull it off.”

AMNY: Hillary: Obama plagiarized speech
February 19, 2008
BYLINE: Kate Hammer and Emily Ngo
“The Clinton campaign hit Barack Obama where it hurts Monday, accusing him of plagiarizing a portion of a weekend speech. … It's no big deal in the eyes of the law either, according to Jane Ginsburg, a law professor at Columbia University, as long as Patrick doesn't object. But the damage to Obama's campaign could already be done. ‘Plagiarism isn't a legal charge,’ Ginsburg said. ‘Plagiarism is a court of public opinion kind of charge, so time will tell.’”

USA TODAY: States work to close gaps in FBI gun database
February 19, 2008
BYLINE: Donna Leinwand
“In the days after Seung Hui Cho shot and killed 32 classmates and staff at Virginia Tech, Alberta Darling, a state senator in Wisconsin, wondered whether her own state's laws would have averted such a tragedy. … Psychiatrists and advocates for the mentally ill fear that people will avoid treatment if they think they will be listed in a government database, says Paul Appelbaum, who chairs the council on psychiatry and law at the American Psychiatric Association. The law also singles out the mentally ill for special treatment even though people with serious mental disorders are responsible for only a tiny percentage of violence committed in the country, he says. ‘After Virginia Tech, it became easy to focus on a stigmatized group, a group without political power, to pretend we were doing something about reducing violence,’ Appelbaum says.”

Paul Appelbaum is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law.

BUSINESSWEEK: Byte of the Apple (blog): DoubleTwist is Dancing in Dangerous Legal Territory
February 19, 2008
BYLINE: Peter Burrows
“As Arik pointed out in his post today, ‘DVD Jon’ Lech Johansen is back in the game of trying to free digital media from corporate strictures on its use. … To find out, I called Columbia law professor and Net Neutrality advocate Tim Wu. While he's sympathetic to what doubleTwist is trying to do, he's concerned about their legal argument. ‘Moving your CDs to your computer, or moving your CDs to your iPods is clearly fair use. But they’re going a step further. They’re decrypting content and that's definitely a gray area. As much as I’d like it to be otherwise, there’s not a clear exception for decrypting something because you’re allowed to do it under fair use.’”

FINANCIAL WEEK: SEC drift said to prevent action on credit crunch
February 18, 2008
BYLINE: Nicholas Rummell
“As chairman Christopher Cox tells it, the Securities and Exchange Commission will be extraordinarily busy this year, churning out regulations and enforcement cases at near-record levels. But when it comes to the most crucial issue facing markets right now—namely, the credit freeze—the SEC may be unable or unwilling to do much in the near term. … ‘Right now, the various SEC investigations [into CDOs and subprime lending] seem to be proceeding more slowly than that of the New York attorney general,’ said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. ‘This is the same pattern that we saw in the securities analyst and mutual fund investigations conducted by both [former New York attorney general Eliot] Spitzer and the SEC.’”


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February 10 - 16, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES: If Clemens Is Pursued, a Grand Jury Is Probable
February 16, 2008
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt and Duff Wilson
“If the Justice Department moves ahead with an investigation into Roger Clemens’s statements under oath to Congress over the last several weeks, federal authorities will probably convene a grand jury to delve deeper into Clemens’s possible links to performance-enhancing drugs and to question him more directly. … ‘Not only can anyone that is called before the grand jury be prosecuted for lying, anyone that tells the grand jury different facts from what they told Congress can also be prosecuted because they would have lied to either the grand jury or Congress,’ said Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University. Further, Richman said, ‘The grand jury will allow the government to spend months doing things the committee didn’t have the time to do.’ However, Richman cautioned, just because the oversight committee might have been lied to by Clemens or McNamee does not mean the Justice Department will be eager to investigate the accounts. They could let the matter drop. ‘There is an extraordinarily broad range of matters the House government reform committee has shown an interest in and the Justice Department would not want to give it an automatic call on its scarce resources whenever a witness, even a famous one, is suspected of lying to legislators,’ Richman said.”

HUFFINGTON POST: Your Internet: Open or Closed?
February 16, 2008
BYLINE: Timothy Karr
“During a Friday briefing in the chambers of the House Commerce Committee Tim Wu, Ben Scott, Marvin Ammori, Jef Pearlman and Markham Erickson laid out the central struggle in our campaign to save a free-flowing Internet. … ‘Behind every great and abusive monopoly almost always lies a network ... a network that has been co-opted, which has been turned into a discriminatory network, and which has been then used to carry out and further the power of the monopoly.’ Said Wu. ‘So when we are talking about these complicated issues of Comcast blocking and what's going on with NARAL what we are really talking about is whether we will allow these networks to become the seeds of a new generation of dangerous and abusive monopolies.’”

NEW YORK TIMES: Judge Says Use of MySpace May Violate a Court Order
February 15, 2008
BYLINE: Alan Feuer
"In one of the first rulings of its kind, a Staten Island judge has said that a teenage girl could be charged with violating a restraining order by using MySpace.com to reach out to people she was told not to contact. ...
Joseph DeMarco, an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School and the former chief of the computer crimes unit at the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, said that as technology advances, judges will have to determine whether various forms of online contact violate restraining orders. Mr. DeMarco said that a spectrum could emerge with, say, direct e-mail messages from one person to another being prohibited, but a post to a bulletin board or blog that both people frequent causing less concern. He added that a MySpace 'friend request' seemed to him more like direct contact by e-mail. 'This does not seem to me to be pushing the court’s jurisdiction or twisting settled points of law out of shape,' he said."

THE RECORD: Columbia Law School's Civil Rights Legacy
Issue of February 14, 2008
BYLINE: Adam Piore
“When Jack Greenberg signed up for the Legal Survey class at Columbia Law School in 1946, he had no idea that it was the first step on a path that would lead him straight into the history books. … ‘There’s a long-standing history of Columbia faculty and graduates being intimately engaged in many of the important civil rights movements and issues of the day,’ says Ellen Chapnick, dean of social justice initiatives at the law school. She attributes this to the school’s location in New York City and its ‘strong tradition of linking theory to practice.’ … Former law school dean and former Columbia president Michael Sovern ’55, echoes those thoughts. He says the school is the antithesis of an ivory tower, and how different members of the faculty and students participate has been very much a function of their interests and commitments. Sovern adds that Columbia ‘has always been a school in and of the world.’”

BLOOMBERG: Clemens Defense Strategy May Risk Perjury Charge
February 14, 2008
BYLINE: Patricia Hurtado and Laurel Brubaker Calkins
“Roger Clemens may have risked a perjury prosecution with his sworn denials to a U.S. congressional committee investigating performance-enhancing drugs, lawyers following the case said. … ‘If you lie under oath to Congress, you are subject to prosecution,’ said Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor. ‘The sad fact is that all too many people lie to Congress and don't get prosecuted. This is the beginning of an interesting prosecutorial decision-making process.’”

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE: Rocket's denials don't fly with fans
February 14, 2008
BYLINE: Phil Helsel
"One man was lying. ... A legal expert said the Department of Justice could bring perjury charges against Clemens or even McNamee, but making them stick would not be easy. 'There are few charges as difficult to prove as perjury,' Robert Kheel, a lecturer-at-law at Columbia Law School who teaches sports and the law, told the Advance yesterday. 'A difference in perception is not grounds. If all the evidence you have is a swearing match, you don't do it.'"

BALTIMORE SUN: Truth or consequences
February 14, 2008
BYLINE: Childs Walker
"When pitching great Roger Clemens and his former trainer, Brian McNamee, answered questions from a congressional committee yesterday about Clemens' alleged steroid use, one of them wasn't telling the truth. ... Clemens' increasingly vehement denials suggest his attorneys, at least, believe him, said Columbia University law lecturer Robert Kheel. 'From a lawyer's perspective, it's really fascinating, because you're opening him up to serious perjury charges if he's not telling the truth,' he said. 'You certainly wouldn't advise your client to take this tack if you were harboring any doubts that he's telling the truth. It's too dangerous.'"

FINDLAW: Is The Bush Administration Right to Seek the Death Penalty for 9/11 Captives?
February 13, 2008

BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf
“Earlier this week, the Bush Administration announced plans to seek the death penalty for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and five other persons who allegedly played a role in the 9/11 attacks. The Administration plans to try the six defendants before military commissions, as authorized by the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006. But that plan raises a host of difficult legal questions. Will the defendants or at least their lawyers have access to all of the evidence against them, and if not, what measures will be used to ensure the reliability of that evidence? Will the government seek to introduce statements made by Mohammed as a result of the waterboarding to which the Administration acknowledges he was subjected, or would that be deemed a violation of Section 948r(b) of the MCA, which forbids military commissions from admitting any ‘statement obtained by use of torture’? … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.”

ARS TECHNICA: 404 might be found: the curious case of DNS redirects
February 13, 2008
BYLINE: David Chartier
“The question of how to handle 404 pages and DNS redirects for things like mistyped URLs is becoming an increasingly important one. … Ars Technica spoke with Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor and network neutrality advocate, who has mixed feelings about Verizon's DNS redirecting. ‘I generally have no problem with good faith efforts by ISPs to help their customers,’ Wu told Ars. ‘It's when they try and manipulate the system that I am troubled. For example, obviously, if you typed in www.google.com and arrived at Verizon’s web site, I think you could hardly be happy with that.’”

NEW YORK TIMES: Suit Against New Campaign Finance Law Claims Racial Bias
February 12, 2008
BYLINE: Ray Rivera
“The real estate industry and lobbyists, who together provide millions in campaign cash for city candidates, are trying to overturn a new law that would vastly reduce how much they can donate. … Richard Briffault, a law professor at Columbia University and an expert on campaign finance law, said the lawsuit appeared to be a ‘stretch,’ particularly the aspects claiming racial discrimination. ‘It’s going to affect everybody,’ Mr. Briffault said. ‘There’s no evidence that Hispanics or African-American candidates are particularly dependent on lobbyist donations than white candidates.’”

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Two-year sentence for Lerach
February 12, 2008
BYLINE: Molly Selvin
“William S. Lerach, once one of the nation's most successful attorneys, was sentenced to two years in prison Monday for his part in a kickback scheme involving class-action lawsuits against some of corporate America's biggest names. … ‘I don't think the world has heard the last from Bill Lerach,’ said John Coffee, who teaches at Columbia Law School. He noted that Lerach had written a series of op-ed pieces in recent years and suggested he might profitably spend his time behind bars writing his autobiography ‘which . . . will be more interesting than any John Grisham novel.’”

NEWSDAY: Legal issues complicate push to execute detainees
February 12, 2008
BYLINE: Carol Eisenberg
"To the Bush administration, the six Guantánamo detainees it plans to charge with terrorism are 'the worst of the worst,' monsters who massacred almost 3,000 people - and who deserve to die for their crimes. ... The Defense Department then denied any political motive but news of the prosecution revived suspicion. 'Why is it now, in the midst of a presidential election season, that the charges are being pressed?' asked Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia University Law School. 'These guys have been held for many, many years.'"

NEW YORK TIMES: Committee Chairman Criticizes Clemens’s Lawyer Over Remarks
February 11, 2008
BYLINE: Duff Wilson and Michael S. Schmidt
“The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform criticized one of Roger Clemens’s lawyers Sunday for remarks he had made about a federal agent’s plan to attend a committee hearing Wednesday. … Or the Justice Department could launch an investigation on its own. Daniel C. Richman, a law professor at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor, said the department could start a federal criminal case over false testimony even without a referral from the committee.”

INVESTMENT NEWS: Bigfoot plaintiffs may cause pain
February 11, 2008
BYLINE: Bruce Kelly
“Large institutional investors, such as public pension funds, will increasingly abandon securities class actions to the detriment of defendant corporations and individual plaintiffs, according to John C. Coffee, law professor at Columbia University Law School and director of its Center on Corporate Governance. The large investors will sue in state court, leaving individual investors to sue corporations as a class, said Mr. Coffee in remarks made Friday at Claremont McKenna College of Claremont, Calif., at a conference titled ‘The Future of Securities Fraud Litigation’.”

LAW BLOG (Wall Street Journal): Running Over Fair Use Like the Hogwarts Express?
February 11, 2008
BYLINE: Dan Slater
“There’s something happening in copyright. Back in October, the Law Blog read this article by Columbia’s Tim Wu about the lax copyright policing of fan-written websites. Wu, a former clerk to Judge Posner and Justice Breyer, observed that the sites were being left alone mostly because media companies realized that they serve as free advertising.”

PRESS-REGISTER (Mobile, AL): Carjacks up, but cases decline
February 11, 2008
BYLINE: Brendan Kirby
“Congress passed a federal law against carjacking in 1992 and the first President Bush signed it with much fanfare. … ‘Carjacking was never going to be a nationwide federal priority,’ said Dan Richman, a professor at Columbia University Law School.”

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Glare of Clemens case reflects on Yankees
February 10, 2008
BYLINE: Lance Williams
“He was the greatest pitcher of his time, and a mainstay of the team that dominated what now is called baseball's steroid era. … ‘He got too indignant, and that caught Congress' attention,’ said Columbia Law School professor John Coffee, who has written about perjury issues. Having convened the hearing specifically to probe Clemens' widely publicized attack on McNamee and the Mitchell Report, lawmakers are unlikely to back off if they become convinced he is lying, Coffee says.”

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February 1 - 9, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES: Debt Relief Can Cause Headaches of Its Own
February 9, 2008
BYLINE: Jane Birnbaum
“It wasn’t supposed to work this way. Credit card companies have long seduced customers with ‘buy now, pay later,’ hoping they would pay at least a minimum amount month after month but never pay off their debts. Now, though, with the economy slowing and houses no longer easy sources of cash, a growing number of consumers cannot pay even the minimums. … Ronald J. Mann, a law professor at Columbia University and a credit expert, describes credit industry practices as intended to enslave borrowers in a ‘sweat box.’ He recommends a Chapter 7 bankruptcy that wipes out most credit card debt.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Democratic Race Causes Feminist Rift
February 9, 2008
BYLINE: Alexandra Alter
"As Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama vie for women's votes, feminist groups are divided over whether feminists should automatically support the first woman with a real shot at the presidency. ... 'What does this simplistic solidarity say to feminists of color?' said Kimberle Crenshaw, a professor of law and executive director of the African American Policy Forum. 'If the idea is, vote for the person who looks like you, what am I supposed to do as an African-American woman?'"

INFORMATION WEEK: Virtualization Blog: An Obscure Concern
February 8, 2008
BYLINE: Joe Hernick
“I'm attending a symposium on Fair Use at Columbia Law today. Here's a 'rights' angle to consider for VMs while I listen to eight hours of lawyer-talk.”

REUTERS: Hedge funds flex political muscle in election
February 8, 2008
BYLINE: Svea Herbst-Bayliss
“Hedge fund managers Ken Griffin and Dan Loeb are backing Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, while Thomas Steyer and Marc Lasry are betting on his rival, Hillary Clinton. … ‘I think hedge funds feel more comfortable with Hillary, who comes from a standpoint of raising money from New York financial institutions,’ said Columbia Law School professor and securities industry expert John Coffee. ‘Obama talks about change and when you are a hedge fund, you don't want any change to the ground rules.’”

This story was picked up by Guardian Unlimited.

NEW YORK TIMES: Clemens and McNamee Take Their Stories to Capitol Hill
February 7, 2008
BYLINE: Duff Wilson and Michael S. Schmidt
“Brian McNamee has given federal investigators bloody gauze pads, vials and syringes he said he used to inject Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001, a lawyer with knowledge of the case said Wednesday. … Daniel C. Richman, a law professor at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor, said in a telephone interview: ‘The fact that these syringes were sitting in the accuser’s basement for years may lead to claims from the defense that they were fabricated. But a judge would probably give the government a chance to use them as evidence.’”

This story was noted in the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.

NEWSDAY: Whoever lied miscalculated
February 7, 2008
BYLINE: Johnette Howard
“Personal trainer Brian McNamee's new assertion that he gave federal authorities some seven-year-old bloody syringes and steroid-laced vials that he says proves Roger Clemens is a performance-enhancing-drug user did more than rachet up the intrigue about who's the spectacular liar in this case just days before both men are scheduled to appear at a congressional hearing in Washington on Wednesday. … Columbia professor Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor, said in a telephone interview Thursday that even if neither of them ever faces criminal charges, this case is instructive. ‘People who commit crimes -- and people who don't -- aren't fully aware of the traces their actions leave in the outside world,’ Richman said. ‘Memory is a strange thing. And what right now seems particularly important to investigators or interested parties wasn't really important when it happened. Putting your mind in the right frame [after the fact] to capture all the things you had contact with or all the things you did is a challenge for everybody.’”

Congressional Record Notes Columbia’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic Site,
Cites Recent NLJ and WSJ Articles

Statement of Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones
February 7, 2008
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4137, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, as reported by the Education and Labor Committee under the able leadership of the gentlemen from California, Chairman Miller and Ranking Member McKeon. … This provision is important and timely in light of a fifteen year decline in minority law school enrollment documented by a Columbia Law School web site created in conjunction with the Society of American Law Teachers.”

NEWSDAY: Analysts: McCain nomination nearly certain
February 6, 2008
BYLINE: Tom Brune and Keith Herbert
“Now that the delegate count from the 21 states in the Republican's Super Tuesday is becoming clearer, John McCain increasingly looks like a winner in the race for the GOP nomination. … But for Romney to snatch the nomination, he would either have to sweep all 23 contests and delegates from now until the May 20 primaries, or deny McCain more than half of the available delegates. ‘It is almost mathematically impossible,’ said Columbia Law School's Nathaniel Persily.”

COLUMBIA SPECTATOR: Super Tuesday Election Draws Out Local Voters
February 6, 2008
BYLINE: Zack Hoopes
“The tricky red levers on rickety old polling machines fazed some voters nearly as much as making a choice in yesterday’s primary election. … Nathaniel Persily, Columbia Law School professor and expert on election law and political strategy, noted that the importance of early primaries lies in the ability of candidates to live up to their public image. ‘The important thing,’ Persilly said, ‘is to show that you [the candidate] can fulfill or exceed expectations – and expectations have been shifting wildly recently.’”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Fitch to Review Corporate Debt Ratings
February 5, 2008
BYLINE: Stephen Bernard and Alan Zibel
“Fitch Ratings said Tuesday it may slash its rating on $110 billion of pools of corporate bonds as the ratings agency reconsiders how it assesses the investments. … Columbia Law School professor John C. Coffee, said the proposals fall short of changes needed to restore investors' confidence in mortgage investments.”

This story was picked up by Forbes, BusinessWeek and other media outlets.

ALTERNET.ORG: Feminist Ultimatums: Not In Our Name
February 5, 2008
BYLINE: Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Eve Ensler
“The rubble that was once the World Trade Center was still smoldering when President Bush issued an ultimatum that marked our foolhardy and tragic descent into war: Laying down the law, he declared, ‘Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.’ Progressives, feminists, civil libertarians, compassionate conservatives and independent thinkers alike denounced the president's rant as a simplistic but frightening attempt to hijack the outpouring of grief felt world wide to serve his pro-war agenda. Thousands refused to be held hostage to this friend or foe logic in the face of considerable doubt and genuine disagreement about how to respond to the tragedy of 9/11. … In seeking to corral wayward souls into the Hillary Clinton camp, the new players of this troubling game are no longer the hawkish Republicans but ‘either/or’ feminists determined to see to it that a woman occupies the Oval Office. … Kimberlé Crenshaw teaches Civil Rights and other courses in critical race studies and constitutional law at UCLA and Columbia School of Law.”

DENVER POST: McCain's continued lead defies pundits' attacks
February 5, 2008
BYLINE: Chuck Plunkett
“Days of vicious assault by conservative talk-show hosts against John McCain may be having some impact in California and Georgia, but the Arizona senator continued to dominate almost everywhere else Monday, leaving political observers mixed on whether the pundits have mattered. … ‘Romney is looking for something to show the media that Super Tuesday is not the end of the race,’ said Nathaniel Persily, an expert on politics and election law at the Columbia Law School in New York. ‘That's the most he can hope for at this point.’”

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: ABA may tighten rule on bar exam performance
February 4, 2008
BYLINE: Leigh Jones
“Amid pressure from the U.S. Department of Education, the American Bar Association is poised to tighten a rule that requires law schools to show that they are graduating students who can pass the bar exam. … Eddie Koen Jr., national chairman of the Black Law Students Association, said that the new rule was particularly troubling in light of a recent report released by Columbia Law School showing that law school enrollment among blacks and Mexican-Americans has fallen by 8.6% in the past 15 years.”

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE: Stuck with a bad loan, a Staten Island family fights back
February 3, 2008
BYLINE: Karen O'Shea
“David and Karen Shearon were like many other Staten Islanders stuck with bad loans, collapsing financially under the weight of a crushing mortgage less than a year after buying their first home. … James Tierney, director of the National Attorneys General program at Columbia Law School, said trial judges across the country are beginning to question banks seeking to foreclose on homeowners in similar situations. ‘What I am seeing is a number of trial judges saying, 'Enough is enough, fraud is fraud.' They are kind of taking a stand,’ said Tierney.”


FINANCIAL TIMES: Big groups set to lead Russian buying spree
February 2, 2008
BYLINE: Isabel Gorst in Moscow, Stefan Wagstyl in London and, Richard McGregor in Beijing
“Russia's big energy and mining companies are expected to be the first to respond to the Kremlin's call to embark on a global shopping spree for new assets to expand the economy and boost Russia's standing overseas. … According to a study by the Moscow School of Management and the New York-based Columbia Program on International Investment, four oil and gas companies, led by Gazprom and Lukoil, and nine metals and mining firms, led by Rusal, the aluminium giant and Severstal, the steelmaker, together accounted for more than 78 per cent of total assets of $60bn held by Russian companies overseas at the end of 2006.”

ABC NEWS: Art or Obscenity? Unusual Case Draws Controversy
February 1, 2008
BYLINE: Scott Michels
“For about the last eight years, Karen Fletcher has rarely left her run-down house outside Pittsburgh, she says. Described by her lawyers as timid and reclusive, Fletcher recently began posting short stories on the Internet that describe, in graphic detail, the sexual abuse and torture of young children – in order, she says, to cope with her own history of abuse. … ‘We haven't seen anything like that since the '60's,’ said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who has written about obscenity law. He called Fletcher's case ‘astonishing.’ … ‘The idea that you can arrest someone for looking at dirty pictures seems antiquated today,’ Wu said. ‘It's close to being a dead law.’”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Sesquicentennial Celebration
February 1, 2008
"In the first of a series of events marking its 150th anniversary, Columbia Law School Dean David M. Schizer, right, presented H.F. 'Gerry' Lenfest, class of 1958, with this year's Medal of Excellence during a Jan. 25 luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria."

WALL STREET JOURNAL: IAC Tells Court Liberty Dispute Impedes Its Business
February 1, 2008
BYLINE: Jessica E. Vascellaro
“As a Delaware court prepares to hear arguments today in the legal battle over control of IAC/InterActiveCorp, IAC said in a filing that the dispute has jeopardized its ability to conduct business. … John Coffee, director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School, says Liberty has ‘a steeply uphill battle’ in trying to prove that Mr. Diller violated his agreement by expressing his intention to vote in favor of a spinout. ‘My view is that the defendants have a strong argument that the proxy hasn't been violated, because no vote has been taken,’ Prof. Coffee says.”

DAILY NEWS: Committing mentally ill person ain't easy
February 1, 2008
BYLINE: Jordan Lite
“Committing a mentally ill person is no easy task for his relatives or even his doctors. … Being committed doesn't automatically translate into immediate treatment, unless the person consents to it or is ‘wildly assaultive or self-destructive,’ said Dr. Paul Appelbaum, director of Columbia University's division of psychiatry, law and ethics. Doctors can give treatment to a person who objects only if a court hearing says it's necessary, Appelbaum said.’’

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