BBC RADIO: Newshour January 31, 2008 BYLINE: Roger Hearing “Tonight has other significance for the campaign … Joining me now is Professor Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law at Columbia Law School in New York.”
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Fair Disclosure Rule A Work In Progress Seven Years Later January 31, 2008 BYLINE: J. Bonasia “Sun Microsystems (JAVA) is once again looking to interpret Reg FD, the rule that seeks to guarantee that everyone gets equal, timely access to corporate earnings and other news that can affect stock prices. … Sun's efforts raise some vital questions about the best way to honor the intent of Regulation Fair Disclosure in this age of electronic media, says John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School. ‘There is no SEC requirement that a company has to use a paid wire service to put its earnings out,’ he said. ‘The only requirement is, when the company makes disclosures to some people, it has to make them universal.’”
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW President’s Column: Judicialization and Its Discontents January 31, 2008 BYLINE: José E. Alvarez “The ASIL recently released a fascinating collection of 11 speeches made by Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court to the ASIL’s Annual Meetings from 1922 through 2005. … It is striking how often these speeches, particularly the early ones by Chief Justices William Howard Taft and Charles Evans Hughes and Justices Owen J. Roberts and Robert H. Jackson, stressed the need first, for the United States to lead the world in constructing a viable international court to settle interstate disputes and second, the need for the United States to lead by example in participating in such a court.”
FINANCIAL TIMES: Bayou’s Marino gets 20 years for fraud January 30, 2008 BYLINE: Anuj Gangahar “The former finance chief of bankrupt hedge fund company Bayou Management was sentenced to 20 years in prison, among the harshest sentences meted out in the US for a white-collar crime, for his part in defrauding investors of more than $400m. … Professor John Coffee, of Columbia University law school, said the sentence was harsh for a first-time criminal who had not committed a violent crime, but added that the large amount of money stolen made it understandable.”
FINDLAW: Bush's War on Earmarks: The Right Message from the Wrong Messenger January 30, 2008 BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf “During his State of the Union Address on Monday night, President Bush denounced Congressional ‘earmarks’--a practice in which members of Congress use legislative history to direct funds to particular programs not specified in the appropriation bill's text. Like prior attacks on pork-barrel spending,the President's denunciation of earmarks is sound in principle. But for two reasons, Bush is poorly positioned to make the case against earmarks. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.”
AMERICAN PUBLIC MEDIA: Marketplace: What a few days off might have saved January 29, 2008 BYLINE: Stacey Vanek-Smith “French prosecutors on the case of the trader who cost the second-largest bank in France more than $7 billion say he's a trading addict. … Or not. John Coffee directs the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School. He says forcing traders onto Caribbean-bound planes is no fail-safe against fraud: John Coffee: ‘You find out one particular technique, you put in new controls to stop that and someone invents a new stratagem.’ Coffee says it's not addiction or vacation banks need to worry about; it's watching the shop, plain and simple.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Qtrax jumped gun on online deal, labels say January 29, 2008 BYLINE: Joseph Menn “The executives behind a new music service called Qtrax wanted to get the industry talking. They did -- for the wrong reasons. … That market value drop of more than $25 million should be enough to trigger a shareholder class-action lawsuit alleging fraud, Columbia University securities law expert John Coffee said. ‘There will predictably be some litigation,’ Coffee said. ‘There's a good chance the SEC may take action too.’’’
NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Lawyer's Bookshelf: Fighting for the City January 29, 2008 BYLINE: Richard Briffault “ ‘Fighting for the City: A History of the New York City Corporation Counsel,’ Professor William E. Nelson's magisterial history of New York's Law Department, is three books in one. First, it is a detailed study of the individuals who, over more than three centuries, held the office of corporation counsel and of the evolution of that office from a one-man operation in the 17th century to the multi-hundred member, multi-bureau complex institution it is today. … Richard Briffault is the Joseph P. Chamberlain professor of legislation at Columbia Law School.”
“A recent flurry of bilateral and regional trade agreements brings the issue of multilateral versus bilateral trade agreements to the fore in a fundamentally shifting global economy…Whether regional trade agreements will act as building blocs or, as economist Jagdish Bhagwati puts it, as "stumbling blocs" to a global free trade regime remains to be seen.”
DEAL JOURNAL (Wall Street Journal blog): Playing the Oldies at Blackstone-ADS January 28, 2008 BYLINE: Shasha Dai “Material-adverse-change clauses. Lack of financing. For getting out of a deal, that’s so 2007. So, we welcome back that old standby: regulatory roadblocks. … ADS also could very well come out and say that regulatory hurdles don’t provide an out for any party, as this transcript of an October conference call indicates. ‘We can anticipate some position taken by ADS that’ll be very different from Blackstone’s view,’ said John Coffee, professor with Columbia Law School.”
THE TICKER – BARUCH COLLEGE: Minority law school enrollment declines January 28, 2008 BYLINE: Sophia Ahmad “A new website created by the Society of American Law Schools in conjunction with Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic at the Columbia University School of Law documents an alarming decline in the number of African-American and Mexican-American matriculates in the nation's law schools. According to Columbia's website, www2.law.columbia.edu/civilrights, African-Americans and Mexican-Americans are being underrepresented in the country's law schools.”
“Tom Barr, the influential Cravath, Swaine & Moore trial attorney whose defense of IBM in its 13-year legal battle with the Justice Department set a standard for how lawyers conduct large-scale corporate litigation, died suddenly Thursday in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 77 years old…In a 1991 interview, Columbia Law professor John Coffee, a Cravath alum who had worked on the IBM case, explained the impact that the case, and Barr’s defense of it, had on future complex litigation. “In terms of millions of documents, new software systems and thousands of workers — lawyers, paralegals, outside counsel, in-house counsel — the I.B.M. case really defined the mega-case.”
“Change was the theme of the hour in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria at the kickoff of Columbia Law School’s sesquicentennial Friday, with attendees lauding the school’s international student body and network of alumni…The midday gathering was held in part to award a Medal of Excellence to H.F. Lenfest, Law ’58 who has donated more than $33 million to the law school, including more than $15 million to build Lenfest Hall….Capturing the feelings of almost every alum present, the Hon. James Bollard, Law ’59, noted that the day marked “the beginning of another 150 years.”
NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: Law school endowments skyrocket January 28, 2008 BYLINE: Leigh Jones “Top law schools are reporting record-breaking donations that are helping to cover tuition costs, hire faculty and promote public interest programs. … ‘Money is like fuel,’ said Columbia Law School Dean David Schizer. ‘A school can go higher and higher with more fuel.’ Since 2003, his school has received cash donations totaling nearly $100 million. The money has enabled the school to create seven new faculty positions, add a floor to its main building and provide more loan forgiveness to students pursuing public interest jobs after graduation, said Schizer, who became dean in 2004.”
“Anytime someone makes a point about the power of the news media, I perk up and take notice…Such was the case when Columbia School of Law professor and election law expert Nathaniel Persily was quoted in the Review-Journal this past week in a story in which many people bemoaned the raucousness of the caucuses and pined for a nice, clean, civilized primary election. … Professor Persily responded to such talk with this: `The move toward primaries has transferred power away from political parties to the media, who are then in a position to describe someone as having momentum.’”
“Enron Corp. creditors could see their original payout more than quadruple to as much as $31 billion after a trial against Citigroup Inc. …`There's a lot of evidence that financial irregularities occurred and they were aided and abetted and assisted by the banks,’ said John Coffee, a Columbia Law School securities law professor in New York.”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Net neutrality guru to speak at USF January 25, 2008 BYLINE: Ryan Kim “It makes sense that a man championing neutrality for the Internet and open wireless networks would want to call the Bay Area home. Despite living thousands of miles away, Columbia law Professor Timothy Wu does just that. … Despite his string of recent successes, Wu is not ready to declare victory. The future, he said, is far from set for both the Internet and the wireless world. He fears that network operators are still itching to provide tiered Internet service, and he's not convinced cellular carriers will follow through on promises to open up their networks. ‘The next five years will be completely critical,’ Wu said. ‘This is the founding period of the new media age.’’’
NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Accolades January 25, 2008 BYLINE: Thomas Adcock “Two jurists and Columbia Law School were honored Wednesday evening by the Association of Judges of Hispanic Heritage during its annual awards dinner on the campus of Columbia University, sponsored by the association, Columbia Law Dean David M. Schizer and the Latino/a Law Students' Association.’’ NEW YORK SUN: Lynne Stewart Case Returning to Court January 25, 2008 BYLINE: Joseph Goldstein "The disbarred attorney Lynne Stewart next week will seek to have overturned her conviction of acting as middleman between a terrorist she represented and his followers in Egypt. ... 'There was really no consensus in the bar that the government was overplaying its hand,' an expert in human rights and international law, Scott Horton, who teaches at Columbia Law School, said. 'I would say, in my own view, it came out right.'''
COLUMBIA SPECTATOR: Law School Panelists Weigh Localized Immigration Laws January 24, 2008 BYLINE: Alex Pianin "Four legal experts discussed the growing number of local governments attempting to exert control over immigration policy, a hot issue in the ongoing presidential campaign in a panel discussion at the Law School Wednesday night. ... Adjunct Professor of Law Lenni Benson, who teaches immigration law at Columbia Law School and attended the panel, said afterward that implementing such measures might have unintended consequences for the city. 'You need immigration lawyers, really experienced ones, to look at all your workers, look at all their verification, to make that kind of assessment,' Benson said. 'Of course big businesses will do that. Small businesses might be shut out. So there are these collateral consequences that I don’t think people are aware of.'"
NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Government Adopts Aggressive Posture in Tax-Fraud Appeal January 24, 2008 BYLINE: Beth Bar “Battle lines have been drawn in an appellate case that will determine whether the government manipulated accounting firm KPMG into refusing to pay the legal fees of former employees who needed to mount an effective defense against tax fraud charges. … In a separate brief filed on behalf of four other defendants, former Southern District Judge John S. Martin Jr., his partner, former U.S. Attorney Otto G. Obermaier, and Columbia Law School professor Daniel C. Richman said that KPMG was 'compelled to strive mightily' to avoid the fate of Arthur Andersen, which went out of business after it was indicted in March 2002 on charges relating to its conduct in connection with its auditing of Enron.”
REUTERS: Judge removes lawyer for ex-Giuliani aide Kerik January 24, 2008 BYLINE: Edith Honan “A U.S. federal judge on Thursday removed the lawyer for Bernard Kerik, a former New York police commissioner and protege of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani who faces federal corruption charges. … It is unlikely that Kerik will appeal the ruling since disqualification orders are generally accepted as final, said Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman.” This story was picked up by the Washington Post.
NEW YORK TIMES: Canseco Is Said to Seek Favor to Omit Name January 24, 2008 BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt and Duff Wilson “José Canseco, the former major league slugger and admitted steroid user who exposed other players in his 2005 best-selling book ‘Juiced,’ offered to keep a Detroit Tigers outfielder ‘clear’ in his next book if the player invested money in a film project Canseco was promoting, according to a person in baseball with knowledge of the situation. … Asked whether Canseco’s alleged actions constitute extortion, Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School and a former federal prosecutor, said it would be a hard case to prove. ‘A demand for an investment isn’t as obvious of a threat, and a jury may be less likely to see it as extortion compared to a demand for hard cash,’ he said.’’
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: All Things Considered: Auction Could Dictate Future of Wireless Devices January 23, 2008 BYLINE: Laura Sydell “MICHELE NORRIS: ‘Tomorrow night may be the beginning of your wireless future. The FCC is beginning to auction off a big chunk of the wireless spectrum.’ … Professor TIM WU (Law, Columbia Law School): ‘Ten years ago, you’d read these articles about refrigerators that called for milk and, you know, things like that and they haven’t really materialized and I think one of the reasons is that there is excessive control of the airwaves.’’’
TIME: Will Google Go Mobile? January 23, 2008 BYLINE: Kristina Dell “It might not sound like the sexiest deal, but today the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will auction off rights to the 700 MHz band of wireless spectrum — a sale that has the potential to create a seismic shift in the telecommunications landscape. … ‘I think Google is going to go for it,’ says Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor and net neutrality expert. ‘They are the Obama in this race. They don't have the advantages of the Bell culture, but they aren't trapped by it either.’ … In August, the FCC backed Google's crusade (spawned by a paper written by Tim Wu for the New America Foundation calling for open networks) and mandated that the auction's largest available spectrum, the C block, be an open network if the bid reached at least $4.6 billion. … ‘The auction is potentially a big turning point for the whole wireless market,’ says Wu. ‘The dream is to create a reliable, ubiquitous wireless Internet floating around you like the air you breathe.’’’
WASHINGTON POST: Court Declines Enron Investors' Appeal January 23, 2008 BYLINE: Carrie Johnson and Robert Barnes “The Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear an appeal by Enron investors suing major banks that allegedly helped the Houston company disguise its financial problems, all but closing the door on efforts by shareholders to hold third parties responsible for crippling stock losses. … ‘From a public policy standpoint, it's an outrageous result,’ said former SEC Commissioner Harvey J. Goldschmid, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the plaintiffs. ‘You can't turn down Enron without understanding the signal you're sending.’”
BLOOMBERG: Citigroup Game of Chicken May Double Enron Creditors' Payout January 23, 2008 BYLINE: Christopher Scinta “Enron Corp. creditors could see their original payout more than quadruple to as much as $31 billion after a trial against Citigroup Inc. … ‘There's a lot of evidence that financial irregularities occurred and they were aided and abetted and assisted by the banks,’ said John Coffee, a Columbia Law School securities law professor in New York.”
JUDICIAL REPORTS: Where Next? January 23, 2008 BYLINE: Jason Boog “Defenders of the status quo might have thought that last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court finally laid to rest the push for judicial selection reform in New York. … Richard Briffault, a legislative law expert at Columbia Law School, theorized about advocating for either voters or candidates under New York provisions. ‘The state constitution gives some direct protections of voting. [They could make] an Article II claim, perhaps . . . in Article VI there might be a judiciary angle.’ … ‘Don’t Sue – Legislate!’ Nathaniel Persily, a Columbia Law School professor, strongly disagreed with this strategy, explaining how Lopez Torres revealed a flawed, but constitutional system. ‘I tend to think there’s going to be better success by going through the legislature on this, rather than litigation,’ he said. ‘The State may have won, but it won by defending a marginally indefensible system. What one can hope is that New York State will change its method. I would think that the good government groups should push for that, rather than going to the courts.’’’
LAW.COM: Changing the Online Legal Landscape January 23, 2008 BYLINE: Robert Ambrogi “Fire up the Klieg lights and tidy up your tux. It is time to honor the five most notable legal sites of 2007. … Another was AltLaw, unveiled in August as a joint project of Columbia Law School and the University of Colorado Law School. Its purpose is similar: make federal case law easier to search and freely accessible to the public. It contains nearly 170,000 decisions dating back to the early 1990s from the Supreme Court and federal appellate courts. The site's creators, Columbia's Timothy Wu and Stuart Sierra and Colorado's Paul Ohm, said the database will grow over time.”
HARVARD CRIMSON: N.Y. Attorney General Launches Investigation of Study Abroad Program January 22, 2008 BYLINE: Kevin Zhou “Harvard officials confirmed Tuesday that they received a subpoena from the New York Attorney General’s Office regarding an investigation into how the University approves contracts for its study abroad program. … It remains unclear how seriously Harvard’s study abroad program will be affected by the probe, according to James E. Tierney, a former Maine Attorney General who is now the director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School, because it appears as though the investigation is still in the fact-gathering stage. ‘It depends on what he finds out,’ said Tierney, referring to Cuomo. ‘The question is what kind of resolution there would be.’ Tierney, who stressed that he was unfamiliar with the details of the case, added that it is not uncommon for attorneys general to investigate institutions in states other than their own. ‘He has the ability to investigate unfair and deceptive practices that have been used against New York residents,’ he said. ‘The basis of his jurisdiction is whether or not New York residents have been deceived or harmed in some way.’’’
WALL STREET JOURNAL: Same as She Never Was: Clinton Is Running Now As the Underdog January 22, 2008 BYLINE: Amy Chozick ``Voters love a good comeback story. But as the tight Democratic race moves into South Carolina and beyond, Democrat Hillary Clinton faces a conundrum: how to maintain her come-from-behind status while racking up the victories. … `The name of the game is beating expectations, and the more expectations are pushed down, the better you look on Election Day,’ says Nathaniel Persily, a professor of political science at Columbia University School of Law.’’
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Caucus-goers find much to love, hate January 22, 2008 BYLINE: Adrienne Packer and Ed Vogel ``Politicians praised Saturday's caucuses for allowing Nevadans to reconnect with grass-roots politics and generate energy within the parties, but some participants were not so enamored with the voting process. … But Nathanial Persily, a Columbia School of Law professor, said primaries take power away from the voters. `The move toward primaries has transferred power away from political parties to the media, who are then in a position to describe someone as having momentum,’ Persily said.’’
COLUMBIA SPECTATOR: Possibility of Eminent Domain Worries Manhattanville Residents January 22, 2008 BYLINE: Maggie Astor ``Bright orange brick reaches into the Manhattanville skyline, refusing to blend in. … `Nobody really knows exactly what the original understanding of this [eminent domain] was. The history is murky,’ Columbia Law School professor Thomas Merrill explained. … Experts say that because negotiation has always been Columbia’s preferred strategy, it is highly unlikely eminent domain will be used to acquire the remaining properties. But for Columbia, Merrill said the final decision depends `on how much they have to pay to get these parcels without using eminent domain, It’s a balancing process—the financial factors involved to deal with these holdouts.’’’
NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: Minority enrollment is faltering January 21, 2008 BYLINE: Leigh Jones ``A web site recently established by an elite law school paints a dismal picture of enrollment among certain minority groups in law schools generally — a picture that may well become still bleaker.Enrollment of blacks and Mexican-Americans has fallen by 8.6% in the past 15 years, according to a Web site created by Columbia Law School and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT). … `It's not a pipeline problem,’ said Conrad Johnson, clinical professor of law at Columbia. Johnson and two law students working with the school's Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic helped create the Web site, along with SALT. He said that the statistics, compiled from information provided by the Law School Admission Council, dispute the notion that the low enrollment numbers among blacks and Mexican-Americans are due to dwindling applications from those groups.’’
NEW YORK PUBLIC RADIO: Advice for Barack Obama January 21, 2008 BYLINE: Brian Lehrer ``At yesterday's event, Embracing the Radical Martin Luther King, Jr.: Prophetic or Passé?, panelists Corey D.B. Walker, Ph.D., assistant professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, and Patricia J. Williams, J.D., James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University, responded to a question about what advice Dr. King would offer Barack Obama today.’’
FINANCIAL TIMES: ‘Regulation-lite’ belongs to a different age January 20, 2008 BYLINE: John Coffee ``Conventional wisdom holds that the London Stock Exchange is winning the international battle for listings and offerings, in large measure because of the `regulation-lite’ policies of the UK’s Financial Services Agency. The reality is, however, more complex. A significant enforcement gap exists between the US and the UK, and its impact creates a regulatory dilemma for both countries. London’s Alternative Investment Market has been spectacularly successful but does that success prove the value of a `light touch’ on enforcement? The answer probably depends on what a country most wants its capital markets to do: either attract foreign listings, transactions and trading volume, or reduce the cost of capital to issuers. … The writer is the Adolf A. Berle professor of law at Columbia University Law School and director of its Center on Corporate Governance.’’
NEW YORK TIMES: Name of Possible Witness Emerges in an Audiotape January 20, 2008 BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt and Duff Wilson ``For the past five years, Jim Murray’s job has been to tend to the needs of the New York-area clients of Hendricks Sports Management, a Texas agency that built its name on its representation of Roger Clemens. … Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School and a former federal prosecutor, said if Murray ever did corroborate McNamee’s version of a 2004 conversation between them, it would bolster McNamee’s credibility because it would prove a `prior consistent statement. It would show the committee that McNamee wasn’t just making stuff up now,’ Richman said. `But if Murray says he doesn’t remember the meeting, it will just be another he said, he said.’’’
CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: Minority Enrollment Drops Issue of January 18, 2008 BYLINE: Katherine Mangan ``Between 1992 and 2005, the enrollment of black and Mexican-American law students dropped nationwide, according to a recent compilation of law-school admissions data. The statistics, from the Law School Admission Council, are highlighted on a new Web site (http://www2.law.columbia.edu/civilrights) created by Columbia Law School. … The decline occurred even though members of those groups have applied to law schools in relatively constant numbers during the period between 1992 and 2006, and standardized test scores and grade-point averages of those students have risen, said Conrad A. Johnson, clinical professor of law at Columbia. Mr. Johnson believes the decline may be due in part to law schools' focus on magazine rankings that rely heavily on Law School Admission Test scores.’’
CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER: Many Subprime Culprits Will Escape Private Liability Because of Stoneridge Decision January 18, 2008 ``What does the Supreme Court’s decision in Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta Inc. mean for many of the culprits in the subprime debacle? It means that they too will escape private liability. That’s the take of Columbia University Law Professor John Coffee. Coffee said that the Supreme Court’s Stoneridge decision `means that private liability for persons who commit knowing and egregious fraud but make no public statement is over. Although the plaintiffs' bar is trying to distinguish the case, they are clutching at straws,’ Coffee told Corporate Crime Reporter. `In light of the subprime mortgage issue, this could be an election year issue, as the average citizen sees no reason to immunize fraudulent behavior just because it is silent. I would think that Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and others in Congress would begin to think next year about legislation to restore aiding and abetting liability.’’’
TIMES: The Water Cooler January 18, 2008 ``He might not have a Facebook group like Lord Denning, but Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has a website devoted to publicising his rulings. Project Posner, set up by Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia, contains the wit and wisdom of the man referred to as `probably the greatest living American jurist’.’’
“Nationwide enrollment of African-American and Mexican-American students in U.S. law schools is down significantly since 1992 and could drop further.
According to statistics reviewed by individuals at Columbia Law School and the Society of American Law Teachers and discussed on their website, law school enrollment by members of these racial minority groups has dropped by 8.6 percent over the past 15 years.”
MIDLAND DAILY NEWS: Williams talks of 'crisis in the land' January 17, 2008 BYLINE: Julie Ann Williamson ``Saginaw Valley State University kicked off its Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration 2008 on Wednesday evening with dinner and a lecture by Patricia J. Williams, a nationally known legal scholar, columnist and author. … Attorney Gena R. Amos, named one of Saginaw's 100 outstanding African-American women, introduced Williams, calling her an `intellectual, pioneer, humanitarian and legal scholar.’ Williams, the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University School of Law, lived up to that praise, as she delivered a speech that tied Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the upcoming election to race and gender discrimination that still exists in 2008.’’
NEW YORK SUN: Subpar Ratings For the Ratings Agencies January 17, 2008 BYLINE: Liz Peek ``Much has been written, and there will be more to come, about the failure of Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's to anticipate the subprime mortgage debacle. … A law professor at Columbia University who testified before the Senate Banking Committee in September on these matters, John Coffee, has some thoughts. `We want more competition, and especially new participants that are paid by subscribers rather than by the issuers, as Moody's was, initially,’ he says.
NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Corporate Securities: To Opt or Not to Opt? That Is the Question January 17, 2008 BYLINE: John C. Coffee, Jr. ``Securities litigation has gone through a series of rapid and wrenching changes, as filings first fell drastically for two years and then rebounded this last quarter as the subprime mortgage debacle brought a new class of defendants within the plaintiffs' bar's crosshairs. But while these developments have generated headlines, a quieter, more destabilizing change has been surging beneath the surface, and it may revolutionize securities litigation practice. This is the new trend for institutional investors to opt out of the class action and sue (generally in state court) in individual or consolidated proceedings. Institutions that do so seem to fare markedly better than those who remain in the class. In turn, that raises two basic questions: (1) Will any institutions stay in the class in the future?; and (2) What impact will institutional opt-outs have on retail investors who remain in the now depleted class? … John C. Coffee, Jr. is the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School and director of its Center on Corporate Governance.’’
NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: High court upholds N.Y.'s judicial election system January 17, 2008 BYLINE: Daniel Wise and Joel Stashenko ``The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously upheld the constitutionality of New York state's convention system for nominating Supreme Court justices. … Professor Nathaniel Persily, an election law expert at Columbia Law School, called the Court's `unanimous ruling in favor of party autonomy a pretty significant blow to good government groups.’’’
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Nevada Caucus: State, local teachers at odds January 17, 2008 BYLINE: Lisa Kim Bach and Adrienne Packer ``The Nevada State Education Association's decision to join a lawsuit challenging the use of nine Las Vegas casinos as Democratic caucus sites may have fractured its relationship with its largest local affiliate. … `It is perfectly possible that the court will deem that a doctrine of laches applies, meaning if you could have voiced your claim by doing it at the last possible moment, you are prevented from stopping it,’ said Nathaniel Persily, a professor at the Columbia School of Law. `They may simply say it is too late in the day to make this argument.’’’
CNET NEWS: Should AT&T police the Internet? January 17, 2008 BYLINE: Marguerite Reardon ``For the past several months, AT&T executives have said the company is testing technology to filter traffic on its network to look for copyrighted material that is being illegally distributed. … `I can't see why filtering traffic would be of interest to AT&T,’ said Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University and an Internet pundit. `AT&T spent six years and millions of dollars lobbying for a law so they wouldn't have to filter for copyrighted material on their network. And now they want to do it.’ … `I just think this exposes AT&T to some expensive liability,’ Wu said. `The fact is that it's not easy to figure out what infringes a copyright and what doesn't. It's difficult to believe that an algorithm could do this when the U.S. Supreme Court is often called upon to answer the same question. And when you're talking about copyright, the liability is huge.’’’ This story was picked up by the New York Times.
NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Third Parties Shielded From Securities Suits January 16, 2008 BYLINE: Tony Mauro ``The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday handed a solid win to third-party defendants in securities litigation - including law firms, accountants and bankers - by shielding them from broad `scheme liability’ for their tangential role in corporate fraud. … But John C. Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School, said the majority's opinion also was a reflection of its concern for the separation of powers and its view of congressional intent to restrict securities class actions. He said the politicians' approach could change with a Democratic Congress and president. … Justice Stevens criticized the majority's `mistaken hostility towards the 10(b) private cause of action.’ He quoted statements made by former SEC chairmen William H. Donaldson and Arthur Levitt Jr. and former SEC Commissioner Harvey J. Goldschmid in an amicus brief, that liability for violations of §10(b) `will not harm American competitiveness; in fact, investor faith in the safety and integrity of our markets is their strength.’’’
NEW YORK SUN: High Court Decision Could Protect Subprime Players January 16, 2008 BYLINE: Joseph Goldstein ``A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court could make it more difficult for investors to sue over the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. … `There are a lot of people, credit rating agencies, mortgage consultants, and others who are immunized by this decision,’ an expert on corporate governance at Columbia Law School, John Coffee, said.’’
REUTERS: MySpace and most states agree on Web safety steps January 14, 2008 BYLINE: Martha Graybow and Michele Gershberg ``Popular online teen hangout MySpace and 49 U.S. state attorneys general said on Monday they had agreed on a broad set of guidelines for protecting youths on the Internet. … The agreement is significant because MySpace agreed to changes without any court action, said James Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine and director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School. Tierney was not involved in negotiating the agreement. `It's an interesting way now for the attorneys general to proceed -- nobody has been sued and there was really no threat of a lawsuit though they didn't take it off the table,’ he said. `I think this could be a real template for governmental action in not just the technology area, but other areas as well.’’’
BUSINESS NEWS NETWORK: The Business News (clip begins at 9:39) January 14, 2008 BYLINE: Howard Green ``Well, think of them as sub-subprime. … We spoke with John Coffee, professor of securities law at Columbia University about the difference between an exception and a subprime loan.’’
FINDLAW: When Does Taking Account of Discrimination by Others Amount to Discrimination Itself? A Question Posed By the Obama and Clinton Candidacies January 14, 2008 BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf ``Caucus-goers and primary voters in both major parties surely want to select a Presidential candidate they trust and admire, whose values they share, and perhaps most of all, who stands a good chance of winning the general election. For ideological outliers in each party, these criteria often conflict. A socially conservative Republican might be happiest with Mike Huckabee as the nominee, but worry that he will alienate moderates in the general election, thus helping elect a Democrat. Likewise, a left-leaning Democrat might think that Dennis Kucinich would be the best President, but fear that nominating Kucinich would greatly increase the likelihood of the Republican nominee winning. Such voters must therefore decide whether and how to trade off their own political preferences against the candidates' `electability.’ The potential for this sort of tradeoff exists in most Presidential primary election years, but in the current cycle it has an additional twist, at least for Democrats. This time around, calculations of electability may take into account the likelihood that some number of general election voters will shun the eventual Democratic nominee on either racist or sexist grounds. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.’’
NEW YORKER: The Search Party Issue of January 14, 2008 ``In June, 2006, Sergey Brin, one of the co-founders of Google, went to Washington, D.C., hoping to create a little good will. … Tim Wu, a professor of law at Columbia University who once worked in Silicon Valley and closely follows events there, says, `It’s a precocious company. Great grades. Perfect I.P.O. A typical high-school standout. The basic problem is whether it remains true to its founding philosophy. I don’t just mean ‘Don’t be evil.’ ’ He means, will it stay focussed on its `founding philosophy, which is really an engineer’s aesthetic of getting you to what you want as fast as you can and getting out of the way,’ or will it become `a source of content, a platform, a destination?’ He says, `I predict that Google will wind up at war with itself.’’'
NEW YORK TIMES: Clemens’s Lawyers Negotiating Deposition January 14, 2008 BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt and Duff Wilson ``When Mark McGwire and four other baseball players testified in front of Congress three years ago, they did so under oath but were not forced to give depositions in advance of their testimony. … Depositions, according to Daniel C. Richman, a law professor at Columbia University, will allow the committee to pin down McNamee and Clemens on specifics surrounding their comments.’’
WALL STREET JOURNAL: Too Many Cooks? (subscription required) January 14, 2008 BYLINE: Sarah E. Needleman ``Facing calls for tighter corporate governance, a growing number of companies are turning to a new breed of chairman to lead their board -- outsiders with experience as CEOs. … Mr. Kangas was a wise choice for the chairman job because `not only is he a former CEO, but he is a regulatory-sensitive person,’ says John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York who is familiar with Tenet through his research into corporate boards. `Anyone running an accounting firm understands the need for cutting square corners.’’’
NEW YORK SUN: Cuomo Stands Alone on 2nd Amendment January 14, 2008 BYLINE: Joseph Goldstein ``In arguing that the Second Amendment case now before the Supreme Court shouldn't have any bearing on state gun control laws, Attorney General Cuomo is finding himself largely alone among state attorneys general. … `I could see an attorney general saying that maybe if I come in on the other side, I may be able to find the middle ground and have more credibility with the court,’ a former attorney general of Maine, James Tierney, who now runs the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia University, said. `They think the District of Columbia is likely to get struck down, but they don't want that decision to go beyond striking down that provision,’ he said.’’
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Big companies welcome foreign investments January 13, 2008 BYLINE: Kathleen Pender ``Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, which have already sold large stakes to developing-world governments, are reportedly on the prowl for more overseas capital, likely from other government investment funds. … Harvey Goldschmid, a Columbia Law School professor and former Securities and Exchange commissioner, says greater scrutiny is justified in some cases. `If it's a large sovereign wealth fund from a nation that has different traditions and values than we have, then you have to raise issues about how it will behave in our markets and whether the SEC will have regulatory and enforcement jurisdiction. If it's a sovereign wealth fund run by government officials, there are issues as to whether we could bring insider trading or fraud cases against them.’ … Most of their Wall Street investments have stayed below the 10 percent ownership threshold that usually triggers a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews purchases on national-security grounds. `If it's below 10 percent, it's considered a portfolio investment. Above 10 percent, you might exercise control, you would have some lasting influence’ on the company, says Karl Sauvant, executive director of the Columbia Program on International Investment. … Biggest sovereign wealth funds [data] … Source: `World Investment Prospects to 2011: Foreign Direct Investment and the Challenge of Political Risk,’ (www.cpii.columbia.edu) and Chronicle research (recent investments).’’
OBSERVER: I'm a black woman. This is my dream January 13, 2008 BYLINE: Patricia Williams ``The political history of the United States has been crafted by its greatest orators. From Thomas Jefferson to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, the most influential Presidents have anchored their appeal in the democracy of the eloquently spoken word. As the election of November 2008 draws closer, we usher out George W Bush, the most spectacularly dismal exception to that rule. Of course, there are many attributes other than oratory I'll be looking for in candidates running for highest office: he or she must not think war is a 'cakewalk', must be alarmed about global warming, must not think torture is a handy little tool. Nevertheless, I will be listening hard for any future President's ability to string words into unmuddied, coherent thought. I'll be listening for ideas that have been worked through sufficiently to have a beginning, a middle and an end. I'm looking for intelligence. Someone who has real ideas, something more than missiles wrapped in folksy homilies. Too many people see Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's appeal as rooted in 'identity politics'. It is the cheap political equation of the moment. He's supposed to walk away with the black vote, she's supposed to have women all sewn up. But the diversity of their constituencies and the complexity of their platforms have defied simplistic expectations. … Patricia Williams is a professor of law at Columbia University and a regular columnist for the Nation.’’
NEW YORK TIMES: A Militia of One (Well Regulated) January 13, 2008 BYLINE: Adam Liptak ``THE Supreme Court is poised to decide whether the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms or only a collective right tied to service in a state militia. … At a debate at Columbia Law School in November, Robert A. Levy, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case before the Supreme Court, District of Columbia v. Heller, proposed a thought experiment. Suppose there were a constitutional amendment that said, `A well-educated electorate, being necessary to the self-governance of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.’ Who would doubt that such an amendment protected a right to possess all books and to read books for purposes other than civic self-betterment? His opponent, Michael Dorf, a law professor at Columbia, countered that the amendment might well not protect pornographic books.’’
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: Rich Hartmann: Opportunity denied? January 13, 2008 BYLINE: Derrick Goold ``A former Cardinals minor-leaguer confesses he doesn't have the most convincing case, but Rich Hartmann hopes that after hearing his story another ballplayer will emerge with a better reason to take Major League Baseball to court. ... `The union, baseball, both should embrace stronger policies for the benefit of the hypothetical minor-leaguers of the future, so they can have a drug-free industry to pursue their jobs,' said Robert Kheel, a lecturer at Columbia Law School.''
January 13, 2008BYLINE: Derrick Goold``A former Cardinals minor-leaguer confesses he doesn't have the most convincing case, but Rich Hartmann hopes that after hearing his story another ballplayer will emerge with a better reason to take Major League Baseball to court. ... `The union, baseball, both should embrace stronger policies for the benefit of the hypothetical minor-leaguers of the future, so they can have a drug-free industry to pursue their jobs,' said
HUFFINGTON POST: Roadblocks to the Mobile Web January 11, 2008 ``The introduction of the iPhone last year foretold a not-so-distant future where Internet access is a constant for those on the go. But the `mobile Web’ -- a prospect made very real by the iPhone's raging popularity -- raised thorny questions about the policies that allowed cell phone companies to control our wireless experience. … It's a business model that Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu calls anything but revolutionary. `AT&T is the oldest of the old school -- the most ancient major high-tech firm in the United States, founded in 1878,’ Wu wrote in an influential Slate article. `AT&T is back to its classic business model: own the largest networks and everything on them.’’’
NEW YORK PUBLIC RADIO: ON THE MEDIA: The Internets January 11, 2008 BYLINE: Brooke Gladstone ``The Internet is always evolving, but if there’s one constant we can rely on, it’s that the World Wide Web is world-wide. … ICANN has recently succumbed to pressure from China and Russia to allow the creation of domain names using non-Latin alphabets, like Chinese and Cyrillic. And, according to Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, that could mark the beginning of the end of the Web as we know it.’’
NEWSWEEK: Annals of Filicide January 11, 2008 BYLINE: Raina Kelley ``In the annals of crime, this one appeared particularly horrific: Lam Luong, a 37-year-old shrimp fisherman, accused of throwing his four young children, two boys and two girls, all under the age of 3, off a bridge near Mobile, Ala. to their deaths. … Dr. Paul Appelbaum is a professor of psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and the author of `The Clinical Handbook of Psychiatry and the Law.’ He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Raina Kelley about why parents kill their kids and the motivational differences when mothers and fathers commit these types of crimes.’’ Paul Appelbaum is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law.
NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: White-Collar Crime: Thoughts on Federal Plea Bargaining, Trials, Acquittals (subscription required) January 10, 2008 ``As one veteran prosecutor recently put it, 'trials should be the showcase for how the criminal justice system operates.' But as astute analysts of, and participants in, the criminal justice system have observed, the number of trials (and acquittals) in the federal system has diminished in recent years. … Professor Wright's article has led to a number of thoughtful responses by other scholars and practitioners. Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia Law School, challenges Mr. Wright's findings by stating that it is difficult to assess the federal courts as a 'system.' Rather, Professor Richman asserts that in reality the federal structure is 'an adjunct to state or, more often, local criminal justice systems.' Indeed, federal prosecutors often work with local or state law enforcement officials in developing cases. Accordingly, Mr. Richman argues that aggregate case load statistics are hard to interpret as a whole since drops in acquittal rates may be attributable to different factors in each federal district.’’
NEW YORK TIMES: City Room blog: A Closer Look at the Seinfeld Food Fight January 8, 2008 ``So, as Motoko Rich reported today, the food fight between Missy Chase Lapine and the Seinfelds has gotten legal and ugly. … `Some of the plagiarism that is unethical is not illegal,’ said Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University, who added that he has no opinion as to whether Ms. Lapine was the victim of vegetable plagiarism. `There is a difference between law and morality.’ As for the lawsuit itself? He added: `Frankly, I read the complaint. It should be thrown out. It’s close to frivolous. It’s terrible.’ … Professor Wu, who teaches a popular class on copyright, walked through the American intellectual property system for City Room (almost as though it were a law lecture).’’ USA TODAY: Suits to clear name, such as Clemens', are rare, risky January 7, 2008 ``Roger Clemens joined a class that is more exclusive than any Hall of Fame when his legal team filed a defamation suit against his former trainer: athletes who have used the judicial system in an effort to clear their names. `It's a risk,' said Robert J. Kheel, a lecturer at Columbia Law School and partner at the New York firm Willkie Farr and Gallagher. `There's so much potential exposure, and that could put him in tremendous danger if he's not 100% innocent.' ... `I could see him using the pending litigation and saying he doesn't think it's appropriate to talk about it,' Kheel said. `But that's not a defense if he's subpoenaed.'''
HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Law firm seeks $688 million for Enron work January 7, 2008 ``The California law firm that led the effort to gain the largest civil securities settlement in history in massive Enron shareholder litigation wants $688 million for its work. … John Coffee Jr., a securities law expert at Columbia University Law School, said in a filing that the bulk of settlements in shareholder litigation usually comes from the stock issuer — like Enron — and the issuer's auditor. But Enron was bankrupt. The auditor, Arthur Andersen LLP, was barely breathing by mid-2002 after clients and workers bolted as the company was prosecuted for destroying Enron-related documents. That left shareholders seeking meaty settlements to pursue deep-pocketed banks that conducted transactions with Enron, Coffee said. The plaintiffs alleged that they have helped the energy company disguise loans as income, hide poorly performing assets and otherwise cook its books to help Enron maintain a public illusion of success. `Because of its notoriety, Enron could not have been settled as a practical matter for a modest amount, even if such a recovery reflected the high odds facing plaintiffs' counsel in their litigation against basically secondary participants,’ Coffee said.’’
NEWSDAY: Jury in John White trial boiled with tension January 5, 2008 ``Inside the John White jury room, the tension got so high at one point that a juror punched a wall, and another slammed a bathroom door so hard the courtroom walls shook. … `Just about nothing that happens among jurors will be grounds for reversal,’ said Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor. `You know, buyers' remorse doesn't just happen to buyers.’’’
``The attitudes and expectations of today's law students may be changing, but their racial breakdown isn't … according to a recent compilation of law-school admissions data….The statistics … are highlighted on a new Web site created by Columbia Law School….The decline occurred even though members of those groups have applied to law schools in relatively constant numbers during the period between 1992 and 2006, and standardized test scores and grade-point averages of those students have risen, said Conrad A. Johnson, clinical professor of law at Columbia. `Most people who see this decline are as surprised as I was,’ he said. The Web site was created by Columbia's Lawyering in the Digital Age clinic…Mr. Johnson, who serves on the society's Board of Governors, believes the decline may be due, in part, to law schools' focus on magazine rankings that rely heavily on Law School Admission Test scores.’’
REUTERS: SEC to look outside ballot on proxy access January 4, 2008 ``Electronic shareholder forums, e-proxies and other technological approaches may be among the inventive ways that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission tries to refocus the debate in 2008 over how to give shareholders more power to nominate directors. … `I don't think this issue is going to see much progress until we have a presidential election,’ said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School.’’
``Columbia Law School has launched a Web site documenting the declining trend of minority students' enrollment in law schools. The site calls the trend disturbing and says that while African-American and Mexican-American students have applied to law schools in relatively constant numbers over the last 15 years, their representation has fallen by 8.6%, from 3,937 in 1992 to 3,595 in 2006….The Web site was created by Columbia Law School's Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic…. `We need diversity in our legal profession to promote better legal education and fairness in our system of justice,’ Conrad Johnson, clinical professor of law at Columbia and a member of SALT's board of directors, said in a news release. has launched a Web site documenting the declining trend of minority students' enrollment in law schools. The site calls the trend disturbing and says that while African-American and Mexican-American students have applied to law schools in relatively constant numbers over the last 15 years, their representation has fallen by 8.6%, from 3,937 in 1992 to 3,595 in 2006….The was created by …. `We need diversity in our legal profession to promote better legal education and fairness in our system of justice,’ and a member of SALT's board of directors, said in a news release.
``Class-action lawsuits that accuse companies of defrauding investors increased more than 40 percent last year, fueled by troubled mortgage investments and a volatile stock market, according to a study released yesterday….`Reports of the death of securities class actions are premature,’ said Columbia University law professor John C. Coffee Jr.
``One of the most startling differences between America and Britain is the way we treat our white-collar criminals and other financial wrongdoers. America goes after the rogues and incompetents with gusto and punishes them heavily…The latest research from John Coffee of Columbia University is noteworthy. Even after adjusting for the greater size of the US economy, the US Securities and Exchange Commission levies at least ten times as much in fines as the UK’s Financial Services Authority. The gulf is actually more extreme because the FSA has a much wider remit than the SEC.
`` The International Criminal Court isn't discussed much in the presidential campaign, but few issues are more revealing of a candidate's perspective on the United States' legal and political relations with the rest of the world.… Jose Alvarez, said the candidates `are using (the court) to say something about where they think the U.S. should be in the future with respect to multilateral regimes,’ and issues such as unratified treaties on land mines and global warming and relations with the United Nations. Alvarez is a Columbia University law professor and president of the American Society of International Law.’’
``With the caucus and primary season now fully upon us, it is worth asking what kind of training and experience best prepares someone to be President of the United States. The answer depends on what aspects of the President's job one emphasizes. Article II of the Constitution assigns to the President several important duties….. The dilemma I'll highlight is this: However useful legal training may be for doing the job of President, it is at best a mixed blessing for a candidate because, not to put too fine a point on it, Americans hate lawyers. By looking at how the lawyer-candidates portray their legal experience, we can get a sense of how Americans feel about lawyers.’’
Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.
AMERICAN PROSPECT: Good Jobs in a Global Economy (subscription required) Issue of January/February 2008 ``If America is to redeem its status as the great middle-class nation, the next president will need to transform how we address the interlinked areas of labor and foreign trade. … A close analysis by Columbia law professor Mark Barenberg found that the labor provisions of the recent U.S.-Peru deal actually weaken existing trade law.’’
``In 1997, Brentwood Academy’s coach Carlton Flatt wrote a letter. Its content and purpose seemed innocuous enough. …The letter invited incoming freshmen to join Flatt in two weeks of spring football practices…. Ten years, millions of dollars and hundreds of billable hours later, the legal case that ensued still simmers in the U.S. court system….Gillian Metzger, a constitutional law scholar at Columbia Law School in New York City, is not surprised that the Supreme Court did not buy Brentwood Academy’s First Amendment argument, especially since, in this case, it analogized the matter to employment within the government, and the Supreme Court is known to support restriction of speech of government employees. `The [2001 decision] was more of a surprise,’ Metzger says. `This one, whether it makes doctrinal sense or not, it makes common sense.’
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