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March

March 23 - 31, 2008

BLOOMBERG: SEC Picks, Bear Bucks, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Refco: Compliance
March 31, 2008
BYLINE: Lisa Brennan“President George W. Bush will nominate Elisse Walter, a brokerage regulator, and Luis Aguilar, a securities lawyer, to be Democratic members of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a move that may give the agency more power to confront the turmoil in financial markets. … ‘I have high respect for Elisse Walter, who has a strong background in enforcement,’ Columbia Law Professor John Coffee said in an e-mail. … ‘These nominations break a six-months stalemate,’ said Coffee. ‘The interesting question is what Republican appointments will be cleared on a reciprocal basis. Clearly, there is horse trading involved.’”

NEW YORK TIMES: On Paper, Wall Street Gets Its Way
March 31, 2008
BYLINE: Jenny Anderson
“More than a year ago, when the markets were flying high, a chorus of alarm went up on Wall Street. Talk spread that the United States risked losing its edge in the financial world. … ‘Some advocates want broad principles that will not be enforced,’ said Harvey J. Goldschmid, a former Democratic commissioner at the S.E.C. who now teaches at Columbia Law School. ‘You take that approach and the problems of subprime and securitization will look like minor bumps compared to the mess we will have in the future.’”

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW NEWSLETTER: The Evolving U.S. - ICC Relationship           
January/March 2008, Volume 24, Issue 1

BYLINE: José E. Alvarez
“As atonement for criticizing the concept of a “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) in my recent President’s column (see ASIL Newsletter, Vol. 23, Issue 3), I eagerly accepted an invitation by ASIL member and former Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues David Scheffer, to attend a fascinating conference on the intersection between R2P and the International Criminal Court (ICC) held in December at Northwestern University School of Law. I emerged from that event no more convinced than I was before that the political and moral R2P concept really has much to do with the hard law obligations ICC parties have. But I did learn quite a bit from the knowledgeable insiders present about why the U.S. government’s confrontational approach to the ICC is now regarded as defunct even by Bush Administration officials and why, no matter who becomes President in 2009, the U.S.-ICC relationship is likely to deepen.”

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: Patent Office Rejects Blackboard's E-Learning Patent in Preliminary Ruling
March 31, 2008
BYLINE: Katherine Mangan
“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a preliminary decision that rejects all 44 claims Blackboard Inc. made regarding the controversial patent it was granted for an online-learning system. … However, the head of an advocacy group that challenged the patent said that as far as he was concerned, ‘the patent is dead. It's never going to come back to life,’ said Eben Moglen, founding director and chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center, an advocacy group for open-source software. ‘It was a bad patent in the first place, and the patent office knows it.’ Mr. Moglen is also a professor of law at Columbia University.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Might the Fed profit from the financial crisis?
March 31, 2008
BYLINE: David R. Francis
“Most economists would agree that the world's financial markets are facing an extraordinary crisis with the credit freeze, the failure of some prominent financial institutions, and deep losses at other firms. It's a ‘financial panic,’ says John Coffee, a finance professor at Columbia University in New York. He sees a ‘real chance’ that losses could exceed those from the savings and loan institution disaster in the United States from 1986 to 1995.”

MERCURY NEWS: Virtual voyeurism: Who's watching you on the Web?
March 31, 2008
BYLINE: Troy Wolverton
“Big Brother and his buddies are watching what you do online. … ‘When people use a browser, think of it as a two-way street. They look at the world through it, and the world looks at them back,’ said Eben Moglen, who studies and teaches about online privacy as a professor of law at Columbia University in New York. ‘People are creeped out about that,’ Moglen said, adding, ‘They're right to be concerned.’”

LAW.COM: An Operating System for Law: Online Cases
March 31, 2008
BYLINE: Eriq Gardner
“Carl Malamud has been bothered for 25 years by the fact that U.S. case law is locked away from the public's eyes. … AltLaw, a joint effort by Columbia Law School and the University of Colorado Law School, has put the last decade of federal appellate and Supreme Court opinions online, permitting free full-text searches.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: NIU, Virginia Tech shootings have impact on college admissions
March 30, 2008
BYLINE: Bonnie Miller Rubin
“In the first admissions season since the shooting rampages at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, college administrators say keeping students safe is of paramount importance. Yet despite questions about the psychological backgrounds of the two gunmen, officials say federal privacy laws prevent them from seeking more information about applicants with possible mental illnesses. … If it were legal to ‘out’ students, they would be less apt to get mental help in earlier grade levels, said Dr. Paul Appelbaum, an expert on psychiatry, law and ethics at Columbia University, which is holding its first conference on campus violence this week. ‘Many students who have psychiatric histories thrive and excel in college, while others who experience problems have no such history,’ he noted.”

AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: 'Terror and Consent': brilliant, contrarian
March 30, 2008
BYLINE: James E. McWilliams
“During the course of a long, intellectually demanding narrative, ‘Terror and Consent’ pivots on several paradigm-shifting claims. One of them, which appears in the introduction, stands out for its humanitarian implications: ‘During the era of twentieth century industrial nation states ... 80 percent of the dead and wounded in warfare were civilians.’ For Philip Bobbitt, a distinguished lecturer and senior fellow at the University of Texas and a law professor at Columbia University, this is more than a gee-whiz factoid. It's the basis upon which he advances an ambitious argument for fighting the wars that are bound to plague the 21st century.”

BLOOMBERG: Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Endorses Barack Obama
March 28, 2008
BYLINE: Kim Chipman and Kristin Jensen
“Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama today, providing the Illinois senator with a boost in a state where rival Hillary Clinton has the lead. … Nathaniel Persily, a professor of political science and election law at Columbia Law School in New York, said that while Casey probably won't greatly affect Obama's chances in the primary, it may be a sign of where the nomination race stands. ‘It's extremely unlikely that Barack Obama is going to win or even get very close in Pennsylvania,’ Persily said. ‘Casey's endorsement is more an indication of the movement of superdelegates and other members of the party.’”

REUTERS: White House to nominate two Democrats to SEC
March 28, 2008
BYLINE: Rachelle Younglai
“The White House said on Friday it intends to nominate two Democrats to fill empty seats at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has been operating with three Republican commissioners for several weeks amid worsening market turmoil. … ‘Maybe he can reach a compromise. But I don't think he would be comfortable voting with the two Democrats and against the Republicans and against the Business Roundtable,’ said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School. ‘(A full commission) might make it more possible for the SEC to take a broad-based bipartisan position on new issues like issues of investment banks, solvency and regulation.’”
This story was picked up by Guardian and other media outlets.

 

PAIDCONTENT.ORG: Inside The Deals: Texas Justice May Give Clear Channel Another Shot
March 28, 2008
BYLINE: Steve Rosenbush
“A rough bit of Texas justice may well give the imperiled $19.5 billion Clear Channel (NYSE: CCU) buyout another shot at life. … The temporary restraining order was unusually strong medicine, according to Professor John Coffee of Columbia Law School. Most restraining orders simply tell one party to halt certain behavior. This one goes further, because it compels the banks to take affirmative action and turn their loan commitment letter into a final agreement. A federal court wouldn’t have taken such a step, he said. ‘Texas judges are fast on the draw. This is the world of Judge Roy Bean. But it means something. Clear Channel has more leverage than it did before,’ Coffee said.”

THE DAILY TAR HEEL: Right to restraint
March 28, 2008
“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that citizens have no right to expect police enforcement of a restraining order. … Since the ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union and Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute have filed a brief with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to call attention to what they call a civil and women's rights issue.”

DOW JONES: Court Order Hands Early, If Temporary, Win To Clear Channel
March 27, 2008
BYLINE: Chad Bray and Shira Ovide
“A temporary restraining order from a Texas state judge gives Clear Channel Communications Inc. (CCU) an early win in its dispute with banks that have agreed to finance its $19.4 billion buyout by two private-equity firms. … Merritt B. Fox, a Columbia University law professor, said the Thursday that the Texas judge's order ‘sounds a little bit backwards.’ Usually, a restraining order is issued to preserve the status quo, as opposed to ordering someone to affirmatively take an action at the center of a dispute, he said.”

BLOOMBERG: Fed May Gain Influence From Crisis at SEC's Expense
March 27, 2008
BYLINE: Craig Torres and Jesse Westbrook
“America's financial system faces its biggest overhaul since the Great Depression as officials weigh lessons from the credit-market rout and the near collapse of Bear Stearns Cos. … ‘Bank regulators have, in general, been good at worrying about the safety and soundness of banks,’ said Harvey Goldschmid, a former SEC commissioner who's now a professor at Columbia Law School in New York. ‘They have not, however, been strong on protecting consumers and investors.’”

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Take-Two rejects Electronic Arts' buyout offer
March 27, 2008
BYLINE: Alex Pham
“Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. played hard to get Wednesday, advising its shareholders to reject a $2-billion buyout bid from rival Electronic Arts Inc. and adopting measures to discourage a hostile takeover bid. … The measure is a risky route for Take-Two because regulators have tended to frown on efforts to alter shareholder voting power. ‘These kinds of attempts to rearrange voting rights are highly vulnerable to legal challenges,’ said John Coffee, a Columbia Law School professor.”

FINANCIAL NEWS: Clear Channel and buyers sue six banks as merger unravels (free registration required)
March 27, 2008
BYLINE: Stephanie Baum
“Two private equity firms have paid $593m (€374.5m) in fees over the past three years to six investment banks that they are now suing as their $26bn acquisition of media company Clear Channel Communications verges on collapse. … John Coffee, the director of the center of corporate governance at Columbia University, said the decision by Gabriel to issue a restraining order against the banks was an extraordinary move. Typically they are issued in the face of a 48-hour deadline, but no such immediacy existed here, Coffee argued. Coffee said: ‘That right away signals the court is extremely skeptical of the defendants. This is a very positive development for the plaintiffs... This is a sign to the banks that they are behind the eight-ball.’ Coffee noted the lawyer representing Clear Channel and the buyout firms in Texas, Joseph Jamail, also represented Penzoil in its successful suit against Texaco for wrongfully interfering in Penzoil’s planned merger with Getty Oil in an $11bn judgment.”

 

COLUMBIA SPECTATOR: Law School Defends Human Rights
March 26, 2008
BYLINE: Joy Resmovitz
“In what could be a landmark case for the prosecution of domestic human rights violations, Columbia Law School affiliates are working with the American Civil Liberties Union to bring what Jessica Lenahan calls ‘justice for my children’s deaths,’ after eight years of waiting. … ‘We are now headed toward the final stage in a long process that will ultimately lay bare the grave violations of Jessica Gonzales’ rights,’ Columbia Law School postdoctoral scholar Caroline Bettinger-López said in the release. … Other Columbia affiliates from the Human Rights Clinic uniting to represent Lenahan include law professor Peter Rosenblum and students Rachel Barish, Elizabeth Howell, Crystal Lopez, Helen Ronen, Fabrice Van Michel, and Jacqui Zalcberg.”

USA TODAY: Court spurns Bush in death row case
March 25, 2008
BYLINE: Joan Biskupic
“The Supreme Court on Tuesday rebuffed President Bush's arguments about his power over foreign affairs, ruling 6-3 that Texas and other states need not provide new hearings to Mexican citizens on death row who were not told they could get consular help when arrested. … ‘The court admits that the international judgment is binding on the United States in international law, but it does not accept that the courts of Texas are bound to carry it out,’ says Columbia University law professor Lori Fisler Damrosch, an expert on the ICJ who submitted a brief on Medellin's side. ‘This perplexing result will make it more difficult for the United States to insist on compliance by other states … under the Vienna Convention and under the provisions of at least 70 other (comparable) treaties,’ Damrosch says.”

DENVER POST: Dougco mom whose kids were killed takes case global
March 25, 2008
BYLINE: Howard Pankratz
“Attorneys representing a Castle Rock woman whose three daughters were murdered by her estranged husband has asked an international commission on human rights to look into her case. … The accusations were made by the ACLU's Human Rights Program and Women's Rights Project as well as the Columbia Law School's Human Rights Project.”

LOQUITUR PODCAST: NFL March/April 2008 LD Topic Interview: Professor George Fletcher
March 25, 2008
HOST: Mahesha Subbaraman
“…Today on Loquitur we will be continuing our series of interviews with academic and professional experts on the NFL March/April 2008 Lincoln-Douglas, or LD, debate topic. That topic is “Resolved: Hate crimes enhancements are unjust in the United States.” And with that in mind, I’m proud to introduce my distinguished guest for this episode. George Fletcher is the Cardozo Professor Jurisprudence at Columbia Law School.”


 

LES ECHOS: Fonds souverains : premiers pas vers un code de bonne conduite
March 25, 2008
BYLINE: Virginie Robert
“C’est une première étape dans l’effort mené par les Etats-Unis pour rassurer sur les motivations des fonds souverains qui investissent dans des sociétés américaines et pour éviter les tentations protectionnistes. … Mais «on ne fait pas la distinction entre les prises de contrôle et les prises de participation minoritaire, c’est une source de confusion énorme », remarque Curtis Milhaupt, professeur de droit à Columbia University.”

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: All Things Considered: Latest in Bear Stearns Bailout Analyzed
March 24, 2008
HOST: Robert Siegel
“ROBERT SIEGEL: And more now on Bear Stearns and JPMorgan and the Fed. Joining us from New York is John Coffee, professor of law at Columbia University and director of Columbia's Center on Corporate Governance. … Prof. COFFEE: Well, I think this always was a bailout. It was a bailout of bondholders, and that was politically acceptable to keep the markets from freezing up and becoming paralyzed. Now, however, the shareholders have revolted, and for some redistribution of the subsidy, so they've quintupled the amount they will receive.”

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Day to Day: 'Marketplace' Report: Bear Stearns
March 24, 2008
HOST: Madeleine Brand
“MADELEINE BRAND: From NPR News, this is Day to Day. Investment bank JPMorgan upped its offer for Bear Stearns from two dollars a share to 10 dollars. … BOB MOON: …Well, I spoke to John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University this morning, and he thinks the Federal Reserve agreed to this new deal because they did have some worries. Professor JOHN COFFEE (Columbia University): I think they did realize that there would be problems in getting the shareholder vote. There was an awful lot of trading in Bear Stearns last week. Some of it was by bondholders, who wanted to vote in favor of the deal, but even the bondholders wouldn't mind a slightly higher price. And for the government, the ultimate threat was, they would let the company go into bankruptcy, and they would remove their support. And that would bring us back to where we were last week, with the problem of whether or not this would have any implications for other investment banks, as well.”

AMERICAN PUBLIC MEDIA: Marketplace: Why the changes to Bear Stearns deal?
March 24, 2008
HOST: Kai Ryssdal
“KAI RYSSDAL: Just when everyone had made peace with the idea of the Federal Reserve bailing out a big Wall Street investment bank, they went and changed things on us. … [BOB MOON]: … I spoke today to securities law professor John Coffee at Columbia University. He thinks this was the Fed maneuvering for largely political appearances. … JOHN COFFEE: I think that was always the concern of the Federal Reserve, that if any substantial amount was paid to the former shareholders of Bear Stearns, it would look like the U.S. taxpayers were subsidizing a failing company, and that when you failed on Wall Street, the taxpayers bailed you out.”

WASHINGTON POST: A Vote of Allegiance?
March 24, 2008
BYLINE: DeNeen L. Brown
“The ‘isms’ have once again been pitted against each other. … No one profits when oppressed people are split against each other, says Patricia J. Williams, author, columnist and professor of law at Columbia University. She argues there is often an ideological agenda involved when people claim that racism is no longer a major force in this country. … Says Williams, who is black: ‘One ubiquitous subtext of the black-man-trumps-white-woman calculus is that it's easier to be a black man than it is to be a white woman or, even more reductively, that sexism is worse than racism. . . . That in turn fuels the not-so-coded diminishment asserting that Obama is getting 'preferential' treatment in the media; that he's simultaneously 'entitled' and 'elite' yet 'unqualified' and 'not ready.' A lot of this debate as it is currently framed is a product of a very segregated society.’”

 

FINDLAW: With the Supreme Court Poised to Redefine the Right to Bear Arms, Far-Reaching Questions Loom
March 24, 2008

BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf
“Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in District of Columbia v. Heller. The case presents the question whether the District's law banning nearly all handguns, and regulating the storage of licensed shotguns and rifles, violates the Second Amendment. To resolve that question will require the Court to enter a long-simmering debate among academics and activists. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Amid parole controversy, released murderers stay out of trouble
March 23, 2008
BYLINE: Michael Hill
“Caught in a political crossfire over the release of violent felons, New York parole officials report that none of the 456 violent felons paroled in the last four years was sent back to prison for committing a new crime. … Also, murderers usually are not released until they are at least middle-aged, and older people are less likely to break the law, according to Columbia Law School Professor Jeffrey Fagan, co-director of the Center for Crime, Community and Law.”

This story was picked up by Newsday.

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March 16 - 22, 2008

CHIEF-LEADER: Bill Would Tackle Bias in Agencies (subscription required)
News of the week: March 21, 2008
BYLINE: Ari Paul
“A bill that would require all city agencies to monitor and address discrimination in hiring and services was introduced March 12 by Bronx Councilwoman Helen Foster. … ‘These standards looking, for example, at the effects of discrimination in addition to intentional discrimination, these are not radical or fringe ideas in the international community,’ said Carrie Bettinger-Lopez, a Human Rights Fellow at the Human Rights Institute at Columbia University Law School. ‘They're well-established and you see them in countries throughout Europe, throughout Latin America, and throughout the world.’”

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Lawyer to plead guilty in class-action kickback scheme
March 21, 2008
BYLINE: Martin Zimmerman and Molly Selvin
“One of the biggest corruption cases to hit the American legal profession moved a step closer to its finale Thursday as lawyer Melvyn Weiss agreed to plead guilty to participating in a kickback scheme that generated millions of dollars in fees from class-action lawsuits against high-profile companies. … Weiss had little choice but to plead guilty because the government was sure to call on defendants who had already reached agreements with prosecutors to testify at his trial, said John Coffee, a Columbia Law School professor. Besides Lerach, former partners David Bershad and Steven Schulman have entered guilty pleas and await sentencing. Nonetheless, Coffee described Weiss' agreement as a ‘uniquely good deal’ considering that as one of the last defendants in the case, he had ‘much weaker leverage’ than the others. ‘Perhaps the government was embarrassed by giving a 10- to 20-year sentence to a 72-year old man,’ he said.”

AMERICAN PUBLIC MEDIA: Marketplace: Starbucks suit tips in baristas' favor
March 21, 2008
HOST: Dan Grech
“SCOTT JAGOW: Starbucks baristas in California have won a class-action lawsuit against the company. … JOHN COFFEE: We're not talking about good or evil here. They all poured coffee. [DAN GRECH:] That's the appropriately named John Coffee. He's an expert in class-action lawsuits at Columbia University. … COFFEE: It's a regulatory line drawn by the state of California that you can't share this. It's not necessarily fraud on the customer or fraud on the worker in a more classic moralistic sense.”

NEW YORK SUN: Milberg Weiss Founder To Plead Guilty
March 21, 2008
BYLINE: Josh Gerstein
“A legendary figure in the plaintiff's bar in new York and across the nation, Melvyn Weiss, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with his law partners to obstruct justice by making secret payments to plaintiffs in securities lawsuits. … ‘I thought he made a strategic mistake by not settling earlier when Bill Lerach did,’ a Columbia law professor who worked with Milberg Weiss on several cases, John Coffee, said. ‘This is a soft deal compared to what he could have gotten had he gone to trial: 20 to 30 years.’ … Mr. Coffee said Mr. Weiss's plea would ‘free the door’ for Milberg to seek a settlement of the criminal charge still pending against the firm itself. The professor said strict monitoring of the firm was likely and might also involve state bar authorities. ‘They've never had a firm of this size plead guilty to what I'll call pervasive misconduct before,’ he said.”

MOBILE MAGAZINE: Amazon Kindle Legal Issues: Do You Really Own the E-Book?
March 21, 2008
BYLINE: Michael Kwan
“Four students from Columbia Law School's Science and Technology Law Review are challenging the legal issues surrounding the purchase of e-books for devices like the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader. The fundamental issue at hand is whether you are buying a crippled license to intellectual property or are you buying a book, getting all the legal rights that accompany that.”

BLOOMBERG NEWS: Bear Holder Lewis May Seek Alternative to JPMorgan
March 20, 2008
BYLINE: Zachary R. Mider and Miles Weiss
“Billionaire investor Joseph Lewis, the largest shareholder of Bear Stearns Cos., said he may push the company to consider alternatives to the $339 million buyout offer from JPMorgan Chase & Co. … ‘If he gets others to vote with him he may be able to get some token increase in the price,’ said John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University in New York, referring to Lewis. ‘He's not going to get a significantly higher bid because no one else can get the Fed's support and the Fed's financing.’”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: The Spitzer Legacy and the Cuomo Future
March 20, 2008

BYLINE: John C. Coffee Jr.
“For Eliot Spitzer, the Ides of March came early. In probably the most extreme example of self-destruction in American political history (only Abe Fortas’s departure from the Supreme Court comes close), he has ended his political career. But his legacy remains, even if it will be debated. His major achievements were his exposure of serious conflicts of interest across a variety of contexts. Many will now mock these achievements, but wiser heads should recognize their substance. Moreover, the same battles that he fought as Attorney General are now again surfacing under his successor, Andrew Cuomo. Arguably, it’s déjà vu all over again. … John C. Coffee Jr. is the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law and director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia University Law School.”

TIMES LEDGER: Vague rules muddle succession
March 20, 2008
BYLINE: Ivan Pereira
“Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's sudden resignation last week and Lt. Gov. David Paterson's ascension to the office Monday presented questions about the state of New York's government and how it will be run for the next three years. … ‘We've never had an experience with this,’ said Richard Briffault, a professor of legislative studies at Columbia Law School, referring to the rapid change of power when Spitzer became the first governor of New York to resign because of scandal. … Under Article IV of the Constitution, the acting lieutenant governor ‘shall have only a casting vote,’- a phrase that is open to different interpretations according to Briffault. ‘It seems that it's odd that someone would vote twice, but I don't know,’ he said. ‘The language is pretty vague about his powers in the Legislature.’”

AMERICAN PUBLIC MEDIA: Marketplace: Stearns investors bear a grudge
March 19, 2008
HOST: Bob Moon
“BOB MOON: Hope springs eternal, apparently, among Bear Stearns' biggest stockholders. … Across the country at Columbia University, securities law professor John Coffee says stockholders might eke out a dollar or two more -- but there a limits to how far they can push: JOHN COFFEE: The immediate problem for Bear Stearns is, if they can't find bidder or simply negotiate a higher price with JP Morgan, and if JP Morgan's offer is rejected, it's quite possible they would be in bankruptcy in a few days, where they don't even get $2 a share.”

WASHINGTON POST: Obama, Trying to Bridge America's Racial Divide
March 19, 2008
BYLINE: Kevin Merida
“As a rule, politicians don't volunteer to give difficult speeches -- not on sexism, not on religious bias, not even on the sacrifices required of a fiscally troubled nation. … Ted Shaw, a law professor at Columbia University, said he had long been ‘thinking that the Obama campaign has been trying to walk a real tightrope on the issue of race. It did not want to get bogged down, entangled in race.’”

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: The Securitization Bubble (subscription required)
March 17, 2008

BYLINE: John C. Coffee Jr.
“As the subprime mortgage meltdown spreads and infects other related markets, two questions stand out: Why did the securitization process fail so badly? And what would it take to make securitized financings viable again? In short, can mortgage-backed structured finance be saved? Clearly, the default rates on mortgage-backed securities spiked in 2007. But what caused this unprecedented increase? Was fraud -- whether in the form of inflated appraisals, predatory lending or manipulated credit scores -- a central factor?”

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE: A crisis of confidence
March 17, 2008
BYLINE: Karen O'Shea and Sally Goldenberg
“The stunning demise yesterday of a premier Wall Street bank leaves the bleak economic landscape very clear: No one is immune to the subprime implosion rocking real estate and stock markets. … John Coffee, a business law professor from Columbia University, said that less mortgage money would be available with the market for mortgage-backed securities discredited. … ‘Less credit to borrowers means lower prices to sellers and some decline in home prices. This may in turn reduce consumer spending as homeowners subjectively feel less wealthy,’ Coffee said in an email from Paris, where he is lecturing at a business school. ‘But no one can quantify the magnitude of these changes and the market is likely to be volatile for some time,’ he added.”

FEMINIST LAW PROFESSORS (blog): Center for Reproductive Rights Announces New Fellowship with Columbia Law School
March 17, 2008
“The Center for Reproductive Rights today announces a new fellowship with Columbia Law School for graduates pursuing legal academic careers in reproductive health and human rights.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Postfeminism and Other Fairy Tales
March 16, 2008
BYLINE: Kate Zernike
“Perhaps it was the ‘Iron my shirt!’ hecklers. … Suzanne B. Goldberg, a law professor at Columbia and director of its sexuality and gender law clinic, called the current climate ‘a perfect storm.’ ‘Before Spitzer, there had been a great focus on women as presidential candidates and women as voters,’ she said. ‘Now we add to that women as political spouses.’ ‘I’m not such a Mars-Venus person but this is one of those moments where gender is at least a partial explanation, it affects how people hear campaign rhetoric, how people see political downfalls,’ Ms. Goldberg said. ‘Even people who were unwilling to see it before are more likely to acknowledge the pervasiveness of sex stereotypes.’”

ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE: India pipe firm putting plant, HQ at LR Port
March 15, 2008
BYLINE: Laura Stevens
“An India-based pipe manufacturer announced Friday that it will build a $100 million facility, creating about 300 jobs and establishing its North and South American headquarters at the Little Rock Port. … With the Indian pipe companies, the Danish windmill factory and others, Arkansas has seen a recent increase in foreign investments — part of a national trend during the past 20 years, according to Karl P. Sauvant, executive director for the Columbia Program on International Investment at Columbia University. ‘We estimate that last year, foreign direct investment flows were approximately $1.7 trillion dollars, with the U.S. being actually the largest host country, meaning attracting most of this investment.’”


NEW YORK TIMES: Cyclist’s Ordeal May Help Bonds
March 16, 2008
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt
“When the cyclist Tammy Thomas goes on trial next week on charges she lied to a federal grand jury about whether she used performance-enhancing drugs, Barry Bonds’s lawyers will be monitoring the case from the legal equivalent of the on-deck circle. … Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor, said Bonds would be best served by a vigorous defense of Thomas that would force the government to ‘turn over anything possible and disclose as much information about their investigation.’ Because none of the Balco cases have gone to trial, Richman said, little has been learned about the details of the government’s investigation.”

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March 9 - 15, 2008

BOSTON GLOBE: Spitzer's legal minefield
March 15, 2008
BYLINE: Harvey Silverglate
“Unless Eliot Spitzer's legal team negotiates a plea bargain before he is charged, the governor could face a novella-length federal indictment. … This phenomenon in federal criminal law explains a game that assistant US attorneys in the Southern District of New York used to play over beer and pretzels, according to a 2007 Slate.com article by Tim Wu. Someone would name a public figure. Then that person's colleagues would find statutes under which to indict that celebrity. ‘The crimes were not usually rape, murder, or other crimes you'd see on 'Law & Order,' ’ wrote Wu, ‘but rather the incredibly broad yet obscure crimes that populate the US Code like a kind of jurisprudential minefield: Crimes like 'false statements' (a felony, up to five years), 'obstructing the mails' (five years), or 'false pretenses on the high seas' (also five years).’”

BLACK STAR NEWS: NAACP Legal Whiz Joins Columbia
March 14, 2008
BYLINE: Victoria Horsford
“Whenever I talk about Harlem, people interrupt and ask if I am speaking of the old or new Harlem, lines that often blur. … Legal scholar, Ted Shaw, former NAACP Legal Defense Fund chief, recently named to the Columbia University Law Faculty, just bought a townhouse in the highly-coveted Marcus Garvey/Mt. Morris Park district.”

BLOOMBERG NEWS: Spitzer Defense Lawyers Worked in Prosecutor's Office
March 14, 2008
BYLINE: David Glovin and Patricia Hurtado
“New York Governor Eliot Spitzer may have made a smart move when choosing lawyers to help him avoid criminal charges for soliciting prostitutes. … ‘White-collar practice in New York is substantially dominated by former prosecutors for good reason,’ said Daniel Richman, an ex-prosecutor in the same office and now a Columbia Law School professor. ‘So much of white-collar lawyering is understanding where the government is coming from and explaining to them that what your client did may have been illegal but nonetheless ought not to be pursued by the government.’”

NEW YORK SUN: Prosecutorial Effort To Humiliate Spitzer Is Seen
March 14, 2008
BYLINE: Joseph Goldstein
"In taking down a high-end prostitution ring last week, prosecutors made sure to include an account of a sexual liaison between a prostitute who called herself Kristen and a man identified only as Client 9. ... 'This material seems to have been injected for purposes of humiliating and destroying the career of a particular political official,' a law professor at Columbia University, Scott Horton, said. In an article posted this week on the Web site of the New Republic, Mr. Horton questioned whether the investigation into Mr. Spitzer, a Democrat, by the Justice Department of a Republican administration was politically motivated."

PBS: NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: Wiretap Debate
March 13, 2008
HOST: Jim Lehrer
“JIM LEHRER: Next, the continuing impasse over legislation to reauthorize the federal wiretapping program. … Philip Bobbitt is professor of law and director of the Center for National Security at Columbia University…”

THE RECORD (Harvard Law School): HRJ Conference Brings Human Rights Home
March 13, 2008
BYLINE: Dina Awerbuch
“Domestic human rights abuses were the focus of the Harvard Human Rights Journal's annual conference. … Lenahan, the petitioner in the widely-publicized Supreme Court case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, and her attorney Caroline Bettinger-Lopez spoke next on the failure of the United States to protect victims of domestic violence. … Bettinger-Lopez, who is currently a Human Rights Fellow and Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, added that Lenahan's case is part of a pattern of state behavior, and noted the importance of Lenahan's IACHR petition for Lenahan personally, for coalition and movement building, for normative development and standard setting, as a tool for political pressure, and to influence public opinion about domestic violence.”

NEW YORK TIMES: City Room: Could Spitzer Lose His Law License?
March 13, 2008
BYLINE: Sewell Chan
“Can cheating on your spouse and soliciting a prostitute get a lawyer disbarred? … ‘Most of the time, things that can result in disciplinary action related directly to the practice of law,’ said Philip M. Genty, a clinical professor of law at Columbia University. ‘It’s normally misconduct in your legal practice that leads to charges. It doesn’t sound like there’s anything in the Spitzer case that would go directly to things that involve his law practice.’ … Professor Genty said the threshold for being disbarred — or even receiving a lower punishment, like a public reprimand or a private admonishment — is fairly high. ‘If he’s convicted of a felony, he loses his license,’ he said, citing the most clear-cut example. But, he said, a lawyer who takes the oath upon joining the bar — as Mr. Spitzer did in 1985, a year after graduating from Harvard Law School — is only pledging to uphold the laws, not to be a morally exemplary human being.”

ORLANDO SENTINEL: Puerto Rico becomes player in Dem primary
March 13, 2008
BYLINE: Jeannette Rivera-lyles
“In a scenario that many Americans never imagined -- or understood -- Puerto Rico is poised to play a crucial role in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee. … ‘You can't simply ignore where a political leader stands on the issue when you are considering what they are saying,’ said Christina Duffy Burnett, a Columbia Law School professor and the author of several articles about the U.S.-Puerto Rico relationship. The issue of political status is important because it is about national identity and destiny -- something that remains ambiguous after the island's century-old relationship with Washington. ‘First, you have to decide who you are and where you belong,’ said Burnett, a native of San Juan. ‘The stakes are too high when that is unresolved.’”

NEW YORK TIMES: City Room: In a Senate Tie, Could Bruno Vote Twice?
March 12, 2008
BYLINE: Sewell Chan
"Will Joseph L. Bruno be able to vote twice? A legal question that might seem arcane could take on tremendous significance in the near future. … ‘It’s an open question,’ said Richard Briffault, the Joseph P. Chamberlain professor of legislation at Columbia Law School and an authority on state government. ‘There is no specific answer in the State Constitution or any statute or the State Senate rules. The temporary president of the Senate — the majority leader — acts as lieutenant governor to preside over the Senate. There is no discussion of whether he gets any double perks — for example, salaries. The better reading seems to be that he gets to act as lieutenant governor but isn’t lieutenant governor. You could say the background norm in the American political tradition is that people don’t get double votes. There’s nothing that says that he can and nothing that says that he can’t.’”

NEW YORK TIMES: Why Do the Wives Stand There, Next to Their Men?
March 12, 2008
BYLINE: Lisa W. Foderaro
“Perhaps as vivid as the lurid details of what the authorities have called Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s involvement in a high-end prostitution ring was the lingering image of the woman who was most personally affected by the revelation. … ‘To me, a lot of this commentary seems patronizing to her,’ said Suzanne B. Goldberg, a professor of law at Columbia University and director of its Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. ‘She might have felt this was the best strategy in a terrible situation for protecting her children or her own reputation. We have no basis for assuming that she’s a mere pawn here.’”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Complaint Questions McCain Citizenship
March 11, 2008
BYLINE: Michael R. Blood
“John McCain has been called an American hero. But is he a natural born citizen? … Columbia University Law School professor Richard Briffault said he saw little room for debate over McCain's status — he qualifies. ‘I find it hard to believe it's really an issue,’ Briffault said. The Canal Zone ‘was a territory when he was born there. Why is it any different from the District of Columbia?’”

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: News and Notes: Should Clinton or Obama Be First?
March 11, 2008
BYLINE:
Farai Chideya
“A multi-racial group of female activists, journalists, and educators have been debating who should get to be America's "first" in the Oval Office — a black person or a woman. Kimberle Crenshaw joins Farai Chideya to discuss her response to Gloria Steinem's controversial op-ed and this ongoing debate. Crenshaw is a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University.”

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Wall Street celebrates Spitzer's possible fall
March 11, 2008
BYLINE: Kathleen Pender
“Cheers went up on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday in response to news that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer might resign over his alleged involvement with a prostitute. … Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee says, ‘I am an admirer of Spitzer. His greatest strength was his ability to expose conflicts of interest across a variety of contexts. Like other well-known Democrats in (recent) years, he took risks that were reckless for someone in his position.’ Despite calls for Spitzer's immediate resignation, Coffee predicts he ‘will hang tough for at least several days to gauge the reaction’ to the prostitution scandal.”

FINDLAW: Who Killed the "Living Constitution"?
March 10, 2008
BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf
“In a widely reported speech at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) last week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told his audience that the ‘living Constitution’ is bad for democracy. Scalia has poked fun at the living Constitution many times before, even suggesting, jokingly, that he prefers the ‘dead Constitution.’ But the substantial publicity that Scalia's UCM speech generated--not to mention a looming Presidential election in which judicial appointments will likely play some significant role--makes this a fitting moment to examine the claims for and against the living Constitution. In this column, I shall argue that the living Constitution is a problematic metaphor, but only because originalists like Justice Scalia either misunderstand or mischaracterize what it stands for. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.”

ALLAFRICA.COM: Congo-Kinshasa: Carter Center Urges International Community to Support Mining Review Efforts
March 10, 2008
“The Carter Center welcomes recent steps taken by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to advance the review of natural resource contracts negotiated during and immediately following its deadly years of conflict. … In cooperation with Columbia Law School and the law firm Ropes & Gray, the Center conducted an independent study of some of the contracts covering the most significant deposits and recommended steps for the government to address the current situation expeditiously and with respect for the rule of law.”

JERUSALEM POST: Ex-Rumsfeld adviser: Move Guantanamo detainees to US
March 9, 2008
BYLINE: Haviv Rettig
“Holding terror suspects at Guantanamo must stop and new legislation dealing with detainee policy adopted, Matthew Waxman, who was US deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs under former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. … Waxman, who has also served as acting director of the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department and now teaches at Columbia University Law School, suggested the detainees could be transferred to American soil, ‘where constitutional rights apply,’ once Congress approved legislation establishing a mechanism for their incarceration.”

NEWS JOURNAL: Del. pays outside lawyers big fees
March 9, 2008
BYLINE: Cris Barrish
“Delaware taxpayers have paid more than $17 million since 2003 to private law firms for work state lawyers are supposed to handle -- from defending against lawsuits and responding to federal investigations to routine tasks such as closing real estate deals. … While no one keeps national statistics about states using outside attorneys, former Maine Attorney General James Tierney said that, except for extraordinary cases, taxpayers' legal work should be performed by government lawyers. ‘It's less expensive, but I don't focus on the money,’ said Tierney, who heads the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia University Law School. ‘Government attorneys have a better perspective, and understand their client. They are more apt to realize they represent the public.’”

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March 1 - 8, 2008

FOREIGN POLICY: The Plastic Revolution
Issue of March/April 2008
BYLINE: Ronald J. Mann

"As the rich world knows all too well, credit cards are as dangerous as they are convenient. With millions of consumers from China to Mexico filling their wallets with plastic, the risks are mounting as fast as people can say, 'Charge it!' ... Ronald J. Mann is professor of law at Columbia Law School and author of Charging Ahead: The Growth and Regulation of Payment CardMarkets (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006)."

CNET NEWS: NewsBlog: Why we should care about the spectrum debate
March 8, 2008
BYLINE: Elinor Mills
“If you are like me your eyes probably glaze over a bit when people start talking about wireless spectrum. Well, maybe consumers should start paying more attention because the debate over how spectrum is managed will determine how we'll be able to use all types of devices in the future, Tim Wu, Columbia Law School professor, said at a Legal Futures Conference at Stanford University on Saturday. Specifically, there is a ‘battle for platform supremacy between two different types of devices’--mobile versus computer, he said. … ‘As (mobile) gains in popularity...the question becomes what the dominant platform will be,’ Wu said. ‘There will be one platform to rule them all...Control of spectrum is the bottleneck’ that either maintains the telecom monopoly model or brings the openness of the Internet to the wireless world.”

LAW.COM: As IPO Looms, Visa's Outside Counsel See Litigation Bonanza
March 7, 2008
BYLINE: Attilla Berry
“Visa Inc. has two big challenges ahead. The first was all over the news last week: The company is launching the biggest initial public offering in U.S. history, with a record $18 billion in the works. … John Coffee, a securities expert and Columbia University law professor, says the offering is a good way to raise money for litigation and settlements.”

HEDGEWORLD DAILY NEWS: House Takes on Derivatives Tax Treatment (subscription required)
March 7, 2008
BYLINE: Christopher Faille
“An associate professor from Columbia Law School in New York said this week that all derivatives should be subject to mark-to-market accounting for tax purposes. … The proposal from Columbia Law School's Alex Raskolnikov was consistent with Mr. Neal's approach but much more dramatic. Mr. Raskolnikov warned: ‘Financial innovation threatens to eliminate substantial amounts of capital income from the tax base.’ He said that Congress should intervene to restore the tax base in ways that ‘cannot be easily avoided and [do] not impose large administrative and compliance costs.’ He said he thinks that his plan, mark-to-market accounting and the use of the top ordinary income rate, will achieve that goal.”

BUSINESSWEEK: Too Much Debt? Too Bad
March 6, 2008
BYLINE: Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Robert Berner
“A major avenue of escape for troubled credit-card borrowers is narrowing. … Why are credit-card companies clamping down? Some analysts suspect issuers are increasingly worried about losses. Card issuers reported $38 billion in bad loans last year. Columbia Law School professor Ronald Mann gives another reason. He says banks have taken a closer look at the data and determined that most individuals will keep paying their debts even if lenders don't lower the rates as they have in the past. ‘Higher rates maximize the recovery,’ says Mann.”

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS: The strange history of a so-called civil rights campaign
March 7, 2008
BYLINE: Amy Blackwell
“In 1996, Californians passed Proposition 209, stating that ‘he state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.’ … Kimberle Crenshaw, professor of law at Columbia University and at UCLA Law School, explained that Connerly and his ilk selectively sample the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to evoke King’s symbolism and moral authority, all the while undermining crucial civil rights victories, of which affirmative action is one.”

DAILY FREE PRESS: Panel: Elections need reform
March 7, 2008
BYLINE: Tommy Lee Jenkins, III
“A panel of professors and lawyers hosted by the Harvard Journal on Legislation analyzed the implications of voter identification laws and their potential impact on the presidential election this year, at the Harvard Law School yesterday. … Columbia Law School professor Nate Persily said the rules on photo identification vary immensely from state to state, but in general, voters without an ID can only cast a provisional ballot. When voters have their IDs, they must go to the state elections office to have their votes counted, he said. However, Persily said, few people do this and so their votes go uncounted.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Health Blog: Where’s New York’s Suit Againt UnitedHealth?
March 6, 2008
BYLINE: Theo Francis
“New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo came down hard last month on UnitedHealth and more than a dozen other insurers, saying he would sue them for allegedly misleading patients about the cost of out-of-network medical care. … Not a bad gambit, said Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor and former federal prosecutor who keeps an eye on the New York AG’s office. ‘By committing himself, [Cuomo] is signaling to the defendants, or the companies he’s investigating, that he’s not going to back down.’ At the same time, both sides ‘would rather negotiate prior to a complaint than after,’ Richman added.”

INFORMATIONWEEK: High-Gain, Target Of GPL Suit, Settles With Developers
March 6, 2008
BYLINE: Charles Babcock
“High-Gain Antennas today announced that it has settled a suit filed against it in November over its use of GPL code. … The Software Freedom Law Center was established by Eben Moglen, a Columbia University law professor, to help protect the rights of open source code developers.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Gay Marriage Gains Notice in State Court
March 6, 2008
BYLINE: Anemona Hartocollis
“On the way home from work in Rochester, Patricia Martinez stopped at a liquor store and bought a small bottle of Champagne to celebrate her marriage to another woman. The wedding took place in Canada nearly four years ago, but it wasn’t until Feb. 1 that a New York appellate court declared it valid in the state. … ‘Marriage law aims at providing stability to couples, but when couples don’t know whether their marriage will be recognized from one place to another, there’s a loss,’ said Suzanne Goldberg, director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School.”

BUSINESS-STANDARD: Should religion be taught in schools?
March 7, 2008
BYLINE: T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan
“Religion needs to be separated from liberal public education, and yet is essential to its aims. … Marc O DeGirolami, Associate-in-Law at the Columbia Law School, has written superb paper* on the subject. Being a lawyer, he relies mostly on an analysis of US Supreme Court judgments. Perhaps someone will attempt something similar for India as well. He poses the question thus: ‘The constitutional paradox of religious learning is the problem of knowing that religion — including the teaching about religion — must be separated from liberal public education, and yet that religion cannot be entirely separated if the aims of liberal public education are to be realised.’”

BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes: Coup for Columbia Law
March 4, 2008
BYLINE: Tony Mauro
“Ted Shaw, the longtime director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), has joined the faculty of Columbia Law School, dean David Schizer announced this morning. Shaw will be a professor of professional practice, specializing in civil procedure and constitutional law. … Jack Greenberg also joined the Columbia faculty after a legendary career in civil rights litigation. ‘Ted Shaw has carried on a great Columbia Law School tradition of leadership in civil rights advocacy,’ said Schizer.”

GLOBE AND MAIL: Could Bush pardon be Black's ticket out?
March 4, 2008
BYLINE: Paul Waldie
“Conrad Black may have one last trick up his sleeve to get out of jail: a pardon from U.S. President George W. Bush. … But John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University in New York, doubts Lord Black will be successful. Mr. Coffee said Mr. Bush has actually followed procedure carefully in his pardons. Pardon requests are made to the Department of Justice, which then makes a recommendation to the President. Mr. Coffee said that while the President can ultimately do what he wants, Mr. Bush has stuck closely to the recommendations. He also said Mr. Bush may have many others in mind for pardons and commutations on his last day in office. When asked about Lord Black's chances of being on the list, Mr. Coffee said, ‘I think it's a long shot.’”

FINANCIAL TIMES: Obama's free-trade credentials beat Clinton's
March 4, 2008

BYLINE: Jagdish Bhagwati
“While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are locked in combat for the Democrats' presidential nomination, commentary on the front-running Mr Obama's policy agenda, especially on trade, has become faintly ludicrous. David Wessel declared in the Wall Street Journal recently, as others have, that the two had no disagreements on trade policy. But Mrs Clinton has assaulted Mr Obama for having no policy agenda at all. Both views are wrong. Mr Obama has specifics and they differ in important respects from those offered by Mrs Clinton. … The writer is university professor, economics and law, at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.”

CONDÉ NAST PORTFOLIO: A Bad Day for Corporate Crooks
March 3, 2008
BYLINE: Karen Donovan
“The Supreme Court today turned down a petition by John Rigas and his son, Timothy Rigas, seeking review of their convictions on accounting fraud. … ‘They got harsh sentences, but that doesn't bother the Supreme Court at all,’ said John C. Coffee Jr., a securities law professor at Columbia University School of Law. The Supreme Court also declined to review the convictions of Bernard Ebbers, former chief executive of WorldCom for his a $11-billion accounting fraud scheme, following the Second Circuit's denial of his appeal. These kinds of cases ‘present a factually messy argument’ unlikely to be taken up for review by the high court, says Coffee. ‘It's the kind of factual issue where I don't think courts feel they can do a better job than juries.’ … ‘It's not an efficient use of the Supreme Court's time to resolve only one case,’ says Coffee.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Promises, Promises
March 1, 2008

BYLINE: Christina Duffy Burnett
“He's not a household name, but Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo-Vilá has become an important man in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Barack Obama recently courted the governor with a letter announcing his support for Puerto Rican ‘self-determination’ -- an indication that the senator from Illinois favors putting the decision of whether Puerto Rico should become the 51st state into the hands of Puerto Rican voters. Hillary Clinton is sounding similar notes. Why would candidates in a fight for their party's presidential nomination weigh in on the status of Puerto Rico? … Ms. Burnett is an associate professor of law at Columbia University, and co-editor of "Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution" (Duke University Press, 2001).”

DAILY TIMES: Fair contracts for poor countries
March 1, 2008

BYLINE: Karl P Sauvant
“A number of countries in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere are abrogating or renegotiating contracts with multinational enterprises (MNEs), and others are likely to follow suit. The costs can be high. Governments may get better terms, but they may also become embroiled in international investment disputes and discourage other investors. For companies, renegotiations mean uncertainty and possible interruptions of production and revenue. Significant shifts in power (typically as a result of changes in commodity prices) and ideology, or changes in the economics of projects, can lead to renegotiations, especially when it comes to large investments in natural resources and infrastructure. But often the reason is that the host country considers a contract to be unfair. … Karl P Sauvant is Executive Director of the Program on International Investment at Columbia University and Co-Director of the UN Millennium Cities Initiative.”
This piece also ran in the
Korea Times.

NEW YORK TIMES: Owner Says Clemens’s Contract Not at Issue
March 1, 2008
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt          
“One day after the Houston Astros’ owner, Drayton McLane, expressed uneasiness about Roger Clemens’s presence at the team’s spring-training facility, Clemens flew home to Houston. … Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor who is a law professor at Columbia, said it was not uncommon for questions to arise about who would lead an investigation when charges cross jurisdictions and agencies. ‘Particularly in a high-profile case, agencies sometimes fight for credit and want to lead the investigation,’ Richman said. ‘Occasionally, turf wars break out and the high-ranking officials have to intervene.’”


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