May 25 - 31, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES: Fighting Same-Sex Policy Seems to Be Uphill Battle
May 30, 2008
BYLINE: Adam Liptak
“Legal challenges to Gov. David A. Paterson’s plan to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions are likely to come thick and fast. But they face an uphill fight, legal experts said on Thursday, given New York’s unusual legal terrain. … ‘This is the normal rule,’ Suzanne Goldberg, a law professor at Columbia, said of New York’s approach, ‘and what is unusual is what has happened in most of the rest of the country.’”

FORTUNE: Blowing the whistle on unethical lawyers
May 30, 2008
BYLINE: Roger Parloff
“In August 2001, when in-house accountant Sherron Watkins warned Enron CEO Ken Lay that the company might ‘implode in a wave of accounting scandals,’ Lay asked the firm's regular law firm, Vinson & Elkins, to do a ‘preliminary investigation.’ … In a forthcoming Stanford Law Review article titled ‘The Market for Bad Legal Advice,’ Columbia Law School professor William Simon cites Wolfram's opinion as just one example of patently bad advice offered in exchange for lucrative compensation by academics whom he contends are becoming ‘enablers of pernicious... practices.’”
The Law Blog (Wall Street Journal) discussed this article on June 3.

NEW YORK SUN: Court To Decide If Spitzer Overreached on Grasso
May 30, 2008
BYLINE: Joseph Goldstein
“The state's highest court is gearing up to decide whether Eliot Spitzer overreached four years ago when, as attorney general, he sought to force a former New York Stock Exchange chief, Richard Grasso, to relinquish his $187.5 million pay package. … A professor at Columbia Law School, Jeffrey Gordon, said the case will help decide ‘the extent to which the attorney general will assert his superintendent powers over the practices of not-for-profits, particularly in the compensation area.’”

BLOOMBERG: Flaherty, Quebec Renew Battle Over Single Securities Regulator
May 29, 2008
BYLINE: Alexandre Deslongchamps and Greg Quinn
“Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his Quebec counterpart Monique Jerome-Forget renewed their battle over the creation of a single securities regulator, with Jerome-Forget saying provinces should maintain power to set their own rules. … The country loses about C$10 billion ($10 billion) in economic output each year because of its fragmented system, according to a government-commissioned report last June by John Coffee, a Columbia University Law School professor.”

FINANCIAL TIMES: Calls in US for split of top jobs gain momentum
May 28, 2008
BYLINE: Joanna Chung and Kate Burgess
“US companies have long concentrated power in the hands of one individual at the top of a company. … ‘A ship should have only one captain; that has been the prevailing view in the US,’ says John Coffee, law professor at Columbia University. … Alongside the increase in the support for companies splitting the top role, there has also been an increase in the appointment of the independent lead director to serve as the leader at companies where the CEO is chairman of the board. But such a position is only a ‘second best’ solution to an independent chairman, says Mr Coffee.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: We Need Free Trade in Health Care
May 27, 2008

BYLINE: Jagdish Bhagwati and Sandip Madan
“Health-care reform is a major election issue. Yet while Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama offer comprehensive plans, important gaps remain. Neither plan addresses the need for more doctors, a problem that Gov. Mitt Romney ran into when he introduced comprehensive medical coverage in Massachusetts in 2006. … Mr. Bhagwati is a professor at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.”

TIMES: Letters: Torture ban truth
May 27, 2008

BYLINE: Philip Bobbitt
“Sir, I was a bit taken aback to read the headline in The Times ‘Presidential adviser who says that sometimes torture is the heroic way’ (interview, May 24), but further distressed to read the Times Online headline ‘presidential adviser Philip Bobbitt argues the case for torture as an act of heroism’ and apoplectic to read a subsequent Times Online headline ‘Presidential adviser who argues the case for torture.’ … Philip Bobbitt, Columbia University.”
The Times article that Prof. Bobbitt refers to can be found here:

BLOOMBERG: Auction Failure Damages Face Burden of Proof Eluding Lawyers
May 27, 2008
BYLINE: Thom Weidlich
“Lawyers who sued broker-dealers, including Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley, for steering investors to the now-failing $330 billion market for auction-rate securities may be unable to prove their clients lost money or collect fees for themselves. … John Coffee, a Columbia University securities law professor, said there are ‘some problems’ with that claim. ‘I don't know that you can easily measure the loss of liquidity,’ he said.”

This story was discussed in the Law Blog (Wall Street Journal).

JOURNAL NEWS: Race, domestic violence and New York's ineffective Family Court law
May 26, 2008

BYLINE: Suzanne B. Goldberg, Sadie R. Holzman, Jonathan A. Lieberman
“Earlier this year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that the U.S. do more to ‘prevent and punish violence and abuse against women belonging to racial, ethnic, and national minorities.’ Now, the New York Legislature can take action. A recently reintroduced bill, which the Legislature has let languish in various versions for the past two decades, would ensure that the state's family courts' doors are open to all who need civil protective orders against domestic violence. … Suzanne B. Goldberg is clinical professor and director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School; Sadie R. Holzman and Jonathan A. Lieberman are students in the clinic.”

TIMES: Philip Bobbitt explains in detail his position on torture and terrorism
May 25, 2008

BYLINE: Philip Bobbitt
“In the course of a generous and flattering profile accompanying the publication of my new book, Terror and Consent, The Times has mistakenly given the impression that, in the words of its headline, I have ‘argue[d] the case for torture as an act of heroism.’”

FREE LANCE-STAR: New book skewers the mutual fund industry
May 25, 2008
BYLINE: Bill Freehling
“‘There is something rotten in the mutual fund industry.’ Thus begins ‘The Investor's Dilemma,’ a new book by Louis Lowenstein that paints a highly critical picture of the way mutual funds operate. Lowenstein is a professor emeritus at Columbia Law School who writes on financial markets.”

Back to top

May 18 - 24, 2008

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE: Why same-sex ruling is not 'judicial activism'
May 23, 2008

BYLINE: Suzanne B. Goldberg
“The cries of judicial activism in response to California's new marriage ruling miss the point that the state high court's decision rests on a well-settled principle – ‘separate but equal’ rules violate our nation's commitment to equality for all. The decision responded to California's practice of giving marriage rights to same-sex couples but calling those relationships ‘domestic partnerships’ rather than marriage. Several other states, also recognizing the unfairness, and indeed cruelty, of leaving same-sex couples outside the law's protection, have enacted similar civil union or domestic partnership statuses. … Goldberg is a clinical professor and director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School. Her clinic filed an amicus brief at the California Supreme Court in this case.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Google Says It Will Defend Competitive Rationale of a Yahoo Deal
May 22, 2008
BYLINE: Steve Lohr
“How can Google, the Internet search and advertising giant, contend that teaming up with Yahoo in search ads would not invite an antitrust challenge? … ‘In this business, where scale is so important, there is a danger that you effectively lose a second major player and the opportunity for a genuine counterweight to Google,’ said C. Scott Hemphill, an associate professor at the Columbia Law School. The anticompetitive impact, in theory, would be higher prices for ads, reduced choice for Web publishers and less innovation in search and search ad technology. “But Google will argue that efficiencies of this kind of collaboration outweigh any anticompetitive risks,” Mr. Hemphill said. “It can claim that it is supplying superior picks and shovels to the entire industry, the best mining tools for gold prospectors in the Internet economy.”

BAY AREA REPORTER: Marriage decision legal boon for LGBTs
May 22, 2008
BYLINE: Matthew S. Bajko
“Last week's decision by the state Supreme Court not only legalized same-sex marriage, it was also the first time a U.S. court ruled that sexual orientation must be afforded the same legal standing as that given to a person's sex, gender, or religion. … ‘The decision by the California Supreme Court today striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage is one of the most significant gay rights opinions ever issued by a court,’ said Columbia Law School Professor Nathaniel Persily, a constitutional law expert who co-edited the book Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy, which examines public opinion on issues such as same-sex marriage.’When a court analogizes gay rights to the struggle for African American civil rights it sends a strong message that such [anti-gay] discrimination will almost always be unconstitutional.’ … ‘It will be interesting if they do pass that constitutional amendment what happens to the marriages in the interim? It is not an easy question to answer what happens to the marriages of the people who got married during that time,’ said Persily.”

TIMES: Terror and Consent by Philip Bobbitt
May 22, 2008
BYLINE: Allan Mallinson
“ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT the war on terror, or terrorism, or whatever it is (if anything at all) that threatens the peace of the 21st century. … He is professor of jurisprudence at Columbia University, senior fellow in international security and law at the University of Texas, and formerly at King's College, London.”

SPECTATOR: Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century
May 21, 2008
BYLINE: Matthew d'Ancona
“This book is so important that I hope the publishers have the civic spirit to send a copy to every parliamentarian, decision-maker and opinion-former in the land. For Philip Bobbitt, the legal and constitutional historian best known for The Shield of Achilles, has drawn nothing less than a philosophical route-map for the war on terror and the geopolitical crisis of the early 21st century. … Bobbitt, who holds a chair at Columbia University and has served in the White House and on the National Security Council, is resolute about the scale of the challenge.”

CREDITCARDS.COM: Do-it-yourself credit cards studied
May 21, 2008
BYLINE: Jeff Beneke
“Faced with a unique set of issues, low-income women would prefer to set their own credit card limits and restrict the types of stores that accept their credit cards, according to a study published in the Texas Law Review in February 2008. … Ronald Mann, a law professor at Columbia University, points out in his book ‘Charging Ahead’ that Netflix became a huge success when it marketed its service as one that eliminated the substantial late fees movie renters were paying to Blockbuster and other traditional movie rental services. This forced Blockbuster, in turn, to announce its own end to late fees.”

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Contractor admits giving John Dougherty a price break
May 20, 2008
Craig R. McCoy
“A Philadelphia contractor pleaded guilty yesterday to a plan to spare labor leader John J. Dougherty the full cost of extensive renovations to Dougherty's home. … However, Dan Richman, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Columbia University Law School, said prosecutors might not want to call Gus Dougherty because he has not agreed to cooperate. If the defense were to call Gus Dougherty to confirm the alleged cash payments, that would mean that a jury would hear about his guilty plea. As a result, Gus Dougherty might not testify in any future case, Richman said. ‘There are often trials where there's an offstage person who nobody wants on the stand,’ Richman said. ‘Those are weird trials, but they happen.’”

GLOBE AND MAIL: Merrill sets new rules for ratings game
May 20, 2008
BYLINE: David Parkinson
“It's unlikely that investing firms on Wall Street and Bay Street will rush to match Merrill Lynch's ground-breaking new policy on the rating of stocks. … ‘If we want to purge the market (even to a tiny degree) of its persistent 'buy' bias and overoptimism, Merrill's approach makes sense,’ law professor John Coffee of Columbia University, who has studied equity research biases in both the United States and Canada, said in an e-mail last week.”

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Accused Broadcom founders bring in legal top guns
May 19, 2008
BYLINE: E. Scott Reckard
“The Broadcom Corp. founders accused of engineering a massive stock fraud have always been a study in contrasts: Henry Samueli, the professorial strategist who bought the NHL's Anaheim Ducks, and Henry T. Nicholas III, the driven deal maker whose personal life has made headlines. … But corporate fraud expert John C. Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York, said the Nicholas team reminded him of the phrase ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’ ‘There are problems with too many stars,’ Coffee said. As an example, Coffee cited the case of former football star O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of murder by a Los Angeles jury after assembling his own notably large legal entourage. ‘A lot of O.J.'s dream team was axed before the end of his trial, and I would be surprised if all these guys are still around by the first day of trial,’ Coffee said.”

NATIONAL REVIEW: Plan for a Century (subscription required)
Issue of May 19, 2008
BYLINE: Victor Davis Hanson
“ANYONE who finished Philip Bobbitt's massive, 900-page-plus The Shield of Achilles (2002) might not be surprised about the size and organization of its sequel, Terror and Consent--a 600-pageplus volume replete with book parts, chapters within chapters, Roman-numeraled subsections, bullet-marked sub-subsections, a conclusion, and a coda, all fortified with lengthy indented quotations, footnotes, and italicized passages. … That said, Bobbitt--a noted law professor at Columbia University and a veteran public servant--has raised a number of critical issues that confront the United States in our post-9/11 world.”

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: A judge of firsts (subscription required)
May 19, 2008
BYLINE: Sheri Qualters
“More than a dozen years after leaving behind stewardship roles, including a stint chairing the litigation department at Foley Hoag, to join the federal bench, Judge Sandra L. Lynch will brush off her consensus-building leadership skills once again. … Former law clerk Benjamin Liebman, who is now a Columbia Law School professor, traces the popularity of Lynch's opinions to her commitment to — and even insistence on — a straightforward style. Liebman was struck by Lynch's assertion during his interview for the clerkship that opinions must make sense to the litigants, not just their lawyers. ‘Here was this judge not just focused on getting the law right but that her opinions spoke to the litigants,’ Liebman said. … Lynch's former law professor at Boston University School of Law, Henry Paul Monaghan, who is now at Columbia Law School, said Lynch's instincts are liberal but they're ‘bounded by tough-mindedness. While she has a sympathetic approach to people who are down and out, she doesn't let that quality override her judgment about the law,’ Monaghan said. ‘She would take positions to the liberal side of me but wouldn't defend any that didn't have common sense.’”

FINDLAW: The California Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: What it Says, What it Means, and Why It's Right
May 19, 2008

BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf
“Last week, the California Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the nation's most populous state. With the decision in In re Marriage Cases, California becomes only the second state in the country to grant same-sex couples the right to enter into marriages that are in name as well as substance the full equal of opposite-sex couples' marriages. Like the ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the 2003 case of Goodridge v. Dep't of Public Health, last week's California ruling rested in part on the fact that the state already provided same-sex couples the option of entering into state-sanctioned domestic partnerships (sometimes called "civil unions") with the same legal benefits and responsibilities as marriage. Maintaining a separate name for the institution that applied where same-sex couples are involved, both the California and Massachusetts high courts said, was a form of second-class citizenship for the members of such couples. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.”

TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL: Speaker: Race remains topical
May 18, 2008
BYLINE: Bill Blankenship
“Race isn't a matter of history but rather it is one of current events, a speaker said Saturday night at a gala commemorating the 54th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision and the 20th anniversary of the Brown Foundation. ‘While the Brown Foundation correctly honors the Brown decision,’ civil rights attorney Theodore M. Shaw said at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center, ‘the truth is we've only just begun to balance the scales in this country.’ … ‘Before Brown, black folks in this country were subjugated by law. Period,’ said Shaw, who recently joined the law faculty of the Columbia Law School, his legal alma mater.

Back to top

May 11 - 17, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES: Same-Sex Marriage and Racial Justice Find Common Ground
May 17, 2008
BYLINE: Adam Liptak
“Not long into the oral argument before the California Supreme Court in March over whether gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry, Chief Justice Ronald M. George showed his hand. … ‘The Perez case shaped the environment for the court, shaped the landscape in which it was ruling,’ said Suzanne Goldberg, a law professor at Columbia who submitted a brief supporting same-sex marriage. ‘This is the court that made history by rejecting bans on interracial marriage and did not see the sky fall.’”

SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE: Same-sex unions made now likely to stay valid
May 17, 2008
BYLINE: Bill Ainsworth
“Gay and lesbian couples who get married in the next several months aren't likely to have their licenses invalidated if voters approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in November, according to legal experts. … Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School, said the passage of the constitutional amendment in November would create a ‘legal, political and social mess. It is untenable to have a situation where some gay couples are married and others are forbidden from ever doing that,’ said Goldberg, one of several law professors interviewed yesterday.”

TELEGRAPH: A country called al-Qa'eda
May 17, 2008
BYLINE: Rowan Williams
“Armies are always preparing, so the saying goes, to fight the last war rather than the next one. Philip Bobbitt's enormous, courageous new book is basically a long reflection on what it might take to jolt us out of this habit, given that, as he argues with passion and erudition, we are in the middle of a major change in the global constitutional settlement and that this change is also one of the factors making us vulnerable as never before to violent destabilisation.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Investigator to the Stars Is Convicted in Wiretaps
May 16, 2008
BYLINE: David M. Halbfinger
“Anthony Pellicano, the ripped-from-a-pulp-novel private eye who made himself an indispensable fixer for Hollywood stars and moguls, was found guilty in federal court Thursday of racketeering, wiretapping and other charges. … ‘If the government has no plans to go higher than Pellicano, this is a depressingly pedestrian effort that shows a lack of ambition,’ said John C. Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School and an expert on white-collar crime.”

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Same-sex marriage decision may help Republicans
May 16, 2008
BYLINE: Zachary Coile
“The California Supreme Court's historic ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry is certain to inject the issue into the 2008 presidential race and could help Republicans by serving up a red-meat issue to rally conservative voters. … The issue is not one Illinois Sen. Barack Obama or New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would prefer to see front and center - polls show the public trusts the Democrats more on key issues like health care and the economy. ‘It certainly doesn't help them,’ said Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law at Columbia University, who has written extensively on the issue. ‘Right when everyone is thinking about a foreign policy disaster and the economy in ruins, you don't want them thinking about these other types of questions.’”

BOSTON GLOBE: These children must be rescued (syndicated column)
May 16, 2008
BYLINE: Ellen Goodman
“During the Vietnam War there was a phrase that came to symbolize the entire misbegotten adventure: ‘It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.’ … This makes many, like Jane Spinak, a Columbia Law professor who has represented children in foster care, uneasy. ‘We may not like their lifestyle,’ she says. ‘We may not condone the practice of multiple women living together with a man, but it's not for the court to decide lifestyles.’ Spinak remembers when children were removed from biracial families, let alone gay families. ‘Lots of people live lives we don't think are good for their children, but we don't take the children away.’”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Bear Naked: The Case For a Swaps Clearinghouse (subscription required)
May 15, 2008

BYLINE: John C. Coffee Jr.
“The Federal Reserve's ‘bailout’ of Bear Stearns still obsesses the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and a few assorted ‘free market’ law professors. Everyone else recognizes that it was necessary and that it worked. But that that disaster was averted and the train did not go off the tracks and over the cliff does not mean that another financial cliff-hanger could not happen tomorrow. It could, and it may even be more likely now that investment banks and their creditors expect that the Federal Reserve will be their funder of last resort. Given this exposure, what feasible steps could reduce the financial system's exposure to contagion and systemic risk? This column will discuss a reform that is already under serious consideration and probably lies just within the envelope of political feasibility: the creation of an OTC clearinghouse as the mandatory counterparty in OTC derivatives transactions. … 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.”

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Goodman: Sects and the law (syndicated)
May 15, 2008
BYLINE: Ellen Goodman
“During the Vietnam War there was a phrase that came to symbolize the entire misbegotten adventure: ‘It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.’ … This makes many - like Jane Spinak, a Columbia Law professor who has represented children in foster care - uneasy. ‘We may not like their lifestyle,’ she says. ‘We may not condone the practice of multiple women living together with a man, but it's not for the court to decide lifestyles.’ Spinak remembers when children were removed from biracial families, let alone gay families. ‘Lots of people live lives we don't think are good for their children, but we don't take the children away.’ Indeed, this citizen of New York archly reminds me that two governors have admitted multiple partners in the last months without having their children removed.”

This publication and others ran this column with the fuller quote from Prof. Spinak.

ABC NEWS: California Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
May 15, 2008
BYLINE: Jung Hwa Song
“More than 1,000 supporters filed onto the rotunda steps of San Francisco's City Hall this morning awaiting -- then celebrating -- the California Supreme Court's decision to strike down the ban on gay marriage. … Though only a handful of legal rights and obligations differ from those of a same-sex domestic partnership or heterosexual marriage, the court's decision acknowledged that domestic partnership did not carry the same weight as marriage, said Suzanne Goldberg, a Columbia Law School professor and director of the sexuality and gender law clinic. ‘Before, California had a separate but equal relationship recognition rule, where straight couples could marry and gay people had domestic partnerships,’ Goldberg said. ‘That separate but equal rule is now gone, and equality has taken its place.’ … ‘Opponents of marriage equality would like to see tidal waves of outrage sweeping the country,’ Goldberg said. ‘But the demographics are shifting and the polling is shifting, and while I expect some fireworks over this, my hope and expectation is that not a lot will change’ in the California judge's decision.”

FINANCIAL NEWS: US may cut back overseas shareholder cases
May 15, 2008
BYLINE: Mark Cobley
“US courts may be less willing in future to play ‘policeman to the world’ on shareholders' rights by allowing overseas investors to participate in or bring securities class actions, according to John Coffee, a leading US academic in the field. Speaking at an institutional investors' conference in Paris this morning, Coffee said: ‘Non-US investors may have to face the possibility that this door may shut. There have been some recent examples of European investors being involved in these cases, but it is not an established part of US jurisprudence.’ … Coffee, who is director of the Center for Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School, said market regulations were also likely to converge thanks to efforts by bodies such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the UK's Financial Services Authority to mutually recognize each others' standards. But he said differences in approach and resources—the SEC has 1,250 full time enforcement professionals against the FSA's 40 - would hamper the process.”

THE STREET: Political Media Blinded by Blocs
May 14, 2008
BYLINE: John Fout
“Every general presidential election in American history has been contested by white males. … On the other hand, Obama's appeal has been based around his stated interest in overcoming the divide in politics. Nate Persily, professor of law and politics at Columbia University Law School, said: ‘His story in life is about trying to be a crossover politician, and he hoped to avoid the discussion of racial division.’”

NEW YORK TIMES: Prosecutors Rework Indictment of Bonds
May 14, 2008
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt
“Barry Bonds was re-indicted Tuesday by the federal authorities in an effort to fix the original indictment in his perjury case. … ‘All the government wanted to do here was cure the indictment to make sure the case could move forward,’ Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor, said in a telephone interview. ‘Ironically, the government’s response was to give the jury more choices on what they can convict him on.’”

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Domestic spying far outpaces terrorism prosecutions
May 12, 2008
BYLINE: Richard B. Schmitt
“The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has continued to increase as officials aggressively use powers approved after the Sept. 11 attacks. … ‘How does one measure the success? The short answer is we aren't in a great position to know,’ said Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor. With prosecutions declining, he said, the public is left with imperfect and possibly misleading ways to gauge progress in the Bush administration's war on terrorism -- such as the number of secret warrants the government issues or the number of agents it assigns to terrorism cases. ‘These are the only tracks in the snow left by terrorism investigations, if there are no more counter-terrorism prosecutions,’ Richman said. ‘This is why, more than ever, there is a pressing need for congressional oversight, for accountability at the top of the [Justice] department, and for public confidence in the department.’”

FINANCIAL WEEK: Critics: SEC no match for investment banks
May 12, 2008
BYLINE: Nicholas Rummell
“Recent criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s oversight of investment banks, as well as the departure of libertarian commissioner Paul Atkins, could lead to greater investment bank regulation. … ‘In the 1990s, the SEC budget was truly starved,’ said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. But while it received a major boost after the Enron and WorldCom scandals, he added, the enforcement program has since been put back on a diet, starting with the SEC’s policy in 2004 to focus more on individual penalties rather than ‘penalizing’ shareholders with large corporate penalties.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: Panels Highlight the Copyright Divide
May 12, 2008
BYLINE: Craig Morgan Teicher
“Divergent opinions were the order of the day at the 2008 On Copyright conference, held May 1 in Manhattan. … The society panel, ‘New Experiences; New Expectations,’ mostly focused on lawyer Tim Wu’s interest in the recent trial in which Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling sued Steve Vander Ark when he announced plans to publish a book based on his popular Harry Potter Lexicon Web site. For Wu, the trial underscored the popular conception that a print book is more legitimate than an e-book: ‘Rowling didn’t care about the Lexicon as long as it was online,’ he said.”


NEW YORKER: Talk of the Town: Fan Feud
Issue of May 12, 2008
“Once upon a time, a talented weaver named Arachne declared herself superior in skill to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, who also invented weaving. Whether Arachne was actually better we’ll never know, for Athena, in a jealous rage, destroyed her rival’s tapestry and turned her into a spider. Last summer, at a ‘Harry Potter’ convention in Toronto, a fan named Steve Vander Ark made a similar mistake when he dared to compare himself to Joanne (J. K.) Rowling. ‘It is amazing where we have taken ‘Harry Potter,’ ’ he said to a crowd of dedicated ‘Potter’ fans. Many readers dislike the epilogue in the final book; Vander Ark urged them to disregard it entirely, and even invented his own spell to do so (‘expelliepilogus’). ‘Jo’s quit, she’s done,’ he told the audience. ‘We’re taking over now.’ Comparing yourself to a living god can be risky, and Vander Ark has suffered cruel fates, in court and in the world of ‘Potter’ fandom. … Tim Wu (The Talk of the Town, p. 42) is a professor at Columbia Law School.”

TIMES-UNION: Ethics panel works in secret 
May 11, 2008
BYLINE: Irene Jay Liu
“A special commission that legislators claim is their ‘independent’ ethics watchdog is anything but, a monthlong Times Union investigation has found. … But while an opinion can be a strong defense, its strength depends on the integrity of the process that generated it, Columbia Law school professor and former assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richman said. ‘Certainly to the degree that there was collusion between the legislator and the commission in the creation of the opinion, I wouldn't give it much faith in a good-faith defense,’ Richman said.”


Back to top

May 1 - 10, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES: In a Changing World, an Ever-Evolving Terrorism
May 9, 2008
BYLINE: Edward Rothstein
“When the Barbary pirates were in their prime, they were paid homage and protection money by every major shipping nation. … But as Philip Bobbitt points out in his powerful, dense and brilliant new book, “Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century,” in the late 18th century they were also quite different from the terrorists we now know. … Mr. Bobbitt, who teaches law at the University of Texas and Columbia University and directs the Center for National Security at Columbia — and who has held positions in six United States administrations — is too subtle to accept a formulation that has become little more than a relativist mantra.”

FREE LIBRARY PODCAST: Philip Bobbitt | Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century
May 8, 2008
“‘This is quite simply the most profound book to have been written on the subject of American foreign policy since the attacks of 9/11, indeed, since the end of the cold war,'’ writes renowned historian Niall Ferguson of Philip Bobbitt's latest book, Terror and Consent, in which the author argues that the U.S. has ignored the role of law in devising its strategy in the war on terror, with fateful consequences, and has failed to reform law in light of the changed strategic context. Bobbitt is also the author of the bestseller The Shield of Achilles and is the Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence and the Director of the Center for National Security at Columbia University.”

BLOOMBERG: State Street Subprime Damages May Surpass Reserve
May 8, 2008
BYLINE: Carlyn Kolker
“State Street Corp., the largest money manager for institutions, may have to pay more than the $625 million it set aside for damages from lawsuits over losses from subprime-mortgage investments made for pension funds. … To achieve class-action status, the funds need to show that their cases have common facts, said John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University in New York. ‘The common issue will be, did they all get the same advice?’ Coffee said. Even without class-action status, the pension plans may still sue separately because the size of the claims justifies the cost of individual cases, Coffee said.”

WORLD POLITICS REVIEW: D.R. Congo Reviews Mining Contracts Signed During Resource-Fueled War
May 8, 2008
BYLINE: Aaron Ernst
“In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a curious export phenomenon occurred in the countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. … ‘In terms of value to the country, about 60 to 80 percent of the contracts had language that allowed the companies to avoid an obligation to actually ensure that it does what it says it will do,’ said Peter Rosenblum, law professor at Columbia University and an expert on DRC mining contracts. The contracts, he said, often undervalued the worth of the minerals being taken from the country in order to avoid paying taxes on the wealth that was extracted.”

REASON MAGAZINE: Hogwarts Law School
May 8, 2008
BYLINE: Jesse Walker
“Harry Potter gets along with his fans. … It's unclear how the courts will rule, but I'm inclined to agree with Columbia Law School's Tim Wu as to how they should rule. Wu wrote in Slate that Rowling ‘has confused the adaptations of a work, which she does own, with discussion of her work, which she doesn't….Textually, the law gives her sway over any form in which her work may be 'recast, transformed, or adapted.' But she does not own discussion of her work—book reviews, literary criticism, or the fan guides that she's suing.’”


BLOOMBERG: SEC's Bear Stearns Oversight Points to Fund Shortage
May 7, 2008
BYLINE: Jesse Westbrook
“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's inability to avert the collapse of Bear Stearns Cos. may be traced to funding levels at the agency that haven't kept pace with the complexity of Wall Street's biggest companies. … ‘I've been concerned for some time that flat budgets would create gaps in the SEC's oversight and enforcement efforts,’ said Harvey Goldschmid, a former SEC commissioner who left the agency in 2005 and is now a professor at Columbia Law School in New York. ‘That may have been responsible for the failure to identify some of the problems at Bear Stearns.’”

FINDLAW: Does the Foolhardy McCain/Clinton Proposal for a "Gas Tax Holiday" Expose a More Fundamental Flaw in Democracy?
May 7, 2008
BYLINE: Michael C. Dorf
“Presidential candidates John McCain and Hillary Clinton have both recently endorsed a ‘gas tax holiday’ a temporary suspension of the federal 18.4 cents per gallon excise tax on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel—during the summer months, as a means of affording working Americans some relief from high fuel costs. The proposals differ in one important respect: Clinton would couple the temporary suspension of the tax at the pump with a windfall-profits tax on oil companies. Nevertheless, with or without an accompanying windfall-profits tax, the gas tax holiday is unjustifiable as a matter of policy, and to his credit, Senator Barack Obama has rejected it as a gimmick. Yet historically, candidates who have eschewed populist but misguided policies have not fared well, and it is thus quite possible that Obama's principled stand on this issue could cost him votes or even the Presidency. … Michael C. Dorf is the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Mutual Funds Give Some Investors Pause Now
May 6, 2008
BYLINE: Palash R. Ghosh
“Mutual funds have been resilient despite rivalry from other investment options like exchange-traded funds, hedge funds and separately managed accounts, but now some investors are having their doubts. … ‘High fees are not really the biggest issue,’ says Louis Lowenstein, professor emeritus of finance and law at Columbia University, who has written a book, ‘The Investor's Dilemma: How Mutual Funds Are Betraying Your Trust and What to Do About It,’ which is highly critical of the industry. ‘The real problem with mutual-fund companies is the way they manage money,’ he says. ‘Their primary emphasis is on gathering assets, not managing those assets well. There is a significant conflict of interest between money management and asset gathering -- and, of course, fees are based on assets, not performance.’”

ESPACINSULAR: Celebran El “Foro Abierto Haitiano-Dominicano”
May 6, 2008
“La Universidad de Columbia en la ciudad de Nueva York, Estados Unidos, fue por segunda vez, este año, el escenario del ‘Foro Abierto Haitiano-Dominicano’, iniciado en el 2006 en esta prestigiosa casa estudios por jóvenes estudiantes de los dos países que comparten la isla de Quisqueya, para promover un cambio en las relaciones dominico-haitianas. … Esta posición fue apoyada por Carolina Bettinger-López, de la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Columbia, quien criticó severamente ‘las repatriaciones masivas realizadas frecuentemente por el gobierno dominicano y la sistemática violación del derecho a la nacionalidad de los niños de origen haitiano nacidos en la República Dominicana’.”
Translation: This position was supported by Caroline Bettinger-Lopez from Columbia Law School, who severely criticized ‘the mass repatriations that the Dominican government frequently carries out and the systematic violation of the nationality rights of children of Haitian origin who are born in the Dominican Republic.’


BOSTON HERALD: Hillary Clinton climbs Barack into race
May 6, 2008
BYLINE: Dave Wedge
“Barack Obama, weakened from a racially charged controversy involving his pastor, battles today to stop a surging Hillary Clinton from derailing his historic presidential bid as the Democrats face crucial contests in Indiana and North Carolina. … Columbia Law School political science professor Nathaniel Persily said Obama needs a big North Carolina win and a strong showing in Indiana to prevent superdelegates from jumping to the former first lady and current senator from New York. ‘His strategy is to prove to people that the current controversies will not hurt his prospects in the general election,’ Persily said. ‘Part of it is showing he can take the most recent round of punches and move on.’”

INSIDE HIGHER ED: A Mental Health and Public Safety Primer
May 6, 2008
BYLINE: Elia Powers
“In the grand scheme of the American Psychiatric Association’s six-day annual meeting at Washington’s massive downtown convention center, one three-hour session inside a subdivided meeting room is small in relative significance and scope. … The session featured much talk about the often differing interests of students and administrators when it comes to mental health cases. Paul S. Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, said it’s his impression that student suicides that occur on campus tend to be forever linked to the university in the public consciousness, whereas deaths that take place while the student is home on break don’t carry that connection. Colleges are inherently fearful of liability, he said, which helps explain why their policies often favor keeping troubled students away from campus. Appelbaum said mandatory leave policies for students suffering from mental illness are typically ineffective, because they take the students away from their support system and often their treatment, and can permanently damage self esteem. ‘It’s a sense that ‘I’ve failed, and home can be even more stressful,’ ’ he said.”
Paul S. Appelbaum is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law.

May 5, 2008
“It was only fitting that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva spent Friday receiving a delegation of the country’s stock race car drivers. … Separately, Columbia University announced that Vale is providing a $1.5 million grant over five years to establish the Vale-Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment. … The new center is a joint undertaking between the institute and Columbia Law School. Karl P. Sauvant, who is executive director of the Columbia Program on International Investment and will be executive director of the new center.”

NATIONAL POST: How Canada's dawdling cost U.S. an opportunity to deter crime
May 3, 2008
BYLINE: Theresa Tedesco
“Some American justice officials privately admit they didn't expect it would take the RCMP more than three years to file criminal charges against Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb -- and another six years to get the case before a Canadian judge. ‘The wheels of justice grind slowly, and apparently particularly slowly in Canada,’ mused Professor John Coffee from Columbia University Law School in New York. ‘I don't think this would have been an exceptionally difficult case to prosecute had it been brought to court by the U.S. attorney in New York.’”

REUTERS: U.S. ponders Guantanamo closure as Bush term ends
May 2, 2008
BYLINE: Sue Pleming
“The Bush administration could announce plans by the end of its term in January to close Guantanamo prison and an upcoming Supreme Court ruling might be the impetus for this, senior U.S. officials and experts say. … Matthew Waxman, a former senior Defense and State Department official who dealt with detainee policy, has argued strongly for the closure of Guantanamo but he said the Supreme Court's decision could ‘cut both ways.’ If inmates were seen to have the same rights in Guantanamo Bay as on the U.S. mainland, then there could be little strategic reason to move them. ‘The major criticism of Guantanamo is that it represents a so-called legal black hole,’ said Waxman, now a professor at Columbia Law School in New York.”

NEW YORK TIMES: From Making the Cases to Challenging Them
May 2, 2008
BYLINE: Karen Donovan
“For the last 10 years, Ronnie Abrams lived a real-life version of ‘Law & Order.’ … ‘They do a lot of the less glamorous stuff that meets the needs of people who are not going to get representation unless it is pro bono,’ said Ellen Chapnick, dean for social justice initiatives at Columbia School of Law, who will be overseeing a prosecutors seminar taught by Ms. Abrams this fall. Lawyers like Ms. Abrams, Ms. Chapnick says, can fill a talent void at big law firms, which have relied in the past on the public organizations to oversee young lawyers. ‘It’s a huge problem,’ she said.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: UN expert: food crisis is a human rights emergency
May 2, 2008
“The U.N. Human Rights Council should meet urgently to spotlight the global food crisis as a human rights emergency affecting at least 100 million people whose right to adequate food is being massively violated, a U.N. expert said Friday. Olivier De Schutter, the council's new independent expert on the right to food, said a special session of the human rights body would bring into the debate over rising food prices and global shortages ‘the human right to adequate food which for the moment has been totally absent.’ … De Schutter, a law professor at the University of Louvain in Belgium and currently a visiting professor at Columbia University's Law School in New York, said the consequences of the food crisis ‘are immense.’”
This story was picked up by the Dallas Morning News.

BLOOMBERG: Berkshire's Bond Insurer, Moody's Stake Face Probe
May 1, 2008
BYLINE: Erik Holm
“Billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. faces a probe by Connecticut's attorney general for possible conflicts created by owning almost 20 percent of credit ratings company Moody's Corp. while also running a new municipal bond insurer. … The conflict exists and Moody's should voluntarily recuse itself from ratings tied to Berkshire's unit, said John Coffee, professor of securities law at Columbia University in New York.

Back to top