October 26 - 31, 2008

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Rising Tide of Suits Filed in Search of Political Edge
October 30, 2008
BYLINE: June Kronholz
“The number of lawsuits challenging election procedures could hit an all-time high this year as political parties and their followers, expecting a tight outcome Tuesday, angle for an edge that could help their candidate. … ‘None of these will be significant if the margin of victory is large enough,’ said Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law and political science at Columbia University. However, if the election ends up resting on the outcome in one or two states, any of these legal battles could make a difference.

ACCOUNTANCY AGE: 'When looking for scapegoats anybody could be found'
October 30, 2008
BYLINE: Joseph Goldstein
“The profession in the United States might think its day of reckoning came and went in 2002. But those who thought that the Sarbanes Oxley Act was the final word in regulation may be in for a rude surprise. … US legislation passed in October that authorised the $700bn bailout plan contains a provision that explicitly grants the SEC authority to suspend fair value. Given that the SEC already had the authority, the new provision is ‘just covering with a handkerchief something already covered with a bedspread’, according to John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University, Obama’s alma mater.”

ACCOUNTANCY AGE: Duo tipped to battle it out for SEC chairman role
October 30, 2008
BYLINE: Joseph Goldstein
“The attorney general of the state of New York and a current SEC commissioner are being tipped as the front-runners to replace Christopher Cox as the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. … But John Coffee, law professor at Columbia University, thought that one current SEC commissioner, Elisse Walter, would also be an ‘obvious person’ to include on any shortlist for the chairman’s job.”

FORBES: Unleveraged Buyouts

October 29, 2008 (Issue of November 17, 2008)

BYLINE: Daniel Fisher and Anita Raghavan

“In late September the Delaware Chancery Court signaled the end of an era. That's when it ruled that Apollo Investment Management couldn't wriggle out of its $10.6 billion cash offer for Huntsman Chemical--despite pleas by the private equity firm that the resulting company would be insolvent. … Based on the court's ruling, says Columbia Law School professor John Coffee, Apollo ‘faces a potential liability in the billions of dollars if it does not close this deal.’ ”

ABC NEWS NIGHTLINE: Hate Groups Riled Up Over Prospect of President Obama
October 29, 2008
HOST: Brian Ross
“BRIAN ROSS: The prospect of a Black president has America's bastions of hate in an uproar. … TED SHAW: These two young men are really steeped in ignorance. And I can feel sorry for them in some respects. But I also know that they’re deadly dangerous. … Nobody wants to speak the unspeakable or think the unthinkable. We’re all conscious of it. In the African-American community, there are a lot of people who go to bed every night saying a prayer for the safety of Senator Obama and his family. He’s living in the crosshairs. I pray that God protects him, and the Secret Service, too.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Cuomo Asks for Pay Data From Banks
October 29, 2008
BYLINE: Ben White and Jonathan D. Glater

“Wall Street is coming under mounting political pressure to cut bonuses for top executives, traders and bankers in what was already expected to be a down year for pay. … Any lawsuit based on the law cited by Mr. Cuomo would take some creative legal footwork, said Edward R. Morrison, a law professor at Columbia University. The law permits creditors to try to recover or block payments. ‘You have to find a way for the attorney general, for Cuomo, to shoehorn himself into the position of a creditor,’ Professor Morrison said. ‘It’s not implausible.’ The attorney general could act under the law, Professor Morrison said, if New York state pension funds hold bonds issued by the nine companies. Mr. Cuomo might also claim jurisdiction over any of the companies that might owe taxes to New York.”

SYDNEY STAR OBSERVER: The solution isn’t an orgy of regulation
October 29, 2008
BYLINE: Manoj Dias-Abey
“As the financial crisis continues apace, the response from some quarters is becoming increasingly bizarre. … Those looking for an informed criticism of the current situation, and potential solutions, cannot go past the contribution of Professor John Coffee, Professor of Law at Columbia University, and one of America’s foremost experts on corporate regulation. According to Coffee, the failure of regulation which has led to the recent debt crisis occurred in three significant areas:

1) the lack of laws which prescribe what portion of debt an investment bank can use to leverage returns;

2) executive remuneration structures which reward executives based on short-term share price increases rather than based on the long-term health of the company; and

3) credit rating companies which effectively operate without any transparency or accountability.

Coffee’s considered intervention into the debate represents an intelligent assessment of the current problem. Until we begin to delve into the specifics of the current crisis, the solution is unlikely to emerge.”

THE OKLAHOMAN: Volunteers join effort to protect Election Day
October 28, 2008
BYLINE: Michael McNutt
“As election officials brace for an expected large voter turnout in next week’s election, volunteers will be stationed at several Oklahoma County precincts to help voters and note voting problems. … Members in the group, made up mostly of Oklahoma City University students, will be part of Impact, a national network of law students founded in 2004 at Columbia Law School in New York to monitor voting integrity.”

BLOOMBERG: Defense Lawyers See Bonanza From Lehman, Bear, Other Collapses
October 27, 2008
BYLINE: Patricia Hurtado, David Voreacos and Lindsay Fortado

“A rising number of defendants and suspects in government probes of collapsed financial firms may yield the biggest fee bonanza for the defense bar since the days of Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. … ‘I think we are going to see the focus on what CEOs and CFOs said in securities analysts calls and what they were saying in contemporaneous e-mails to each other,’ said John Coffee, a Columbia Law School professor. ‘If you can show they were saying one thing to investors and another in contemporaneous e-mails,’ then there are grounds for a securities-fraud case, Coffee said.”

MIAMI HERALD: Florida's Amendment 2 marriage vote: Are domestic partners at risk?
October 27, 2008
BYLINE: Jennifer Mooney Piedra
“Although gay marriage is already illegal in Florida, Amendment 2 would enshrine the prohibition in the Florida Constitution, making it nearly impossible for a judge to overturn. … Critics object especially to the words ''or the substantial equivalent thereof'' as a catch-all phrase dangerous to civil unions and domestic partnerships. Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York, agrees. ‘The proponents put in the language “substantial equivalent thereof” for a reason, and the reason is that they do not think the law should recognize some other relationship that is not exactly marriage,’ he said. ‘Insofar as domestic partnerships can be the substantial equivalent of marriage, then they are also covered by this measure.’ ”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: 2nd Circuit Declines to Bar 'Foreign-Cubed' Securities Lawsuits
October 27, 2008
BYLINE: Mark Hamblett
“The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday refused to categorically bar foreign plaintiffs from suing in U.S. courts foreign issuers of securities for violations of U.S. securities laws based on transactions in foreign countries. … John C. Coffee Jr. a professor of law at Columbia University School of Law and New York Law Journal columnist, has argued that opening up U.S. courts to foreign-cubed actions harms U.S. competitiveness by increasing the migration of capital overseas.

Coffee, who is not involved in the case, said yesterday's decision makes some progress by requiring ‘a shorter chain of causation’ in the conduct test, but that the larger problem remains, because the Second Circuit ‘clearly contemplates that there will be occasions where f-cubed transactions can be litigated here.’

He added, ‘That leaves considerable residual fear in the hearts of a foreign issuer who does not have to face the prospect of class litigation in their home country and thus only encounters it by entering the United States.’

While people like to blame the ‘already significant migration’ of capital off shore on Sarbanes-Oxley, he said, ‘that doesn't do much compared with the threat of a billion dollar class action.’ ”

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: On Point: Challenging the Vote
October 27, 2008
BYLINE: Tom Ashbrook
“John McCain put the pedal to the metal on election fraud rhetoric in the last presidential debate, charging that liberal get-out-the-vote group ACORN ‘may be perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history.’ … And joining us from New York is Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law at Columbia University. He is founder and director of Columbia Law School’s Center on Law and Politics.”

CBS NEWS: 60 Minutes: Credit Default Swaps (Harvey Goldschmid at 6:22)
October 26, 2008
HOST: Steve Kroft
“The world's financial system teetered on the edge again last week, and anyone with more than a passing interest in their shrinking 401(k) knows it's because of a global credit crisis. It began with the collapse of the U.S. housing market and has been magnified worldwide by what Warren Buffet once called ‘financial weapons of mass destruction.’ … ‘There was an awful lot of, “Trust us. Leave it alone. We can do it better than government,” without any realistic understanding of the dangers involved,’ says Harvey Goldschmid, a Columbia University law professor and a former commissioner and general counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

NEW YORK TIMES: John McCain, Flexible Aggression
October 26, 2008
BYLINE: David D. Kirkpatrick
“Senator John McCain races through the final days of the presidential race reciting a familiar admonition. … ‘He is a much more supple mind than he is usually portrayed,’ said Philip Bobbitt, an international relations scholar and Democrat the senator consulted this summer. … Mr. Bobbitt, the scholar who met with Mr. McCain over several days three months ago to talk about his recent work, ‘Terror and Consent,’ said he was surprised by the candidate’s willingness to question his own suppositions. ‘He is still reading and learning,’ Mr. Bobbitt said. ‘He didn’t have any of the attitude of “Look, I am in the middle of a campaign, this is what I have said, this is how it is going to be” that you would understandably get three months before an election.’ ”

INFORMATION WEEK: Can Data Mining Save America's Schools?
October 25, 2008
BYLINE: Marianne Kolbasuk McGee
“During the 2007-2008 school year, students in New York City weren't the only ones getting report cards. So did the city's 1,500 public schools. … ‘Any metric we have in the progress report, you can drill down on,’ says Jim Liebman, who champions ARIS as the chief accountability officer for the city's schools. … For those who see education's rush to data analysis as a bad thing, as just a more individualized way to ‘teach to the test,’ Liebman has little patience. ‘This process is no more “teaching to the test” than a doctor diagnosing and then treating a patient for a bacterial infection of the kidney is “treating to the test,” ’ says Liebman, who's also a law professor at Columbia University. Teachers will consider the data along with everything else they observe and change their ‘treatment’ if the student continues to struggle. ‘This is what professionals do,’ he says.”
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October 19 - 25, 2008

NEW YORK TIMES: Administration to Bypass Reporting Law
October 24, 2008

BYLINE: Charlie Savage

“The Bush administration has informed Congress that it is bypassing a law intended to forbid political interference with reports to lawmakers by the Department of Homeland Security. … Peter Strauss, a Columbia University law professor, said the 2007 law was valid because the president is not the ‘exclusive’ source of communication with Congress.”

SHANGHAI DAILY: Emerging markets' FDI strikes sensitive nerve October 23, 2008
BYLINE: Karl P. Sauvant
“WHEN CNOOC, a state-owned Chinese oil company, tried to buy the American oil company Unocal three summers ago, it generated a firestorm of protest by US politicians. … So far, the impact of FDI from emerging markets on developed countries remains small. But it is growing quickly. Among the most dynamic are multinationals based in the Chinese mainland, with their outflows this year reaching perhaps US$50-60 billion - more than double the 2007 total. It is therefore fitting that the ranking of large Chinese multinationals undertaken by the School of Management of Fudan University and the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (a joint center of Columbia Law School and The Earth Institute at Columbia University) was released yesterday at in a press conference in Shanghai (available at … (The author is executive director of Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, research scholar and lecturer in law at Columbia Law School. The views are his own.)”

DAILY ORANGE: Election 2008 | Commentators spar about campaign strategies

October 22, 2008

BYLINE: Joe Frandino

“Two national political commentators were on campus Tuesday to discuss the U.S. presidential campaign. … The roundtable discussion pitted Patricia Williams, a liberal law professor at Columbia University with an editorial page in The Nation, against Fred Barnes, a conservative co-host of Fox News' popular political talk show, ‘The Beltway Boys,’ and executive editor of The Weekly Standard.”

USA TODAY: Why 'sorry' isn't in many CEOs' vocabularies anymore

October 21, 2008

BYLINE: Del Jones

“Elected officials in the past have said ‘I'm sorry’ for everything from marital affairs to cross-dressing to corruption, and CEOs tossed around apologies like horseshoes at the company picnic. … The strongest argument for silence may be the courtroom. Grand jury investigations have begun, Fuld and other executives have received subpoenas, and the standard advice of criminal defense lawyers is to say nothing, says Columbia law professor John Coffee. ‘Everyone remembers that six months after the fall of Enron and WorldCom, indictments began to come down, and it rained indictments for the next year,’ he says. ‘Those who accept responsibility might become the lightning rod that attracts the first bolt of lightning from the prosecutors.’ ”

LAWDRAGON: Prof. John Coffee on the Crisis
BYLINE: Nancy Stein
“The financial crisis hitting the nation has Wall Street, investors, the government and the average man on the street concerned about the future. In fact, this disaster is having a global impact. What caused it? How can it be resolved? How can we protect ourselves in the future?

John Coffee, a professor at the Columbia University School of Law
and the director of its Center on Corporate Governance, is one of the foremost authorities on securities issues. He granted Lawdragon an interview to share his views on the financial disaster, including its causes, how he expects it to play out and what needs to be done to prevent a reoccurrence. Regulation will certainly come into play. The goals are many: assuring continued operations and services, attaining financial stability and devising a plan for the future.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Bush Decides to Keep Guantánamo Open

October 21, 2008

BYLINE: Steven Lee Myers

“Despite his stated desire to close the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, President Bush has decided not to do so, and never considered proposals drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon that outlined options for transferring the detainees elsewhere, according to senior administration officials. … ‘This is an administration that believes very, very strongly in certain things it has done,’ said Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School who served in the Department of Defense overseeing detainee polices, ‘and Guantánamo is one that some administration officials at high levels believe was right all along.’ … Mr. Waxman, the former defense official, acknowledged the difficulties of closing the prison and the risks involved, but he argued that after seven years, a radical change was required. ‘Whatever consequence they’re worried about,’ he said of the administration’s concerns, ‘has to be weighed against the damage we continue to incur by keeping the status quo.’ ”

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Ratings agencies left their seal on meltdown
October 21, 2008
BYLINE: Jim Landers
“Lenders recoiling at the sight of mortgage-backed securities have frozen global credit and put us all in a deep economic crisis. … By doing business this way, the credit rating companies lost what Columbia University School of Law professor John C. Coffee calls their ‘reputational capital.’

‘Today, at least in the field of structured finance, they have lost that capital, and a deal cannot be sold based on their certifications,’ he wrote in reply to a question about the credit rating companies.”

THE STREET: Credit Default Swaps: Bad Enough to Ban?

October 21, 2008
BYLINE: Dan Freed
“There seems little doubt tighter regulation of esoteric financial derivatives that have played a major role in the financial crisis is on the way, but one influential lawmaker is weighing a more drastic measure: banning them outright. … ‘ISDA is not the most constructive force in all of this,’ says John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. …  Columbia University's Coffee says setting up a clearinghouse is critically important. ‘Until we get a clearinghouse, there is the continuing possibility, maybe even more than a possibility, that sooner or later we'll have a major crisis in the over the counter derivatives market,’ he says. ‘It still could develop because AIG appears to be still several billion -- several dozen billion short of what it needs to remain as a going concern.’ … Despite the threat of a CDS-led market meltdown, Coffee says an outight ban is ludicrous. ‘This would be the 21st century equivalent to the Luddites, who 200 years ago tried to destroy all the knitting mills because they were putting workers out of business,’ he says. ‘The credit default swap lacks transparency today, but in terms of what it does: it's basically a sophisticated insurance policy, and it makes every bit of sense that people who want insurance should be able to purchase it.’ ”

CNBC: Next in the Financial Crisis: Possible Criminal Charges
October 21, 2008
BYLINE: Albert Bozzo
“Investors and taxpayers angry about the government bailout of seemingly mismanaged financial firms can probably count on a wave of criminal indictments in the coming months, say white- collar crime experts. ‘I think we're going to see some “perp” walks,’ says Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee, referring to the law enforcement practice of having the accused appear in public wearing handcuffs. … The government is going to use its ‘classic inventory of white collar weapons,’ says Coffee, citing securities fraud, mail fraud and racketeering laws. … ‘You have CEOS who had conferences with securities analysts and others,’ says Coffee, adding that there are transcripts to such events. … Pickholz and Zamansky expect CEOs to fall. … Coffee isn’t so sure. He says though ‘prosecutors don’t like to just focus on the little guy,’ some of the current big name CEOS were ‘brought in as reformers’ and ‘will portray themselves as guys who came in to clean up the mess.’ ”

FEMINISTING: When U.S. courts won't protect violence survivors
October 21, 2008
“We've written before about Castle Rock v. Gonzales, a 2005 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that local police departments are not responsible for enforcing restraining orders. … LENAHAN: … But in December 2005, with the help of the ACLU and the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, I filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”

AM NEW YORK: Rockers to candidates: Stop using our music
October 21, 2008
BYLINE: Julie Gordon
“John McCain has hit a sour note with a lot of rockers for using their songs on the campaign trail. But it turns out, there’s not much they can do to make him stop the music. … The only way for a musician to win such a suit would be to prove there was a false impression that they were backing the candidate, which experts say would be difficult. ‘I’m not sure if someone hearing a Bon Jovi song would think Bon Jovi was sponsoring McCain,’ said June Besek, executive director of Columbia Law School’s Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts.”
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October 12 - 18, 2008

TIMES-PICAYUNE: 8,800 Road Home properties to return to private hands
October 18, 2008
BYLINE: David Hammer and Kate Moran

“Actor Wendell Pierce and trumpeter Terence Blanchard have come back to their old neighborhood, Pontchartrain Park, and are poised to take over one of every nine properties there -- so they can build and sell affordable homes. … ‘You want to get the property in private hands as soon as possible. You want some individual concerned about each parcel as quickly as possible,’ said Michael Heller, a professor of real estate law at Columbia University. ‘But you also know that if demand is still relatively weak and you put thousands of houses on the market at once, you drive the price down, which is costly for existing homeowners.’”

GLOBE AND MAIL: A laureate who loves to beat around the Bush
October 18, 2008
BYLINE: Sinclair Stewart
“The history of any Big Idea, regardless of field or discipline, is invariably rooted in the thrill of epiphany. … Mr. Krugman showed promise from a young age, according to Jagdish Bhagwati, a Columbia University professor who taught him at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the late 1970s. ‘I gave him some work one summer and, in three weeks, he came back with a finished paper.’ Normally, a professor takes the credit when research is published, but ‘I didn't have to change a comma, so I had to make him the lead author,’ recalls Prof. Bhagwati, who also is widely viewed as a candidate for the Nobel. ‘From the beginning, he showed enormous talent, but no one knew how far he could go, including myself.’ ”

INDIANAPOLIS STAR: ACORN followed law on suspect voter registrations
October 18, 2008
BYLINE: Tim Evans
“ACORN, the liberal-leaning community activist group, followed the law when it notified authorities that some of the voter registration applications it submitted in Lake County apparently were fraudulent. … Also, an independent voting law expert dismissed concerns that the application flap creates a significant opportunity for voter fraud in Indiana. Nathaniel Persily, a Columbia Law School professor, said registration fraud is very different from actual voter fraud, which occurs at the polls. ‘The effect is not going to change the outcome of the election or allow imaginary people to vote,’ he said. … The controversy, Persily said, ‘is distracting from what may be the real problem -- under-qualified, overwhelmed precinct workers and the use of new voting technology and voter registration databases. These issues with ACORN may prove to be tiny in comparison with the problems we see on Election Day,’ Persily said.”

WNYC RADIO: The Takeaway: Election Day chaos?

October 17, 2008

HOSTS: John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji

“With Election Day less than three weeks away, activists are warning the nation about voter fraud. Columbia law professor Nate Persily joins The Takeaway to tell us about what may actually block your vote: chaos at the polls. With at least 2 million new registrants and new balloting technology, Persily warns that November 4 could mean confusion for voters.”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Public Interest Projects

October 17, 2008

BYLINE: Thomas Adcock

“…The Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School filed third-party intervention papers on Oct. 3 with the European Court of Human Rights, urging the court to recognize that state signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights must, under the anti-slavery provision, provide transnational residency to victims of sex trafficking. … ‘Sex trafficking and slavery both involve severe human exploitation,’ said Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of the Columbia Law clinic. ‘Much of the world, including global and domestic institutions, already recognizes this link. We look forward to the [European Court] recognizing the slavery-trafficking link as well.’ ”

THE DEAL: Pay scale justice

October 17, 2008

BYLINE: Ron Orol

“With the largest U.S. investment and commercial banks set to receive massive cash infusions, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are happy to point out that the top five chief executives of participating financial institutions are facing unprecedented and ‘historic’ federal limits on their pay packages. … Columbia University Law School professor John Coffee says he believes this limitation could end up pushing more board compensation committees to allocating stock options as a way of offsetting reductions in salary stemming from the prohibition. The pay-package transfer could follow a similar shift toward stock options that took place after companies across the board were prohibited by a 1993 regulation from deducting, for the most part, more than $1 million in CEO pay. ‘By limiting tax deductibility for salaries and bonuses, you encourage firms to move out of salaries and bonuses for compensation packages,’ Coffee says.”

FINANCIAL TIMES: We need to guard against destructive creation

October 16, 2008

BYLINE: Jagdish Bhagwati

“It seems clear that the current financial crisis, terrifying though it is in its dimensions, will not be allowed to turn into the Great Crash of 2008. However, the larger lessons of the crisis, and its commonalities with previous calamities, must still be learnt if a new financial architecture is to be designed that can reduce the prospect of something similar happening again. … The writer, a university professor at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of In Defense of Globalization (Oxford), reissued in 2007 with an afterword.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Debating the Pros and Cons of Term Limits
October 15, 2008
BYLINE: Sewell Chan
Think you know everything there is to know about term limits by this point?...
The forum was sponsored by several good-government groups and involved experts like Richard Briffault, professor of legislation at Columbia Law School and vice chairman of Citizens Union, a nonprofit reform organization that co-sponsored the forum.

BLOOMBERG: Paulson Lacks Leverage to Compel Banks to Put New Cash to Work 
October 15, 2008
BYLINE: Robert Schmidt and Rebecca Christie
“Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson persuaded nine major U.S. banks to accept $125 billion in government investment. Getting them to lend it out may prove a tougher sell. … ‘What you'll see most large institutions saying is, “We will certainly listen to the government but our decisions are what's in the best interest of our shareholders,” ’ said John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University.”

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Five questions candidates need to address
October 15, 2008
BYLINE: Jim Tankersley
“Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama debate for the third and final time Wednesday night, and you can expect both presidential candidates to talk a lot about their plans for the nation's struggling economy—with special attention to the crisis roiling financial markets. … ‘There needs to be lending so that people can buy homes,’ said Merritt Fox, a Columbia University law professor who specializes in markets and securities law. ‘And if the terms [of mortgages] get more difficult, that may help people who already own homes but hurt the market.’ … ‘What is clear,’ said Harvey Goldschmid, a Columbia law professor and former member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, ‘is we need the most fundamental rethinking of the regulatory scheme for financial markets since the New Deal.’ He and other experts agree that neither Obama nor McCain has offered any details on how they'd remake those rules as president.”

BLOOMBERG: Paulson Lacks Leverage to Compel Banks to Put New Cash to Work 
October 15, 2008
BYLINE: Robert Schmidt and Rebecca Christie
“Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson persuaded nine major U.S. banks to accept $125 billion in government investment. Getting them to lend it out may prove a tougher sell. … ‘What you'll see most large institutions saying is, “We will certainly listen to the government but our decisions are what's in the best interest of our shareholders,” ’ said John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University.”

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Five questions candidates need to address
October 15, 2008
BYLINE: Jim Tankersley
“Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama debate for the third and final time Wednesday night, and you can expect both presidential candidates to talk a lot about their plans for the nation's struggling economy—with special attention to the crisis roiling financial markets. … ‘There needs to be lending so that people can buy homes,’ said Merritt Fox, a Columbia University law professor who specializes in markets and securities law. ‘And if the terms [of mortgages] get more difficult, that may help people who already own homes but hurt the market.’ … ‘What is clear,’ said Harvey Goldschmid, a Columbia law professor and former member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, ‘is we need the most fundamental rethinking of the regulatory scheme for financial markets since the New Deal.’ He and other experts agree that neither Obama nor McCain has offered any details on how they'd remake those rules as president.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Justices Weigh Race in North Carolina Case

October 15, 2008
BYLINE: Adam Liptak
Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia, said Justice Kennedy’s comments were a good guide to the case’s probable outcome, as he has been the swing vote in similar cases. ‘Justice Kennedy seemed frustrated with the potential slippery slope that the state was falling down,’ said Professor Persily, who attended the argument and had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case supporting neither party.”

October 15, 2008
BYLINE: Richard Sylla, Thomas H. Kean, Lee H. Hamilton, Diane Ravitch, Pat Choate, Bill Bradley, Paul Ekman, Mary Jo White, John Ashcroft, David Baltimore and Nathaniel Persily
There are 21 days to go before the presidential election, and only one more McCain-Obama debate. With time running out, the Op-Ed editors asked a few writers and thinkers to pose the last-minute questions that they have yet to hear the candidates answer. … Should we bring greater consistency to our electoral system by mandating a uniform federal ballot to be used in all 50 states and uniform rules for voter eligibility in federal elections? — NATHANIEL PERSILY, a professor of law and political science at Columbia Law School”

NEW YORK TIMES: Professor and Columnist Wins Economics Nobel
October 14, 2008
BYLINE: Catherine Rampell
“Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton and an Op-Ed page columnist for The New York Times, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science on Monday. … ‘Lots of people are saying to me, “Why didn’t you get it?” ’ said Jagdish Bhagwati, an economics professor at Columbia who helped Mr. Krugman publish one of his seminal papers when other academics thought it was too simple to be true. ‘Given the fact that I didn’t get it, this is the next best thing.’ ”

NEW YORK OBSERVER: Professor Bobbitt
October 14, 2008
BYLINE: Kaitlin Bell
“On a recent Tuesday morning, Philip Bobbitt was sitting in his grand but sparsely furnished Park Avenue apartment, smoking a cigar and drinking a caffeine-free Diet Coke. ‘Most of my life is inside my head,’ said Professor Bobbitt, who, when he is in New York, and not at one of his other homes in London or Austin, Texas, teaches Legal Methods at Columbia Law School.”

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE: Spanish bank to buy Sovereign for $1.9 billion
October 13, 2008
BYLINE: Karen O’Shea and Associated Press
“SI Bank & Trust, the borough's oldest bank and one reshaped in recent years by regional and national mergers and now the worst financial crisis in decades, is going international in a buyout by Banco Santander. … ‘I am afraid I see bank consolidation as inevitable in the current crisis, and it is probably in the interests of the minority shareholders,’ said John Coffee, a business law professor at Columbia University. … Coffee said the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. likely favored a Banco Santander buyout and may have pushed the deal behind the scenes.”
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October 1 - 11, 2008

PBS NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT: "Commentary"-Tips For The Next President
October 7, 2008

(Video available at, with John Coffee at 22:20.)

HOST: Susie Gharib

“With the presidential election just weeks away, we continue our series of special commentaries, looking at the candidate's economic choices. Every Monday and Tuesday leading up to the election, we will have commentaries dealing with the candidate's platforms and positions. Tonight, Jack Coffee, professor at Columbia University's law school, has some thoughts on what the next president needs to do about financial regulation.”

BLOOMBERG: U.S. Subpoenas Lehman Over Investor Data, People Say

October 7, 2008

BYLINE: David Voreacos and Linda Sandler

“The U.S. Justice Department subpoenaed Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and other financial companies to determine if the bank misled investors before its Sept. 15 bankruptcy filing, according to people familiar with the matter. … Prosecutors will ask investors about any meetings they may have had with Lehman executives before putting money into the company, said Columbia University law professor John Coffee. ‘I could imagine that we will see inconsistencies between what the investors said they were told in due diligence meetings and what management recalls they said,’ Coffee said. ‘We could see some e-mails in which management recognizes the gravity of their situation, which would be inconsistent with what they told investors.’ ”

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Short-sale ban on financial stocks set to expire

October 7, 2008
BYLINE: Joe Bel Bruno
“A three-week-old ban against betting that financial companies' shares would fall expires Wednesday night, a move some large-scale investors say could actually help limit the punishment many of those stocks have endured in recent days. … ‘At some point you have to let the normal forces of the market’ balance out amid the widening financial crisis, said John Coffee, a professor of securities law at Columbia University. ‘You can't keep on saying that it's a temporary emergency.’ ”

October 7, 2008
HOST: Steve Henn

“RENITA JABLONSKI: As we continue with Fallout: our coverage of America's financial crisis, we turn to Washington. … STEVE HENN: … John Coffee is a securities law expert at Columbia University: JOHN COFFEE: And this is exactly in the area where AIG later incurred its extraordinary losses.”

GUARDIAN: Letters: Flaws in laws on abandonment
October 7, 2008

“While Americans make their share of mistakes in raising children, abandoning them by the bucketload may not be one of them (US shocked by spate of abandoned children, October 4). The purpose behind ‘safe haven laws’ was to encourage desperate young mothers who had hidden their pregnancies to leave newborns at designated places, such as hospital emergency rooms, rather than to expose them, or worse. … Carol Sanger Plumer visiting research fellow, St Anne's College, Oxford.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Transgender Candidate Who Ran as Woman Did Not Mislead Voters, Court Says
October 6, 2008
BYLINE: Robbie Brown

“The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday that a transgender politician did not mislead voters by running for office as a woman. … The ruling will help protect transgender candidates from discrimination, said Suzanne B. Goldberg, a gender law expert at Columbia Law School. ‘At the broadest level, the Georgia Supreme Court told people that they cannot use litigation to harass transgender elected officials,’ Ms. Goldberg said.”

NEW YORK TIMES: DealBook (blog): Legal Contortions in the Battle Over Wachovia
October 6, 2008
BYLINE: Jonathan Glater

“After a wild weekend of attempted legal one-upmanship, the skirmishing between Citigroup on the one hand and Wells Fargo and Wachovia on the other appears to be on hold for now. … ‘It is, in a nutshell, all the hard issues of the coordination between federal and state law, federal and state courts,’ as well as public policy and a client’s interests, said Jeffrey N. Gordon, a law professor at Columbia University. ‘From that perspective, it’s terrific. You could spend a semester bringing students to the point where they would appreciate the choices that the lawyers have made.’ ”

LOS ANGELES TIMES: U.S., state judges clash over Wells Fargo takeover of Wachovia
October 6, 2008
BYLINE: E. Scott Reckard

“Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc.'s dispute over their competing agreements to acquire Wachovia Corp. became a battle of dueling state and federal judges Sunday. … But legal and takeover experts who reviewed the agreement at the request of The Times said the agreement, although strictly banning any conversations about a deal with a third party, did not bar another bidder from making an offer or Wachovia's board from accepting it. Such a ‘fiduciary out’ is common in ‘no shop’ agreements during takeover talks, Columbia University law professor John C. Coffee said.”

DAILY BEAST: The Buzz Board
October 5, 2008

“Bill Clinton: Three bailout-related books: Michael Heller's Gridlock Economy (about hoarding resources), David M. Smick's The World Is Curved (why things could get much worse), and Larry M. Bartel's Unequal Democracy (on how partisanship has hurt the poor). Especially at this time every thoughtful American needs to learn as much as possible about the relationship of politics to economics.”

GUARDIAN: Gee, I wish we'd end our love affair with this folksy liability
October 5, 2008
BYLINE: Patricia Williams

“We are now several weeks into the weird humiliation that the Republican party inflicted upon us Americans with their choice of Sarah Palin as their nominee for Vice-President. Here we are, at as precarious a crossroad as history is ever likely to offer up, yet there stands Sarah Palin regurgitating George W Bush's 'good guys-bad guys' baby talk. I despair. … Patricia Williams is a professor of law at Columbia University and a regular columnist for the Nation magazine.”

O GLOBO: O crime caiu. Por quê?
October 4, 2008
BYLINE: Julita Lemgruber
“Especialistas vêm procurando entender o que explica a impressionante queda dos homicídios no estado de São Paaulo (72% em sete anos) e admitem que as causas são multas e ainda é difícil estabelecer o peso de cada uma. … Jeffrey Fagan, professor da Columbia Law School, em Nova York, por exemplo, vem estudando o fenõmeno da queda da criminalidade em sua cidade e afirma, entre outras colsas, que a criacão de 250.000 novas habitações populares, ao longo dos anos 1990, contribuiu muito mais para a redução do crime do que o encarceramento de milhares de novos presos no mesmo período.”

October 3, 2008
HOST: Brian Lehrer
“Merritt B. Fox, professor at Columbia Law School,
talks about this morning's New York Times report about a fateful meeting in April 2004 of the Securities and Exchange Commission - in which debt regulations were significantly relaxed for the big investment banks.”

WASHINGTON POST: Prosecutors Expected To Spare Wall St. FirmsH
October 3, 2008
BYLINE: Carrie Johnson
“Justice Department officials yesterday vowed to unravel the complex financial deals that helped prompt a market crisis in an effort that will generally seek criminal charges against individual brokers and bankers, rather than companies themselves, according to interviews with lawyers involved in the cases. … Credit-default swaps, a kind of insurance against defaults on housing-related investments, are not considered a security under the laws that govern the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Columbia University law professor John Coffee Jr.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Agency’s ’04 Rule Let Banks Pile Up New DebtH
October 2, 2008
BYLINE: Stephen Labaton
“ ‘We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions at these firms at the moment.’ — Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, March 11, 2008. … One commissioner, Harvey J. Goldschmid, questioned the staff about the consequences of the proposed exemption. It would only be available for the largest firms, he was reassuringly told — those with assets greater than $5 billion. ‘We’ve said these are the big guys,’ Mr. Goldschmid said, provoking nervous laughter, ‘but that means if anything goes wrong, it’s going to be an awfully big mess.’ Mr. Goldschmid, an authority on securities law from Columbia, was a behind-the-scenes adviser in 2002 to Senator Paul S. Sarbanes when he rewrote the nation’s corporate laws after a wave of accounting scandals. ‘Do we feel secure if there are these drops in capital we really will have investor protection?’ Mr. Goldschmid asked."

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Washington Wire (blog): What Happens If a Vice Presidential Candidate Drops Out?H
October 2, 2008
BYLINE: June Kronholz
“What would happen if either Joe Biden or Sarah Palin decided after, say, a mediocre performance in Thursday’s debate to withdraw from the campaign and spend more time with the family? … After that, state law would determine how a replacement would be added to the ballot. The technicalities vary from state to state, and there’s always the possibility of a legal challenge, said Columbia University law Prof. James Tierney.
But with an election at stake, state judges would move quickly to resolve any challenge, and the opposing party would probably support the change ‘lest it look, well, petty,’ Tierney added in an email. Unlike almost everything else this election season, the switch would likely be non-partisan, he added. … ‘In reality, a vote for [John] McCain-Palin does not really depend on Palin lasting until Election Day or even until the college meets,’ added Columbia law professor Nathaniel Persily.”

MCCLATCHY: What prompted lax oversight? For politicians, a $64 million questionH
October 2, 2008
BYLINE: Greg Gordon
“The Wall Street financiers and firms whose problems have prompted a $700 billion federal bailout are no strangers to Capitol Hill or to politics. … John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor who specializes in banking and securities regulation, said that investment banks were well positioned politically when the SEC changed its rules in 2004.
The commission acted, Coffee said, after the European Union threatened to examine the financial soundness of the London affiliates of U.S. investment banks, especially those of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, unless equivalent regulation was imposed in America. Until then, U.S. regulators had paid little attention to investment banks' forays into subprime mortgages and other exotic securities, monitoring only the firms' broker-dealer operations, he said. In return for accepting new regulatory supervision, which fell far short of Europe's, the investment banks got a huge carrot, Coffee said: The SEC relaxed the federal limits on their borrowing and, he said, they used their new leverage ‘to the hilt.’ … Coffee said that there were no obvious signs of an impending economic collapse in 2004, but he questioned the lack of oversight hearings on such an important rule change. ‘It's unusual that Congress lets a major new program go through without at least oversight hearings,’ Coffee said. ‘And they didn't happen.’
After the SEC changed its rules, Coffee said, Merrill Lynch's and Morgan Stanley's debt-to-equity ratios soared to 40-to-1 and 37-to-1 respectively from the old limit of 12-to-1, leading to Bank of America's $50 billion purchase of Merrill and contributing to calls for a bailout to rescue Morgan Stanley and other Wall Street giants."

YALE DAILY NEWS: As other schools adapt, can YLS maintain edge?H
October 2, 2008
BYLINE: Isaac Arnsdorf
“In 1992, Yale Law School was everywhere. … Jonah White LAW ’10 said he decided to take a class on taxes this semester because he knew it was his last chance to learn from professor Michael Graetz, a tax scholar who is leaving for Columbia Law School.”

STATELINE.ORG: Several AG contests still tightH
October 1, 2008
BYLINE: Louis Jacobson
“Although 11 states are holding elections for attorney general this year, the campaigns haven’t been grabbing many headlines in light of higher-charged contests for president, Congress and governor. But there are still some close races out there. … ‘The large and highly partisan turnouts that mark presidential elections make it extraordinarily difficult for the message of a candidate for attorney general to get through to the voters,’ said former Maine Attorney General James Tierney. ‘This is especially difficult for first-time candidates.’ ”
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