Print

February

February 22 - 28, 2009

NEW YORK TIMES: A Terrorism Test Case Obama May Not Want
February 27, 2009
BYLINE: John Schwartz
"Three years ago, when the Bush administration announced that Jose Padilla would be tried in a civilian court after being held as an enemy combatant without charges, civil libertarians derided the move. ... In fact, said Matthew Waxman, an expert in the legal aspects of terrorism at Columbia University law school and a former Defense Department official with responsibility for detainee affairs, the other two branches of the government may be just as reluctant as the executive to deal with the uncomfortable issues raised by this case, and 'would like this to go away.' "

REUTERS: Manhattan DA Morgenthau to step down - media
February 27, 2009
BYLINE: Edith Honan
“Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau will not seek re-election after 35 years on the job, retiring from a post in which he has focused on prosecuting financial crimes, local media reported on Friday. … But Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman
called Morgenthau's tenure a ‘mixed bag’ whose work on white collar cases was often done ‘on the fly’ and with an unclear agenda.”

WASHINGTON POST: 'Combatant' Case to Move From Tribunal To U.S. Court

February 27, 2009
BYLINE: Carrie Johnson and Julie Tate
“The Justice Department is preparing to announce criminal charges against Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri for allegedly providing material support to al-Qaeda terrorists, sources said, a groundbreaking step that would place the alleged sleeper agent in the purview of the U.S. courts rather than before a military tribunal. … ‘My sense is that this is an issue that in many ways all three branches would like to see go away,’ said Matthew Waxman, a Columbia University law professor who dealt with detainee issues at the State and Defense departments.
The court might be more sympathetic to a request that comes from the Obama administration rather than the Bush administration, which had asked the court not to hear Marri's case. The court already has granted the new administration extra time to file its legal arguments in the case, and Waxman said the justices might be receptive in other ways. ‘As a matter of prudential deference, it might be inclined to let the executive branch try to work through these decisions on its own,’ he said.”

COMPUTER WORLD: The Linux community has a message to Microsoft: Back off
February 27, 2009
“Microsoft Corp.'s decision to sue TomTom International BV -- and in the process take on Linux -- isn't likely to affect your use of Linux. As of now, that's the consensus among experts. … Updegrove isn't the only one who's puzzled by Microsoft's move. Eben Moglen, a Columbia University law professor and co-author of the primary open-source license -- the General Public License, Version 3 (GPLv3), called it ‘a little mystifying. The FAT (File Allocation Table) patents aren't the strongest ammo in anyone's gun. This will do harm to their free-software co-existence process, which has had some viability. This will harm Microsoft credibility with free software.
‘My job is to keep the community safe from aggression,’ Moglen said. ‘We need peace and that implies co-existence.’ ”

ECONOMIST: A ghoulish prospect
February 26, 2009
“IN A classic horror film, ‘Night of the Living Dead’, a terrified group of people barricade themselves in a rural farmhouse to escape hordes of flesh-eating zombies. Today Americans are gripped by a similar fear, but this time the walking corpses in their nightmares are banks, tearing insatiably at the public purse. … Jeffrey Gordon of Columbia Law School cites Citi as an example. With total liabilities of $1.9 trillion and deposits of just $800 billion, not all of them insured, it has over $1.1 trillion of claims at risk in the event of a seizure. Their value would depend on how much the receiver would get for the bank’s assets. Were it to push for a quick sale, the price would doubtless be low, clobbering creditors that included pension and money-market funds. Though full-blown nationalisation ‘appeals to the desire for a clean sweep and the punitive distribution of losses’, it is, Mr Gordon argues, a gamble.”

NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL: Accolades
February 26, 2009
BYLINE: Scott Pegram
“…The Medal for Excellence, Columbia Law School's most prestigious award, was presented to alumni Steven Epstein, class of 1968, and the late Jerome L. Greene, 1928.”

ARS TECHNICA: Big Canadian websites want neutral wireless networks too
February 26, 2009
BYLINE: Nate Anderson
“The company behind some of Canada's most popular websites has waded deep into the network neutrality waters, demanding that regulators not only adopt network neutrality, but extend it to wireless networks. … Both Skype and professor Tim Wu, who have pushed hard for wireless net neutrality in the US, would be pleased with the request, though regulators have so far generally allowed wireless networks more leeway when it comes to network management.”

IN THESE TIMES: Will Holder Hold Cops Accountable?
February 26, 2009
BYLINE: Salim Muwakkil
“Eric Holder, the first African-American attorney general, takes over a Department of Justice (DOJ) that has been AWOL in the struggle for racial justice. … ‘What the Bush administration did was to abandon civil rights enforcement on behalf of African Americans,’ said Ted Shaw, a Columbia University law professor and the former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.”

CNET NEWS: Open-source leaders see Microsoft-TomTom suit as a threat
February 26, 2009
BYLINE: Elinor Mills
“Despite Microsoft assurances that a patent lawsuit against GPS navigation company TomTom is not targeting the overall Linux community, open-source leaders said on Thursday that the legal action is antagonistic toward the movement. … ‘Microsoft's behavior is threatening,’ said Eben Moglen, a Columbia Law School professor and chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center, a nonprofit that provides legal representation to developers and distributors of open-source software. ‘The free (software) world has to defend itself,’ he said. ‘We are considering our options and evaluating the situation.’ ”

WFMZ TV: Civil Rights Attorney Speaks at Lafayette for Black History Month
February 25, 2009
“Lafayette College in Easton got a glimpse of the future of racism in America Tuesday night. People at Easton heard from Theodore Shaw, a civil rights attorney and professor of law at Columbia University. ‘Just because Barack Obama has been inaugurated as president, that didn't change structural realities in this country. There's still a lot of inequality along the lines of race and other lines also,’ Shaw said. Professor Shaw says November's election was a milestone that he hopes will create momentum. He says he expects progress racially and economically over the next four years.”

BLOOMBERG: Madoff Must Have Had Help, Lawyers Say, Citing Trustee Report
February 24, 2009
BYLINE: David Glovin, David Voreacos and David Scheer
“A bankruptcy trustee’s finding that Bernard Madoff didn’t trade any securities for more than a decade may show that the money manager couldn’t have acted alone in what the U.S. alleged was the largest Ponzi scheme in history. … Columbia University Law School professor John Coffee said he expects Madoff’s subordinates to ‘come running to cooperate’ with prosecutors in exchange for leniency.
‘Someone had to creatively imagine what to tell all those clients,’ Coffee said in an interview.
Coffee also said prosecutors may bring charges against managers of any feeder funds that invested with Madoff after getting kickbacks.
‘If prosecutors can show a kickback or any kind of undisclosed payments to feeder funds, then it will be much simpler for private investors to sue those feeder funds and it can support indictment under the mail and wire fraud statutes,’ Coffee said.”


KIPLINGER'S PERSONAL FINANCE: How to Spot the Next Bernie Madoff
March 2009 Issue
BYLINE: Laura Cohn
"As a young sporting-goods executive, Larry Leif first became acquainted with Bernard Madoff in the late 1970s, when his boss invested his company's pension with the now-notorious money manager. ... 'The presence of a custodian ensures that money from new investors can't be used to pay off longtime investors,' says John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School."

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: Grading policies get a tweaking
February 23, 2009
BYLINE: Vesna Jaksic
"Several leading law schools are retooling their grading policies, with some institutions making major revisions and others merely tweaking their systems. ... And some institutions, such as Columbia Law School, are reviewing their grading systems to see whether they need updating. ... Columbia Law School has a letter-grade system that is supplemented by a credit/fail standard in some classes. In addition, the first class that students take — a three-week introduction to law — is graded as credit or fail, Dean David M. Schizer said in an e-mail response to questions about the system. The system allows students to acclimate upon arrival without the pressure of letter grades and permits more detailed feedback, he said. The school has formed a committee of faculty members that is consulting with the students regarding whether the grading policy should be refined. 'Our preliminary sense is that there is broad support within our student body for our current system over the systems recently adopted at Harvard and Stanford, but our process of deliberation on the issue is not yet complete, and we will continue to solicit student and faculty input,' Schizer said."

NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL: Hiring from top schools steady in '08
February 23, 2009
BYLINE: Leigh Jones
"Despite the economic nosedive that began gaining momentum in 2008, the nation's biggest law firms hired just about the same percentage of graduates from top schools last year as they did the year before. ... Once again, Columbia Law School took the No. 1 spot as the school sending the highest percentage of its graduates directly to NLJ 250 firms. Among its 396 juris doctor graduates in 2008, 70.5% went to NLJ 250 law firms. In 2007, Columbia Law School sent 74.8% of its graduates to NLJ 250 law firms, and in 2006, 69.9% of the school's students joined NLJ 250 firms directly after graduation."

Back to top

February 15 - 21, 2009


OPEDNEWS.ORG: Is It Time For A Jailout On Wall Street?
February 21, 2009
BYLINE: Danny Schechter
"Judging by my in-box, there seem to be no shortage of organizations and individuals obsessed with an image: Dick Cheney and George Bush in prison, and Karl Rove in the next cell. ... There is a deeper problem, of course. How did he get away with it? Lawyer John Coffee of the Columbia Law School addressed that question in an interview: 'I think our regulatory system failed and failed badly over basically the last six or seven years in failing to spot a Mr. Madeoff.  Although in fairness Mr. Madeoff has been a crook for almost 20 or 25 years and we can't just pick on the last couple of years there.  But I think that regulatory system allowed these offerings when there was evidence that lending standards were being relaxed at the mortgage loan originator stage, when the underwriting standards were being relaxed and in which credit rating agencies were becoming so conflicted that the really sophisticated person no longer believe their ratings.' "

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Despite good news, Bonds faces legal hurdles

February 20, 2009

"A federal judge wants to know if Barry Bonds’ personal trainer intends to stick to his decision not to testify at the slugger’s upcoming steroids trial. ... Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman said Illston’s ruling was 'thoughtful and well-considered.'

'It’s a careful opinion on the kind of issue that appellate courts are likely to defer decision to a trial court,' Richman said."

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Proposal Calls For Elections To Fill Senate Vacancies

 

February 20, 2009

BYLINE: David Welna

"Ninety-six years ago, voters won the constitutional right to choose their own senators. But in all but four states, the governor decides who will fill the seat after a vacancy. Now, there's a drive in Congress for a constitutional amendment requiring a special election to fill a Senate vacancy. ... But while many constitutional amendments have been proposed, few actually become law. Elections expert and constitutional scholar Nathaniel Persily of Columbia Law School gives Feingold's proposal a better-than-average chance of passing. 'I think you'll find that — in the wake of the Burris scandal and the four senatorial appointments we've had this year — that many state legislatures would like to move in this direction,' Persily says."

 

CNNMONEY: Who won't be helped by housing fix

February 20, 2009

BYLINE: Tami Luhby

"Don't have a job? Struggling to keep up with payments on a home worth less than half the mortgage? Owe way more than your home's value, but can still afford the payments? Sorry, but you likely aren't among the 9 million people who may get help under President Obama's $75 billion foreclosure prevention program. ... The administration's program isn't designed to help every homeowner, experts said. Nor should it. 'It's a mistake to think we can stop all foreclosures,' said Edward Morrison, a professor at Columbia Law School. 'Only about one-third of existing foreclosures can be stopped.' "

 

WASHINGTON POST: Mortgage Rescue Eligibility Still Being Finalized

February 20, 2009

BYLINE: Renae Merle

"A day after President Obama unveiled his $75 billion foreclosure prevention program, administration officials yesterday said they were still determining which homeowners should qualify. ... 'But what counts as an at-risk homeowner?,' said Edward R. Morrison, a professor at Columbia Law School. He said policymakers should avoid setting a standard that encourages lenders and mortgage servicers to rework sustainable loans just to get payments from the government."

 

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES: Stanford Exposes Custody Issues

February 20, 2009

BYLINE: Suzanne Barlyn

The alleged $8 billion fraud involving Texas financier R. Allen Stanford highlights unexpected complexities advisers may face when conducting due diligence about a firm's custodial arrangements for client funds. ... The ability of dually-registered firms to hold customers' accounts has prompted calls from securities industry professionals to require the use of independent custodians. 'Obviously, the simplest most direct reform that has the greatest chance of preventing Ponzi schemes is to require use of an independent custodian - by both investment advisers and hedge funds,' said John C. Coffee, a Columbia Law School professor, during prepared testimony about the Madoff scandal at hearing before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Jan. 27.

'The problem with being able to use an affiliate as a custodian is that it doesn't give you any watchdog,' said Coffee, in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. His testimony in the Madoff case is relevant to Stanford, he said, because the firm's U.S. entities relied on an affiliated Antigua-based bank, Stanford International Bank, to hold client funds."


AMERICAN LAWYER: Stanford Financial Scandal and Whistleblowing Rules for Lawyers
February 19, 2009
BYLINE: Zach Lowe
"There are a ton of legal angles to be explored amid the growing scandal swirling around R. Allen Stanford and the Stanford Group Co. -- most notably, where exactly Stanford himself is at the moment. ... In the coming days, there will be other angles connected to the unfolding Stanford scandal to delve into. John Coffee, a securities law expert at Columbia University's law school, says it's too early too tell if any third parties who may have steered investors to Stanford might be liable for damages (a la the Madoff feeder funds). That's in part because Stanford's companies are not insolvent; if that remains true, investors will go after the alleged wrongdoer directly instead of targeting third parties, Coffee says."

EXPRESS: Est-ce la fin du secret bancaire pour la Suisse ?
February 19, 2009
"UBS a décidé de fournir 250 noms de clients américains soupçonnés de fraude fiscale. ... John Coffee, professeur à l'Université de Columbia, estime que le fait de livrer la liste n'évitera pas à la banque d'avoir à signer un accord avec la justice sur le plan pénal, avec une amende à la clé. UBS aurait à ce jour accepté de payer une amende de 780 millions de dollars au fisc américain." 

FORBES: Obama Housing Plan: A Spoonful Of Sugar
February 18, 2009
BYLINE: Maurna Desmond
"The Obama administration unveiled its $75.0 billion initiative to curb foreclosures Tuesday morning. ... 'This plan is much better than most have been floated because it tries to incentivize servicers,' said Columbia Law School Professor Ed Morrison, whose mortgage plan was partially adopted in the Senate version of the Obama stimulus package. But these blunt incentives might create new problems. 'The question is, are we going to get too many modifications that are too aggressive?' he said."

RH REALITY CHECK: “Homeland” Security Under Napolitano, Key Player in Fight Against Trafficking

February 18, 2009
BYLINE: Katherine Franke
“When I read the statements Hillary Clinton had made in her Senate confirmation testimony regarding the issue of sex trafficking, I had a number of concerns. I heard little sign in her testimony of a desire to change policy from the ideological crusade undertaken by the Bush Administration that overdetermined the problem of human trafficking in sexual terms (thereby ignoring the enormous problem of other forms of forced labor), driven largely by an evangelistic judgment about sex work.
But the State Department through the policy set by its Secretary is not where we can find the front line of the federal government’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
… This piece is cross-posted from the Gender and Sexuality Law Program at the Columbia Law School blog.”

 

USA TODAY: Civil rights in court spotlight
February 17, 2009
BYLINE: Joan Biskupic
"When the Supreme Court returns to the bench Monday for the second half of its annual term, justices will hear several cases that could make this the most important session for civil rights law in years. ... 'At the beginning of this term in October, I don't think many people thought it would be shaping up to be as significant as it is now in terms of civil rights cases,' says Columbia University law professor Theodore Shaw, a former counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund."

NEWSDAY: Experts: Schools have broad rights to search students
February 17, 2009
BYLINE: Joie Tyrrell
"Students have a very diminished expectation of privacy when they are in school, and if a security dog detects something suspicious in their backpacks or lockers, they can be searched, legal experts said. ... But random searches of students and patrols in hallways can also have a negative impact, one Columbia University professor said. 'That doesn't mean that we like this,' said Jeffrey Fagan, professor of law and public health. 'Just because the Supreme Court says it is true, the downside is - unless school officials have very strong reasons - they are essentially criminalizing the school and placing all kids under suspicion.' "

REUTERS: SEC Charges Stanford with Fraud
February 17, 2009
REPORTER: Sarah Irwin
"Texas billionaire Allen Stanford and three of his companies have been charged with 'massive ongoing fraud.' ... SOUNDBITE: John Coffee of Columbia University Law School."

NEW YORK TIMES: In Bonds’s Case, One Count of Perjury Stands Out
February 16, 2009
BYLINE: Michael S. Schmidt
"There are 10 perjury counts confronting Barry Bonds in his federal trial that is scheduled to start in two weeks in San Francisco. ... 'The injection question provides the government with a count that is easier to prove than the others,' said Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor. 'It gives the government a steppingstone.'
'But if the government can’t prove the other charges it’s unlikely that the jury would go along with this charge and convict on the others,' Richman added. 'It’s usually all or nothing for a jury in situations like this. Jurors are not approaching it from a technical point of view; they are either going to think he lied about everything or nothing.' "

TIME: Leahy's Plan to Probe Bush-Era Wrongdoing
February 16, 2009
BYLINE: Bobby Ghosh
"The Right screams that it's a witch-hunt, the Left complains it's a cop-out, and President Obama wishes it would just go away. ... But Columbia University Law School's Sarah Cleveland cautions against reading too much into the South African association. The process Leahy is proposing, she says, is closer to the 9/11 Commission. 'It is a very important first step in helping the country to understand what happened, and making sure we don't go down that way again,' she says.
Cleveland says it's a good idea to separate the commission from the Hill, 'to make it genuinely bipartisan, and to avoid grandstanding by Congressmen.'
But she cautions against offering immunity up-front to those testifying, pointing out that this had not worked well in the Iran-Contra investigations. Leahy's Truth Commission, she says, 'can only be an intermediate step — eventually, you'll need to prosecute.' "


Back to top

February 8 - 14, 2009


ABA JOURNAL: Free to Be
February 2009 Issue
BYLINE: Anna Stolley Persky
"In 2005 the Georgia General Assembly hired Glenn Morrison to edit bills and resolutions in the Office of Legislative Counsel. Two years later, Morrison announced his intention to become a woman and was promptly fired. ... However, transgender advocates and some legal scholars say the case could have a significant impact. 'It’s a hugely important case,' says Suzanne Goldberg, a Columbia University law professor who specializes in sexuality and gender law issues. 'The court went through a trial. It had the chance to listen closely to the government’s defenses and saw through them as covers for discrimination.'"

CFO.COM: SEC Should Adopt CIA Methods, Lawyers Say
February 13, 2009
BYLINE: David M. Katz
"The recent fiery criticism leveled by U.S. Representatives and Senators at the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly dropping the ball on investigating Bernard Madoff and mishandling the financial crisis has prompted lawyers to dream big dreams about boosting SEC prosecutions of corporate and financial fraudsters. ... A member of the audience at conference, which was cosponsored by the Columbia Law School and the American Constitution Society for Law and Public Policy, suggested waterboarding as a proper punishment."

CONDÉ NAST PORTFOLIO: Market Movers: Did Chanos Break the Law?
February 13, 2009
BYLINE: Felix Salmon
"The best way of getting lots of angry comments on a blog entry is to be rude about Apple. But the second-best way is nice about short sellers. ... Remember what he's being accused of: front-running the information that a negative research report was going to be put out on a certain company. I asked John Coffee of Columbia whether the SEC has ever prosecuted such a thing, and he replied: 'They have where it was the analyst who front ran his own report in violation of firm rules. But today's case is different because the recipients owe no duty to the analyst UNLESS they agreed to maintain confidentiality.This case may be affected by the pending Mark Cuban inside trading case where the SEC has alleged that Mr. Cuban had agreed to keep certain information confidential and then traded on it (but did not owe a fiduciary duty). In the actions discussed in today's news, there can be no claim of breach of fiduciary duty but there could be an allegation by the SEC of an agreement to keep the information confidential until an embargo date.' "

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Morning Edition: Foreclosures Loom Over Future Bailout Plans
February 13, 2009
BYLINE: Yuki Noguchi
"The much-anticipated speech Tuesday by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner left at least one major issue dangling: how to address the country's burgeoning foreclosure problem. ... Therein lies the main problem, says Columbia University law professor Edward Morrison. Congress is working on legislation that would grant immunity to servicers who amend home loans to prevent foreclosure, he says. In addition, the administration's program will have to create new financial incentives for servicers to modify loans. Currently, modifying a loan can cost a servicer an average of $750 to $1,000 to collect all the paperwork necessary, he says. But if the government offers servicers a cut of each monthly payment on a modified mortgage, servicers will have an incentive to modify more loans, and will also have an ongoing incentive to make sure the loan gets paid, he says."

CNBC: Fixing Foreclosures: Lots Of Plans, Murky Strategy
February 12, 2009
BYLINE: Albert Bozzo
"As the Obama administration prepares to commit up to $50 billion in help homeowners avoid foreclosure, there are significant concerns about the strategy to contain a wildfire problem that is delaying the recovery in housing and perhaps the broader economy. ... 'The new improved terms will eliminate a lot of constraints that made it unattractive to borrowers and lenders,' says Columbia Law School professor Edward Morrison, who recently testified before Frank’s panel. 'But that’s not the case for taxpayers.' "

IR MAGAZINE: Legal panel analyzes US regulatory failures
February 12, 2009
BYLINE: Anna Snider
"In the midst of what one participant described as ‘a catastrophic moment in US financial history’, top lawyers, financial advisers and governance critics gathered yesterday in New York for a panel on ‘reinvigorating oversight of the financial system’. ... Investors were also left vulnerable by executive compensation packages that encouraged risk taking, lack of shareholder rights such as access to the proxy and paltry resources at the SEC, noted Silvers and others on the panel, sponsored by Columbia Law School and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy."

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Law Blog: Does Ruth Madoff Need Her Own Lawyer?

February 12, 2009
BYLINE: Dan Slater
"Covering the Madoff scandal we’ve notice that, while certain developments attract limited notice, other incremental stories seem to garner broad interest. ... Columbia University’s Daniel Richman, a former AUSA in the Southern District, says, while it’s still too early to tell, there’s certainly a potential for a conflict of interest, should Ruth and Bernie’s litigation strategies run in separate directions. 'There are plenty of cases where a husband and wife, for reasons of legal strategy or personal preference, find it perfectly reasonable to stay together,' Richman told the Law Blog. 'Sometimes blame-shifting amounts to the best strategy. But sometimes standing together does, too. Should this go further, a court, in dealing with a lawyer representing both of them, would require assurances that [Bernie and Ruth] understood the full dimensions of the possible conflict.' "

NEW YORK TIMES: Room for Debate: That ‘Buy American’ Provision
February 11, 2009
" 'Buy American' is a familiar cry in Washington, even though the vast majority of American economists and policy makers oppose anything that hints at protectionism. ... Jagdish Bhagwati, a professor of economics and law at Columbia and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author, most recently, of 'Termites in the Trading System.' "
Jump directly to Jagdish Bhagwati's blog post, 'A Retaliatory Spiral': http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/that-buy-american-provision/#jagdish.

THE NATION: Diary of a Mad Law Professor: Eight Is Enough

February 11, 2009
BYLINE: Patricia J. Williams
"For some years now, the biotechnology of fertility enhancement has been exalted as God's gift to the biblically barren. A relentless narrative of entitlement intertwined with prayerfulness has framed infertility as a tragedy, an oppression, an agony, a disease. Some have proclaimed a 'right' to a 'natural,' biologically related child, a child 'like me.' Unusually large Middle American families--some with up to eighteen children--are offered movie deals and television programs. ... Patricia J. Williams, a professor of law at Columbia University and a member of the State Bar of California, writes The Nation column 'Diary of a Mad Law Professor.' "

TIME: Mary Schapiro Moves Quickly to Shake Up the SEC
February 11, 2009
BYLINE: Robert Chew
"Hoping to show she's got the right stuff, Mary L. Schapiro, 15 days on the job as chairwoman of the besieged Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), took her first steps this week in shaking up the agency. ... 'It's a problem that our regulatory agencies can't find tough prosecutors without ties to the banking industry,' said John Coffee, an SEC watcher and a securities-industry law professor at Columbia University. 'It's unsettling that the government's revolving door always leads back to banks.' In any case, Coffee believes, Schapiro will 'need more than one person to change things.' "

DOW JONES NEWSWIRE: Pensions Suffer Relatively Light Damage In Madoff Alleged Fraud
February 11, 2009
BYLINE: Jilian Mincer and Lynn Cowan
"Most public pension funds involved in Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion fraud suffered relatively small losses. But many are planning legal action to recoup what they can. ... 'I think the whole model of feeder funds will possibly collapse because of this,' says John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. 'Pension funds could say we can do this on our own.' "

BLOOMBERG: Madoff Victims Face Grim Prospects in Court: Jane Bryant Quinn
February 11, 2009
BYLINE: Jane Bryant Quinn
"The securities laws may be your worst enemy if you lost money in the Madoff scam. ... You might get a break if Madoff made secret kickbacks to one or more feeder funds, to bring in more cash. No one knows if that happened. If it did and Madoff confesses to it, that could be enough evidence of fraud to get you into court, says John C. Coffee, a professor of law at Columbia University in New York."
This column ran in the Washington Post on February 22, 2009.

NEW YORK TIMES: Madoff reaches partial settlement in civil case
February 10, 2009
BYLINE: Diana B. Henriques
"Days before a deadline in his criminal case, Bernard L. Madoff has agreed to a partial settlement of civil accusations that he ran a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. ... But the limited settlement with the S.E.C. adds further weight to the thesis that negotiations for a plea bargain are gaining momentum, said John C. Coffee Jr., a securities law professor at Columbia. ...'This is a signal the defense side is ready to give a little,' Professor Coffee suggested. 'To give this, I suspect he got something in return. It would be interesting to know what.' "

USA TODAY: Alleged Ponzi schemer Madoff agrees to partial judgment
February 10, 2009
BYLINE: Kevin McCoy
"Accused Ponzi scheme architect Bernard Madoff could eventually be forced to pay civil fines and return money to investors under a partial judgment approved Monday by a federal judge. ... 'The fact that his attorneys have consented to anything at this juncture suggests to me that there has been progress in criminal plea bargain discussions,' said John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor. 'Rationally, you do not agree to a consent judgment against you unless there is some quid pro quo … and the only thing that Mr. Madoff could care about at this point is the criminal proceeding.' "

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL: Judge makes Madoff injunctions permanent
February 10, 2009
"The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said a partial judgment in New York begins to cement the case against accused trader Bernard Madoff. ... 'The fact that his attorneys have consented to anything at this juncture suggests to me that there has been progress in criminal plea bargain discussions,' said Columbia University law Professor John Coffee. 'Rationally, you do not agree to a consent judgment ... unless there is some quid pro quo,' Coffee said."

ESCHOOL NEWS: Benton: Universal broadband a necessity
February 10, 2009
BYLINE: Meris Stansbury
"As Congress debates an economic stimulus package that includes funding to boost the number of people in the United States with broadband internet access, at least one organization says access alone isn't enough--and it's urging the Obama administration to adopt strategies to stimulate broadband demand. ... According to Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, chair of the media reform group Free Press, and a writer for Slate magazine, 'Broadband is no one's responsibility--and the buck keeps getting passed between industry, Congress, the White House, and the Federal Communications Commission.' "

MARKETWATCH: New bailout may be less attractive to some banks
February 9, 2009
BYLINE: Ronald D. Orol
"A new bank bailout plan to be unveiled Tuesday by the Treasury Department is set to create incentives for private sector investment into troubled banks. ... 'You can't price something unless you know what the terms are,' said Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee. 'It's hard to tell potential investors that you are buying a security whose value may change tomorrow.' However, Coffee and other observers argue that should Treasury succeed at getting private investors to participate, it will add credibility to the program."

Back to top

February 1 - 7, 2009

NEWSWEEK: Innovation Gridlock
Issue of February 2, 2009
BYLINE: Michael Heller
“The first decade of the 21st Century has seen startling advances in biology. Scientists have cracked the genomes of humans and many plants, animals and microbes. They've uncovered new cellular processes affecting inheritance of diseases. Likewise, investment in biotech research and development has been steadily increasing. So what happened to all the lifesaving cures that were supposed to come our way as a result? …
The problem is that now more than ever biomedical invention requires assembling scattered bits of intellectual property. Because of the patent system in the United States, that task has become exceedingly expensive and complex. The idea of granting drug patents is to spur discovery and cure disease, but a proliferation of patents is having the opposite effect. It is creating a type of gridlock that is stifling innovation. …
Heller, a Columbia Law School professor,
is author of ‘The Gridlock Economy.’ ”

NEW YORK TIMES: Some Fear Google’s Power in Digital Books
February 1, 2009
BYLINE: Noam Cohen
“IN 2002, Google began to drink the milkshakes of the book world. … Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia and a free-culture advocate, puts it this way: if the fight over digitization of books is like horse-and-buggy makers against car manufacturers, Google wants to be the road.”

CFO MAGAZINE: The SEC under Schapiro
February 1, 2009
BYLINE: Edward Teach
“Can Mary Schapiro change the Securities and Exchange Commission from hapless bystander to tough cop? … John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School, says Schapiro's appointment ‘sends a pretty clear signal’ that the Obama Administration will seek such a merger, which was a key recommendation of the Treasury Department's 2008 blueprint for regulatory reform. Politically, however, it could be ‘an uphill battle,’ says Coffee.”

TIMES HERALD-RECORD: Columbia University students creating citizens' guide to natural-gas drilling; will be available in Sullivan and Pike counties
February 1, 2009
BYLINE: Stephen Sacco
“Listening to lectures on the effects of natural-gas drilling in Marcellus shale isn't most people's idea of a hot Saturday night. … Nita Kumaraswami, the sole law student in the group, said Columbia's Environmental Law Clinic will look at the legal issues surrounding natural-gas extraction with a team of three students, a professor and a staff attorney.”
Back to top