Attorney General Eric Holderis returning to his home state to keynote the Columbia Law School graduation next month - as the city still awaits a decision on where the 9/11 terror trials will be held. Holder, who's also a Columbia Law alum, will make his speech at the school on May 14, officials said.
“This probably ratchets up the pressure on Goldman to settle but it complicates the settlement process, as now Goldman cannot safely settle with the SEC without a DoJ sign-off,” said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University.
April 30 Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan who now teaches at Columbia University Law School, said prosecutors at Rajaratnam’s insider trading trial, set for October in Manhattan federal court, may seek to question him about the illegal tax transaction -- and the details of why he entered into it -- should he testify. Rajaratnam’s spokesman Jim McCarthy said the suit is unrelated to the criminal prosecution.
“There is no reason for them to rush precipitously into this case, and much to be gained by acting deliberately and getting whatever cooperation the S.E.C. can from Goldman Sachs,” said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia University law professor and former federal prosecutor.
Ted Ruthizer: While it is true that federal law requires noncitizens to carry immigration documents, this is almost never enforced or prosecuted. What’s more, it’s a far different story to permit federal officials to punish a noncitizen for failure to carry immigration documents and for state and local officials to do the same.
John Coffee, a Columbia University professor who specializes in white-collar crime and securities issues, called the gaffe a serious error that could have played a role in convincing investors that Mueller was legitimate.
"The FCC now faces a choice, It can abandon the idea of supporting high-speed Internet access . . . and requiring providers of high-speed access to disclose information about their costs and speeds," she wrote with Columbia University professor Tim Wu and University of Nebraska professor Marvin Ammori. "It can move ahead under Title I, attempting to tie its steps more closely to other portions of the Communications Act and face a battle over every proceeding it launches."
May 3 Julia Vitullo-Martin, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a think tank that examines urban economic policy issues, said, “I would be surprised if Judge Catterson’s decision stands up to the state level.” Columbia Law School professor Lance Liebman agreed: “If the Court of Appeals still has the same views they held when they decided Atlantic Yards,” he said, “then the chances of a Columbia victory are good.”
Last year, the Justice Department raised objection to a request for immunity from Continental, United and other airlines that wanted to jointly operate their international networks. That request was nonetheless granted by the Transportation Department. "We have reason to think the DOJ would be concerned about this, because they actually complained about this," said C. Scott Hemphill, an antitrust law professor at Columbia University.
“A fundamental hole exists in the financial reform proposals now before Congress that this bill fills,” John C. Coffee Jr., a securities professor at Columbia Law School, said at the hearing, referring to Mr. Specter’s proposed legislation. “Although no statute can eliminate all conflicts of interest, the proposed statute — with some modest proposed revisions — would compel investment banks to address them more carefully and cautiously.”
“Conflicts of interest played a key role in causing and intensifying the 2008 financial crisis," Columbia law professor John Coffee told a panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter.
Columbia University Law School professor Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor, agreed. "At the very least it is hard to say what happened today radically changes the state of play of the KSM trial, which is of far larger magnitude, and will have a run-up period that is infinitely longer than the one preceding today," he said.
Consumer bankruptcies in April were slightly lower than the prior month but remained 15% higher than the same time last year. But that doesn’t give a complete picture of the bankruptcy story, said Ronald Mann, a law professor at Columbia University.
John Coffee teaches corporate law at Columbia University. He says banks are tempted to fudge because investors will pummel them if their quarterly reports come up short. “If you know the market is looking at you, then I think you are under pressure to play games.”
The financial reform bill passed by the House of Representatives brings retail brokers under a fiduciary standard if they supply investment advice. The Senate blew this provision off but, thanks to Goldman, it’s back. “Amendments to the bill face an uphill battle, says John Coffee Jr., a professor at Columbia University Law School, “but they sometimes win.”
Lawyers and former prosecutors said it could be some time — anywhere from a little while to a long while — before the suspect, Faisal Shahzad stands in some baggy jail outfit before a judge. “It’s not the normal course of things, but it’s not unprecedented,” said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia law professor who is a former federal prosecutor. He said there was no clear outer limit to how much time might pass before a court appearance, as long as Mr. Shahzad properly waived his legal rights.
"Current law does not impose any obligation on Goldman where it is buying and selling securities that says you can't short while you're selling to people," said John C. Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University.
"This is 1987 all over gain, exacerbated by computer programming that works off a small drop in any stock or the market," said Columbia University Law Professor John Coffee, a noted expert in securities law and the markets.
Chinese newcomers would do well to learn from Haier's missteps as well as its great strides. "They're coming with little experience into a highly sophisticated market, and they are bound to make mistakes," says Karl Sauvant, executive director of the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment at Columbia University and a law lecturer there, who in February published an edited volume titled Investing in the United States: Is the U.S. Ready for FDI from China?
“You have to agree in advance on the point at which a short-term circuit breaker would be put in,” said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University in New York. “We may want the circuit breaker to kick in on a 5 percent decline.”
Nate Persily, professor of Law and Political Science at Columbia Law School, says Kagan should be able to be confirmed and that people from across the political spectrum will embrace her, though liberals may have preferred Judge Diane Wood or Judge Sidney Thomas. “She’ll be the third woman, so we’ll have reached an unprecedented level of gender diversity on the court,” Persily says.
Jamal Greene: If Elena Kagan does not follow Justice Stevens’s example, it would leave Justice Alito as the only justice whose clerks read every petition. That would upset what I regard as a healthy liberal-conservative balance among the chambers not participating. Even if a Justice Kagan were identical to Justice Stevens on every decision, she could still have an important impact on which cases are heard.
John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia Law School, talks with Bloomberg’s Lori Rothman and Mark Crumpton about the impact of electronic trading on last week’s stock market plunge and the need for new “circuit-breaker” rules for exchanges.
Jamal Greene: “I wouldn’t expect anything different in the level of candor or detail that one would go into in terms of substantive views about the court. I would, as a law professor, love to see people talk more about their judicial philosophy, and talk more about substantive issues, but the politics just don’t work for that.”
“If they knock out the wiretaps, it would support the suppression of a wide range of evidence derived from the wiretaps,” Daniel Richman, formerly a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said in an interview. Richman, who teaches at Columbia Law School, said it will be a “real stretch” for Dowd to prevail. He said he doubts the defense has strong enough arguments to exclude the wiretapped conversations or block government witnesses from testifying.
Trevor W. Morrison, a professor and vice dean at Columbia Law School, New York, said Kagan’s success as dean of Harvard Law School reflects a variety of “legal related strengths,” he said. Additionally, during her tenure as solicitor general she “argued six cases in front of the court” and helped draft and “sign plenty of briefs,” Morrison noted.
Morrison pointed out that it is important not to necessarily impart the positions taken in those briefs to Kagan personally, but went on to say “the quality of the briefs is a good indication of her legal ability.”
John Coffee, securities law professor at Columbia Law School, said proving wrongdoing by Morgan Stanley will be "significantly harder and more challenging" than the case against Goldman Sachs. He noted that Morgan Stanley didn't underwrite or market the mortgage deals reportedly being investigated, making it harder to prove that the bank misled investors.
In London the approach used to be lighter touch and principles-led. The regulator largely relied on firms to police themselves and their staff according to generally accepted codes. But recently the FSA has dramatically changed its approach, moving towards that of the US. “I give them credit. They’ve just discovered that they can enforce insider-trading laws if they want to. It suggests that their prior lack of success had more to do with passivity and indifference than problems gathering evidence,” says John Coffee, Columbia University law professor.
Alejandro Garro: Whatever personal opinion one may hold on [Baltasar] Garzon as an individual and beyond his controversial civil war investigation, the decision to go after this judge for opening an investigation of Franco's worst human rights abuses seriously undermines judicial independence and Spain's credibility in fighting against impunity.
Columnist Errol Louis: The current flap reminds me of a similar case that gripped the Harvard campus a quarter-century ago, when I was an undergraduate. Black law students protested, and eventually boycotted, a course on civil rights because it was being co-taught by Jack Greenberg, who was then the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and who happened to be white. My friends and I were teenagers, but we thought the law students were out of their minds.
Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee argues that the enforcement actions and investigations are having an impact on moderate Republicans such as Collins and Grassley. "The Republican Senators who are being most influenced are the senators whose constituency have an incident of latent populism and anti-Wall Street sentiment," said Coffee. "They are being influenced by current events."
A settlement also would let the S.E.C. declare victory without having to bring a series of complex cases. The public, however, might never learn what really went wrong. “The government doesn’t have the personnel to simultaneously prosecute several investment banks,” said John C. Coffee, a Columbia Law School professor.
Particularly vexing to Jeffrey A. Fagan, a professor of law at Columbia University who studied the issue for Mr. Spitzer, is that few can say what happens once the ''11 or 12 percent'' of street stops that lead to an arrest or summons get to court. ''Are these cases that stand up?'' he said. ''Do they result in convictions?'' Professor Fagan said it was impossible to tell what dent in crime the tactic had made.
The Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic just released a report showing that the transition to open service for gay and lesbian troops has been a successful one in countries the U.S. counts among its closest allies.
The report (“Open Service and Our Allies”), submitted to Congress today, extensively documents the experiences of militaries in Australia, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom.
Yet a bloody legal battle is unlikely, according to John Coffee, a well-respected Columbia University professor who has advised both the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange. "We are moving in the direction of a global settlement," he said, predicting authorities would shy away from criminal charges against any one firm in favor of sweeping fines, charges against individuals and regulatory reform. "The conventional wisdom has long been that a financial services firm cannot survive a criminal prosecution."
"'Open Service and Our Allies' debunks many myths about the difficulty of transitioning to open service," said Suzanne B. Goldberg, professor and director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. "The report reinforces that ending the military's exclusion of openly gay service members is not only possible but also beneficial to national security."
An article by Philip Hamburger, the Maurice & Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, Beyond Protection, 109 Colum. L. Rev. 1823 (Dec. 2009), looks to the principle of "protection" for a way to explain why it may well be appropriate to handle Shazad and Abdulmutallab differently.
May 14 For years, legislators, executive branch lawyers, and the courts have been tied up in knots over the scope of the rights that must be accorded suspected terrorists. Are they due a civilian jury? Can they be detained without being charged? Philip Hamburger, a professor at Columbia Law School, says that a more basic question must first be ad dressed: Do American legal protections even cover such people at all?
John Coffee is a professor at Columbia Law School. He says a criminal indictment against a financial firm often destroys it. “It seems strangely counterproductive to indict and risk the failure of the very firms that you saved with taxpayer money.” Coffee says these investigations suggest the banks just had too many conflicts of interest, raising questions about whether some banks were designing products to fail, and in some cases, actually profiting from that.
“We are still at a very early stage,” said John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor. “If anything, these investigations raise the possibility of a global settlement, which could be beneficial to share prices because it would mean that no single entity would be singled out for punitive damages.”
Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia University law professor and a former federal prosecutor, said the administration might be considering such a bill as much for the political message it would send as for any substantive changes it would make. “It may well be that the law could use some clarification on these points and that courts would be receptive to a more detailed framework for how to handle these cases,” Professor Richman said.
But many legal scholars wonder how quickly such stereotypes will change. Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia, said being single in your 40s or 50s still “remains something that has to be explained.” And until the legal profession makes it easier for women to get ahead while, at the same time, having a family, the attitude will persist.
John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia Law School, argues that a criminal indictment against a financial firm often destroys it. "It seems strangely counterproductive to indict and risk the failure of the very firms that you saved with taxpayer money," he says. During the Enron fraud trials, accounting firm Arthur Andersen went out of business even though it was later found not guilty.
"Conflicts of interest have been exponentially exacerbated by the rise of derivatives trading," says John C. Coffee Jr., a Columbia University law professor who recently testified before Congress on the need to tighten fiduciary rules on Wall Street. "Investment banks are no longer in the old world of raising capital. Now you can have a party in a transaction who wants the price to go down."
"The critical players in our capital markets are often the gatekeepers -- the investment bankers, the accountants, the lawyers -- and they may often be immune ... even though they are aiding and abetting a fraud," said Columbia University law professor John C. Coffee Jr.
The decision logically follows the Supreme Court’s 2005 ruling that banned the death penalty for juveniles, said Jane Spinak, who teaches juvenile justice and child advocacy at Columbia Law School. The next logical step would be a challenge to a mandatory life sentence for a juvenile convicted of murder, but that will be a tougher sell, she predicted, noting Kennedy’s frequent use of the phrase “non-homicide” in the opinion. “I think they were trying to make the point that non-homicide cases are different,” Spinak said.
Jeffrey A. Fagan, a professor of law at Columbia University, who has studied the numbers, said that crime complaints for 2009 show that although blacks made up 15 percent of suspects in all crimes and 32 percent of suspects in all violent crimes, a suspect’s race is known only 29 percent of the time.
Circuit breakers are "a Band-Aid, not a solution," said Weisberg, who has spent 41 years as a New York Stock Exchange floor trader. But that may be all that's needed for now, said John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University. "This does not need to be the perfect circuit breaker," Coffee said in an e-mail. "All that is needed is a common rule that throws enough sand into the gears to prevent a computer-driven race to the bottom."
John Coffee: the two amendments adopted by the Senate last week follow divergent and ultimately inconsistent paths. Although few, if any, defend the performance of the credit rating agencies, reformers fall into two opposed camps when it comes to prescriptions. One group (probably the more numerous) wants to address the conflicts of interest inherent in their "issuer pays" business model, on the premise that if the rating agency were not beholding to the issuer for its fee, it could perform as a legitimate gatekeeper.
A Washington, D.C., theater is canceling its production of the play Imagining Madoff after objections from human rights activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Richard Lehv lectures in that field at Columbia University Law School. Welcome to the program. “Well, in my view, it's a free country. You can make a public figure a character in a work of fiction. The best example of that recently was the movie "The Queen." There's all kinds of dialogue in that movie … that nobody knows whether it ever occurred.”
“It’s important that people understand that the president is commander in chief of the military forces, but he’s not commander in chief of domestic government,” [Peter] Strauss said. “What he is in relation to domestic government is an overseer. He gets to counsel. He gets to call up an agency head and say, ‘I’d really like you to do this.’ I have no problem with that. But it isn’t the agency head’s legal obligation to obey him.”
“They are not just on the radar screen. They are the at the center of it,” said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University and the author of a forthcoming book on technology monopolies, “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.” “If you are in the federal government and are interested in antitrust, you are looking at Google.”
John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University in New York City, predicts "it won't be unanimous; I think it'll be a split decision." Mr. Black and two of his co-defendants want the honest services convictions overturned arguing they intended no economic harm to the company when they received US$5.5-million in management fees.
Japanese lay judges are more actively involved in trial proceedings. "Japanese jurors have a much more direct and ongoing participation in the trial process than their American counterparts," said Curtis Milhaupt, director for the Center of Japanese Legal Studies at Columbia University.
A three judge panel for the US District Court for the District of Columbia upheld soft-money caps in March, and an appeal to the Supreme Court is pending. The court can affirm the lower court decision, or agree to hear the case. “They’re going to take the case,’’ said Columbia Law School professorNathaniel Persily, adding, “They like the deep constitutional issues posed by these cases.’’
Suzanne Goldberg, Director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic and a professor at Columbia Law School, said that the report “debunks many myths about the difficulty of transitioning to open service.” She notes also that “Open Service and Our Allies” provides empirical evidence “that ending the military’s exclusion of openly gay service members is not only possible but also beneficial to national security.”
Kim desperately needs to have credibility at home,” Jeong-Ho Roh, director of the Center for Korean Legal Studies at Columbia Law School, said in a comment posted on the college website. “A strong international response including sanctions will undoubtedly have an adverse effect domestically.” China, North Korea’s principal political ally, may “bow to international pressure” to act, he said.
Jeffrey Fagan: Laws like Arizona's give individual police officers the discretion to pick and choose whom to stop on the basis of suspicion. Suspicion-based stops are legally justified when an officer correctly (or correctly enough) identifies or targets a potential offender. The problem is that according to the Supreme Court, even vague criteria count, such as "furtive movements" that supposedly indicate crime, or "Latino appearance" along with scuffed working boots that supposedly indicate illegal immigrant status.
"Ultimately, the NFL may well win the antitrust case," said Scott Hemphill, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York. "But the ruling says, 'We actually have to think about the merits of this case. You can't get an automatic pass because you are a sports league.”
To get some perspective on these issues, as well as on the specific circumstances of Joe Sullivan, one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, Need to Know spoke with Jamal Greene, a professor at the Columbia University School of Law and former clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens, who delivered the majority opinion in the Graham case.
“There is a federal statute — 18 USC 600 — which makes it a crime to offer employment, position, compensation or other benefit made possible by an Act of Congress (I assume this covers a federal job) in exchange for ‘political activity,’ including support for or opposition to a candidate, including in a primary election,” Columbia Law professorRichard Briffault told The Daily Caller in an e-mail.
During the discussion of status New York University law professor Richard Pildes and Columbia University associate law professorChristina Duffy Burnett offered informed debate on the viable options for Puerto Rico status. The law professors who are both constitutional experts as pertains to status, debated the possibility of enhancing Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status, which had been declared “territorial,” in a report issued by the White House task force under the Bush administration in March 2006.
“Federal fraud charges are fairly straightforward; they apply to any scheme to acquire money or property through deceit or misrepresentation,” said Daniel C. Richman, a professor of law at Columbia University and former federal prosecutor. “In this case, the authorities would have to prove that Armstrong was misrepresenting himself to sponsors by saying that he was clean but was actually using performance-enhancing drugs and profiting from it.”
Katherine Franke: Treating gay marriage as a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" issue both fails to grasp the complexity of this particular political issue and deprives students of the opportunity to think critically about how the world is changing and why it should.
Although it is unlikely to prevent future crises, the congressional bill, with all its weaknesses and loopholes, probably will mitigate the impact of the next blow-up, said Harvey Goldschmid, a former SEC commissioner who is a professor at Columbia Law School. "Undoubtedly there will be further problems, it's just the nature of business and the financial business in particular," Goldschmid said. "But this will avoid some significant problems and limit the impact of others."
[T]he other academic-law professor to have a say was Cristina Duffy Burnett, associate professor of law at Columbia University. She argued that to say Puerto Rico and the United States can enter into any mutually binding compact, ala enhanced commonwealth, was to display “a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution and what Congress can do. Congress cannot bind the United States to such a compact,” she said. “No court would stand in the way of a political decision by the United States to pull out of such an agreement.”
Nathaniel Persily, professor at Columbia Law School, testified a new law would need to make clear that hunting and agricultural videos are not covered. He said, "The key question, it seems to me, is to what extent can you regulate illegal conduct by regulating depictions of it?"
From where I stand, or should I say, sit in a history department office, Obama would have kept closer to his promise of change by nominating a black woman for the Supreme Court. In keeping with the spirit of Obama's nomination to have a Justice with academic experience, three formidable women come to mind: Lani Guinier, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Mary Frances Berry …Crenshaw, a law professor at both Columbia University and UCLA, transformed legal thinking fifteen years ago with introduction of what she defines as "critical race theory," which insightfully reveals the inherent racist assumptions within legal jurisprudence.
Suzanne B. Goldberg, of Columbia Law School, writes in a letter to the editor, “The evidence overwhelmingly supports repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ In a new report, theColumbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, where I am director, identifies keys to a smooth transition based on our allies’ experiences.” Click the link for the entire letter.
Columbia Law School professor Scott Horton, who consulted with Congress on some of the MEJA amendments, said the Founding Fathers would have considered it “preposterous” to prosecute anyone outside the United States during the American Revolution, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t give Congress the authority to change the law.
Professor John Coffee (Securities Law, Columbia University): Given the context that BP finds itself in with an environmental catastrophe of really unequal proportions, any disclosure about what's going on, either with recent events or your current progress in stopping that leak, is going to be material market moving information.