Oct. 1-8

Matthew Waxman is a Columbia University associate law professor and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The prosecution, on the other hand, is going to do everything it can to say, this is not a case about what happened at the hands of the CIA, or in fact even about events after 9/11.  This is about events that took place well before 9/11," he said.
But the Roma and black Americans of the present do have at least one important fact in common. They both can count Jack Greenberg, the legendary civil rights attorney, as their advocate. For the last seven years, Greenberg, who in 1961 succeeded Thurgood Marshall as president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and has been a professor at Columbia Law School since 1984, has been examining and writing about the extraordinarily desperate plight of the Roma
At risk, said Columbia University law professor Nathaniel Persily, is the distinction the justices make about the court's status as something apart from the nation's increasingly fractious and partisan politics. "A large segment of the population already looks at the court as being made up of political actors," said Persily, who noted that the change comes on the 10th anniversary of one of the court's most polarizing decisions, Bush v. Gore.
Finra will be in a good position to seek dismissal of a possible derivative lawsuit, said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School. "When you make demand on the board, you are conceding its ability to study the matter and reach a decision," Coffee told Dow Jones Newswires.
“There’s never going to be a silver bullet against rogue behavior. The trick is to design institutions that identify and remedy it quickly,” says Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman.
John Coffee, professor at Columbia Law School said: “This is a tough sentence by European standards, less so by American standards where 10 to 20 year sentences for white-collar frauds are not uncommon.”
CFO—Oct. 6
Columbia University law professor Harvey Goldschmid, though, observes that the tendency of bipartisan members to agree so often "is part of the genius of administrative agencies." Goldschmid, who served as a Democratic SEC commissioner from 2002 to 2005, suggests that party affiliation is a secondary factor. "Commissioners are picked on the basis of merit and background," he says, and cases require "good judgment, rather than voting along pure party lines."
WALL STREET JOURNAL—Oct. 6 (subscription required)
But congressional leaders recently postponed voting on taxes until after the election and lawmakers don't reconvene until Nov. 15. The Senate is scheduled to take up several nontax issues when it returns and is expected to leave for Thanksgiving soon after, possibly pushing a vote on taxes into December. "Things get very dicey after the first of December" because of employers' need to know the 2011 rates, said Michael Graetz of Columbia University Law School, a former Treasury official.
Columbia Law School securities law expert John Coffee said the e-mails and notes, while evocative of the atmosphere at Countrywide, "aren't a smoking gun." Coffee added, though, that the SEC might find it "useful to show Mozilo was excluding others" from important meetings. "Excluding others may suggest you have something to hide," he said.
A new report lauds Ireland’s recent performance in attracting foreign investment and asserts that this will be sustained over the remainder of 2010. The report, published by the Vale Columbia Centre on Sustainable International Investment in New York, attributes an increase in inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2009 and early 2010 to a number of factors.
A tenured professor at Columbia Law School, [Tim]Wu teaches copyright and communications law. Ironically, he does not allow his students to use laptops during class ("I need people to be present"). He consults for free with companies like Google, which he hopes will stick to its "don't be evil" credo. Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is tapping Wu for advice on legislation that would make it illegal for phone companies to block access to the Internet on mobile devices.
Facebook Wants to Collect Your Data Dandruff
What has been overlooked is the hoovering up of the digital fingerprints we leave in our online meanderings. It’s what Columbia University law professor Eben Moglen calls the “data dandruff of life”. This can be sorted, aggregated and then linked back, not to a semi-anonymous IP address or a browser ID, put to a real person with a real name.
“This is a serious setback, and it will reverberate through the broader Guantanamo debates," Matthew Waxman, a Columbia University law professor and an expert on national security law, said of the Ghailani ruling. "This case has particular symbolic and precedential value, because Ghailani was the first Guantanamo detainee transferred to New York for prosecution."
Other clips on this story appeared on Voice of America.
Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault says these groups also allow corporations to pool their money. “And then, in effect, having it put to work by political operatives that you think are supporting the interests of your corporation.”
COURIER-POST (Cherry Hill, NJ)—Oct. 8
Propping up third-party candidates to pull votes from an opponent is a tried and true campaign tactic. According to Richard Briffault, an election law expert at Columbia Law School, there are reasons why it's mostly legal. "In this country, there's a reluctance to have government write rules about who can run for office," said Briffault, adding petition-gathering rules are usually as far as most state regulations will go.
However, legal experts doubt that the class action lawsuit at this stage poses a serious threat to Potash Corp, or its board. "I have never seen a class action brought by shareholders, and not (a lawsuit) by the rival bidder, have any effect on the outcome of a control contest," Columbia Law School professor John Coffee said.

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Oct. 8-15


C-SPAN—Oct. 8
Law professors and former clerks of Justice John Paul Stevens, including Jamal Greene, talked about his views and jurisprudence as a justice. Topics included the influence of his jurisprudence on other justices, and his views on such issues as affirmative action, abortion, criminal law, and military commission trials.
Jack Greenberg, a Columbia Law School professor who has studied the Roma situation, says enforcement is a big problem. "The European Court of Human Rights tells the Czech Republic, the Czech Republic presumably tells the municipality, and they presumably tell the schools. But somewhere down the line, nobody is ordering anybody to do anything," Greenberg said.
NPR—Oct. 10
The crucial issue is whether the sloppiness that tripped up the banks is just the tip of the iceberg. If so, it might call into question the validity of perhaps hundreds of thousands of foreclosures. And if that's the case, Ronald Mann says, we as a country are, you might say, in a house of pain. “I think that raises the prospect that you have a house that somebody owns that they think they bought after a foreclosure and they can't be sure that they have clear title to it. I think it poses a risk for title insurance companies. I think it poses a risk for banks that will have sold homes that they perhaps didn't actually own.”
Some express skepticism, suggesting that such lawsuits are emotionally pleasing but economically destructive. Better to rely on federal regulators, others argue, to constrain global corporations. That strikes James E. Tierney, director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia, as a bit beside the point. “Is state action as effective as a federal regulator going after these companies? Absolutely not,” says Mr. Tierney, a former state attorney general for Maine. “But when regulators are too worried about giving offense, there’s no reason an enterprising attorney general can’t go in there,”
“I initially expected that the government would pursue an appeal and seek reversal,” said Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan. “But the government appears to have an overriding desire to get this case on track quickly, and there is no reason to think it cannot do so.”
James Tierney, a former Maine AG, said the recent allegations into the problems at mortgage servicing shops highlights a need for tighter scrutiny on the state level. “This behavior is consistent with the ‘tin ear’ shown by some lenders to state law enforcement," Tierney said. "They’ve tried in both the Supreme Court and Congress to get rid of state consumer protection laws regarding lending practices but have failed.”
“This is clearly a delaying action,” said Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee. “When Congress says, ‘you can do this,’ I don’t think you can stop it.”
Philip Bobbitt: The general approach of putting every American on the lookout for terrorist activity is a good one. But an announcement like the State Department’s recent travel alert is so broad and indiscriminate that it imposes costs while doing nothing to make us safer.
I agree with Tim Wu that we have reasons to be optimistic about the benefits of the more diverse, heterogeneous world we live in today. Sure, we have lost something in the process. Namely, we’ve lost an abundance of those “mega-moments” in media when 80+ percent of us would gather around the boob tube to watch Elvis or the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” or the series finale of “M.A.S.H.”  But you know what, I think many of us would have rather been watching or doing something else, anyway.  And now we can. 
Securities fraud expert John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School, said a settlement could help Mozilo in fighting other civil cases arising out of the Countrywide collapse. "Any verdict in favor of the SEC would permit private plaintiffs to free ride on it and utilize those findings in their cases," Coffee said. A settlement, on the other hand, often doesn't require a plaintiff to admit to any wrongdoing. Coffee said it would allow Mozilo to "deny everything in other litigation."
How many of the Einsteins who exist now will be allowed to learn physics? That is the question Eben Moglen, professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, threw at a selected audience in Delhi last month. And the answer he provided—none, perhaps—did not occasion much surprise. Those attending the conference on software and patents were familiar with Moglen’s ideas on the restrictive nature of intellectual property, but his speech on the concept of the knowledge commons as a rising force has led to some heated debate. Is he an impractical visionary or a sage who can sense the big change?


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Oct. 15-22

ACS Blog—Oct. 15
Moderator Jamal Greene, an associate professor at Columbia Law School, noted the history of the Second Amendment, which, until the 1980s, was understood as "implying a right to keep and bear arms in connection with the duties of a state militia. It was not understood to be an individual right or something that is justiciable as an individual right."
NPR—Oct. 15
John Coffee: You can delay things up to the last minute, but eventually on the steps of the courthouse you've got to make a decision whether to try the case or settle. And I think he made the only rational decision for a potential criminal defendant in his position.
Coffee was also interviewed on this story by CBS Los Angeles, USA Today, The Financial Times, and The Los Angeles Times.
Columbia University law professor Nathaniel Persily said the court historically has been "to the left of the public" on issues that attract attention, such as crime, religion and affirmative action. The campaign finance decision in January "is very out of step with public opinion,"Persily said. In the Citizens United case, the court struck down a federal law that barred corporations or unions from spending money to support or oppose candidates for office.
Mr. Cuomo's experience in the administration of his father, Gov. Mario Cuomo, had "a big impact on him," said James E. Tierney, a former Maine attorney general who runs the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School. "Governors tend to have a small group of people who are not arranged hierarchically. You probably had people [in the attorney general's office] who didn't quite know how to handle that."
REAL TIME ECONOMICS (Wall Street Journal Blog)—Oct. 18
Soros Funds Economic Work Outside Mainstream
The grantees also include academics from disciplines other than economics. Physicist Doyne Farmer of the Santa Fe Institute will work on a way to model the economy much the same way we do climate change or traffic patterns. Columbia Law School professor Katharina Pistor will look at the global financial crisis with the aim of constructing a new theory of the relationship between law and finance.
ECONOMIC TIMES (India)—Oct. 19
China's direct investments abroad are rising sharply this year and will accelerate even further as the yuan is revalued upwards, according to a new paper from a Columbia University think tank. The New York-based Vale Columbia Center for Sustainable International Investment estimates outward foreign direct investment (FDI) from China, already ranked fifth in the world, rose at an annual rate of 44 percent in the first half of 2010.
Even law schools are capitalizing on the green building movement. The Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School released a Model Green Building Ordinance designed for use by municipalities. The ordinance is specific to municipalities within New York State but can be adopted by other states or even nations around the world with just a few minor tweaks.
Does Facebook Have a Foreign Policy?
Tim Wu: In the near future, we can expect a new intensity of international and domestic scrutiny of what has become one of the most powerful tools on the planet for planning events and mapping connections between people. How Facebook reacts to such scrutiny will give us a sense of the soul of this company, more so than any recent movie ever could.

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Oct. 22-29


NEW YORK TIMES (Room for Debate Blog)—Oct. 22
Patricia Williams: Chief Justice John Roberts, having said that the State of the Union speech has “degenerated into a political pep rally,” now says that members of the Supreme Court should not have to attend if they don’t want to. Don’t want to? The idea that justices should just ditch an important tradition because they have better things to do (grab a beer? watch a football game?) is a frightening one.
Sullivan raised eyebrows last year when he ordered Frank DiPascali, Madoff’s former finance chief, to jail even though DiPascali and prosecutors had agreed to let him remain free on bail. “That’s certainly a tea leaf that [Nicholson’s] lawyers are aware of,” said Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University. “Judge Sullivan has made quite clear how seriously he takes white-collar crime.”
“I’m not sure if I’d go far enough to say it shouldn’t have been taken,” said Richard Briffault, a Columbia University Law School professor who was a consultant to the 1989 Charter Review Commission that created the conflicts board, said of the foundation’s payments. “But I certainly would say it at least ought to be disclosed.”
After working for the State Department’s Office of Regional Affairs, a predecessor to NATO, [Louis Henkin] joined the Columbia faculty. “I had often thought I’d be an academic because being an academic is in my blood,” he said in a 2008 interview. At Columbia, he co-founded what is now the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and co-edited human rights and international law casebooks that are still in use.
[I]n hundreds of thousands of more cases, city officers failed to include essential details on required police forms to show whether the stops were justified, according to the study written by Prof. Jeffrey A. Fagan of Columbia Law School.
Jagdish Bhagwati: The U.S. sounds hypocritical trying to blame China for its own self-inflicted wounds from excess spending in the Bush administration. I would say that it is best for the U.S. to leave the issue alone. As for the Chinese revaluation, that will have minimal impact on U.S. deficit as long as we continue excess spending.
Homeowners May Meet States Over Foreclosures Soon
“An attorney general will always have a responsibility to deal with their own state laws and statutes that they think might be violated,” said James E. Tierney, director of Columbia Law School’s National State Attorneys General Program in New York. “If the target of the investigation may have done the same thing in several states, then it becomes cost effective and more efficient to work with colleagues in several states.”
[C] ompanies are preparing for the worst. A Bloomberg headline Wednesday said it all: "Employers in U.S. Start Bracing for Higher Tax Withholding." The impact could be significant. Professor Michael Graetz of Columbia University recently estimated in the Wall Street Journal that letting the tax cuts expire will cost the U.S. economy $10 billion a month in added withholding from paychecks.
Several other legal groups filed amicus briefs this week in the Proposition 8 case … the law firm of Chapman Popik & White along with Suzanne B. Goldberg, a law professor and director of the Sexuality & Gender Law Clinic at Columbia Law School (joint brief).
The Corporate Money is On…
Richard Briffault, a Columbia Law School professor who has studied campaign finance, said donations are more likely to make a difference on obscure issues rather than popular positions. “It gives you trails to follow when legislation or regulatory actions happen,’’ Briffault said. “Follow the money. It may explain things in some situations.’’
Columbia Law School professor James Liebman said the U.S. Constitution "constrains" judges from pressuring juries to keep deliberating after they've repeatedly said they're deadlocked. "What seems unusual here is that normally that doesn't happen where a judge is having a separate conversation with jurors outside of open court," Liebman said. "Normally the judge will bring in the jury or jury foreperson and both persons' counsel and inquire with a court reporter recording everything."
Trevor Morrison: The murder trial of William Clark is already under way, but before it goes any further a critical issue must be reexamined—whether federal law enforcement officers are subject to criminal prosecution for taking actions within the scope of their duties. The judge initially assigned to the case, Judge Brenda Hollar, refused even to consider this argument. Instead, she ruled earlier this year that Agent Clark’s status as a federal law enforcement officer is effectively irrelevant to the case. That was an error.


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