Aug. 27-Sept. 10

Perhaps most significantly, the Maine Legislature passed a law prohibiting children under 16 from working in proximity to "hazardous machinery or hazardous substances" because of accidents involving teenage workers at DeCoster's facilities. "It was because of DeCoster…Kids were always being hurt there," said James Tierney, a former Maine Attorney General, who as a state representative, voted in favor of the measure. "There's no question that DeCoster's egg farm was a major law enforcement problem in my time in the legislature and as Attorney General.”
“Optically, this has been a terrible case to begin the commissions with,” said Matthew Waxman, who was the Pentagon’s top detainee affairs official during the Bush administration. “There is a great deal of international skepticism and hostility toward military commissions, and this is a very tough case with which to push back against that skepticism and hostility.”
Marshall Islands leaders have asked Michael Gerrard, an expert on climate change law at Columbia University, to help them find answers to what he regards as plausible questions. He further notes that an island can become uninhabitable before the sea level rises above it, because even moderate storms can swamp any agricultural land and render freshwater supplies undrinkable.
Wong's defense team, attorneys Mark Melrose and Randal Seago, in the last two years have raised a series of legal issues, ranging from jury selection to the judge in the case, that could come up should there be a conviction and appeal. “It is common in any high-profile trial,” said Jeffrey Fagan, a law professor at Columbia University who has studied capital case appeals. “A good lawyer certainly wants to create a very strong record so that when it goes to appeal, the appeals court can have a vivid picture of what went on at trial.”
To be sure, the current reporting system worked in this case. But SEC officials say that with the same access to real-time information as brokers and exchanges, they would be able to bring such cases more consistently in the future. "It is somewhat fortuitous that they got this kind of tip" in the current case, said John Coffee, director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School in New York.
With its purchase of Sun, “Oracle acquired a lawsuit it could bring,” said Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia who advises on free and open-source software projects. And Oracle’s chief executive, Lawrence J. Ellison, Professor Moglen added, is “taking advantage of this asset at a time when others are interested in fighting Android.” Mr. Ellison is a close friend of Apple’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs.
WNYC—Aug. 31
But certainly, basic labor laws require equal opportunities for promotion. Columbia Law School professor Suzanne Goldberg says she’s wondered why B&H hadn’t been sued sooner for gender discrimination. “It is certainly not permissible for a store to refuse to hire women as sales people, even if the store had certain religious commitments; a store is open to the public,” Goldberg says.
Shurtleff "has claimed to be such a great advocate for children and families in Utah," said Steyer. "We find it very surprising that he would consider filing amicus briefs on behalf of the video game industry." Steyer offered another indicator of the influence of the video game industry. When he sought a law firm to write the amicus brief for Common Sense Media, he went to a half-dozen major law firms, only to find that "they all had a conflict because they represented the entertainment industry." Columbia Law School professor Theodore Shaw wrote the brief.
As one insightful commenter noted, Facebook is only really a problem for those who don't use it. To pry people away from it will mean a groundswell of people deciding, as law professor Eben Moglen did recently, that Zuckerberg has "done more harm to the human race than anybody else his age."
The University of California at Los Angeles School of Law has launched an Internet-based law forum with the International Criminal Court that focuses on the prosecution of war criminals. Its first subject: Does the ICC prosecutor have the authority to open an investigation into alleged crimes committed in the 2008-'09 Gaza conflict? The forum features opinion pieces by numerous experts including George Fletcher, a professor at Columbia Law School.
FORBES—Sept. 2
Columbia law professor Tim Wu published a paper in 2003 using the term "network neutrality" to describe various notions of non-preferential or equal treatment for Internet traffic. Whether in homage to Wu or out of convenience, the term "network neutrality" became a rallying cry for free speech activists, a subject for Congressional hearings, and even a presidential campaign plank.
This is one of the internet’s founding principles: that every packet of data, regardless of its contents, should be treated the same way, and the best effort should always be made to forward it. Proponents of this principle want it to become law, out of concern that network owners will breach it if they can. Their nightmare is what Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University, calls “the Tony Soprano vision of networking”, alluding to a television series about a mafia family.
Anello Pleads Guilty to Deceiving Pension Fund
Legal experts told The News that Anello is not the first person to benefit from the Supreme Court's ruling limiting honest services prosecutions to cases involving proof of a bribe or kickback. Right now, we're in a stage where there have been a considerable number of cases where either convictions are being overturned or prosecutors are changing mid-course as a result of this Supreme Court decision," said Daniel C. Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School.
In 1991, Colorado-based programmer Philip Zimmerman wrote the first public encryption software, called Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), and put it up on a bulletin board (an early form of internet). After ten days, FBI came knocking to prosecute him under US Arms Export Control Act. This is the kind of situation where the chairman of Software Freedom Law Center and Columbia Professor of Law, Eben Moglen has an important role to play. His intervention resulted in freedom to encrypt.
John Coffee, professor at Columbia Law School, said the report left BP “procedurally worse off”. He said the company’s best legal defense would probably be to argue that many of the damages claimed by businesses in the Gulf region were too remote from the spill in time and space to be valid.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research points to sea level rise along the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and Java, which are inhabited by hundreds of millions of people. While these residents prepare to leave behind their disappearing homes, legal experts around the world are facing serious challenges of what to do with millions of permanently displaced people. As part of our “next green thing” series, we’re joined by Michael Gerrard. He’s a professor at Columbia Law School, where he leads the Center for Climate Change Law.
KCBS RADIO (San Francisco)—Sept. 9
The law to cut emissions by 80 percent has already faced stiff opposition since it was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, and Columbia law professor Michael Gerrard expects an even more protracted fight. “Every move to regulate greenhouse gases is going to be the subject of hand-to-hand legal and political combat. Several of the attorneys general from the states that don’t like greenhouse gas regulation have already filed suits against the EPA because of these regulations. This is the latest salvo,” said Gerrard, who directs Columbia’s Center for Climate Change Law.
Lawyers and legal experts are poring over BP's self-penned report into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, as they assess their next move in what many believe may be the most costly corporate showdown in history. John Coffee, law professor at Columbia University, said it was unlikely BP itself would be targeted by a criminal prosecution.

Securities and Exchange Commission investigators are struggling to establish a connection between the two men charged last month with insider trading ahead of BHP Billiton's $40 billion bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., "Merely the act of being in the same city and making the same trade doesn't establish that one received material nonpublic information from another," said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School who specializes in white-collar crime.

Back to top

Sept. 10-17

John C. Coffee Jr., a law professor at Columbia University, likens Mr. Bove to a news reporter who is sued over an article. But, he says, the press typically rallies around reporters whose First Amendment rights are challenged, while securities analysts are a much less cohesive group. Nonetheless, Mr. Coffee says the stakes in the Bove case were high because a negative outcome could “chill free and robust debate.”
In August, only four metro Atlanta counties — Newton, Henry, Douglas and Rockdale — made the Top 10 list, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center. The rankings are based on an analysis of the research center’s data by Columbia Law School professor Ronald Mann.
So why did the overseers fail so miserably to protect investors from the Enron and WorldCom debacles? Or how about investors left holding worthless subprime mortgage securities and collateralized debt obligations? Prof. John Coffee Jr. at the Columbia University School of Law answers these questions lucidly. In his book, Gatekeepers: The Professions and Corporate Governance, Coffee defines a gatekeeper as "an agent who acts as a reputational intermediary to assure investors" that all is well.
YOKWE (Marshall Islands)—Sept. 13
Earlier this year, the RMI government contacted Michael Gerrard of Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law "to explore creative approaches to the legal issues facing low-lying island nations as climate change causes sea levels to rise." In August, the Center put out a call for papers for a "Conference on Drowning Island Nations: Legal Implications and Remedies" to be held in Spring 2011.
Marketers Mired in Middle of Heated Net-Neutrality Debate
"One way to see the net neutrality battle is to see it in terms of the fact that the carriers are trying to get a piece of the internet advertising revenue -- now they get zero," said Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor who coined the term "net neutrality" in an academic paper in 2003. He chairs Free Press, a nonprofit that has lobbied Congress for net neutrality, and has also consulted FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The trouble is, while the Senecas have arguments they can make in court, history suggests that those are losing arguments. "In five separate decisions dealing with disputes arising out of five different states -- including New York -- the Supreme Court has held that states may impose their cigarette taxes on tribal sales of cigarettes to non-tribe members," Professor Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School wrote earlier this year.
Lecturer-in-Law Jay Lefkowitz: A federal district court judge handed President Obama a major victory last month by ruling that key parts of Arizona's immigration enforcement statute are likely pre-empted by federal law—so Arizona cannot legally enforce those provisions since federal law is constitutionally supreme over state law. Conservatives assailed the decision as reflecting judicial activism, but their attacks were misguided.
John Coffee, a Columbia Law School specialist in corporate law, said Mr. Lower's jailing makes him one of the first CEOs of a publicly traded U.S. company to hold the position from behind bars, owing to the delay in alerting the Horace Mann board to his arrest and conviction. Most CEOs who have gotten into trouble with the law have stepped down in advance of sentencing, he said.
NEWSDAY—Sept. 15
Schneiderman Defeats Rice in AG Primary (no link available)
"The candidates agreed on the issues, so they tried to stand out by talking about themselves," said James Tierney of the National State Attorneys General Program, a research group at Columbia University Law School. "Schneiderman was the progressive; Rice, the woman DA from Long Island; Coffey, the outsider who won big cases in federal court."
Risa Kaufman: Indeed, contrary to Governor Brewer's assertions, the administration's UPR report appropriately includes reference to the Arizona law. Federal, state and local government share responsibility for human rights implementation, with the federal government retaining the ultimate responsibility. Comprehensive realization of human rights requires cooperation and collaboration between all levels of government, and with civil society.
Avery Katz, a professor at Columbia Law School, said he made sure to cast his vote, even if he didn’t feel passionate about any candidate. “It’s just an election like any other, and I always vote,” he said.
THE HILL--Sept. 15
Lecturer-in-Law Jay Lefkowitz: [W]hatever Congress’s original intention might have been, it seems evident that federal funding for ESC research now bears Congress’s approval. The court painted with too broad a brush here — one that might not withstand critical scrutiny. 
What Hath ‘Morrison’ Wrought? (subscription required)
John Coffee: The impact of Morrison on other federal statutes is also debatable. Already, one post-Morrison decision has relied on it to find that the RICO statute does not apply extraterritorially. This seems clearly correct, but closer questions remain when a foreign enterprise's activities impact the United States. Finally, questions remain about the current scope of the SEC's authority and also its ability to adopt rules that could give it (and private parties) the ability to reach transactions occurring on foreign exchanges or otherwise outside the United States.
O’Donnell Campaign Operated Without a Treasurer, Despite FEC Rules
Christine O'Donnell may have broken campaign finance regulations by operating for months at a time without a treasurer, experts say. [B]ecause the violations have been corrected -- O'Donnell hired a treasurer on Aug. 14 -- one expert believes O'Donnell is unlikely to face any punishment from the FEC. "I would expect most of this would be treated as technical," Richard Briffault, a Columbia Law School professor, told TPM. "I don't know how much she would be punished."
By signing the consent decree, in which he neither admitted nor denied guilt, Horne settled the case without commenting on the allegations, said John Coffee, a corporate-securities law professor at Columbia University and director of the Columbia Law School's Center on Corporate Governance. "The important thing here is this is a settlement," Coffee said.
Sifting through the Lehman Brothers collapse, SEC investigators found the bank's accountants were hiding its debts. Just before a quarterly finance report was due, Lehman would pay down a lot of its debt, report that snap shot to the SEC, and then re-borrow the money. But it wasn't just Lehman. Columbia Law School's John Coffee says other big banks were doing the same thing. “This is a game of cosmetically changing your numbers in order to have a healthier looking ratio as of the last day of the quarter, even though that particular state of affairs will last only a matter of hours.”


Back to top

Sept. 17-24

REUTERS—Sept. 17
John Coffee, a professor of law at Columbia University, who specializes in corporate governance, said McKenna's report "sounds like a very strong sweeping rationalization of the status quo.”I'm not sure there would be anything else these directors could do if they believed there was a whitewash going on around them. The strongest signal a director can send if they think a company has lost all credibility is to resign."
Michael Graetz: As Teddy Roosevelt observed when he proposed taxing large inheritances a century ago, the "man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the state," and an economic aristocracy is contrary to American values. Large tax-free inheritances undermine our nation's commitment to equality of opportunity for all.
I spoke with Prof. Jack Greenberg, a civil rights attorney who spent time in South Africa during apartheid; he had also traveled through several Roma camps and neighborhoods in recent years. He described the living conditions in Roma camps and neighborhoods as worse than anything he had seen in the South African shanty towns.
Generally, laws that change the substance of someone’s rights can’t be applied to previous conduct, said John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University. The SEC hasn’t said whether it will try to apply the provisions retroactively.
"Whistle-blowers usually come out of personal and intense emotions and relationships gone wrong," Columbia University law professor John Coffee said.
REUTERS—Sept. 22
 "Litigation is standard, but it accomplishes only modest goals of giving the target a window into the bidder and some delay, some smoke," said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York. "It is very unlikely to result in a permanent injunction that ends the contest."
WALL STREET JOURNAL (Corruption Currents Blog)—Sept. 22
Bonuses for this type of work are rare, but Robert J. Jackson Jr., a professor at Columbia Law School and an expert on corporate governance, said he expected to see more of them, particularly given the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. “We have a number of new regulatory regimes that companies have to comply with, and they’re going to reward the employees who help manage that risk,” Jackson said. “And that might be a good thing from a shareholder’s point of view.”
As former NAACP attorney, Ted Shaw said the election process has many moving pieces and many people worked diligently to reauthorize the 1965 Voting Rights Act “to make sure African Americans and all people are able to cast an equal vote and elect representatives of their choice.” He explained that the process of redistricting comes along every ten years and historically there had been an understanding that the major political parties would engage in compromise so that Republicans and Democrats would have a fair chance at some representation.
FORBES—Sept. 23
So will the plutocrats have to ante up more tax? Yes, but if the gains rate goes too high, they'll delay selling assets--cutting tax revenue, warns Michael Graetz, a Columbia Law School professor. Says he: "They obviously don't need the money for lunch."
SALON—Sept. 23
[E]ven under notoriously equivocal campaign finance laws, there is no gray area when it comes to using campaign money to pay the rent on your house. "Well, that is a clear violation," said Richard Briffault, who teaches election law at Columbia Law School. Indeed, according to FEC rules, "the campaign may not pay for mortgage, rent or utilities for the personal residence of the candidate or the candidate’s family even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign."
The ruling could impact condo builders looking for construction financing as well. Michael Heller is a real estate law professor at Columbia Law School. “If the ruling stands, one consequence is it will cost more to buy condominiums, because if this is an additional risk that developers face, they have to price that risk into the cost of the final product.”
It’s time for the Securities and Exchange Commission to crack down on registered investment advisers who use their own affiliated companies to act as custodian of clients’ money. That’s what John Coffee, a respected securities law professor at Columbia University, told a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing today. The panel is trying to decide if more tinkering is needed with the Securities Investor Protection Corp.
This type of legal action may be successful in "buying some time" and "may give it a useful window into the bidder through litigation discovery, but rarely, if ever, is outcome determinative," said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University in New York.
COVINGTON NEWS (Georgia)—Sept. 24
Financial Freefall
"The places that have suffered the worst are the Southeast and far Southwest, the places where subprime lending was the highest," said Ronald Mann, a Columbia Law School professor who analyzes bankruptcy data for the National Bankruptcy Research Center.

Back to top

Sept. 24-Oct. 1


BBC RADIO—Sept. 27
Three women who worked for Goldman Sachs are suing the Wall Street firm. Suzanne Goldberg, Professor of Law at Columbia University and former partner and MD at Goldman Sachs Jacki Zehner discuss.
REUTERS—Sept. 28
"I would expect that discovery is likely to lead to an amended complaint and new allegations of disclosure violations," said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York.
After causing a scene by blasting Chevron’s environmental record and starting a derisive chant, Antonia Juhasz was plucked from the audience and arrested. The meeting wrapped shortly afterward. She now faces up to six months in jail. Columbia University law professor John Coffee notes that while Chevron’s actions could theoretically deter others from creating similar spectacles, “the deterrent value of such prosecutions is overrated.”
"The most important questions that hang over this case have been whether the coercive interrogations at black sites and the length of Ghailani's detention at Guantanamo prevent him from being prosecuted in federal court," said Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor in New York who now teaches at Columbia Law School in New York.
The project inflamed their desire to create something more ambitious. But they didn’t know what that would be until the next February, when Eben Moglen gave a lecture titled “Freedom in the Cloud.” A professor of law and legal history at Columbia Law School and the founding director and chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center, Moglen is an intellectual celebrity to the hacker community.
A similar story appeared on Fox
NEW YORK TIMES (Room for Debate Blog)—Sept. 29
Patricia Williams: You can’t eat anger; and anger depletes mindfulness. The democracies that will survive on an increasingly exhausted planet will be those that ensure the fairest possible distribution of resources among their citizens. Thus, President Obama needs to preach the benefits of his programs to the real Samuel Wurzelbachers of the world, rather than refuting the “Mr. Moneybags Has Been Unfairly Taxed” narrative of an imagined Joe the Plumber.
In one of Helen Fielding’s columns, later used as the basis for the novel “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” Bridget’s mother returns home drunk and tries to placate her angry daughter by saying, “Darling, don’t you realize? If we don’t keep up our habits, the terrorists win.” Columbia Law School professor and Columbia Center for National Security director Phillip Bobbitt used the pronouncement to discuss popular misconceptions about terrorism, stressing that current U.S. strategy for fighting the war on terror should be adapted to reflect the changing world order.
President Obama on Wednesday nominated Caitlin J. Halligan, a prominent New York lawyer, to be a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It is considered the nation’s second most powerful court because it hears many lawsuits involving the federal government. Ms. Halligan is the general counsel in the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., as well as a lecturer at Columbia’s law school.
CNBC—Sept. 30
Associate Professor Robert Jackson speaks with CNBC’s Larry Kudlow on AIG’s proposed plan to begin paying back its bailout funds and offers insight on whether taxpayers will profit.
CNN—Sept. 30
National State Attorneys General Program Director James Tierney speaks with CNN’s Anderson Cooper about controversial assistant Michigan Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, who writes anti-gay blog attacking the student government president at University of Michigan. Tierney says Shirvell should be fired.



Back to top