December 1-15


ABOVE THE LAW – December 1
According to Columbia Law School professor Conrad Johnson, “black applicants had a shutout rate of 60 percent between 2000 and 2009, meaning that most black applicants were not accepted into any law school to which they applied. The shutout figure for Mexican Americans was 42 percent. For whites, it was 31 percent.”
REGBLOG – December 1
By Peter L. Strauss
On December 8, as the first item on the agenda of its 55th Plenary Session, the Administrative Conference of the US (ACUS) will consider a proposed recommendation on agencies’ incorporation of private organization standards into their notices of rulemaking, rules, and guidance documents.
REUTERS – December 1
"Without some changes... one of these bills could well be titled 'The Boiler Room Legalization Act of 2011'," said John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor.
Similar items appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, International Business Times, The Daily Beast, Investment News, and Press & Sun-Bulletin. Footage of the Senate Hearing on Congressional Insider Trading Information is available via C-SPAN.
A conviction would hinge on proving that the largesse was actually an undisclosed campaign contribution, given for the explicit purpose of helping a politician win an election, said Richard Briffault, a law professor at Columbia University.
THE STREET – December 2
Calling the settlement "very unusual and significant in size," Jeffrey N. Gordon of Columbia Law School maintains of potential investment bank conflicts in providing financing and advice, "so long as this is disclosed to a sellers board and so long as an impartial fairness opinion is given, I think the practice [called staple financing] can be managed." The net result of the settlement may simply be better disclosure by investment banks in their M&A work, says Gordon.
By Matthew C. Waxman and John B. Bellinger III
The National Defense Authorization Act, facing intensifying debate this week on Capitol Hill, contains complex and controversial detainee provisions. These include mandated military custody for certain al-Qaeda suspects, including those detained inside the United States, and the extension of onerous restrictions on the release or transfer of detainees held at Guantanamo.
By Jack Greenberg and Gwendolyn Albert
Not more than a two-hour drive from Budapest’s elegant pedestrian downtown, you wouldn’t really notice that something is out of kilter. The provincial towns have new, bright renovated centers, neat cobbled public areas and are imbued with a cozy neighborliness. Apparently, the post-communist transition is complete and everyone has prosperity and freedom of choice.
HAARETZ – December 6
By Shefa Siegel
I get a variety of reactions when I tell people I’m interested in the way mining influences economics and the environment. If I describe the millions of artisanal gold miners at work in Africa or South America, there is alarm and fascination that manual mining reminiscent of the California gold rush persists in the world. Meanwhile, my descriptions of mining companies working in these places elicit disdain and sometimes an appetite for stories of the harm they spread. A third response is boredom.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (blog) – December 6
Given the chronic problems with derivatives, “we need a fundamental rethinking of the taxation of financial products,” Alex Raskolnikov, a Columbia University law professor, told lawmakers at a joint hearing of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
Similar news items appeared in Bloomberg, BusinessWeek, Accounting Today, and AdvisorOne. Footage of the Congressional hearing on Tax Treatment of Financial Products is available here via the House Committee on Ways and Means.
REUTERS – December 7
"Every once in a while that's the kind of battle that winds its way up to Washington. Other times it gets resolved," said Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor.
By Jagdish Bhagwati
The 17th conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, popularly known as COP-17, is taking place in Durban, South Africa, at a critical moment, as the historic 1997 Kyoto Protocol is set to expire next year. But, like the climate-change conferences in Copenhagen in 2009 and in Cancun in 2010, COP-17 can be expected to spend much and produce little.
BLOOMBERG – December 8
Proposals by an Israeli government- appointed committee on increasing competitiveness in the economy are “unwise” and “seriously misguided,” Ronald Gilson, a professor at Columbia Law School and Stanford Law School, said in an interview in Jerusalem.
BLOOMBERG (TV) – December 8
Robert Jackson, a professor at Columbia Law School, talks about former MF Global Holdings Ltd. head Jon S. Corzine's testimony before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. Corzine told lawmakers he never intended to break any rules and doesn't know what happened to an estimated $1.2 billion in missing client funds. Jackson speaks with Mark Crumpton on Bloomberg Television's "Bottom Line."
BLOOMBERG (TV) – December 8
John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University, talks about former MF Global Holdings Ltd. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon S. Corzine's testimony before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee about the firm's bankruptcy filing. Coffee speaks with Lisa Murphy and Adam Johnson on Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart."
THE WASHINGTON POST (blog) – December 11
By Menachem Z. Rosensaft
On December 11, 1946, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 96 (I) which declared genocide, defined as “a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups,” to be “a crime under international law which the civilized world condemns, and for the commission of which principals and accomplices – whether private individuals, public officials or statesmen, and whether the crime is committed on religious, racial, political or any other grounds – are punishable.”
PBS NEWSHOUR (TV) – December 12
Professor Alex Raskolnikov talks about the history of U.S. tax policy with PBS NewsHour’s Paul Solmon, as they take a tour of New York City landmarks.
THE NEW YORK TIMES – December 12
“It’s not just that these are big cases, but these are big cases that echo in the political arena,” said Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law and political science at Columbia University. “There is now a judicial forum for airing these political disputes.”
BROOKINGS INSTITUTION (webcast) – December 13
On December 13, the Governance Studies program at Brookings hosted a Judicial Issues Forum examining the scenarios posed in Constitution 3.0 and the challenge of adapting our constitutional values to the technology of the near future. Wittes and Rosen offered key highlights and insights from the book and was joined by two key contributors, O. Carter Snead and Timothy Wu, who discussed their essays.
THE NATION – December 14 (print - January 2, 2012)
By Patricia Williams
You know these are interesting times when Glenn Beck, Dianne Feinstein, Rand Paul and the ACLU all stand on the same side of an issue. The issue in question is Subtitle D of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), particularly Sections 1031–1033, being discussed by the House and Senate as I write and headed to the president’s desk any day now.
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December 16-31

Law professor John Coffee of Columbia University says the SEC should be congratulated for finally focusing on the wrongdoing of top executives.
John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University, said a settlement in the Fannie and Freddie suits would not satisfy the public desire to see financial executives pay for their misdeeds if SEC officials fail to recover a large amount. "They would be courting disaster if they settled this for a hollow recovery," Coffee said.
Mr. Bharara's focus on insider trading is an example of keen political instincts. He's been able to tap in to the public's thirst for retribution in the financial crisis, even though the Galleon case actually predates the meltdown, said Dan Richman, a law professor at Columbia.
By Menachem Z. Rosensaft
When Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon partnered with Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to propose Medicare reform, Wyden was promptly denounced by New York Times columnist and Nobel Economics laureate Paul Krugman as a "useful idiot" who did "a bad, bad thing." Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, dismissed the initiative as "lipstick on the pig," and Representative Pete Stark (D-California) hyperventilated that the new proposal "ends Medicare as we know it, plain and simple."
"This lawsuit may have been a surprise to Fortress," said John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University. "This is the first time since the meltdown the SEC has brought any action against senior executives. [Fortress] may have been convincing themselves a suit would not be brought."
BLOOMBERG – December 20
Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor and a professor at Columbia Law School in New York, said the Obama administration has been under pressure by Congress and the media to go after high-stakes white-collar crimes since the 2008 financial collapse.
CAPITAL NEW YORK – December 20
“I initially thought it was going to be pretty lopsided, because I think it's a pretty clear call under existing doctrine,” said Gillian Metzger, a professor at Columbia Law and former clerk for Justice Ginsburg. “The more it becomes politicized, as it has, the more the ideological framing has become so dominant, I think it may be a closer call.” 
CNBC’S STREET SIGNS (TV) – December 21
Will a new ruling allowing private securities suits open the door to lawsuits against banks and investment advisors? John Coffee, Columbia Law School professor, discusses.
Scott Horton, a contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine, explains a startling section within the National Defense Authorization Act. Although President Obama previously signed an executive order shutting down the Bush-era practice of “extraordinary rendition,” section 1031 of the NDAA – which already allows for permanent detention of American citizens — seems to provide Obama a loophole to revive the tactic.
“We’re just shooting ourselves in the foot by having our system rely so heavily on income taxes,” says former Treasury Department official Michael Graetz, a professor at Columbia Law School.
REUTERS – December 22
Former federal prosecutor Daniel Richman, a professor of criminal law at Columbia University Law School, says a central question is who prosecutors would target in criminal investigations. Richman said it would be easy but not worthwhile to charge large numbers of rank-and-file workers who, directed by supervisors, falsely churned out affidavits.
THE NEW YORK TIMES (online) – December 22
Following gingerly in his footsteps, I’d like to report on a fascinating discussion at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington this month, where the Scandinavian story was center stage. The conference, where I moderated a panel, was organized by the European Corporate Governance Institute and Columbia Law School. The theme was the involvement of shareholders in the companies they own.
"The SEC has a varied but limited number of sanctions, and it's certainly under pressure to be drawing on its entire arsenal, and that includes industry bans as well as monetary penalties," said Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University.
THE NEW YORK TIMES – December 24
Suzanne B. Goldberg, who represented Mr. Lawrence as part of her work at Lambda Legal, a national gay rights advocacy group, said Mr. Lawrence “was not your typical test-case plaintiff.”
“He had not been active in the gay rights movement or even out as a gay man to all of his co-workers and family,” said Professor Goldberg, who now teaches at Columbia Law School. “Instead, this was something that happened to him. The police came into his bedroom and put him into the middle of one of the most significant gay rights cases in our time.”
REUTERS – December 29
"Wawa is not a high-growth, go-go, potential IPO that doesn't want SEC disclosure," said John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor. Companies like Wawa "would get most of the protection they want through a provision that excludes employees" from the total tally of shareholders, Coffee said.
By Jagdish Bhagwati
As if undermining the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round of global free-trade talks was not bad enough (the last ministerial meeting in Geneva produced barely a squeak), the United States has compounded its folly by actively promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). President Barack Obama announced this with nine Asian countries during his recent trip to the region.
Agreement on Connecticut Redistricting? Court Taps Columbia’s Nathaniel Persily
The state Supreme Court has appointed Nathaniel Persily, a political science professor at New York’s Columbia University, to be special master for redistricting, though Republicans and Democrats continued Friday to disagree on how Persily will do his job.
THE NEW YORK TIMES – December 30
“These options gave executives a highly leveraged bet that stock prices would rebound from their 2008 and 2009 lows, and are now rewarding them for rising tides rather than performance,” said Robert J. Jackson Jr., an associate professor of law at Columbia who worked as an adviser to the office that oversaw compensation of executives at companies receiving federal bailout money.
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