July 11-29

REUTERS – July 11

"I really do take this at face value," said Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor. "It's clear that both sides are seriously pursuing all leads, and from the prosecution's perspective, if they want to go forward, they want their case as strong as possible, and if they don't want to go forward, they want to make sure they've worked hard and turned over every stone."
Michael J. Graetz, a law professor at Columbia University who advised the I.R.S. on how to treat the McGwire ball, questioned whether the booty was not a gift, and therefore not taxable.
“The legal question of whether it is a gift or prize is whether the transferor is giving the property out of detached and disinterested generosity,” Professor Graetz said. “It’s hard for me, not being a Yankee fan, to think of the Yankees as being in the business of exercising generosity to others, but there’s a reasonable case to be made that these were given out of generosity.”
A similar item appeared on and
BNA – July 11
By Daniel M. Firger & Michael B. Gerrard
This article examines the issue of climate change policy and international trade law.
TRUTHOUT – July 12
Yet others have been in favor of separating the credibility of the WTO from the DDR issues. Professor Jagdish Bhagwati a guru of free trade, has proposed that the death of Bin Laden is an opportunity to close DDR, which started after September 11, successfully by the end of 2011!
Eben Moglen, a cyberlaw professor at Columbia Law School, says the Facebook searches show that courts are ill-equipped to safeguard privacy rights in an age of digital media. In his view, "the solutions aren't legal, they're technical."
But civil plaintiffs who claimed their phones were tapped may have a hard time showing they suffered a business injury in the hacking scandal, a necessary component to a civil RICO case, said John Coffee, a professor of securities law at Columbia University Law School (For an interview with Coffee, click here).
"The invasion of privacy is a personal injury, and you can not get personal injury damages under RICO," said Coffee.
Similar news stories on the subject appeared in other outlets.
THE NATION – July 13
By Patricia J. Williams
Shortly after Dominique Strauss-Kahn was indicted on charges of attempted rape, his friend Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote a defense of him that, among other wrongheaded assertions, denounced the American justice system as one where “anyone can come along and accuse another fellow of any crime—and it will be up to the accused to prove that the accusation is false and without basis in fact.”
The message of estate-tax opponents is that it hurts small businesses and family farms. Michael Graetz, a Columbia Law School professor, a former tax official in the George H.W. Bush Treasury Department and the author of a book on the estate tax, dismisses these arguments. He suggests restoring the lower exemption and higher rate and excluding all legitimate small businesses and family farms. There would be few Republican takers for that proposal.
That industry-altering possibility could be much more radical than the traditional antitrust penalties levied on Microsoft in 2001. Tim Wu, the author of The Master Switch, a history of communications, argues that the best comparison for Google is not Microsoft but AT&T.
Addressing another guest, Columbia University law professor John Coffee, Morgan asked hopefully if Murdoch “has been primarily a force for good or a force for not so good in the media?"
By Jagdish N. Bhagwati
Late last week, a longstanding debate over free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama — deals that were negotiated under President George W. Bush but never finalized — stalled once again.
A similar item appeared on The Globe and Mail


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July 1-8

Others said the developments did not mean Strauss-Kahn would avoid all charges. Professor John Coffee of Columbia Law School said: "This does not exonerate him."
Are Hedge Funds Good for You? (subscription required)
“Galleon was an extreme case. But that is a lot harder for the public to believe now than it was five years ago because of all the fundamental market lapses we’ve seen before, during and after the financial crisis, from Madoff on down, associated with hedge funds,” says Columbia Law School professor Robert Jackson. “When people “see hedge fund managers boldly executing obviously illegal insider trades during a time when ordinary investors suffered massive losses, they wonder whether markets are designed to protect investors.”
This would not be the first case where an important prosecution witness turned out not to be the angel or pure victim that the prosecution initially thought. Nor would it be the first case a prosecution's office took a case to trial where a witness had real credibility issues, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman said.
Defendants, already traumatized by their experiences, could be reluctant to go to trial out of fear that their personal lives would be pored over by defense lawyers keen to sully their character rather than fight a case on the facts. "It is going to mean that women are less likely to report an attack if all their past life is going to be put under the microscope," warned Professor John Coffee of New York's Columbia Law School.
"A closer reading of the depositions and actual documents (in the lawsuits) reveals nearly complete abdication by both the full Anthem board and its pricing committee," said John C. Coffee Jr., a law professor at Columbia University Law School in New York and director of its Center on Corporate Governance.
Adding fodder to the argument that action is needed, the Global Governance Project estimates that by the year 2050, the world will have 200 million climate-displaced refugees on its hands. “All of these interconnected threats, especially climate-induced destabilization of certain parts of the world, pose a threat to U.S. national security, particularly in the long term,” Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, told IPS.
NEW YORK TIMES (Room for Debate blog)—July 3
Elizabeth Emens: In the interest of gender equality, and in compliance with the law, the new forms should include prominent statements of the marital naming options. Why? Because names matter. And right now, women who marry men have limited options when it comes to names. Sure, women can choose their names, which is better than having to take their husbands’ names, as used to be required in some states. But kids almost always have their father’s name.
Filings in June were up 4.3% from a month earlier, though monthly tallies aren’t adjusted for seasonal swings. “The broader perspective suggests less of a concern,” said Ronald Mann, a law professor at Columbia University. “Filings were still lower than last year’s torrid rate.”
Even if the criminal charges are dropped, the court could allow the libel suit against the Post to proceed anonymously, said Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School and co-director of the school's Center for Gender & Sexuality Law. "A judge has to make the exception to allow a plaintiff to proceed anonymously, but in very sensitive cases, a judge can decide to do so, because taking away anonymity can cause more injury to a plaintiff," Goldberg said.
If all the mapmaking went their way, Hispanics could pick up as many as nine majority districts in the run-up to the 2012 elections, according to Maldef. "This is the Latino redistricting cycle," said Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia University and an expert on redistricting and election law. "Given the huge gains in Latino population, these issues are going to raise their heads all over the country."
THE WORLD (Public Radio International)—July 6
Somali terrorism suspect Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame arrived in New York Monday to be tried in civilian court. The Justice Department says Warsame was a leader of the Somali militant Islamist group Al-Shabab. Warsame was arrested by the US military in April in the Gulf and was taken to a naval vessel where he was interrogated for two months before being brought to New York. Anchor Marco Werman talks with Matthew Waxman, associate professor at Columbia Law School, New York.
"It's a silly request," said Columbia Law Professor Daniel Richman, who said he believes Thompson's letter has more to do with public relations than with a legitimate demand. "It makes for a nice sound bite."
And for nearly 25 years, Rakoff has taught a class on white collar crime at Columbia University with John C. Coffee Jr., a law school professor. Coffee, who said that Rakoff was more of a mainstream judge than some of his maverick rulings suggest, said that district judges and bankruptcy judges see things differently. “In the bankruptcy court,” Coffee said, “plaintiffs can sometimes convince a bankruptcy judge that gross negligence implies willful blindness. But that is unlikely to work with Judge Rakoff.”
NPR—July 6
"If there's an Obama administration model, it's that the government should have an array of legal tools available and should use them in combination on a case-by-case basis with some flexibility," says Matthew Waxman, a law professor at Columbia Law School and a former Pentagon adviser on detention issues.
"If you knew about the problem and didn't recall the product for a year more, that tends to justify a higher award of punitive damages," said Columbia University law professor John Coffee. But, he added, the defendant can seek to block the cases from being certified as class actions by arguing that injuries in each patient are different. That move could limit its liability, though individual cases could still rack up big awards or settlements if patients suffered significantly, Mr. Coffee said.
“The government usually demands cooperation with its own ongoing investigation and sometimes with state authorities,” said Daniel C. Richman, a law professor at Columbia University and former federal prosecutor. “With Radomski, the government did something different and demanded he cooperate with the league, which it treated like a regulator. And they tried to help the league, which has little power do its job.”
Still, some lawyers applaud the closer relationship between the government and business. “Given the scanty resources that have been committed to corporate crime enforcement, I think the government’s leveraging of its prosecution power from corporations and their lawyers has been critically important,” said Daniel C. Richman, professor of law at Columbia and a former assistant United States attorney in New York.

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