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Punitive Damages as Societal Damages

Punitive Damages as Societal Damages


By Professor Catherine Sharkey

In an article published in the November 2003 issue of the Yale Law Journal (www.yale.edu/yalelj) titled "Punitive Damages as Societal Damages," Professor Catherine Sharkey enters the raging punitive damages debate by presenting a new category of damages, compensatory societal damages. In this essay, she briefly describes her new theory.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg


A decade ago, the Law School held a homecoming day for alumna and former professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg '59 to celebrate her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. The festivities included a panel discussion with her former students to discuss women and the law, a luncheon, an informal question-and-answer session sponsored by the Columbia Law Women's Association, and a reception and dinner at the University Club, featuring remarks from former Columbia President George Rupp.

"This homecoming is the grandest event I have attended since I got this most wonderful and difficult job!" Justice Ginsburg said.

On September 11-12, 2003, Justice Ginsburg returned to Columbia to acknowledge her 10 years on the court. In attendance were Columbia professors and former clerks, as well as current associates, friends, and students. This section highlights the two-day event. It also contains a synopsis of some of the Justice's most significant Supreme Court opinions, reminiscences by her clerks, and a brief look at the Justice's life outside the courtroom.

  • A Toast to the Justice Thursday, September 11, Justice Ginsburg hosted a talk with students which included a question-and-answer session. It was followed by a dinner in the Cotillion Room at the Pierre Hotel. On Friday, the celebration continued with a set of panel discussions featuring legal experts from around the world, as well as a lunchtime address by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Opinions During her decade on the Court, the Justice has written numerous opinions. Following are synopses of some of her most significant opinions prepared by Professor Gillian Metzger ’95, as well as two reminiscences from former clerks about working with the Justice in chambers.

  • Former Clerks for Justice Ginsburg Reminisce Working in tight quarters under tight pressure, clerks can get to know their justices well and take note of endearing routines and eccentricities. The late Professor Milton Handler ’26, who clerked for Justice Harlan Fiske Stone 1898, was sometimes called upon to fetch books on interior architecture from the Library of Congress because Justice Stone was building a new home and wanted every detail, from fireplaces to hardware, just so. Professor Peter Strauss discovered, while clerking for William Brennan in 1965-66, that the Justice opened the day in chambers with a discussion over coffee with his clerks. “If the other clerk and I didn’t get there to make the coffee first, Justice Brennan did,” he recalls. Following are the reminiscences of two of Justice Ginsburg’s clerks about ‘life in chambers’.

  • A Brief Bio of Justice Ginsburg Ruth Bader Ginsburg entered a legal world where the best jobs were off-limits to women and emerged as a Supreme Court Justice. Born in Brooklyn, Justice Ginsburg received her B.A. from Cornell and arrived at Columbia in 1958 after completing two years at Harvard Law School. Her husband, Martin Ginsburg, had taken a job at a Manhattan law firm, and they moved to New York with their young daughter, Jane, now a Columbia law professor. (Her son, James, president of Cedille Records in Chicago, was born in 1965.) While Ruth Ginsburg was at Harvard, the dean asked the nine women of her class why they were taking places that could have gone to men. At Columbia, Justice Ginsburg recalls, "Dean Warren didn't ask any questions. He just accepted me." Fellow student Richard Givens '59, who tied with Justice Ginsburg for top honors in their graduating class, remembers her as "very brilliant, incisive, quick and thoughtful."

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Meet 8 of the Class of 2006


By Barbara Kancelbaum, Contributing Editor

Increasingly, Columbia students arrive at the Law School with more under their belts than a B.A. Why did a former opera star come to law school? What kind of lawyer will be created when he possesses a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and a J.D.? What inspired a woman who grew up in prosperous Dubai to earn a law degree to fight for women's rights?

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Not Quite White


By Professor Katherine Franke

The Civil War gave birth to a number of black "utopian" communities in which freed slaves were given land and the right to farm it as their own. However, what began as bold experiments to show the American public the value of free black labor were destroyed by new laws that entrenched rather than eviscerated racial difference. In this paper, Professor Katherine Franke explores how these laws set the freedmen on a path of dependency by tying them with legal bonds to whites hierarchically, an effect that lasted through Reconstruction and beyond.

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