Notable Quotes 2007-2008

December 2008

2008 December 21: Thomas Schweich, as an op-ed contributor in the Washington Post on the Pentagon muscling in everywhere.  "We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government." [view Op-Ed] and [view Web chat]

2008 December 18:  Kathleen Brickey, in an interview in the St. Louis Beacon on the Illinois impeachment process.  "The rules of evidence are developed predominantly for the conduct of trials and judicial proceedings, not for the conduct of investigations and what the impeachment committee is doing is investigating," she said. She said she wasn't sure if hearsay rules would apply in a Senate trial, but said she doubted they would."  [view article]

2008 December 12: Thomas Schweich, as an op-ed contributor in the New York Times on the next level of appointments.  "President-elect Barack Obama has chosen an all-star cabinet with great promise. But the next level of appointments — assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries and ambassadors — are just as important. These people will brief the cabinet officials as they confront harrowing domestic and foreign policy challenges. We need competent people in these positions. And to get those people, we need experienced screeners, interviewers and decision-makers in the Office of Presidential Personnel." [view Op-Ed

2008 December 9:  Neil Bernstein, was interviewed by a reporter from FBN Money for Breakfast about legal options for the protesting Chicago factory workers. When asked about how to get the issue resolved in short order, Bernstein said, “I think the legal way of doing it is to file a grievance and go to arbitration. Generally speaking, in a situation like this, arbitration is the preferred remedy, and it can be very fast.”

2008 December 8:  Neil Bernstein, referred to as an expert on labor law, was quoted in an USA Today article covering the sit-in at Chicago’s Republic Windows & Doors factory. Bernstein says the government didn't require banks, such as Bank of America that got part of the federal banking bailout, to help Republic or other companies. Extending Republic's line of credit might be a bad business decision, he says.

November 2008

2008 November 21:  David Stras is featured on C-SPAN’s coverage of a Federalist Society meeting debate over the judicial branch.
[view video].

2008 November 17: Leila Nadya Sadat, commented in an op-ed article on restoring America's rights record in The Jurist "Come January, a new US administration led by President Barack Obama should take seven specific steps to restore human rights at home and America’s respect in the world ..."
[view article]

2008 November 2:  Gregory P. Magarian discussed some of the loopholes in the electoral process with a group of foreign journalists, according to The Daily Star (Bangladesh).  Magarian states that electoral laws should be the same for all states, at least in the presidential and other national elections.  He states, “Of course, it is discrimination in the eyes of laws. It should be addressed. But our Supreme Court has not said anything about it”.

October 2008

2008 October 2: Gregory Magarian, commented on the vice presidential candidates in the United Press International. “If Palin looks in the debate anything like she looked in (Katie) Couric’s interview, that could seriously add to Barack Obama’s momentum.” 

2008 October 26: Gregory Magarian, commented on voter fraud allegations in the Kansas City infoZine. “No evidence exists of any serious threat of voter fraud, at present or in any recent election cycle,” says Greg Magarian, J.D., election law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.

2008 October 27: Tom Schweich, spoke about what foreign policy challenges the next President will face with KSDK-TV and  In the interview, he addresses situations in Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.

2008 October 31: Samuel Buell, commented on the mortgage-fraud crisis and the potential for prosecution in an article on “We have a whole industry that was undone by a series of decisions that everybody seems to have been a party to at some level.” 

September 2008

2008 September 26: Stephen H. Legomsky commented on the U.S. immigration court system in The Washington Independent. “It was clear that the selections had been ideological; those with the voting records most favorable to noncitizens were the ones chosen for reassignment.” 

2008 September 25: Merton C. Bernstein, in collaboration with Nancy J. Altman & Eric Kingson, contributed a commentary on the dangers of privatizing Social Security to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, including this excerpt:  “The collapse of major financial institutions should remind the American people of how much is at stake in the debate over Social Security.” The piece goes on to argue that, “Privatization, whether we call it that or not, would substitute gambling in the stock market for the guaranteed benefits of Social Security – the mainstay income source of American families when disability strikes, when a working parent dies or at retirement.” 

2008 September 22: Peter Joy, commented on the treatment prisoners in the St. Louis County jail in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Joy said he was baffled by the contraband that certain inmates were able to obtain. Even staples on legal papers are prohibited for inmates he has spoken with. “It’s typically a strip-search.” 

August 2008

2008 August 28: Merton Bernstein, commented on Medicare for All on the Health Affairs' Blog stating, “Though the political “yes, buts” surrounding Medicare-for-All prove groundless, they deserve discussion. However, the “yes, buts” should not preempt discussion of Medicare-for-All’s substantive advantages, as they all too often do.”  [Health Affairs Blog]

July 2008

2008 July 27: Thomas Schweich, as an op-ed contributor in the New York Times Magazine, offers a first-hand account of efforts to combat the drug trade in Afghanistan: “A lot of intelligence—much of it unclassified and impossible to discuss here—indicated that senior Afghan officials were deeply involved in the narcotics trade. … The solution remains a simple one: execute the policy developed in 2007. … There are other initiatives that could help as well: better engagement of Afghanistan’s neighbors, more drug-treatment centers in Afghanistan, stopping the flow into Afghanistan of precursor chemicals needed to make heroin and increased demand-reduction programs. But if we—the Afghans and the U.S. —do just the five items listed [previously in this op-ed], we will bring the rule of law to a lawless country; and we will cut off a key source of financing to the Taliban.”
[View Full Op-Ed]

June 2008

2008 June 16: Maxine Lipeles weighs in on nuclear power plants for an article in the Kansas City Daily Record stating, “I think most of the challenges would come up in the context of all the permits and approvals that would be necessary for the project.” She then cited the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Environmental Policy Act,and the Clean Water Act.

2008 June 11: Margo Schlanger was quoted in an article in The Detroit News concerning a child rapist’s right to sue after being beaten. Referred to as an expert on prison litigation, Schlanger stated, “guards permitting or even encouraging prisoner-on-prisoner violence has been ‘a huge issue’ across the country. The 6th Circuit’s ruling Tuesday is consistent with how the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.” 

2008 June 2F. Scott Kieff and Charles Burson, Op-Ed article on incentive and inventions in the National Law Journal.  "Claiming that patents are too often used to shake down businesses dependant on multiple-component technologies, patent critics say they want to decrease litigation thickets."  [view entire article]

May 2008

Christopher Bracey, quoted in the May 2008Atlantic Monthly from his book, "Saviors and Sellouts".  "The notion of the Great Fall, and the attendant theory that segregation gave rise to some “good things,” are the stock-in-trade of what Christopher Alan Bracey, a law professor at Washington University, calls (in his book, Saviors or Sellouts) the “organic” black conservative tradition: conservatives who favor hard work and moral reform over protests and government intervention, but whose black-nationalist leanings make them anathema to the Heritage Foundation and Rush Limbaugh."  [view article]

April 2008

2008 April 15: Stephen Legomsky, comments on a plea aggreement a Chinese businessman reached with the federal government that will allow him to remain in the country for at least two years in the Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewStephen H. Legomsky, an international law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said he'd never heard of a two-year deferment on deportation.  "Since 1988, the United States has been dramatically giving rise to crimes that can lead to deportation, even minor crimes," he said. Most recent proposals by federal lawmakers concerning legalizing illegal immigrants exclude people convicted of serious crimes, Legomsky said. 

2008 April 14:  F. Scott Kieff, comments on the long-negotiated patent overhaul bill sought by technology companies and opposed by big pharmaceutical makers in The Guardian (UK).  "The central problem with all of these proposed changes is that they would inject far too much uncertainty and arbitrariness into the patent system," says Scott Kieff, who teaches patent law at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. ... 

2008 April 9: Stephen Legomsky, comments on illegal immigration laws in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Could bus drivers and cabbies be collared for picking up immigrants who lack documentation? Probably not, says law professor Stephen H. Legomsky at Washington University. But such laws have a chilling effect. They create a fear factor that leads to discrimination against legal residents. "After this passes, I wouldn't want to be a Latino trying to hail a cab," he said. 

March 2008

2008 March 11: F. Scott Kieff, comments on letting the markets regulate Microsoft, on  "Microsoft recently announced what many will see as an unprecedented change in its business model for selling software as commercial products for use by customers immediately after installation. The company's shift toward substantially greater openness is great for consumers and should put to rest calls for more government action in this area."
2008 March 5:Peter Joy, discusses how police in the metro area handle individuals identified as "wanted" in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  "Regardless, that's a gamble other major metro areas haven't been willing to take, and it raises questions among police and legal experts about whether St. Louis' system needs to be overhauled.  "‘There shouldn't be something unique about the system, either in St. Louis or St. Louis County, compared to major metropolitan areas,’ said Washington University law professor Peter Joy.  "‘If it works elsewhere, why isn't it working here? Or, if this is really such a better system, why don't we find it in other major cities?’" 

February 2008

2008 February 13: Margo Schlanger, comments on the concerns about the Prison Litigation Reform Act in a Associated Press release.  The act bars lawsuits by inmates who have failed to exhaust their prisons' internal grievance procedures no matter how difficult such compliance might be. Washington University law professor Margo Schlanger says this provision encourages prison authorities "to come up with ever higher procedural hurdles in order to foreclose subsequent litigation." 

2008 February 27:Peter Joy, comments on the legal challenges generated by red-light cameras in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  “But Joy said that red-light camera ordinances have been upheld in most parts of the country, in much the same way as prosecutors can argue that drivers who refuse a Breathalyzer test during a drunken-driving investigation can be presumed to be under the influence.  "‘It's a privilege to be able to drive ... it's not an absolute right,’ Joy said. ‘A reasonable regulation can be imposed.’  “And he said the city would probably argue that safety justifies use of the cameras.” 

January 2008

2008 January 28Christopher Bracey, comments on the number of African Americans who identify as political conservatives has been rising in the past few decades on WYPR-The Marc Steiner ShowAuthor Christopher Allen Bracey joins Marc to discuss the history and future of conservatism in the black world, as explored in his new book "Saviors or Sellouts: The Promise and Peril of Black Conservatism, from Booker T. Washington to Condoleezza Rice". 

2008 January 21: Peter Joy, comments on reduced sentences that tend to be overturned by appeals courts in the St. Louis Post DispatchSome thought their jobs had been reduced to deciding punishment within a very narrow range determined mostly by prosecutors, Joy said. "I don't think most people realize how much power is in the hand of the prosecution," he said.   

2008 January 20: Steve Legomsky, comments on 2008 immigration election issues in the St. Louis Post DispatchThere are competing impulses," said Steve Legomsky, a law professor at Washington University and a specialist on immigration issues. "Harsh rhetoric can cost votes. So can leniency. A lot of voters are angry about undocumented immigration, and a lot of others are angry at the demagoguery.  "Which force is greater, I frankly don't know." 

2008 January 17: Peter Joy, comments on Metros suit against the Shrewsbury MetroLink designers which accuses the defendants of waging a media campaign to undermine its case in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Joy said he has never heard of a party in a case alleging a media conspiracy after a trial.   "If they believed there was a media campaign prior to the trial, they could have asked for a change of venue," Joy said. "During the trial, if there was so much publicity that it would have been impossible for jurors not to see or hear it, they could have asked at that point that the jury be sequestered." 

2008 January 10: Sam Buell, comments on CIA-Tapes Prosecutor Known for FBI-Mob Ties on NPR Morning Edition.  "Durham had a very strong case on John Connolly," said Samuel Buell, a former assistant U.S. attorney who worked with Durham on the Bulger cases. "He was clearly the most culpable individual involved in this." 

2008 January 1: Daniel Mandelker, comments on the continued spread of planned communities, in the January issue of American City & CountyThe primary function of modern planned communities depends on the type of project, according to Daniel Mandelker, law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and author of “Planned Unit Developments,” a report for the Washington-based American Planning Association (APA) released in March 2007. Residential planned communities typically seek to preserve design quality and open space. A mixed-use planned unit development (PUD) combines residential with other uses to create a semi-autonomous community. Large planned communities may resemble incorporated cities. “They're building their own downtowns. They have commercial areas, industrial areas, residential areas,” Mandelker says. “They're going to look like a city pretty soon. Some of them already do.” 

December 2007

2007 December 31: F. Scott Kieff, comments on whether Intel will wind up being penalized and to what extent it will affect the chip giant's business, on CMP Channel (NY).  "It's hard to predict, but we could see tough action taken against Intel," said Kieff, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. "It's just not clear that it would make a big impact. Most people think the actions against Microsoft cost Microsoft a lot of money, but they didn't change the market much. Meanwhile, if AMD were to go away, the logic of EU regulators would make them look even harder at Intel." 

2007 December 9: Sam Buell, comments on fallout of the destruction of the CIA Tape, on NPR's Weekend Edition. Despite the CIA's claims that videotapes of the interrogation of two detainees were "not relevant," the Justice Department has started a preliminary inquiry into the destruction of the tapes.  It's not clear to me that the Justice Department or, you know, any given investigator would necessarily take the CIA at its word as to why these tapes were destroyed.  You don't normally decline to do an investigation just because somebody has a press conference and says, we weren't doing this for a wrongful purpose. [listen to the program]

2007 December 3: Neil Richards, comments on Internet harassment laws, in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Washington University law professor Neil Richards said any new state laws addressing Internet harassment must strike a balance between clearly defining harassment and protecting free speech.
"We should be sure not to move too rashly and to let the truly horrible facts of this (the Megan Meier) case cloud our judgment," Richards said. "We don't want to have an exaggerated response that robs our ability to act freely involving freedom of speech."

2007 December 3: Neil Richards, comments on the saggy pants ban, in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.  "People have a right to express their identity through speech and action," said Neil Richards, a First Amendment expert at Washington University in St. Louis. "On the other hand, municipalities have a vague power to control the health, safety and welfare of citizens. "The question is what is motivating these laws? ... What is so threatening about it?" Richards said the ordinances seem to single out a form of dress popular with young black men and hip-hop culture. 

November 2007

2007 November 30: Dan Keating, comments on Solutia's Chapter 11 case, in the St. Louis Post DispatchWashington University School of Law professor Dan Keating, who teaches about bankruptcy, said Solutia's Chapter 11 case is "exceptional" because it was used to restructure the company in a meaningful way and not simply to shed debt. "This is a textbook case of what Chapter 11 was supposed to be like -- you'd get some breathing space, you'd get rid of some underperforming things and make more of your good (businesses) and come out stronger," he said. "Unfortunately, that's not as common as we would like." 

2007 November 27: Sam Buell, comments on three British bankers whose extradition to the United States caused a political storm last year, in the Guardian Unlimited (UK). Sam Buell, a former Enron prosecutor who now teaches law at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, said: "If it looks anything like it did when it was initially charged, this is a significant fraud involving millions of dollars. For a fraud of that size, it's likely to involve some time in prison." 

2007 November 14: Sam Buell, comments on white-collar criminals in the Guardian Unlimited (UK)America's treatment of white-collar criminals is severe. Sam Buell, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at Washington University in St Louis, told me during the Enron fiasco that the difference is partly down to broad public involvement in the stockmarket. About half of the US public owns stocks or shares, compared to about a third of Brits. "The average American is invested in the stockmarket to a degree not seen 10 to 15 years ago. To have an adequate pension, you need to invest personally - it's not enough to rely on your employer," said Buell. "All of that means candour and truth on the financial markets are much more at the forefront of American minds than they are in the UK."  

October 2007

2007 October 28: F. Scott Kieff, comments on patent lawsuits, on (UK).  Sometimes patent lawsuits stem from licensing disputes rather than infringement concerns. In other cases, companies have knowingly infringed or companies are shown in court to have brought an unfounded lawsuit, said Scott Kieff, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. "You see bad behaviour in both directions," said Kieff. 

2007 October 21: Troy Paredes, comments on backdating in the St. Louis Post DispatchThe bottom line question is one of culpability," said Troy Paredes, a professor at Washington University Law School. "To what extent was the backdating a knowing misstatement? It's entirely possible … that there was good-faith misunderstanding, or reliances on what auditors were saying as to the accounting treatment.   

2007 October 14: Margo Schlanger, comments on direct supervision in prison in the Eureka Times Standard (CA).  Margo Schlanger, a professor of law at Washington University Law in Missouri and member of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons, said direct supervision is becoming widely accepted and, as of 2001, was being practiced in 300 jails that combined to house about 25 percent of U.S. inmates.
"The general approach is a more humane one," Schlanger said. "It's more about acknowledging the common humanity of the prisoners. They aren't behind bars without being able to ever talk to another person without those bars between them."

2007 October 12: Carl Minzer, comments on China's petitioning systems, on (UK)The Party may want to improve ordinary people's lives, but it is also deeply wary of those actively demanding rights, said Carl Minzner, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who has studied China's petitioning system. "It's an institutional problem at the heart of the Chinese political system. People at the top want to be seen to be making a difference and caring," Minzner said. "That sends the signal that if only I can get to Beijing then my grievance will be resolved. But then the centre becomes overloaded with petitions and reacts against those expectations." 

2007 October 10: Lelia Sadat, comments on past trials against a president during a civil war in Agence France Presse. One lesson from the Saddam trial is clear. "It's a bad idea to do trials in the middle of a civil war, when the person that you're trying clearly hails from one of the warring factions," said Leila Sadat, an expert on international criminal law at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

2007 October 5:  F. Scott Kieff and Troy Paredes along with Stephen Haber, published in the Washington Times  a commentary titled, EU Antitrust Nonsense:  Microsoft Comes Under Fire.Last month, a European court upheld a decision against Microsoft for anticompetitive conduct. While Microsoft faces hefty fines and orders to share practically all its server trade secrets, other companies doing business ... [view oped]. 

2007 October 2: Peter Joy, comments on prosecutors discretion deciding plea bargins in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Washington University law professor Peter Joy said prosecutors do have vast discretion, deciding whether someone will be charged, what charges will be filed and whether there will be a plea bargain. "Everyone agrees that the single most powerful player in the criminal justice system is the prosecutor," he said. Joy agreed with several members of the legal community who privately suggested that the Heath case may be one sign of a judicial push-back to the growing power of the executive branch. 

September 2007

2007 September 20: Susan Appleton comments on the implications of a St. Charles County manslaughter case relating to unborn Children in the St. Louis Post DispatchSusan Appleton, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and a former board member of Planned Parenthood, said that if the state wanted to make activity criminal, it had to make it clear before someone committed the crime what the consequences were. It could be difficult to draw a line on what activity is illegal, she said.  For example, Appleton said, if a pregnant woman is working in a dangerous environment, could she be prosecuted? What about not taking prenatal vitamins? Would there be a difference between consuming illegal drugs and consuming alcohol? 

2007 September 20: Christopher Bracey comments on the current state of Historically Black Colleges and Universities on NBC Nightly NewsMichael Okwu reports on an unusual kind of effort to achieve racial diversity on college campuses, schools that have been traditionally, historically for black students. Despite an increasing number of black students going to college, a decreasing number of them are choosing to attend these schools. Washington University law and and AFAS professor Christopher Bracey says that you have the better black students having more options available to them, and they're beginning to get drawn to the more elite schools. In turn, black schools are now actively recruiting whites and Hispanics, offering them scholarships, state of the art facilities and specialized programs. 

2007 September 20: Richard Kuhn, opinion piece remembering 9/11 in TheOregonian In a 9/11/07 commentary, Washington University law professorRichard Kuhns writes:  I'm a law teacher, and usually I adhere closely to the syllabus for my classes. But the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were too catastrophic to ignore. On the first day after 9/11 I began my class with three exhortations to my students:  First, remember how things were before 9/11, because it will be a long time before they are that way again. Our lives will change, mostly for the worse, and it will take some remembering if we are ever to get back to the pre-9/11 days.  "A critical part of any effort to salvage our current situation is to acknowledge publicly our errors and to hold decision-makers accountable. That can happen only if we are willing to be relentless in our questioning and skepticism." 

2007 September 17: Samuel Bagenstos comments on the hiring and firing of Erwin Chemerinsky on  Even more blunt was the assessment of Samuel Bagenstos (Washington University Law), an employment discrimination expert and "probably the leading authority on disability law of his generation," who was quoted opining that this firing will sink Irvine's reputation: By firing Chemerinsky, Bagenstos said, U.C. Irvine "just declared, before the school opened, that U.C. Irvine Law will never be a serious academic institution." 

2007 September 14:  Ronald Levin, comments on public records issues in the St. Louis Post-DispatchRonald Levin, a Washington University Law professor, said destroying government e-mails isn't always bad -- if done properly. "If it's done according to a well-defined disposal system, it may not be troublesome," Levin said. "But it could be more troublesome if it's based on the expediency of the moment." 

2007 September 10: Peter Joy, comments on the difficult decisions of prosecutors during highly publicized cases involving the deaths of children in the St. Louis Post-DispatchProsecutors walk a tightrope when they consider charges against parents in child deaths. Emotions are high on both sides of the issue: those who believe the death demands punishment and those who believe the parents' grief is punishment enough.  Peter Joy, a Washington University Law professor, said a prosecutor under pressure by the public might take the case to a grand jury to gain a "layer of insulation" from public criticism. 

August 2007

2007 August 28: Samuel Buell, comments on the possible replacements in the role of Attorney General in light of Gonzales' resignation on Bloomberg NewsAttorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned after months of accusations that he politicized the U.S. Justice Department and misled Congress over the firing of federal prosecutors and wiretapping of suspected terrorists. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a former department lawyer and federal judge, is a leading candidate to replace Gonzales, officials said.  Chertoff is well-suited for the job, said Washington University Law professor Sam Buell. Buell, an attorney for the Justice Department from 1994 until 2004, worked with Chertoff on the Enron case. Chertoff has an excellent reputation among Democrats and Republicans, and he has the president’s confidence, Buell said.  Larry Thompson, who was deputy attorney general under John Ashcroft, is another good choice, he said. Thompson is impartial and independent and has a good reputation with the bar – something Gonzales never had going for him, he said.  “I don’t think either man is a man who would sacrifice his own reputation simply to further the president’s interests,” he said. 

2007 August 28: Christopher Bracey, comments on the Michael Vick case on Fox News - The O'Reilly Factor.  Malkin: Joining us now from Kansas City, sports columnist Jason Whitlock. And from St. Louis, Christopher Bracey, a law professor at Washington University. Christopher Bracey, Law Professor: No, I don't fully agree with the sentiments there. It's not that Michael Vick didn't fully appreciate what he was doing was wrong, but you do have to pay attention to the larger context here. And that larger context is a criminal justice system that is often arrayed disproportionately against African-Americans. And so, the fact that Michael Vick is being held up as the poster child for dog fighting and all of the ills associated with dog fighting, has to be understood against that important back drop. 

2007 August 28:  Stephen Legomsky, comments on the legality of local ordinances governing illegal immigrants in the Washington PostAs officials in places such as Prince William County increasingly respond to public discontent over illegal immigration by passing ordinances, law scholars say a key question remains: Are local regulations legal?  The line is fuzzier when it comes to locally funded benefits. What about, say, checkout privileges at public libraries?  "It wouldn't shock me if a court were to say this is a reasonable, measured response," said Washington University Law professor Stephen Legomsky. "On the other hand, a court is just as likely to say that the states have no business distinguishing those of its residents who have broken federal immigration laws and its other residents." 

2007 August 27:  Samuel Bagenstos, comments on voting ban determined not to be a violation in the case of those assigned a guardian in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Samuel Bagenstos, argued the Missouri Constitution and state law denied voting rights to Missourians assigned a guardian because of mental incapacity. He asked the panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to declare what he called a voting ban unconstitutional and in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court did not do so. 

2007 August 27: Daniel Keating, comments on what might be ahead for shareholders of stocks in financially troubled Solutia in the St. Louis Post-DispatchEverything moves slowly in a complex bankruptcy, but things finally have started to turn in the shareholders' favor. In July, Solutia acknowledged in a disclosure statement that the old shareholders would get warrants to buy stock in the "new" Solutia under certain conditions.  The shareholders had been pursuing a lawsuit that raised questions about the way Monsanto spun off its old chemical business as Solutia back in 1997. Basically, the shareholders contended that the new company was set up to fail. Under bankruptcy law, a company's shareholders generally don't get anything if the company can't pay all of its creditors in full. But, says Washington University law professor Dan Keating, "You see that rule waived all the time. Lots of times, old equity can slow things down and make trouble for the reorganization. It's almost like paying them off to stop them from being a nuisance." 

2007 August 27:  F. Scott Kieff, comments on concerns over porposed reforms in determining patent claims coming before Congress in Technology DailyF. Scott Kieff, a law professor at Washington University, said he is concerned about proposed reforms before Congress aimed at allowing more flexibility in determining the value of patent claims. He said he inherently worries when there is so much bipartisan agreement on anything. "To me, there is a good chance they're right and a good chance you should check your wallet [when] the big guys agree," Kieff said. He said the proposed reforms would allow judges, bureaucrats or patent officers to consider what was happening in the industry when patents were issued. "The problem with flexibility is there's a big Achilles heal because with lobbying and political pressure, that's where the big guys win," Kieff said. 

2007 August 24:  Samuel Bagenstos, comments on the Court of Appeals clarification of rights of citizens who are under guardianship in the St. Louis Daily Record/St. Louis Countian.  “As the court recognized, a lot of probate judges had treated Missouri law as categorically disenfranchising people who were under guardianship. That’s why we brought this case,” said Samuel R. Bagenstos, a Washington University Law professor who represented the disability-rights group, Protection and Advocacy Services Inc. “For the Court of Appeals now to make clear that probate judges can’t do that under Missouri law is a big deal.” Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services Inc., a federally mandated entity, filed the suit in 2004 against then-Secretary of State Matt Blunt, who is now governor, and Attorney General Jay Nixon 

2007 August 17:  Christopher Bracey, dicusses how the plea agreements of two other defendants will affect Michael Vick's options in the New York TimesTwo more individuals who pleaded not guilty last month along with Michael Vick to charges stemming from a dog-fighting ring agreed to plea agreements with the government today. Vick had until 9 a.m. today to verbally accept the government's plea agreement.  "The government, by imposing a deadline for Friday on Vick and having Peace and Phillips plea the same day, has put the maximum pressure on Vick to accept the terms of the government's plea agreement," Christopher Bracey, a professor of law and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a telephone interview.  "The government is giving him every opportunity to avoid being the last person standing and facing the full brunt of the prosecution assisted by three of his former co-defendants." 

2007 August 17:  Margo Schlanger, discussion of prison population limits in California in the Sacramento BeeAs California and the federal courts move into uncharted legal territory, sheriffs, prosecutors, probation officers and Assembly Republicans have filed motions to stop a special three-judge panel from imposing a population cap on the state's overcrowded prisons. Gov. Schwarzenegger is seeking an emergency stay order to prevent the panel from taking up the matter.  Professor Margo Schlanger, a prison litigation and constitutional law expert at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, said the governor's appeal may be misplaced, that "the proper body to oppose the convening of the three-judge court is with the three-judge court itself."  "But if you can get two bites at the apple, why not try?" Schlanger said. 

2007 August 9:  Peter Joy, comments on a Congressional committee looking into arbitration and how to ensure that it is used ethically on LegalNewsline.comA congressional committee is considering the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2007. The article looks at lawyers' use of mandatory arbitration clauses. Some class action attorneys may be employing the same kinds of mandatory arbitration agreements with their clients that they argue against on behalf of their clients. Washington University law professor Peter Joy says Bar committees nationally have found arbitration a useful tool in settling fee disputes. The pivotal point is whether clients have a realistic option not to use the arbitration procedures if they decide to proceed with their case.   

July 2007

2007 July 31: F. Scott Kieff comments on the impact of a Supreme Court decision and the changes in outcomes of infringement lawsuits in the Wall Street JournalThree months after the Supreme Court handed down what many called a landmark patent decision, judges have begun to rule in favor of companies defending themselves against infringement lawsuits. Some experts in law and economics think affording judges discretion in analyzing an obviousness defense is not a good thing. "Flexibility has an Achilles' heel, which is that people with the biggest lobbying and litigation budgets, and the best public relations, win," said Scott Kieff, a Washington University law professor, who has argued for predictable rules in the patent system.  

2007 July 30:  F. Scott Kieffcomments on Intel possible change in its approach to business in Europe after antitrust accusations in the Los Angeles TimesThe charges show the European Union's growing willingness to challenge American multinational companies that it believes compete unfairly. Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. are other high-tech companies in the commission's sights.  F. Scott Kieff, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said the European Commission was unfairly targeting Intel and Apple because they were successful.  "Simply being big isn't bad," he said. "In Europe, especially if you're not a European company, it makes you a prime target." 

2007 July 20: Christopher Bracey, commnets on the Michael Vick dog-fighting case in the New York TimesAtlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is one of the most important and well-known players in the NFL. Vick was indicted on federal felony charges alleging that he had sponsored dog-fighting since 2001, that he frequently gambled on dog-fighting, and that he authorized acts of cruelty against animals on property that he owned. He is also facing the NFL's new law-and-order commissioner, Roger Goodell. "This has become bigger, much larger than Michael Vick," said Christopher A. Bracey, a professor of law and an associate professor of African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. "He has become a poster child for animal rights and animal fighting, for conspicuous consumption, for bad judgment and for what happens when you give someone too much too soon." ... 

2007 July 17: Kathleen Brickey, comments on charges against 13 former employees of KPMG dropped by a federal judge in the New York TimesA federal judge dismissed charges yesterday against 13 former employees of the accounting firm KPMG, delivering a blow to prosecutors who once heralded the case as a showpiece in the government's crusade against questionable tax shelters. Judge Lewis Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that he had no choice but to dismiss the charges because the government had strong-armed KPMG into not paying the legal fees of defendants and had violated their rights. But Kathleen F. Brickey, a professor of criminal justice at Washington University in St. Louis who has studied the case, said that the government stood a good chance of winning any appeal. ''You're not guaranteed a constitutional right to the best lawyer, the most expensive lawyer, or even the lawyer of your choice,'' she said. 

2007 July 13:Christopher Bracey, discussed the controversy over the name of a mountain ridge in southwestern Pennsylvania in the Philadelphia Daily NewsChristopher Bracey, a law professor and associate professor of African and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote about the mountain on his Web site after discovering it on a cross-country drive.  "I must confess I have a slightly different take on it than [Youngblood]," Bracey said yesterday. "Here we have a mountain, whose name was intended to be a testament to Negro bravery. It seems rather crass and unsophisticated to name it Negro Mountain, but the intentions were strong." 

2007 July 10: Samuel Buell, comments on obstruction of justice charges a case against a class-action law firm in USA Today"It's clear at this point that the government believes that Weiss and Lerach were both complicit in wrongdoing here," says Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. "The only question is whether they believe there's sufficient evidence to bring a criminal case against these guys." 

2007 July 10:F. Scott Kieff, comments on legislation restricting placing a patent on genes and possible effects on healthcare innovation in the in Science DailyLegislation currently pending in Congress would prohibit researchers from patenting genes, but experts disagree on whether such a measure would help or hinder healthcare innovation. In general, gene patents have not negatively affected healthcare research, said Scott Kieff, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Other countries that have stricter rules about gene patents have not seen as much innovation as the United States, Kieff said. "Only in the United States and after 1980, do you see an increase in the number of new drugs and devices on the market" said Kieff, who correlated these discoveries with the increase in gene patents in the last couple of decades. 

2007 July 9: Merton Bernstein, discusses pros and cons of a proposal for a national retirement and health program in the United Press International WASHINGTON - The ERISA Industry Committee proposal for a new national retirement and health program that operates independently of employers could reduce the number of defined benefit plans, some pension industry stakeholders fear.  The benefit administrator to the plan would manage the DB assets, and distributions would be available only in an annuity at retirement.  ERIC representatives said the proposal could dramatically improve the nation's retirement prospects, but there are skeptics.  “It (ERIC's plan) proposes to let plan sponsors get out of their obligations,” said Merton Bernstein, Coles professor of law emeritus, Washington University School of Law, St. Louis. 

2007 July 5:Samuel Buell, comments about how the scandals surrounding the Justice Department are affecting morale and credibility on NPR - All Things Considered - Ari ShapiroAs Congress continues investigating allegations of politicization at the Justice Department, some current and former department employees say they fear that the scandal is hurting department morale and damaging the institution's credibility in the courts. Sam Buell comments “… and if the whole point of prosecuting public corruption cases, for example, is to kind of restore public confidence in government – then the point is really kind of wiped out if people are lead to believe that the decisions about which cases are getting prosecuted are themselves being made for political reasons.” 

2007 July: Daniel Mandelker, is featured in a four-page spread about this expertise in planning and zoning in Planning: The Magazine of the American Planning AssociationDaniel R. Mandelker, FAICP, the Howard A. Stamper Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, has written and commented on every phase of land-use law: environmental protection, state enabling statutes, local zoning, housing codes, development ordinances, and sign regulations (which he wrote about in a recent Planning Advisory Service Report called Street Graphics and the Law, an update of a Mandelker book on the same topic.) 

2007 May:  F. Scott Kieff and Troy Paredes along with Stephen Haber, Op-Ed article on patent reform legislation in the National Law Journal.  "The costs to the United States of going the wrong way are significant: less innovation, slower growth and fewer jobs."  [view entire article]