In the News

Are overcrowded prisons unconstitutional?

Jonathan Simon interviewed by Slate, March 18, 2015

“Does the Eighth Amendment just prevent torture, or does it protect something more? If it just protects us against torture then obviously it’s a very limited right, and we have to wait until things get really awful in prisons before courts are going to do anything. But if torture is just being protected against because it’s one way to destroy and degrade ‘human dignity,’ then I think almost everything we do in prison has to be rethought.”

Canadian politics goes to the dogs

Ian Haney López book cited in Victoria News, March 17, 2015

Likely no country has employed dog-whistle politics longer or with more gusto than the United States. Indeed, in a book published last year … law professor Ian Haney López traced the practice back to the 1960s, long before the term was coined in Australia.

Talking in codes

Ian Haney López interviewed by Chicago Reporter, March 13, 2015

Dog whistle politics is all about the stimulation of racial fear. And yet, we should be clear on those who are doing the stimulating—on the politicians, the conservative sort of strategists, the Fox News media folks. … What happens in minority communities is just collateral damage. What they care about is winning votes, demonizing government, cutting taxes for the very rich.

Calif. Supreme Court takes up ‘historic’ environmental docket

David Carrillo quoted in Greenwire, March 13, 2015

The state Supreme Court does not “seek out specific policy issues to resolve,” said David Carrillo. … “Its role in the state judiciary is to settle legal issues of statewide importance as they arise.”

CPUC lobbying rules need reforms to end culture of ‘lawlessness’

Steven Weissman quoted in SNL Financial (registration required), March 12, 2015

“This agency has extraordinary independence and a lack of checks and balances that would normally apply to voting members of the state Senate,” he said. “There is almost no court review of CPUC proceedings.”

How loopholes turned Dish Network into a ‘very small business’

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, February 24, 2015

At this point you may be scratching your head. How can Dish, a company with a $34 billion market value, be a “very small business”? … Through sleight of hand and aggressive use of partners and loopholes, Dish turned itself into that very small business, distorting reality and creating an unfair advantage.

Delaware courts pause on the deal price do-over

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, February 19, 2015

The surge in appraisal rights cases and the arguments from advocates and opponents have been dumped into the laps of the courts in Delaware, where most companies are incorporated and these actions mostly take place. Delaware judges are beginning to sort this issue out.

A violin once owned by Goebbels keeps its secrets

Carla Shapreau writes for The New York Times, September 21, 2012

During the war musical manuscripts, printed music, books and instruments were confiscated, swept up as war trophies, lost or displaced under circumstances of crisis. A Nazi unit known as the Sonderstab Musik was among those tasked with such looting. Evidence of seizures and opaque transactions during the Nazi era are scattered in a sea of archival records in the United States and Europe.

Questions loom over China’s legal reform drive

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2015

What remains unclear is whether Chinese leaders intend to make meaningful changes within that framework to raise the quality of Chinese justice, or are merely paying lip-service to justice as they continue the old patterns of authoritarian control.

Patching up the social safety net

Alan Auerbach quoted in The New York Times, March 17, 2015

The great irony, Professor Auerbach notes, is that “inequality is increasing yet our ability to do anything about it is weakening.” The main job for any Democratic president might not be to bolster the nation’s social insurance apparatus but simply to hold the line.

S.C. posthumously admits Chinese-born legal pioneer to state bar

Charles McClain quoted in Metropolitan News-Enterprise, March 17, 2015

This was followed by the 1880 legislative session, described by author and UC Berkeley School of Law lecturer Charles McClain as “the most Sinophobic in the state’s history,” banning “any alien not eligible to become an elector” from obtaining any type of state or local business or occupational license.

Colleges give Clinton an A—and campaign millions

Stephen Rosenbaum quoted in McClatchy, March 17, 2015

“It’s no surprise at all,” said Stephen Rosenbaum. … “Academics are pretty much liberal, left of center.”

Durst heir faces murder charge after documentary broadcast

Andrea Roth interviewed by Associated Press, March 16, 2015

“Any statement that the defendant makes that they want to use against him, they can use against him,” said Andrea Roth. … “Even if it’s sketchy, and only in context appears to make him look guilty.”

For tech titans, sharing has its limits

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted in The New York Times, March 14, 2015

Christopher Hoofnagle … said that while it was noteworthy that data merchants were seeking greater personal privacy themselves, they also may well be on the right track. A nondisclosure agreement, which keeps intimate information from ever getting online where it can spread, “is the sensible thing to do.”

Rally and march planned to protest effort to pass new anti-homeless laws in Berkeley

Osha Neumann and Jeffrey Selbin quoted in The Berkeley Daily Planet, March 12, 2015

Osha Neumann: “Taken together with existing laws, these ordinances would essentially make it illegal for people who are homeless to have a presence on our streets and sidewalks.”

Jeffrey Selbin: “The evidence from around the state and country is quite clear: criminalizing people who are homeless doesn’t solve any of the underlying causes or conditions of homelessness; in fact, it only makes them worse. It would be inhumane, ineffective and expensive for Berkeley to double down on punitive laws that will only hurt our most vulnerable residents.”

Calif. Supreme Court takes up ‘historic’ environmental docket

David Carrillo quoted in E&E Greenwire, March 13, 2015

The state Supreme Court does not “seek out specific policy issues to resolve,” said David Carrillo. … “Its role in the state judiciary is to settle legal issues of statewide importance as they arise.”

Regulators’ e-mails with PG&E blasted as culture of ‘lawlessness’

Steven Weissman quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, March 11, 2015

Steven Weissman … said the current standards reflect a “cultural divide” with similar agencies in other states that ban such lobbying altogether. “California does not even discourage” the contacts, Weissman said. “To the contrary, it welcomes them.”

That ‘good news, bad news’ behind stock buybacks

Steven Davidoff Solomon quoted in Marketplace, March 9, 2015

Large piles of cash tend to invite some investors to complain — loudly.  … “One of the ways the company responds to this,” says Steven Davidoff Solomon … “is to say, ‘Look, we’re trying to help our shareholders, we’ll give them back some cash.’”

Letting dentists feel the bite of competition

Aaron Edlin and Rebecca Haw Allensworth write for The Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2015

Though it is uncertain how states will react, one thing is clear. The Supreme Court is intolerant of cartel activity, whatever its form, and it has taken an important step toward restoring competition in these licensed professions.

How criminal records hold Americans back

Eliza Hersh quoted in The Boston Globe, March 8, 2015

“This is not a new problem, it’s just one that’s getting recognition now,” said Eliza Hersh. “One thing that often surprises people is they were arrested wrongly, or years and years ago, and it always remains on their records.”