In the News

Clawbacks often leave out the clawing

Steven Davidoff Solomon quoted by Marketplace, Sept. 20, 2016

Since the financial crisis, said Davidoff Solomon, companies have added other reasons for clawing back money, “failure to supervise, bad faith, negligent in your duties.”

Death-penalty justice depends on where we live

Franklin Zimring quoted by, Sept. 20, 2016

As University of California Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring observes, the determining factor for seeking the death penalty is not homicide rates or demographics, but “Who is the district attorney?” One elected official in each county is effectively the “decider” as to who faces the death penalty.

Public companies see gold in California

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2016

The five biggest companies in the United States by market value are all technology companies — Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — three of them with headquarters in California. Not one existed in 1965. The tech phenomenon has benefited California more than all other states, a rise that seems to be unabated.

‘I told my story face to face with Habré’: courageous rape survivors make history

Kim Thuy Seelinger quoted by The Guardian, Sept. 18, 2016

“It went from a case where there was zero sexual violence in the charging recommended by the investigating judges to a verdict that was really heavy with sexual violence,” Seelinger says. “It’s great, it’s astounding, and it’s quite dramatic in terms of international jurisprudence.”

Why Snowden doesn’t deserve a pardon

John Yoo interviewed by WSJ Video, Sept. 16, 2016

“If you actually look at what he leaked, he provided our rivals around the world, and our terrorist enemies, with a laundry list of all the different innovations and techniques that our NSA and our intelligence services were using to collect information on their efforts against … foreign terrorist plots. I couldn’t actually think of something more damaging.”

On the death penalty, California voters face two stark choices

Elisabeth Semel quoted by San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 14, 2016

“It’s modeled after the laws in Texas, where we know innocent people have been executed,” said Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley Law School. Death penalty supporters heatedly dispute that claim, but Semel cited the Texas case of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed in 2004 for killing his three children in a fire that a series of experts, including one hired by the state, have since concluded was most likely accidental.

Richmond residents file lawsuit against Terminal One development

Ethan Elkind quoted by Richmond Confidential, Sept. 13, 2016

“The fact that it sailed through the city planning commission and the city council, and yet is still hit with a lawsuit under the California Environmental Quality Act, I think really illustrates the challenges for developers trying to build in these urban areas,” Elkind said.

Settlement ends confiscation of homeless property, sleeping ban in Pomona

Jeffrey Selbin quoted by Daily Journal (registration required), Sept. 13, 2016

“It’s a very positive development that cities are beginning to recognize that it is costly and inconvenient to enforce laws against homeless people when at the same time they fail to provide adequate shelter to meet their basic needs,” said Jeffrey Selbin.

Fed proposes ban on merchant banking, a practice with little risk

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, Sept. 13, 2016

The question is whether this is a step too far. A business that has never substantially affected the soundness of banks is now threatened with extinction.

Positive economic report may not translate into ballot box impact

john a. powell quoted by San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 13, 2016

“Trump feeds off of people feeling bad, feeling angry. Then he says, ‘I can save you,’” Powell said. “Much of their effort — by Republicans and Trump — is that they need to say that things are bad. Their campaign is one of deep anxiety and polarization, that the country is going to hell in a handbasket.”

State’s new climate law could resonate across nation — if Clinton wins

Dan Farber and Ethan Elkind quoted by E&E News, Sept. 12, 2016

“California’s take on climate change is directly at odds with [Republican nominee Donald] Trump’s view that it’s a hoax, so if he becomes president, California will be on its own,” said Dan Farber. … “However, it would provide support for [Democratic nominee Hillary] Clinton’s approach and for the Clean Power Plan.”

“I think it bolsters the Clean Power Plan by showing that one of our biggest states, economy wise, is set to achieve even more aggressive targets than what’s called for in the federal plan,” said Ethan Elkind,

California passes nation’s most ambitious climate legislation, but will it succeed?

Ethan Elkind interviewed by The Real News Network, Sept. 11, 2016

S.B. 32 is a groundbreaking law on climate change in greenhouse gas reduction. But A.B. 197 is really groundbreaking in a different way. For the first time now, we’re really trying to address this sort of environmental injustice that you’re referring to, which is the idea that we have a lot of low-income communities of color who disproportionately get the negative effects of pollution and also are the ones most at risk as climate change worsens.

Pomona settles lawsuit over confiscation of homeless people’s property

Jeffrey Selbin quoted by Los Angeles Times, Sept. 11, 2016

Since then, the U.S. Department of Justice has called on federal courts to adopt the reasoning in the Jones case, but cities often sidestep the issue by enacting bans that cover only specific times of day or locations, said Jeffrey Selbin, director of the Berkeley clinic.

The secret history of Colombia’s paramilitaries and the U.S. War on Drugs

Roxanna Altholz interviewed by The New York Times, Sept. 10, 2016

“It’s crazy,” said Roxanna Altholz, the associate director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, who represents the Henríquezes. “These individuals are the worst of the worst. They are drug lords and war criminals. Why should they be getting any benefits?”

UC Berkeley: Stale prices not a threat to liquidity takers

Robert P. Bartlett III and Justin McCrary paper cited by Seeking Alpha, Sept. 8, 2016

Robert P. Bartlett III and Justin McCrary used data from the Securities Information Processors (SIPs) to look at reporting lags and the question whether fast traders can and do profitably exploit stale quotes. The proposition that they do pick off stale quotes is one of the theses of Michael Lewis’ 2014 book, Flash Boys.

Dead trees are fueling California wildfires, but what’s killing the trees?

Eric Biber quoted by KALW-FM, Sept. 6, 2016

“One of the concerns is that if people cut trees instead of letting the beetles kill the trees, in the long run that may actually interfere with the ability of these forests and these pine species to adapt to the future of climate change,” says U.C. Berkeley environmental law professor Eric Biber.

Elon Musk’s solar vision, up for a dicey vote

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, Sept. 6, 2016

Here is a vote that will determine the course of Mr. Musk’s empire, yet we are in the dark about the deliberations of the shareholders casting their votes.

California wants to make it easier to prosecute old rape cases. But how much would a new law really help?

Franklin Zimring quoted by Los Angeles Times, Sept. 5, 2016

Although prosecutors generally do not file charges without enough evidence to prove them, other factors might come into play, Zimring said. “The prosecutor might take cases which have an enormous amount of publicity or an enormously attractive victim or an enormously vulnerable and important defendant.”

Study backs Barron’s critique of Flash Boys

Robert Bartlett and Justin McCrary study cited by Barron’s, Sept. 3, 2016

The study, by Robert Bartlett and Justin McCrary, scoured 385 million stock trades and 6.2 billion price quotes for signs that high-tech scalawags routinely front-run the rest of us by exploiting faster access to stock quotes. Contrary to Lewis’ scare story, the pair found that slow or fast quotes made no difference in pricing 97% of the trades. And on the remaining trades, the pricing differences actually favored the slow trader.

Secretive foe attacks Google over government influence

Daniel Rubinfeld quoted by The Mercury News, Sept. 3, 2016

“I don’t see any of this as nefarious,” said former U.S. Department of Justice chief economist Daniel Rubinfeld…. “It’s changing times. Companies are battling each other on many more fronts than they used to.”