In the News

9th Circuit orders regulators to take closer look at California energy crisis claims

Steven Weissman quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), April 30, 2015

The decision will have a broader effect beyond the California dispute as it will force FERC to subject wholesale energy sales across the country to more scrutiny, said Steven Weissman.

This is one reason why places like Ferguson and Baltimore have become explosive

Richard Rothstein writes for History News Network, April 29, 2015

It was not a vague white society that created ghettos but government—federal, state, and local—that employed explicitly racial laws, policies, and regulations to ensure that black Americans would live impoverished, and separately from whites. Baltimore’s ghetto was not created by private discrimination, income differences, personal preferences, or demographic trends, but by purposeful action of government in violation of the Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Berkeley events examine impact of Nuremberg trials

Kenneth Bamberger quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), April 28, 2015

The event, which kicked off Monday, comes at a “profoundly relevant time” because the last remaining Holocaust survivors and Nazis will likely all be dead within a decade, said Kenneth Bamberger. … “Soon there will be physically no one left to talk about this major crime.”

At high court, a new era on death penalty

Elisabeth Semel quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), April 28, 2015

“It’s important to be cautious about talking of a sea change at the Supreme Court, but in the broader view there is a very concrete acknowledgement that it’s important to explore how influenced jurors are by arguments that defendants will be a danger. This issue of future dangerousness if the defendant is not put to death is on the minds of jurors, and the court is really underscoring how decisive that argument can be.”

Community policing through exercise in East Palo Alto ‘Fit Zones’

Sarah Lawrence interviewed by KQED-FM, April 27, 2015

“We looked at a few years of data after the Fit Zones had started and looked at the levels of shootings in the city overall—in the two areas that have Fit Zones. Then we compared it to some places that did not have Fit Zones. We found that there was actually a statistically significance decline in shootings after the introduction of Fit Zones.”

We’re on a slippery slope toward a totally monitored world

James Rule writes for Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2015

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to foresee a Faustian bargain—consent to a totally monitored world—emerging from these trends. Our greatest concern should not be unauthorized access to our data, but access by interests rightfully entitled to exploit any data known to exist.

Rationale for lethal injection as ‘human’ form of death is illogical

Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno write for The National Law Journal, April 27, 2015

To the extent the states’ actions can be explained by a common ­denominator, it is expediency. The actual “earnest desire” at work is not a more humane manner of death, but a different goal: to carry out executions without disruption. States design their execution procedures based on which drugs are available, not serious medical or scientific inquiry.

Justices to hear challenge that argues lethal-injection drug causes agony

Megan McCracken quoted in The New York Times, April 26, 2015

“This is an opportunity for the court to prevent other states from adopting a drug that has been so problematic,” Ms. McCracken said.

Different kind of crime-victim group lobbies against rolling back Prop. 47

Barry Krisberg quoted in Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2015

Barry Krisberg … said the alternative justice lobby is unlikely to affect lawmakers’ votes on criminal penalties. “The politicians are still pretty frightened about crossing the law enforcement unions.”

Drop in crime offers hope of cost cuts

Franklin Zimring and Barry Krisberg cited in UT San Diego, April 24, 2015

Zimring: Because of prison realignment (to county jails) and other policies in response to federal prison overcrowding orders, California has undertaken “a pretty substantial experiment in decarceration,” he added, and yet crime just keeps falling.

Krisberg says many Republicans—typically leaders of the law-and-order coalition—now often back changes that help reduce costs and incarceration rates, even as some Democrats oppose them because of their closeness to the prison guards and police unions.

The unintended twist of tax inversions

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

Teva’s unsolicited $40 billion bid for the drug maker Mylan and Mylan’s own unsolicited offer for the rival Perrigo are sweet revenge for the United States taxpayer. The reason is their flight from the United States in tax inversions has made both more exposed to hostile takeovers.

The boardroom strikes back

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, April 21, 2015

The shifting landscape of shareholder activism perhaps signals a transition. With more players and money pursuing it, companies seem to be adopting a more nuanced strategy that takes into account the fact that not all activists are alike.

Exploring ‘claw backs’ as a CPUC tactic to improve utility safety

Steven Wiessman quoted on, April 20, 2015

“The commission interface is with the company itself and not with individuals,” Weissman, who previously served as a CPUC administrative law judge, said in an April 16 interview, noting that utilities have relative freedom in how they spend the money the commission awards in rates — including with respect to executive compensation.

California vaccine legislation spurs legal debate over right to education

Stephen Sugarman quoted in San Jose Mercury News, April 18, 2015

“We interfere with people’s liberty in the name of public health in many ways,” said Sugarman. … He pointed out that individuals with tuberculosis can be quarantined, while chemicals are added into the public water supply to fight tooth decay. He said if objecting parents “lose this battle in Sacramento, I don’t think that the courts are the right place to provide them with relief in this instance.”

As gig workers, Uber and Lyft drivers struggle with taxes

David Gamage quoted in KQED News, April 15, 2015

David Gamage … says the 1099-K could be a part of a business strategy…. “It’s entirely possible that a primary reason for their adopting these structures is to want to distance themselves from the actions of their drivers.”

Obama’s immigration reforms stuck in courts

Anne Joseph O’Connell quoted in International Business Times, April 15, 2015

Anne Joseph O’Connell … said the 5th Circuit needed to address the issue whether Texas and the other states really had the locus standi to file a suit against the federal government. She cited the recent Mississippi case as a precedent. “That’s the best chance with a conservative panel for President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security to go forward” with DAPA and the DACA extension, she said.

Fight over Wynn Resorts overshadows question of management

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, April 14, 2015

Elaine P. Wynn and her former husband, Stephen A. Wynn, are engaged in a spectacular Las Vegas fight over whether she should remain on the Wynn Resorts board. … Instead of being distracted by proxy battles, however juicy, and board composition, perhaps shareholders should focus on more important questions, like whether Mr. Wynn is the right person for this company.

State bill could raise local sales taxes

Alan Auerbach quoted in State Tax Notes Magazine, (registration required) April 13, 2015

Alan Auerbach … said the push for additional tax revenue came despite an already improving state economy. He said the cap on property tax growth in California’s Proposition 13 was to blame. “If you look at local governments in California, they’re not getting as much property tax revenues as others” in different states, he said.

Why the execution drug shortage won’t go away

Ty Alper writes for Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2015

The problem facing states is more fundamental: They are seeking to impose the death penalty despite a global economic context in which much of the rest of the modern world abhors the practice. As long as that is the case, they are going to have problems finding pharmaceutical products to carry out executions.

Apple’s teachable moment

Heather Warnken and Ben Jealous write for Medium, April 12, 2015

If Silicon Valley is going to achieve its goal of becoming a true meritocracy, it is not enough for us to focus on treating our most privileged workers more fairly. We need to ensure just treatment of the least privileged as well.