Author: Sarah Waldeck

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Loyola Annual Constitutional Law Colloquium

Some of our readers may be interested in the following conference announcement:

Loyola University Chicago School of Law is organizing the Third Annual Constitutional Law Colloquium at the Philip H. Corboy Law Center, 25 East Pearson Street, Chicago, IL 60611. The event will begin on Friday morning, November 2 and end midday on Saturday, November 3, 2012.

This is the third annual Loyola conference bringing together constitutional law scholars at all stages of their professional development to discuss current projects, doctrinal developments in constitutional law, and future goals. Unless we are overwhelmed, we hope to be able to schedule presentations for all who submit.  In this way, we will provide a forum for the vetting of ideas, invaluable opportunities for informed critiques, and networking opportunities. Presentations will be grouped by subject matter.

The Loyola Constitutional Law Colloquium is aimed at Constitutional Law, Legal History, Political Science, and Philosophy scholars teaching at the university, law school, and graduate levels on matters of constitutional law. We welcome applications from full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty members, as well as post-doctoral fellows from academic discipline related to the study of constitutional issues (anthropology, history, law, literary criticism, philosophy political science, sociology, etc.).

Application Procedure: The registration and abstract submission deadline is May 31, 2012. Conference organizers will select abstracts on a rolling basis.

You can register for the conference here.

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Beware the Trefoils

Where I live Girl Scout cookie season finally is beginning to wind down.  The boxes I purchased from neighborhood children have been delivered and this past weekend only one troop had set up stands on downtown street corners.   Last March, after my family polished off a bunch of cookies that—but for the Girls Scouts—they wouldn’t have eaten, I resolved henceforth to be merciless in saying NO to the cookies and instead offering to make an outright donation.  But when two kids who live across the street came knocking eight weeks ago, I balked at the prospect of appearing unneighborly or telling the girls I would rather just write a check than buy what they were selling.  So I dutifully ordered two boxes from each of them.   By my very rough estimate, that’s 5,600 calories of pure junk. If prior years are any indication, we’ll eat the Girl Scout cookies in addition to—not as a substitute for—the other sweet treats we consume.   Perhaps, however, I should just be relieved that we made it through cookie season with only four boxes.  One year we somehow ended up with twenty (read 22,400 calories).

How do the Girl Scouts get a pass on the reality that they fund their activities by peddling junk food?  Elementary schools have gone from a “healthy food only” policy at class parties to a “no food” policy, and pity the parent who tries to celebrate a birthday with cupcakes.  School cafeterias are revamping their menus.  Michelle Obama (who, like all First Ladies since Lou Henry Hoover, is the Girl Scouts’ Honorary National President) appears on the Disney Channel exhorting kids to eat right and exercise.  Why are the Girl Scouts exempt from this nationwide campaign against obesity?

I can think of at least three reasons.  First, criticizing the Girl Scouts seems as un-American as complaining about Mom and apple pie.  Second, the economic effects of a Cookie War would be devastating for the Girl Scouts.  In 2010, the Girls Scouts sold almost 200 million boxes (read 2,240,000,000 calories).  Total sales were $714 million, with $415 million going to local councils.  Unless the Girl Scouts could radically rethink their funding sources, a world without cookies might mean a world without Girl Scouts.  Most scouting enthusiasts would likely argue that the benefits provided by the Girl Scouts outweigh any harm caused by 200 million boxes of cookies.  Maybe they would be right, but I am not certain how to establish who would have the better side of this argument.  Third, Americans have a notoriously complicated relationship with food, particularly nostalgic food.  This is why when I express surprise that a friend who is adamant about eating only organic food helped her daughter sell cookies, she can reply “They’re Girl Scout cookies,” as though that resolves the inconsistency.

This nostalgia also helps explain why the Girl Scouts are able to sell 200 million boxes.  A lot of us probably would not want even four boxes if we were tasting Girl Scout cookies for the first time, either because they would fall short of our culinary expectations or because we would actually be deterred by the 5,600 calories.  But of course most of us tasted Girl Scout cookies for the first time in elementary school or earlier, so a combination of nostalgia and the cookies’ once-a-year availability dampens any foodie criticisms or concerns about healthy eating.

The Girl Scouts’ ability to remain above the food fray is troubling.  Twenty years from now, today’s elementary school students will have no expectation that they should celebrate their own children’s birthdays by sending in cupcakes and at least some of them may have internalized various messages about exercise and healthy eating.  But they are likely to be as nostalgic about Girl Scout cookies as most of us are and thus the Girl Scouts can continue to count on 200 million boxes.  Good for the Girl Scouts; not so good for the nation’s waistline.

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Labor and Employment Law Colloquium

Northwestern University School of Law and Loyola University Chicago School of Law are co-hosting the Colloquium on Current Scholarship in Labor and Employment Law on September 14 and 15, 2012 in Chicago, IL.  The Colloquium provides an opportunity for labor and employment law scholars to present works-in-progress and receive feedback from their colleagues in the field.

The Colloquium will be held at Loyola on Friday, Sept. 14 and at Northwestern on Saturday, Sept. 15.

You can find out more information by visiting this webpage or by contacting Michael J. Cooper at (312) 503-1570 or michael-cooper@law.northwestern.edu.  The conference organizers are:

Kimberly Yuracko, Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law
Michael Zimmer, Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

You can also reserve your seat for the colloquium here.  Participants are expected to pay their own travel expenses. The law schools will provide facilities, support, and continental breakfasts on Friday and Saturday, lunch on Friday and Saturday, and a dinner on Friday night.

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Chicago-Kent Seeks VAPS

Some of our readers may be interested in the following job posting:

Chicago-Kent College of Law is seeking immediate applicants for Visiting Assistant Professors. The VAP program is a centerpiece of the Chicago-Kent legal writing program. The program is designed to provide students with a faculty that has diverse academic interests and legal practice experience and to provide promising teachers an opportunity to bridge from their practice and legal writing teaching experience to doctrinal law teaching and academic scholarship.

Visiting Assistant Professors are generally appointed for two-year terms, with the possibility for a single one- or two-year renewal, or in extraordinary cases, for a long-term contract. In addition to teaching Legal Writing, each Visiting Assistant Professor teaches a single doctrinal course each year. The school provides Visiting Assistant Professors with considerable assistance and guidance in developing their academic scholarship, including a Research and Travel fund. Traditionally, Visiting Assistant Professors use their time at the school to write and publish one or more scholarly articles as a basis (together with their teaching experience) for eventually attaining a tenure-track law teaching position. In addition to providing faculty mentors, the school offers a series of informal “roundtables” at which faculty members, including Visiting Assistant professors, can discuss works in progress with their colleagues.

Over the years, the Chicago-Kent Visiting Assistant Professor program has produced exceptional doctrinal and skills professors. Current VAPS have accepted tenure-track jobs in the fall at the Washington & Lee University School of Law, the University of Richmond School of Law, and the Lewis & Clark Law School. If you are interested in applying to the VAP program, please submit a cover letter, current curriculum vitae, one writing sample and a research agenda (if you have one) to Professor Mary Rose Strubbe, Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program, mstrubbe@kentlaw.edu.

Diversity candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

 

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Did Rahm Learn Anything From Cass?

This week Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed legislation that will allow the City of Chicago to put speed cameras in the one-eighth mile buffer zones around schools and parks.   As the Chicago Tribune has reported, the City has more than 600 public schools and only slightly fewer parks, so this legislation gives Chicago the authority to cover roughly half of its territory with speed cameras.  The City says it will concentrate on the approximately 80 areas where the need for speed enforcement is particularly acute.

Although Quinn signed the legislation, the cameras are the handiwork of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.   The Mayor says he developed the plan after school officials and the police expressed concerns about public safety.  Emanuel’s critics—and he has a lot of them—paint the legislation as being more about revenue generation than public safety.   Drivers who go more than 5 miles over the speed limit will be fined $50 and drivers who go more than 11 miles over the limit will be fined $100.  The Mayor has said repeatedly that he doesn’t care if the cameras generate any revenue; the legislation is all about keeping kids safe.

Let’s take the Mayor at his word and assume that his only goal is to make Chicago safer.  What would traffic engineers and behavioral economists advise?  They would tell him to install dynamic speed displays, which announce the posted speed limit and display in large digital numbers the speed of each driver going past.   One of the first experiments with these displays took place in school zones in suburban Los Angeles in 2003.  Drivers slowed down by an average of 14 percent and in some zones the average speed dropped below the limit.   The use of dynamic speed displays has since become commonplace and research has consistently shown that they cause drivers to slow down by about 10 percent for several miles.

These displays upend the usual approach to traffic enforcement because there is no penalty for displaying a speed that is higher than the posted limit.   Instead, the display works by creating a feedback loop: (1) sensors instantly capture and relay information about the driver’s speed; (2) the large public display of numbers carries real punch because few people want to be perceived as reckless or careless; and (3) the driver has immediate opportunity to slow down by simply easing up on the gas.   This feedback loop is so effective that traffic safety experts have concluded it does a better job of changing driving habits than techniques that depend on police issuing tickets.  (You can read about dynamic speed displays and feedback loops more generally here.)

Chicago’s speed cameras will be accompanied by highly visible signage, so time will tell whether the combination of signage and speed cameras make drivers slow down in the short term and change their driving habits in the long term.   If I were advising a mayor whose priority was public safety, however, I’d recommend the use of dynamic speed displays that provide effective feedback to drivers in the moments before they enter a school zone, and not cameras whose feedback comes in the mail several days after the driver already has sped by a school.

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Introducing Elizabeth A. Wilson

I’m pleased to announce that Professor Elizabeth A. Wilson is joining us for a guest visit.
 
Elizabeth is an assistant professor in the Whitehead School of Diplomacy at Seton Hall University.  She came to Seton Hall after working in private practice for nearly five years.   As an Associate at WilmerHale and then at Baach Robinson & Lewis (now Lewis Baach), she worked on a number of high-profile cases, including Boumediene v. Bush and Rasul v. Myers.  Her special expertise is damages litigation.   Elizabeth is a former professor of English at Yale, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Joint Bunting Institute and Children’s Hospital Fellow on Family Violence.
 
Elizabeth’s publications include:  Is Torture All In a Day’s Work?  Scope of Employment, the Absolute Immunity Doctrine, and Civil Torture Litigation Against U.S. Officials,  6 Rutgers J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 175 (2008); The War on Terrorism and “the Water’s Edge”:  Sovereignty, “Territorial Jurisdiction,” and the Reach of the U.S. Constitution in the Guantánamo Detainee Litigation, 8 UPenn J. Const L. 165 (March 2006); “’Suing for Lost Childhood’:  Child Sexual Abuse, the Delayed Discovery Rule, and the Problem of Finding Justice for Adult-Survivors of Child Abuse, 12 UCLA Women’s L.J. 145 (2003).  Her overview of post-9/11 damages litigation —   “Damages or Nothing”:  The Post-Boumediene Constitution and Compensation for Human Rights Violations After 9/11 –will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Seton Hall Law Review.
 
Elizabeth will begin blogging from Amman, Jordan, where she is working with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative on updating the human rights curriculum in Jordan’s law schools.
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Introducing Mark Edwards

     I’m pleased to announce that Mark Edwards is back for a repeat visit during the month of January.  Mark is an Associate Professor at William Mitchell College of Law, where he teaches Property I, Property II, Comparative Property Rights, and Constitutional Criminal Procedure.  Mark is regularly voted Teacher of the Year at William Mitchell and most recently received the award for academic year 2010-2011.
     Mark is a contributing editor at PropertyProf Blog.  His publications include Acceptable Deviance and Property Rights, 43 Conn. L. Rev. 457 (2010); Nationalization, De-Nationalization, Re-Nationalization: Some Historical and Comparative Perspective,  30 Pace Law Review 1214 (2009); Law and the Parameters of Acceptable Deviance, 97 J. of Crim. Law & Criminology 49 (2006) ; and The Path of the Law Ands, 1997 Wisc. Law R. 375 (1997) (with Marc Galanter).  He is currently finishing an article on property restitution, particularly in the Czech Republic, where he has been doing research for the past two summers.  You can find Mark’s SSRN page here.
     Welcome back, Mark!
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Ira Glass v. Amanda Williams: Knockout Punch

In the event you read this prior post and missed the coverage in the news today, Judge Amanda Williams has agreed to resign from the bench in January and has also promised not to seek another judgeship.  In exchange the Georgia Judicial Qualification Commission dropped the complaints of misconduct against the Judge, who presided over the state’s largest drug court.  On one level, this result is unsurprising because resignation is the usual result when complaints are brought by the Commission.  The resignation, however, is a dramatic fall from grace for a judge who recently won re-election to a sixth term.

 

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Ira Glass v. Amanda Williams

If you missed the story Very Tough Love when it aired last March on This American Life, it put a new spin on that old adage about local politics mattering most.  When you are a drug court defendant, the judicial philosophy and temperament of the judge who manages your case matters a lot, particularly since entering the drug court means waiving many procedural rights.  The story, which focused on a drug court judge who had recently won reelection to a sixth term, was remarkable for its laser focus on judicial discretion and how much can go awry when that discretion is abused.  It was also impossible to listen to the story without speculating about how furious the judge must have been when she heard it.

Furious enough, it turns out, to threaten to sue This American Life and reporter Ira Glass for libel.  She sent her letter,  Glass responded, and for a while all seemed to be quiet.

This past week, however, Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Committee filed a formal complaint against the judge—Amanda Williams, who presides over the drug court in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.   Among other allegations, the complaint states that Judge Williams jailed defendants indefinitely, ordered a suicidal defendant into solitary confinement for more than two months, and ordered a defendant jailed when he disputed the results of a drug test.

Judge Williams has the opportunity to respond to the charges in writing.  Unless she and the Committee settle (which usually results in a judge stepping aside), the Commiittee will hold a trial-like proceeding on the charges.

We’ll see what happens next.  But if you haven’t been following this, it’s worth clicking on the links to get up to speed.  Reality radio is way more interesting than reality television.

 

Photo Credit:  Krista Johansen

 

 

 

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Women in Big Law

This week the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) released its Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, which compiles data on the professional progress of women in the nation’s 200 largest firms. Most of the reporting on NAWL’s survey results has focused on the decrease in the number of female first and second year associates.  While the decline is only slight—47 percent of first and second year associates are women, compared to 48 percent a year ago—it is the first decrease since NAWL began reporting survey results in 2006.   NAWL speculates that the decline is attributable to changes in law school enrollments, where there have also been slight decreases in the percentage of female students.

The most interesting part of the report, however, discusses where women find themselves in the hierarchal complexities of today’s law firms.  As the NAWL survey points out, large law firms are no longer comprised of simply partners, associates, and a few of counsel.  Instead, firms are a mix of equity and non-equity partners, associates, staff attorneys, and of counsel.  Read on after the jump for sobering highlights about how women tend to fit into organizationally-complex large law firms. Read More