Monthly Archives: August 2009

UM Cops Pull Guns on Student on His First Day

U. Miami cops pulled guns on an innocent UM student on his first day of class. Since they did it in the Communications School, there's lots of video:

The law school's overflow classroom, which I'm currently teaching tort in, is in the “Learning Center” which is the next building over from the communications school.

The Miami Hurricane reports,

“The incident is currently under investigation to determine if law enforcement officers acted appropriately,” said Karla Hernandez, the university’s director of media relations. “We are consulting the Dade County State Attorney’s Office as is the procedure on any case involving an allegation of officer misconduct.”

In the tape, Chusid appears to comply with the officers’ order to stop. He got down on his hands and knees. One of the officers kicked his arms out from under him so that Chusid was flat out on the ground. Then an officer kicked the cell phone out of his hand.

Chusid was handcuffed and taken over to a nearby seat for questioning. After several minutes the officers apparently determined they had the wrong person, uncuffed him and allowed him to use his phone.

UMPD said someone attempted to steal a motorcycle near the law school earlier that day. The suspect was a young, white male wearing a red t-shirt and shorts.

According to the witnesses and Chusid himself, the resemblance was uncannily close.

In the video he's being an awfully good sport about it all.

Posted in U.Miami | 4 Comments

Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)

jotwell.pngA good chunk of my time currently is dedicated to JOTWELL — a new online law journal I dreamed up that I hope will go live in October. Jotwell will be 'The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)' — reviews of recent legal scholarship designed to help people figure out what they should read.

Here's the Jotwell mission statement:

The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)–JOTWELL–invites you to join us in filling a telling gap in legal scholarship by creating a space where legal academics will go to identify, celebrate, and discuss the best new legal scholarship. Currently there are about 350 law reviews in North America, not to mention relevant journals in related disciplines, foreign publications, and new online pre-print services such as SSRN and BePress. Never in legal publishing have so many written so much, and never has it been harder to figure out what to read, both inside and especially outside one’s own specialization. Perhaps if legal academics were more given to writing (and valuing) review essays, this problem would be less serious. But that is not, in the main, our style.

We in the legal academy value originality. We celebrate the new. And, whether we admit it or not, we also value incisiveness. An essay deconstructing, distinguishing, or even dismembering another’s theory is much more likely to be published, not to mention valued, than one which focuses mainly on praising the work of others. Books may be reviewed, but articles are responded to; and any writer of a response understands that his job is to do more than simply agree.

Most of us are able to keep abreast of our fields, but it is increasingly hard to know what we should be reading in related areas. It is nearly impossible to situate oneself in other fields that may be of interest but cannot be the major focus of our attention.

A small number of major law journals once served as the gatekeepers of legitimacy and, in so doing, signaled what was important. To be published in Harvard or Yale or other comparable journals was to enjoy an imprimatur that commanded attention; to read, or at least scan, those journals was due diligence that one was keeping up with developments in legal thinking and theory. The elite journals still have importance – something in Harvard is likely to get it and its author noticed. However, a focus on those few most-cited journals alone was never enough, and it certainly is not adequate today. Great articles appear in relatively obscure places. (And odd things sometimes find their way into major journals.) Plus, legal publishing has been both fragmented and democratized: specialty journals, faculty peer reviewed journals, interdisciplinary journals, all now play important roles in the intellectual ecology.

The Michigan Law Review publishes a useful annual review of new law books, but there’s nothing comparable for legal articles, some of which are almost as long as books (or are future books). Today, new intermediaries, notably subject-oriented legal blogs, provide useful if sometimes erratic notices and observations regarding the very latest scholarship. But there’s still a gap: other than asking the right person, there’s no easy and obvious way to find out what’s new, important, and interesting in most areas of the law.

Jotwell will help fill that gap. We will not be afraid to be laudatory, nor will we give points for scoring them. Rather, we will challenge ourselves and our colleagues to share their wisdom and be generous with their praise. We will be positive without apology.

Tell us what we ought to read!

How It Works

Jotwell will be organized in sections, each reflecting a subject area of legal specialization. Each section, with its own url of the form, will be managed by a pair of Section Editors who will have independent editorial control over that section. The Section Editors will also be responsible for selecting a team of ten or more Contributing Editors. Each of these editors will commit to writing at least one Jotwell essay of 500-1000 words per year in which they identify and explain the significance of one or more significant recent works – preferably an article accessible online, but we won’t be doctrinaire about it. Our aim is to have at least one contribution appear in each section on a fixed day every month, although we won’t object to more. Section Editors will also be responsible for approving unsolicited essays for publication. Our initial sections will cover administrative law, constitutional law, corporate law, criminal law, cyberlaw, intellectual property law, the legal profession, and tax law — and we intend to add new sections when there is interest in doing so.

For the legal omnivore, the ‘front page’ at will contain the first part of every essay appearing elsewhere on the site. Links will take you to the full version in the individual sections. There, articles will be open to comments from readers.

Currently I've gotten a number of subject areas off the ground, with the help of some superb section editors, each of whom is helping recruit additional contributing editors.

  • Administrative Law
    • Paul Verkuil
  • Constitutional Law
    • Patrick Gudridge
  • Corporate Law
    • Caroline Bradley
    • William Wilson Bratton
  • Criminal Law
    • Donna Coker
    • Jonathan Simon
  • Cyberlaw
    • A. Michael Froomkin
    • James Grimmelmann
  • Intellectual Property
    • Pam Samuelson
    • Christopher Sprigman
  • Professional Responsibility
    • John Flood
    • Tanina Rostain
  • Tax
    • Allison Christians
    • George Mundstock

Section and contributing editor will write at least one short review per year; we'll also welcome unsolicited contributions that fit our guidelines (mostly, brevity and praise).

In the long run I hope to have many more, with coverage of at least all the major subject areas. If you'd like to write for Jotwell, or help organize a section of the journal, please let me know by e-mail.

The Jotwell site is still under construction, so although the main graphical outlines are there, there's no actual content, and you should be prepared for some weirdness in the details if you go peek at it now. We're currently doing a last round of testing of the template and the integrated posting system which allows the main page to interact with the various sections, while maintaining each section's editorial independence.

The current plan is to go live in early October and it may go dark for a while before that happens.

If you'd like to be notified of Jotwell's official inauguration, please join the ultra-low-traffic announcement list.



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Barney Frank Knows How to Deal with Teabaggers

Crooks and Liars, Exclusive: The Rest Of That Barney Frank Town Hall Meeting With The Teabaggers:

Anyone who is aware of all Internet traditions has by now seen the footage of Barney Frank taking down the Larouchie who asked him if he would support a “Nazi policy” by asking her, “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” But Rep. Frank was in rare form that night, standing up to the uninformed shrieking of the right and offering a real lesson in how to argue with conservatives. Rep. Frank's office provided C&L with the tapes of that town hall meeting in Dartmouth from last week, and I put together a sort of greatest hits reel.

I wanted to illustrate this with a picture of what is probably my all-time-favorite US campaign poster, Frank's c. 1980-82 campaign poster with a rumpled candidate and the slogan “neatness isn't everything” … but strangely I couldn't find a copy of the image online.

Posted in Health Care | 1 Comment

On Being Mean

kingsfield.jpgThis is a new one.

After class last Friday, I first took questions from a long line of in most cases needlessly anxious first year students, then stopped to chat with a group of students who seemed to have stayed behind in the classroom to study. I asked them how it was going, the usual questions.

In the course of that conversation I got a complaint that I've never had before. It seems, they all agreed, that I wasn't mean enough. How were they going to be able to cope with mean people in the future if I didn't toughen them up? They expected law school to be tough, and were they getting the full experience?

It has to be said that the other professors in my section are particularly nice people. If there's a candidate for the bad guy, the scary one, it clearly has to be me. I'm the one teaching in a suit (the Dean has her own unique style that I will not attempt to characterize; Patrick Gudridge wears ties and jackets, but frequently the very professorial ones. George Schatzki doesn't wear a tie and sports a pony tail.)

But I don't want to be mean. Tough, sure; rigorous and exacting, you bet. But it's not meant to hurt.

Anyway, back to Friday: Slightly taken aback by this critique — one reason I stopped teaching first semester first years about a decade ago is that they found me too scary — I deflected the issue by saying that it reminded me of the story about the sadist and the masochist.

The masochist says to the sadist, “Please hurt me.” And the sadist says, “No.”

Then again, maybe I've just gone soft.

Posted in Law School | 12 Comments

That Hurt

The move broke stuff. First the whole site, then just the comments.

The new server has, I now learn, PHP compiled separately from Apache. Time to change the .htaccess file.

Plus, I'm now on Apache2, I learn. That has more .htaccess implications involving security settings I think I won't brag about. But I had forgotten why I did them that way, and I had to change them in a hurry.

Please let me know if anything seems more broken than usual.

Posted in | 9 Comments

We’re Moving

snail.jpgFor the past few days the blog has suffered from unusual slowness — yes, even more than usual — caused by heavy load on the server. The nice people at Dreamhost are moving me to what they say is a snazzy new server where the blog will zip along at a fabulous less sluggish pace.

Meanwhile, there may be brief weirdness. Please let me know if anything odder than usual persists.

I wonder sometimes if I should spring for faster service. But that would be expensive. And I like not taking ads. (This blog is privately hosted. My employer neither pays for it nor is in any way responsible for it.)

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