April 03, 2007
Truly Moot? First Round Delays, Lack of Transparency Mar Competition
By Austin Rice-Stitt
Participants in this year’s Campbell Moot Court Competition waited two weeks past a December deadline to hear if they had advanced to the quarterfinals, and the interval between that announcement and the deadline for submission of a revised first-round brief plus an additional brief was cut from a month to just over two weeks. The delay followed from difficulties getting first round briefs scored by volunteer alumni judges; finally, professors were asked to finish the scoring.
Approximately 50 teams of two submitted a first-round brief by October 30 in advance of oral arguments on November 14-17. Though a document distributed to participants entitled “Campbell Rules” said that “[t]he eight quarterfinalists will be announced in December,” contestants did not receive any correspondence until January 12, the day before twelve quarterfinalists were finally announced. Quarterfinalist teams had 17 days to adapt their first-round brief to new information that was added to the problem after the first round, and to compose an additional brief arguing the other side of the issue.
The Campbell Moot Court Competition is run each year by an Executive Board of around six upper-class law students who are chosen based on faculty recommendations. In advance of this year’s competition, the Board received positive responses from “around 50” alumni volunteers, each of whom was apparently asked to read and score six briefs, or about 120 pages. Because all of the volunteers did not score and return their briefs in a timely manner, the Board eventually had to rely on help from faculty to get each brief scored a minimum of four times. The Board insists that delays are a normal part of the competition, noting in response to questions submitted by the RG that this year’s delay was “not substantially different from previous years.”
As to why there were twelve quarterfinalists instead of eight, as stipulated in the Rules, the Board explained that they “had originally intended for there to be twelve quarterfinalists” and that they “increased the number of quarterfinalists to match [their] original intention.” Traditionally, Executive Boards have not had to explain how they dealt with specific issues that arose during the competition, nor have they been required to release brief scores or a detailed account of how the scoring was conducted. The process for scoring briefs is not transparent, and appears to be inconsistent.
The Board is overseen by the Office of Student Affairs, which provides administrative support to the Board but largely refrains from interfering with their executive function. Christine Gregory, who took over as Director of Student Affairs last fall, said that it has been customary to allow the board to function with “autonomy and flexibility” and to “put their own fingerprint” on the competition. Ms. Gregory is not aware of any reason to allow the Board to shape the competition, apart from the fact that the Board has traditionally had that power.
Ms. Gregory acknowledged that problems getting briefs scored and returned on time are not uncommon, and she agreed that the competition might benefit from more continuity from one Board to the next. A standardized system for scoring the briefs, Ms. Gregory reasoned, might actually make the Board’s job easier, as they would be free to focus more attention on other aspects of the competition. “The challenge,” according to Ms. Gregory, “is to document lessons learned so that the competition can improve. I’m sure that some of these problems recur from year to year, but there isn’t a record of them that I’m aware of.”
The Law School Student Senate (LSSS) may also take an interest in Campbell. LSSS Representative Scott Warheit, a participant in this year’s competition, says he plans to encourage the Senate to look into this year’s irregularities with an eye towards improving future competitions.
Clients Unlike Any Other
"Frolic and Detour"
By Patrick Barry
James Boyd White, Hart Wright Professor of Law, will be retiring from teaching at the end of this term. In honor of the pioneering work Professor White has done in the law and humanities—his 1973 book Legal Imagination is considered by many to be the foundational text of the contemporary law and literature movement—the Law School has announced plans to establish the James Boyd White Law and Humanities Clinic, a counseling center designed to help law books learn more about themselves. Administrators have released feedback forms from the clinic’s trial phrase, some of which are reproduced below, and hope all will attend the clinic’s official opening in September.
Patient: Ms. Modern Criminal Procedure: Cases-Comments-Questions
Clinician: Dr. The Complete Short Stories of Franz Kafka
“For the most part the doctor was helpful. A bit creepy, even crawly, but helpful. Though I was curious why he kept me waiting so long.”
Prescription: Curative Tattoo
Patient: Mr. Modern Law of Contracts
Clinician: Dr. Merchant of Venice
“Too many scales in that office. I think I gained a pound of flesh just by looking at them.”
Prescription: 500mg of Mercy, 250mg of Equity
Patient: Ms. Environmental Regulation of Land Use
Clinician: Dr. Walden
“Dr. Walden instructions were wonderfully direct and clear and frequently humorous. At times, however, he seemed a bit removed, almost solitary.”
Patient: Mr. Children and the Law
Clinician: Dr. Oliver Twist
“The advice Dr. Twist gave me was fantastic. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough of it. Please, sir, I want some more!”
Prescription: 20 hours of observed chimney sweeping
Patient: Ms. Sex Equality
Clinician: Dr. A Room of One’s Own
“One lousy room—that is all she could offer me! We are talking systemic historical oppression. One lousy room is not going to cut it!”
Prescription: More than “one lousy room,” but no more than three.
Missing: Twix, Bathrooms; Found: Answers, Info
By Sumeera Younis
We have one of the most beautiful law schools in the country, some of the most acclaimed faculty in the world, incredible classmates –heck, we even have a Duby. So students often find themselves puzzled when they are walking up and down the second floor of Hutchins Hall trying to find a bathroom. “It can’t be,” they think, “No bathroom on this floor?” Being the logical law students they are, they know this can’t be possible, so they walk up and down the halls some more, thinking there may be a secret passage to a land of many, many bathrooms. Soon they find themselves broken, dying to pee, and shocked that the great University of Michigan Law School has a bathroom shortage.
Maybe it isn’t that dramatic, but hearing Michigan students talk about the issue of bathrooms would make you think it was. The truth is that despite the many amazing attributes our school has, we deserve to be in the hall of shame for some of our facilities’ shortcomings. Recently I visited the University of Toledo Law School just south of us in Ohio and noticed that all of their classes are in “smart classrooms.” They have chairs that swivel and are cushioned! They can download the notes their professor writes on the board to their computers! It felt like I had gone to a magical place of learning where anything was possible. And the bathrooms were practically in the classrooms. Ok, ok, so I exaggerate a little bit, but their facilities did blow me away, especially considering the fact that their tuition is a fraction of ours and we are ranked substantially higher than they are. (Rankings are a whole different discussion, though.)
So, are we doomed? Our facilities suck, no one cares, and we are doomed to hold it or, dare I say it...walk a whole flight of stairs just to fulfill our Constitutional right to relieve ourselves? After compiling a list of concerns that students expressed, I went to the facilities director, Brent Dickman. Other than the bathrooms, most of the other concerns involved temperatures in classrooms, flickering lights, and the drinking fountains. These are all maintenance issues and can often be corrected quickly if they are relayed to the right person. Whenever you have a maintenance issue you can pass it along to Lois Oerther (firstname.lastname@example.org) who has been very helpful in making sure the concerns are addressed promptly.
Brent Dickman is also a great resource in answering questions regarding facilities issues and has been able to offer some insight into student’s biggest concerns. Below are his responses to our students’ three major facilities issues.
Why aren’t the vending machines ever stocked?
There were concerns about stocking of vending machines and having a coffee machine in the basement. We have a vendor that owns and stocks the machines. The coffee machine that was in the basement had very little usage, and it wasn’t profitable for the company to keep it here. We do have issues with the company keeping machines stocked. I don’t know why that is, because they are losing money every time this happens. One would think they would do a better job of keeping them stocked. But Lois does call and keep after them when they fail to stock the machines. She has also mentioned the lack-of-bottled-water issue to them.
Why don’t we have better bathroom facilities?
Adding and upgrading bathrooms has been part of our master plan for quite some time. It is not an easy problem to solve. Adding bathrooms to the 1st and 2nd floors of Hutchins requires space that isn’t there. It will require us to convert a classroom or existing administrative space, which requires us to have space elsewhere. It’s a problem that will get solved as part of our larger renovation/expansion plans.
When can we expect to see better elevators in Hutchins Halls?
We are now working with engineers to design new elevators for Legal Research and to design aesthetic improvements to the Hutchins elevator. The University pays for elevator replacement and is only funding the Legal Research replacement this year. The Hutchins elevator will be replaced in a not-too-distant future year. But, at least it should look a little better by the time the students return in the fall.
Facilities issues can’t always be fixed right away, but the only way they will ever be fixed at all is if the administration knows that they are a concern, and this happens only then students are vocal about their needs. Our university has a lot of amazing qualities, and many of them came about because students expressed what was important to them in their legal education.
A girl can only dream, but one day we too may have swivel chairs!
From Cannibals to Coase: An Interview with Brian Simpson
By Malak Hamwi
Professor A. W. Brian Simpson’s primary interest is in the historical development of law and legal institutions. He is also an expert on the European Convention and on human rights, and frequently speaks on these subjects in Europe and the United States. He does some pro bono consulting in connection with cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Simpson is the Charles F. and Edith J. Clyne Professor of Law at the Law School, and has held professorships at the University of Kent, the University of Cambridge, the University of Chicago, and the University of Ghana. Professor Simpson earned an M.A. and a Doctorate of Civil Law from Oxford University. He is a fellow (honorary) of Lincoln College, Oxford, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy. In June 2001, he became Honorary Queen’s Counsel.
Res Gestae: What does the A.W. in your name stand for?
Professor Brian Simpson: Alfred William. I was always intended to be called Brian, but my parents for some peculiar reason put Alfred William first. Those are family names. They wanted to give me some family names, and for some reason they put them in that order and I don’t know why. They never explained it. It’s crazy.
RG: Tell us about your road to Michigan.
PBS: I started teaching at the University of Chicago Law School in 1979. Then I became a tenured member of the faculty. Then I was invited to Michigan to teach contracts and I decided I liked it better than Chicago. So after a lot of doubt I moved. I didn’t dislike Chicago, but I thought that this place was more varied and more diverse basically, in terms of the academics. And also Chicago, at that time, had a poor reputation for minority students. There were hardly any minority students when I taught at Chicago. It’s become different, but this place has always had a policy of having a diverse student body, which I like better.
RG: Have you always known you wanted to be a law professor?
PBS: I was uncertain when I finished at Oxford whether to go for a career at the English bar or become an academic. I got married very young, and there was an attraction to getting a steady income. It was always a possibility. I wasn’t absolutely settled I would become an academic, but I became one and I stayed one.
RG: When you first came over from the UK to teach in America, was the adjustment difficult?
PBS: American law schools are very, very different. To start with, all the students here are graduate students, and in the UK, most law students are undergraduates. And the system of big class teaching doesn’t exist in English universities. In Oxford you taught students in groups of two. And all my formal lectures at Kent were classes of about twelve students. But these big-case classes just don’t exist. English students just won’t participate in them.
RG: Do you think big classes are effective?
PBS: I think they’re quite enjoyable. They work best in the first year because the students are more enthusiastic. I’m not sure that doing big-case classes is sensible for the whole 3 years. But I would much prefer it here if we taught in smaller classes. At one time, we used to have a program for teaching in smaller classes, but it’s collapsed because there aren’t enough people to run it.
I think the trouble with the big classes is you have very little real contact with students. I mean, if you’ve got 95 students, how on earth are you supposed to get to know them? You tend to get to know a few of them, but it’s not like seminars. You get to know them. I have them over to my apartment, but I can’t have 95 students to my apartment. There’s no room for them.
RG: How do Michigan students compare to others you’ve taught at different institutions?
PBS: The Chicago students tended to be rather right-wing. They’re very hard-working, and they worked just as hard for a class in the third year as in the first year. Michigan students seem to me to be more sensible, more relaxed, and so on. And the student atmosphere I think is less competitive and more friendly and I prefer that. The Chicago students were intensely competitive. Students here are competitive, but it doesn’t sort of break up personal relationships. But I mean Chicago had the problem of students hiding books and so on.
The students here seem very good. I think the admission policy here has worked extremely well in getting a mixed crowd of interesting students. I hope we’ll be able to continue to do that, but we can’t break the law, you see. We can’t deliberately flout the law, so we have to adapt.
RG: Are you worried the character of Michigan will change after Prop 2?
PBS: I think it may change. I think we will tend to get less minority students for a year or two. It will probably come back to much the same, but it’s difficult to tell. It’s a policy that’s worked well. We have lively classes and the students that come here all do well. We have studies about what happens to them, and they all do great out there in the real world.
RG: How do you determine what cases are worthy of scholarly inquiry?
PBS: Sometimes for pure chance reasons. The cannibalism book was because I obtained access to the government files on the case (Dudley and Stephens) and immediately saw that there was a really good story in it. Otherwise you pick them because you think there will be material that will throw light on them. That’s to some extent guess work because sometimes you can’t find out anything apart from what’s in the law reports. I have tried to do studies of some cases and so far got nowhere with them because I can’t find out anything about them.
RG: Like what?
PBS: Armory v. Delamirie. I’ve tried to find out more information about that case, but so far I’ve got nowhere. I’m still trying. But the trouble is that if the people in the case are poor, they tend to leave no trace in historical records. So if you do a case involving fairly wealthy people, you often find information. It’s easier to find information in the nineteenth century, because there are extensive newspaper reports. They often give very detailed accounts of litigation, so you get a lot of information from them, but the further back you go, the more difficult it gets.
RG: What’s your interest in that case?
PBS: It’s such a strange case. I mean, here’s this chimney sweep boy, they were the lowest of the low, somehow suing – who paid for his lawyer? He’s suing the most distinguished silversmith of the early eighteenth century. The defendant’s work now sells for a million dollars an item. And yet we don’t know anything about how the case happened.
RG: For how long have you tried to get information on that case?
PBS: I’ve done it intermittently for years, but I haven’t gotten anywhere. History is sometimes just hopeless. Sometimes you just have to give up.
RG: What are you working on now?
PBS: I’m the sort of person who doesn’t stick to any particular thing for very long. I’m like a butterfly. Now, I’m supposed to be writing a book this year on the common law tradition. A general account of the legal tradition in which you and I are working, which is the common law. There is no such book. There’s a book on the Roman law tradition, the civil law tradition. But no one has ever written a book on the common law tradition. It’s weird. So when students ask, “What is the common law?” there is no 200-page book you can give them.
It’s going to be an account which can be read by law students in their first year who wanted to have some idea what this common law system was. It’s thought there will be interest in it, if it’s any good, from lawyers in other traditions, like French lawyers or German lawyers, who want an account of the common law system. But it’s got to be written – that’s the problem. You’ve heard of writer’s block? That is a real phenomena where you just can’t spool yourself up to start. You spend time tidying out drawers, or washing your socks, or rearranging your books. Anything rather than trying to write the thing. I’m going to have to be very determined to get started on it.
Writing short books is harder work than writing long books because you have to really get your thoughts organized. That's not the case in writing great big long books like my book on human rights, known in the family as “The Beetle Crusher.”
RG: Your expertise is in common law history and also human rights law. Do you consider these two distinct areas of expertise or are they somehow linked?
PBS: I started life doing late medieval legal history. In recent years, I’ve gotten more and more interested in what you might call modern legal history. I edited a series for the Oxford Press called “Oxford Studies in Modern Legal History.” I wrote a book about detention without trial in Britain in the Second World War, mostly based on archival material, but also on a lot of interviews with people. We locked up about 1700 citizens, and quite a number of them belonged to the British Fascist Party. I interviewed a lot of these people. I also interviewed some of the security people who were chasing them. So that was history of the Second World War. Some of my international law writings have been historical. This book here is about how Britain came to sign up to the European Convention on Human Rights, and what difference it made to life. It’s the history of the 1940s/1950s. I published two pieces on international law, both based on post-Second World War legal history. One is on the genocide convention. Another one was on whether the British government during the Second World War paid any attention to international law in conducting naval operations. A lot of this is legal history but very modern legal history because there’s a huge volume of archival material nobody’s ever looked at.
Basically I’m interested in how law develops and how it interrelates with government organizations, with parliaments, with public opinion. Looking at law in a broader context.
RG: Having studied the development of medieval law and more modern law, is there anything about the development of modern law that worries you?
PBS: I’m quite concerned currently at overreaction to the threat of terrorism. I really think it’s a great mistake to throw away our civil liberties just because we have a panic about a bomb or two, however serious the bombs are. That’s one interest of mine in human rights work. Human rights protection, in Europe anyway, is a considerable control over governments. I think, like many Americans think, that America has overreacted. And I hope a lot of the Patriot Act gets repealed. It’s not necessary. It’s understandable, but it’s a great pity to ditch your civil liberties. They’re important.
Even in the Second World War, the repressive laws in Britain were not as bad they are now. And that was a BIG war. So I think there is an overreaction. But that’s a view shared by lots of people in America. And there is a sign that currently there is a sort of reaction against it -- it is sort of encouraging. You see more and more people saying we shouldn’t do this. We should restrain ourselves a bit.
RG: Have you thought about doing research on the topic?
PBS: I’ve written extensively on emergency powers, but only on their historical basis. But I don’t like get into political controversies in America. I’m not an American. I don’t direct writing to what happens over here. I think that’s better left to American scholars. Especially since they understand American constitutional law.
RG: Have you been involved in any political controversies in the UK?
PBS: Not really. The sort of activist side of me is confined to doing pro bono work on human rights cases. I’ve been involved in quite a number of those. But that’s all -- writing memos and documents and opinions for use in litigation. I’ve never been a politically active sort of person. I have political views but I don’t join political parties or go on marches or anything like that.
RG: You’ve maintained strong ties to the UK. Do you go back often?
PBS: I spend about half the year there.
RG: Why haven’t you become an American in all your years here?
PBS: Mainly family roots. I’ve got five children in England and heaven knows how many grandchildren. I’m English and an Irish citizen, too, and I think that’s enough. I like America but I wouldn’t want to spend my retirement in America.
RG: You mentioned retirement. Do you already have plans about that?
PBS: I’m getting very old. I’m coming up to 76. I can’t go on forever, so at some point I obviously will retire here, but I haven’t taken any decision about that. It’s a great mistake to go on working too long because then you become an embarrassment to the Dean. You don’t want to do that. At some point I’ll retire, but I’d like to maintain a connection with Michigan.
RG: What will you do in retirement?
PBS: Much the same sort of writing I do now. I have hobbies. I like gardening, bird watching – though I can never tell most birds apart – and I run a boat. I still have a sailing boat, but I’m getting a bit old for sailing it on my own so the family is pressuring me to confining my activities to a motorboat.
I was thinking of writing a book on markets. And I might do that. About how markets work, the different sorts of markets, the regulation of markets, the weird markets for selling bizarre things. There’s a market in Russian brides. Markets in saints' relics. All sorts of strange markets out there and there isn’t a little book on markets that gives an account of how strange these markets are. I give a seminar on this.
RG: You have such an extensive body of work. What project are you most proud of?
PBS: I’m quite pleased with this book on human rights because it does relate the history of international law to the political and diplomatic history of Western Europe. I think other historians have really paid very little attention to the development of the human rights convention, which is the first effective human rights protection ever invented anywhere in the world. It’s an amazing make. I’m also fascinated because its ratification coincided with the dissolution of the British Empire and there’s the whole question to what extent did human rights protection affect that and lead to consequences in decolonization and so on.
But I think most writers are never happy with their books. The minute they’ve published it, they immediately see some fault in it. It’s a common phenomenon that once you’ve published a book you think, “oh God, that could have been so much better if I spent another year on it.” You’re always dissatisfied.
I think it’s sort of like being an athlete. Unless you think “I could be better,” you’re not being a good athlete. Those guys who run a hundred meters in 9.8 seconds are always dissatisfied because they think they could run it a bit faster. I think in any sort of creative activity, you have to be endlessly dissatisfied with what you’re doing, and think it’s dreadful and could be better.
RG: Do you have a preference for publishing books or writing law review articles?
PBS: I don’t like law review articles. People sort of belong either to the book writing culture or the article writing culture. I have published articles but I never regard that as my aim in life. The aim in life is a book. You find those people particularly connected with the humanities end of law tend to be happier publishing books. I also don’t like the endless wrangles with law reviews about the footnotes and so on. It’s just dreadful.
With books, you have more creative freedom. It’s also partly vanity. I feel better if I have a newly published book than if I have the off prints of an article. I don’t know why. It can’t be rational.
RG: Can you talk a little bit about your exchange with Professor Ronald Coase over his article “Law and Economics and A.W. Brian Simpson?”
PBS: Oh yes, he got furiously angry with me. I wrote a criticism of some of what Coase said, which was not meant to make him angry. I thought it was perfectly polite. He’s a great scholar. It was just a disagreement on academic things. But Coase got rather cross with me, instead of replying to the arguments, so I got slightly cross in reply. He said how dare somebody who’s not an economist write about this, and I said you don’t have to be a horse to write about horses. Most of what I was writing about was law anyway, not theoretical economics.
A large part of the article simply argued that he hadn’t quite understood the law. The law and economics movement, well if you’re critical of it, they tend to either get cross, or just ignore the criticism, and carry on as before. I don’t know why they do that. They’re sort of defensive about it. The arguments I put forth in the article, nobody’s replied to them.
RG: Let’s talk about some fun topics. You’re known for signing your books in blood every year for the SFF auction. Where do you get the blood from?
PBS: It’s a joke. It was to raise money. I get the blood when they draw blood for blood samples. I sometimes can persuade them to spare a little bit. But the medics are reluctant to do that, you see. Otherwise I just stick a thing in my ear lobe and squeeze the blood out. You just get a razor blade and cut it. You clean it and sterilize it, of course. It doesn’t hurt much. You don’t need much blood, just a little bit. Then I use a little brush.
It’s become an institutional joke. It’s been going on for 7 or 8 years. We had to give things to SFF. I don’t remember whether I suggested it or a student did, but we agreed to sign my book in blood and it’s been done every year since.
RG: I’ve also heard you remove articles of clothing at the SFF auction….
PBS: The stories about this are exaggerated. On one occasion I removed my shirt and that’s all. The stories are that I removed lots of clothes, but it’s not true. You see, to get the students to bid you have to be silly and clown about. I didn’t do it this year. I’ve bitten balloons and things like that in the past. You just have to be ridiculous to get them to bid. But it’s all for a good cause.
RG: You’ve also been rumored to have an exotic palate and to be a bit of a wine connoisseur.
PBS: I do cooking quite a bit for my family. I do some of it here, but when my children and their significant others come down, I always cook. I like cooking. And I drink too much wine. I like French white wines, but I drink lots of wine. I’m not a wine buff. I can’t tell you names and dates of dozens of different wines. I just like the stuff.
Law School Rocks! ... For These Folks
By Tim Harrington
What sets the University of Michigan Law School apart, other than our status as officially cool —at least cooler than Boalt Hall– in the www.abovethelaw.com March Madness tournament? Well, for one thing, we have a rock band: T.J. Hooper and the Learned Hands. Yes, we’re not just musical, we’re funny too! According to band member and 1L Jennifer Pepin, that’s a much wittier name than The 2nd Restatement of Rock, the band hailing from George Washington University’s Law School. Oh, they also have a website: www.carrolltowing.com. Detect a theme here?
I sat down with Pepin on a bench in the sunny Law Quad, and she explained that the band consists of four, five, or maybe six core members, but added that there was a fluidity to the composition of the group. A complete list can be found in their Facebook group. She mentioned in particular the founder, Andrew Moll, on guitar; Dave Lupton-Laurence—“or Laurence-Lupton, I can’t remember,” on bass guitar; Adam Dubinsky, on ukulele; and herself on cornet—it’s “like the trumpet but louder.”
Pepin reports that she’s played the cornet for fewer than two months but that the twelve-year old upright bass player she jams with on Wednesday nights has said that she’s better than all the eighth graders in the Slauson Middle School band. Other core members of the group include Dave Alles on Emo guitar, who can play any Top-40 song from the last 20 years, and “this guy named Paul—he’s tall—who plays bass.”
The band’s influences include Andrew W. K. and Rick Springfield. Pepin insisted that she didn’t list Andrew W. K. in order to kiss Professor Krier’s @ss. She said they really all did enjoy his music, as well as the new Modest Mouse, which they “all happen to be listening to right now.” The Rick Springfield influence apparently is more subconscious. The band worked on a song written by Andrew Moll called “I Wanna Be Mao,” an ironic appreciation of the merits of dictatorship, that sounded just like “Jessie’s Girl.” After discovering the similarity the band decided to rework their musical homage to the late Chinese leader. As for other songs, Pepin reported that they are currently trying to craft another original that is so awesome that the law school just isn’t ready for it right now.
T.J. Hooper and the Learned Hands haven’t played any gigs yet, but they did earn $6 busking outside Sweetwaters, where they played the “talking blues”—blues with spoken vocals. The band taught the Erie Doctrine to passersby, and a local lawyer gave them $2 (cheap bastard). Pepin reports that the band doesn’t feel ready to play a gig yet, but that word has gotten out of their existence. Members of the School of Social Work and the School of Urban Planning have approached them to ask about playing at a fundraiser.
For the record, I am in Pepin’s Jurisdiction class, and I fully intend to review for our exam with the entire band…what better way to study?
For now, they are practicing hard when they can get together, despite various obstacles, including getting kicked out of the Lawyer’s Club Lounge for being too loud, but mostly…law school. Ironic, isn’t it? The very thing that brought them together is the same thing that threatens to drive them apart. Despite their struggle to “gel,” Pepin is hopeful. With the exception of the incomparable Duby, all members of the band are returning next year, and Pepin is excited about the class of 2010—she’s been “putting the pressure” on Dean Zearfoss to admit a drummer.
The band has looked for a drummer in the past but doesn’t have one at the moment. Pepin met some promising candidates during the two preview weekends last month, including one who had toured with the Pixies (in what capacity it was unclear). While none was a drummer, there were several “kids who knew a thing or two about rockin’.”
As the semester comes to a close, we probably won’t see much of the Learned Hands—or is the appropriate abbreviation the T.J.’s?—but we will at least know a little more about the talented and—occasionally—intriguingly enigmatic people with whom we go to school. After all, these rockers are still law students. True to form, Pepin ended the interview by saying she needed to go “ogle” some Federal judges in room 218 and get some breakfast (at 11:45 a.m.). “Do you think they wear robes all the time?” she asked. “I’d wear mine to the grocery store, …I look good in black.”
Moot Court Final Results
Congratulations to the winners of the 83rd Annual Campbell Moot Court! It was a hard fought competition, and the results are as follows:
The Champions and recipients of the Best Brief Award are Jeremy Suhr and Robert Stockman, Counsel of Record for Dylan Dope, et. al., Petitioner. Stockman also received the Best Oralist Award.
The other Finalist team was Caitlin Bair and Jessica Berry, Counsel of Record for the Peter Piper, Respondent.
The Law School hosted three esteemed judges for this final round, the Honorable Judge Deanell R. Tacha, Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals; the Honorable Judge Steven M. Colloton of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals; and the Honorable Judge Gerald Tjoflat of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The competition was sponsored by the firm of Dickenson Wright PLLC. One of the oldest law firms in Ann Arbor, Dickenson Wright has supported this competition from its inception eighty-three years ago.
To watch the final round here.
Federalist Symposium to Be Held at Law School
To the Law School Community:
On behalf of the University of Michigan Law School Federalist Society, I would like to thank everyone who has participated in and supported our events throughout another great year. Although our Law School has a “liberal” reputation, the Law School community has always been extremely supportive of the Federalist Society’s efforts to further intellectual debate. Our events draw students from all perspectives. In fact, they often excite vigorous discussion among our own members, who range from all varieties of conservatives to libertarians, even card-carrying ACLU members!
It gives me great pleasure to announce that our own chapter’s vitality and the dedication of the Law School community have made it possible to host the 2008 National Federalist Society Student Symposium at Michigan Law School. This Symposium, entitled “The People and the Courts,” will occur on March 7 and 8,, 2008, and will focus on the interaction between society, the judiciary, and the democratic process. This symposium will bring together law students from around the country to engage with judges and legal scholars from top law schools. Michigan Law students consistently make valuable contributions to our discussions and events and we hope that our fellow students—Federalist or not—will also take advantage of the opportunity to engage in this discourse. Dedication to intellectual diversity is one of our law school’s greatest assets and we are thrilled to host this valuable contribution towards that goal.
Federalist Symposium Director
Ask Ms. Sandra D.
Dear Sandra D.,
In Con Law class we recently read about integration and some of the opinions regarding race relations in America. I am a white female, and while I was in undergrad I had a long-term relationship with a black classmate. We were very much in love and had planned on getting married –until we met each other’s families. We both found ourselves uncomfortable and ostracized at the other’s home. Although our parents never directly said that race was an issue, it was clear. Now, I am interested in someone who is from a different background again and I wonder if it is worth it to fall in love again, just to see it end in heartbreak? Has anything really changed from the days before Brown?
What a loaded question! The truth is that many parents are still opposed to seeing their children marry outside of their race. They may have no problem with interacting with people from different backgrounds or even having a diverse range of close friends but it becomes an entirely different matter when their kids are involved. Parents worry that you two are being shortsighted –for example, that you are not considering the unique challenges to your situation, or the effect this decision might have on your own kids. These are realities you and your partner should keep in mind, but in no way is Sandra D. saying that this should prevent you from pursuing a relationship with someone you care about. All relationships are bound to have challenges, and unfortunately there are going to be some unique ones you face if you are in an interracial or intercultural relationship. As long as you and your prospective partner can acknowledge these possible challenges now, you will be able to avoid heartbreak in the long run.
Dear Sandra D.,
Spoons has taken over my life and I am extremely frustrated because I have not even been able to get in one thwack. What the heck? What can I do to get my guy??
If I had a dollar for every person who asked me this question, I would still be in debt. The spoons competition is winding down to some of the most conniving and most elusive law students at Michigan. Nobody said it was going to be easy being the spoons champion, but nobody said it would be this hard. As days upon days pass without having thwacked, just remember that it is one day closer to when you will thwack your person. There will be a moment of weakness. It may be that they have to put their spoon down to sneeze, or put on a pair of gloves, and you will be there, ever vigilant, ever ready to thwack. Stay strong.
Dear Sandra D.,
I am slightly embarrassed to even be writing this question, but I feel I must because it may be an issue many law students face. I sit next to someone in class who has very bad hygiene. Particularly, very bad breath. This would be fine if we were free to change our seats but since the seating chart of death has been well established, there is no way I can change my seat. I actually hate to go to this class because I am afraid I will gag. Please help!
Writing in was a brave thing to do, and it will help many law students. Law students of Michigan, please hear Disgusted’s call. Go to your local Kroger and get the 3 pack of Dentyne Ice, which is often on sale for 2/$3.00. It will be an investment that goes a long way; from helping you make more friends at school or not grossing out future employers. Personal hygiene is key. Make sure you are brushing at least twice a day and using mouthwash. Flossing is one of the best ways to kill bad breath because the bacteria that causes it often lives between our teeth. Get unscented deodorant so you can really pile it on without feeling like you smell like the deodorant aisle. These simple and cheap steps will go a long way to making the world a better place. As for you, Disgusted, a simple tactful hint can go a long way. Perhaps make an effort to reach out to your classmate, take chewing gum and mints to class and place them visibly between you or offer one casually. Best of luck!
Finishing Up at a Liberal Arts Finishing School
"Take It From Me"
By Bria LaSalle
As the only graduating member of the RG editorial staff, I have the sole privilege of penning a “So Long, and Thanks For All The Pizza” column. It occurs to me that this situation cuts into a solid good-bad dichotomy. The good: our faithful RG readers only have to suffer through one page of 3L nostalgia. The bad: I bear full responsibility for providing such nostalgia to those who are so inclined to enjoy it. As I am not generally given to shmoopy bouts of glowing nostalgia, there’s a substantial risk that anything I say will be so overly precious that level-headed readers will vomit slightly in their mouths upon first read.
But I’ll do my best.
In the months before I came to Michigan, before I began what others affectionately named “liberal arts finishing school,” I had many conversations with friends and coworkers that seemed to take the inevitable turn to law school’s giant, awe-inspiring price tag. Most of them had not contemplated committing to a $150,000+ purchase at the tender age of 24, so it soon became the conversation gap-filler, mostly supplanting the traditional weather and Astro’s talk that abounds in a Houston July. Many of them knew I chose Michigan over a few far cheaper options; they were frequently overcome by the temptation to ask “will it be worth it?”
Today I look back at the past three years to see what I got for my money; call it my review of the Law School credit card statement. In a few months, I’ll have a fancy piece of paper that will represent the totality of my tuition spending to some. I think the value lies more in the intangibles, and I think some of them have already proven to produce excellent dividends.
The obvious intangibles barely merit mention; naturally, three years of sharing classrooms with brilliant, articulate, shrewd, funny, imaginative, and challenging peers under the talented leadership of our stellar faculty is essentially priceless. But this is the set of goods we all knew we would receive in exchange for our money. It’s the other stuff, the things we can’t quite capture in a brochure, that have made this whole expensive ride “worth it.”
So what did I get?
On May 5 I’ll leave the Law School with the following: several hundred pounds of well-loved (and well-hated) books; a bizarre but undeniable love of tax policy discussions; a not quite fully-healed broken toe, the amusing but painful reminder of an ill-fated run in with Krier’s property book; a soon-to-be husband; a love of Indian food; a job in an office full of people I greatly like; a GPA that was just good enough to get me the aforementioned job but never so good that I had to worry about “ruining” it; a new religion; a flat stomach; a guilty love of America’s Next Top Model; countless friends; a very few enemies; a food processor.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list. Perhaps more obviously (nearly to the point of being banal), there are many items on the list that are not, strictly speaking, the direct result of having attended law school. Or are they? When we arrive as 1Ls, it’s easy and natural to compare law school to high school. I certainly did. In the beginning, law school felt like a glorious High School Redux, where everyone had another chance to be cool. Yet here at the end, I can’t help compare, somewhat inelegantly, law school to a giant, beautiful Petri dish.
Deposited in an environment that is highly conducive to growth and change, we run amok with some sort of catalyst for three years and come out anew on the other side. What’s the catalyst, exactly? Each other? Hutchins? The mystique of law school? Perhaps a little of column A and a little of columns B and C? Whatever the combination, it brought me to a series of results I didn’t dare to expect. How many people can say that about their ING account?
My walk through the Petri dish (this simile is really starting to grow on me) exposed me to the people, places, and situations that brought about everything I could think to list as a “benefit,” and countless others. Law school hasn’t been the where so much as the how. It is how I figured out my strengths. It is how I met my spouse. It is how I became a Jew. It is how I came to fully own the confidence and sense of self I always suspected was lurking somewhere in here. Liberal arts finishing school, indeed.
If the question ever arises again – whether it was worth it to spend the money for law school – I will unequivocally answer yes. And then I will smile, knowing the interested party has no idea just how much value I received in exchange for my purchase. That will be fine. Like so many other things, the value of what is said will pale in measure to what remains unsaid. They, like you, will just have to take it from me.
Bria LaSalle is a graduating 3L. Thank you for suffering through her many bathroom-related rants, exhortations of love for Jeremy Piven, and the rest of the dribble that made up "Take It From Me."
No Shark in Library Changes
By Nate Kurtis
As law students, we have all had to research and study in the Law Library –and there are those of us who seem to never leave…. Given how important the library is to our daily lives, it is practically criminal how little we know about just what goes on down there. (It’s not Vegas, you know. What happens in the Law Library does not have to stay in the Law Library.) To help solve this dearth of knowledge, we started asking around with the people down there, but they kept shushing us. So, instead, we sat down with Margaret Leary, a librarian and Director of the Law Library.
Res Gestae: Let’s just get some stats out of the way first: the Library website says there are 25 miles of books here. Is that end to end, pages –what are we talking about?
Margaret Leary: That is miles of shelving in the library.
RG: Miles of shelving?
ML: Miles of shelving that have books on them. So, if you put the books, just as they are on the shelves, and somehow got all the shelves stretched out it would be 25 miles long. It’s a lot of books; it is well over 600,000 printed volumes.
RG: And expanding how fast?
ML: Well, that gets more complicated. We add about ten or eleven thousand volumes a year, but we also take volumes out. We take volumes out for two reasons: one is that they get replaced by other things, for example the advanced sheets of reporter volumes get replaced by bound volumes. The second reason we take things out is that we are reducing the size of the paper collection very deliberatively. We are taking out duplicate copies of things. Over the course of years, we have reduced the number of copies of the national reporter system –when I came here a long time ago we maybe had ten copies of the national reporter system, now we have one or two. We are eliminating duplicate copies of law reviews. As material gets more and more available online, our policy is that we keep what we need in print to satisfy the demand for the print; but, to use law reviews as an example, once those all became available in PDF on HeinOnline we really only need one or two paper copies to own forever.
RG: I hear that you are in the process of completely reorganizing those 25 miles of books. How long will that take? And, why are you bothering to shuffle around 25 miles of books in the first place?
ML: It’s going to take a long time, but I really hope we’ll be done at the end of ’09, and possibly ’08. The reason we’re doing it is to make things easier for everyone who uses the library, to make it easier to browse our library by topic. Right now, for example, the treatise collection is arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name, which is not very helpful if what you are really looking for is a range of books on criminal procedure, for example. A secondary benefit, that won’t be so visible to users, will be that each item will have its own unique call number on the spine. There are thousands of volumes in this library that don’t have that, which makes it hard for us to reshelve them and keep them in the right place, which in turn makes it hard for our patrons to find the resources they need.
RG: So far we’ve just been talking about research materials, but that isn’t the only reason people come to the library. Are there any plans to make the library a better place to study, and especially do group work?
ML: The first step in doing anything like that is find out what people really want, and that step is a little tricky because of course we have a lot of students, and they don’t always want the same things. We held two focus groups this winter and invited students to come and share their thoughts. We’ve also been looking at other libraries.
What we hope to do is keep this a quiet place to study, in general. When we do anything that is noisy, we always get complaints. When students and patrons who are using the library are noisy, we get complaints. So, we know we need to keep a large area that is quiet. But, we also know that students really do want to work in groups. So, we need areas were people can gather as a group and talk to each other. We have the two study rooms on sub-three, which are heavily used, especially during exam times, and we want to create some additional areas that are like that. One place we are thinking of is the area on sub-one behind the reference desk. That area is already glassed in, so the noise created there would be confined to that space, and we think we can take all the books out and add in some tables and comfortable chairs and make that a place where noise is allowed.
That is a short term project. Longer term, and I recognize that the Law School’s need for a whole new building comes first so I’m not telling you something I think is going to happen tomorrow, but I think it would be possible to reorganize the way space is used in this building, and look at the building as a whole and think about all the needs we have and how they’ve changed. For example, students don’t want as many private carols as we have. Those were an idea that was popular in the 1970s, but now we are in a whole other century and students want to have more comfortable seating and places where they can talk together, or just sit without being all closed in by a carol. We are also looking around to find places where we might put more comfortable lounge seating like what we used to have in the sub-three lounge. Before we turned it into a computer lab it was very dimly lit and had really giant, comfortable chairs, and was a very nice place to take a nap. Not that we are necessarily looking to make a napping area.
RG: I think we need one!
ML: We may need one, but maybe not in these nice, bright subs. We also want to make sure we have electrical outlets everywhere students need them. I’d be very interested in any ideas students have. They can e-mail me (email@example.com), or just walk in.
RG: You mentioned more electronic resources, but I always have trouble finding them. Any chance you are going to reorganize those while you’re at it with the books?
ML: Yes. This gets to the question of our website. I’d love to show you now, but it wouldn’t be a very good interview. I guess, what, you’d put: “big empty space while Nate looks at the website.” We have thousands of resources on our website that are organized and categorized and searchable for you to use. But, the trouble is, you look at our home page and who knows that there are thousands of resources underneath there?
We are working right now to revise our website. What I would like our website to do is to be organized for the benefit of students. When we first developed the website maybe five, ten years ago, we didn’t have a particular audience in mind, we wanted it to be helpful to everybody, and we still want that. But I would love for the library website to be the place where students go for information they need, not just to write a research paper or solve a clinic problem, but if you need information about choosing courses, or finding a job.
I would love for our website to be a place where law students go to find a sense of community –just as they come to the library to find a place to study. We could have more study aids on the website, and we could maybe have something like a wiki where students could help build resource guides for different classes. Now, the librarians have already made some of those, but maybe student-made ones would be more meaningful or useful to students. And maybe also a tab that says ‘PDF Web Sources,’ because if you have a pdf, you don’t have to go back to the paper to do blue book. That would be another way to get to those resources. Maybe a tab for 1Ls that focuses on what 1Ls really need to know: what are law exams really like? What are good books to help you understand how to study for exams? Other things they want to know.
RG: Are the rumors true that the library tour is being redone?
ML: Are those rampant rumors?
RG: Not really.
ML: Yes, we are redoing the tour. One of the pieces of advice we repeatedly got was: dumb it down, make it simpler. We are going to break it up into smaller parts and make a lot more of it virtual instead of walking around. We’re also going to make it easier to take it in small bites, so if all you need is to figure out the paper digests then you can just do that part without doing the whole thing.
RG: Does the library currently have any other long term plans in the works?
ML: A giant thing that I hope we can do in the law library, and this is a little farther down the road, is I really would like us to take part in the Google Books project. The University Library is a path breaker on that, and the contract is with the University of Michigan and not just with the university libraries, so the law library could participate in that. We have a very rich and deep collection in foreign comparative and international law, as well as federal law and law of the us states and the colonies that proceeded them. To get our collection completely digitized by Google would be an absolute boon. It would be great for our patrons, and it would be great for people all over the world. There are still copyright problems, but we can figure out ways to solve those problems, and there is a lot of material that is not copyrighted.
RG: Well now, books and electronic resources and study areas are all well and good, but what about some of the more daring suggestions that folks have made for improving the library? I’m referring to ideas such as putting a shark in the light well or a swimming pool in sub-three.
ML: [laughs] Now you’ve got me; I forgot to give you a disclaimer at the beginning of the interview: I’m humor impaired. The shark…eh… I don’t like the idea of a shark in the light well because I don’t like the idea of putting water in that light well because I don’t want that light well to start leaking. And, what was the second one? A swimming pool? Yeah, well you could have that. You could just turn off that sunk pump. I don’t think you’d want to swim then, though. I’d rather have the people and books there myself.
RG: You could still have people and books.
ML: Where would the swimming pool be?
RG: Well, that would be what they are floating on.
ML: Oh! Everything on a raft? Well, that would make it easier to reorganize the collection; put the books on the rafts and shift the rafts around. You’d have to get some really good waterproof rafts….
Women’s Law Blog Resource Unfolds
Submitted by Anjali Shenoy
One year ago women from twelve of the nation’s top law schools, including Michigan Law, shared an idea to combat a long-standing problem: the rates at which women lawyers opt out of the legal profession. The solution? Ms. JD, a new online forum for women law students and lawyers to connect and converse about topics that affect women in the profession and the world at large. The blog is, according to the site, “dedicated to reinforcing and expanding the representation of women in law school and the legal profession.”
Reaching issues in areas ranging from work-life balance (not just a women’s issue!) to high heels, and incorporating articles written by everyone from students to the Dean of Harvard’s Law School, Elena Kagan, the interactive blog solicits contributions and encourages comments, debate and discussion. Ms. JD works to bring to light the many issues facing women in the legal profession and to spread the word about why these issues matter, not only to women, but to the greater legal community. Moreover, the website brings into focus the victories women attain every day for themselves and for society.
On Saturday, March 31, the Ms. JD board held the first annual Ms. JD conference at Yale University to mark the launch of the new site, which is already filled with contributions and commentary from students, administrators, and academics alike. I encourage everyone to take a moment to check out the site at http://ms-jd.org. The site welcomes all contributions and comments. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit http://legallyfemale.typepad.com, or email me at email@example.com.
Is It Getting Hot In Here?
Are Humans Causing Global Warming?
Submitted by Dirk Avery
The two most salient issues related to global warming are whether humans are causing it and what will happen to humans if the Earth continues to warm.
Answering the question of whether humans are causing global warming will inform the answer to the question of whether humans can or will do anything about it. Even if humans have caused it, can they do anything to reverse it? If we did not cause it, might we nevertheless reverse it?
There are some facts that are not in dispute. The Earth has warmed about one degree over the last century. “Greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere emit and re-direct long wave radiation emitted by the Earth back toward the Earth. The radiation warms the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas; the most common atmospheric gases, nitrogen and oxygen, are not. Water vapor, a greenhouse gas, causes the greatest portion of the greenhouse effect. Methane and ozone are other greenhouse gases. Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth would be on average 70-90 ºF colder and far less habitable. The oceans, biosphere, and volcanoes are major sources of naturally occurring CO2.
Some facts related to sea levels are also not in dispute. Measuring sea levels involves complex calculations. Scientists differ in their estimates of both how sea levels have changed over the last century and at what rate levels are currently changing. Some scientists estimate levels have not increased over the last century, while many others believe levels have risen between 4 and 8 inches during the same time. Over the last 500 million years, sea levels have varied by over 1300 feet. Present sea levels are significantly lower than long-term averages over millions of years.
Many scientists who are alarmed by global warming believe that increasing CO2 is a cause of atmospheric imbalance. They believe that as the Earth warms, more water will evaporate from the surface exacerbating the warming. A subset of those concerned by global warming believes that human activities are the primary cause of increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Most scientists readily admit that the study of the climate is complex and uncertain even when they believe that anthropogenic CO2 is likely driving the observed warming.
Some prominent scientists, including Sir David King, of the University of Cambridge Surface Science Group, believe that if human production of CO2 and global warming continue at their current pace, the Earth will become largely uninhabitable by the end of this century. In this scenario, all ice on the planet will melt, sea levels will rise, and Antarctica may be the only habitable continent. Other prominent scientists have less severe predictions but still foresee increasingly inclement weather, increased precipitation, and rising sea levels.
Under much of Antarctica’s nearly 1.6 km thick ice, there is soil. Cataclysmic ice melting in Antarctica could, therefore, result in rising sea levels. The Artic, on the other hand, is largely floating sea ice. If all the sea ice melted, it would raise sea levels as much as a melting ice cube raises the water level in a glass – not at all. The melted ice would, however, influence the ocean circulation and freshen the seawater of the North Atlantic affecting its biosphere. Many scientists agree that shore ice in Antarctica is melting, while most also agree the continent is cooling. Some scientists believe the melting sea ice will open the way for land-based glaciers to flow into the sea, causing a rise in sea levels. Skeptical scientists question global warming theories based on the seeming contradiction of cooling temperatures and melting ice. They explain the melting rather as a result of ice “memory,” or reactions to past conditions which play out over decades or centuries.
Some skeptical scientists also argue that sea levels have been increasing at a steady rate for thousands of years. During that time the Earth has experienced warmer and cooler periods than now, demonstrating, they argue, that temperature and sea levels are not closely correlated over relatively short periods of time.
Ice core studies like those described in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth have shown a correlation between CO2 and the Earth’s temperature. Some scientists, such as Ian Clark of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa, agree that there is a correlation but suggest that in the past, increased CO2 is the effect of the Earth warming, not its cause. Instead, scientists such as Clark argue that the primary cause of warming is solar radiation. They substantiate this theory by showing a close correlation between solar activity and atmospheric temperatures. They interpret ice core studies to show that after periods of warming, caused by solar activity, CO2 levels increased in correlation hundreds of years later. Due to their size, oceans take hundreds of years to warm or cool. As oceans warm, they release vast amounts of CO2 and water vapor. Thus, a correlation exists, they claim, but the causation is reversed from that proposed by Al Gore.
Many people concerned with global warming point to consensus within the scientific community regarding global-warming science. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report confirming global warming theories was reviewed by 2,500 scientific experts. Skeptical scientists argue that this number is not limited to scientists with expertise in the area, and that it includes scientists who disagree with its conclusions and many non-scientist political figures and less prominent reviewers. When Professor Paul Reiter, of the Pasteur Institute of Paris, resigned from the IPCC in protest of the report, the IPCC initially refused to remove his name from the report. Only by threatening legal action did he get his name removed. Frederick Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences, claimed that scientists’ views were censored in the IPCC report. Statements such as, “None of the studies cited has shown clear evidence that we can attribute climate changes to increases in Greenhouse Gases,” were removed.
Indeed, skeptics argue that much of current climate study is based on alarm. Funding for groups predicting the status quo quickly dries up, and dissenting scientists are bullied into agreement with those foretelling disaster. Dissenting scientist Timothy Ball has received death threats for his dissenting views, while others, including Richard Lindzen and Henk Tennekes, have been fired or publicly smeared.
If humans are causing global warming through CO2, both sides agree that major changes are needed. Scientists estimate that an 80% reduction in human-produced CO2 would be necessary to make a difference. Such a radical reduction, in the absence of new technologies, would drastically change the way people in industrialized countries live. Collective-action problems are likely to inhibit the effectiveness of CO2 reduction without strong national and likely international government intervention. Despite the fervor of CO2 reduction advocates, the question remains whether people are willing to live with such an imposition.
This article was reviewed by Natalia Andronova, Ph.D. Atmospheric Science & Geophysics, a research scientist at the University of Michigan Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences.