Tag Archive: Law

  1. A Sliver of Progress

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    “Sliver of a Full Moon” challenges the reviewer — the language one might ordinarily use to describe theater does not seem to fit this particular play. The words “performance,” “entertainment” and “drama” are crude signifiers to describe such a raw and emotional work. “Full Moon,” which took place at the Yale Law School on Tuesday, is not so much performed as it is relived. The word “act” implies that the performers don an artistic façade for the duration of the play before returning to the people they are in real life. We often assume that pieces of theater are works of fiction: there is not the same tradition of bringing real stories to life on stage as there is in film (i.e. documentary) or writing (nonfiction).

    “Full Moon” challenges these conventions about drama. Often the actors don’t act at all; rather, they speak their stories aloud. The play’s force comes from soliloquies in which the main characters — four survivors of sexual assault who testified before Congress while lobbying for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 — recall their most trying moments of abuse. VAWA was intended to allow Native American courts to prosecute sexual offenders without ties to the reservation and thus protect vulnerable women; originally presented to Congress in 2012, it failed to pass the House. In 2013, these sexual assault survivors appeared before Congress and told their stories (which are reproduced in “Full Moon”), an act of bravery that helped secure the support of key House Republican votes to ensure passage of the bill in its entirety, including several essential clauses providing for Native American empowerment and protection. It was owing almost entirely to the courage of a few Native American Women — the survivors and actresses of the play — that the bill was rescued. This is the great triumph celebrated by “Full Moon,” but in the same breath the play also acknowledges that there is much left to do. Indeed, the title implies this reality, and throughout the play the actors and the audience never lose sight of the legal battles to come.       

    Beyond its anecdotal foundation, “Full Moon” presents staggering statistics on sexual violence against Native American women. According to the play (as well as the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Department of Justice) Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other American women — 34% of American Indian women will be raped during their lifetimes. But statistics can be hard to conceptualize; “Full Moon” helps its audience better visualize the fight for tribal jurisdiction to prosecute non-indigenous offenders. At different points throughout the play each survivor shares how the necessary legislation could have saved them from abuse.

    “Full Moon” presents the greatest obstacle besetting VAWA: conservatives’ resistance to propositions without foundation in the Constitution. This opposition was particularly frustrating for the Native American lobbyists because the opponents of VAWA, particularly House majority leader Eric Cantor, were correct; as the Supreme Court previously ruled in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe (1978), tribal courts have no jurisdiction over non-Native Americans. This was shortsighted, and problems persist to this day.

    Despite the collective understanding that there is still a long way to go in achieving legal equality and protection for Native Americans, Tuesday’s event sounded a note of celebration. The performance of “Sliver of a Full Moon” marked the success of VAWA. It was also a moment to consider the history of indigenous peoples in America against the backdrop of Yale — an institution whose name still connotes privilege, power and exclusion. We think of Yale as a bastion of knowledge that dates back to America’s earliest days, predating even the Revolution. But we don’t often think of Yale as an institution that occupies a relatively recent place in the history of the continent. Professor Blackhawk sought to remind the audience of this fact in his introductory remarks, when he acknowledged the Quinnipiac and Algonquian peoples on whose land Yale is built. Indeed, the play carries meaning for us at Yale, where the study of indigenous cultures and peoples is just beginning to take its proper place in the intellectual life of the University. The performance of “Sliver of Full Moon” is relevant not only to Native American communities on campus, but also to all students who seek to learn in a place that values the full account of our land and the indigenous peoples with whom we have historically shared it.

  2. Harold Koh: Lawyer, Professor, Statesman

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    Immediately after Barack Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21, the State Department’s legal adviser, Harold Hongju Koh, returned to Yale. Koh served as the dean of Yale Law School from 2004 to 2009 and as a professor there since 1985. Last week, he was appointed Ster- ling Professor of International Law. Koh, who had been a strong critic of President George W. Bush’s ’68 “War on Terror,” is an interna- tionally renowned scholar of human rights. However, in the Obama administration, he has come under fire from former allies for his expan- sive views on the president’s authority to use unmanned drones to kill suspected terrorists abroad. On Tuesday, Koh spoke at a packed Master’s Tea in Davenport. Hours before that, WEEKEND sat down with Koh to discuss executive authority, drones and who he wants to see fill the next opening on the Supreme Court.

    Q. I have been told that as a professor you were a strong critic of overly broad executive power. In 1990, you wrote a brief challenging President George H. W. Bush’s ’48 authority to fight in the Gulf War, and in 1992 and ’93, you sued the United States government and the president. How has your work in the executive branch under President Barack Obama changed your views on executive power, if at all?

    A. It hasn’t changed my views at all. I believe in a government of checks and balances. And I believe that an energetic executive is an important piece of that. I think that the thing that’s changed the most is just a political fact, which is that Congress has had much more difficulty constructively engaging on these questions. In most countries in the world, the legislature can pass a budget or make sure you don’t default on your debt, and [Congress’s failure to do these things] is increasingly becoming a problem in this country. So, the executive obviously has to act according to constitutional rules, and if you’re going to do so in cooperation with Congress, so much the better.

    Q. Speaking of executive power, in 2009, you became the legal adviser to the State Department. In that capacity, in May of 2010, you said that using drone strikes against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations was a lawful military action and not an assassination, which is banned by executive order. Can you explain to an undergraduate audience the distinction between legal targeted killings and illegal assassinations?

    A. What occurs in the context of an armed conflict or war is not assassination. If a general of the Japanese government launches an attack at Pearl Harbor and kills thousands of Americans, we declare war on the country, and, in the course of the conflict, he’s one of the people who’s considered to be an enemy leader, then that is a lawful use of force. All killing is tragic. But there is a different between lawful and unlawful tools of war. So, 3,000 are killed in New York for going to work, by leaders of a nonstate actor, and the question is, can you respond to those leaders, after Congress has declared war on them and after we’re in an armed conflict with them?

    Q. Yet while you were a professor you criticized George W. Bush’s ’68 “War on Terror” as unconstitutional because it involved capturing “enemy combatants” abroad and holding them without trial at Guantanamo Bay. In Obama’s administration, the government has used aerial drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists. To the casual observer, it seems like there’s a tension between denouncing imprisonment and supporting drone strikes (which can have collateral civilian casualties). Can you explain what appears to be a contradiction?

    A. Torture is always unlawful, even in wartime and even against your enemies. In an armed conflict, the laws of war police the line between lawful killing — which is of people you’re at war with, like Osama bin Laden — and unlawful ones. And so, you can be opposed to torture in all situations, as an illegal means of the use of force — even in wartime. But if you think your government is engaged in a lawful armed conflict, it has to have the authorities that go along with it, lawfully.

    Q. For almost two years, you were among the only Obama administration officials to speak publicly about the legal basis for aerial drone strikes to kill American enemies. You then justified the administration’s decision to engage in a conflict against Libya without congressional approval because the president does not need congressional approval to engage in “hostilities.” Because of these statements, a number of your old allies have publicly criticized you. Has the criticism from old friends and allies made you rethink any of your positions?

    A. No. First of all, the two things you mentioned have gotten a lot more press than 95 percent of the way I actually spent my time. So I always find this interesting. But a simple fact is this: I’m not the only person who said that congressional approval wasn’t necessary. John Boehner said congressional approval wasn’t necessary. Harry Reid said congressional approval wasn’t necessary. Nancy Pelosi said congressional approval wasn’t necessary. And John Kerry, as chairman of the [Senate] Foreign Relations Committee, said it wasn’t necessary. And Congress had made it clear that they would not approve what was going on, although they wanted the executive branch to do something. … My real question is: Was the War Powers Resolution, which was passed to stop future Vietnams, supposed to be used to allow more Rwandas and Srebrenicas? And my view was that was not the situation they were thinking of. I had written dozens of articles on the War Powers Resolution, and I understood the legislative history of it. We never said that the War Powers Resolution was unconstitutional. We just said it didn’t apply to that circumstance. And I, to this day, think it doesn’t.

    Q. Over the last several years, whenever a new vacancy on the Supreme Court has opened up, your name has been raised to fill it. If you could choose one person other than yourself, who would be your dream nominee?

    A. I think probably Hillary Clinton [LAW ’73].

    Q. Would you care to explain why?

    A. She’s a very smart lawyer who understands how law and politics work together. She might have other thoughts about how to spend her time, but she would be an obvious good candidate.

    By the way, Barack Obama is not precluded, and he’ll be a pretty young guy who’s done with electoral office in four years, so that would be interesting. You know, William Howard Taft 1878 sat on the Supreme Court after he was president, so it’s not unprecedented.

    Q. The Supreme Court has been in the news quite a lot in the last couple years, especially with the controversial Citizens United and Affordable Care Act cases. How do you feel about the overall direction of the court? Do you feel it is too partisan or too activist, too liberal or too conservative?

    A. Well, it’s a very conservative court. I think that it’s different factions with one particular justice playing a swing role. So, as a result, it reaches some results in one direction and some results in another direction. I think, though, the thing that I worry about is that the Supreme Court decides many fewer cases, and there are large parts of American life and global life that it really has no opinion on. When you’re a first-year law student, you think that the Supreme Court occupies the world of law, and then when you’ve been the legal adviser of the State Department, it’s surprising how many issues you deal with in which the Supreme Court has absolutely nothing to say. That’s because of restrictions on its jurisdiction and its power to express views.

    Q. Speaking of law schools, there is a proposal gaining traction in New York that would allow law students to sit for the bar after two years of law school — in other words, you wouldn’t need a J.D. Do you think that’s a good idea? What do you think would be the impact that would have on law schools?

    A. I don’t think it’s a good idea. But you have to put this into perspective. There’s always been an apprenticeship route to taking the bar. In the old days, people graduated from college and they worked for a law office, and then they took the bar and they didn’t take any classes. So the rise of the professional law school, as a three-year entity, is very much a product of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

    But I think law schools have done a lot better to become fuller experiences. It’s not just the study of legal rules, but it’s clinical practice, extracurricular activities, summer internships. I think that there’s still plenty of work to be done.

    Q. Related to that, in 1985 you left the Justice Department and took a job teaching at Yale Law School. Why did you leave a job in public service and become a professor?

    A. So, in Korea, there’s a term called “sun sang nim,” which means teacher. But it actually means more like Jedi Master. It’s a term of reverence. Teachers are the greatest thing in Asian culture. And it’s an easy decision to go be a teacher. My father once said to me the way you shape the future is by the students you teach. And this time when I left the State Department, I mentioned a movie called “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s about a guy who’s a music teacher who thinks his job is to write the great symphony, but he turns out teaching many students and his opus is actually the students he influenced. I feel the same way.

    Maybe in your own life you don’t accomplish everything you personally would like to accomplish, but you can challenge students to think more broadly about their own futures, and then, who knows? At the end of your life, it’s all of the people who’ve been affected by the ideas you’ve tried to convey and what they accomplish that count. The law professors who taught Bill Clinton [LAW ’73], for whom I served in one administration, and Hillary Clinton, had an unbelievable impact, even though nobody remembers their names or what they taught them.

  3. Roundup of New Conn. Legislation

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    Sixteen new state laws went into effect yesterday, some original for the state and others that expanded on previously existing penalties for crimes of violence or cruelty. For your convenience, Cross Campus has compiled some of the major ones below so you know what to expect in the upcoming year.

    Medical marijuana (HB 5389): One of the most controversial bills, HB 5389 was signed into law by Conn. Gov Dan Malloy last May and legalizes the prescription of medical marijuana. The move made Connecticut the 17th state to enact such legislation allowing the palliative use of marijuana. There are, of course, still restrictions on how and when patients can smoke or ingest the drug — an individual can possess up to a one-month supply and patients cannot use marijuana at work, school, public or while moving vehicles or in the presence of children.

    Caylee’s Law, named after the missing daughter from the famous Casey Anthony trial of 2011. The law makes it a class A felony to knowingly fail to report the disappearance of a child under the age of 12, and requires adults to report a missing child if they haven’t had contact with the child for 24 hours. Similar bills have been approved in seven other states.

    Two laws against human violence have been revised to include harsher penalties and more support for victims. It is now a class C misdemeanor to purchase space advertising a commercial sex act depicting a minor, which has the greater goal of preventing sexual exploitation of children. Secondly, courts and law enforcement agencies will provide greater protection against domestic violence.

    Punishments for animal cruelty are also stricter. The maximum penalty for subsequent convictions has risen from $1,000 to $5,000 and from one year of imprisonment to five years.

    Connecticut prisons are now required to comply with federal standards for rape prevention and response.

    Two changes to road safety measures: First, licensed ham radio operators are now exempt from the ban on using hand-held mobile devices while driving. Second, drivers must move over one lane when approaching a stationary moving vehicle on any highway with at least two lanes.

    Emergency vehicle services: People who receive medical treatment or transportation will be held accountable for the cost of an emergency vehicle regardless of whether or not they asked for emergency help.

    Real estate: Landlords are now forbidden by a new law from evicting an elderly or physically disabled tenant simply because his or her lease has expired. The owners of nursing homes must tell prospective and current residents if the buildings are in receivership or have filed for bankruptcy.

    Data breaches: A new measure now requires companies to notify the Attorney General’s Office of any data breach.

    New standards for the appointment of legal guardians to incapacitated adults or children.

    Two new environmental bills also went into effect yesterday: Both bills are revisions of previous policies. To improve record-keeping of open space within the state, a report has been commissioned for December 15. The report should include an estimate of how much land has been preserved as well as potential methods and costs of accurately tracking open space land. The state expects a new report every five years after. The second environmental law considers a rise in sea level when planning coastal development.

    Health care: A new measure passed yesterday that requires all institutions caring for newborns to test them for critical congenital heart disease, which studies show accounts for 30 percent of infant deaths. Parents of identified newborns will be quickly directed to counseling and treatment to reduce mortality. The law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

  4. Occupy gets another chance to stay on Green

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    Just as bulldozers were knocking down Occupy New Haven’s encampment on the New Haven Green, a federal judge gave the protesters one more reprieve.

    On Monday, federal judge Mark Kravitz ruled that the city could lawfully remove protesters’ tents from the New Haven Green. Kravitz gave the Occupiers until noon today to leave. But as city workers began to disassemble the encampment just after noon, and two Occupiers were arrested for interfering with the eviction, both sides received word that Occupy attorney Norm Pattis had successfully received a third stay for the protest from a federal court of appeals in New York.

    Counsel Victor Bolden said the city stopped the eviction as soon as it received notice from the court. The third stay, Bolden said, would last until a panel of three judges can hear Pattis’ appeal, which he said would probably be sometime next week.

    “I want no one to mistake my view that the people of New Haven deserve the New Haven Green back,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said at a press conference after the attempted eviction. “In the six months that the Occupy encampment has existed on the Green, the city has acted in a cooperative and supportive fashion in terms of free speech, the intended use of the Green. However, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a few to monopolize one of the central assets of the city of New Haven.”

    Following the announcement of the court’s decision, Occupiers celebrated, chanting at police and public workers. They said they are planning a party on the Green on April 15, the movement’s six month anniversary. Occupy protesters interviewed said that, before the judge’s stay came, the police had removed 20 to 25 percent of the encampment.

  5. Federal judge hears arguments in Occupy case

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    Federal judge Mark Kravitz heard arguments from Occupy New Haven, City Hall and the Proprietors of the Green today in a court hearing that will decide the fate of the protest movement.

    Occupy attorney Norm Pattis argued before Kravitz that the regulations that govern the New Haven Green, where the Occupiers have camped since October, are ambiguous. Pattis says the authority behind those regulations is ambiguous, too, and denies that the city can remove tents he says of as a manifestation of the First Amendment. But city lawyers, along with head Proprietor Drew Days, maintain that the rules for the Green have always been clear and that the city’s request for Occupy to leave is compatible with the Constitution.

    After the hearing, Kravitz explained his decision to allow the protesters to stay on the Green for another 10 days. He said he needs this time to determine his opinion, and that protesters will be allowed to stay on the Green at least until 5 p.m. on April 9.

    Protesters originally settled on the Green in mid-October in full cooperation with the city, which provided portable toilets for the encampment and secured the location with police officers. Adam Joseph, at the time City Hall’s spokesman, said the city did not plan an end date for the protest’s presence on the Green, emphasizing that the city’s primary concern was public safety around the Green. That changed earlier this month, when the city outlined a proposal asking Occupy to leave the Green by mid-March.

    As a March 14 deadline imposed by the city for the encampment to be removed, Norm Pattis filed a last-minute lawsuit against the city and the Proprietors — a centuries-old group that maintains ownership of the Green — and successfully convinced federal judge Janet Hall to allow protesters to stay on the Green until after the hearing.

    Following today’s hearing, Occupy New Haven member Ray Neal, who Pattis called as a witness, said he thought the city presented weak arguments but was still unable to determine how the hearing had gone. He said he would continue to protest with Occupy New Haven, whether or not Kravitz rules in their favor.

    Occupy New Haven, which began on Oct. 15, is the last Occupy encampment in New England.

  6. YLS celebrates its silver jubilee with U.S. News

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    For the 25th consecutive year, Yale is number one in U.S. News & World Report’s annual law school rankings.

    The rankings, released on Monday, name Yale the top law school in the nation, an honor it has held since the list was first released in 1987. That was 25 years ago, which makes this year the Law School’s silver jubilee. No word yet on how YLS plans to celebrate. A Prom, perhaps?

    Other schools in the top 15 saw their rankings shift, with Stanford and Harvard switching spots, becoming second and third, respectively. Further down the list, the University of Illinois College of Law slid from number 21 to number 35, while Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law leaped from number 40 to number 26.

    Yale also earned recognition for several specialty rankings: eighth in clinical training, fifth in international law and second (behind Harvard) in a ranking done by law firm recruiters.

  7. YLS offers tenure to Latino scholar

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    At a Yale Law School town hall on faculty diversity, the school’s faculty hiring committee announced it offered tenure to a Hispanic professor. The school has never had a tenured Latino faculty member.

    Six sources who attended the town hall said the professor offered tenure was Cristina Rodríguez ’95 LAW ’00. The town hall was closed to the press, and all six sources asked to remain anonymous because the news was presented as confidential. Law school spokeswoman Janet Conroy said an offer was made to a Latina professor, but she declined to confirm Rodriguez’s name.

    Rodriguez was a visiting professor in fall 2009, when she taught the course “Immigration Law and Policy” and was nominated for Yale Law Women’s excellence in teaching award. A former Rhodes scholar, Rodriguez is a renowned scholar in immigration law. She is currently a faculty member at the New York University School of Law.

    Watch the clip below to hear Rodríguez speak on immigration law.

  8. YLS does not rank first on list

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    Yale Law School is the top law school in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. But when it comes to sending alumni to the nation’s top 250 law firms, YLS fell below its peers, according to a new ranking by the National Law Journal.

    YLS landed at 15th on the list, with 31 percent of its class of 2011 entering one of the 250 biggest firms. Yale placed below all other schools in the U.S. News’ top 10 on the National Law Journal’s rankings. The University of Pennsylvania Law School, number seven in the nation according to U.S. News, topped the National Law Journal’s list, sending 57 percent of its 2011 graduates to a large law firm.

    But Yale Law students will probably turn out OK, anyway — according to the American Bar Association Journal, top law schools tend to send many of their alumni to prestigious clerkships instead of law firms.

  9. Yale admission makes Chinese girl media darling

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    Not all Chinese mothers are Tiger mothers, at least according to an article in the China Daily on Monday.

    Chen Yunyi, a 17-year-old Chinese student, has become the “latest household name” in China after scoring admission to Yale, the China Daily reported Monday. But Chen’s parents did not use “traditionally Chinese” parenting methods for raising their daughter, and instead opted to give her more freedom.

    “Neither is my husband a ‘wolf father’, nor [am] I a ‘tiger mother’,” Chen’s mother told the Sanxiang Metropolitan News. “In fact, we have both been busy with our work and have had not much time to keep an eye on her.”

    Chen’s mother added that “every child is a genius” and encouraged parents to listen to their children and “allow them to grow gradually.” Chen, for her part, said she likes reading and thinking.

    The “tiger mom” concept hit the national spotlight after Yale Law School professor Amy Chua published an excerpt from her memoir “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” in the Wall Street Journal. The excerpt, titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior,” recounted Chua’s experiences employing strict parenting tactics.

    The “wolf dad” idea, meanwhile, comes from Chinese father Xiao Baiyou, who wrote a book originally titled “Beat Them Into Peking University,” according to Slate. The title has since been changed to “So, Brothers and Sisters of Peking University,” the National Public Radio reported.

  10. SOM faculty re-approve joint J.D./M.B.A.

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    The School of Management faculty voted Monday to re-approve the accelerated J.D./M.B.A. joint-degree, offered in conjunction with the Law School.

    Andrea McClure, SOM Faculty Recruiting Coordinator, said the faculty voted unanimously to continue offering the joint degree as a permanent program.

    Yale’s accelerated J.D./M.B.A. is one of the shortest programs of its kind nationwide. Students pursuing the joint-degree can graduate in six semesters and are not required to pursue summer coursework. Law school faculty voted Oct. 21 to re-approve the program.

    Students who pursue the joint-degree begin as law students, spending two years at the Law School and one at SOM.

  11. Law schools see decline in applications

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    The American Bar Association Journal reported last week that, as of Jan. 13, law schools had received roughly 15 percent fewer applications than at the same time last year.

    The ABA Journal cited a thin job market as the cause for the lower numbers, though it quoted Wendy Margolis, a spokeswoman for the Law School Admission Council, saying that the numbers could fluctuate before the admissions cycle is over.

    “The caveat is that we are very early in the cycle,” Margolis said in the article. “So these numbers change considerably.”

    Yale Law School Spokeswoman Janet Conroy declined to state the number of applications received at Yale Law until the application deadline passes. Applications to Yale Law School are due Feb. 15.