Crowdfunding and Sport: How Soon Until the Fans Own the Franchise?

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Jamaika-BobThe latest issue of the Marquette Sports Law Review is now available online.  This is a faculty symposium issue.  I am proud to have my article, “Crowdfunding and Sport: How Soon Until the Fans Own the Franchise?,” included in this issue.  Here is the introduction.

The Green Bay Packers football team operates as a nonprofit corporation that has been publicly-owned since 1923.  Since that time, the franchise has raised capital by selling shares of stock in five different stock offerings, and there are currently over 350,000 individual members of the public who are shareholders of the team.  These shareholders are the joint owners of a sports franchise that is currently valued at $1.375 billion.

The public ownership of the Green Bay Packers is often noted in the media, and it is generally praised for contributing to the team’s strong tie to the surrounding community.  However, it is highly unlikely that any other N.F.L. team will follow in Green Bay’s footsteps.  Public ownership of franchises is actually prohibited under the current N.F.L. Constitution, and Green Bay’s ownership structure persists solely because of a grandfather clause that excludes the Packers from the prohibition.  Moreover, the unique nature of the Packer’s public ownership structure extends beyond the boundaries of the N.F.L.  The Green Bay Packers are currently the only wholly publicly owned franchise among all of the four major sports leagues (football, baseball, basketball and hockey) in the United States.

There is no reason why publicly owned professional sports teams cannot thrive and succeed at the same level as privately owned teams.  While public ownership of professional sports teams is relatively rare in the United States, it is common overseas.  Notable examples of publicly owned soccer teams are Real Madrid and Barcelona FC, both of which play in Spain’s Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional, commonly known as “La Liga.”  These teams are operated as “socios,” a form of nonprofit organization where fans of the club pay an annual membership fee for the right to buy season tickets in a special section of the stadium and the right to vote on certain management decisions.  Another team that plays in La Liga, Real Oviedo FC, has maintained consistent and significant numbers of public owners despite the relative disadvantage of being based in the region of Asturias, far from Spain’s major population centers.

It is not just that the United States lacks more than one example of a major league team that is wholly owned by the public.  It is also uncommon for American major league sports teams to have a minority ownership stake comprised of public shareholders.  In recent decades, the private owners of several major league franchises have experimented with establishing and maintaining a publicly owned minority stake, seeking to inject additional capital into their team whilst still maintaining control over the enterprise.  However, in each instance the private ownership group used a stock offering in order to create a minority interest, only to subsequently abandon the structure and negotiate the sale of the entire team to new owners.  For example, the Cleveland Indians baseball team held a public offering of shares in 1998 but went wholly private again in 1999.  The Boston Celtics basketball team had a longer run with minority public shareholders, holding a public stock offering in 1986 but eventually reverting to wholly private ownership in 2002.

Today the ownership of major league sports teams in the United States remains almost exclusively the province of large corporations, wealthy individuals or ownership groups comprised of these same two actors. Read more »

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Michael Sam and the NFL Locker Room: How Masculinities Theory Explains How We View Gay Athletes

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footballLast year, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player in the National Football League. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh and final round of the draft. He survived the initial round of pre-season cuts with the team, but was let go when the team had to make a 53-player roster. He was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys and played on the team’s practice squad. After seven weeks with the Cowboys, Sam was released and remained unsigned the rest of the season.

Sam’s coming out and his subsequent drafting and playing in the NFL caused quite a stir. According to one Sports Illustrated article, one NFL player personnel assistant said, “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet.”

But why? Read more »

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Exploitative Businesses and the Perpetuation of Poverty

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Category: Business Regulation, Legal Scholarship, Public
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walker-thomas_furniture_signProf. David Papke has a new article in print, entitled “Perpetuating Poverty: Exploitative Businesses, the Urban Poor, and the Failure of Reform,” appearing in 16 St. Mary’s Law Review on Race & Social Justice 223 (2014). Here is the abstract:

While rent-to-own outlets, payday lenders, and title pawns operate in suburban and rural areas, these exploitative businesses are most concentrated in America’s inner cities. The businesses’ highly crafted, standardized contractual agreements are central in their business models and for the most part enforceable in the courts. What’s more, the contractual agreements and business models are so sophisticated and adjustable as to make them virtually impervious to regulation or legislative reform. The businesses as a result continue not only to exploit the urban poor but also to socioeconomically subjugate them by trapping them into a ceaseless debt cycle. Profits go up when the urban poor cannot pay up, and rent-to-own outlets, payday lenders, and title pawns take advantage of urban poverty while simultaneously increasing and perpetuating it.

An earlier draft of the paper appeared on SSRN.

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New Article on Good Conduct Time

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Legal Scholarship, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process
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I have a new article in the Wisconsin Lawyer about good conduct time, a program that permits prisoners to earn accelerated release based on how well they do behind bars.  Most states offer GCT to their prison inmates, but Wisconsin does not.  (Inmates in local jail facilities here may earn GCT, but not the 20,000+ longer-term inmates in state prisons.)  In the new article, I argue that Wisconsin policymakers should consider adopting a GCT program for prisoners as part of their ongoing efforts to reduce the size of the state prison population, which remains near historic highs.  For readers interested in more on this topic, I’ve created a page on my personal blog that collects my writings on GCT.

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Marquette Law School to Host First Annual Mosaic Conference

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Category: Intellectual Property Law, Legal Scholarship, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Canterbury-mosaicI am very excited to announce that this weekend, Marquette will host the First Annual Mosaic Conference: Diverse Voices in IP Scholarship, co-sponsored by Marquette University Law School and Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice, and with additional funding provided by William Welburn, Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion, Marquette University. The goal of this first Mosaic Conference is to bring together intellectual property scholars, policy makers, and activists of diverse and multicultural backgrounds and perspectives to explore socially progressive and non-traditional ideas in IP law, policy, and social activism. The Conference begins with a Reception and Dinner tonight and will conclude on Sunday morning.

Throughout the global community, intellectual property regimes play a critical role in human development, socio-economic empowerment, and the preservation and promotion of social justice. Many IP regimes, however, have been structured or interpreted to reflect only the interests of an entrenched status quo; socially cognizant IP theses are often ignored or rejected as tangential or antithetical to commoditization-centered theories of IP protection, often impeding broader social utility concerns including equitable access to IP protection and output and stimulating innovation. Through the First Annual Mosaic Conference, IP scholars and practitioners will come together with policy makers, social activists, and others to present ideas for progressive and activist-oriented scholarship for assessment as to social relevance, legal significance, and doctrinal integrity. Read more »

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Good Time in Wisconsin: Why and How

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Legal Scholarship, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process
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In a couple of recent posts (here and here), I have discussed the possibility of reinstituting “good time” in Wisconsin. I have developed the argument for good time at much greater depth in a new article that is now available on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Wisconsin is one of about twenty states not offering good conduct time (GCT) to prisoners. In most states, prisoners are able to earn GCT credits toward accelerated release through good behavior. Wisconsin itself had GCT for more than a century, but eliminated it as part of a set of reforms in the 1980s and 1990s that left the state with what may be the nation’s most inflexible system for the release of prisoners. Although some of these reforms helpfully brought greater certainty to punishment, they went too far in eliminating nearly all meaningful recognition and encouragement of good behavior and rehabilitative progress. This article explains why and how Wisconsin should reinstitute GCT, drawing on social scientific research on the effects of GCT, public opinion surveys in Wisconsin and across the United States regarding sentencing policy, and an analysis of the GCT laws in place in other jurisdictions. Although the article focuses particularly on Wisconsin’s circumstances, the basic argument for GCT is more generally applicable, and much of the analysis should be of interest to policymakers in other states, too.

Entitled “Good Conduct Time for Prisoners: Why (and How) Wisconsin Should Provide Credits Toward Early Release,” the article is forthcoming in the Marquette Law Review.

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Rule 18.2: Comments on Bluebook Citation to Internet Resources

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Rule 18.2 in the Bluebook governs citation to sources and information available on the Internet. Although the rules in the Nineteenth Edition provide significantly more guidance on the subject than the general principles articulated in the Eighteenth Edition, citation to Internet sources remains a source of confusion for many legal writers. Until the editors release the Twentieth Edition and its inevitable alterations to Rule 18.2, here are a few tips and reminders about citation to Internet resources.

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“With Friends Like These . . .”: New Critiques of Graham and Miller

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Legal Scholarship, Public, U.S. Supreme Court
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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Graham v. Florida (2010) and Miller v. Alabama (2012) undoubtedly constitute the most important developments in Eighth Amendment law over the past decade. Graham banned life-without -parole (LWOP) sentences for juveniles convicted of nonhomicide offenses, while Miller prohibited mandatory LWOP for all juvenile offenders, even those convicted of murder. I have a lengthy analysis of the two decisions in this recently published article.

A special issue of the New Criminal Law Review now offers a pair of interesting critiques of Graham and Miller. Interestingly, both authors seem sympathetic to the bottom-line holdings of the two decisions, but they nonetheless disagree with central aspects of the Court’s reasoning (and, to some extent, also with one another). Both focus their criticisms on the Court’s use of scientific evidence regarding the differences between adolescent and adult brain functioning.

The more radical perspective comes from Mark Fondacaro, a psychologist who has emerged as a leading critic of retributive responses to crime and advocate for scientifically informed risk-management strategies.   Read more »

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MULS to Welcome Professor Linda Edwards in Fall 2014

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Category: Legal Education, Legal Scholarship, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
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faculty_lindaedwards2014-04Marquette University Law School’s legal writing professors are pleased to announce that Professor Linda Edwards, E.L. Cord Foundation Professor of Law at University of Nevada Las Vegas, will be joining us as a Boden Visiting Professor for the fall semester of 2014.

Professor Edwards is a leading scholar and leader in the field of legal writing.  She has authored five texts, three of them focused on legal writing, and has written numerous scholarly articles on legal writing, rhetoric, and law. Her recent book, Readings in Persuasion: Briefs that Changed the World (Aspen Law & Bus. 2012) will serve as the basis for the advanced legal writing seminar she will be teaching at MULS next fall. The book discusses why some briefs are more compelling than others and covers briefs written in some of the law’s most foundational cases: Muller v. Oregon (the Brandeis Brief), Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, Furman v. Georgia, Loving v. Virginia, and others. Professor Edwards says the course will build on what students learned in Legal Analysis, Writing & Research 2, but from a more advanced perspective.

Professor Edwards practiced law for 11 years before becoming the coordinator of NYU’s Lawyering Program. She then spent 19 years at Mercer University School of Law, where she was the director of legal writing and taught legal reasoning and advanced legal writing, as well as property, employment discrimination, and professional responsibility. In 2009, she joined the faculty at UNLV.  Also in 2009, Professor Edwards was awarded the Association of Legal Writing Directors and Legal Writing Institute’s Thomas Blackwell Award for her lifetime achievements and contributions to the legal writing field.

We are very excited to welcome Professor Edwards next fall.

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Imprisonment Inertia and Public Attitudes Toward Truth in Sentencing

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Legal Scholarship, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process
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I’ve posted a number of times about the interesting results of the Marquette Law School Poll regarding the attitudes of Wisconsin voters toward truth in sentencing and early release from prison (e.g., here and here).  I’ve now finished a more in-depth analysis of the survey data with Professor Darren Wheelock of Marquette’s Department of Social and Cultural Sciences.  Our results are discussed in a new paper on SSRN (available here).  The abstract sets forth a little more of the context and key findings:

In the space of a few short years in the 1990s, forty-two states adopted truth in sentencing (“TIS”) laws, which eliminated or greatly curtailed opportunities for criminal defendants to obtain parole release from prison. In the following decade, the pendulum seemingly swung in the opposite direction, with thirty-six states adopting new early release opportunities for prisoners. However, few of these initiatives had much impact, and prison populations continued to rise. The TIS ideal remained strong. In the hope of developing a better understanding of these trends and of the prospects for more robust early release reforms in the future, the authors analyzed the results of public opinion surveys of hundreds of Wisconsin voters in 2012 and 2013. Notable findings include the following: (1) public support for TIS is strong and stable; (2) support for TIS results less from fear of crime than from a dislike of the parole decisionmaking process (which helps to explain why support for TIS has remained strong even as crime rates have fallen sharply); (3) support for TIS is not absolute and inflexible, but is balanced against such competing objectives as cost-reduction and offender rehabilitation, (4) a majority of the public would favor release as early as the halfway point in a prison sentence if public safety would not be threatened, and (5) a majority would prefer to have release decisions made by a commission of experts instead of a judge.

Entitled “Imprisonment Inertia and Public Attitudes Toward ‘Truth in Sentencing,’” our paper will be published in early 2015 in the BYU Law Review.

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Stare Decisis for Interpretive Methods?

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Category: Judges & Judicial Process, Legal Scholarship, Public, U.S. Supreme Court
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Supreme CourtAlthough the Supreme Court decides dozens of cases every year, it has never decided how to decide those cases. That is, the Court has never adopted a governing approach to constitutional interpretation. Instead, the justices seem to bounce from one method to the next, even when considering the same subject matter. What explains this methodological pluralism? Why doesn’t the Court consider itself bound under the doctrine of stare decisis not only to follow the substantive results of earlier constitutional cases, but also the methodological tools it used in getting there?

Chad Oldfather has a new paper on SSRN that explores the answers to these questions, Methodological Pluralism and Constitutional Interpretation. Here is the abstract: Read more »

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“The Past Is a Foreign Country” — Or Is It?

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Legal History, Legal Scholarship, Marquette Law School, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process
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dean bookI’ve recently finished reading Dean Strang’s fascinating new book, “Worse Than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror.”  The book recounts the story of a once-famous (or infamous) criminal case that was tried in Milwaukee nearly a century ago.  The case arose from a short, armed skirmish between police and residents of Milwaukee’s largely Italian, working-class Bay View neighborhood in September 1917. In the wake of that violence, police indiscriminately arrested dozens of Italian immigrants, ultimately resulting in the trial of eleven suspected anarchists in November 1917 on charges of assault with intent to murder.

America’s recent entry into the First World War had already created a public atmosphere that was hardly favorable to immigrants and political dissidents, but a terrible local tragedy may have wiped out any remaining hope that the defendants would receive a fair trial.  Just days before the jury was selected, a bomb exploded in a Milwaukee police station, killing ten — America’s single greatest loss of officers in the line of duty before 9/11. Although the Bay View defendants were not formally charged with this crime — indeed, the case was never solved and no one was ever formally charged — the bombing was widely believed to be the work of the defendants’ supporters.

Little wonder that all of the defendants were convicted on a dubious conspiracy theory in a trial that reeked of pro-prosecution bias from start to finish.   Read more »

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