August 7, 2014

Is it Time to Bring Back the Marquette Law School Baseball Team?

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Category: Marquette Law School, Public, Sports & Law
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Vintage BaseballEvery now and then the debate over whether or not Marquette should re-establish its varsity football team gets revived. Once a respected participant in the highest level of college football, Marquette unceremoniously dropped football in 1960. (See also here.)

In spite of its long tradition in sports law, it is a not well known fact that our law school once had its own baseball team. In his The Rise of Milwaukee Baseball: The Cream City from Midwestern Outpost to the Major Leagues, 1859-1901 (p. 324), Milwaukee historian Dennis Pajot notes that in 1895, a team called The Milwaukee Law Class competed with the city’s other amateur teams.

The Milwaukee Law Class, organized by the city’s law students in 1892, was Milwaukee’s first law school. In the mid-1890’s, its name was changed to the Milwaukee Law School, and in 1908, it was acquired by Marquette University. This is why the law school celebrated its centennial in 1992. (A second centennial celebration in 2008 marked the 100th anniversary of Marquette’s acquisition of the Milwaukee Law Class/School.) Read more »

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July 25, 2014

US Supreme Court Review: Bond v. United States

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Category: Constitutional Law, International Law & Diplomacy, Public
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US Supreme Court logo(This is another post in our series, Looking Back at the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 Term.)

Continuing with this blog’s coverage of the recently concluded Supreme Court term, I’ll offer a few thoughts on the decision in Bond v. United States, which addressed a challenge to a statute that Congress passed in 1998 to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention (“CWC”). Most have heard about the underlying facts: After finding out that her husband was the father of her best friend’s soon-to-be-born child, Carol Anne Bond tried to poison the friend with 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine and potassium dichromate. This plan didn’t work, but the authorities found out about it and prosecuted Ms. Bond under 18 U.S.C. § 229(a) for possession and use of a “chemical weapon.” Bond then entered a conditional guilty plea that preserved her right to appeal and, after a lot of other litigation, made two arguments before the Supreme Court. First, she contended that Section 229(a) doesn’t apply because she didn’t use 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine and potassium dichromate as “chemical weapons” within the meaning of the statute. Second, she argued that the statute is invalid even if it applies because it exceeds the enumerated powers of Congress and intrudes upon powers that the Tenth Amendment reserves for the states. Read more »

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July 24, 2014

Two-Thirds of Wisconsinites Support More Flexibility for Prisoner Releases

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process
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In 1998, Wisconsin adopted what may have been the nation’s most rigid truth-in-sentencing law, eliminating parole across the board and declining to put into place any alternative system of back-end release flexibility, such as credits for good behavior in prison.  Subsequent reforms to this system have been either short-lived or very modest in scope.  However, new results from the Marquette Law School Poll confirm and strengthen findings from other recent surveys that Wisconsin residents would actually welcome a more flexible system.

As I noted in an earlier post, the Law School Poll has asked Wisconsinites their views about criminal-justice policies in each of the past three summers.  Although the Poll has revealed significant support for truth in sentencing, it has also revealed comparable or even greater support for enhanced flexibility.

In 2012, Poll results included the following:  

  • 85% of respondents agreed that “criminals who have genuinely turned their lives around deserve a second chance.”
  • 67% agreed that “Wisconsin should recognize prisoners’ rehabilitative accomplishments by awarding credits toward early release.”
  • 55% agreed that “once a prisoner has served at least half of his term, he should be released from prison and given a less costly form of punishment if he can demonstrate that he is no longer a threat to society.”

Read more »

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July 23, 2014

The Rest of the Story

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Category: Marquette Law School, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
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The story will be the horse race. It always is. Governor Walker and likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke are in a dead heat.  But there are a couple of interesting subplots in the latest numbers from the Marquette Law School Poll.

Like many Democratic candidates, Burke fares especially well with younger voters, and with those who are single (never married, widowed, or divorced).  Governor Walker, the Republican, scores best with those who are middle-age and married.  This is essentially the same voter behavior we saw in the 2012 presidential election.  But in a non-presidential year, the question for Burke will be whether those in the demographics who like her most will show up at the polls.

While the Burke campaign is undoubtedly pleased that the race appears close, one of the poll’s results may be cause for concern for her — 49 per cent of voters say they still don’t know enough about Burke to have an opinion of her.  That spells opportunity for the Walker campaign, which has unleashed a series of ads recently, rushing to define Burke before she defines herself. Read more »

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So What Do You Think of Mary Burke?

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On one level, the results released Wednesday of a fresh round of the Marquette Law School Poll did not contain much new. As Charles Franklin, professor of law and public and policy and director of the poll,  said frequently during the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” event at which results were presented, there was not much that was statistically different from the poll two months ago. The big headline – and it did, indeed, make big headlines – was that Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are essentially tied. That was the central result of the May poll as well.

I would suggest two important points that the little-changed results suggest:

One: The May results caught many people by surprise. There seemed to be a perception that, while the race was close, Walker was leading. The Law School Poll is the most closely watched and respected measure of public opinion in Wisconsin, and for the results to show a tie changed the perception of the race. But, as Franklin said on Wednesday, there were suggestions that the results might be a one-time matter, an “outlier.” To have almost identical results two months later should put to rest that notion. The only reasonable conclusion is that this really is a race that is tied at this point. The intense level of campaigning, more than three months before the November election, shows that the candidates themselves are operating on the understanding that this is an intense, highly competitive election that either could win. Read more »

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Marquette University Law School and World War II

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Category: Marquette Law School History, Public
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B-17_Flying_FortressAs I have described elsewhere on this blog, Marquette Law School Dean Francis X. Swietlik played a prominent role in public affairs during the Second World War, primarily because of his leadership role in the American Polish Community. As the leader of the “Chicago Poles,” as Midwesterners of Polish descent were known, Swietlik advised President Franklin Roosevelt on Polish issues and was a national spokesman for the cause of his ancestral country — Swietlik had been born in Milwaukee in 1899 — which had been dismembered in 1939 by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

However, the war was hardly kind to the law school, as its enrollment quickly shriveled as potential law students found themselves in military uniforms. Read more »

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Wisconsinites Give Criminal-Justice System Low Marks, Especially for Offender Rehabilitation

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Marquette Law School, Public, Race & Law, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process
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We expect a lot from our criminal-justice system, and we don’t seem very impressed with the results we are getting.  These are two of the notable lessons that emerge from the most recent Marquette Law School Poll of Wisconsin residents, the results of which were released earlier today.

In one part of the survey, respondents were asked to assess the importance of five competing priorities for the criminal-justice system.  As to each of the five, a majority indicated that the priority was either “very important” or “absolutely essential.”  The five priorities were:

  • Making Wisconsin a safer place to live (91.6% said either very important or absolutely essential)
  • Ensuring that people who commit crimes receive the punishment they deserve (88.1%)
  • Keeping crime victims informed about their cases and helping them to understand how the system works (81.0%)
  • Rehabilitating offenders and helping them to become contributing members of society (74.1%)
  • Reducing the amount of money we spend on imprisoning criminals (51.2%)

Read more »

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July 22, 2014

The Most Popular Hollywood Law Movies

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Category: Popular Culture & Law, Public
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Liar LiarThe consensus among film critics seems to be that the “law movie” does not constitute a shaped genre comparable to the thriller or the romantic comedy. However, we can still speak more generally of movies in which a lawyer is a major character, a courtroom proceeding occurs, and the law itself has some role in the plot. Which are the most popular law-related movies of this sort in the history of the American cinema?

One answer to the question can be found on the International Movie Data Base website and on that website’s “All-Time USA Box Office Ranking.” The latter derives exclusively from theatrical box office sales and does not include video rentals, television rights, and other revenues. As of 2014, the most popular law-related movies are in order: “Liar Liar” (1997), “Chicago” (2002), “The Firm” (1993), “A Few Good Men” (1992), “Erin Brockovich” (2000), and “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979).

I’m surprised by the list and by how few of the movies on the list correspond to what I consider the “best” law-related films. I’m also struck by how different the six movies are from one another. Indeed, going back to the notion of genre, with which I began this post, the six movies represent a wide range of genres.

Here’s how I would categorize the movies: Read more »

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Remembering the 1964 All-Star Game

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johnny callison cardLast week’s Major League All-Star Game was pretty entertaining, as All-Star games go. The game was reasonably close throughout, and the outcome was never entirely certain until the final out was made. Even though the American League jumped off to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, by the middle of the 4th inning, the game was tied at 3-3. The AL went back up 5-3 in the bottom of the 5th inning, before the offense disappeared on both sides. Neither team scored after that point, and together they combined for only two hits and two walks.

The 2014 game also ended a string of somewhat one-sided games. In 2011 and 2012, the NL prevailed by margins of 5-1 and 8-0, while last year the American League shut out a hapless NL squad by a 3-0 margin.

Submerged in the discussion of the game were occasional references to the 1964 All-Star Game of fifty years ago. That game, one of the most exciting All-Star games of all time, was played on July 7, 1964, in recently opened Shea Stadium, the new home of the hapless New York Mets. Read more »

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July 20, 2014

Commonly Confused Words: A Couple, A Few, Some, Several, or Many?

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Category: Legal Writing, Public
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In three previous posts (here, here, and here), I’ve addressed some commonly confused words and how to choose the one that expresses what you really mean. Talking about those posts with some friends prompted this one: what’s the difference between a couple, few, some, several, or many? For example, if someone tells you have a few options, how many do you have? Three? Four? More?

 

A couple: Everyone seems to agree that “a couple” means two. If you have a couple of options, you can safely assume that you will have to choose between A and B, and only A and B.

 

A Few: Here’s where things tend to get confusing. Read more »

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July 17, 2014

Welcome to the Summer Youth Institute

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Category: Eastern District of Wisconsin, Legal Education, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Public
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Welcome to the students participating in the Summer Youth Institute at Marquette Law School. The Summer Youth Institute is a free program for Milwaukee students entering eighth through tenth grade, and the program is in its second year. Students learn about the American legal system, participate in a moot court, and meet judges, attorneys, and law students, as well as other people involved in the legal system. This year the students are touring the federal and state courthouses, Rockwell Automation, and Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan. Students also are paired with a mentor from the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association and are eligible to participate next summer in a law-related internship. The Summer Youth Institute is hosted by Marquette Law School and the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, in collaboration with Just the Beginning Foundation, Kids, Courts, & Citizenship, and the Association of Corporate Counsel Wisconsin Chapter.

This morning after a warm welcome from Dean Joseph Kearney and Judge Nancy Joseph at breakfast, the students learned how to introduce themselves and shake hands. Students learn important concepts about the law at the SYI, but they also gain confidence in presenting an oral argument. They form bonds with their mentors, who teach them about legal work, but also take them to baseball games and teach them intangible skills they will need to succeed in their work and life. And, finally, they get to know their peers, who, like themselves, are the future of the legal profession and our society.

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July 10, 2014

Technology at the Court: Riley and Aereo

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Category: Federal Law & Legal System, Public, U.S. Supreme Court
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Like the legal profession generally, the United States Supreme Court has a reputation as slow to embrace new technologies. For example, Justice Kagan shared in an interview last year that the Justices rarely use email. Yet at the end of the recent term, the Court decided cases affecting two evolving technologies: cell phones and streaming video services. Unanimous in the judgment in Riley v. California, the Court held that the search incident to arrest doctrine does not allow police officers to search through the contents of an arrestee’s cell phone without obtaining a warrant. In American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, the Court concluded that a provider of video streaming services engages in a public performance and infringes copyrights by using dedicated antennae to capture broadcast signals and then transmit them to subscribers over the internet. However, in the opinions in these cases, the Justices seem careful to avoid allowing any personal unfamiliarity with cell phones or with Aereo’s streaming service to affect the quality of their decisions. Instead, the Justices confront the technologies in a pragmatic manner, focusing on the functions easily accessible to average users and avoiding analysis of underlying technological details.

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