November 15, 2014

Briefs that Changed the World

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Category: Legal Education, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public
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brief in Plessy v. FergusonThis semester I had the opportunity to take Prof. Edwards’s class Advanced Brief Writing: Briefs that Changed the World. I must admit that I was slightly skeptical of the idea that simply reading remarkable briefs would somehow make me a better writer. But, I’m happy to admit that I was quite wrong in this assumption. Reading the briefs covered in this class have inspired me to try my hand at the various techniques the authors employ when writing these briefs (I make no promises about whether my attempts have proven successful). Hopefully they will inspire you too. Thank you, Prof. Edwards for allowing me to share this list of briefs:

Miranda v. Arizona (Petitioner)

Bowers v. Hardwick (Respondent)

Gideon v. Wainwright (Petitioner)

San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez (both Petitioner and Respondent)

Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio (both Petitioner and Respondent)

Loving v. Virginia (Appellant)

Aikens v. California (Petitioner)

Furman v. Georgia (Petitioner)

Roper v. Simmons (Respondent)

Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (Respondent)

Hernandez v. Texas (Petitioner)

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (both Appellant and Appellee)

When Prof. Edwards spoke to the Marquette Legal Writing Society at the beginning of the semester, she advised students to read. Since receiving her advice, I have read every opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts that I can get my hands on. If I can soak in even 1% of his writing style, I will die from pure legal writing happiness. Hopefully these briefs will kick-start your reading and make you think about techniques and strategies you can incorporate into your own writing.

Finally, I highly recommend picking up Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates by Ross Guberman. We use this book in Prof. Edwards’s class, and it is simply fantastic.

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November 14, 2014

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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Peace Be With You … And With You?

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Category: Legal Practice, Mediation, Negotiation, Public
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Exclamation_markUnder the heading of hard bargaining tactics gone bad (and bad lawyer advice), we can now add this story.  When a group of eight faculty members at the General Theological Seminary in Manhattan decided to stop working in order to protest their newly hired dean and president, Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, all purgatory broke loose. Under advice of their counsel, the faculty wrote a rather strongly worded letter outlining their demands regarding the dean.  (See the nasty details of the dean’s behavior here.)

Unimpressed with the tone of the letter, the Board of Trustees for the Seminary considered the letter, instead of the opening bid that the faculty intended, as a mass resignation.  They dismissed the eight faculty members (leaving the students at the Seminary with only two instructors.) In this case, the eight faculty members’ hard bargaining tactic to have their foul-mouthed, micromanaging (in their descriptions) dean dismissed ended up focusing attention on their perceived “bad” behavior rather than that of their dean. Read more »

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November 12, 2014

Some Hopeful Perspective on Foreclosures and Abandoned Homes

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Category: Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Foreclosures and vacant homes in some of Milwaukee’s most challenging neighborhoods – sounds like a pretty grim subject, right? But, without sugar coating the serious problems involved, an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Monday offered optimistic and upbeat perspectives.

Two reasons were highlighted: There are programs underway in the city that are successfully taking empty homes, reviving them, and putting them in the hands of eager owners who are want to be successful, responsible owners.  And Milwaukee’s foreclose and abandoned home problems are less formidable and being managed more successfully than in some other urban centers.

Gousha spoke with Michael Gosman, assistant director of ACTS Housing; Willie Smith, director of housing for the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation; and Aaron Szopinski, housing policy director for the City of Milwaukee. ACTS and the Northwest Side organization are both non-profits involved in turning vacant homes around and putting new owners in them. Read more »

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November 11, 2014

Barrock Lecture Explores Collision Between Criminal Law and Neuroscience

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Marquette Law School, Public
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Morse“Be of good cheer; everything is going to be all right.” With these words last week, Stephen Morse sought to reassure his audience at Marquette Law School that advances in neuroscience will not ultimately upset traditional understandings of criminal responsibility. Morse, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was in town to deliver Marquette’s annual Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law. A podcast of Morse’s engaging presentation is here.

Neuroscience is increasingly giving us the ability to understand — and even, in the form of colorful MRI images, to see — some of the specific biological processes in the brain that produce thought and action. This suggests the possibility of “my brain made me do it” defenses, especially in cases involving defendants who have demonstrable neurological abnormalities. If a particular aspect of a defendant’s brain can be identified as a “but for” cause of his criminal behavior, then should not that provide an excuse?

Morse argues that this defense proves too much.   Read more »

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November 10, 2014

Five Oral Argument Tips

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Category: Judges & Judicial Process, Public, Seventh Circuit
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This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to intern with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (thank you, Professor Hammer, for organizing such a rewarding internship program). I would highly recommend this internship to anyone. For me, the internship was truly a once in a lifetime experience since, as many of you may know, I am a major moot court nerd. While interning at the Seventh Circuit, I observed upwards of seventy oral arguments, including a rehearing en banc, a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act case, and a death penalty case. During these arguments, I would take notes on attorney conduct, questions from the judges, and the overall atmosphere of the courtroom. I would like to share with you the top five oral arguments tips I learned while at the Seventh Circuit.

(1) Answer the Judge’s Question Directly

Questions are a gift because they allow you to know exactly what is bothering the judge. Too often, people see questions as an interruption or a nuisance and, thus, fail to take full advantage of the opportunity the question presents. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “You’re not answering my question,” and the follow-up phrase, “It’s a simple yes or no answer.” The best way to handle questions is to answer directly—preferably with a yes or no when appropriate—and then say, “Let me explain.” This answers the judge’s question and also signals that further explanation is necessary. When you dodge a judge’s question, you lose credibility and frustrate the judge.  Read more »

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Congratulations to the 2014 Marquette National Moot Court Teams

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Category: Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public
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I had the privilege of working with two outstanding National Moot Court Competition (NMCC) teams again this year. Marquette hosted the Region VIII round of the 65th Annual NMCC this weekend and included thirteen participating teams.  Marquette fielded two teams; please congratulate both on their strong finishes.

Michelle Cahoon, James Decleene, and Brian Kane took the best Petitioner’s brief award with the top scoring brief in the competition.  The team advanced the semifinal round and just missed qualifying for nationals by less than a point.  Attorneys Jesse Blocher, Michael Cerjak, and Brendon Reyes coached the team.  Brendon, now an attorney practicing in Waukesha, was a member of last year’s national team.  Jesse was a member of one of my first NMCC teams.

Jennifer McNamee and Elizabeth Oestreich advanced to the quarterfinals and were the number 1 seed after the preliminaries, after particularly strong showings in their oral arguments.  That team was coached by Attorneys Emily Lonergan, Jason Luczak, and Max Stephenson.  Elizabeth, Emily, and Max happened all to have (Elizabeth), or had (Emily and Jason), the role of Chief Justice of our Moot Court Association.  I enjoyed watching the students and coaches on both teams working together and getting to know each other.

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Marquette Team Wins Best Petitioner Brief at National Criminal Procedure Tournament

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Congratulations to 3Ls Katie Seelow and Derek Waterstreet for being awarded the best Petitioner’s brief in the National Criminal Procedure Tournament this past week in San Diego.  The team’s advisor is Professor Thomas Hammer, and the team coaches are 3L Vanessa Paster and Attys. Brittany Kachingwe, Sarah McNutt, and Jennifer Severino.  3Ls Becky Van Dam and Joseph Wasserman also competed.  That team is advised by Professor Susan Bay and coached by Vanessa Paster and Attys. Nick Cerwin and Chad Wozniak.  Jennifer Severino traveled with the teams to support them in competition.

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November 6, 2014

Supreme Court Roundup Part Two: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

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Category: Business Regulation, Constitutional Law, Corporate Law, First Amendment, Health Care, Public, Religion & Law, U.S. Supreme Court
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the bosses of senateOn October 30, I participated in a presentation entitled “Supreme Court Roundup” with Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute.  The event was sponsored by the Law School chapters of the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society.  We discussed three significant cases from the 2013-2014 Supreme Court term: McCutcheon v. FEC, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn.  It was a spirited discussion, in which Mr. Shapiro and I presented opposing views, but I want to thank Mr. Shapiro for taking the time to visit the Law School and sharing his perspective with the students.

This is the second of three blog posts on the presentation.  Readers can find the first post here.  What follows are my prepared remarks on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.  Readers interested in Mr. Shapiro’s position on the case can refer to the amicus brief that he filed on behalf of the Cato Institute.

The legal issue in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores can be described simply.  Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services requires employers to provide health insurance plans making contraception available to their female employees at no cost.  In the NFIB v. Sebelius decision in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld Congress’ power to pass the Affordable Care Act as an exercise of its taxing power.  But even if Congress has the power to pass the law, can a for profit corporation nonetheless avoid following the law by arguing that the contraception provisions burden the corporation’s free exercise of religion in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)?

The rights of the individual shareholders that own the corporation were not at issue.  The law does not act on the individuals, and does not require these human beings to do anything.  The only legal requirement imposed by the law is imposed on the corporate entity.

So what did Congress intend to do when it passed RFRA in 1993?  As I will explain, the Hobby Lobby case presents two opposing views as to what Congress attempted to accomplish by passing that law.  The dissent by Justice Ginsburg argues that the intent of RFRA was to create a statutory remedy for burdens on religious expression that adopted the standard for evaluating First Amendment violations prior to the 1990 Employment Division v. Smith case. The majority opinion by Justice Alito argues that by passing RFRA Congress created a statutory remedy that protected more “persons” than the pre-Smith caselaw protected and that granted them greater protections than the pre-Smith caselaw granted. Read more »

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November 4, 2014

Mike Spector: The Passing of a Public Servant

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Category: Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public
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IMichael-Spector1 set out in June to write a story for the current issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine about the state of the idea of local control of schools. I started with the expectation of saying local control was pretty much a fiction now, amid all the laws and regulatory mandates coming down from the federal and state governments.

The first person I went to talk to was Mike Spector. I knew if I wanted wisdom, perspective, and common sense, he was at the top of the list. And he knew a huge amount about schools – for decades, he was a leader as a lawyer and citizen in education matters in the Milwaukee area and throughout Wisconsin.

And it only took him a few minutes to shift my thinking on the piece I was going to write. He talked about the law on local control in Wisconsin. He talked about the history of specific issues. And he pointed out how local school boards, school administrators, and teachers can still put their own imprint on the education they offer. Look at how different communities have different education cultures and practices, he said, citing his home community of Shorewood, where he was involved in school governance for many years, and how its education culture differs from nearby communities. Read more »

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November 3, 2014

Here’s What We Don’t Know About Election Day

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Category: Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
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By now, we’ve seen the ads.  We’ve heard the talking points. We have at least some idea of which policy positions Scott Walker and Mary Burke favor or oppose.  But with only hours remaining before the votes are counted, there is still plenty we don’t know about the 2014 gubernatorial election in Wisconsin.

Some of it has been hashed over pretty thoroughly.  Turnout, for instance.  Simply put, the Burke campaign needs less-likely Democratic voters to go to the polls in numbers that more closely resemble a presidential election, or at the very least, the 2012 recall election for governor.  Three million people in Wisconsin voted in the November 2012 presidential contest.  Two-point-five million voted in the June recall election.  If turnout looks more like the governor’s race of 2010, when 2.1 million people went to the polls, the Burke campaign will face enormous odds, given historically strong turnout by Republican voters in the state.  But turnout is hardly the only “great unknown” Tuesday.  Here are a handful of others to consider.

1) Do Democrats return to the fold?  Exit polling data from the June 2012 recall election suggests a number of Democrats voted for Governor Walker because they didn’t agree with the recall. Even AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told me recently that some of his members supported Walker in 2012 because of their discomfort with the recall.  And Trumka is hardly a fan of the governor.  Walker acknowledges that those voters exist.  The question is will they stick with him in this election, or return to their Democratic-voting ways.  Read more »

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November 1, 2014

Welcome to Our November Blogger

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fall-leaves-1432747-1-mOur November guest blogger with be 3L Jennifer McNamee. Jennifer hails from St. Louis and attended Marquette for her undergraduate degree. She is interested in civil litigation and bioethics. Many thanks to our previous guest, 3L Tyler Coppage.

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