Partisan Divides Are Vivid in New Law School Poll Results

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, Political Processes & Rhetoric, PublicLeave a comment» on Partisan Divides Are Vivid in New Law School Poll Results

“If there’s a subtitle to today’s presentation, it is partisan differences.”

That comment from Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, as a new round of poll results was released Wednesday at Eckstein Hall, spotlighted a striking and important aspect to public opinion in Wisconsin (and probably across the United States). In short, there are two different worlds of perception on what is going on when it comes to politics and policy.

Start with the most obvious example, opinions of President Donald Trump. Overall, 42 percent of registered voters polled in Wisconsin approved of Trump’s job performance and 50 percent disapproved. In polling a month ago, it was 44 percent and 50 percent. Since Trump took office, those numbers have not varied much.

But break it down by partisanship and there’s a canyon of difference. Among Republicans, 86 percent approve of how Trump is doing as president and 8 percent disapprove. Among Democrats, 3 percent approve and 93 percent disapprove. Continue reading “Partisan Divides Are Vivid in New Law School Poll Results”

Groundwater: A “Gaining Stream” Of Controversy

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Public, Water LawLeave a comment» on Groundwater: A “Gaining Stream” Of Controversy

In hydrologic terms, a “gaining stream” is a surface stream augmented by groundwater flow. In a more conventional sense of the term, legal and policy disputes surrounding groundwater are also “gaining” in importance, though localized groundwater-related issues have perplexed the courts for generations. In a 1903 opinion, at the end of a lengthy discourse summarizing various authorities on the subject of groundwater withdrawals, Justice John B. Winslow of the Wisconsin Supreme Court admitted that “[p]erhaps more time has been spent in reviewing these decisions than is profitable, but the subject is interesting, and . . . should be given serious consideration.”[1] Winslow’s comments came during the latter part of a long period of judicial unfamiliarity with the science of groundwater. Nineteenth century jurists characterized its movement and sometimes its very existence as “unknown”[2] or even “occult.”[3]

About twoA high-capacity well-thirds of Wisconsinites draw their drinking water from the ground. Still, both in this state and elsewhere, groundwater lacks the intuitive familiarity of surface water. Perhaps as a result, many states still don’t have well-developed jurisprudence or legal management systems for groundwater even though hydrogeology has become a well-developed and well-accepted science. Judicially-created groundwater doctrines vary widely from state to state. This legal dissonance is of increasing concern in light of a surge of groundwater problems and disputes involving water quality concerns, the viability of the public trust doctrine as a tool for groundwater regulation, and transboundary management issues, among many others. This societal and legal evolution proves Justice Winslow correct: The law of groundwater is indeed “interesting,” and courts are giving it ever more “serious consideration.” Consider the following examples:

Continue reading “Groundwater: A “Gaining Stream” Of Controversy”

The Developing Shape of August Primaries Comes into View in New Poll Results

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, PublicLeave a comment» on The Developing Shape of August Primaries Comes into View in New Poll Results

The results of the Marquette Law School Poll, released on Wednesday, June 20, showed both how long a time and how short a time two months is as an election approaches.

The primary on Aug. 14 will decide which of a large field of Democrats will race incumbent Republican Scott Walker in the November election for governor and which of two Republican candidates will face incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the election for a US Senate seat.

How long is it until Aug. 14? The poll, conducted through telephone interviews with 800 registered voters statewide from June 13 to 17, found that large majorities said they did not know enough about or did not yet have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of every one of the candidates in the top spotlighted contests. The figures ranged from 61 percent to 94 percent. Large portions of the public haven’t yet felt the election is close enough to require a lot of attention.

On the other hand, now that the clock is under two months, interest in the poll results, including news coverage of the findings, is increasing. While the general public may not have tuned in strongly yet to the campaigns, those who are involved know time is running short. Increasingly active campaigning and advertising almost surely will lead to more voters knowing the people running for office by the time Aug. 14 arrives. Continue reading “The Developing Shape of August Primaries Comes into View in New Poll Results”

Facts and History — But No Predictions — as Program Sets the Political Scene

Posted on Categories Lubar Center, Marquette Law School Poll, Political Processes & Rhetoric, PublicLeave a comment» on Facts and History — But No Predictions — as Program Sets the Political Scene

Set aside (for the moment) the poll numbers, the partisanship, and the passion and analyze the facts and data.

That was the goal of an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program on Thursday, June 14, at Marquette Law School that was a bit unusual. How so? The guests were Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, and John Johnson, research fellow for the Law Schools Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, but, unlike the large majority of such sessions, particularly involving Franklin, they didn’t have any fresh poll results.

Instead, the goal, as Franklin put it, was to look at the lay of the political landscape, both in Wisconsin and beyond. Results from four special elections so far in 2018 for legislative seats in Wisconsin and from the statewide election of a Supreme Court justice offered the opening insights on current Wisconsin voting patterns. But the discussion expanded to encompass results from more than 300 elections nationwide since the 2016 presidential election and to look at history going back as far as the 1860s.

Franklin and Johnson showed the degree to which Democrats generally had gained ground since 2016 in election results in Wisconsin and nationwide. But Franklin looked at historical trends that show how the party of a sitting president usually loses ground in mid-term elections. What is shaping up for this fall’s elections may (or may not) be more in line with historical patterns than many people think.

One interesting insight: On average, Franklin said, the opposition party has gained 24 seats in the US House of Representatives in mid-term elections. And for the Democrats to gain control of the House this year, they need to gain 24 seats. That means it’s anyone’s guess which party will have the majority in the House after November. Or, as Franklin put it, “uncertainty is the order of the day.”

Franklin looked at the history of the impact on mid-term election of factors such as a president’s popularity, change in the national gross domestic product, unemployment rates, and the results of polling that asks people a generic question (with no candidate specified) about which party they hope will win the upcoming election. Based on history, some of those indicators suggest good prospects for Democrats – and some don’t.

The four special legislative elections in Wisconsin this year, as well as the Supreme Court election (assuming you assign partisan interpretation to it), each showed Republicans doing worse and Democrats doing better than they did in recent elections, Franklin and Johnson showed.

Some suggest that the low turnout in those races reduces the weight that should be put on such trends. Johnson analyzed results of special elections compared to general elections broadly and found that the differences in outcomes between the low turnout and high turnout elections were not as great as many people assumed.

But Franklin said a shift toward Democrats in the legislative elections in Wisconsin this fall wouldn’t necessarily mean changes in which party controls each legislative house in Madison. For example, few legislative elections in recent years have been settled by five percentage points or less, he said, so a five point shift toward Democrats might not change the winning party in many cases.

The first round of results for the Marquette Law School Poll since March is set to be released on Wednesday (June 20). It will include results for the Democratic primary for governor and the Republican primary for a US Senate seat. The pace of campaigning (and polling) will accelerate through the coming months.

But at this point, Franklin said, it was good to pause and look at the bigger and historical perspective.

“The main thing I want to leave you with is uncertainty (about what lies ahead), but I want you to appreciate why we are uncertain and how these different indicators are pushing in different directions,” Franklin said.

To view video of the one-hour conversation, click here. To get information on the poll release program at Eckstein Hall on June 20, click here.

 

 

J. Gordon Hylton: In Memoriam 1952-2018

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal History, Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School History, PublicLeave a comment» on J. Gordon Hylton: In Memoriam 1952-2018

Headshot of the late Professor Gordon Hylton.On May second, the Marquette community lost one of its most interesting, wonderfully eccentric, and beloved members, Professor Gordon Hylton, who died of complications from cancer.  Academics by and large are an enthusiastic group of people with extraordinary jobs that give them a privileged opportunity to study and share their passions with colleagues and students.  No one more thoroughly enjoyed and reveled in being part of that world than Gordon Hylton.  He was a devoted teacher, a relentless, careful, and thorough scholar, and a cherished colleague.

I personally found Gordon to be one of the most interesting people of my acquaintance largely because he had so many interests, found so many things fascinating, and, aided by a legendary memory, pursued them with passion and rigor and a remarkable urge to synthesize, to explain everything.  And he was generous. He enjoyed nothing so much as chatting with his students and his colleagues about baseball, country music, the odd personalities who sat on the Supreme Court, the reasonableness of property doctrines, the early history of Christianity, and always with great enthusiasm and courtesy, as if knowledge and insight were both important and the most fun.

Professor Hylton was a native of Pearisburg, a small town (population, 2,699 in 2016) in Giles County in the SW corner of Virginia near the border with West Virginia.  He began his college and university career at Oberlin College in Ohio, where, he often explained, he enrolled because they let him play baseball.  In the course of his four years at Oberlin, the student radio station also let him host a country music program in the late night, early early morning hours.  Oberlin nurtured a pronounced competitive streak.  His roommates recall Gordon organizing them to enter a team in every intramural sport including inner tube water polo despite the fact that Gordon did not know how to swim, something his teammates discovered only well into the water polo season.

Continue reading “J. Gordon Hylton: In Memoriam 1952-2018”

Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Civil Rights, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Race & Law1 Comment on Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality
A map of the city of Milwaukee and surrounding counties illustrating the racial segregation of residents per the 200 census.
Black residential segregation as reflected in 2000 Milwaukee Census

In his commentary on May 24, 2018, Bucks guard Sterling Brown is lucky he wasn’t killed by Milwaukee Police,” Martenzie Johnson casually observes that “Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in America, is one of the worst cities for black Americans, economically, the worst city for African-American children to grow up in and is home to the zip code with the highest incarceration rate in the country.”

I moved to Milwaukee in 1984 to become a Marquette Lawyer.  I took my first law school exam on my 30th birthday – Torts by Professor James Ghiardi.  In May of 1987, like every Marquette lawyer graduating before me and after me, I took the attorney’s oath.  I swore to “support the Constitution of the United States,” the one ordained and established in order to “form a more perfect Union.”  I never left Milwaukee and I am proud to say I am from Milwaukee.  Yet I am at a complete loss of words to describe how it is that we, my law school and my fellow Marquette lawyers, go about our busy daily lives virtually unconscious of living in “one of the most segregated cities in America.”  If you believe you can frame the types of questions that, if answered properly and acted on, will help us deconstruct our segregated Milwaukee, then I strongly encourage you to write and to weigh in now.

In October 2015, I was involved in a three week medical malpractice trial in Outagamie County.  Judge Mark McGinnis was presiding, who is one of the best trial judges currently on the bench.  I came home Friday to rest and prepare for the final week of trial.  A little after 1 am on October 31, 2015 the incessant ring of the telephone pulled me from a deep slumber.  The voice of a woman said, “Mr. Thomsen, we tried for 45 minutes, but we couldn’t save your son.”  My wife, Grace, sitting up asks:  “What did they say?”  “He’s gone.”  “Noooooo…” turned into a mourning howl.  It is unforgettable.  And so it is that in one instant the eye of a category 5 hurricane shreds your bed, your son’s mother, your wife, his sister, his fiancé, his daughter, his uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, friends — my life and theirs too.  Judge McGinnis and defense counsel all agreed to a mistrial if I asked for one.  I returned to finish the trial.  The case had progressed and in a way that could not have been replicated.  The lawyer’s oath is a demanding one.

Yet somehow in the eye of the hurricane you can find love: the love of my son’s fiancé, of my now daughter-in-law Sydney, and my granddaughter, Sienna.  They are proudly biracial.  Sydney is considering law school.  I suggested that she become a Marquette Lawyer.  She said “no” because Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are too segregated.  The truth hurts so much. Continue reading “Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality”

Foxconn Water Diversion Approval to be Tested in Administrative Hearing; Judicial Review to Follow?

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Public, Water Law1 Comment on Foxconn Water Diversion Approval to be Tested in Administrative Hearing; Judicial Review to Follow?

In recent years, it has become relatively common knowledge that the Great Lakes Compact generally bans diversions of Great Lakes water outside the Great Lakes basin but offers limited exceptions. A community that straddles the basin line, or that lies within a county that straddles the basin line, may Great Lakes from spaceapply for a diversion subject to certain stringent technical conditions. I have previously written in this space that the Compact has been successful at least insofar as the party states were able to agree on and subsequently enforce a common decision-making process to consider such requests. In October 2018, Compact supporters will celebrate its 10-year anniversary.

But the Compact’s first decade has not passed without controversy, much of it centered on the diversion provisions generally and on southeastern Wisconsin in particular. In fact, during a recent conference keynote address here at the Law School’s Lubar Center, Compact expert Peter Annin noted that our area has more “diversion hotspots” than the other Compact party states combined. Consider that in 2009, the City of New Berlin (a straddling community) became the first community to successfully apply for a diversion, and in 2016, the City of Waukesha became the first community within a straddling county to successfully apply for a diversion.

Just last week, the region made Compact history for yet another reason. For the first time, opponents to an approved diversion have filed a legal action to challenge the approval in a state administrative hearing, potentially as a precursor to an appeal to Wisconsin circuit court. The proceedings to follow will provide important and novel insights on how to interpret the Compact. Continue reading “Foxconn Water Diversion Approval to be Tested in Administrative Hearing; Judicial Review to Follow?”

The Significance of Others

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on The Significance of Others

Black & white photo of Flatiron Building (NY) under constructionThe concept of bringing your significant other to law school with you almost every day probably sounds frustrating to some and fantastic to others. Due to my disability and the fact that she is my primary caregiver, my fiancée Caitlin attends school with me at least three days out of the week; I am sure you have seen us around. The truth of the matter is that it is both frustrating and great having Caitlin with me, oftentimes both at the same time.

Caitlin and I have been together since I was a senior in high school. She and I started living together when I started college and by my junior year she was attending the majority of my classes with me. Going into my 1L year the plan was for her to come to school with me three days of the week, with the other two days being covered by my other caregiver, Danny. Naively, I assumed that this plan would go just as smoothly for us as it had during the last two years of my undergraduate career. Having both attended Lakeland University, Caitlin and I shared a common group of friends there and she was already familiar with the campus and faculty. Even though the social sciences were not her area of study, she tended to follow along with some of my classes. We discovered quickly that law school is (at the risk of sounding incredibly cliché) a completely different animal.  Continue reading “The Significance of Others”

Reporter Describes Reporting Behind Story That Sparked the #metoo Movement

Posted on Categories Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Reporter Describes Reporting Behind Story That Sparked the #metoo Movement

Do you think anybody’s going to care?

New York Times reporter Megan Twohey recalled asking that question during a cab ride with her reporting partner, Jodi Kantor, just before a demanding investigative story they had been working on was to appear in print. The two had been told they would never get the story in the paper. The two had been told few would care if it did appear.

During an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Friday (May 11), Twohey described what led up to printing their story on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s record of sexually abusive misconduct. Their first story ran at the top of the Times’ front page in October, 2017.

Other journalists had set out to do publish stories on Weinstein’s long-rumored treatment of women. None had succeeded in getting something published. Women who are victims of such treatment are often reluctant to talk publicly, and that was especially true with Weinstein, who had great power and influence in the entertainment industry. Furthermore, Weinstein had fought strongly against such stories being published. Kantor and Twohey were told he would intimidate the Times into withholding publication.

Twohey said the two realized they had to build a case based on evidence that went beyond he said-she said versions of what happened in specific incidents. They were able to do that using materials such as corporate documents and records of out-of-court settlements. She said the Times set rigorous standards for what could be put in print.

Twohey said that once the story appeared, she and Kantor were so involved in follow-up work, they didn’t pay much attention to the impact in the first few days. But the impact was huge – their work played an important part in sparking the #metoo movement that has made harassment and abuse of women in the work place a national issue. Twohey called it a time of reckoning for those who have been involved in harassing women.

Among other recognitions, Twohey and Kantor have won a Pulitzer Prize and been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in America. They have signed a contract to write a book and an option on movie rights to their story. Twohey was in Milwaukee to be honored by the Milwaukee Press Club at a banquet.

Gousha asked Twohey what it was about the Weinstein story that triggered such strong reactions. Other prominent figures, such as television commentator Bill O’Reilly, already had lost their jobs over similar allegations.

Twohey said a big factor seemed to be that in this case, the perpetrator, as powerful as he was, was not as famous as some of the victims who agreed to speak on the record. Twohey said the fact that such well-known movie figures were willing to say they had been victimized and wanted justice motivated  women across the country to speak up about their own experiences.

“The real moral horror (about the Weinstein situation) . . . was that he was able away with this for 40 years,” Twohey said. What she called “the complicity machine” in which Weinstein’s aides, associates, and friends protected  him was just as important, she said. She and Kantor did a follow-up story on the systemic failures and assistance that allowed Weinstein to intimidate people into staying silent.

“It was remarkable at every turn what we uncovered,” she said, when it came to the extent of sexual harassment problems in many different settings. Twohey, who has a 14-month-old daughter, said she hopes the revelations reported by the Times and other  news organizations will mean her daughter will not find herself years from now in workplaces where there are such problems.

“I think this has been a big teaching moment for families,” Twohey said.

To watch the hour-long conversation, click here.

To watch Gousha’s  interview with Twohey on the “Upfront with Mike Gousha” television program, click here.  

 

 

The Landmines of Practice: Formalities and Professionalism

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Public, Student Contributor1 Comment on The Landmines of Practice: Formalities and Professionalism

This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 2L Jad Itani.

The legal profession is profoundly focused on formalities and professionalism to the point that the ABA has dedicated a section of its website for professionalism. There are even unspoken protocols regarding who is addressed first in an email.

Accordingly, the legal profession is sure to be a very precise and particular field with very formal structures, right? My curiosity today arises from considering  the professionalism and formalities of practice as a first-year associate. My experiences working with practicing attorneys and even interviewing with them have provided me with conflicting responses.

Growing up, I am sure most of us were raised with the lesson that we show respect by addressing people by their appropriate title: Ms., Mr., Attorney, Dr., Professor, etc. However, on a number of occasions, when addressing future employers by their appropriate title, I have received conflicting responses.

cartoon alligator the litigator
Another example of an improper salutation. He’s a litigator, not an alligator. Address him properly. 

On a few occasions, when I have addressed some attorneys by saying “Attorney [last name],” they seemed uncomfortable with the formalities and requested I address them by their first name. Is that the threshold that provides a person with the opportunities to drop the formalities? When this occurred, the questions of formalities and professionalism started rapidly running through my mind. Continue reading “The Landmines of Practice: Formalities and Professionalism”

Home is Where the Families Are: Open Adoption in Wisconsin?

Posted on Categories Family Law, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Home is Where the Families Are: Open Adoption in Wisconsin?

parent & child hands holding cut-out of houseThis semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 2L Brooklyn Kemp.

What makes a house a home is not merely the brick and mortar of a building, but the foundation of a family. As the saying goes, “home is where the heart is”–where one experiences love, support, and growth.

As a student in the Guardian Ad Litem workshop this semester, I have become more aware of the reality that some children do not have a place to call “home” until they are adopted, after their natural parents’ parental rights are terminated through a court order. This can be a lengthy and emotionally debilitating process. Although in some circumstances children get a happy ending with a nurturing family, other children are traumatized when they realize they will never see their parents again.

Even children who are able to manage the emotional turmoil may end up being stuck in foster care, a temporary home, for long periods of time as their parents oppose termination of their rights to the children.

Open adoption occurs when the natural parents still have ongoing contact with the child whom they have relinquished for the adoption. Some states have embraced the idea of open adoption, codifying it into statutory provisions.

Wisconsin currently does not legally recognize open adoption. Continue reading “Home is Where the Families Are: Open Adoption in Wisconsin?”

Finding My Confidence

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on Finding My Confidence
writing in Spanish
A quote the author looks at when she studies.

This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 2L Mariana Concepcion.

Last summer after finishing my 1L year, I was at the beach. While I was enjoying the warm Texas sun, my brother asked me, “So, what’s your goal in law school?” Because it was a few days after taking my last final, I thought about answering “I don’t ever want to go back.” But I didn’t say that, I was just really tired.

I gave the question some thought as I looked out at the sea. What was my goal in law school? Why was I going back? So, I told my brother that my goal was to find my own voice so that I could use it to help those who don’t have a voice.

Find my own voice? I can talk, right? I may not be the loudest person on earth, but I have a voice. But finding my own voice wasn’t just about finding my speaking voice; it was more than that. I wanted to find my own voice because that would help me become more confident in myself, something I have struggled with for most of my life. If I could find that confidence in myself then I would be able to find my voice and use my voice to speak for those who don’t have a voice. Continue reading “Finding My Confidence”