California Supreme Court Justice Calls for Improving Access to Legal Services

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Pro Bono, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on California Supreme Court Justice Calls for Improving Access to Legal Services

Goodwin Liu, a justice of the California Supreme Court, came to Marquette Law School Thursday to be a judge of the Jenkins Honor Moot Court Competition Final Round. The widely-known justice also brought with him a fascinating personal story and provocative ideas for lawyers and law students on several subjects, presented during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall. I encourage you to listen to the program by clicking here. This blog item will on two of the messages Liu delivered.

Liu, then a professor at the University of California-Berkeley law school, was nominated in 2010 by President Barack Obama to be a federal appeals court judge. The nomination drew strong opposition from Republicans in the US Senate, largely because of controversial things Liu had written. After the nomination was held up for more than a year, Liu withdrew. He was appointed by California Gov. Jerry Brown to that state’s Supreme Court in 2011.

Did Liu regret the things he had written? Liu said there were  some specific things he would handle differently in retrospect, but overall, he was not sorry he had taken strong stands. He urged the law students in the audience not to fear taking positions on things they care about.

Liu said, “You should not just kind of live your life in an exceedingly cautious or antiseptic way, never saying anything, never doing anything that could cause someone else to disagree with you. No. That’s not a good way to live. You have to think about (and) remember why you came to law school — what were the things that motivated you – and, within reasonable ethical and prudent bounds, pursue those things. Because you’re not going to be happy if you don’t do that. . . .  or do anything. . . .

“I had a friend who told me a nice quote once, which was, ‘no one ever goes to his grave seeking an epitaph that reads, “He kept his options open.” I mean, that is no way to live.”

Gousha asked Liu if the nation was in a situation where there two justice systems, one for those who can afford lawyers and the other for those who can’t.

Liu said that was one of the biggest issues facing America. He spoke of the principle that everyone should have equal access to the legal system.

“The principle is an important one .We are so far away from that principle overall in society. Most of us, myself included, do lots of important transactions every year or every couple years where we probably should have a lawyer look things over. Did you ever buy a house? Did you ever read all of those documents? My guess is probably not, but you just signed a lot of your life away in those documents. Wouldn’t it be useful to make sure all those things were done right? This is a big thing.

“Two piece of concluding thought there. One is, of course, that I’ll offer an exhortation to the lawyers and the law students here that doing work for people who can’t afford legal services is so important. No matter whatever you do in your career, that has to be one of the things that you do.  . . . Especially for the younger people here, it is one of the things that will actually give you the greatest skill-building types of opportunities. . . .

“The other piece however, is more fundamental, which I think those of you who are in the public policy realm might give some thought to. And that is (that) law is a strange profession in so far as it is not a differentiated profession as, for example, the health care industry is. Not that our health care industry is any great paragon of success. However, it is the case that when you go to seek health care, it isn’t thar you only go and see a doctor, a physician. We have differentiated roles up and down the health care system. We have nurses, we have nurse’s assistants, we have physician’s assistants, we have technicians, we have all kinds of people where we are triaging your needs to the lowest-cost provider and allocating in an efficient way functions up and down the system and differentiating those functions up and down the system.

“In the legal system, we don’t have that. We have lawyers and nobody else, right? And it doesn’t seem to me that it’s absolutely necessary to have just this one model where, for many things like an eviction or a simple family law matter or immigration matter, whatever it , a lot of things are just about  navigating complicated forms or figuring out what building to go to, or how to do a process.

“There are a lot of roles there that could be filled by people who will not be as fancy as all of you will be when you graduate from this august institution, right? If we could bring the cost of those services down by having different kinds of roles to help people navigate the legal system, why, I think that would be a great service.

“The analogy I would give is: The cost of accessing this kind of basic legal service should be no greater—we should have a model where it’s no greater — than the cost of getting a plumber. If your toilet doesn’t work, you’re going to get it fixed and you’re going to pay the price of a plumber to get it fixed.

“Well, shouldn’t we have at least the same bargain available for very important things in people’s lives, like whether you’re buying a house, whether you’re negotiating a custody agreement, whether you’re trying to get special education for your kids, whatever it is? These are at least as important as your toilet. And so we need to have a market in which access to those kinds of things can be priced accordingly, so average people – average people, I’m not talking about low income people, I’m talking about average people –can afford them. . . .

“I think this is an idea whose time has come. And I think also, for the younger generation, technology is going to be a big part of this, too. Law firms remain brick and mortar enterprises in an age when most  legal services can be done pretty much at a home computer in many instances.“

Liu said that some say that the legal profession resists such ideas as a way to defend the profession. “I think that kind of mentality has a shelf life, because there is a greater and greater demand in our society for fair access to legal services.” Liu said. “As the world becomes more complicated, more and more people are going to need this and we as part of the legal profession should be part of the solution, not a hindrance to it.”


Conference on Chicago Megacity and the Great Lakes Covers a Big Waterfront

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Great Lakes water collaboration, Great Lakes water wars, Great Lakes water problems, Great Lakes water improvement, the Great Lakes of today, the Great Lakes of one hundred years from now – all of these were focal points Tuesday of a half-day conference at Marquette Law School titled “Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century.”

The Marquette Water Law and Policy Initiative and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cosponsored a conference focusing on the Chicago megacity – southeastern Wisconsin, northeastern Illinois, and northwestern Indiana – in 2012 and a conference on public attitudes about the region in 2015. During the same period, the Law School has developed a water law and policy initiative, led by Professor David Strifling.

In opening remarks on Tuesday, Joseph D. Kearney, dean of Marquette Law School, said the conference brought together the Law School’s megacity and water policy interests and was “a continuing step in our efforts to become a leading center for the exploration of water law and policy issues.” Strifling and David Haynes, Solutions for Wisconsin Editor of the Journal Sentinel, were the principal organizers of the conference.

A sampling of the discussion:

Great Lakes water collaboration: Randy Conner, water commissioner of the City of Chicago, said he thought there was a good level of collaboration among the water authorities in the region, but there could be more. There was general agreement that working together on issues related to protecting the lakes and using them wisely was good — although ultimately almost every community has its own specific needs. (When it came to building collaboration, there may have been some tangential benefits of the conference. After the session ended, Conner and Jennifer Gonda, superintendent of the Milwaukee Water Works, were seen in the Zilber Forum of Eckstein Hall having a lengthy one-on-one conversation.)

Great Lakes water wars: Peter Annin gave a keynote address that focused on battles going back more than a century and continuing until this moment about diversions of water from the Great Lakes. Annin is co-director of the Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation and director of environmental communication at Northland College in Ashland, WI. He also is author of a 2007 book, The Great Lakes Water Wars, which he is updating.

“The Chicago megacity is the front line in the Great Lakes water wars,” he said. “I think we’re just going to continue to see more of it.” He recounted the controversy over using Lake Michigan water to supply much of Waukesha, Wis., and the current debate over whether the Foxconn factory planned for Racine County should be allowed to use millions of gallons a day of Lake Michigan water. The planned factory site straddles the boundary of the Lake Michigan watershed. (Click here to read a piece Annin wrote about the Foxconn issue for the Journal Sentinel.)

Great Lakes water problems: Molly Flanagan, vice president-policy of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, based in Chicago, said a proposal to cut out the US Environmental Protection Agency from oversight of ballast dumping by ocean-going ships when they are in the Great Lakes is before Congress now. Ballast dumping has been the way some harmful invasive species have entered the Lakes. Giving the US Coast Guard sole oversight would harm the fight against such invasions, she said. Dan Egan, senior water policy fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and author of the 2017 book, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, amplified on her concerns, saying that the only thing the Coast Guard cared about in the water was sailors.  (Click here to read a Journal Sentinel story by Egan on the issue.)

Great Lakes water improvement: While Egan sounded warnings about several major concerns about the state and future of the Great Lakes, he said things had in some important ways improved in recent years when it came to water quality, use, and recreational opportunities. He contrasted the low use of Bradford Beach along the lakefront in Milwaukee years ago, when there were more problems with things such as dead fish, sewer overflows, and algae, with the large crowds of people using the beach in recent years.

The Great Lakes of today: A panel discussion on the Great Lakes as a tool for economic development in the megacity region included descriptions by economic development advocates from Milwaukee and Chicago not only of the advantages of siting the nation’s top water technology cluster near an abundant supply of water, but the need to use the water “wisely and carefully,” as Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council, based in Milwaukee, put it. That call was underscored by Bob Schwartz, senior policy advisor to the consulate general of Israel to the Midwest, who talked about the world-leading technologies related to water that have been pursued in Israel and about avenues for increasing involvement between Israel and the Midwest on water-related work.

The Great Lakes of a hundred years from now: Michael R. Lovell, president of Marquette University, recounted to the audience a conversation he had several years ago with the head of Kikkoman Foods, the Japanese company known for its soy sauce. Kikkoman located a plant in Walworth County, southwest of Milwaukee. The Kikkoman leader said one reason the company did that was because it believed that one hundred years from now, the population base of the United States would be focused in the Midwest. A big reason will be the value of water. Another reason was “to make great soy sauce, you need great water.” Lovell urged the participants in the conference to think about what should be done to see that water is available in good supply and quality a century from now.

Video of the conference may be viewed by clicking here.


Give Attention to Concerns About Privacy Close to Home, Author Suggests

Posted on Categories Privacy Rights, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Give Attention to Concerns About Privacy Close to Home, Author Suggests

Yes, the furor over data from millions of Facebook users being used for political purposes is important. But just driving down the street raises important privacy issues also. And whether you can make sense of the Facebook issues, you could and probably should give attention to high-tech monitoring of your daily life.

That was the thrust of an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Thursday in Eckstein Hall featuring Cyrus Farivar, author of a new book, Habeas Data: Privacy vs. the Rise of Surveillance Tech. Farivar is also a regular contributor to Ars Technica, which covers news related to technology.

Gousha introduced Farivar by saying that talking about technology and privacy is “a conversation that is perfect for our times.” In the week when great attention focused on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying at length before congressional committees, Farivar agreed. Continue reading “Give Attention to Concerns About Privacy Close to Home, Author Suggests”

Playwright Aims to Prod Thinking About the Aftermath of Ferguson

Posted on Categories Public, Race & Law, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Playwright Aims to Prod Thinking About the Aftermath of Ferguson

Dael Orlandersmith says she does not have the right to speak for the people who were affected when a police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on a street in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, 2014.

But she can speak about them, and she does want people to think about themselves, their own communities, and the issues that were raised by the Ferguson incident and its powerful aftermath. The St. Louis Repertory Theater invited Orlandersmith, a well-known poet, playwright, and performer from New York City, to create a play focused on Ferguson. That led her to interview dozens of people in Ferguson and to write “Until the Flood,” a play that includes eight characters she sees as composites of people she interviewed.

Orlandersmith is currently performing “Until the Flood” as a one-woman show at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. She described her approach to the play – and more broadly, to her artistic work – in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Thursday. Continue reading “Playwright Aims to Prod Thinking About the Aftermath of Ferguson”

Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Lubar Center, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Area Project, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction

America’s cities overall have experienced a remarkable decline in crime that began in the 1990s and that has brought improvements in civic life in some surprising ways.

But the strategies that played a significant part in reducing crime – including stop and frisk policing and mass incarceration – are fading, and different approaches are needed to sustain safety improvements.

And the strategies that should be pursued include building up the number and resources of community organizations that serve in many different ways to increase the quality of life in neighborhoods and doing as much as possible to encourage residents to take roles in helping that quality of life.

A leading figure in American thinking on how to improve the quality of life in urban areas presented that provocative perspective at a conference at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday. Patrick Sharkey, a professor of sociology at New York University, told an audience including leaders of many Milwaukee non-profit organizations that research and data back-up his assertion that such organizations are valuable. There is “really strong evidence” to show the value of community organizations, he said. Continue reading “Prominent Sociologist Spotlights Community Organizations’ Role in Crime Reduction”

New Poll Shows Consistent Results Amid Changing Political News

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, PublicLeave a comment» on New Poll Shows Consistent Results Amid Changing Political News

With all the tumult in the political picture for the nation in recent months, it seemed to make sense to anticipate interesting changes in public opinion in Wisconsin when the first round of Marquette Law School Polls results in more than four months was released on Monday.

But perhaps the most interesting result of the poll was how much had not changed over time, not in the last few months and in some cases not in recent years.

President Donald Trump’s job ratings? Among 800 registered voters in Wisconsin who were polled from Feb. 25 through March 1, 43 percent approved of Trump’s performance and 50 percent disapproved. In June 2017, the numbers were 41 percent who approved and 51 percent who disapproved.

Gov. Scott Walker? In the new results, 47 percent approved of how he is doing his job, 47 percent disapproved. In June 2017, the numbers were 48 and 48. And the results are in line with the long-term close-to-even split on Walker.

With the large amount of interest in gun-related issues in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 killings at a high school in Florida, has there been change in opinion on gun control proposals? Not very much. The new poll found 81 percent of Wisconsin voters in favor of background checks for gun sales at gun shows and in private settings. The last time the poll asked the question, in June 2016, the figure was 85 percent. A ban on assault-style weapons was supported by 56 percent in the new poll; in March 2013, the support level was 53 percent.

Immigration issues drew similar results in the new poll as in earlier polls. The new results showed 71 percent in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently working in the United States, and 86 percent in favor of a path to citizenship for those who are undocumented but who were brought to the United States as children.

But if the consistency of opinion was one of the main take-aways from the new poll, there were some results that showed change or that shed light on fresh issues. Three examples:

For one, the poll examined sentiment on the state offering more than $3 billion in support for building the Foxconn flat-panel display factory in Racine County. Overall, 38 percent of voters statewide think the plant will provide at least as much benefit as the state’s investment, while 49 percent think the state will pay more in incentives than the plant will be worth. Sentiment on Foxconn was more favorable in the Milwaukee area (outside the city of Milwaukee) than elsewhere in the state. Charles Franklin, director of the Law School Poll and the Law School’s professor of law and public policy, said that result  and related results on other Foxconn questions shed light on how people outside the Milwaukee and Madison areas are unhappy with policies they don’t see as benefitting their parts of the state.

A second point: The poll showed a noteworthy shift in sentiment toward funding public schools. In March 2014, voters were asked which was a higher priority for them, holding down property taxes or increasing spending on public schools. Forty-nine percent said reducing property taxes, while 46 percent said increased school spending. But in the new poll, 63 percent favored school spending increases while 33 percent chose reducing property taxes. That shift sheds light on the positions Walker and Republican legislators have taken in the last year that increased school spending.

A third point: There were signs of shifts in the partisan alignment of voters, including fewer voters identifying as Democrats and more identifying as independents who lean Democratic. But the percentage of votes who said they are “very enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s elections was higher among those planning to vote for Democrats than among those planning to vote for Republicans. Franklin said that could prove significant, just as at some past points greater enthusiasm among Republican voters preceded favorable election results for Republicans.

It was clear from the results that large percentages of registered voters have not tuned in yet to the races for governor and a United States Senate seat that will be on the ballot in November. Large majorities of voters had no opinions on the field of Democratic candidates for governor or the two main Republican candidates for the Senate.

Franklin said there is still a long way to go to the fall election and public awareness of the candidates will rise. He pointed out the Tammy Baldwin, who will be running as a Democratic incumbent in this year’s Senate election, had low name recognition at this point in 2012, when she went on to win.

However, the race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court will be decided in a month and fewer than a quarter of voters had an opinion, favorable or unfavorable, on either of the candidates who will be on the ballot, Rebecca Dallet or Michael Screnock.

To read full results of the poll, click here. To watch the one-hour “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at which Franklin presented the results, click here. The poll results received extensive news coverage. To read stories in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, click here or here.






Japanese Expert Says Good Relations Between Trump and Abe Are A Plus

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Japanese Expert Says Good Relations Between Trump and Abe Are A Plus

The personal chemistry between President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is quite good, and that’s especially important given Trump’s unpredictability in what he advocates and how he goes about his advocacy.

That was the view offered Wednesday at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall by a prominent Japanese expert on the United States, Professor Fumiaki Kubo. He is A. Barton Hepburn Professor of American Government and History in the Graduate Schools of Law and Politics at the University of Tokyo. His visit to Marquette University was facilitated by the Japanese consulate in Chicago.

Kubo said Abe visited Trump at Trump Tower in New York City shortly after the American presidential election in November 2016, and then visited Trump again in Washington and in Florida shortly after Trump took office. The two leaders share an interest in golf and that was a plus, he said. Continue reading “Japanese Expert Says Good Relations Between Trump and Abe Are A Plus”

Leader Offers Bold Vision for Renewing Historic Harbor Area

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Leader Offers Bold Vision for Renewing Historic Harbor Area

Lilith Fowler says she is “a fixer-upper” type of person. That’s true whether she’s dealing with a home or a neighborhood – or big challenges that can have impact on an entire metropolitan area. A few years ago, she was the first executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners, a non-profit that played a valuable role in the revitalization of a big swatch of land near the heart of the city.

She has taken on a new challenge: Catalyzing a boom in the area around Milwaukee’s harbor, about 1,000 acres that is in large part unused or underused now, with many environmental challenges. The area can roughly be described as lying on either side of the southern stretch of the Hoan Bridge. The goal is to bring to the area the kind of appealing development that has come to nearby areas such as the Third Ward and Bay View.

In an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program in the Lubar Center of Eckstein Hall on Thursday, Fowler, executive director of Harbor District, Inc., a new and still-small non-profit, summarized the state of the area now (pretty used up) and offered visions, both in words and slides, of what the area could be (pretty beautiful, with a lot of river walks and promenades, as well as mixed commercial and residential development). Continue reading “Leader Offers Bold Vision for Renewing Historic Harbor Area”

Don’t Laugh — Millennial Leader Serious About Easing Political Polarization

Posted on Categories Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Don’t Laugh — Millennial Leader Serious About Easing Political Polarization

You didn’t need to go further than the opening moments of the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program in the Lubar Center at Eckstein Hall on Tuesday to grasp the challenge his guest for the day has taken on.

Gousha was introducing Steven Olikara, founder and president of the Millennial Action Project. “They’re hoping, sort of, to re-establish political cooperation,” Gousha said. That brought an audible snicker from a member of the audience, which brought a larger laugh from the group. “This is a cynical, cynical group,” Gousha said, with a laugh. Olikara responded, “That’s OK, my parents laughed, too.”

But Olikara is serious about it and he exuded confidence that improvement in the tone of American politics will come.  Continue reading “Don’t Laugh — Millennial Leader Serious About Easing Political Polarization”

On the Issues: WEDC Chief Praises Foxconn Plan as “Transformational”

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Transformational. That was the word that Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, used often on Thursday during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program. Hogan was describing the impact he expects to result from Foxconn, a high-tech megacorporation, building a huge plant in Racine County where it will make liquid crystal display equipment.

Hogan endorsed and defended every aspect of the agreement between Foxconn and state and local governments, from its cost – expected to total well over $3 billion in public expenses – to the plant’s environmental impact to what benefit Foxconn will bring to people in northern Wisconsin to the availability of workers to transportation issues connected to the plant to the political process that led to approving the deal to the precedent it might set for supporting other economic development ideas. Continue reading “On the Issues: WEDC Chief Praises Foxconn Plan as “Transformational””

Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief

Near the end of their hour-long conversation, Mike Gousha asked outgoing Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn what was next for him.

“Really nothing much,” Flynn said. He’s going to go back to Virginia where his family lives and spend  more time with his children and grandchildren. Maybe he’ll do some consulting ahead. But, first, “I do need to de-stress a little bit, despite how relaxed I’m appearing.”

The line got a big laugh from the audience in the Lubar Center at Eckstein Hall for the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” on Feb. 8. As he finished a decade as Milwaukee’s police chief, Flynn was fired up, outspoken, and more than a bit emotional and angry. Continue reading “Flynn Adamantly Defends Police Department and His Work as He Retires as Chief”

Jacob Haller Named Public Interest Student of the Year

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, Public2 Comments on Jacob Haller Named Public Interest Student of the Year

Even before he began law school, Jacob Haller was involved in the kind of public interest work that is at the heart of Marquette Law School’s pro bono efforts. He continued on that path as a law student. Now in his last semester at the Law School, Haller has been named this year’s Outstanding Public Interest Law Student.

Angela Schultz, assistant dean for public service, said that as an undergraduate at Marquette University, Haller worked as an intern at the Milwaukee Justice Center and an intern in the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s office.

As a law student, Haller became involved in many public service opportunities, including the Public Interest Law Society and clinics offering people help with family law and domestic violence problems. Haller won two PILS summer fellowships to do public interest legal work. He is currently co-president of PILS. Schultz said he will graduate in May with honors for completing more than 500 hours of pro bono work. Continue reading “Jacob Haller Named Public Interest Student of the Year”