As noted at the 2012 hooding ceremony this past Saturday, May 19, 2012, our recent graduates join a long line of Marquette lawyers in their dedication to excellence, faith, leadership, and service. This dedication to the university’s guiding values will be the measure of their contributions as lawyers. Perhaps former Dean Howard D. Eisenberg, whose legacy both Dean Kearney and speaker Judge Diane Sykes drew upon during the ceremony, expressed it best: “For those who seek an opportunity to do well, I hope you succeed, but neither your success nor your happiness can be measured unless you also do good.”
Exemplifying these values is our recent graduate Melissa Longamore (’12) (pictured), a recipient of this year’s Outstanding Public Service Law Student Award from the Wisconsin State Bar. As a law student, after establishing the Marquette Immigration Law Association, Melissa sought out new opportunities for herself and other interested Marquette law students to serve local immigrants with unmet legal needs. Among the new initiatives she helped bring about is the volunteer clinic at Voces de la Frontera, where she and other students, under the supervision of immigration attorneys, provide information and referrals to local immigrant clients. It has been gratifying to see the outpouring of enthusiasm among the student body for these efforts to serve the local immigrant community. It is also gratifying to Melissa’s excellence recognized by the bar.
Similar kudos are due to this month’s blogger, Quarles & Brady lawyer, Michael Gonring (’82), recognized for a lifetime of service, with the bar’s Pro Bono Award for Lifetime Achievement; as well as to alumna (and retired Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge) Hon. Barbara A. Kluka (’78), who is the deserved recipient of this year’s Lifetime Jurist Achievement Award.
“The four most important typographic choices you make in any document are point size, line spacing, line length, and font, because those choices determine how the body text looks.” Matthew Butterick, Typography for Lawyers: Essential Tools for Polished and Persuasive Documents, “Summary of Key Rules” (2010).
Does that sentence make any sense to you? If so, find Butterick’s book: you will love it.
If not, run out and get Butterick’s book: you need it.
After running a website on typography for lawyers, www.typographyforlawyers.com, Matthew Butterick last year published a book on the subject. The book seems designed to do for typography what Bryan Garner’s work has done on matters of style and usage—to convince more lawyers that this “small stuff” matters in their writing, in their approach to the practice.
Indeed, Butterick’s belief that “typography” should become part of the vocabulary and professional awareness of lawyers forms the “core principles” of his book:
- Good typography is part of good lawyering.
- Typography in legal documents should be held to the same standards as any professionally published material. Why? Because legal documents are professionally published material. (Corollary: much of what lawyers consider “proper” legal typography is an accumulation of bad habits and urban legends. These myths will be set aside in favor of professional typographic habits.)
- Any lawyer can master the essentials of good typography.
Continue reading “Typography for Lawyers”
As you may have already seen, the blawgs have been discussing this recent order by United States District Court Judge Eric Melgren. Judge Melgren issued the order granting a motion for a continuance of a trial scheduled for June 14, 2011, in Kansas, after the defendant, a Dallas attorney, sought the continuance on the grounds that his first-born son was due to be born on July 3, 2011. The judge expresses his dismay at the plaintiff’s attorneys’ decision to oppose the motion: Continue reading “Lawyers: Play Nice”
I am happy to report the news that our Associate Professor of Legal Writing, Lisa A. Mazzie, will be one of Ms. JD‘s writers-in-residence for 2011. Ms. JD describes itself as follows:
Ms. JD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the success of women in law school and the legal profession. Ms. JD is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of law students and recent graduates and an Executive Director. Founded at Stanford Law School in 2006 by a group of female law students from Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley), Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, NYU, Stanford, UCLA, UT Austin, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, and Yale, Ms. JD is a 501(c)(3) incorporated in California.
Serving as a unique nexus between the profession and the pipeline of diverse attorneys, Ms. JD’s online community provides a forum for dialogue and networking among women lawyers and law students. With campus chapters throughout the nation, Ms. JD is also home to the National Women Law Students’ Organization. Ms. JD celebrates women’s achievements, addresses remaining challenges, and facilitates continued progress by bringing legal practitioners and law students together to share in an ongoing conversation about gender issues in law school and the profession.
As a writer-in-residence, Professor Mazzie will post to the blog every month throughout the year. You can read past writer-in-residence posts here.
Today is Human Rights Day, a United Nations celebration that marks the date, December 10, 1948, when the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The current High Commissioner for Human Rights in the United Nations, Navi Pillay, gave a speech at a special event in Geneva to mark the day. One of her themes was that “criticism is not a crime,” and she advocated for governments “to release all those people who have been detained for peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms to defend democratic principles and human rights.” She also called for recognition of human rights defenders, not only those whose names have become famous everywhere but also the “hundreds of thousands of largely unsung heroes, known collectively as human rights defenders.”
One useful human rights resource is the website of the Human Rights Education Association, an international initiative that serves governmental, inter-governmental, and non-governmental organizations, as well as individuals, who are interested in learning more about human rights. There are distance learning materials for adults as well as various curriculum resources for educators who want to develop educational materials for children.
[Editor’s note: This is a sixth installment in the “what is the most important Supreme Court case in your subject area” series.]
One of my subject areas is refugee law. There are only a handful of Supreme Court decisions in the area, but instead of making the selection easier, the paucity of case law only made it harder to choose one case as the “most” important. Because the Court has interpreted the Refugee Act relatively rarely, each of its decisions in the area has taken on even more significance than it might otherwise have had. For instance, it is difficult to overstate the impact of the decision in Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, Inc., the repercussions of which still plague the international refugee law system, because the Court said that the United States could stop and return Haitians at sea, without verifying whether they were refugees, seemingly in direct conflict with the highest principle of international refugee law, “non-refoulement,” or, “non-returning,” of refugees. And what about the pair of cases, INS v. Stevic and INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca, which, prior to Sale, held that the Refugee Act created two distinct categories of refugees, those whom the U.S. had promised not to return to their persecutors and those whom the U.S. could, in its discretion, allow to stay in the U.S. (a distinction generally not recognized by any of the other nations who signed the refugee treaties)?
In the end, of course, it’s impossible to identify a single case as most important. But I decided to write about INS v. Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478 (1992), because its holding, that an asylum applicant must provide direct or circumstantial evidence establishing the alleged persecutor’s motivations, has had such dramatic, and (I hope) unintentional impacts on refugee law and practice in the United States. One could even argue that the extreme disparities in judges’ decisions in similar asylum cases stem, at least in part, from the near-impossibility of reliably applying Elias-Zacarias‘s demand for evidence of the persecutor’s motive, in the context of the record that can reasonably be developed in the vast majority of asylum cases. Continue reading “Most Important United States Supreme Court Case in Refugee Law: I.N.S. v. Elias-Zacarias”
Recently, for the first time, I used video and audio technology to provide feedback on student papers in my first-year legal writing class. From my perspective, it was a terrific success. Giving live, oral feedback over video of each student’s paper allowed me to explain my questions, comments, and corrections more naturally and precisely, and also more quickly. I think that most students found the oral feedback useful as well.
The technology I used is TechSmith’s Jing. There may well be other free software products that offer something similar, but Jing is the one that was brought to my attention (by a student, actually–thanks, Priya Barnes). After viewing another educator’s blog post and video demonstrating his use of the product to give feedback, I thought I’d try it.
Here is how the video/audio method of commenting works: Continue reading “Video Feedback on Student Work”
Yesterday the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd, the petition in which the United States Department of Justice seeks to establish, on behalf of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, that government officials have immunity from liability for claims that they used the material witness statute to detain a U.S. citizen, not, in reality, to ensure his availability as a witness in another case, but instead as a pretext for what was actually a preventative detention.
As the New York Times explains, the former detainee in question, Abdullah Al-Kidd, is a U.S. citizen born in Kansas as Lavoni A. Kidd; he was (I have read) a football star for the University of Idaho in the mid-90s. In rejecting Ashcroft’s argument for immunity, the Ninth Circuit (in a split three-judge panel decision) first held that, at best, qualified immunity might apply, explaining its reasoning this way: Continue reading “Certiorari Granted in Material Witness Detention Case That Concerns the Iqbal Pleading Standard”
If that title doesn’t increase readership of my posts, I don’t know what will.
My contribution this week to our “best of the blogs” feature (which I have taken license to interpret as “best of the blogs and other news read online…”) is even more random than usual.
First, the drug-related story that caught my eye in the relatively recent past. The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet reported on September 27th about a Cato Institute study showing that since Portugal decriminalized drug possession in 2001, drug use among adolescents has fallen, HIV infection rates fell, and addicts have increasingly sought help to overcome their addictions. The full story was in Time, here. An excerpt: Continue reading “Best of the Blogs Part II: Drugs, Immigration, and the Hotel “Death Ray””
This semester, the law school is hosting another highly-esteemed professor as a Robert E. Boden Visiting Professor of Law: Mary Beth Beazley. Professor Beazley is Associate Professor of Law and Director of Legal Writing at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She has taught at Ohio State for more than 20 years, and taught at Vermont Law School and the University of Toledo before that.
Professor Beazley is the author of numerous articles related to legal writing, and one of the most widely-used textbooks in law school Appellate Advocacy courses (including our own): A Practical Guide to Appellate Advocacy . She served as the Legal Writing Institute’s President from 1998 until 2000; served as editor-in-chief (and member of the board of editors) for Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. She is also the immediate past president of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD).
In 2006, Professor Beazley’s excellence in teaching, writing, and service earned her the prestigious Thomas F. Blackwell award, given each year by the Legal Writing Institute and ALWD, to recognize a person who has demonstrated “an ability to create and integrate new ideas for teaching and motivating legal writing educators and students.” Furthermore, in 2008 she received the Burton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Legal Writing Education.
In short, she is one of the most-accomplished and well-regarded professors in the legal writing field. It is a privilege to have her teaching here in our program for a semester.
A punctuation debate made the National Law Journal this week. The current Supreme Court reporter of decisions, Frank Wagner, is retiring at the end of this month. His NLJ interview included the following discussion of differences of opinion among Supreme Court Justices regarding the use of apostrophes with plural possessives.
I wouldn’t call it a “disagreement,” just a difference in preferences. And I doubt it needs to be resolved, at least at the present. When I came to the Court in 1987, the prevailing rule for a regular plural possessive was simply to add an apostrophe after the word’s final “s.” For example, “Congress’.” Over the years, however, four justices informed my office they preferred to add another “s” following the word’s final s-apostrophe — e.g., “Congress’s” — albeit each in slightly differing circumstances. The justices are all highly capable legal writers committed to maintaining their own individual writing styles. Thus, while we try to maintain a high degree of consistency as to style in the U.S. Reports, the Reporter’s Office has always kept a list, and has attempted to assure the incorporation, of each justice’s individual style preferences in his or her opinions. I have monitored the plural-possessives situation over the years, but because a majority of the Court has always continued to follow the original prevailing rule — which I prefer — I have never felt the need to poll the Court to try to achieve common ground. There seems even less reason to do so now, since only three of the four dissenters from the prevailing view are still on the Court.
As Legal Writing Prof blog points out, this interview should demonstrate to students that they must be prepared for grammar and punctuation sticklers at all levels.
My own view on this particular punctuation dilemma is that if you know the alternatives well enough to debate them intelligently, whichever one you prefer is fine by me. You will usually be correct by paying attention to whether you pronounce an additional -s sound, or not, at the end of the word.
(Note: It is somewhat confusing that the example Wagner gives regarding a “plural possessive” was written as a singular possessive. I.e., “Congresses” (not Congress) is the plural of Congress.)
Refugee law does not get all that much attention in the blogosphere, even on the immigration-related blogs, probably because the numbers of refugees and asylees are so low in the context of U.S. immigration as a whole. This week, though, there was a little discussion of a new study showing that asylum-seekers’ success rates have gone up to about 50%. The study also confirms that asylum requests (that is, requests for refugee status made by people who are in the United States already) continue to fall. The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog mischaracterized the study to some extent, asserting that “Recently revealed statistics show that illegal immigration is down. But another method of gaining residence in the U.S. is up: seeking political asylum,” when, as I just explained, asylum requests actually continue to fall. It is only the rate of success that has gone up.
The increased success rate is surely due to the fact that more asylum seekers are finding legal representation: as the study explains, unrepresented asylum seekers have a success rate of about 11%, while those with attorneys have about a 54% chance of winning asylum. The study also shows that the dramatic disparities in grant rates by different judges continues (e.g., in the New York Immigration Court, judges’ asylum grant rates ranged from 6% to 70%).
In any event, the other statistics referred to in that WSJ Law Blog post are from a Pew Hispanic Center study showing a dramatic decline in the population of undocumented immigrants in the United States over the past few years. Continue reading “Best of the Blogs (Well Mostly the Immigration-Related Ones)”