What Lakefront Reveals About the Public Trust Doctrine, Standing to Enforce Public Rights, and Possession in Property Law

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Legal History, Public, Water Law1 Comment on What Lakefront Reveals About the Public Trust Doctrine, Standing to Enforce Public Rights, and Possession in Property Law

 

As summer began, one of my colleagues introduced readers of this blog to Tom Merrill’s and my new book, Lakefront: Public Trust and Private Rights in Chicago (Cornell University Press 2021). The book explores how Chicago, a city known for commerce, came to have such a splendid public waterfront—its most treasured asset. Tom and I worked on the book for more than 20 years, but apparently we had more that we wanted to say. So, over the past couple of months, we gratefully accepted invitations from three national law blogs to present some reflections based on Lakefront. These posts, though drawing on, are not excerpts from the book, and each of the three series has a strong thematic element or substantive focus.

1. Volokh Conspiracy—The Public Trust Doctrine. Our first series of guest posts, appearing at The Volokh Conspiracy this past June, focused on the public trust doctrine, both in its original American conception (on the Chicago lakefront) and in its development (also there) over more than a century. We explained also that the preservation of Grant Park as an open space, in downtown Chicago, had nothing to do with the public trust doctrine, but stemmed from the public dedication doctrine. Having previously collected these posts, I include the link to that collection and thus to that series, for the sake of completeness here.

2. The Faculty Lounge—Standing to Enforce Public Rights. Our second series last month (July) at The Faculty Lounge concerned standing to enforce public rights. We began by explaining that standing in the law is nearly always discussed in terms of the Supreme Court’s doctrine governing who may sue in federal court consistently with Article III of the Constitution—and that this is unfortunate. For a wider array of standing rules comes into the picture when one considers common-law doctrines governing who may sue to enforce public rights—making Lakefront, which unpacks a century and a half of controversies over various such rights, a valuable resource.

Here is a sort of table of contents for the future reader:

We concluded by urging something of an intermediate rule, given the concerns that we identified in the cases of the most restrictive standing rule (viz., underenforcement of public rights) and the least restrictive standing rule (overenforcement).

3. PrawfsBlawg—Possession vs. Ownership in Property. The third series appeared earlier this month at PrawfsBlawg. Its focus was the role of possession in property. We framed the central question thus: “In particular, the book documents a number of episodes in the history of Chicago (its lakefront, that is) in which someone either was in possession of some resource but had no clear right of ownership or, by contrast, had a fairly clear legal right of ownership but lacked possession. Who was more likely to prevail: the possessor without ownership, or the owner without possession?”

Here is the table of contents, if you will, to this third five-part series:

With respect to the substance of this series, suffice it to say here that, at least on the Chicago lakefront, courts have been reluctant to interfere with possession—and further, in its absence, often have been reluctant to uphold seemingly strong legal claims of property rights. There is, necessarily, much history along the way, including versions of the stories of Cap’n Streeter and of how Jean Baptiste DuSable Lake Shore Drive (as Lake Shore Drive was renamed this summer) came to be—and why it stops where it does.

* * * *

To be sure, my summer was largely spent in administrative work, but I continue very much to believe in the usefulness of blog posts to foster intelligent discussion and engender learning about the law, as I suggested in one additional post that I smuggled into The Faculty Lounge. I hope for a great academic year to come on this blog.

Mike Gousha to Become Law School’s Senior Advisor in Law and Public Policy

Posted on Categories Lubar Center, Marquette Law SchoolLeave a comment» on Mike Gousha to Become Law School’s Senior Advisor in Law and Public Policy

Mike GoushaFifteen years ago, at the suggestion of one of my faculty colleagues, I began a conversation with Mike Gousha, who had announced his intention to depart his daily broadcast television news duties at WTMJ, here in Milwaukee (“Channel 4,” if you prefer). Mike accepted our invitation to join Marquette University Law School as distinguished fellow in law and public policy. Thus was born what we came first to denominate our public policy initiative and now (since 2017) tend to refer to as our Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education.

My occasion for noting all this—which omits for the moment everything in between—is that Mike has decided to shift to a new role at the Law School, as of the end of this new semester. In particular, he will step back from his daily obligations here and assume a sort of emeritus status. The word is especially appropriate: Although Marquette University now uses emeritus more broadly, its origin (well, its modern usage, anyway) is in academe, and Mike’s position here has been much in the nature of a faculty member. He has not taught students in law courses, but his initiative, creativity, and leadership have dramatically expanded the Law School’s role in civic education, as the creation of the Lubar Center dramatically attests.

Going forward, Mike will serve the Law School as senior advisor in law and public policy. It seems worth noting that the theory underlying Mike’s affiliation with the Law School will not change. In my initial correspondence with him years ago, I encouraged Mike to consider making Marquette Law School “the platform” for journalism and policy work that he might pursue. Since he joined us in January 2007, he has done this brilliantly—whether the particular form has been the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” series; his crucial role in imagining the possibility, and persuading us as to the value, of the Marquette Law School Poll; introducing us to Alan Borsuk, senior fellow in law and public policy since 2009, and Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the poll since 2012, among many other people; establishing the Law School as the go-to place for debates for important political office in this region; organizing conferences on K–12 education, national security, and Milwaukee’s regional water initiative, among many other topics; or, most recently, fashioning with John D. Johnson, our Lubar Center Research Fellow, an important series of articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as part of the Lubar Center’s Milwaukee Area Project.

That list is scarcely exhaustive, but my point, as noted, rather involves Mike Gousha’s work going forward. Like a faculty member assuming emeritus status, Mike is not likely to take up full-time work at the Law School and will surely partner with others than the Law School for aspects of his possible activities (e.g., work on a documentary such as this project last year with his wife, Lynn Sprangers, and others). But, as senior advisor in law and public policy, Mike will remain part of our Marquette University Law School community and engage in projects with us here as they appeal to him. Meanwhile, the work of the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education will continue on a daily basis. That can be the subject of separate communications or announcements as we plan and realize that future.

More immediately, please join me in extending good wishes to Mike in this next (Marquette Law School) chapter.

Collecting Posts on the Public Trust Doctrine in Its American Birthplace

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Legal History, Public, Water Law2 Comments on Collecting Posts on the Public Trust Doctrine in Its American Birthplace

Thank you to my colleague, Professor David A. Strifling, director of Marquette Law School’s Water Law and Policy Initiative, for his generous post a few weeks ago concerning Tom Merrill’s and my new book, Lakefront: Public Trust and Private Rights in Chicago (Cornell University Press). The book ranges over almost two centuries and the different stories that led to the Chicago lakefront’s varied but largely integrated and altogether splendid whole. Given these temporal and geographic variations, “the core insight that shapes Kearney and Merrill’s Lakefront”—that “[t]he making of Chicago’s extraordinary landscape along Lake Michigan required law, lots and lots of law” (Professor Hendrik Hartog of Princeton University)—made intuitive sense to us from the beginning. Or at least it did to my coauthor, a noted scholar of property law.

Major areas along the Chicago lakefront (map by Chicago CartoGraphics): Figure 0.2 from Lakefront: Public Trust and Private Rights in Chicago (Cornell, 2021)

Yet as our book’s title suggests, however much other law has been involved, the public trust doctrine has been at the forefront of lakefront controversies, at least since the Supreme Court of the United States used the Lake Front Case (more formally known as Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Illinois, 146 U.S. 387 (1892)) to announce the American experiment with the doctrine. So Professor Merrill and I took a guest-blogging opportunity at the Volokh Conspiracy this past week to focus on the public trust doctrine. Here are links to our series of posts:

You can find us a month or so from now guest-blogging at The Faculty Lounge, where we expect to consider the rules that govern—or might govern—who has standing to raise the different sorts of legal claims whose disposition has helped shape the Chicago lakefront. Each of these rules is in some way problematic, and differences among them have had notable effects on what a resident or tourist today finds on the lakefront—and what he or she does not. “[L]ots and lots of law,” it has been said.

Recalling (and Rehearing) Howard Eisenberg

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School History3 Comments on Recalling (and Rehearing) Howard Eisenberg

Howard B. Eisenberg

Howard B. Eisenberg, dean of Marquette Law School from 1995 to 2002, died nineteen years ago today. That number may not have independent significance or resonance (unlike, say, 18, in Jewish tradition as I understand it, or 20, for a round number), but we may agree that it is now some time ago. Yet no one will doubt that Howard’s spirit—indeed, legacy—lives on here at the Law School, even in Eckstein Hall, opened more than eight years after his death.

Our Office of Public Service, which we created in 2006 and now house in the Howard B. Eisenberg Suite, has been our most significant institutional effort to ensure his legacy of “doing good,” as Alan Borsuk noted as recently as a week ago, in this Marquette Lawyer article. In light of this evidence surrounding us all, there seems no need to post at length on his yahrzeit. “Si monumentum requiris, circumspice,” one is tempted to say (well, I am, anyway).

Yet I wanted to use this blog to mark the anniversary, pointing anyone interested to two previous posts: one by me, twelve years ago today, whose virtue is that it contains a link to the wonderful 2002 special issue of the Marquette Law Review, remembering Howard in so many different ways (and through so many different eyes); and the other a decade ago, by our longtime colleague, now-retired Professor (and Justice) Janine P. Geske, whose welcome advantage is that it enables you to hear Howard’s very voice on a special topic: “What’s a Nice Jewish Boy Like Me Doing in a Place Like This?”

May his memory be for a blessing.

Public Views of the U.S. Supreme Court: A Marquette Law School Poll and Conference

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on Public Views of the U.S. Supreme Court: A Marquette Law School Poll and Conference

US Supreme Court

On October 21, the Marquette Law School Poll will release the results of a nationwide survey of public opinion about the Supreme Court of the United States. How much do citizens know about the Court? How informed are they about the Constitution? What, if anything, do they think of the justices? With respect to recent decisions of the Court, how much of the public supports or opposes the Court’s rulings? How much is opinion of the Court and its decisions based in partisan or ideological affiliations of voters? Do opinions of the Court influence presidential-vote choices? Does the public see the Court as legitimate? The Marquette Law School Poll Director, Professor Charles Franklin, will present the results of a unique national survey devoted entirely to knowledge and opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court.

We will then present three panels of reaction or reflection about the survey or the general topics that it implicates. Panelists will include the following:

  • from the bench and bar, Judge Diane S. Sykes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Peter D. Keisler, co-leader of Supreme Court and Appellate practice, Sidley Austin, Washington D.C.; and Thomas L. Shriner, Jr., partner in Foley & Lardner and adjunct professor of law at Marquette University
  • from the academy, Professor Lawrence Baum (political science), The Ohio State University, and author (with Neal Devins) of The Company They Keep: How Partisan Divisions Came to the Supreme Court (Oxford 2019), and Tara Leigh Grove (law), William & Mary, author of The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Dilemma, 132 Harv. L. Rev. 2240 (2019)
  • from the press with deep experience with respect to the Court, Robert Barnes (Washington Post) and Carl Hulse (New York Times and author of Confirmation Bias: Inside Washington’s War over the Supreme Court, From Scalia’s Death to Justice Kavanaugh (Harper & Collins 2019))

Other participants will include my Marquette colleagues, Chad M. Oldfather, professor of law, and Mike Gousha, distinguished fellow in law and public policy. We regard this survey as an opportunity to offer not just opinion from the public but also a variety of explanations to the public about how the judiciary, or the Supreme Court in particular, comes to decisions.

Since its establishment almost eight years ago, the Marquette Law School Poll has developed a substantial national reputation. This latest survey, too, will be a public good, and it should be of considerable lasting interest.

Please join us at Marquette Law School, in Eckstein Hall’s Lubar Center, for the conference (Monday, October 21, 8 a.m.–1:30 p.m.). Registration is required and available here. Questions may be directed to Rita Aleman, program manager of the Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education.

New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Discusses the Search for Better Outcomes in the World of Law Enforcement (Post 3 of 3)

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Environmental Law, Lubar Center, Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School History, Milwaukee Public Schools, Prisoner Rights, Race & Law, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Discusses the Search for Better Outcomes in the World of Law Enforcement (Post 3 of 3)

A drawing of a policeman sitting on a badge. This third and final post reflecting the “In Search of Better Outcomes” theme of the new Marquette Lawyer magazine begins with a third pair of articles, the one that actually provides the quoted phrase (see here and here for the previous posts and previous pairs). These last two articles, with a brief introduction, look at the impact of law enforcement on people on different sides of the badge—and at possibilities for better outcomes both for those in law enforcement who are affected negatively by the cumulative trauma with which they deal and for offenders upon release, after they have served time in incarceration.

“Behind the Badge: A Growing Sense of the Need in Law Enforcement to C ope with Trauma” is an edited transcript of a panel discussion involving four people who have served in law enforcement. They offer insights on the need for better avenues for getting help for those who see so much violence and extreme behavior as part of their jobs protecting the public. The discussion was part of Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative conference on November 9, 2018, titled “The Power of Restorative Justice in Healing Trauma in Our Community.”

“Putting a Period at the End of the Sentence,” an article by Alan Borsuk, draws on a conference, on October 4, 2018, of the Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education. Titled “Racial Inequality, Poverty, and the Criminal Justice System,” the gathering focused on issues facing people who are returning to the general community after incarceration. The story features some of the keynote remarks by Bruce Western, a sociology professor at Columbia University and author of Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison (2018). It also reports on observations by leaders of programs in the Milwaukee area that aim to help people leaving incarceration establish stable lives in the community.

Continue reading “New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Discusses the Search for Better Outcomes in the World of Law Enforcement (Post 3 of 3)”

Marquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at the Milwaukee Public Schools—and Seemingly Timeless Societal Problems, Especially Segregation (Post 2 of 3)

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Marquette Lawyer Magazine, Milwaukee Public Schools, Public, Race & LawLeave a comment» on Marquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at the Milwaukee Public Schools—and Seemingly Timeless Societal Problems, Especially Segregation (Post 2 of 3)

Judge John W. Reynolds sitting in a chairA previous blog post discussed a pair of stories in the Summer 2019 Marquette Lawyer magazine and concluded by quoting one of them: specifically, an observation by Professor David Strauss of the University of Chicago, based on the Boden Lecture at Marquette Law School by Duke’s Professor Ernest Young, that “in the end, there is only so much the law can do to save a society from its own moral failings.” This post takes up a second pair of stories in the magazine, from which one might draw the same conclusion.

While it remains a fact about the large majority of schools in the Milwaukee area now, segregation of Milwaukee school students by race was the subject of great energy—attention, advocacy, and controversy—in the 1960s and 1970s. Two pieces in this summer’s Marquette Lawyer focus on the Milwaukee education scene of that earlier era.

In one, Alan Borsuk, the Law School’s senior fellow in law and public policy, writes about the decision issued in January 1976, by U.S. District Judge John W. Reynolds, which ordered that the Milwaukee Public Schools be desegregated. “A Simple Order, a Complex Legacy” touches upon the legal history of school desegregation cases, Reynolds’ 1976 ruling itself, and the legacy of that Milwaukee ruling. To borrow a phrase from Professor Young’s Boden Lecture, there is scarcely “an optimistic, onward-and-upward feel” to the account. Continue reading “Marquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at the Milwaukee Public Schools—and Seemingly Timeless Societal Problems, Especially Segregation (Post 2 of 3)”

New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Sees Past Problems as Shedding Light on Future Challenges (Post 1 of 3)

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Constitutional Interpretation, Federalism, Judges & Judicial Process, Legal History, Marquette Lawyer Magazine, Popular Culture & Law, Race & Law, Speakers at Marquette, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Sees Past Problems as Shedding Light on Future Challenges (Post 1 of 3)

This cover of the summer issue of the Marquette Lawyer. The Summer 2019 issue of Marquette Lawyer features three pairs of stories with an underlying common theme that can be summed up by one of the headlines: “In Search of Better Outcomes.” This issue of the Marquette Law School semiannual magazine overall has a substantial historical orientation, but it also speaks strongly to current realities and issues—as has become even clearer since the magazine hit the streets a few weeks ago. Simply put, learning about the past helps in understanding the present and considering the future. This post takes up one pair of articles: the cover story and a reaction to it.

The cover story, “Dying Constitutionalism and the Fourteenth Amendment,” is an edited version of the Robert F. Boden Lecture given at Marquette Law School in fall 2018, by Ernest A. Young, the Alston & Bird Professor at Duke Law School. While the Fourteenth Amendment later would be crucial to the growth of constitutional protections and the extension of civil rights—the linchpin of America’s “second founding,” as it is sometimes called—Young focuses on the first 75 years after the amendment was ratified in 1868. It was a period of broad suppression of civil rights, particularly those of African Americans—the Fourteenth Amendment not working much to the contrary.

Young’s purpose is not so much historical as jurisprudential: He presents his essay as a cautionary tale about “living constitutionalism,” demonstrating that, while that mode of constitutional interpretation was not the Court’s stated approach in those 75 years, it could have been: For “every one of [living constitutionalism’s] modalities strongly supported the compromise or even abandonment of the amendment’s core purpose of freedom and equality for black Americans.” Simply stated, the history of the use of the amendment is a reminder that “social progress is not inevitable, that social forces can push constitutional meaning in bad as well as good directions, that living can turn into dying constitutionalism if we are not very, very careful,” Young writes.

In a comment on Young’s lecture, David A. Strauss, Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago and author of The Living Constitution (Oxford 2012), says that the early failures under the Fourteenth Amendment need to be reckoned with by those who are proponents of living constitutionalism. He writes that Young’s lecture shows that “in the end, there is only so much that the law can do to save a society from its own moral failings.”

A future post will discuss another pair of articles in the magazine that would support the same reaction. Click here to read both Young’s lecture and Strauss’s comment.

Justice Scalia at Marquette Law School

Posted on Categories Education & Law, Judges & Judicial Process, Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public, Seventh Circuit, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on Justice Scalia at Marquette Law School
Judge Diane Sykes introduces Justice Antonin Scalia at the dedication of Eckstein Hall
Judge Sykes introduces Justice Scalia

It seems to be common ground that it will be hard to imagine the United States Supreme Court without the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He was a force also in legal education more directly. That is, he was a teacher, and he taught his theories of constitutional and statutory interpretation with intellect and energy, even outside of his writings in the U.S. Reports.

 

Justice Scalia visited us at Marquette University Law School on two occasions. The first was in 2001 to deliver our annual Hallows Lecture, where some 500 people were with him in the Weasler Auditorium, while a group of the same size watched a video feed in the Monaghan Ballroom of the Alumni Memorial Union. For me, the more memorable moment in that visit came when the Justice first arrived to campus, where an overflowing group of law students awaited him in Room 307 of Sensenbrenner Hall. The dean at the time, Howard B. Eisenberg, told the students that I would introduce him, because “Without Professor Kearney, there would be no Justice Scalia here.” Even before I could say anything, Justice Scalia brought the house down with this interjection: “I thought that, without Justice Scalia, there would be no Professor Kearney here.”

Justice Scalia returned to deliver the keynote address at the dedication of Eckstein Hall on September 8, 2010. He relaxed his strictures on recording, and the entire ceremony can be seen here, with an account of it appearing in the Marquette Law Review. I especially recall this comment of Judge Diane S. Sykes, L’84, in introducing the Justice:

“So we are fortunate, indeed, that this history-making justice has joined us here today as we make a little history of our own. When Dean Kearney unveiled the plans for this beautiful building two years ago, he famously declared that Eckstein Hall will be ‘noble, bold, harmonious, dramatic, confident, slightly willful, and, in a word, great.’ It certainly is. And with the possible exception of harmonious—Justice Scalia has been known to say that one of his charms is that he likes to tell people what they don’t want to hear—the dean’s description of this distinguished and splendid building might likewise be applied to our distinguished and splendid visitor. So, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the noble, bold, dramatic, confident, slightly willful, and, and in a word, great Justice Antonin Scalia.”

There are things to learn from the remarks of Justice Scalia and the other speakers that day, including then-Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, whether in the recording or the law review account linked above. My own recollection of Justice Scalia has appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and can be found here.

Remembering Professor James Ghiardi

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School History, Public4 Comments on Remembering Professor James Ghiardi
Law professor James Ghiardi stands at a podium and lectures to a class, circa 1985.
Law professor James Ghiardi stands at a podium and lectures to a class, circa 1985.

James D. Ghiardi, professor emeritus, passed away yesterday, at the age of 97. Jim was a Marquette lawyer, from our Class of 1942, and after service in World War II served as a member of our faculty, active or retired, for almost 70 years. From his first-year Torts course to his (somewhat) gentler approach with upper-level students, as I understand it, Professor Ghiardi was the legendary member of the Marquette Law School faculty for more than a generation. Professor Ghiardi enjoyed immense respect and esteem from Marquette lawyers—his former students.

Jim had retired by the time I arrived in 1997, but he remained a presence at the Law School until as recently as a few months ago. He was unfailingly gracious and supportive to me even before I became dean—indeed, from my earliest days on the faculty. I have been fortunate to count him among my colleagues and friends. At the same time, it seems appropriate to let speak here one of my predecessors as dean—indeed, one of Professor Ghiardi’s former students. Robert F. Boden wrote the following of Professor Ghiardi in 1971:

I first knew him when I was one of 160 terrified freshmen students entering Law School in the fall of 1949. As a student I came to respect him as a fine teacher. As a fellow member of the bar, a fellow Marquette alumnus, faculty colleague, and finally as his Dean, I have come to respect him as a gentleman and a scholar. Few are more zealous in their loyalty to the University and to the profession. Few also have the industry and capacity for work that manifests itself every day in Professor Ghiardi’s vigorous and devoted attention to the responsibilities which he has assumed in the Law School and in the many other related activities which he has undertaken.

In a quarter century of teaching of tort and insurance law, Professor Ghiardi has come to be recognized nationally as one of the academic leaders in this area of the law. Since 1962 he has served as Research Director of the Defense Research Institute, the national research and educational arm of the defense bar. He is often called upon to address legal organizations throughout the country in the field of his expertise, and his long record of publication in the leading bar journals of the country is a further manifestation of his accomplishments in legal scholarship.

Dean Boden made these remarks in the context of dedicating, on behalf of the student editors, a volume of the Marquette Law Review to Professor Ghiardi. The dedication, which also notes Professor Ghiardi’s unusual service as the president of the Wisconsin bar, may be read here.

It concludes by expressing “certain[ty] in the fact that [Professor Ghiardi] will continue for many more years to reflect the highest ideals of his University and his profession.” Dean Boden was right to be so certain in his remarks nearly forty-five years ago. The loss of Jim Ghiardi now diminishes us, but his work and life magnified us—and as a legacy will continue to do so. Requiescat in pace.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, January 24th at Feerick Funeral Home, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. A visitation will also be held starting at 9:30 AM on Monday, January 25th, followed by the celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial at the Church of the Gesu, 1145 W. Wisconsin Ave. at 10:30 AM. Committal Services and Military Honors will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery, 7301 W. Nash, after the Mass. A lunch will follow at 1:30 PM at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago Ave.

 Memorials in Jim’s name may be made to the Marquette University Law School, (James D. Ghiardi and Phyllis A. Ghiardi Scholarship Fund), or to the Milwaukee Catholic Home (Employee Fund).

 

An Expanded Water Law and Policy Initiative

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Marquette Law School, Public, Water Law1 Comment on An Expanded Water Law and Policy Initiative

We frequently say that Marquette Law School hopes to be a place of which the community remarks,“That’s where you take the hard problems, the ones that affect us all.” As we observe the course of events in California and other parts of the world, it seems difficult to imagine a problem more intractable or more universal—a problem harder—than ensuring the availability of fresh water for domestic, medical, agricultural, and industrial uses. Indeed, Pope Francis recently cautioned in an encyclical that water, which is “indispensable for human life,” is “a fundamental right,” and he called for all interested parties to engage in “an open and respectful dialogue” about relevant policies and laws. Closer to home, with Associate Dean Matt Parlow’s leadership, the Law School has been actively engaged in the Milwaukee regional water initiative since its creation last decade; more recently, the Law School has sought to respond to President Michael R. Lovell’s call for greater engagement by Marquette University with matters involving water.

In these circumstances, it is a great pleasure to announce an expanded Water Law and Policy Initiative which will seek to help establish the Law School and, more broadly, Marquette University as a center for study, exploration, discussion, and education concerning water issues. Using an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach, the initiative will seek, among other things, to assess the legal and regulatory aspects of water policy, to pursue opportunities for information exchange and collaboration within and outside the University, and to provide the means for those involved in Milwaukee’s water initiative to become better informed on legal and policy aspects of critical water-related issues.image001

I am also pleased to announce the appointment of David Strifling as the Initiative’s inaugural director. Dave is a Marquette lawyer (L’04) and Marquette engineer (L’00) with a Harvard master’s. He has served as an adjunct professor here for several years, practiced at Quarles & Brady, and previously taught at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia. He has extensive practical experience in both environmental law and environmental engineering and holds active licenses in both disciplines, making him almost uniquely qualified to move this project forward in an interdisciplinary way; further background about Dave is available here. We are able to pursue this initiative because of support from the University’s Strategic Innovation Fund and from the Law School’s Annual Fund. Welcome, Dave.

Of Trump Cards and Lawyering

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Pro Bono, Public, Seventh CircuitLeave a comment» on Of Trump Cards and Lawyering

King of SpadesSome of the best and the worst of the legal profession can be seen through Socha v. Boughton, No. 12-1598, decided by the Seventh Circuit this past week. The substance of the case involved the court’s applying — for the first time — the doctrine of equitable tolling to excuse a late filing by a state prisoner in a habeas case. This required a conclusion that the district court had abused its discretion in concluding otherwise, including the catchy characterization that “[t]he mistake made by the district court and the state was to conceive of the equitable tolling inquiry as the search for a single trump card, rather than an evaluation of the entire hand that the petitioner was dealt” (slip op. at 19).

Yet it is the lawyering that I want especially to note. Continue reading “Of Trump Cards and Lawyering”