Imaginative Justice in the Trial Court: Judge Sarah Evans Barker to Deliver Hallows Lecture Next Week

Posted on Categories Judges & Judicial Process, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Imaginative Justice in the Trial Court: Judge Sarah Evans Barker to Deliver Hallows Lecture Next Week

Next Tuesday, April 14, will be the occasion for the Law School’s Hallows Lecture. This annual event, named in memory of the late Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice (and Marquette Professor) E. Harold Hallows, brings to the school a distinguished jurist who in a variety of ways has occasion to converse with and teach students, faculty, and others. Past Hallows Lecturers have included Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court and Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. More recently, over the last three years, the Hallows Lecture has served as the occasion for a significant address by a judge serving on a federal court of appeals (as can be seen in the 2006 speech by Judge Diane S. Sykes, L’84, of the Seventh Circuit, the 2007 speech by Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the Fifth Circuit, and the 2008 speech by Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit).

I am very pleased that this year, for the first time, the Hallows Lecture will be delivered by a distinguished sitting trial judge: viz., the Honorable Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Judge Barker, who has served on the federal bench since 1984 and is president of the Federal Judges Association (a voluntary organization of Article III judges), is a national figure among trial judges and the federal judiciary more broadly. For the Hallows Lecture, she has selected as her title “Beyond Decisional Templates: The Role of Imaginative Justice in the Trial Court,” and takes as her point of departure Judge Richard A. Posner’s recent book, How Judges Think (Harvard, 2008).

The following is from the Law School’s description of the lecture: “Accepting Judge Posner’s premise that under certain circumstances judges must perform as legislators, Judge Sarah Evans Barker will attempt to expand his focus on appellate decision-making to include a discussion of when and how this approach is and can and should be properly applied in the trial court and of the role of imagination when adjudicating in the ‘open area.'”

The lecture will take place in Room 307 at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14. The event is open to all, but registration is required.

Let the (Oral) Argument Begin

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Marquette Law School3 Comments on Let the (Oral) Argument Begin

Kudos (on getting this far) and best wishes (as we move forward) to the sixteen upper-level students who are competing this week in the quarterfinals of the Jenkins Moot Court Competition. The students earned this right based on their top performance in last fall’s Appellate Writing and Advocacy course, which is a prerequisite or gateway to both the intramural Jenkins Competition and all extramural or interscholastic moot-court competitions. The students are paired into eight teams of two for purposes of the Jenkins Competition:

  • Lindsay Caldwell & Lindsey Johnson
  • Alyssa Dowse & Tim Sheehey
  • Jessica Farley & Brent Simerson
  • Sandy Giernoth & Megann Senfleben
  • Tim Hassel & Joe Brydges
  • Rachel Helmers & Nick Harken
  • Amber Peterson & Allison Ziegler
  • Nicole Standback & Bridget Mueller

Each team writes a brief in the first half of the spring semester and has a chance to argue twice in a round of quarterfinals. Thereupon, based on a weighted scoring of the brief and the oral arguments, four teams advance to the semifinals. The briefs having been “filed” several weeks ago, the oral arguments begin this week, and culminate in the Jenkins Finals at the United States Courthouse at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 2.

More information on the reasons the Law School structures its moot-court competition this way can be found in this article from the Marquette Lawyer or at the moot-court webpage (and a student’s perspective can be found in a very fine post by a guest blogger last month, Jessica Franklin). I hope that all will join me in congratulating and wishing well to this year’s Jenkins competitors.

My Effort at a Half-Court Shot, or the Importance of a Faculty Blog

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School4 Comments on My Effort at a Half-Court Shot, or the Importance of a Faculty Blog

Years ago, before I arrived at the Law School in 1997, the annual student-faculty basketball game concluded on a dramatic note. My colleague, Professor Michael McChrystal, was fouled as time expired, with the faculty trailing by 2 points. There being essentially no time left on the clock, the court was cleared as Prof. McChrystal went to the foul line. He calmly sank both foul shots, sending the game into overtime, where the faculty proceeded to win. Prof. McChrystal has had the good sense never to play in the game again. (I once asked his daughter whether she had ever heard the story, and she allowed that it had come up on more than one occasion.)

This past Thursday evening saw this year’s game between the students and the faculty (the latter term being used loosely, as, happily, there are several other personnel who play on the faculty side). I declined the invitation to play, as I have in each instance since arriving in 1997, on a rather straightforward cost-benefit calculus. But I attended, of course, and even suggested to Tonya Turchik and Andy Shiffman, our Student Bar Association leaders, that I would do a half-court shot at half-time.

When half-time came, I took off my suit coat, put on my Opus hard hat (for no real reason, and certainly not, as one colleague suggested, because I feared that the ball would come back down on my head), and went to half-court. Professor Peter Rofes, in handing me the ball, asked which way I wanted to shoot; I suggested the direction in which all the fans (gathered at one end) could best see the whole thing. I would later learn that he and another colleague had a bet on the precise way in which I would miss the shot.

With little fanfare, I took the ball, bounced it several times, and shot it into the air from half-court. What would be the result? Continue reading “My Effort at a Half-Court Shot, or the Importance of a Faculty Blog”

O’Hear to Chair the Federal Nominating Commission

Posted on Categories Eastern District of WisconsinLeave a comment» on O’Hear to Chair the Federal Nominating Commission

Since 1979, Wisconsin’s senators have used some form of what they term a “Federal Nominating Commission” to recommend individuals for vacant federal judgeships and U.S. Attorney’s positions. (One can see the current charter from the senators here.) Whether this approach is good public policy is a worthy question, but not my topic here.

Rather, I wish to make an observation concerning leadership of the Federal Nominating Commission: Where there is a vacancy, the charter calls for the dean of the law school in the federal judicial district (Marquette in the Eastern District and the UW-Madison in the Western District) or his designee to chair the commission. I have thus chaired the commission on occasions in the past.

With respect to the current vacancy in the U.S. Attorney’s position in the Eastern District, occasioned by the departure of Steve Biskupic, L’87, for private practice, I this week exercised my option to delegate my responsibilities. This occurs from time to time (e.g., the late Dean Howard B. Eisenberg tapped our colleague, Professor Peter K. Rofes, on one occasion in the 1990s, and a similar thing has occurred on occasion in the Western District).

Specifically, I have turned to my colleague, Michael M. O’Hear, Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Research, and (least relevantly) managing editor of this blog. My principal reason, besides other demands on my attention, is my belief that Professor O’Hear — a leading legal academic in the area of criminal sentencing — is unusually well qualified to help guide this search.

I hope that Professor O’Hear will consider using this blog as one of the means of disseminating information about the Federal Nominating Commission’s important undertakings. In all events, the commission’s recommendation of four to six individuals to serve as the U.S. Attorney in Milwaukee is due to the senators under the charter near the end of March.

Chief Flynn Discusses “Issues”

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Chief Flynn Discusses “Issues”

Mike Gousha and Police Chief Ed FlynnMike Gousha began his spring-semester series of conversations “On the Issues” by hosting Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, who had come to the Law School last January within weeks of starting as chief and thus has a year under his belt (in addition to his substantial experience elsewhere). Anyone who has never heard Flynn speak is missing a treat: he is smart, extraordinarily well-spoken, and witty. A podcast of the interview, which includes as usual with Gousha questions from the audience, is available here and is well worth a listen.

Perhaps the most striking part, for me, was Flynn’s description (at about the 30-minute mark) of how bad police drag good police down:

And I’m not minimizing or mitigating when I say, “Show me a hospital-ful of doctors, and I’ll show the white-coat wall of silence. Show me a roomful of attorneys, and I will show you the pinstripe wall of silence. Show me a roomful of police officers, and if we’re not thoughtful about it, we will have the blue wall of silence.”

Because the devil’s bargain becomes this—and trust me, this is the truth—the overwhelming majority of your police officers come into the job with notions of moral clarity, and they want to protect the good guys from the bad guys. They function in a world that is far more ambiguous than they thought. And they have to make the kinds of decisions which the order book doesn’t cover and the general orders don’t cover, but they live in a rule-based environment. They know they’re expected to do something, and they do things—and most of the time they’re within a margin of error of right. Sometimes they’re wrong—their colleagues know it. Sadly, over the course of the years, if you’re not careful, if you don’t have adult discussions about it, the devil’s bargain is this: The good cop who screws up makes the devil’s bargain with the cop who’s a thief or a brute, where neither one of them says anything. And that’s where you don’t want to get.

Flynn then proceeds to describe how in his estimation anyone who wishes to change this police subculture has to look upon the general police culture with a basic degree of empathy. Other aspects of the interview included Gousha’s asking Flynn to compare Milwaukee’s drop in violent crime over the past year with Chicago’s rise in the same.

To the list of adjectives that I earlier used in describing Flynn, I should add another. He seems loyal as well: he never misses the opportunity, even while appearing at this Jesuit institution, to credit the Christian Brothers, whose institutions he attended for both high school and college.

The Company You Keep

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Today I circulated my beginning-of-semester letter to students. I note it here because it gives me an opportunity to answer the question of the month (the month, admittedly, being this past November). That question was, “Who was your favorite law professor?” From the first post (by our Professor Papke concerning his Professor Bork) and throughout (including several posts by Marquette lawyers on some of our predecessors on the faculty), the conversation was rich and offered much to admire even secondhand.

I contributed only comments not posts, but take this opportunity now. I do it while exercising my prerogative (firmly established by Professors Murray and Morse) to redefine the question: appreciating, not just professors, but those from whom we learned in law school.

For my point, as I note in today’s letter to students, is how much I learned in law school from my fellow students. This was especially true of my closest friend in law school, now a partner in a West Coast law firm, but an accurate statement concerning numerous other friends and associates as well. Sometimes I learned legal doctrine, and other times it was more about different things, such as habits, that are not much less important in law and life. This learning occurred in study groups, during upper-level moot court, on a law journal, and in many other contexts.

I note this here, as we begin the semester, in order to encourage students to take this truth into account as they go about their activities this semester: time spent with fellows concerning the law—not just communing with one’s laptop, but in actual and intelligent conversation with other students—can be among the most valuable investments in your legal education. Truly was it for me.

W(h)ither Newspapers—and Their Cities?

Posted on Categories Media & Journalism, Milwaukee2 Comments on W(h)ither Newspapers—and Their Cities?

Newspapers have long been an important part of my life. Whether it was, if returning home from downtown Chicago with my mother in the 1970s, the effort to ensure that we secured for my father the “final markets” edition of that day’s Chicago Daily News (not merely the “latest markets,” I was taught to discriminate), or reading the New York Times in the 1980s while off in college and getting a broader sense of the world, or in the 1990s moving to Milwaukee and coming to know my adoptive city in part through its paper (regrettably, after it had become a one-newspaper town), newspapers have been for me, as for so many others, more than even the primary source of news. That remains the case, even if we are “reduced” at home to taking the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune.

Today of course the internet offers both access to far more newspapers than even an out-of-town newsstand (to use an almost anachronistic term) and a threat to their viability, it seems. I wonder what the effect of this will be on our own region.

While I have been wondering about this for a while (or at least since Doonesbury was recently removed from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, presumably for expense reasons), an essay in the most recent New Yorker by James Surowiecki particularly prompts this post. Continue reading “W(h)ither Newspapers—and Their Cities?”

Dean’s Welcome

Posted on Categories UncategorizedLeave a comment» on Dean’s Welcome

Marquette Law ReviewWelcome to the Marquette University Law School faculty blog. While I cannot guarantee similar longevity, this new undertaking calls to my mind the launch some 92 years ago of the Marquette Law Review. On the opening page of the journal it was maintained that “the institution which would expand and fulfill its mission must make known its ideals and communicate its spirit.” W.A. Hayes, Foreword, 1 Marq. L. Rev. 5 (1916). At that time it was clear that “[t]he most effective way of doing both is by means of a suitable magazine.” Id. Today Marquette Law School, which is expanding and fulfilling its mission in impressive and unprecedented ways, requires in addition to the Marquette Law Review (as well as our other journals and the Marquette Lawyer alumni magazine) other “effective way[s]” to make known our ideals and communicate our spirit. I believe that this blog will be one such, as it will highlight our talented and thoughtful faculty and others associated with the Law School. I commend Professor Michael M. O’Hear, our new (and first) Associate Dean for Research and Managing Editor of the blog, upon his leadership of this effort, and I look forward to both reading and contributing to the blog. I invite all with a stake in Marquette Law School and in law and public policy, especially in this region, to be frequent visitors.