Marc Marotta

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The Marquette family — indeed, the Milwaukee community and the state more generally — lost one of its great leaders yesterday when Marc Marotta suddenly passed away. His death was jarring; he was only 52. Many people knew Marc far better than I, but I had the great fortune of getting to know him through our work together on the Board of Directors of the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corporation for the past few years. In fact, I saw him on Tuesday morning at a board meeting, where he was his usual self: energetic, gregarious, and engaging … which made yesterday’s news even more incomprehensible.

My interest in this post is not to detail Marc’s many accomplishments; the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does a great job of it here (though no one article can truly do justice to the work and legacy of Marc Marotta). Instead, as our third-year students inch closer to graduation and becoming Marquette lawyers, I hope to highlight aspects of Marc’s life and career that are worth reflection by our students — indeed, by all of us in the profession — as they become lawyers and serve the public.

Marc was an excellent lawyer — just ask anyone with whom he worked. Continue reading “Marc Marotta”

Mitten Elected President-Elect of Sports Lawyers Association

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mittenLast week, the Sports Lawyers Association held its 40th annual conference in Chicago. Unsurprisingly, the Law School had a strong presence at the conference, which boasted more than 800 attendees. Current students, alumni, National Sports Law Institute Board Members, and several faculty members (Professors Anderson, Braza, Cervenka, Mitten, and yours truly) all attended the conference. Professors Anderson and Mitten both spoke on panels during the conference.

In addition, Professor Mitten was elected as the president-elect of the Sports Lawyers Association, which is a national and international group of more than 1,700 members consisting of sports industry professionals, sports lawyers, and sports law professors. Professor Mitten will become the organization’s president in May 2015 and serve a two-year term. Congratulations, Professor Mitten!

Cancer and Mentors

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Public3 Comments on Cancer and Mentors

Holding HandsIt was ten years ago to this very day, at the age of 28, that I heard the words from my doctor that I’ll never forget: “You have cancer.” It’s news that shakes you to your core, even if you were expecting the diagnosis. While I had a very treatable form of cancer — testicular cancer — I couldn’t help but face my mortality head-on. In the hours after my diagnosis, I remember thinking about all of the things I still wanted to do in my life: get married and have kids; pursue a career as a law professor; celebrate more Lakers and Dodgers championships; etc.

Fortunately, I am ten years in remission, and statistically, the chances of the cancer recurring are extremely low — less than one percent.  I look back at how many of the reasons for which I wanted to live have come to pass: I am blessed with a wonderful wife and two great daughters; I am incredibly fortunate to have a job that I love so much; the Lakers hung two more championship banners since then (and being at the game 7 win in 2010 against those wretched Boston Celtics was one of the more euphoric moments of my life (sorry Professor Rofes)); and as for the Dodgers, well, there’s still lots to live for. <grin>

I look back ten years later with incredible gratitude for all of the people who helped support me through my battle with cancer.  But I also look back a bit wistfully, as I have lost two mentors since that time, and I miss them both very much.  I have been meaning to write about both of them for the last two years, but to be honest, it has just been too painful.  Their passings were great losses for me and for so many others who knew them. Continue reading “Cancer and Mentors”

Oldfather Triangulating

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Professor Chad Oldfather’s recent article, Triangulating Judicial Responsiveness: Automated Content Analysis, Judicial Opinions, and the Methodology of Legal Scholarship (co-authored with Joseph P. Bockhorst and Brian P. Dimmer) – published in the Florida Law Review – has received a lot of recent scholarly attention. Professor Robin Effron of Brooklyn Law School and Professor Scott Bauries of the University of Kentucky College of Law each wrote responses (here and here) in the Florida Law Review Forum (the Florida Law Review’s online companion). In addition, Professor Corey Yung of the Kansas University School of Law also wrote an essay about the article. Congratulations, Professor Oldfather!

Marquette Law School Alumnae Honored as “Women in Law”

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On Thursday, June 23rd, the Wisconsin Law Journal recognized its 2011 Women in Law honorees.  There were several MULS alumnae among the group: Elizabeth Blackwood, Michelle Fitzgerald, Mary Gerbig, Christine Liu McLaughlin, and Linda Meagher.  As you can read further on the Wisconsin Law Journal’s website here, these Marquette lawyers have compelling stories, have accomplished so much in their careers, and have served their communities with great distinction.

The other MULS alumna honored on Thursday night was our own Professor Phoebe Williams.  It is hard to properly describe the long and meaningful list of contributions that Professor Williams has made to the Law School, the Milwaukee community, and beyond.  Perhaps the clearest manifestation of the impact Professor Williams has had are her “living legacies” (the term Justice Scalia used to describe students at the dedication of Eckstein Hall).  Indeed, I have had countless students and graduates who have told me about the significant effect that Professor Williams had on their lives and careers.  So it was wonderful to be there on Thursday night to help celebrate Professor Williams’ much-deserved recognition.

Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees!

The Hero Teacher in Perspective

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Prologue: I’d like to thank Dean Bill Henk for inviting me to blog about a terrific project on which we collaborated. On Tuesday, the College of Education, the Office of the Provost’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, and the MU Law School sponsored a conference entitled “Urban Education Innovation and Reform Programs: High Success for High-Need Kids.” The event began with an engaging talk by Raj Vinnakota, Marquette’s 2010 Social Entrepreneur in Residence and the founder of The SEED Foundation (Schools for Educational Evolution and Development), and its nationally acclaimed boarding schools. A panel with local urban innovators and reformers next discussed their pathways to high success with high-needs students here in Milwaukee.

Over the lunch hour, National Teacher of the Year Rafe Esquith talked about his experience working with inner-city kids in Los Angeles, and some of his fifth grade students — the Hobart Shakespeareans — performed Shakespearean scenes and a couple of rock n’ roll songs. And, in the evening, Rafe and the Hobart Shakespeareans spoke to, and performed for, an audience of education students, faculty, local educators, and interested community members (thanks to all of those at the College of Education for making the evening such a great success). Cross posted at the Marquette Educator >>

Environmental Law Paper Earns Recognition

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Legal Scholarship, Marquette Law School2 Comments on Environmental Law Paper Earns Recognition

This past semester, the Environmental Law Section of the Wisconsin State Bar sponsored a competition for the best student paper in environmental law. To be eligible, students had to submit a 7,500-10,000 word paper based on original research.

Ryann Beck — who just graduated in May — won this year’s competition with her article entitled “Farmers’ Rights and Open Source Licensing.” Michael O’Hear blogged here about Ryann’s article, which will be published in the Arizona Journal of Environmental Law and Policy.

Ryann received a cash prize for winning the competition, and her article will also be published by the Environmental Law Section on its website. Congratulations, Ryann!

Water and People Conference

Posted on Categories Business Regulation, Environmental Law, Marquette Law School, Speakers at Marquette, Wisconsin Law & Legal System1 Comment on Water and People Conference

2880829064_eae0f10628On Friday, February 26, 2010, Marquette University Law School (MULS) will hold its annual Public Service Conference at the Alumni Memorial Union on the Marquette University campus on the increasingly important topic of water law.  The conference, entitled “Water and People,” will address water issues in Wisconsin (as well as nationally and internationally), development and the environment, regulation, and water ethics.  Statewide leaders from business, government, and non-profit served on a steering committee that worked with Assistant Dean for Public Service, Dan Idzikowski, and myself (I coordinate the MULS water law program) to plan the conference.  Based on the group’s efforts, experts from Wisconsin, around the United States, and from Canada will gather to talk about some of the most important topics in the field of water law.  The conference will also feature a keynote address by Cameron Davis, senior advisor to the United States EPA Administrator for Great Lakes Restoration.  You can learn more about the conference and register for the conference at

While no blog post can truly capture all that this conference will entail, here is a preview of the panels and topics. Continue reading “Water and People Conference”

Time for a Baseball Salary Cap?

Posted on Categories Sports & Law15 Comments on Time for a Baseball Salary Cap?

Today, sources say that the New York Yankees signed free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira to a whopping eight-year contract totaling $180 million.  Teixeira is arguably the best non-pitcher free agent on the market (one could make an argument for Manny Ramirez, but it seems the market has focused more on Teixeira first).  This signing comes on the heels of the Yankees signing CC Sabathia to a seven-year contract worth $161 million and A.J. Burnett to a five-year contract worth $82.5 million.  Sabathia was hands-down the elite free agent pitcher, and Burnett was considered the second- or third-best free agent pitcher (depending on whether you ranked Derek Lowe above or below Burnett).  That’s an extraordinary $423.5 million on three guys, all in the last month.  And the Yankees got all three of them — three of the top five free agents on the market.  

Now, just because the Yankees are spending money like drunken sailors does not mean they will win.  Indeed, even with these signings, it appears that the Yankees may wind up with a smaller payroll than last year (when they failed to make the playoffs), when it stood at $222.2 million.  In fact, the Yankees’ payroll may wind up south of $200 million.  But this situation still strikes me as problematic for the longevity of Major League Baseball (MLB), especially in small- or mid-size markets.  

It leads to a debate which may be worth revisiting: That is, should MLB adopt a salary cap?  Continue reading “Time for a Baseball Salary Cap?”

Responding to the Foreclosure Crisis in Milwaukee

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Everyone by now knows of the terrible consequences we face stemming from the foreclosure debacle. As part of the $700 billion bailout plan passed by Congress this fall, certain monies were allocated for cities and states to address some of the problems with the foreclosure crisis: increased crime in neighborhoods with a concentration of foreclosed (and oftentimes abandoned/vacant) properties; a depressed housing market with rapidly declining housing values; and a declining property tax base as a result of the declining home values and reduction in home ownership.

In order to make recommendations to the City of Milwaukee regarding these problems and on how to spend the $9.2 million allocated to the City in the bailout plan, Mayor Barrett established the Milwaukee Foreclosure Public Initiative (MFPI), a public-private partnership. Our own Assistant Dean for Public Service Dan Idzikowski was one of the leaders of the MFPI, serving as a workgroup chair (which oversaw three committees related to the MFPI’s work). In fact, the Mayor specifically recognized and thanked Dan in his press release on the final work product of the MFPI. Continue reading “Responding to the Foreclosure Crisis in Milwaukee”

What’s New in the Classroom: On the Issues

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This semester I taught a terrific group of students in my Legislation class. We had engaging and thought-provoking discussions about the legislative process and statutory interpretation. Indeed, some of those discussions continue on this Blog with some of my students participating in the on-line discussion about judicial activism.

As part of the class, I required my students to attend a number of the “On the Issues” programs hosted by our Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy and Law, Mike Gousha (see for a list of the sessions from this semester along with corresponding podcasts). My reasoning for doing so, as I explained to my students, was to help them connect the material we learned about and discussed in class to real-world examples that impact us in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin, and nationally. And after each “On the Issues,” we had fruitful discussions about what the guest speakers said and how that related to the topics we grappled with in class. Continue reading “What’s New in the Classroom: On the Issues”

Hope for the Milwaukee Transportation Money?

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Earlier this semester, our Distinguished Fellow in Law and Public Policy, Mike Gousha, held an “On the Issues” session with Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett regarding how to spend the $91.5 million in federal funds earmarked for transportation needs in the region. A brief history on the money: More than seventeen years ago, the federal government set aside $91.5 million to be used for transportation projects in the Milwaukee region. Since that time, the City and County of Milwaukee have been unable to reach an agreement as to how to use those dollars. As a result, the $91.5 has sat unused — earning no interest to boot.

As part of my Legislation class, I required my students to attend some of the “On the Issues” programs this semester (as an aside, Gousha and his programs are an inimitable complement to the teaching and scholarship engaged in at the Law School — more on that perhaps some other time). One of my students emailed me recently pointing out that under President-elect Obama’s public works economic stimulus plan, states that do not expediently invest their federal highway and transportation money will lose it (the classic “use it or lose it” approach). Another sidebar here: It warms a professor’s heart to receive such emails and see his/her pedagogical theories validated, at least to some degree.

My student went on to point out that the partisan bickering between Walker and Barrett — indeed, the seemingly intransigent positions that have been staked out (see webcast and post) — may lead to the region losing a significant sum of money that could be used not only for transportation needs, but also for infusing some much-needed money into the local economy.

Last month, student guest blogger Andrew Golden posted about the issue of partisanship and whether it is a “poli-ticking time bomb.” Let’s hope that our local political leaders can end nearly two decades of political, if not partisan, bickering and find a productive and sensible way to use these federal dollars before they disappear.