Professor Ghiardi—Some Recollections

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James Ghiardi stands at a podium, circa 1985Jim Ghiardi was larger than life. As Jim’s student, research assistant, colleague, and occasional golf partner, here are some recollections:

He was intimidating, commanding, and inspiring in the first-year torts course, where he could make 160 first-year students squirm in unison. He could also inspire truly extraordinary levels of class preparation (i.e., serious study of the law). Nearly a dozen of us would hang out with him after most classes in a semicircle around the podium, asking this or that, seeking a bit more from him, trying to impress him.

In his advanced torts and casualty insurance seminars, he was respectful, demanding, and encouraging. Many of us felt like associates in Jim’s law firm, with Jim acting as a mentor. He turned the class over to us, with carefully crafted assignments we were required to address orally and in writing. And pretty much everyone rose to the challenge and performed like a lawyer. Continue reading “Professor Ghiardi—Some Recollections”

Milwaukesha

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Funny how the words fit together so smoothly yet, when combined, seem grating to the ears of many who reside in the region.  The peculiar antipathy between Milwaukee County and Waukesha County may reflect the ways in which people have segregated themselves geographically based on cultural/political orientation.  Waukesha County is 94% “white alone” according to Census Bureau data, while Milwaukee County is over one-quarter black or African-American and over one-eighth Hispanic or Latino.  In the 2014 gubernatorial election, over two-thirds of Waukesha voters supported Scott Walker, while in Milwaukee County it was closer to one-third.  Waukesha is more affluent, less racially diverse, and more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole.  Milwaukee is the opposite.

There is, indeed, some basis for an us-and-them mentality.

But the positive connections are truly powerful.  To trace a bit of the history, Milwaukee’s population was about ten times greater than Waukesha’s from 1900 until 1950.  Then Waukesha’s population began to surge, growing more than four-fold since 1950, to about 400,000, while Milwaukee’s population has remained pretty constant at around one million.  The result is that Waukesha now has about 40% as many residents as Milwaukee, thus bringing the counties into closer balance.  Waukesha is now the third-most populous county in Wisconsin; in 1950, it was seventh-most populous, slightly ahead of Outagamie and Sheboygan and trailing Brown, Rock, and Winnebago, among others.  Waukesha has become a powerful residential draw and also a draw for businesses, almost certainly in large part due to its proximity to Milwaukee. Continue reading “Milwaukesha”

Getting What You Pay For In Legal Education

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[Editor’s Note: This month, we asked a few veteran faculty members to share their reflections on what has changed the most in legal education since they became law professors.  This is the sixth and final entry in the series.]

Legal education is no longer lean. When I was hired as Marquette Law School’s third administrator in 1975, the Law School had about a dozen full-time faculty members and three professional law librarians. These days, the Law School has a dozen administrators, forty or so full-time faculty, and more than a dozen professional librarians. The Law School facility is more than three times larger than when I started at the Law School. That enrollment is up some, from about 450 full-time students to about 600 full-time students and another 150 part-time students, accounts for only a fraction of the growth.

The principal change I’ve seen in my 35+ years at the Law School (I was an adolescent when first employed by Marquette) is this amazing growth in the resources and cost of legal education. Students are paying unprecedented amounts for a law school education and receiving access to unprecedented resources in return.

Some of the most important new resources and costs are those mentioned by my colleagues in this blog series.   Continue reading “Getting What You Pay For In Legal Education”

Investiture of Hon. James A. Wynn, Jr.

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Hon. James A. Wynn, Jr.

It was my great pleasure to attend the investiture of Jim Wynn (L’79) as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The ceremony at the federal courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina, drew an enormous crowd, well into the hundreds, requiring that the large majority of those in attendance view the event in various courtrooms in the building through a video feed.

It was no great surprise that Judge Wynn was nominated and confirmed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals. He had distinguished himself as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as a law student at Marquette (during my days as assistant dean), as an officer in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, as a lawyer in private practice, as a leader of the American Bar Association and the Uniform Law Commission, and as an appellate judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court. Not a bad record for a fellow who grew up in a small farming community in the Coastal Plains region of North Carolina.

Judge Wynn was characteristically gracious to those of us from Marquette who were present. Dean Joseph Kearney was included among the speakers, and not only were his warm congratulations and greetings from Marquette well received, but his punch lines got especially good laughs. (Example:  “But I am presumptuous enough to bring greetings from the past. For I have brought Judge Wynn’s student file with me—I would say that I do this by the power vested in me as dean, but I may be about to violate the FERPA law concerning educational privacy.”)

Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Sykes (L’84) was seated at the front of the courtroom, just in front of the presiding Fourth Circuit bench, every one of whose members was present for Judge Wynn’s investiture—the first time in anyone’s memory that there was a full turnout of the court for such an event. Judge Wynn’s classmates Joseph Yana, John Rothstein, and Dan Dennehy also had prime seats in the ceremonial courtroom, as did I, rubbing shoulders with the Wynn family and with leaders of the North Carolina bench and bar. Marquette trustee Chuck Svoboda, himself a North Carolinian, was also in attendance, as were Reuben Daniels (L’78) and Florence Johnson Raines (L’91).

It is always a pleasure and satisfaction to see a Marquette lawyer achieve impressive professional goals. The pleasure is especially great in the case of Jim Wynn, for the qualities of excellence, faith, leadership, and service etched into the hearth in the Aitken Reading Room are so clearly etched into Jim’s character as well.

Memories of Sensenbrenner Hall (Part 3)

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As the Law School community prepares to leave our current home and move into a new facility, it seems appropriate to pause and recall some of the memorable events that have taken place in Sensenbrenner Hall over the years.  Professor Michael McChrystal shares the third of what we hope will be many recollections of classroom surprises, distinguished visitors, and construction oddities associated with our present surroundings.  These memories will ensure that Sensenbrenner Hall lives on forever in our hearts. 

 For many years, the Wall of Judges, on the first floor hallway in old Sensenbrenner, included photographs of alums who were county or circuit court judges in the state.  The wall was filled with photos, which were probably six by eight inches in size, if I recall correctly.  There was a statistic floating around that one in every twenty graduates was a judge, although I have no sense of the accuracy of that count, nor even of how “judge” would be defined for that purpose. Continue reading “Memories of Sensenbrenner Hall (Part 3)”

Gulf Oil Disaster — Lessons in Torts and Bailouts

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The oil rig explosion that killed eleven workers and causes the daily flow of an estimated 200,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico presents a gut check moment on tort policy.  A lot of harm has been and will be caused by this catastrophe, and somebody will bear the cost of that harm. Should it be the responsible parties? the victims? the taxpayers?

American tort law, under the principles of proximate cause and nuisance, tells some victims that they must bear the cost of their own harm because it is either too remote (not a “proximate” cause) or too common (to be compensable, damages from a public nuisance must be “different in kind” from those suffered by others) to require the responsible party to pay. The responsibility of those whose conduct caused the harm must have a “sensible and just” stopping point, according to established doctrine. As a general matter, under common law principles, it is “sensible and just” to cause victims to bear their own costs if the harm they suffer is essentially economic or emotional in nature, as opposed to bodily injury or property damage.

These uncompensated losses often hit the taxpayers as well as the victim.  Continue reading “Gulf Oil Disaster — Lessons in Torts and Bailouts”

Reinstatement of a Wrongfully Discharged Lawyer?

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Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals issued an interesting decision involving remedies for the discharge of in-house counsel in violation of the Equal Pay, Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act. Sands v. Menard, Inc., involved a claim by a lawyer terminated from her position as vice president and executive general counsel of the Wisconsin-based building supplies company. The lawyer had claimed that she was the victim of gender-based pay discrimination. The matter was submitted to arbitration, and Menard was determined to have violated the lawyer’s rights in underpaying her and retaliating for her complaint.

The arbitration panel awarded the lawyer compensatory and punitive damages and also ordered reinstatement, a remedy that neither party sought. In upholding the reinstatement order, the court provided the following analysis: Continue reading “Reinstatement of a Wrongfully Discharged Lawyer?”

Eckstein Hall Rising

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Last Wednesday afternoon was sunny and mild and a perfect day to wander the concrete slab of the ground floor of the Eckstein Hall construction site, below the steel beams that hint at this great building, and imagine the spaces where Marquette law teachers and students will read and write, discuss, dine and generally enjoy one another’s intellect and company. For some reason, the construction site reminded me of years ago being on the playing field at a totally deserted Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor; on that day, an awesome silence permitted the perfect imagining of the awesome roar of the packed stadium.

I should be embarrassed to admit that much of my imagination has been dedicated in the last couple of years to imagining Eckstein Hall. I have driven every ramp of the Marquette Interchange in an effort to envision how it will appear to the hundreds of thousands of people who will pass by it daily (yes, literally hundreds of thousands daily). When and how will drivers see its complex sweep of brick, metal, and (mostly) glass? Will they note the substantial columns behind the glass curtain wall, meant to show that Eckstein Hall soars as well as sweeps? Will the building be bold, maybe even heroic, and beautiful? Continue reading “Eckstein Hall Rising”

Sting Operation on a Child Witness

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An online dictionary defines a sting operation as “a complicated confidence game planned and executed with great care (especially an operation implemented by undercover agents to apprehend criminals).” In law-enforcement contexts, covert investigation tactics are essential to obtaining evidence of criminal conduct committed by participants in sophisticated criminal enterprises. Evidence of common street crimes such as drug dealing and prostitution is often gathered with sting operations as well. Lawyers sometimes advise or supervise these activities to assure compliance with the law and admissibility of any evidence that is gathered.

Compare this with the sting operation carried out by a Madison, Wisconsin, criminal defense lawyer against the fifteen-year-old who accused his client of repeated sexual assaults beginning when the boy was nine years old.

The lawyer believed that the boy was lying and thought that the boy’s computer might contain evidence of the child’s independent interest in child pornography. The lawyer was concerned that the police investigator would not objectively seek and examine such evidence and that the boy might destroy evidence on his computer if given any warning.

The lawyer decided to retain a private investigator to trick the child and his mother into surrendering the boy’s computer and any evidence it might contain. Continue reading “Sting Operation on a Child Witness”

Celebrating a Scholar’s Life

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Walter Weyrauch, Stephen C. O’Connell Chair and Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Florida, passed away last fall after more than a half century of faculty service at UF Law School.  A memorial service — quite a warm and joyous reminiscence and celebration of Walter’s life and work — was held last month in Gainesville. My admission ticket was courtesy of my wife, Professor Alison Barnes, for whom Walter was a mentor and co-author, as well as a dear friend.

What prompts me to write about the memorial service was one particular theme that almost every speaker emphasized. Walter was scholar to his core, an indefatigable reader, and a highly original thinker. Quite importantly in terms of his scholarship, Walter had a key insight. Continue reading “Celebrating a Scholar’s Life”

Dominic James and His University

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An article in this morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes a Marquette undergraduate student with respect to his sense of connection to the university. The student, Dominic James, an excellent player on Marquette’s excellent basketball team, recently was injured and will be unable to play for the balance of the season. In discussing the support he receives from the team, Mr. James said,

I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. It’s hard just discussing it. That’s my family. The support has been unbelievable. And it’s not just from my teammates; it’s from the whole Marquette family. That’s the reason why I came here . . . and that’s the best thing about this university. It has nothing to do with how long the ball’s bouncing; it’s got to do with how long your heart’s beating. And as long as my heart’s beating, I know I’m going to be taken care of when it comes to Marquette.

What a remarkable statement about the connection between a student and his university. I wonder whether (and certainly hope that) such connections are possible in a law school.

Must Lawyers Disclose Their Role as Ghostwriter?

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Professor Michael W. Loudenslager of Appalachian School of Law has ventured into the thorny thicket of affirmative duties to disclose in his provocative article, Giving Up the Ghost: A Proposal for Dealing With Attorney “Ghostwriting” of Pro Se Litigants’ Court Documents Through Explicit Rules Requiring Disclosure and Allowing Limited Appearances for Such Attorneys, 92 Marq. L. Rev. 103 (2008). The crux of the issue is whether behind-the-scenes drafting of one or more litigation documents for a pro se litigant, by a lawyer who does not appear in the matter nor otherwise disclose her involvement, constitutes misconduct. The principal concern is whether the court and adversary are likely to be misled inappropriately by the nondisclosure. The issue arises frequently because so many matters must go to court, from collection cases to divorces to traffic offenses, and the cost of full representation is either beyond the reach of many litigants or is, in their judgment, not cost-effective. The authorities are divided as to whether disclosure should be required. Loudenslager does a fine job of taking us through the arguments and offers a solution of his own. It makes for engaging and thought-provoking reading.