Should Criminal Law Be Used to Enforce Family Responsibilities?

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Family Law, Legal ScholarshipLeave a comment» on Should Criminal Law Be Used to Enforce Family Responsibilities?

This important question is explored in a forthcoming mini-symposium in the Boston University Law Review. The lead article, written by Professors Jennifer Collins, Ethan Leib, and Dan Markel, argues that if criminal law is going to be used to enforce the responsibilities of family members to one another, then there also ought to be ways for people in other types of caregiving relationships to make their responsibilities criminally enforceable. Continue reading “Should Criminal Law Be Used to Enforce Family Responsibilities?”

Supreme Court Raises Doubts About the Money-Laundering Trap

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Federal Criminal Law & Process, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on Supreme Court Raises Doubts About the Money-Laundering Trap

The federal money-laundering statute prohibits both the concealment of proceeds from crime and the use of such proceeds to promote illegal activities.  While designed primarily with drug kingpins in mind, the statute’s broad language can easily become a trap for low-level criminals doing fairly routine things.  (I posted recently on a good example of an aggressive use of the money-laundering statute.)  Expansive readings of the statute mean that the penalties attached by Congress to many predicate offenses become meaningless, as nearly everyone becomes subject to the twenty-year maximum prison term triggered by a money-laundering conviction.  Responding to this concern, the Supreme Court recently adopted narrow constructions of the money-laundering statute in two cases, United States v. Santos, 128 S.Ct. 2020 (2008), and Cuellar v. United States, 128 S.Ct. 1994 (2008).  The cases may point the way towards a more discriminating money-laundering jurisprudence that attempts to reserve the harsh penalties of the statute for the most deserving defendants. Continue reading “Supreme Court Raises Doubts About the Money-Laundering Trap”

Economic Loss: Learning From Insurance Law

Posted on Categories Legal Scholarship, Tort Law, Wisconsin Civil LitigationLeave a comment» on Economic Loss: Learning From Insurance Law

My colleague Ralph Anzivino has a helpful new article that explores the fine line between contract law and tort law: The Economic Loss Doctrine: Distinguishing Economic Loss from Non-Economic Loss, 91 Marq. L. Rev. 1081 (2008). As developed by Wisconsin and many other states, the economic loss doctrine indicates that purely economic losses are recoverable in contract, while non-economic losses are recoverable in tort. The difficulty lies in distinguishing economic from non-economic, particularly with respect to property damage resulting from product failure. (Imagine, for instance, a defective garage door opener that causes a garage door to close on the owner’s car.) Continue reading “Economic Loss: Learning From Insurance Law”

The Final Frontier . . . for Law?

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Marquette’s faculty workshop series continued today with a terrific presentation by Joanne Gabrynowicz of the University of Mississippi School of Law. Joanne, who directs the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law, brought us up to speed on the major legal challenges facing space tourism (“informed consent is the issue”) and other persistent difficulties relating to the commercial use of space (e.g., allocation of rights and responsibilities between public and private sectors). Joanne’s blog looks like a great resource for anyone interested in following these issues.

Mandatory Meetings in the Workplace

Posted on Categories Labor & Employment Law1 Comment on Mandatory Meetings in the Workplace

Paul Secunda takes on Wal-Mart in this new commentary for the Legal Times. Along with coauthors Melissa Hart and Marcia McCormick, he criticizes recent mandatory employee meetings at Wal-Mart that have allegedly pushed employees away from supporting the Democratic presidential nominee. They urge other states to follow the lead of New Jersey in adopting a Freedom from Employer Intimidation Act, which makes it unlawful for any employer to force its employees to attend employer-sponsored meetings whose purpose is to discuss the employer’s opinions on religious and political matters.

Edwards and Erosion of the Defendant’s Right to Self-Represent

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, U.S. Supreme Court1 Comment on Edwards and Erosion of the Defendant’s Right to Self-Represent

In June, the Supreme Court offered its’ latest pronouncement on the right of criminal defendants to represent themselves in court.  The Court first recognized this constitutional right in 1975 in Faretta v. California, a case that I like to present in my Criminal Procedure course as one of the few instances in which the Supreme Court has given any real weight to the dignitary interests of criminal defendants (which are usually subordinated in criminal procedure to competing objectives, such as judicial economy and reliable fact-finding).  I think the Court was right that it is profoundly demeaning for the state to force a lawyer on an unwilling defendant, and then authorize the lawyer to decide how the defendant’s story will be presented to the jury.  (I discussed this point at greater length in this essay a few years ago.)  Yet, the Court’s post-Faretta decisions have generally worked to diminish the scope of the right to self-representation, and the most recent (Indiana v. Edwards, 128 S.Ct. 2379 (2008)) is no exception. Continue reading “Edwards and Erosion of the Defendant’s Right to Self-Represent”

Federal Sentencing Guidelines Still Need Fundamental Reform

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Federal Criminal Law & Process, Legal ScholarshipLeave a comment» on Federal Sentencing Guidelines Still Need Fundamental Reform

As a frequent critic of the federal sentencing guidelines (see, e.g., my post from Monday), my readers–yeah, both of them–often assume that I dislike sentencing guidelines in general. To the contrary, I think that sentencing guidelines remain a good idea and have worked quite well in many states (not in Wisconsin, unfortunately, but I will leave that post for another day). The problem with the federal sentencing system is not that it has guidelines, but that it has bad guidelines. Continue reading “Federal Sentencing Guidelines Still Need Fundamental Reform”

Ledbetter: Court, Congress, and President

Posted on Categories Labor & Employment LawLeave a comment» on Ledbetter: Court, Congress, and President

My colleague Paul Secunda recently wrote this pointed essay on the Supreme Court’s Ledbetter decision for the Workplace Fairness Blog.  Ledbetter made it harder for plaintiffs with Title VII pay discrimination claims to prevail by holding that the statute of limitations runs separately on each of a series of discriminatory pay decisions, even though the cumulative effects of the decisions may continue to be felt for many years thereafter.  Paul argues in his essay that Ledbetter is “absurd” inasmuch as it requires some victims of discrimination to file their claims before they have a fair opportunity to discern the discrimination.  He urges Congress to pass a pending legislative fix, the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Equity Act, and notes that the issue is one that divides the current Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.

Retributive Damages in a World Without Trials

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Legal Scholarship, Speakers at Marquette, Tort LawLeave a comment» on Retributive Damages in a World Without Trials

Kicking off a terrific speaker series at Marquette this semester, Dan Markel of Florida State and PrawfsBlawg fame is with us today to present his paper How Should Punitive Damages Work?. This is the second part of a multi-article series in which Dan is developing a comprehensive reform proposal for punitive damages law. Dan’s basic premise is that punitive damages should be reconceptualized around principles of retributive justice. To the extent that we want punitive damages to do other things (e.g., compensate victims for dignitary harms), Dan urges that we give those forms of damages different labels and treat them in a procedurally distinct manner from retributive damages. Notably, he would give retributive damages awards to the state, not private plaintiffs; plaintiffs would get merely a small finder’s fee ($10,000) and attorneys’ fees. Continue reading “Retributive Damages in a World Without Trials”

I.P. Licensing After Quanta Computer: A Podcast

Posted on Categories Corporate Law, Intellectual Property LawLeave a comment» on I.P. Licensing After Quanta Computer: A Podcast

My colleagues Nadelle Grossman and Kali Murray have recently prepared this informative podcast regarding the implications for I.P. licensing of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Quanta Computer, Inc., v. LG Electronics, 128 S.Ct. 2109, 170 L.Ed. 2d 996, 76 USLW 4375 (June 9, 2008). I understand that this will be the first in an occasional series of podcasts on current issues in intellectual property prepared by Marquette’s I.P. professors. This is an exciting new venture, and I look forward to hearing their future productions.

A Galling Case in the Seventh Circuit

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Federal Criminal Law & Process, Seventh Circuit3 Comments on A Galling Case in the Seventh Circuit

The Seventh Circuit has an interesting new sentencing decision, United States v. Carter, which nicely illustrates the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Gall v. United States.  Robert Carter, the husband of defendant Virginia Carter, embezzled money from his insurance business over several years.  There is no indication that Virgina Carter participated in the embezzlement, but she likely had some knowledge of what was going on.  Eventually, for reasons that are unclear, she sought a divorce.  Following the advice of her lawyer, who did not know that much of the family income was illegal, Carter attempted to take control of the couple’s liquid assets by transferring them into her own individual bank accounts.  Normally, this would be a sound tactical move in a divorce setting, but, by virtue of the criminal origin of the assets, Carter thereby became a money launderer.  Following conviction, she faced a recommended sentence of 87-108 months in prison under the federal sentencing guidelines. Continue reading “A Galling Case in the Seventh Circuit”

Real Estate Development and Environmental Consciousness

Posted on Categories Environmental Law, Legal Scholarship9 Comments on Real Estate Development and Environmental Consciousness

My colleague Matt Parlow has a new article suggesting that real estate developers are becoming more sensitive to environmental concerns. The article, “Greenwashed: Developers, Environmental Consciousness, and the Case of Playa Vista,” appeared as part of a terrific symposium issue of the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review on “The Greening of the Corporation.” (The entire issue is available here.)  Matt’s article centers on a fascinating case study of Playa Vista, an enormous (and enormously controversial) mixed-use development project in Los Angeles near environmentally sensitive wetlands.

Playa Vista and Wetlands
Playa Vista and Wetlands

As Matt relates in the abstract to his article, he finds the Playa Vista saga to be a hopeful one: Continue reading “Real Estate Development and Environmental Consciousness”