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

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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.

Community Justice Conference Follow-Up

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Community Justice Conference Follow-Up

As discussed in an earlier post, the Law School recently hosted a very successful conference on community justice in Wisconsin.  More than 200 government officials, lawyers, and citizens came together to discuss how the criminal justice system can be improved at the local level through enhanced interagency collaboration and grass-roots citizen engagement.  The Conference website has now been updated to include audio and video of the Conference, reports, and links to blogs and commentary to keep the conversation moving forward.  Still to come on the website are workgroup reports and conference evaluation results.  Thanks to Assistant Dean Dan Idzikowski for his leadership of this important Law School initiative.

International Media & Conflict Resolution Conference

Posted on Categories Human Rights, International Law & Diplomacy, Media & Journalism, Speakers at Marquette1 Comment on International Media & Conflict Resolution Conference

Last weekend, we hosted a truly special gathering of scholars and practitioners in the areas of media, journalism, international relations, communications, psychology, law, and dispute resolution. I will be blogging a few more times about the conference, abstracts, and upcoming issue of the Marquette Law Review on the symposium, but wanted, for now, to post a couple responses to the conference that I received from attendees.

One of our alums who attended, Evelyn Ang, sent me this clip in light of what we had talked about regarding the impact of changing media. Truly an amazing video! Another alum, Amy Koltz, noted, “I found the speakers engaging and the presentations thought-provoking — I’m amazed at the group of presenters you were able to pull together and bring to Marquette.”  She also provided a link to this article from Haaretz on media coverage of Israel and noted that it could have been a presentation in the conference. Our own program manager and conference planner, Natalie Fleury, heard this story on NPR Monday morning about Al Qaida’s training manual on the Internet, directly linking to Gabriel Weimann’s talk on Saturday.

And, from 2L part-time law student (and full-time veterinarian) Marty Greer, came this summary of the conference for those who missed it: Continue reading “International Media & Conflict Resolution Conference”

International Media and Conflict Resolution Conference

Posted on Categories Human Rights, International Law & Diplomacy, Media & Journalism, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on International Media and Conflict Resolution Conference

I am in the midst of final planning for our conference this weekend on the media and conflict resolution. Blog readers (and others) are all invited! The International Media and Conflict Resolution Conference will bring together experts from diverse fields to discuss the influence of different forms of media in the development, escalation, and de-escalation of conflict. An international cadre of journalists, legal academics, psychologists, communication professors, and conflict resolution professionals who live and work in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East will gather at the Law School for sessions analyzing the dynamics of media and conflict resolution in the following topic areas: (1) Separation/Independence; (2) Terrorism; and (3) Elections and Conflict.  Continue reading “International Media and Conflict Resolution Conference”

Justice Involves Communities

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Speakers at Marquette, Wisconsin Criminal Law & ProcessLeave a comment» on Justice Involves Communities

This past week, the 2009 Marquette Law School Public Service Conference focused on the efforts of communities across the nation to rethink criminal justice policy with a greater emphasis on community involvement in both planning and implementation.  Over the past two decades, Wisconsin has more than quintupled its public expenditures for corrections. At the same time, local communities have struggled with increasing jail populations and declining resources for treatment and reentry services.  At the core of this challenge is the desire to keep communities safe while providing more effective alternatives to long term incarceration.

These challenges are not unique to Wisconsin.  As keynote speaker Jeremy Travis pointed out,

As our nation has reacted to rising crime rates over the years, the response of many elected officials has been to turn to the funnel [arrest, prosecution and incarceration,] as a crime control strategy. . . . We have invested enormous sums of money in these crime control strategies, with profound consequences. . . . Most strikingly, the national rate of incarceration has more than quadrupled over the past generation so that America now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

This approach has been accompanied by a drop in the crime rate.  It also has had other sociological consequences which are not as easily quantifiable.  Continue reading “Justice Involves Communities”

McCormick on the Persistence of Ex Parte Young

Posted on Categories Federal Law & Legal System, Federalism, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on McCormick on the Persistence of Ex Parte Young

The faculty at Marquette Law School welcomed Professor Marcia McCormick of the Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law to a faculty workshop this past Tuesday.  Professor McCormick, who focuses on the law of federal courts and employment discrimination, among other areas, discussed her new paper on the persistence of the case of Ex Parte Young in the face of the Federalism Revolution of the last two decades or so.

In her presentation, Professor McCormcick described the large number of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the last twenty-five years that have touched on the relationship between the federal government and the states. In this time, the Court seems to have substantially limited the power of the federal government and expanded that of the states, as many Commerce Clause, Tenth Amendment, and Eleventh Amendment cases suggest.

She also maintained that despite what were seen by many to be revolutionary shifts, two doctrines that provide great power to the federal government seem to have survived so far with little or no change: Congress’ power under the Spending Clause to require states to engage in or refrain from engaging in certain conduct; and the federal courts’ power under Ex Parte Young to hear suits by private parties to force state officials to follow federal law, including laws created under the Spending Clause. The combination of these two doctrines provides for quite a bit of federal power, she argued, and it is the extent of that power which makes the continued survival of the doctrines so surprising.

Professor McCormick then explored the extent of power the federal courts and Congress can exercise over the states through the use of those combined doctrines and suggested some reasons the Court has not removed that power.  In this vein, she argued that it was likely that the Court sees this limited federal power as a necessary check on the states to ensure the supremacy of federal law, to maximize the efficient use of both federal and state power, and to maximize accountability and the rule of law for both the states and federal government.

A lively question and answer session followed Professor McCormick’s talk.   I have it on good authority that Professor McCormick’s favorite culinary adventure involved Kopp’s Custard in Greenfield.

Is Governance Reform in the Future for Milwaukee Public Schools?

Posted on Categories Education & Law, Milwaukee, Speakers at Marquette4 Comments on Is Governance Reform in the Future for Milwaukee Public Schools?

There is growing consensus that the Milwaukee Public Schools are at a critical moment in their history.  Faced with daunting fiscal challenges last year, some school board members talked openly about dissolving the district, only to later amend their comments.  It was a symbolic protest, they said, an attempt to draw attention to the district’s dismal financial outlook.  But the horse was out of the barn. The board’s “dissolution discussion” opened the door to new debate about MPS’s future.  An independent review of the district’s fiscal situation, paid for by local foundations, was commissioned and should be made public soon.  Once that happens, Governor Doyle is expected to weigh in on the district’s future course.  What that path will be is still uncertain, but last week, we had a fascinating discussion here at the Law School about the possibility of changing the way MPS is governed.

The event was co-sponsored by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and came on the heels of a study that examined five other districts that had changed their governance.  The study was funded by the GMF and conducted by the Public Policy Forum.  We’ve posted a transcript of the event, which featured MPS Superintendent Bill Andrekopoulos, former Superintendent and Distinguished Professor of Education at Marquette University Howard Fuller, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Tim Sheehy, Milwaukee School Board Director Jennifer Morales, State Representative Polly Williams, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association President Dennis Oulahan, and Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines.

You can always listen to the webcast of our event, but the evening had a revealing dynamic to it that makes for equally interesting reading. Continue reading “Is Governance Reform in the Future for Milwaukee Public Schools?”

Meares on Race and Policing

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Race & Law, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Meares on Race and Policing

In delivering the first annual Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law yesterday, Yale Professor Tracey Meares set a high bar for future speakers.  (A webcast is available here, and a written version will appear in the summer issue of the Marquette Law Review.)  Tracey’s talk was a call for police to move from an emphasis on deterring crime through the threat of harsh punishment to a more holistic approach to crime control that includes promoting more positive attitudes towards the law and legal authorities.  She identified procedural justice — basically, treating people with fairness and respect — as an important component of the more holistic strategy.  Her particular concern lies with crime and policing in inner-city, minority neighborhoods, where punishment-alone approaches have resulted in shockingly high incarceration rates among young, poorly educated, African-American men.  Tracey argues that an approach combining punishment with procedural justice offers better prospects for reducing crime and improving the quality of life in these difficult environments, and points to her own work with Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago as an example of the violence-reduction that can be accomplished when the police engage with the community in new ways.

I recently made a similar argument that the same sorts of benefits might be derived from prosecutors paying more attention to procedural justice in plea bargaining.  (A copy of my article is available here.) 

As Tracey indicated in her talk, there is plenty of evidence indicating that deterrence has limited value as a crime-control strategy.  Continue reading “Meares on Race and Policing”

Tracey Meares to Deliver First Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law

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Professor Tracey Meares of Yale Law School will be here on Thursday to deliver the first annual George and Margaret Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law.  Tracey is one of my favorite authors on criminal justice issues, and I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say on a topic that should be of particular interest in Milwaukee: “The Legitimacy of Police Among Young African-American Men.”

Tracey has coauthored a number of publications with her Yale colleague Dan Kahan, who spent a couple days here in the fall as our Boden Lecturer.  In connection with Dan’s visit, I commented here on one of the seminal Meares-Kahan articles.  I expect that Tracey’s talk on Thursday will touch on some of the same themes that were raised in Dan’s exchange with Mike Gousha and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm in October (webcast here).

In addition to the short-term prospect of Tracey’s visit, I am also delighted to know that the Barrock Lecture will provide many future opportunities for us to bring other criminal law luminaries to Marquette.  The lectureship was established through a generous gift from the estate of Mary Barrock Bonfield to honor her parents.  Her father, George, was a Marquette lawyer, Class of 1931.

The Future of Milwaukee Public Schools

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We are entering what may prove to be a remarkably rich and productive period of public conversation regarding the future of Milwaukee Public Schools.  As reported by Alan Borsuk in this morning’s Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance just released a study that documents extraordinarily high costs in MPS, particularly with respect to employee benefits.  But, as Borsuk observes, this is just the first in “what is likely to be a parade of major developments and studies that may reshape the future of MPS.”

Next up is a report by the Public Policy Forum on school system governance issues, which will be the subject of a panel discussion at the Law School on Monday evening at 7:00.  Moderated by our own Mike Gousha, the panel will include many of the leading figures in local government and education, including:

  • William G. Andrekopoulos, superintendent, Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Dr. Howard Fuller, director, Institute for the Transformation of Learning, Marquette University
  • Alderman Willie L. Hines, Jr., president, City of Milwaukee Common Council
  • Jennifer Morales, director, District 5, Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Dennis Oulahan, president, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association
  • Tim Sheehy, president, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
  • Rep. Annette Polly Williams, 10th Assembly District, Wisconsin State Assembly

More information about this public event is here.

It is hard to think of any more important long-term challenge facing our community than improving the financial health and academic performance of MPS.  Let’s hope that the emerging public conversation at Marquette and elsewhere will contribute to thoughtful, well-informed change.

Community Justice in Wisconsin

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Milwaukee, Speakers at Marquette, Wisconsin Criminal Law & ProcessLeave a comment» on Community Justice in Wisconsin

I am looking forward to the Law School’s 2009 Public Service Conference, which will address “The Future of Community Justice in Wisconsin.”  Organized by our Assistant Dean for Public Service, Dan Idzikowski, the Conference will take place on Friday, February 20.  Dan has supplied the following post to explain the significance of “community justice” and why it is such an important topic today, particularly for anyone interested in the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system:

Community justice councils, or criminal justice coordinating councils, have been established in several communities across Wisconsin. These councils bring together key local decision-makers to address the coordination, cost, and effectiveness of the criminal justice system in their area. Milwaukee County, which has the State’s largest concentration of offenders and criminal justice resources, recently established its own Community Justice Council. Remarkably, this council has brought together leadership across the political spectrum to address crime and corrections in the Milwaukee area. The Marquette Law School Public Service conference is designed to support this collaboration and bring together criminal justice experts to lend their counsel to these efforts. For example, Jeremy Travis, the keynote speaker, is the President of the preeminent John Jay School of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, the former director of the National Institute of Justice at the U.S. Justice Department, and the author of several books and studies on community corrections and reentry issues.

Why is community justice a critical public issue at this time? The past two decades have seen an explosion in Wisconsin’s prison and jail populations. Since 1990 over a dozen new state-operated correctional facilities were brought on line, and existing institutions were expanded. The cost of providing corrections services in Wisconsin grew from $178.4 million in 1990, to $583.4 million in 2000, to $1.2 billion in the current biennium. Continue reading “Community Justice in Wisconsin”

How Lawyers Write

Posted on Categories Legal Scholarship, Legal Writing, Speakers at Marquette5 Comments on How Lawyers Write

This week’s faculty workshop presenter was our very own Professor Jessica Slavin, whose talk was entitled “Talking Back to IRAC: Legal Writing Beyond the Paradigm.” The project on which the talk was based has two components. First, Professor Slavin traced the history and questioned the utility of using IRAC and related formulas as vehicles for teaching legal writing. Second, she presented the results of her own empirical study of briefs submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which suggest that something other than strict adherence to IRAC characterizes the brief writing of at least one set of advocates.

To me, this is interesting and provocative stuff. I find the psychology of writing fascinating (put it together with the process of judging and I could maybe write a whole article about it). Having tried to teach a writing class once, I’ve experienced first hand just how difficult it is to articulate what makes for good writing. For me, at least, this is partly because I go about my own writing in a highly intuitive way. I don’t recall ever consistently thinking about IRAC when writing in a legal context, and I cannot articulate many of the rules of grammar (although I consciously violate some of the more ridiculous “rules,” such as the ones about split infinitives and prepositions at the end of sentences). Given all this, I share Professor Slavin’s sense that there’s something not quite right about a method of teaching writing that suggests that it is somehow a mechanical or rule-driven process. This is not (on my part, at least) to suggest that IRAC-like formulas are not useful, but rather that they are incomplete. Continue reading “How Lawyers Write”