Water, Jobs, and the Way Forward

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waterDoes Lake Lanier hold an important message about the possibility for economic growth in the Milwaukee area? If so, it’s a message that business and political leaders in Wisconsin need to move with urgency, boldness, and vision if they want to make southeast Wisconsin the hub of freshwater-related business in North America.

That was a key theme of a conference Monday convened by Marquette Law School. “Milwaukee 2015: Water, Jobs, and the Way Forward” brought Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and business and academic leaders together before an audience of several hundred at the Alumni Memorial Union.

“My dream is, by 2015, when people think water, they think Milwaukee,” said Richard A. Meeusen, president and CEO of Badger Meter and co-chair of the Milwaukee 7 Water Council, a group of civic leaders focused on building  the metropolitan area as a hub for businesses related to water.  Continue reading “Water, Jobs, and the Way Forward”

Conference on the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Review and Preview

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At the beginning of this semester, I proposed that the law school host a conference on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Dean Kearney lent his support and we were fortunate enough to obtain the co-sponsorship of the Appellate Practice section of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

So yesterday we hosted a sold out gathering of over 100 lawyers for  “Conference on the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Review and Preview.”  Our meeting began with a plenary panel discussing the question of judicial recusal predicated on campaign contributions and speech. The discussion was moderated by the Hon. Diane Sykes (L’84) of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the panelists included Attorney Robert Henak (who has filed motions to recuse Justice Michael Gableman is connection with certain campaign ads and support), along with our own Chad Oldfather and me. Much of the discussion focused on the implications of the recent decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. and the recent consideration by the Wisconsin Supreme Court of competing rules on recusal.

This discussion was followed with breakout panels discussing business and criminal law cases, respectively. Continue reading “Conference on the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Review and Preview”

ALWD Scholars’ Forum

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On October 9, the Law School hosted an Association of Legal Writing Directors Scholars’ Forum before the Central States Region Conference.  The Forum was an all-day event in which legal writing faculty from across the United States came to discuss their current scholarship in a roundtable format.  After Dean Rofes’ warm welcome, Professor Dan Weddle from UMKC Law School gave an excellent presentation on how to critique scholarship.  The group then broke up into small sections to give the participants a chance to discuss their scholarship and receive feedback.  At the end of the day, a panel of experienced authors gave helpful and practical advice on how to get published.  Continue reading “ALWD Scholars’ Forum”

The Role of the Wisconsin Attorney General in Charity Oversight: A Review of Past Practice, Current Law, and Their Implications

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“The Role of the Wisconsin Attorney General in Charity Oversight:  A Review of Past Practice, Current Law, and Their Implications,” a program co-sponsored by the Law School and the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, unfolded last Thursday in a packed room with an audience comprised of nonprofit executives, attorneys who counsel nonprofits, and, of course, students.  The lunchtime event began with introductions by Dean Joseph Kearney and the Helen Bader Institute’s Executive Director, John Palmer Smith.  Next, Barb Duffy, the Program Manager for Research at the Helen Bader Institute, set the stage by highlighting issues addressed in her article published last May in the Exempt Organization Tax Review.  The program’s three panelists included two attorneys from the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office, Steven P. Means and Charlotte Gibson, as well as a nonprofit legal scholar, Evelyn Brody.  The panelists addressed the Wisconsin Attorney General’s ability to oversee charities under current Wisconsin law, the practices of other state Attorneys General in charity oversight, and the recent Conserve School case.  Audio of the program is available on the Law School’s webcast page.

Brown v. Board of Education as a Disputing Process Lesson

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supreme courtLast week, we were privileged to hear Professor Michael Klarman speak on “Why Brown v. Board of Education Was a Hard Case.”  This was one of the most enjoyable and interesting talks I have heard in a long time.  I highly recommend it, and you can click here to get the webcast.  My guess is that this would still be as funny and insightful on the audio.   There were two particular points that he made in reviewing the history of the case that linked to conflict resolution theory that I want to highlight here.

First, Klarman noted that, contrary to typical practice, the justices facing the Brown decision did not take a straw poll at their first conference discussing the case.  In fact, as he notes, by his count, there would have been only four votes to overturn Plessy at the beginning and nothing near the unanimity that the Court presented in its decision the following year.  What was the import of not taking this poll?  As Klarman notes, this allowed the justices to change their mind and to preserve fluidity in their thinking.  In other words, the justices did not lock themselves into an opening position that then they would feel necessary to defend throughout the discussions. 

The impact of publicly locking yourself in to an opening position is problematic, as we know.  Continue reading “Brown v. Board of Education as a Disputing Process Lesson”

Criminal Appeals Conference Podcast

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I had a great time at the Criminal Appeals Conference here on Monday and Tuesday, with an impressive line-up of speakers covering a wide variety of topics, from the historical development of the harmless error doctrine to the dysfunctional handling of death penalty appeals in California to federal sentencing appeals to the failure of appellate courts to make use of the science on eyewitness identification (among many other topics).  A podcast of the Conference is now available here.

Criminal Appeals Conference Next Week

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It won’t be long before our distinguished speakers begin arriving in Milwaukee for the Criminal Appeals Conference on Monday and Tuesday.  You can preview the Conference handout (including abstracts of the papers to be presented and biographies of the speakers) here.  The main venue for the Conference is now full, but it is still possible to register here for overflow seating with a video feed.  An audio recording will be also be available for download after the Conference.

Criminal Appeals Conference

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Chad Oldfather and I are organizing a conference on criminal appeals at Marquette on June 15 and 16.  I am very excited about the line-up speakers, which includes many leading criminal law and appellate process scholars from around the nation, as well as several state supreme court justices and other appellate judges.  The full schedule, including links for registration, can be found here.

Why Judges Aren’t Legislators

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I have not yet had a chance to blog on Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s intriguing Hallows lecture, but I have always been a bit uneasy about judges advocating abandonment of the traditional tools of the trade when they lead to a result that does not “make sense” or is “unworkable.” I don’t say that it can never be done (as Justice Scalia has said, “I, too, am a sinner”), but it is a principle with no readily defined stopping point.

So what, you may ask, does this have to do with Attorney General Van Hollen’s Advisory Memorandum stating that there is a constitutional right to openly carry firearms?  Well, there is a history.  In 1998, the voters amended the Wisconsin Constitution to create an very broad right to “keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.”  This is, to put it mildly, in tension with Wisconsin’s extraordinarily broad prohibition of concealed carry.  There are virtually no exceptions, and there is no provision for the issuance of permits.

When first faced with this conflict, the Wisconsin Supreme Court observed that it was “anomalous.” One might have expected that the anomaly would have been eliminated by declaring the statute to be unconstitutional in its overbreadth and placing the onus on the legislature to draft a more carefully tailored law. But the court, apparently concerned about unlimited concealed carry, did not do so.

Rather, it decided to proceed on a case-by-case basis, deciding when the need for security was compelling enough to result in constitutional protection for concealed carry. Briefly (and at the risk of some oversimplification), you can conceal your weapon if you run a store in a high-crime area, but not if you transport money to the bank in a small town and not if you simply live and travel in a high crime area.

In so holding, the court emphasized the particular problems associated with concealment and noted that a gun owner has other options. Continue reading “Why Judges Aren’t Legislators”

Beach Reading?

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Apparently the news editors at the Los Angeles Times read the Marquette Law Review. That’s at least one possible conclusion one could draw from the juxtaposition of two recently published items.

Dean Kearney is in a unique place to analyze the relationship between the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, having clerked for judges on both courts. Introducing Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain’s Hallows Lecture one year ago, Dean Kearney noted,

Over the past couple of decades, Judge O’Scannlain has emerged as a leader on the Ninth Circuit. This includes the court’s most important work, its cases, where Judge O’Scannlain plays an unusually important role not only in his own docket but also in the court’s en-banc process. An O’Scannlain dissent from denial of en-banc rehearing frequently gets some attention across the country — in Washington, D.C.

Lo and behold, this past Sunday the Los Angeles Times carried a story highlighting how conservatives on the Ninth Circuit use dissents from denial of en-banc rehearing to send “a signal flare to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Carol Williams’ report gives particular attention to Judge O’Scannlain: Continue reading “Beach Reading?”

Judge Barker on “Imaginative Judging”

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Judge Sarah Evans Barker delivered a terrific Hallows Lecture at the Law School yesterday on “imaginative judging.”  She was engaging obliquely with, and putting a fresh spin on, the otherwise increasingly tiresome debates over “judicial activism.”  While the activism debate generally focuses on the law-declaring role of appellate judges, Judge Barker focused on the case management role of trial-court judges.  Although case management may seem far-removed from law-declaring, Judge Barker observed that judges operating in either mode may sometimes face situations in which following the conventional rules of formal legal analysis produces absurd results.  Where such situations are encountered in the trial court, Judge Barker endorsed the use of imaginative problem-solving.  As an example, she cited her own work in bringing together public officials in Indianapolis to address chronic constitutional violations in the local jail.  Had she played a more conventional, passive role as the judge in pending constitutional litigation, the result (in her view) would have been a largely ineffectual remedy.  By imagining a different sort of role for herself, and engaging the key players outside of the formal legal process, a much better result was achieved.  Continue reading “Judge Barker on “Imaginative Judging””

International Media & Conflict Resolution Conference Update: Media Files Now Available

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Our media files from the Conference, including pictures and webcasts of the presentations, are now available. Click here for access to the pictures, videotapes, and podcasts.  The written products of the Conference are expected to appear in the fall issue of the Marquette Law Review.  (My earlier post on Conference highlights is here.)