Palsgraf and Humanity in the Age of Covid

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Public, Student Contributor, Tort Law1 Comment on Palsgraf and Humanity in the Age of Covid

If Covid were the subject of a suit, how would the decision describe my grandfather?

My grandfather recently passed away. It wasn’t Covid; not directly at least. A lifetime of kidney problems and other assorted ailments weren’t helped by the pandemic-induced lock-down. Rather than go out to eat or graze at the local grocery store buffet, as he normally would, he dined on pre-cooked meals and unsurprisingly his health suffered for it. So no, Covid didn’t kill him, but it certainly helped. In legal-speak it was more of a proximate cause.

In any law school tort class, students learn about proximate cause as it relates to negligence. One case, which is widely cited, is Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad. In this slice of history, a remarkable and tragic chain of events took place. The plaintiff, Mrs. Palsgraf, waited for her train, at the railroad’s train station. As she waited, an employee of the train company unknowingly helped two men load explosives onto a different train. The explosives detonated, and had one of the two men been injured by that explosion this case would almost assuredly be lost to the sands of time, a simple case of negligence with a simple resolution. Instead, in the hubbub that ensued, a large scale Mrs. Palsgraf was standing near struck and injured her. The exact manner in which the scale injured her isn’t mentioned in the opinion itself.

Every law student learns about this case and its meaning. The legal rules and principles of law that the majority and dissenting opinions announced are followed to this day. But the decision doesn’t spill any ink about Mrs. Palsgraf. A terse statement of facts accompanies the majority opinion, in which Mrs. Palsgraf isn’t even mentioned by name. She is simply “Plaintiff.” Thus, she is reduced to something less than human. I thought of this case as my grandfather lay in hospice, near the end of his life. Continue readingPalsgraf and Humanity in the Age of Covid”

Welcome to Our August Guest Blogger

Posted on Categories Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Welcome to Our August Guest Blogger

Our student guest blogger for August is 3L Robert Maniak. Robert was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and after high school enlisted in the Marine Corps. He and his wife Gina were recently married in June, with relatives “Zoom-ing” into the ceremony. After graduation, he is interested in pursuing a career in civil litigation in Wisconsin. Welcome Robert!

SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, First Amendment, Human Rights, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public, Race & Law, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice

Logo of Student Bar AssociationTo Our Peers, Professors, And Administrators:

Marquette University Law School Student Bar Association writes to you today to address the tragedy that we as a community and a country have faced in the last three weeks. Not one of a pandemic, but rather the state-sanctioned murders of Black Americans. Namely, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others. Their deaths are not novel, and we would be remiss to categorize them as such. Their deaths are the tragic manifestation of a long-standing system of racial oppression that continues to unjustly claim the lives of Black Americans.

We want to be loud and exceptionally clear: SBA believes Black Lives Matter. We are an anti-racist organization, and we condemn every form of racism. We stand in solidarity with the members of the Black Law Student Association, the Black community of Marquette University, and the Black community around the world.  Continue reading “SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice”

Tort Law and Fake News

Posted on Categories Media & Journalism, Public, Student Contributor, Tort LawLeave a comment» on Tort Law and Fake News

Photo of high school student at March for Life 2019This Friday, January 24, 2020, hundreds of thousands of people will gather in Washington D.C. for the 47th annual March for Life. This year’s theme for the March for Life is “Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.” Last year’s March for Life invited additional news coverage thanks to a video that depicted Nick Sandmann, a high school student, smiling at a Native American elder as the elder beat a drum in front of the student. This initial video made it seem as if the student was mocking the elder. In the wake of this viral video and the news coverage that ensued, there was an immense backlash against the student and his high school. I recall seeing posts on social media listing the email addresses of the school’s administrators encouraging people to flood their inboxes with less than courteous emails expressing disapproval of their student’s behavior.

However, later video evidence revealed that a group of Black Hebrew Israelites had been yelling racial slurs at Sandmann and his peers, and that the Native American elder approached Sandmann as a way of diffusing the situation between the Black Hebrew Israelites and the students. Moreover, it became clear that neither Sandmann nor his peers were at fault in the confrontation.

Sandmann filed a defamation suit against CNN seeking $250 million dollars for its inaccurate coverage of the confrontation and the emotional distress that he endured as a result. Earlier this month it was released that Sandmann had agreed to a settlement with CNN for an undisclosed amount. Continue reading “Tort Law and Fake News”

International Sanctions with Domestic Benefits

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on International Sanctions with Domestic Benefits

As we begin a new year, it is interesting to look back on how things have changed in both our personal world and in the world at large. One interesting development that has taken place over the past two decades in the world of international politics has been the drastic increase in the use of economic sanctions. It seems as if the imposition and lifting of sanctions is the language of international diplomacy, rather than being a single tool in the diplomatic toolbox.

The efficacy of international sanctions in changing a country’s behavior is debatable. One study, as reported by World Finance, found that economic sanctions only have a 20-30% success rate in this regard. Nonetheless, even if economic sanctions may not be the most effective way of changing behavior, they can provide an economic benefit to the countries that impose them. Continue reading “International Sanctions with Domestic Benefits”

Addressing the Housing Crisis on a Statewide Level

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Poverty & Law, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Addressing the Housing Crisis on a Statewide Level

Milwaukee residents know firsthand that many cities in this country are facing an affordable housing crisis. The California legislature has recently taken major steps to address this problem. In addition to providing other protections for tenants, California’s Tenant Protection Act of 2019 has An apartment building in MIlwaukeelimited annual rent increases to 5% plus inflation for the next decade. This legislation was enacted on January 1, 2020, making California the second state to institute a statewide cap on rent increases.

Whether or not this is the best way to solve the affordable housing crisis is debatable. On the one hand such a restriction seems to oppose free-market ideals by limiting landlords’ incentives to invest in housing. Furthermore, although capping rent increases may provide many people with a relatively expedient solution to unaffordable housing, it does not address all the root-causes of the crisis and may even make the problem worse in the long run. In this regard, the cap may be likened to giving a person a fish rather than teaching the person how to fish. Continue reading “Addressing the Housing Crisis on a Statewide Level”

The Process of Writing About Your Childhood Library

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Student Contributor1 Comment on The Process of Writing About Your Childhood Library

Cover of Midwest Architecture JourneysHow do you properly write about the Midwest? Since 2016, the Midwest and the Rust Belt are often lumped together as an area some people refer to as “Trump Country,” an anonymous area filled with diners of people who cling to guns and Bibles. There is nothing remotely interesting, other than possibly Chicago, and an article about how an area previously dismissed by coastal newspapers is up-and-coming because of places that will look good on Instagram. Belt Publishing, a small press in Cleveland, OH, was started in 2013 with the purpose of publishing the work and voices of those from the Midwest, Rust Belt, and elsewhere.

Midwest Architecture Journeys, released in October 2019 from Belt Publishing, examines a diverse range of spaces that would possibly be overlooked in a survey of the buildings of the Midwest. Among the topics covered in the book are the Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois, flea markets, Lillian Leenhouts’s work in Milwaukee, Fermilab, public housing towers, mausoleums, Iowa rest areas, parking lots in Flint, and a post office that became a public library in Waterloo, Iowa. The Waterloo Public Library is the subject of a piece I contributed to the book, “Please Return Again.” Continue reading “The Process of Writing About Your Childhood Library”

Welcome to Our December Guest Blogger

Posted on Categories Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Welcome to Our December Guest Blogger

Our Student Guest Blogger for December is 1L Monica Reida. Prior to going to law school, Monica worked as a journalist, contributing to Barista Magazine, OnMilwaukee, NewCity, and Gapers Block, where she was the politics editor from 2013-2015. She has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University, with a concentration in public affairs reporting. Monica is also the author of a chapter in the recently-released book Midwest Architecture Journeys, edited by Zach Mortice and published by Belt Publishing. According to the publisher, Midwest Architecture Journeys contains “dozens of essays written by architects, critics, and journalists” that “take[ ] readers on a trip to visit some of the region’s most inventive buildings,” but also “includes stops at less obvious but equally daring and defining sites, such as indigenous mounds, grain silos, parking lots, flea markets, and abandoned warehouses.” Monica’s chapter, “Please Return Again,” is about the public library in Waterloo, Iowa. We’re looking forward to hearing more about the chapter and Monica’s experience in getting it published. Welcome, Monica!

How to Succeed in Appellate Writing and Advocacy

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on How to Succeed in Appellate Writing and Advocacy

courtroomWhile Appellate Writing and Advocacy (AWA) is a challenging class, it provides law students with the fundamental skills necessary for written and oral advocacy. I spoke with 3Ls who had AWA last fall to get their suggestions for current AWA students on how to succeed in AWA, both writing the brief and doing oral argument. Current AWA students, here are some tips for you.

During the writing process, Luis Gutierrez suggests that good topic sentences are a great way to get the reader’s attention. Topic sentences help the reader follow your argument and, if written properly, will persuade the reader.

While Haley Stepanek was writing her AWA brief, she found researching the other side’s helpful case law benefitted her. Not only will this help you craft arguments in your brief, it will help you frame your oral arguments and answer any questions the judges may ask regarding the other side’s arguments. Moreover, Micaela Haggenjos advises you to research whether any recent cases have cited the main case you are relying on for their argument. This will be beneficial while writing your brief and may be helpful during oral arguments because a judge may ask whether any recent cases have cited a case you are relying on.

When the time comes to give oral arguments, Brooke Erickson urges you to treat oral arguments “like a conversation” because the more you engage with the judges, the more natural you are going sound. Brooke also says to focus more on the way you are speaking because if you are able to “defend the indefensible with grace, you can defend anything!”

Adam Vanderheyden suggests that you “breathe and slow down,” while also encouraging you to study the best speakers in history to focus on how they pause. Adam also reminds you that you are the experts on the subject, so make sure to act like it when you are in front of the judges. Knowing you are the expert can help calm your nerves. Julie Leary found that even if you are terrified of public speaking, “being the most well-versed person in the room . . . will make you feel more secure and more confident.”

And, remember, different techniques work for different people. Haley found that signing up for all of the opportunities to give oral argument, including scrimmaging with other teams most helpful, but Julie found that practicing with her partner, her coach, and to her cats, worked best for her. Being cognizant of what works best for you and your partner is key to your success.

Finally, Luis recommends treating the whole experience like you are actually representing a client in the U.S. Court of Appeals. While that may seem intimidating, this will be the best way to get the most out of the course. “Most importantly,” Luis said, just “have fun.”

New Academic Year, New Bloggers

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Marquette Law School, Public, Student Contributor, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on New Academic Year, New Bloggers
Attorney Molly Madonia
Law Student Kylie Owens

Please join me in welcoming our guest bloggers for the month of September!

Our Student Blogger of the Month is Kylie Owens.  Kylie grew up in Ogden, Utah and later attended Weber State University where she earned a B.A. in History and Geography. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she taught AP Geography and U.S. History to junior high students for almost seven years before deciding to go to law school.

Since the outset of her legal career, Kylie has worked mainly in family law, and is interested in gaining experience in other practice areas. She is competing in the National Moot Court Competition and is also pursuing an ADR certificate.  In the little free time that she does have, Kylie enjoys practicing meditation, finding all the best restaurants in Milwaukee, and traveling.

Our Alumni Blogger of the Month is Molly Madonia.  Molly is the Staff Attorney at Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., the producers of Summerfest™, the World’s Largest Music Festival™. Her primary areas of responsibility include managing MWF’s trademark portfolio, which includes the well-known Summerfest Smile™; liaising to Marketing teams on issues related to sponsorship, exhibitorship, and marketplace; advising the Human Resources department on compliance-related matters, including navigating the ADA and input on employee training; writing those Sweepstakes/Promotions rules for use on social media; and, of course, “other duties as assigned.”

She was honored to join the MULS graduating class of 2016, receiving her J.D. and the Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution. For more work by Molly, please see her pieces published in the Marquette University Law School Intellectual Property Law Review.

Thanks for joining us and we look forward to your posts.

Advice to Myself

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public, Student Contributor4 Comments on Advice to Myself
John Kircher teaches a law school class, 1986

Law school is a wonderful experience. It’s terrifying, I have to admit, but it’s an opportunity that few people get and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Coming into law school, I heard many a rumor including things like: you won’t have much, if any, free time; the workload is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before; and on-calls are really, really scary. If I could send a message to incoming 1L’s and my pre-1L self from right now, there are a couple of things that I would tell myself. The main thing that I would say is that all of those things are true, with some caveats.

In the beginning of 1L year, I found myself with little to no free time. Days were spent in class and nights were spent doing the reading assignments for said classes. (Side note: don’t use the word “said” to refer to something. It’s old “legalese” and it’s out of fashion. While I’m at it, forget how you thought attorneys spoke and wrote. You were wrong.) At first, I had no idea what I was doing. I read the cases, briefed the cases, and hoped to god that I got the right things out of those cases. Those three things consumed most of my time every day during the week and weekend. This is exactly what I feared law school would be: a never-ending stream of work that I didn’t know what to do with. However, as time went on, I started to understand what I needed to look for in cases and how to be more efficient with my time. It wasn’t an overnight process, but the saying that “practice makes perfect” applies directly to law school. If there was one thing that I could tell myself prior to the first day of class on this topic, it would be to remain patient. Learning “how to law school” takes time and the assignments will be hard to get through for a while. Continue reading “Advice to Myself”