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Akron Law Café

Open Government

By Lynn Published: April 30, 2010

On Barack Obama's first full day in office (Jan. 21, 2009), the President issued a Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government  establishing an Open Government Directive.  The order offered a vision for government organized around three principles

' Government should be transparent, with information about agency operations and decisions available to the public online.

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When your email about race goes national

By Brant Published: April 29, 2010

Here's a foofaraw about the dangers of law students not being careful about what they say in emails...or maybe it's about the violations of privacy norms and the malicious forwarding of email. See if you think it's something you might have done--either writing the email or the distribution of it.

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Akron Law Awards Pro Bono Award

By Diana Published: April 29, 2010

The University of Akron School of Law strives to be a leader in pro bono service. Our students have been at the forefront of the effort to deliver legal services to those who do not have access to traditional legal assistance Two graduating Akron Law students have been recognized for their exceptional work in this important endeavor.

 This year, Shannon Foreman and James Patterson are the recipients of the 2009-10 Akron Law Pro Bono Service Award for reporting the highest number of pro bono hours. Mr. Foreman volunteered at the Akron Law Legal Clinic where he was involved in the inmate assistance program, appellate review, and clemency project. Mr. Foreman also volunteered for the Wills for Heroes program and Fugitive Safe Surrender. He also donated time to the Barberton Prosecutor's office. Mr. Patterson volunteered at Community Legal Aid Services Inc. He provided critical support for legal aid's pro bono bankruptcy project. Mr. Patterson also volunteered as a mediator in the small claims division of Akron Municipal Court.

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What qualifies as the "American dream"?

By Stefan Published: April 29, 2010

Did anyone else find President Obama's declaration that the Massey miners died in pursuit of the American dream provocative?  Also, the cost of oil keeps going up.

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More SEC v. Goldman: Distinguishing Objective Materiality from Subjective Reliance

By Stefan Published: April 24, 2010

I've changed my mind about materiality being the key issue.

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New and Free Regulations Trackers

By Lynn Published: April 23, 2010

Thanks to Peggy Garvin at for this great review of the latest free regulation trackers.  She starts out by looking at the two major federal sites and and then reviews three nongovernmental sites-,, and Regulations Tracker.

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Akron Law Alumni Association to Honor Outstanding Alumni and Faculty on May 14

By Diana Published: April 23, 2010

The Akron Law Alumni Association will hold its annual Alumni Awards Dinner at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 14 in the UA Student Union Ballroom. The honorees were chosen for their achievements in the legal profession and their communities.

The 2010 Outstanding Alumni Award honorees are Karen Doty ('81), general counsel for the Ohio Board of Regents; James Payne ('77), retired deputy law director of the City of Akron; Thomas Pitts ('79), partner with Stocker Pitts Co., LPA; and John Vasuta ('93), chief operating officer of international operation for Bridgestone Firestone Americas Holdings, Inc. Frank E. Quirk, director of the Akron Law Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility and of counsel at Brouse McDowell will receive an Honorary Alumni Award.

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Sophisticated Doesn't Mean Omniscient

By Stefan Published: April 22, 2010

Why even sophisticated investors might have wanted to know more about what went into the Goldman Abacus deal.  Also, why I love William Black.

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Chancellor Eric Fingerhut to Speak at Akron Law Commencement

By Diana Published: April 22, 2010

The University of Akron School of Law will confer approximately 140 Juris Doctor degrees at its 86th Commencement Ceremony at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 16 at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. The 2010 Akron Law commencement speaker will be Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut.

'We are excited to have Chancellor Fingerhut as our Commencement Speaker,' says Dean Martin H. Belsky. 'The Chancellor's career as a lawyer, both in private practice and for Legal Aid, educator, legislator, and now Chancellor exemplifies the variety of careers an attorney can have and the devotion to public service all should have.'

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It Was Bound to Come to This: The SEC Sues Goldman

By Stefan Published: April 17, 2010

Links and thoughts here.

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Find the fake case- a contest for National Library Week

By Lynn Published: April 16, 2010

In celebration of National Library Week (April 11-17) we have a contest for our readers.  Try to pick the fake case from the 5 cases described below.  All five cases were published but one was later discovered to have never taken place!

Search for Answer - How to search for these cases?  Use Google Scholar!   Make sure to select the Legal Opinion option.  Search by the parties' name or enter in the citation.  Read the short opinions online and see if you can spot the fake.  Post your answer in the comments area.

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President Obama Orders Hospital Visitation for Gay, Lesbian Families

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 16, 2010

     Last night President Obama issued a statement requesting the Secretary of Health and Human Services to promulgate rules ordering hospitals to grant equal visitation rights to the partners and children of gay and lesbian patients.

     Charles Babington of the Associated Press reports that on Thursday the President issued a memorandum to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The Presidential Memorandum first lays out what the problem is:

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What is a plutonomy?

By Stefan Published: April 15, 2010

I add my two cents to Prof. Lee's Inequality post here.  Also, what's on your alternative career bucket list?

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Elena Kagan on the Confirmation Process

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 14, 2010

     Elena Kagan, who was Dean of Harvard Law School and who is currently serving as Soliciter General of the United States, is frequently mentioned as one of the leading candidates to be nominated to succeed John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.  Her nomination would guarantee us a summer filled with either a vigorous, wide-ranging, and stimulating discussion of constitutional law, or with plenty of backtracking.  In 1995 Kagan wrote an essay critiquing Stephen Carter's book Confirmation Messes, in which she takes the position that supreme court nominees should answer substantive questions about how they would approach constitutional interpretation and what their views are on specific issues.  Would she be willing to do this when she is on the hot seat?

     In reaction to the bitter confirmation hearing and failed candidacy of Robert Bork, Stephen Carter argued in Confirmation Messes that the Senate Judiciary Committee should refrain from any inquiry into a judge's substantive views, but should merely evaluate the candidate's qualifications and fitness for the position.  Kagan's review of that book entitled Confirmation Messes, Old and New commences with these words:

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Stay Connected with Akron Law

By Diana Published: April 13, 2010

Become a fan on Facebook...follow us on Twitter...visit our homepage.

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More Questions for a Supreme Court Nominee

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 13, 2010

     In yesterday's post I suggested a slew of questions asking how a candidate for the Supreme Court would interpret the Constitution.  Today's questions seek to discover more about a nominee's background and outlook on life.

I would ask a nominee for the Supreme Court the following questions:

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View NY Times Reporter Adam Liptak's Recent Lecture

By Diana Published: April 12, 2010

Akron Law's Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility hosted its inaugural Journalism and the Law Lecture titled 'Covering the Roberts Court in the Obama Era: A Reporter's Reflections.' The lecture was given by Adam Liptak, Supreme Court Correspondent and columnist for The New York Times. The lecture was held April 6  at 4 p.m. at The Quaker Square Inn at The University of Akron.

Watch this very interesting and insightful lecture here .

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Questions to Ask a Supreme Court Nominee About Constitutional Interpretation

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 12, 2010

     We will have yet another opportunity this summer to debate the meaning of the Constitution during the confirmation hearings over Justice Stevens' replacement.  Here are some of the questions I would ask the nominee about his or her approach to constitutional interpretation.

     No prospective justice is going to answer questions about how he or she is likely to decide a particular case.  Candidates will instead speak at a relatively high level of generality about their approach to constitutional interpretation.  They may also be persuaded to state whether they are willing to follow certain well-established decisions or apply specific doctrines.  Here are a list of questions fitting those criteria that I would like to ask a nominee:

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Justice Stevens' Approach to Constitutional Analysis

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 11, 2010

     Although he was appointed by a Republican President (Gerald Ford), Justice John Paul Stevens has come to be acknowledged as the leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court.  In part this has occurred because the Court itself has become more conservative, and in part because Stevens developed a uniquely powerful approach to the interpretation of the Constitution.

     Since his appointment Justice Stevens has become somewhat more liberal in his views, but over the same period the Court as a whole has become far more conservative.  In 1975 when Stevens was appointed, the Court included only two true conservatives: Warren Burger and William Rehnquist.  Now there are four very conservative justices: John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas.  The swing justice in 1975 was Byron White who was conservative on social issues and liberal on issues involving questions regarding the extent of governmental power; the swing justice today is Anthony Kennedy who is liberal on social issues and conservative on questions involving governmental power.   Stevens' ideology has not changed as much as the Court's has. 

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Facts about inequality

By Brant Published: April 10, 2010

Here's one for the economic libertarians that read this blog. These charts on wealth and income inequality in America are quite depressing. But the one that really got my attention was this one, focusing on the chances of rising from low income status into the upper middle class. I think you could make a good argument that in America we make an intentional trade-off against providing a high level of security for everybody. In exchange for less security--fewer handouts, if you will--we allow people the opportunity to get rich, and that incentive is what makes the American economy so dynamic and productive. Obviously, in assessing this argument it makes a difference what the odds of getting rich are. Not everybody is going to (or deserves to) get rich. But at the other extreme it shouldn't be like winning the lottery. At some point that would just become a pipe dream that serves to entertain the masses and suppress their discontent at inequality. What is a fair, but not common, shot at the American dream? Should it be a one-in-five chance? A one-in-10 chance? That's roughly what it was during the 40's. For the last 20 years it's been steady at below 4%. Is that enough to justify this level of inequality?

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Understanding Juvenile Court

By Lynn Published: April 9, 2010

My 14 year old will not go to school.  Can I get in trouble if my child is absent too much?

My child stays out late at night and I don't know where he is at.  What can I do about this?

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The student internship--valuable experience or exploitation?

By Brant Published: April 8, 2010

The point of minimum wage rules is to make sure that vulnerable workers are not exploited--to set a minimum threshold for the compensation of labor. The point of an internship is to obtain valuable job-related experience and education at a time when you may need a lot of income to maintain your lifestyle. What happens in a tight economy when these two goals clash? The New York Times published an extensive feature article on this problem. One student intern is quoted saying:

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Under Cover of Bubbles

By Stefan Published: April 8, 2010

Should economic bubbles serve as a safe harbor for fraud?  And, if poker is a predominantly a game of chance...then life is predominantly a game of chance.

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Citizens United v. Original Intent

By Brant Published: April 8, 2010

I'm stepping on Professor Padfield's territory, but I saw this interview with a historian and thought it was interesting. History professor Brian Murphy explains how the original corporations were charters from the King, often  to establish cities or royal monopolies, rather than as business entitites.  The key point:

Let me put it this way: the Founders did not confuse Boston's Sons of Liberty with the British East India Company.

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Virginia Governor McDonnell Apologizes for Omitting Reference to Slavery in Declaring Confederate History Month

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 8, 2010

     The Washington Post reports that Governor Bob McDonnell has issued an apology for neglecting to mention slavery in his declaration of Confederate History Month.

     Governor McDonnell's original proclamation declaring April to be Confederate History Month omitted any reference to slavery.  Moreover, the Governor downplayed the significance of slavery as one aspect of the Civil War.  According to Maya Gay of aol news, the Governor:

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Comcast v. F.C.C. - The D.C. Circuit Court Case on Net Neutrality

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 7, 2010

     On January 12 I posted this entry on Net Neutrality - Where It Stands in Court and in Congress, which describes the case of Comcast Corporation v. F.C.C. as well as legislation pending in Congress. Yesterday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in this case in favor of Comcast.  The Court did not reach the question of whether Comcast had wrongfully interfered with its subscribers' use of internet services like file sharing and Skype; instead it held that the F.C.C. lacks statutory authority to regulate broadband services.  According to news reports, the court's decision will make it more difficult to enact legislation safeguarding net neutrality.

     The previous entry describes the facts as follows:

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Mine Safety and the West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 6, 2010

     This post contains links and information regarding the Montocal, West Virginia coal mine explosion, the Massey Energy Company's safety record, and mine safety in general.

     Recent news stories about the tragedy and the Massey Energy Company's safety record:

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Lawsuits Against Vatican for Child Abuse Cover-Up

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 5, 2010

     On Sunday Bob Schieffer of CBS News commented on the child abuse scandal which is again rocking the Roman Catholic Church.  Here are links to information explaining why this matter is back in the news.

     Schieffer said:

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Are We More Sinner or Saint?

By Stefan Published: April 3, 2010

Possibly deep thoughts here.

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Dog's Best Friend Law

By Lynn Published: April 2, 2010

Do I have to clean up after my dog when we go for walks?

My neighbor's dog barks all the time.  What can I do about it?

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Are a Sucker and His Money Soon Parted? Should They Be?

By Stefan Published: April 1, 2010

You promised me 4900% in two months!  Where's my money?

Also, here's your chance to go to town with that red marker on your/a law professor's paper.

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Adam Liptak - Supreme Court Correspondent, The New York Times

By Diana Published: April 1, 2010

The University of Akron School of Law's Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility will offer its inaugural Journalism and the Law Lecture titled 'Covering the Roberts Court in the Obama Era: A Reporter's Reflections.' The lecture will be given by Adam Liptak, Supreme Court Correspondent and columnist for The New York Times. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held Tuesday, April 6  at 4 p.m. at The Quaker Square Inn at The University of Akron, 135 South Broadway, Akron, Ohio. One hour of free CLE credit will be offered.

In his presentation, Liptak will discuss the Supreme Court in a time of rapid change. After a decade without new justices in the final years of the Rehnquist Court, the Roberts Court has welcomed three new justices and it may well see a fourth appointment in the near future. Liptak will also consider the leadership of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the impact of Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the implications for the Court of the fact that it has become, given Democratic control of Congress and the Presidency, the most conservative of the three branches of government.

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FISA and the State Secrets Privilege - Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc. v. Barack Obama

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 1, 2010

     Yesterday a federal district court in California entered summary judgment on behalf of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc., on the ground that the government eavesdropped on the organization without obtaining a warrant as required under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  The government did not deny that it eavesdropped on the group without a warrant; instead it renewed its claim that the State Secrets Privilege trumps FISA.  The district court ruled against the government on this point.

     Josh Gerstein at Politico reported yesterday that Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California issued an order granting summary judgment to Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation against several officials of the United States government for violating FISA - the Foreign Intelligence Security Act.   FISA, which is codified at 50 U.S.C. 1801-1871, requires the government to obtain a secret warrant from a special court before eavesdropping on the communications of persons in the United States who are suspected of engaging in espionage for a foreign country or assisting international terrorist organizations.  These warrants are notoriously easy to obtain; of the thousands of requests for warrants over the years, the secret court has granted all but a handful, and those few have usually been granted when the government renews its request with additional evidence in support.  Despite the ease with which these warrants could be obtained, the Bush administration took the position that it did not have to comply with FISA for three reasons: first, FISA was implicitly repealed by the Authorization for Use of Military Force adopted by Congress on September 18, 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks; second, FISA unconstitutionally interferes with the power of the President to protect this country under his powers as Commander-in-Chief; and third, Congress lacks authority under the Constitution to enact FISA.  I addressed those arguments, focusing particularly on the last one, in an article published in William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal in 2007.   Here is a link to the abstract of that article.

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Snyder v. Phelps - The Military Funeral Protestor Case

By Wilson Huhn Published: April 1, 2010

     This case is back in the news because the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the losing party to pay the attorney fees of the winning party - which would normally not be news.  But in this case the losing party was the family of a fallen marine, and the winning party was a religious group who exploited his funeral to garner publicity for their hate-filled political and religious tirades.  In this post I describe how the appellate court came to the conclusion that the protestors had the right, under the First Amendment, to engage in vicious verbal attacks during and after this soldier's funeral.

     On March 3, 2006, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq in the line of duty.  His funeral was held in his hometown of Westminster, Maryland, at St. John's Catholic Church. 

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