April 8, 2014

Baynes and Gregory Write on Title VII and the Interplay of Racial and Economic Justice

David L. Gregory, Dorothy Day Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Center for Labor and Employment Law at St. John’s University School of Law and Leonard M. Baynes, Professor of Law and the inaugural Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law co-authored an essay on Jurist, titled Title VII and the Interplay of Racial and Economic Justice.  The essay arose out of the Title VII at 50 Symposium that Baynes and Gregory co-chaired, along with Professor Sam Estreicher, Dwight D. Opperman Professor at New York University School of Law, on April 4 at St. John’s and on April 5, at NYU. In the essay, Baynes and Gregory reflect upon Title VII’s role in transforming the American workplace and the continuing struggle to end employment discrimination.  Here’s an excerpt:

As we think about this conundrum of Title VII and its relationship to the economic progress of African Americans, it is important to keep King’s overall message of jobs and justice in mind. We should not be blinded by the formal employment equality that Title VII affords to African Americans while economic injustice remains. Like King, we need to advocate on a broader playing field championing civil, labor, and human rights, and against the ill-gotten wealth of a few and for the poor “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” If not for the assassin’s bullet, perhaps the 85-year-old Rev. Dr. King would be with us today advocating for economic fairness for all Americans.

Leonard Baynes

Leonard Baynes






April 7, 2014

Sovern Speaks at Georgetown on Disclosure Issues in Consumer Law

Professor Jeff Sovern spoke at a Georgetown Law School conference on consumer law, titled “Making the Fine Print Fair.”  Other speakers included Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who provided the keynote address, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau General Counsel Meredith Fuchs.  The conference was sponsored by the Georgetown Consumer Law Society and Citizen Works.  Professor Sovern’s panel, titled “Has Disclosure Failed and What Could/Should Be Done to Make Fine Print Fair”, included professors from Georgetown and Michigan law schools, and a former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

jeff sovern


April 3, 2014

Nelson Quoted in Canadian Press on McCutcheon Campaign Finance Decision

Yesterday, Janai S. Nelson, Professor, Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, and Associate Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development was quoted in La Presse on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down the aggregate limits on campaign contributions.  The article, La cour supreme ouvre les vannes du financement électoral (The Supreme Court Opens the Campaign Finance Floodgates), describes the decision as political win for conservatives and a blow to the Obama administration.  The McCutcheon decision is one in a line of Supreme Court cases that have invalidated campaign finance restrictions, including the controversial Citizens United decision in 2010.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

For Janai Nelson, law professor at St. John’s University, “the Court seems to be on a steady path toward eliminating decades of campaign finance protections aimed to prevent our government from operating as a real life House of Cards“, the popular television series that displays influence peddling in Washington. (Pour Janai Nelson, professeur de droit à l’Université St. John, «la Cour semble invariablement chercher à éliminer des décennies de protection du financement électoral visant à empêcher le gouvernement à agir dans la vraie vie comme House of Cards», la série télévisée à succès qui met en scène les trafics d’influence à Washington.)

Professor Nelson was also quoted in The Citizen and  Yahoo news:  For Janai Nelson, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law, the ruling “reinforced the notion that American democracy is for sale.”

janai blue

April 2, 2014

Lazaro Quoted in Article on FINRA Arbitrator Fraud

Director of the Law School’s Securities Arbitration Clinic Christine Lazaro was quoted in a recent article, Should Dozens of FINRA Arbitration Cases Be Reopened?  The article centers on a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrator who was removed from FINRA’s arbitrator roster after falsely claiming to be a lawyer.  The main issue is whether there is any remedy with respect to the cases in which he served as an arbitrator over the past 15 years.  Here’s an excerpt:

Arbitrators have immunity for civil liability, but that does not apply in situations of fraud or corruption, explains Christine Lazaro, director of the securities arbitration clinic at St. John’s University School of Law.




April 2, 2014

Sovern Article Published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs

The leading peer-reviewed journal on consumer affairs, the Journal of Consumer Affairs, has published Professor Jeff Sovern’s article, Fixing Consumer Protection Laws So Borrowers Understand Their Payment Obligations, in a special issue titled The New Era in Consumer Protection Regulation.  Here is the abstract:

 The millions of consumers who defaulted on their mortgages in recent years should all have received disclosures mandated by the federal Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), which requires that lenders inform borrowers of certain loan terms including monthly payments required. Yet many of those borrowers seem not to have understood what their payment obligations were. In fact, TILA, which was intended to enable consumers to borrow wisely, not only failed the subprime borrowers in that goal, but was interpreted to require lenders to provide misleading disclosures that might have persuaded borrowers that their loans were more affordable than they would turn out to be. This article attempts to substantiate the claim that the laws in place during the years in which the subprime loan buildup occurred did not provide the aid consumers needed in making borrowing decisions, and explores strategies to improve the disclosure environment.

jeff sovern

April 1, 2014

Chiu Presents New Article on Social Media, the Disclosure of Personal Information and Protecting Women

On Friday, March 28, Professor Elaine Chiu participated as a panelist in the Social Media & Social Justice Symposium hosted by Pace Law Review at the New York State Judicial Institute in White Plains, New York.  Her paper entitled, Personal Information Involuntarily Made Public: Protecting Women with Existing Practices, was selected to be part of a panel that discussed the need for greater government intervention in regulating and supplementing social media.  Professor Chiu presented on her proposal to create a domestic violence database that would identify serial batterers to the public.  This proposal was the subject of her article entitled, That Guy’s A Batterer: A Scarlet Letter Approach to Domestic Violence in the Information Age, that was published in the Family Law Quarterly.   In this presentation, Professor Chiu emphasized the importance of such information-sharing by the government in light of the high numbers of people using social media to form romantic relationships and the lack of verification of the voluntary information shared in these media.  Professor Chiu also noted that the information that people tend to disclose in social media is incomplete and often misleading and that there may be valuable lessons to be drawn from the well-established system of individual credit histories we use to protect lenders and our credit markets.   Her new paper will be published in the summer issue of the Pace Law Review.

elaine chiu

April 1, 2014

Subotnik Presents at Current Issues in Copyright Colloquium

Today, Tuesday, April 1, Professor Eva Subotnik will be the featured speaker at Columbia Law School’s Current Issues in Copyright colloquium, focusing on the topic of fair use.  Professor Subotnik will be presenting views drawn from her forthcoming article Intent in Fair Use.  An abstract for the article follows:

This Article explores the role of intent in the context of fair use.  Specifically, it examines whether a claim of fair use of a copyrighted work should be assessed solely from an “objectively reasonable” vantage point or should, additionally, allow for evidence from the subjective perspective of the user.  Courts and scholars have largely sided with the former view but have failed to explain fully why this should be the case or whether there might be countervailing benefits to considering evidence of subjective intent.  Crucially overlooked is the possibility that taking the user’s perspective into account would promote copyright’s utilitarian values by stimulating socially beneficial uses that would not otherwise occur.  In addition, formal recognition of the role intent plays in fair use would bring needed transparency to judicial practices in this area.  This Article first develops a framework for evaluating the degree to which courts, parties, and scholars have deemed conscious compliance with fair use principles relevant to the fair use analysis.  It then argues for a limited role for evidence of subjective intent, proposing criteria for when such evidence should, and should not, be weighed in the fair use calculus.

Eva Subotnik

Eva Subotnik

March 31, 2014

Warner to Serve as Delegate of the International Insolvency Institute to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

Professor Ray Warner will serve as a delegate of the International Insolvency Institute to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group VI during its meeting at the UN this week.  Working Group VI is preparing a model law of secured transactions as part of UNCITRAL’s work to harmonize and unify the law of international trade.  Among other courses, Professor Warner teaches Secured Transactions and International Business Transactions at the law school.


March 29, 2014

Barrett Publishes TIME Online Essay on Lawrence E. Walsh (1912-2014)

Professor John Q. Barrett has published an essay on TIME online, “Lawrence Walsh, Iran-Contra Counsel, Played It Straight.”  From 1988-1993, Professor Barrett worked for Judge Walsh as an associate counsel on the Iran/Contra investigations and prosecutions.

John Q. Barrett

John Q. Barrett

March 27, 2014

Krishnakumar on Statutory Interpretation Questions from the Hobby Lobby Argument

Professor Anita Krishnakumar responded to Will Baude’s Washington Post piece on whether legislation passed by unanimous vote should be invalidated or narrowly construed in a post on Rick Hasen’s electionlawblog.   The issue arose out of the Hobby Lobby case that was argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.  Professor Krisknakumar notes,  “Different legislators vote for (or against) a statute for many different reasons, and their final vote tells us nothing about those reasons.”  See the full post here.





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