May 14, 2019

Klonick Presents at Harvard, Yale, and Boston University

During the month of April, Professor Kate Klonick presented presented her paper, Facebook v. Sullivan: Building Constitutional Law for Online Speech, at Boston University and Harvard Law School.
She also presented at Yale Law School’s Social Media Governance Initiative.
Her class on information privacy was also featured in a WNBC segment in May.
May 14, 2019

Salomone presents at Symposium on The United Nations at 75: Listening, Talking and Taking Action in a Multilingual World

On May 10, Professor Rosemary Salomone made a presentation on


Rosemary Salomone

“The 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: The United States as Sole Outlier” and led a discussion on “Language and the UN: The Diplomatic View” including UN ambassadors from Canada, Mali, Portugal and the Organisation de la Francophonie as part of a symposium on The United Nations at 75: Listening, Talking and Taking Action in a Multilingual World. 

May 14, 2019

Boyle Quoted by The Guardian

On May 11, Professor Robin Boyle Laisure was quoted by The Guardian in its recent article, “‘Everything was Just Lies’: How Alleged Sex Cult NXIVM Deceived its Victims.” Boyle has been researching and writing about cults and the law for approximately 20 years and has been observing the proceedings in this significant trial involving defendant Keith Raniere in Brooklyn.


Boyle explained that by focusing on human trafficking statutes, and by arguing sexual or financial gain was central to NXIVM, prosecutors may have avoided the long-standing problem of establishing lack of consent and mind control.

When asked by Guardian reporter, Edward Helmore, whether there is something about self-help groups that make participants more vulnerable to cults, Boyle replied, “I don’t believe people joined the group saying ‘I want to look thinner,'” she said. “They joined because somebody said they had answers to life questions. In the process they became controlled about how to look and behave.

“That is what is so deceptive about cults. The engagement is not clear at the outset, people get sucked in, turn over collateral and then it’s too late to exit.”

Marc Vicente, a Hollywood film-maker who became a NXIVM member, testified last Thursday that he now realizes the group covered “a horrible evil.” Vicente described how members were asked to fill-out surveys asking questions that would lead to shame should the answers be made public.

According to Vicente and to prosecution’s witness known only by her first name, Sylvie, NXIVM used the personal information it gathered, along with revealing photographs, to coerce members into compliance. Sylvie testified that she was ordered to seduce Raniere.

The trial is scheduled to continue over the next several weeks.


May 9, 2019

Boyle Attends Legal Writing Retreat

This past week, Professor Robin Boyle participated in the editorial board retreat for Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing.


The retreat was held at the headquarters of Thomson Reuters in Eagan, Minnesota. At the retreat, the board revamped its structure by drafting bylaws, establishing more concrete board duties, and setting publishing goals. Professor Boyle is a long-term member of the board, and her term has been renewed.

Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing is an electronic journal published by Thomson Reuters two times a year for legal research and writing professors and librarians at law firms and law schools. The journal provides a forum for discussing the teaching of legal research and writing, focusing on research materials, tools and theories.


May 7, 2019

Boyle Interviewed by Brooklyn Courthouse News Service

Professor Robin Boyle was interviewed by Brooklyn Courthouse News Service about the federal case against leader of sex cult NXIVM, Keith Raniere. The article titled, “Trial of NXIVM Leader to Put Spotlight on Cult Prosecutions,” predicts that the trial will be the “biggest cult case in decades.”


The article pointed out that Professor Boyle, in a 2016 article for the Oregon Review of International Law, had called upon authorities to prosecute cult leaders by using the federal human trafficking statutes–precisely what the Eastern District is doing in the NXIVM case.

The Courthouse News Service quoted Professor Boyle’s observation that the human trafficking statutes are useful in this kind of litigation “because they don’t rely on the mental state of the victim.” When asked what the defense would likely argue, Professor Boyle predicted that Raniere “could claim that some of the alleged crimes were simply sex games between consenting adults – ‘Kinky, yes. Not illegal.’”

The trial kicked off today with the prosecution’s opening argument. The defense has put forth the argument that the relationships were consensual.

April 23, 2019

Warner’s Article to be Published by the International Insolvency Review

Professor G. Ray Warner’s article, Conflicting Norms: Impact of the Model Law on Chapter 11’s Global Restructuring Role, has been accepted for publication by the International Insolvency Review.


G. Ray Warner

The article explores the conflict created in domestic United States insolvency law by the adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency. The Model Law, now Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, takes a modified universalist approach to cross-border bankruptcy that designates a debtor’s center of main interest [“COMI”] as the primary jurisdiction for a global restructuring. This COMI-centric approach is in conflict with the U.S.’s long-standing COMI-neutral policy of encouraging debtors with no significant U.S. connections to use Chapter 11 for global restructurings. The article analyzes the extent to which the Model Law’s COMI-centric norm has changed the U.S. courts’ willingness to accept Chapter 11 cases filed by foreign debtors.

April 5, 2019

McGuinness Interviewed by BBC World Service

Professor Peggy McGuinness was interviewed by BBC World Service about the U.S. government’s decision to revoke the visa of International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.


Professor McGuinness addressed the history of U.S. engagement with the ICC, the Trump administration’s confrontational stance toward the court, and how Bensouda’s pursuit of an investigation about potential war crimes committed by U.S. military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan led the U.S. to block Bensounda’s plans to engage in fact finding in the U.S.

A video of the live interview can be found here.

April 4, 2019

Roberts Presents at Seton Hall

On April 3, Professor Anna Roberts presented her article, Convictions as Guilt, at Seton Hall Law School.  Convictions as Guilt is forthcoming in the Fordham Law Review.


Here is the abstract:

A curious tension exists in scholarly discourse about the criminal justice system. On the one hand, a copious body of work exposes a variety of facets of the system that jeopardize the reliability of convictions. These include factors whose influence is pervasive: the predominance of plea bargaining, which presents carrots and sticks to innocent and guilty alike, and the subordination of the defense, symbolized by resource disparities that prevent even narratives of innocence from getting a fair hearing. On the other hand, in a variety of contexts, scholars discuss those with criminal convictions in a way that appears to assume crime commission. This assumption obscures crucial failings of the system, muddies the role of academia, and, given the unequal distribution of criminal convictions, risks compounding race- and class-based stereotypes of criminality. From careful examination of this phenomenon and its possible explanations, reform proposals emerge.

April 4, 2019

Sharfman Presents at Touro

On April 1, Professor Keith Sharfman presented his article, “Economic Analysis of Jewish Law,” at Touro Law School.  A video of the presentation is available here.

Keith Sharfman

Professor Sharfman is introduced by St. John’s colleague, Professor Ettie Ward, at the 2:28.11 mark, and the talk runs till the 2:48.10 mark.  The article is slated to appear in a future issue of the Touro Law Review.

April 2, 2019

Krishnakumar Presents at University of Houston Law Center

On April 1, Professor Anita S. Krishnakumar presented her article, Backdoor Purposivism, at the University of Houston Law Center’s Faculty Colloquium.  Backdoor Purposivism is forthcoming in the Duke Law Journal


Here is the abstract:

It has become standard, among statutory interpretation commentators, to declare that “We are all textualists now.” The comment stems from the observation that in the modern, post-Scalia era, all of the Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court—including those considered purposivists—pay significant attention to statutory text when construing statutes and, relatedly, that legislative history use by the Court as a whole has declined compared to its heydey in the 1970s. The account of textualism’s triumph is so prevalent that some scholars have declared purposivism—or at least traditional purposivism—essentially defunct. Two prominent textualist scholars in particular have suggested that there is a “new purposivism” at work on the modern Court and that this purposivism is textually constrained, limiting its focus to the means identified in the text of the statute rather than the underlying policy objectives motivating the statute—or, alternately, using purpose as a threshold consideration in determining whether a statute is ambiguous in the first place.

This Article breaks from the conventional “purposivism is dead or dying” wisdom in two important ways. First, it argues, based on empirical analysis of 499 Roberts Court statutory interpretation cases decided between 2006 and 2017, that traditional purposivism is alive and well on the modern Supreme Court. That is, while purposivist Justices in the modern era do pay attention to text and invoke textual canons in a way that their 1970s purposivist counterparts did not, modern purposivists have not abandoned the traditional purposive approach of identifying a statute’s policy objective and adopting the construction that best fits that objective. On the contrary, modern purposivists regularly invoke statutory purpose, intent, and legislative history—even if the Court as a whole does not. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the Court’s textualist Justices quietly have been engaging in a form of purposive analysis that comes closer to traditional purposivism than scholars and jurists have recognized. That is, the textualist Justices have been using pragmatic reasoning, as well as traditional textual canons such as noscitur a sociis and the whole act rule, to impute a specific intent or policy goal to Congress in many cases. This practice, which I call “backdoor purposivism,” goes beyond using text as the best evidence of statutory purpose and entails significant judicial guesswork and construction of legislative purpose and intent. The Article suggests that, in the end, there may be less distance between textualists and purposivists than the old debates suggest—but because textualists have embraced purpose and intent in unexpected ways, rather than because, or merely because, purposivists have become more text-focused. It concludes by advocating that both textualists and purposivists employ interpretive resources outside their preferred toolkit, in order to check the accuracy of their initial statutory readings and to curb the influence of their inherent personal biases.


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