Archive for June, 2012

June 14, 2012

Now in Print: Mark Movsesian on Religious Displays

The peer-reviewed Oxford Journal of Law and Religion has just published an advance version of Mark Movsesian’s article, Crosses and Culture: State-Sponsored Religious Displays in the US and Europe. Here is the abstract:

This article compares the recent jurisprudence of the US Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights on the question of state-sponsored religious displays. Both tribunals insist that states have a duty of religious ‘neutrality’, but each defines that term differently. For the Supreme Court, neutrality means that government may not proselytize, even indirectly, or appear to favour a particular church; neutrality may even mean that government must not endorse religion generally. For the ECtHR, in contrast, neutrality means only that government must avoid active religious indoctrination; the ECtHR allows government to give ‘preponderant visibility’ to the symbols of traditionally dominant churches. The different conceptions of neutrality reflect institutional and cultural realities. In particular, the differences reflect what sociologists of religion describe as the ‘American’ and ‘European’ religious models.

You can find the full article here.

June 8, 2012

Baum Lectures on Victim and Witness Trauma and on Working with Adolescents

Associate Professor Jennifer Baum, Director of the Law School’s Child Advocacy Clinic, together with Elissa Brown, Professor of Psychology at St. John’s University, presented a training for the Queens County Bar Association on May 29, entitled “Creating a Trauma Informed Legal System.”  The session presented facts and statistics about trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder,  and identified points during the litigation process where attorneys and judges might reduce harm to victims and witnesses who must testify.  

 Professor Baum also presented a workshop on essential interviewing skills for professionals who work with adolescents.  The June 5 workshop was offered to Family Court judges, practitioners, and child welfare staff as part of a New York State Court Improvement Project symposium at New York Law School, concerning  adolescent well-being.  Training materials from the symposium are available here.

June 6, 2012

Sovern on Law Student Laptop Use

Jeff Sovern’s article, Law Student Laptop Use During Class for Non-Class Purposes: Temptation v. Incentives, will be published in the University of Louisville Law Review. Here is the abstract:

This article reports on how law students use laptops, based on observations of 1072 laptop users (though there was considerable overlap among those users from one class to another) during 60 sessions of six law school courses. Some findings:

• More than half the upper-year students seen using laptops employed them for non-class purposes more than half the time, raising serious questions about how much they learned from class. By contrast, first-semester Civil Procedure students used laptops for non-class purposes far less: only 4% used laptops for non-class purposes more than half the time while 44% were never distracted by laptops.
• Students in exam courses were more likely to tune out when classmates asked and professors responded to questions and less likely to tune out when a rule was discussed or textual material read in class.
• For first-semester students, policy discussions generated the highest level of distraction while displaying a PowerPoint slide which was not later posted on the web elicited the lowest level.
• With some exceptions, what was happening in the class did not affect whether upper-year students tuned out or paid attention.
• The format used to convey information – lecture, calling on students, or class discussion – seemed to make little difference to the level of attention.
• Student attentiveness to the facts of cases is comparable to their overall attention levels.

The article speculates that student decisions on whether to pay attention are responses to the tension between incentives and temptation. While the temptation to tune out probably remains constant, ebbs and flows in incentives may cause students to resist or yield to that temptation. Because first-semester grades have more of an impact on job prospects, first-semester students have a greater incentive than upper-year students to attend to classes. Similarly, because students probably anticipate that rules are more likely to be tested on exams, students perceive that they have more of an incentive to pay attention when rules are discussed. Conversely, students may suspect that matters asked about by classmates are less likely to be tested on and so their grades are unlikely to be affected if they miss the question and answer, reducing the incentive to pay attention.

Because of methodological limits to the study, the article notes that its conclusions cannot be considered definitive, and so it urges others to conduct similar studies.

You can find the SSRN version of the article here.

June 4, 2012

New on SSRN: Perino on Financial Reform During the New Deal

I recently posted a new paper to SSRN called Crisis, Scandal and Financial Reform During the New Deal. Here is the abstract: 

This chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the New Deal provides a brief overview of the major financial reform legislation passed during the first term of the Roosevelt administration. After describing the structural flaws in the pre-New Deal regulatory landscape, the chapter illustrates how the stock market crash of 1929, the onset Great Depression, and the banking crisis of 1933 helped create the climate in which financial reform could pass. In particular, it highlights the crucial role that the Senate investigation of Wall Street — commonly known as the Pecora investigation, after its chief counsel, Ferdinand Pecora — played in building the clamor for financial reform. The chapter then catalogs the major banking and securities legislation adopted during the Roosevelt administration’s first term and demonstrates the transient nature of the political moments that crises and scandals create. In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, reform proposals passed with little effective opposition. As the crisis receded, however, organized lobbying efforts grew more powerful and were often successful in diminishing reform proposals.

You can find a full version of the paper here.

June 4, 2012

Movsesian on Religious Displays

On June 7, 2012, Mark Movsesian will be at Harvard Law School for a conference entitled The Changing Faces of Religion and Secularity. The conference is being convened by Institute for Culture & Society of the University of Navarra, Spain. At a workshop on Religious Freedom in Contemporary Juridical Context Mark will present Crosses and Culture: State-Sponsored Religious Displays in the United States and Europe. You can find the full program description here.

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