Archive for February, 2014

February 28, 2014

Lazaro Writes Law Review Article on Broker Reporting Requirements

Christine Lazaro, Acting Director of the Law School’s Securities Arbitration Clinic, will publish her article, Has Expungement Broken BrokerCheck?, in MSU Journal of Business and Securities Law.  Here’s an abstract:

Stockbrokers are subject to one of the most comprehensive public disclosure regimes.  They must disclose substantial information about their backgrounds, their employment history, and their disciplinary history.  FINRA, the self-regulatory organization that regulates the brokerage industry, also requires that brokers disclose customer complaints and makes much of this information available to the public through an online database called BrokerCheck.  The allegations of wrongdoing remain on the broker’s record permanently, unless the broker succeeds at having customer dispute information expunged.  The broker is able to accomplish this by requesting that the arbitration panel that hears the customer dispute grant expungement, and then seeking confirmation of the arbitration award.

This paper examines the rules governing brokers’ reporting requirements and the process whereby customer dispute information may be expunged from brokers’ records.  There are a number of significant flaws with the current expungement process.  These flaws raise concerns about the integrity of the information made available through BrokerCheck.  Indeed, State regulators have attempted to intervene at the arbitration award confirmation stage to prevent information from being expunged from the system.  Thus far, these attempts and have been largely unsuccessful.  The system’s flaws also become apparent when customers settle disputes.  In those cases, when customers do not oppose a broker’s request for expungement, arbitration panels routinely grant the broker’s request.

To address these issues, I suggest that FINRA must continue its efforts to prevent brokers from bargaining for non-opposition to expungement requests as a condition of settlement.  Customers should be permitted to oppose a request for expungement even if they have settled their underlying claim with the broker.  I also argue that that FINRA’s arbitrator training may be ineffective as it is apparent arbitrators are disregarding the high standards governing expungement.  Accordingly, FINRA should implement procedures and tighter controls to ensure arbitrators are following the rules governing expungement.


February 27, 2014

Nelson Speaks on Aftermath of Shelby County Voting Rights Act Decision

Yesterday, Janai S. Nelson, Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, was a panelist at a forum at Seton Hall University School of Law entitled, Post-Shelby World: Has Section 5 Outlived Its Purpose?  Professor Nelson discussed the Shelby County v. Holder decision, current voter suppression efforts, and the proposed Voting Rights Act Amendment of 2014.

janai blue

February 26, 2014

Cunningham Presents at Psychology and Law Conference

Associate Academic Dean Larry Cunningham presented at the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Conference on Psychology and Law: Coalescing the Field on February 21, 2014.  Dean Cunningham’s presentation focused on the ways that lawyers can reduce stress and anxiety during trials and oral arguments.  Drawing on his research in the area of cognitive behavioral psychology, he argued that there are straightforward ways that faculty—particularly legal writing professors teaching students how to conduct their first moot court argument—can educate law students about the mechanics of anxiety and methods for reducing nervousness.
Larry Cunningham

Larry Cunningham

February 24, 2014

Facciolo Publishes Article on Exculpatory Clauses in The Investment Lawyer

Francis Facciolo, Assistant Director of the Securities Arbitration Clinic and  Professor of Legal Writing, published an article, Exculpatory Clauses, in the February 2014 issue of The Investment Lawyer.  The article was co-authored with Professor Facciolo’s former student and St. John’s law school alum, Leland Solon ’10, who is currently an associate at the Law Firm of Gary N. Weintraub, LLP.

Here’s an excerpt of the article:

This article describes how the SEC’s posi- tion on hedge clauses has evolved in light of the IAA’s anti-fraud provisions, culminating in the 2007 no-action letter of Heitman Capital Management, LLC,4 which granted new and unexpected leeway to advisers. In Heitman Capital, the SEC stated that it would no longer provide no-action guidance on hedge clauses; therefore, the only avenue for further develop- ment of the law in this area is in the courts or SEC enforcement actions. Although hedge clauses have been raised by plaintiffs in a number of cases, there has only been one case with a published opinion that addresses the effect hedge clauses have on a contract between an investment adviser and its advisee.


February 20, 2014

NYSBA Journal Re-Publishes Di Lorenzo’s Article on Tort Liability for Corporate Directors

The New York State Bar Association Journal has re-published Professor Vincent Di Lorenzo’s article, “Individual Liability of Board Members After Fletcher v. The Dakota”  in its February 2014 issue.  The Fletcher decision changed the legal standard under which corporate directors would be held individually liable for tortious conduct including violations of the civil rights laws.  In 2006 the appellate court in Pelton v. 77 Park Avenue Condominium had ruled that directors could be held individually liable based on allegations of discrimination or other similar wrongdoing only if plaintiffs could plead with specificity “independent tortious acts by each individual defendant.” In the Fletcher decision, the appellate court concluded the Pelton decision had misinterpreted the governing case law. It rejected the independent tortious act requirement and ruled that the “participation of an individual director in a corporation’s tort is sufficient to give rise to individual liability.”

This article first explores if the Fletcher court was correctly interpreting earlier decisions in the New York courts. Second, the article explores the possible meaning of the “participation” requirement embraced in Fletcher, and asks the Court of Appeals to clarify this requirement. The article concludes that earlier decisions in the federal courts can be read as requiring active participation or personal involvement by the individual corporate director in the discriminatory action or conduct before imposing personal liability. Ultimately, however, the differing viewpoints in the Pelton and Fletcher decisions reflect a difference as to which public policy deserves primacy under the New York civil rights laws and laws governing homeowner communities. Professor Di Lorenzo’s article had previously appeared in the N.Y. Real Property Law Journal.


February 19, 2014

Sheff Presents Paper at U Mich IP Colloquium

On Wednesday, February 19, Professor Jeremy Sheff presented his draft article, Dilution at the Patent and Trademark Office, at the Michigan IP Colloquium at the University of Michigan.

sheff photo

February 12, 2014

Barrett Appointed to Historical Society Board

On January 30th, Professor John Q. Barrett was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Historical Society of the New York Courts.  The Society, founded in 2002, preserves, protects, and promotes the legal history of New York State, including its courts and the rule of law, through educational outreach, public programs and publications.  Other members of the Society’s Board include esteemed law school alumni Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick ’67, ’03 HON (Chair), Roy L. Reardon ’54, ‘00HONHon. Randall T. Eng ‘72, and Mary Kay Vyskocil ‘83.
John Q. Barrett

John Q. Barrett
February 11, 2014

Baynes Speaks on Ronald H. Brown’70 for Black History Month

This Thursday, February 13, 2014, Professor Leonard M. Baynes, Director of The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development, will present on the struggles of Ronald H. Brown’70 in his rise to success as the first African-American to serve as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.   The event, in honor of Black History Month, will take place at Albany Law School and will be moderated by the law school’s dean and president, Penelope Andrews.

Leonard Baynes

Leonard Baynes

February 11, 2014

Baum to Train Lawyers for Pro Bono Cases in SDNY

On Thursday, February 13, 2014, Jennifer Baum, Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Child Advocacy Clinic, will join a panel of judges and trial lawyers to train lawyers for pro bono cases in the Southern District of New York.   This CLE program, entitled, Trial Advocacy Training for Pro Bono Lawyers,  is organized by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the FBC Public Service Committee.  The full day, free training  “is designed for both new (transitional) and experienced lawyers who are interested in developing their trial skills in order to accept pro bono cases.”  


February 10, 2014

Movsesian’s Interview of Samuel Tadros on Christian Coptics and the Arab Spring Published

The Hoover Institution (Stanford) published Professor Mark Movsesian’s recent interview of Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and a Professorial Lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced Inter-national Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and author of Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity (Hoover Institution Press, 2013).  In the pieceFor the Copts, Disaster and Diaspora, Movsesian, who is the Frederick A. Whitney Professor of Contract Law and the Director of the Center for Law and Religion, questions Tadros about the history and culture of Egypt’s Coptic Christians and the impact of the Arab Spring on this religious group.  Here’s an excerpt:

 Movsesian: You argue that the Arab Spring has been a disaster for Copts. Why? And why has the Coptic Church taken such a public position in support of the military’s ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Tadros: The Arab Spring emboldened Islamist movements on the national and local levels. The removal of the state’s constraints allowedIslamists to dominate national politics and, more important, to enforce their vision on society on a local level, with Copts paying the heaviest price. The collapse of the state’s repressive arm, the police, gave the mobfree rein. As a result, we have seen the continuation of previous patterns of discrimination as well as the emergence of newer ones.The Coptic Church’s choice to support the military coup was of course tobe expected. President Morsi was hardly inclusive in his rule. He clearly indi-cated that he cared less what befell Copts. Their concerns in the constitution were ignored, he never made any reassuring gesture towards them, and under his rule, the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, the very center of Christianity, was attacked for hours by thugs and the police. Copts recognized that under the Muslim Brotherhood they would become second-class citizens.
Mark Movsesian

Mark Movsesian

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