Archive for July, 2016

July 15, 2016

The Hill Runs Sovern Op-Ed

The Hill has published Professor Jeff Sovern’s op-ed, What Can We Learn from Trump University’s Sales Scripts. Here is an excerpt:


Jeff Sovern

[I]f you listen to how Trump responds to questions, you may see parallels to the script’s instructions for answering questions about Trump University’s success rate:

“If you went to Harvard or Berkeley and asked them the success rate of their graduates, how do you think they would answer that? Their answer is the same as ours. We give every student the knowledge and tools to go out there and be successful. . . . every graduate doesn’t make the same amount of money. . . . Their number one problem is procrastination and excuses. So the success rate is based off of one variable – YOU! . . . . Average people get to a defining moment in life and think about it until it is too late. You didn’t make all these decisions to be here this weekend to be average. So come on, let’s get you a Mentor . . . .”

Never mind that information about the outcomes of many schools, including Harvard and Berkeley, is available on the web. Sales staff who followed the script did not even begin to answer the consumer’s question. But they may have managed to make listeners feel better about themselves by putting down the unidentified others—those average people!–who procrastinate and make excuses. Predatory lender scripts show a similar pattern of refusal to answer questions and redirection.

July 6, 2016

Barrett Lectures in California & Illinois




John Barrett

Professor John Q. Barrett, biographer of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, U.S. chief prosecutor at and principal architect of the 1945-1946 international Nuremberg trial of the principal Nazi war criminals, spoke last month at two notable events that commemorated those historic events of seventy years ago.

On June 9th, Professor Barrett was a principal speaker in Riverside, California, in the annual Associate Justice John G. Gabbert Historic Oral Argument and Lectures Series, organized by the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District. The program was titled “The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust & the Nuremberg Trials.” For a pre-event press release, click here.

On June 27th, Professor Barrett spoke, at a program hosted by the Jewish Federation of Springfield, Illinois, and its Cardozo Society, on Justice Jackson and Nuremberg.
Professor Barrett writes The Jackson List, which reaches over 100,000 readers around the world.

July 6, 2016

Sovern Has Op-ed in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



Jeff Sovern

Professor Jeff Sovern’s latest op-ed, Keep banks from playing tricks, appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 26. It is about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed rule to ban class action waivers in arbitration clauses. Here is an excerpt:

* * * Affected businesses are likely to sue (in court, ironically) to try to block [the CFPB arbitration proposal]. In a move that conjures up the famous scene from “Blazing Saddles” in which Cleavon Little takes himself hostage, the financial industry has threatened to abandon consumer arbitration altogether if the regulation takes effect. Thus, the Chamber of Commerce has written of its concern that consumers who have unique $25 claims that couldn’t be heard in class actions wouldn’t be able to arbitrate them.

(Never mind that this imaginary consumer — remember, consumers rarely bring $25 claims — could presumably still sue in small claims court). But even that wouldn’t be a problem unless arbitration benefits consumers; therefore, the industry claims that it does.

Except that it doesn’t. The CFPB study found that, on average, 6.8 million consumers a year obtain relief through settlements in consumer finance-related class actions in federal court. In contrast, it reported, about 600 consumer finance disputes were filed each year with the main arbitration provider. Even if consumers filed and won 1,000 times that many arbitration proceedings a year, federal class actions would still help more than 10 times as many consumers as arbitration in a typical year. That’s why class actions can deter misconduct while arbitration doesn’t.

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