September 1, 2020

Montana’s Article to be Published in the Southern Illinois University Law Journal

Professor Patricia Montana’s article The Cognitive Power of Analogies in the Legal Writing Classroom has been accepted for publication in the Southern Illinois University Law Journal.  The article explores how new law students traditionally learn better when they can connect what they are learning to a familiar non-legal experience. Therefore, integrating the use of analogies into the teaching of legal analysis and writing is an obvious way to facilitate a student’s connection between the new and what is already known. Thus, the article proposes that faculty incorporate analogies into their classroom teaching, experimenting with interesting and engaging ways to connect all parts of the curriculum to the students’ existing knowledge base.

This proposal has its roots in cognitive learning theory, which expounds that experts use prior knowledge or contexts, referred to as schemata by cognitive psychologists, to facilitate problem solving. When applied to student learners, students will assign a new experience meaning according to how it fits into their existing schema. As students refine their understanding of the new information, they begin to identify connections between the concepts. This, in turn, enables them to expand or modify existing schemata or create new ones. Then, as they recognize the relationships among these concepts, they begin to develop domain-specific patterns of thought and, with practice, eventual mastery over the relevant domain. Hence, the basic principles of cognitive learning theory confirm not only the relevance but the great value of utilizing analogies as a teaching tool.

Patricia Grande Montana
Professor of Legal Writing & Director, Street Law Program
August 31, 2020

Ron Brown Prep Program Joins Forces with WNBA and NBA

Under Professor Elaine Chiu’s leadership along with Director Kamille Dean, the Ron Brown Center and its Prep Program this summer heeded the urgent call for action from St. John’s Law students to address the continuing crisis of racial injustice in our country. In its 15th summer, the Prep Program  had its first virtual summer and also its busiest summer ever, serving 95 diverse students across four distinct programs with their journeys to law school.  Three of the four programs were new initiatives; the High School Sports Law Program was especially ground-breaking because of the unique collaboration between two local professional sports teams (the WNBA’s New York Liberty and the NBA G League’s Long Island Nets) and the Law School. 

Here is a write-up in the New York Post, applauding the teams and the Prep Program for stepping up together to meet the challenge with meaningful, impactful investment into the future of young people. 

The efforts of the Ron Brown Prep Program would not have been successful without the hard work of many people including faculty members Professors Robin Boyle, Rosa Castello, Jeremy Sheff and Rachel Smith, program coordinator Christine Kowlessar (St. John’s Law JD, Class of 2019), and five outstanding current law students (Aminah Ali, Benjamin Ranalli, Ridmila Singh, Zachary Sobel and Ashley Williams).  We are also grateful for the commitment of Dean Michael A. Simons and Associate Dean Sarah Kelly.

Elaine M. Chiu
Professor of Law & Faculty Director, Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights
Robin A. Boyle Laisure
Professor of Legal Writing
Rosa Castello
Professor of Legal Writing & Assistant Faculty Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights
Jeremy N. Sheff
Professor of Law & Director, Intellectual Property Law Center
Rachel H. Smith
Professor of Legal Writing & Associate Dean for Experiential & Skills-Based Education

August 31, 2020

Barrett’s Recent Online Lectures & Conversations

During this unusual summer, Professor John Q. Barrett delivered a number of online lectures and participated in a number of online conversations, all posted on YouTube—

• On May 26, he, Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution, and Professor Kate Klonick discussed former U.S. Attorney General and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), on an episode of Ben’s and Kate’s web show “In Lieu of Fun”:

• On June 11, he discussed “Justice Jackson’s June 1945 Report to President Truman” with Robert H. Jackson Center president Kristan McMahon:

• On June 15, he gave a lecture, “Understanding the Nuremberg Trials,” at a Museum of Jewish Heritage teacher training program:

• On July 6, he introduced and interviewed Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post, Chautauqua Institution’s 16th annual Robert H. Jackson Lecturer on the Supreme Court of the United States:

For additional information on this and previous Jackson Lectures at Chautauqua Institution, click this Jackson List post.

• On July 27, he gave a lecture, “Summing Up at Nuremberg 74 Years Ago This Week: Justice Robert H. Jackson’s Closing Statement at the Nazi War Crimes Trial,” hosted by the Holocaust Memorial & Toleration Center of Nassau County, NY:

• On August 8, he lectured (starting at time counter reading 10:10) about Justice Jackson, in an international program, “The Age of Robert H. Jackson: London, Nuremberg, Today,” commemorating the 75th anniversary of the signing of the historic August 8, 1945, London Agreement.  Click here for the full program:

For additional information on this program and a roster of participants, click this Jackson List post.

August 26, 2020

Registration Open for Wade’s Virtual Book Launch

Join us as we celebrate the publication of Predatory Lending and the Destruction of the African-American Dream (Cambridge University Press) by law professors Janis Sarra and Cheryl L. Wade.

The book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how systemic anti-black racism has caused and continues to widen the racial wealth gap between black and white Americans. It provides cogent insight in the aftermath of the ongoing global protests against institutional racism and is a crucial contribution to the discourse about why black (economic) lives matter.

With a distinguished panel, the authors will lead a conversation about twenty-first century economic exploitation through predatory lending practices that intentionally target African Americans.

Date and Time: Thursday, September 17th, at 5:30-6:30 pm (Eastern)


Cheryl L. Wade
Dean Harold F. McNiece Professor of Law

August 24, 2020

Allen’s Article to be Published in the UCLA Law Review

Professor Renee Nicole Allen’s article, From Academic Freedom to Cancel Culture: Silencing Black Women in the Legal Academy, will be published in the UCLA Law Review. From the abstract:

“The story of black women law professors in the legal academy has yet to be told.”  -Emma Coleman Jordan, 1990

In 1988, Black women law professors formed the Northeast Corridor Collective of Black Women Law Professors, a supportive network of Black women in the legal academy. They met and shared personal experiences with systemic gendered racism. A few years later, their stories were transformed into articles that appeared in a symposium edition of the Berkeley Women’s Law Journal. Since, Black women and women of color have published articles and books about their experiences with presumed incompetence, outsider status, and silence. The story of Black women in the legal academy has been told. And, in 2020, contemporary voices resemble voices from long ago.  ​

This article updates and contextualizes the treatment of Black women law professors. While cancel culture is intended to punish or shame bad actors, in legal academia, Black women are canceled for simply existing.  This article explores the ways white academic norms, like academic freedom and hierarchy, explicitly and implicitly silence Black women and “cancel” their academic careers. As a result of the systemic gendered racism inherent in existing norms, Black women are silenced by intersectional microaggressions, white tears, and tokenism. They suffer intersectional battle fatigue, a consequence of having to negotiate identity in ways that result in physical, psychological, and emotional trauma. After defining law schools as white spaces and exploring cancellation tactics, this article encourages law schools to reevaluate academic norms to create positive experiences for Black women. Amid social unrest, the legal academy is prime to be a key player in modern social justice movements. But first, it must address inequities within. 

Renee Nicole Allen
Assistant Professor of Legal Writing

July 16, 2020

Greenberg is Guest Speaker to UN Mediators and Ombudspeople

On July 7, Professor Elayne Greenberg and Colin Rule, President and CEO of, were the guest speakers in a webinar for Unario members. Unario is an international organization of ombudspeople and mediators of the United Nations and Related International Organizations. Their talk focused on the technical and practical issues mediators and ombudspeople need to address as they shift their in-person practice to online meetings.

Elayne E. Greenberg
Assistant Dean for Dispute Resolution Programs
Professor of Legal Practice
Director, Hon. Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution
July 15, 2020

Selby Co-Authors Fourth Edition of New York Legal Research Text

Professor Courtney Selby has completed work on the fourth edition of New York Legal Research, part of the Legal Research Series published by Carolina Academic Press. Titles in the series not only focus on identifying jurisdiction-specific resources for practice but also emphasize comprehensive research strategy and the connection between legal research and analysis.

June 24, 2020

Roberts’ Article Published in the Fordham Law Review

Professor Anna Roberts’s article, Convictions as Guilt has just been published in the Fordham Law Review.  Meanwhile, her article “Victims, Right?,” forthcoming in the Cardozo Law Review, stands at #7 in the most recent SSRN Criminal Procedure download rankings.


Below is the abstract for Convictions as Guilt:

A curious tension exists in scholarly discourse about the criminal legal 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, for example, and the subordination of the defense. On the other hand, scholars often discuss people who have criminal convictions in a way that appears to assume crime commission. This apparent 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.

June 4, 2020

Barrett Solves “Switch in Time” Source Mystery, Accepts Offer to Publish Article in the Oklahoma Law Review

In President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first-term, a U.S. Supreme Court majority with rigidly restrictive notions of legislative power struck down numerous federal New Deal and progressive state laws as unconstitutional.

jqb photo

Following his thumping reelection in 1936, President Roosevelt thus proposed to “pack” the Supreme Court, expanding it with up to six new justices who would become part of a new, more deferential majority.  The Supreme Court promptly changed course in a number of pending, high-profile cases, announcing broader constitutional interpretations of federal and state government legislative powers and taking the wind out of the president’s proposal to enlarge it.  The Court’s change was, someone quipped in 1937, the “switch in time that saved nine.”

Who was the quipster?  This was asked even in 1937, as the “switch in time” line spread widely.  Various theories have been debated ever since.  No one, until now, found the answer.  Professor John Q. Barrett has discovered that the line came from Cal Tinney, a noted newspaper and radio humorist from Oklahoma.  Cal Tinney published his quip in the New York Post in April 1937, and it spread from there so fast that, apparently, people forgot to give him credit, and soon no one knew that he deserved it.

cal tinney

Cal Tinney (1908-1993)

As a tribute to Cal Tinney’s Oklahoma roots and his famous (in his time, at least) Oklahoman persona, Professor Barrett will publish his article “Attribution Time: Cal Tinney’s 1937 Quip, ‘A Switch in Time’ll Save Nine’”, this fall in the Oklahoma Law Review.

Professor Barrett’s article can be found here.  Below is the abstract:

In the history of the United States Supreme Court, 1937 was a huge year—perhaps the Court’s most important year ever.  Before 1933, the Supreme Court sometimes held that progressive policies enacted by political branches of government were unconstitutional. Such decisions became much more prevalent during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term, 1933-1936. In those years, the Court struck down, often by narrow margins, both federal “New Deal” laws and state law counterparts that sought to combat the devastation of the Great Depression.

Then President Roosevelt, in early 1937, proposed to “pack”—to enlarge—the Court, so that it would become supportive of New Deal laws.

Within weeks, the Supreme Court changed course, announcing broader constitutional interpretations of federal and state government legislative powers.

The Court’s switch took the air out of the Court-packing balloon. The change was—and here is the quip that everyone knows—“the switch in time that saved nine.”

That line appeared in 1937. It was repeated by many, especially in Washington. It has been quoted ever since. Just who coined it has been debated and never established.

Until now.

June 2, 2020

Roberts Co-Hosts and Presents at Law and Society Association Conference

Professor Anna Roberts co-organized and presented in a panel at the Law and Society Association annual conference entitled “Shortcuts in the Criminal Law.”


Other panelists were Julia Simon-Kerr (U. Conn.), Ngozi Okidegbe (Cardozo Law), Maggie Wittlin (Fordham Law), and Vida Johnson (Georgetown Law). The panel’s Discussant was Jasmine Gonzales Rose (Boston U.).  Professor Roberts presented a forthcoming piece, “Victims, Right?,” which can be found hereVictims, Right? is forthcoming in the Cardozo Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

In criminal contexts, a “victim” is typically defined as someone who has been harmed by a crime. Yet the word commonly appears in legal contexts that precede the adjudication of whether a crime has occurred. Each U.S. state guarantees “victims’ rights,” including many that apply pre-adjudication; ongoing “Marsy’s Law” efforts seek to expand and constitutionalize them nationwide. At trial, advocates, judges, and jury instructions employ this word even though the existence or not of crime (and thus of a crime victim) is the very thing to be decided. This usage matters in part because of its possible consequences: it risks obscuring and weakening the defense side of our two-sided system. It matters also because of the underlying impulses that it reveals, and that surface in analogous usages such as the widespread pre-adjudication use of “offender.” When channeled into our criminal system these impulses will recur as pre-judgments of crime, in ways that threaten defendants’ constitutional protections. But we can frame and channel them in a more hopeful way. This Article posits that we turn prematurely to the word “victim” in part because of impulses, upon hearing of harm, rapidly to acknowledge and decry it; and that we rush to “offender” because of a concomitant desire for accountability and answers. Abolitionist work provides a model for honoring those impulses through structures other than a criminal system with whose tenets and capacities they will inevitably clash.

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