January 21, 2020

West Publishes Sovern’s Consumer Law Casebook and More

West Academic Publishing published the fifth edition of the Consumer Law casebook Professor Jeff Sovern co-authors with Professors Dee Pridgen and Christopher L. Peterson.

Jeff Sovern

West also published the 2019 edition of the trio’s Selected Consumer Statutes. West will shortly issue the accompanying Teacher’s Manual.
Sovern also served as co-moderator for the discussion on consumer protection at the Public Citizen/American Constitution Society Convening on Access to Justice Issues on November 1. In addition, Sovern was quoted in an August 10 article in the Wall Street JournalThat Offer to Make You Debt-Free? It Can Make You Worse Off and in an August 27 Bloomberg Law article, Appeals Court Throws Wrench Into CFPB Debt Collection Rewrite.
December 17, 2019

Montana Presents at Legal Writing Institute’s One-Day Workshop at St. Mary’s

Professor Patricia Montana presented at the Legal Writing Institute’s One-Day Workshop on Developing Life-Long Learners hosted by St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas, on December 13, 2019.

Patricia Montana

In her presentation, titled Diving, Not Cannonballing, Into a Case, Professor Montana discussed how using analogies is a great teaching device to help new law students understand the process of legal analysis.  By connecting lessons on critical reading, rule synthesis, and rule application to familiar experiences, law students are more comfortable with the process, more open to the challenge, and more engaged with the material.  In the presentation, Professor Montana explored several analogies that she uses in her first semester legal writing courseincluding her dive, don’t cannonball analogy, which reinforces the idea that students must read with a clear purpose 
December 6, 2019

Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic, Led by Goldweber and Calabrese, Receives Award from Queens District Attorney’s Office

The Consumer Justice for the Elderly: Litigation Clinic was honored by the Queens County District Attorneys Office for its collaborative work with the Economic Crimes Bureau, Elder Fraud Unit, on several deed theft cases.

Older Queens residents, especially in communities of color, have been targeted and victimized in deed theft and foreclosure rescue scams. Clinic students, under the supervision of Professors Ann Goldweber and Gina Calabrese have represented several victims in civil actions to recover their homes while the District Attorney’s Office has pursued criminal charges and felony convictions.


November 13, 2019

Baum Honored with Mayoral Service Recognition Award, Appears on PIX11

On October 22, Professor Jennifer Baum was honored with a Mayoral Service Recognition Award by Safe Passage Project, for her leadership role in representing unaccompanied minors in family court and immigration court.   Over the past five years, Professor Baum has overseen or consulted on the immigration cases of dozens of children in the New York area who were fleeing family and community violence in Central America.

Jennifer Baum

Since the summer, Professor Baum has also been a consulting member of the children’s trial team on a Hague Convention International Child Abduction case in the Eastern District of New York.  The children and their mother fled a closed religious community in Guatemala to escape physical and psychological abuse, including child marriage.  The father’s legal efforts to return the children to the community were dismissed last week, and the children are now able to remain in New York with their mother. Professor Baum worked with the Children’s Law Center and Wilkie Farr & Gallagher to obtain a dismissal of the case, Teller v. Helbrans.
On November 12, Professor Baum appeared on the PIX11 morning television show to explain the DACA case in the Supreme Court.  Professor Baum reviewed the claims and possible outcomes in the case, and provided background on so-called Dreamers, who were brought to this country as children only to learn as they grew up that they lacked lawful status.  The DACA program provided Dreamers with relief from deportation; three lower courts have found that the Trump administration’s termination of the program was unlawful. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning DACA on November 12.
November 10, 2019

Boyle Presents at Church Forum

Professor Robin Boyle presented at the Garden City Community Church, Sunday Forum, on Sunday, November 3, 2019.


Her topic was, “The Aftermath of the ‘Sex Cult’ Trial and Potential Remedies.”  Professor Boyle described the multi-week trial of Keith Raniere, which took place in the federal courts in the Eastern District of New York last spring.  Mr. Raniere ran a purported self-help organization, called Nxivm, which was headquartered outside of Albany, NY, and with multiple centers.  He was convicted on all seven charged counts, including human trafficking and racketeering.  He awaits sentencing.  Professor Boyle’s presentation drew lessons from the testimony of the witnesses, press articles, and a recent lecture at St. John’s law school by the U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue.  She also presented legal strategies that may be used against other high demand groups.  The Garden City News published an article on November 1 highlighting Professor Boyle‘s talk.  Several members of the St. John’s community attended the presentation.

November 9, 2019

Greenberg Presents at International Online Dispute Resolution Conference

On October 30, Professor Elayne Greenberg co-presented with Noam Ebner “Strengthening ODR Justice” at the International Online Dispute Resolution Conference, sponsored by the National Center for State Courts, in Williamsburg Virginia.


The presentation explored why lawyers, as justice stakeholders, have been conspicuously eliminated from the design, implementation and delivery of court-connected ODR services, at the expense of compromising the quality of ODR justice outcomes. Professor Greenberg and Ebner then suggested constructive strategies for courts and ODR designers to engage lawyers in the delivery of ODR justice. A special thanks to John Inzetta for helping to design the props used for this presentation.

The presentation was based on Professor Greenberg’s co-authored article with Noam Ebner, “Strengthening ODR Justice.” The article has been accepted for publication in the Spring 2020 edition of Washington University’s Journal of Law & Policy.

Here is the abstract:

This paper adopts a systems-design approach to focus courts and lawyers on the hitherto unexamined question of how involving lawyers in the design, development, and implementation of online dispute resolution (ODR) programs, will strengthen ODR justice outcomes and court-delivered justice overall.

Behind the scenes of every courthouse in the United States today, justice system professionals are grappling with the same set of basic questions: how to get by on fewer resources, how to cope with the access to justice crisis, and how to provide better justice outcomes. To help solve these justice problems, courts have begun to appreciate technology’s potential to streamline processes, increase access, and reduce costs. Indeed, over the course of the past few years, courts across the United States have been designing and piloting online dispute resolution (ODR) systems. We are currently at a tipping point, at which court ODR, at once a new approach to caseflow management and a court-implemented alternative to litigation, is poised to become the default justice process in an increasing number of jurisdictions.

While court administrators, judges, ODR experts and the public have all been involved in the process of conceptualizing, designing, and implementing ODR systems in courts, one key stakeholder in the justice system has been conspicuously absent from the table: the legal profession. In the development of some ODR systems, lawyers have been excluded; in the design of other ODR systems, the lawyers, themselves have chosen to be absent from the design process. The result of this lack of lawyer involvement is that many of these court-annexed ODR systems effectively design lawyers out of the legal process itself. This has deep implications for the very nature of the procedural and substantive justice disputants will experience and receive in the ODR-infused court system. In this paper, we show how constructive engagement by and with the legal profession, with an eye towards justice rather than professional protectionism, can improve justice in Court ODR.

November 9, 2019

Lazaro Presents at the PIABA Annual Conference and is Appointed to the FINRA Investor Issues Committee

At the end of October, during the PIABA Annual Meeting, Professor Christine Lazaro completed her term as president of PIABA.

Christine Lazaro

Professor Lazaro also presented on two panels at the conference.  On the first, “Broker-Dealer Standards of Conduct,” Professor Lazaro discussed the SEC’s recently adopted Regulation Best Interest and its impact on broker standards of conduct. She also wrote an article for the panel entitled, “An Overview of the Regulation Best Interest Rule Package.”  On the second panel, “Business Development Companies and Product Cases,” Professor Lazaro described the regulation of business development companies and common claims that may be made by investors who have been put into these products.  She also submitted an article for this panel, “Business Development Companies – The Basics.”  Finally, Professor Lazaro moderated the panel, “Review of FINRA DR Activities and Developments in 2019,” which included FINRA Executive Vice President and Director of Dispute Resolution Richard Berry.

Professor Lazaro has also been appointed to the FINRA Investor Issues Advisory Committee.

FINRA describes the committee as follows:

The Investor Issues Committee is composed of subject matter experts, including academics, consumer advocates, former securities regulators, institutional investors and individuals affiliated with non-broker-dealer asset management firms. The committee advises FINRA staff on matters that significantly affect individual and institutional investors, including proposed rulemaking, policy initiatives and other issues, and to help inform FINRA’s economic analysis from the perspective of investors. In addition, the committee routinely reviews rule proposals and regulatory initiatives before they are brought before the FINRA Board.

November 8, 2019

Barrett Lectures on the U.S. Supreme Court and Other Topics at Numerous Venues

Professor John Q. Barrett has delivered several lectures and participated in numerous events since last summer, including:

On September 17, 2019, he was the Constitution Day speaker at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park, NY, discussing presidential power under the United States Constitution and during F.D.R.’s presidency.


Professor Barrett in conversation with Jeffrey Urbin of the FDR Library

On September 24, Professor Barrett met at St. John’s University’s Manhattan campus with teachers and students from Tønder Handelsskole in Tonder, Denmark, for a discussion of U.S. law and government.

On October 6, he spoke at the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove, New York, introducing and then speaking after a screening of the film “Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz,” Nuremberg chief prosecutor of the Einsatzgruppen Case.

On October 16, Professor Barrett spoke on “U.S. Supreme Court, October Term 2018:  The Court of ‘We’re Not Politically Pre-Committed!’,” at a Federal Bar Association program at the U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip, NY.  His fellow lecturers were the Hon. A. Kathleen Tomlinson, Hon. Steven I. Locke, and attorneys James M. Wicks, Marjorie Mesidor, and Ana Shields.

On October 29, Professor Barrett spoke on “U.S. Supreme Court, October Term 2018,” in a program on “Recent Significant Decisions and Developments from Our Highest Appellate Courts,” held at the Queens County Bar Association in Queens, NY.  His fellow lecturers were the Hon. Alan D. Scheinkman ‘75, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, New York State Supreme Court; Spiros A. Tsimbinos, Esq.; Karl E. Pflanz, Deputy Chief Court Attorney, Second Department; and Paul Shechtman, partner in Bracewell LLP and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School.  For a press report, click here.

barrett 3

L-R:  Spiros Tsimbinos, Prof. Barrett (speaking), & Karl Pflanz

October 24, 2019

Greenberg Presents at AALS ADR Conference

On October 4, Professor Elayne E. Greenberg presented her paper “Erasing Race in Plea Bargaining” at the 13th Annual AALS ADR Section Works-in-Progress Conference hosted by the UNLVBoyd School of Law and the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution.   

Here is the Abstract:


This paper prescribes debiasing reforms for the plea bargaining process to help mitigate the racialized presumption of guilt that deprives African American male defendants of their justice rights.

Despite our criminal justice system’s guarantees of “justice for all” and “innocent until proven guilty,”  African American male defendants know too well that these guarantees don’t apply to them. Even though this “presumption of innocence” is a legal right and a human right, the data shows that African American male defendants suffer a racialized presumption of guilt in every part of the criminal system, including in the plea bargaining process. Today, upwards of 97% of criminal cases are resolved by plea bargaining. However, because of the racialized presumption of guilt against African American male defendants,  African American male defendants who plea bargain in state criminal courts are more likely to be presumed guilty, even when factually innocent. Furthermore, those African American male defendants who are guilty of a crime and opt to plea bargain, are often penalized with harsher outcomes because of their race. The status quo must change.

This racialized presumption of guilt is anchored in our country’s deep, racially discriminatory roots that built a society, an economy and a criminal justice system on slavery. Even though we may explicitly reject and be appalled by our country’s historical discriminatory conduct, we may still internalize  as implicit biases the racially discriminatory messages that are communicated in the media and broader culture. These racially implicit biases also influence the prosecutors and defense attorneys who are the primary legal actors in plea bargaining. Thus, although prosecutors and defense attorneys many not be explicitly biased, they are still prone to unconsciously regard African American men as dangerous, aggressive, likely to use weapons and prone to criminality. Such implicit bias contaminates every aspect of the plea bargaining process from the evidence relied upon, the severity of the initial charges and the final sentencing agreement. This implicit bias infects defendants and prosecutors alike as well as the justice organizations that employ them.

This paper expands the scholarship about plea bargaining by “naming the elephant in the room” and tackling how to mitigate the implicit racial bias in plea bargaining. In doing so, the author integrates the work of cognitive behavioral psychologists, anti-racism educators, dispute system designers, negotiation scholars and criminal justice reformers and recommends organizational and individual debiasing strategies to erase race from plea bargaining. Combined, the recommendations will: provide legal actors involved in plea bargaining with the skills to manage their racialized implicit biases; establish a more deliberative plea bargaining process in which there is a sharing of objective information to minimize the reactive decision making that evokes implicit racial bias;  and  help implement procedural safeguards to check the prosecutorial discretion that may be applied in a racialized way. District attorneys’ offices, public defenders’ organizations and the prosecutors and defense attorneys that work within these organizations are the primary legal actors who  not only control plea bargaining, but also have the power to enact these prescribed reforms.

The ultimate goal of the proposed reforms is to ensure that African American male defendants reclaim their right to be “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

October 22, 2019

Salomone Publishes Commentary on South African Constitutional Court’s Historic Ruling on Language

Professor Rosemary Salomone published a commentary on the South African Constitutional Court’s recent ruling in the case against Stellenbosch University, “Court Moves Beyond the Past in Favouring English,” in the October 19th issue of University World News.

Rosemary Salomone

This is the last of a trilogy of cases that Professor Salomone has examined in which the Court has addressed language policies, favoring English over Afrikaans, adopted in the wake of student protests in 2015 and 2016 to “decolonialize” higher education and offer instruction in English, which black students view as the language of liberation and opportunity. Here she notes that over the course of the three decisions, the Court has shifted toward an increasingly inclusive and less politically charged multilingual narrative placing Afrikaans on a plane with other African languages, without forgetting the wrongs of the past. She further notes that, given the deep-seated tradition of Afrikaans at Stellenbosch and the role that Afrikaans played, both real and symbolic, in maintaining racial exclusion under apartheid, the Court’s decision diminishing Afrikaans’ present-day relevance is historic not just for the university, but for South Africa.
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