December 08, 2011
Illinois Law Professor Attacked in Alleged Hate Crime
The description of the terrible and terrifying event from Paul Caron:
University of Illinois College of Law Tax Prof Dhammika Dharmapala suffered severe knife wounds in a racially motivated attack while awaiting a train to Chicago early Wednesday morning. From the Illinois News-Gazette:
Joshua Scaggs, 23, has been charged with attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery alleging he slashed the throat of Anurudha Udeni Dhammika Dharmapala, 41, of Champaign. He is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law specializing in law and economics, tax policy, public economy, and political economy. ...
A male witness told police the men were both seated in the waiting area when one man suddenly jumped up and shouted that this was his country and attacked Dharmapala. The attacker, later identified as Scaggs, then grabbed Dharmapala around the neck and appeared to be choking him. He then forced the victim to the floor. The witness intervened by pulling the attacker off Dharmapala. The witness then noticed that the attacker was holding a utility knife and the victim was bleeding.
My prayers for Professor Dharmapala.
December 23, 2010
More Holiday Diversions with NGrams--Comparing Scholarly Legal Movements
March 28, 2008
Obama Repeatedly Invited to Join Chicago Tenure-Track Faculty
According to the University of Chicago Law School:
Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined.
March 08, 2008
Pakistani Lawyers Seek Release of Judges
Fresh from being released after four months in detention, Mr. Ahsan said the recent parliamentary elections were not enough proof that President Pervez Musharraf’s government was dedicated to democracy. He insisted that the next step had to be the release of the former chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was fired along with the rest of the Supreme Court during a state of emergency imposed by Mr. Musharraf on Nov. 3. Mr. Chaudhry and nine other justices remain under house arrest.
“Our struggle is to make Pakistan a state where the judiciary is independent, and what Musharraf did to the chief justice is an example of how under him no judge is ever independent,” Mr. Ahsan said to a crowd of lawyers who chanted for Mr. Musharraf’s resignation.
February 12, 2008
William & Mary President Resigns, Citing Conservative Political Pressure
News accounts note that two decisions by President Gene Nichol "riled conservative alumni and legislators":
Nichol's decisions to remove a brass cross from the college's Wren Chapel and, more recently, not to ban a campus appearance by the Sex Workers Art Show riled conservative alumni and legislators. One donor revoked a $10 million pledge, even though the cross was returned to permanent display.
Legislators called four members of the board of visitors to the capital Thursday for a public vetting before voting on their confirmation.
President Nichol writes:
From the statement by President Nichol:
I have made four decisions, or sets of decisions, during my tenure that have stirred ample controversy.
First, as is widely known, I altered the way a Christian cross was displayed in a public facility, on a public university campus, in a chapel used regularly for secular College events -- both voluntary and mandatory -- in order to help Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other religious minorities feel more meaningfully included as members of our broad community. The decision was likely required by any effective notion of separation of church and state. And it was certainly motivated by the desire to extend the College’s welcome more generously to all. We are charged, as state actors, to respect and accommodate all religions, and to endorse none. The decision did no more.
Second, I have refused, now on two occasions, to ban from the campus a program funded by our student-fee-based, and student-governed, speaker series. To stop the production because I found it offensive, or unappealing, would have violated both the First Amendment and the traditions of openness and inquiry that sustain great universities. It would have been a knowing, intentional denial of the constitutional rights of our students....
As the result of these decisions, the last sixteen months have been challenging ones for me and my family. A committed, relentless, frequently untruthful and vicious campaign -- on the internet and in the press -- has been waged against me, my wife and my daughters. It has been joined, occasionally, by members of the Virginia House of Delegates -- including last week’s steps by the Privileges and Elections Committee to effectively threaten Board appointees if I were not fired over decisions concerning the Wren Cross and the Sex Workers’ Art Show. That campaign has now been rendered successful. And those same voices will no doubt claim victory today....
I add only that, on Sunday, the Board of Visitors offered both my wife and me substantial economic incentives if we would agree “not to characterize [the non-renewal decision] as based on ideological grounds” or make any other statement about my departure without their approval. Some members may have intended this as a gesture of generosity to ease my transition. But the stipulation of censorship made it seem like something else entirely. We, of course, rejected the offer. It would have required that I make statements I believe to be untrue and that I believe most would find non-credible. I’ve said before that the values of the College are not for sale. Neither are ours....
Hat tip: Brian Leiter, who as usual is on top of the threat to constitutional values implicated here.
What is the proper name for political correctness when exerted by wealthy alumni and state legislators? And what obligation does a state educational institution have to uphold constitutional values such as free speech and separation of church and state? What would Thomas Jefferson say?
December 04, 2007
Ride at Your Own Risk (and only on basis of Tort system)
In December 2005, 9-year-old Fatima Cervantes and her 8-year-old brother boarded a Sizzler ride at a carnival in Austin, thrilled to climb into one of the candy-colored cars on rotating arms. But shortly after their blue car started whirling, Fatima slipped beneath the lap bar and was thrown onto the platform, where a metal arm crushed her head.
Since 1997, Sizzlers have been involved in at least four other deaths and dozens of injuries in the United States. Noting similarities in several accidents, a group of 25 state inspection chiefs requested in June that the ride's manufacturer, Wisdom Industries, take immediate measures to prevent "an unacceptable level of ejection risk."
Wisdom's owner did not immediately respond, but after a 6-year-old boy in Kentucky was flung from a Sizzler and struck in the head by whirling equipment in late July, the company recommended to operators that seat belts be added to the rides. It did not require that modification, however, and does not know how many of the 200 or so Sizzler rides in the United States now include the belts.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency responsible for regulating traveling carnival rides, has not required Wisdom or any other ride manufacturer to make safety improvements in the past eight years. After a meeting last year on the Sizzler's troubled safety record, the agency asked only that ride operators pay "greater attention to safety."
The CPSC has no employee whose full-time job is to ensure the safety of such rides. The agency's 90 field investigators -- who oversee 15,000 products, work from their homes and live mostly on the East Coast -- are so overstretched that they frequently arrive at carnival accident scenes after rides have been dismantled.
The question is whether the tort system will be a sufficient disciplinary force to achieve a level of safety acceptable to the American public--or whether one needs more direct federal regulatory mandates. Anecdotal news accounts such as this one suggest to me that the accident rate is entirely unacceptable (I would probably prefer a zero fatality rate), and that federal mandates might be necessary.
Hoary Legal Doctrines Under Attack
Felony Murder Rule:
Link: Serving Life for Providing Car to Killers - New York Times.
LA Times story.
September 28, 2007
Thomas Goldstein Offers S.Ct. Predictions
A nice round-up of cases by ScotUSBlog founder Thomas Goldstein.
September 25, 2007
Columbia Law Dean Criticizes Ahmadinejad Invite
An interesting rift has opened between Dean Schizer and his President, Lee Bollinger, also a law professor. Schizer offers a thoughtful critique of the invitation, and I personally side with him. (After all, there's no obligation to invite anyone; is there something that the Columbia community needed to hear from the Iranian President? There are a nearly endless supply of more informative alternatives.) Bollinger, of course, did much to parry his critics by his careful denunciation of Ahmadinejad delivered to his face. Active discussion at the WSJ blawg and at Above The Law.
September 12, 2007
UC Irvine Law School, Not Yet Birthed, Already Controversial
Just days after he signed a contract to become the first dean of UC Irvine's new law school, Erwin Chemerinsky was told this week that the deal was off because he was too "politically controversial."
Chemerinsky said in an interview today that UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake had flown to North Carolina on Tuesday and told him at a hotel near the airport that that he did not realize the extent to which there were "conservatives out to get me."
Chemerinsky, one of the nation's best known constitutional scholars and a professor at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said he signed a contract last week after being offered the job Aug. 16. He said he had lined up a board of advisors for the new school, including the deans of the UC Berkeley and University of Virginia law schools and three federal judges, including Andrew Guilford, a Bush appointee from Orange County.
Chemerinsky said he was saddened by the decision. "It would have been an exciting opportunity to start a new law school. We live in strange times."
Chemerinsky said that Drake told him during a meeting at the Sheraton Hotel near the Raleigh-Durham airport that the decision "had been difficult for him."
He said that "concerns" had emerged from the UC regents, which would have had to approve the appointment, Chemerinsky said. The professor said Drake told him that he thought there would have been a "bloody battle" among the regents over the appointment.
The chancellor's office said Drake was meeting with the university's communications office and was not immediately available for comment.
John Eastman, a conservative constitutional scholar and dean of Chapman University Law School in Orange, who frequently debates Chemerinsky, called UCI's move "a serious misstep."
Chemerinsky has been a professor at Duke since 2004, after 21 years at the USC law school and was one of the finalists for the dean's job at Duke last year, before the university chose David Levi, a federal judge in Sacramento, for the job.
Any law school in the country would have been lucky to land Chemerinsky as dean. A masterful scholar, a brilliant speaker, and a wise person, he would have especially important to an infant law school that needs all the wisdom it can gather.
Hat tip: Brian Leiter.
Update: The OC Register has more important details.
Update: Professor Chemerinsky reports that the UCI Chancellor reported that he there would be both a firestorm at the Regents and negative impact among potential (or current) benefactors. Both those claims, if true, are quite distressing. Do some of the Regents now employ an ideological litmus test? I can imagine some ideological commitments that might make it difficult to serve as a good Dean. For example, if the Dean denied the value of empirical scholarship, or doctrinal scholarship, or thought women, gays, or minorities inferior, or believed in the divine right of kings, there would be reason to doubt the wisdom of that choice. But Chemerinsky is simply an old fashioned liberal, like a good percentage of this country. His commitments are clearly to the Constitution and democracy. I find it hard to believe that the Regents would be so small minded and short-sighted. Would we cave to the demands of potential benefactors? The Regents should make it absolutely clear that contributions to the UC bring with them no control levers over the ideological make up of the system. That is the essence of what academic freedom is about, as Robert Post has reminded us. Again, it seems unlikely that the UC would cave to such demands. So both explanations fall short, in my opinion.