Law School News

Updated: 42 min 55 sec ago

Futterman: Without Police Oversight "We'll Be Having the Same Conversation After the Next Scandal"

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 09:36
Federal lawsuit seeks to force court oversight of Chicago police reform Dan Hinkel The Chicago Tribune June 14, 2017

The roughly 130-page lawsuit — which seeks class-action status — invokes police uses of force dating to the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the killing of Black Panther Fred Hampton in arguing that violence and racial discrimination remain structural features of the department to this day. The suit contends that police routinely beat, deploy Tasers on and shoot African-Americans and Latinos with the protection of a "code of silence" and little risk of discipline.

Though the suit seeks money for the individual plaintiffs, it is distinct from most litigation filed against police because it also seeks an injunction to force the department to adopt reforms. Those reforms are not fully specified in the lawsuit but would be hammered out if the litigation succeeds.

Indeed, the lawsuit's chief goal is an order empowering a judge to enforce reforms that could include those endorsed by the Obama administration's U.S. Department of Justice in its report from January criticizing Chicago police as badly trained, poorly supervised and prone to using excessive force, said Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor and a member of the plaintiffs' legal team.

Without court oversight, Futterman said, "We'll be having the same conversation after the next scandal."

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Faculty:  Craig B. Futterman

Craig Futterman on Police Reform Lawsuit: "This Is a Real Test for the Mayor"

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 09:30
Court oversight of Chicago police reforms sought in lawsuit Michael Tarm The Washington Post June 14, 2017

Several leading community groups, including a local Black Lives Matter organization, filed a class-action lawsuit against Chicago on Wednesday in a bid to bypass or even scuttle a draft agreement between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice that seeks to reform the nation’s second largest police force without federal court oversight.

The 132-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago argues that an overhaul of Chicago’s 12,000-officer force in the wake of a damning civil rights report in January can’t work without the intense scrutiny of a court-appointed monitor answerable to a judge.


Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor and one of the more than a dozen plaintiff attorneys involved in the legal action, said reports about the draft agreement — which he called “a backroom deal without any teeth” — influenced the decision to sue now.

“This is the community stepping up when the government refuses to act and when it has long been clear that the city is incapable of acting on its own,” he said.

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Faculty:  Craig B. Futterman

Craig Futterman on Police Reform Lawsuit: "Enter A Binding Agreement With Us Today"

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 09:26
Black Lives Matter Files Lawsuit to Force Chicago Police Reforms Amanda Vinicky Chicago Tonight June 14, 2017

“This is the same Jefferson Sessions who has demonstrated his lifelong hostility to the rights of black and brown folk,” said the plaintiff’s lead attorney, Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor and founder of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project at the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. “The ball is now in the mayor’s court. If Mayor Emanuel is committed to real change in Chicago, if the mayor is really committed to ending Chicago Police Department’s pattern and practice of civil rights violations, committed to ending the lack of police accountability that has caused so much harm to so many people (including the thousands of good officers who do their thing), he’s got to live up to his commitment. And that means: Enter a binding agreement with us today.”

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Faculty:  Craig B. Futterman

Daniel Hemel Explains the Case that Trump Committed Obstruction of Justice

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 09:13
The case that President Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice, explained Daniel Hemel Vox June 15, 2017

Special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating whether President Trump has committed obstruction of justice, the Washington Post reports. This news should shock precisely no one: Mueller’s mandatespecifically authorizes him to investigate obstruction of justice allegations arising out of his probe. But the report underscores the seriousness of the obstruction allegations against Trump — and the strength of the evidence already amassed.

In a nutshell, the case against President Trump consists of the following: The President intimated to then-FBI Director James Comey in February that Comey ought to shut down the bureau’s investigation of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. When Comey rebuffed him, President Trump sought to enlist Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats in an effort to stop the Flynn probe.

Making matters worse, President Trump then fired Comey and said publicly that the firing was related to the Russia investigation — a statement that might be interpreted as an implicit threat to Comey’s replacement that he should bring the probe to a halt if he wanted to keep his job. Whether or not any of these actions would amount to obstruction in isolation, they sum up to a course of conduct that might very well place President Trump on the wrong side of the criminal law.

Trump may be shielded from criminal indictment by virtue of his status as president, and he may remain shielded from impeachment by virtue of the fact that his own party controls both chambers of Congress. On the law, though, the argument that Trump is guilty of obstructing the FBI’s Flynn probe is quickly gathering steam.

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Faculty:  Daniel Hemel

Martha C. Nussbaum Interviewed on Hate and Gay Rights (in Korean)

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 14:08
Those who fear unwanted changes would seek victims who are like witches Ahn Hee Kyung Kyunghyang Shinmun June 12, 2017

2017년 서울국제여성영화제에서 주최한 청년여성 영상 제작 프로젝트에 대한민국의 20대 여성이 그들의 문제를 다룬 공동체영화 7편을 선보였다. 영화는 귀기울여주는 ‘안전한 관객’ 앞에서 가부장 사회에 대한 뜨거운 분노를 표현한다. 그들은 성적 불평등을 토로하는 데 있어 자신의 아버지라 해도 오빠라 해도 이 사회의 남성이 받아야 할 비난의 화살을 비켜갈 수 없다는 강한 분노를 드러냈다. 이렇듯 여성혐오 못지않게 남성혐오 또한 우리 사회 속에서 끓고 있다. 닭이 먼저냐 달걀이 먼저냐 할 것 없이 대립의 날이 날카로워진 상태다. 여기에 지난 대선토론에서 불 지펴졌고, 군 동성애자 색출 논란으로 사회문제화되고 있는 소수자에 대한 혐오는 더 이상 없는 척 덮어버리지 못하는 단계가 되었다. 세계 정세 또한 혐오정치가 기승을 부린다. 미국의 도널드 트럼프와 프랑스의 마린 르펜이 이민자 혐오로 대중을 편갈랐고, 수니파 극단주의 무장단체 이슬람국가(IS)가 동성애자를 처형하며 권력 강화에 나섰다. 약자는 언제까지 ‘나중에, 다음에’라는 약속에 가만히 있어야 할까?

21세기를 대표하는 세계의 지성 중 한 명인 법철학자 마사 누스바움(70)을 지난달 9일 만나 인터뷰했다. 누스바움은 노벨 경제학상 수상자인 아마티아 센과 함께 국내총생산(GDP)이 아닌 인간의 행복에 주목하는 ‘역량이론’을 창시했다. 현대사회에서 작동하고 있는 다양한 혐오의 본질을 추적하며 사회구조가 삶의 존엄을 지켜낼 수 있는 방향은 무엇인지 함께 짚어봤다.

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Faculty:  Martha C. Nussbaum

Eric Posner and Daniel Hemel: "Meta-Obstruction of Justice"

Tue, 06/13/2017 - 09:41
Meta-Obstruction of Justice Eric Posner and Daniel Hemel June 13, 2017

Can a President be guilty of obstruction of justice for firing a special counsel who is investigating whether the President committed obstruction of justice?

The question might not be hypothetical. A friend of the President, Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy, told PBS NewsHour Monday evening that Trump is “perhaps considering terminating the special counsel.” Ruddy reportedly reiterated that view in a text message to the Washington Post.

As a constitutional matter, Trump would probably have to direct the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, to do the firing. If Rosenstein refused, then President Trump could fire Rosenstein. Ultimately, he could almost certainly find someone at the Justice Department (or elsewhere in his Cabinet) who would issue the order to terminate Mueller, though this might require a few more firings along the way.

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Faculty:  Eric A. Posner Faculty:  Daniel Hemel

The Washington Post on Stephanopoulos's Efficiency Gap

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 13:11
Supreme Court could tackle partisan gerrymandering in watershed case Robert Barnes The Washington Post June 12, 2017

Whitford and his fellow plaintiffs asked the Wisconsin court to use a new approach to gauge how Republican mapmakers hurt Democrats with the main tools of gerrymandering: “packing” and “cracking.” These refer to packing like-minded voters, such as supporters of the same party, into a limited number of districts or cracking their influence by scattering them across districts in numbers too small to make an impact.

University of Chicago law professor Nicholas O. Stephanopoulos and his political scientist colleague Eric McGhee, of the Public Policy Institute of California, called their theory the “efficiency gap.” Under their approach, every voter packed into a district above the threshold needed to elect a candidate from his party creates a “surplus” vote. And someone in a cracked district, who votes for a candidate that is unable to win, is a “lost” vote. Surplus and lost votes are considered wasted votes.

The efficiency gap measures the difference between the wasted votes of the two parties in an election divided by the total number of votes cast. In an ideal scenario, where individual votes have as much impact as possible, the efficiency gap would be zero. The gap in Wisconsin was 13.3 percent in 2012.

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Faculty:  Nicholas Stephanopoulos

Los Angeles Review of Books: "Sex and the Constitution" is "Titillating and Humorous"

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 12:51
A “Christian Nation” with an Enlightenment Constitution Alyson Claire Decker Los Angeles Review of Books June 10, 2017

UNLIKE THE BOOKS usually prescribed for Constitutional Law classes, Geoffrey R. Stone’s Sex and the Constitution is rather titillating and humorous. From descriptions of ancient Greek dildos to a charming story of Supreme Court law clerks having to describe, out loud, the erotic films that were being screened in preparation for various obscenity cases to Justice Harlan, who was losing his eyesight, there is something for everyone — including the legal practitioner, the history buff, and the casual reader. The vivid descriptions of hard-core pornography can become tiresome, though, and even detract from the focus of the book: the application of the Constitution to “sex” laws.

Sex and the Constitution is divided into two sections. The first deals with the history of how we have celebrated, condemned, and attempted to control sex and sexual expression from the Ancient Greeks to the legacy of Anthony Comstock (more on him later). The second half focuses on the real question posed by the book: how has the Constitution, which says nothing expressly about sexual rights and freedoms, become the primary method by which reproductive and homosexual rights are established and protected in the United States? One might ask why Stone spends so much time exploring the sexual norms of ancient civilizations and early America, but it is precisely because the Constitution does not enumerate sexual rights that historical context has become increasingly relevant. In fact, multiple Supreme Court justices have turned as far back as antiquity to ground their decisions in historical and traditional cultural precedents.

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Faculty:  Geoffrey R. Stone

The Atlantic Dives Deep Into Rappaport's Work on How Insurers Can Influence Police

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 12:27
How Insurance Companies Can Force Bad Cops Off the Job Rachel B. Doyle The Atlantic June 10, 2017

While much attention has been paid to the issue of police misconduct —with 14 cities pursuing consent decrees with the Department of Justice—what is less well known is how liability insurers can put a private-sector spin on reform, by demanding structural changes in the police departments that they cover. In April, a paper by the University of Chicago law professor John Rappaport detailed the effects these companies have had on police forces across America.

In Wisconsin, for instance, an insurer in 2002 recommended new training and supervision of SWAT teams in the Lake Winnebago area in the aftermath of two botched drug raids. In 2010, a police chief in Rutledge, Tennessee, was fired to appease the town’s liability insurer after assault allegations were leveled against him. In many other states, police forces have been asked to adopt new policies regarding body cameras, strip searches, and use of force.

Although an outside company exerting influence on local police may not seem compatible with good governance, there are hidden advantages to insurers’ monitoring police departments and suggesting improvements. For one, insurance companies are apolitical. “I think the debates about policing have become so fraught and so inflammatory,” Rappaport told me. “To have this big, well-heeled institution saying, ‘We’re not interested in that debate, we just want to get those numbers down’—it can make reform more palatable because it takes the electricity out.”

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Faculty:  John Rappaport

Eric Posner: Alleged FBI Interference Unlikely to be Resolved in Court, "Ultimate Remedy is Political"

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 10:09
Democrats underestimate legal hurdles to bringing down Trump David J Lynch, Sam Fleming and Demetri Sevastopulo Financial Times June 9, 2017

The former FBI director on Thursday told the Senate intelligence committee that he is “sure” that special counsel Robert Mueller is considering whether the president obstructed justice by asking Mr Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn. 

For Senator Cory Booker, who tweeted that Mr Comey “established a foundation” for charging the president with a crime, that raised the prospect of using legal means to hold the president accountable. 

But the controversy over Mr Trump’s alleged interference in an FBI investigation is unlikely to be resolved in court. “The ultimate remedy is political,” says Eric Posner, a constitutional law specialist at the University of Chicago.

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Faculty:  Eric A. Posner

Eric Posner: Comey's Testimony Strengthened the Case for Obstruction

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 10:00
Is Trump closer to obstruction of justice? Joel Gunter BBC June 9, 2017

Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, also said that Mr Comey's oral testimony had changed the legal picture.

"Comey may not have added specific pieces of information, but the way he presented himself and consistency of his account, and the coherency of the account, all of these things are important," he said.

"In his oral testimony, he made it clearer that he believed Trump was trying to obstruct justice. He said that when Trump used the word hope, he understood that to be a command of some sort, and that strengthens the case for obstruction.

"It was a borderline case before, now it is somewhat stronger."

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Faculty:  Eric A. Posner

Eric Posner on Whether the President Can Commit the Crime of Obstruction of Justice

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 09:53
Can the President Commit the Crime of Obstruction of Justice? Eric Posner June 9, 2017

Alan Dershowitz says no:

The president can, as a matter of constitutional law, direct the attorney general, and his subordinate, the director of the FBI, tell them what to do, whom to prosecute and whom not to prosecute. Indeed, the president has the constitutional authority to stop the investigation of any person by simply pardoning that person.

His argument is that the obstruction of justice statutes can’t apply to the president because the president possesses the constitutional authority to stop an investigation—by issuing an order to the attorney general or FBI director, by firing them if they do not obey the order, or by pardoning the person under investigation. Any interpretation of the obstruction of justice statute that blocked this authority would violate the Constitution. (Dershowitz agrees that Congress can impeach the president for obstruction of justice but only because impeachment is a political process; on this, see below.)

This argument is superficially appealing but I don’t think it’s right. To see why, imagine that Congress passes a statute that says (for example): “the president may not order the FBI director to stop an investigation of the president or any other executive branch official.” If Dershowitz is right, this statute would violate the Constitution and be struck down by a court.

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Faculty:  Eric A. Posner

Daniel Hemel: "Comey’s Testimony Strengthened the Case that President Trump Obstructed Justice"

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 09:49
Comey’s testimony strengthened the case that President Trump obstructed justice Daniel Hemel Vox June 9, 2017

“I take the president at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. But he specifically declined to say, during his much-anticipated testimony, whether President Trump’s request that the bureau back off its investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn rises to the level of obstruction of justice.

Still, Comey’s testimony, as well as the written statement that preceded it and the testimony of other intelligence chiefs a day earlier, bring us closer to determining whether President Trump has committed obstruction. In a nutshell: The case that President Trump has violated federal criminal law is substantially stronger than it was at the beginning of the week, though it is still not open-and-shut.

And while the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal—“high Crimes and Misdemeanors”—is much disputed, there is widespread agreement that the phrase encompasses the crime of obstruction.

Trump may be shielded from criminal indictment by virtue of his status as president, and he may remain shielded from impeachment by virtue of the fact that his own party controls both chambers of Congress. On the law, though, the argument that Trump is guilty of obstructing the FBI’s Flynn probe is quickly gathering steam.

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Faculty:  Daniel Hemel

Geoffrey Stone on Axelrod Podcast "The Axe Files"

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 10:42
Geoffrey Stone on Axelrod Podcast "The Axe Files" David Axelrod The Axe Files June 8, 2017

Geoffrey Stone, University of Chicago law professor and author, speaks with David Axelrod about his impressions of his former law school student, James Comey; the likelihood that Roe v. Wade will be overturned in President Trump's term and the consequences that would have for the country; and what surprised him when he served on a panel appointed by President Obama to make recommendations on oversight matters within the National Security Agency.

Your browser does not support the audio tag.

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Faculty:  Geoffrey R. Stone

From Kapnick to Graduation: Class of '17 on How Close Bonds Born on a Ropes Course Shaped Them

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 08:43
Becky Beaupre Gillespie Law School Communications June 8, 2017

Some members of the Class of 2017 still chuckle when they remember the start of law school: the improv exercises and public speaking drills, the classroom sessions on personal warmth and nonverbal social cues, and—perhaps most memorably—the day they spent in the woods with their classmates, navigating balance-beam courses, passing one another through giant rope webs, and working together to crowd onto a tiny wood platform. Theirs was the first class to participate in the Kapnick Leadership Development Initiative, an intensive eight-module program designed to hone the communication, teamwork, and self-assessment skills that have become essential in today’s legal workplace.

Going in, most of the students had no idea what to expect. The Law School was the first of its peers to launch a leadership development program of this magnitude.

“I really thought it was going to be a bunch of trust-fall nonsense,” Kaitlin Beck, ’17, said, remembering her initial reaction to the program, a partnership with the University’s Booth School of Business that was the result of a $2 million gift to the two schools by Scott, JD/MBA ’85, and Kathleen Kapnick, ’84. “But I’m really glad you asked about it because Kapnick, as it turned out, was extraordinarily influential.”

The Class of 2017, like every group of Law School graduates, can’t be defined in any one way; they have diverse personalities, backgrounds, and legal aspirations. But as with every class, they are bound, too, by common experience and shaped by their time and place in both Law School and national history. 

The Class of 2017 were students under three deans: Michael H. Schill, now the president of the University of Oregon, Geoffrey R. Stone, a former dean who served as interim dean, and Thomas J. Miles, who took office in the fall of their 2L year. They saw the addition of new programs, including the Innovation Clinic, the Jenner & Block Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic, and the Hopi Law Practicum, and they were students during a time of intense national discussion about weighty issues like free speech on campus, same-sex marriage, and the ways in which police interact with communities of color. They were second-year students when President Barack Obama visited the Law School.

But when members of the Class of 2017 talk about the most formative non-academic parts of law school, many immediately mention their classmates—the debates that were as collegial as they were intense, the student organizations that shaped them into stronger leaders and better teammates, and the bonds that were born during that inaugural session of the Kapnick Initiative.

“I’ve made friends I’ll keep the rest of my life,” said Sai Yarramalla, ’17. “And it’s not just a core group—it’s a large group of people. And I think some of this has to do with Kapnick. Our class is really close.”

Recently, five members of the graduating class, Josephine Oshiafi, Richard Deulofeut-Manzur, Beck, Yarramalla, and Neha Nigam, shared a few thoughts about how they’ve grown as leaders, thinkers, and collaborators in the past three years—and how their fellow students contributed to the experience.

Josephine Oshiafi: ‘I don’t want to be content to be a passerby in the world’

In the late summer of 2015, just before the start of her second year, Oshiafi joined a small group of fellow students in South Haven, Michigan, for a Black Law Students Association retreat. The getaway was designed to introduce prospective BLSA members to the organization, and Oshiafi—who had left her home country of Nigeria to study economics and finance at Illinois College before coming to the Law School—was the organization’s new vice president.

It was, as Oshiafi remembers, a “glorious weekend,” a time of bonding and personal growth set against a poignant backdrop: the rise of the Black Lives Matters movement and increased national conversation about policing and implicit racial bias.

“It was critical for us to explore themes of what it means to be black, what it means to be a unified black body, and also to explore themes of struggle that the black community faces,” she said.

Oshiafi herself was growing, coming more and more into her own as a leader and a teammate.

“In your 2L year, you really begin to step into the larger Law School body, and that’s when Kapnick probably really does help because (it teaches you to) check yourself, to step back and learn about who a person is before making a judgment,” Oshiafi said.  

And she did just that, reminding herself to approach people and decisions openly and thoughtfully. As a BLSA officer, she aimed to be a servant leader. “You have to understand that it’s not about you,” she said. “You don’t embody the organization.”

When she entered law school, she’d vowed to try as many things as possible, which meant engaging with BLSA and other organizations, honing her transactional skills with the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab, and building her advocacy skills with the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.

Ultimately, Oshiafi, who will be working as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb in New York, developed a greater clarity about who she is and what she hopes to accomplish as a lawyer. She feels more deeply connected to her heritage, and she’s learned that she can be many things, both as an African woman and as a lawyer. Much in the way that she pursued both transactional and advocacy work in law school, she plans to incorporate pro bono work into her practice. Some day she hopes to run a nonprofit that focuses on serving the needs of the African diaspora around the world.

“I learned that I don’t want to be content as a passerby in the world,” she said. “I think that lawyers are really called to a unique service. I think the education we get is very empowering, and we speak a language that not many other people know or understand. I think it’s a gift and blessing that I know I can’t waste.”

Sai Yarramalla: ‘I’m more vocal about my ideas because I know I can offer value.’

Yarramalla had been drawn to the Law School in part because of the size. He’d earned his undergraduate degree in economics from Texas Tech University, which has about 36,000 students, and he loved the thought of knowing everyone in his law school class.

But knowing everyone doesn’t automatically make it easier to speak up, and one of the things the Kapnick Initiative taught Yarramalla is that he has tendency to hold back—and that his natural reservation can make him appear under-confident. And so right from the start, he decided to push back against his own inclinations and deliberately seek out opportunities to present his ideas.

He began volunteering more in class, and he forged close relationships with a wide variety of classmates and professors, not just the people he saw in class. He took on leadership positions, including serving as the president of the South Asian Law Students Association, mentoring undergraduate pre-law students, and serving two years as treasurer of the Criminal Law Society.

“I’m not sure I would have done that otherwise,” Yarramalla said. “Just being aware that I needed to improve led me to make a conscious effort. Now I’m more vocal about my ideas because I know I can offer value.”

Last summer, when he was working as a summer associate at McGuireWoods in Chicago, a mentor complimented Yarramalla on his willingness to share his perspective.

“I really like that you have stated an opinion when you’re writing these memos,” the mentor told Yarramalla, who will join the firm as a corporate attorney focusing on debt finance. “A lot of people are afraid to do that.”

During law school, Yarramalla also made it a point to take four MBA-level classes at Booth—Real Estate Investments I and II, Taxes and Business Strategy, and Behavioral Finance—as well as Corporate Entrepreneurial Finance, which is offered at the Law School as part of the Doctoroff Business Leadership Program.

“Clients want lawyers who understand the business side of things,” he said. “I’ve been trying to work on that. I have an undergrad degree in business, but I wanted to build upon that. I think it will be invaluable to me in my career to be able to understand what the clients are doing so I can give them better legal advice.”

His efforts to be more vocal helped him to excel in his Booth classes, where he became increasingly comfortable with leadership roles. And in all of his classes, he felt the benefit of having classmates who were willing to speak up, too.

“I knew that people would be smart and would bring all these different perspectives and backgrounds to the classroom,” he said. “But it’s really amazing how much value that can add to your learning experience. That was the biggest surprise of law school—and a particularly pleasant one.”

Kaitlin Beck: ‘I’m comfortable knowing there are few things in life with concrete answers.’

Professor Emily Buss made a comment once that Beck never forgot. It was 1L year, right before the review period in Civil Procedure, and Buss was imparting wisdom that applied both in law and in life.

“She said we had to be comfortable with uncertainty and not knowing,” Beck said. “At the time, I was like, ‘Sure, sure,’ and of course I immediately wrote it down.”

Beck erupted into laughter at the memory. She is, by her own admission, a classic perfectionist; uncertainty never really has been her thing. But she gets Buss’s point now, and she’s taken it to heart.

“Now I’m comfortable knowing that there are few things in life with concrete answers,” she said. It took going through “the gauntlet of classes and Law Review and student orgs” to learn it, though.

Beck’s Law School experience was a tapestry of illuminating experiences and hard-fought wins. She served as the managing online editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, played Clinical Professor Alison Siegler in the 2015 Law School Musical, and traveled to Zimbabwe and Tunisia with the International Human Rights Clinic. During her second year, she led what was then known as Law Students for Reproductive Justice during a year of record-breaking fundraising and community-improvement efforts, celebrating when the chapter won a top award from their national organization. (LSRJ is now known as If, When, How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice.) During her third year, she participated in the Edward W. Hinton Moot Court Competition—and, along with her finalist partner Joe Egozi, ’17, won.

She got through all of it, she said, because of her classmates. They were the ones who spent hours helping her prepare for each round of moot court, and the ones who weren’t afraid to engage in heated debates in the Green Lounge, the journals office, or backstage at the Musical.

“I feel very privileged to be in an environment where I can have those intense discussions with people,” she said. “It’s always cordial, and I know they don’t think I’m a terrible person for having a different viewpoint. I don’t think we shift each other’s views, but it’s always good to put a face to the other side of the argument.”

Her classmates also were the reason she blocked out time for fun, whether it was spending five to seven hours per week preparing for the Law School Musical or making sure she never missed a pub night with the Bigelow section-mates she’d met during Kapnick.

“That’s what I mean when I say Kapnick was extraordinarily influential,” Beck said. Early in her first year, her Bigelow section—which participated in Kapnick under the team name Lafontant—began meeting every Monday at the University Pub. The tradition continued all three years. The group even celebrated bachelorette parties for three of their members, dubbing them “Butterette” parties in honor of the butter-yellow t-shirts her team wore during Kapnick.

“It has been one of the most important things I’ve done for my mental health in law school,” said Beck, who was part of a core group with near-perfect pub night attendance.

Each week, the pub group took the same circular table in the back, thanks to a standing reservation they made after showing up one Monday to find another group occupying their spot. Occasionally professors joined them: Buss has gone, and so have Richard McAdams, Daniel Hemel, and former Lecturer Ryan Doerfler, their Bigelow instructor. Jonathan Masur has visited multiple times.

It’s the close relationships with classmates and faculty that make the difference in law school, Beck said, noting that it's something she tried to impart to her own team when she became a Kapnick facilitator. Recently, she saw the section she’d mentored meeting for their own pub night, and she felt a twinge of full-circle satisfaction.

Beck, who will clerk for Judge Sheryl H. Lipman of the US District Court for Western Tennessee and then pursue public interest fellowships, said she’s more confident and assertive, and less risk-averse, than when she started law school.

“It’s been valuable to be surrounded by people who are always excelling and to realize that they’re my peers,” she said. “We have a really supportive community here, and people really are invested in seeing each other succeed.”

Richard Deulofeut-Manzur: ‘My calendar is now a wall of colorful blocks.’

Deulofeut-Manzur was sitting in his office at his summer law firm in June 2015 when the news broke: the US Supreme Court had just declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right in a 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Deulofeut-Manzur, then the incoming president of Outlaw, printed Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion and read it at his desk.

“I remember such a feeling of celebration,” he said. “I didn’t agree with all the legal analysis, but it was definitely something to see the tangible results of what the law can do.”

But the exciting news also provided an unexpected leadership challenge. “It was a very interesting time to be serving because same-sex marriage had been the big legal movement of the LGBT community for a decade or more,” Deulofeut-Manzur said. “So the real challenge for our organization was, ‘How do we pivot from here?’ That’s a conversation that is still happening at a national level. It was a moment of celebration and a moment of reflection.”

That fall, the Dean of Students Office brought Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, a Ropes & Gray partner who had argued part of Obergefell, to the Law School speak. Outlaw took the lead on planning the event, and the group spent much of the rest of that year exploring the immediate aftermath of the landmark decision.

Deulofeut-Manzur continued to find leadership opportunities throughout his three years, also serving as the jobs chair for the Federalist Society, the president of the Texas Law Society, the treasurer for the Latino/a Law Students Association, and a member of the Edmund Burke Society. His experience with Kapnick had given him advantages in two ways: by fostering the connections with his classmates and by highlighting the importance of making a good first impression.

Now, as he prepares to head first to a clerkship with Delaware Bankruptcy Judge Christopher S. Sontchi and then to a job with Haynes & Boone in Dallas, he can see the ways in which he’s grown. His arguments are clearer, his leadership skills are sharper, and he can manage hefty workloads.

“Law school is a ratcheting up of responsibilities, and you get the most out of your experience when you are on top of everything that you’re doing,” he said. “You have to recognize how much time you have and how can you budget it, while also trying to have fun and get to know your colleagues. My calendar is now a wall of colorful blocks and that’s totally fine.”

Neha Nigam: ‘I have a better sense of who I am and who I can aspire to be.’

Neha Nigam was sold on the Kapnick Initiative from the moment she arrived at the Law School.

“I think a lot of my peers were hesitant,” she said with a laugh, “but I saw the words ‘ropes course’ and I was like, ‘I want to do it again and again and again.’”

And, in fact, she did—serving as a Kapnick facilitator during both her second and third years.

As a first-year student, Kapnick provided a solid foundation, illuminating for her the importance of having warm interpersonal skills as well as competence.

“That was really important for me because in law school you interact with so many intelligent people, incredibly competent people—and sometimes you can feel a little bit of the Imposter Syndrome,” Nigam said. “It was a good reminder that it is important to not only have competence but to be warm. You think, Does your personality really matter? It does.”

Through Kapnick, Nigam refined her teamwork skills—which she also built working as part of the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab and the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship—and learned effective conflict management. She worked to assess her own tendencies, comfort zones, and strengths. She learned to invest time in thinking things through.

“We’re so focused on being efficient as lawyers—we want to make quick decisions and say, ‘Yes, this is a good idea,’ or ‘No, this isn’t,’ but I’ve learned how rewarding it can be to be open-minded,” Nigam said. “All the modules we have really make you think about your purpose, who you are as a person, and how you deal with issues. That’s really helped me—I have a better sense of who I am and who I can aspire to be.”

On her first go-round as a facilitator, Nigam focused on helping the first-year students develop their own leadership skills, which sometimes meant pausing to evaluate whether her own approach was resonating. Sometimes she would catch herself deciding too quickly, or her fellow facilitators would encourage her to consider another perspective.

“I’d stop and think, ‘Is that really what I should be doing? Should I think about things a little more and try to be more creative?’” she said.

As a third-year facilitator, the lessons had taken root, and Nigam began to think about how her own skills had developed, and how she’d apply them in the workplace after graduation.

“The biggest thing that’s stuck with me is really how much I’ve grown in the past three years,” said Nigam, who will join the litigation practice at Winston & Strawn in Chicago. “I think that’s made me very proud and self-confident—and helped me realize that there’s still so much that I have to learn.”

She has also seen what it means to be a strong, independent female lawyer.

“It is important to form your own opinions and to be thoughtful about those opinions—but also not to let your perceptions drag you down or to let others step over those opinions,” she said. “I’ve learned to (hit that balance) between making sure everyone gets to say her piece and making sure my own opinions are known.” 


Chicago Tribune on James Comey '85 and the Law School

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 21:23
As Comey's career soared, his University of Chicago ties remained strong Dawn Rhodes Chicago Tribune June 7, 2017

James Comey's decades long career in law enforcement is, by any standard, highly decorated.

He served as a federal prosecutor in New York and Virginia, as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, as deputy U.S. attorney general, then, as the seventh director of the FBI. Along the way, he also had stints in the private sector.

Through it all, he spanned the political spectrum, receiving appointments from Republican and Democratic presidents alike with near-unanimous Senate confirmations, until his dismissal by President Donald Trump in May.

None of this, he now says, would have been possible if not for the three years he spent as a student at the University of Chicago Law School.

He arrived in 1982 as a recent graduate from the College of William & Mary carrying a rather eclectic degree a bachelor of science with a double major in chemistry and religion.

In what was perhaps a foreshadowing of his ability to bridge disparate worlds, his senior thesis focused on two divergent religious figures, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and televangelist Jerry Falwell.

Some classmates remembered him as brilliant but never arrogant. And while Comey's time at the South Side institution coincided with the emergence of a potent conservative movement in law, Comey was driven by a fierce sense of morality, not politics, they say.

"He's about one thing and one thing only, which is doing the right thing," said Chris Gair, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago who now works in private practice. "That's always been who he was and is. Everybody says that he's the same guy he was back then, which was do what's right and let the chips fall where they may."

Read more at:

Faculty:  Richard I. Badger

Craig Futterman: Chicago Police Oversight Agreement Has Enforcement Problems

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 12:16
Mayor Defends CPD Monitor Over Consent Decree Shannon Heffernan WBEZ June 5, 2017

The original report was drafted under the Obama administration, and Emanuel initially agreed to discuss a consent decree. But the new head of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions, has since been vocal about his dislike of consent decrees to oversee police departments and was considered unlikely to enter into such an agreement with the city.

Craig Futterman, a law professor at the University of Chicago, said no matter how strong the memorandum of agreement, there is still the problem of enforcement.

“The only person who would have ability to enforce something would be Jefferson Sessions. So you are basically saying trust us,” Futterman said. “Trust Jefferson Sessions, someone who has a longstanding, demonstrated, hostility to civil rights of African-Americans and to any notion of federal oversight over Chicago Police Department.”

Read more at:

Faculty:  Craig B. Futterman

Aziz Huq: "Supreme Court Can Second-Guess Trump Without Weakening Executive Power"

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 12:01
Supreme Court can second-guess Trump without weakening executive power Aziz Huq The Hill June 6, 2017

“Unprecedented” is an adjective that’s used with usual frequency about presidential action these days. Take President Trump’s early morning sniper-attack on his own lawyers’ efforts to defend the March 6 executive order targeting seven Muslim-majority countries’ nationals. In the immediate term, the tweets reinforce the argument of those challenging the ban in federal court that the national-security justification is vanishingly thin, whereas evidence of unconstitutional motive is intolerably weighty.

Less remarked so far, the tweets also support the challengers’ argument based on the federal statute on which the President relies: That the executive order is not premised on the necessary factual finding about an “alien or group or aliens” presenting an actual risk, and is thus unlawful.

But would the ensuing judicial invalidation of a presidential action — as some commentators have worried — inflict lasting damage to the presidency as an institution? There is clear precedent for courts’ reliance on presidential public statements and a long history of courts invalidating executive actions related to national security. These past precedent have not prevented the secular rise of executive authority. 

Even if the present situation may indeed be unprecedented in some ways ways, a judicial check on wartime presidential authority would hardly be novel. And especially given Monday’s tweets, it is becoming easier for a court to craft an opinion that invalidates this one action without inflicting any lasting dent to presidential power--simply by relying on the president’s own words.

Faculty:  Aziz Huq

Geoffrey R. Stone: "The New Censorship on Campus"

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 10:02
The New Censorship on Campus Jeffrey Herbst and Geoffrey R. Stone The Chronicle of Higher Education June 5, 2017

The turmoil at Evergreen State College — where a professor is facing accusations of racism and demands for his resignation because he said white students should not be asked to leave campus for a day — is only the most recent example of free-speech controversies roiling colleges across the country.

Free speech faces many challenges at colleges and universities these days, but none greater than the growing skepticism of some students — especially those who feel particularly marginalized and disempowered in our society. Vocal elements of these groups increasingly question what the Supreme Court has celebrated as the country’s profound commitment to "uninhibited, robust and wide-open" public discourse.

Campaigns led by these students to silence and to exclude from their campuses speakers whose views they find offensive and odious has triggered a serious politicization of the principle of free speech, with "progressive" and minority students tending to condemn freedom of speech, and political conservatives suddenly waving the flag of free expression. This politicization of a fundamental right would be bad enough if it were to stay on campuses, but, as Evergreen State demonstrates, controversies at higher-education institutions are driving the polarization of free speech nationwide. It also poses a special danger to the interests of those very same minority students because, in the long run, it is they who most need the vibrant protection of freedom of speech as an essential and powerful weapon in our continuing struggle for equality.

Read more at:

Faculty:  Geoffrey R. Stone

Building Trust Abroad: A Student's Experience in Kenya

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 07:28
Nabihah Maqbool, ’18 Law School Communications June 6, 2017

When registering this fall for the International Human Rights Clinic with Professor Claudia Flores, the clinic’s director, and Brian Citro, the associate director, I was excited to work on a project with the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights researching how women were affected by and incorporated into programs addressing violent extremism. I wanted to research and understand how government and civil society security programs affect women and minorities across countries, and contend with how programs can be used to strengthen or diminish human rights.

We spent months on desk research—and then just two weeks preparing for our trips abroad. That’s when we learned that I, Professor Citro, and our public policy graduate student team member Hafsah Lak would be traveling to Nairobi over spring break while two classmates and Professor Flores visitedTunisia. (Another clinic group working on a land restitution project also visited Myanmar. Read more about the program here.) The short notice wasn’t ideal, but human rights work often requires flexibility and an ability to switch gears. And so we scheduled flights, applied for visas, arranged meetings, and hastily packed.

I arrived about 24 hours after my last winter final, though it had been a day and a half with the hours I lost flying east. That first morning, we visited the Nairobi office of the United Nations to meet with the officials we had already spent hours corresponding with over conference calls and by email. Our work, as we suspected, was highly sensitive; the fact-finding involved investigating government corruption, examining insulated minority communities, and learning about women who were too afraid to speak of their experiences to anyone except those who they trusted. Even though I had studied interview methods in my fall Human Rights Seminar with Professors Flores and Citro, it was another matter to put them into practice immediately.  With a limited time with stakeholder, we quickly had to establish trust to allow for candid communication, keep an open ear to the experiences of the organization, while still focusing the discussion on women in the country. Each group, institution, and activist we spoke to helped set us up with others they knew doing work in the area, and because we were on the ground we were easily able to drive to appointments made just hours after our first contact.

The importance of being in the same room as the people with whom you work became particularly apparent once we arrived in the coastal city of Mombasa. The city has a dual spirit: it is a beach resort for vacationers from around the world, and it is surrounded by poverty. The women in the county were caught between traditional notions of their place in the family, ideologue recruiters of extremist groups, and increased scrutiny by government forces. In five meetings with activists who work with the most marginalized women in their community, we learned about women who have become instruments of violent extremism, either willingly or not, and what happened to them when they tried to return home. There were some cases in which young women unknowingly married members of Al Shabaab, and were immediately taken to Somalia in the middle of an open conflict with the government. For women who found themselves in that predicament, the first challenge is returning home, the second is reintegrating in the old lives despite all they had experienced. The legal work done by groups like HAKI Africa to provide counseling and representation for people accused of participating in violent extremism was necessary, urgent, and inspiring.

Despite all the information our clinic team had gathered in our research and conversations with the UN Geneva office, it was these in-person meetings that allowed us to build trust and have frank, detailed conversations. The relationships we developed, even over a few hours, were key to creating the exchange required for work in the developing and precarious field of violent extremism. Sometimes the information we collected confirmed our findings, and sometimes it surprised us.

Since returning to the clinic, the majority of our time has been discussing and synthesizing our findings with the Tunisia team. I was surprised to find that the political environment of Tunisia, a country with a new government, made it much more difficult to advocate for human rights because of the pushback from the general public, and that unlike in Kenya, a clear framework or focused programs to incorporate women into countering violent extremism had not yet been established.  I am confident that the work we produce will be helpful to government officials, policy makers, and community groups, including the groups with whom we spoke. I am grateful both for the opportunity to travel to continue the work our project, and for being able to put into practice the skills I will need for the rest of my legal career.