October 8, 2015
October 6, 2015
Professor Richard Delgado was one of 16 constitutional law professors who helped Time magazine identify the best and worst Supreme Court decisions since 1960.
Time surveyed more than 50 legal scholars and received 34 responses. Decisions that championed civil and individual liberties or made democracy more participatory were repeatedly praised, while professors were more critical of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), which removed campaign-spending limits on corporations and unions, as well as Bush v. Gore (2000), which resulted in George W. Bush winning the 2000 presidential election.
Delgado chose Loving v. Virginia (1967) as the best decision. “The decision, which legalized interracial marriage, put the last nail in the coffin of the South’s system of racial apartheid.”
He selected Citizens United v. FEC (2010) and Bush v. Gore (2000) as the worst decisions. “Citizens United because it departed from precedent and distorted the political process in ruinous fashion; Bush v. Gore because it was unprincipled, result-driven, and exposed the court to well-deserved scorn.”
For more, read “The Best Supreme Court Decisions Since 1960” and “The Worst Supreme Court Decisions Since 1960.”
October 2, 2015
Professor Montre Carodine recently told Al.com it’s “an unfortunate development” that Alabama legislators are moving forward with a plan to divert $950 million of a federal settlement for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to the state’s General Fund.
Alabama lawmakers have not specified how they plan to spend the money that will go into the General Fund, and some are concerned the money will be used to alleviate future budget deficits.
“Those state officials who negotiated the settlement have continued with their plans to provide a windfall to the state’s General Fund despite the concerns raised earlier this summer by concerned citizens and some elected officials when the tentative settlement plans were announced,” Professor Carodine said. “This is an unfortunate development for those truly concerned about restoring the Gulf Coast region.”
For more, read “Disappointment Lingers for South Alabama Officials over Alabama’s Settlement in BP Oil Spill Case.”
October 1, 2015
The University of Alabama School of Law Profiles in Service Series
Millard Dean Fuller
Millard Fuller, a 1960 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, co-founded one of the most well-known and successful nonprofit Christian organizations in the world, Habitat for Humanity International.
Fuller, who received his undergraduate degree from Auburn University, began his legal and business career in pursuit of monetary success – but after becoming a millionaire at the age of 29, he drastically changed directions and set out down a different path. Fuller and his wife, Linda, gave their possessions away to charity and began working with Dr. Clarence Jordan at Koinonia Farm, a Christian community near Americus, Georgia. The Fullers helped to initiate projects to aid the poor. One focused on affordable housing. Modest homes were built primarily by volunteers on a nonprofit basis and sold to low-income families, who paid no interest on the mortgages. The families were expected to invest their own “sweat equity” by helping to build their own homes and the homes of other families. This model became the basis for the Fullers’ founding of Habitat for Humanity in 1976. By 2005, 200,000 homes had been built for a million people in 90 countries. That same year, Fuller founded a similar housing ministry, The Fuller Center for Housing.
Fuller earned dozens of prestigious awards during his lifetime, including the Martin Luther King, Jr., Humanitarian Award, Professional Builder magazine’s Builder of the Year Award, the Bronze Medallion from the Points of Light Foundation, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In bestowing this award, former President Bill Clinton called Habitat “…the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States.”
Fuller passed away suddenly in February 2009 at 74. The University of Alabama School of Law is proud to count Millard Fuller among our most distinguished alumni.
October 1, 2015
Distinguished Visiting Lecturer Kenneth Feinberg addressed the Law School about mediation and alternative dispute resolution, emphasizing the kinds of cases he administers fall into two categories and often take an unseen emotional toll.
Feinberg has managed claims arising from the nation’s “darkest moments” and posing the problem of determining what a life is worth, said Dean Mark E. Brandon.
As the nation mourned, Feinberg administered funds for several tragedies, including the Virginia Tech University shootings, the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shootings; the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings; and the Boston Marathon bombing.
Feinberg also administered funds after Americans were harmed during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 and the General Motors ignition switch failure that was linked to the deaths of 124 people.
“It is probably no exaggeration to say that Mr. Feinberg has become one of the most active and successful mediators, arbitrators, alternative dispute resolvers in the history of the world,” Brandon said during his introduction of Feinberg.
Feinberg used his lecture to draw a distinction between the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, the claims paid by British Petroleum for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and those paid by General Motors. He said they are true alternatives to the American tort system, while he emphasized that other programs where Americans donated money, such as the funds paid to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, are gifts because they do not limit the possibility of future lawsuits.
He noted that more than $61 million was raised in 60 days for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“One thing you learn in what I do: Never underestimate the charitable impulse of the American people,” he said. “It is astounding how much money comes in, solicited or otherwise, to help fund private programs.”
In the cases of 9/11, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the failure of the General Motors ignition switch, some may view those funds as alternatives to the tort system, but Feinberg said that is incorrect. Instead, he called them alternatives to tort litigation, what he referred to as a first cousin of tort system.
When deciding how much to pay a victim in cases such as 9/11, GM or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the systems that he oversaw paid victims for economic losses, but did not individualize payments due to pain and suffering or emotional distress.
“I don’t do that. How would anybody do that?” he asked.
But claims do take into consideration whether there was a death, the number of dependents and the spouse, making the awards different from person to person. Sometimes claims are adjusted when they are either too high or too low, he said.
By contrast, when the public provides charitable donations, every person who files a claim for that program receives the same amount of money. This was the case for funds administered for the Virginia Tech University shootings.
“All lives are equal because it’s not joined at the hip of the tort system,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg, who received his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1970, said he is often asked whether his law degree helps him administer funds.
“My law degree in all of these programs is largely a wash. It doesn’t help very much, although I took torts,” he said. “A divinity degree would be better, or a degree in psychiatry. You are dealing with very, very vulnerable people who are the innocent victims of life’s misfortune.”
He has heard countless stories: the story of the widow who lost her husband during the Sept. 11 attacks who had only 10 weeks to live and needed her claim processed within 30 days so that she could make sure her children would be provided for after her death, the man who lost his leg during the Boston Marathon bombing and didn’t want the money but rather wanted his leg back, and the widow whose husband saved the lives of others during the Sept. 11 attacks only to be killed by a man who jumped from 103rd floor.
Feinberg said listening to the stories is an essential part of what he does. It is part of the right to be heard in confidence, but that listening to such stories “becomes very debilitating.”
The nation came to the rescue of thousands of Americans who were hurt or killed during the Sept. 11 attacks, but Feinberg doesn’t think the nation will ever rally to help in quite the same way.
“I spend a fair amount of my time defending the 9/11 victim fund as sound public policy. It was the right thing to do. Don’t ever do it again. Bad things happen to good people every day in this country, and there is no 9/11 fund.”
September 28, 2015
Bradley C. Hargett (’16) was surprised when he learned in June that he had won the Alabama State Bar’s Pro Bono Law Student Award.
“I had no idea I had been nominated and it was very exciting to know that the state bar recognizes the efforts of law students and attorneys in pro bono service,” he said.
Hargett had always intended to help others while he attended law school. It’s how he was raised. As a 1L, he met a group of students who encouraged him to get involved early and stay involved. As a 2L, he worked as the student coordinator for the Reentry Assistance Clinic and enlisted other students to help parolees and probationers with various legal and social needs. Students and lawyers were placed in the Tuscaloosa Office of Probation and Parole one day per month, where they helped fulfill requests as simple as getting a driver’s license renewed or reinstated to the more complex issues of securing housing.
“The end goal is to reduce recidivism, to take out the stumbling blocks that keep them from reentering society fully,” Hargett said.
Hargett helped coordinate a Free Legal Advice Clinic for Veterans and a Wills for Heroes Clinic for first responders, fire fighters and and police officers to ensure they have the proper documents in case of an emergency. Hargett, on his own initiative, became the Law School’s unofficial law school representative for the Alabama Responsible Lending Alliance, and he has been an active participant with the local affiliate of Tuscaloosa Citizens Against Predatory Practices.
“I’ve always known that with this profession comes a responsibility to give back to the community, and I took that to heart as soon as I got to Law School,” Hargett said. “I knew that that was something I had to do.”
Hargett has been an enthusiastic supporter of pro bono programs at the Law School, helping promote existing programs and helping to form new ones. Glory McLaughlin, Assistant Dean for Public Interest, said she has been consistently impressed with Hargett’s maturity, level of professionalism and his dedication to the pursuit of social justice.
“When I have seen Brad volunteer at pro bono clinics, he has demonstrated compassion for the clients he comes into contact with, and has been willing to go above and beyond the expectations of a student volunteer in order to obtain assistance for clients,” she said.
Hargett is rooted in Alabama and pursuing his third degree at the Capstone. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in American Studies. When he graduates from the Law School, he plans to practice in Tuscaloosa or Birmingham as a criminal defense attorney.
He has matched his interest in criminal defense with his coursework. He took Criminal Procedure with Professor Pamela Pierson, Sentencing with Judge Joseph Colquitt and Jury Selection with Professor Steve Emens. With Professor Pierson’s help, he enrolled in an independent study and worked in the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s office to get a sense of what life would be like on the other side. Last summer, he clerked at Rosen Harwood and was an intern at the Community Law Office in Birmingham.
Hargett comes from a family of lawyers. His father, Chris Hargett (’80), was a Chief Assistant District Attorney in Tuscaloosa County. His maternal grandparents, Jane and Frank Dishuck, (‘47 and ‘46) practiced law together.
“I like to say that my father was a career prosecutor, and so I’ve got to balance the family karma,” he said.
Before he attended his first class, Hargett worked at Cartee & Lloyd and has returned various times during his law school career. Michael Cartee, a private practice attorney in Tuscaloosa, described Hargett as someone with “remarkable intellect, sterling character,” he said. “He’s going to do very well in law practice.”
Hargett knows he will spend a fair amount of time in court as a criminal defense lawyer.
“Seeing everything that my father did, that matched up with “Perry Mason” and “Law and Order” that you see on TV,” he said. “Becoming a lawyer, I thought that means getting in the courtroom and so that’s what I want to do.”
September 28, 2015
Professor Richard Delgado has been selected as a faculty fellow for the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Each faculty fellow will partner with one or more of the departments offering graduate degrees housed in Texas A&M’s 16 colleges or schools, or the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
Delgado, the John J. Sparkman Chair of Law, is widely acknowledged as a founder of critical race theory. He has received six Gustavus Myers Awards for outstanding books on human rights in North America, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and is among the most cited legal scholars in the United States with more than 5,000 citations.
Delgado will collaborate with faculty-scholars and law students at the Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth. Additionally, he will interact with faculty and graduate students in the Colleges of Education and Liberal Arts on the main campus.
Each year, the institute selects its faculty fellows from among top scholars who have distinguished themselves through outstanding professional accomplishments or significant recognition, including two Nobel laureates, a Wolf Prize recipient, a recipient of the Hubbell Medal in Literature for Lifetime Achievement, a recipient of the National Medal of Science, and an awardee of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
September 24, 2015
Professor John Gross recently wrote in a guest op-ed for Al.com that police and prosecutors are constantly urging legislatures to give them “overly broad” and “unnecessarily punitive” laws to help fight crime.
The result is 94 percent of criminal convictions are the result of guilty pleas.
“Plea bargaining, something that occurs largely without judicial supervision, has effectively ended trial by jury,” Gross wrote.
“In order to have a criminal justice system that disposes of cases through pleas instead of trials there need to be powerful incentives for those accused of crimes to waive their constitutional rights. That is why prosecutors push for crimes to be broadly defined and for sentences to be harsh.”
For more, read “Drug Laws Are Designed to Demand Guilty Pleas, Not to Find Justice.”
September 22, 2015
Professor John Gross recently told ProPublica there is a disparity in the way prosecutors in Alabama’s 67 counties have applied the “chemical endangerment of a child” statute.
“Each county is its own little fiefdom,” said Gross, director of the Law School’s criminal defense clinic. “You get vastly different results in terms of how the cases are prosecuted.”
For more, read “When the Womb Is a Crime Scene.”
September 16, 2015
The University of Alabama School of Law will host Distinguished Visiting Lecturer Kenneth Feinberg at noon Tuesday, Sept. 29, in the Bedsole Moot Courtroom 140. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Feinberg is an expert in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. He has handled financial claims for major crises and disasters. He will lecture on “Unconventional Responses to Unique Catastrophes: Tailoring the Law to Meet the Challenges.”
Feinberg serves as the special master of the Federal Kline-Miller Law, where he oversees private pension plans. He has served as the special master for TARP Executive Compensation, the Federal Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 and as the administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in 2010 for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
He served as a fund administrator for the GM Ignition Switch Compensation Program; the Virginia Tech massacre; the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shootings; the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings; and the Boston Marathon bombing. Feinberg has taught at Harvard University, Georgetown University, The University of Pennsylvania, New York University, the University of Virginia and Columbia University.
Legal scholars will visit The University of Alabama School of Law and discuss law’s rhetorical life Sept. 18 during a symposium.
The Rhetorical Process and Legal Judgments Symposium begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Bedsole Moot Courtroom, Room 140.
Legal scholars will investigate how questions of rhetoric shape the development of legal and judicial decisions, whether judges develop distinct rhetorical styles and what can be learned by examining law as a rhetorical process. The event is free and open to the public.
The symposium will feature:
Linda L. Berger, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law
Bernadette Meyler, Stanford Law School
Teresa Godwin Phelps, American University, Washington College of Law
Christopher W. Schmidt, Chicago-Kent College of Law, American Bar Foundation
Eric Slauter, University of Chicago
Adam Steinman, The University of Alabama School of Law