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Faculty News

for March, 2007

Stras Featured on MPR Midmorning Program

March 29, 2007

David Stras was a guest on Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) Midmorning program regarding the dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys and the congressional testimony of Kyle Sampson, former Chief of Staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Professor Stras talked about executive privilege, the proper role of United States Attorneys, and the positions of the executive and legislative branches on the dismissals.

Cox and CP Clinic Students Quoted in RESPA

March 27, 2007

Zach Biesanz and Abigail Allen, student attorneys in Professor Prentiss Cox's Consumer Protection Clinic, were both quoted in RESPA News, a trade publication for the title insurance industry. The case they discussed, Grady v. Coldwell Banker Burnet, is a putative class action claiming that the alleged practice by Burnet of directing home buyers and sellers to its affiliate title and closing service and not disclosing lower priced competitors is a breach of Burnet’s fiduciary duty as a real estate broker. The RESPA News article stated the “industry debate continues to swirl around the case.” The case was previously featured in Ken Harney’s nationally syndicated column on real estate issues.

Read Prentiss Cox's Faculty Profile

Shnider Joins Editorial Board at JDC

March 26, 2007

Professor Bruce Shnider has joined the editorial board of the Journal of Deferred Compensation. The quarterly journal is a source for analysis, strategies, and practical solutions for professionals in the field of executive compensation.

Read Bruce Shnider's Faculty Profile

MPR Interviews Bix on Joint Custody Legislation

March 23, 2007

Professor Brian Bix was interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio about a legislation proposal that would effectively create a presumption that children should spend significant amounts of time each week with both parents (as contrasted with more traditional divisions, under which the children were usually with one parent most of the time, with the other parent seeing the children usually only on weekends, holidays, and in the summer). The proposed legislation would make an exception for cases of domestic abuse, and other cases where it could be shown that one parent posed a danger to the children.

Read Brian Bix's Faculty Profile

Washburn Quoted on St. Sup. Ct.'s Decision

March 23, 2007

The Pioneer Press quoted Professor Washburn criticizing the Minnesota Supreme Court's three-way split opinion in State v. Jones which holds that an Indian on an Indian reservation must comply with the state's predatory offender registration law. Congress recently adopted a statute giving the state jurisdiction to enforce such a provision on Indian reservations, but the state Supreme Court held, in effect, that the new federal statute was unnecessary. Professor Washburn lauded the dissent of Justice Page and was quoted as criticizing the majority opinion of Justice Paul Anderson as follows: "The majority had to do backflips to reach this result. It had to bend the law. The jurisprudence is now muddied as to the whole scope of state authority on Indian reservations." Justice Barry Anderson wrote a concurring opinion, recognizing that the majority's approach as problematic but seeking to treat this case as exceptional.

Hasday Appears on MPR & CBS Radio

March 21, 2007

Professor Jill Hasday was the guest on Minnesota Public Radio’s Midday program, “Showdown Coming Over Executive Privilege.” Professor Hasday discussed executive privilege and separation of powers, and provided legal context for the controversy surrounding the dismissals of eight United States Attorneys in 2006. The program is archived on the MPR web site. Professor Hasday also appeared on Don Shelby's CBS Radio program on the same topic. Audio of this episode has been made available online on the WCCO web site.

Read Jill Hasday's Faculty Profile

Washburn Comments on Federal Prosecutor Error

March 16, 2007

Professor Washburn was recently quoted in an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on a tragic case of prosecutorial error. In the case at issue, a federal prosecutor in Minnesota failed to establish a prima facie case at trial against a defendant charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The prosecutor apparently failed to establish that the defendant was a felon. Though the defendant’s criminal record was not in doubt as a factual matter and this element is usually proven through documentary evidence such as a stipulation by the defendant or a certified copy of the judgment of conviction, the prosecutor failed to introduce any such evidence before resting his case. Professor Washburn was quoted as saying that the case was a black eye for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. "Every careful prosecutor does a mental checklist before he rests his case," said Washburn, who tried similar cases as a federal prosecutor. "What you do is look at the elements of the crime and mentally make sure you've met those elements." The defendant is now suspected of a homicide that occurred shortly after he was released.

Befort Quoted in Star Tribune on Religion & Work

March 13, 2007

Professor Stephen Befort was quoted in a story in the Star Tribune entitled, “Customer Service and Faith Clash at Registers.” The story discusses the increasing occurrence of Muslim cashiers in the Twin Cities refusing to handle pork items at the check-out. Professor Befort draws a comparison to pharmacy employees who decline on religious grounds to fill contraceptive prescriptions.

Read Stephen Befort's Faculty Profile

Professor Kirtley Quoted in NYT and on KARE 11

March 8, 2007

Prof. Kirtley was quoted in the New York Times concerning the impact of the I. Lewis Libby Jr. trial on a federal reporter's privilege. Professor Kirtely also appeared on the KARE-11 ten o'clock news, commenting on the possible expansion of "cameras in the courtroom" in Minnesota.

Read Jane Kirtley's Faculty Profile

Professor Stras' findings discussed in ABA Journal

March 1, 2007

The March 2007 issue of the ABA Journal discusses at length an article authored by Professor David Stras that is entitled “The Supreme Court’s Gatekeepers: The Role of Law Clerks in the Certiorari Process.” Professor Stras’s scholarly article is to be published this month in the Texas Law Review. In the ABA Journal piece, a number of prominent academics, including Stephen Smith of the University of Virginia Law School, Anup Malani of the University of Chicago Law School, and Erwin Chemerinsky of the Duke University Law School, comment on some of Professor Stras’ findings with respect to the role of the cert pool in the certiorari process. Among the most important empirical findings, the ABA Journal reports, is the fact that the cert pool is considerably more stingy than the Court in its review of petitions for certiorari, providing support for the theory that the cert pool may have played a role in the Supreme Court’s declining plenary docket.