Monday, May 2, 2022

In Memoriam: Anne Wells

Few have made their mark on Loyola Law School or the legal profession like Professor Anne Wells ’91, who at the height of her career as a law firm partner specializing in bankruptcy law, a field she was instrumental in shaping, returned to LLS to teach.
Wells, who passed away on April 24, 2022, brought nearly 15 of practice experience – including founding her own business law firm – to the law school when she joined the faculty in 2009 to teach Ethical Lawyering and Legal Research & Writing. Later, she added Law & Process: Privacy Torts, Legal Drafting, Torts II and, of course, Bankruptcy.

“For many years, and in many roles, Anne represented the best of who we are and hope to be. She cared deeply about students and their success,” said Dean Michael Waterstone. “She believed deeply in our equity and inclusion mission, and devoted her time and talents to always working to be a community where everyone belongs. And she was both fun, and funny. I will miss her greatly.”

Over time, Wells expanded her role as a student mentor as Director of Academic Success, helping students navigate the unique challenges of law school coursework. That is no surprise considering the superlatives she earned during her time as a student, which included graduating cum laude and Order of the Coif, and serving as Comment Editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles International & Comparative Law Review. Additionally, she was a member of the St. Thomas More Law Honor Society, which awarded Wells the 2022 David P. Leonard Memorial Faculty Service Award, recognizing faculty who have made exceptional contributions to the LLS community.

Always generous with her time, Wells volunteered with a number of organizations. She was a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors, which helps organize such LLS tent-pole events as the Alumni Grand Reunion. Elsewhere, Wells was a volunteer coach and site coordinator of the APLA AIDS Marathon Training Program, served on the Occidental College Tiger Club Alumni Board and was member of the Granada Hills North Neighborhood Council.
“Professor Wells provided a safe and inclusive space for so many Loyola students,” said Mieko Failey ’13, Legal Director, The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach. “Her impact lives on through the countless students she supported in becoming attorneys who will carry on her legacy of building more inclusive and affirming communities.”

Beyond the classroom, Wells influenced bankruptcy law through her scholarship that often crossed over with issues of ethical lawyering. She was an editorial board member of the California Bankruptcy Journal for well over a decade, fusing her experience both as an academic and that of a practicing attorney who parlayed her experience as a law firm partner to form her own firm, Futter-Wells, PC, in 2007. Her articles included “Avoiding Ethical and Management Minefields in the Bankruptcy Practice,” “Navigating Ethical Minefields on the Bankruptcy Bandwagon” and many more.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Professor Anne Wells Memorial Scholarship at Loyola Law School. Donate via this link or by writing a check to Loyola Marymount University and send to the address below.
Loyola Law School
University Hall
C/o AIS University Advancement
1 LMU Drive, Suite 2800
Los Angeles, CA 90045

The family is having a private memorial service. The law school is planning a celebration of Professor Wells’ life on the LLS campus, and will provide details soon.

Share your remembrance of Professor Wells by submitting a Comment below:

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Sheriff Alex Villanueva is Obstructing Attempts to Eradicate Deputy Gangs from the LASD

By Sean Kennedy, Kaplan & Feldman Executive Director, Center for Juvenile Law & Policy

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has tolerated deputy gangs within its ranks for at least 50 years.

Our Legislature recently enacted Penal Code Section 13670 - effective Jan. 1, 2022. The new law requires law enforcement agencies to adopt a written policy prohibiting members from participating in a "law enforcement gang" and authorizes agencies to terminate members who violate that policy. Section 13670 also requires any agency that terminated a member for participating in a law enforcement gang to disclose the reason for the termination to other agencies that are considering hiring the former member. The legislative history reveals that the longstanding problem of "deputy gangs" in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was the impetus for enacting Section 13670.

The first known deputy gang, the Little Red Devils, started at East Los Angeles station - where Sheriff Alex Villanueva started his career. Records from Sheriff Peter Pitchess's administration reflect that investigators compiled a list of dozens of' deputies with sequentially numbered devil tattoos to ascertain whether they were engaged in misconduct. After this 1973 investigation, LASD leadership stopped compiling lists of internal tattooed groups based on the questionable assertion that such investigations would violate deputies' right to freedom of association under the First Amendment. To this day, the LASD uses this rationale as an excuse for not investigating deputy gangs, even after receiving County Counsel's 2021 memorandum advising that there is no First Amendment bar to banning deputy gangs.

In 1990, the NAACP filed a civil-rights lawsuit on behalf of scores of Lynwood residents alleging that the LASD tolerated racially motivated violence committed by a tattooed group of deputies known as the Vikings. After U.S. District .Judge Terry Hatter characterized the Vikings as "a neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang" that operated under leaders who "tacitly authorized deputies' unconstitutional behavior, the County settled the suit for $9 million. A 1992 commission headed by Judge James Kolts concluded that the Vikings "appeared at least in times past to have engaged in behavior that is brutal and intolerable and is typically associated with a street gang."

In 2012, a sergeant discovered a written creed of a tattooed group of deputies known as the Jump out Boys inside a LASD patrol car used by the Gang Enforcement Team. The creed boasted that the Jump out Boys "understand when the line needs to be crossed and crossed back; and directed members to memorialize deputy-involved shootings in a secret black book, While some members of the .Jump out Boys were terminated, most or all were reinstated by the Civil Service Protection process.

In 2018, several deputies celebrating the end of training were severely beaten by a tattooed group of deputies from the East Los Angeles station known as the Banditos. After investigating the incident, the Inspect General reported, "Substantial evidence exists to support the conclusion that the Banditos are gang-like and their influence has resulted in favoritism, sexism, racism, and violence:” Most recently, deputies from the Compton station have alleged that a tattooed group of deputies called "the Executioners" discriminated against female and African American deputies, engaged in racial profiling, and hosted shooting parties to celebrate deputy-involved shootings. Photos of demonic tattoos worn by the Grim Reapers, the Banditos, and the Executioners are all over social media.

Deputy gangs are in the jails as well as at patrol stations. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights published a 1999 report on policing in Los Angeles that identified an "organized vigilante group" of deputies known as the Posse. According to the Commission, Posse members assaulted mentally ill inmates in Twin Towers because they opposed reforms to treat mentally ill inmates like patients, rather than prisoners. Then-sheriff Sherman Block lamented, "There are some people in the system who think we are coddling, and by God, they're going to set up their own brand of punishment."

Thirteen years later, in 2012, the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence concluded that tattooed ''deputy cliques" inside Men's Central Jail, such as the 2000 Boys and the 3000 Thousand Boys, "contributed to acts of insubordination, aggressive behavior, and excessive force in the jail for many years."

Citing a lack of evidence that is belied by the historical record, Sheriff Villanueva denies there are any deputy gangs within the department. At the same time, he has refused to investigate alleged deputy gang members - characterizing calls for an investigation as a witch-hunt" motivated by racism against Latinos. It goes without saying that if the Sheriff won't investigate alleged deputy gangs, he will never find any evidence one way or another.

The residents of Los Angeles County have paid a high price for the LASD leadership's failure to address gang culture within the ranks. Deputy gangs undermine constitutional policing, escalate uses of force, and sow distrust between the LASD and the communities they are supposed to serve. By valorizing aggressive policing and deputy shootings, deputy gangs foster an "us-against-them" culture that socializes deputies to view themselves as at war with the communities they are supposed to serve. A compilation of all deputy-involved shootings in Los Angeles County during the last five years reveals that LASD stations with active deputy gangs had significantly more deputy-involved shootings than other stations. The County Counsel estimates that the taxpayers have spent at least $55 million for settlements and judgments related to alleged deputy gang misconduct. Because LASD leadership refuses to investigate deputy gangs, prosecutors do not know and therefore do not comply with their constitutional duty to disclose to the defense that a particular sheriff witness belongs to a deputy gang - a fact that impeaches their credulity and reveals their bias on the stand.

Section 13670 creates an opportunity for the LASD to reverse course and eradicate deputy gangs once and for all. LASD leadership for years has claimed they cannot investigate tattooed groups absent proof that deputies committed specific felonies constituting a "pattern of criminal activity" that support a conviction for a criminal gang enhancement under the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (STEP Act). Not anymore, Section 13670 defines a "law enforcement gang" as "a group of peace officers...who may identify themselves by a name and may be associated with an identifying symbol, including, but not limited to matching tattoos, and who engage in a pattern of on-duty behavior that intentionally violates the law or principles of professional policing." The definition of a law enforcement gang under Section 13670 is much broader than the traditional definition of a "criminal street gang" under the STEP Act. The new law prohibits a wide variety of gang-related misconduct and unconstitutional policing, rather than just the felonies listed in the STEP Act. These differences between Section 13670 and the STEP Act obviate LASD leadership's past justifications for refusing to investigate and terminate deputies actively participating in a law enforcement gang.

Section 13670 also directs, "A law enforcement agency shall cooperate in any investigation into these gangs by an inspector general, the Attorney General, or any other authorized authority." This provision will require Sheriff Villanueva to change his ways. He has refused to comply with subpoenas to testify and produce records regarding deputy gangs - even after courts have held that he is obligated to do so - and resisted oversight focused on reining in the gang. Sheriff Villanueva must abandon these obstructionist tactics and collaborate with oversight authorities to eradicate deputy gangs from the LASD.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Biden Decision on COVID Vaccine Patent Waivers is More About Global Leadership than IP

By Professor Justin Hughes

Back in October 2020 – as the world recorded its first million COVID-19 deaths – South Africa and India presented a proposal at the World Trade Organization for “a waiver from the implementation, application and enforcement” of global intellectual property rights “in relation to prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.” Along with other western countries, the Trump administration strenuously opposed the idea. But on Wednesday the Biden administration said it is prepared to go along with such a waiver, at least for coronavirus vaccines.

What happened?

Read the entire USA Today op-ed>>

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Center for Study of Law & Genocide Notes 'Clear Signal' on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day Statement

America’s political branches have now spoken with one voice. In 2019, both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed bipartisan resolutions formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide (Meds Yeghern) perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire. Earlier today, President Biden joined with them in a landmark statement. These actions send a clear signal that the United States does not defer to nationalistic denialism of mass atrocities, whether past or perhaps even present. It must be remembered that a mere two decades after the early 20th century Armenian Genocide, the failure of the world to pressure Turkey to acknowledge its crimes encouraged Germany that it would suffer no consequences for a genocidal war against the Jews.

The Loyola Center for the Study of Law & Genocide has, for over a dozen years, sought official recognition of the tragic Turkish genocide of Armenians. The first of a number of symposia sponsored by the Center on the issue of recognition took place in February 2009, with the most recent occurring just last Monday, April 19, 2021. In 2011, the Center filed an amicus brief in a Ninth Circuit case involving the use of the term “Armenian Genocide” in a California state law. The Center’s brief was instrumental in persuading the three-judge panel to reverse an earlier decision and declare the California law constitutional. Unfortunately, a Ninth Circuit en banc panel, at the oral argument of which both of the undersigned appeared as co-counsel, reversed on the grounds that the recognition of the “Armenian Genocide” was contrary to federal policy. California was thus prevented from even using the phrase in its restitution statute. In 2012, Center Director Stan Goldman published a law review article, Is it Nobody’s Business but the Turks?, concluding that America’s federal refusal to recognize the Genocide was actually contrary to past actions and pronouncements made decades ago by both the executive and congressional branches. Prior to joining the Center, Deputy Director Rajika Shah acted as counsel for Armenian plaintiffs in multiple cases repeatedly blocked by courts due to the lack of federal recognition, outlining this history in a 2017 article.

Only a few months ago, Turkey again took shamefully aggressive actions against Armenians by supporting Azerbaijan with military and non-military equipment and personnel in its unprovoked attack on Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian churches, significant cultural property, and hospitals were demolished, and Armenian civilians were subjected to unspeakable violence and cruelty, again raising the specter of genocide. President Biden’s announcement is particularly important at this pivotal moment. 

In memory of all those who lost their lives and loved ones, we hope that today’s statement from President Biden is not only the beginning of the end of Turkish denialism, but will also put other would-be authors of mass atrocities on notice that they cannot count on impunity and American indifference.

Prof. Stanley Goldman, Founding Director and Professor of Law
Prof. Rajika Shah, Deputy Director and Adjunct Professor

Friday, November 6, 2020

What Comes After Election 2020? Three Things to Know in the Coming Days

By Dean Michael Waterstone

Last night, Loyola Law School held a panel on “Election 2020: What Comes Next?” I was joined by incredible colleagues, Professor Jessica Levinson and Professor Justin Levitt, both national experts in the election law and the law of democracy. Our combined goal was to ease some of the anxiety created by this year’s election circumstances through education and awareness, specifically helping everyone understand what can unfold in the coming days.

Three important takeaways:

  • This election is likely to be decided by the voters, not the courts – regardless of political preference, many are comparing this or having flashbacks to 2000 and Bush v. Gore. That situation was different - it involved determinations of hundreds of votes. Nothing presented thus far gets anything close to that. There will be litigation, but none is likely to be close enough or present an opportunity for courts to decide the election. And not all lawsuits can or will be effective. In a phrase which merits trademarking, Professor Levitt explained that sometimes lawsuits can be “nothing more than tweets with filing fees”.
  • The administration of elections is messy and not well understood – even national elections are not administered in a national way. Elections are administered by state and local authorities, and ultimately are run by volunteers. This is a crucial, yet unheralded part of American Democracy. (and I am so proud of over 100 members of our community who served as polling place workers this election). Although some paint this as a cause of concern, and we should fund election administration more, it is also a source of strength. There is not central system to penetrate or hack, and our community willingly takes on the responsibility of counting all of our votes. 
  • Our country is bitterly divided – and this manifests itself in everything, including how we view our election system. This is troubling for many reasons, as one of the things that undermines and makes our system work is that it is viewed as legitimate. Both panelists spoke to a renewed need for civics engagement at all levels. One of the reasons people focus, perhaps overmuch, on the presidential election is we expect our leader to do all of the hard work for us. We have to do more even more than vote – we have to work in our own communities to create whatever change we want to see. 
At a time when people are looking for answers to questions about the election process and what comes next, this was an enlightening and entertaining conversation with two true experts in the field. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did; please listen to the full version here.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In 2011, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice wrote a dedication to Associate Justice John Paul Stevens on the occasion of his retirement in a special issue of the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. In turn, nembers of the Loyola Law School community are sharing remembrances of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg impact their lives, the law and beyond. Want to contribute a remembrance? Please post one below using the comments.

“It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of this loss at this moment in history. As a woman, a lawyer, and a Jew, she paved the way for me and so many others. She stood for equality, justice, civility, and empathy. It is up to all of us who are committed to social justice to fight to protect her legacy.” 

– Professor Aimee Dudovitz, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs and Experiential Learning 

"Justice Ginsburg can be remembered and honored for many things. She wrote powerful fact-intensive dissents in cases such as NIFB v. Sibelius (2012) and J. McIntyre v. Nicastro (2011). She knew how to dig to the core of the reality behind a case, while her colleagues too often placed abstract concepts over justice. But her most important gift to us is her steadfast dedication to gender equality. She built the foundation for the law gender equality and in the process began a transformation of society that will not be undone regardless of who replaces her on the Court. Her landmark opinion in United States v. Virginia (1996) is a fitting symbol of all that came before and will stand as a permanent memorial to her life's work."

–Professor Allan Ides, Christopher N. May Chair

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a guardian of justice throughout her career. She understood that laws should overcome systemic injustice, rather than sustain it. Our country benefitted immeasurably from her wisdom. While we mourn her loss, we must also ensure the survival of her legacy; both she and our country deserve no less.”

-Professor Kathleen Kim, Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion

“I think RBG’s most important doctrinal contribution is in the VMI (US v. Virugina) case ruling where she declared inherent differences between women and men should be the basis for celebration not for the denigration of women. Overall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s most important legal legacy is her central role in dismantling America’s “Jane Crow” legally sanctioned gender hierarchy while never advocating gender-blindness.”

– Professor Kimberly West-Faulcon, James P. Bradley Chair in Constitutional Law

Justice Ginsburg was a giant -- not in physical stature, but in the ways that matter. She made a lasting impact on the law by building legal theories by which women could advance in this society. She championed the right of equality for all people. Can there be any greater contribution to our laws and our nation? 

– Professor Laurie Levenson, David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy 

It is heartbreaking that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of women whose commitment to equality was legendary, is no longer with us. She was a trailblazer and an inspiration to me as a lawyer and as a judge, and to so many other women, not only in the legal profession but in all walks of life. As Justice Ginsburg stated so eloquently, “Real change, enduring change happens one step at a time.” Justice Ginsburg helped us take many steps towards equality. To honor her legacy and to fight discrimination of all forms, we must continue moving forward to ensure justice and equality for all. 

– Hon. Sandra R. Klein ’92, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California 

In the end, we mourn Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg not just because of the legacy she leaves behind, but because of what her death means for our country going forward. 

– Professor Jessica Levinson ’05, Director, Loyola Public Service Institute 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Provisional License Program Promises More Than It Can Deliver

By Director of Bar Programs Susan Bakhshian

This op-ed originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2020 edition of the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

California’s provisional license program promises more than it can deliver. The problems range from practical challenges to systemic unfairness.

The practical challenges are plentiful. The public comment period that ends Sept. 15 is during the most intense time of studying for the bar exam, which remains scheduled for early October. The very lawyers who are intended to benefit from this program have exactly no time to devote to comments. When the bar examiners provide the software and practice exams at the same time as the proposed provisional licensing rules, a rational bar exam taker prioritizes the exam materials — not commenting on the provisional licensing rules.

Other groups of lawyers and academics can take up the slack and contribute public comments, but that misses the point. To burden on recent grads who have seen repetitive delays in their quest for a license is yet another example of the lack of leadership by the California Supreme Court.

The proposed rules leave many behind. There remains no remedy for those who failed the last administration of the bar exam in February. Some of those who failed were rejected despite reaching the new cut score that will apply in October. While the Supreme Court has declined to apply the new score retroactively, or even to all exam administrations in 2020, the court has failed to provide a justification. The California Assembly’s recent resolution supporting retroactivity remains unanswered. By refusing to apply the new cut score to the February takers, the court’s actions look more like an effort to provide cover for an untested remote exam being administered as a pandemic rages on, rather than any significant step toward necessary reform.

The provisional license is designed to leave some behind. The proposed rules sunset after two years and provide no permanent path to admission. There will be super stars in the class of 2020. These new grads will qualify for the provisional license and do great work for two years. Some may argue before the California Supreme Court. Their accomplishments will be great. And at the end of two years they will have absolutely nothing.

Whether the provisional licensing program can withstand a large number of applicants is uncertain. The FAQ accompanying the rules is devoid any serious plans to find sufficient supervising attorneys to meet the likely demand. The suggestion that grads “let prospective employers know” or that the State Bar “intends to communicate with California lawyers” about the program are empty promises.