Friday, October 28, 2011

Prof. Natapoff tracks Congressman Lynch's proposed informant legislation

By Professor Alexandra Natapoff

In the wake of new revelations about FBI informant crimes, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) has introduced important new legislation that would require federal investigative agencies to report their informants' serious crimes to Congress. H.R. 3228, The Confidential Informant Accountability Act, would require the FBI, the DEA, Secret Service, ICE and ATF to report every six months to Congress all "serious crimes" committed by their informants, whether or not those crimes were authorized. "Serious crime" is defined as any serious violent felony, any serious drug crime, or any crime of racketeering, bribery, child pornography, obstruction of justice, or perjury. The bill prohibits the disclosure of informant names, control numbers, or any other personal information that might permit them to be identified. Under the U.S. Attorney General's Guidelines, the FBI is already required to disclose its informants' crimes to federal prosecutors.

The bill would also help the families of two men who were killed in connection with FBI informant Whitey Bulger to recover damages from the FBI. For more background, see these stories in the Boston Globe: Bill would aid kin of two slain men, and Pants on Fire. Full disclosure: I provided information to Congressman Lynch's office in support of this bill and I am strongly in favor of the effort.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Loyola professors anchor Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review symposium, 'LGBT Identity & the Law'

Loyola Law School and the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review hosted a daylong discussion of the most pressing issues facing the gay, lesbian and transgender community during the symposium "LGBT Identity and the Law" on Friday, Oct. 21 on Loyola's downtown L.A. campus. Antidiscrimination, constitutional culture, healthcare and family issues will be the focus of four panel discussions. The keynote speaker was Dr. Gary Gates, Williams Distinguished Scholar, The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law.

"Speakers addressed how sexual orientation issues are shaping constitutional law and politics, how antidiscrimination law both protects and fails to protect sexual minorities, how issues around healthcare access and medical care shape the lives of transgender and intersex individuals, and how the law recognizes and regulates families headed by same-sex couples," said Associate Professor Doug NeJaime, an organizer and moderator of the symposium. "Not only did the panelists chart the trajectory of the LGBT rights movement, they provided fresh commentary and presented new research on current and emerging issues that will shape the future of LGBT rights litigation, policy work and scholarship."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Villaraigosa Donor Found Guilty of Money Laundering

Visiting Associate Clinical Professor Jessica Levinson published a commentary titled, "Villaraigosa Donor Found Guilty of Money Laundering," on KCET's "1st and Spring" blog on Oct. 13, 2011:

"This week the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission found Alexander Hugh, a real estate executive and a donor of Mayor Villaraigosa's re-election campaign, guilty of laundering money to the mayor. The Commission unanimously voted 4-0 to impose the maximum fine allowed under the law, $183,750, for campaign finance violations.

Read the entire post here.

Kinde Durkee's Alleged Fraud Continues to Take Its Toll on California Politicians

Visiting Associate Clinical Professor Jessica Levinson published an op-ed titled, "Kinde Durkee's Alleged Fraud Continues to Take Its Toll on California Politicians," on the Huffington Post on October 7, 2011:

"The effects of the stunning fall from grace and subsequent arrest on September 2nd of veteran campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee continue to ripple throughout the California political community. Durkee is accused of stealing and misappropriating campaign funds from Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D). However, many more alleged victims have come forward. The reach of Durkee's alleged fraud is unprecedented. No less than 400 political committees were under her control.

Read the entire post here.

Four ways to reform the initiative process on its 100th anniversary

By Visiting Associate Clinical Professor Jessica Levinson

This op-ed was originally published by the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the political reforms that brought the Golden State the initiative, the referendum, and the recall. A century later, one thing is clear; our system of direct democracy is deeply flawed.

In 1911, Gov. Hiram Johnson enacted a series of reforms - including the initiative, the referendum, and the recall - to increase the power of citizens across the state. At the time a special interest, Southern Pacific Railroad, had a stranglehold over lawmakers, and Johnson instituted a system of direct democracy in part to change that. The sad irony is that 100 years later, while their names are different - Amazon, Mercury Insurance, and PG&E - our systems of direct democracy are now controlled by the same interests they were meant to guard against.

Moneyed interests now control the processes meant to give power to all of the citizens. What does one need to qualify a measure for the ballot? Money. Money won't guarantee a measure's success, but it will mean that members of the electoral must invest time and resources on a ballot measure, regardless of the propriety of the idea behind the measure.

Why is money the driving force behind direct democracy? Because in 1988 in [Meyers v. Grant,] the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a ban on paid signature gatherers. Simply put, if money spent in politics is speech, then prohibitions on the use of paid signature gatherers amount to restrictions on speech.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Should Los Angeles get rid of the business tax?

Visiting Associate Clinical Professor Jessica Levinson originally published this on KCET's "1st and Spring" blog:

Depending on your perspective Los Angeles' gross receipts tax on businesses either provides much needed revenue -- to the tune of $425 million per year -- or harms economic growth. Last week the City Council's Jobs and Business Development Committee suggested it is the latter. Specifically, the committee asked the city to study halting the tax for new businesses or eliminating it all together. The tax is essentially a tax on the revenue that businesses generate. The tax ranges from about $1 per $1,000 to $5 per $1,000.

Read the complete blog post.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

U.S.S.C Hears Oral Argument in Golan v. Holder

By Professor Jay Dougherty


Recent extensions of copyright have generated much controversy. Some of these controversies have led to important judicial decisions (on the Supreme Court level) concerning Congress' power to legislate in the copyright arena and the interplay between copyright laws and freedom of speech and expression. Most challenges have failed, with the courts signaling a judicial deference to Congress. In the most recent battle, Golan v. Holder, plaintiffs who have relied on the public domain status of certain foreign works challenged a law that restored copyright to those works. Assertions that the restoration exceeded Congressional power were fairly routinely rejected at the lower court levels after the U.S.S.C.'s decision in Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003) (affirming the 1998 Term Extension Act), but a claim that restoration violated the First Amendment seemed to have some traction. The Supreme Court accepted cert in Golan, and recently heard oral argument. In Eldred, the Court had said that a law that altered the traditional contours of copyright law would be subject to First Amendment scrutiny, and one 10th Circuit panel in Golan had held that the restoration statute would be subject to such scrutiny. The district court on remand held that the restoration statute failed First Amendment scrutiny, but that decision was reversed by another 10th Circuit panel. One might have expected the oral argument to focus on related unsettled issues, such as the level of scrutiny and requirements for its satisfaction, which would have added clarity and certainty in future disputes regarding the relationship between copyright laws and the First Amendment. Unfortunately, in this author's view, the plaintiffs spent most of the oral argument beating the dead horse of Congress' copyright legislative power and missed an opportunity to persuade the Court on appropriate First Amendment scrutiny. That might have led the Court to find that the restoration statute did not satisfy scrutiny, for example, and that there should have been more protection for reliance parties who had developed businesses utilizing public domain foreign works. It is of course still possible that the Court in its decision will address those issues. The decision, which will determine the U.S. copyright status of thousands of foreign works, will presumably be issued sometime in 2012. Below is a more detailed review of the case and the U.S.S.C. oral argument.

On October 5, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the most recent case challenging the constitutionality of a provision of the Copyright Act added in 1994 by the Uruguay Rounds Agreement Act (URAA) that restored copyright to certain foreign works that had lost their U.S. copyright through a failure to comply with formalities. That section, §104A, also granted federal copyright to certain foreign sound recordings first fixed before Feb. 15, 1972, and provided for copyright in certain foreign works whose origin is a foreign country whose works are not subject to U.S. copyright, when the U.S. enters into copyright relations with that country.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Loyola professors conduct ADR training in Bangladesh

The Loyola Law School Center For Conflict Resolution (CCR) partnered with the South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS) and the Judicial Administration Training Institute (JATI) of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh to present a training program on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Bangladesh from July 16-22, 2011. Clinical Professor Mary B. Culbert, director of the Center For Conflict Resolution, and Associate Professor Hiro N. Aragaki provided 30 hours of mediation training to 25 judges and 12 attorneys in Bangladesh. They also met with other high ranking member of the Bangladesh legal system to discuss ways to create an ADR culture and to better utilize ADR to reduce the backlog in their court system, including the minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Barrister Shafique Ahmed, and the chief justice of Bangladesh, Mr. Justice Md. Muzammel, and other justices of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Professors Culbert and Aragaki also met with various law schoosl to discuss the integration of skills training in to their curriculum.