Fred C. Zacharias Memorial Prize for Scholarship in Professional Responsibility

Submissions and nominations of articles are now being accepted for the fifth annual Fred C. Zacharias Memorial Prize for Scholarship in Professional Responsibility.  To honor Fred’s memory, the committee will select from among articles in the field of Professional Responsibility with a publication date of 2014.  The prize will be awarded at the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.  Please send submissions and nominations to Professor Samuel Levine at Touro Law Center: slevine@tourolaw.edu.  The deadline for submissions and nominations is September 1, 2014.

The Florida Supreme Court Rules on the Eligibility of Unauthorized Immigrants For Bar Admission

The Florida Supreme Court has finally issued a per curiam decision in the much watched case of an undocumented immigrant who sought admission to the Florida Bar.The applicant, Jose Godinez-Samperio, graduated from Florida State University School of Law, and passed the Florida Bar Examination.  http://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNNews01.nsf/SMTGT/Are%20undocumented%20immigrants%20eligible%20for%20Bar%20admission%3F

The Supreme Court ruled that unauthorized immigrants are ineligible for bar admission and must show that they are legally present in the United States. Even though the applicant was covered by the Dream Act (DACA) under Federal Law, the Supreme Court found that the State of Florida still needed to take legislative action to permit aliens to receive public benefits, including the granting of a license to practice law.  In a passionate concurrence, Justice Labarga notes the injustice of this result as mandated under federal and state law.

The decision is full is found here. http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2014/sc11-2568.pdf

Janet Stearns

Dean of Students and Lecturer

University of Miami School of Law

Professor Laurel Terry Note To Fellow Casebook Users

Spring 2014 will be the first semester that I have used the Pearce, Capra, Green, Knake and Terry casebook. I am still in the process of adapting and figuring out my rhythm for this casebook since I had used my prior casebook for more than twenty years.

One of the things that I appreciate about the current casebook is that my co-authors Russ Pearce and Renee Knake posted their PowerPoint slides on the blog. On the one hand, I found this is extremely helpful. On the other hand, I find it very difficult to use other people’s slides – especially lengthy slides – because it limits my flexibility in the way I teach the class. For example, when I teach Civil Procedure, I use a casebook that has lengthy slides available. But I find that I only use a slide here or there (usually those with good graphics). I prefer to have a file folder of Word documents so that I can keep my flexibility in switching in between documents.

Although I am only at the beginning of Week 2 of this Semester’s Professional Responsibility course, I feel that I am beginning to get a sense of how I will prepare for class. I thought I would share my approach (and PowerPoint slides) in case anyone else would find them useful (especially those teaching from this casebook for the first time).

I teach the course primarily as a statutory course in which we try to figure out what the rules say, how they should be applied, and whether the students approve of the policy choices reflected in the rules. I focus quite a bit on methodology and consider that equally important as the substantive material we are covering. In my experience, students (and lawyers), are not as facile in dealing with statutes as I think they should be. This is one of the reasons why I like to teach using the problem method. After identifying a particular problem, my opening question is usually “how do we tackle this problem?” That question should elicit the correct rule. My second question often asks the students to “eyeball” the rule and try to understand and explain its structure – for example, whether a particular section sets forth a mandatory prohibition, whether it functions as an exception, or whether it is a definition. I will then ask the students to walk us through the particular elements, identifying whether elements are conjunctive or disjunctive. After that, we will turn back to the problem and apply the analysis to the particular fact pattern.

For this reason, I decided that I would prefer to have PowerPoint slides that contained ONLY the questions, rather than a PowerPoint that contains all the material we will use in class. I flip back and forth between the PowerPoint problems and the relevant ABA Model Rule, which I have saved as Word documents. (I prefer using a Word version of a Model Rule to the free online version because it is easier to annotate the Word version plus it includes the comment.)

For this reason, most of my PowerPoint slides set forth the structure of the material we are covering or the discussion problem (but not the choices or the applicable rule). I am happy to share my Word documents Via Dropbox if anyone is interested in them. Just this week, I decided that in the future, I would prepare a second PowerPoint file for each assignment and that this second file would include the case illustrations and video links. By having these in a separate file, I have more control over whether and how they are used.

I hope these observations have been helpful.

Laurel S. Terry

Police Officers Involved in Danziger Bridge Shootings and Coverup Granted New Trial

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt granted five former New Orleans police officers new trials after they were convicted for their involvement in the Danziger Bridge shootings and cover-up after Hurricane Katrina. The judge found that the defendants were prejudiced by anonymous internet postings by federal prosecutors before and during the trial. For more on the controversial decision, read Bruce Green’s article, “Two Wrongs Make it Worse in Cops’ Retrial” in The National Law Journal.

President Obama Urges Consideration of Reducing Law School to Two Years

President Obama has joined with those who argue that law school should be no longer than two years, with the third year being a time for students to learn practical lawyering skills. Here’s the New York Times coverage.

A Defense Counsel’s Role When Defendants Desire the Death Penalty

Once again, defense lawyers are questioning their role in assisting criminal defendants in capital cases where the defendants seek their own execution.  Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who faces the possibility of capital punishment in his trial for for the Fort Hood Shootings, has been representing himself.  His former lawyers, who have been ordered to sit with Major Hasan and provide him legal assistance as he represents himself, have asked to be relieved on this obligation on the ground that Major Hasan is deliberately manipulating his trial in order to receive the death penalty.  They argue that they should be relieved under Sope insert.  Major Hasan’s actions raise controversial questions about the death penalty, and an attorney’s scope of representation and allocation of authority under Rule 1.2(a) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The case is reminiscent of the infamous Gilmore v. Utah, 429 U.S. 1012, 97 S.Ct. 436 (1976), where the defendant, resigned to his fate desired to receive the death penalty by firing squad. To read more about Major Hasan’s military trial read the following New York Times articles by Manny Fernandez titled, “Judge Denies Ex-Defense Team’s Bid to Limit Role in Fort Hood Suspect’s Trial,” and, “Lawyer Says Fort Hood Defendant’s Goal Is Death.”

Facebook Posts and The Scope of Prosecutorial Ethics

US Attorney John Craft, of the Eastern District of Texas may have run afoul of the scope of prosecutorial ethics rules when making Facebook comments and posts regarding President Barack Obama, and Trayvon Martin. Neither of the comments were a direct violation of Rule 3.8 and Rule 3.6 addressing trial publicity, because they were not made in direct response to a matter Craft, or the Eastern District of Texas were working on. But, Craft may have indirectly violated Rule 3.8(f) as a US Attorney, because of Attorney General Eric Holder’s public statements that the Department of Justice would continue their ongoing investigation of the Trayvon Martin incident after the controversial verdict, and his statements that the Department of Justice’s would also continue to challenge voting rights cases most notably in Texas, in addition to the DOJ’s defense of The Affordable Care Act or “ObamaCare”. This means Craft may have violated prosecutorial ethics by making extrajudicial comments in a public manner that prejudices these pending matters, in violation of both Rules 3.8 and 3.6. For more on this matter read Debra Cassens Weiss’s article on the ABA Journal’s website titled “Assistant US attorney’s derogatory Facebook comments about ‘Dalibama’ and Trayvon Martin are probed.”