Teaching PR Asynchronously Online – Follow Our Summer Journey

Today is the first day of my fully asynchronous Professional Responsibility summer school class at Wake Forest Law School.  It’s our first such PR offering at Wake. Interestingly, over 65% of the students enrolled have taken a fully asynchronous course prior to law school.

While we will not have any real-time meetings with all class members present simultaneously, this does not mean we will not have robust collaborations and connections via TWEN, WebEx, Google Hangout and other eLearning resources.  In addition to readings and original instructional videos, students will collaborate through weekly discussion forums, wikis, and a class blog.  I plan to chronicle our summer class in this blog, posting each week on what we’re planning to do and how we’re planning to do it in the virtual space.  Also, I will report on how the previous week’s assignments and activities worked.

We begin the course with introductory exercises, an overview of the rules governing lawyers and the basics of the regulatory framework, and perhaps most importantly, thinking about why we study PR.   One of the things I enjoy most is considering how to translate what I do in a physical classroom to the virtual space.  In my traditional class, I show the 60 Minutes Alton Logan clip at the very start of our first in-person meeting, which fosters great Day 1 discussion.  For our asynchronous session, student must view the clip and write a responsive blog post – you can follow the blog and see the assignment here.

You can find the syllabus here.  I welcome your questions –!

Catalyst theory carried in Erisa Case- Appellate Law NJ Blog

– Appellate Law NJ Blog.

by Bruce Greenberg

Templin v. Independence Blue Cross, ___ F.3d ___ (3d Cir. 2015).  “A party seeking attorney’s fees under ERISA [the Employees Retirement Income Security Act] must show ‘some success’ on the merits.  Here, the District Court incorrectly defined ‘some success’ by requiring evidence of judicial action.”  So began Judge Nygaard’s opinion for the Third Circuit in this case.  The panel reversed the denial of attorneys’ fees to plaintiff and remanded to the District Court for consideration of the fee application under the proper criteria.

Plaintiffs (two individuals and two pharmacies) sued the defendant insurance companies for improper denial of benefits under ERISA.  After the District Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss, defendants paid the claims and the case was dismissed.  Both sides sought attorneys’ fees, but both the District Court and the Third Circuit denied both fee requests.  The Third Circuit left one issue to be resolved: whether plaintiffs were entitled to interest on the delayed payment of benefits.  The case was remanded to the District Court on that issue.

Nebraska Lawmakers Vote To Abolish Death Penalty With Veto-Proof Majority

Nebraska Lawmakers Vote To Abolish Death Penalty With Veto-Proof Majority.
Seven years ago I predicted that New Jersey’s legislative repeal of capital punishment would be a herald of change. At a one day symposium I organized (proceedings here, key resources here) we heard from prosecutors, defenders, legislators, the Governor, and the citizen group which mobilized to bring about the change. It was a great example of the dynamic relationships between courts, elected officials, and citizens. “Legislation, litigation, reflection, and repeal” was the title. The theme was “justice cools the fierce glow of passion by passing it through reflection”. That is what has happened in Nebraska, which will soon merit the illumination of the colosseum in Rome, as did New Jersey in December 2007.
As is now well known we hold 25% of the world’s prisoners. That is the legacy of slavery and racism. Movements like Right on Crime reflect a national move away from mass incarceration – too little, and late – but important and necessary if we are every to overcome our history. – gwc

The History of the ABA Guidelines (and the Continuing Duty)

The History of the ABA Guidelines (and the Continuing Duty).Posted by 

Russell Stetler and Aurelie Tabuteau trace the background to the ABA Guidelines for Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases in The ABA Guidelines – A Historical Perspective, 43 Hofstra L. Rev. 731 (2015), and highlight the critical role of the Guidelines’ focus on teamwork, both as an approach to capital defense generally and to coordination between successive levels of “teams” (i.e., the continuing duty) in a case.  Here’s an abstract:

This paper explains how the standards of practice in the development of mitigating evidence — a core component of capital defense practice — evolved from the reinstatement of the U.S. death penalty in the 1970s to the publication of the original edition of the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases in 1989.

Batlan’s History of Legal Aid, 1863-1945//Legal History Blog: New Release:

OTHERWISE: Batlan’s History of Legal Aid, 1863-1945//Legal History Blog: New Release:.

Posted by Karen Tani
I’ve been really looking forward to this new release, from Cambridge University Press: Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid, 1863–1945, by former guest blogger Felice Batlan (Illinois Institute of Technology/Chicago-Kent College of Law). Here’s the abstract:

This book re-examines fundamental assumptions about the American legal profession and the boundaries between “professional” lawyers, “lay” lawyers, and social workers. Putting legal history and women’s history in dialogue, it demonstrates that nineteenth-century women’s organizations first offered legal aid to the poor and that middle-class women functioning as lay lawyers, provided such assistance. Felice Batlan illustrates that by the early twentieth century, male lawyers founded their own legal aid societies. These new legal aid lawyers created an imagined history of legal aid and a blueprint for its future in which women played no role and their accomplishments were intentionally omitted. In response, women social workers offered harsh criticisms of legal aid leaders and developed a more robust social work model of legal aid. These different models produced conflicting understandings of expertise, professionalism, the rule of law, and ultimately, the meaning of justice for the poor.

Justice Stevens: U.S. Should Compensate Guantanamo Prisoners Unjustly Held

In a speech to members of the corporate defense bar group Lawyers for Civil Justice retired Justice John Paul Stevens called for compensation for those held at Guantanamo without cause.  Describing Congress’s actions to block closure of Guantanamo as “even more irrational than the detention of Japanese citizens” in WW II Stevens calls for a change in legal doctrine.

While embracing Justice David Souter’s dissent in Ashcroft v. Iqbal Stevens called for a change in doctrine.  Government should be liable under respondeat superior for constitutional violations, while affording personal immunity to policy-makers like Attorney General John Ashcroft who were presumably acting from patriotic impulse even if they “encouraged or tolerated improper efforts to obtain information about potential threats”.

via OTHERWISE: Justice Stevens: U.S. Should Compensate Guantanamo Prisoners Unjustly Held.

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