Media Archives - 2014   

For media inquiries, contact Janet LeMonnier, Director of Communications, in the Office of Public Relations, 973-642-8583.

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Professor Jenny-Brooke Condon

Professor Jenny-Brooke Condon, ‘03 associate professor of the Center for Social Justice in The Record on the CIA Torture Report

December 17, 2014

Professor Condon wrote an op-ed in The Record after examining the CIA’s report on Torture. She criticizes the CIA both for torturing detainees, and for abusing the laws of secrecy which allowed the brutality to continue. The CIA used secret prisons to conduct torture without interference from the Red Cross, Congress, the State Department, and other policy makers. And they hid it from the American public under the false guise of state secrecy, and to protect the CIA’s “methods.”

Writes Professor Condon, “For too long, details of these horrific crimes were illegal secrets – unlawful acts by government actors shielded from the American public, not for legitimate security reasons, but to prevent exposing patently illegal and immoral conduct to legal and public censure.”

Professor Condon calls for accountability and reform to keep this and any other government agencies from cloaking unspeakable acts in secrecy “to prevent the recurrence of similar unnecessary, illegal, and un-American abuses.”

Read the article, “Opinion: The Senate Torture Report: the revealing of illegal secrets,” in


Professor Rachel Godsil

Professor Rachel Godsil, the Eleanor Bontecou Professor of Law, blogs for Psychology Today: New report on reducing racial anxiety

December 14, 2014

Racial anxiety can look like racial bias and can unwittingly perpetuate inequality. Even people who want to treat others equally and respectfully can behave awkwardly when concerned about how they may be percieved by someone of a different race. Writes Professor Godsil, “In the context of race, this concern can be particularly acute as people of color worry that they will be the target of racial bias and whites worry that they will be misunderstood or assumed to be racist.”

In the report "Addressing the Impact of Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat in Education and Health Care,” Professor Godsil provides a real-world illustration of how this can play out. "We live in a time when discrimination looks less like a segregated lunch counter and more like a teacher never calling on your son or a doctor failing to inspire trust in your daughter and improperly diagnosing her illness as a result."

The good news is that racial anxiety can be reduced with cooperative learning strategies, and both direct and indirect positive interracial experiences. The more people are empathetic and willing to interact with people of other races, the more progress this nation will make toward racial equality.

Read the article, “Racial Anxiety Can Perpetuate Racial Inequalities” in


Professor David Opderbeck

Professor David Opderbeck in The Record on recreational drones and the privacy issues they raise

December 07, 2014

Drones, originally used for state-of-the-art military surveillance, have now become available and affordable for the average consumer. But irresponsible or malicious operators cause significant problems. For instance, drones have flown into off-limits airspace, causing near-misses with passenger aircraft.

Drones can also raise issues of privacy: the on-board cameras can provide the pilot with aerial views of their neighborhoods or even give the pilot a first-person view while flying – and enable their pilots to look into their neighbors’ back yards or bedroom windows, for instance. “It certainly has eroded our privacy because it erodes our expectations of privacy,” Professor Opderbeck said.

As time goes on, new rules about how and where drones can operate will have to be created. Professor Opderbeck commented, “It’s a significantly unregulated space. I think the issue is already being forced.”

Read the article, “Drones on many holiday wish lists, raising concerns,” in


Professor Mark Alexander

Dean Mark C. Alexander, publishes op-ed in the Star-Ledger supporting the legality of President Obama’s executive order on immigration

December 03, 2014

President Obama bypassed Congress and used executive action to make immigration reforms. Congress examined myriad proposals over the last few years, but has been unable to agree on any reforms. While some feel that the President has overstepped the boundaries of his office, Dean Alexander supports the decision as a legal way to achieve real, and desperately needed, immigration reform.

“Many in Congress are screaming about the President’s actions, calling him an array of names, such as tyrant. Nothing could be farther from the truth,” writes Dean Alexander. “As a Constitutional Law professor, I view this as an example of the complex function of the three-branch republic the Framers created over 200 years ago.” He argues that President Obama is well within his rights to exercise executive action. And further, if the Congress or the judicial branches of government object, it is within their power and their duties to rein him in.

Read the article, “Divided Government is the American Way: Opinion” in the Star-Ledger.

Assistant Dean Jessica Miles

Dean Jessica Miles

Christopher Keating '14
Christopher Keating '14

Assistant Dean Jessica Miles and Christopher Keating '14 in NJ BIZ on Seton Hall Law's dedication to hands-on learning for law students

November 19, 2014

NJ BIZ published two interviews with Assistant Dean Jessica Miles of the Office of Career Services regarding Seton Hall Law’s approach to legal education, which reflects a larger trend that prepares students to perform well in the courtroom, and the boardroom, from the day they graduate.

“Getting Schooled in Courtroom Setting is New Goal”

This article features the experience of Seton Hall Law graduate Christopher Keating ’14, who argued before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in April 2014 when he was a finalist in the Eugene Gressman Appellate Moot Court Competition.

‘It was the most difficult speaking experience of my life,’ he said, ‘…but that made every experience I will ever have moving forward that much easier.’

Apparently that’s what law firms are asking prospective attorneys for – more than the erudition that comes with thick textbooks, all-night study sessions and all-day classroom lectures.

‘Practice-ready’ is how Jessica Miles…more gently put it.

‘That’s the all-important buzz phrase we keep hearing,’ she said.

As the reporter describes,

‘Instilling a practice-readiness into students takes thrusting them into realistic simulations or live clinical courses.

Both of which Seton Hall Law does. And it hasn’t gone unrecognized; the school was ranked No. 13 in the nation for its experiential learning programs by The National Jurist this year.

Dean Miles, also a professor in the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice Family Law Clinic, encourages students to participate in such programs where they have the opportunity to take on real-world cases. In doing so, they put into practice the critical legal reasoning and writing abilities they first develop through traditional classroom and simulation based courses.

‘One of the most beneficial experiences a law student can have is to go through a clinical program,’ Miles said.

Keating, now serving as a clerk to Superior Court Judge Lisa M. Vignulolo in New Brunswick, agrees with Dean Miles’ view of the clinical experience:

‘It was essential to reminding me why I went into law school in the first place,’ he said, ‘It made me fall back in love with the idea of being an attorney.

‘Sitting in a classroom is nice…But being able to work directly with some who really needs your services – being able to solve their problems through what you’ve learned – is an amazing feeling.’

“Be Slow to Specialize”

In a second article featuring an interview with Dean Miles, the reporter honed in on whether law students must pursue a specific area of expertise to achieve career success.

Seton Hall Law offers three concentrations that students may pursue beginning in their second year of law school: in Health Law, Intellectual Property and its newest offering, Compliance. As the reporter notes, for some students, who come from industry, a concentration is a natural fit with their current work experience.

Dean Miles believes students should be encouraged to discover and pursue their passion in the law. As she concludes,

‘We want to graduate people who are happy to be lawyers, people who are thrilled to be in the profession,’ she said. ‘The way to do that is to support their choices.’


Professor John Jacobi

Professor John Jacobi in NJ Spotlight on new Seton Hall Law initiative monitoring implementation of Affordable Care Act in New Jersey

November 03, 2014

NJ Spotlight recently featured an article regarding The Sentinel Project, a collaborative endeavor between New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center and Seton Hall Law School, through which the two organizations will gather information from insurance customers to determine whether insurers are providing the services that customers are entitled to under the Affordable Care Act. The project is intended ensure that insurance coverage affords recipients the health care they need.

In covering the story, NJ Spotlight quoted Professor John V. Jacobi, who assists in leading the project: “One of the things that I thought state exchanges would be helpful in was just exactly this sort of this—that is, there would be professionals who would be knowledgeable about the state’s insurance market.” The article goes on to note that Professor Jacobi’s goal “is to approach insurers as quickly as possible when residents have concerns about their services, so that the companies can remedy the problems.” Professor Jacobi noted that major insurers the project has already approached have been receptive.

Professor Jacobi states that “[The project] ha[s] had some concerns with how insurers have made their networks available on their website,” adding that consumers can be left confused when the name of the plan on fails to match the name of the plan on the insurer’s website.

The article concludes by noting that there doesn’t appear to be any similar work being done in other states, so the Sentinel Project’s research could prove useful across the nation.

Read the whole story here,

And learn more about the Sentinel Project here,


Professor Stephen Lubben

Professor Lubben in Dow Jones’ Daily Bankruptcy Review on GT Advanced bankruptcy and the impact of the organization’s relationship with Apple

October 24, 2014

Professor Stephen Lubben was quoted in an article published in Dow Jones’s Daily Bankruptcy Review. The article, titled, “GT Advanced Bankruptcy Pros Disclose Client Ties to Apple,” discusses potential conflicts of interest surrounding GT Advanced Technologies Inc.’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. After Apple, Inc. declined to use GT Advanced’s synthetic sapphire material in the new generation of iPhones, GT Advanced filed for bankruptcy.

The article explains that some of GT Advanced’s bankruptcy advisors that assisted the company through bankruptcy by way of “a fast settlement with Apple Inc.” have either previously or currently represented Apple in other matters. Three of GT Advanced’s advisors, Paul Hastings LLP, Ropes & Gray LLP, and Alvarez & Marsal LLC all either currently have or previously had client relationships with Apple.

Professor Lubben was quoted, explaining: “It’s basically because you’re using the public system to resolve your debts, and therefore we want to make sure that the system’s pure and clean[.]”

Ropes & Gray LLP still holds a client relationship with Apple and GT Advanced. The firm certified that it is conflict-free to continue working with GT Advanced, but noted that if a conflict or potential conflict arises between Apple and GT Advanced, then GT Advanced will have to consult Paul Hastings or another law firm. The article explains, “The law firm is being hired under a provision that calls for less extended scrutiny than will be applied to lead bankruptcy counsel Paul Hastings, Mr. Lubben noted.”

In GT Advanced’s proceeding, Apple, owed $439 million, was described as the top secured creditor in the case, as well as the counterparty to contracts that GT Advanced has attempted to avoid as “oppressive and burdensome[.]”

Dakota Gallivan '14

Dakota Gallivan '14

Jared Stepp '14
Jared Stepp '14

Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research Senior Fellows Publish Op-Ed in The Record on the Militarization of Local Law Enforcement

September 24, 2014

Dakota Gallivan ’14 and Jared Stepp ’14, both Senior Research Fellows in the Seton Hall Law Center Policy and Research, and both veterans of the war in Iraq, published an op-ed in The Record speaking out against government-sponsored programs to equip local law enforcement with combat grade equipment and weaponry. To summarize their position, Gallivan and Stepp write,

Civilians, however unruly, should not be treated as enemy combatants in their own communities.

We know all about the tools of war. And they are not meant for community policing.

The issue of government-sponsored combat-grade equipment distribution programs made the news most recently as the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri engaged in protests following the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager. Yet in April 2013, tthe Center for Policy and Research Fellows took note of a heightened use of military equipment in the aftermath of the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Gallivan and Stepp write,

Though relieved by the ultimate outcome, we were struck by the vast number of armored vehicles and automatic weapons that descended upon Watertown, just outside Boston.

We were also disconcerted by the similarities we saw between the ways in which the law enforcement personnel were outfitted and the gear we as soldiers wore in combat in Iraq.

This experience led us to research the ways in which the U.S. government supplements, funds and equips law enforcement in America. We also sought to understand how this new equipment was being procured, used and managed by its recipients.

The ensuing report, “Costs and Consequences of Arming America’s Law Enforcement with Combat Equipment,” reveals numerous government-sponsored programs designed to provide extensive military weaponry to local police departments at reduced costs, and with no accountability to provide training, to secure equipment storage or even to conduct a periodic equipment inventory.

Gallivan and Stepp describe the equipment, based on their own experience, as “complex, unforgiving and potentially deadly,” and continue,

An offensive posture can elicit or exacerbate a divide between a community’s residents and the officials who have been sworn to protect and serve them. Instead of working together to keep towns safe, orderly and peaceful, the two groups are pitted against one another as adversaries.

As demonstrated so disturbingly in Ferguson, the militarization of police also forces our citizens to defend their own rights on their own land – often directly in the face of terrifying and life-threatening machinery. As soldiers who fought to defend American freedoms and ways of life, this is an affront to our values and service.

The message is clear: Americans need to keep the MRAPS [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles] and other military-grade armaments where they belong – in the capable and deserving hands of our armed forces. 

Read the op-ed, Opinion: In wake of Ferguson, rethinking police armaments Read the report, “Costs and Consequences of Arming America’s Law Enforcement with Combat Equipment"

Professor Jessica Miles

Assistant Dean Jessica Miles

Assistant Dean Jessica Miles on Proposed State Legislation Designed to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

September 22, 2014

On September 15, 2014, the New Jersey State Assembly passed a package of six bills aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence, including a measure introduced by Assemblyman Joseph Cryan [D-Union], which would bar anyone charged with aggravated assault in a domestic violence case from entering the pre-trial intervention (PTI) program.

While this may seem like a step in the right direction, law experts warn that the punishment of PTI is common in domestic violence cases. In a Star-Ledger article, Professor Miles explains this can present a slippery slope.

This takes away choices from the victim who very much wants to reconcile and make things better with her family. The prosecutor would have only two choices: Proceed to trial or drop the charges. Now, we’re stuck.

Professor Miles summed up the link between domestic violence and pre-trial intervention:

Unfortunately, we see this every day. When a victim wants to reconcile and work on their relationship, it’s not all that uncommon for a prosecutor to respect that decision. Even though this case seems like it would have been a ‘slam dunk,’ you can imagine her [Janay Palmer] taking a stance. She could have claimed she provoked him. And all it takes is one person on the jury to say: ‘Well, maybe she is kind of to blame.’

Read the article on, “Ray Rice Case: N.J. Lawmakers Question Prosecutor’s Decision, But Experts Say It’s Common” 

In a recent New Jersey Law Journal article, Professor Miles expressed satisfaction that the Ray Rice controversy is causing the legislature to focus on domestic violence, but she fears that “pending legislation might make things worse”:

If prosecutorial discretion in the handling of domestic violence cases were taken away, it would force prosecutors to drop more cases. Unlike the Rice case, where a video of the altercation is available, physical evidence is sparse in most domestic violence cases. If you have a situation where you have to proceed to trial or drop the charges, a lot more cases are going to be dropped. Giving a prosecutor authority to respect the wishes of a victim who doesn’t want her abuser prosecuted is important, because taking away that right would chill the reporting of abuse cases...[and] could result in victims taking the witness stand and recanting their testimony by blaming their injuries on an accident.

Professor Miles explains that outsiders should not be so quick to judge a domestic violence victim’s reluctance to prosecute his/her abuser. She noted, "Religious pressure, financial pressure, pressure to have a nuclear family and the fear of further abuse all keep victims from implicating their abusers.”

Read the New Jersey Law Journal article, “Lawyers Fear Ray Rice Case Could Stymie Prosecutorial Discretion”


Dean Jessica Miles

Assistant Dean Jessica Miles in USA Today, CNN, Time and NJTV on Domestic Violence Case Against NFL Player Ray Rice

September 22, 2014

Dean Jessica Miles, who specializes in domestic violence and serves in the Family Law Clinic of the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice, was cited in several news outlets regarding the controversy surrounding Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, and his now-wife, Janay Palmer. 

Earlier this month, the full video footage from an Atlantic City casino was released which showed Rice beating and dragging Janay Palmer’s unconscious body out of an elevator. Previously, only the part of the video, showing Rice pulling his unconscious wife off the elevator, was released to the public although Rice admitted to hitting his wife and was indicted by a grand jury on aggravated assault charges. As a result of that incident, Rice has been admitted into a pretrial intervention program, which involves probation and anger management counseling. If Rice meets the terms of his program, his record would be cleared.

Initially, the NFL’s response was to suspend Rice for two games. Following the release of the portion of the video showing Rice punching his wife, the Ravens severed Rice’s contract and he has been suspended by the NFL indefinitely. However, there has been extreme backlash regarding the handling of his criminal case and the initial actions taken by the NFL.

Time Online turned to Dean Miles for commentary on the NFL’s response to Rice’s actions:

The NFL showed zero understanding of domestic violence. It’s like they didn’t even Google it.

She went on to explain,

The way the NFL has responded is alarming. Anyone who knows anything about domestic violence would not be surprised that the prosecution did not pursue the case. As an advocate of victim’s rights, I’m disappointed that it appears the abuser got away with it. But I understand where the prosecution is coming from.

If the victim does not press the case – Janay Palmer married Rice a day after his indictment – prosecutors must keep her right to autonomy in mind. Also, losing such a trial could have a devastating effect. Abusive men could feel empowered. It could really hurt future victims. With the video evidence, it doesn’t appear that Rice has much of a legal defense. But as we all know, jury verdicts can sometimes surprise.

Dean Miles goes on to state, “The first thing abusers do is apologize. It’s very, very typical.”

Read the Time Online article, “The NFL’s Epic Breach of Trust”

In an interview with CNN, Professor Miles explained her views on the NFL’s actions and how it promotes victim-blaming:

Janay’s comments are heartbreaking…[yet] still reflecting the ‘victim blaming.’ I think that is part of why people stay . . . they feel some sort of responsibility . . . She is definitely not alone. One in four women is physically assaulted by an intimate partner in a lifetime. Domestic violence costs our country over five billion dollars in lost wages and unpaid medical bills.

When asked why the NFL’s response would further empower abusive men, Dean Miles states:

I think the NFL’s response clearly did. It’s absolutely disheartening. It’s perfectly understandable why the prosecutor dropped charges in light of the reconciliation and the difficulty of proceeding with victimless prosecution. [The NFL's] response being so minimal, compared with punishing everything else that they have punished people for so harshly, gives the message that it’s OK.

Watch the clip on CNN, “NFL Did Not Take Video Seriously”  

When USA Today asked why the legal penalties against Rice not more severe, Dean Miles pointed to Janay Rice’s opposition to testifying as a likely important factor in the prosecutor’s decision:

It’s very difficult if you can imagine a jury sitting and watching, day after day at the trial, Ray Rice’s wife looking lovely, sitting in a gallery, smiling at him as the video - which may or may not come into evidence - is shown. Or perhaps taking the stand as she did at the meeting that the football team sponsored and tried to blame herself.

Dean Miles added that she believes that the prosecutor’s office chose to respect the victim’s decision, even though it is clear that her husband needs help. “I understand why they did that and I’m not alone in being disappointed that that’s what the outcome is.”

Read the USA Today article, “Why Was Ray Rice Given a Lenient Sentence After Being Indicted for Aggravated Assault?”

Regarding the terms of Rice’s pre-trial intervention, in an interview with NJTV, Dean Miles states that he needs something much more comprehensive:

The batterer’s intervention program is a 26-week program. Most anger management programs are 5 to 10 sessions. Anger management is for people in bar fights, fights with coworkers; they can’t control their anger. As we know from everything we had heard about Rice, this is not something he does to other people, this is something he does to his intimate partner. He controls his anger and waits until he is on an elevator when he thinks he is not being watched and then he punches her.

Watch the clip on NJTV: “Senate President Calls for Investigation Into Handling of Ray Rice Case”

Professor David Opderbeck

Professor David Opderbeck

Professor Opderbeck on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry to discuss internet privacy

September 06, 2014

Professor David Opderbeck, Director of the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology, participated in a round-table discussion with MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry in a series of segments about the recent hacking of celebrity nude photos of Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence, among others. Other topics of discussion included privacy in the digital age, the ways in which corporations use consumers’ personal data, and whether we can do anything to protect ourselves.

Professor Opderbeck explained the legal tradeoff of having an online photo stream account:

The law of privacy as we know it today started to develop in the 19th and early 20th century and we didn’t have these technologies. We had newspapers; we had hard copy; but we didn’t have the average person being able to have that much information out there. Now, we have these technologies that are useful to us because we can keep our information in the cloud because it can always be accessible, but that utility sort of runs up against some old law that hasn’t really kept pace.

Watch the segment, “Is privacy an illusion in the digital age?”

In response to the question of whether we, as private citizens, have a right to privacy, Opderbeck continues:

It’s an interesting dynamic with a public figure and with this question of voluntariness, and that is a line that the law tends to draw. If you voluntarily disclose something, then it’s not private anymore. You’ve disclosed it. And the law has always seen public figures in sort of a different light in the law of privacy. They are running for office. The public has some sort of right to know things about them. It’s the private person who is now interfacing with these information intermediaries when you may not exactly know all of what’s being disclosed- it’s not entirely clear when you’re giving consent and what is voluntary. That is really where I think the legal issue arises.

Watch the segment, “How corporations use your data”

Professor Opderbeck sums up his thoughts on whether we can password protect ourselves out of the realities of corporations and our government having our personal data, and whether privacy breaches are, to some extent, preventable:

I think one of the interesting things here from the legal perspective is that in the 19th or 20th century, the analogy for the Apples or Googles of today might have been, say, the railroads. And we had anti-trust law to deal with that. And when it came to be the case that most people needed to use the railroads, we had to step in and kind of regulate the fees railroads could charge and the way they integrate. And so we still kind of think in the law of Googles and other information intermediaries as something like a newspaper. Not everyone needs to be in a newspaper, but the fact is they are more like the railroads were back then; we really all need to have access, so we need to think in terms of regulatory structure, more along those lines perhaps.

Watch the segment, “Who’s more trustworthy – Apple or the NSA?”

Professor Farrin Anello

Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor Farrin Anello

Professor Farrin Anello in the Star-Ledger regarding the influx of children over the U.S. border

August 03, 2014

Since January, approximately 30,000 unaccompanied children from Mexico and Central America have entered the country. , The Star-Ledger reports that 1,504 of these children now reside in New Jersey, primarily with friends and family. This increased migration raises complex and wrenching questions about the children’s safety, the reasons they are leaving their countries of origin, and how immigration enforcement agencies should respond.

The Star-Ledger cited the example of a woman from El Salvador, now living in New Jersey, who paid a smuggler to bring her young son and daughter to the U.S. after she began receiving demands to pay a monthly protection fee to gang members, or risk her daughter being kidnapped. The Ledger asked Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor Farrin Anello of the Center for Social Justice about a bill recently passed in the House of Representatives that allocates $694 million for immigration enforcement and facilities to hold children who are detained at the border. The bill also gives agents at the border the authority to determine whether a child’s safety is at risk if he or she is returned home, without bringing the child before an immigration judge. The Ledger writes,

Although most of the political debate has focused on reinforcing the borders and responding to the flood of children entering the country from a law enforcement perspective, that approach fails to address this as the ‘refugee crisis’ it is, said Seton Hall assistant professor Farrin R. Anello of the Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic at the law school’s Center for Social Justice.

Anello points to the recent research of Fulbright Fellow Elizabeth Kennedy, who has been interviewing children from El Salvador to better understand the migration.

‘Kennedy points out, for example, that most of the children who had family ties in the United States referenced fear of crime and violence as the underlying motive for their decision to reunify with family now rather than two years in the past or two years in the future,’ she said.

‘In the long term, we need to support the governments of these countries to build less corrupt, more civil societies,” Anello said. “But you have to deal with the problem first. They are children. We need to figure out who needs protection.’

Read the article, N.J. families, legal advocates, and controversy await unaccompanied migrant children

Professor David Opderbeck

Professor David Opderbeck

David Opderbeck appears on and CNBC as Supreme Court rules streaming service Aereo violates copyright law

June 25, 2014

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the major cable providers and broadcast companies, and against streaming service Aereo, deeming it illegal. and CNBC asked Professor David Opderbeck about the ruling itself and its implications.

In an interview with, Professor Opderbeck explained the Court's opinion:

Justice Breyer ruled that the Aereo service is essentially like a cable television service. He looked at the copyright statute as it was amended in 1976 specifically to deal with cable television providers. He decided Aereo is very much like a cable provider, and would have to fall under one the cable provider exceptions, which it doesn’t.

Although the case focused on technical issues under the Copyright Act relating to broadcast and cable television, the ruling has implications for searchable video services and other Cloud-based providers, such as Google or Dropbox.

If the compromises reflected in the current Copyright Act of 1976 cannot keep up with rapid technological change, the Supreme Court decision may also initiate the need for Congress to create new legislation. Professor Opderbeck summed it up on

I think the law will have to adapt and that’s one of the interesting tensions between Justice Breyer’s opinion and the dissent by Justice Scalia. The question is, what does the law really say? Does it really address these new technologies? Justice Scalia says it doesn’t; Justice Breyer says we’ll have to take each one as it comes…

The uncertainty of Justice Breyer’s opinion really does throw all of these technologies into question. We can even ask basic questions about things like Internet hyperlinking: is clicking on a link and streaming a video the same thing or similar to what Aereo does? Some of these issues may have to get addressed by Congress in the future.

And on CNBC:

There ought to be a Congressional response. I disagree a bit about the scope of Breyer’s opinion; he leaves a lot of space in that opinion to suggest that other cloud-based services also might fall within that scope. It’s really unclear and therefore Congress does need to act.

Watch the interviews here:

On, Aereo Losts Superme Court Case as Justices Side with Broadcasters

On CNBC, Pulling the Plug on Aereo


Professor Mark Denbeaux

Seton Hall Law Center for Policy & Research report on recidivism among GMTO detainees cited in Washington Post story regarding release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

June 02, 2014

Shortly after the exchange of five Taliban detainees for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Washington Post published an article addressing the question of how many former Guantanamo detainees have “returned to the fight.” The answer, according to a biannual report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is that about 16.9% are confirmed to have returned to terrorist activity of some kind, while an additional 12.1% are suspected of having returned to terrorist activity. The article notes that these figures have been challenged, and cites Seton Hall’s Center for Policy and Research:

In particular, a project conducted at Seton Hall University suggested that evidence against former detainees listed in the “suspected” category was sometimes flimsy. Seton Hall also highlighted a number of past detainees who were released from Guantanamo Bay and started careers as diplomats, businessmen and in other civilian jobs.

The article goes on to discuss the specifics of Bergdahl’s release. Read the whole story here:


Professor Mark Denbeaux

Professor Denbeaux in the Associated Press on wrongful death and injury lawsuit filed against a prisoner at Guantánamo

May 26, 2014

Professor Mark Denbeaux was recently quoted regarding a landmark case stemming from the war on terror.

In Utah, an American soldier who was blinded while deployed in Afghanistan and the widow of another soldier who was killed in Afghanistan have jointly filed a $44.7 million lawsuit against Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo detainee who, in 2010, pled guilty to committing five war crimes when he was 15 years old. In the plea agreement, Khadr admitted to throwing the grenade that caused the Plaintiffs’ injuries. Although Khadr does not currently have assets to fund the monetary damages sought by the Plaintiffs, he recently filed a $20 million wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against the Canadian government, as Khadr has served his sentence in a Canadian detention center since his release from Guantanamo Bay.

The lawsuit that the Plaintiffs have filed against Khadr is unique and has raised several questions. NBC News turned to Professor Denbeaux for commentary on the legal questions surrounding the lawsuit:

Mark Denbeaux, a professor at Seton Hall University who has represented Guantanamo detainees, said he’s never heard of a similar lawsuit filed against a detainee. He called the case “odd” and “quixotic,” and said there are a variety of legal questions that make it hard to calculate what barriers the lawsuit could face.

Denbeaux questioned how [the Plaintiffs] could expect to recover any money from Khadr unless he wins his wrongful imprisonment lawsuit in Canada. If Khadr is found to have been wrongfully imprisoned, that could determine the claims made in the Utah lawsuit.

Additionally, Denbeaux said the Utah lawsuit could open the door for Khadr to seek damages of his own in the U.S.

Read the whole article here.

Hobbs Patrick 125x156

Dean Patrick Hobbs

Dean Patrick E. Hobbs on NJTV-News Describing His Appointment as Ombudsman for NJ Governor’s Office: “I see my role as moving forward”

May 14, 2014

Dean Hobbs appeared on NJTV-News with Mike Schneider to talk about his new role in the Governor’s office, which he will assume the week of May 19.

Dean Hobbs detailed how he will familiarize himself with the office, noting that meetings are already being scheduled with office employees in the Governor’s office. “[If I’m going to serve as an] outlet for people to come to with concerns, then they are going to need to know me. I intend to spend a lot of time meeting with folks both as a group and individually, learn about what they do and try to get them get comfortable with me and my role.”

When asked if he thought the investigation will impact he will do his job, or how the job is viewed inside the Administration, Dean Hobbs described his job as “a forward-action role,” and described his responsibilities in addition to serving as an outlet for office employees: “I’ll . . . work with the Chief Counsel to hire a Chief Ethics officer, to begin to review the practices within the offices, the protocols, what type training of currently is available and to start to create best practices within the office.”

As NJTV reports,

According to Hobbs, the governor is working to have a better functioning executive branch.

“I certainly know that from my conversation with the governor and the chief counsel, they’re determined to have a high functioning executive branch and to the extent that they think I can do that, I’m going to work as hard as I can for the citizens for New Jersey,” Hobbs said.

Watch the NJTV-News broadcast, Ombudsman Hobbs Begins Duties Next Week.

Judge Julio Fuentes, Justice Sotomayor and Judge Chagares

Justice Sotomayor with Judges Fuentes and Chagares

Moot Court Competition Finalists Argue Before Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Featured in The New Yorker

May 06, 2014

The New Yorker magazine attended the Eugene Gressman Appellate Moot Court Competition final round, where, on April 10, Justice Sonia Sotomayor presided alongside Judges Michael A. Chagares ’87 and Julio M. Fuentes of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Teams Karol Ruiz ’14 and Christopher Keating ’14 - both, Center for Social Justice Scholars - and Justin Ferrone ’15 and Brian Spadora ’15, argued their cases before a packed audience in the Law School’s Larson Auditorium. The story appears in the May 12 edition of the New Yorker’s famed “Talk of the Town.”

The reporter describes an energetic presentation:

Justin Ferrone, a second-year student whose summer plans include an externship at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York, was the first up, arguing on the petitioner’s side. Within minutes, he had cited a judgment that Sotomayor rendered while she was a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. ‘Well, was I right?,' Sotomayor responded, to general laughter. Ferrone was not thrown entirely off balance. ‘With all due respect, Your Honor, I think your position is wonderful,’ he said. Ferrone’s co-counsel, Brian Spadora, a second-year student and a former newspaper reporter, also cited a phrase from one of Sotomayor’s earlier decisions. Sotomayor corrected him. “I think that was my colleague’s line,' she said.

’It’s a good line; you should take credit for it,’ Spadora replied.

Karol Ruiz, who was brought to the U.S. from Colombia as a young child and now advocates for the rights of other children in her position, found a deep connection to Justice Sotomayor when she read the Justice's autobiography:

When Sotomayor wrote, in 'My Beloved World,' about the generosity of her grandmother, it put Ruiz in mind of her own family, she explained. ‘She was the first Supreme Court Justice to use the term ‘undocumented immigrants,’ and she used it in her first opinion,’ Ruiz said. ‘I grew up an undocumented immigrant, and she really inspired me to show her what we can do.”

The profile also describes the competing teams’ excitement after they presented their arguments before the Justices. While Ferrone and Spadora described their own experiences, Chris Keating ’14 most likely spoke for the entire assembled audience when he said, “It’s amazing, making eye contact with Justice Sotomayor,’ he said. ‘You’re thinking, This Justice is actually listening to the words that are coming out of my mouth.'

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Professor Rachel Godsil

Rachel Godsil Appointed New Chair of New York City Rent Guidelines Board as reported by The Real Deal and New York Crain’s Business

April 24, 2014

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Professor Rachel Godsil to lead the board that determines annual rent adjustments for approximately 1 million apartments across the city that are subject to the Rent Stabilization Law.

The Mayor’s press release cites Professor Godsil’s credentials: “Godsil is an accomplished attorney and professor specializing in issues of housing, land use and social justice. She is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and previously clerked for John M. Walker of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.” New York Crain’s Business also notes,

She is a co-founder and research director for a national consortium of social scientists and law professors, the American Values Institute, focusing on the role of implicit bias in law and policy. And she previously clerked for John Walker of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to real estate blog, The Real Deal, “The new members are expected to slow the pace of rent hikes that existed under the Bloomberg administration,” which is underscored by Crain’s:

“Prior to his election as mayor, Mr. de Blasio was a vocal advocate for a rent freeze, which would be a first for the Rent Guidelines Board. Since its inception in 1969, the board has never failed to raise rents. Last year, it allowed increases of up to 4% for one-year lease renewals and up to 7.75% for two-year leases.”

As Crain’s concludes,

Earlier this month, a spokesman for the mayor told The New York Times that Mr. de Blasio was ‘seeking balanced candidates who understand the needs of low- and moderate-income tenants.’

Read the New York Crain’s article, De Blasio to name new Rent Guidelines Board chair

Read the Real Deal blog post, De Blasio to appoint Rent Guidelines Board chair today

Read the press release from Mayor de Blasio’s office

Read Professor Godsil’s biography on the Seton Hall Law faculty page


NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today announced the appointment of Rachel Godsil as Chair of the Rent Guidelines Board. The Rent Guidelines Board.

Godsil is an accomplished attorney and professor specializing in issues of housing, land use and social justice. She is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and previously clerked for John M. Walker of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Mayor previously appointed Sarah Williams Willard as an owners’ representative, Cecilia Joza and Steven Flax as public members of the board, and Sheila Garcia as a tenant representative. The Mayor also re-appointed current tenants’ representative Harvey Epstein to the board.

About Rachel Godsil

Rachel Godsil currently serves as the Eleanor Bontecou Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law. Godsil’s areas of expertise include property, land use, environmental justice, education and race. Her recent property work focuses on the mortgage crisis and eminent domain, as well as the intersection of race, poverty and land use decisions.

Godsil previously clerked for John M. Walker of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She was an associate counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, focusing on environmental justice, as well as an associate with Berle, Kass & Case and Arnold & Porter in New York City.

After serving as the convener for the Obama campaign’s Urban and Metropolitan Policy Committee and an advisor to the Department of Housing and Urban Development transition team, Professor Godsil co-directed a report to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.

She joined Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000 and has been recognized for her teaching by being nominated for Professor of the Year in 2002 and 2003. She was named Researcher of the Year in Law by Seton Hall University. She has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and New York University Law School. Godsil lives in Brooklyn.

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Seton Hall Law Career Services

Seton Hall Law in the National Law Journal, ranked in the Top 30 for Class of 2013 graduates' employment outcomes

April 23, 2014

The National Law Journal published an infographic detailing the employment data that all law schools submitted to the American Bar Association in March 2014, reflecting the Class of 2013 employment outcomes. The graphic, "Which Law Schools are Tops for Jobs?," offers a variety of categories for consideration. To quote the NLJ,

Here, we look at which law schools placed the highest percentage of new graduates in full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage but were not funded by the schools themselves. We also highlight schools that placed the most graduates in large firm jobs, federal and state clerkships, and government and public interest jobs.

Seton Hall Law was ranked 28th among all law schools for the percentage of Class of 2013 graduates landing jobs requiring passage of the bar exam.

Seton Hall Law was also ranked #1 among law schools sending Class of 2013 graduates to state-level clerkships.

View Seton Hall Law's employment data, including the latest post-clerkship survey results, here.

Read the National Law Journal article, "Which Law Schools are Tops for Jobs?"

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Dean Patrick Hobbs

Dean Patrick Hobbs quoted in the Star-Ledger and Philadelphia Inquirer regarding appointment as Ombudsman in the Governor’s office

April 17, 2014

Numerous national and regional media outlets reported on Governor Christie’s appointment of Dean Hobbs as the state’s first Ombudsman for the governor’s office. According to the Star-Ledger, the Ombudsman role was created to “keep watch for wrongdoing, bolster ethics training and improve email communication policies within the governor's office.”

Dean Hobbs responded to questions regarding the independent nature of the new position: “I would not have taken on this role if I did not have those assurances from the governor," he said. "He wants me to come in and do what I think needs to be done, and I'll have all the resources and autonomy to do that."

The Inquirer quoted Dean Hobbs further regarding his view of the role:

He said his work with the investigation commission would serve as "a natural jump-off to this position." While he will be focused on establishing a system for staff to voice concerns and ensuring proper ethics training, the role is "wide open," Hobbs said. He said he would be "taking a look at the entire functioning of the office."

Read the Star-Ledger article, Christie names Seton Hall dean as ombudsman in response to bridge scandal review

Read the Philadelphia Inquirer article, Christie chooses law dean as his office's ombudsman

Professor Mark Alexander

Professor Mark Alexander

Professor Mark Alexander publishes an op-ed in The Record regarding McCutcheon v. FEC and its impact on campaign contribution limits

April 16, 2014

Professor Alexander writes on the impact of the Supreme Court ruling which has essentially eliminated campaign contribution limits for individuals. In the case, Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy businessman from Atlanta, asserted that existing campaign contribution limits, which cap the aggregate amount an individual may donate in support of their choice political candidates, inherently compromises his ability to exercise his right to free speech. Giving the historical perspective, Professor Alexander writes:

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed that McCutcheon and all wealthy individuals should be allowed to spend hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars if they so choose. The court pinned its misguided decision on a my opic interpretation of a 1970s case, Buckley v. Valeo. In that case, the court essentially equated money and free speech. The argument goes that political spending is akin to political speech, so it deserves First Amendment protection. Likewise, individual contributions to campaigns are seen as expressive activity, deserving First Amendment protection.

But, as with all constitutional rights, speech rights can be regulated if there is a “compelling governmental interest.” In Buckley, the Supreme Court explained that (in the immediate aftermath of the Watergate scandal) political contributions to candidates could be limited in order to prevent actual corruption or the appearance thereof. In last week’s McCutcheon decision, the court read that concept narrowly to allow contribution limits only when there is some sort of quid pro quo contribution, like bribery.

Professor Alexander’s objections to the ruling are three-fold:

First, it limits the ability of legislatures to regulate the corrupting influence of money in politics. Second, it undermines the principle of a political system where all people can participate, and all voices can be heard on an equal basis. Third, when considered with other recent cases involving politics, it erodes the people’s faith in our government. Together, these three problems have a very negative impact on our system of government.

And as he asserts:

The millions that will be donated by the wealthiest few will unequally fund campaigns, far more than is already the case. The resulting inequality means that those with the most money — the one percent of the one percent — have a dramatically greater access and influence in our political system than all the rest of us.

In conclusion, Professor Alexander expresses his concern that since 2000, when the Supreme Court played a pivotal role in the presidential election of George W. Bush versus Albert Gore, the Court is becoming more politicized in its rulings:

The problem in all these decisions is that the court can be seen more as an interested political player and less as a neutral referee in our tripartite system of government. The three branches are meant to check each other, ultimately to protect the best interests of the people. But these decisions have given the people reason to wonder if the U.S. Supreme Court is just a bunch of political appointees who enforce a partisan view of the world, and not honest brokers in the great constitutional debates of our time.

Read the op-ed, How Ruling on Campaign Cash Impacts Democracy


Justice Sotomayor

Justice Sotomayor’s visit to Seton Hall Law highlighted in The Bergen Record and WBGO-FM

April 11, 2014

Seton Hall Law welcomed Justice Sotomayor of the Supreme Court of the U.S. to Seton Hall Law on April 10. She served as the keynote speaker for the annual Diversity Speaks Distinguished Speaker series and was the guest of honor at a series of receptions and talks with students, including those participating in the New Jersey Law & Education Empowerment Project (N J LEEP). That evening, Justice Sotomayor presided along with Judge Michael Chagares and Judge Julio Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit at the final round of the Eugene Gressman Appellate Moot Court Competition.

The Bergen Record writes of her lecture,

Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is keenly aware that her personal story is inspirational – from a childhood in public housing in The Bronx she became the first Latino on the highest court in the land. And that awareness, she said, compelled her to write her memoir, “My Beloved World.” “There were so many people I wanted to touch and I couldn’t,” she said.

Sotomayor was introduced by law school student Leidy J. Gutierrez, an immigrant from Colombia, who said the justice’s “life bears living witness to the promise of a good education.” Sotomayor, in turn, told Gutierrez: “You inspire me and give me hope about the future. You’re going to do things I couldn’t finish.” Sotomayor, 59, said one of her goals is to meet regularly with students – beginning in middle school – to stress the value of education, which she called the only way to narrow the widening socioeconomic gap in the country.

While needing to avoid comment on matters that might come before the court, she did offer opinions on the legal profession. On being a woman and minority in law, she allowed: “People don’t expect much from you … But boy does it feel good to prove people wrong.”

Sotomayor urged the students in the audience to seek out broad legal experience. She said judges too often are drawn only from the ranks of prosecutors and that more perspectives, such as those of defense and civil practice attorneys, are needed. “We will lose something if we don’t bring a broader range of experience to the bench,” said Sotomayor. And she offered this advice to the future lawyers assembled: “Spend a lot of time ignoring the naysayers and do what you feel is right.”

In its broadcast, WBGO-FM quoted Justice Sotomayor: “Our jobs as individuals is to go back to our communities those we came from and those we may just be a part of tangentially and inspire other kids to continue on this path that’s our individual obligation.”

Read the Bergen Record article, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor talks about her memoir at Seton Hall

Hear the radio broadcast, Supreme Court Justice Visits with Seton Hall Law Students


Professor Jonathan Hafetz

Professor Jonathan Hafetz in McClatchy DC regarding recently declassified report on CIA interrogation practices

April 04, 2014

Professor Jonathan Hafetz was recently quoted on the issue of CIA interrogations, the subject of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recent report that is currently on its way to the White House. The article sheds light on the Senate report, acknowledging that the CIA “flagrantly abused some detainees and held some without legal authorization.” Some experts predict that this report will pressure the executive branch to address and alter the U.S.’s torture policy and that it will incite litigation, potentially including civil actions brought by those abused by the program and legal action in international or foreign courts.

The contents of the cumbersome report, which cost approximately $40 million to conduct and amounted to over 6,300 pages of findings, were declassified by an 11-3 vote on April 3. The report analyzes how the CIA handled detainees after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, revealing that CIA officers employed interrogation tactics that were not approved by the necessary authorities. The agency illegally detained 26 out of their 119 detainees and repeatedly misled the Justice Department.

The article goes on to discuss the federal government’s hesitancy to declassify this information and to impose liability on the officers responsible for the violations. McClatchy included Professor Hafetz’s commentary:

The courts have been extremely resistant to any form of civil liability so far, not because the evidence wasn’t available, but because the courts did not want to get into this.

The article goes on to state:

Even with its graphic details, Hafetz said he doesn’t think the Senate committee’s report is a legal ‘game changer.’ Civil litigants will still face judges reluctant to second-guess national security decisions, and federal prosecutors will still face a president intent on looking forward.
But the report will still have impact.
‘It will help shape the public narrative about the torture program,’ Hafetz said.

Read the story, Senate's findings on CIA interrogations likely to become roadmap for litigation, here.


Professor Stephen Lubben

Professor Stephen Lubben blogs in the New York Times’ Dealbook, ‘Giving a Debtor a Big Club Against Lenders’

April 03, 2014

Professor Stephen Lubben authored an article in the Dealbook section of the New York Times considering the implications of a recent federal district court opinion, Meridian Sunrise Village v. NB Distressed Debt Investment Fund Ltd., for distressed debt investors and loan investors. The case involves an issue that arose when Bank of America sold its part of a loan, which it shared with U.S. Bank and others, to a distressed debt investor.

The general rule is that a debtor has the right to approve any loan transfers, so long as consent is not unreasonably withheld, except that a debtor in default loses the right to consent. Here, the debtor was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, so it would seem that the debtor lost the right to approve any loan transfers. Both the bankruptcy court and the district court, however, disagreed because the loan agreement limited loan transfers to “financial institutions,” and the courts found that hedge funds are not “financial institutions.”

Professor Lubben criticizes the district court’s interpretation, writing:

The court’s argument that financial institutions should be interpreted as entities that make loans almost proves the point, as hedge funds are increasingly making direct loans themselves. And did the court really mean to say that a mutual fund or an exchange traded fund could not buy a stake in this loan?

The clause in question might have more reasonably been interpreted to prohibit assignment of the loan to individual investors. But the Washington courts did not seem to be too worried about the broader context in which this loan exists.

Professor Lubben goes on to discuss a number of other reasons why the opinion is problematic, including the court’s view that the hedge fund’s subsequent transfer of part of its loan from Bank of America to another fund was an “an attempt to manipulate the Bankruptcy Code’s voting rules,” while the same transfer by a bondholder to another creditor would probably not have caused the court to object.

He concludes by emphasizing the importance of the opinion:

Why is the opinion important? Because you can expect to see it in a Chapter 11 case soon. After all, this is an appellate decision that gives the debtor a great big club against its lenders. Why not try to use it?
Read the New York Times' Dealbook Article, "Giving a Debtor a Big Club Against Lenders."

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Professor Paula Franzese

Professor Paula Franzese interviewed on MSNBC regarding the TransCanada Pipeline and eminent domain

March 29, 2014

Professor Paula Franzese appeared on MSNBC's news show, "Disrupt with Karen Finney," to discuss the TransCanada Pipeline and eminent domain. Texas has delegated the takings power (a prerogative reserved for government to advance the public good) to TransCanada, a private foreign corporation, essentially allowing the company to take private property against homeowners' will to make way for the ambitious pipeline. That delegation is constitutionally suspect, and has inspired a split of authority among state courts, with Nebraska deeming it impermissible and Texas declining to do so. Julia Crawford is a Texas landowner fighting the taking of her property.

At issue is the significant question, can the takings power lawfully be delegated to an entity other than a regulatory agency or government arm, and instead be vested in a private corporation that inherently is not a fiduciary of the public trust? Moreover, the case raises the important question of how best to accommodate the benefits that the pipeline could bring (more jobs, potentially cheaper oil prices) against private property rights and environmental harms.

Watch the MSNBC news show here.

Professor Linda Fisher

Professor Linda Fisher

Professor Linda Fisher in the Washington Post/Bloomberg regarding foreclosures in New Jersey

March 26, 2014

Professor Linda Fisher was quoted in an article published by the Washington Post/Bloomberg about the foreclosure crisis in New Jersey. New Jersey now has the highest number of residential mortgages that are seriously delinquent or in foreclosure. The rising number of homeowners losing their homes at this time, after years of not making mortgage payments, is a result of banks finally making their way through a significant backlog of delinquent loans that had been suspended.

To avoid court delays in the judicial foreclosure process, some hedge-fund investors are purchasing delinquent mortgages at a discount price and modifying loans. If modification is not possible, investors are paying homeowners to “hand over keys or sell for less than what’s owed.” However, investors are generally avoiding hard-hit urban neighborhoods.

Professor Fisher is helping neighborhoods, such as Newark and Irvington, research plans to use government eminent domain power to seize properties and reduce homeowner debt. This plan would allow homeowners to make affordable payments by offering fair-market value for the loans and reissuing them to homeowners.

The Washington Post/Bloomberg writes:

Many largely black and Hispanic communities in New Jersey and elsewhere were targeted for predatory loans during the boom, said Linda E. Fisher, law professor at Seton Hall University, who is helping the cities research the eminent domain proposal.

Fisher is also campaigning with residents on her block in the town of Montclair to encourage the bank, which owns a vacant property two doors down from her, to clean it up and resell it. The house, which has been empty for three years, was stripped of pipes. It attracted squatters who moved in a stove and a flat screen television, she said…

“Here we are in our middle- and upper-middle-class community and we’re seeing the same problem of poor maintenance by servicers,” Fisher said. “The foreclosure crisis has had ripple effects and it is not limited to poor communities of color where it’s concentrated.”

Read the full story, "Foreclosures Climaxing in New York-New Jersey Market: Mortgages," here.

Professor Michael Risinger

Professor Michael D. Risinger

Professor Michael Risinger comments in the New Jersey Herald on the release of a man held on murder charges

March 04, 2014

Professor D. Michael Risinger, Associate Director of the Last Resort Exoneration Project, commented on the case of Valentino Ianetti, who was held for four years after his wife was found stabbed to death in their home. Ianetti was released after the defense submitted findings from an alternate pathologist who suggesting that Pamela Ianetti’s death was, instead, a suicide.

The case has against Ianetti has been dismissed “without prejudice,” which gives the Sussex County Prosecutor’s office the leeway to re-open the case and press charges again if new evidence comes to light. Ianetti’s attorney is fighting for the charges to be dropped “without prejudice”:

Michael Risinger, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law and associate director of the Last Resort Exoneration Project, said he is unaware of any legal mechanism that dismisses murder charges with prejudice, especially if there are disagreements among the state’s and defense’s forensic pathologists.

The former Sussex County medical examiner, Dr. Junaid Shaikh, determined the cause of death to be homicide caused by the stab wounds. The defense challenged those findings and offered evidence from another forensic pathologist of suicide based on the number of non-lethal wounds inflicted before the final deadly wounds and evidence indicating a large number of prescription opioids taken by Pamela Ianetti.

In August, Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller asked Judge Thomas J. Critchley in Morristown to dismiss the charges without prejudice. The judge agreed and Ianetti was let out of jail.

Risinger praised the prosecution for “living up to his professional responsibilities” to not move forward with bringing the case to trial if a reasonable jury would have reasonable doubt.

When asked about Ianetti filing a civil suit, Risinger said he would not expect one to be successful, citing the difficulty in proving liability for a medical examiner or prosecutor’s office.

“I just don’t see a lawsuit here even though I feel sorry,” he said. “It is a terrible injustice, but it’s one of those kinds of injustices where the law treats it like a natural disaster; no one is legally responsible for that.”

He added: “People are held for long periods of time and then acquitted, and it’s an unfortunate cost of citizenship in a way.”

Read the full story, “Prosecutor says murder charges for Stanhope man should stay,” here


Professor Lori Nessel

Professor Lori Nessel quoted in NBC News article on potential medical repatriation of comatose student from Pakistan

February 20, 2014

Professor Lori Nessel was quoted on the issue of medical repatriation in an NBC News article focusing on a specific case in which a 20-year-old Pakistani citizen who was enrolled in a one-semester study abroad program at The University of Wisconsin-Superior fell into a coma resulting from a car accident.

Comatose since November 2013 through at least late-February 2014, at which time this article was published, the 20-year-old student’s $350,000 medical bills exceeded his $100,000 emergency medical insurance policy and the hospital at which he was being treated sought to return him to Pakistan, despite the risk that the 24-hour flight might pose to his health due to his comatose state.

This case illuminates the underlying issue of medical repatriations. Professor Nessel co-authored a 2012 study, “Discharge, Deportation, and Dangerous Journeys: A Study on the Practice of Medical Repatriation,” in partnership with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. The report found that, spanning the previous six years, there were at least 800 cases in which immigrant patients who were unable to fund their hospital bills were returned to their countries of origin. The study states that U.S. hospitals are required to provide emergency medical care to immigrant patients, both documented and undocumented, “but this obligation terminates once the patient is stabilized.”

Professor Nessel elaborates on this issue, explaining:

‘[S]tabilized’ is a term of art – they can still be in critical condition. But at that point, [the hospitals] don’t have to continue to treat them . . . No government agency provides oversight . . . it’s an unregulated black hole. People are being forced to go back to their native countries where they’re not going to get the kind of care they need – which could deprive them of their life.

Read the article, “Family Fights to Block Deportation of Comatose Exchange Student”.

Matthew Feinstein

Matthew Feinstein

Matthew Feinstein ’09 and Kama Jones-El, a graduate of the New Jersey Law & Education Empowerment Project in the Huffington Post

February 19, 2014

Matthew Feinstein ’09, Associate Director of the New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project (NJ LEEP), recently wrote a blog post in the Huffington Post, describing the experience of Kama Jones-El, a student with whom he has worked at NJ LEEP over the last five years. NJ LEEP is a four-year, college access program available to underserved middle and high school students.

Kama was raised in a single-parent, low-income household and graduated from a Newark high school. Her intellectual curiosity, together with support from her family, led Kama to actively pursue her dreams. With the help of NJ LEEP, Kama was given direction and support to help actualize her academic potential. She now attends one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, as a freshman at Bowdoin College.

Upon beginning her classes at Bowdoin, and despite her best studying efforts, Kama was confronted with a 49 on her first biology exam. What she did next made all the difference. Kama reached out to Feinstein at NJ LEEP, who directed her to use the resources Bowdoin offers, from teacher office hours to study groups. “Expecting the hardships, planning for them and being unafraid to say ‘I need help’ are some of the most essential skills a college student can develop,” Feinstein writes.

Kama worked hard to implement a new studying strategy, and the results of her efforts were apparent from her improved exam grades. Despite the frustrations and setbacks, Feinstein notes that “Kama’s family did not raise her to quit,” and that Kama’s discomfort was “an opportunity for growth” because she was honest with herself early on and sought the help that she needed.

Feinstein notes that Kama is one of over 40,000 students in Newark. He concludes, “The question that remains is what will we do – as a community of private citizens, large corporations, social service organizations and so many more – to help all students have the opportunity for empowerment that Kama has created for herself.”

Read the full story, “Making the ‘Leep’ to College, Together” here.

Paulette A. Brown '76

Paulette A. Brown '76

New York Times announces the nomination of Paulette Brown ’76 as the next President of the American Bar Association

February 12, 2014

Paulette A. Brown ’76 has been nominated as the next President of the American Bar Association (ABA), with her term beginning in 2015. Brown is a partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer, specializing in labor and employment law and commercial litigation in Madison, New Jersey. She is also a member of the Seton Hall Law Board of Visitors. The New York Times writes,

If elected, Ms. Brown will serve as president-elect for one year and then become president in August 2015. She will be presiding over an association whose membership is facing technological, economic and other challenges in the way they operate. Two recent independent surveys of large and regional law firms found that revenues were almost flat last year in contrast to 2012 as firms struggled to attract and retain business during a turbulent economy.

Ms. Brown, who is the chief diversity officer at her firm, said in a phone interview that she wanted 'to cast a wider net to bring more diversity in minorities, the disabled, L.G.B.T., people of color and even generational diversity' to the association.

Its membership ranks are growing, she said, but the association needs 'to respect and include lawyers in all practice areas and types, from solo practitioners to members of our largest international law firms, as well as public servants and in-house counsel.'"

Read the story, "A.B.A. Nominates New Jersey Lawyer as President"

Professor Margaret Lewis

Professor Margaret Lewis

Professor Margaret Lewis in Agence France-Presse on an execution that took place in China

February 11, 2014

Professor Margaret Lewis was quoted in an article published by the Agence France-Presse about a family in China whose patriarch was executed shortly after communicating his hopefulness for acquittal. The family was not notified before the execution took place; they discovered his death by viewing a notice posted at a courthouse.

This occurrence incited a public outcry concerning China’s “murky criminal justice system and aggressive, sometimes unpredictable, use of capital punishment.” China is believed to have the highest execution rate in the world. Although China has decreased its judicial killings and its crimes eligible for capital punishment in recent years, the exact number of executions is still unknown, as the country does not publicize its figures.

The article explains that a majority of Chinese citizens support the death penalty but believe its application is “unequal and unfair.” In addressing the importance of public opinion, the article quotes Professor Lewis who stated, “The judges are sensitive that they should be aware of what the public thinks about a case.”

Read, “Execution with no farewell spotlights China death penalty” here.


Professor Stephen Lubben

Professor Stephen Lubben in the New York Times’ Dealbook on Puerto Rico’s current financial difficulty

February 06, 2014

Professor Stephen Lubben published an article in the DealBook section of the New York Times regarding Puerto Rico’s current financial situation, in which, Professor Lubben points out, the country was recently downgraded to “junk status.”
In the article, Professor Lubben evaluates the various theoretical solutions for Puerto Rico’s debt and their corresponding obstacles. Professor Lubben explains that after the United States acquired Puerto Rico, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution is inapplicable to Puerto Rico. This ruling, Professor Lubben states, “left the island in a kind of legal limbo” because it is not a state.
So, Professor Lubben says:

[Y]ou might think [Puerto Rico] could file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, just as Detroit and Jefferson County, Ala., have done. But no, Puerto Rico is also not a municipality, which is defined in the federal Bankruptcy Code as a ‘political subdivision or public agency or instrumentality of a State.’

Without bankruptcy to help it solve its debt problems, maybe Puerto Rico could rely on sovereign immunity. Argentina, a far less sympathetic debtor, has used that to great ends.

But Puerto Rico is not a sovereign nation either. The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has suggested that Puerto Rico has sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment to the Constitution. But that seems odd, given that the island is clearly not a state or a foreign state, and the amendment uses those terms.

Puerto Rico might have some sort of ‘common law’ sovereign immunity, but that’s mostly just guessing at this point, because there is little case law on the point.

Professor Lubben goes on to describe the implications of Puerto Rico’s lack of a financial remedy:

Without bankruptcy, Puerto Rico has no way to bind creditors to any sort of debt exchange offer that might address its problems. And without sovereign immunity, it may be that any creditors holding out for a better deal could run around bringing suits against the island, and obtaining judgments that might enable them to take pieces of property that should rightly belong to the Puerto Rican people.

Read the New York Times’ Dealbook article, Answer to Puerto Rico’s Debt Woes? It’s Complicated


Professor Stephen Lubben

Professor Stephen Lubben blogs in the New York Times’ DealBook, "A Safe Harbor Without Full Protection”

January 22, 2014

Professor Stephen Lubben, who writes a regular feature column in the New York Times’ DealBook section, published an article considering the “so-called” safe harbor provisions of the bankruptcy code in light of a recent New York bankruptcy ruling. He questions the lack of efforts to enact the safe harbor provisions in state courts, and challenges the genuineness of Congress’ stated goal that the provisions are primarily intended to reduce systemic risk.

Professor Lubben writes:

A recent ruling by a bankruptcy judge in New York adds to a growing body of opinions that appear to leave the door open for actions under state law that would normally be prohibited in federal bankruptcy proceedings.

The issue concerns the so-called safe harbor provisions of the bankruptcy code, which exempt derivatives and other securities transactions from the usual stay that blocks creditors’ efforts to collect debts. Last week, Judge Robert E. Gerber of Federal Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan ruled in a lingering part of a case involving the Lyondell Chemical Company that the safe harbor provisions applied only to the bankruptcy process.

His decision joined the mini-trend of court opinions that do not extend the exemptions to state courts. That is, while a bankruptcy trustee or debtor might be precluded from bringing a fraudulent transfer action in bankruptcy court, creditors retain their right to do so under nonbankruptcy state law. In the Lyondell case, Judge Gerber refused to dismiss a lawsuit initially brought in New York State court that seeks to claw back $12.5 billion paid to shareholders as part of merger deal.

Given the statutory language of the bankruptcy code, this seems like the right result. But consideration of the justification for the safe harbors makes this a somewhat more difficult matter.

Read the full NY Times’ DealBook article, "A Safe Harbor Without Full Protection."


Professor Jonathan Hafetz

Professor Jonathan Hafetz in Politico regarding President Obama's Speech on the NSA

January 17, 2014

Professor Jonathan Hafetz authored an op-ed in Politico in response to President Obama’s recent speech regarding government surveillance. Professor Hafetz’s op-ed questions the constitutionality of the surveillance programs and examines the President’s goals in delivering his speech, presenting an analysis of speeches the President has previously delivered on similar issues of public concern.

In a general evaluation of the President’s message, Hafetz comments:

As an act of political positioning, the speech might help Obama in the public relations moment, but it’s unclear if the former constitutional law professor has actually promised enough to put his administration and the government on the right side of the Constitution.

Professor Hafetz explains that the President’s vow to end the program may be a façade; he writes:

But Obama stopped short of adopting a number of changes advocated by his own advisory panel on the issue, a group of experts and academics he convened to examine possible reforms. Instead, what the president is more likely showing is a different kind of balancing, a move to tinker just enough to quiet critics, but not enough to significantly disrupt the status quo.

Hafetz concludes by addressing concerns about foreign relations. He writes:

In addition, mass surveillance imperils our relationships with foreign governments—not just because they don’t support it (as with Guantanamo), but also because they (and their citizens) feel victimized…..Spying may be hard, but the president might find curtailing the fallout even harder.
Read the full op-ed, “Is Obama Failing Constitutional Law?” here


Professor Michael Simkovic

Professor Michael Simkovic named #5 Among the Most Influential People in Legal Education by National Jurist Magazine

January 07, 2014

Professor Michael Simkovic was ranked #5 among the “Most Influential People in Legal Education in 2013” by National Jurist magazine. To compile the list, the National Jurist editorial team asked law schools to submit nominees, then narrowed the selection and solicited input among law school deans and other influential members of the legal community.

Professor Simkovic was selected due to a research paper co-authored with Frank McIntyre entitled,“The Economic Value of a Law Degree,” in which the co-authors conclude that the increased earnings attributable to a law degree, compared to a terminal bachelor’s degree, are worth $1 million in present value as of the start of law school.

Simkovic, who usually studies credit markets, started investigating law degree earnings premiums after researching student loans. While conducting that research, Professor Simkovic discovered that default rates for law students were extremely low, even at low-ranked institutions. These low default rates suggested that the overwhelming majority of law graduates probably earn more than enough to recoup the costs of their degrees.

Simkovic and McIntyre’s conclusions sparked a great deal of pushback, especially from bloggers who had criticized legal education amid declining employment and salaries for recent graduates. Untroubled by the controversy it raised, Professor Simkovic defends the $1 million figure as consistent with the data and proper statistical methods. He considers the claim that legal education does more harm than good implausible in light of the many studies showing that education enhances earnings even in trying economic times.

“The story being told is that education is the problem,” Professor Simkovic said. “That’s not the case. Education helps bring down unemployment and increase earnings. Young people in general are struggling because of the economy, but there is no law-specific problem.”

Read the full article in The National Jurist, “2013 Most Influential People in Legal Education”

Read Professor Simkovic’s research paper, “The Economic Value of a Law Degree”