Author: Jack Chin


The Domestic Violence Preliminary Hearing

Like Cinderella’s, my adventure ends at midnight when my temporary password vanishes in a shower of electrons. I thank all of the editors for the opportunity to guest-blog here. I want to offer a substantive post on a serious legal topic before I go. I’ve been spending some time in court lately; I tried a felony jury case with my students in October. I’ve been in the academy since 1994, so being in court on a regular basis is a novelty. I’ve seen many domestic violence cases now, and observed first-hand the truth of the conventional wisdom that some victim-witnesses do not wish to participate in a prosecution of their boyfriends or husbands. Prosecutors then face the unappealing alternatives of dropping the charges in a case involving a violent crime, or going forward by putting the victim of a crime under threat of prosecution or contempt.

Something occurred to me that would make these cases more prosecutable; it may well already be in the literature, I offer it more as a notion flowing from a war story than a proposal or fully-baked idea. Here it is: Why not take victim-witnesses directly from the scene of the arrest to a court reporter, with a magistrate present or available, put them under oath, and take their testimony while it is still fresh? Call it a domestic violence preliminary hearing. Then, if the victim recants, the prior testimony can be used at trial (or to induce a plea).

There are a number of objections, none of which seem insurmountable.

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It’s Not Me, It’s Them, Right?: Negotiating With Law Reviews, and a Fastest Finger Quiz

An article I wrote goes to the printer on Monday. The journal has been great in almost all ways, but when, close to the end of the process, I asked them for a copy, print out or other indication of all of the Bluebook and other changes they had made since the document left my control, the response was surprise and an inability or unwillingness to respond. So, I want to know: Am I the only one who likes to see every letter that was changed? And if this is not my eccentricity, what other similar terms should authors lay out in advance? (I’m not talking about the number of reprints or who holds the copyright). In order to bias any comments in favor of placing stringent demands on student editors, I offer you this quiz, designed to make you very afraid of what might happen to your piece when the students get ahold of it. The quiz combines the fastest finger question of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire show with the citation studies done so well by Brian Leiter and Michael Yelnosky.

From highest to lowest, put these internal editorial notes in the order of the frequency in which they appear in the published versions of articles, according to the Westlaw JLR database:

A. “Add Cite”

B. “Need Cite”

C. “Make Up Cite”

D. “Insert Cite”

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If You Want to Know What Your Colleagues Think About You, Take Their Deposition: Tenure Litigation at Michigan

As was widely reported, the University of Michigan Law School is defending a discrimination lawsuit by a former professor denied tenure by two votes. OUTlaws, the Wayne State Law School gay, lesbian, bisexual and trandgender student group, posted most of the litigation papers on line here. Although the circumstances are on any view of the facts unfortunate, the documents, including emails, letters and depositions of two dozen or so profs, represent one of the most comprehensive portraits of a tenure decision and the institutional personality of a law faculty that is ever likely to be publicly available. Even key participants in a decision could not know the facts at the level of detail possible when witnesses are put under oath and documents obtained by subpoena. There is much interesting in this material, for example, the conduct of the lawyers for the lawyers. As NYLS Professor Arthur Leonard blogged here, Michigan’s counsel at first took the embarrassing position that their policy of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation was not enforceable in contract, not a binding promise. They later withdrew that position.

If Michigan’s lawyers took a litigation position that the University felt compelled to repudiate, plaintiff’s lawyers also made an argument that I find hard to believe would have been advanced directly by a faculty member. One of the no votes, plaintiff’s attorneys argued, might well be unworthy of consideration because it was cast by a professor with a mere Ph.D.; this faculty member “has no legal training and is not a lawyer” (page 23 of this document). Wow–many non-J.D.s do spectacular work and have as much to say about legal scholarship as we lawyers–I’ll bet that Yale, for example, lets Susan Rose-Ackerman and Alvin Klevorick vote on important academic matters without fear that their non-J.D.-hood compromises the quality of decisionmaking.

The papers also raise the delicate question of whether membership in a church with discriminatory views is evidence that the member also has discriminatory views. Here is the transcript of a tape recording introduced into evidence on summary judgment. The recording was made by a private detective who chatted up a faculty member’s pastor; the pastor did not conceal the church’s views on being gay. Putting a wire on a priest–that’s hardball.


Ambitious Academics and the Ex-Factor

I interviewed for Arizona at the AALS in DC, met lots of great candidates, and we are starting to have people to Tucson. Some candidates, it was reliably rumored, already held offers, and others are certainly starting to get them at schools around the country. Surely candidates considering multiple offers will look at scholarly impact studies and rankings, such as this interesting one from Professor Michael J. Yelnosky at Roger Williams. Most such studies focus on the current faculty, an important factor, but candidates thinking about mobility in the future should also examine the size and strength of the former faculty. I don’t mean to plug my former employer Western New England College School of Law, but I use them as an example because I know their track record in giving people opportunities to move. A fairly complete list of ex-faculty includes:

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