Author: Solangel Maldonado


Bartering Legal Services for Sex

Sometimes I think that lawyers unfairly get a bad rap. Most lawyers work hard, comply with all of the ethical rules, and respect their clients. However, there are a few that repeatedly violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, hurting their clients and threatening the public’s trust in the legal profession. Unfortunately, they continue to practice law.

Imagine an attorney who has been admonished, reprimanded, and censured four times in a 6-year period for failing to communicate with clients and for recordkeeping violations, and who is later held ineligible to practice law for 15 months for failure to pay into the state’s Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection among other things.  Imagine that this attorney (who continues to practice law during this period of ineligibility) offers discounted fees to three female bankruptcy clients and to the daughter of another client in exchange for sexual favors. (He told the daughter of a bankruptcy client who could not afford his fee that he would forgive her father’s debt if she would meet him “in a hotel room for three hours.”)  You can read the rest of the stipulated facts here.

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Introducing Guest Blogger Meredith Johnson Harbach

I am so pleased to introduce Meredith Johnson Harbach as a guest blogger for the month of August.  Meredith is an Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, where she teaches Family Law, Children and the Law, and Civil Procedure. Her current scholarship explores the ways in which law influences families’ choices to “oursource” certain roles and work traditionally done by family members. She also brings to her scholarship and teaching a keen interest in pedagogy and Lawyering theory. Meredith joined Richmond in 2009 from New York University School of Law’s Lawyering Program, where she taught for four years and acted as the Program’s Associate Director for the last two. Prior to joining NYU in 2005, she was a litigator in Houston, Texas.

Meredith received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin with highest honors and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Afterward, she spent a year studying in Spain at the University of Salamanca as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.  She received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was Executive Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. After graduation, she clerked for United States District Judge Nancy F. Atlas in the Southern District of Texas.

Her most recent publication is:

Is the Family a Federal Question?, 66 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 131 (2009)

Welcome Meredith.


Introducing Guest Blogger Glenn Cohen

I am delighted to welcome Glenn Cohen who will be blogging with us this month.  Glenn is an assistant professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches bioethics, health law, and civil procedure. He is also co-director of the law school’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics.  His scholarship focuses on legal and ethical issues relating to reproductive technologies (and reproduction more generally), medical tourism (the travel of patients from one country to another country for the primary purpose of receiving health care), and other issues at the intersection of law, medicine and ethics. Prior to joining the faculty, Glenn served as a clerk to Chief Judge Michael Boudin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He also served as an appellate attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate staff, where he acted as lead counsel in over 12 Circuit Court cases, counsel in numerous others, and represented the United States in the U.S. Supreme Court in conjunction with the Solicitor General’s office. Immediately before joining the faculty he was a fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center.

His publications include:

The Constitution and the Rights Not to Procreate, 60 STANFORD L. REV. 1135 (2008)

The Right Not to Be a Genetic Parent?, 81 S. CAL. L. REV. 1115 (2008)

Intentional Diminishment, The Non-Identity Problem, and Legal Liability, 60 HASTINGS L. J. 347 (2008) (symposium)

Protecting Patients with Passports: Medical Tourism, Medical Tourism and the Patient-Protective Argument, 95 IOWA L. REV. __ (being published this month)

Trading-Off Reproductive Technology and Adoption: Does Subsidizing IVF Decrease Adoption Rates and Should It Matter? 95 MINN. L. REV. ___ (forthcoming, December 2010) (co-authored with Daniel Chen)

Medical Tourism: The View from 10,000 Feet, 40 HASTINGS CTR. REP, March- April, 11 (2010)

He is currently working on set of papers relating to the reliance on what he calls “Best Interests of the Resulting Child (BIRC)” reasoning to justify the regulation of reproduction (in areas as diverse as the criminalization of incest, prohibitions on sperm donor anonymity prohibitions, restrictions on access to reproduction to those over age 50, etc) and the problems attached to that justification as well as to its possible substitutes.


Introducing Guest Mark Alexander

I am delighted to welcome Professor Mark C. Alexander as a guest blogger for the month of July.  Mark is a Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law where he teaches Constitutional Law, Law & Politics, Criminal Procedure, and The First Amendment.  His scholarship focuses on the intersection of law, politics and government, and on free speech issues.  Mark served as Senior Advisor to then Senator Barack Obama during the presidential campaign and on the Presidential Transition Team, reviewing the Federal Election Commission, as part of the Justice and Civil Rights Team.  He also served as General Counsel to Cory Booker and the Booker Team in the 2006 Newark Municipal elections and then for Newark in Transition, as Mayor Booker moved to assume the office.  Mark has significant international experience, including a year in Spain on a Fulbright Scholarship, where he taught American Law and Politics.  He has also taught in Italy and is a fellow of the U.S.-Japan Leadership Program.

Mark clerked for Chief Judge Thelton Henderson of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and was a litigator with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher before joining the Seton Hall Law faculty in 1996.  He received his B.A. and J.D. from Yale University.  His publications include:

Let Them Do Their Jobs: The Compelling Government Interest in Protecting the Time of Candidates and Elected Officials, 37 Loy. U.-Chic. L.J. (2006)

Money in Political Campaigns and Modern Vote Dilution, 23 U. Minn. J.L. & Inequality 239 (2005)

Campaign Finance Reform: Central Meaning and a New Approach, 60 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. (June 2003)

He is currently working on a book, The Great Political Pivot, which examines the consequences going forward of the new wave of empowerment—manifested in the tea party, individual activists, and individual candidates across the country, on the left and right—that Obama for America unleashed when it challenged the political establishment.


Introducing Guest Blogger Tamara Relis

I am delighted to welcome Professor Tamara Relis as a guest blogger for the month of May.  Tamara is an Assistant Professor of Law at Touro Law School where she teaches Criminal Law, Evidence, International Human Rights Law and Global Conflict Resolution.   She is the author of Perceptions in Litigation and Mediation: Lawyers, Defendants, Plaintiffs and Gendered Parties (Cambridge University Press, New York, 2009) and is currently working on her second book based on a large-scale four-year empirical study of formal courts and quasi-legal justice processing of international human rights violation cases of violence against women in India. She holds a Ph.D. in law and an LL.M. degree with Merit from the London School of Economics (specializing in procedural law) where she taught two LL.B courses. She also holds an LL.B. degree from the University of London.  She was the recipient of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Award for 2005/06, the British Academy’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Award for 2006/09, and a Columbia University (Provost’s Office) & London School of Economics Seed Fund Publishing Award.

Tamara’s other publications include:

International Human Rights and Southern Realities, ___ Human Rights Quarterly (forthcoming 2010)

Consequences of Power, 12 Harv. Negotiation L. Rev. 445 (2007)

It’s Not About the Money!: A Theory on Misconceptions of Plaintiffs’ Litigation Aims, 68 Pittsburgh L. Rev.  701 (2007)


Wrongful Adoption or Adopting Blindly?

I have been following the news stories about the Tennessee mother that put her adopted child on a plane (alone) back to Russia because she could no longer cope with his significant health and behavioral problems.  Although saddened by this case, I see a silver lining.  Maybe, Americans will finally see that international adoptions are not necessarily any less risky than domestic adoptions.  In an article published several years ago, I examined the reasons why many Americans prefer to adopt internationally as opposed to domestically.  I am not opposed to international adoptions and in fact, believe that the law should encourage more families to adopt, both domestically and internationally, so long as the adoption is in the particular child’s best interest.  However, I was puzzled that many families chose to adopt internationally despite the high financial costs ($20,000-$35,000), extensive delays, and bureaucracies in both the U.S. and the sending country.  One common response was that domestic adoptions were too risky—specifically, that foreign-born children had fewer health risks than the children available for adoption in the U.S., international adoptions were less likely than domestic adoptions to be disrupted, prospective parents would have a child in their home sooner, and the process was less expensive.   In the article, I summarized the literature debunking these myths.   Here, however, I would like to focus on only one—the belief that foreign-born children have fewer health risks than those available for adoption in the U.S.

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Will Latinos Check Black on the Census?

Last week, I noted that conceptions of race in Latin American are different from those commonly held in the U.S.  Since then, I have received many comments both on Concurring Opinions and offline and have listened to several programs and panels on the U.S. Census and Latinos.  In this post, I want to explore why Latinos, even those who were raised in the U.S. or have lived here most of their adult lives continue to reject U.S. conceptions of race.  After all, immigrants often adopt the norms of their new country after a relatively short period of time (a generation?) so why not adopt U.S. definitions of race?

Undoubtedly, one reason why Latinos reject U.S. definitions of race is prejudice against Blacks.  Some Latinos deny their African ancestry because they hold negative views about African-Americans.  This is illustrated in a public service video that seeks to encourage Latinos of African descent to identify as both Hispanic and Black on the 2010 Census.  In this video, a Latina grandmother rejects her grandson’s friends because she erroneously assumes that they are African-American when, actually, they are Latinos of African ancestry.

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Is Your Love Worth $9 Million?

About a year ago, I blogged about the dying tort of alienation of affections.   I say “dying” because all but seven states have abolished the cause of action.  However, in at least one of those states, approximately 200 cuckolded spouses each year sue their spouse’s paramour.  Just last week, a North Carolina jury awarded a spurned wife $9 million ($5 million in compensatory and $4 million in punitive damages) against the woman  she claims wrecked her marriage of 33 years.   Although the defendant paramour does not have $9 million, the wife does not regret suing her husband’s lover.  She admits that the point of the lawsuit, at least in part, was to send a message.   This brings me back to the concerns I raised over a year ago.  These suits are not about compensation for one’s injuries or deterring adultery, but rather seek to humiliate the paramour and assert one’s own moral superiority.   In fact, these suits can be harmful to the plaintiff herself.  In this case, the wife owes tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills and she will probably never receive much (if any) of the $9 million awarded to her.  But, as she conceded, this case is about something much greater than money; she wanted people about to enter into a relationship with a married person “to understand, before they do it, how much it hurts.”

The defendant paramour plans to appeal.  This might be an opportunity for North Carolina to follow the majority of states that have abolished the cause of action for alienation of affections on the ground that a spouse’s affections cannot be stolen and that one person is never the sole cause of marital breakdown.  However, the court might do the opposite and use this opportunity to remind us that “[w]hen a third person is at fault for the breakdown of a marriage, the law ought to provide a remedy.” Norton v. Macfarlane (Utah 1991).  Stay tuned.


The U.S. Census and Latinos’ Conceptions of Race

My parents were filling out the U.S. Census a few nights ago when they reached a question that stumped them both—the race question.  The Census requires that individuals “answer BOTH Question 8 about Hispanic origin and Question 9 about race” and states that for purposes of the 2010 Census, “Hispanic origins are not races.”

Question 8 asks:

Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?

–No, not of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin

–Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano

–Yes, Puerto Rican

–Yes, Cuban

–Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin –Print origin, for example, Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadorian, Spaniard, and so on.

Question 9 asks:

What is Person 1’s race?


–Black, African Am., or Negro

–American Indian or Alaska Native –Print name of enrolled or principal tribe.

–Asian Indian



–Other Asian




–Native Hawaiian

–Guamanian or Chamorro


–Other Pacific Islander

–Some other race – Print race.

 My parents had no difficulty answering Question 8.  They are both from the Dominican Republic so they checked “Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” and printed “Dominican” in the box provided.  They did not know how to respond to Question 9, however.  My father, whose phenotype is that of a light-skinned Black man, wanted to select “White” because he equates Black with African-American.  My mother wanted to select “Black” because, in her view, “White” refers to Caucasian and, although her grandfather was a Spaniard, her grandmother was of African descent.  Confused, my parents asked their four adult daughters, all of whom were born and raised in the U.S., how we self-identified in the Census.  Three of us checked “Black” and one checked both “Black” and “White.”  My father finally agreed to check “Black,” not because he identifies as such, but because there were no other “adequate choices.”  When I asked him what race he would have selected had it been listed, he responded “Latino.”  For him, and many other Latinos, his race is not White, Black, or American Indian, but Latino—the result of a mixing of European (mostly Spaniard), African (brought as slaves to the Americas), and the indigenous people of the Americas (for example, Taino, Aztec, Mayan, etc.) Read More


Introducing Guest Blogger Angela Onwuachi-Willing

I am delighted to welcome Professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig as a guest blogger for the month of March.  Angela is Professor of Law and the Charles M. and Marion J. Kierscht Scholar at University of Iowa College of Law where she researches and writes in the areas of employment discrimination, family law, critical race theory, and feminist legal theory. Her articles have appeared or will appear in the California Law Review (Berkeley), Michigan Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, Washington University Law Review, and Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, among others.  She has published opinion-editorials in the Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, Des Moines Register, and Iowa City Press Citizen on numerous occasions.

Professor Onwuachi-Willig is Chair of the AALS Section on Law and Humanities. In 2006, she was honored for her service by the Minority Groups Section of the AALS with the Derrick A. Bell Award, which is given to a junior faculty member who has made an extraordinary contribution to legal education, the legal system, or social justice.

Angela’s publications include:

Another Hair Piece: Exploring New Strands of Analysis Under Title VII, 98 Geo. L.J. (forthcoming 2010)

Complimentary and Complementary Discrimination in Faculty Hiring, 87 Wash. U. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2010)

The Declining Significance of Presidential Races?, 72 Law & Contemp. Probs. (forthcoming 2010)

A House Divided: The Invisibility of the Multiracial Family, 44 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 231 (2009) (co-authored with Jacob Willig-Onwuachi of Grinnell College)

Cracking the Egg: Which Came First—Stigma or Affirmative Action?, 96 Calif. L. Rev. 1299 (2008) (co-authored with Emily Houh of the University of Cincinnati College of Law and Mary Campbell of University of Iowa Sociology)

A Beautiful Lie: Exploring Rhinelander v. Rhinelander as a Formative Lesson on Race, Identity, Marriage, and Family, 95 Calif. L. Rev. 2393 (2007).

The Admission of Legacy Blacks, 60 Vand. L. Rev. 1141 (2007)