New Courthouse Architecture

They’re being built at a staggering rate. New ones are rapidly replacing old ones. Top architects are being called in to design them. . . .

No, I’m not talking about stadiums. I’m talking about courthouses. A recent Legal Affairs article chronicles a dramatic transformation in courthouse architecture and describes the building boom in new courthouses. Courthouses used to be built as “solemn, neo-Classical style structures,” but recently things have changed. Today, top architects bid on the construction of courthouses:

The new architect selection standards coincide with the largest federal courthouse building initiative in the nation’s history, a program necessitated by the rise in the number of federal cases—up some 20 percent in the last decade—and a shift in caseloads from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt. As droves of people continue to move from Buffalo to Houston or from St. Louis to Phoenix, caseloads are moving with them. In all, nearly 200 courthouses will be built or renovated over the next 25 years, at a cost in the tens of billions of dollars.

If you’re interested in the history of courthouse architecture, the article is well worth checking out. One of the courthouses discussed in the article is the stunning new federal courthouse in Boston, pictured below:


For all the law architecture nerds out there, I did a little web surfing and found some pictures of new or planned courthouses. Beginning with state courthouses, here are ones from Lexington, SC, Lexington, KY, and Syracuse, NY:


Read More


When Web Chat Turns Into Threats

computer11.jpgAn interesting AP story:

Two weeks before William Freund donned a mask and cape and fatally shot two neighbors before killing himself, members of an online forum for people with a rare mental disorder read the 19-year-old’s string of violent rantings. Freund’s online musings and his pre-Halloween rampage raised fresh questions about the little-policed world of Internet discussion rooms: What, if anything, should Web site gatekeepers do when users post threatening messages online?

Internet law experts generally agree there is no legal onus on site owners or users to notify police. . . .

Before last Saturday’s shootings, Freund begged for help and told an online message board for people with Asperger’s syndrome, a neurological disorder marked by a lack of social and communications skills, that he was lonely and suicidal and would begin a “terror campaign to hurt those that have hurt me.” . . . .

“It is very risky to impose responsibility on Web site owners to police their users,” said Jennifer Granick, executive director of Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society. “How do you know if someone is serious? Are you making a big deal out of nothing? How hard are you supposed to try? Are you betraying the person?”


Guidant/JJ Litigation


Counsel, start your time-clocks.

As has been well-reported, Guidant has sued Johnson & Johnson for specific performance of J&J’s $25.4 billion acquisition. J&J will almost certainly assert that its obligation is void under the merger agreement’s “material adverse effect” clause, and, specifically, will argue that the clause has been triggered by Guidant’s messy encounters with state and federal regulators over its heart stents.

Bill Sjostrom at the Business Law Prof Blog has been all over this looming fight.

Back in September, he started questioning the deal’s continued viability. In October, he put up a great post on the MAE at issue in the (then) potential litigation. He argued that NY AG Spitzer’s lawsuit against Guidant may strengthen JJ’s claim here. Finally, he broke news of the suit here.

Obviously, I do not know how this will turn out. But doesn’t it seem that J&J could have protected itself against this type of risk with more precision? Isn’t regulatory action the number two legal problem medical device makers potentially face, after patent claims?

For more information, Pharmablog talks about the underside of drug testing here. Finally, the Stent Blog (!) is a must-read resource if you care about the statistical likelihood of stent failure.


Law Professor Blogger Census (Version 3.0)


UPDATE: The census has been revised. A new version of the census, Version 3.1, incorporates changes and additions suggested by readers. It includes 20 more bloggers.

Back in June of 2005, I decided to do a census of law professor bloggers. I released Version 1.0, and after receiving comments from readers, released an updated Version 2.0 on June 16, 2005, which is available here.

In Version 2.0 of the census, on June 16, 2005, I listed 130 bloggers (28 female, 102 male), and schools with the largest number of bloggers: San Diego (7), UCLA (5), George Mason (5), Cincinnati (4), Ohio State (4), GW (3), Georgetown (3), Stanford (3), St. Thomas (3), Chapman (3), Villanova (3).

I’ve decided to update the census for this fall, creating Version 3.0. Please email me about your blog if you were left out of this list or if you know of others we overlooked. I will post a revised version after receiving comments.

Current statistics for Version 3.0 are:

Number of Bloggers: 182 bloggers.

Growth: Since the last census on June 16, 2005, the number of bloggers has grown from 130 to 182, an increase of 40%! That’s a big increase in less than 5 months.

Gender: Of the bloggers, 41 are female and 141 are male. There are 13 new female bloggers and 39 new male bloggers. Female bloggers increased by 46% and male bloggers increased by 38%.

Schools: Schools with the most bloggers include:

Chicago (14)

UCLA (7)

San Diego (7)

GW (5)

George Mason (5)

Stanford (4)

Northwestern (4)

Ohio State (4)

U.C. Davis (4)

Cincinnati (4)

Schools in the U.S. News Top 20 rankings account for 59 bloggers

1. Yale (3)

2. Harvard (2)

3. Stanford (4)

4. Columbia (2)

5. NYU (1)

6. Chicago (14)

7. Pennsylvania (0)

8. Michigan (3)

8. Virginia (1)

10. Northwestern (4)

11. Cornell (3)

11. Duke (1)

11. Berkeley (1)

14. Georgetown (3)

15. UCLA (7)

15. Texas (2)

17. Vanderbilt (1)

18. USC (0)

19. Minnesota (1)

20. Boston University (1)

20. George Washington (5)

There are 59 bloggers from Top 20 schools. The number is roughly a third (32.4%) of the total number of bloggers (182). It thus appears that the Top 20 schools have a disproportionately large representation in the blogosphere. Only 2 schools in the Top 20 have no bloggers.

The Chicago Law Faculty Blog partly accounts for the disproportionate numbers among Top 20 schools. Without Chicago, there are 45 bloggers from the Top 20 schools, accounting for 24.7% of the total number of bloggers. Not including Chicago, the average Top 20 law school has 2.25 bloggers.

If we use Brian Leiter’s Top 20 law faculties based on scholarly citations, we must include 3 different schools (Colorado, Emory, Illinois – 4 bloggers) and exclude 3 schools (Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, Minnesota – 2 bloggers total). This results in a net increase of 2 bloggers, thus yielding 61 bloggers from the Leiter Top 20.

The schools with the most bloggers generally fare quite well in the Leiter rankings.

Chicago – Blogger Rank = 1, Leiter Rank = 1

UCLA – Blogger Rank = 2, Leiter Rank = 15

San Diego – Blogger Rank = 2, Leiter Rank = 23

GW – Blogger Rank = 4, Leiter Rank = 16

George Mason – Blogger Rank = 4, Leiter Rank = 23

Stanford – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = 4

Northwestern – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = 12

Ohio State – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = 28

U.C. Davis – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = Unranked (outside Top 30)

Cincinnati – Blogger Rank = 5, Leiter Rank = Unranked (outside Top 30)

Read More


Your Microsoft Word Documents Can Rat on You

metadata1a.jpgMany people don’t realize that Microsoft Word encodes information about the authors and editors of each document. It’s called “metadata.” For example, some of this data is contained under the “Properties” section of the “File” pull down menu.

An article in the New York Times describes what can be revealed when metadata is examined:

It hardly ranks in the annals of “gotcha!” but right-wing blogs were buzzing for at least a few days last week when an unsigned Microsoft Word document was circulated by the Democratic National Committee. The memo referred to the “anti-civil rights and anti-immigrant rulings” of Samuel A. Alito Jr., a federal appeals court judge who has been nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bush.

The stern criticisms of Judge Alito rubbed some commentators the wrong way (Chris Matthews of MSNBC called it “disgusting” last Monday). But whatever the memo’s rhetorical pitch, right-leaning bloggers revealed that it contained a much more universal, if unintended, message: It pays to mind your metadata. . . .

According to some technologists, including Dennis M. Kennedy, a lawyer and consultant based in St. Louis, (denniskennedy.com), metadata might include other bits of information like notes and questions rendered as “comments” within a document (“need to be more specific here,” for example, or in the case of my editors, “eh??”), or the deletions and insertions logged by such features as “track changes” in Microsoft Word.

A blogger searched the Alito memo for metadata and could figure out some of the authors of the document. According to the NYT story:

Read More


The arms race continues in the Spam wars

We’re getting a new wave of spam comments like this one:

IP Address:

Name: Thomas Miller

Email Address: Alex@gmail.com


Two thumbs up!!! thins that excited you at 14: http://www.panasonic.com , [a href=”http://www.sun.com”]my parents didnt told me about it[/a] , [a href=”http://www.apple.com” rel=”itsok”]think that will make relief [/a]

What in the world is going on here? Are the spammers really shilling for Sun, Yahoo, and Panasonic?

Nope. The newest wave of comments is a sophisticated long-term attack by the smart big spammers. They are designed not to advertise for the mainstream sites in question, but rather to compromise the blacklists that are becoming more effective against spam.

Read More


Welcome Business Week Readers


This week’s Business Week Online contains a reference to this blog’s postings on Judge Alito’s securities jurisprudence. For your reference, we’ve written about Judge Alito several times.

1. Solove on Alito and privacy law.

2. Hoffman on the power of Congress to subpoena Alito’s former law clerks.

3. Solove on the utility of mining Alito’s record.

4. Hoffman on Alito and securities law (Part I).

5. Hoffman on Alito and securities law (Part II).

6. While you are here, you may also be interested in posts that don’t appear on our main page, including Oman on the bankruptcy of France and the philosophical significance of the repo man, and Wenger on liability for blogging. Plus, you really ought to read our registration statement.


New Phrases for the Ann Coulter Talking Doll?


In the spirit of Dan Solove’s recent posting on the airport security playset, I would like to recommend the Ann Coulter talking doll.

Check out the link and you can hear sample phrases. My favorite is the one about liberals hating American more than terrorists. God bless politics.

Perhaps a phrase that could be added to the next edition of the doll is this one, which Dave Hoffman includes in his discussion of Coulter’s attack on Harriet Miers: “[A]ll the intellectual firepower in the law is coming from conservatives right now.”

All of this leads me to some serious questions (which modify Ms. Coulter’s statement): are conservative legal academics the ones producing the most influential or the most interesting scholarship these days? There was a time (in the nineteenth century) when the legal treatises were almost all written by conservatives (James Kent’s Commentaries; Joseph Story’s Commentaries; Timothy Walker’s Introduction to American Law). I can only think of one important antebellum legal treatise writer who was a Democrat: Henry Sedgwick. And his treatise on constitutional law was a success because he did not let his Democratic politics interfere with reporting on the law as it was.

Read More


AALS Law Professor Meat Market

meatmarket1a.jpgFor aspiring law professors, the infamous hiring conference, known as the “meat market,” is this week. Best of luck!

Here are some helpful posts from Concurring Opinions:

1. Solove’s advice on job interviews

2. Kaimi’s advice on getting to your job interviews

I’d like to say that my post is more instructive and Kaimi’s is more humorous, but if you can’t get to your interview . . . well, you probably won’t get a callback. As Woody Allen famously said: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

More advice on law teaching can be found at:

1. Solove’s roundup of PrawfsBlawg teaching interview advice

2. Brad Wendel’s advice and roundup of useful links to more advice

3. Brian Leiter’s advice

4. Jack Chin and Denise Morgan’s advice and roundup of useful links to more advice

5. Michael Madison’s advice and useful links


Introducing Guest Blogger Al Brophy

brophy.jpgFor the next few weeks, Al Brophy will be guest blogging with us.

Al is a professor of law at the University of Alabama, where he teaches property, wills, and remedies. He is also the book reviews editor of Law and History Review.

His recent work includes Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921-Race, Reparations, Reconciliation (Oxford University Press, 2002) and Reparations Pro and Con (forthcoming Oxford University Press, 2006).

His current research involves legal thought in the Progressive era and moral and legal thought in the old South.

We’re very excited to have Al here as a guest.