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Professor Vazquez Organizes Race/Border Control Event

Professor Yolanda Vazquez organized a themed week on race and border control at Border Criminologies, based at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford.  She also provided the first installment. Read her piece and more about the event. 

Profs. Bettman and Moore Discuss Ohio v. Clark (podcast)

Professors Marianna Bettman and Janet Moore discussed Ohio v. Clark on March 2, 2015 for Bloomberg News. Listen to the podcast.  (view podcast)

Director Ken Hirsh’s Article Accepted for Publication

Congratulations to Ken Hirsh, Director of the Law Library and Information Technology and Professor of Practice, who recently received notice that his article has been accepted for publication. Like Mark Twain: The Death of Academic Law Libraries Is An Exaggeration, will be published in Volume 106 of the Law Library Journal (Number 4). 

Professor Sperino’s Article Cited by Hawaii Supreme Court

Professor Sandra Sperino’s article "Beyond McDonnell Douglas," 34 Berkeley J. Emp. & Lab. L. 257 (2013), was cited by the Hawaii Supreme Court in its discussion of how to use the McDonnell Douglas test in the context of state law.  The citation is Adams v. CDM Media USA, Inc., 2015 WL 769745, No. SCWC-12-00000741 (Hawaii Feb. 24, 2015).

In her Friend of the Court Blog, Sperino discussed the case. (read the post)

Professor Mank Quoted in Tennessean News Story on Environment Battle


Federal regulators have weighed in on a long-running lawsuit alleging that the city of Franklin’s sewage treatment plant has illegally polluted the Harpeth River — a rare move, some said, that reflects the case’s broader significance.

In a brief filed last week by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, regulators roundly rejected claims by the city that a local environmental group couldn’t sue in federal court over alleged sewage discharge permit violations, which include allowing untreated waste to flow into the river and failing to properly monitor the condition of the water.

Though the city relies on those claims in asking for the lawsuit to be moved down to state, rather than federal, court, the brief concluded that “those arguments fail.”

The brief added that enforcement of the provisions of that permit, which allows the city to pump treated wastewater into a protected waterway, is “squarely within the scope” of a federal pollution mitigation program and that citizens can sue over alleged violations.

Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said the city stands by its claims that state — not federal — court is the right place to make arguments about whether the city has been complying with its permit.

He emphasized that the brief doesn’t say anything about the lawsuit’s allegations and that neither state nor federal regulators have cited the city for violations.

Rather, it’s just a question of “where is the appropriate venue to have this discussion.”

“We think we have made good faith efforts to comply (with the permit),” he said.

But the Harpeth River Watershed Association, which filed the lawsuit, said the EPA’s decision to get involved in the lawsuit speaks volumes.

The association “appreciates the rare step the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in town took … to confirm that citizens like us may indisputably enforce a law designed to protect public health and the environment,” board president Matt Dobson said in a statement.

“We have renewed optimism that our efforts will result in improving the water quality to meet state-required standards for this Tennessee gem that belongs to everyone,” he said.

Anne Davis, a staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center who is representing the association in the case, added in a statement that she was unaware of any other cases in which the EPA decided to file a similar statement.

It’s a move, she said, “that highlights the gravity of Franklin’s attempts to undermine the Clean Water Act.”

Though the document, a friend of the court brief, isn’t a binding ruling, it makes a strong statement that probably will catch a judge’s attention, said Brad Mank, a University of Cincinnati College of Law professor specializing in environmental law.

And it’s unusual for the EPA to get involved at this stage in the case, he said.

Typically, he said, federal regulators hold off until a case has reached an appeals court, where a ruling could have the weight of precedent.

Mank said he couldn’t speculate why the EPA would choose to weigh in now.

However, he said, it’s possible that the federal agency is “trying to clarify the law” — about who’s allowed to sue over water pollution issues and in which court — without waiting until a case goes through a lengthy appeals process.

Furthermore, he said, it makes a difference whether the case is heard in state court or federal court: State court judges, who are elected to regular terms, could be more sympathetic to the city’s arguments and they may be less accustomed to hearing highly complex environmental cases.

Federal judges, by contrast, have lifetime tenures.

Still, Mank emphasized, “it’s complicated” because each federal environmental law is different.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman said the agency wouldn’t comment beyond what was in the brief.

Franklin city officials said that attorneys are working on a more detailed response to the brief to be filed within a 21-day deadline.

(Read article)

Professor Mank’s Articles Accepted for Publication

Congratulations to Professor Brad Mank, who recently received notice that two of his articles have been accepted for publication.  Standing to View Other People's Land: The D.C. Circuit's Divided Decision in  Sierra Club v. Jewell, will be published in Volume 40 of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law (2015).   Volume 18 of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law will feature Prudential Standing Doctrine Abolished or Waiting for a Comeback?: Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., sometime in 2015 or 2016.

Professor Bettman’s judicial decisions cited by the Supreme Court of Ohio

In State v. Radcliff, Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-235, issued by the Supreme Court of Ohio on January 28, 2015, and authored by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, the court cited with approval a concurring opinion written by Professor Bettman when she was a judge on the First District Court of Appeals. In Radcliff  the state high court held, with admitted reluctance, that in the absence of statutory authority, a trial court does not have inherent authority to seal the criminal  record of an offender who has been pardoned by the governor.  The excerpt from Bettman’s opinion, which begins at paragraph 35 of the majority opinion, urges the legislature to liberalize the expungement (this term has been changed to the word “sealing”) statutes to help those deserving of a fresh start.  

Read the entire opinion online at State v. Radcliff, Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-235, You can also read more about the entire issue of judicial record sealing in this post from Professor Bettman’s  blog on the Supreme Court of Ohio. 

Professor Solimine’s Article Cited by the US Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion January 21, 2015 in Gelboim v. Bank of America Corp.  On the last page of the Court’s opinion, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you will find the following reference to authority: "See generally, Solimine, Revitalizing Interlocutory Appeals in Federal Courts, 58 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1165 (1990)."

Congratulations, Professor Solimine.


Solimine’s Article Now in Print

Professor Michael Solimine’s article, The Fall and Rise of Specialized Federal Constitutional Courts, is now in print in17 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 115 (2014). 

Professor Sperino's Article Published in OSU Law Journal

Professor Sandra Sperino’s Let's Pretend Title VII is a Tort is now in print at 75 Ohio State Law Journal 1107 (2014).