Follow HLS on
World Trade Organization, front and center
...This week, Harvard Law School (HLS) will host the decennial academic conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), bringing together scholars, government officials, legal practitioners, and representatives from around the world to discuss the present challenges facing the WTO and the future of trade. The WTO, which began in 1995, oversees the crafting and implementation of multilateral trade agreements and rules, monitors their compliance, and resolves disputes among 162 countries. The lead organizer of the event, Mark Wu
’96, is an assistant professor at HLS who specializes in international economics and trade law. He spoke with the Gazette about the most pressing issues affecting trade and the WTO, and how he sees the future of trade policy.
The Huffington Post
Will Uber’s New ‘Drivers Association’ Have Any Real Power?
Last week, ride-sharing pioneer Uber announced it was settling a pair of major class-action lawsuits brought by Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts. The drivers claimed Uber had “misclassified” them as independent contractors, rather than employees, in order to save money. The suit was seen as one of the biggest threats to Uber’s business model to date...Benjamin Sachs
, a labor law professor at Harvard Law School, said the drivers association could probably withstand an 8a2 charge if it didn’t have any real power in its dealings with Uber management. “If it’s just a substitute for a suggestion box, and if it’s not a meaningful back and forth, then it might escape 8a2 scrutiny,” Sachs said.
The Boston Globe
Secrets of the grand jury
An op-ed by Nancy Gertner and Jack Corrigan
. The Globe reported Sunday that Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh wouldn’t say whether he had been a grand jury witness in a federal investigation into the tactics of Boston Building Trades unions. Since then, many have chided him for not being more forthright. But that misses a critical point: Grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secret. Government agents are bound by strict confidentiality rules. They may not disclose who has been called, when they testified, or what the subject was; they are barred from releasing information about wiretaps or other evidence they have assembled. While witnesses may speak about their testimony, they do receive a letter from the government with their subpoena that strongly urges them not to do so to protect the integrity of the grand jury investigative process. And that “suggestion” is particularly important in this probe and one that Walsh was right to heed.
Voice of America
Brooklyn DA: 100 Murder Cases Under Review
Approximately 20,000 people behind bars in the United States have been wrongfully convicted. One in 25 defendants sentenced to death is later shown to be innocent. These shocking statistics are from the National Registry of Exonerations and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...The American justice system is not afraid to take a long, hard look at itself and do something about it. Case in point: the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson...Ronald Sullivan
, Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard, said that Ken Thompson really has started a national movement. Sullivan said if you look at the Brooklyn data in terms of both exonerations, and in terms of the number of conviction integrity units around the country, it really has awakened the nation.
Supreme Court Protects Unspoken Free Speech
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
Congratulations! At long last, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the government can’t punish you for exercising free-speech rights without speaking. In a decision that should count as a blow for constitutional common sense, the court held that the government’s motive in attempting to suppress free speech is what matters, not whether a "speaker" actually said anything.
The Harvard Crimson
‘Smelly’ Comment Reignites Free Speech Debate at Law School
When a Harvard Law School student asked a visiting Israeli dignitary why she was “smelly” at a public event, it generated widespread controversy and renewed an intense debate over free speech on campus. The student—whose name was initially concealed, but has since been identified as third-year Palestinian Law student Husam El-Qoulaq
—directed the question to former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni at an event on April 14...El-Qoulaq said his words were not intended to be anti-Semitic. “It just felt very surreal watching people in that room treat her [Livni] as an authority on peace. The conversation had already gotten so absurd, I figured I would just add a little of my own nonsense,” he said. “I obviously regret it. I had no idea my words could be interpreted the way they have.” He published an anonymous apology in the Harvard Law Record, and several Jewish students and alumni later penned a letter in his defense. But discussion of the incident did not end there—it had already sparked a robust debate about accountability and free speech.
Blind Law Students Sue BarBri Over Accessibility
Three blind law graduates filed a class action against BARBRI, the largest bar exam preparation course in the nation, claiming it is inaccessible to blind people. The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that Dallas-based BARBRI Inc. violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and its similar Texas statute "by maintaining barriers to the accessibility of its services for blind students who use talking screen reading software and failing to make reasonable accommodations or provide auxiliary aids or services," said the April 25 complaint in Stanley v. BarBri Inc., filed in the U.S. District Court in Dallas...The plaintiffs are: Claire Stanley, an aspiring civil rights lawyer for people with disabilities, who failed to pass the Maryland bar exam in July 2015 after using BARBRI; Derek Manners
, a third-year student at Harvard Law School, who will take the bar exam in July and then work for a law firm this fall; and Christopher Stewart, a third-year student at the University of Kentucky College of Law, who will take the bar in July and become a federal law clerk. Manners and Stewart plan to use BARBRI.
Jury Verdicts Aren’t Magic Anymore
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
When is a jury trial over? That's a mildly metaphysical question that the Supreme Court will consider on Tuesday in a case where the judge dismissed the jury and then changed his mind. He caught the jurors before they left the building and called them back to consider their verdict again. On the surface, the question may seem trivial. But it's actually profound -- because the answer reveals whether you think a trial is a magic, quasi-divine roll of the dice, as our ancestors believed, or a pragmatic method to resolve disputes, the modern view.