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•  Law School News - Legal News


A man who escaped from a Rhode Island prison and was on the run for five days before being captured in Massachusetts is scheduled to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge.

James Morales escaped from the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls last Saturday and was captured Thursday in Somerville. Authorities believe he may have tried to rob two banks before he was caught.

Morales is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Providence on an escape charge.

Authorities say Morales escaped New Year's Eve by climbing a basketball hoop, cutting through a fence and climbing through razor wire. It took hours for correctional officers to notice.

The 35-year-old former Army reservist was being held on charges he stole 16 guns from a U.S. Army Reserve Center in Worcester.





A federal judge in Ohio has approved class-action status for a tea party group's lawsuit stemming from IRS delays in approving nonprofit status for conservative groups seeking the tax-exemption classification.
 
The NorCal Tea Party Patriots sued the IRS, along with workers and officials in Cincinnati and Washington, after it was revealed in 2013 that the IRS delayed approving conservative groups for the nonprofit status. The FBI investigated, but no criminal charges were filed.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/1ZkDPAg) a U.S. District Court judge in Cincinnati granted class-action status Tuesday. That means other affected groups across the country can join the case unless they opt out.

The judge also sealed the case to protect taxpayer records that might be on file with the IRS and the tea party group.



The state must restore the $4,900-a-month pension of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky that was taken away three years ago when he was sentenced to decades in prison on child molestation convictions, a court ordered Friday.

A Commonwealth Court panel ruled unanimously that the State Employees' Retirement Board wrongly concluded Sandusky was a Penn State employee when he committed the crimes that were the basis for the pension forfeiture.

"The board conflated the requirements that Mr. Sandusky engage in 'work relating to' PSU and that he engage in that work 'for' PSU," wrote Judge Dan Pellegrini. "Mr. Sandusky's performance of services that benefited PSU does not render him a PSU employee."

Sandusky, 71, collected a $148,000 lump sum payment upon retirement in 1999 and began receiving monthly payments of $4,900.

The board stopped those payments in October 2012 on the day he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 children. A jury found him guilty of 45 counts for offenses that ranged from grooming and fondling to violent sexual attacks. Some of the encounters happened inside university facilities.

The basis for the pension board's decision was a provision in the state Pension Forfeiture Act that applies to "crimes related to public office or public employment," and he was convicted of indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

The judges said the board's characterization of Sandusky as a Penn State employee at the time those offenses occurred was erroneous because he did not maintain an employer-employee relationship with the university after 1999.

The judges ordered the board to pay back interest and reinstated the pension retroactively, granting him about three years of makeup payments.

It’s Getting Easier for Harvard Law Students

•  Law School News     updated  2008/03/31 09:08


With the help of Harvard Law School’s new curriculum reforms and other university-wide changes, it’s getting easier for students to pursue more than one passion—and to become better lawyers.

Promoting interdisciplinary study is a major goal of the recent changes to the curriculum, says Professor Martha Minow, the chair of HLS’s curricular reform committee. “The practice of law increasingly intersects with expertise in other subjects,” she said. “Legal education should reflect that. Students interested in particular areas should come out of law school as well prepared for those areas as possible.”

In 2006, the faculty adopted changes to the curriculum for 2Ls and 3Ls, creating distinctive “programs of study” in which students are able to pursue subjects in concentrated fashion—including courses offered elsewhere in the university. “The programs of study are each designed to facilitate connections with other schools and departments at Harvard,” Minow said.

Said HLS Dean Elena Kagan ’86: “One of the really terrific things about the new programs of study is that they include recommendations and options for further course work available in other parts of the university. Students focusing on law and business, for example, are given options to take relevant courses at Harvard Business School. And so forth. This is a work in progress, but we are working hard with other schools at Harvard to achieve this goal.”

Minow added: “For the Law and Government program, we’ve been working with faculty in the government department and at the Kennedy School to identify relevant courses, facilitate cross-registration and work toward coordination in faculty appointments to strengthen offerings over time.”

Professor Guhan Subramanian J.D./ M.B.A. ’98 says, “A unified calendar will greatly increase opportunities for students to take classes at other Harvard schools.”
University-wide study is being facilitated still further by some new administrative changes, especially the university’s upcoming implementation of calendar reform in 2009, which will put Harvard’s schools onto a more unified academic schedule. “A unified calendar will greatly increase opportunities for students to take classes at other Harvard schools,” said HLS Professor Guhan Subramanian J.D./M.B.A. ’98. When schools have different registration deadlines and conflicting exam schedules, cross-registration is often impossible, he says. While students have been able to audit courses at other schools, they have not always been able to take those courses for credit. With a unified calendar, Subramanian says, most of those impediments will no longer hinder students who want to venture beyond the law school campus.

Last year, Adam Shoemaker ’08 enrolled in an Icelandic sagas course in the folklore department. He was able to incorporate what he’d studied into a comparative essay for his English Legal History course at HLS, but he says he studied medieval Iceland mainly because it caught his interest. Now, he plans to revisit ancient Icelandic law for his 3L paper. “I could probably count on one hand the number of places in the world where, had I developed this sudden interest, I could take a course with an expert in the field the very next semester, and then translate it back to my law studies,” he said.

Shoemaker predicts that more of his classmates will look into cross-registration opportunities as calendar reform comes into place. “There’s such a great breadth of offerings for those who are looking to augment their law studies at the other schools,” he said. “More people are thinking about it this year. I’ve heard people talking about the classes they want to take at the divinity school or at FAS.

Calendar reform is also expected to facilitate the pursuit of joint degrees, says Subramanian, the faculty chair of the J.D./M.B.A. program. There are presently 32 students in the joint degree program with Harvard Business School—“the most we’ve had in recent years,” he said. The program saw a decline in the number of participants a few years ago, but its numbers are climbing again, he notes.

Another 35 students are splitting their time between HLS and the Kennedy School of Government, pursuing master’s degrees in public policy or administration of international development. Five J.D. candidates are earning master’s degrees at the School of Public Health, and another is enrolled in the urban planning master’s program at the Graduate School of Design.

In addition, 17 students are pursuing both a J.D. and a Ph.D. at Harvard. In 2005, HLS and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences approved, for the first time, a formal joint-degree program (as opposed to a concurrent-degree program) for such students. This year, HLS announced a loan forgiveness program, which it will fund jointly with the university, for eligible J.D./Ph.D. candidates who pursue academic careers.

“The joint-degree programs show the students that we believe a person who can handle multiple dimensions of a problem is invaluable,” said Professor Philip Heymann ’60, the faculty chair of programs in law and government. “We’re trying to get students out in the world who can simultaneously think about a problem in the contexts of law and economics and management and politics and ethics.”

Said Nicolas Cornell ’09, a J.D./Ph.D. candidate in philosophy: “The joint-degree program is getting clearer even while I’ve been involved. More students seem to be interested in it, and the requirements are becoming more structured.”

The university’s extensive resources are invaluable to joint-degree candidates and cross-enrollees, said Cornell: “One of the advantages of being here is availing myself of all the different resources at the same time.” As a 1L, he was able to audit graduate seminars in the philosophy department; this year, while he works on his dissertation prospectus, he will continue meeting with faculty at the law school.

“What attracted me … was the freedom I was given to chart my own course.”
—Uche Nwamara ’08
Said Uche Nwamara ’08, a candidate for both a J.D. and a Ph.D. in Roman history who is writing a dissertation on fourth-century Roman marriage laws: “The resources are bottomless. What attracted me to do my joint degree here was the freedom I was given to chart my own course.” He plans to take advantage of Harvard’s libraries when he is studying Roman law codes and ancient patristic texts to investigate Emperor Constantine’s stance on legislating Christianity.

Although calendar reform is expected to ease the burden of pursuing two demanding degrees, Laurence Tai, a J.D./Ph.D. candidate in public policy, sees a long road ahead. Tai, who will begin at HLS in ’08 and expects to graduate in 2011, likens the experience to the loneliness of the long-distance runner. He even trained for a half-marathon last semester. “Since I’m the only J.D./Ph.D. in public policy, I basically represent a constituency of one,” he said. “It’s a challenge worth taking—you create your own track.”


8-Year-Old Passes Law School Entrance Test

•  Law School News     updated  2008/03/24 13:48


An 8-year-old boy with dreams of becoming a judge has passed a law school entrance exam -- shocking Brazil's legal profession and prompting a federal investigation.

The Universidade Paulista, a multi-campus private university, issued a statement acknowledging that Joao Victor Portellinha de Oliveira had passed the entrance exam and that it initially enrolled him. But he was turned away from classes when he showed up on Thursday with his father.

The school said that the fifth grader has to graduate from high school before he can enter the university.

The university said one of its employees erred in accepting Oliveira's enrollment and said it would return his fees to the family.

"I think they should have been more considerate," the boy's mother, Maristela, told the UOL news Web site. "At least they should've allowed him to visit the college's facilities."

The Brazilian Bar Association said the boy's achievement should be a warning about the low standards of some of the nation's law schools.




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