1601 Wewatta St
Denver, CO 80202
- The Honorable Neil Gorsuch, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
This panel is about “corpus linguistics,” a technique that involves the use of computer searches of large collections of texts, or corpora, to determine meaning by reference to usage. It will discuss this technique’s potential value and limitations in informing the interpretation of different kinds of legal texts.
This panel was held on January 5, 2017 during the 19th Annual Faculty Conference in San Francisco, CA.
3rd Floor, Embarcadero Room
Panel: Corpus Linguistics and Legal Interpretation
8:45 am - 10:15 am
3rd Floor, Embarcadero Room
Parc 55 San Francisco - A Hilton Hotel
San Francisco, CA
Professor Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law joined us Monday, December 12 to discuss the ABA’s new Rule 8.4 on professional misconduct. The Rule states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.” The ABA goes further in Comments, stating that “Such discrimination includes harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice towards others,” and that the Rule applies in any situation, even social, that is “connected to the practice of law.” Professor Volokh discussed the First Amendment implications and reaction to the new rule.
“Suggestions that President-elect Donald Trump put his business holdings in a 'blind trust,' which would mean selling them to avoid potential conflicts of interest are unrealistic and unfair,” says David Rivkin, of Baker and Hostetler, in a recent Washington Post piece. University of Minnesota Law School Professor Richard Painter said, in a New York Times piece, that President-elect Trump’s announced plans to cure conflict-of-interest concerns are “not enough.” Join us as these two legal scholars discuss their positions in greater detail.
“Those who won our independence," Justice Brandeis wrote nearly a century ago, “eschewed silence coerced by law – the argument of force in its worst form." They believed that “the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones." Holding that belief, the Founding Generation added an amendment to the Constitution that expressly protects the freedom of speech. Today, however, public officials and private citizens facing what they believe to be “evil counsels" have sometimes responded not by offering good counsel but by invoking judicial processes. They use “the argument of force in its worst form" to silence opinions and speech that they disapprove of.
Recent examples of this phenomenon include District Attorneys in Texas and Wisconsin who investigated and charged a sitting Governor, the whistleblower who exposed the practices of Planned Parenthood, and those whose political views diverged from those of the District Attorney. In two of those cases, investigators broke into homes and seized computers and documents. Significantly, in each case, the charges were dropped, although not without great angst and effort from the targeted.
Mark Steyn has asserted that the process is, itself, the punishment. Steyn has been sued by a Penn State climatologist who famously claims that he was defamed when his writings were subjected to ridicule. Four years after the suit was filed, it is still in its preliminary stages.
Most recently, a coterie of Attorneys General, aided by some senators, have declared their intention to stifle dissent on the subject of climate change. The Attorneys General of Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands sent subpoenas for documents to Exxon and a number of think tanks grounding their action on the contention that the dissenters are guilty of fraud.
Are these actions appropriate uses of the judicial process?
What, if anything, can be done to curtail the use of judicial processes to target speech? Are measures like Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation) laws an appropriate response? Are they constitutional? What about a federal anti-SLAPP law?
It is noteworthy that the worst abuses have taken place in state courts. Should Congress allow removal to federal court when a defendant makes a plausible case that the relief sought would violate rights under the First Amendment?
Professional Responsibility & Legal Education: Using Judicial Processes for Political Purposes
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The Mayflower Hotel