: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Geraldine Szott Moohr on the Martha Stewart Case and White Collar Crime

Down the SSRN pipeline comes UHLC’s Geraldine Szott Moohr‘s recent article
What the Martha Stewart Case Tells Us About White Collar Crime. I wasn’t following the case very closely at the time, but found her treatment of the ‘collateral consequences of the investigative process’ is worth the price of admission.

The Martha Stewart case serves as a template for reviewing and analyzing federal white collar criminal laws and their enforcement. In addition to examining the investigation of her infamous trade, the essay covers the decision to indict, the ultimate charges, the non-charge of insider trading, typical and atypical aspects of her trial, and finally her sentence. The essay identifies and discusses problematic aspects of white collar criminal law such as the collateral consequences of investigation and indictment, the effect of converging civil and criminal fraud charges, the expansive scope of securities offenses, and continuing due process concerns about vague statutory language. Prosecutorial decisions, such as to use duplicative cover-up charges, reveal the depth and power of the federal criminal code. Stewart’s case was atypical in that she went to trial. The essay examines the reasons why individual defendants often decide to plead guilty rather than risk a trial and the inconsistent sentencing patterns that result. In sum, the review illustrates issues faced by all federal defendants, even those who are not as well-off or as and well-represented as Martha Stewart.

Attorney Sues BAR/BRI

From ABANet: BAR/BRI Antitrust Suit OK’d

Anthony Park, a Manhattan-based attorney admitted to practice in 2003, sued BAR/BRI in March 2005, accusing the company of unlawful tying, monopoly leveraging and unjust enrichment. U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III of the Southern District of New York has ruled the antitrust claims can proceed. Park v. Thomson Corp., No. 05 Civ. 2931 (Jan. 11).

I just heard about this today so I’m not familiar enough to hazard a guess as to how it might play out, but it’s not chicken feed we’re talking about here. From anonymous at – here’s the breakdown of the standard BAR/BRI prep course for some states:

Alabama: $2170
California: $3225
Texas: $2470
Utah: $1975
New York: $2775
Arkansas: $1870

Where Angels Fear to Tread…

Here’s an interesting bit in the Houston Chronicle: In the eyes of UT, sawed-off logo is illegal.

That’s right, the University of Texas is suing an Aggie schlock peddler over his, let’s face it, less than novel use of ‘sawed-off horns’. There are songs, for goodness sake, the entire, complete lyrics of which are “Saw Varsity’s horns off!” UT, or at least their lawyer, is suspiciously oblivious to this.

My favorite line –

“I know, they’re claiming they’ve been using this (in merchandise) for 10 years,” Westemeier said, rebutting one of the major points in defense attorney Allen Van Fleet’s response last week. “I don’t know that, but when we become aware of these issues we address them, and that’s what we’ve done in this case.”

Ah, so where does trademark end and free speech begin…..

In Praise of the Casebook

Legal Research and Writing (LARC in UHLC’s unfortunate acronym parlance – Legal Analysis Research and Composition, perhaps? who knows…) is the only course we’ve had so far that doesn’t use a casebook. When I arrived at law school, I found the case book a perplexing system at best – full of accidental precedent, jurisprudential pretzel-twisting and red herrings, cases present only because they represent misapplication of the law.

I make this point because I have since learned to stop worrying and love the casebook, to spot and appreciate the cautionary tales of tortured logic, the Machiavellian art of analogizing and distinguishing precedent. Yet here I am in the second half of Legal Writing & Research slogging through a wilted dandelion of a textbook of all things and now I’m wondering why, why, why am I reading this mind-atrophying instruction manual?

Shapo is actually pretty good, as textbooks go, but to me this only emphasizes the inherent inferiority of the textbook to the casebook. All semester long I found myself longing to see clear, complete examples in context, far more than the half-page samples provided in the text. Instead of being shown, I’m being told; told by a very boring person with no hands to gesture with, incapable of modulating the sound of his voice. Why oh why can’t we have a casebook? Lawyer Shopping

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