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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Thinkers & Doers: March 6, 2014

Provost & Academic Dean Elizabeth L. Hillman, Professors Rory Little, Robin Feldman, Joan C. Williams, Marsha Cohen, Adjunct Frank Lindh.
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Rifle bearers from the Marine Corps Base Quantico Ceremonial Platoon stand at ceremonial at ease. Source: U.S. Marines, public domain. Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Kester.

Elizabeth L. Hillman

Provost and Academic Dean Elizabeth L. Hillman returned from Washington, D.C., late Wednesday, on the eve of two long-awaited Senate votes on military sexual assaults scheduled for Thursday, March 6, 2014.

Elizabeth L. HillmanBills by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) would dramatically overhaul the military’s policies for handling sexual assault investigations and prosecutions, though in very different ways.

Gillibrand's bill was returned to committee. McCaskill's bill garned more than 60 votes, and so will be up for a roll call vote Monday. McCaskill's bill includes a reform Hillman first wrote about in 1999 — eliminating the "good soldier defense" from courts-martial.

Hillman was at Marine Corp Base Quantico, VA, this week on a site visit as chair of the Comparative Systems Subcommittee of the Response Systems Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel, a nine-member independent panel established by Congress to study and make recommendations about the military's response to adult sexual assault. Following public hearings in January on the topic, Hillman was the one of two committee members to vote against keeping the status quo.

Hillman, a veteran and former president of the National Institute of Military Justice, was interviewed by several media outlets, including, locally, KCBS radio. You can follow today’s vote on C-SPAN. Read more about Hillman's advocacy here

Rory Little

Professor Rory Little (@rorylittle) supplied analysis to SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) on an “aiding and abetting” case, Rosemond v. U.S. “Justice Rory LittleKagan authored an opinion on a topic that has not been much improved on since Judge Learned Hand’s” decision in 1938. “To the relief of those of us still teaching law, the Court’s opinion steered a straightforward doctrinal line, and only a small – but not unimportant – point separated the Justices from a unanimous opinion.”

Read more here.

Robin Feldman

Professor Robin Feldman's research was cited by The Hill's blog post on patent reform. "Patent assertion entities target businesses, large and small, from whom they believe they can extract financial settlements, no matter the merits of the case. Nearly 60 percent of new patent lawsuits are being filed by patent assertion entities, up from 25 percent in 2007."

Robin Feldman"And a new study by Professor Robin Feldman (@DataDrivenLaw) of the University of California Hastings College of the Law has found that no industry will be immune. What started in the technology industry, has moved to main street, and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries may be next as patent aggregators stockpile patents hoping that they can make a case that those industries too are somehow copying earlier inventions." Read more here.

Feldman was also highlighted in the National Law Journal for her amicus brief in Alice Corp. v. CLE Bank International, calling out "our societal aversion to math," and how it has muddled patents in the smartphone industry.

Feldman points to 1994’s In re Alappat as sparking the current confusion in software patent law. The Federal Circuit there endorsed patents that focused on the result of an innovation, rather than on the steps that inventors took to get there. Most other areas of patent law take the latter approach, Feldman said.

“You don’t get a patent for telling us what you wanted to do,” Feldman told The Recorder. “You get a patent for telling us how you did it.” Feldman argues that the Alappat court used this incorrect approach as a way to avoid math. Read more here. Read a summary of her brief here.

Marsha Cohen

KTVU turned to Professor Marsha Cohen (@msprof) to understand the California Supreme Court ruling that held a man had not violated state law by looking at a map on his mobile phone while driving.

The vehicle code violation in question was written in 2006, when most mobile phones could only call or text. "What's really interesting about this case is that it points up the fact that the legislature needs to think about this in view of modern devices," Cohen told KTVU.

"It's really a public safety issue here," Cohen said, "What is it that should be forbidden?" Read more here.

Joan C. Williams

Joan C. WilliamsProfessor Joan C. Williams (@JoanCWilliams) continues to be in the media for her work parsing the "glass ceiling" from the "maternal wall." Women don't hit the glass ceiling because they are blocked by the maternal wall, she posits.

Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober, authors of Getting to 50/50, wrote for Womens ENews: "Williams shows that most women never knock into it because they never get near enough. Instead, they run up against what Williams has named the 'Maternal Wall,' the assumption that any woman who is a mother is the primary parent, and unable to commit to her job in the way a father could."

"When women take pregnancy-related leaves, they generate real costs which their employers may not like, but those costs are finite. What can seem like a bad deal to bosses is the ongoing volume and uncertainty of child-related downtime that takes workers out of commission (child-care snafus, sick kids, school-related obligations). Too many people assume women will do all these things without the help of their husbands. So working moms can begin to look like pretty undesirable employees and these unchecked assumptions erect a wall that too few women get over." Read more here.

Frank Lindh

Adjunct professor Frank Lindh, former general counsel of the California Public Utilities Commission, has joined Crowell & Moring’s Energy Group. 

Read more Thinkers & Doers here.

--March 6, 2014

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