KU professor at sexual assault symposium: ‘The hurdles of Title IX litigation are ridiculously high’

"Instead of investigating sexual assaults as Title IX transgressions, maybe universities should adjudicate them under a simpler safety code like other actions that pose a danger to campus?

Universities have effectively disciplined students for problems from cheating to drug possession under the student code of conduct model for years, said Kansas University law professor Corey Rayburn Yung, speaking Friday at the Kansas Law Review Symposium.

'There’s no real reason we have to abandon this framework in place of a far more difficult claim,' Yung said.

Examining European Union through domestic lens offers insights, professor says

Friday, October 23, 2015

LAWRENCE — Multinational organizations like the European Union are unique in many ways, but examining such bodies through a lens commonly used to study domestic governmental systems can shed light on why such groupings work and the directions they may be headed. Richard E. Levy, J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas, has authored a foundational article applying collective action theory to analyze the institutional structure of the European Union. 

The article appears in an issue of the European Journal of Law and Economics honoring the work of Judge Richard Posner, an internationally acclaimed judge and legal scholar known for his work in law and economics. Levy, a former clerk for Posner, who has lived and taught in Europe and written extensively on federalism, has long been drawn to the similarities between federalism in the United States and the structure of the European Union.

“My main focus is on U.S. constitutional law, but I like to think about comparative institutional structures, how they’re parallel to each other and how they’re different,” Levy said. “By doing that I think you can better understand why constitutional systems are structured the way they are.”

Collective action theory explores how groups work together to create common benefits even though they have individual incentives to act as “free riders” that enjoy the benefits of group activity without contributing to it. Although collective action theory originated as a tool for understanding the behavior of individuals, particularly in relation to political processes, Levy has been a pioneer in applying the theory to the relationships among states in the American federal system. This approach is beginning to take root in Europe as well, and Levy hopes that his article will contribute to the use of collective action theory to analyze the European Union.

Like the United States, the EU creates a structure for collective action by member states through which the collective can enact legally binding rules without the unanimous consent of the member states. Nonetheless, the scope of EU authority and the power of EU institutions is more constrained than that of the federal government in the U.S. Levy said he is interested to see if the EU will eventually move further in toward the creation of a federal system such as the U.S., which would require the adoption of a kind of European constitution that transformed the EU from a set of agreements among member states to a social contract among the people of Europe.

Of course, many differences exist in the case of the EU; namely linguistic, cultural and historical differences that currently keep the member states from considering themselves part of a larger entity, as opposed to independent nations, with a shared bond. States often want to retain autonomy and power, but in the EU, as in the United States, power has gravitated to the center, Levy writes.

For example, the supremacy of federal power in the U.S. was not fully established in practice until after the Civil War, and the practical scope of federal power expanded greatly during the 20th century. One important distinguishing characteristic is the EU’s use of the subsidiarity principle to counter the centralization of power. The principle holds that decisions are handled centrally only when they cannot be handled effectively by the member states.

While new economic and legal situations continue to come about, Levy said he is interested to watch how collective action theory can teach us more about the EU and the decisions it makes. The initial concerns such as free trade among members, interstate relations and external relations will continue to be at the forefront, but new issues such as monetary policy for the euro and the ongoing debate about whether the United Kingdom will separate from the EU will continue to shine a light on how the body evolves.

By examining the EU’s makeup through the lens of collective action theory, Levy said, we will be able to see if the organization moves toward a federal system or maintains its current state of a group of national states. Conversely, using collective action theory as a comparative lens will also help us gain a better understanding of the American federal system.

“One of the essential points of comparative law is you gain a better understanding of your own system when you study another,” Levy said. “Studying the EU might help us to think about how, if we do care about member states, might we structure our system to better balance the autonomy of the states against the need to address national issues at the federal level?”

Photo: European flag outside the Commission. By Xavier Hape, via WikiCommons.

Former AG Phill Kline's law license a matter of constitutional debate

"The Kansas Supreme Court must consist of seven justices, the state’s constitution says, and 'not fewer than four justices shall be necessary for a decision.'


"In May 2012, as Kline faced a hearing before the high court that would determine whether he could practice law in Kansas, his attorneys requested two Kansas Supreme Court justices — Carol Beier and Lawton Nuss — recuse themselves from his case because of their previous rulings against Kline. The attorneys also suggested that three other justices consider recusing themselves.


Attorneys claim new DNA testing uncovers truth behind 1999 Oskaloosa murder

"For nearly a decade, lawyers with the Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies have combed trial testimony and evidence in search of something that will free Floyd Scott Bledsoe, 38, from the prison cell he occupies at Lansing Correctional Facility.

Last month, they may have found it.


'We often say we believe our client is innocent,' said Elizabeth Cateforis, supervising attorney for the Project for Innocence. 'Floyd is innocent. There’s no belief about it.'

Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence at KU files motion in 15 year old murder case

"The Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies filed a Motion to Vacate Judgement and Discharge from Custody on behalf of Bledsoe at the Second Judicial District Court in Jefferson County Monday.

In 2000, Bledsoe was sentenced to life in prison for the death of his 14 year-old sister-in-law, Camille Arfmann near Oskaloosa. Bledsoe was originally convicted of first degree murder, aggravated kidnaping and indecent liberties of Arfmann; however, DNA testing presented by the defense may exonerate him of all charges.

KU Project for Innocence, Midwest Innocence Project seeks to free convicted murderer with DNA evidence

"Attorneys at KU’s Project for Innocence and the Midwest Innocence Project are asking a Jefferson County judge to reverse Floyd Bledsoe’s conviction and set him free in a motion filed Tuesday.

Bledsoe, 38, has been serving a life sentence for more than 15 years for the 1999 shooting death of Arfmann, his then-14-year-old sister-in-law.


DNA evidence key to lawyers' motion to overturn 1999 Jefferson County murder case

"Lawyers for Floyd S. Bledsoe filed a motion Tuesday in Second Judicial District Court in Jefferson County to vacate his first-degree murder conviction in the 1999 killing of his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Zetta 'Camille' Arfmann.

Attorneys, who are members of the Midwest Innocence Project and in partnership with the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence at the University of Kansas School of Law, seek to have Bledsoe released from Lansing Correctional Facility based on evidence they said proves another man committed the murder.


LU law professor sues Kansas Supreme Court justices

"Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline sued all seven Kansas Supreme Court justices and others connected with their 2013 decision to suspend his law license over an investigation of abortion clinics that he led.

Attorneys for Kline, who is a visiting law professor at Liberty University, said in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas and made public on Monday that the court toughened Kline's punishment because of his 'fervid beliefs' against abortion. The lawsuit also contends the court selectively applied rules governing attorney conduct.


SEC judges in question after court rulings

"The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may need to reconsider the way it appoints in-house administrative law judges after two federal court justices issued preliminary rulings indicating the SEC’s process was likely unconstitutional and ordered a temporary halt to administrative actions.


'There’s an increasing use since Dodd-Frank in these administrative enforcement proceedings, having that be the preference over federal district court judges,' said Quinton Lucas, an associate professor of law at the University of Kansas. 




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