"Last week, the Department of Justice released a scathing report of the Baltimore City Police Department, concluding that officers were pervasively abusing their power in bluntly racist and gender-biased ways. 'We found that [the police department] has engaged in a pattern or practice of serious violations of the U.S. Constitution and federal law,' wrote Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, 'that has disproportionately harmed Baltimore's African-American community and eroded the public's trust in the police.'
"A new joint program between the University of Kansas School of Law and Lawrence Memorial Hospital that would provide legal counsel to some of the hospital’s neediest patients will likely launch within the next few weeks.
The medical-legal partnership would offer free legal services to low-income patients with health-related legal issues while giving KU law students a chance to build professional experience and earn credit working on those cases.
"Last week, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered all detention facilities holding federal inmates in Kansas and Missouri to immediately stop recording attorney-client communications. She also ordered the government to submit to the court all originals and copies of recordings in its possession or in the possession of law enforcement agents.
After Devon Weisenbach's wife's voter registration was not processed, he submitted a petition asking the Douglas County Court to appoint a grand jury to investigate the matter.
"'It's not a trial as we think of a normal trial. What a grand jury does is conduct an investigation to determine if there's enough evidence that some crime occurred,' said Mark Johnson, law lecturer at the University of Kansas.
LAWRENCE — When the United States and 11 other nations recently agreed to the Trans Pacific Partnership, they set in motion history’s largest free trade agreement. A University of Kansas professor of law and international trade law expert has authored a comprehensive, objective look at the TPP, giving it a passing grade while detailing what it got right, where it could improve and why it’s important to millions of people around the world.
Raj Bhala, associate dean for international and comparative law and Rice Distinguished Professor at the KU School of Law, has written "TPP Objectively: Law, Economics, and National Security of History’s Largest, Longest Free Trade Agreement." The book is the first comprehensive, objective analysis of the 6,000-page agreement, the largest in human history. Bhala has also authored the second edition of Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a), his landmark textbook, and both books take an in-depth look at issues that will be central to this year’s presidential election.
“The book tries to look past the pro- and anti-TPP sides who are so often just talking past each other and screaming about things,” Bhala said. “The political debates tend to oversell the TPP as an economic engine or a catastrophe. The truth is it’s neither. Others miss that it’s about national security. Free trade agreements are not solely economic animals.”
“TPP Objectively” will be available in September as a hardcover and ebook. Copies can be ordered online.
Bhala, who has worked in 11 of the 12 TPP nations, breaks down the economic and national security aspects of the agreement and assigns it a B grade. In terms of security, he assigns the TPP an A, noting the importance it plays in securing agreements with 11 other nations. Many of those countries are longtime allies of the U.S., and others — critically — have agreed to a trade agreement on Western, capitalistic terms favored by the U.S. and not China, which is not part of the agreement. He also points out the national security significance of Vietnam’s membership, noting the entry of a 100 million person market and former bitter enemy of the United States.
Bhala gives the economic aspect of the TPP a C grade. The agreement doesn’t free up trade as much as most people assume, he said, pointing out that about 15 percent of all goods and services produced in the agreement’s member nations are not freed up. That is despite the fact that the agreement covers nearly 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Perhaps most importantly, Bhala’s book argues the TPP did not go far enough in addressing women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and those of religious minorities in terms of trade.
“The book is the first to argue we need to advance, more resolutely, the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and religious minorities,” Bhala said. “The TPP doesn’t cover much for women’s rights and does nothing for LGBTQ and religious minorities. It’s time to advance human dignity across the board.”
He argues that human rights treaties have attempted to address such topics but, while well-intentioned, are not as effective. Economic agreements among the world’s largest economic powers would get more attention and effect more change, Bhala added.
“TPP Objectively” breaks down concepts, goals, membership, logic and various national markets of the agreement in detailed, understandable language. It also examines nations that are part of the agreement, what they bring to the table specifically and nations that are not part of the agreement and why they are not included. It also examines challenges for the TPP, both short and long term. On the topic of national security it outlines how the agreement can both serve as containment for China and as a guideline for the United States’ pivot in focus from the Middle East to Asia.
While the book analyzes complex legal and international topics and can be invaluable to lawyers, scholars and policy makers, it can also be a source of indispensable insight for any reader interested in learning more about the agreement and what it means for the future of millions of people.
“The TPP is a public issue, it is not an arcane topic,” Bhala said. “It involves a treaty that covers things people eat every day, things they consume every day, intellectual property they depend on every day, labor and environmental issues, and raises women’s rights and minority rights issues. In a 6,000-page agreement there are topics that cover the lives of every American and every citizen in the other 11 member nations.”
Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a)
Bhala has also authored the second edition of his landmark 2011 textbook, “Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a).” Since its initial publication the book has been adopted for use in law classes throughout the United States and across the world. The book is the only comprehensive text on the topic, in English, by a non-Muslim law professor.
In press now, the second edition has a wealth of new material, including chapters on ISIS/ISIL, its definition, ideology, atrocities committed, its divergence from Islam and more. The book also contains updated information on the Shia-Sunni dispute and examination of the Prophet Muhammad’s actions during wars in his lifetime.
Understanding Islamic Law also presents in its second edition information on recent developments such as “burqa bans” and other anti-Shari’a law measures enacted in several nations. It also features Arabic terms, in English, a glossary of Arabic terms and expanded coverage of Islamic finance, especially Islamic joint ventures as well as Shi’ism.
The book provides the foundational materials for studying Islamic law without necessitating previous study of the religion, history or law of Islam. Additional chapters cover fields such as banking and finance, contracts, criminal law, family law and property.
Also available as an ebook, “Understanding Islamic Law” is available online.
Photo: A 2010 summit with leaders of the (then) negotiating states of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. Credit: The government of Chile.
"Defendants who commit sexual contact crimes, such as rape or molestation against children, often receive lighter sentences than those charged with possessing child pornography, academics agreed. That discrepancy can be attributed to money and quality of evidence, they said.
Federal crimes for child pornography are relatively new, said Corey Rayburn Yung, a professor at University of Kansas School of Law.
"The Kansas Supreme Court has affirmed the death penalty conviction of Scott Cheever.
The case has been enmeshed in multiple legal battles over the state’s death penalty law. This is just the second such conviction to be affirmed since 1994, when the state’s death penalty statute was enacted.
'The Kansas Supreme Court has not upheld that many death penalty cases,' said University of Kansas Law Professor Lumen 'Lou' Mulligan."
"Judges and justices often make unpopular decisions, and these decisions may come back to haunt them come election season.
For Supreme Court justices in Iowa, that’s every eight years. And this November, Chief Justice Mark Cady, along with Justices Daryl Hecht and Brent Appel will be on the ballot.
Voters will not be asked to choose between the current justices and a challenger; rather with a retention election, voters are simply asked if each justice should keep his or her job.
But, many dislike Iowa’s judicial retention system.
"A small band of Kansas officials hastily enacted a rule Tuesday to allow more than 17,000 people who haven’t provided proof of citizenship to vote in federal races.
The regulation affects individuals who registered to vote at Department of Motor Vehicle offices and comes in response to a federal court order. The rule was adopted at the last minute — the day before advance voting for the August primary is set to begin.
"President Obama’s nominee for the open seat on the Supreme Court might be the best conservatives can get and could be confirmed by reluctant Republicans if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, Kansas Solicitor General Stephen McAllister said Friday.
'He is well-respected and probably as moderate a nominee as the Republicans could hope for,' McAllister said. 'The Republicans, if she wins, and Garland hasn’t been withdrawn, might want to approve him right after Election Day because he’s probably better than anybody they’re going to get from Mrs. Clinton.'"