News  /  March 3, 2015  / 

Reactions to Dershowitz Allegations Stir HLS

Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law, Emeritus, has adamantly denied accusations that he engaged in sexual relations with an underage woman, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe #3. The allegations stem from a civil filing before a federal district court in Southern Florida that challenges the plea deal offered to Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire who was sentenced to 18 months in prison, of which he served 13 months, for soliciting prostitution. Dershowitz was a member of the legal team that negotiated Epstein’s plea deal. Two Harvard Law students—Anna Joseph, 2L, and Kerry Richards, 1L—wrote a piece to the Record that charged Dershowitz with victim-blaming a child involved in trafficking. Joseph and Richards criticized the “trivialization of sex trafficking by victimizers and by the media at large” and questioned why Dershowitz’s courage has been commended while Jane Doe #3’s experience has been discounted. After reading the piece, Professor Dershowitz felt … Continue reading

Opinion  /  February 25, 2015  / 

Letter to the Editor: In Defense of Dershowitz

TO THE HARVARD LAW RECORD: Anna Joseph and Kerry Richards do a disservice in their criticism of Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz published in the Opinion section of the issue of February 18, 2015. Dershowitz, it is now widely known, was recently accused in a court filing by a victim of child sexual abuse who is now a 31-year-old adult. This accusation was filed in a case in which Dershowitz is not a party. Rather, a former client of his is the party, and so Dershowitz has no standing to file a defense of himself, including a motion to strike the gratuitous accusation. (I say that the accusation is “gratuitous” because it is of no evidentiary or legal moment in the lawsuit or in the matter in which the filing was made.) Dershowitz has widely protested, in his intervention motion filed in court, and in his public statements in the news … Continue reading

Opinion  /  February 24, 2015  / 

Dershowitz: Responding to the Charge that I Didn’t Show “Compassion” to the Woman Who Falsely Accused Me of Rape

In an article in the Harvard Law Record, Anna Joseph and Kerry Richards accuse me of not showing compassion toward a 31-year-old woman who deliberately, willfully and mendaciously accused me of raping her on more than six occasions nearly fifteen years ago. I have deep compassion for victims of rape and trafficking, and I understand the reasons why Joseph and Richards are concerned about the revictimization of actual victims. But Joseph and Richards have it backwards in this case. The 31-year-old perjurer is not my “victim.” I am her victim. There is no excuse or justification for a mature woman victimizing an entirely innocent person by falsely accusing him of crimes others may have committed against her. Fortunately, the charges against me are not only totally made up but are provably untrue. Jane Doe #3 accused me of having had sex with her on a private Caribbean island where I … Continue reading

Opinion  /  February 24, 2015  / 

Open Letter of Dissent from WLA Members

The presidents of the Harvard Women’s Law Association and the Law and International Development Society recently issued a statement announcing their decision to withdraw their International Women’s Day honor from Robin Steinberg, Executive Director of the Bronx Defenders. As members, chairs, and directors within the Women’s Law Association’s large structure, we are writing to express our deep disappointment with that decision. The Women’s Law Association has a history of feminist activism and has done remarkable work over the years. We have the utmost respect for the women involved in this organization. We also understand that the leaders who made the choice were under immense pressure from the HLS Administration, alumni and donors, and police organizations threatening to picket the International Women’s Day Exhibit. Nevertheless, the ultimate choice to rescind Ms. Steinberg’s honor–made by a small number of students without the knowledge of the Executive Board or General Board–does not reflect … Continue reading

Opinion  /  February 24, 2015  / 

Beyond Josh Lyman Politics: How The West Wing Miseducated My Political Generation

A few years ago, Josh Lyman spoke at Harvard to a packed room of starstruck student politicos. It wasn’t the real Josh Lyman, of course, because he isn’t real: he was the fictional Deputy Chief of Staff played by Bradley Whitford on the Aaron Sorkin television drama, The West Wing. It wasn’t Bradley Whitford either, though his visit to Harvard’s Institute of Politics a few years later would also pack the house. Rather, the speaker was Jim Messina, who was at the time the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Obama administration’s real West Wing. It didn’t make much difference which one of the three – Lyman, Whitford or Messina – was in front of us in the room that day, because, to many of my fellow young liberals, dreams of being in The West Wing and in the West Wing have blended together. It’s hard to exaggerate the role … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / News  /  February 24, 2015  / 

Harvard Students Go to Court Over Climate Change

Harvard students went to court on February 20th to enjoin the Harvard Corporation’s investments in oil, gas, and coal companies. The students, members of the Harvard Climate Justice Coalition, argued in their complaint that these investments violate the University’s public charitable duties. The plaintiffs also brought suit on behalf of future generations, arguing that the Corporation knowingly funds business activities that cause severe and irreparable harm to future generations and that it should therefore be liable in tort. The defendants filed motions to dismiss the complaint, which were the subject of last Friday’s hearing. The Corporation, represented by counsel from Foley Hoag, argued that principles of fiduciary discretion give it broad latitude to invest in any industry so long as it is profitable to do so, and that all such decisions should be shielded from judicial scrutiny. The plaintiffs appeared pro se, arguing that their special interest in the well … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  February 24, 2015  / 

On the Large Potential of Small Claims Courts

When I was in law school, I bought a laptop that turned out to be a lemon. It would overheat during class, sending the cooling fan into overdrive, and by the end of an hour it whirred loud enough to turn heads several rows away. Soon it started to crash. “System failure,” the screen would read upon rebooting. And then, two years after I bought it, the machine crashed for the last time: “massive system failure,” it said. This was not a cut-rate computer. It was a Toshiba – supposedly one of the best brands – and I bought it from a reputable national retailer for $1,500. So I called the store. The manager’s response was as predictable as it was unsatisfactory. Since the warranty had expired, the store – OK, it was Micro Center on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, but it easily could have been another – wouldn’t even … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / News  /  February 24, 2015  / 

Ndaba Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s Grandson, Speaks at Harvard Law School

Last week, Professor Charles Ogletree’s ‘Understanding Mandela’ class welcomed guest speaker Ndaba Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, to campus. Ndaba Mandela offered a candid look into his grandfather’s legacy—and also how he was creating his own with the Africa Rising Foundation. “For him, it was really important that everyone who lived in South Africa felt like a South African,” Ndaba Mandela said of the country’s former president. He remembers meeting the anti-apartheid leader for the first time when he was 8 years old: his parents told him he was going to meet his grandfather in jail. Amidst negotiations with the government, Nelson Mandela had been transferred to a private house inside Victor Verster Prison. Ndaba Mandela recalled that the house was nice, and after leaving he even told his parents that he too wanted to go to jail when he grows up. Weeks later, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  February 24, 2015  / 

What Harvard Law Students Should Know About Equal Justice Works

A few weeks ago, I was visiting with Ralph Nader HLS ’58. I have known Ralph for most of my life and have seen how his dedication to the public interest has created enormous impact on so many issues including consumer rights, car safety, protecting whistleblowers, and corporate misconduct to name a few. While Ralph is extraordinary, he is certainly not alone. Thousands of lawyers have dedicated their careers to helping under-served communities and causes. The vast majority of these lawyers will say they are incredibly happy with their choice, even though it meant a great deal of personal and financial sacrifice. It is hard but fulfilling work. Here’s the problem: As the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow, we face a crisis in who has access to justice. There is just one legal aid attorney available for every 6,415 low-income Americans. About 80 percent of defendants … Continue reading

From the Print Edition / Opinion  /  February 24, 2015  / 

Letter to the Editor

I write as a co-founder of the HLS International Women’s Day Photo Exhibit (just last year) and as a former LIDS Co-President in response to the decision by WLA and LIDS not to include Robin Steinberg in the International Women’s Day Photo Exhibit. I am no longer part of the decision-making process, but I, like many members of the HLS community, am disappointed that she will not be included and I hope we will have the opportunity to host her on campus in the near future. After conversations with those organizing the exhibit this year, I would venture to say that despite their difficult decision, they are equally disappointed not to include her this year, and that the decision was not made lightly or without awareness of the many conflicting issues it raised. While I share the frustration that my fellow students and members of the HLS community felt at … Continue reading