The Seventh Amendment is fast becoming a dead letter. Although the protection remains, there simply aren’t many trials happening. Indeed, federal juries decided 5.5% of civil cases in 1962, but a paltry 0.76% in 2015. A similar trend is apparent in every state court. This is a problem. Without jury trials, the American system of civil justice—as well as our democracy in general—degenerates and loses legitimacy. Indeed, as William Blackstone recognized over two centuries ago, “Every new tribunal erected for the decision of facts, without the intervention of a jury . . . is a step towards establishing aristocracy, the most oppressive of absolute government.” The loss of civil jury trials demands, if not action, at least scrutiny.
The Civil Jury Project at New York University School of Law seeks to do both. Launched by trial attorney Stephen D. Susman in 2015, the Project aims to understand the causes and consequences of the civil jury’s dramatic decline, as well as determine what steps might be taken to preserve and revitalize the institution. It has commenced empirical assessments of the current role of the jury, created education programs and publicity outlets for studies and policy proposals, and reevaluated ways in which juries are constituted and jury trials conducted. Its efforts have earned it astounding support across the country, with a list of accomplished judicial, academic, and practitioner advisors that total well into the hundreds. Today, it remains the nation’s only non-profit academic institution dedicated to studying, preserving, and advancing the cause of the Seventh Amendment. Continue reading “Where have all the [Civil Juries] Gone?”→
With 36.8% of the vote, 2Ls Adrian Perkins and Amanda Lee have been elected 2017-18 HLS Student Government President and Vice President, respectively. Downballot, 1L Paola Eisner was elected as the next Director of Student Organizations, and students overwhelmingly approved a referendum to create a new crest for HLS.
“We appreciate the support and confidence of the student body,” Perkins said.
“We look forward to working with everyone and bringing student voices to the table,” Lee said.
The two races for elected office were close, with Perkins and Lee winning by 2.5 percentage points over 2Ls Anika Khan and Tyra Walker. 2Ls Joe Sullivan and Jin Kim received 28.9% of the vote. In the Director of Student Organizations race, Eisner prevailed with a 1.2 percentage point margin over 2L Lane Kauder.
The races for 2L and 3L Representatives were uncontested. The 2017-18 2L Representatives will be Leilani Doktor, Kaitlyn Beck, and Sam Garcia. The 2017-18 3L Representatives will be Raj Salhotra and Cameron Pritchett.
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS has served as Executive Director of the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice since 2004. She is a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare. .
On March 22, 2017, Sr. Campbell came to Harvard Law School to speak about moral vocation building and advancing Catholic social justice values in the Trump era. The video is below:
Two decades ago, in his book Democracy’s Discontent, Michael Sandel warned that, absent a stronger civic republican spirit, liberalism would collapse, giving way to “those who would shore up borders, harden the distinction between insiders and outsiders, and promise a politics to ‘take back our culture and take back our county.'”
On February 22, 2017, the Harvard Law School Forum hosted Sandel to give his take on politics in the age of Trump. Below is the audio:
Adrian Perkins: I’ve always felt like Student Government was in a unique position to change things for the better. Academic institutions come with stressors and this is an opportunity to for us relieve those stressors and to make the community better. Since joining Student Government, I’ve worked on everything from the [Student Government] constitutional working group, to changing the printing, to appointing the committee that decided to change the crest, to getting the MPRE administered at HLS. I’ve had the opportunity to see things through and make student life better here.
Amanda Lee: The HLS community matters. We spend 3 years of our lives here. I’ve seen intimately the needs of a thriving student organization that’s put so much work and care into making the school an amazing place. Adrian and I work really well together because we have a wide breadth of experience. We’ve spent the last two years building relationships, and so we’re really excited to bring others to the table and let students have that voice through student government.
Record: In a few words, how would you sum up your platform?
Joe Sullivan: We are demanding that the administration release the budget data so we can take a hard look at that budget so we can see what we can cut back and where we can move funding into.
Record: It seems like you guys are running as a one-issue ticket. Would you say that’s accurate?
JS: I would say generally, yes, although that one issue encompasses a lot of the issues at Harvard Law School. When we think about a lot of the issues at Harvard Law School, it’s often about how much does that cost? I think if we don’t know that it’s hard to tackle those issues, so I think of this as a more encompassing platform.
Anika Khan: Tyra and I are looking to redefine student government and give students the chance to redefine student government for themselves. Tyra and I know what it’s like to be a part of the existing government, and we know how to change it to help create real community here at HLS.
Nino Monea is the outgoing Student Government President. The Record asked him what was on his mind.
Record: What are some of the things that student government has been able to do this year that you’re proud of?
Monea: As far as membership goes, a majority of the executive team and elected members are women, and a majority are people of color for the first time as far back as we have records on this point, and I think it’s great that we have a team that really reflects the school that we’re supposed to represent. On substantive accomplishments, we’ve been able to implement a new printing system, which historically was students’ number one complaint in polls.
We’ve been able to make progress on policies to help students be more politically engaged, such as recording classes on Election Day, and we’ve begun discussions about canceling courses on Election Day so students can more easily go out and vote or volunteer. And we’re for the first time trying to expand offerings for students trying to go into public [office], such as a reading group on how to run for office as a lawyer. And going forward we want to see if there’s resources this school can offer to help people who don’t come from politically connected families run for office.
The Record: Why are you running for Director of Student Organizations?
Paola Eisner: One of the most important roles of Student Government is to bring people together and talk about what’s important to the student body, and student orgs are a big part of that. I’m excited about the opportunity to promote communication between our student orgs.
LeilaniDoktor: I believe that I give a diverse perspective to student government that is necessary just to be fully representative of our 2L class.
Record: What distinguishes you from the other candidates?
LD: I think that my unique background and public interest focus contribute to my ability to be a good representative. I was very active in student government throughout undergraduate and high school, so I’m very experienced in terms of governance regarding student bodies and creating policies that work for students. As a 1L rep, I’ve been able to make small changes, like getting refills on the free coffee downstairs in the morning and regularly meeting with the dining hall to get new dining options, including the poké bowls in the boxes that you’ve seen added to the Hark menu.Continue reading “2017 Student Government Elections: 2L Rep Candidates”→
Raj Salhotra: I had a great year this year. I got to head up the academic affairs committee, and there I got to organize professor lunches, make some progress with registration, and start to do some work on advising. That’s what inspired me to run again, to see if we can keep moving the ball on that. Also, five of the students that I used to teach [as a high school teacher] came in to sit in on classes. They loved it, and it reminded me that we gotta do more for low-income and first-generation students on campus. Supero’s taken a great lead on that, and I want to be a part of that.Continue reading “2017 Student Government Elections: 3L Rep Candidates”→
We all want the HLS community to have a big impact on the world.
This is an uncontroversial view as far as it goes, but—as you’ve probably already thought to yourself—that statement doesn’t go very far in the way of defining “big,” “impact,” or “world.” Our community is rife with disagreement as to the meaning of these terms. This is healthy. Conceptions of justice are inherently controversial.
We support the immediate and annual implementation of optional anonymous mental health surveys at Harvard Law School.
We have no recent data on the student body at Harvard Law, but we do know that scheduling counseling appointments can take weeks. To help our community, we must first know where we stand. In addition, to evaluate the effects of policy changes, we need surveys each year.