Pro Se Round-Up of the Supreme Court October Term

by Alex Anastasio

McCutcheon v. FEC:
In McCutcheon, a political donor is challenging sections of federal campaign finance laws that limit donations to politicians and political committees. The donor is not challenging the individual cap on donations to any particular candidate or committee but is instead challenging the aggregate limits that limit the total amount of cash that can be donated during any political cycle. This case is, in some ways, a child of the controversial Citizens United v. FEC and promises to continue the same themes of free speech, money in politics, and the powers of Congress to regulate campaign finance.

SCOTUS Blog Oral Arguments Additional Information

Schuette v. CDAA:
Affirmative action is once again before the Supreme Court, though this case presents a new legal angle. Unlike previous cases in which the permissibility of affirmative action was decided, the issue in this case is whether voters in Michigan, which had an affirmative action policy, may eliminate this policy by state constitutional amendment. The amendment, passed in 2006, prohibits all Michigan public schools from considering factors such as race or gender as part of their admissions policies. At the circuit level, a closely divided 8th Circuit panel held that the amendment violated the 14th Amendment

SCOTUS Blog Oral Arguments Additional Information

NLRB v. Canning:
The Constitution grants the President the power to make appointments while the Senate is in recess but otherwise requires the President to receive the consent of the Senate. In 2012, President Obama determined that the Senate was in recess and made several appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. However, the Senate was not technically in recess at this time because it was conducting pro forma sessions at regular intervals. The question, practically, is whether the Senate can effectively block the President making recess appointments by holding sessions that are pure formality.

SCOTUS Blog Additional Information

Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway:
This First Amendment case concerns whether or not a city meeting may open with a religious prayer. The case will once again reopen debate as to where to draw the line on invocation of religious themes at government facilities.

SCOTUS Blog Additional Information

Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens:
Urban renewal policies have sometimes been criticized as allowing racialized housing discrimination by city governments. Here, the litigants are a group of African-American residents who argue that the government of Mt. Holly is engaging in discriminatory use of urban renewal policies. The litigants are bringing this case under the Fair Housing Act, but the case recalls the eminent domain issues arising from cities seizing land for urban development. These kinds of takings were considered by the Court in the controversial Kelo case in 2005.

SCOTUS Blog Additional Information

McCullen v. Coakley:
This case combines two highly contentious issues: free speech and abortion. The issue in this particular case is a Massachusetts law that strictly limits the ability of people to protest within thirty-five feet of a health facility that provides abortions. The case provides an opportunity for the Court to reconsider the 2000 case of Hill v. Colorado, which may or may not allow Massachusetts to enforce the currently disputed law.

SCOTUS Blog Additional Information
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Restaurant Ipsa Loquitor: Fleming’s

by Adriene L. Harwill, Pro Se Restaurant Critic

Fleming_s

After a rocky start, Fleming’s, located in West Hartford, debuted a new menu that raised the steakhouse-dining standard of care to new heights.

Sadly, the chilled seafood tower disappointed. Good wine elevates quality ingredients and reveals poor ones. The shrimp was partially grey and mealy. The attractive heaps of crab legs and lobster tail floated high above the table in a metal stand. I had to strain to see it, much less to eat it. However, judging a steakhouse on seafood is practically negligence per se. Next was a salad tossed in a whole grain mustard vinaigrette, topped with crisp pork belly, and paired with a delicious white burgundy by Olivier Leflaive of Meursault. Chef Christian Schunmann achieved a brilliant balance with delicate slivers of red onion, fennel, and orange, providing the perfect foil for the pork. It is a testament to the composition of the salad that the burgundy was a welcome but unnecessary addition. The salad is not yet officially on the menu, but I hope that it will be soon.

A new option is a dry-aged steak, which has a more robust and nuttier flavor than the common wet-aged steak. Many people disdain steakhouses, thinking that anybody can cook a steak. They need to try three of Fleming’s Steak Companions: truffle poached lobster with caviar, king crab in herb butter with caviar, and a charming sweet onion bacon jam. These toppings complemented but did not compete with the steak.

Flemings

Too often a steak topping masks the meat. This was the case with the Diablo Shrimp. The excessive spice made the steak superfluous and overwhelmed my palate. The Round Pond Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon paired beautifully with the steak, crab, and lobster but could not hold up to the Diablo Shrimp. Potatoes au gratin, asparagus, and cipollini onions, much like the leather upholstery and dark wood paneling but better tasting, made the place feel like a great steakhouse.

Fans of marshmallows should try the Cappuccino S’more – decadent and well done with homemade marshmallow covering a graham cracker coated chocolate lava cake. I found myself mining eagerly through the sticky mire to reach the thick pool of chocolate beneath. Like the salad, you might have to ask for this one if it has not been officially added to the menu.

Finally, Fleming’s has introduced the “Wine Pad”. The iPad wine-list lets you easily browse their extensive selection, but replacing a human sommelier with an iPad would almost certainly breach the standard of care people expect when visiting a restaurant with prime steaks, real linens, and delicate stemware.

Go to Fleming’s for a great meal when you miraculously get an A in Civil Procedure, pass the Bar, or land that summer associate position. If you want to be a trial lawyer and are feeling aggressive, go for the Old Vine Zinfandel “Predator” and the tableside carved bone-in “Tomahawk” steak, but save the $985 bottle from Harlan Estate for when you are elected to the senate, made partner, or raised to the bench. If there is a restaurant you would like to see Adriene review, please contact Pro Se.

Law School Switches to Gmail, Phases Out Old Addresses

by Martin Mack

Each year, new students receive numerous digital accounts including: emails, Westlaw, Lexis, LawID, NetID, and various others. At the start of this year, ITS began consolidating accounts in the hopes of achieving a “single sign-on” regime, or at least something close. As a result of this consolidation, law school specific emails (i.e. @students.law.uconn.edu, “@students”) are being phased out. Below, Pro Se answers a few questions about the change.

Where does this leave student organizations?
Currently, student groups receive email addresses from the law school directly. Examples include: Law Review’s connlrev@law.uconn.edu or the Pro Se’s prose@students.law.uconn.edu. As student emails are being phased out, student groups could lose their current emails as well. As the main campus is not offering student groups email accounts through Google Apps for Education (i.e. @uconn.edu, “@uconn”) and are instead encouraging organizations to create their own accounts through gmail or other services, an additional issue has arisen. Organizations are not allowed to use UConn’s registered trademarks and must comply with a yet unwritten branding policy, to “be released this fall.” As a result of these issues, UConn Law’s ITS is working on a solution. Though the specifics have not been finalized, it is their hope that the school will be able to continue providing groups with UConn branded email addresses.

What does this mean for Clinics?
For clinics, students are required to unforward @students email to personal accounts and use the actual student email system, which is only accessible to students through a web interface and cannot be configured on smartphones, tablets, or computer email programs. The reasoning provided for this requirement is that the school has greater access and control over the internal email servers located in the library than they do over those at Google, and further that there’s a belief that these emails are more secure. Generally, email is never “secure” and many academics and legal professionals have begun to discuss whether or not it is ever appropriate to email confidential client information. Though clinics have been in talks with ITS about continued use of these student mail servers, it seems likely that clinics will have to better evaluate their current methods of communicating confidential information with their clients and that they will have to implement a new policy either next semester or starting next year.

Community Email
Currently students can enroll in community emails to be informed about events and information from student groups. Though the community list’s long-term continuation is unclear, in the near future they will transition from the @students for 2Ls & 3Ls to the @uconn accounts, as is already the practice for 1Ls.

Email Forwarding and Filtering
On August 16th, Director of ITS, Jessica de Perio Wittman sent an email to all students regarding the technology changes. In her email she advised students to transition towards the @uconn accounts, forwarding the @students to it to ensure all school communications end up in the same place. Additionally, students using the @students address, un-forwarded, are advised to forward any individual emails stored on the student server, because after the accounts are phase out, students will no longer have access to those old emails. Students can change the forwarding of their @students by submitting a request here.

One of the biggest advantages to using Google Apps for Education is that it uses the Gmail system with which most students are familiar. Students can configure the email on their devices, experience fewer browser issues, and Gmail’s filters and other features make it easy for people to control and organize their inboxes.

Diary of a 2L

by Sarah Ricciardi

Caveat lector – this is entirely my opinion, and I have done absolutely no research to back up my ridiculous (and admittedly judgmental) claims.

The 2L class has officially been split up into three groups. While the exact number is unknown at this time, it seems that about a third of the 2L class has secured some form of employment for summer 2014. These students are doing their best not to boast, but let’s be honest, they’re effectively set. And the rest of us secretly hate them for it. A 2L summer position leads to a 3L externship, which leads to post-graduation employment, which inevitably leads to glory and riches. Or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The next group of students includes those that don’t have a summer position secured and are REALLY worried about it. These poor souls can be seen wandering around campus with crumpled resumes in their hands, leaving a trail of human hair that is presumably falling out of their heads at such a high rate that their ragged owners are sure to go bald before spring fling. I constantly find myself trying not to slap them and shout, “Pull it together! No one is going to hire you if you’ve got mascara in your teeth!”

The last group of 2Ls, of which I am a proud member, include those students who have not secured a summer position and aren’t the least bit concerned. These students are both overly confident and unjustifiably optimistic. I would say I probably fall into the latter category in that I have become very good at ignoring the prospective job market for lawyers – or the lack thereof. Even though we are nearly half way through our law school careers, a year and a half seems like an awfully long time. If I can’t secure a job in 545 days, then I don’t deserve one! I will live in my mother’s basement and watch Access Hollywood all day while simultaneously figuring out a way to sue Nabisco for an injunction that would require Oreos to be made with more cookie and less stuffing. That may not be the most healthy life plan, but at least I’ve got hair!

Eh… just to be on the safe side, I might invest in a really awesome hat.

After Decline, Student Clerkship Numbers are Rising

by Thomas Dargon, Jr. 

In the last five years, UConn Law students have obtained fewer clerkship positions. Yet the Career Planning Center said that more recent numbers show that “things are getting better.”

Why are the numbers down? The reasons are not surprising. Judges are hiring an increasing number of experienced attorneys, reducing opportunities available to graduating students. And the East Coast is home to the most competitive clerkship market in the entire country.

But Michele Hoff, Associate Director of the Career Planning Center said that the landscape is improving for UConn Law students. This year, at the state level, UConn Law doubled the number of students who will be clerking at the Connecticut Appellate Court. Twelve of the sixteen Appellate Court clerks next year will be UConn Law graduates. Additionally, two of the seven clerkship positions at the Connecticut Supreme Court were offered to UConn Law students. At the federal level, in the past five years, Hoff reports that UConn Law students have obtained eight District Court clerkships (six in CT, one in FL, and one in MA), three Circuit Court clerkships (all outside the East Coast), and two Bankruptcy Court clerkships (one in WI and one in CT).

In order to help students deal with the expense of applications, the Law School offers a cost reimbursement program. Additionally, Hoff says that the Career Planning Center hopes to provide more networking opportunities for students by inviting judges to speak at campus events and continuing to maintain relationships with alumni who have completed clerkships.

Professor Molly Land is the head of the Faculty Clerkship Committee, which includes four faculty members, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, one representative from the Career Planning Center, and one student representative. The Committee is charged with the task of evaluating the services available to students, developing new methods of providing support, and assisting students in crafting the most effective application possible. The Committee hopes to form a clerkship-advising program in the near future to match students with faculty mentors who can assist them in the application process.

Land clerked for the Honorable Denise Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, a position that she applied for after her 1L year at Yale Law School. Land believes that her clerkship experience was an invaluable asset to her legal career. In an ever-tightening legal market, she encourages students to pursue clerkships because they provide a unique professional credential and help graduates stand out in their quest for post-graduate employment.

In general, Land aims to advise students on application strategy and encourages students to think ahead.

“There is a high correlation between clerkship offers and students with prior judicial internship experience. Judges talk to one another,” Land said. Like Hoff, Professor Land urges students to consider broadening their geographical range. Moreover, she recommends a “sequencing” strategy, i.e. using a state court clerkship as a stepping-stone for federal court clerkships.

On November 13, 2013, the Career Planning Center is hosting a panel of UConn Law alumni, all of whom completed clerkships, to engage in a discussion about the nuts and bolts of the clerkship experience. All students are invited to attend.