Recently in Academia Category

More on Corrupt Peer Review

| No Comments
Mary Kissel of the WSJ has a video interview with James Taranto on the peer review corruption scandal, similar to Taranto's column noted earlier

The Real Threat to Freedom

| 1 Comment
One of the blessings of being a law professor is the opportunity to meet sharp minds and learn from them.

One of those minds belongs to Ilan Wurman, formerly head of the Federalist Society at Stanford Law School and now a clerk to Judge Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit. In the Weekly Standard, Ilan has written a review of Columbia Law Prof. Philip Hamburger's brilliant new book, "Is Administrative Law Unlawful?"

Much of what the Left (and libertarians) say about criminal law focuses on the cops and prosecutors as the signal threat to the freedom of American citizens.  This is so much baloney.  For whatever else might be said of criminal law, (1) imprisonment is easy to avoid by living a normal, honest life (which is why the overwhelming majority of Americans have never been in prison); and (2) if you get accused of a serious crime (the kind that, realistically, can get you a prison sentence), you have the right every single time to demand that your guilt be determined beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of ordinary citizens.

No, it's not criminal law that threatens American freedom.  As Prof. Hamburger shows, and Ilan explains, it's the growing, grasping, blob-like administrative state.

About Those Peer Reviewed Studies...

| No Comments
Yesterday, Kent noted, with respect to computer modeling of the sort we see so much of in academia and in academia's ponderous claims:

There is little independent funding to do research in the area, and most of it ends up being done by [professors].  Because academia is poisoned by Political Correctness, a lot more studies are going to be done by people with a pro-defendant agenda than a pro-prosecution one.  There is nowhere near enough scrutiny of studies with a pro-defense bottom line, while any academic who publishes a study with a bottom line useful to the prosecution will be savagely attacked regardless of actual merit.

As if on cue, the Washington Post reports:

Now comes word of a [scholarly] journal retracting 60 articles at once...The reason for the mass retraction is mind-blowing: A "peer review and citation ring" was apparently rigging the review process to get articles published.

My goodness!!!  Our holier-(and smarter)-than-thou friends  --  the ones who go on and on about how their "peer reviewed" studies expose us hayseeds who support the death penalty and other retrograde ideas  --  have been faking it.




Impenetrable at Stanford Law

| No Comments
Not to knock my alma mater, but Stanford Law School is home to a lecturer in law, Michael S. Romano, who seems oblivious to the preeminent realities about crime and sentencing staring him in the face.

This article from the National Journal  --  the eight trillionth about supposed overwhelming Republican zeal to join forces with the criminal defense bar  -- contains the following paragraph:

What's changed the political equation on crime [in the last three decades]? The most important factor is the decline in the crime rate. After surging through the 1980s as the crack epidemic crested, the violent crime rate has fallen almost every year since 1993 and now stands at only about half of what it was then, according to FBI figures. (A separate Bureau of Justice Statistics crime survey shows the violent-crime rate ticking back up over the past two years but still down about two-thirds from its 1993 level.) "We have an incredible opportunity for change because crime is down," says Michael S. Romano, a lecturer at Stanford University Law School.

Is this what passes for critical thought at Stanford nowadays?

 
The National Research Council (NRC) recently put out a report on incarceration in the United States.  It amounts to 450 pages of singing the same, tired liberal tune we have heard for years.  If you want to find out what it says, you'd save some time just listening to the two more succinct liberal witnesses at today's House hearing, Mark Levin of Right on Crime and Prof. Bryan Stevenson of NYU.  

Prof. John Pfaff has plowed through it, however, and finds numerous errors and omissions.  Hat tip to Doug Berman and SL&P for collecting Prof. Pfaff's pieces, which he does here, under the appropriate title, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Mass Incarceration Analysis: John Pfaff tears apart NRC report."

Academic Robbery

| 1 Comment
Eugene Volokh has this post at his eponymous conspiracy on a bizarre incident at the University of California at Santa Barbara.  Dr. Mireille Miller-Young -- an associate professor with UCSB's Feminist Studies Department -- was offended by an anti-abortion demonstration with graphic images.  (CJLF takes no position on the underlying controversy, BTW.)

According to the police report,

Miller-Young said that she "just grabbed it [the sign] from this girl's hands." Asked if there had been a struggle, Miller-Young stated, "I'm stronger so I was able to take the poster."

Miller-Young said that the poster had been taken back to her office. Once in her office, a "safe space" described by Miller-Young, Miller-Young said that they were still upset by the images on the poster and had destroyed it. Miller-Young said that she was "mainly" responsible for the posters destruction because she was the only one with scissors.

The definition of robbery in California, unchanged since 1872, is "the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear." (Penal Code § 211.)

Miller-Young confessed to taking the property, and the "I'm stronger" statement effectively confesses the "force" element. (See 2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law, Crimes Against Property § 99.) This is not only a felony, but a "violent" one. (Penal Code § 667.5(c)(9).)

"Miller-Young said that she did not feel that what she had done was criminal."

In my view, one of the greatest problems in our society today is the extent to which our young people are being taught by persons utterly devoid of common sense. Miller-Young should be convicted of robbery. Whatever direct consequences the court may impose, the collateral consequence should be that she is fired and never teaches in this state (or hopefully any other) again.

The Follow-Up You Won't Hear About

| No Comments
A few days ago, Ms. Cyrstal Mangum, a one-time "exotic dancer," was convicted of second degree murder in the stabbing death of her boyfriend.

Now that's not much of a story.  There are thousands of murders every year.  But we have visited with Ms. Mangum before.  Her story, recounted here, reminds us again of the astonishing rot, mendacity and, to be honest, hate that runs rampant in academia.

For anyone wondering why the Left was rooting, for once, for prosecutors to win out (in the George Zimmerman trial) even though the state obviously failed to meet its burden, and anyone wondering why the Knockout Game gets pushed to the back of the papers, wonder no more.  It all started years ago.

Maintaining Academic Monovision

| 1 Comment
Why do people have two eyes (as do nearly all animals above the insect level)?  There are several reasons, but one of them is depth perception.  One eye sees a two-dimensional image.  Two eyes with different perspectives, even if only slightly different, provide cues for the brain to figure out the third dimension.

Among the many problems with American academia today is a deficiency of perspective.  To a deplorable degree, our young people are being fed an unbalanced academic diet of a single viewpoint.  The result is a lower quality education.

David Bernstein at Volokh Conspiracy has this post on how blogs can expand the range of discourse.  But a comment he makes in passing confirms what I have long suspected.  The lack of diversity of viewpoint in academia is not only a result of which people choose academic careers versus going into the "real world."  That is part of it, to be sure, but another part is active employment discrimination for the specific purpose of censoring Politically Incorrect viewpoints out of the academic discourse.

The faculties at elite law schools are able to define what was "mainstream" in constitutional law simply by who they hire to join them. And Yale, to take just one example, has not hired a conservative or libertarian professor to teach constitutional law in my lifetime. According to an informed source at the law school, this is not a coincidence, as some of Yale's constitutional law professors make it their business to block any right-of-center candidates.

Transparency for Thee, But Not for Me

| 2 Comments
The "ACS" stands for the American Constitution Society, a liberal-leaning group which was founded to be a sort of Federalist Society anti-matter.  It has its share of provocative speakers, which is all to the good as far as I'm concerned.

It was thus disappointing to read Ed Whelan's post about how our liberal friends at the ACS, who yelp every day about the need for transparency, seem to have decided that hiding the ball is the better option when transparency is going to open the door on just how radical some of their favorites are, including and especially favorites who have an eye on the bench. 

When Prosecutor Turns Thug

| No Comments
Professor R. Michael Cassidy of Boston College Law School had a long and, so far as I know, distinguished career as a Massachusetts prosecutor.  He has been teaching law for the last 17 years.  He has recently written a piece, which can be found here on SSRN, in which he takes the view that prosecutors have an ethical duty as, in effect, "ministers of justice," to support (if not campaign for) what he terms "sentencing reform."

By that phrase, Prof. Cassidy means something specific:  He means that prosecutors are ethically obligated to support an end to many or perhaps most mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.  In the SSRN abstract, the argument is made that the prosecutor's ethical responsibilities (emphasis added):

...compel her to join in the effort to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing provisions for most drug and non-violent offenses.  Not only are mandatory sentences in most instances unduly harsh, coercive, and inefficacious, but they allow for an arbitrary and discriminatory application that is essentially unreviewable by courts.  The author distinguishes this argument against mandatory minimum penalties from the so-called "Smart on Crime" movement, by grounding a prosecutor's duty to promote sentencing reform in ethical reasoning as opposed to pragmatic or cost-savings considerations.

When a prosecutor has an ethical duty and breaches it, he should be and is subject to discipline  --  a reprimand, suspension from practice or, in severe cases, disbarment. Unless I am missing something, then, a prosecutor who does not speak out to support Prof. Cassidy's views on mandatory minimum sentencing should, by the Professor's logic, be punished, perhaps severely.

Does anyone see anything wrong with this? 
Brian Z. Tamanhana of Washington U., St. Louis Law School has this article with the above title on SSRN.  He charges his fellow lefty law professors with hypocrisy and is well aware he will lose some friends.  Here is the abstract:

Future generations will look back at the first decade of the twenty-first century as a pivotal time when a huge economic barrier was erected to encumber the path to a legal career. The symbolic announcement of this barrier rang out when annual tuition crossed the $50,000 threshold, now exceeded at a dozen or so law schools. Including fees and living expenses, it costs well in excess of $200,000 to obtain a law degree at most of the nation's highly regarded law schools and at a number of non-elite ones as well. Law schools thus impose a formidable entry fee on anyone who wishes to follow what, until recently, has long served as a means of upward mobility and access to power in American society.

Pure Bragging

| 1 Comment
The University of Chicago Law School has for many years been one of the nation's leaders, and is known to be more open to conservatives (or at least less hostile to them) than the other top schools.  It holds its reunion this weekend.

Saturday afternoon, the Class of 1983 will host a "Distinguished Alumni Panel Discussion."  Among the speakers will be the one-time star student of then-Professor Antonin Scalia.  This speaker was, among other things, the first female Chairman of the Party of the Right while an undergraduate at Yale.  While at Chicago, she was a co-founder of the Federalist Society, which has grown to become probably the country's leading source of conservative and libertarian legal thinking.

In 2009, she was awarded the Bradley Prize in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center (among other recipients have been George F. Will and Charles Krauthammer).  By that time, she had already served as Justice Scalia's first clerk at the Supreme Court; Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan; Associate White House Counsel under President George H. W. Bush; and General Counsel of the Department of Energy under President George W. Bush.

Possibly her most problematic choice came 20 years ago this October, when she married a warmed-over Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.  But warmed-over or not, I'll be a proud member of the audience when my wife, the spectacularly brilliant and courageous Lee Liberman Otis, gives her talk to her fellow Chicago alums.
My last entry concerned Princeton Professor Emeritus Richard Falk, who has been gracious enough to tell us, even as the Boston bombing victims (such as is left of them) are being buried, that they brought it on themselves by living in the Imperialist Leviathan.

Now comes Florida Atlantic Professor James Tracy to "correct" Professor Falk.  The victims didn't bring the bombing on themselves, because there was no bombing.  It was all staged  --  an evacuation drill. 

In [Tracy's] blog, which isn't affiliated with FAU, Tracy argues that the amount of damage captured on video cannot be reconciled with the homemade bombs that authorities say caused the damage.

More likely, the tenured professor says, what happened in Boston was a "mass casualty drill."

In an April 23 posting entitled "Witnessing Boston's Mass Casualty Event," Tracy contends that "photographic evidence of the event suggests the possibility of play actors getting into position after the detonation of what may in fact have been a smoke bomb or similarly benign explosive."


You can't make this up.  You can't make it up, that is, unless someone is paying you to be a "professor."

Prof. Boudin, Meet Prof. Falk

| 2 Comments
You might be surprised to learn that the little boy killed by Jihadist bombers, and the other casualties in that gruesome attack, are mere canaries in the mine of American imperialism.

So says Prof. Emeritus Richard Falk of Princeton, in his commentary on the Boston Marathon atrocity:  "We should be asking ourselves at this moment, "how many canaries will have to die before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?' "  The learned Professor was not, however, entirely critical; he noted that America's reaction has been

...generally benevolent, especially when compared to the holy war fevers espoused by national leaders, the media, and a vengeful public after the 9/11 attacks that also embraced Islamophobic falsehoods. Maybe America has become more poised in relation to such extremist incidents, but maybe not. It is soon to tell, and the somewhat hysterical Boston dragnet for the remaining at large and alive suspect does suggest that the wounds of 9/11 are far from healed.

Yup, that "hysterical dragnet" was soooooooo out of line.  We should have let the bomber brothers shoot a few more cops and plant the rest of their bombs.

There is not a whole lot more I care to say about Princeton's Prof. Falk, except that he rivals Columbia's learned (in murder) Prof. Kathy Boudin.


Is There Something Missing on this CV?

| No Comments
Kent followed my post about Columbia Assistant Professor Kathy Boudin with a post quoting the nephew of one of the police officers whose murder Professor Boudin enthusiastically brought about.

It occurred to me just today that academia seems to have shifting standards, and they shift pretty fast. Wasn't it just last week that a Rutgers basketball coach got fired for shoving his players, throwing basketballs at them, and yelling homophobic slurs?  But Ms. Boudin gets hired for a faculty position at a more prestigious school in spite of (or is it because of?) her participation in an armed robbery and ensuing multiple murders, including the murders of two policemen.

On reflection, I found the story so astonishing, even given the degraded standards of academia, that I wondered whether I had been snookered, and whether it was really a plant from the Onion.

So I looked on Columbia University's website.  The following is what I found. 

Monthly Archives