New Jersey Bytes Archives
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Rutgers Law School-Newark is among the 10 law schools in the country providing the best return on tuition investment, U.S. News & World Report says.
Rutgers-Newark graduates joining the private sector earned an average $117,500, while median debt carried at graduation was $87,272. That translates into a salary-to-debt ratio of 1.346, putting the school ninth on the U.S. News Short List.
The average law school indebtedness of 2012 law school graduates with debt was $108,293, while the average median starting private sector salary for all 2011 graduates was $76,125, according to data provided by 194 ranked law schools.
The law school whose students leave with the least amount of debt relative to their first-year salaries in the private sector was the University of Texas-Austin, with median average salary of $155,000 and average debt of $86,312, for a ratio of 1.796.
The next eight in order were University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ($117,500, $74,485, 1.577), Brigham Young University at Clark ($84,500, $56,112, 1.506), Stanford University ($160,000, $110,275, 1.451), Yale University ($160,000, $110,741, 1.445), University of California at Berkeley ($160,000, $115,349, 1.387), Boston College ($145,000, $106,550, 1.361) and University of Pennsylvania ($160,000, $118,278, 1.353). Coming in 10th was University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ($160,000, $120,136, 1.332).
Rutgers-Newark's achievement was particularly notable because its rank in the annual U.S.News law school report — 86th — was far below those of the other nine schools on the bang-for-the-buck list. Yale and Stanford, for example, are first and second respectively.
“We are always pleased to receive recognition for the excellent value of a Rutgers JD," says Acting Dean Ronald Chen, filling in for Dean John Farmer who is temporarily assigned as senior vice president and general counsel to Rutgers University. "For the past three years, ... as we have made enhancements to our programs, we have done so without raising tuition."
U.S. News says it uses 2011 data for salaries and 2012 data for debt because law school employment and salary data have always lagged behind indebtedness data by one year.
Posted by Charles Toutant at 05:15 PM.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday that he will not reappoint Justice Helen Hoens to the state Supreme Court, despite acknowledging that she is qualified.
Christie said at a press conference that he was taking the action because Democrats, who hold the Senate majority, have indicated they will withhold advice and consent on her renomination and that he wished to spare her from what he called an act of “political vengeance.”
Instead, Christie nominated Camden County Assignment Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina for Hoens’ seat, which will become vacant when her seven-year term expires on Oct. 26.
Fernandez-Vina, like Hoens, is a Republican, and it was unclear Monday how Senate Democrats would react to his nomination.
Late last month, Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, suggested that the Senate refuse to confirm Hoens for tenure as “payback” for Christie’s refusal to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr. in 2010.
Wallace’s seat has remained empty despite Christie’s attempts to fill it and a second vacancy caused by the retirement of Justice Virginia Long. Two of his nominees, Greenberg Traurig’s Bruce Harris and First Assistant Attorney General Phillip Kwon, were rejected last year by the Senate as unqualified. Two subsequent nominees, Superior Court Judge David Bauman and Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna, have had their Senate confirmation hearings withheld indefinitely.
Senior Appellate Division judges have been assigned temporarily to fill those two seats. Hoens’ departure would create a third vacancy if the Senate refuses to act on Fernandez-Vena’s nomination or if he is found to be unqualified.
Fernandez-Vina, 61, was appointed a judge on July 16, 2004 and has served in Camden County since then in the Family and Civil parts. He was reappointed with tenure in 2011 and became assignment judge on Feb. 1, 2012. Prior to the bench, he was a partner with Kelley, Wardell & Craig in Haddonfield. He is a graduate of Rutgers Law School-Camden and Widener University .
In a 2012 Law Journal survey of practitioners about state Superior Court judges, Fernandez-Vina was ranked 13th out of 24 judges in Camden County with an overall score of 8.44 on a scale of 10. The average score for the county was 8.33.
Hoens, in a statement released Monday, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to serve in the New Jersey judiciary for almost 20 years, as a trial and appellate judge and as a Supreme Court justice, and her disappointment at not being able to continue.
“I have tried, in each of those roles, to approach each and every matter with an open and unbiased mind, to treat each litigant before the court with dignity and respect, to temper each decision with patience and compassion, and to apply the law as I understood it both faithfully and fairly,” she said.
Posted by Michael Booth at 05:30 PM.
Friday, July 12, 2013
The U.S. Justice Department is recommending changes to the federal sentencing laws, including lengthening prison sentences for tax crimes involving hidden offshore bank accounts, revising punishment schemes for immigration violations and reducing the nation's prison population.
In a letter Thursday to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Jonathan Wroblewski, director of the DOJ's Office of Policy and Legislation, argues that upward departures from sentencing guidelines in certain tax cases would deter other wrongdoers and ultimately enhance the nation's tax enforcement program.
The problem occurs when prosecutors have insufficient evidence to prove that the assets in an offshore bank account are untaxed income, Wroblewski wrote. In those cases, the tax loss in the case, which sets the sentencing guideline offense level, is determined only by the income earned off that offshore account.
That income can be low even when the balance is high, because tax havens charge low interest and high rates in exchange for their banking secrecy. "In such a case, the tax loss table … may produce an offense level that substantially understates the seriousness of the offense. If so, an upward departure may be warranted," Wroblewski wrote.
On immigration, the Justice Department said it welcomes revision of sentencing guidelines for immigration crimes that would come with the passage of any comprehensive immigration reform. Those bills are now working their way through Congress.
The current immigration guidelines are "a major part of the most vexing application issue in federal sentencing," which is whether certain prior convictions trigger higher statutory and guideline sentences, Wroblewksi wrote.
"Few statutory and guideline sentencing issues lead to as much litigation as determining whether a prior offense is categorically a 'crime of violence,' an 'aggravated felony,' or a 'drug trafficking offense,'" the DOJ letter states. "The litigation burden is particularly onerous on courts, U.S. Attorneys' offices, and defenders with significant immigration dockets."
The Justice Department also warned of looming consequences stemming from the combination of growing prison populations and the budget constraints from this year's sequestration, when Congress cut $1.5 billion from the agency.
As prison and detention spending had increased, other criminal justice spending has decreased, including aid to state and local enforcement and prevention and intervention programs, Wroblewski wrote
"If the current spending trajectory continues and we do not reduce the prison population and prison spending, there will continue to be fewer and fewer prosecutors to bring charges, fewer agents to investigate federal crimes, less support to state and local criminal justice partners, less support to treatment, prevention and intervention programs, and cuts along a range of other criminal justice priorities," the letter states.
Posted by Todd Ruger at 12:59 PM.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Just two weeks after Rutgers University announced the retainer of Cahill Gordon & Reindel to investigate the school's handling of issues leading to the April 3 dismissal of bellicose basketball coach Mike Rice, the firm has resigned, citing a development that could give rise to a perception of a lack of impartiality.
Rutgers announced Wednesday that Cahill said in a May 3 letter that Connell Foley, the Roseland firm that the university hired for advice about the Rice situation, had earlier served as Cahills local counsel in unrelated litigation in New Jersey. Cahill only discovered the past engagement after its retainer in the Rutgers case, it said.
Rutgers board of governors promptly hired a replacement Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to conduct the independent review. Leading it will be Skadden partners Christopher Gunther and Stephen Robinson, the latter a former federal judge and U.S. attorney with experience conducting internal investigations. We look forward to getting started immediately and understand the importance of this matter to all members of the university community, Robinson said.
Skadden will make recommendations on any actions that should be taken by the Rutgers administration and the universitys governing bodies. The results of the review will be made public.
Rice was terminated on April 3, the day after ESPN aired video compiled from three years' worth of practices showing him shoving players, throwing basketballs at them and rattling off epithets such as "faggot" and "fairy."
Rutgers officials had been aware of the video much earlier. In November, the universitys general counsel, John Wolf, retained Connell Foley to conduct an internal investigation into whether Rice's conduct violated either the university's anti-discrimination, anti-harassment policies or his employment contract.
Connell partner John Lacey issued a report on Jan. 21 that concluded some of Rice's behavior "crossed the line" and could reasonably be interpreted to bring shame and embarrassment to the university in violation of his contract. But Lacey also said he couldn't conclude that Rice's behavior amounted to the legal definition of a hostile work environment.
Athletic director Tim Pernetti chose to suspend and fine Rice rather than terminate him, a decision to which university president Robert Barchi deferred. After the video became public, Barchi and board of governors chairman Ralph Izzo said the decision not fire Rice earlier was based on outside counsels advice.
Wolf stepped down from his leadership position and ultimately resigned amid the scandal. He was replaced by Rutgers Law School-Newark Dean John Farmer Jr.
Officials first revealed plans to appoint an outside investigator on April 8 and hired Cahill two weeks later.
Rutgers said Wednesday that the change in counsel will not delay the completion of the investigation and report and that Cahill will assist with a smooth transition to Skadden.
Gerald Harvey, vice chairman of the board of governors, said, The university has full confidence in Skaddens expertise and the firms ability to conduct the kind of thorough, thoughtful and efficient review that will help Rutgers move forward.
Posted by Ronald J. Fleury at 10:20 PM.
Friday, April 12, 2013
The House voted Friday to shut down the National Labor Relations Board, with one Republican congressman calling the board "worse than useless" since a recent appeals court ruling voided the recess appointments of two board members.
The bill, called the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act, calls for the NLRB to stop activity until the Senate confirms new members or the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of President Barack Obamas appointments.
The House voted 219-209 to pass the bill, which will likely stall in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Under the bill, the board would also be prevented from enforcing any decision, rule or vote made after January 4, 2012, when President Barack Obama made the recess appointments.
Representative John Kline (R-Minn.) said that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's decision in Noel Canning v NLRB in January means uncertainty for both employers and employees who depend on the board to enforce the law. He called the board "dysfunctional" and said all its decisions are now suspect.
"You cant go there and get a determination, or you get one that is immediately suspect and open to an appeal to a court that has already said it is unconstitutional," Kline said on the House floor before the vote. "Every time this board makes a decision, it pours more uncertainty into an economy that is still struggling to come out."
Democrats in the House emphatically disagreed with the bill in floor statements. Representative George Miller (D-Calif.) said the bill "effectively takes away every labor right Congress gave workers to better their lives." He said the bill works against both employers and employees who have no recourse against illegal firings or illegal strikes. "Both employers and employees are going to be hurt."
Representative Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) called the bill premature, since the government said it plans to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the D.C. Circuit decision and the petition is due April 25.
Republicans characterizing the appointments as unconstitutional after "a decision by one court of appeals" is "truly a novel theory," Andrews said on the House floor. "Only the Supreme Court has finality in these matters."
In response to the Democrats, Representative Luke Messer (R-Ind.) said that the bill would ensure the integrity of the NLRB, which now has 600 decisions by the board called into question and new decisions that are "ripe for legal challenge."
"The truth is it's the president's unconstitutional actions that have thrown this process into chaos," Messer said on the House floor.
Obama has struggled to fill the labor board, which requires three members to constitute a quorum. In January 2012, Obama appointed three peopleSharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffinto the NLRB via recess appointments. Republicans criticized the moves, saying that Obama unlawfully bypassed the advice-and-consent role of the U.S. Senate to review candidates for federal agency slots.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in January this year unanimously declared Obama's appointment of Block and Griffin to the NLRB unconstitutional (Flynn had previously resigned). The appeals court said the Senate was not officially in "the recess," as required by the Constitution.
In the D.C. Circuit, dozens of labor cases are on hold pending the resolution of the legal fight.
Posted by Todd Ruger on April 12, 2013 at 01:20 PM
Posted by Todd Ruger at 01:20 PM.