NewYorkUniversity
LawReview
Current Issue

Volume 83, Number 2

May 2008
Articles

National Juries for National Cases: Preserving Citizen Participation in Large-Scale Litigation

Laura G. Dooley

Procedural evolution in complex litigation seems to have left the civil jury behind. Reliance on aggregating devices, such as multidistrict litigation and class actions, as well as settlement pressure created by “bellwether” cases, has resulted in cases of national scope being tried by local juries. Local juries thus have the potential to impose their values on the rest of the country. This trend motivates parties to forum-shop, and some commentators suggest eliminating jury trials in complex cases altogether. Yet the jury is at the heart of our uniquely American understanding of civil justice, and the Seventh Amendment mandates its use in federal cases. This Article makes a bold proposal to align the jury assembly mechanism with the scope of the litigation: In cases of national scope, juries would be assembled from a national pool. This proposal would eliminate incentives for parties to forum-shop, and it would make the decisionmaking body representative of the population that will feel the effects of its decision. The Article argues that we would see greater legitimacy for decisions rendered by a national jury in national cases. Moreover, it argues that geographic diversification of the jury would enhance the quality of decisionmaking. Finally, national juries would preserve the functional and constitutional values of citizen participation in the civil justice system.

Intellectual Property for Market Experimentation

Michael Abramowicz, John F. Duffy

Intellectual property protects investments in the production of information, but the relevant literature has largely neglected one type of information that intellectual property might protect: information about the market success of goods and services. A first entrant into a market often cannot prevent other firms from free riding on the information its entry reveals about consumer demand and market feasibility. Despite the existence of some first-mover advantages, the incentives to be the first entrant into a market may sometimes be inefficiently low, thereby giving rise to a net first-mover disadvantage that discourages innovation. Intellectual property may counteract this inefficiency by providing market exclusivity, thus promoting earlier market entry and increasing the level of entrepreneurial activity in the economy. The goal of encouraging market experimentation helps to explain certain puzzling aspects of current intellectual property doctrine and provides a coherent basis for appreciating some of the current criticisms of intellectual property rights.

Essays

Automating Contract Law

George S. Geis

The study of contract law is undergoing a difficult transition as it moves from the theoretical to the empirical. Over the past few decades scholars have focused largely on developing economic theories that offer a normative approach to setting the legal rules governing voluntary exchange. The time has now come to test whether these theories provide a meaningful basis for choosing our laws—in other words, to ask whether empirical data supports the theoretical models that contracts scholars have posited. Unfortunately, this type of empirical analysis has proven exceptionally difficult to conduct, and some commentators are beginning to question whether it will ever be possible to test and revise our economic theories of contract in a meaningful manner. Yet the problem of harnessing information to support complex decisions is not unique to contract law. This Essay explores the possibility that recent technological developments from the field of organizational knowledge management—including advances in meaning-based computing algorithms—will soon make it easier to conduct empirical work in contract law on a much larger scale.

Lectures

Toward One America: A Vision in Law

The Honorable J. Harvie Wilkinson III

Madison Lecture

In his Madison Lecture, Judge Wilkinson urges a new purpose for American law: the explicit promotion of a stronger sense of national cohesion and unity. He argues that the judicial branch should actively seek to promote this nationalizing purpose and suggests seven different ways for federal courts to do so. He contends further that a nationalizing mission for law is needed at this moment in American history to counteract the demographic divisions and polarizing tendencies of our polity. This purpose need not entail the abdication of traditional values of judicial restraint, should not mean the abandonment of the traditional American credo of unity through pluralism, and must not require the sacrifice of the law’s historic commitment to the preservation of order and the protection of liberty. But the need for a judicial commitment to foster a stronger American identity is clear. The day when courts and judges could be indifferent to the dangers of national fragmentation and disunion is long gone.

Notes

Defensible Ethics: A Proposal to Revise the ABA Model Rules for Criminal Defense Lawyer-Authors

Ria A. Tabacco

This Note identifies ethical issues raised when criminal defense lawyers write non- fiction books about their clients, and it proposes new ethical rules that shift the balance of interests to weigh more heavily in favor of the client. Two principal ethical considerations arise for lawyers who write books about their clients. First, lawyer-authored publications may cause the attorney-client privilege to be waived and may result in adverse legal consequences for the client. Even where legal consequences do not inure, however, publication may violate the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality, principles of client dignity and autonomy, or both. Second, the lawyer- author’s interest in the commercial viability of the client’s story may conflict with the defendant-client’s interests. This Note offers revisions to the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct that would impose a substantial waiting period before defense counsel may publish stories about their clients. The revisions strike a balance between the client’s interest in effective representation, the lawyer’s interest in self-promotion, and the public’s interest in a transparent criminal justice system.

Making It Easy to be Green: Using Impact Fees to Encourage Green Building

Benjamin S. Kingsley

Green building—the construction of buildings designed to minimize environmental impact and resource use—has become significantly more common in the past decade. Many local and state governments have enacted policies designed to stimulate green building. These policies generally include information provision, subsidies for private green development, and outright greenness requirements for all government buildings. Despite this growing commitment from government, as well as substantial evidence that green buildings are financially beneficial for private owners, the private sector has been slow to embrace green building. This Note argues that barriers to innovation in the real estate industry have rendered ineffective these local government attempts to stimulate green building and suggests that impact fees—fees imposed by local governments on land use development—will be more successful in pushing private real estate developers to build green. Although the use of these fees is subject to both state and federal constitutional constraints, an appropriately designed fee can maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of this proposal while also ensuring that the fees are constitutional.

Ethical Rules of Conduct in the Settlement of Mass Torts: A Proposal to Revise Rule 1.8(G)

Katherine Dirks

The American Bar Association’s widely adopted Model Rule 1.8(g) requires that attorneys handling aggregate settlements obtain the consent of each client before the settlement is finalized. This method is well suited to cases involving small-scale tort litigation with few parties, but Rule 1.8(g) does not meet the complex demands of mass torts, which can involve thousands of plaintiffs represented by a handful of law firms. Rule 1.8(g) creates a procedural obstacle to the efficient settlement of mass torts while obfuscating the ethical role of plaintiffs’ counsel in these settlements. This Note proposes a modified Rule 1.8(g), drawing upon a successful procedure used in asbestos bankruptcies. By incorporating these mechanisms from the Bankruptcy Code into the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, an alternative Rule 1.8(g) would reduce the costs of mass tort settlement, improve the clarity of the aggregate settlement rule, and protect clients from ethical misconduct by their attorneys.