A Boston neighborhood saved by a dog and a golfing judge


If Moritz Otto Bergmeyer—an architect and building renovator living in a refurbished former warehouse at 107 Fulton Street on the boundary between Boston’s Waterfront and North End neighborhoods—did not have to take his English sheep dog Sacha out to relieve herself early one Saturday morning in the spring of 1972, one of the premier historic neighborhoods of the City of Boston would no longer exist.
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Pledging Allegiance

Two "pledging" controversies have come to the fore in the Boston area in the past couple of weeks. A Brookline group, led by my longtime friend Marty Rosenthal, has sought to move the Pledge of Allegiance out of the public school classroom. Across the river, the Harvard Freshman Dean asked incoming first year students to sign onto a pledge proclaiming such values as civility, kindness, and inclusiveness, to be on a par with academic achievement.

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Justice strikes out: The railroading of Barry Bonds


While I have not followed baseball since my beloved Dodgers left Brooklyn, a recent baseball-related story caught our attention. As many of you may know, Barry Bonds—the “home-run king”—was just convicted in federal court of obstruction of justice, and acquitted of three counts of perjury. At issue was whether Bonds lied, in 2003, to a federal grand jury about his steroid use and relationship with the Bay Area Lab Cooperative (BALCO). The jury failed to convict him of perjury, but due to a disturbing reading of the law, District Judge Susan Illston upheld the conviction of obstruction. It seems that, during the course of the Grand Jury questioining, Bonds rambled on, and failed, initially, to answer a given question directly. Even though he later gave a clarified, specific response to the question at hand, his rambling constituted, for 12 jurors and a District Court judge, an attempt to obstruct justice. For obvious reasons, every citizen—especially the more loquacious among us—would have reason to worry if this conviction stands.

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Leveling the playing field: Immunized witnesses for the defense

In the vast majority of criminal cases, the defense faces a serious institutional disadvantage. The government has virtually unlimited resources, immense experience in playing to an attentive (and often subservient) media, the ability to intimidate witnesses into testifying, and a habit of plea-bargaining its way to victory. It also can grant immunity to witnesses, a gift that assures the prosecution of evidence when it needs it. The defendant, in contrast, ordinarily has no such weapon by which to enforce his subpoena to a witness who “takes the Fifth.” A recent federal court case in Philadelphia, about which I write in my Forbes.com blog Injustice Department, holds the potential for a partial un-stacking of the deck.


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When looking a gift horse in the mouth, it's best to accurately count the teeth


Lowell Milken’s recent $10 million gift to the UCLA School of Law has been met with a firestorm of ignorant vitriol from a number of UCLA Law School professors. As 
reported in the New York Times earlier this week, one professor, Lynn Stout, went so far as to lament that “the creation of a Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy will damage my personal and professional reputation” and “I think it’s somewhat distressing that so few people seem to be aware of Lowell and Michael Milken’s business history.”

In my latest Injustice Department column, I discuss this history, show that Lowell Milken was nothing more than a victim of prosecutorial over-zeal, and argue that UCLA should be proud, and humbled, that such a victim of “law and policy” might found an institute for its study.


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