News

CCL's Peck Moderates "Conversation with the Chief Justices"

November 18th, 2021

     During a discussion moderated by CCL President Robert S. Peck, twenty-four state supreme court chief justices discussed lessons learned during the pandemic and what the courts might take away from the advancements in technology and remote access that the courts were required to adopt. 

     A consensus emerged that, although live presentations are generally preferable, the option of providing remote opportunities to interact with the court for shorter sessions should be available to save time and money in traveling to court for a brief audience with the judiciary. Several states established remote access points to enable those without Internet access or computers to take part in court proceedings.

     The session was part of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) meetings in Washington, DC. The Conversation with the Chief Justices is held in conjunction with the Conference of Chief Justices, the NCSC Lawyers Committee, and the NCSC General Counsels Committee. 

Peck Speaks about Supreme Court Term at Appellate Judges' Summit

November 12th, 2021

     CCL's Robert S. Peck told judges and appellate lawyers meeting in Austin, Texas that the current Supreme Court term will expose even more fissures between the justices on issues that have implications for the nation's political climate than last term when Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Court.

      In a morning session of the 2021 Appellate Judges Educational Institute, Peck joined Washington, DC lawyer Kannon Shamugam and Texas lawyer Jaime Santos in previewing, and, in some cases reviewing, October Term 2021. The discussion included cases on abortion, guns, religion, and civil rights. The four-day summit is one of the premier appellate education events each year and is sponsored by the National Judicial College.

CCL's Peck Quoted in Bloomberg Law Story on Vaccination Mandates

November 9th, 2021

     With the Biden Administration's vaccine mandate for large employers due to go into effect in January, the Fifth Circuit and several other courts are considering challenges that seek to stop the mandate. In a story on the Bloomberg Law website, CCL's Robert S. Peck is quoted that, strategically, the administration might wait to see what different courts decide initially before seeking the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention, given that there is still time before the mandate is due to go into effect.

     The story can be found at White House Biding Its Time in Fight Over Shot-or-Test Mandate.

 

Peck Blog Post Rejects Suggestion to Name Supreme Court Building

November 7th, 2021

     CCL President Robert S. Peck argued against a suggestion to rename the Supreme Court building after the first Justice John Marshall Harlan, a topic of discussion because of an advocacy piece published by Politico. In his biweekly post in the Appellate Advocacy Blog, a part of the law professors blog network, Peck called the suggestion provocative, but ultimately inconsequential because it was unlikely to occur.

     The suggestion by Sarah Isgur, nonetheless, was fun to discuss, Peck said, because it caused some reflection both on the Court and Justice Harlan. Still, he concluded that a building dedicated to the rule of law and not of men should not be named after any individual. Moreover, to Isgur's suggestion that it would help tell the Court's story, Peck said that the Court's story was better told through its decisions. The blog posting can be found at A Provocative Suggestion to Name the Supreme Court Building After a Single Justice.

CCL's Peck Presents Paper at Hastings Law School

November 6th, 2021

     CCL President Robert S. Peck told conference attendees at Hastings Law School in San Francisco to expect a new revolution in products liability because technology changing the relationship between a manufacturer and buyer. The presentation was part of a two-day academic symposiums, "The Internet and the Law: Legal Legal Challenges in the New Digital Age," cosponsored by the Pound Civil Justice Institute and the UC Hastings Center for Litigation and the Courts.

     Peck described today's "smart" or connected products as providing a continuous connection between the manufacturer and the product. Through data retrieval, security updates, and other over-the-air connections that occur without intervention by the user, the manufacturer maintains contact with the device. In many instances, while the purchaser owns the hardware, the software remains in the manufacturer's name and is merely licensed to the user. This co-ownership arrangement, Peck said, has the potential to change standards for personal jurisdiction and reinvigorate strict liability. He further described the historical development of products liability, which has taken several revolutionary leaps in response to changing technology, first with the development of railroads and, most prominently, with the invention of automobiles.

     Papers from the academic symposium will be published in a future issue of the Hastings Law Journal. For more information on the symposium, see The Internet and the Law.

CCL's Peck Participates in ALI Remedies Meeting

October 29th, 2021

     In a member consultative group meeting on proposed changes to the Restatement of Law (Torts) on remedies, the American Law Institute is considering changes that both update and advance the law governing remedies in tort cases. The meeting, in which CCL's Robert S. Peck participated, reviewed the first initial draft of parts of the new Restatement.

CCL's Peck Speaks on MDL Issues

October 28th, 2021

     On a luncheon panel sponsored by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice and the Feinberg Center Risk Management and Compensation, CCL President Robert Peck suggested that new procedural rules for cases assigned by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation were not needed, but that some rethinking of the system would help.

     Peck was joined on the panel by University of Connecticut law professor Alexandra Lahav, experienced plaintiffs' MDL attorney Christopher Seegar, Bayer general counsel Scott Partridge, and U.S. District Court Judge Brian Martinotti.

     The panel was organized around the theme of when is an MDL too big. MDLs now constitute more than half the federal docket, in large measure filling a void left by new decisions that discourage the use of class actions. Recent MDLs in the news include lawsuits over opioids, Roundup weed killer, and the BP oil spill.

     While Partridge bemoaned the size of the cases, calling it "bet-the-company" litigation, Seegar advocated allowing some creativity in reaching solutions, giving the example of his work in the NFL concussion litigation. Peck suggested greater use of subclasses and additional judges when MDLs get bogged down due to size and a single presiding judge, as well as recognition of opportunities to allow individualized justice in the context of the aggregation of cases.

     The MDL system was originally intended to clear out common pretrial issues efficiently, but has developed into a means of disposing of the mass of litigation through settlement. Professor Lahav said this was a function of the concept that, if you build it, they will come.

Peck Posts Thoughts on Qualified Immunity

October 24th, 2021

     In his most recent contribution to the Appellate Advocacy Blog, CCL President Robert S. Peck posted a discussion entitled "Qualifying Qualifying Immunity." The blog post discusses two recent U.S. Supreme Court per curiam decisions reinstating qualifying immunity for police officers, as well as CCL's experience with the judge-made doctrine. 

     Despite its long existence, the doctrine of qualifying immunity continues to have uneven application, especially between circuits, and applications that can fairly be described as insensible.

Berkeley Law Civil Justice Research Initiative Publishes Civil Jury Paper

September 13th, 2021

     The Civil Justice Research Initiative at Berkeley Law School published a new paper on reviving the civil jury that describes the history, legal issues, and empirical research on civil juries with an eye toward making better and greater use of juries. The paper was written by Richard Jolly of Southwestern Law School, Valerie Hans of Cornell Law School, and CCL's Robert S. Peck.

      The paper shows that juries are an essential part of American democracy, are often subjected to unwarranted disrespect, and are very good at doing their assigned tasks according to the best available empirical research. The paper, "The Civil Jury: Reviving an American Institution," concludes with recommendations that the option of a jury trial should be the default rule, rather than merely available upon request; that damage caps be eliminated; that expanded expedited jury trials using 12 jurors take place; that more be done to assure representative juries; that 12-person juries be the norm; and that active measures, such as permitting jury notetaking and questions, be adopted.

     The paper is available at The Civil Jury: Reviving an American Institution.

Blog Post Discusses Appellate Tips from Fourth Circuit Webinar

September 12th, 2021

    In a post to the Appellate Advocacy blog, CCL President Robert S. Peck discusses some of the tips that judges and practitioners offered on a webinar sponsored by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The blog is part of the law professor network. Peck posts on Sundays every two weeks. His latest post can be found at Tips for Appellate Practice, Fourth Circuit Edition, Part 1.