CCL's Robert Peck Featured in New Publication on State Constitutional Rights

February 15th, 2019

     The Pound Civil Justice Institute today published the proceedings of its 2018 Forum for State Appellate Court Judges, which features CCL's Robert S. Peck as a commentator on Rutgers Law Professor Robert Williams's paper on "State Constitutional Protection of Civil Litigation."

      The book, entitled State Court Protection of Individual Constitutional Rights, transcribes the proceedings of the July 7, 2018 forum that took place in Denver, Colorado, attended by 140 judges from 36 states. In his remarks, Peck talked about the right to trial by jury and the right to a remedy under state constitutions.

      Other speakers at the conference included California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu and Wayne State Law Professor Justin Long.


Peck Participates in Meeting with Judicial Conference Subcommittee

July 10th, 2018

     CCL President participated in a roundtable discussion that was part of the listening tour that a subcommittee of the U.S. Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on Civil Rules held with members of the American Association for Justice at its Summer Convention in Denver, Colorado July 11.

     The subcommittee is charged with exploring whether the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure should be amended to set rules for the conduct of Multi-District Litigation (MDL). During the discussion, the subcommittee heard about the wide diversity of cases designated as MDLs and the difficulty of developing one-size-fits-all solutions to problems. On the other hand, judges presiding over these consolidated cases have proven adept at adopting procedures customized to the needs of the litigation.

Peck Speaks to AAJ Civil Rights Section

July 9th, 2018

     CCL President Robert S. Peck described landmines that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions placed in the path of civil rights advocates in remarks made at the meeting of the Civil Rights Section of the American Association for Justice on July 9 in Denver, Colorado. 

     Peck began his talk by describing the impact that Justice Kennedy's retirement was likely to have, with the certainty being that the new nominee will be a more doctrinaire conservative. Peck likened Justice Kennedy's civil rights record to Thomas Paine's sunshine patriot, who comfortably stakes out a favorable position when the wind is blowing in that direction, but retreats when more heavy lifting is required. Peck said that the distinction often played out on issues of race. In making that case, Peck contrasted the Court's treatment of religious liberty in Masterpiece Cakeshop and its emphasis on the animus expressed in two of the five Colorado commissioners statements with the dismissal of more tethered animus from the president in connection with the Court's deference in the Travel Ban case.

     Peck also highlighted the uneven treatment often afforded those whose civil rights were violated because of the qualified immunity doctrine. There, unless the violation is clearly established before the violation takes place, the misbehavior is excused, essentially allowing one free violation -- as long as the case bothers to label the misconduct as a violation. Even though a prior case need not be on all fours with the current misconduct, and courts regularly recite that standard, it is rarely applied. Peck also highlighted a pending petition to the Supreme Court on qualified immunity, Allah v. Milling, that has attracted an unusual set of amicus supporters that span the ideological spectrum and urged his audience to watch that space.

     Peck also described the Court's recent interest in proximate cause in applying civil rights statutes. The standard applicable in civil rights remains in flux, but could trip up an otherwise meritorious case.

Peck Speaks at AAJ Insurance Law Section Meeting

July 8th, 2018

     CCL President Robert S. Peck reported on the new Restatement of Insurance Liability Law, promulgated by the American Law Institute (ALI), in May to members of the Insurance Law Section of the American Association for Justice, meeting in Denver, Colorado at AAJ's Summer Convention on July 8. The ALI is a prestigious organization of lawyers, law professors and jurists, which publish the authoritatively regarded Restatements of the Law on various subjects. Peck is a member of the ALI.

     Peck described the new Restatement as consumer-friendly, recognizing that consumers rarely have much say over the insurance contracts they sign. During the recent ALI meeting, which gave final approval to the new restatement, members rejected a number of amendments offered by the insurance industry that would have weakened consumer protections in the black-letter law of the proposed Restatement. The result, Peck said, is one that should provide courts with substantial guidance in resolving disputes between insurers and their insured.

Peck Participates in AAJ Legal Affairs Committee Meeting

July 8th, 2018

     CCL President Robert S. Peck participated in the Legal Affairs Committee meeting at the Summer Convention of the American Association for Justice on July 8, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. At the meeting, members discussed the latest legal developments affecting civil justice issues. Peck also reported on recent litigation undertaken by CCL to protect access to the courts.

Peck Speaks at State Constitutional Law Symposium

July 7th, 2018

     CCL President Robert S. Peck reminded judges attending the 2018 Pound Institute Forum for State Appellate Judges in Denver, Colorado, that state constitutions provide a double protection for individual rights that may go beyond the protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution and that state judges also have the authority to interpret the U.S. Constitution. He urged the judges, in appropriate cases, to use the incorporation doctrine to apply the Seventh Amendment's civil jury trial right to the states.

    The Pound forum focused on state constitutions this year. Professors Robert Williams of Rutgers Law School and Justin Long of Wayne State Law School presented papers on state constitutions. Peck was among the panelists commenting on the paper of Professor Williams. At lunch, the 140 judges from 36 states heard from Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court, who reprised his Brennan Lecture of last year, delivered at New York University Law School. The lecture focused on the need to undertake an independent interpretation of state constitutional provisions and not to simply adopt the U.S. Supreme Court's views on similar federal rights.

     In Peck's remarks, judges heard about some of the reasons state constitutions, with their own unique text, support a stronger application. Still, he noted that sometimes federal provisions provide strong rights that should be applicable to the states. He gave the Seventh Amendment jury-trial right as an example of the rare Bill of Rights provision that had not been applied to states. He noted that little of the Bill of Rights had been made applicable until the 1960s. The Seventh Amendment's status was a function of jurisprudence that dates back to the late 19th century. Yet, Peck said, when the Second Amendment was made applicable to the states in 2010 in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court urged lower courts not to rely on outdated 19th century precedents. Using the criteria that the Supreme Court said justified incorporating the Second Amendment, Peck pointed out that the Seventh Amendment qualified as well, with an even stronger claim to incorporation.

CCL President Speaks at Civil Justice Research Symposium

April 9th, 2018

     CCL President Robert S. Peck spoke twice at a research symposium focused on federal court in Berkeley, California. Sponsored by the Civil Justice Research Institute, a joint project of the law schools of the University of California at Berkeley ant Irvine, the one-day event explored "What's Happening in Federal Court: Recent Findings and Research Findings for the Future."

    Peck served as a moderator and commentator on the first panel, which examined a paper by University of Connecticut law professors Alexandra Lahav and Peter Siegelman that found a profound decline in plaintiff win rates since 1985 and sought to test various hypotheses to explain the development.

    Peck also served on a panel at the end of the day, where he discussed both research techniques that should be employed more frequently and substantive topics for future research. Peck is a member of the advisory board for the Civil Justice Research Institute. 

CCL President Re-Joins RAND Institute for Civil Justice Board

March 17th, 2018

     CCL President Robert S. Peck re-joined the Board of Overseers of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice (ICJ) last week, attending its Spring meeting at RAND's headquarters in Santa Monica, California. Peck previously served on the Board from 2004 to 2016, the last three years as chair.

     The ICJ is a think tank that undertakes empirical research designed to make the civil justice system more efficient and more equitable. It is a part of the RAND Corportation, a noted policy research organization with a long history of assisting policymakers obtain the best information available to address issues they face.

     At the Board meeting, Peck suggested that the ICJ undertake new research based on recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on personal jurisdiction that reduce the ability of plaintiffs to bring all parties responsible for the injuries before a single court at once that could then assess liability and damages. In her dissent in Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017), Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed the fear that these decisions will "curtail -- and in some cases eliminate -- plaintiffs' ability to hold corporations fully accountable for their nationwide conduct." Defendant corporations have cited Justice Sotomayor's dissent to claim that that indeed is what the Supreme Court held and intended, and some courts have agreed, holding that plaintiffs must file multiple lawsuits in different states to seek full compensation for their injuries. Research documenting this shift could inform the due-process analysis that undergirds decisions on personal jurisdiction, he said.

CCL’s Nannery Attends Meeting of Committee on Rules of Practice & Procedure

January 8th, 2016

CCL’s Valerie M. Nannery attended the meeting of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States (“Standing Committee”) in Phoenix, Arizona on January 7, 2016, where the Standing Committee discussed potential amendments to the rule governing class actions and proposed amendments to the time limit for appellate reply briefs. Nannery attended as an observer on behalf of the American Association for Justice. At the meeting, the chairs of each the advisory committees presented action items and information items for the Standing Committee to consider, including approval of the publication of proposed rule amendments for public comment.

Among the proposed rule amendments approved for publication are changes to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure that will lengthen the time to file a reply brief to 21 days, up from the current 14 days. This proposal was precipitated by the abrogation of the “three-day rule,” which currently gives appellants and cross-appellants an additional three days to file their reply briefs, making the effective time limit 17 days. Pending amendments to the Appellate Rules, which will go into effect December 1, 2016, unless the Supreme Court or Congress acts to stop it, abrogate the “three-day rule,” effectively reducing the amount of time to file a reply brief. The Standing Committee unanimously approved publication of proposed amendments to Rules 31 and 28.1 to allow 21 days for a reply brief to be filed.

The Civil Rules Advisory Committee received feedback from members of the Standing Committee on the current drafts of potential amendments to Civil Rule 23 regarding class actions. Much of the discussion focused on the current draft amendment intended to deal with objectors to class action settlements. The Civil Rules Advisory Committee will likely act on any proposed amendments at their next meeting in April, and will likely submit them to the Standing Committee in June for approval for publication for public comment. The Civil Rules Advisory Committee also received feedback from the Standing Committee on ideas for pilot projects and how to assess them.

NYU Law Review Publishes Peck Panel Discussion on Judicial Recusal

December 10th, 2015

A symposium issue of the New York University Law School’s Journal of Legislation & Public Policy features a transcript of a panel discussion on “The State of Judicial Recusal Reform, that includes presentations by CCL’s Robert S. Peck, Arizona State University law professor Myles Lynk, and Maryland Judge Roni Clarke. The panel was moderated by Indiana University law professor Charles Geyh and was part of a December 2014 symposium at NYU entitled, “Courts, Campaigns, and Corruption: Judicial Recusal Five Years After Caperton.” Caperton v A.T. Massey Coal Co. was a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that recusal was required in certain instances where a party provided disproportionate funding for or against a judicial campaign. Other participants in the symposium included New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice Louis Butler, and New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak.