University of Michigan Law School - February 2010 Amicus


Michigan Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Mike Cox, '89, anchors this PBS report on giant Asian carp, a plankton-syphoning invader Cox calls a "biological terrorist" bent on kicking the base of the food pyramid out from under the Great Lakes fishery.


Assistant Admissions Dean Sarah Zearfoss, '92, wasn’t the only victim of the Headnotes’ annual Val-o-Grams singing valentine service, but she may have been the most entertaining. So tickled was she by their serenade that she posted an entry on her new A2Z blog about the experience.

Read A2Z

Prima Facie

Bach was in the title but Mozart was on the menu at this month’s Bach’s Lunch performance by members of the Law School Classical Music Society. A swelling crowd of appreciative listeners packed the Lawyers Club Lounge for the noon-hour concert, then adjourned to a Hutchins Hall classroom for lunch.

"Uteful" Discretion

By John Masson, Amicus editor

There's a moment in the film "My Cousin Vinny"—that legal training classic—when the title character, a Brooklyn-born lawyer, is cross-examining a witness in front of an Alabama judge.

Vinny: Is it possible the two utes --
Judge: Uh, the two what? What was that word? … Did you say "Utes?"
Vinny: Yeah, two utes.
Judge: What is a "ute?"
Vinny: Excuse me, your honor. Youths.

The roles were reversed when a similar tete-a-tete played out during a January Supreme Court hearing, after Michigan Law Professor Richard Friedman—himself a proud son of New York—deployed a highly precise word: orthogonal. The term left a couple of the justices momentarily scratching their heads.

Friedman: I think the issue is entirely orthogonal to the issue here because the Commonwealth is acknowledging --
Chief Justice Roberts: I’m sorry. Entirely what?
Friedman: Orthogonal. Right angle. Unrelated. Irrelevant.
Chief Justice Roberts: Oh.
Justice Scalia: What was that adjective? I like that.
Friedman: Orthogonal.
Justice Scalia: Orthogonal?
Friedman: Right, right.
Justice Scalia: Ooh. … I think we should use that in the opinion.

The exchange left both sides chuckling, and drew an admission from Friedman that he bore some responsibility for "perhaps a bit of professorship creeping in." And it didn't damage the argument Friedman was making in Briscoe v. Virginia, a Confrontation Clause case that the justices ended up sending back to the lower court with a one-paragraph ruling just a few days after hearing arguments.

The Briscoe case closely resembled last year's Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, in which the high court ruled that prosecutors can't present reports from crime labs without live testimony from the technicians who did the work.

"Vacating and remanding the decision below was a good result so far as my clients are concerned," Friedman said. "And having nothing happen more than that was a very good result so far as the Confrontation Clause was concerned."

And what of the momentary linguistic diversion?

"I don't think it did any harm," Friedman said. "It was a brief interlude, it was amusing, and it helped make my point that the issue they were asking about had no bearing on what was before them."

That doesn't mean he'd use the same word again, however, especially now that he's been reminded that different groups of people—even those as closely related and highly educated as law professors and Supreme Court justices—tend to fish for their words in different ponds.

"Any lawyer arguing in court is trying to explain a position," Friedman explained. "The last thing you want is confusion."

Read more about Friedman's Supreme Court hearing here:
Washington Post (1, 2)

The State of the Dream
50 years after the civil rights movement peaked, deputy mayor and ’72 grad Saul Green views African American progress through the lens of Detroit

By John Masson, Amicus editor

Detroit Deputy Mayor Saul Green packed a Hutchins Hall classroom as part of the Law School’s Martin Luther King Day celebration with a sobering talk on the state of a city to which he said he is "inextricably linked." Green, a 1972 Michigan Law graduate, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and an adjunct professor at the Law School, told listeners the city has more than its share of problems, but also has a rare opportunity to reinvent itself.

Prof. John Reed Honored with Barristers Gift

By Becky Freligh, Law School staff

The International Society of Barristers has made a gift to the Law School in honor of John Reed, the Thomas M. Cooley Professor of Law Emeritus and the Barristers Society's retiring administrator and editor.

The commitment will support student participation in litigation-based competitions and includes a $100,000 gift creating a fund for endowment and an additional $20,000 in expendable funds that can be used immediately.

Many individual members of the Barristers contributed to the gift, including several Michigan Law alumni, such as the group's current president, William F. (Rick) Martson, '72, a litigator with Tonkon Torp LLP in Portland, Oregon.

"John is universally admired by our membership," Martson said. "Making a gift to the institution he admires and which has meant so much to John is our way of publicly honoring our friend, who is also one of the great teachers of our time."

The Barristers Society comprises about 650 top trial lawyers from both sides of the courtroom, chosen for membership by their peers. Reed is also an Academic Fellow of the society.

"The gift will enhance Michigan's excellent trial advocacy program, in keeping with one of the Barristers' stated purposes: 'to encourage, by example and otherwise, the entry of younger lawyers into the specialty of advocacy'," Reed said. "Both personally and on behalf of the Law School, I am deeply grateful to the generous trial lawyer friends who have provided this valuable endowment."

The Barristers' gift is the third endowment gift made to the Law School in Reed's honor. In 1997, the class of 1952 established the John Reed Scholarship, and in 2006, an anonymous donor created a fund in Reed's name to support the Debt Management Program.

"Professor Reed's teaching has inspired the careers of many distinguished litigators, as well as other Michigan alumni who have received the benefit of his excellent training in advocacy," Dean Evan Caminker said. "It is most appropriate that the Barristers' gift will support the training of the next generation of lawyers in advocacy skills."

Reed joined the Michigan faculty in 1949; his former students include Dean Emeritus Ted St. Antoine, '54, and Professor J.J. White, '62. His primary teaching interest has been evidence, and he has also taught civil procedure and tax classes. He formally retired from the Michigan faculty in 1987, but has been called out of retirement to teach evidence, most recently in 2004. Reed has also served as dean of the law schools at the University of Colorado and Wayne State University.

In the News

Newly minted Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown taps Steven Schrage, '95, to be his chief of staff, The Boston Globe reports.

Up, up and away: Michigan Law applications spiked sharply this year, Admissions Dean Sarah Zearfoss, '92, tells Business Insider.

1993 Michigan Law grad Greg Henchel is new executive vice president and general counsel for the Home Shopping Network.

Professor Rich Friedman leads Adam Liptak and The New York Times’ to the remarkable story of a one-time jailhouse lawyer who may someday become a student at Michigan Law.

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece cites Professor Jim Hines to argue against increasing taxes for U.S. multinationals.

The Washington Post quotes Professor David Uhlmann in a piece on the progress, and lack thereof, of cleaning up the Anacostia River.

1942 graduate and retired U.S. District Judge Horace Gilmore, active in civil rights issues in Michigan, dies at 91.

Harold Ford, '96, declares his candidacy for one of New York's Senate seats in a New York Post op-ed.

The New York Times rates Ford's decision worthy of Page One coverage.

Professor Ted Parson coauthors a major piece in Nature, arguing the urgency of international cooperation in studying geo-engineering to combat global warming.

Robert Kimball, '89, named new president and acting CEO at RealNetworks.

You had your chance, W – now it’s the turn of 1985 grad Chuck Greenberg, who teams up with former fireballer Nolan Ryan to complete purchase of the Texas Rangers.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, '91, takes reins in Detroit as first woman to hold the post; will deal with terror case while retooling her office's operations.

After creating the contemporary intellectual underpinnings for the death penalty, the American Law Institute recently abandoned the cause – and The New York Times cites Professor Sam Gross on the "moral and practical failure" of the death penalty in its story about the move.

Frank Wu, '91, to assume deanship at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

1974 grad Harrison Blackmond decides not to retire after all, according to the Detroit News – instead, he'll pursue education reform in Michigan's dismally performing urban schools.

Professor Ted St. Antoine, '54, tells an audience at Case Western about mandatory employment arbitration, and the importance of "keeping it fair, and keeping it lawful."

Coming Up

March 19: Annual Law School Recital at First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor.

March 25: Student Funded Fellowships auction at Michigan Law.

April 8-9: Environmental Law & Policy Program hosts its 2010 conference on "Environmental Law and Economics."

May 1: For the second straight year, Michigan Law Service Day - alumni helping serve the communities where they live and work - comes to a city near you.


Have a story of interest to fellow alumni? Contact Amicus editor John Masson, Media Relations Officer for Michigan Law, at or call 734.647.7352.