Berkeley Law

‘This Is Not a Stunt:’ Behind the Campaign to Force Politicians to Wear Sponsor Labels

NASCAR drivers, golfers and tennis players won’t be the only ones wearing patches touting their sponsors if a San Diego millionaire has his way. Republican entrepreneur John Cox is bankrolling a proposed initiative for the November ballot that would require members of the California Assembly and State Senate to wear stickers or badges emblazoned with the names of their top 10 donors.

All’s Well That Tends Wells? New State Law To Control Sucking Up of Water

The drought gets a lot of undeserved blame for California’s water crisis. Naturally, four dry years have exacerbated the problem, but the real culprit is the state’s Gold Rush–era water law, which has allowed landowners to sink wells that suck ever deeper and drier— unfettered by any accountability to their neighbors, their region, or the state. Historically low groundwater levels have resulted, spawning all kinds of Wild West drama. The Central Valley is sinking! A thousand Tulare County wells go dry!

Are Journalism Schools Just Whistling Past the Graveyard—or Resuscitating the News Biz?

The keynote speaker at the 2014 commencement of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism—an elite institution that prepares students for a profession in which the prospects are, let’s face it, a little touch-and-go at the moment— was a former small-time drug dealer and heavy-duty coke addict who had been in and out of rehab five times, a “fat thug” (in his own words) who’d been known to beat women and wave a gun around on occasion.

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Doing It Like Lincoln: These Aspiring Lawyers Kick It Old School—By Skipping Law School

When Yassi Eskandari-Qajar graduated from UC Berkeley in 2011, she was prepared to go to law school. Prepared, but not excited.

As an undergrad she had found herself drawn to social justice work, and law school seemed in her future. But that idea curdled after she consulted several law students. She didn’t even need to hear them speak: The stress and misery of their experience, she says, was practically etched in their faces.

California Consequences: What If High Court Bans Race Preferences in College Admissions?

Almost lost amid the recent flurry of marquee U.S. Supreme Court rulings—including one endorsing same-sex marriage and another upholding Obamacare—was a judicial move that could have a huge impact on who gets into top colleges. The justices, by opting to reconsider a case that challenges the University of Texas’s use of race and ethnicity to select students, signaled that they may be ready to effectively end affirmative action in college admissions nationwide.

Catching the Brain in a Lie: Is “Mind Reading” Deception Detection Sci-Fi—or Science?

Ever since the inception of our species, humans have wanted to peer inside each other’s minds. A major reason we want to do this is because we lie. We lie a lot, and on the whole, we are quite good at it. The capacity for deception is possibly one of the most significant cognitive gifts we received through evolution.

But it turns out that we lack an equal genius for spotting deception. Instead we keep trying to capitalize on technology—hoping it can do the detecting for us.

The Mountains Are Calling: Cal Says Farewell to Lair of the Bear Extraordinaire Bob Merritt

The Lair of the Golden Bear lost one of its best friends, Moraga lost one of its founding fathers, the law lost an eminent scholar and practitioner, many worthy causes lost one of their biggest benefactors, a remarkable family lost its beloved patriarch, and Top Dog lost its best customer on February 22, when Bob Merritt died at age 74 from complications following heart surgery. There will be a celebration of his life at Cal Shakes in Orinda on Sunday, May 31.

“Who Has a Story to Tell That We Need to Hear?” Human Rights Center Gains $1 Million

What happens when the final fusillade of bullets echoes into silence and a violent conflict comes to an end? What of the unidentified victims heaved into mass graves, the children torn from their parents, the families driven from their pulverized homes, the women and girls traumatized by rape, the child soldiers scarred by what they have seen and done?

When the news crews pack up and the world shakes its collective head and moves on, the work of the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Law is only beginning.

How Often Do Cops Kill Citizens? Given “Scandalous” Data Gaps, Nobody Knows

Franklin Zimring calls it “scandalous.”

The UC Berkeley law professor—one of the nation’s leading criminal justice experts—is referring to what he discovered when he set out to analyze four decades worth of FBI data on police and citizen killings. Incidents in which citizens killed on-duty police officers had been meticulously recorded. But when police killed citizens? Those incidents were recorded haphazardly, if at all.

In fact, the data was so spotty that he had to resort to finding cases on Wikipedia.

Policing the Police: New Demands to Reform the Rules for Secret Grand Juries

The toxic aftereffects of the killing of unarmed 18 year old by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer have not only persisted but, if anything, intensified in the wake of similar disturbing cases. Taken together, they have fueled the perception that cops too often shoot young men of color in haste, and with insufficient cause. Simmering distrust of the police has led to protest, rage, and at the extreme end, violent retaliation: two New York City cops were shot to death sitting in their car.

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