Anita Hill to Head Sexual Harassment Task Force

The wave of sexual misconduct allegations brought about by Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace has revealed a larger, widespread problem in Hollywood. The unceasing parade of accusations has forced Hollywood to face the seedier side of filmmaking. Hoping to deal with the issue of sexual assault and harassment in their own houses, studios have come together to form a task force to shed a brighter light on the guilty. Heading up this task force will be Anita Hill.
A Committee to Expose Sexual Misconduct Once and for All
Filmmaking powerhouses throughout Hollywood have come together to work towards putting an end to the sexual misconduct behind recent allegations. A committee has been formed to look into allegations, headed by Anita Hill, and will also work towards creating greater gender equality in the industry.
Kathleen Kennedy, the notable Star Wars producer, recently called for a meeting that included other celebrated female film producers in Hollywood. The meeting was intended to address the surge of sexual misconduct allegations flooding Hollywood and to come up with a solution to the growing problem. As a result, the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace was formed, naming Hill as the commission’s chairwoman.
Speaking about the formation of the task force, Ms. Kennedy said the goal would not be to just address any one particular problem. Instead, the organization is charged with developing a strategy to prevent future instances of sexual misconduct. She said the nature of inequality that exists between producer and actor gives the former a degree of power over the former that’s too easily exploited. The committee hopes to level that playing field with new policies and a greater interest in promoting gender equality.
Hollywood Rivals Came Together to Form the Task Force
Involved in forming the new commission were executives from every major film studio, television network executives, and even music label producers. Disney CEO Bob Iger, Universal Music Group CEO Sir Lucian Grainge, Paramount CEO Karen Stuart, and CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves were among those willing to participate in the group and aid its function with financial backing.
Additionally, academies and unions throughout the entertainment industry also pledged support to the commission.
“The fact that so many industry leaders — across film, television, music, digital, unions, agencies … and guilds — came together, in one room, to explore solutions speaks to a new era,” Ms. Kennedy said of the milestone accomplishment.
It’s noteworthy that Anita Hill was chosen to lead this commission. In 1991, she was responsible for bringing sexual harassment issues to mainstream attention. At the time, she shared her own experiences, when she testified about her encounters with Clarence Thomas at Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Of the new committee, Ms. Hill said she feels hopeful that the silence can now come to an end.
“I’ve been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change.”

Nominee For Federal Judge Can’t Answer Basic Questions

Matthew Spencer Peterson’s judicial confirmation started out painful and then got worse when Peterson couldn’t answer basic questions about the legal process. Peterson flubbed questions about motions, the Daubert standard and abstention as Senator John Kennedy quizzed the nominee on his knowledge of basic legal terms. Peterson hemmed and hawed and then admitted that he doesn’t have a background in litigation. Peterson also admitted that he hasn’t ever conducted a jury trial or even argued a motion in court. The exchange has since gone viral.

Peterson served as President of the Federal Election Commission in 2016 under U.S. President Barack Obama and in 2010 under George W. Bush. He graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Virginia’s School of Law. In addition to his work at the FEC, Peterson has other ties to politics, serving as an attorney for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration. He practiced election law in private practice with a law firm in Washington DC.

Critics say that Peterson’s performance at the December 13, 2017 confirmation hearing calls into question his qualifications to serve as a federal judge. Peterson disagrees. He says that his background as a decision maker should be sufficient even if he doesn’t know basic terms about courts and cases.

Peterson’s case is one example of what critics say is a larger problem about the qualifications of judges. They say that it’s too easy to become a judge without having practical, trial experience to effectively run a court and make wise decisions. Critics question whether it’s a good idea to have a judge deciding motions when they’ve never argued a motion themselves.

Critics say that judges shouldn’t be getting up to speed using real cases. They argue that judges should come to the bench able to do the job effectively from the first day. Some say that it’s a miscarriage of justice to consider political loyalty and experience in politics when it’s time to choose judges.

Members of the public are often surprised to learn that judges don’t have to have a background in the courtroom in order to sit on the bench. They don’t need to have even represented a client in court. Judges are either elected or appointed, and there’s no minimum qualifications beyond a law degree and a bar license. Some local magistrates don’t even need those minimal qualifications. Soon, it’ll be up to the Senate to decide if Peterson’s qualifications make the grade.

 

Dr. Phil’s Son Developing Law School Comedy

CBS is working on a new legal comedy thanks to the contributions of Jay McGraw and his famous father, Phil McGraw. The pair are working on a comedy based on the younger McGraw’s experiences in law school. Jay McGraw is a graduate of SMU Law in Dallas, Texas.

McGraw’s comedy centers on a young law student. The student comes from a privileged background, and he wants an easy experience in law school. Unfortunately, he chooses one of the best law schools in the country. The law school has high expectations. Despite his attempts to slide through school on easy street, the student finds that he has to work hard and represent clients in actual cases.

The show’s developers plan to call the show “Class Action.” Modern Family writer Dan O’Shannon plans to contribute to the project. CBS plans to produce the show. Jay McGraw isn’t new to writing. He previously published “Jay McGraw’s Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies.” He also appeared on the show “Renovate My Family” as the show’s host.

McGraw graduated from SMU’s Dedman School of Law in 2004. SMU Law is located in Dallas, Texas. The school consistently boasts above-average bar passage rates in the State of Texas. Reviewing organizations typically rank the school around the top 50 for law schools in the United States.

SMU Law offers a full-time program that takes three years. They also offer a part-time, evening program that lasts four years. Famous SMU Law alumni include U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Myers and James Baker, a justice of the Texas Supreme Court. The law school sits on the north side of downtown Dallas between Highland Park and University Park.

True of the younger McGraw’s recollection, the school offers law students an intensive clinical experience. Students can choose between participation in the criminal clinic, child advocacy program, innocence project, family law assistance program and civil law clinic. The law school sits on SMU’s main campus. Students may also participate in moot court and law review programs.

The McGraws operate their creative projects through Stage 29 Productions. If the project gathers steam, it won’t be the first time that Dr. Phil has lent his creativity to a law-related comedy. The company has also produced a show called Bull. That show is based on Dr. Phil’s experiences running a trial consulting firm before his years as Dr. Phil. Before he became Dr. Phil, he also appeared on Oprah and contributed to her defense against a defamation lawsuit brought by the cattle industry.

Three Dallas Police Officers Charged in Man’s Death

There’s no question that Tony Timpa was high on cocaine on August 10 of 2016 when he phoned 911 for help. He was overdosed, but he was unarmed. He wanted help, but within an hour after the police arrived, Tony Timpa was dead.

The Dallas Morning News reports that a “beefy” Timpa parked his Mercedes Benz in the parking lot of an adult store on West Mockingbird Lane and called for help. Police officers allegedly mocked the 32-year-old Timpa when he died after 14 minutes of an officer’s knee was pinned in his back. Two Dallas police officers aged 48 and 32 were indicted on misdemeanor charges of deadly conduct in Timpa’s death. Another unnamed Dallas police officer has been charged, but he has yet to turn himself in.

Timpa’s mother indicated that she didn’t understand why the officers were only charged with misdemeanors rather than felonies. Misdemeanors only involve the possibility of a 364 day jail sentence. Timpa’s mother said that she wanted to see the accused officers go to jail for so long that they’d “smell the rust on the bars.” Dallas Police Department officials have refused to release body camera footage that was allegedly recorded that night by at least one of the indicted police officers. Timpa’s mother wants to see it. The Dallas Police Department has also failed to comment on whether any of the indicted police officers have been disciplined.

The Dallas Morning News has sought information regarding the death of Tony Timpa for more than a year. Timpa had apparently told 911 operators that he feared for his safety, and suffered from anxiety and schizophrenia and had not taken his prescription medications. He was in shorts and barefoot. No weapons were found on or near him. It’s alleged that Timpa repeatedly begged the police officers on the scene not to hurt him. It’s further alleged that police officers remained on top of Timpa after he had lost consciousness and was rendered harmless. One of the officers reportedly stated on camera that he hoped that he didn’t kill Timpa. Tony Timpa’s death was ruled a homicide due to the ingestion of cocaine and the stress involved in the occurrence.

The whereabouts of the third officer involved in Timpa’s death are still unknown. It’s also unknown whether the misdemeanor charges against the three officers will be upgraded to felonies.

Sujit Choudhry and Geography’s Threat to Democracy

Sujit Choudhry is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions and an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law and politics. The focus of his research spans across a wide variety of comparative constitutional law and politics issues. In 2014, he and his colleague, Michael Pal from the University of Ottawa – Common Law Section; Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation, published an article in the Canadian Political Science Review. The article, Still Not Equal? Visible Minority Vote Dilution in Canada, discusses voting power for visible and non-visible minorities for the 2004 federal electoral map as well as for provincial electoral districts in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The major conclusion was that the concept of vote dilution is prominent in regions of visible minorities.

Sujit Choudhry’s Address at the Semi-Presidentialism Round-table in Ukraine

The democratic political power path is bifurcated. One side is demography, or satisfying interests and beliefs of the largest group of people and winning their votes. The other path is geography, referring to securing voters in the many regions that are scarcely populated. In other words, by focusing on the geography principle, this bifurcation enables the adoption of public policies that are not always appealing to the majority. At the moment, the majority of the democratic world is largely based on geographic rather than demographic politics.

 

The most famous example of this is the situation in the United States, where both the presidency as well as the Senate can be won via geography rather than demography. The effect of geography is especially evident in the fact that despite a strong majority of the American people having liberal, racially tolerant and international-minded views, they have been overpowered by a faction of the Republican Party that is associated with U.S. President Donald Trump.

 

Even back in 2010, at a time when the broad center-left voting coalition under the former U.S. president Barack Obama seemed to dominate U.S. politics, Joel Kotkin of the conservative American Enterprise Institute prognosticated that, “Demographics may seem a long-term boon for Democrats,” he wrote, “but geographic trends tilt in the opposite direction.” This became evident in the victory of President Trump who was favored by the increasingly non-diverse, older populations residing in the underpopulated center. Even though the vast majority voted against him, out of the 592 counties that supported him, 520 were populated by fewer than 50,000 individuals, and won almost every county populated by fewer than 10,000 individuals.

 

This problem spans beyond the American borders, too. Europe is affected by fringe parties of intolerance and in some cases a parliamentary majority via the geography approach. The extreme-right Alternative for Germany that had a strong showing in October’s national election was in large part due to focus on the sparse and depopulated regions of former communist East Germany. Poland is another example, whose Law and Justice Party governs after appealing more to rural areas by turning nationalist and xenophobic. France, too, played the geography card when its National Front made it to the first round of presidential elections.

 

Canada is also not immune to this threat to democracy when leaders with fringe ideas take power by appealing to underpopulated regions of the country. The Canadian democratic system is most vulnerable due to the great imbalance between rural and urban as well as suburban ridings, the latter two of which are more densely populated. While the 2011 Fair Representation Act added equality to Canada’s provinces by introducing 30 new ridings, rural overrepresentation remained unaddressed.

 

This is where the study by Choudhry and Pal is of such importance. According to their findings, introducing new ridings had two downsides. Not only did those rural ridings have more voting power, but Canadians from racial-minority backgrounds living in metropolitan areas were severely underrepresented. The researchers found that for every Canadian’s vote power of 1, those in ridings that are more than 99% white have a voting power of 1.37. Canadians who reside in ridings that are more than 30% non-white have a voting power of 0.88. This means that the electoral clout of voters residing in all-white ridings is 55% higher than that of voters in diverse ridings. The scholars refer to this concept as vote dilution that is present among the diverse ridings. It carries particular demographic, policy and constitutional considerations significance, and the scholars conclude their study by highlighting that a reform is critical.

 

Overall, it is the moderate parties that must work on winning back geography. The inherent struggle that America’s Democrats are facing is the discrepancy between geography voters in the northern states, who felt that their candidate while too liberal on social issues, and those who are in safe Democratic urban districts thought the opposite. As the term ‘too liberal’ has many meanings, the solution to this may be in delivering different election-year messages and not focusing on changing policies. However, the overall conclusion of the 2016 U.S. election is that the in-between places must not be ignored as there is a method to win for a party that is ready to bet on symbolic resentments and fears of residents in scarcely populated areas.

 

Sujit Choudhry is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions and I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He works as constitutional advisor to emerging democracies across the world. He is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and was a consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

 

Choudhry has also been a constitutional advisor for over two decades. He has expertise in facilitating public dialogue sessions with civil society groups and other stakeholders, leading stakeholder consultations, performing detailed advisory work with technical experts, training civil servants and bureaucrats, engaging party leaders and parliamentarians, and drafting technical reports and memoranda in the field. He is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

 

His publication record includes over ninety articles, book chapters, working papers and reports. He is author of several books and a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society of Public Law, the International Advisory Council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, the Editorial Board of the Constitutional Court Review, the Editorial Advisory Board for the Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law, and is an Honorary Member of the Advisory Council of the Indian Constitutional Law Review. More information on Sujit Choudhry can be found on his personal website sujitchoudhry.com as well as on LinkedIn, Twitter (@sujit_choudhry), Instagram (@sujitchoudhry) and on Facebook.