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Around the Blawgosphere: Snitching Suffers a Blow; Lawyer’s Name-Your-Own-Price Experiment

Posted Aug 5, 2011 8:52 AM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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Taking on Jailhouse Snitches and Confidential Informants

The anonymous blogger "Gideon" at a public defender and Loyola Law School Los Angeles law professor Alexandra Natapoff at Snitching Blog both noted a bill signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown that requires testimony by witnesses in prison or police custody to be corroborated by forensic evidence or other uncompromised testimony.

Gideon writes that the move was long overdue and at his post also notes a 2004-2005 survey (PDF) of 111 overturned cases by the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law School that found that nearly 46 percent of the overturned cases had snitch testimony, making "snitches the leading cause of wrongful convictions in U.S. capital cases."

Natapoff noted at her post that she actually testified in support of the California legislation. Later the same day, she also noted an ACLU survey about confidential informants in New Jersey that found the "use of informants in drug law enforcement in New Jersey was found to be largely informal, undocumented, and unsupervised, and therefore vulnerable to error and corruption."


Age Bias Suit Clears Hurdle

University of Cincinnati law prof Paul Caron noted at TaxProf Blog that an Iowa court denied the University of Iowa College of Law's request for summary judgment regarding an age discrimination lawsuit that Donald Dobkin, a 56-year-old practicing lawyer and an associate faculty member at the College of Graduate Studies at Central Michigan University, filed against the school. Dobkin, who was 55 when he applied, says the school refused to interview him. The trial is set to begin this month, according to an TaxProf Blog post from November. Dobkin also filed a similar suit against the University of Baltimore, who ultimately hired a younger candidate for the opening. Meanwhile, former North Dakota Attorney General Nicholas Spaeth filed suit last week against Michigan State University College of Law in Washington, D.C., federal court, also alleging discrimination in law professor hiring.


Greek Letters on the Resumé?

Corporette published a letter from an undergraduate who was wondering if she should include her sorority affiliation on her resumé: The undergrad is inclined to do so because she held a lot of leadership positions in her house at the expense of other extracurriculars that could fill out her resumé. A professor / administrator has advised her against it, thinking that broadcasting sorority membership (or membership in the "wrong" house) could hurt her chances.

Blog author Kat Griffin, who admits she "slightly regrets" not joining a house at Northwestern, thinks she should add the leadership roles if her resumé is truly very sparse on work experience. But she questions whether a graduate schools value leadership "above and beyond, say, critical thinking, researching, and writing skills." Anecdotes from those positions might better be saved for the interview, Griffin writes. "I often talk about my theory of preparing for an interview by thinking of three great traits, with stories to accompany them—I wouldn’t have a problem with you pulling a story from your leadership experience at the sorority."


How Much Should a Solo Charge? Part II

Video announcing Alex Bajwa's name-your-own price month.

St. Paul, Minn., solo Alex Bajwa conducted an experiment for the month of May: He told his clients that during that month, they could decide for themselves what they would pay Bajwa for his services. He kicked it off with a video on his website. The way it worked was that after he finished his services, the clients would sign a payment agreement and write in what they decided to pay him.

"When the month began, the most common question I got, especially from other lawyers, was why on earth I would give anyone the chance to take such advantage of me," Bajwa wrote at Lawyerist. "Call me naïve, but I think people are better than that. The good news is, I was right." He was always afraid that a client would decide to pay him nothing, but that didn't happen once, he writes. While he admits that most May clients decided to pay him less than he would have charged, he says he actually got a lot of helpful feedback from clients who explained to him why they paid what they did. "This provided me a great baseline to look at when I am revising my attorney fee schedule."

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