Letters from Our Readers

Letters: Student loan balances

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Letters from our Readers


Student loan balances

Tackling the Debt Crisis,” December-January, page 6, ignores important background facts while proffering only governmental solutions. Specifically, for the last two decades or so, law schools in the U.S. have graduated twice as many lawyers than are actually needed. I suspect this trend will continue for another two decades. Many other factors are in place, including the fact that there are too many law schools.

As just one example, from the time I attended law school (1981-84) until today, the number of law schools in my home state of Florida has more than doubled.

Second, gone are the days where first-years were assembled on their first day of law school and told “look to your left, and look to your right; one of the three of you will not graduate.”

Third, law school is the only graduate school that I am aware of that allows one to attend regardless of the person’s undergraduate major.

Fourth, young people are no longer taught life lessons. For instance, my father, who never attended college, told me his practical rule: “Never play another person’s game.” Sadly, recent students of all majors and graduate degrees are playing the colleges’ present games. The fact that students no longer live frugally exacerbates the problem.

Lastly, the fact that the federal government has taken over the proprietary role of lending, with the schools not having any skin/risk in the game, is yet another substantial factor in the creation of the so-called student debt crisis.

James R. Brewster
Tallahassee, Florida

Collision verdict

I’ve been an ABA member for 20 years. I do enjoy reading the ABA Journal and appreciate the wealth of information. As a civil defense attorney, I was interested in reading “Costly Collisions” (October-November, page 40) referencing a personal injury case that was to send a powerful message to the trucking industry.

Much to my chagrin, the substance of the article profiled a one-sided case tried against a defendant that was unrepresented at trial after its lawyers withdrew and a sanction ruling by the trial court found the party liable for the collision.

Thus, the only issue to be tried to the six-pack jury was damages. In a damage trial where only the defendant is unrepresented, the plaintiff’s counsel would have gone 100% unchecked by objections or rules of evidence.

I fail to see how any verdict reached under such circumstances would send a message to the legal profession or a particular clientele. This is a verdict that we refer to as a misnomer, not an indicator of future juror behavior.

Let’s do better profiling multiple cases that are fairly litigated with members of the bar on both sides of the fence, which may in fact show a trend.

Valerie Briggs Bargas
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Voting upset

While items published in the ABA Journal “do not reflect the views of the ABA,” you are still responsible for the items you choose to publish.

This Is Us” (October-November, page 9) is troublesome on many levels. First, it is mostly a lot of name-calling (“fearmongering,” “coordinated disinformation,” “insidious tactics”) without much evidence. The only alleged wrongdoing finally appears deep in the article and includes voter purges, limits on early voting and burdensome ID requirements.

Voter purges of dead or moved voters are required by federal law, which limits how those purges can be done. Many states have never had early voting at all. I’ve voted in California for many years, and up until a few years ago, the rule for voting was in-person on Election Day (with limited absentee ballots). Democracy did not die. The “burdensome” voter ID story has always been false. The opponents of voter ID have failed time and time again to present any evidence that such laws are discriminatory or place any extra burdens on minorities. The most recent case is Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Secretary of State for the State of Alabama (2021), but the failed cases go back over a decade to Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008). Arguing for greater voter access is fine, but demonizing opponents and using “disinformation, social media myths and distortions” is not an argument; it is merely false propaganda.

But the author goes way out of bounds in attacking U.S. Supreme Court decisions and alleging that the court is “unwilling to defend voter rights.” The job of the Supreme Court is not to defend voter rights (or tenant rights or property rights); the job of the court is to interpret and apply the law and the Constitution to the cases before it. Lawyers may not like every decision, but accusing the court of misconduct is a serious attack on the rule of law, which the ABA—and every lawyer—is obligated to support.

John P. McDonnell
Los Altos, California

Thoughts on resentencing

Revising Sentences” (October-November, page 50), by Amanda Robert, references a law recently passed by the Council of the District of Columbia enabling individuals who commit crimes before the age of 25 to request resentencing after 15 years of imprisonment. There is no carve-out in the law for rape and murder. In 2015, my neighbor was raped by a serial rapist. The individual was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 60 years. Under the D.C. law, he’s eligible for early release after 15. As a locally elected official, I opposed the D.C. Council’s actions, as the law sends the signal that rapists need only serve 15 years versus their full sentences, an injustice to all rape victims.

K. Denise Rucker Krepp
Washington, D.C.

Supporting well-being

I am writing in response to a letter denigrating the content of the “On Well-Being” column. I value the monthly articles on physical and mental health and balancing one’s life. There are often many competing obligations to clients and family that have to be judiciously juggled, and it is important to remind oneself that you do not have to sacrifice your overall happiness in order to be successful. A healthy outlook and balanced life creates a well-rounded lawyer better able to serve his or her client base. Advances in digital technology have allowed for a more efficient delivery of services and additional leisure time to spend with family and on oneself. Total commitment to your clients and time spent outside of the office are not mutually exclusive but rather advantageous to being in the moment for each part of one’s life.

Lawyers have the same basic needs as everyone else working in different disciplines, and it is refreshing to be transparent about that.

Murray Schneier
Teaneck, New Jersey

History repeating

In Allen Pusey’s “Supreme Court Upholds DEA’s Kidnapping of Mexican Doctor,” June-July, page 72, readers are reminded of the line of U.S. Supreme Court decisions sanctioning the kidnapping of indicted defendants by federal or state agents and transporting them to the jurisdiction where they are to stand trial. Such abductions were upheld in cases such as Ker v. Illinois (1886), Frisbie v. Collins (1952) and U.S. v. Álvarez-Machaín (2001), which, as the article notes, has also been cited to uphold the extraordinary rendition of aliens accused of committing acts of terrorism.

During the same month the Journal published Pusey’s reminder, on June 17, 2021, the court released its opinion in Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe I. The Nestlé court held 8-1 that the plaintiffs, who as children had been enslaved on an Ivory Coast cocoa plantation, had no cause of action under the Alien Tort Claims Act in the U.S. courts against chocolate makers Nestlé and Cargill, despite allegations those companies knew about and aided and abetted the plaintiffs’ enslavement.

These cases support the conclusion that the worldview of the court allows the United States and its agents limitless reign over individual liberty while offering no relief to any person injured outside U.S. borders by a U.S.-based corporation.

Steven P. Gregory
Birmingham, Alabama

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