ATLANTA—Georgia State University College of Law professors have provided expert comment in several news stories recently on topics ranging from bankruptcy to evidence reform.
Professor Jack Williams (pictured right) was quoted in a Reuters story on March 15 about Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filing a plan with the U.S. bankruptcy court in New York to wind down its remianing assets and operations, ending the largest U.S. bankruptcy case in history. Under the proposed Chapter 11 plan, Reuters' Emily Chasan reported, a newly created business called LAMCO would manage what is left of Lehman’s commercial real estate, mortgages, principal investments, private equity, corporate debt and derivatives assets.
"Lehman went in and there was real concern whether bankruptcy could handle something like that," Williams said. " (The detractors) were wrong then and they're wrong now ... It works for small, medium and gargantuan businesses."
Professor Paul Milich (pictured right) was quoted in a March 11 story in the Fulton County Daily Report on evidence reform in Georgia. The Daily Report's Andy Peters wrote that a dispute over how to deal with drunk-driving cases, which had blocked Georgia's effort to replace its archaic rules of evidence for more than a year, had been resolved after the House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 24 by a voice vote. The bill thoroughly rewrites the 150-year-old rules of evidence in the Georgia Code, Peters wrote, replacing them with language based on federal law. If the bill receives approval from the full House of Representatives, it must receive approval from the state Senate and Gov. Sonny Perdue to become law.
Legislators took a close look at adopting the federal rules last year, but prosecutors balked at a change that would have prevented them from submitting evidence of past actions by a defendant, called "similar transactions," to demonstrate he had the "bent of mind" to commit a certain type of offense. The use of that rule came into play in the prosecution of DUI cases. Milich, who has advised the State Bar and the Legislature on the rules of evidence, said the federal rule allows prosecutors to use similar transactions to prove motive, intent and other areas.
"Nobody other than Georgia added to that list 'bent of mind,' which sounds like the character evidence that’s prohibited," Milich said. Georgia prosecutors agreed not to oppose the removal of the "bent of mind" phrase from the state code as long as some exceptions were carved out to let them admit previous DUI convictions into evidence, Milich said.
Professor Paul Lombardo (pictured left) was quoted in a recent story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press about whether a new law to restrict employers' and insurers' use of genetic information is a necessary protection against discrimination or just a hindrance to business efforts to cut health care costs. The federal law, called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, went into effect last year. It prohibits health insurers and employers from using genetic information to determine insurance coverage or rates, or to make hiring, firing and promotion decisions. Emily Bregel wrote that insurers and employers also are prohibited generally from using incentives to encourage workers to take health risk assessments that ask about genetic tests or family medical history.
Lombardo said the law applies some much-needed consistency across a patchwork of state-level genetic discrimination laws. About 45 states have laws related to genetic discrimination, he said. "The laws were just kind of all over the place," he said. "There was a lot of complaint in the last 10 years from employers who were multistate about what law they were supposed to follow."
In his March 13 "Political Insider" column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jim Galloway quoted Professor Lynn Hogue (pictured below). Galloway's column focused on Georgia House Bill 1155, which would make it a 10-year felony for a physician to perform an abortion if a patient discloses that she seeks the procedure because of objections to the race or gender of the fetus.
The legislation followed the appearance last month of dozens of billboards in African-American communities across metro Atlanta which featured a toddler's face along with the following message: "Black children are an endangered species." The operating theory espoused by the billboard sponsors: Abortion clinics have targeted black women for the sake of both profit and eugenics, Galloway wrote.
Hogue, asked to examine the bill by Planned Parenthood, an organization that supports abortion rights, warned lawmakers in his testimony on March 10 that a woman's reason for seeking abortion was "constitutionally irrelevant." Moreover, Hogue said that the legislation is likely to have an unintended effect.
"Although the bill is grounded in racial disparity," he said, "whites are unlikely ever to be targeted by this law. But African-American women are almost certain to be targeted. It will foster and justify discrimination based on race, something Georgia has tried to leave behind it."