This is a selection of matters in which I have been involved. Not every project warrants a feature; more routine affairs are welcome, and are given parity of priority.
There are stakes in art. Visual media are often the most powerful instances of information and influence. As with every Whitney Annual and Biennial, the 77th of these in the museum’s history (begun in 1932 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney) would be no exception to offering one of the broadest and most diverse takes on art in the United States. It brought together 103 artists and three curators — Stuart Comer of MoMA, Anthony Elms of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and Michelle Grabner of the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Special media protections were developed on behalf of Navia Vision, including medium-aware indemnities accounting for controversial content. This was the last Biennial to take place at the Whitney’s Madison Avenue building. In 2015 the museum is celebrating its new downtown waterfront locale.
Finding the Titanic was a major technological effort and investment. What incentive do salvors have to go all in on such risks? The public benefits immensely from the archeological recovery of lore. Individual careers can be made, too. But is it enough? When the exclusive salvor in possession of the Titanic shipwreck came up with artifacts technically abandoned under age-old maritime and property doctrines, it expected to recoup its investment. A skein of conflicting property law concepts in the common, international and constitutional domains came into relevance. The matter was resolved before a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and it was documented in a Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce piece titled A Conceptual Wreck: Salvaging the Law of Finds. The article was dubbed the last word on the distinction between the laws of finds and salvage by its editors.
New Orleans gets its character from a few sources, like the lay of swamps, rivers and mud. But its people are the true prize. One of them is Sister Helen Prejean, who has been fighting the death penalty for decades, and still is. She writes best-selling books about her work, which include several compelling case studies. Her mission is charitable in nature. So when asked to establish the nonprofit media entity holding rights to the Academy Award winning Dead Man Walking for her group of advocates, it was undertaken pro deo.
Chatham County, Georgia, home to Savannah, was sued in a bridge allision. Admiralty jurisdiction, constitutional from inception, is historical, complex and recondite. Intersect the ancient jurisdictional issue with sovereign immunity and modern municipal governance and a case before the United States Supreme Court was born, Northern Insurance Company of New York v. Chatham County, Georgia, 547 U.S. 189 (2006). The principal brief required deep pre-colonial research and technical writing in the admiralty lexicon.
Blue Mind 3 was the third iteration of an annual convening of ocean experts and neuroscientists founded by Wallace J. Nichols. Mind and ocean, neuroscience and conservation, emotion and environment, grey matter and blue space. Watch a video summation here. The event was held from May 29 to May 31, 2013 on Block Island. J DuClos LLC was an integral partner, assisting with development, logistics, media, and programming. Justin DuClos opened the event with Rhode Island’s state poet laureate Lisa Starr (2007-2012) using original underwater imagery obtained from sites on- and offshore during dives with Tampa’s photographer laureate Karen Glaser, exhibitor at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and author of the grainy Dark Sharks series. Presentations followed from filmmaker and granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau Celine Cousteau, chef and National Graphic fellow Barton Seaver, mesmerizing painter Ran Ortner, and a host of neuroscientists from Harvard, NYU, and Vanderbilt who paired up with entrepreneurs, elected officials and creatives from a dozen organizations and agencies to explore new questions about our connection to water.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is home to the origins of public education, and it continues to lead in education quality and innovation. Charter schools are playing the most significant role in the next chapter of public education innovation, which is well upon us. The eventual zero-sum nature of per pupil budgetary allocations between proximate traditional and charter schools generates extreme regulatory and political involvement. This is especially so in a city like Brockton, where the matter was set, and which has a long history that warrants a great deal of pride. The laws governing education in Massachusetts are exceedingly complex and infused with layers of compromise between competing interests that include the largest union in the state. When a well-qualified charter school applicant was notified its proposal was ineligible due to an abstruse mathematical statutory provision, it sought counsel and representation before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). Extensive legislative research and analysis was performed in conjunction with consultations among past and present leaders in education policy. The results were presented to the BESE, which consequently permitted the school’s application to proceed. Read the memorandum on statutory interpretation, and another on the legislative history, or view extensive coverage of the matter in the media, including the front page of The Boston Globe.
In the years after Hurricane Katrina the New Orleans community carried on, but not without a comprehensive collection of distractions. The vestiges of destruction went on for miles. Basic services were scarce. Wind and water scars cut far inland. Water pressure was intermittent, as was power. The metropolitan infrastructure was unmanned. Half the population had not returned. The most violent crimes were at an impossible high. The United States military was permanently stationed downtown. The economy recessed. Skyscrapers laid vacant. A crippled government struggled to instill confidence. At the time, and even in retrospect, the list was endless. The enormous levee, flood and environmental complex litigation cases that followed were addressed, along with a broad array of matters stemming from the disaster and proceeding in the courts. View a motion prepared for the flood litigation.
In some remote South African villages residents benefit little from the kinds of fundamental infrastructural supports traditionally providable by government. For example, educational provisioning may lack resources readily available in other parts of the world and within South Africa itself. A community pre-school was dilapidated when this project began. The teacher had taken to scratching lessons into the wall. Implementation consisted of establishing a nonprofit, leading international logistics, rehabilitating the building, and providing program materials. Local tradesmen were integrated and a partnership with international construction groups was forged. An invitation to assist a second school was accepted two years later. Many thanks for support and assistance are owed to Siya Xuza.
When the border was drawn between North and South Korea, many thousands of family members were left divided. Families were dislocated by the chaos of war. Sixty years have lapsed, and many Koreans have immigrated to the United States in search of peace and hope. There are an estimated 100,000 first generation Korean Americans with immediate family members in North Korea. Time is running out for this generation to reunite with their families; many family members have already passed away. Divided Families Film is a documentary production that is raising awareness of this issue in the global community by telling the stories of first generation Korean Americans hoping to reunite with their families. The project just wrapped up another round of funding via Kickstarter. Logistical, technical, strategic, and financial support was provided throughout.
The fiduciary duties built into the attorney-client relationship are traced back far into recorded history. They continued to develop consistently under the reigns of kings, through the American colonial transfer of legal regimes, and into the 21st c. when a new facet was revealed. What duties do co-counselors owe each other when collaborating on behalf of a client? The opinion of the Louisiana Supreme Court rendered on this issue as it swept across the states in 2007 derives virtually wholesale from the brief submitted, including citation to the Bible at footnote 5 to highlight the governing principle that an attorney can have but one master: the client.
The Harvard Law School (HLS) Environmental Law and Policy Clinic sought technical analysis of hydraulic fracturing practices, including state agency permitting, century-old lease and deed interpretation, and new terms and conditions clauses. An on-site public records review was conducted in a region experiencing an influx in permit requests. The project included teaching and supervising HLS students and preparing a research memorandum for a national public interest client, as well as a jurisdictionally specific guide to property considerations. The lease and deed work was documented by a piece titled The Interpretation of Surface Easements in Severance Deeds as a Limit on Hydraulic Fracturing Practices published in the Buffalo Environmental Law Journal.
Teachers unions continue to play a significant role in both the labor and education sectors. In 2008, during the depths of recession, the expiration of a Rhode Island teachers union contract seized the system. The law in this space is taut. A municipality caught between revenue shortfalls and perpetual contracts sought slack. The history of applicable constructs and policies was researched, and the foundational positions that freed the municipality from additional obligations were established. This work led to a commission from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government to document the event in a piece titled The Etiology of a Malfunction in Democratic Processes, published in the Arizona State Law Journal.