Volume 65, Number 5 – February 2016

Articles

Class Action Myopia
Maureen Carroll
PDF

Over the past two decades, courts and commentators have often treated the class action as though it were a monolith, limiting their analysis to the particular class form that joins together a large number of claims for monetary relief. This Article argues that the myopic focus on the aggregated-damages class action has led to under-theorization of the other class-action subtypes, which serve far different purposes and have far different effects, and has allowed the ongoing backlash against the aggregated-damages class action to affect the other subtypes in an undifferentiated manner. The failure to confine this backlash to its intended target has had a negative impact on the availability of the other class forms, harming the interests of both litigants and the judiciary. In particular, in civil-rights cases involving injunctive or declaratory relief, obstacles to class treatment pose a threat to remedial efficacy and the rule of law. Courts, lawmakers, and scholars should therefore engage in a broader analysis that takes into account all of the subtypes set forth in the modern class-action rule.

Dueling Canons
Anita S. Krishnakumar
PDF

This Article offers the first targeted study of the Supreme Court’s use of canons and other tools of statutory interpretation in a “dueling” manner—that is, in both the majority and dissenting opinions in the same case, to support opposing outcomes. Taking its inspiration from Karl Llewellyn’s celebrated list of canons and countercanons, this Article examines how often and in what ways the members of the Roberts Court counter each other’s references to particular interpretive tools when disagreeing about the proper reading of a statute. Many of the Article’s findings are unexpected and undermine the assumptions made by some of the most prominent theories of statutory interpretation. Most notably, the data reveal that several of textualism’s most-favored interpretive tools are at least as susceptible to dueling use as the purposivist tools that textualists have long denigrated as indeterminate and readily subject to judicial manipulation. For example, the study shows that the Justices dueled extensively over the meaning of statutory text. By contrast, they dueled at far lower rates over legislative history, purpose, and intent. Moreover, the Justices dueled over dictionary references, the whole act rule, and language canons at rates that were virtually identical to the rates at which they dueled over the purposivist-preferred tools. The study also reveals that the canons do not seem capable of constraining the Justices to vote against ideology and that noncanon tools of analysis, including precedent and practical-consequences-based reasoning, lead to higher rates of dueling than do most traditional canons or tools of statutory interpretation. After reporting the data, the Article examines doctrinal patterns in how the Justices duel over individual canons and explores the theoretical implications of the Justices’ dueling canon use.

Notes

An Unreasonable Ban on Reasonable Competition: The Legal Profession’s Protectionist Stance Against Noncompete Agreements Binding In-House Counsel
Kevin D. Horvitz
PDF

In the vast majority of jurisdictions in the United States, a business may protect its confidential information and customer goodwill by conditioning employment on an employee’s acceptance of a covenant not to compete. These covenants are beneficial to the marketplace because they allow employers to provide employees with necessary skills, knowledge, and proprietary information without any fear of misappropriation. Accordingly, noncompete agreements are upheld by courts so long as they pass a fact-specific “reasonableness” test.

Notwithstanding the widespread acceptance of reasonable noncompete agreements for all other professionals—including doctors and corporate executives—forty-eight states, following the American Bar Association’s lead, prohibit all noncompete agreements among lawyers. This prohibition is purportedly designed to protect both an attorney’s professional autonomy and a client’s right to choose his counsel. Despite legal commentators’ criticism of the prohibition, several state bar associations have recently extended it beyond the traditional law-firm context to agreements between companies and their in-house counsel. This expansion has transformed a questionable policy of professional self-regulation into an unjustifiable infringement on the legitimate interests of corporate employers. In addition to providing an analysis of the history and ethical norms that justify rejection of the ban’s application to in-house counsel, this Note argues that bar committees that issue opinions supporting the ban’s extension may be susceptible to antitrust liability under the Supreme Court’s new Dental Board standard pertaining to state-action immunity.

Process Matters: Specialization in Federal Appellate Review of Noncapital Section 2254 Cases
Jyoti Rani Jindal
PDF

This Note assesses the need for specialized review in the federal circuit courts of noncapital habeas cases brought by state prisoners under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. It first argues that the complexity of federal habeas law, the substantial disuniformity between circuits, the conflicting visions proffered by the Warren Court’s habeas jurisprudence and Congress’s recent statutory enactments—together with the greatest stakes possible at issue, liberty—are all factors warranting the creation of a national court of appeals that would hear only habeas cases. Recognizing, however, that creating such a court is a low priority for Congress at best and simply unfeasible at worst, this Note also makes another recommendation for injecting specialized review into appellate adjudication. Specifically, the circuit courts’ use of line staff attorneys to screen petitions can be much improved by creating a career staff attorney position dedicated solely to review of noncapital § 2254 cases. A formal position will attract better candidates, have lower rates of turnover, and concentrate experience and expertise to the benefit of judges and litigants.

Volume 65, Number 5 – February 2016

Articles

Class Action Myopia
Maureen Carroll
PDF

Over the past two decades, courts and commentators have often treated the class action as though it were a monolith, limiting their analysis to the particular class form that joins together a large number of claims for monetary relief. This Article argues that the myopic focus on the aggregated-damages class action has led to under-theorization of the other class-action subtypes, which serve far different purposes and have far different effects, and has allowed the ongoing backlash against the aggregated-damages class action to affect the other subtypes in an undifferentiated manner. The failure to confine this backlash to its intended target has had a negative impact on the availability of the other class forms, harming the interests of both litigants and the judiciary. In particular, in civil-rights cases involving injunctive or declaratory relief, obstacles to class treatment pose a threat to remedial efficacy and the rule of law. Courts, lawmakers, and scholars should therefore engage in a broader analysis that takes into account all of the subtypes set forth in the modern class-action rule.

Dueling Canons
Anita S. Krishnakumar
PDF

This Article offers the first targeted study of the Supreme Court’s use of canons and other tools of statutory interpretation in a “dueling” manner—that is, in both the majority and dissenting opinions in the same case, to support opposing outcomes. Taking its inspiration from Karl Llewellyn’s celebrated list of canons and countercanons, this Article examines how often and in what ways the members of the Roberts Court counter each other’s references to particular interpretive tools when disagreeing about the proper reading of a statute. Many of the Article’s findings are unexpected and undermine the assumptions made by some of the most prominent theories of statutory interpretation. Most notably, the data reveal that several of textualism’s most-favored interpretive tools are at least as susceptible to dueling use as the purposivist tools that textualists have long denigrated as indeterminate and readily subject to judicial manipulation. For example, the study shows that the Justices dueled extensively over the meaning of statutory text. By contrast, they dueled at far lower rates over legislative history, purpose, and intent. Moreover, the Justices dueled over dictionary references, the whole act rule, and language canons at rates that were virtually identical to the rates at which they dueled over the purposivist-preferred tools. The study also reveals that the canons do not seem capable of constraining the Justices to vote against ideology and that noncanon tools of analysis, including precedent and practical-consequences-based reasoning, lead to higher rates of dueling than do most traditional canons or tools of statutory interpretation. After reporting the data, the Article examines doctrinal patterns in how the Justices duel over individual canons and explores the theoretical implications of the Justices’ dueling canon use.

Notes

An Unreasonable Ban on Reasonable Competition: The Legal Profession’s Protectionist Stance Against Noncompete Agreements Binding In-House Counsel
Kevin D. Horvitz
PDF

In the vast majority of jurisdictions in the United States, a business may protect its confidential information and customer goodwill by conditioning employment on an employee’s acceptance of a covenant not to compete. These covenants are beneficial to the marketplace because they allow employers to provide employees with necessary skills, knowledge, and proprietary information without any fear of misappropriation. Accordingly, noncompete agreements are upheld by courts so long as they pass a fact-specific “reasonableness” test.

Notwithstanding the widespread acceptance of reasonable noncompete agreements for all other professionals—including doctors and corporate executives—forty-eight states, following the American Bar Association’s lead, prohibit all noncompete agreements among lawyers. This prohibition is purportedly designed to protect both an attorney’s professional autonomy and a client’s right to choose his counsel. Despite legal commentators’ criticism of the prohibition, several state bar associations have recently extended it beyond the traditional law-firm context to agreements between companies and their in-house counsel. This expansion has transformed a questionable policy of professional self-regulation into an unjustifiable infringement on the legitimate interests of corporate employers. In addition to providing an analysis of the history and ethical norms that justify rejection of the ban’s application to in-house counsel, this Note argues that bar committees that issue opinions supporting the ban’s extension may be susceptible to antitrust liability under the Supreme Court’s new Dental Board standard pertaining to state-action immunity.

Process Matters: Specialization in Federal Appellate Review of Noncapital Section 2254 Cases
Jyoti Rani Jindal
PDF

This Note assesses the need for specialized review in the federal circuit courts of noncapital habeas cases brought by state prisoners under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. It first argues that the complexity of federal habeas law, the substantial disuniformity between circuits, the conflicting visions proffered by the Warren Court’s habeas jurisprudence and Congress’s recent statutory enactments—together with the greatest stakes possible at issue, liberty—are all factors warranting the creation of a national court of appeals that would hear only habeas cases. Recognizing, however, that creating such a court is a low priority for Congress at best and simply unfeasible at worst, this Note also makes another recommendation for injecting specialized review into appellate adjudication. Specifically, the circuit courts’ use of line staff attorneys to screen petitions can be much improved by creating a career staff attorney position dedicated solely to review of noncapital § 2254 cases. A formal position will attract better candidates, have lower rates of turnover, and concentrate experience and expertise to the benefit of judges and litigants.