Making the Cut

by Ian Fisher ( 2 L )

The founder of ESPN and a former White House communications director were among the prominent figures of the sports law and business world who gathered for the 2009 Second Annual UF Sports Law Symposium, held Jan. 23.

Hosted by UF Law’s Entertainment and Sports Law Society, the event kicked off with a discussion on recruiting, moderated by Professor Thomas Hurst, followed by a panel on negotiation. Other panel discussions included labor issues and the future of sports business, each moderated by UF Law professors Nick Ohanesian (adjunct) and Jeffrey Harrison. Speakers included sports law professors at various U.S. legal institutions, sports and marketing agents at top sports and talent agencies, public relations professionals and top wealth advisers.

Kevin Sullivan, communications assistant for former President George W. Bush, also spoke on his position overseeing White House message development and communications planning as well as his experiences as senior vice president for corporate communications & media relations at NBC Universal and as vice president for NBC Sports.

Other speakers included Glenn Toby, an agent for the NFL’s Asante Samuel, other NFL players, and hip-hop artists, and Bill Rasmussen, who founded ESPN in 1979.

Named “The Father of Cable Sports” by USA Today (Sept. 1994), Rasmussen’s entrepreneurial daring led to ESPN, the world’s first 24-hour cable television network, where he pioneered such innovations as “Sports- Center,” wall-to-wall coverage of NCAA regular season and “March Madness” basketball, and NFL draft coverage.


The squeeze on local governments

by Spencer Solis and Andre Salhab

The Eighth Annual Richard E. Nelson Symposium brought more than 100 top legal experts, local government attorneys, municipal managers, and students together on Feb. 13 to discuss challenges and proposed solutions to the multitude of problems faced by local governments.

The conference, titled “The Squeeze on Local Governments,” included presentations from experts on topics such as land-use, local government, property and environmental law. Michael Allan Wolf, a professor of law and the Richard E. Nelson Chair in Local Government Law, organized the conference.

During his presentation, Frank S. Alexander, a professor of law at Emory Law School, described the impact of the foreclosure crisis on state and local governments. Foreclosures increase costs for local governments because they can bring with them instances of vandalism, arson and copper theft and said a single foreclosure in a neighborhood will reduce the value of properties within a half mile by 2.5 percent. To avoid that, Alexander suggested that local governments provide short-term leases to reoccupy vacant property.

Robert Guthrie, senior assistant county attorney for Orange County, Fla., outlined his county’s plans to use federal funding to purchase foreclosed structures. Through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), Orange County will improve troubled homes by coordinating with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

John D. Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law & Policy Institute and a professor at Vermont Law School, explained the implications of Florida’s Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Protection Act. Implemented in 1995 as a way of balancing private property rights and public land use and environmental regulations, the act is designed to curtail governmental encroachment on property rights. Despite its good intentions, the act has dramatically weakened the government’s ability to regulate property, he said, because it limits government’s ability to address complex property questions regarding abandonment, blight and economic development.


From the suits to the stage

by Andre Salhab

It may have been a cold night, but it was one hot party at Common Grounds, a Gainesville, Fla., club, on Feb. 20. Hundreds of people showed up at the Seventh Annual Music Law Conference Music Showcase. The showcase featured bands like Superfish, a band specializing in funky New Orleans style music, and Danny Perez, a hip-hop artist.

The next day, the conference allowed lawyers from areas around the nation to talk with musicians, lawyers and students about issues related to entertainment law. The discussion focused on rights after the death of a musician, during which panelist Gary Roth, assistant vice president for BMI, used a diagram to explain rights that musicians have in the music industry while living. He explained some of the essentials of copyright law and emphasized the importance of contracts.

As part of that theme, John Thomas, a professor of law at the Quinnipiac University School of Law in Connecticut, discussed a case about musician Robert Johnson, who died in 1938. Thomas said there were many known talents who made money off of Johnson through listening and learning, including Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and The problem was the issue of publishing rights and to this day, this case is still being decided in the courts.

Other panel discussions explored artist management, free music downloads and ethics in the music law industry. Breakout sessions, new to this year’s conference, were held after lunch and included topics on intellectual property litigation in the music industry, getting your foot in the door to the entertainment industry, succeeding in the industry and money management for musicians.


Sustainable solutions to Florida’s environmental woes

By Spenser Solis

The 15th Annual Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) gave environmentalists, scientists, lawyers and law students the opportunity to seek solutions to Florida’s environmental woes. The law student-organized conference titled, “Beyond Doom and Gloom: Illuminating a Sustainable Future for Florida,” took place Feb. 26-28.

Participants could choose from three tracks, each consisting of a different series of sessions. The science and technology track examined what research is currently available about Florida’s environmental situation. The second track focused on progressive regulation, which consists of affecting state environmental policies. The third track, social marketing, emphasized methods to influence the average American’s understanding and support of environmental policy changes.

One of the many environmental issues in Florida stems from water and fertilizer use during lawn care. There are currently five million acres of lawns in the state, and watering those lawns can account for as much as 75 percent of all municipal water use.

Another important issue in Florida is diesel emissions. Florida is a focal point for ships because of its large number of ports, and 56 percent of U.S. cruise ships leave from Florida. Port maintenance can cause a variety of problems, including disruption of sealife due to shipping and dredging activities.

An afternoon session titled, “The Long Slow Flood,” addressed the dangers of rising sea levels. Florida’s coastline is particularly vulnerable to changes in sea level since the construction of armored sea walls has disrupted natural coastal erosion patterns. An eco-friendly alternative to armored seawalls is the use of “living shorelines,” which use natural elements to create sustainable coastlines, as an environmentally friendly alternative to seawalls.


Social obligation: The court’s new concept for land owners

By Scott Emerson

The right to exclude others from private property is not what it used to be. That was the message recently delivered by Gregory Alexander, a prominent Cornell University land-use law professor and speaker for the Second Annual Wolf Family Lecture in the American Law of Real Property.

“U.S. courts are looking at the social responsibility of landowners to provide access for the health and sociability of the public,” Alexander said. “The state of New Jersey is taking the lead on this issue provoking new thoughts on private property and owners’ rights.”

Alexander explained that courts have historically ruled in favor of private landowners when challenged with land rights and access issues. But in 2005, the New Jersey Supreme Court narrowed the scope on private land ownership and broadened its view on social obligation.

“In its decision on Raleigh Avenue Beach Association v. Atlantis Beach Club, the court ruled that private, non-profit entities did not have unlimited rights to restrict public access,” Alexander said.

This ruling, based in part on an earlier NJ Supreme Court decision in Matthews v. Bay Head Improvement Association (1984), takes into account the availability and need of public access.

“The landmark ruling in 2005 by the New Jersey Supreme Court could set precedence for other states,” Alexander concluded.

The Wolf Family Lecture in the American Law of Real Property series was endowed by a gift from UF Law Professor Michael Allan Wolf and his wife, Betty. Wolf, the Richard E. Nelson Chair in Local Government Law, is the general editor of a 17-volume treatise, Powell on Real Property, the most referenced real-property treatise in the country, which is cited regularly by the courts, including several citations in the U.S. Supreme Court. The treatise is a legal source that lawyers, law professors and judges have relied upon for more than 50 years.


The complication of familial class and classification

By Leslie Cowan (2L)

In her March 23 lecture, titled “Family Classes,” Naomi Cahn discussed the way that economic class controls general thought about conception and family planning, coloring the “entire range of issues from contraception to abortion.”

Cahn, the John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, spoke at the Levin College of Law as the speaker for the third annual Weyrauch lecture, a lecture dedicated to the memory of the late Walter Weyrauch, a UF Law professor and legal scholar.

Cahn asserted that the “rates of unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and unplanned births” are lower for higher-income groups who have greater financial resources and more options as a result. Abortion, a notorious “toxic issue in the culture wars,” has also always been a class issue, she said. Because of the increased rate of unplanned pregnancies, poor women are more likely to get an abortion than are wealthier women. With the self-perpetuating cycle of little access to contraception, lower levels of education, and limited healthcare, the rates of unplanned pregnancies for lower socioeconomic classes are on the rise.

Cahn posed three steps that will lead the way forward in terms of establishing a pattern for policymakers to follow in addressing class inequities in reproductive health and planning. First, comprehensive sex education, including education about birth control in addition to or in lieu of abstinence education is key. Second, provision of comprehensive access to contraception, so that those currently limited by financial constraints will have access to better family planning. Her third suggestion is to increase adolescent access to contraception and education to empower them to protect themselves and to make educated choices.

In addition to economic variables impacting family planning, Cahn identified one of the most controversial class of families with no legal recognition — those that include a homosexual relationship — as lacking “a whole set of rights that are attached to the class of the family that you are able to enter into,” especially involving inheritance, medical decisions, and social recognition.


Dissecting Florida’s Bush-Gore ‘extravaganza’

By Andre Salhab

Internationally-known constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar, the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, spoke at the 28th Annual Florida Law Review Dunwody Distinguished Lecture in Law. Judges, former editors in chief of the Florida Law Review, and a room full of UF Law school faculty and students overfilled the Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom on March 24 to hear him.

The topic of Amar’s lecture, titled “Bush, Gore, Florida, and the Constitution,” dealt with the problems behind what he referred to as “the Bush-Gore Florida extravaganza of 2000.” Since 2000, he said, scholars from across the spectrum have weighed in on the statutory and constitutional issues dealing with this case.

“At this late date, now that all the shouting here in Florida has subsided and so many scholarly assessments are already in print, some of you may quite reasonably be wondering whether there are any new things left to say about the Bush-Gore episode,” said Amar, who received the DeVane Medal, Yale’s highest award for teaching excellence in 2008.

“I think there are.”

Throughout the lecture, Amar discussed different aspects of the Bush-Gore debacle, including the courts and the Constitution, the role of the legislature, equal protection, voter intent, and reform. He used humor and fact to express to the audience his views on the case and explained who he felt was at fault.

“For decades, if not centuries, American voters have been asked to put their ‘X’ marks in boxes next to candidate names, and human umpires have had to judge if the ‘X’ is close enough to the box to count,” Amar said. “On election day, different umpires officiating in different precincts have always called slightly different strike zones. If these judgments are made in good faith and within a small zone of close calls, why are they unconstitutional? If they are unconstitutional, then every election America has ever had is unconstitutional.”

A webcast of the lecture is available for viewing on the Florida Law Review Web site, located at