Posted On: May 21, 2008

Congratulations to JoAnne A. Epps

I was pleased to learn that JoAnne A. Epps was selected to be the new Dean of Temple University Beasley School of Law. Dean Epps is the co-author, with me and Ron Waicukauski, of The Winning Argument, a readable guide to persuasion technique, published by the Litigation Section of the ABA. She's an outstanding attorney and will surely make an outstanding dean. Congratulations, JoAnne!

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Posted On: May 14, 2008

International Conference on Jury Trials and Art Theft

Art theft and jury trials were the topics of a conference in Bilbao, Spain hosted last week by the UIA (Union Internationale des Avocats) and the ABA Litigation and Criminal Law Sections. If you’ve the time to attend such international gatherings, I recommend them. In learning about the legal systems in other countries, you come away with a better understanding of your own. You also get to meet attorneys you otherwise wouldn’t.

The night of May 9, the Bilbao Bar Association hosted attendees to a welcoming reception that featured a live choir performance of Basque folk music. Early the next day, the program began with a comparative overview of the common law and the civil law procedures in Europe and predominately Spain. Later, Professor Mar Gjimeno-Bulnes Associate Professor at the University of Burgos explained salient distinctions between the Spanish and U.S. jury trial systems. (In Spain jury trials are limited to criminal cases, and the verdict must be decided by majority. Significantly, Spanish juries must state the basis of and provide a rationale for the verdict.)

For the American perspective, U.S. District Court Judges Marvin Aspen and Marvin Garbis gave an overview of our criminal and civil justice systems. Professor Stephen Landsman of DePaul University College of Law eloquently summarized the key attributes of U.S. jury trial procedure and provided historical context.

In the afternoon, under the leadership of Professor Stephen A. Saltzburg of George Washington University School of Law, a group of American lawyers presented segments of a criminal trial. Yours truly presented an opening statement. Ann Swern, Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York, conducted direct examination, and Janet Levine of Los Angeles, California conducted cross examination of a witness. Wayne McKenzie, Vera Foundation, Brooklyn, New York, demonstrated a closing argument.

Another highlight of the afternoon was an explanation of the Spanish jury system by Gustavo Lopez-Munoz Ylarraz, founder of the Spanish Association for Trial by Jury.

That evening, we gathered for dinner in the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, one of the most stunning buildings I’ve even seen. (Follow the link for a vista and virtual tours.) The cuisine here wasn’t short of stunning either.

On Saturday, the program shifted to the mystery of stolen art, featuring Andrea Pizzi, President of UIA Art Law Commission from Belogna, Italy; Claudia Von Selle of Berlin, Germany, who discussed ancient art taken by one country from another and art taken in war time; Howard Spiegler of New York; Luis Li of San Francisco; and Richard A. Altmann of New York.

Noah Charney also spoke. Charney, a distinguished author now residing in Slovenia, wrote the exciting novel “The Art Thief” and formed the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, the first think tank/consultancy group on contemporary issues in art crime. He talked about the history of art theft, the nature and extent of art theft in its many forms as well as ways to prevent the crime.

The program concluded with an invitation by the Spanish Bar Association to develop further programs and discussions, hopefully next year in Barcelona.

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Posted On: May 6, 2008

Art Theft and Jury Trials in Spain and the U.S.

Art theft and jury trials will be the subjects of a unique two-day program in Bilbao, Spain later this week. Organized by the ABA and the Union Internationale des Avocats, the event will first offer participants a comparative overview of the jury trial systems in the U.S. and Spain. The second day features a rich program on art theft, including a look at infamous art heists and related litigation. I'm fortunate to be attending as a speaker and look forward to reporting back on what's said. You can read about the event here: Download file.

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