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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCLA School of Law

There are 3560 publications in this collection, published between 1956 and 2020.
Disability Law Society (11)
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The Docket (267)
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UCLA Law & Economics Series (40)

The Problem with Preferences

This paper critiques Brook Gotberg’s recent proposal to reform preference law by creating a new safe harbor for preferences in chapter 11 while repealing certain existing preference defenses in chapter 7. The proper path of reform in this area would preserve preference recovery as a feature of chapter 11 reorganization law while raising the monetary limits on minimum recoveries, restricting financial contract safe harbors and bolstering ordinary trade creditor defenses across both chapter 11 and chapter 7.

Share Price as a Poor Criterion for Good Corporate Law

Academics, reformers, and business leaders all yearn for a single, objective, easy-to-read measure of corporate performance that can be used to judge the quality of public corporation law and practice. This collective desire is so powerful that it has led many commentators to grab onto the first marginally plausible candidate: share price.

Contemporary economic and corporate theory (as well as recent business history) nevertheless warn us against unthinking acceptance of share price as a measure of corporate performance. This Essay offers a brief reminder of some of the many reasons why stock prices often fail to reflect true corporate performance, including the problem of private information; obstacles to effective arbitrage; investors' cognitive defects and biases; options theory and the problem of multiple residual claimants; and the problem of corporate spillover effects that erode diversified shareholders' returns. These considerations argue against assuming there is a tight connection between stock prices and underlying corporate wealth generation. A corporation or a corporate law system designed around the philosophy that anything that raises share price is good is likely to produce a firm that cooks its books; that avoids long-term projects that won't appeal to unsophisticated investors; that chases after investment fads and fancies; that tries to opportunistically exploit creditors, employees, and customers; and that pursues business strategies that harm its diversified shareholders' other investment interests.

The Essay concludes that, if we allow our desire for a universal performance measure to blind us to the fallibility of share price, we court costly error. The Essay examines three recent examples of just such erroneous triumphs of hope over experience: the rise and fall of the Revlon doctrine; the 1990s infatuation with options-based executive compensation; and academics' current preoccupation with event studies, regressions on Tobin's Q, and other forms of empirical scholarship that attempt to judge the quality of corporate law and practice according to changes in share price.

A Critique of the Corporate Law Professors’ Amicus Brief in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) effected numerous changes in the legal regime governing health care and health insurance. Among the ACA’s more controversial provisions is the so-called contraceptive mandate, which requires employer-provided health care insurance plans to provide coverage of all FDA approved contraceptive methods.

On March 25, 2014, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases, in which the shareholders of two for-profit family-owned corporations argue that requiring them to comply with the contraception mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Forty-four law corporate law professors filed an amicus brief in these cases, arguing that the essence of a corporation is its “separateness” from its shareholders and that, on the facts of these cases, there is no reason to disregard the separateness between shareholders and the corporations they control. The Brief is replete with errors, overstated claims, or red herrings, and misdirection. 

Contrary to the Brief’s arguments, basic corporate law principles strongly support the position of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. In particular, the doctrine known as reverse veil piercing provides a clear and practical vehicle for disregarding the legal separateness of those corporations from their shareholders and thus granting those shareholders standing to assert their free exercise rights.

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UCLA Public Law & Legal Theory Series (119)

Is DNA Evidence Relevant?

In admitting DNA sample taken at the crime scene in 2010 to compare it with a DNA sample taken from the defendant in 2020 courts assume that the defendant’s DNA has not changed in the prior ten years. This article questions that assumption using scientific findings published in the journals Scientific American and Science News.

Legitimate Punishment In Liberal Democracy

What are the terms of legitimate punishment in a liberal democracy? Traditional approaches to this question tend to focus on the purposes punishment is supposed to serve (deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation, moral education, etc.) while giving little if any consideration to the coercive deployment of state power punishment represents. In this article, I take the coercive nature of state punishment as my starting point. My aim is to determine what normative constraints, if any, exist on the state's power to punish criminal offenders in a liberal democracy - a determination, I argue, that is especially urgent given the current size of America's prison population.

To answer this question, I draw on the work of John Rawls. I do so because I share Rawls' view that, if the exercise of state power in a liberal democracy is to be legitimate, it must be justifiable in terms that all members of society subject to that power would accept as just and fair. Rawls' deliberative model was originally intended for questions of ideal theory, on which all members of society are assumed to act justly towards others. The first task of the paper is thus to render Rawls' model applicable to problems of partial compliance, of which punishment is one. Ultimately I argue that, assuming conditions of partial compliance, deliberating parties would approach the task of selecting principles of punishment by considering the implications of various alternative principles as if they could end up as either crime victim or punished offender once they enter society as citizens.

Having established this perspective, and its consistency with the basic liberal ideals of moral equality and individual sovereignty, I then go on to determine the principles of punishment that would be selected by parties deliberating under these conditions and would thus constitute the terms of legitimate punishment in liberal democracy. I identify five such principles, at the heart of which is what I call, following Braithwaite and Pettit, the "parsimony principle." The basic idea of this central principle is that the punishment of convicted offenders must be no more severe than necessary to yield an appreciable deterrent effect on the commission of serious offenses.

Finally, I consider how the principles of legitimate punishment might be translated into actual criminal justice policy. Here, I concede that the inevitability of reasonable disagreement, even among legislators deliberating in good faith over what punishments the principles allow, means that in practice we can never be fully confident of the legitimacy of any punishments imposed. As I show, however, the principles of legitimate punishment I identify still provide the basis from which to call into question the legitimacy of a range of criminal justice policies currently in force in the United States, including mandatory minimums, California's "three strikes" law, the under-funding of indigent defense, and the widespread overcrowding and sexual violence in the nation's prisons and jails. In this way, the theoretical analysis I offer provides a basis for challenging the legitimacy of many criminal sentences being served right now in American prisons.

The Past, Present and Future of the Safe Drinking Water Act

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has long been "the statute that environmental law courses forgot." It receives scant or no coverage in all but a few environmental law casebooks and is not covered in most environmental law courses. After Flint, though, drinking water problems have become high profile and SDWA's exclusion seems increasingly untenable. The law raises important issues of cost and risk assessments, environmental justice, federalism, private governance, and human rights, among others. To encourage teaching the statute, this chapter is intended for a course syllabus. Twenty pages long, it is written in an accessible style and covers the history of the law, its key provisions, successes, and challenges. To stimulate classroom discussion, it includes a Questions and Discussion section and Teacher's Manual. The text is free for all non-commercial use.

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