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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Doug Liman Honors His Father with Film for 15th Anniversary of Liman Program

On the evening of March 1, 2012, friends and supporters of the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program and Fund gathered to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the professorship, held by Judith Resnik, and of the program that has developed over that time. More than 60 of the 77 Liman Fellows returned and heard the reflections of the four deans – Guido Calabresi, Anthony Kronman, Harold Hongju Koh, and Robert Post – who nurtured the program, as well as comments from Ellen Liman, and Ellen’s and Arthur’s sons, Lewis and Doug.

Lewis, now a lawyer in private practice at Cleary Gottlieb Stein and Hamilton, spoke of his father’s impact, as did Doug who, using his skills as a movie director, produced a short film about his father’s career, his commitments to public service, and about how the Liman Program came into being.

The two-day Colloquium – Accessing Justice/Rationing Law – that accompanied the festivities brought together six chief justices (Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice, California Supreme Court; Sue Bell Cobb, former Chief Justice, Alabama Supreme Court; Wallace Jefferson, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Texas; Chase Rogers, Chief Justice, Connecticut Supreme Court; Randall T. Shepard, Chief Justice, Indiana Supreme Court; and Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge, State of New York) to share their views on the demands for and resources provided to courts and users.

The chief justices and the Liman Fellows discussed their shared challenges – how to help all those seeking to use courts. Participants considered the adequacy of representation of criminal defendants, the idea of “civil Gideon” (state-provided lawyers for indigent civil litigants in family and other cases), and what role, if any, alternative processes and new kinds of courts may play in responding to the needs of courts and their users.

Chief Judge Lippman captured the concerns in his comments that: “The rule of law – the very bedrock of our society – loses its meaning when the protection of our laws is available only to those who can afford it. We might as well close the courthouse doors if we are not able to provide equal justice for all – our very reason for being.” Perspectives from the U.K. and the E.U. reminded participants that commitments to “fair and public hearings” traverse the globe, as do the challenges to fulfilling those aspirations.  

The Arthur Liman Program and Fund at Yale Law School was created in 1997 to forward the commitments of Arthur Liman ’57 to public service in the furtherance of justice. Since its inception, the Program has funded 77 Yale Law School graduates to spend a year working on issues such as welfare rights, elder law, indigent criminal defense, immigration, and juvenile justice.

Nine incoming fellows will, in 2012-2013, add their work to this group. The Program also awards some 30 summer fellowships each year to students at Barnard, Brown, Harvard, Princeton, Spellman, and Yale so that they can pursue public interest-themed projects at organizations across the country.

The Liman Program is directed by Hope Metcalf; the Senior Liman Fellow in Residence is Sia Sanneh. This past fall, the weekly workshop, Abolition: Slavery, Supermax, and Social Movements, focused on how and in what arenas abolition movements arise and whether such efforts ought to be directed towards extreme isolation of prisoners. Also in the fall, the Liman Program, along with the ABA Section on Litigation and John Jay College of Law, held a symposium, Overcriminalization/Excessive Punishment. This month, the Liman Program will co-host with Columbia Law School and the ABA Subcommittee on Solitary Confinement a program on isolation and incarceration.