Living on the nuclear edge


Read the full op-ed, Savoring life on earth – while I keep my nuclear survival kit ready, published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Oct. 9, 2017.

by Susan Gluss

As president Trump belittles “rocket man” and imperils the nuclear agreement with Iran, I can’t help but think about the end of life as we know it. Literally.

I’m not the only one who’s skittish. The Nobel Peace Prize was just awarded to a group that wants to ban nuclear weapons — a welcome warning.

Ever the pragmatist, I’ve started stockpiling water. I’ve stored a survival kit by the front door with a checklist of items: dried food, a first aid kit and sneakers. Happily, this works as an earthquake stash, too, which reassures me no end.

As I skirt fear of an apocalypse — it brings into sharp relief a conundrum that’s haunted me for years: What is our life’s purpose?

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Lawyers as Change Agents

By Susan Gluss

Activist lawyers, not in-house counsel, are typically seen as change agents who advocate for human rights laws, environmental protections, and fair wages. But the role of general counsel is undergoing a seismic shift, as consumers urge companies to drive positive change, not just reap profits.

“Corporate lawyers have to consider what is right, not just what is legal,” said Amelia Miazad, the founding director of UC Berkeley Law School’s Business in Society Institute. “Companies now have to think about environmental, social, and governance issues, and that falls squarely within the role of the general counsel.”

For Nestlé, it started with a shocking accusation that one of its fish suppliers in Thailand trafficked in forced labor. Instead of quitting the market, Nestlé voluntarily worked to end the illegal practice.

“The company partnered with the NGO that was investigating the supply chain in Thailand. They published the NGO’s report on forced labor, and then worked with the Thai government to make sure it knew how to enforce local laws. It’s an example of how lawyers are weighing not only legal risk, but also reputational risk,” Miazad said.

Read the full story on the UC Berkeley Law website, published 12/19/17.

Blockchain: The Latest Technology Disrupter

By Susan Gluss

Advanced technologies are driving innovation in mobile banking, securities transactions, and data storage. Simply put, checkbooks are out, and Venmo is in. The newest technology disrupter, blockchain, may fundamentally alter business operations on a global scale, raising a host of legal, consumer, and regulatory issues.

Blockchain is described as a high-tech ledger of transactions and was originally developed to support the cryptocurrency bitcoin. But it’s quickly become the darling of multinational corporations eager to adopt it for their own needs: It’s a highly secure, decentralized and encrypted method of tracking digital assets.

Read the full story on the UC Berkeley Law School website, published 11/9/17.

Citizens’ Rights at Risk During Wartime

By Susan Gluss

In her new book, Habeas Corpus in Wartime, Professor Amanda Tyler offers a searing look at episodes in U.S. history when the federal government undermined its citizens’ legal rights during times of war.

Tyler focuses on the constitutional protection against unlawful imprisonment, or the writ of habeas corpus—and the government’s power to suspend it during conflicts. Her critique reveals an incremental breakdown of habeas corpus, starting with the American Revolution and continuing through the war on terror.

Taking sharp aim at the most egregious instance of illegal detention, the internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II, Tyler questions the extent of executive power that enabled that chapter in U.S. history.

Read the full story here, first posted on the UC Berkeley Law website on 10/23/17.

Walken Jives to Fatboy Slim

Let’s rewind nearly two decades to Christopher Walken dancing to Fatboy Slim’s hit single, Weapon of Choice. Directed by Spike Jonze, the music video won a Grammy in 2002 and MTV video music awards in 2001. Guest vocals by American funk musician Bootsy Collins. The beat is electric, the sound visceral, and Walken’s interpretation dead-on hilarious. He’s smooth, daring, and the personification of rhythm.


Erwin Chemerinsky Is Dean of Berkeley Law


Esteemed educator, litigator and legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has been named dean of UC Berkeley School of Law. He is the founding dean of UC Irvine School of Law, a position he’s held for the past nine years. His five-year term at Berkeley begins on July 1.

In a statement announcing the appointment, UC Berkeley Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ called Chemerinsky “an acclaimed researcher, gifted teacher and accomplished administrator.”

“I believe he will be a phenomenal leader for our law school, someone who will ensure that Berkeley Law remains not only a powerhouse of legal scholarship and training, but also a community built on mutual respect and inclusion,” Christ said.

Law professor and search committee member Sonia Katyal called Chemerinsky a “living legend—a person who exemplifies the very best that the field of law has to offer: brilliant, warm-hearted, thoughtful, open-minded, and deeply engaged in the culture of public service.”

Chemerinsky, 64, said he was “thrilled and humbled” by this “amazing opportunity.”

“I care deeply about the public mission of the law school and the public service it provides through its clinical and pro bono programs,” he said. “My goal as dean is to maintain the school’s excellence—be it in intellectual property, social justice or business law—and look for every opportunity I can to enhance it.”

Read the full story here, which first appeared on the UC Berkeley Law website on 5/17/17.

Privacy Rights May Hinge on Calif. High Court

Read the full story on the UC Berkeley Law School website.

On a late summer night, in July 2012, California resident Paul Macabeo rolled his bicycle through a stop sign. The street was deserted, but, unbeknown to Macabeo, a patrol car with its lights off had been trailing him. As soon as he rode through the sign, the cops pulled him over.

The officers found his cell phone and searched it—without a warrant and without his consent. Scrolling through the phone, they found illegal photos of child pornography. The officers had only intended to cite Macabeo for failure to stop, a minor infraction. But once they discovered the photos, they handcuffed him and locked him up. He was found guilty of a felony and sentenced to five years of probation.

At the time, Macabeo couldn’t have known that his bike ride—and the cell phone search—would lead to a legal battle that could impact millions of Californians.

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Dancing With The Stars Trophy Winner Nyle DiMarco

One of the most remarkable dance stories in the last season of Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) is the tale of Nyle DiMarco. Born into a deaf family and deaf himself, he’s never heard a sound, never a musical note. Yet this young man exudes a musicality that defies explanation.

In one of my favorites, Nyle dances a romantic and ethereal waltz with pro dancer Sharna Burgess. Sharna wasn’t his regular partner, but in the show’s week five “switch up,” they partnered together, and the two created magic on the dance floor. Nyle’s regular DWTS dance partner Peta Murgatroyd and Sharna are the show’s best female pros, in my view.

It’s a celebratory time for DiMarco: a few months before wining the Mirror Ball trophy, he also won the final series of America’s Next Top Model.

Nyle mastered the dance basics and captured the hearts of the audience with a mix of fearlessness, emotional abandon and vulnerability. Just watch!

November election is crucial for women

Young, college-aged, women, are you feeling the Bern? If so, this one’s for you. I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. Please hear me out. It’s important that women get this.

I’m not voting for Clinton because it’s her time. I’m not voting for her because it’s a historic first for a woman to be president.

I’m voting for her because women’s rights are getting trampled. And she will be our fiercest protector. We need her.

Why? Do you realize that women don’t have equal rights under the U.S. Constitution? The battle for an Equal Rights Amendment failed just short of ratification over three decades ago. This translates into lower pay, workplace discrimination and — taken to its extreme — sexual slavery.

Every battle you face — and you will face them — will be that much tougher because of your gender. You do not have the same rights as men under the law.

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Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. for Human Rights Abuses

The International Human Rights Law Clinic filed a petition against the United States for the death of a Mexican national by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The complaint, filed with co-counsel Alliance San Diego before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, calls for an investigation into the killing and a condemnation of U.S. actions.

The deceased, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, died on May 31, 2010, a few days after border agents took him into custody. The father of five was caught trying to cross the Mexican-U.S. border to rejoin his family in San Diego. He’d been deported just weeks earlier, despite having lived and worked in the U.S. for more than two decades.

CBP agents transported Anastasio to a deportation gate, and it’s there that the brutal beating ensued. As Anastasio objected to his detention, a dozen or more border agents punched, kicked, dragged, Tased, hogtied, and denied him medical attention, according to the petition.

Immobilized on the ground, Anastasio cried out for help in Spanish. His cries drew the attention of witnesses standing on a nearby pedestrian bridge, and several onlookers recorded cell phone footage. Border agents sought to confiscate any evidence—but two eye-witnesses hid their phones and eventually released videos of the beating. Broadcast on U.S. news networks, the videos led to a public outcry and heightened scrutiny of the case.

Read the full story on the UC Berkeley Law School website.

Join the Justice for Anastasio movement here.

Trump reveals Republican Party’s true views on abortion

Read the full op-ed published by the San Francisco Chronicle on April 6, 2016.

by: Susan Gluss

Donald Trump is an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party. It’s not just that he’s ruining their chances to win the presidency. It’s also that he has exposed the party’s hypocrisy on abortion.

When Trump said women should receive “some form of punishment” for getting an abortion if the procedure was banned, conservatives were quick to denounce his comments. Ditto the right-to-life advocates.

But Trump’s comment reveals the truth about the Republican Party’s antiabortion juggernaut.

Laws in 38 states now allow a person to be charged with homicide if she or he is deemed responsible for the unlawful death of a fetus, according to a Guttmacher Institute report by analyst Andrea Rowan released last fall.

Not all of these laws clearly exempt the pregnant woman herself from being charged, writes Rowan. “These laws are even being used to pursue women who are merely suspected of having self-induced an abortion, but in fact had suffered miscarriages.”

In Indiana, a young woman named Purvi Patel is now serving 20 years of a 46-year prison sentence — the first woman to be convicted under Indiana’s feticide law for ending her own pregnancy.

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