Bankruptcy Court deemed “essential”

At least the Bankruptcy Court for E.D. Pa. is.  See the order:



The tragedy in Boston yesterday had special significance for me despite being a proud Philadelphian and Fishtowner, as it no doubt did for the thousands of people across the country and the world who spent a good portion of their youth and early adult years in Boston.  I went to Brandeis University, which, for those unfamiliar, is a small liberal arts college smack in the middle of a post-industrial, blue-collar city called Waltham.  Waltham was about 10 miles outside the city, and was accessible by commuter train but not Boston’s famous “T” streetcar/subway.  Every year during college, and afterward when I lived in the Boston area, my friends and I would arrange to get to the finish line early to watch the Red Sox, bar crawl, and cheer on the marathoners.  Usually we were looking for various and sundry friends, acquaintances, or colleagues of ours to cross the finish line.  It was, invariably, a day off that we (as adopted Bostonians) simply could not fathom the rest of the country did not also observe.

Don’t get me wrong, 9/11 made me terribly sad.  But at that time I had no real connections to New York other than hating the Yankees (which I still do to this day).  But I lived in Boston.  I have strolled those streets, studied in the Public Library, enjoyed a beer and a steak at Division 16, smoked stogies and shot the shit at Gloucester St. Cigar … so the tragedy is so much more visceral for me.  It got, shall we say, very dusty in my office yesterday while following the marathon coverage.  You may leave Boston, but Boston never really leaves you.

it also inspired me to get out and start running again.  While I ran cross-country in high school, running fell by the wayside for me in college (outside Boston – synergy!).  I picked it up sporadically here and there since then but for various reasons did not stick with it.  Then I met the Fishtown Beer Runners, who encourage folks to join them on their runs and for a beer (or 2, or 10) afterward.  Thanks to FBR I picked up running again for a good period.  Through FBR I have met dozens of neighbors and others who I can genuinely count as friends.

When I left Fishtown in 2009, I didn’t exactly leave the FBR behind but I did have many logistical changes and once again running fell by the wayside.  Then, the broken ankle.  Now, the ankle is healed and the weather is finally pleasant.  Thus, I’m looking forward ot getting out on the road and (slowly) forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other until the miles start to build.  Same as like the law business, or life, if you think about it.  Who knows, maybe one day I will run a marathon? But I know I have to start small – get my ass off the couch and run one mile the first day.

Some of this stuff sounds like excuses and maybe some of it is.  But the fact is that from here on out, running – toward explosions to render aid, toward better health mental and physical, toward any goal large or not so large – is another form of asserting and defending the freedoms on which this country was founded.



My first foray into electoral politics was in high school, where I ran for student council treasurer on a platform that I have mostly forgotten (although I do recall something having to do with a Coke machine).  Despite being backed by the best campaign video ever (set to The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”), I ended up losing a close race.

Fast forward to my third year of law school.  I ran for class representative to the Student Bar Association (aka Law School Student Council) and won! Finally! I had won something!    My time on the SBA was spent largely planning budgets, addressing concerns of other students, and involving myself in subcommittees (the “social activities” subcommittee was pretty popular).  It turned out to be an excellent preparation for the networking side of law practice to which I would become accustomed.

Now, I have thrown my hat in the ring at the community level.  Fishtown is, by virtue of geography, part of the New Kensington Community Development Corp. (NKCDC).  NKCDC has a Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), consisting of a number of neighbors throughout the boundaries of the CDC, which includes Fishtown and parts of East Kensington.  The NAC serves many purposes, primarily as the community outreach arm of the NKCDC.  I have decided to run for a position on the NAC in order to give something back to the community that I have adopted as my personal and business home.

How can you vote for me, you ask? Simply show up at NKCDC Headquarters, 2515 Frankford Ave., on January 16, from 4 pm to 8 pm and cast your vote.  It’s that simple!

Vote Slepner!

So that happened

There are no words to discuss yesterday’s events in Connecticut that do not sound trite.  But if we are just talking policy, my feeling is that a major overhaul of the American mental health system would be a huge step in preventing future mass shootings.

(Go ahead, call me trite. Or a liberal. I’ve been called worse.)

Double secret probation

My alma mater is in the news again.  This time, the Association of American Law Schools put Villanova Law School on a two-year probation following the grade inflation morass of 2011.

Villanova, as you may recall, was embroiled in a grade-inflation scandal in 2011.  It was one of the first of many such unpleasant events to surface that year.  The grade inflation scandal was the fallout from the resignation of former Villanova Law Dean Mark Sargent.  Sargent resigned as dean in 2009, but not in the wake of the grade scandal.  Oh, no, that would have been too convenient.

Sargent, you see, resigned after being arrested in connection with a major prostitution ring in Chester County.  Rather than face jail time, Sargent turned state’s witness and assisted authorities in taking down the rest of the ring.  Somehow, the grade inflation didn’t get recognized until later, in 2011. But Sargent’s resignation is itself a point of disgrace to Villanova, for a number of reasons, foremost of which was Sargent’s legal academic specialty: ethics.

Yes, Mark Sargent taught a series of courses at Villanova centering around ethics and Catholic social and legal theory and history (it’s an Augustinian school, and the fact that I as a Jew know that says a lot).  This is the same guy who, during first-year orientation, made it his point to personally deliver the heavy-handed (and necessary, but still) message that you MUST REVEAL ALL to the Bar Examiners, and even if you don’t, THEY WILL FIND OUT ANYWAY, and even if they don’t find out, YOU HAVE LIED BY OMISSION.  I wonder if Sargent had to disclose the prostitution arrest to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board.

Anyway, the AALS has now given Villanova the proverbial slap on the wrist.  After all, if the ABA couldn’t be bothered to do much more than a 2-year public censure (Villanova had to disclose it on their website! Horror!), what weight does any other association’s opinion pull?

Where does that leave us now?  Well, undoubtedly, Villanova Law students and faculty are probably quite upset, but not surprised, by the latest turn of events. (If there are any reading, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.)  As for me, I may not have had the best grades back in law school, but at least I knew I worked for them.  The grade inflation mess bugged me then (and still does now) if only for the fact that it ultimately devalues the reputation a Villanova Law JD may have previously carried.  But at least I’m not joining a class action to sue my alma mater and be known forever as a whiny bitch.

BONUS!!  What else has gotten Villanova Law into the news lately?

– Earlier this year, administration of an exam turned into an utter cluster-fuck.

– Villanova plummeted from #84 to #101 in the US News rankings.  (That the US News rankings are still considered legitimate is a debate for another time, but still.)

– And finally, my Constitutional Law professor Catherine Lanctot was a 6-day Jeopardy! champion in 2007.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before

Germans using unwilling and unwitting civilians as medical guinea pigs and slave labor … hmmmm … where have we heard that before?

This is as much reminiscent of the Tuskeegee experiments as much as Dr. Mengele; both atrocities, neither surprising, sadly enough.

Drug firms bought East German patients to use as human guinea pigs (The Independent)