Ann E. Tenbrunsel and Max H. Bazerman in Freakonomics, Wednesday, June 01, 2011, Launching Into Unethical Behavior: Lessons from the Challenger Disaster

Tenbrunsel and Bazerman evaluate the decision processes that led to the 1986 Challenger explosion “through a modern day ‘behavioral ethics’ lens.” The piece ties the ethical fallacies apparent in the NASA decision to contemporary political and legal debates. For example, flight managers demanded proof that the O-rings would fail when contractors recommended scrubbing the launch; the authors note that smoking gun strategies are “used to prevent change and reinforce the status quo,” such as “Supreme Court justices claiming there is no clear evidence to suggest that their financial and social relationships bias their judgments.” Check out Freakonomics if you are looking for a neat perspective-shift on the world you inhabit.

Giovanna Shay in PrawfsBlawg, Wednesday, June 01, 2011, Why do Law Schools Overlook the Incarcerated?

With 3.1% of all American adults either incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, the question Shay poses is a call to the academy to get serious about the unique legal posture of every thirty-third American. Shay points out that beyond the obvious criminal law implications of incarceration, prisoners face distinct challenges in the civil, administrative and family law contexts that should be more comprehensively addressed in the nation’s law schools.

Alison Frankel in Thomson Reuters, Wednesday, June 01, 2011, Massey Plaintiffs Lawyer: “Totally Disgusted” With Strine Ruling (Also, Steven M. Davidoff in The New York Times, Friday, June 03, 2011, The Logic of Refusing to Block Massey’s Sale)

In April, 2010, twenty-nine coal miners lost their lives at the Upper Big Branch Mine, owned and operated by Massey Energy. The company’s former CEO Don Blankenship (Rolling Stone slapped him around last November), along with other Massey officials, are under investigation for disregarding the safety of their miners. Blankenship is an outspoken critic of government intrusion into private enterprise; in a free market society, bad corporate actors will be constrained by their duty to shareholders…not so fast. A Delaware court has refused to enjoin a vote on the sale of Massey, a move that will have the likely effect of shielding Blankenship and his fellow boardroom bravehearts from shareholder lawsuits. In other news, the twenty-nine miners are still dead, their families still grieve, the mountain tops are still gone, the streams are still polluted…

The Associated Press, Thursday, June 2, 2011, Federal Judge in Seattle OK’s Gay Softball Organization’s Limit on Number of Straight Players

The 2008 Gay Softball World Series second-place finishers were disqualified because not enough of the team’s players were gay. In a lawsuit brought by three of the players–claiming that they were disqualified for being bisexual–a district court judge has found that that the gay-player rule is indeed lawful. The case continues, however, to consider how the tournament applied the rule. The best line so far is from Seth Abramovitch in Gawker, “It’s 2011. Isn’t it time to finally desegregate the gay softball leagues?”