Two UConn Law professors have had papers accepted into the Harvard/Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum to be held at Stanford Law School on June 27-28, 2014. Associate Professor Brendan Maher’s paper titled Employment-Based Systems has been selected for the Labor Law and Social Welfare Policy session. Associate Professor Julia Simon-Kerr’s paper titled Systemic Lying has been selected for the Jurisprudence and Philosophy session. It is a rare honor for a school to have two faculty members selected for the forum in the same year.
Maher’s article offers a simple, accessible theory of employment-based (EB) systems by explaining the common conceit of all such systems and by providing a non-technical framework for evaluating any particular system. EB systems are the government interventions intended to regulate non-wage compensation to employees, such as health care and pensions. EB systems in the United States are colossal in size: they govern trillions of dollars and affect well over 150 million people. As Maher’s paper explains, the surprise is that there is no coherent account of EB systems as a concept independent from the peculiarities of the good being offered, or the implementing statute(s).
Simon-Kerr’s article identifies what she terms “systemic lying,” a particular form of cooperative lying that occurs throughout the history of our legal system and in many different areas of the law. Systemic lying involves the cooperation of multiple actors applying a particular principle that guides their deception across cases. It functions as an open secret and, surprisingly given the system’s clear prohibition on lying in the courtroom, becomes a controlling mechanism within the legal system. Simon-Kerr argues that systemic lying is a product of severe disjunction between cultural beliefs about justice and legal prescriptions. Rather than allow the law to take its course and deliver what would be perceived as unjust outcomes, participants lie and preserve the facade of a system that delivers results consonant with popular moral intuition. The collective and open nature of systemic lying and the fact that it occurs for a justice-related rationale allow it to escape the usual stigma attached to lying, particularly lying embedded within a system that privileges truth in the courtroom.