All in the Family

Judge Jane Stranch '78, the newest member of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, brings 30 years of complex litigation experience to the bench.
Jane Stranch '78

When Jane Stranch '78 appeared before the Senate Judicial Committee for her confirmation hearing for a seat on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 14, 2009, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) asked that she introduce family members who had accompanied her. Three of them—her husband, Jim Stranch; her brother, Dewey Branstetter '81; and her son Gerard Stranch '03—were also her lifelong law partners at what is now Branstetter Stranch & Jennings. "If you could practice all those years with your family, you can get along with anybody," quipped Senator Amy Klochubar (D-Minnesota).

The newest judge on the Sixth Circuit Court not only practiced for more than 30 years at the family firm founded by her father, Cecil D. Branstetter '49, but she also thrived there for reasons readily apparent at the hearing...
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Trying Times

Jim Sanders '70 believes the country needs more old-school jury trials.
Jim Sanders

One of Jim Sanders' prized possessions is a self-help book for attorneys, Francis Wellman's The Art of Cross Examination. Sanders received the copy of Wellman's book, which he mounted and framed, as a gift from movie director John Landis after the trial in which he and his former law partner, Jim Neal '57, successfully defended Landis against charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment after three actors died as a result of a helicopter accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie, which Landis was directing in 1983. The book was accompanied by a note from Landis that reads, "Jim, is this too late?"

The book and note were Landis' humorous way of thanking Sanders for a job well done. Landis' acquittal of the charges in the Twilight Zone case enabled...
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Mr. Brown goes to Washington... Again

Gary Brown '80 worked with the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to analyze the causes of the financial crisis.
Gary Brown

Gary Brown could hardly believe his ears. Brown was sitting behind the senators in Room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2010, when Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer David Viniar was testifying before the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI). Brown, who was serving as a special legal advisor to PSI, sat through the entire 11-hour televised hearing, which focused on Goldman Sachs' conduct as it related to the recent financial crisis. Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan), a hard-nosed former prosecutor and PSI's chair, was grilling Viniar about emails in which Goldman Sachs employees had referred to mortgage-backed securities the firm had sold its customers as a "sh---y deal" and a "piece of c--p."

After repeating the unflattering adjectives several times for effect and noting that the firm of Goldman Sachs was "on the short side, betting against" these securities while at the same time selling them to customers, Levin finally asked the visibly uncomfortable Viniar...
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Richard Nagareda: A Personal Tribute

by Suzanna Sherry Richard Nagareda

Richard Nagareda was both my colleague and my friend. As a colleague, I saw his public side. He was a brilliant and prolific scholar, a careful and insightful thinker, a fabulous teacher, and an extraordinary citizen of the law school. His work earned him praise from the bench and bar as well as from academia, and will continue to influence the course of the law. A generation of Vanderbilt law students are better lawyers because they learned from Richard, and Vanderbilt's Branstetter Program in litigation will forever be indebted to his early leadership. When Richard fell ill at the start of the semester, the Dean had to assign four faculty members to cover the work that Richard had been doing by himself.

Richard's knowledge was broad and deep. He was equally at home discussing sophisticated class action settlements, Wagner's Ring Cycle, or Homer Simpson. He brought popular culture into the heart of the law school, entertaining faculty and students with impressions of...
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