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Friday, October 18, 2013

Thinkers & Doers: Oct. 18, 2013

A regular feature of alumni and students in the news.
Jim Wagstaffe '80

Jim Wagstaffe '80

James Wagstaffe '80, Richard Seabolt '75

Plaintiffs appear to be in the driver's seat in two big privacy class actions against Google, with James Wagstaffe ’80 of Kerr & Wagstaffe leading the way, according to The Recorder legal newspaper. The suits over Gmail and Street View have survived motions to dismiss, and the Ninth Circuit has emphatically rejected Google's appeal in the Street View case. In fact, the cases may be too big to settle.

Duane Morris partner Richard Seabolt ’75 said he expects the "too big to settle" phenomenon to grow more common as Internet companies add to their user bases. He faced such a threat recently when plaintiffs lawyers warned him that "any payment that might be acceptable to individual class members would — when multiplied by hundreds of millions of users — be far too large for the defendant," he said.

Richard Francis '76

Richard Francis ’76 is running for one of four open seats on the Ventura City Council. Richard Francis is no stranger to local politics. A Ventura resident since 1979, Francis served on the city council from 1987 to 1991, including a stint as the city's mayor.

Beyond his time on the council, Francis has kept quite busy the last 22 years, not as an elected official, but as someone working diligently to influence policy change in local government.

A self-described public policy wonk, Francis' involvement in this area seems as natural to him as breathing. "I have always enjoyed participating in the public policy process," he said.

Andrew Rakestraw '12

Andrew Rakestraw ’12 has joined the U.S. State Department as a climate negotiator, working with Special Envoy Todd Stern.

“If you had asked me to describe my dream job, this would be it,” Rakestraw said. “To work on climate change issues, the largest environmental issue of our generation, is fantastic. Everything matched up really well.”

Alexandra Stupple '13

Alexandra Stupple ’13 heads to Guantanamo Bay next month to serve as an independent observer of the military commission proceedings. Stupple is part of a team of observers sent by the National Institute for Military Justice (NIMJ), the ACLU and other NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) to watch pre-trial hearings of Abd al-Nashiri, the senior Al Qaeda lieutenant alleged to be the mastermind behind the deadly suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000.

“Professor Hillman mentioned it in class, and Ryan and I immediately volunteered. I couldn’t imagine not wanting to go. It’s a historical event, on par with the Nuremberg trials and that of Slobodan Milošević. It’s a very rare opportunity.”

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