Case Reviews

A Post Truth First Amendment

February 13, 2019 Ben Leonard 0

Introduction: Fake news has seen tremendous reach. Conspiracy theories are frequently peddled. President Donald Trump averaged more than 15 false statements per day in 2018. It’s fair to say that America is now in a post-truth era. To many Americans, truth just doesn’t matter as much as it once did. One First Amendment scholar, Sarah Haan—associate professor of law at Washington and Lee School of Law—thinks that post-truthism poses a constitutional law problem with regards to the First Amendment. “Post-truthism, which teaches that evidence-based reasoning lacks value, offers a normative framework for regulating information,” wrote Haan in her 2018 paper entitled “The Post-Truth First Amendment.” “Although post-truthism has become a popular culture trope, I argue that we should take it seriously as a theory of decision making and information use, and as a basis for law.” What exactly is post-truthism? Haan argues that most people still view the truth as […]

US Law

Copyright Protection of Dance

January 26, 2019 Jacob Turobiner 0

Summary: Lawsuits against the popular gaming company “Epic Games” will force federal courts to expand upon copyright laws regarding dance and choreography. Introduction The video game Fortnite has over 200 million registered users, currently making it the most popular video game in the world. However, Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, is facing multiple lawsuits related to potential copyright infringement. Celebrities and media icons claim the game developers stole their dance moves and, thus, their intellectual property. Millions of Fortnite users buy these dance moves on the game, so the actual dancers behind them want a share of the billions of dollars that Epic Games has generated from the game. While there is no hiding the fact that Epic Games made a profit from dances created by others, that does not necessarily mean that these dances are protected under copyright law. How does something receive copyright protection? In order for […]

US Law

Courthouse Dogs: Witness Comforts, Defendant’s Rights

December 12, 2018 Isadora Toledo 0

Summary: Although the 2013 case People v. Tohom explicitly determined that courthouse dogs are constitutional, the debate over whether or not the court was justified in prioritizing witness’ rights continues. From their beginnings with New York City attorneys in the 1980s, courthouse dogs have become a contentious and sensitive issue. Initially used to comfort abused children during interviews with prosecutors and therapists, courthouse dogs are now being proposed as a nationwide method of accommodating child witnesses inside the courtroom, not just outside of it. Although the 2013 case People v. Tohom explicitly determined that courthouse dogs are constitutional, the debate over whether or not the court was justified in prioritizing witness rights continues. Those who oppose the decision argue that courthouse dogs are especially problematic for defendants. By prejudicing the jury, courthouse dogs jeopardize a defendant’s right to a fair trial. When judges allow courthouse dogs to be present, for […]

International Law

Scotland’s Three Verdict System: a Look into “Not Proven”

December 6, 2018 Chloe Meyers 0

If you ever find yourself in a Scottish court, you may be surprised to find that each trial can end one of three ways, instead of the traditional two-verdict system found in most courts around the world. In Scottish courts, there are three verdicts that can be called at the end of a trial: guilty, not guilty, and not proven. While there is no official definition of “not proven,” it is used instead of not guilty in cases where the jury cannot find enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict or acquit. The verdict of “not proven” comes from a historical Scottish criminal law practice in which the jury decided if each factual issue was adequately “proven” or “not proven.” Based on the jury’s findings, the judge would then determine if the proven facts were sufficient evidence to convict the defendant guilty of the criminal charge. In the 1700s, […]

US Law

9th Circuit Court Of Appeals Upholds Ban On President Trump’s Attempt To Repeal DACA

December 2, 2018 Isabella Caracta 0

Summary: In 2017, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, issued a memorandum rescinding the memo that established DACA and setting forth a plan to phase it out. Recent rulings, however, have upheld the DACA program, creating legal barriers to the Trump Administration’s attempt to end it. In 2012, the Obama Administration authored an Executive Branch Memorandum more commonly referred to as DACA, which stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This memorandum was previously entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children,” and was issued by the then Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. Despite the fact that Congress rejected the program on multiple occasions during the normal legislative process, DACA created a non-congressionally authorized administrative program permitting “certain individuals who came to the United States as juveniles and meet several criteria…to request consideration of deferred action for a […]

US Law

A New Approach to an Old Problem: Partisan Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania

December 2, 2018 Thomas Huck 0

Summary: In light of recent Supreme Court decisions on partisan gerrymandering, the example set forth by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court provides a promising way to challenge gerrymandered redistricting plans. As millions of Americans head to the polls, one of the most important choices on the ballot will be for congressional representatives.  But, for the millions of voters in Pennsylvania, there is something unique about this year. Following a February ruling from the state’s Supreme Court, the 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan proposed by the state legislature was found to violate the state’s constitution. Instead of the so-called “2011 plan” or any other plan drawn up by the Harrisburg Legislature, the state’s voters will be using a map with a different author–the state’s Supreme Court. In contrast to a similar challenge in Wisconsin, the decision in League of Women Voters vs. Commonwealth found the 2011 plan unconstitutional under the Pennsylvania Constitution, rather […]

US Law

Are America’s Antitrust Laws Prepared for the 21st Century?

December 2, 2018 Thomas Huck 0

Summary: In the twenty-first century, amidst significant changes to the American and global economy, our century-old antitrust laws may be lacking the key protections needed to regulate the giants of today’s economy, despite their past successes in breaking up monopolies. In response to the increasing power of the Standard Oil Company, who controlled the refining of more than 90 percent of oil in the United States by 1880, Ohio Senator John Sherman proposed the Sherman Antitrust Act to preserve “free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade” by breaking up monopolies. 128 years later, a new challenge is faced as courts must decide whether or not the technology magnates of the twenty-first century are in violation of existing antitrust protection. In addition to the 1914 Sherman Antitrust Act, the Clayton and Federal Trade Commission Acts expanded protections against “conspiracy…in the restraint of trade” and “unfair methods of competition,” respectively. […]

International Law

Pakistani Christian Woman Acquitted In Controversial Blasphemy Case

November 30, 2018 Richard Silverman 0

In November of 2010, Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court of Pakistan for violating Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). According to Merriam Webster, blasphemy is defined as the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.   Pakistani Law in Brief   Although Pakistani jurisprudence has been greatly influenced by Western colonialism and federal structure, the Islamic country’s judicial system holds true to many aspects of traditional Islamic law. Religious Islamic law, traditionally referred to as the Sharia, originated from a combination of sacred sources and serves today as a key component of many Islamic governments. The Quran, the sacred text of Islam, is worshipped by Muslims as a revelation from Allah to the final prophet, Muhammad, who in turn compiled these divine messages into the religious texts that are still worshipped today. Many […]

Uighur Man in Demonstration
International Law

Forced Internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, China

November 27, 2018 Chloe Meyers 0

In Xinjiang, the north-west region of China, up to one million Uighurs are being detained in internment camps that have been legally recognized as legitimate re-education camps by the Chinese government. Uighurs are a predominantly Turkish speaking and Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Since the implementation of an anti-terrorist campaign in Xinjiang in 2014, the number of Uighurs arrested and detained has increased substantially and continues to grow. Although the existence of these internment camps was initially denied by the Chinese government, the government now recognizes and legitimize the camps as “vocational skills and educational training centers” through updated legislation. This new form of legal recognition and substantiation for the region of Xinjiang’s actions marks a shift in the Chinese government’s attitude towards the camps, suggesting a sense of ownership rather than shame. Yet, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls these camps “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population […]

US Law

The Complex Nature of US Evacuation Laws

November 26, 2018 Jacob Turobiner 0

Summary: While every state has laws regarding mandatory evacuation policy, it is usually up to the citizen whether or not to follow an order. Introduction Every year, natural disasters force millions of people across the United States to flee dangerous conditions. So far in 2018, many evacuations have been coast to coast, with most coming from hurricanes and fires. For example, government officials ordered over 1 million people to evacuate before Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on September 14, 2018. Even more recently, wildfires across California have displaced hundreds of thousands across the state. While most citizens in high-risk areas adhere to evacuation orders from state and local governments, there will always be those who ignore them. In low-risk areas where evacuations are rare, people are far less likely to evacuate since, for some, the danger is unimaginable due to a long, positive living experience. The federal government […]