Month: December 2018

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. […]