Articles by Isadora Toledo

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 […]

US Law

Plyler v. Doe: Undocumented Students and Post-Secondary Education

November 13, 2018 Isadora Toledo 0

Summary: Plyler v. Doe lay the groundwork for states to recognize the value of awarding education to every group, regardless of citizenship status. Yet the evolution of education means that over thirty years later, its shortcomings are impossible to ignore. Perhaps even from its conception, American society has recognized the value of education. Over a decade ago, Chief Justice Warren regarded education as “perhaps the most important function of state and local governments” – a “right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” In a country whose history is fraught with battles for liberty, various marginalized groups – from indigenous peoples to Latinx communities – have struggled to claim this right. And for many, specifically undocumented immigrants, the struggle continues. As immigration and naturalization policies increasingly come to conflict with education, questions of who deserves what and why are brought to the forefront. Although the struggle for […]

US Law

Keeping Our Participants Alive: Drug Court Successes, Failures, and the Opioid Epidemic

November 3, 2018 Isadora Toledo 0

Summary: Despite their successes, traditional drug courts fail to help opioid addicts. The creation of an opioid-specific intervention court attempts to change this. Fewer things have swept the nation as quickly or as violently as the opioid crisis. Claiming the lives of some 64,000 Americans in one year alone, the opioid crisis continues to strain the nation’s society – and its courts, as policymakers and jurists alike struggle to decide what role, if any, the legal system should play. In recent years, the solution to this struggle has been the nationwide development of drug courts. Originally formed in Florida’s Miami-Dade County in 1989 under Judge Stanley Goldstein, over 3,100 drug courts now exist across the country, half of which are adult treatment courts. A type of problem-solving court, drug courts aim to use the court’s resources to address the root causes behind crime. Drug courts specifically are characterized by Judge […]

US Law

Who is Actually Served and Protected? An Overview of Nuisance Property Ordinances

October 15, 2018 Isadora Toledo 0

Summary: Despite being designed to limit public harm that occurs on properties, nuisance property ordinances perpetuate systemic housing barriers faced by domestic violence victims. Today more than ever, the duty of police to “serve and protect” has come under public scrutiny. The law, however, should not be exempt from the same criticism – especially as it applies to housing. Often overlooked, laws concerning housing and property can be just as potent in criminalizing marginalized groups. This is especially true of nuisance ordinances, the latest development in a series of laws aimed at “hold[ing] property owners liable for criminal activity on the premises.” Also called disorderly house ordinances or crime-free ordinances, nuisance ordinances were originally intended to dissuade tenants from unnecessarily using police resources. Police members also consider nuisance ordinances a way to “maintain the quality of life in a community” and “provide incentives for preventing criminal activity.” From a landlord […]