Case Reviews

United States v. Walker: Using the Criminal Justice System to End the Opioid Crisis

November 13, 2018 Samia Noor 0

The status quo of using plea deals to evade trials in the criminal justice system may be on the path to reform due to one Judge’s decision to deny a plea deal. District Judge Joseph Goodwin, in the southern district of West Virginia decided that the criminal justice system should be used as a platform for the public to learn about the opioid crisis. In United States v. Walker (2017), Charles York Walker was asking for a plea deal after being indicted on heroin distribution and a firearm violation. The prosecutor and Walker entered into a plea agreement, and the defendant was officially charged with a single count of possession of heroin in January 2017. The defendant had pleaded guilty, and while Judge Goodwin accepted this plea, he wanted to investigate further before accepting the proposed plea agreement. Goodwin asserted that the United States is a “participatory democracy”, and that […]

No Picture
US Law

Balancing Presidential Powers: Appointment of Matthew Whitaker

November 13, 2018 Phil Ma 0

Summary: The appointment of Chief of Staff to the Attorney General Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General after resignation of Jeff Sessions has raised questions about the constitutionality of the appointment. Although these questions stem from concern about Whitaker’s position on the Mueller probe, they are nonetheless legitimate, unanswered questions about the constitutionality of the president appointing someone not confirmed by the Senate to an office that answers only to the president. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his letter of resignation at the request of President Donald Trump. Then the President appointed Matthew Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Sessions, to become the new acting Attorney General of the United States of America. The next day, Neal Katyal and George Conway III, husband of Kellyanne Conway, wrote an Opinion article in the New York Times claiming that the appointment of Whitaker to the position […]

US Law

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Trump: The Legality of President Trump’s Asylum Ban

November 13, 2018 Ellen Wang 0

  Summary: Civil rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab, and the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles that challenges the asylum ban signed by President Trump on the morning of November 9th. This lawsuit charges the Trump administration for violating the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. President Trump’s invocation of national security powers could overhaul long-standing asylum laws that would lead to the deportation of thousands of refugees seeking protection from persecution. Less than six hours after President Trump signed a proclamation preventing immigrants who illegally enter the U.S. from applying for and receiving asylum, civil rights groups began legal recourse. The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Constitutional Rights filed a complaint in the US. District Court for the Northern District […]

US Law

Change and Controversy: A Review of Hate Crime Laws in America

November 7, 2018 Thomas Huck 0

Pittsburgh. Kroger. Package bombs. Over the past two weeks, the United States has been recovering from three different attacks. As the perpetrators of each face charges, the question of motivation for these hate-fueled attacks is being brought up across the nation. For the courts, the question of what constitutes a hate crime is an especially important one. Amid efforts to reform hate crime statutes, the Department of Justice released a new hate crimes website to provide resources for law enforcement agencies. Although the Department has “increased training of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to ensure that hate crimes are identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible,” a report from California State University, San Bernardino, indicates that the number of hate crimes across the nation continues to rise. These studies only tell half of the story. A majority of hate crimes that were committed between 2011 and 2015 […]

US Law

Who Should Have The Final Say In A Child’s Healthcare: Family or Physicians?

November 6, 2018 Isabella Caracta 0

Summary: There is often controversy over who knows best for a child needing medical attention. It is important to review current law and ethical practices and understand their implications on minor patient care. Decision making in healthcare often diverges when it comes to adults and children. When dealing with children, there is usually a “three-way relationship among the minor patient, the patient’s parents (or guardian), and the physician.” Although minors are considered to not have the capacity to make healthcare decisions on their own, the American Medical Association (AMA), encourages physicians to “engage minor patients in making decisions about their own care to the greatest extent possible.” When this aforementioned “extent” is reached, and concrete medical decisions must be made, it is required under the law to obtain consent from a parent or guardian. Legally, minors need parental consent for non-emergent care. Outlined in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active […]

US Law

Social Media Privacy in Employment

November 6, 2018 Jacob Turobiner 0

Summary: As more employers use social media to evaluate a job candidate, it is raising questions of privacy rights of employees across various states. Background For years, job applications have been comprehensive, with employers requiring a plethora of information from the candidate. In the digital age, employers have access to a treasure trove of personal information: social media. It has become common practice for employers to look into one’s social media records. In 2008, about 34 percent of employers used social media in the hiring process. By 2013, this percentage jumped to 77 percent. A simple Google search can provide a mountain of information about someone–good and bad. It is entirely legal for an employer to do online research on a job candidate, however, an employer could go further and infringe on privacy rights. These types of laws vary greatly between states. What an Employer Can Do There is no […]

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

The Supreme Court’s Ability to Enforce Rulings

November 1, 2018 Gramal Ralph 0

Summary: The Supreme Court’s move to the right has raised questions of the Court’s ability to enforce its rulings.  To many Americans, the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh marked the Supreme Court’s move to the ideological right. The country is wondering how this will affect rulings on landmark issues such as abortion, religious liberty, the rights of the LGBTQ community, and more. Americans have long looked at the Supreme Court as an authority to protect the people from unconstitutional executive actions, laws, and statutes. It is often seen as the last line of defense to protect civil liberties. However, the Constitution does not establish a basis for the court to enforce its decisions. In early American history, the Court’s role in government was unknown. The Constitution, in Article III: sections one and two, establishes the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land. It was not until 1803, that […]

US Law

Swartz v. Rodriguez: A Question of Qualified Immunity

November 1, 2018 Phil Ma 0

Summary: U.S. government officials sometimes must make discretionary decisions in split-seconds with only limited information. To protect these officials from personal, civil lawsuits, the idea of qualified immunity was born. However, questions are raised when a discretionary decision kills someone who is not a citizen and it occurs outside of US territory. These are the questions that Swartz v. Rodriguez seeks to answer. Background In October 2012, Lonnie Swartz, a U.S. border patrol agent, shot and killed 16-year-old Mexican national Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. He was shot approximately 10 times through the border fence that separated the United States and Mexico, all entering the body from behind. Agent Swartz was standing within the United States during the shooting and Mr. Rodriguez was wholly in Mexico. Swartz claimed that the deceased, referenced as J.A. in court documents, threw rocks at him; however, the First Amended Complaint submitted to the courts claim […]

Renewable Energy
International Law

Germany’s Environmental Policy: A Deeper Look

November 1, 2018 Chloe Meyers 0

On May 11, 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would be phasing out all nuclear energy and shutting down all seventeen of Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2022. This monumental and groundbreaking decision put Germany in the spotlight and called attention to Germany’s overarching emphasis on environmental policies. Throughout history, Germany has proven to be one of the most environmentally friendly, if not the most environmentally friendly, countries in the world both through their policies and their citizens’ commitment to sustainability. Germany has several environmental laws that set them apart from the rest of the world and elevates their commitment to the environment. A few notable policies include the Renewable Energy Act, the Eco-tax, the Cogeneration Act, the Energy Conservation Act, the Energy Conservation Ordinance, and the Ecodesign Directive (ErP). The Renewable Energy Sources Act The Renewable Energy Sources Act is probably the most essential aspect of Germany’s […]