Back It Up: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Holds First Amendment and Common-Law Rights of Access to Criminal Trial Do Not Extend to Backup Room Recording

by February 18, 2014
In Commonwealth v. Winfield, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), in a matter of first impression, held that the First Amendment right of access to a criminal trial—as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment—and the common-law right of access to judicial records did not extend to a backup room recording that was not the official record of the trial.

After Online Equity: De-Crowding and Accommodating Venture Capital

by January 31, 2014
On October 23, 2013, the SEC released its proposed equity crowdfunding rules. The proposed rules, which come over a year and a half after the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) was signed into law, outline the details of how the legislation’s new crowdfunding provisions will function. While many have lauded the new rules as potentially useful for capital-seeking startup companies, this new financing mechanism has two serious limitations.

Thumbs Up: Fourth Circuit in Bland Determines Facebook “Likes” Are Protected Under the First Amendment

by December 6, 2013
In Bland v. Roberts, the Fourth Circuit held that “liking” a politician’s campaign Facebook Page constituted protected speech under the First Amendment. In doing so, the court resolved an issue of first impression that interconnects First Amendment jurisprudence with social media’s influence on how people express themselves. According to Facebook, more than three billion “likes” and comments are posted on its website every day.

Regulation of Paid Tax-Return Preparers: A Foregone Conclusion Regardless of the Result in the Loving Case

by December 4, 2013
Many have argued that the tax-return preparation industry is behind the licensing curve. The National Consumer Law Center and National Community Tax Coalition have even noted, “[m]ore regulation is required of hairdressers in many states.” The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sought to change this by extending its regulatory reach to tax-return preparers. However, the IRS’s right to regulate this industry is currently being litigated. This Essay analyzes the legal and policy considerations on both sides of the issue.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Contravenes United States Supreme Court in Sylvain, Ruling Padilla Rights Apply Retroactively

by December 3, 2013
The Sixth Amendment entitles criminal defendants to effective assistance of counsel in defending the charges against them. The Supreme Court has interpreted the Sixth Amendment to hold that failing to advise criminal defendants on whether pleading guilty would subject them to deportation amounts to constitutionally deficient representation. In Sylvain, the defendant alleged that his lawyer failed to advise that he could be deported if he pled guilty and that he would not have done so had he been so informed.