- 50th Anniversary
- Online Edition
- Print Edition
- Donahue Lecture Series
A person’s right to a trial by an impartial jury is deeply embedded within the fabric of the American justice system. An impartial jury safeguards Constitutional rights by deciding the fate of the parties in an unbiased manner. A jury trial, whether civil or criminal, begins with jury selection, which serves as the primary method for impaneling an impartial jury. In general, jury selection consists of three elements: voir dire, challenges for cause, and peremptory challenges.
Voir dire is an essential part of jury selection because it enables judges and attorneys to discern prejudice or bias within a potential juror. From general questions directed at the entire jury pool to individual juror examination, voir dire exposes a potential juror’s inability to be impartial towards a particular party or case and assists attorneys in making the best use of challenges for cause and peremptory challenges. Aside from these intended purposes, voir dire also serves many unauthorized purposes of the parties, such as establishing a relationship with the prospective jurors and eliciting early favoritism for one side of the dispute. Ultimately, the success of voir dire depends on a number of factors, including the system used by the jurisdiction, counsels’ ability as advocates, and the extent of questioning directed at prospective jurors. . . .
Imagine that you are an experienced labor and employment attorney in Boston, Massachusetts and the “Erin Brockovich” of employment law walks right through your door. For the past twenty years, she has worked for Mega–Corp as the Director of Human Resources; a lofty title that matches her extensive experience in administering employee pension funds. With revenues dwindling over the past few years, Mega–Corp hired a new Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) to lift the company’s profit margin. Things between the CFO and your client quickly went awry when she vocally opposed his “ideas” on how the employee pension fund should be managed. Knowing that what the CFO was asking her to do was illegal, she refused to implement his changes and reported the CFO’s outlandish requests to his boss, the Chief Executive Officer. . . .
On June 8, 2004, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) announced the development of a policy that would subject riders of the mass transit system to random searches of their bags, packages, and personal items. The MBTA implemented the novel policy prior to commencement of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and heightened execution of the policy during the convention. While the DNC concluded on July 30, 2004, the MBTA kept its stop-and-search policy on the books for possible future implementation, should the need arise.
Before the Democrats arrived in Boston, the American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee and the National Lawyers Guild challenged the constitutionality of the MBTA’s policy in federal district court. In bringing the action against the MBTA, the plaintiffs argued that the policy of random searches did not satisfy Fourth Amendment requirements of reasonableness. United States District Court Judge George A. O’Toole, however, disagreed with the contentions of the plaintiffs and denied their request for a preliminary injunction. Although the court limited the scope and duration of the MBTA’s searches to just one bus route and a single subway line during the week of the convention, it did not resolve the validity of the search policy for other MBTA stations, bus routes, or subway lines outside the proximity of Boston or the context of the DNC. . . .
This survey of First Circuit opinions covers the period from October 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005. The survey describes and analyzes major published civil opinions. Specifically, the survey covers the First Circuit’s major opinions in civil rights; constitutional law; federal jurisdiction, practice and procedure; and employment discrimination law.
In the term under review, the First Circuit heard several significant cases in the areas of civil rights, constitutional law, and federal jurisdiction. Two of the court’s decisions will make it easier for defendants who are sued for violating civil rights to establish immunities, while a third case, favorable to plaintiffs, endorsed an interesting application of the doctrines of municipal and supervisory immunity. . . .
When Ronald and Carolyn Moulton let their daughter and several of her friends drink at their Danvers, Massachusetts home after their high school prom, they did not think that they were doing anything wrong. After all, they took away all of the teenagers’ keys before allowing them to imbibe any of the numerous cases of beer and hard liquor. Ronald even joined them. Even after they were sentenced to forty hours of court-ordered community service, eighteen months of probation, and paid a five hundred dollar fine, the Moultons still contend that they did the right thing that night because no one got hurt. Unfortunately, they are not alone in that opinion.
With teenage fatalities skyrocketing in recent years due to alcohol related automobile accidents, the newest trend in teenage drinking is for parents to allow underage children to consume alcohol at home under their supervision. While parents think that they are providing their kids with an exemplary and safe alternative to drunk driving, they are setting the dangerous example that it is all right to pick and choose which laws to follow. Even more disturbing is that they do so with little more than a slap on the wrist, as current criminal and civil sanctions often do little to deter parents from hosting such parties. . . .
This Note begins in Part II.A by discussing traditional liability of third parties when an individual commits suicide. Part II.B details the increasing problem of suicide on our nation’s college campuses and the need for a legal response. Turning to FERPA in Part II.C, this Note focuses on the discretionary provision allowing for disclosure, and the potential punishments for FERPA violations. Part II.D then discusses the confusing recent case law addressing a duty to prevent or a lesser duty to notify. Part II.E discusses the recent increase in suicide-related litigation against colleges and universities, and further extrapolates on frustration felt by institutions that are presently unsure of how to handle these situations.
Part III.A contends that the traditional reasons for not imposing a duty to prevent suicide do not apply when considering a duty to notify. Part III.B expounds on the merits of family involvement in a student’s mental health treatment, and Part III.C details how Congress should amend the discretionary provision of FERPA to encourage such family involvement. Part III.D then explains how the present case law sends a confusing message to colleges and universities, and has created a need for uniformity in the law. In III.E, this Note asserts that clearer guidelines will help institutions make better decisions, and help decrease litigation. In Part IV, this Note concludes that FERPA must be amended in three related ways by: 1) requiring institutions to address mental health issues; 2) clearly defining what an emergency is; and 3) mandating parental notification in these emergency situations. . . .
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws. The Supreme Court has struck down inflexible race-conscious educational admissions programs because they deny individuals opportunities afforded under the Constitution. In Comfort v. Lynn School Committee, the First Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether race-conscious transfer restrictions in elementary and secondary public schools violate students’ equal protection rights. The court concluded that the particular plan in question was constitutional because it was “narrowly tailored” to a compelling state interest. . . .
In August of 2004, Massachusetts Acting Governor Kerry Healey signed into law a gang loitering bill that made Somerville the first city in the state where gang members could be arrested for disobeying a police officers order to disperse from designated public places.2= The impetus for the law dates back to October of 2002, when individuals associated with a nationwide street gang known as MS-13 brutally raped two disabled teenage girls in a Somerville park. At the time of the incident, MS-13 had been tied to a wave of violent assaults against Somerville residents and was estimated to have roughly 100 members in the area. As residents grew increasingly concerned for their safety, Somervilles governing Board of Alderman approved a sweeping antiloitering ordinance, which has sparked debate over the constitutionality of such measures and their effectiveness in curbing violent gang activity. . . .
The Armed Career Criminals Act (ACCA) mandates a fifteen-year minimum prison sentence for persons possessing a firearm with three previous violent felony convictions. In Taylor v. United States, the Supreme Court prescribed an outer limit on the scope of a later courts inquiry into prior jury-trial-based convictions for ACCA sentence-enhancing purposes. In Shepard v. United States, the Supreme Court considered whether and how this limit applied to a courts investigation of prior plea-based convictions. The Court held that the limitation applies to pled cases and that it encompasses boundaries analogous to the Taylor jury-trial limitation. . . .
The federal courts derive subject matter jurisdiction from Congress as outlined in the United States Constitution. By enacting 28 U.S.C. § 1367, Congress granted federal courts supplemental jurisdiction over claims where original subject matter jurisdiction is already established. In Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Services, Inc., the Supreme Court considered whether § 1367 is applicable to plaintiffs permissively joined or who form part of a class action, but fail to meet the amount-in-controversy requirement of § 1332(a). The Court determined that § 1367 is applicable to such plaintiffs if at least one named plaintiff meets the amount-in-controversy requirement of § 1332(a). . . .