- 50th Anniversary
- Online Edition
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- Donahue Lecture Series
“Buzzworthy,” “BYOD” (bring your own device), and “selfie” have been added to the free Oxford Dictionaries Online after each word has worked its way into common usage or even into the respected print Oxford Dictionary. “Friend” is no longer a mere noun or synonym for acquaintance, but instead, a verb to indicate adding an individual “to a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website.” For better or worse, social media impacts how individuals communicate and interact with one another, both online and in person and “[e]veryone is doing it.” In December 2014, a decade after its founding, Facebook had 1.39 billion monthly active users, 890 million daily active users, and over 1 billion active users of Facebook mobile products. Other popular social media websites—Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn— indicate widespread and growing usage of the sites and social media overall.
Besides their strong economic enticement, the hosts of “Bring Your Own Booze” (BYOB) parties may have inadvertently discovered a strong legal incentive for hosting this form of party, namely to escape civil liability. Individuals under the legal drinking age often exploit these parties, and the facts presented in Juliano v. Simpson exemplify these parties’ dangerous realties and the grave consequences of underage drinking. Presented with an empty house void of any adult supervision, nineteen-year-old Jessica Simpson hosted a party at her father’s home, where she permitted her underage friends to consume alcohol that they had procured before arriving. A few short hours later, an intoxicated guest crashed into a utility pole while driving home, consequently causing his passenger, Rachel Juliano, to sustain serious injuries. Despite Simpson’s criminal behavior, the Massachusetts’s Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) declined to broaden the scope of common-law, social-host liability and affirmed that Simpson was not civilly liable for Rachel’s injuries. By refusing to recognize a duty for social hosts who provide a location for underage drinking but not the actual alcohol, the court’s opinion ultimately exposed a troubling inconsistency in the legal system where the plaintiff is not awarded civil remedies despite the defendant’s criminal liability.
After the filing of a bankruptcy petition, all pending civil actions involving the debtor are stayed pursuant to the automatic stay provision of 11 U.S.C. § 362. Creditors may seek relief by moving for the court to lift the automatic stay. An order granting stay-relief is considered a “final” order from the bankruptcy court and therefore appealable as of right pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 158(a); similarly, a majority of the federal courts of appeals recognize denials of stay-relief as final, appealable orders. In In re Atlas IT Export Corp., the First Circuit created a circuit split when it held it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal from a bankruptcy court’s denial of stay-relief because the bankruptcy court’s decision did not amount to a “final order.”
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted to protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. In Maryland v. King, a case of first impression, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether a warrantless search and seizure of an arrestee’s DNA would be afforded Fourth Amendment protection. The Court, utilizing a reasonableness balancing test, held that the government’s compelling interest of identifying criminals outweighed the arrestee’s right to privacy and found the search and seizure constitutional.
Sex offenders are some of the most hated and feared members of our society. This revulsion towards sex offenders is because they are considered more likely than other criminals to offend again. Accordingly, the public seeks to strengthen legislation that imposes harsher penalties upon them. While such proposed legislation is often used by politicians to garner popular support, the real impetus for change in sex offender legislation usually comes about after the commission of a few serious, high-profile sex crimes.
Sperm stealing—also known as the unauthorized use of sperm—comes in several forms, which fall in three categories: sperm stashing, nonconsensual sexual intercourse, and the improper use of artificial reproductive technology (ART). Sperm stashing usually occurs through a woman saving sperm from oral sexual relations or a used condom and using such sperm to inseminate herself. Sperm stealing through nonconsensual sexual intercourse includes rape and statutory rape that results in pregnancy. Improper use of ART includes a woman obtaining and becoming inseminated with a man’s sperm donation or implanted with fertilized pre-embryos created with his sperm without his consent. A handful of cases dealing with sperm stealing have made it on to court dockets. Most have been dismissed, others given the chance to make it to trial, and a clear minority have resulted in favorable verdicts for the man whose sperm was stolen. Cases that have achieved verdicts, however, are restricted to improper use of ART, creating a class system among the categories of sperm stealing. Typically, courts favor the policy of child welfare, ensuring the child has the support of two parents and making male rights to reproductive choice insignificant. In Massachusetts—a state that allowed recovery for a man whose fertilized pre-embryo was used by his estranged wife—a new set of child support guidelines took effect on August 1, 2013, greatly enforcing and emphasizing the policy to favor the welfare of the child at all costs. It prompts the inquiry of whether these policies may affect this preexisting case law.
K.M. ex rel. Bright v. Tustin Unified School District, 725 F.3d 1088 (9th Cir. 2013), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 1493, cert. denied sub nom. Poway Unified Sch. Dist. v. D.H. ex rel. K.H., 134 S. Ct. 1494 (2014)
The rights of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in public schools derive primarily from two federal laws: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title II of the ADA). The IDEA requires public school districts to provide disabled children, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Under IDEA, a FAPE necessitates the development and implementation of an individualized education plan (IEP) for each disabled child addressing his or her unique needs. Meanwhile, Title II of the ADA and its effective communications regulations prohibit public schools from discriminating against deaf and hard-of-hearing children and require schools to ensure that these students have access to effective communications. In K.M. ex rel. Bright v. Tustin Unified School District, the Ninth Circuit considered the interplay of these two laws and held that a public school’s provision of a FAPE to a hearing-disabled student (as required under IDEA) does not automatically mean that the school has complied with Title II of the ADA.
Consumers across the country cannot help but notice that the natural food industry has caught onto their preferences for “all natural” food. Natural food has developed into a thirty-seven billion dollar per year industry in response to consumers’ attraction to “all natural” products. A robust segment of the “all natural” trend are the anti-genetically modified organisms supporters. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals that are created by genetic engineering (GE)—combining deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from different species to create combinations that cannot occur in nature. Anti-GMO advocates believe consumers have a right to know what is in the food products they are purchasing, including whether those products contain GMOs.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees personal privacy by limiting the government’s ability to conduct searches and seizures in the absence of probable cause. When the government believes that an individual has been involved in criminal activity, a search warrant must be obtained from a judge before a search is conducted. In order to obtain a search warrant, the government must produce evidence that the search will likely reveal the existence of the alleged criminal activity, details concerning the place to be searched, and the things to be seized. In the context of electronic communications, such as email, upholding Fourth Amendment protection has become increasingly complex as the law has been slow to adapt to changes in technology.
In the controversy over judicial citation of foreign law, little noticed are the effects of citations that contrast American law with the laws of foreign jurisdictions. The controversy typically revolves around the extent to which judges may legitimately look to foreign law as persuasive authority in American courts. It arises out of the Supreme Court’s longtime penchant for referring to foreign law, which has attracted particular attention in recent years after it surfaced in a number of high-profile cases. This practice has prompted both judicial criticisms and defenses. Likewise, many constitutional and comparative law scholars have raised questions about the permissibility and prudence of the practice.