- 50th Anniversary
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- Donahue Lecture Series
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.
Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., 765 F.3d 981 (9th Cir. 2014)
Employment law cases often present one particularly vexing issue: whether a worker should be classified as an employee or an independent contractor. Under California law, this determination relies primarily on the common-law “right-to-control” test along with several secondary factors. In Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether FedEx delivery drivers were misclassified as independent contractors under California’s multi-factor right-to-control test. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit concluded that FedEx drivers should have been classified as employees.
Presently, Massachusetts courts lag behind courts of federal jurisdiction with regard to the use of prior consistent statements at trial. While the Advisory Committee notes accompanying Federal Rule of Evidence 801 explicitly state that “no sound reason is apparent why” prior consistent statements made under oath “should not be received generally [at trial],” in Massachusetts, prior statements are not admissible for the truth of what they assert when they are consistent with testimony at trial. Instead, pursuant to a variety of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) and Appeals Court decisions, such prior statements are admissible only to suggest to the fact-finder that the witness is credible. Contrastingly, when these statements are sufficiently inconsistent with testimony at trial, they are admitted for their full probative value.
Americans are subject to the laws and regulations of two different governments: state and federal. While these two governments usually work towards common goals and aim to complement each other, conflicts and overlaps may arise. When they do or when the federal government seeks to avoid conflict in the first place, there are mechanisms—such as express preemption—to ensure that disputes are resolved. One such statute utilizing express preemption is the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which prohibits states from enacting any statute or regulation that affects a motor carrier’s “price, route, or service” as it relates to the transportation of property. Since its enactment, the FAAAA’s preemption provision has been used to preempt state law, but it also has been restricted in a number of other cases.
When I arrived at Suffolk Law School in the Fall of 1971, Professor John E. Fenton, Jr., was already a faculty icon. He was universally considered to be one of its very top teachers. He was the faculty advisor to both the Law Review and the Moot Court Board. And he was, hands down, the most approachable, and fun, faculty member. Little did I know when an upperclassman pointed him out to me as a fellow Holy Cross alum, how profound an impact he would have on the direction of my career and life.
On August 24, 2014, Suffolk University Law School lost a legendary and inspirational leader. Outside of Gleason Archer who founded the law school in 1906, few have left their mark on the institution, its faculty, staff, students, and alumni as indelibly as did former Dean and Judge John E. Fenton, Jr. In the eyes and hearts of many, his name and Suffolk Law are synonymous.
In recent decades, public school buildings have become increasingly important venues for religious worship services. This is an outgrowth of two factors. First, school districts today commonly make their facilities available during non-school hours to a variety of community groups. This partially reflects schools’ desire to support local community activity, but in many cases they also have significant financial incentives to charge rent for the space. School district community-use policies are typically open to a range of uses and groups, including religious, thus making the space available to religious groups. Indeed, excluding religious uses from a school-created forum could potentially violate the First Amendment, as reflected in a series of Supreme Court decisions.
An estimated 1,825 college students die each year from alcohol-related, unintentional injuries. Roughly 599,000 students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are injured every year while under the influence of alcohol. More than 100,000 students have reported that they were too intoxicated to know whether they had consented to having sex, and an estimated 97,000 students annually are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. College students report a higher binge-drinking rate and are involved in more drunk driving incidents than eighteen to twenty-four year olds who are not in college.
Inventor Brandon Shalton was in the process of testing his invention, which would digitize phone messages and post them instantly to his church’s website, when he received a demand letter from Acacia Research Corporation. The letter claimed that Shalton’s invention infringed an Acacia patent and demanded a license payment under the threat of litigation. Faced with the high cost and uncertainty of litigation, Mr. Shalton did what many small- and medium-sized inventors and businesses have chosen to do when faced with a broad and threatening patent-infringement demand letter: He abandoned his invention. The 2011 passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) represented the most significant patent reform in over half a century and an earnest attempt by Congress to foster innovation and patent rights while discouraging frivolous patent-infringement claims. Alas, only a few years removed from the passage of the AIA, there is already a growing consensus among industry insiders and those in Washington D.C. that more needs to be done to prevent bad-faith patent-infringement claims. This Note will explore the growing trend of bad-faith patent-infringement assertions, commonly referred to as “patent trolling,” in the context of proposed and enacted state and federal responses to the systematic threat patent trolls pose to the innovation economy.