Legal Commentary: Law Student Columns


DAVID FONTANA
The New Crime Victims' Rights Act:
Empowering Victims Without Harming Defendants' Rights
FindLaw guest columnist and Oxford and Yale law student David Fontana discusses the new Crime Victims' Rights Act, recently approved by the Senate and soon to be considered by the House. As Fontana explained, though passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, the bill remains controversial -- in part because it gives victims a right to reasonably participate in criminal trials.
Thursday, May. 20, 2004

 Law Student Columns  
LARS PETERSON
Comparing Internet Jurisdiction in the U.S. and the E.U.:
A California Federal Case Illustrates the Contrast
FindLaw guest columnist, second-year U. Cincinnati law student, and German attorney Lars Peterson discusses the different answers the U.S. and the E.U. offer to this question: When can a consumer sue, in his own home courts, a website from which he has purchased goods? As Peterson explains, the E.U. offers a "black letter" answer but the U.S. does not. Peterson focuses on a recent California federal court decision to illustrate the U.S. approach.
Wednesday, May. 19, 2004

WILL TRACHMAN
The Danger of the Drafters' Intent:
Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Need to Limit Congressional Power
FindLaw guest columnist and second-year Boalt Hall law student Will Trachman discusses an important case the Supreme Court will decide this Term, Tennessee v. Lane. The case addresses the breadth Congress's power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees. Trachman argues that although the Amendment's drafters may have meant to grant Congress a broad enforcement power, judicial limits on that power, such as those the Court has imposed in the past, still may be necessary.
Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2004

PHILLIP CARTER
Mayhem in Fallujah:
What the Law Has to Say About the Gruesome Murders In Iraq, and What the U.S.'s Response to the Murders May Be
FindLaw guest columnist, former Army officer, and UCLA law student Phillip Carter offers a thorough assessment of all the consequences -- legal and military, and under Iraqi law, the U.S. Code of Military Justice, and international human rights -- that may ensue after the horrific murder of four government contractors in Fallujah, and the display of their burned bodies. Carter explains, among other points, why the perpetrators, if tried in Iraq, cannot receive the death penalty; why the contractors occupy a gray area between civilians and combatants; and why the U.S.'s legal and strategic considerations governing a military response are likely to converge to counsel the same result.
Monday, Apr. 05, 2004

MICHAEL LYNCH
Prosecuting Professional Sports:
When a Hockey Player Breaks His Opponent's Neck, Is It Battery?
FindLaw guest columnist and first-year Brooklyn Law School student Michael Lynch takes on an intriguing legal issue: Can violence in the context of a sport ever be a crime? Lynch argues the answer is yes -- and offers as his example a recent attack that occurred during a Vancouver professional hockey game. When Todd Bertuzzi broke Steve Moore's neck, Lynch contends, he appears to have committed criminal battery -- and if so, he should be prosecuted for the offense.
Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2004

BRANDY KARL
How the Current Congressional Database Protection Bill Would Go Beyond Current Law,
and Why It is Unconstitutional and Misguided
FindLaw guest columnist and third-year Boston University law student Brandy Karl argues against the passage of the Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act (DCIMA), currently pending in Congress. Karl contends that the DCIMA not only violates the Constitution's Copyright Clause, by re-drawing its line between copyrightable and uncopyrightable material, but also is unwise from a policy standpoint.
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2004

GEORGE KANABE
The Medical Industry's Practice of Giving Gifts to Doctors
How Should the Law and Professional Regulations Address It?
FindLaw guest columnist and Fordham second-year law student George Kanabe discusses a difficult regulatory problem: how to oversee, and prevent abuses that can result from, pharmaceutical and other medical companies' practice of giving gifts and subsidies to doctors. Kanabe explains the various problems that can arise, from kickbacks to the decreased likelihood that doctors will prescribe cheaper generic drugs, as opposed to brand name medication. He also covers the steps that have been taken to address these issues, and argues that specific further steps should also be taken.
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2004

CHRIS GEIDNER
Why Civil Unions Are Not Enough
The Massachusetts Supreme Court's Ruling Gives Gays and Lesbians the Right to Marry
FindLaw guest columnist and Ohio State law student Chris Geidner takes strong issue with the views of three liberal law professors relating to the recent landmark Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling recognizing gays' and lesbians' equal right to marriage. Each of the professors has suggested that the Court might be satisfied by a Massachusetts civil union law, rather than equal marriage for straight and gay persons alike. Geidner parallels the professors with the "white moderates" whom Martin Luther King, Jr. criticized as an impediment to the civil rights movement because they counseled only slow and gradual progress.
Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003

DANIELLE SUCHER
Must Americans Carry Identification, or Else Risk Arrest?
This Term, The Supreme Court Will Decide
FindLaw guest columnist and second-year New York Law School law student Danielle Sucher discusses a case the Supreme Court will consider this Term that raises the following question: Does the Constitution permit a police officer to arrest someone simply because, when stopped under reasonable suspicion, that person fails to produce identification?
Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2003

PHILLIP CARTER
High Crimes at Guantanamo Bay?
Why the Espionage Allegations, If Proved, May Be Serious Enough to Warrant the Death Penalty
FindLaw guest columnist, third-year UCLA law student, and former Army officers Phillip Carter discusses the triad of espionage cases -- involving Captain Yousef Yee; Senior Airman Ahmad I. Al Halabi; and Ahmed Mehalba -- that has arisen out of the detentions and interrogations conduct at Guantanamo Bay. Carter explains why Yee and Al Halabi, if convicted, would be eligible for the death penalty, and who would consider, under the military justice system, whether the penalty should be imposed. He also argues that, given the real dangers to life that espionage often creates, the death penalty would not be too harsh a sanction for such crimes, if proven to have occurred as the government claims.
Wednesday, Oct. 08, 2003

CHRISTOPHER GEIDNER
Queer Eyes for the States' Rights Guy
The Legal Issues Raised by the Proposed Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution
FindLaw guest columnist and second-year Ohio State law student Christopher Geidner discusses federal legislative and constitutional developments relating to gay marriage. Geidner explains how 1996's Defense of Marriage Act, the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, and the Supreme Court's recent pro-gay-rights decision in Lawrence v. Texas will likely interact. Geidner also argues that if gay rights advocates continue to applaud the states' rights argument against the Federal Marriage Amendment, that very argument may backfire on them soon.
Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2003

GEORGE KANABE
Why Judges and Juries Should Have Access to Complete Electronic Recordings of Police Interrogations:
Following Illinois's Example
FindLaw guest columnist and second-year Fordham law student George Kanabe makes the case for electronic recording of police interrogations.- Kanabe surveys the states that have so far required recording -- through law, judicial decision, or police practice. He also notes the benefits and costs of such requirements, as well as the specific questions that any state considering such a requirement must resolve.
Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2003

JAKE KREILKAMP
Suing Saddam - And Others - In U.S. Courts:
The Controversy Over the Alien Tort Claims Act
FindLaw guest columnist and NYU law school graduate Jake Kreilkamp discusses the history of, and controversy surrounding, the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA). As Kreilkamp explains, the ATCA allows noncitizens to sue noncitizens for damages in U.S. federal courts, if they can prove a tort and a violation of international law. His examples of ATCA suits include a recent case by an Iraqi exile against Saddam Hussein.
Wednesday, Jul. 09, 2003

BRANDY A. KARL
Enforcing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Internationally:
Why Congress Shouldn't Lock in the Current DMCA By Approving the Current Version of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement
FindLaw guest columnist and Boston University second-year law student Brandy Karl discusses the interplay between domestic and international copyright law issues. In particular, Karl explains why Congressional approval of the current version of the U.S. Singapore Free Trade Agreement would affect Congress's options relating to the controversial Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
Monday, May. 19, 2003

PHILLIP CARTER
Al Qaeda and the Advent of Multinational Terrorism:
Why "Material Support" Prosecutions Are Key In the War on Terrorism
FindLaw guest columnist, former Army officer, and UCLA law student Phillip Carter defends recent, controversial prosecutions of those alleged to have provide "material support" to terrorists, such as those of Sami Al-Arian, Enaam Arnaout, and Earnest James Ujaama. Carter explains the legal and historical backdrop that makes such prosecutions crucial, he contends, to the U.S.'s fight against Al Qaeda.
Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2003

JAKE KREILKAMP
The Attorney General Forces Federal Prosecutors to Break Promises:
Ashcroft's Pattern of Reneging on Cooperation Agreements, Especially with Minority Defendants
FindLaw guest columnist and NYU law student Jake Kreilkamp discusses the recent case of criminal defendant Jairo Zapata. Federal prosecutors promised Zapata that, if he provided information against drug ring higher-ups, they would not seek the death penalty, but Attorney General John Ashcroft forced them to break the promise. As Kreilkamp discusses, Ashcroft has also done so in other cases.
Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2003

BRANDY A. KARL
WHY JUDGES' PERSONAL PREFERENCES PLAY A ROLE IN THEIR DECISIONMAKING, AND HOW THE APPELLATE SYSTEM CONTROLS THAT ROLE
FindLaw guest columnist and Boston University law student Brandy Karl discusses a question that comes up repeatedly in Supreme Court Justices', and indeed all federal judges', confirmation hearings: How much -- in the long run -- do each nominee's policy preferences really matter? Karl argues that the influence of judges' preferences and beliefs is both inevitable, and moderated by the structure of the federal courts.
Wednesday, Jan. 08, 2003

PHILLIP CARTER
THE SEVEN BASIC MYTHS ABOUT MILITARY JUSTICE:
WHY IT'S MUCH FAIRER TO DEFENDANTS THAN YOU MAY HAVE BEEN LED TO THINK
FindLaw guest columnist, former Army officer, and U.C.L.A. law student Phillip Carter argues that much of the debate about using military courts versus civilian courts against terrorism has been seriously misinformed. Carter counters a series of myths about military courts, and explains how, under the Constitution and laws, they really function.
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2002

JAKE KREILKAMP
THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FINALLY DEBATES POST-9/11 TERROR POLICIES, BUT WON'T ADMIT HOW PROFOUNDLY IT IS CHANGING THE LAW
FindLaw guest columnist and third-year NYU law student Jake Kreilkamp comments on a recent public debate between Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff and NYU criminal law professor Stephen J. Schulhofer. The debate concerned the legality of the Department of Justice's post-9/11 policies on detentions, prosecutions, hearings, and trials of alleged terrorism suspects and witnesses. Did Chertoff provide a strong defense of Ashcroft's policies? Kreilkamp reports.
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2002

SCOTT P. MARTIN
DOES THE FIRST AMENDMENT PROTECT THE RIGHT TO GIVE TATTOOS?
Tattoo you? Not in South Carolina. FindLaw guest columnist and Columbia law student Scott Martin explains why a First Amendment challenge to the state's anti-tattooing statute failed. Martin argues that, contrary to the South Carolina Supreme Court's ruling, there are good reasons to think tattooing is "expressive conduct" protected by the First Amendment.
Wednesday, Oct. 09, 2002

JAKE KREILKAMP
A YEAR OF RAPID CONSTITUTIONAL EVOLUTION:
THE ONLY PLAUSIBLE EXPLANATION FOR THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S MIX-AND-MATCH LEGAL TACTICS IS A HIGHLY DISTURBING ONE
FindLaw guest columnist and third-year NYU law student Jake Kreilkamp contends that it is impossible to find coherent principles behind the Bush Administration's varied, mix-and-match legal tactics employed over the past year in the war on terrorism. Surveying many of the past year's developments, he raises questions such as: Why is alien Zacarias Moussaoui given a federal court trial, while American citizen Yaser Hamdi is not, nor is American citizen Jose Padilla -- who was arrested on American soil? Kreilkamp suggests the explanation may be that the Administration is trying only the cases it knows it can win, and detaining indefinitely, as "unlawful combatants," those against whom it has less evidence. These tactics, he points out, are very troubling -- the less evidence against the defendant, the more likely he is to be detained without trial or an attorney.
Monday, Sep. 09, 2002

BRAD LEVANG
HEWLETT PACKARD'S TROUBLING ATTEMPT TO USE THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT IN THE COMPUTER SECURITY CONTEXT
FindLaw guest columnist and third year Santa Clara University law student Brad Levang discusses an aggressive recent move by Hewlett Packard to use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. As Levang explains, HP threatened to use the DMCA to go after a company whose researcher linked to code demonstrating a security flaw in HP's Tru64 operating system. While HP dropped its threat under public pressure, Levang sees it as the beginning of a possible troubling trend of using the DMCA to go after hackers -- not copyright-infringers.
Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002

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