Monthly Archives: February 2013

Legal News of the Day: SCOTUS to Rule on Faulty Plea Bargain Advice

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in two cases.  In Burt v. Titlow, the court will consider ineffective counsel under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.  Titlow received a logner sentence after rejecting a plea deal as advised by a new attorney she acquired at the beginning of trial proceedings.

Supreme Court

The other case granted certiorari by the Court is Kansas v. Cheever, which will look at whether a person’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination is violated if a defendant proffers expert testimony to demonstrate that he lacked the requisite mental state at the time of the crime due to drug use and the prosecution offers the court-ordered mental evaluation of the defendant to rebut the testimony.

Legal News of the Day: SCOTUS Considers DNA and Fourth Amendment

dnaToday, the Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Maryland v. King, considering whether the Fourth Amendment allows states to collect and analyze DNA samples from those arrested for serious crimes without obtaining a warrant first.

For more on this case, and what it might mean, check out Erwin Chemerinsky’s op-ed for the ABA Journal.  For background on the case, see SCOTUSblog’s Argument Preview.

Legal News of the Day: Australian Court Allows US Company to Patent Cancer Gene

australiaOn Friday, an Australian court ruled that American biotech company, Myriad Genetics, can patent a human gene linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.  The court reasoned that because the gene is created artificially, it can be patented.

A similar gene patent case is pending before the United States Supreme Court: Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics.

Legal News of the Day: Student Sues Over Final Grade

A graduate student has sued both her professor and the university she was attending over the C+ she received in a class, arguing that the grade kept her from earning her degree and becoming a licensed therapist.  She says that, in turn, has cost her 1.3 million in lost earnings, causing her to seek both monetary damages and a grade change.

A judge in Northampton County, PA, ruled that there as enough evidence for the suit to proceed, and testimony in the case will be heard this week.  The instructor plaintiff stands by the grade given, saying the student earned 0 out of 25 participation points after acting unprofessionally during class, while the student’s attorney argues that the professor targeted the student for being an open advocate for gay marriage.  More than one professor testified that they could not recall a student ever receiving no points for participation.

Legal News of the Day: U.S. Senate Votes to Renew VAWA

On Tuesday, the United States Senate voted 78-22 to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expired in 2011.  The issue will next go before the House of Representatives, where a different version of the bill is being created.  Last year, the House and Senate both passed bills senaterenewing VAWA, but failed to reach a compromise over one provision regarding tribal courts’ ability to prosecute non-Indians accused of assaulting Indian women on reservations.

Violence against women in the United States continues to be a prevalent issue.  A 2011 report by UN Special Rapporteur Manjoo noted a continued prevalence of violence and discriminatory treatment of women in the U.S., particularly for poor, minority, and immigrant women.  The report cited VAWA as one positive step that had been taken, but remarked that a lack of protective legislation was a contributing factor to the amount of violence that continues to occur.

Papal Resignation Under Canon Law

popebenedictPope Benedict XVI announced this week that he was resigning the papacy, becoming the first pope to do so in six centuries.  Due to the rarity of the situation, many questions have been raised about how to handle the resignation under Catholic law.

Under the Code of Canon Law, Canon 332, no. 2, there is little said about the protocol to resign the papacy: “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.”

For more on this topic, see the Wall Street Journal’s “A Legal Guide to Papal Resignation.”

How to Tackle Research in a New Area of Law

Starting research in a new area of law?  Don’t know the best place to begin?cornell legal research engine

Check out Cornell’s Legal Research Engine!  Simply type in the area of law that you want to research (ex. environmental law) and it will pull up a list of links to research guides on that subject area from different law schools.

Research guides will help you determine where to start researching for the best information on a specific area of law, often listing the most important primary and secondary sources and telling you where/how to access them.

Don’t start from scratch when the work’s already been done for you!


Legal News of the Day: SCOTUSBlog Will Host Online Symposium on the Voting Rights Act

On Wednesday, February 27, the Supreme Court will hear the oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder.   The case will consider the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Section 5 prohibits states with a history of racial bias from making changes to election procedures without approval from either a special federal court in Washington or the Department of Justice.

SCOTUSBlog is hosting another excellent online symposium on the case, starting off with “Voting Rights Case: Made Simple” by Lyle Denniston, which breaks down the case in layman’s terms.

What Not To Do In Court

Where do I start? There are many things you shouldn’t do in court, but today’s item is a good beginning. A FL defendant managed to turn a bail hearing into a 30-day sentence for contempt when she directed a rude hand gesture at the judge. Read more here.

Knowledge nugget: the article linked above has a good overview of contempt charges.