20 November 2011

What They Don't Teach in Law Schools: Lawyering

The New York Times ran a piece this weekend with the above headline. This is a nice addition to our discussion in class (except for my Introduction to English Law course) about becoming a lawyer in the United States.

14 November 2011

How Powerful is the Federal Government?

As I mentioned last week in my Introduction to American Law course, questions concerning federalism in the United States are really now questions about how powerful the federal government can be. The New York Times ran a great piece this past weekend about this question of government power in the context of President Obama's effort to provide all Americans with health care. Give it a read and see if you can follow the arguments being made.

08 November 2011

Juries in the Age of Facebook

The Chicago Tribune recently ran a fascinating piece about whether a juror's blog postings impacted the fairness of a trial.

Judges have long instructed jurors not to talk about their jury service with anyone, including fellow jurors, and to avoid reading newspaper stories about trials. The fear is that jurors might develop a bias from information that's not been admitted in court. The right to an impartial jury is one of the principles of the American justice system.

But that right is threatened in a digital age when people post personal thoughts onto the Internet, whether on a blog or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It's also become second nature to satisfy curiosities by searching for immediate answers on the Internet.

The article goes on to discuss issues like jurors using Google Street View to visit the scene of a crime, something they are physically prohibited from doing, but virtually? It gives an example of a murder conviction being overturned because a juror consulted Wikipedia as part of the deliberation process. The questions raised in this article are numerous and important!

05 November 2011

Too Much Independence?

The main purpose of the 2005 constitutional reforms in the United Kingdom, which created a new Supreme Court, was to increase the independence of the judiciary. But now some three years into this constitutional experiment, some are questioning whether the Court has become too independent. The Guardian has more.