Consider a fourteen-year-old boy whose entire life was spent moving in and out of foster care because his mother was an alcoholic and his stepfather was abusive. This boy suffered from early-onset depression, and had already attempted suicide four times by the age of fourteen. One night, the boy and his friend went to a trailer owned by his mother’s drug dealer to drink and do drugs. After the adult drug dealer passed out from consumption, the boy—seeing an opportunity for some quick cash—took the dealer’s wallet from his back pocket to steal his money. However, the dealer woke up and grabbed the boy by the throat. The boy’s friend hit the dealer with a nearby baseball bat. Once the boy was released, he repeatedly struck the drug dealer with the bat until he believed the man to be dead. To hide the evidence of the crime, the boys set fire to the drug dealer’s trailer, ultimately killing the man inside. This fourteen-year-old boy was sentenced to die in prison for his crimes, without any hope for release. This boy’s name is Evan Miller.
“Once upon a time, not so long ago, culture, in the lower case, was primarily an anthropological preoccupation. Not any more. It is hardly news that peoples across the planet have taken to invoking it, to signifying themselves with reference to it, to investing it with an authority, a determinacy, a superorganic unity of which even the most conservative anthropologist would be wary. Culture, now capitalized in both senses of the term, has come to provide the language, the Esperanto, of difference spoken in the active voice.”
Your client, CreativeSoft, produces CreativeDesign, a computer program that creates cards and brochures. In the 1990s, CreativeSoft sold the program on CD-ROMs. To keep up with the market, CreativeSoft now sells CreativeDesign2.0 only as a downloadable file from its website. CreativeSoft has come to your firm because MockSoft is selling CreativeDesign2.0 as its own product.
This reminds you of the Lanham Act § 43(a)(1)(A) “reverse passing off” (“RPO”) claim you brought against MockSoft when it sold CreativeDesign CD-ROMs packaged in MockDesign boxes. Now, MockSoft copies CreativeDesign2.0, removes copyright notices from the splash screens, and resells the program from its website. Further, MockSoft confuses customers by creating the impression that MockSoft is the origin of the program.
Should you file a RPO claim? You prevailed on this claim when MockSoft repackaged CreativeDesign CD-ROMs. However, a RPO claim may not survive the pleading stage of litigation if CreativeDesign alleges that MockSoft has repackaged CreativeDesign2.0. There is a risk of copyright preemption, and many district courts interpret a Supreme Court case, Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., as precluding producers of digital products from bringing claims under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act. Why?
The use of harsh, punitive disciplinary measures has become pervasive in our elementary and secondary schools. Many believe these “zero tolerance” educational policies, in which students are suspended or expelled from school for minor violations, are having disastrous effects on students across the country and are responsible for pushing many students out of school and into the hands of the juvenile justice system. Minority students, especially African Americans, have been disproportionately affected by these zero tolerance policies. With increasing success, advocates, parents, and students have been trying to change the way school officials discipline their students, though legislative and litigation efforts and grassroots community organizing. This Note discusses how advocates can use California’s anti-discrimination statute, California Government Code section 11135, to combat the disproportionate effect zero tolerance polices have on African American students.
The history of the treatment of mental illness in the United States is anything but simple. While both social and scientific understanding of mental illness have developed tremendously in recent decades, there remain significant barriers to implementing effective treatment and rehabilitation programs for people with mental illness. Inherent in this intersection of law and mental health is the delicate balance between preserving liberty and autonomy interests on the one hand, and providing for individual and societal safety on the other. This balance is not easily achieved and remains the core debate surrounding much of today’s mental health legislation.
A new breed of “app-based” ride-for-hire providers has caused a stir in California, helped rewrite the state’s rules governing ridesharing, and stoked tensions among taxicab drivers, state and local regulators, and the technology companies behind the new apps. UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar are among the most well-known of the new app-based rideshare services, which allow customers to hail a ride using smartphone applications by connecting them with drivers who also use the apps. Critically, the drivers need not be professionals; rather, they merely need to have downloaded a ridesharing app and been cleared by the app provider to drive. For a time, the app-based rideshare companies pointed to these novel aspects of their services to flout regulation entirely. New laws and rules in California, however, provide for the regulation of the nascent industry under a statewide scheme mandating insurance coverage, driver background checks, and other safety-based requirements. In substance, the new rules signal the state’s tacit approval of the development of app-based ridesharing services. Users of these app-based services, which are currently available only in major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, have been impressed by the apps’ lower prices and perceived higher quality of service.
In March 2014, Gordon Johnston issued an urgent warning to members of Congress: the Food and Drug Administration was “[d]isregarding decades of regulatory stability” by proposing a new regulation that “raises patient safety concerns and threatens the system that created thousands of affordable options for consumers.” Johnston, himself a former deputy director at the FDA, was joined at a press briefing by economist Alex Brill, who estimated that the proposed regulation, if approved, would raise annual U.S. health care costs by $4 billion.
Just what, exactly, was the FDA proposing to do? In the Agency’s words, it sought to “clarify procedures” allowing drug manufacturers “to change . . . product labeling to reflect certain types of newly acquired information.” In plain English, the ultimate consequence of the rule would be explicitly to permit generic drug manufacturers to update their labels with new safety warnings on a temporary basis, pending subsequent agency approval. Under current regulations, brand-name drug manufacturers are already able to update their warning labels in a similar fashion. However, the Agency has taken different positions over the years regarding whether generic drug manufacturers may update their labels. The proposed rule, announced in November 2013, would eliminate the ambiguity by establishing parity between both types of drug manufacturers with respect to label updates.
The definitive agreement in mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) transactions is one of the most heavily negotiated agreements in the field of commercial contracts. Besides establishing basic terms, such as defining the target and setting the form and amount of consideration, both buyer and seller attempt to allocate risk in order to achieve an acceptable level of deal certainty. Between an agreement’s signing and its closing, weeks, if not months, can pass as the purchaser performs due diligence and the parties obtain the necessary voting and regulatory approvals. In the interim, either the purchaser or the target may have a change of heart or a decline in performance. One way of allocating such risk during this period is through the use of a Material Adverse Change (“MAC”) or Material Adverse Effect (“MAE”) clause. In essence, MAC clauses allow a party to the agreement—most often the purchaser—to walk away free of penalty if the other party experiences an adverse change that is sufficiently material. However, despite the apparent simplicity of such clauses, vague drafting and a dearth of case law have made issues of interpretation exceedingly imprecise and unpredictable.
Claudia, a Mexican American with family roots in the United States since the mid-1800s, walked out of a grocery store, happily chatting with her three young children in Spanish as they walked toward her car. Before arriving at her car, she was stopped by government officials and asked for proof of citizenship. Speaking to the officers in accent-free English, she explained that she is in fact a United States citizen, offering her driver’s license as proof. After rejecting her driver’s license, the officers requested another form of identification as proof that she was in the United States legally. Eventually, Claudia gave the officers something that satisfied them, and they allowed her to continue with her children to her car. After the event, Claudia wondered what she might do in the future to avoid being stereotyped as an “undocumented Mexican.”
On June 25, 2013, as Texas State Senator Wendy Davis prepared to launch her now-famous filibuster, the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”), a crucial part of one of the most successful civil rights statutes ever enacted. This Note takes these two seemingly unrelated events as its starting and ending points. While the federal filibuster is a familiar procedural device, Davis’s effort shone a light on its underexamined state equivalent. The invalidation of Section 4 of the VRA also turned attention to the states, this time in the form of alarm bells warning of the need for state-level remedial measures to protect voting rights. This Note links those events together by recovering the history of the state filibuster to reveal how it may—and I argue, should—be used to mitigate the impact of Shelby County.