Issues to Watch

Can we be inclusive and not discriminate? What will be the effects of the proposed census questions?


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*Elizabeth Strunk

Another ten years have passed, and it is that time again.  The constitutionally required decennial census is upon us.  U.S. Const. art. I, § 2, cl. 3.  The Secretary of Commerce has been given broad discretion by Congress to carry out the decennial census through “the use of sample procedures and special surveys.”  13 U.S.C.A. § 141(a) (Westlaw through Pub. L. 115-223).  The original purpose of the census was for reapportionment; however, now “the census data is used for a myriad of other purposes.”  13 U.S.C.A. § 141(b) (Westlaw through Pub. L. 115-223); Wisconsin v. City of New York, 517 U.S. 1, 5–6 (1996).  Generally, questions on the census are justified because it is “necessary and proper” to collect data for Congress to provide government funding and programs to the communities most in need.  U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 18; Morales v. Daley, 116 F. Supp. 2d 801, 810 (S.D. Tex. 2000). (more…)

Issues to Watch

Expert Testimony in Maryland: Frye-Reed or Daubert?


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*Reginald Smallwood

Laws undoubtedly evolve over time.  However, is there ever a point when a law evolves into an entirely new law?  Many states use federal laws as guidance for creating new state laws. Michael Morgenstern, Daubert v. Frye – A State by State Comparison, The Expert Inst. (Apr. 3, 2017), https://www.theexpertinstitute.com/daubert-v-frye-a-state-by-state-comparison. However, if the state law evolves into the federal law, should the state simply adopt the federal law?  This is the current dilemma in Maryland courts regarding the evidentiary rule for evaluating scientific expert testimony.  The state is holding onto the name of its Frye-Reed test, but the test’s application is becoming more like the federal Daubert test. Sissoko v. State, 182 A.3d 874, 892 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2018).    (more…)

Issues to Watch

Guns in the Classroom? The Department of Education’s Possible Plan to Arm Teachers


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*Sarah Livingston

The Parkland school shooting in February 2018 caused yet another debate in the media about the Second Amendment and school safety.  Vann R. Newkirk II, Arming Educators Violates the Spirit of the Second Amendment, The Atlantic (Feb. 22, 2018), https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/the-absurdity-of-armed-educators/553961/.  Some states have proposed bills to permit concealed handguns in school, while others have enacted programs providing training to teachers on how to use firearms.  Id.  On August 22, 2018, the New York Times reported that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering a plan to use federal funding to arm teachers.  Erica L. Green, Education Secretary Considers Using Federal Funds to Arm Schools, N.Y. Times (Aug. 22, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/22/us/politics/betsy-devos-guns.html.  This would be the first instance of a federal agency approving the purchase of weapons without a congressional mandate.  Id. (more…)

Issues to Watch

Fentanyl is Injected Back into the News Following Its First Use in Capital Punishment


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*Joseph Stephan

In the midst of botched executions and challenges in acquiring the traditional drugs used for lethal injections, states have been forced to explore alternative methods of execution.  See, e.g., Tracy Connor, Oklahoma Says Gas Will Replace Lethal Injection in Executions, NBC News (Mar. 14, 2018, 5:38 PM), https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/oklahoma-says-gas-will-replace-lethal-injection-executions-n856721.  With lethality and availability concerns looming, Nebraska has turned to fentanyl, the fatal synthetic opioid at the core of America’s opioid crisis.  Mitch Smith, Fentanyl Used to Execute Nebraska Inmate, in a First for U.S., N.Y. Times (Aug. 14, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/carey-dean-moore-nebraska-execution-fentanyl.html.  Carey Dean Moore, who was sentenced to death for killing two taxi drivers in 1979, was executed with a “four-drug cocktail” of diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate, and potassium chloride.  Id.  The use of fentanyl in Moore’s execution, a first in the United States, drew fierce resistance from opponents of the death penalty and drug companies alike.  See Joe Duggan, Nebraska is Moving Closer to Its 1st Lethal Injection, but Timing is up to Court, Omaha World-Herald (Apr. 30, 2018), https://www.omaha.com/news/courts/nebraska-is-moving-closer-to-its-st-lethal-injection-but/article_3197ccf0-6820-589d-b1da-dcee0b7be223.html. (more…)