Uber and other rideshare companies are making headlines as California seeks to bring an end to the classification of drivers as independent contractors. In a recently filed lawsuit, California Labor Commissioner, Lilia García-Brower, demands that rideshare companies reclassify drivers and is seeking millions of dollars in civil penalties, in addition to unpaid payroll and benefit taxes. The Commissioner argues that by continuing to improperly classify drivers as independent contractors, rideshare companies have not only avoided paying taxes and expenses, but also unfairly deprived their drivers of the right to basic employment benefits.
The Maryland Court of Appeals held that the Circuit Court for Baltimore County abused its discretion when, upon request during voir dire, it declined to question prospective jurors’ willingness and ability to follow jury instructions on fundamental principles of the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof, and the defendant’s right to not testify, overruling Twining v. State. Kazadi v. State, 467 Md. 1, 223 A.3d 554 (2020).
In Kazadi v. State, the Court of Appeals of Maryland (Court of Appeals) overruled its decision in Twining v. State, holding that trial courts commit an abuse of discretion when declining to ask prospective jurors whether they can follow the court’s instructions on the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof, and the defendant’s right not to testify. To reach this decision, the Court of Appeals determined that significant changes in the law superseded Twining. The Court’s decision mandates that trial courts question prospective jurors—about the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof, and the defendant’s right not to testify—if requested during voir dire. The Kazadi holding adopts the presumption that jurors may be unable or unwilling to follow the law according to the trial court’s instructions, which may significantly affect how Maryland courts conduct voir dire and help ensure selection of impartial juries.
In February 2019, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies sued the Trump Administration (the Administration) on behalf of “11 individual asylum seekers and organizational plaintiffs.” Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf, ACLU (Mar. 9, 2020), https://www.aclu.org/cases/innovation-law-lab-v-wolf; Kate Morrisey & Sandra Dibble, ACLU Sues Trump Administration over ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy for Asylum Seekers, San Diego Union-Tribune (Feb. 14, 2019, 2:40 PM), https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sd-me-families-returned-20190214-story.html. The lawsuit challenges the Trump Administration’s implementation of its striking immigration policy, the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” Policy, which forces “asylum seekers to return to Mexico and remain there while their cases are considered.” Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf, supra.