As COVID-19 began its spread across the country in March 2020, public health officials sounded the warning alarm, alerting Americans that older adults faced a heightened risk of contracting the virus. In a press briefing on March 10, 2020, Dr. Nancy Messonnier—the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases—stated as follows: “This seems to be a disease that affects adults. And most seriously older adults. Starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease and the risk increases with age.” These early warnings were not overstated; the CDC has found that “8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults aged 65 years and older.”
Most media attention concerning COVID-19 and older adults has rightfully highlighted this distinct impact on elderly individuals. However, older adults unfortunately face other pandemic related risks that extend beyond their physical health. COVID-19 also places older adults at a higher risk of abuse, and legal practitioners should equip themselves with information about elder abuse and its signs to protect older clients. While this knowledge is always important, it is particularly critical during a public health crisis that already makes older adults so vulnerable.
Often, landlords are not held “accountable when they don’t ensure minimum standards of habitability” are met. As a result, disputes over substandard living conditions may lead to tenants withholding rent as they wait for repairs that often never come. Instead, landlords respond by initiating summary ejectment proceedings to evict tenants due to their failure to pay rent. The Court of Appeals of Maryland (Court of Appeals) recently heard a case that encapsulates the frustrating nature of a renter’s ordeal.
In 2020, uncovered faces and public outings are a rarity as Americans wear face masks and stay home to prevent COVID-19. But while people see each other less than ever before, Congress is assessing how government entities collect data on our faces, specifically through federal use of facial recognition and biometric identification technology.
The struggle over California’s efforts to prohibit high-capacity magazines came to a head on August 14, 2020, when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion effectively striking down a 2016 statute. This ruling was the culmination of what has been a long journey beginning in June 2017, when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granted a motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law. Following an appeal by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the order of the district court.
A permanent injunction was issued on March 29, 2019 when the district court granted a motion for summary judgment against Attorney General Becerra. This decision ushered in “Freedom Week” where “hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds were lawfully purchased by California gun owners.” This only lasted a week, however, as an April 4 ruling from the district court granted a motion to stay pending the appeal filed by Becerra on April 1. This back-and-forth caused a lot of confusion on the part of gun owners. A year later, on April 2, 2020, the case was presented to the Ninth Circuit at oral argument; and then on August 14, the majority opinion continued the momentum when it deemed California Penal Code § 32310 unconstitutional.
Recent instances of police violence against black Americans have revived the debate about when police may use force. Despite the ongoing nature of police brutality, courts have continuously deferred to officers’ judgment in evaluating whether or not the force used was “excessive.” Courts continue to evaluate excessive force claims based on the standard set by Graham v. Connor, in which the Supreme Court held that whether an officer’s use of force was “objectively reasonable” depends on the perspective of a “reasonable officer” in the same situation. However, such “objectivity” has the appearance of a legal fiction, which makes true reform and accountability difficult, perhaps even impossible.