In a world where the COVID-19 pandemic has halted nearly all large gatherings, many industries have had to drastically change the ways they function.In particular, the music industry was required to cease nearly all live performances, which is a main source of income for a majority of artists. What constitutes a live performance can range from a small show at a bar to a large show at an arena or stadium.
The U.S. is following the lead of many countries in its attempt to ban the social media app, TikTok. TikTok is a short-form media application which allows users to create up to sixty second videos on virtually any topic. TikTok Inc., a U.S. based corporation, is owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, Ltd. TikTok gained traction starting in 2018 after it merged with another ByteDance short-form application, Musical.ly, in 2017.The application surpassed 165 million downloads in the U.S. alone and over two billion downloads worldwide in the first quarter of 2020, with increasing popularity amongst teens.
Before COVID-19 (COVID), artists in the live music industry toured the country, bringing arenas full of people together to have one common experience of seeing them perform. Since March, the live music industry has hit a standstill, with many events getting postponed or canceled as a result of the COVID pandemic. Many changes have been made to the regulations for public safety since COVID was first declared a pandemic—e.g., the need to wear a mask when out in public and restrictions on the number of people allowed at group gatherings. As an industry that is almost entirely centered around bringing large groups of people together, how should the live music industry reopen amidst COVID without risking massive outbreaks and lawsuits?
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.