Issues to Watch

Arrested for being Homeless: Anomaly or Reality?


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Arrested for being Homeless: Anomaly or Reality?

Tiffany Ashton*

Being homeless in America means consistently worrying about finding safe and legal shelter for the night.  Statement of Interest of the United States at 2, Bell v. City of Boise, 993 F. Supp. 2d 1237, No. 1:09-cv-540-REB (D. Idaho 2014).  In 2014, “over 42% of homeless individuals slept in unsheltered, public locations—under bridges, in cars, in parks, on sidewalks, or in abandoned buildings.”  Id. at 2.  While these places may be unsafe and may put the homeless at a higher risk of being involved in crime, those individuals are also putting themselves legally at risk of arrest.  Id. at 3 (citing Jones v. City of Los Angeles, 444 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2006) (vacated after settlement, 505 F.3d 1006 (9th Cir. 2007))).  Cities have begun to enact ordinances that make it illegal for individuals to sleep outside.  Id. at 9 (citing Jones, 444 F.3d 1118; Johnson v. City of Dallas, 860 F. Supp. 344, 350 (N.D. Tex. 1994); Pottinger v. City of Miami, 810 F. Supp. 1551, 1563 (S.D. Fla. 1992)).  Compliance with the cities’ ordinances is increasingly difficult for a homeless person turned away from multiple shelters for lack of space on any given night.  Id. at 12.  In a recent case, Bell v. City of Boise, 993 F. Supp. 2d 1237 (D. Idaho 2014), homeless plaintiffs in Idaho are challenging the city’s anti-camping and disorderly conduct ordinances as cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eight Amendment. (more…)

Issues to Watch

The Movement Towards Service of Process Via Social Media


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Internet Service Provided: The Movement Towards Service of Process Via Social Media

Christopher M. Finke*

It is classic film fodder to show a well-dressed man approaching a main character of the movie, handing that character some papers, and stating, “you’ve been served.”  It is even within the realm of the imagination that a person may open his mailbox to find a letter from a fancy law firm that puts him on notice that he is being sued.  What if, however, a person is scrolling through his Facebook feed when a message from his wife appears, serving him with divorce papers?  An average person might immediately ask “is that even legal?”  The bench, bar, and academia have been struggling to answer that question for the last decade. See, e.g., WhosHere, Inc. v. Orun, No. 1:13-cv-00526-AJT-TRJ, 2014 WL 670817 (E.D. Va. Feb. 20, 2014); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Carrette, No. 4:12cv1728 SNLJ, 2013 WL 4058745 (D. Kan. July 9, 2013); Federal Trade Comm’n v. PCCare247 Inc., 12 Civ. 7189 (PAE), 2013 WL 841037 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2013); Fortunato v. Chase Bank USA, N.A., No. 11 Civ. 6608 (JFK), 2012 WL 2086950 (S.D.N.Y. June 7, 2012); Baidoo v. Blood-Dzarku, 5 N.Y.S.3d 709 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2015); In re Adoption of K.P.M.A., 341 P.3d 38 (Okla. 2014).

The exponential increase in the use and influence of social media, Facebook in particular, has been the subject of litigation. See Claire M. Specht, Note, No LOL Matter: Does Text Message Service Of Process Comport With Due Process?, 53 B.C. L. Rev. 1929, 1951–52  (2012).  Notwithstanding the problem of authentication, can a lawyer use social media postings from accounts purportedly belonging to a party?  Can social media postings be used to impeach the testimony of a witness?  Can service of process be satisfied through social media? (more…)

Issues to Watch

Assessing the Ability of Governor Hogan to De-Politicize Maryland’s Federal Redistricting Process


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Fixing the Broken-Winged Pterodactyl: Assessing the Ability of Governor Hogan to De-Politicize Maryland’s Federal Redistricting Process

In form, the original Massachusetts Gerrymander looks tame by comparison, as this is more reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the State. The Third District is rated at or near the bottom of all congressional districts in multiple measures of statistical compactness”

Stanley R. Carignan*

The 2010-midterm elections ushered in a new era of partisanship and legislative stalemate unprecedented in modern times.  Adam Bonica, Introducing the 112th Congress, Ideological Cartography (Nov. 5, 2010), http://ideologicalcartography.com/2010/11/05/ introducing-the-112th-congress/.  While the election was a national victory for Republicans, Democrats in Maryland retained their control over the Governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature.  2010 General Election Results, Md. State Board of Elections, http://www.elections.state.md.us/elections/2010/results/General/gen_results_2010_2_003-.html (last visited Aug. 27, 2015).  In October 2011, Governor Martin O’Malley called a special session of the state legislature to update Maryland’s congressional maps in compliance with the 2010 U.S. Census.  Jeff Newman, Redistricting 101: Democrats Positioning for 7-to-1 Capitol Hill Advantage, SoMd News (Sept. 30, 2011), http://www.somdnews.com/article/20110930/NEWS/709309923&template=southernMaryland.  Republicans, the minority party, faced considerable legislative obstacles to getting any favorable districts drawn in the new congressional maps.  2010 General Election Results, supra.  Indeed, the congressional districts ultimately produced by the special session are today considered some of the most blatantly partisan in the nation.  Christopher Ingraham, America’s Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts, Wash. Post: Wonkblog (May 15, 2014), http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2014/05/15/americas-most-gerrymandered-congressional-districts/.  Justifiably frustrated with the outcome of the partisan redistricting process, Republicans successfully petitioned for a voter referendum on the new congressional maps approved by the legislature.  Aaron C. Davis, Md. Voters Likely to Decide Congressional Map, Wash. Post (July 11, 2012), http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/maryland-politics/post/md-voters-likely-to-decide-congressional-map/2012/07/11/gJQASWxidW_blog.html.  Despite the Republican outcry, Maryland voters approved of their new partisan congressional districts at a ratio of nearly two to one.  Official 2012 Presidential General Election Results for All State Questions, State Board of Elections, http://www.elections.state.md.us/elections/2012/results/general/gen_qresults_2012_4_00_1.html (last updated Nov. 28, 2012).  A similar process played out across the nation as state parties in the majority or supermajority leveraged their power to draw favorable districts.  Noah Litton, The Road to Better Redistricting: Empirical Analysis and State-Based Reforms to Counter Partisan Gerrymandering, 73 Ohio St. L.J. 839, 841 (2012). (more…)

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First Amendment Challenges Threaten Funding Schemes For Public Sector Unions Could Shape The Upcoming National Election


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First Amendment Challenges Threaten Funding Schemes For Public Sector Unions Could  Shape The Upcoming National Election

Christian Piatt*

As politics returns to center stage with each party trying to find its next presidential candidate, the issue of public sector unions is coming before the Supreme Court.  Recently, the Supreme Court heard Harris where a small group of employees sought First Amendment protection from mandatory contributions to public sector unions.  Harris v. Quinn, 134 S. Ct. 2618 (2014).  The Court struck down aspects of the challenged scheme but limited the decision to a small class of employees.  A second suit now follows on the heels of the Court’s 5-4 decision in Harris.  In Friedrichs, a school teacher alleges that mandatory contributions to a union infringe her First Amendment rights by requiring her to fund a third party organization whose political agenda conflicts with her personal beliefs.  Friedrichs v. California Teachers Ass’n., No. 13-57095, 2014 WL 10076847 (9th Cir. Nov. 18, 2014) cert. granted, 135 S. Ct. 2933 (2015).  Whichever way the Court holds will certainly fuel passionate, widespread debate throughout the upcoming election season. (more…)

Issues to Watch

The Voting Rights Act Turns 50


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The Voting Rights Act Turns 50

Laura E. Cress

August 2015 marked the golden anniversary of a piece of civil rights legislation that is largely considered the most successful ever adopted by the United States Congress—the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).  Introduction to Federal Voting Rights Laws, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, http://www.justice.gov/crt/introduction-federal-voting-rights-laws-1 (last visited Oct. 11, 2015) [hereinafter VRA Intro].  Fifty years ago on August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the VRA into law to combat a near century of racial discrimination that continually contaminated the voting process in parts of the country, even after the enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment’s guarantee of the right to vote without discrimination.  Shelby v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612, 2633 (2013) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting).  But in 2013, minority citizens protected by the Act suffered a setback when the Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Act in its Shelby v. Holder decision.  Id.  The VRA today has a less profound effect on disenfranchised voters’ rights than the Act Congress enacted 50 years ago, and renewed as recently as 2006.  Shelby, 133 S. Ct. at 2621 (majority opinion); Adam Liptak, Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act, N.Y. Times (Jun. 25, 2013), http://nyti.ms/17zP82p. (more…)