Issues to Watch

Two Fronts Converge in the War Against Online Sex Trafficking


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Two Fronts Converge in the War Against Online Sex Trafficking

David Dix*

Two fronts in the fight against online sex trafficking will soon come to a head.  Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage.com, was recently arrested and charged with felony pimping. Christopher Mele, C.E.O. of Backpage.com, Known for Escort Ads, Is Charged with Pimping a Minor, N.Y. Times (Oct. 6, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/us/carl-ferrer-backpage-ceo-is-arrested.html.  Backpage describes itself as the second-largest online classified advertisement service, and according to California prosecutors, ninety-nine percent of its income is “directly attributed” to its adult advertising.  Id.  At the time of the arrest, Ferrer was already embroiled in a standoff with the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations for failing to show up to a subpoena in 2015.  Senate Permanent Subcomm. v. Ferrer, No. 16-mc-621 (RMC), 2016 WL 4179289 (D.D.C. Aug. 5 2016).

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Issues to Watch

BABIES in Every Public Federal Building!


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BABIES in Every Public Federal Building!

Siyu Qian*

Former President Obama’s love of babies is no surprise to anyone.  A simple search on Google of “Obama with babies” reveals endless images of him holding babies (and one equally cute puppy).  His love of babies ultimately led to his signing of the conveniently named Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation—“BABIES”—Act.  Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act, Pub. L. No. 114-235, 130 Stat. 964 (2016).

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Issues to Watch

#youvebeenserved: Court Holds Twitter as an Acceptable Method of Service of Process


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#youvebeenserved: Court Holds Twitter as an Acceptable Method of Service of Process

Julie Giardina*

On September 30, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler granted a motion to serve process by alternative means, holding that the plaintiff could use Twitter to serve process on the defendant.  St. Francis Assisi v. Kuwait Fin. House, No. 3:16-CV-3240-LB, 2016 WL 5725002, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2016).  Plaintiff, nonprofit organization St. Francis Assisi, sued three defendants for damages “arising from the defendants’ financing of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which resulted in the targeted murder of Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria.”  Id. at *1.  St. Francis Assisi was unable to locate one of the three defendants, Hajjaj al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti resident, and thus was unsuccessful in serving him via traditional methods of service of process.  Id.  St. Francis Assisi filed a Motion to Serve Process by Alternative Means, requesting permission to serve al-Ajmi on the social media site Twitter.  Id.  The court granted the nonprofit organization’s motion, stating that service via Twitter is “reasonably calculated to give notice[,]” is the “method of service most likely to reach” the defendant due to his active use of Twitter as a means of communicating with his audience, and is a method not prohibited by international agreement.  Id.

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Issues to Watch

Wheels for My Wheels: Chicago Disability Groups Raise the Bar for Ridesharing Companies


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 Wheels for My Wheels: Chicago Disability Groups Raise the Bar for Ridesharing Companies

Kelly Goebel*

In October, an Illinois disability group—Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago—and three disabled individuals affiliated with the group filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies, Inc. in federal court.  Timothy Mclaughlin, Chicago Disability Group Sues Uber over Wheelchair Access, Reuters (Oct. 14, 2016, 12:18 AM), http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-lawsuit-idUSKCN12D2W6.  The disability group alleges that Uber fails to provide adequate transportation to individuals who require wheelchair access and is asking the court to enforce an order for the multibillion-dollar company to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Id.

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Issues to Watch

Bias and Secrecy in the Jury Room


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Bias and Secrecy in the Jury Room

Jillian Smith*

The demand for secrecy in jury deliberations has been held as a standard of the utmost importance for centuries:

Early notions that the jury should deliberate in secret were linked to the conception of the jury as an enigmatic, divinely inspired body. . . . [A]ny inquiry into the work of the jury would have been as “impious” as questioning the judgments of God. The jury, like the ordeals of water and fire that it replaced, was supposed to reach a verdict mysteriously.

Alison Markovitz, Jury Secrecy During Deliberations, 110 Yale L. J. 1493, 1505 (2001). In United States v. Thomas, the court asserted that “[t]he jury as we know it is supposed to reach its decisions in the mystery and security of secrecy; objections to the secrecy of jury deliberations are nothing less than objections to the jury system itself.” 116 F.3d 606, 619 (2nd Cir. 1997).

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