• Archive for February, 2012

    Cameras and the Courtroom Dynamic

    by  • February 28, 2012 • Faculty Commentary • 0 Comments

    By Nancy Marder [via Jurist]

    Illinois, which has allowed cameras in its appellate courts and its supreme court since 1983, recently opened up its trial courts to cameras as part of a pilot program. Illinois is part of a growing movement to have cameras in the courtroom. This movement can be seen on the state level, not only in Illinois, but also in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and South Dakota. These states have amended their procedures to make them more accessible to cameras. All 50 states now permit cameras in their courts, albeit with various restrictions. On the federal level, the Judicial Conference recently approved a pilot program, which is being conducted by the Federal Judicial Center, in which 14 district courts are experimenting with cameras in the courtroom. Although the US Supreme Court has resisted permitting cameras during oral argument, Congress has been working on legislation that would allow cameras in the Supreme Court. On February 9, 2012, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-7 in favor of having cameras in the US Supreme Court. A similar bill, the Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011, is still pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

    Leaving aside the constitutional question of one branch taking an action that does not respect the judgment of a coordinate branch, is permitting cameras in the courtroom a wise policy decision? Making courts accessible to citizens is important, but courts can do this in different ways, such as making audio and written transcripts available as quickly as possible. Cameras are not the only answer. Admittedly, the trend has been toward allowing cameras in courtrooms, but there are good policy reasons to stop short of having cameras in the courtroom, particularly in trial courts. At the very least, state and federal courts need to proceed cautiously and consider what is at stake. (more…)

    The Constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

    by  • February 25, 2012 • Faculty Commentary, Multimedia • 0 Comments

    By Sheldon Nahmod [via Nahmod Law]

    On January 18, 2012, I blogged about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act whose constitutionality is currently before the Supreme Court.

    In that post, I focused on the Commerce Clause challenge to the individual mandate.

    On February 10, 2012, I participated in an hour-long discussion of the overall constitutionality of the Act at a program sponsored by the Shriver Center and held in Chicago.

    This discussion, which was videotaped, covered the Commerce Clause, the Taxing Power, the expansion of Medicaid, and even the federal Tax Injunction Act.

    Below is the Youtube link to this discussion. I hope you find it of interest.


    U.S. v. Jones: Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age

    by  • February 25, 2012 • Faculty Commentary • 0 Comments

    By Lori Andrews [via Social Network Constitution Blog]

    As technology makes surveillance easier and cheaper, courts are grappling with how to apply the Fourth Amendment in the digital age.  Prior to beepers, GPS, people checking in on Foursquare, and social networks, law enforcement monitoring of suspected offenders was limited by the constraints of manpower, budget and the risk that the officers following suspects might themselves be seen.

    But now an increasing amount of information about people’s whereabouts, activities, purchases and intentions can be gleaned digitally, without an officer ever leaving the station.  The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this month in United States v. Jones provides little guidance about which activities might be considered searches, which require warrants, and which voluntary disclosures to third parties might waive Fourth Amendment rights.

    The case involved a GPS tracking device installed on a car owned by his wife and driven by Antoine Jones, a D.C. nightclub owner.  Jones was the target of a narcotics investigation by police and the FBI, who obtained a search warrant to place a GPS device on the car in D.C.  within 10 days.  The device was planted on the car on the 11th day in Maryland.

    At his trial for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, Jones moved to exclude the information collected through GPS monitoring, but the district court suppressed only the data obtained while the vehicle was parked in Jones’s own garage.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed his conviction on the grounds that the 28-day warrantless use of the GPS violated the Fourth Amendment. (more…)