Volume 52, Issue 3

5 posts

Embracing Federalism in Special Prosecution Models: An Analysis of Experimentation in the States

By Sabrina Singer

The main project of this Note is to use the example of police officer-involved deaths of unarmed civilians to craft and apply different special prosecution models. In Part II, this Note starts from the proposition that a special prosecutor should supersede the local prosecutor to investigate and prosecute certain cases, such as the police-involved death of unarmed civilians. This Note then identifies and addresses the criticisms made by opponents of special prosecution models.

In Part III, this Note presents and analyzes the existing special prosecution models implemented in states to address cases of police officer-involved deaths of unarmed civilians. Part IV uses the example of New York as an in-depth case study. Then, Part V distills down these complete state models to “dimensions” – areas where the models differ – to provide an analytical structure for readers to use in their own evaluation and design of special prosecution models. The dimensions also provide a structure for Part VI, which proposes and evaluates special prosecution models that seek to address incidents of police officer involved deaths of unarmed civilians. The broader utility of the dimensions will be as a framework for any future special prosecution model that seeks to address any future latent law enforcement gaps.

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Facing the Coordination Reality: Removing Individual and Party Limits on Contributions to Presidential Campaigns

By Zachary Morrison

Since Citizens United, a new era of campaigning has emerged in which traditional campaign functions have been outsourced to candidate-centric outside groups. In the 2016 presidential election, ten campaigns had raised less money than their allied Super PACs and other outside groups. Federal election regulations that restrict coordination between these outside groups and campaigns are outdated and poorly enforced. American democracy is weakened by this unprecedented electoral activity because of decreased donor transparency, increased negativity without accountability, and voter confusion.

This Note concludes, after examining outside group political activity in the 2012 and 2016 presidential cycles, that candidate-centric outside groups create the same risk of corruption as direct contributions to campaigns. Therefore, this Note proposes that proponents of stricter campaign finance regulation should consider removing limits on individual and political party contributions to presidential campaigns. Allowing individuals and parties to provide unlimited funds to campaigns would diminish the appeal of outside groups and increase the political pressure on campaigns to disavow their use. This realistic, if not pessimistic, proposal offers a simple legislative solution to some of the concerning elements of an increased reliance on outside groups, while leaving the possibility for a different Supreme Court to permit radical change.

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When Fido is Family: How Landlord-Imposed Pet Bans Restrict Access to Housing

By Kate O’Reilly-Jones

Renters today face widespread landlord-imposed pet restrictions. At the same time, Americans increasingly view their pets as family members, and many do not see giving up their animals as an option when looking for housing. Consequently, pet-owning renters often struggle to find suitable places to live and end up compromising on quality, location, and safety. As homeownership drops and renting becomes more prevalent across the United States, landlord-imposed pet restrictions increasingly constrain choices, effectively reducing access to housing for many Americans. These policies particularly impact low-income families and those with socially-maligned dog breeds.

This Note analyzes how landlord-imposed pet restrictions burden renters with dogs, with a particular focus on renters in the Los Angeles area. Parts II and III explain how legal and cultural attitudes toward pets are evolving, and how public and private restrictions constrain pet ownership. Part IV discusses the impact of landlord-imposed pet restrictions on renters and compares the situation to non-rental contexts in which people have sacrificed their own well-being to protect their pets. Part V asserts that the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause and the penumbral right to privacy can be interpreted to protect pet-owning families from government-imposed pet restrictions. It argues that while these constitutional protections do not apply in the private rental context, they do suggest that landlords unreasonably infringe on renters’ privacy interests and that legislators should act to constrain landlord control.

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Why the Intent Test Falls Short: Examining the Ways in Which the Legal System Devalues Gestation to Promote Nuclear Families

By Lauren Springett

For hundreds of years, the act of gestating and giving birth to a child was the lynchpin of the mother-child relationship. Now, changes in technological and societal norms have made it possible for motherhood to be established by some combination of gestation, genetics, and intent. As maternity disputes have increased, courts have privileged genetic and intent-based claims to motherhood over gestation-based claims.

This Note argues that in privileging genetic and intent-based claims to maternity over gestation-based claims, courts have implicitly devalued the historic importance of gestation in ways that privilege nuclear families at the expense of more marginalized women. Part II provides background on the evolution of the mother-child relationship in U.S. family law. Part III discusses the ways in which the legal system’s current approach to maternity disputes was shaped by its historical approach to paternity disputes. Part IV explores the ways in which the current approach specifically disadvantages gestational mothers — in particular, gestational surrogates and birth mothers. Part V proposes a model of reform that would more fully recognize both the contributions of gestational mothers and the rights of children to have relationships with all the women involved in their creation.

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Until Violence Do Us Part: Evaluating VAWA’s Bona Fide Marriage Requirement

By Anna Boltyanskiy

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows those victims of domestic violence who are married to U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents to “self-petition” for lawful status. To be approved under VAWA, the self-petitioner must prove, among other things, that her marriage was bona fide. This Note examines the practical difficulties that battered immigrants face in producing primary evidence of bona fide marriage and discusses the perverse incentives this requirement creates. Specifically, VAWA petitioners’ abusive spouses often destroy the documentation of bona fide marriage, never include the immigrant spouse’s name on the documents to begin with, or threaten further abuse if the immigrant spouse tries to obtain the documents. Because these issues are only amplified in a short-lived marriage, battered immigrants have perverse incentives to stay with their abusive partners longer, to marry their abusers, and to have children with them. As a possible solution, this Note argues that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should give greater weight to affidavits as qualitative proof of bona fide marriage, which allows VAWA petitioners to explain any documentary gaps and to tell their own stories.