Thursday, January 18, 2018

Can a Lawyer Say the Client Is Guilty When the Client Says He's Innocent?

A lawyer thought the only way to save his client from the death penalty in the face of very strong evidence of guilt was to concede his guilt. The client insisted he was innocent. The lawyer’s strategy didn’t work and his client was sentenced to death. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide if, under these facts, the defendant was deprived of his right to counsel.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg presents the story in a 4 minute report, transcript available, and then follows up after listening to the oral arguments.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Armbands Against the Vietnam War - Today

Nina Totenberg on NPR's All Things Considered of January 3rd  reports on the reenactment of a 50 year old U.S. Supreme Court case, Tinker v. the Des Moines Independent Community School District.
Tinker was one of five students who in 1965 wore a black armband to school to protest the Vietnam War. She was suspended by school authorities. Four years later, the Supreme Court ruled by a 7 to 2 vote that the school authority was wrong to punish her action.
The re-enactment was part of a project to teach school children about the rule of law. 6 min, transcript available.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Wedding Cake and the U.S. Constitution

NPR’s Nina Totenberg has two reports about an important case argued this week before the U.S. Supreme Court which revolves around a wedding cake. A same-sex couple asked a baker to make a cake for their wedding and he refused, saying it was against his religious principles. The constitutional issue that brought the incident to the Court are the baker’s First Amendment free speech right vs. a Colorado anti-discrimination law. This case is important because of the effect that a decision in favor of the baker could have in other situations, so there were many hypothetical questions posed by the justices.
Totenberg’s report just before the argument can be found here. 6 min 31 sec, transcript available.
The second, just after the oral argument, can be found here. 5 min 58 sec, transcript available.
The name of the case is Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The recording of the oral arguments is now available on the Court's web site. The transcript is available here. You can find some in-depth discussion of the case here on the SCOTUSblog web site.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Evolution vs Creationism

The New York Times has a series of videos, Retro Report, which re-examine old controversies and their relevance to the present. It has just posted one about the conflict between science (evolution, in this case) and theology (the Biblical story of creation). There are important constitutional law issues here - the separation of church and state. 10 min 47 sec, no transcript but an article about the subject of the video.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Harvard Law School Celebrates Its 200 Years

Harvard Law School, founded in 1817, is celebrating its 200th birthday this year.  It organized an October summit for exploring big ideas, “HLS in the World” with videos of many of the events posted on YouTube. You can find them here. There are so many that it's hard to offer a selection on this blog, but one of the most popular is an interview with Harold Koh and Samantha Power about their careers as academics and government officials in the area of international law. Another one is a discussion with three federal appellate judges about how they work. Part of the celebration even included a re-argument of the landmark Supreme Court case of Marbury v. Madison. The videos posted are usually about 1h 30 min, no transcript, but often good subtitles.
The law school appears to be adding more videos in addition to the 30 already posted.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Law in Action Is Back

The BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action is back with another series of programmes. The first in the series begins by talking about the government’s secret intelligence agency, GCHS, and why it needs lawyers. Later in the programme, presenter Joshua Rosenberg, speaks of « the biggest legal challenge of our lifetime » – Brexit. Finally, you will hear a discussion of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and what kind of news about it the media can report.
The second episode talks about recent acid attacks and what sorts of laws could reduce them, followed by news of a change in what is required to file a claim in an employment tribunal. The fees that were once required have been found unlawful. Then the question whether too many cases involving young people are being dealt with in criminal courts is raised. Finally you can hear a piece about the effect of an apology on potential lawsuits. Another episode will air next week.
about 27 minutes, no transcript.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

President Trump’s Twitter Account and the First Amendment Rights of His Critics

NPR’s All Things Considered has a piece about a lawsuit by someone who was blocked from making comments on President Trump’s twitter account and he says this infringes his first amendment right to use a public forum. 3 mimn 32 sec, transcript available.