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DLR Blog

The DLR Blog features short essays discussing current legal issues and topics and keeps in touch with DLR’s alumni through the Blog’s “Where Are They Now?” segments. DLR welcomes submissions from current staff members of DLR, faculty, alumni of DLR, practitioners, and students of Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law. Please email drexellrev@gmail.com with any questions or to submit an entry.

By Veronica J. Finkelstein and Nicolas Burnosky*

Imagine you are a new prosecutor litigating your first felony homicide case. Given the stakes, you likely feel tremendous pressure to secure a conviction at trial. Based on the evidence, this should be easy. The defendant was found with a gun that matches the bullets recovered from the victim. The defendant has no alibi. Most convincing of all, you have a police report documenting an interview with an eyewitness. This eyewitness told the police he saw the defendant shoot and kill the victim. Although the report itself is inadmissible hearsay, you intend to call the eyewitness to testify at trial. You feel confident that this testimony, along with the other evidence, should be sufficient to convince the jury.

Your confidence is shattered when you receive a call from the police. The officer tells you that the eyewitness was brought in for subsequent questioning and that he recanted the identification. He now claims someone else shot the victim. Before hanging up, the officer tells you she will submit an amended report. It is clear that you no longer wish to call the eyewitness to testify at trial on behalf of the prosecution. But you might nonetheless be able to go forward based on the other evidence you’ve gathered. What must you do with the police reports? Must you disclose them to defense counsel? In the Fourth and Seventh Circuit, the answer is "no." In these circuits, the reports need not be disclosed because they are inadmissible. As explained below, this approach is flawed because it conflates admissibility and materiality.

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By Gillian Vernick

American society used to rely on the “marketplace of ideas” theory that more information was better than overly censoring content to get to the truth. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said in his prolific dissent in Abrams v. United States, the best test of the truth is reached by free trade of ideas in the competitive marketplace. Holmes’s words ring earnest and nostalgic in the era of Fake News. Can society still rely on the “marketplace of ideas” for truthful content if the marketplace is flooded with fake news and manipulative media?

While lawmakers scramble to solve the manipulated media problem often fueling viral disinformation, the federal government should authorize agencies experienced in disinformation, such as the FTC, FCC, and FEC, to provide guidelines for platforms to guide their self-regulation and create the digital infrastructure necessary to uphold democratic discourse online.

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Impactful Interactions conference graphic, portrait

By Analisa Goodmann and Brittany Cruz

Does the law help or hurt people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? This was the central question addressed during a daylong symposium, titled “Impactful Interactions: Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Legal System,” hosted by the Drexel Law Review on October 2, 2020.

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By Louise Chakejian

Family-owned businesses are the “backbone of the [U.S.] economy.” Over 90% of businesses in the U.S. are family owned and operated, employing over 62% of the private sector workforce, or 82 million individuals, contributing over 57% of GDP, and creating 78% of all new jobs. But, nearly 70% of family businesses do not survive the second generation, and only 12% survive to the third generation. Why do so many of these family businesses fail to survive? And what, if anything, can estate planners to do to fix this problem?

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By Caitlin Dryden

Today, more Police Officers and Firefighters will die by suicide than in the line of duty. “You don’t realize what’s happening to you when you’re going through the years of layered secondary trauma, and then one day you feel it,” says Officer Ed Pila, a retired officer who spent 20 years working in the domestic violence unit. There are many reasons why first responders struggle to get help for mental injuries, such as lack of public awareness, cultural stigmas, biases within the first responder community, lack of access to mental health services, and the cost of such services. A rebuttable PTSD presumption granting coverage for first responders under the workers’ compensation system would alleviate many of these burdens and help break the silence and stigma surrounding mental health.

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By Cassidy Heiserman 

Each year, roughly 500,000 people are held in jail in the United States because they are unable to afford bail. Being unable to afford cash bail, regardless of consequent length of stay in jail, can lead to psychological impacts, and loss of jobs, custody, and housing.While bail is now a mechanism for punishing poverty, it originated in Medieval England “as a device to free untried prisoners.” Additionally, those who cannot afford bail are significantly more likely to be convicted or plead guilty. Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, cash bail systems are unconstitutional because they impermissibly discriminate against indigent persons and fail under heightened scrutiny.

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The Volume 13 Executive Board of the Drexel Law Review unequivocally expresses its support for the Black Lives Matter movement. As Drexel’s Black Law Students Association stated in its statement of solidarity, this is our call to action.

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By Christopher Mullen

Jordan L. Fischer, Esq. graduated from the then-Earle Mack School of Law in 2013 summa cum laude and completed a prestigious clerkship with the European Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg before entering the private practice of law in Philadelphia. During her time at the Earle Mack School, Jordan served as Executive Editor of Drexel Law Review and founded the symposium program as the first Symposium Editor.

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By Gabrielle Gesek, Associate Editor

It may come as no surprise that many Americans believe the political system is broken. Extreme partisanship, a disinterested electorate, and lack of congressional accountability contribute to the current political swamp. But, perhaps, the most pervasive issue undermining the modern political system stems from campaign finance law. How can we move towards more transparent election politics?

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By Professor Veronica Finkelstein

The overriding goal of the Federal Rules of Evidence is to ensure fairness throughout the trial process. Yet a rule designed to promote fairness, Rule 106, is being applied in ways that may seem unfair. Have courts gone astray in their application of Rule 106?

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By Kristen Mowery, Managing Editor

Diana Silva, a 2011 graduate from what was then the Earle Mack School of Law, is currently a partner at Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox and works in environmental litigation and regulatory compliance.

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By Danielle Russ, Associate Editor

Lawyers and law students must stand up for the independence of the judiciary and must speak on behalf of the judges falling under attack.

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By Kristen Mowery, Managing Editor

Michelle Paznokas, a 2017 Kline School of Law graduate, spent her time on Drexel Law Review working diligently as Notes Editor and contributing to the journal in a variety of ways.

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In re LJB

February 22, 2019

By Professor David S. Cohen

Women have been charged with all sorts of crimes, including drug use, for their actions during pregnancy when every medical expert agrees that the best course of action is to get better and more accessible medical care. This short essay discusses this issue as well as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent decision holding that the state law governing child abuse does not apply to actions taken by pregnant women before birth.

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