Archive for ‘Law School’

08/28/2013

About this pro-gun “Harvard” “study” that is making the internet rounds today

by wfgodbold

There are a few things that need to be said:

1. It isn’t new; it’s from 2007.

2. It was published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which is the official journal of the Federalist Society (and so, despite the Harvard name, has a more right-libertarian bent than one might expect; in fact, the top of the Journal’s homepage bears the legend “The nation’s leading forum for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship.”).

3. The authors do not appear to be affiliated with Harvard. This is due to the nature of law review publications (which the Harvard J.L. & Pub. Pol’y most assuredly is). Law professors and attorneys write articles and then submit them to reviews for consideration for publication. The staff of the review will check the articles and their sources, making sure that cited authority actually says what the author claims it says.*

Now, I haven’t read the article itself or looked at the sources or methodology. I am in favor of its conclusion (as should be obvious from this blog). Its truth or falsity should be determined irrespective of its source.

Breitbart.com‘s calling it a Harvard study is bending the truth nearly to the breaking point, and Hot Air‘s assertion that because this article is from HARVARD!!11!1 it settles everything is flat out wrong.

I was originally going to submit this as a comment over at Alphecca, but decided instead to get in my one post for August (I have no idea why this has become my new schedule, but I will try to post more frequently).

*If you remember, gentle reader, I am currently a member of the law review at my law school. Reviews are predominantly student-run, and we spend most of our time running down sources and editing submitted pieces.

07/11/2013

Schrödinger’s Open Carry in Arkansas

by wfgodbold

Before I get into the meat of Act 746 of Arkansas’s 89th General Assembly (on which both Clayton Cramer and Sebastian and Bitter have recently written), let me congratulate Illinois on its actual passage–over the governor’s vet0–of a shall-issue concealed carry licensing scheme. Welcome to the club!

Now, here in Arkansas, much hullabaloo has been made over Act 746, which went into effect on July 1st. That act changed the language in Arkansas’s law regarding the offense of carrying a weapon (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-120), and in the law governing possession of handguns on school property (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-119).

The main issue is with § 5-73-120, which previously read:

(a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.

(b) As used in this section:

(1) “Club” means . . . ;

(2) “Handgun” means . . . ; and

(3)(A) “Knife” means . . . .

(B) “Knife” includes . . . .

(c) It is a defense to a prosecution under this section that at the time of the act of carrying a weapon:

. . .

(4) The person is carrying a weapon when upon a journey, unless the journey is through a commercial airport when presenting at the security checkpoint in the airport or is in the person’s checked baggage and is not a lawfully declared weapon; . . .

Note that though this section provided the “journey” defense, subsection (b) did not actually define what qualified as a journey.

As of July 1st, the statute, as amended by Act 746, now reads:

(a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.

. . .

(b) As used in this section:

. . .

(3) “Journey” means travel beyond the county in which a person lives; and

. . .

(c) It is permissible to carry a handgun under this section that if at the time of the act of carrying a weapon:

. . .

(4) The person is carrying a weapon when upon a journey, unless the journey is through a commercial airport when presenting at the security checkpoint in the airport or is in the person’s checked baggage and is not a lawfully declared weapon; . . . [emphasis added]

So, the amended statute now defines journey, changes defenses to carrying a weapon to when it is permissible to carry a weapon, and adds what appears to be a mens rea element to the offense itself–the person’s purpose must be to unlawfully employ the handgun.

The situation is further muddled by AG Dustin McDaniel’s official opinion on the new journey provision of § 5-73-120, delivered in response to a state senator’s request for clarification of the meaning of the journey provision. McDaniel is very careful in his opinion to limit it to the meaning of this provision–in footnote 7, he states:

The act defines as one element of a possession offense under subsection 5-73-120(a) having “a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.” Acts 2013, No. 746, § 2 (new language underlined). Although one might debate the significance, if any, of this change in terminology, it is clearly immaterial to your question.

Because the state senator only asked about the journey provision, McDaniel dodged the more material question of whether the changes to § 5-73-120(a) by themselves decriminalize open carry in Arkansas.

I will remind you, gentle reader, that I am a law student–not a lawyer–and nothing in this post is offered as legal advice.

That disclaimer out of the way, I will say that I don’t plan on being the test case.

04/03/2013

Now reading: Terms of Enlistment

by wfgodbold

By the internet-famous Marko Kloos!

I’ve only just started it. First I had to finish A Throne of Bones and Summa Elvetica (both by Vox Day).

Terms of Enlistment–a milSF work–should nicely cleanse the palate after two long fantasy works (elves, orcs, goblins, Roman legions, a Catholic Church analogue, Vikings–what more could you want?).

I’ll probably finish it by the weekend, if I can work in some reading time in between work and class.

03/29/2013

Overheard in Jurisprudence

by wfgodbold

In class last night, while discussing Dworkin and the objective nature of morality:

Student: I’m just saying that somewhere there’s probably at least one person who thinks that putting babies on stakes is morally fine.

Professor: Yeah, and there are also people who don’t think that 2+2=4. Where do we put those people?

Me: Congress?

Even in law school, we’re united by our shared hatred of Congress.

03/27/2013

Three cheers for SCOTUS!*

by wfgodbold

Yesterday, in a 5-4 decision, the Court held that bringing a drug dog onto the curtilage of a house constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment. This seems like common sense, but given the Court’s sui generis treatment of drug dogs in the past, it wasn’t actually a slam dunk.

Scalia wrote for the majority (and was joined by Thomas, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan), and though I haven’t yet read the opinion, the reasoning seems like it should follow pretty clearly from his opinion in Kyllo. Scalia relied in part on the reasoning used in last year’s GPS case.

Best line (seen excerpted elsewhere):

We have accordingly recognized that “the knocker on the front door is treated as an invitation or license to attempt an entry, justifying ingress to the home by solicitors, hawkers and peddlers of all kinds.” Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U. S. 622, 626 (1951). This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave. Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does not require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters. [emphasis added]

The Court then held today that the Federal Tort Claims Act applies to law enforcement acting within the scope of their duties–any activity in the scope of their duties, not merely investigation or law enforcement. I don’t know anything about the FTCA, but anything that can help hold law enforcement accountable is a good thing, right?

Standard disclaimer: I’m just a law student. If you rely on anything I’ve said here, on your own head be it.

*Why, yes, I am cheering SCOTUS in a cryptically titled blog post. You probably thought this was going to be about gay marriage or DOMA.

Fooled you!

03/21/2013

Intermediate scrutiny is the new rational basis

by wfgodbold

At least in the Fourth Circuit.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision reversed the district court’s decision in Woollard v. Sheridan (which had invalidated the Maryland concealed carry statute’s requirement that an applicant show good cause for issuance of a concealed carry license).

The court quoted legislative “findings” supporting the law as written:

(1) the number of violent crimes committed in the State has increased alarmingly in recent years;

(2) a high percentage of violent crimes committed in the State involves the use of handguns;

(3) the result is a substantial increase in the number of deaths and injuries largely traceable to the carrying of handguns in public places by criminals;

(4) current law has not been effective in curbing the more frequent use of handguns in committing crime; and

(5) additional regulations on the wearing, carrying, and transporting of handguns are necessary to preserve the peace and tranquility of the State and to protect the rights and liberties of the public.

The court even notes that these findings (adopted in 2002), have not been substantially changed since the Maryland legislature first adopted them in 1972.

Somehow, despite the passage of 30 years from the legislature’s initial adoption to its re-adoption of these findings, the situation in Maryland has not changed (after all, if it had worked, and crime had gone down in response to any laws based on these findings, surely the present findings would differ by at least crediting the current harsh laws for the drop in crime). This is in fact strikingly similar to the Supreme Court’s current case on the Voting Rights Act, in which Congress had adopted the same “findings” today as it did at the VRA’s inception–in 1965.

The Fourth Circuit went on to list several other “findings” (I won’t reproduce them here; if you click through to the Volokh Conspiracy and then to the opinion itself, you can read them on pp. 26-28). This reads like a litany of standard gun control fears–essentially that liberalized carry will take us back to the wild west. It hasn’t (for example, despite similar claims by opponents of Virginia’s bar and restaurant carry bill, crime didn’t increase–it dropped).

Maryland essentially argued that they should be able to deny carry licenses to the vast majority of applicants because of public safety, and the Fourth Circuit went along with it (citing heavily to the Second Circuit’s opinion in Kachalsky, but doing its best to minimize the Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Moore).

Professor Volokh appears to take a dim view of the court’s deference to the legislature’s findings (especially coupled with this standard of review) and notes that “a constitutional right that can be trumped in nearly all its applications, under whatever level of scrutiny, is not really a right.”

I agree.

I would go further, though. The various circuits, in KachalskyPeterson, and now in Woollard are focusing too much on Heller and McDonald‘s language regarding the “core” Second Amendment right. The right of armed self-defense may be strongest in the home, but as the Seventh Circuit noted in Moore, that does not mean that it is nonexistent elsewhere. 

I only have one other thing to say about this case–I’m very glad it came out today and not last Thursday, or I would have had to stay up all night reworking certain parts of my law review note so I could turn it in on Friday.

03/13/2013

Crunch time.

by wfgodbold

The final draft of my law review note is due Friday at noon. Between that and my part time jobs and classes (and the damn time change), I’m exhausted.

Spring break is next week, though, so I’ll be able to recover and catch up before the last month of the semester. In the mean time, here’s the first video from Gloryhammer‘s upcoming debut album:

I can’t decide if I like it or not, but since one of the tracks is titled “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee,” I may have to get the album regardless.

12/13/2012

I’m of mixed feelings about the 7th Cir.’s holding in Moore v. Madigan

by wfgodbold

One the one hand, anti-gun wailing and gnashing of teeth is like music to my ears (the decision is here). Though gun control’s not quite dead, it’s definitely on life support.

On the other hand, this has thrown a wrench into a certain project I’ve left undescribed (see fn 1). Between this case, the 2d Cir.’s holding in Kachalsky, and whatever the 9th Cir. holds in Richards v. Prieto (assuming it’s decided next semester-ish), I’m going to have to rework substantial sections.

On the gripping hand, my project not only turned out to be timely, but by the time it’s done, it may even be on a circuit split!

And with that said, those astute readers of mine will likely have deduced the general subject of my law review article.

Now, back to studying. One more exam to go, and then this semester will be officially over.

12/06/2012

The Lion from the North

by wfgodbold

Because I’m busy studying (well, busy mostly studying), enjoy–in lieu of actual content–Sabaton’s song about Gustavus Adolphus:*

*It’s like if TMBG did a biographical song about a king in the Thirty Years War instead of Young Hickory or some random Belgian painter. And if they were a Swedish power metal group instead of TMBG.

12/01/2012

You know, aside from the initial suspension of disbelief activation energy…

by wfgodbold

The Red Dawn remake was actually pretty good (and by “suspension of disbelief activation energy,” I mean getting past the idea that the North Koreans could actually take over the Pacific Northwest*).

I know I haven’t posted in a while, but after getting eliminated in the intramural moot court competition this morning, I finally had an afternoon where I didn’t have the specter of a brief/oral argument/note hanging over my head.**

Despite my initial misgivings, the change of the conquerors from the Chinese to the Norks wasn’t completely terrible. I know that sounds like I’m damning the movie with faint praise, but the movie was actually good.

*It’s kind of a spoiler, but the suspension of disbelief was helped along by a revelation later in the film (*cough* HEMP *cough*). No, not that kind.

**Sure, finals are the week after next, but who cares!

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