Fall 2020, Issue #2 (10/31/2020)

In this new edition of The Commentary:

Derrick Harris exonerated after seven years in prison by California Western clinical program

Demystifying Amy Coney Barrett’s Judicial Philosophy

Why Learn Latin?

PASS THE TIME: TV SHOWS AND VIDEO GAMES TO BINGE YOUR WAY THROUGH QUARANTINE

Election 2020 & Sports: The NBA and its Players Determined Effort to Impact the Upcoming

Mysterious ICE Hysterectomies

Best Comments from Volume One of Trial & Error by Arthur Campbell (October 2020)

To learn how to contribute to The Commentary this trimester, contact us at commentary@law.cwsl.edu for submissions and questions/story ideas.

Parsa Nozzari & Matthew J. Sullivan, Editors-in-Chief

Derrick Harris exonerated after seven years in prison by California Western clinical program

By Anya Witmer

On October 6, 2020, Derrick Harris was exonerated in a joint effort between the California Innocence Project and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU).[1]

In 2013, Harris was arrested and convicted for an armed robbery, for which he served seven years in prison. The victim identified Harris in a lineup, which ultimately led to his conviction – faulty eyewitness identifications are a leading cause of wrongful convictions.[2] Despite the conviction, Harris persevered in his claim of innocence throughout his time behind bars.[3] While Harris was incarcerated, his co-defendant and a third-party admitted their involvement in the robbery and exculpated Harris. Harris’s co-defendant later signed a declaration that was crucial in Harris’s exoneration.[4]

In 2019, the California Innocence Project joined Harris’s fight for justice. In 2020, Michael Semanchik, managing attorney of the California Innocence Project, brought Harris’s case to the CRU and convinced them to investigate the case further. The CRU’s investigation resulted in their losing confidence in the conviction and a determination that Harris was factually innocent. Following the findings, the Los Angeles District Attorney and the California Innocence Project filed a joint stipulation reversing Harris’s conviction and finding him factually innocent of the robbery.[5]

Harris’s exoneration is the California Innocence Project’s thirty-fourth exoneration since its formation in 1999. The California Innocence Project is a clinical program at California Western School of Law, which is committed to obtaining justice for wrongfully convicted inmates, training law students, and changing the system to mitigate issues in wrongful convictions moving forward. For more information on the California Innocence Project, visit https://californiainnocenceproject.org/.

Students interested in the project can find volunteer information at the California Innocence Project website or follow @ca_innocence on Instagram, and can also join the XONR8 Club (@xonr8cwsl), which is committed to supporting the California Innocence Project and providing students with educational opportunities.

California Innocence Project

“Freeing the innocent. Changing the system.”

[1] Michael Semanchik, 2020. [PRESS RELEASE] Derrick Harris, Wrongfully Convicted of Armed Robbery, Exonerated.

[2] https://californiainnocenceproject.org/issues-we-face/eyewitness-identification/

[3] See Note 1.

[4] See Note 1.

[5] See Note 1.

Why Learn Latin?

by Joseph Kennedy

The Latin language may be “dead” to many, but it still lives on in many important fields and studies.

 Not only is Latin heavily used in legal terminology, which many students have already figured out, hopefully, but it’s also used in medicine. In addition, Latin is the official language of the Roman Catholic Church and thus an important religious language for many people in the West. The English language, a Germanic tongue ultimately descended from Proto-West Germanic, has been heavily influenced by Latin in its long life, adopting words for scientific and religious reasons

Given English’s borrowings and incorporation of such words, I believe Latin to this day remains an important language to learn that furnishes the learner with many benefits.

Latin is an Italic language descended from Proto-Indo European, which is the reconstructed mother-tongue of all the Indo-European languages today that spread out to all corners of the world. This ancient tongue had many different branches, some of which are extinct. For example, the Anatolian branch consisted of languages such as Hittite and Luwian which have been long extinct. Another ancient branch that died out many years ago was the Tocharian branch, remnants of which have been found in modern day China.

 But among the many branches of this mother-tongue, Latin was of the Italic branch. Most people think that Latin was a “romance” language, but this is not true. Rather, romance languages are languages that descended from Latin. Our English, on the other hand, was descended from the Germanic branch, along with other languages like: Icelandic, Faroese, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Frisian, Dutch, Afrikaans, and German. The farther one goes back in linguistic history, however, the more similarities one sees in the morphology of the different Indo-European languages, coming to the realization of some common ancestral language. This is evident in Proto-Germanic and Latin. Both languages consist of highly inflected nouns, verb conjugations, three grammatical genders, and frequent SOV syntax (Subject – Object – Verb).

When one studies Latin, one can easily apply the grammatical properties one acquired to other Indo-European languages.

For example, this is very evident with regards to noun inflections. Modern English has lost most of its noun cases due to contact with Old Norse settlers and Vikings, as well as the Norman conquests of England. Contact with the different languages, along with heavy use of prepositions and speech patterns that already had been shaving off endings once preserved in Proto-Germanic, led to a concentration not so much focused on inflection to convey meaning but to word order and prepositional phrases. What once depended on inflectional forms to depict the noun’s role in the sentence was now depicted through means we use today as English speakers.

But this was not true of all languages. For example, German and Icelandic still maintain the noun declension system that Old English held. Here is an example of a noun declension pattern in Latin compared to Old English and Latvian.

Latin (vir – man, husband)

 

Singular

Plural

Nominative

vir

viri

Genitive

viri

virorum

Dative

viro

viris

Accusative

virum

viros

Ablative

viro

viris

         Old English (wer – man, husband)

 

Singular

Plural

Nominative

wer

weras

Genitive

weres

wera

Dative

were

werum

Accusative

wer

weras

 

         Latvian (vīrs – man)

 

Singular

Plural

Nominative

vīrs

vīri

Genitive

vīra

vīru

Dative

vīram

vīriem

Accusative

vīru

vīrus

Locative

vīrā

vīros

Vocative

vīrs

vīri

         The Nominative is the subject of the sentence, the genitive is the possessor, the dative is used for indirect objects, the accusative for direct objects, and the ablative for prepositional phrases. The locative, in Latvian, is used in many of the same regards as the ablative in Latin to convey location, whereby in Old English and other inflected Germanic tongues the dative survived as the case for many of the prepositions that would have governed the ablative. By learning Latin, these simple and recognizable patterns will make learning other morphologically-similar languages easier. It will also make learning English grammar less burdensome.

 Here is an example of how these noun cases work. As opposed to English, which relies on word order to depict meaning, Latin just needs the cases, while its word-order can be relatively free:

  • Regina fovet regem. – The queen cherishes the king.
  • Aeneas cum amicis familiaque ad naves largas ex arce Priami fugit ut evaderet regnumque novum conderet. – Aeneas fled from Priam’s citadel to the large ships with his friends and family in order to escape and establish a new kingdom.

In English, the word order is crucial in order to depict meaning, whereas in Latin, the word order can be mixed up and still convey the same meaning, for example:

  • Regem fovet regina.
  • Fovet regina regem.
  • Regem regina fovet.
  • Regina regem fovet.
  • Fugit cum amicis familiaque ex arce Priami ad naves largas Aeneas ut evaderet et conderet novum regnum.

Although the meanings in English would change or sound incomprehensible, the meanings in Latin stay soundly the same. This is the benefit of learning noun cases. You can then easily apply this to other languages like Russian or Polish that use declensions to depict the noun’s role in the sentence instead of the dependency on word-order. Besides increasing your knowledge of morphology, Latin will actually help law students with legal phrases.

Like said earlier, many of the legal terms we see in the classroom have Latin origins. “Res ipsa loquitur” literally translates to “the affair itself speaks”, also “ad hominem” means “to/against the person.” Just knowing these simple translations actually helps with learning the use behind the phrase. It can take the stress off of applying some weird words to a legal concept by letting the translation itself teach the concept.

Although there are many more reasons to learn Latin, like learning more about history by translating ancient authors, I feel that these are practical reasons for giving Latin a try, instead of dismissing it as just a dead language.

Demystifying Amy Coney Barrett’s Judicial Philosophy

By Krista Haraway

In the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential election, many of us turned to Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings to assess the implications of a third Supreme Court vacancy filled by President Trump. SCOTUS is set to hear several cases starting this November that a conservative leaning Court could unravel, like the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate and a state’s ability to exclude faith-based agencies from foster-care for refusing to work with same-sex couples.[1]

When questioned, Judge Barrett refused to give any of her own opinions about case rationale, judicial outcomes, or current policy issues, defaulting to her devotion to precedent, stare decisis, and an originalist interpretation of the law. As she repeatedly insisted that her personal or partisan beliefs would hold no weight in executing her duties as a Justice,[2] I realized the judicial utopia I’ve always dreamed of really does exist.

During a lecture she gave in 2016, Impacts of the Presidential Election on the Supreme Court, Barrett expressed that voters often incorrectly conflate the partisan terms “conservative” or “liberal” with a judges’ judicial philosophy. Citing her mentor Scalia’s view, she clarified these terms actually refer to how strictly judges interpret the law, not their preferred policy outcome.[3] What a relief.

Through an originalist lens, the law is “interpret[ed] at the level of generality in which it is written.”[4] If the law is ambiguous, a judge should stick to the original intention of the framers to avoid “judicial lawmaking,”[5] unless the Constitution has been amended to state otherwise.[6] Luckily we’ve already managed to amend those pesky issues about the fractional value of a human life and the validity of an entire genders’ voice.

If you think about it, this philosophy is logically sound prima facie and when reviewed de novo. With such a cut and dry approach, we can ignore the indisputable reality that gross injustices will only pervade society for decades until we amend the Constitution. Until then, we can rest easy knowing the Republican Senate majority is working hard with their fellow Democrats to pass policies we can all support, regardless of our partisan beliefs.

We can pretend the Supreme Court is a sacred equalizer for democracy, or, we could look at it for what it is—a mechanism to implement the policies we cannot get the voting power to adopt nationwide.[7] A device with lifetime appointments, used to maneuver around the votes we cannot achieve on policies that are fundamentally political.

[1]https://www.scotusblog.com/2020/08/justices-will-hear-argument-in-aca-case-one-week-after-election-day/

[2] https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/14/amy-coney-barrett-hearings-takeaways-429547

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?V=7yjtedz81li&feature=emb_title

[4] See previous source.

[5] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/originalism-barrett/616844/

[6] https://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/2020/10/20/amy-coney-barrett-problem-originalist-constitutionalism/3670198001/

[7] Podcast, Slate: What Next. https://open.spotify.com/episode/3V8kkTyc1pCrqsn7tvcKDe

PASS THE TIME: TV SHOWS AND VIDEO GAMES TO BINGE YOUR WAY THROUGH QUARANTINE

 By Matthew Sullivan and John Coffey

            We’re all stuck at home because of Covid-19, and it’s no fun. So we at the Commentary decided to recommend some binge-worthy TV shows and video games to help you get through these tough times. Two contributing writers, Matthew Sullivan and John Coffey, have banded together to bring you a list that we think you’ll love!

[KEY]
Recommendations by Matthew = highlighted in yellow
Recommendations by John = highlighted in green
Where to find them = [bracketed in RED at the end of synopsis]
                                                                   
TV SHOWS

For Horror Fans

The Haunting of Bly Manor

Director Mike Flanagan (Oujia: Origin of Evil) returns for a spooky spiritual successor to The Haunting of Hill House. While not as horror / jump-scare-centric as the previous entry, there is still a lot to sink your teeth into with this unsettling love story. [Netflix]

The Terror
(season 1)

This is based on true events in the 18th century. A crew of men are trapped in the arctic with a mysterious monster shadowing their every move that has roots in Inuit folklore. It has a great cast including Ciaran Hinds, Jared Harris, and Tobias Menzies. While the 2nd season isn’t quite as good, this is an anthology series so the 1st season stands well on its own. [Hulu, FX]

Penny Dreadful

Vampires; Van Helsing; witches; Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde; Frankenstein… this show has it all. Featuring a transformative performance from Eva Green and a great supporting cast, this is the ultimate horror show for the ultimate horror fan. The production value and art direction alone will keep you coming back until you’ve finished binging it all.
[Netflix, Showtime]


For Crime Drama Fans

Narcos

 

 

 

 

 

Pablo Escobar, the Cali Cartel, and the Sinaloa Cartel once controlled most of Central America with drug trafficking, intimidation, and violence. This series depicts the gut-wrenching, brutally violent efforts that law enforcement goes through in order to take these criminals down. Sometimes the good guys win, and sometimes we ask ourselves, “What was the point of it all?” [Netflix]

Mindhunter

This is based on true events. Follow agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench as they develop the first FBI-profiling technique to hunt down real-life “serial killers” (a term they coined). This show is David Fincher at his best, depicting chilling scenes with the likes of David Berkowitz, Wayne Williams, and Charlie Manson. [Netflix]

The Shield

Vic Mackey is a bad cop; the ultimate anti-hero. While the show could have gone the way of the “procedural,” it keeps things fresh in every episode with character-driven plots and topical themes. There are 7 lengthy seasons to binge here to help get you through quarantine. [Hulu, FX]

Mr. Mercedes

Based on the popular detective novel series by Steven King, this is a suspenseful cat-and-mouse thriller developed by David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Big Little Lies). Starring Brendan Gleason and a chilling performance by Harry Treadaway as “the Mercedes killer,” you will be on the edge of your seat from start to finish. [Peacock, Amazon Prime]

Dexter

Dexter has a secret.  By day he is a mild mannered blood spatter analyst and by night he is a killer that hunts other killers. The series is set for a comeback so be sure to prepare for it with the first 8 seasons. [Netflix, Showtime]


For True Crime Fans

The Keepers

Who killed Sister Cathy? Murders come in all shapes and sizes. This chilling documentary follows a group dedicated to solving this cold case. This is catnip for any true crime fan as revelations come to light and the case gets closer and closer to being solved. [Netflix]

Tiger King

You’ve heard all the sayings. You’ve seen all the memes. But if you haven’t actually seen Tiger King, now is your opportunity to fill this void in your life. Follow the rise and fall of Joe Exotic and his war on the infamous Carole Baskin. At the end hopefully you can decide for yourself: “Did Carole Baskin actually kill her husband?” [Netflix]


For Sci-Fi / Fantasy Fans

Raised by Wolves

Can two androids, named Mother and Father, successfully raise six children on a new planet to save the human race? This new series is, without a doubt, some of Ridley Scott’s best work (Alien, Blade Runner, The Martian). Rife with style, heart, passion, and existential themes, this is a must-see for any science fiction fan. [HBO Max]

DEVS

Silicon Valley; quantum computers; parallel universes; time travel; this is a show for fans of hard science fiction. Writer and director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) returns to the small screen this time with a mind-bending story that focuses on a big question: is free will just an illusion? [Hulu, FX]

Star Trek: Discovery

While this series makes some “purists” cringe because it focuses more on action-oriented pacing and CGI, this “J.J. Abrams-approach” to the Star Trek universe will probably appeal to a wider audience. Starring Sonequa Martin-Green and Michelle Yeoh, this is as good a time as any to introduce yourself to this classic series that has been around since 1965.
[CBS All Access]

Game of Thrones

Based on George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and FIre the show has a great mix of action, fantasy, and political intrigue.  Some critics bemoan the end of the series but you can always skip the last season and read the books instead. [HBO Max]


For Docudrama / Biopic Fans

Mrs. America

While a lot of us in school right now probably aren’t old enough to know who Phyllis Schlafly is, it is important to learn about this era in history along with Women’s Lib and the lobbying for the Equal Rights Amendment Act. Cate Blanchette is captivating as the star of this show, featuring Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinam and Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug. [Hulu, FX]


For Drama / Dram-edy Fans

Six Feet Under

Even though this show has been off the air since 2006, it is still as poignant as ever. While one would think a show about a family-owned funeral home would be all about death, it is actually a show about life and how we can make the most out of it with what little time we have on earth. Peter Krause (911) and Michael C. Hall (Dexter) give incredible performances in this award-winning drama that will leave you deep in thought long after the credits roll. [HBO Max]

G.L.O.W.

Even though Netflix recently announced that this show was cancelled, “the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” are still a spectacle worth watching. From creators Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive (Nurse Jackie) comes a hilarious, emotional, and thematically-rich story based on the real life wrestling show of the same name. [Netflix]


For Comedy Fans

Rick and Morty

If you are a fan of animated comedy and have yet to see Rick and Morty, your life is not complete. Justin Roilland’s improvisational style and numerous pop culture references will appeal to fans of all things geek culture. There are currently four seasons of Rick and Morty adventures to binge for when you need a good laugh during these tough times.
[Adult Swim]

BoJack Horseman

In a world where anthropomorphic animals live alongside humans one washed up actor shows us the sacrifices that he made to gain and maintain celebrity status in “Hollywoo.” [Netflix]

The Office

I’ve watched this series so many times.  Sometimes I just want to see a certain episode and I end up watching all 9 seasons again.  Even the ones after Steve Carell left the show.  If you don’t like The Office then you’re wrong. [Netflix]

 



                                                            VIDEO GAMES

For the Casual Gamer

 

Animal Crossing

In a time when many people feel like they are losing control, who wouldn’t enjoy a game where you are in control of an entire island?  Interact with various animal inhabitants and decorate your house however you please.  The game’s seasons change in real time so there is always a reason to go back for new content even after putting the game away for weeks. [Nintendo Switch]

Stardew Valley

If island living isn’t your thing then how about running your own farm? Start with a simple patch of turnips and a couple hundred hours later you’ll have wine, truffle oil, and dinosaur mayo available for sale.
[multiple platforms]


For Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) Gamers

The Elder Scrolls Online

Can’t hang out with your friends due to social distancing?  Hang out in ESO and adventure together in the land of Tamriel.  Perfect for everyone who enjoys the fantasy genre you can make your character specialize in a variety of skill sets from armored fighters to powerful mages.
[multiple platforms]

World of Warcraft

This one is the big boy on the block when it comes to MMO’s with 15 years of content to play through and the new Shadowlands expansion releasing at the end of October you’ll have enough content to keep you busy until the pandemic is over. [PC/Mac]

GTA Online

If fantasy or sci fi isn’t your thing jump into Los Santos.  As a cynical parody of Los Angeles people familiar with the area will be able to easily recognize famous landmarks as they are driving past them in stolen cars and leading high speed chases.  Join up with friends to complete heists or just cause random mayhem. [multiple platforms]



For First Person Shooter (FPS) Gamers

Destiny 2

This sci fi shooter has some of the best gunplay in the FPS genre.  Choose from 3 classes offering a wide array of abilities and arm yourself with any of the hundreds of unique weapons available.  You’ll jump around the solar system and engage in some of the best combat and sightseeing that modern day gaming has to offer. [multiple platforms]

Apex Legends

If you’re a little short on funds this is one of the best free to play games available right now.  Get together with 2 friends and blast your opponents away to be the last team standing.  Will you aggressively hunt down the other teams or stay hidden and hope to steal the victory at the last minute?  Either way you’ll be having a good time.
[multiple platforms]   

Rainbow Six: Siege

If you don’t have the twitch reflexes required for games like Call of Duty or you just want to try something different, then give this game a try.  R6S rewards tactical gameplay, planning, and teamwork.  There is a bit more of a learning curve to become competent with this game but it is so satisfying when you figure it out. [multiple platforms]


For Role-Playing Game (RPG) Gamers

The Witcher III

This is the 3rd installment of the Witcher series and, without a doubt, the best. Play as Geralt of Rivia, a morally neutral protagonist who has to choose when to use his wits or his sword. With the DLC, there is over 120 hours of exciting fantasy gameplay on par with the best the genre has to offer. [multiple platforms]

Persona 5 Royale

If you aren’t familiar with Atlus’s previous work then this game may strike you as odd.  You play as a Japanese high school student who has to solve a conspiracy with the help of his friends and the monsters that live inside his head.  The first release of this game offered over 70 hours of content and with the updated Royale version you’ll have over 100 hours of playtime available if you choose to participate in the optional side content. [multiple platforms]

Fallout 4

The latest release in the main series of Fallout titles Fallout 4 allows you to craft your own character and develop them in any way you choose.  With the addition of the settlement crafting system you can make your own post-apocalyptic Eden and prepare for 2021 with the survival skills you’ll get from enduring a nuclear wasteland. [multiple platforms]

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

If you prefer to adventure in the world of Tamriel solo then take up the mantle of the Dragonborn. It is up to you to save the world from the return of fire breathing monsters.  If you have already beaten this game in the 9 years since it’s release there is a never ending supply of new content and quests provided by free mods. [multiple platforms]


For Action-Adventure Gamers

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Even though developer Konami and creator Hideo Kojima had a falling out, at least the Metal Gear: Solid series went out on a high note. Play as “Snake” / “Big Boss” in a unique, tactical stealth shooter that has almost infinite replayability. Side note: this game also has a killer 80’s soundtrack. [multiple platforms]

Last of Us Part 1, Left Behind, and Part 2

[Matt] The Last of Us series is, arguably, the magnum opus for developer Naughty Dog (Uncharted series, Crash Bandicoot series). With Part II having been recently released, this game has broken boundaries and heightened the medium. Never before in a video game has the story, characters and acting been as important or as compelling as the gameplay itself. This is a must-play for any video gamer. [Playstation 4 exclusive]

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

If you’re expecting a Zelda game like Ocarina of TIme or Skyward Sword you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.  This addition to the series is the first to offer a completely open world.  Once you step out of the starting area you can go anywhere you choose even directly towards the final boss Gannon!  This unprecedented level of freedom lets you craft your own adventure that will be unique from every other person’s playthrough. [Nintendo Switch exclusive]

Red Dead Redemption 2

One of the few games set in the wild west RDR2 does a great job bringing the setting to life.  Following the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan the plot is so enjoyable you’ll stop playing the main quest and just run around appreciating the scenery because you don’t want it to end. [multiple platforms]


For Fans of “the Classics”

Vanquish

People often forget that SEGA knows how to make incredible action games with snappy mechanics. Vanquish often gets overlooked with the passage of time, but this fast-paced shooter still holds up. Check out this hidden gem from visionary creative director Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil series). [Playstation 4]

Baldur’s Gate 1+2

For those who love DnD the Baldur’s Gate series allows you to experience the world of Faerûn without having to roll dice or work with the schedules of half a dozen other people.  The third game in the series is now available for early access but if you can handle the ancient 90’s graphics be sure to start with the first two games in the series. [PC/Mac]

Elite: Dangerous

The latest in a series of games from 1984 this space sim allows you to take flight in a full scale recreation of the Milky Way.  After some quick training the game allows you to make your own path in the galaxy.  Whether you take part in trading, combat, exploration, or some combination of the three you’ll have hundreds of hours of gameplay available to you. [multiple platforms]


For Survival / Crafting Gamers

ARK: Survival Evolved

Wake up without a clue where you are and with a strange object embedded in your arm.  We’ve all been there.  At least anyone else who has played ARK can say that.  Explore several ENORMOUS worlds with varied ecosystems and biomes.  Tame wild dinosaurs to help you gather resources, build your base, and hopefully figure out the secrets of the mysterious floating obelisks. [multiple platforms]

Minecraft

The classic survival crafting game that is still going strong over a decade after release.  Once you figure out the basics you can do whatever you want.  Go exploring, build a full size replica of New York City, or create a miles long Rube Goldberg device.  Just don’t dig the blocks directly below you. Trust me. [multiple platforms]

Subnautica

After crash landing on an alien ocean world it’s up to you to build ever more advanced equipment and eventually find a way to leave the planet.  Along the way you’ll dive deep under the surface of the water and discover the answer to a millenia old mystery.  If you don’t feel like diving into the cold dark depths you can always return to the Carribean-like shallows and continue building your personal underwater home.
[multiple platforms]

 

 

Mysterious ICE Hysterectomies

By Brandon Tynes

What do you do if you found out that your aunt, who came to America illegally 20 years ago and ended up staying, was stripped of her ovaries and thrown into a dungeon-like room never to be heard from again? Does anyone know what they would do? It sounds like a bad science fiction movie plot when you say it out loud. Here is to hoping that this type of situation is actually fiction.

What is a fact, however, is that on September 15, 2020, there was a letter sent to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, in which there was a concern of “jarring medical neglect” in regard to the treatment of detained women at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia. More specifically, the writer was “horrified to see report of mass hysterectomies performed on detained women in the facility without their full, informed consent.”[1] Note that ICDC is ran by LaSalle Corrections, which is a private prison firm.[2]

Medically, unless you have health issues along the lines of uterine fibroids, endometriosis, hyperplasia, or cancer,[3]  you wouldn’t be someone that’s in the pool people that would need such a procedure. However, according to a 48-year-old illegal immigrant who found herself in ICDC, none of those were brought up when she was seen by the “outside gynecologist” employed there. The gynecologist insisted that the pain she was experiencing was due to “large cysts and masses that needed to be removed.” The woman was brought to the hospital in “handcuffs and shackles” and “felt pressured to consent.”[4]

This is quite a jarring thing to think about especially in this surveilled age. It is almost unbelievable that something as extreme as this can go under the radar. That being said, this was back in the middle of September, and it is now past the middle of October. In a statement made by Dr. Ada Rivera (the medical director of the ICE Health Services Corps) the agency “vehemently disputes the implication that detainees are used for experimental medical procedures” and that statement is just fine.[5] But still, who is/are the mysterious gynecologist(s) employed by ICDC putting these women under the knife without their consent?

[1] http://jayapal.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/DHS-IG-Letter-9.15.pdf.

[2] http://www.lasallecorrections.com

[3] http://www.idph.state.il.us/about/womenshealth/factsheets/hyster.html  

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/29/us/ice-hysterectomies-surgeries-georgia.html

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/us/ICE-hysterectomies-whistleblower-georgia.html

Best Comments from Volume One of Trial & Error by Arthur Campbell (October 2020)

“When I decided to go to law school, I knew it would be hard. I knew I would be facing a system that did not have the same interests as I did. I wanted to go for the people; I wanted to gain the knowledge I’d need to be their most effective advocate . . . . I  kept asking myself how I would gain the courage to relentlessly stand up to a system much stronger and louder than me, with more power than I’d ever be able to wield. Then I read Volume One of Trial & Error and found my answers…. Your efforts in [one of the episodes] solidified [my sense] that the people in positions of power in the criminal justice system use and abuse that power every day, but it’s a signal to persistently fight back, never to stand down.” — Anna Hancock

“This book is filled with emotions, from humor, to compassion, to lighthearted moments that appeal to our emotions . . . . I laughed, I cried, I shouted, and not once did I put that book down once I opened it.”  — Rivai Oraha

“My greatest fear in pursuing a career in law is reconciling my empathetic nature with my notions of justice. Trial & Error bridged the gap between the two in passages I will come to revisit and revitalize in my eventual practice.” — Maliat Chowdhury

“When people ask me what kind of lawyer I want to be, my answer is typically, ‘Ideally I would go into politics, constitutional law, working for the government, and fighting for human rights.’ Before reading [an episode in Trial & Error], I had never thought criminal law fit into that answer. I now know otherwise . . . . I have hope for our future, and this volume reminded me of why I wanted to start law school in the first place.” — Livia Stahle

“Campbell’s first volume of Trial & Error is more than authentic. It is the rarest ruby of knowledge you will never find elsewhere . . . . With or without a law background, the insight you will gain from this book is limitless. I don’t think I have ever read a book so fast!” — Brooke Baeyens

“I found each chapter to be filled with real life experiences that were not only entertaining, but laced with invaluable insight that address common misconceptions in criminal law not always explicitly taught in traditional school settings.” 
— Alyssa Manzo

“Mr. Campbell shows here, and throughout the book, his inner thoughts, his inner anxieties, his ‘what-ifs,’ and honestly it is relieving. So often in society we are told to move on, but until we analyze what irked us in the first place, we cannot learn, and we most definitely cannot move on. The advice and emotion . . . will stay with me as I embark on my journey in the world of criminal law.” — Luciana Roble

“In law school, most of us think that we’re going to change the system and ring the bell of justice. I really appreciated how the episodes went through the change in strategy from bright -eyed lawyer fresh out of law school with the same thoughts, to a more experienced, pragmatic attorney who balanced hope with realism. The practicality aspect of the job is difficult to take hold of as a student, but this book has helped prepare me to grasp that.”  — Stacy Thumsuden

“[T] he idea of the client’s life in my own hands is scary. It does not have to be a death case for me to recognize this is their life and freedom. [A particular episode] does a great job expressing that uncertainty, and how real-life lessons show us that book smarts do not always equal street smarts. What we learn in the classroom is the start of our education; not the end of it . . . .” — Nicole Tamez

“[One particular episode] really made me understand that, as soon-to-be lawyers, justice is not always about getting your clients off all charges and allowing them to walk freely into the sunset; but instead getting them the help they need to turn their lives around even after the gavel hits the panel . . . . This institution of ours has continuously perceived that the law is either black or white: you are either guilty or innocent. But when did we stop realizing that a lot of our human actions can be filled within the grey?”  — Alexis Caprice Garcia

“The first volume … is a candid and chaotic story of the journey of a burgeoning freedom lawyer bursting at the seams with enthusiasm for justice…. While this journey begins with brief episodes where Campbell is stymied by small town judges and abuses of small-town political power, along the way Campbell hones his skills by taking his licks and learning to roll with the punches…. [T]he development of his legal prowess paints an informative and cautionary tale about the realities of the criminal justice system respective of the defense…. Campbell’s insistence on continuous introspection post-defeat was a testament to his commitment as a student of the law and insightful for current law students. [His] recollection is very insightful on the human aspect of law, whether it be from the perspective of the defense, judges, prosecution or other people at play. [Moreover,] Campbell displays an often-comedic analysis of the different personal and political factors [involved in the criminal-process system].” –- John Kelly

“[Volume One] provides a clear picture into the realities of being a young and inexperienced criminal defense lawyer and the learning process that happens along the way.”  — Alexandra Demastrie

“At its core, Professor Campbell provides a human element to the law . . . .” 

— Brooke Miles

“Overall, this collection was extremely well done, and each story became more intoxicating as I read it, making it nearly impossible for me to put this book down.”

– Benjamin Lowenberg

Election 2020 & Sports: The NBA and its Players Determined Effort to Impact the Upcoming Election

by Poras Siganporia

As the month of October draws closer to an end, election fever is surging, as millions of Americans anxiously look on in earnest to one of the most pivotal and anticipated elections in modern US history.

 Looking back in review of the past couple months in this country, there has been a laundry list of chaotic events which are clearly hanging over voters’ minds as they consider their votes. From the raging pandemic, to civil rights struggles, to economic turmoil and closures of businesses and schools, to never ending political division, the country is clearly trotting through unprecedented times, to say the least.

Consequently, numerous Americans are motivated to have their votes count on issues they are deeply concerned about. Hence, it is no coincidence that millions of Americans are already rushing to the polls in huge numbers. According to one source, “nearly 60 million Americans have already casted their vote,” as early voting records continue to be shattered in a little less than two weeks to go to Election Day 2020.[1]

One thing is clear. The American people are galvanizing in huge numbers, and they are hell-bent on getting their votes out, in order to have their voices be heard loud and clear this election cycle.

Likewise, major sports leagues in America, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), have also made it their mission to have their voices heard, too, and are exciting sports fans and players all over the country to mobilize and vote in this year’s crucial election. As of now, 20 teams within the NBA, including the current 2020 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, have already opened or are planning to open up vast amounts of space in their arenas to allow for voting centers, early voting sites, and ballot drop-off locations. One team in particular, the Sacramento Kings, has even led the charge and made it their mission to counter voter suppression tactics, through their oversight of a program called, “Rally the Vote”. A unique non-partisan voting registration initiative, this program, “partners up with other organizations such as “When We All Vote,” “RISE”, and different professional sports teams from the NBA, WNBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, and NWSL,” in order to raise awareness about the importance of voting.[2]

Looking back at this year’s NBA Playoffs and Finals, which took place in the leagues “bubble” at the Disney World campus, it was clear that voting was a top priority on the minds of many of the most popular players in the league, too. Basketball superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as Jimmy Butler for the Miami Heat, all donned messages on their warmup shirts and jerseys, encouraging people to vote. Throughout the end of the season it was a typical sight for fans to see these players and several others even donning the message “VOTE” in all caps on their game attire and shirts.

Even basketball enthusiast and former President Barack Obama decided to join in on the NBA’s newfound voter movement. During Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Mr. Obama attended this event through the “virtual audience” and conveyed to millions of viewers across the nation the importance of voting and expressed gratitude to the efforts of so many Americans who are working hard to preserve voter legitimacy. As Mr. Obama expressed in his own words,  I am honestly not the main event tonight, but I wanted to come on and give a shoutout to all the folks who are volunteering as poll workers in this upcoming election.” He further went on to say, “It’s critical that everybody votes in this election––by mail or in person if you can, and it is absolutely vital for our democracy and I appreciate you, and hopefully all of the NBA fans will appreciate you when they see those shorter lines at the polling places.”[3] (3)

Outside of the bright lights and glitz and glamour of the NBA hardwood, several NBA players are enacting their best efforts behind the scenes to use their enormous platform to inspire their communities and encourage more people to vote. Just this past summer, NBA players such as Draymond Green from the Golden State Warriors, and rising star Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks teamed up with  Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James in the launching of  “More Than a Vote,” a voting rights organization centered on the mission of increasing voter turnout in the African-American community and reducing voter suppression. It is clear that the leagues and its players efforts to encourage voting are paying off. According to the NBA Players Association, throughout the league, voter registration for the league’s members are now at 96%, and is a positive sign of progress, as in the previous 2016 election only 22% of the league members casted their votes. Furthermore, after Mr. Obama’s Game 1 shout out, over 10,000 additional people signed up to be poll workers.[4]

To witness the NBA, it’s star players, and other influential figures using their platforms to encourage voters to take action and use the power of their vote to influence our country’s  election process, is a definitive sign of the new shift in sports and politics, as professional athletes and organizations are striving to ensure that their voices are heard, too. As Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive says, “We’ve lit a huge fire and just about every sports team and athlete is getting behind it in some way. Furthermore, Ranadive mentions how, “In our society, sports teams and athletes have a huge voice. It is great that they are using it to spread democracy. There couldn’t be a more noble mission.”[5]

And the voices of these players are going to have to continue to be heard and emphasized, as based on recent statistics. It is clear that there are still millions of Americans who are undecided and are in need of more motivation to cast their votes. According to one statistic, it was reported that, “approximately 100 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 election and at least 88 million Americans have not registered this year.”[6] However, this time around through their sustained efforts and active engagement with their communities, many professional athletes are optimistic that they can reach out and motivate individuals to turn out to the polls in large numbers, and have their voices heard, too.

 For those members of the community who are still hesitant in casting the vote, the inspiring words of Sacramento Kings basketball player Harrison Barnes, should resonate deeply. As Mr. Barnes says, “If all we do is protest and don’t follow through to voting, we’re not going to see the change we want to see”.[7]

In the end, these parting words hold great wisdom and truth, as only when an individual realizes the power and potential in their single vote, and then acts on this enormous freedom, can real change and meaningful progress then take place in society. To vote is truly one of the most crucial and powerful freedoms we as Americans hold in this country.

 And this is a freedom that should never be taken for granted.

[1] The Guardian.com; “Nearly 60 million Americans cast early vote as record-shattering turnout expected” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/25/nearly-60-million-americans-cast-early-vote-trump-biden

[2] Mark, Medina; How NBA Teams and Players are Fighting Voter Suppression as Election Day Nears https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2020/08/28/nba-fighting-voter-suppression/5598256002/

[3] Mira. B : Barack Obama Encourages Everyone to Vote While Attending a Virtual Lakers Game https://thesource.com/2020/10/01/barack-obama-encourages-everyone-to-vote-while-attending-virtual-lakers-game/

[4] Jon Schlosberg & Linsey Davis: NBA Get-out-the vote Effort Results in Unprecedented Voter Registration https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/nba-vote-effort-results-unprecendented-athlete-voter-registration/story?id=73609846

[5] Mark, Medina; How NBA Teams and Players are Fighting Voter Suppression as Election Day Nears https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2020/08/28/nba-fighting-voter-suppression/5598256002/

[6] Mark, Medina; How NBA Teams and Players are Fighting Voter Suppression as Election Day Nears https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2020/08/28/nba-fighting-voter-suppression/5598256002

[7] Mark, Medina; How NBA Teams and Players are Fighting Voter Suppression as Election Day Nears https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2020/08/28/nba-fighting-voter-suppression/5598256002/

Fall 2020, Issue #1 (9/27/2020)

In this new edition of The Commentary:

Law Students, Mental Health, and COVID-19

Challenging the Old Ways of Music Royalties in the Digital Age: Good or Bad?

Loss of an Icon: The Notorious RBG

Epic is Trying to Take a Bite Out of Apple

Lionel Messi’s Contract Dispute with FC Barcelona

From the Bright Lights of the NBA to the Law School Classroom: One NBA Player’s Dreams & Aspirations of Becoming a Lawyer

SBA Monthly Article – September 2020

To learn how to contribute to The Commentary this trimester, contact us at commentary@law.cwsl.edu for submissions and questions/story ideas.

Parsa Nozzari & Matthew J. Sullivan, Editors-in-Chief

Law Students, Mental Health, and COVID-19

By Parsa Nozzari

            The year 2020 has brought an onslaught of global distress not limited to catastrophic natural disasters, the loss of significant icons, and, of course, a worldwide pandemic in the form of COVID-19.

            As law students, some of us probably find some kind of masochistic release in the daily rigors, anxiety, and general not-so-good-feeling that we experience. Also, because of this transition from an in-person to an online/socially-distanced environment that practically everybody—not just law students—is facing, global stress levels are through the roof and undoubtedly impact mental health. Continue reading “Law Students, Mental Health, and COVID-19”