Article – Deregulation of Marijuana

The status of marijuana is confusing.  Mixed messages are being sent in states that either have decriminalized or legalized the drug in some capacity because federal law prohibits it entirely.  Here in Arizona, the state has legalized medical marijuana under stringent regulations.

In states where marijuana is decriminalized or legalized, prosecutors are then put in a difficult position trying to decide whether to follow federal law or state law.  To add further pressure the state law is often times passed as a referendum by the people of the state, the same people who elect the prosecutors.  For example Arizona voters in 2010 approved Proposition 203, legalizing medical marijuana in the state, by just more than 50% of the vote.

In a marijuana themed debate in April 2015, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, said to an unidentified proponent of medical marijuana that:  “You’re violating the law and I have no respect for you as someone who would try to claim that you served this country and took an oath to uphold the Constitution and defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic because you’re an enemy.”

This exchange just illustrates how divisive the issue can be, and how complicated the legal issue of marijuana has become for states that have legalized or decriminalized it.

Continue reading Article – Deregulation of Marijuana

City and County of San Francisco California v. Sheehan

The United States Supreme Court just announced a widely anticipated case on how the police interacted with a mentally ill woman.

The writ of certiorari presented two questions for the Supreme Court to consider: 1. Whether the the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires law enforcement officers to provide accommodations to an armed, violent and mentally ill suspect when attempting to take that suspect into custody? 2. Did the officers violate a clearly established right under the Fourth Amendment when they forced entry into Sheehan’s room the second time?

Phoenix Police Officer on Motorcycle - Photo Taken by AzCommonLaw
Phoenix Police Officer on Motorcycle – Photo Taken by AzCommonLaw

Continue reading City and County of San Francisco California v. Sheehan

Article – Bankruptcy Reform in the Context of For-Profit Colleges

Corinthian Colleges, a private for-profit, post-secondary educational institution, abruptly shut-down last month.  Currently enrolled students were left in a quagmire : 1. find another institution to transfer to (and hope the credits transfer); or 2. apply for a federal loan refund and start-over.1 See Chris Kirkman, “Students left hanging after Corinthian closes remaining campuses,” Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2015, available at: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-corinthian-students-20150429-story.html.

Now there is a national debate of whether to cancel the student loan debt of the effected students.2 Tom Hals, “Collapse of Corinthian Colleges sparks effort to cancel student loan debt,” St. Louis Dispatch, available at: http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/collapse-of-corinthian-colleges-sparks-effort-to-cancel-student-loan/article_431bec9e-c661-50b4-b74a-33f00026ea8a.html.

The issue of what to do with the former students of Corinthian Colleges is part of a larger debate on bankruptcy reform in the context of for-profit colleges.

For Profit Colleges in North Phoenix
For Profit Colleges in North Phoenix – Photo Taken by AzCommonLaw

Continue reading Article – Bankruptcy Reform in the Context of For-Profit Colleges

References   [ + ]

1. See Chris Kirkman, “Students left hanging after Corinthian closes remaining campuses,” Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2015, available at: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-corinthian-students-20150429-story.html.
2. Tom Hals, “Collapse of Corinthian Colleges sparks effort to cancel student loan debt,” St. Louis Dispatch, available at: http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/collapse-of-corinthian-colleges-sparks-effort-to-cancel-student-loan/article_431bec9e-c661-50b4-b74a-33f00026ea8a.html.

Cronly v. City of Tucson

Women’s suffrage first came under the legal spotlight in the young Territory of Arizona in a court battle over an injunction against the City of Tucson creating a sewer system.

The validity of a municipal referendum  that appeared to be passed by voters which created a $100,000 sewer system was challenged by Andrew Cronly.  Mr. Cronly made two arguments why the election results were invalid: 1. Female voters, who were qualified taxpayers were categorically denied the right to vote; and 2. The total number of voters did not meet the statutory minimum number of votes to pass the referendum.  This article will focus on the first argument and the eligibility of female voters in 1899 in the Territory of Arizona.

The decision is an important in the Arizona case law landscape because the Court voided a Arizona Territorial law which gave women the right to vote because of over-breadth, thus constructively denying women the right to vote.

Continue reading Cronly v. City of Tucson

Territory of Arizona v. Robert Connell

This case is perhaps the first time the Territory of Arizona’s police powers are expressly recognized.

Territory of Arizona Revenue Law of 1887
Territory of Arizona Revenue Law of 1887

The Defendant complained the tax laws were unfair after being prosecuted for selling liquors in less quantities less than one quart without a license.  The Territory of Arizona countered that it was well within their right to legislate for the health, safety, morals, or general welfare of its citizens (otherwise what is referred to as the “police powers”).1 The police powers of the state are derived from the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the powers not specifically delegated to the Federal Government are reserved to the states or to the people. This implies that the Federal Government does not possess all possible powers, because some of these are reserved to the State governments, and others are reserved to the people. See e.g. Bardwell v. State, 83 U.S. 130 (1873) (Bradley, J., concurring) (“This fairly belongs to the police power of the State; and, in my opinion, in view of the peculiar characteristics, destiny, and mission of woman, it is within the province of the legislature to ordain what offices, positions, and callings shall be filled and discharged by men, and shall receive the benefit of those energies and responsibilities, and that decision and firmness which are presumed to predominate in the sterner sex”).

The Arizona Territorial Supreme Court examined not only the role of taxes, but that of the Territory’s policy powers in order to enact laws.

Liquor dealers, saloon-keepers, hawkers, peddlers, theaters, shows, billiard-table keepers, gamblers, brewers, etc., are within the class subject to such police power.

It is an interesting case where the young Territory established the idea that the lawmakers in Arizona could legislate on the basis of police powers.

Continue reading Territory of Arizona v. Robert Connell

References   [ + ]

1. The police powers of the state are derived from the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the powers not specifically delegated to the Federal Government are reserved to the states or to the people. This implies that the Federal Government does not possess all possible powers, because some of these are reserved to the State governments, and others are reserved to the people. See e.g. Bardwell v. State, 83 U.S. 130 (1873) (Bradley, J., concurring) (“This fairly belongs to the police power of the State; and, in my opinion, in view of the peculiar characteristics, destiny, and mission of woman, it is within the province of the legislature to ordain what offices, positions, and callings shall be filled and discharged by men, and shall receive the benefit of those energies and responsibilities, and that decision and firmness which are presumed to predominate in the sterner sex”).

Court Ruling May Help Limit Federal Government Spying

A ruling out of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last week could help strengthen privacy in Arizona.  The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s mass collection of American’s phone records.

The 110 page decision in ACLU v. Clapper, (which can also be read in its entirety below), is very critical of the telephone metadata program.  The telephone metadata program, also known as § 215 of the PATRIOT Act, allows the government to vacuum up “details about telephone calls, including, for example, the length of a call, the phone number from which the call was made, and the phone number called.”1 ACLU v. Clapper, No. 14-42-CV, at 8 (2nd Cir. May 07, 2015).

To put it in other words, “they [the government] can probably tell [the content of the calls] because they’re seeing who you’re texting with, who you’re calling,”2 Interview by John Oliver to Edward Snowden, comment by Edward Snowden, Last Week Tonight, April 05, 2015, at 30:00, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEVlyP4_11M (last accessed, May 13, 2015) See video embedded below). making the telephone metadata program a major privacy concern.

Continue reading Court Ruling May Help Limit Federal Government Spying

References   [ + ]

1. ACLU v. Clapper, No. 14-42-CV, at 8 (2nd Cir. May 07, 2015).
2. Interview by John Oliver to Edward Snowden, comment by Edward Snowden, Last Week Tonight, April 05, 2015, at 30:00, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEVlyP4_11M (last accessed, May 13, 2015) See video embedded below).

Free Speech at the Ball Park

Most of us probably do not even think of free speech while at the ball park.  Fans rooting for the home team as well as the away team purchase tickets and cheer on their team at the local venues, here in Arizona.

Some media outlets recently reported that the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team have instituted a type of dress code, only for those people who purchase tickets behind home plate.  “The Diamondbacks said that it is within the team’s right to dictate fan apparel in those seats,”1 Andrew Joseph, Dodgers Fan is Asked to Wear Diamondbacks Jersey, http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/heat-index/2015/04/13/dodgers-fan-is-asked-to-wear-diamondbacks-jersey/25708295/?hootPostID=184e3831d640dd87d63db319d67ebf15 (last accessed, April 24, 2015). stated the Arizona Republic newspaper this season. As evidence of their claim, the Arizona Republic shows a short six second clip where a man behind home plate removes a Los Angeles Dodger’s jersey only to put on a Arizona Diamondbacks jersey.2 Andrew Joseph, Dodgers Fan is Asked to Wear Diamondbacks Jersey, http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/heat-index/2015/04/13/dodgers-fan-is-asked-to-wear-diamondbacks-jersey/25708295/?hootPostID=184e3831d640dd87d63db319d67ebf15 (last accessed, April 24, 2015). There is no audio for the video clip, so the viewer is left without any context to know if the fan was asked or demanded to switch jerseys.

The Arizona Diamondbacks declined my request to comment on this matter. Instead, their public relations department referred me to an Arizona Republic article that offered conflicting statements on the policy.3 Email Josh Rawitch, Senior Vice-President Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks, to Joe Thomas, referring me to this article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/heat-index/2015/04/15/diamondbacks-dodgers-fans-tell-side-of-jersey-controversy/25849715/ (Date of email, April 26, 2015). It is ultimately unclear if the Diamondbacks what the baseball club’s policy is, or lack thereof.

In this article, I will look at if Los Angeles Dodgers fans, or any other fan for that matter, has a free speech right under the Arizona Constitution to wear the jersey of fan’s preferred team.

Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Game, Chase Field
Arizona Diamondbacks Ball Park — Photo taken by AzCommonLaw Summer of 2013

Continue reading Free Speech at the Ball Park

References   [ + ]

1, 2. Andrew Joseph, Dodgers Fan is Asked to Wear Diamondbacks Jersey, http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/heat-index/2015/04/13/dodgers-fan-is-asked-to-wear-diamondbacks-jersey/25708295/?hootPostID=184e3831d640dd87d63db319d67ebf15 (last accessed, April 24, 2015).
3. Email Josh Rawitch, Senior Vice-President Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks, to Joe Thomas, referring me to this article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/heat-index/2015/04/15/diamondbacks-dodgers-fans-tell-side-of-jersey-controversy/25849715/ (Date of email, April 26, 2015).

FBI Gives Flawed Hair Analysis in One Arizona Death Penalty Case

A legal bomb was dropped over the national criminal justice system this past week when the Washington Post reported and the FBI admitted to over-stating the weight of hair analysis evidence.

A mind boggling 95% of the 268 trials reviewed the questioned evidence over-stated forensic matches to favor prosecutors.1 Spencer H. Hsu, FBI Admits Flaws in Hair Analysis Over Decades, Washington Post, available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/fbi-overstated-forensic-hair-matches-in-nearly-all-criminal-trials-for-decades/2015/04/18/39c8d8c6-e515-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html (last accessed April 20, 2015).   The strong probability that the FBI systemically used flawed hair analysis as evidence in both federal and state courts puts heaps of convictions now in doubt.  It will be up to the individual states to determine if they will follow Department of Justice’s (DOJ) lead in permitting these cases to be litigated.

FBI LogoOne of the cases under renewed scrutiny because of the strong possibility of faulty evidence includes one individual on Arizona’s death row.  The names of the defendants affected at this time, leaving it to the defendants and their lawyers to determine what to do with the information and whether to disclose the error to the press.

Continue reading FBI Gives Flawed Hair Analysis in One Arizona Death Penalty Case

References   [ + ]

1. Spencer H. Hsu, FBI Admits Flaws in Hair Analysis Over Decades, Washington Post, available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/fbi-overstated-forensic-hair-matches-in-nearly-all-criminal-trials-for-decades/2015/04/18/39c8d8c6-e515-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html (last accessed April 20, 2015).

Article – Food Trucks, Incremental Innovation, and Regulatory Ruts

Food Truck Fridays are fun and delicious!

If you have somehow missed out on this culinary treat which takes place in downtown Phoenix, Arizona on Friday afternoons, you should make time to visit.  Some of my friends look forward all week to Food Truck Fridays.

A new scholarly legal article looks at the history of food trucks, the industry regulations and some potential barriers to innovation.  If you are interested in Phoenix’s evolving culinary landscape, it is an interesting article to look at.

Phoenix Food Truck
Phoenix Food Truck Luncha Libre — Photo Taken By AzCommonLaw\

Continue reading Article – Food Trucks, Incremental Innovation, and Regulatory Ruts

Police Use Car to Ram Armed Suspect

A dashboard camera video that captured Marana Police Officer Michael Rapiejko using their car to ram an armed suspect through a concrete wall is raising questions of excessive force.

Since this use of force situation in Marana, Arizona happened back in Feb. 2015, and is now only getting media attention there has been some time for those involved to their thoughts marinate.

I am not so sure that this use of force is justified under the Arizona Revised Statutes which state when law enforcement is legally justified: in the use of force,1 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-409. in the use of deadly force,2 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-410. and the use of force in crime prevention.3 Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-411.

What does the law say about Officer Rapiejko’s use of deadly force?  The law needs to be considered in use of force cases because if law enforcement do not act in accordance with the law then their use of force is not justified and potentially breaks the law.

Continue reading Police Use Car to Ram Armed Suspect

References   [ + ]

1. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-409.
2. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-410.
3. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-411.