Welcome to On Remand!
Latest Featured Article:
Book Review of the Honorable Richard Posner’s book Reflections on Judging
Jordan M. Singer
Americans have a love-hate relationship with complexity. In many areas of life, we revel in intricate systems and the thorny details they present. The tinkerers among us procure, and immediately disassemble, the latest technology to understand its inner workings. Fantasy sports aficionados happily immerse themselves in statistical minutiae, trying to identify a pitching mismatch or an unheralded receiver due for a breakout performance. Through social media, we trace our “degrees of separation,” and marvel at the unexpected connections between friends and acquaintances from different points in our lives. Far from being obstacles, the details are precisely what make these pastimes worthwhile.
In many other areas, however, we are eager consumers of virtually anything that promises a shortcut or simple solution. We click on Web ads that guarantee to solve the stubborn problems of belly fat and low credit scores with just “one weird trick.” Blogs and media outlets purport to explain all one needs to know about complex financial and political issues in a single chart. Half of eligible voters do not exercise their franchise even in the highest national elections, and many of those that do cast ballots base their decisions solely on low-information cues like a candidate’s name, gender, or party affiliation.
Latest Podcast Episode:
Interview with Professor Natasha Varyani on “eCommerce and Taxation”
We were joined by Professor We are joined today by Professor Natasha Varyani, Faculty Fellow of New England Law | Boston, to discuss her latest piece of scholarship entitled “Taxing Electronic Commerce: The Efforts of Sales and Use Tax to Evolve with Technology,” which explores the imposition of sales tax to online retailers and how those online retails, particularly Amazon.com, appear to support this move.
Professor Varyani’s article will be featured in the Oklahoma City University Law Review 2014 Summer Issue, Volume 39:2
Latest Featured Massachusetts Criminal Digest Case Summary:
Commonwealth v. Horne
466 Mass. 440 (2013)
The defendant, Daniel Horne, was convicted by a Superior Court jury of second-degree murder, possession of ammunition without proper firearm identification (“FID”), and two separate counts of unlicensed carrying of a rifle in an unpermitted area. The defendant appealed, arguing for reversal of his convictions due to the numerous errors that occurred at trial. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (“SJC”) vacated and set aside the conviction of second-degree murder, but affirmed the other convictions.
On October 16, 2009, the defendant’s television was removed from his apartment in Springfield Massachusetts. The defendant suspected that the individual who took his television was Joseph Darco. On October 17, 2009, Darco attended a birthday party at the apartment where the victim, nineteen-year-old Brittany Perez, resided. This apartment was on the first floor of a building and a few houses away from the defendant’s apartment. Shortly after sunset, a party guest observed the defendant holding a gun after hearing someone shout, “I want my TV.”
Latest from the Faculty Blog:
Privacy and the Surveillance State
According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, Americans by a large margin favor installing video surveillance devices in public places in order to provide greater security, with 78 percent of participants saying such surveillance is a good idea.
The poll was taken in the wake of the bombings in Boston on Marathon Monday and the results likely reflect the very real anxiety that such horrific events can produce. The positive reaction to greater surveillance is natural and understandable. But that does not necessarily mean that it will lead to sound public policy.
It remains that it is always easier to give away someone else’s privacy interests, especially hypothetically. Most people cannot imagine ever being the target of government surveillance–for them, the potentially ubiquitous video recording devices will be aimed at someone else.
That is fine as far as it goes, but the fact is that, under the Fourth Amendment doctrine for determining whether you have a protectable privacy right as against the government, the Supreme Court has repeatedly said that any expectation of privacy you assert must be objectively reasonable. We all do lots of things in public that we assume to be private–like talking on cell phones, text messaging, and even having a conversation with the person walking next to you, and believe the assumption to be reasonable because we do not really expect anyone nearby actually to listen to what we are saying or texting. But the fact that someone could do so, according to the Court, eliminates any true expectation of privacy. And even if that were not the case, could we say any of these communications reasonably should be deemed private when the government has the capacity to record and review all of them?