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Latest Featured Article:
Sifting Through the Weed: Why Employers and Employees Need Guidance on Massachusetts’ Medical Marijuana Laws
Relatively recently, marijuana’s treatment before the law underwent a significant transformation. Arizona, along with twenty three other states, now authorizes medical marijuana use. Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Most of these permissive laws directly violate the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Given the challenges associated with implementing comprehensive marijuana reform, Massachusetts has much to learn from the experience of these other states, particularly in the employment context.
In Arizona, a sharp debate erupted over medical marijuana laws as applied in the public and private workplace environments. For instance, Arizona does not permit employers to terminate medicinal users, with some exceptions. The clash between medical marijuana laws and drug-free workplaces is the subject of significant controversy among scholars. Arizona can provide useful lessons for Massachusetts as the state implements its marijuana initiative. Specifically, Massachusetts should closely consider how this initiative would impact employers and employees. The state should follow Arizona to exempt employees from termination, and allow patients to take medicine without fear of losing their job.
Latest Podcast Episode:
Interview with Professor Steven Morrison on the Right to Assembly under the First Amendment
We were joined by Professor Steven Morrison, a Visiting Professor of Law at New England Law | Boston, to discuss his two latest pieces of scholarship. The first entitled “Brandenburg for Groups,” which seeks to recover the right to assembly as a core First Amendment right and proposes a test that would protect group activity. The second is entitled “The Membership Crime Origin of the First Amendment” and provides a historical overview of the World War 1 era during which time the First Amendment protected the right to assembly the same as it protected speech
Further, Professor Morrisons’s second article entitled “Brandenburg for Groups” can be found here.
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?