Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 30 of 157

Full-Text Articles in Law

Victor Hugo Was Right All Along: Les Misérables, The Tragedy Of A Punitive Parole System, And A Modern Path Forward, Sarah Gerwig Apr 2024

Victor Hugo Was Right All Along: Les Misérables, The Tragedy Of A Punitive Parole System, And A Modern Path Forward, Sarah Gerwig

Mercer Law Review

Les Misérables, Victor Hugo’s tragic novel, was published over 160 years ago and yet it continues to capture imaginations and sympathies worldwide. It was made into an award-winning film over a decade ago. But before that, Les Misérables was one of the most popular Broadway musicals ever produced, having been viewed by over sixty million people, even beyond the viewership of other popular renditions in film and television. Despite (or perhaps because of) its heartbreaking themes, audiences sympathize with the main characters’ quest for redemption. How easy, in the story, to see the struggles and barriers Jean Valjean encounters—and …


Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me. Or Will They? The Eleventh Circuit Expands The “Extreme Cruelty” Definition In 8 U.S.C. §1229b(B)(2) To Encompass Mental And Physical Abuse In Ruiz V. United States Attorney General, Sydnie N. Winter Apr 2024

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me. Or Will They? The Eleventh Circuit Expands The “Extreme Cruelty” Definition In 8 U.S.C. §1229b(B)(2) To Encompass Mental And Physical Abuse In Ruiz V. United States Attorney General, Sydnie N. Winter

Mercer Law Review

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), originally passed in 1994, was the first federal legislation acknowledging domestic violence as a crime. As part of this Act, Congress enacted 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(2), a rule that allows battered spouses (or children) who are not citizens or nationals of the United States of America to seek the discretionary cancellation of the government’s removal of them from the country. The VAWA special-rule was enacted as a way to enable abuse victims to obtain discretionary deportation relief, allowing them to leave their abusers without fear of deportation or other immigration-related consequences. ...

The United …


The Devil’S In The Details: Georgia Supreme Court Discharges And Acquits Defendant Because Jury Oath Was Never Administered, Lillie Tate Andrews Mar 2024

The Devil’S In The Details: Georgia Supreme Court Discharges And Acquits Defendant Because Jury Oath Was Never Administered, Lillie Tate Andrews

Mercer Law Review

Behind the bench of the Supreme Court of Georgia, there is a phrase inscribed on the wall: Fiat justitia ruat caelum, Latin for “Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.” This motto serves as a daily reminder that justice must be served, regardless of the consequences. It is often said that the judiciary’s role is to apply the law as it exists. As such, judges must refrain from allowing their emotions to dictate their decisions—even when those decisions have unpleasant consequences. Because the legal profession is self-regulated, its rules and regulations are only as effective as the professionals …


Capital Punishment, Carlos Wood Dec 2023

Capital Punishment, Carlos Wood

Mercer Law Review

In Glossip v. Gross, a 2015 Supreme Court of the United States case that addressed the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol, Justice Breyer authored a dissent, joined by Justice Ginsburg, in which he noted the declining use of the death penalty in the United States. Justice Breyer began his dissent by noting the downward trajectory of the number of convictions that resulted in capital sentences. The evidence he cited included the following: from 1986 to 1999, approximately 300 people on average were sentenced to death every year, but in 2000, this number began to decline rapidly. In 2014, …


The Battle Of The Narrative In Jones V. Mississippi: Consideration Of Youth “In Name Only”, Stevie Leahy May 2023

The Battle Of The Narrative In Jones V. Mississippi: Consideration Of Youth “In Name Only”, Stevie Leahy

Mercer Law Review

Juvenile sentencing within the United States is but one illustration of how the legal system reinforces the marginalization of populations that have been historically underinvested and underrepresented. Throughout the past century, the macro-narrative on sentencing has fluctuated nationally, as well as within individual states, with the reasoning used to justify decisions sliding between the conflicting lenses of rehabilitation and punishment. This has necessarily impacted the micro-narrative—the way that an individual’s story is considered and weighed (or ignored) within sentencing. There are endless factors that affect outcomes in sentencing: class, race and or ethnicity, gender, and access to counsel are just …


The Death Penalty Standard That Won’T Die: The Georgia Supreme Court Maintains The Highest Possible Standard Of Proof For The Mentally Disabled, Alyssa Ledoux May 2022

The Death Penalty Standard That Won’T Die: The Georgia Supreme Court Maintains The Highest Possible Standard Of Proof For The Mentally Disabled, Alyssa Ledoux

Mercer Law Review

Several serious issues arise when applying the death penalty to the mentally disabled. First, the social purposes served by the death penalty, retribution and deterrence, are questionable when it comes to the mentally disabled. Retribution by execution is reserved for those at the highest level of culpability or the highest level of conscious and depraved guilt. Likewise, execution is viewed as an effective deterrent on cold calculus that is not found in individuals with a mental disability.

Second, challenges the disabled face, such as the tendency to falsely confess, the lesser ability to present a persuasive showing of mitigating factors, …


Prisoners, Punitive Damages, And Precedent, Oh My! The Eleventh Circuit In Hoever Overrules Prior Interpretation Of The Prison Litigation Reform Act, Tatiana Dobretsova May 2022

Prisoners, Punitive Damages, And Precedent, Oh My! The Eleventh Circuit In Hoever Overrules Prior Interpretation Of The Prison Litigation Reform Act, Tatiana Dobretsova

Mercer Law Review

Imagine you are a prisoner at Dooly State Prison in Unadilla, Georgia. A squad of about thirty officers march into the prison one day, dressed in riot gear, chanting, “kill, kill, kill.” The officers begin cursing and ordering inmates to get out of their cells, even yanking some by their shirts if they are not moving quickly enough. As you and the other inmates rush out of your cells, you are subjected to body cavity searches—you are ordered to strip naked, squat and cough, turn around, and bend over, all in the presence of several officers. An officer hands you …


Ding Dong! The Count Is Dead, Or Is It?: Criminal Defendants May Not Directly Appeal Convictions If Unresolved Counts Are On The Dead Docket, Lilly B. Nickels May 2022

Ding Dong! The Count Is Dead, Or Is It?: Criminal Defendants May Not Directly Appeal Convictions If Unresolved Counts Are On The Dead Docket, Lilly B. Nickels

Mercer Law Review

A defendant is indicted on two criminal counts, is found guilty on one of those counts, and is sentenced to time in prison. However, the jury could not come to a decision on the other count, so the trial court judge places the count on the court’s dead docket where the count could remain for an indefinite period of time, deeming the defendant’s case pending in the trial court. Due to the defendant’s case being classified as pending, the defendant does not have the right to a direct appeal. The defendant must helplessly serve prison time without any idea as …


A Felicitous Meme: The Eleventh Circuit Solves The Preiser Puzzle?, Lisa N. Beckmann, Arthur O. Brown Apr 2022

A Felicitous Meme: The Eleventh Circuit Solves The Preiser Puzzle?, Lisa N. Beckmann, Arthur O. Brown

Mercer Law Review

This Article is about a legal phenomenon known as the Preiser Puzzle. More precisely, the article concerns a possible solution to the Preiser Puzzle articulated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In part, this Article has a descriptive aim: The Authors will explain the Eleventh Circuit’s solution both in the abstract (this section, below), and by giving issue–specific examples in section three that may prove useful to practitioners. Important issues at present include: (a) challenges to parole procedures, (b) method of execution challenges, and (c) requests for release from administrative segregation. Yet this Article also …


Fostering Equity And Accountability In Georgia’S Criminal Legal System Through Conviction Integrity Reforms, E. Addison Gantt, Meagan R. Hurley Apr 2022

Fostering Equity And Accountability In Georgia’S Criminal Legal System Through Conviction Integrity Reforms, E. Addison Gantt, Meagan R. Hurley

Mercer Law Review

An often-quoted excerpt from Berger v. United States sums up the role of a prosecutor in the criminal legal system. The context is the federal system, but it applies across the board. It begins by explaining the duty of a prosecutor: to represent the sovereign, “whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.”2 Then, it turns to the real-world application of that role, instructing that prosecutors should present their cases with …


If The Mask Fits: The Unconstitutionality Of Face Masks In Criminal Trials During Covid-19, Nicole Morrison Jul 2021

If The Mask Fits: The Unconstitutionality Of Face Masks In Criminal Trials During Covid-19, Nicole Morrison

Mercer Law Review

Society, and certainly the courts, did not have time to prepare and adapt to the unprecedented COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic before the effects of the pandemic swept through the nation. The first coronavirus case within the United States was reported on January 20, 2020. The coronavirus spread at an alarming rate, and by March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Just two days later, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, declared a National Emergency. By January 10, 2021, the United States faced 21,761,186 cumulative cases and 365,886 total deaths from the coronavirus.

In …


Making The Murderer’S Voyeurs: The Influence Of Violent Crime Exposure, Social Movements, And Desensitization On Georgia’S Treatment Of The Death Penalty, Sarah J. Foster May 2021

Making The Murderer’S Voyeurs: The Influence Of Violent Crime Exposure, Social Movements, And Desensitization On Georgia’S Treatment Of The Death Penalty, Sarah J. Foster

Mercer Law Review

The clock slowly ticks to 8:00 p.m. Popcorn in hand, he plops down in front of the television and quickly flips on “Criminal Minds”. He shoves in a kernel of popcorn as the show sets our scene. The clock slowly ticks to 11:45 p.m. A firm hand escorts a woman dressed in a bright orange jumpsuit into a small, sterile room. Only a large pane of glass separates her from the somber faces of witnesses, friends, and family. They whisper among each other and take their seats in the theater-like arrangement. Coarse straps are tightly pulled around her arms—he pops …


Irreparably Corrupt And Permanently Incorrigible: Georgia’S Procedures For Sentencing Children To Die In Prison, Rachel Ness-Maddox Dec 2020

Irreparably Corrupt And Permanently Incorrigible: Georgia’S Procedures For Sentencing Children To Die In Prison, Rachel Ness-Maddox

Mercer Law Review

Right now, two teenagers live in Georgia prisons, knowing they will be incarcerated for the rest of their lives.Countless adults are serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) for crimes they, too, committed when they were teenagers. It is difficult to find in officially‑reported data adults serving sentences they received for crimes they committed while children. This is because, once the two teenagers specifically noted in the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Inmate Statistical Profileturn twenty, they will move to the next data bracket for imprisoned people between the ages of twenty and twenty‑nine, just as all the …


The Reasonableness And Unreasonableness Of Delays In Obtaining Search Warrants, Brianna N. Stanley Jun 2020

The Reasonableness And Unreasonableness Of Delays In Obtaining Search Warrants, Brianna N. Stanley

Mercer Law Review

Imagine a couple driving down the road and lawfully being stopped by police. Next, envision that traffic stop turning into an arrest and the couple's phones being seized, their vehicle being impounded, and their computer and tablet within the vehicle taken to the inventory room at the police department. If you are thinking this does not sound like anything out of the ordinary, you would be correct. However, imagine their defense attorney constantly asking for the phone, tablet, and computer to be given back to the couple so that evidence on these devices could be examined for their criminal case. …


Cameras Down, Hands Up: How The Supreme Court Chilled The Development Of The First Amendment Right To Record The Police, Christina Murray Jun 2020

Cameras Down, Hands Up: How The Supreme Court Chilled The Development Of The First Amendment Right To Record The Police, Christina Murray

Mercer Law Review

You may not realize this, but the Supreme Court of the United States has possibly jeopardized one of your First Amendment rights: the right to record the police. While this right may mean little to you now, it could serve as a means of protecting your other rights and in keeping law enforcement accountable. Because of the right to record the police, we have documented footage of police brutality from Missouri to Louisiana. These recordings have sparked outrage and fueled a conversation around policing, race, and our country's values.

This Comment will track the development of the right to record …


Shoot At Me Once: Shame On You! Shoot At Me Twice: Qualified Immunity. Qualified Immunity Applies Where Police Target Innocent Bystanders, Jameson M. Fisher Jun 2020

Shoot At Me Once: Shame On You! Shoot At Me Twice: Qualified Immunity. Qualified Immunity Applies Where Police Target Innocent Bystanders, Jameson M. Fisher

Mercer Law Review

Qualified immunity is a judicially created doctrine that has resulted in expansive protections for lower-level state officials for constitutional violations. Guidance from the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the interpretation of "clearly established rights" has been scarce and vague at best. As a result, district courts faced with qualified immunity assertions regarding a § 1983 claim take a restrictive approach to the doctrine's analysis often by relying on factually similar cases from binding authorities. Historically, innocent bystanders have had no clearly established right to be free from excessive force where force was applied to subdue the target of …


It's All In The Dna—How United States V. Hano Extends The Statute Of Limitations For The Eleventh Circuit, Caroline Walker Jun 2020

It's All In The Dna—How United States V. Hano Extends The Statute Of Limitations For The Eleventh Circuit, Caroline Walker

Mercer Law Review

It is likely that most professionals in all industries would agree that technology is rapidly evolving, most considering that assertion as a major understatement and some struggling to balance the variety of changes. In the legal realm, the DNA revolution has impacted both criminal prosecution and defense, specifically wrongful convictions, exonerations, proof of guilt at trial, and the reopening of cold cases. For example, since the first DNA exoneration in 1989, there have been 367 DNA exonerees in thirty-seven states to date. Forty-four percent of the exonerations involved misapplication of forensic science. Other law enforcement tools, such as rape kits …


An Uneven Playing Field: The Government Extended Rights Denied To Defendants On Appeal, Breyana Fleming Jun 2020

An Uneven Playing Field: The Government Extended Rights Denied To Defendants On Appeal, Breyana Fleming

Mercer Law Review

Many people find themselves in the crosshairs of the criminal justice system as defendants. In preparing to defend themselves against the charges being brought by the government, these defendants cannot predict whether the outcome of a criminal proceeding will result in a finding of innocence or guilt. Defendants can, however, generally depend on uniformity in the law as it pertains to appellate procedure. Still, there are times where this uniformity will be sacrificed, and further, when it will be done in an unjust manner. For instance, when an appellate court allows the federal government to maintain an argument against a …


The Probationer, The Free Man, And The Fourth Amendment: Constitutional Protections For Those Who Have Served Their Sentences And Those Who Have Not, Rachel Ness-Maddox Jun 2020

The Probationer, The Free Man, And The Fourth Amendment: Constitutional Protections For Those Who Have Served Their Sentences And Those Who Have Not, Rachel Ness-Maddox

Mercer Law Review

In Park v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court evaluated whether persons convicted of sexual offenses and subsequently classified as "sexually dangerous predator[s]" may be required to wear Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices after serving their full sentences, including fulfilling probation or parole requirements. The court held that, under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, such a requirement is invalid because it infringes on the right free people have against unreasonable searches and seizures executed by the state—no matter the crimes for which they were convicted or their status as registered sex offenders. However, the court made …


Is There A Georgia Supreme Court, Problem? Analyzing The Georgia Supreme Court’S New Peculiar Approach Towards Breathalyzers And Implied Consent Law, Brian Fussell Jr. Jan 2020

Is There A Georgia Supreme Court, Problem? Analyzing The Georgia Supreme Court’S New Peculiar Approach Towards Breathalyzers And Implied Consent Law, Brian Fussell Jr.

Mercer Law Review

Alcohol and criminal behavior often accompany each other as anyone with any experience with the justice system (or intoxicated people in general) can attest to. A significant percentage of the population would probably say their worst decisions and mistakes came about while under the influence of booze or other intoxicants, and crime statistics would back this up. Alcohol-related crime statistics in the United States compiled by AlcoRehab show around 500,000 cases of alcohol related violence every year and also demonstrate that an incredible 86% of homicides and 60% of sexual abuse or rape cases were committed under the influence of …


Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Thomas D. Church Jul 2018

Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Thomas D. Church

Mercer Law Review

In 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit continued its efforts to untangle the complex web of laws known as the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The year saw a number of precedential decisions interpreting its provisions, including those governing specific offenses such as drug trafficking and fraud, as well as those setting forth the proper methodology for establishing a defendant's criminal history.

This Survey identifies and summarizes the important holdings from these decisions. Section II begins with the decisions reviewing an application of the Guidelines provisions for specific offenses, and the different enhancements available for certain classes …


Immigration Defense Waivers In Federal Criminal Plea Agreements, Donna Lee Elm, Susan R. Klein, Elissa C. Steglich May 2018

Immigration Defense Waivers In Federal Criminal Plea Agreements, Donna Lee Elm, Susan R. Klein, Elissa C. Steglich

Mercer Law Review

Immigration policy is back on the American public's radar screen. The fields of immigration--a civil-law subject-and criminal law-a public-law subject-are quite distinct in both litigation practice and law school curricula. With exceptions along the U.S.--Mexican border, only in a small minority of federal cases do criminal attorneys need to know more than some very basic premises of immigration law. Aside from some very general information necessary for defense attorneys to provide adequate advisements according to Padilla v. Kentucky to their clients before entering guilty pleas and Continued Legal Education (CLE) training regarding what offenses have severe immigration consequences, the body …


Lyrics For Lockups: Using Rap Lyrics To Prosecute In America, Briana Carter May 2018

Lyrics For Lockups: Using Rap Lyrics To Prosecute In America, Briana Carter

Mercer Law Review

Bob Marley once sang, "I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy." Yet, he never went to jail for shooting that sheriff (possibly because he did not shoot the deputy). Instead, this line became known as the starting phrase of one of his most popular songs. While it may make sense to some why Marley's lyrics were art and not a confession to shooting his hometown sheriff, in some states, an artist's lyrics can be used as evidence to prosecute. More specifically, states have differed on the admissibility of a rap artist's lyrics as evidence for prosecution. …


The Right To Two Criminal Defense Lawyers, Bruce A. Green May 2018

The Right To Two Criminal Defense Lawyers, Bruce A. Green

Mercer Law Review

"What can courts, legislators, or criminal defense lawyers themselves do to seriously change criminal defense practice in a manner that significantly benefits criminal defendants and promotes justice?" That question was posed to the participants in an August 2017 SEALS discussion group and Mercer University School of Law's 2017 Symposium on "disruptive innovation in criminal defense." The implied premise of the question is that aspects of criminal defense should be fixed or can be improved-and in radical ways.

The question of disruptive innovation provides an occasion for identifying deficiencies and weaknesses in contemporary criminal defense practice, and because defense lawyers do …


Raising The Bar: Indigent Defense And The Right To A Partisan Lawyer, Steven Zeidman May 2018

Raising The Bar: Indigent Defense And The Right To A Partisan Lawyer, Steven Zeidman

Mercer Law Review

In Ake v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court of the United States held that an indigent defendant is entitled to the assistance of an expert in cases where it is established that mental health is at issue. Thirty-two years later, in McWilliams v. Dunn, the Court finally addressed whether an expert must be independent of the prosecution. During oral argument, counsel for McWilliams argued that Ake required that the expert must be part of the defense team and on the defendant's side. Justice Gorsuch, in only his second week on the Court, stated dubiously that if that were the …


Participatory Defense: Humanizing The Accused And Ceding Control To The Client, Cynthia Godsoe May 2018

Participatory Defense: Humanizing The Accused And Ceding Control To The Client, Cynthia Godsoe

Mercer Law Review

This contribution to the Mercer University School of Law's 2017 Symposium on Disruptive Innovation in Criminal Defense discusses two interrelated defense strategies: humanizing the accused and contextualizing their actions in a society plagued with racism and poverty, and ceding substantial control of the defense strategy and legwork to the accused, and their family and friends. The first strategy should not be, but is, disruptive; in a just (and sane?) criminal legal system, this would be a regular part of the process. In our current vast system of social control, however, focusing on the people in the system as anything other …


A Penal Colony For Bad Lawyers, Bennett L. Gershman May 2018

A Penal Colony For Bad Lawyers, Bennett L. Gershman

Mercer Law Review

The concept of "disruptive innovation" is vague. Imagining the idea of lawyer "disruption" might conjure a scene from Al Pacino's aggressive role in the 1979 film And Justice for All 9 or embody the tradition of lawyers courageously representing unpopular clients, sometimes placing their lives at risk in courtrooms and on streets. But the panel, I discovered, was more interested in the concept of disruption as descriptive of radical departures from conventional lawyering and conventional discipline.

Recently, as I walked along the narrow cobblestoned streets of Prague--the same streets that Franz Kafka traversed while he was consumed by thoughts of …


The Politics Of Ethics, Laurie L. Levensn May 2018

The Politics Of Ethics, Laurie L. Levensn

Mercer Law Review

Prosecutors hate being told what to do. As "ministers of justice," they feel imbued with a moral compass that rarely, if ever, needs tweaking by outsiders. Their mission to protect society and the Constitution provides sufficient guidance. Being told how to be "ethical" is downright insulting for attorneys who already perceive themselves as wearing the white hat. Efforts to create ethical standards to guide a prosecutor's work may be perceived as little more than an unnecessary intrusion upon the prosecutor's independence and personal sense of justice. For some prosecutors, it is unwarranted meddling into the prosecution's business. As former Attorney …


Privileging Public Defense Research, Janet Moore, Ellen Yaroshefsky, Andrew L.B. Davies May 2018

Privileging Public Defense Research, Janet Moore, Ellen Yaroshefsky, Andrew L.B. Davies

Mercer Law Review

Empirical research on public defense is a new and rapidly growing field in which the quality of attorney-client communication is emerging as a top priority. For decades, law has lagged behind medicine and other professions in the empirical study of effective communication. The few studies of attorney-client communication focus mainly on civil cases. They also tend to rely on role-playing by non-lawyers or on post hoc inquiries about past experiences. Direct observation by researchers of real-time defendant-defender communication offers advantages over those approaches, but injecting researchers into the attorney-client dyad is in tension with legal and ethical precepts that protect …


Disrupting Victim Exploitation, David A. Singleton May 2018

Disrupting Victim Exploitation, David A. Singleton

Mercer Law Review

Violent-crime survivors have powerful stories to tell. Prosecutors use these stories to convict the accused and advocate for harsh sentences. Legislators use these narratives to pass punitive sentencing measures locking away the convicted for increasing periods of time.

Though prosecutors and legislators serve the entire community, many present themselves as speaking for victims, particularly those who call themselves "tough on crime." But do the interests of those who advocate for punitive, retributive justice always align with those of crime victims? And when their respective interests diverge, is it exploitative for prosecutors and legislators to suggest that they represent the interests …