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Vanderbilt University Law School

2017

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Articles 1 - 30 of 155

Full-Text Articles in Law

State Criminal Appeals Revealed, Michael Heise, Nancy J. King, Nicole A. Heise Nov 2017

State Criminal Appeals Revealed, Michael Heise, Nancy J. King, Nicole A. Heise

Vanderbilt Law Review

Every state provides appellate review of criminal judgments, yet little research examines which factors correlate with favorable outcomes for defendants who seek appellate relief. To address this scholarly gap, this Article exploits the Survey of Criminal Appeals in State Courts (2010) dataset, recently released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for State Courts (hereinafter, "NCSC Study"). The NCSC Study is the first and only publicly available national dataset on state criminal appeals and includes unprecedented information from every state court in the nation with jurisdiction to review criminal judgments.


Symposium: The Least Understood Branch: The Demands And Challenges Of The State Judiciary: Introduction, Alex Carver, Susanna Rychlak Nov 2017

Symposium: The Least Understood Branch: The Demands And Challenges Of The State Judiciary: Introduction, Alex Carver, Susanna Rychlak

Vanderbilt Law Review

On March 31, 2017, the Vanderbilt Law Review, in conjunction with the American Constitution Society, hosted a Symposium at Vanderbilt Law School entitled The Least Understood Branch: The Demands and Challenges of the State Judiciary. This Symposium began five months earlier at Emory University School of Law, where the Symposium's contributors gathered to discuss the importance and difficulties of studying state courts. This theme is reflected in the articles published in this Symposium issue. The importance of state courts to the American system of justice can hardly be overstated. As Professors Tracey George and Albert Yoon recognize, "The work of …


Introduction: The Effects Of Selection Method On Public Officials, Clayton J. Masterman Nov 2017

Introduction: The Effects Of Selection Method On Public Officials, Clayton J. Masterman

Vanderbilt Law Review

State and local governments have long struggled to design optimal mechanisms for selecting public officials. Centuries of experimentation have left us with several techniques: election (partisan or otherwise), political appointment, or selection by some kind of technocratic commission. Despite our extensive experience with these systems, no consensus has emerged as to which system is best under what circumstances. Several questions remain unclear: What effect does selection method have on the quality of services that public officials provide? Does selection method systematically affect the ideological composition of officials? If so, does that effect matter? And what determines whether a jurisdiction adopts …


Adjudicating Death: Professionals Or Politicians?, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati Nov 2017

Adjudicating Death: Professionals Or Politicians?, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati

Vanderbilt Law Review

Given that there is significant variation across the states in terms of whether death examination offices are run by trained professionals or local politicians, we should, in theory, be able to empirically test the question of whether professionals or politicians do a better job of adjudicating death. It turns out that, although there are strong opinions about what the answer surely is, there has been little in the way of serious empirical work addressing this question. Our Article takes a first cut at looking at how one might do that analysis.


The Ideological Consequences Of Selection: A Nationwide Study Of The Methods Of Selecting Judges, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Nov 2017

The Ideological Consequences Of Selection: A Nationwide Study Of The Methods Of Selecting Judges, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law Review

How best to select judges has been the subject of great debate ever since the founding of the United States. Over the course of American history, four basic methods of selection have been tried (with some variations among them): appointment by elected officials, partisan election, nonpartisan election, and selection by a technocratic commission.' The first three methods will be familiar to most readers: gubernatorial or legislative appointment of judges, contested elections with party affiliation on the ballot, and contested elections without party affiliation on the ballot. But readers may be less familiar with the last method: many states today use …


Judicial Reform As A Tug Of War: How Ideological Differences Between Politicians And The Bar Explain Attempts At Judicial Reform, Adam Bonica, Maya Sen Nov 2017

Judicial Reform As A Tug Of War: How Ideological Differences Between Politicians And The Bar Explain Attempts At Judicial Reform, Adam Bonica, Maya Sen

Vanderbilt Law Review

What predicts attempts at judicial reform? We develop a broad, generalizable framework that both explains and predicts attempts at judicial reform. Specifically, we explore the political tug of war created by the polarization between the bar and political actors, in tandem with existing judicial selection mechanisms. The more liberal the bar and the more conservative political actors, the greater the incentive political actors will have to introduce ideology into judicial selection. (And, vice versa, the more conservative the bar and the more liberal political actors, the greater incentive political actors will have to introduce ideology into judicial selection.) Understanding this …


Judging Law In Election Cases, Michael S. Kang, Joanna M. Shepherd Nov 2017

Judging Law In Election Cases, Michael S. Kang, Joanna M. Shepherd

Vanderbilt Law Review

How much does law matter in election cases where the partisan stakes are high? At first glance, election cases may seem the worst context for studying the influence of law on judicial decision making. Election cases, which decide the applicable rules for a given election, often determine election outcomes and therefore feature the highest political stakes in the balance. There is great temptation for judges to decide these cases in a partisan fashion to help their side. And we have found empirically in earlier work that judges do often appear influenced by partisanship in deciding these cases for their own …


Introduction: The Power Of New Data And Technology, Laura E. Dolbow Nov 2017

Introduction: The Power Of New Data And Technology, Laura E. Dolbow

Vanderbilt Law Review

Modern technology has revolutionized the law. Computers drastically expanded the scope and speed of access to legal information. Unlike the days when lawyers had to climb ladders in the stacks to find specific statutes or cases in printed reporters, Westlaw brings up thousands of resources at the touch of a fingertip. Beyond transforming legal research, new data and technology have transformed the law in two other powerful ways: they have made the law more accessible to nonlawyers, and they have made it possible for lawyers to gather information about how the law is being executed. The articles in this Section …


Introduction: Perceived Legitimacy And The State Judiciary, G. Alexander Nunn Nov 2017

Introduction: Perceived Legitimacy And The State Judiciary, G. Alexander Nunn

Vanderbilt Law Review

By and large, judicial authority is a product of perceived validity. Judges lack an independent means of enforcement; they wield "no influence over either the sword or the purse," "neither force nor will." Rather, the judicial branch operates under the auspices of its legitimacy, "a product of substance and perception that shows itself in the people's acceptance of the Judiciary as fit to determine what the Nation's law means and to declare what it demands." When the public sees the judiciary as legitimate, it accepts and adheres to its rulings even when it may perceive certain decisions to be ideologically …


The Effects Of Trial Judge Gender And Public Opinion On Criminal Sentencing Decisions, Christina L. Boyd, Michael J. Nelson Nov 2017

The Effects Of Trial Judge Gender And Public Opinion On Criminal Sentencing Decisions, Christina L. Boyd, Michael J. Nelson

Vanderbilt Law Review

We explore the effects of a trial judge's gender in criminal sentencing decisions by addressing two unsettled questions. First, do female and male trial judges sentence criminal offenders differently from one another? While numerous qualitative and quantitative scholars have examined this question, the results lack consistency. Second, are female trial judges' sentencing practices differentially affected by public opinion compared to male judges' behavior? Little research exists on this second question, but existing theory on how females and males make decisions and operate as judges is informative. To provide new empirical insight into these questions, we rely on two sources of …


Contingent Fee Litigation In New York City, Eric Helland, Daniel Klerman, Brendan Dowling, Alexander Kappner Nov 2017

Contingent Fee Litigation In New York City, Eric Helland, Daniel Klerman, Brendan Dowling, Alexander Kappner

Vanderbilt Law Review

Since 1957, New York courts have required contingent fee lawyers to file "closing statements" that disclose settlement amounts, lawyers' fees, an accounting of expenses, and other information. This Article provides a preliminary analysis of these data for the period 2004- 2013. Among this Article's findings are that settlement rates in New York state courts are very high (84%) relative to previous studies; that very few cases are resolved by dispositive motions; that litigated cases and settled cases have almost exactly the same average recovery; that median litigation expenses, other than attorney's fees, are 3% of gross recovery; that claims are …


Judicial Laterals, Jonathan R. Nash Nov 2017

Judicial Laterals, Jonathan R. Nash

Vanderbilt Law Review

Lawyers already in practice at one law firm often move to another law firm. This type of move is referred to as "lateraling." A lawyer might choose to lateral for many of the reasons we often think people in general take new positions: better job security, better pay, better benefits, greater prestige, more interesting work, better future job prospects, more leisure time, and/or more predictable hours.' In contrast to lawyers in private practice, we do not commonly associate judges with lateraling. But the fact is that, just as some judges are reassigned or promoted within a judicial system (for example, …


Public Perceptions Of Gender Bias In The Decisions Of Female State Court Judges, Michael P. Fix, Gbemende E. Johnson Nov 2017

Public Perceptions Of Gender Bias In The Decisions Of Female State Court Judges, Michael P. Fix, Gbemende E. Johnson

Vanderbilt Law Review

How are women on the bench, and their decisions, perceived by the public? Many scholars find that gender influences the voting behavior of judges and the assessment of judges by state judicial systems and the American Bar Association. However, few scholars have examined how judge gender affects the way in which the public responds to judicial outcomes. Does the public perceive the decisions of female state court judges as being "biased" by their gender identity, particularly in cases involving reproductive rights/family law? Also, does the public view female judges on state courts as more likely to rely on ideology when …


Measuring Justice In State Courts: The Demographics Of The State Judiciary, Tracey E. George, Albert H. Yoon Nov 2017

Measuring Justice In State Courts: The Demographics Of The State Judiciary, Tracey E. George, Albert H. Yoon

Vanderbilt Law Review

For most individuals and organizations, state courts--especially state trial courts-are the "law" for all effective purposes. State courts are America's courts. But, we know surprisingly little about state court judges despite their central and powerful role in lawmaking and dispute resolution. This lack of information is especially significant because judges' backgrounds have important implications for the work of courts. The characteristics of those who sit in judgment affect the internal workings of courts as well as the external perception of those courts and judges. The background of judges will influence how they make decisions and can impact the public's acceptance …


Judicial Politics And Decisionmaking: A New Approach, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie Nov 2017

Judicial Politics And Decisionmaking: A New Approach, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie

Vanderbilt Law Review

In twenty-five different experiments conducted on over 2,200 judges, we assessed whether judges' political ideology influences their resolution of hypothetical cases. Generally, we found that the political ideology of the judge matters, but only very little. Across a range of bankruptcy, criminal, and civil cases, we found that the aggregate effect of political ideology is either nonexistent or amounts to roughly one quarter of a standard deviation. Overall, the results of our experiments suggest that judges are not "politicians in robes."


Improving Access To Justice In State Courts With Platform Technology, J.J. Prescott Nov 2017

Improving Access To Justice In State Courts With Platform Technology, J.J. Prescott

Vanderbilt Law Review

Access to justice often equates to access to state courts, and for millions of Americans, using state courts to resolve their disputes-often with the government-is a real challenge. Reforms are regularly proposed in the hopes of improving the situation (e.g., better legal aid), but until recently a significant part of the problem has been structural. Using state courts today for all but the simplest of legal transactions entails at the very least traveling to a courthouse and meeting with a decision maker in person and in a one-on-one setting. Even minimally effective access, therefore, requires time, transportation, and very often …


Going Postal: Analyzing The Abuse Of Mail Covers Under The Fourth Amendment, Julie L. Rooney Oct 2017

Going Postal: Analyzing The Abuse Of Mail Covers Under The Fourth Amendment, Julie L. Rooney

Vanderbilt Law Review

Since at least the late 1800s, the United States government has regularly tracked the mail of many of its citizens. In 2014 alone, for example, the government recorded all data on the outside of the mail parcels of over 50,000 individuals via a surveillance initiative known as the mail covers program. In the current age of mass surveillance, this program-like all surveillance initiatives-has grown exponentially. Unbeknownst to most citizens, the government now photographs and records the exterior of each of the roughly 160 billion mail parcels delivered by the USPS every year. Still, despite its ability to allow governmental authorities …


Reverse Political Process Theory, Aaron Tang Oct 2017

Reverse Political Process Theory, Aaron Tang

Vanderbilt Law Review

Despite occasional suggestions to the contrary, the Supreme Court has long since stopped interpreting the Constitution to afford special protection to certain groups on the ground that they are powerless to defend their own interests in the political process. From a series of decisions reviewing laws that burden whites under the same strict scrutiny as laws that burden racial minorities, to the more recent same-sex marriage decision based principally on the fundamental nature of marriage (rather than the political status of gays and lesbians), it is now an uncontroversial observation that when it comes to applying the open-textured provisions of …


Do Your Job: Judicial Review Of Occupational Licensing In The Face Of Economic Protectionism, Nicole A. Weeks Oct 2017

Do Your Job: Judicial Review Of Occupational Licensing In The Face Of Economic Protectionism, Nicole A. Weeks

Vanderbilt Law Review

Despite efforts to challenge certain occupational licensing schemes as impermissibly driven by naked economic protectionism, federal appellate courts disagree on the legitimacy owed to the protectionist motivations that commonly prompt these regulations. To eliminate the current confusion, this Note advocates for the application of rational-basis-with-judicial-engagement review. The Supreme Court has demonstrated a willingness to engage in such analysis before-in both its animus jurisprudence over the past decades and more recently in its meticulous cost-benefit inquiry in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt-thereby weakening its claims of incompetence in evaluating the motivations of lawmakers. To avoid hindering the economic well being of …


A Theory Of Differential Punishment, Jack Boeglin, Zachary Shapiro Oct 2017

A Theory Of Differential Punishment, Jack Boeglin, Zachary Shapiro

Vanderbilt Law Review

A puzzle has long pervaded the criminal law: why are two offenders who commit the same criminal act punished differently when one of them, due to circumstances beyond her control, causes more harm than the other? This tradition of result-based differential punishment the practice of varying offenders' punishment based on whether or not they cause specific "statutory harms"-has long stood as an intractable problem for scholars and jurists alike.

This Article proposes a solution to this long-standing conceptual problem. We begin by introducing a dichotomy between two broad and exhaustive categories of ideological justifications for punishing criminal offenders. The first …


Regulating Business Innovation As Policy Disruption: From The Model T To Airbnb, Eric Biber, Sarah E. Light, J.B. Ruhl, James Salzman Oct 2017

Regulating Business Innovation As Policy Disruption: From The Model T To Airbnb, Eric Biber, Sarah E. Light, J.B. Ruhl, James Salzman

Vanderbilt Law Review

Many scholars have invoked the term "disruptive innovation" when addressing the platform (sharing) economy, with sweeping claims about the dramatic changes this development promises for law, regulation, and the economy. The challenges raised by the platform economy are surely important, but we argue that recent scholarship focusing on the immediacy and novelty of the platform economy has been ahistorical, and has therefore missed the bigger picture about how to regulate it. History is full of technological and management advances that fundamentally disrupted business models for a brief period of time. When business innovation upends a preexisting business model in a …


Reflection: How Multiracial Lives Matter, Lauren Sudeall Jun 2017

Reflection: How Multiracial Lives Matter, Lauren Sudeall

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Race plays an important organizing function in society, and one over which we have little control as individuals; this can be difficult to reconcile with the self-determination many multiracial individuals possess to control their own racial identity and how it is perceived by others. While some are dismissive of that premise, instead favoring a racial solidarity approach that minimizes the relevance of subcategories, I have contended that it is important to allow multiracial individuals to define their own identity. This is a sentiment that has been echoed by Justice Kennedy's language in several recent opinions discussing racial identity (if not …


Police Violence Against People With Mental Disabilities: The Immutable Duty Under The Ada To Reasonable Accommodate During Arrest, Carly A. Myers May 2017

Police Violence Against People With Mental Disabilities: The Immutable Duty Under The Ada To Reasonable Accommodate During Arrest, Carly A. Myers

Vanderbilt Law Review

No abstract provided.


"Plausible Cause": Explanatory Standards In The Age Of Powerful Machines, Kiel Brennan-Marquez May 2017

"Plausible Cause": Explanatory Standards In The Age Of Powerful Machines, Kiel Brennan-Marquez

Vanderbilt Law Review

Much scholarship in law and political science has long understood the U.S. Supreme Court to be the "apex" court in the federal judicial system, and so to relate hierarchically to "lower" federal courts. On that top-down view, exemplified by the work of Alexander Bickel and many subsequent scholars, the Court is the principal, and lower federal courts are its faithful agents. Other scholarship takes a bottom-up approach, viewing lower federal courts as faithless agents or analyzing the "percolation" of issues in those courts before the Court decides. This Article identifies circumstances in which the relationship between the Court and other …


For What It's Worth: The Role Of Race- And Gender-Based Data In Civil Damages Awards, Loren D. Goodman May 2017

For What It's Worth: The Role Of Race- And Gender-Based Data In Civil Damages Awards, Loren D. Goodman

Vanderbilt Law Review

Following months of behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and intermittent complaints of headache and nausea, five-year-old Kelsey Craig's mother finally takes her to the pediatrician to determine the root of the problem. After multiple consultations, a blood test shows a surprising culprit: there is a dangerously high amount of lead present in Kelsey's blood, suggesting prolonged exposure to the irreversibly toxic substance. Upon returning to their older, prewar apartment building, Kelsey's mother passes a neighboring family in the hallway and woefully relays the tale of her diagnosis. The neighbors' eyes grow wide as they realize their own five-year-old son has been experiencing …


Organizational Law As Commitment Device, Morgan Ricks May 2017

Organizational Law As Commitment Device, Morgan Ricks

Vanderbilt Law Review

What is the essential role of the law of enterprise organization? The dominant view among business law scholars today is that organizational lawthe law of partnerships, corporations, private trusts, and their variants-serves primarily to structure relations between business owners, on the one hand, and business creditors, on the other. Under this "asset partitioning" theory, organizational law's main purpose is to shield business assets from claims of creditors of the business's owners, thereby giving business creditors a structurally senior claim on business assets. By relieving business creditors of the need to inspect the creditworthiness of business owners, the theory goes, organizational …


Reciprocal Legitimation In The Federal Courts System, Neil S. Siegel May 2017

Reciprocal Legitimation In The Federal Courts System, Neil S. Siegel

Vanderbilt Law Review

U.S. Supreme Court to be the "apex" court in the federal judicial system, and so to relate hierarchically to "lower" federal courts. On that top-down view, exemplified by the work of Alexander Bickel and many subsequent scholars, the Court is the principal, and lower federal courts are its faithful agents. Other scholarship takes a bottom-up approach, viewing lower federal courts as faithless agents or analyzing the "percolation" of issues in those courts before the Court decides. This Article identifies circumstances in which the relationship between the Court and other federal courts is best viewed as neither top-down nor bottom-up, but …


Manipulation Of Suspects And Unrecorded Questioning, Christopher Slobogin May 2017

Manipulation Of Suspects And Unrecorded Questioning, Christopher Slobogin

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Fifty years after Miranda, courts still do not have clear guidance on the types oftechniques police may use during interrogation. While first-generation tactics (a.k.a. the third degree) are banned, second-generation tactics such as those found in the famous Reid Manual continue to be used by interrogators. The Supreme Court has sent only vague signals as to which of these second- generation techniques, if any, are impermissible, and has made no mention of newly developed third-generation tactics that are much less reliant on manipulation. This Article divides second-generation techniques into four categories: impersonation, rationalization, fabrication, and negotiation. After concluding, based on …


Proportionality Skepticism In A Red State, Lauren Sudeall May 2017

Proportionality Skepticism In A Red State, Lauren Sudeall

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

As someone who lives in a red state and has practiced capital defense in Georgia and Alabama, my view for some time has been that the death penalty is not going anywhere any time soon. And while the dominant message from legal experts and commentators in recent years has been that the death penalty is on the decline,' the results of this past election might suggest otherwise. The three referenda regarding capital punishment on the 2016 ballot - in California, Nebraska, and Oklahoma - were all resolved in favor of the death penalty. These votes could be taken to signal …


Minor Courts, Major Questions, Michael Coenen, Seth Davis Apr 2017

Minor Courts, Major Questions, Michael Coenen, Seth Davis

Vanderbilt Law Review

In Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., the Supreme Court deferred to an agency's controversial interpretation of a key provision of a regulatory statute. Lower courts now apply "Chevron deference" as a matter of course, upholding agencies' reasonable interpretations of ambiguous provisions within the statutes they administer. Recently, however, the Court refused in King v. Burwell to defer to an agency's answer to a statutory question, citing the "deep economic and political significance" of the question itself. The Court in King offered barebones guidance regarding the scope of and rationales for embracing this so-called "major questions exception" …