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What is an “unduly suggestive” procedure in a criminal lineup?

According to the Constitution, it is a violation of Due Process if it is “unduly suggestive.” Examples of “unduly suggestive” can include things like being the only person of a certain race in a lineup, or being the only person who matches the suspect’s description. The Massachusetts Appellate Court recently decided a case that examined this issue in Commonwealth v. Travis.

What happened in the Travis case?

Remote Trial did not Violate Defendant’s Constitutional Rights 

Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been some discussion as to whether remote trials are in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights. In the recently decided case of Commonwealth v. Curran, the highest court in Massachusetts decided that it does not. 

What happened in the Curran case? 

Can the Police Test Your Blood Without Your Consent? The Massachusetts Appellate Court May Decide.

 The Massachusetts statutes state that when a chemical “test or analysis” of a defendant’s blood-alcohol content is made by or at the direction of police, it is admissible in court only if the defendant consents. In the case of Commonwealth v. Eric Moreau, the police obtained a warrant to seize blood drawn from the defendant by hospital personnel and then tested it in the State Police Crime Lab without the defendant’s consent. This case is pending before the Massachusetts Appellate Court and asks whether the result of the test is admissible in the prosecution of the defendant.

What happened in the Moreau case?

United States Supreme Court Blocks Vaccine or Test Rule

Over the past few weeks, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 variant has exploded. As a response to the rising cases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandated that employers with at least 100 employees require covered workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This week, the Supreme Court blocked this rule in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

What happened in this case?  

The Fourth Amendment is a very important right. However, it is often overshadowed by its many, many, exceptions. The Massachusetts Appellate Court recently examined a patfrisk case stemming from a motor vehicle stop. At this stop, the highly dangerous drug fentanyl was found. Fentanyl is often so potent that 3 milligrams is enough to kill a grown man. To put this into perspective, 3 milligrams of fentanyl is difficult to see with the naked eye. The Massachusetts Appellate Court looked at a motion to suppress fentanyl seized during a traffic stop in Commonwealth v. Wade

What happened in the Wade case?

Defendant Wade allegedly sped past a state trooper at 11 pm while the officer was pulled over on the side of the road conducting another stop. Wade was with four other passengers. Officers claimed that the car smelled like marijuana. In addition, the driver did not have a license or registration. Officer also said they found it suspicious that one passenger had his hood up and his hand in his pockets. The officer demanded he remove his hand from his pockets but the passenger did not. Other passengers were reaching in their pants and pockets. Wade put his hands in his waistband. The officers then pulled Wade out of the car and searched him. They found a pill bottle with the name removed. The fentanyl was found in the bottle.

United States Supreme Court Likely to Dramatically Change Access To Abortion in Summer 2022 

As of now, abortion is considered a constitutional right under Roe v. Wade. Roe was decided in 1973 when the Supreme Court held that the right for a woman to get an abortion is protected under the implied right to privacy that is in the “penumbras” of the constitution. This right to privacy extends to people’s private lives, including sex, contraception, marriage, child rearing, and abortion. 

There have been challenges to abortion before, but none as flagrant as the case that the Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which asks the Supreme Court “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” The state of Mississippi, where this clinic is located, is hoping that the Supreme Court will answer “yes.” 

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to Hear Police Surveillance Case 

Under the Fourth Amendment and the United States Supreme Court precedent, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion that all Americans enjoy. The home is one of the most sacred places when it comes to privacy. It is a place that is only subject to government intrusion with a warrant. However, what if the government intrudes into the home not physically, but by camera? The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments next week in the case of Commonwealth v. Comenzo.  This case was argued on October 6, 2021.  

What happened in the case

Will Affirmative Action in College Admissions Become A Thing of the Past? Supreme Court May Decide. 

Minorities in this country, specifically Black Americans, have suffered unthinkable injustices on the basis of race. The Supreme Court in the controversial 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger the Supreme Court held that using race as a factor in college admissions does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. However, the Supreme Court did strike down the use of racial quotas in college admissions in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, back in 1978. 

The current state of affirmative action for college admissions is that race can be used as a “soft plus factor” but strict racial quotas are prohibited. The opinion in Grutter made clear that affirmative action was not meant to last forever, rather it was supposed to be used for as long as it takes to reach equality among the races, and to reverse past injustices. Affirmative action was always meant to be a temporary solution. 

The Fourth Amendment is one of the most important constitutional rights we have. The Fourth Amendment was added to the constitution out of the Founder’s frustration with so called “general searches” in colonial times. The authorities were allowed to search for anything at any time and the colonists were very frustrated. In the modern time, the Fourth Amendment has been nearly swallowed whole by the endless amount of exceptions. Yet another Fourth Amendment case in pending before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Knights v. United States.

What is at issue in the Knights case?  

The Supreme Court has previously held that if a person is seized under the Fourth Amendment if in view of all the circumstances surrounding that incident, a reasonable person would have believed he was not free to leave. What constitutes a restraint on liberty prompting a person to conclude that he is not free to leave will vary, not only with the particular police conduct at issue but also with the setting in which the conduct occurs.

First Circuit Decides Important Case About Lyft Drivers 

Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber have changed the world. Users can request a ride from pretty much anywhere on their app, making it a convenient option for nights out, trips to the airport, and even everyday use. These new apps have made taxis nearly obsolete. However, in the past couple of years, concerns have arisen regarding the compensation structure of these apps. The apps make it very easy to become a driver, raising safety concerns. Further, rideshare drivers were some of the essential works most at risk during the pandemic and did not receive hazard pay. The First Circuit decided his week a case that decides whether Lyft drivers are workers engaged in interstate commerce in the case of Cunningham v. Lyft

What happened in the Cunningham case?

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