Kathryn E. Brown
Dylan McNabb was 19 years old when he murdered his grandmother. On the day of the murder, Dylan smoked a drug commonly known as “bath salts” and returned home to 78-year-old Imogene McNabb. Believing that she was possessed, Dylan picked up a shotgun and shot Imogene in the head, killing her. In an interview after the incident, Dylan reported that he believed she was the Antichrist and she intended to kill him. As of the time of this writing, he is in jail, awaiting trial for one count of first-degree murder.
The stories stemming from bath salts use are truly stranger than fiction. After using bath salts, a 24-year-old Tennessee man jumped out of a third floor window to prove he was a god, and then got up and jumped off the second floor balcony on which he had landed. A Mississippi man attempted to skin himself alive; and a 19-year-old West Virginia man stabbed his neighbor’s pygmy goat while wearing women’s underwear. As Dr. Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Control explained, “f you had a reaction, it was a bad reaction.”
Daniel G. Orenstein
American marijuana policy is evolving at a breakneck pace, politically speaking. After decades of strict criminal penalties, functional holds on much research, and political and popular demonization (exemplified by the epigraph above from propaganda-film-turned-cult-favorite, “Reefer Madness”), changes are now coming surprisingly quickly. With the leash of federal policy loosening of late, many states are taking bold policy steps to adopt new approaches to marijuana that range from evolutionary (limited medical use) to revolutionary (legalization and taxation of adult recreational use). Medical marijuana laws in particular have spread quickly, with twenty-three states and the District of Columbia now allowing some form of lawful medical use. Like many of these states, Arizona’s medical marijuana program is experiencing policy growing pains as conflicts arise between the new program’s legal framework and other laws. Among other issues, Arizona’s medical marijuana law raises difficult interpretive questions regarding statutory prohibitions on (1) possession of marijuana-derived extracts and (2) driving under the influence. Some level of conflict is unsurprising given the genesis of Arizona’s program through voter initiative, rather than legislation, but this approach has been common among medical marijuana enacted laws to date. In Arizona, the conflict necessitates especially careful analysis, as voter-enacted laws cannot be altered or overridden by the governor or simple legislative majority.
Steven J. Twist & Keelah E.G. Williams
On November 6, 1990, Arizona voters approved an amendment to the state constitution3 granting specific procedural and substantive rights to victims of crime. Known as the “Victims’ Bill of Rights” (VBR), the amendment will celebrate its 25th anniversary on November 27, 2015. At the time of its passage, Arizona became one of only six states to afford crime victims’ rights protected by state constitutions. The VBR was enacted as part of a national movement that began with the publication of the Report of the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime (“Final Report”).
One only needs to read the latest legal blog or newspaper to find a story about ambiguous statutory language at the center of a dispute. Courts solve these disputes in a variety of ways, including using statutory interpretation tools, such as textual aids, canons of construction, and legislative history. Of course, not every scholar or judge agrees on when, how, and even if a court should employ these tools. On the one hand, textualists follow a formalist approach that requires a court to look to just the text in interpreting a statute and to reject tools that consider extrinsic evidence, such as legislative history. On the other hand, purposivists believe the most important goal is to find the legislative purpose or intent behind the statute, which may require the court to rely on legislative history. What is missing from this debate about how to use statutory interpretation tools, though, is how a court should treat materials that legislative drafters actually use when drafting the law.
At the age of nineteen, Shamoon Yousif moved from Iraq to Mesa, Arizona, where he opened two grocery stores. After his wife was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, Yousif asked his brother Sami to manage one of his grocery stores. Unbeknownst to him, Sami began to stock Yousif’s store with stolen goods purchased from “boosters” for resale. In May 2008, police seized much of Yousif’s assets—including his home, his car, his two stores, his bank accounts, and his recently-deceased wife’s jewelry. Police seized the property pursuant to an ex parte seizure warrant based only on probable cause. His property was seized without prior notice, and he was denied a prompt post-seizure hearing to challenge the seizure.
Yousif was charged with a number of racketeering offenses, including trafficking in stolen property, fraudulent schemes and artifices, and illegally conducting an enterprise. With no constitutional right to counsel due to the civil nature of the forfeiture proceedings, he was forced to mount a defense with virtually no assets at his disposal. Like many who find themselves in this unfortunate scenario, Yousif settled. Today, he is indebted to the State of Arizona and turns over the bulk of his salary to a racketeering fund, which law enforcement agencies have come to depend on to fund future racketeering investigations.
D. Alex Winkelman, David V. Yokum, Lisette C. Cole, Shelby C. Thompson, & Christopher T. Robertson
Trials are often imperfect. When inadmissible evidence is introduced or the jury is incorrectly instructed, judges must determine whether the error was prejudicial or merely harmless. In making that assessment, judges resort to speculation about the counterfactual question of whether the error changed ...
Brian M. McCall
Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction.” Academics, analysts, politicians and regulators have argued that one form of derivative contract was responsible, at least in significant part, for the mass destruction of the financial system in 2008: credit default swaps (“CDSs”).
Eric Dinallo, the New York Superintendent of Insurance, compared the 2008 Financial ...
Perry Thomas Klauber
The federal courts are divided concerning the interpretation of the general, federal removal statute 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The statute states that a defendant can remove any civil action from state court to a federal district court so long as the federal court has original jurisdiction. Some courts use a functional test to interpret the meaning ...