Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Search and Seizure Under Chief Judge Wilson

Will his elevation lead New York to greater protections of privacy and freedom from government interference?

By Jordyn Conway
Jordyn Conway is a third year student at Albany Law School, where she is serving the community as Pro-Bono Scholar in her final semester.
Prior to attending law school, Jordyn was employed as a planning consultant addressing municipal and land-use issues in New York State. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the SUNY ESF at Syracuse University, and briefly studied environmental planning and policy at University College Dublin, Ireland.
In addition to her academic studies at the law school, Jordyn has served as the Co-Chair for the Women’s Leadership Initiative Fellowship, Director of Finance the Moot Court Program, Sub-Editor for the Government Law Review, Teaching Assistant for Professor Armstrong’s Torts course, and has interned for the New York State Supreme Court, 4th Judicial District. This summer she is working as Summer Associate for Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, LLC.

It is anticipated that Chief Judge Rowan Wilson’s tenure as the leader of the New York Court of Appeals will take the state’s highest court in a more liberal direction, especially in consideration of the rights of the accused. As demonstrated in Chief Judge Wilson’s opinions, and even more notably in his dissents, he has expressed his views on how New York law should be interpreted and applied in cases where the protection of privacy related to search and seizure is at issue.

Overall, Chief Judge Wilson’s decisions have revealed that he has a rather liberal stance on Fourth Amendment federal issues and Article 1, Section 12 issues under New York’s state constitution. In multiple cases, Chief Judge Wilson has dissented where he felt the majority was too lenient in approving searches and that the standards for seeking or implementing a warrant needed to be heightened. Additionally, his dissents have argued for greater protections stemming from the state constitution rather than defaulting to the minimum protections offered by the federal Constitution.

This paper explores Chief Judge Wilson’s dissents in search and seizure cases to provide a legal analysis with regard to his views and how he might approach such issues in the future as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. 
To read the paper, open HERE.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

The Story of Happy the Elephant

Matter of  Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Breheny

By Dylon T. Newkirk
Dylon Newkirk has just begun his final year at Albany Law School and is expecting to graduate in May of 2024. During his time at Albany Law, Dylon has held various executive board positions. Dylon is the treasurer of the Historical Society of the New York Courts-Albany Law Chapter, Social Media Director for the Albany Law Golf Club, and treasurer and Assistant Captain for the Albany Law Hockey Club. Dylon is also a law clerk at Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC.
Prior to attending Albany Law, Dylon attended SUNY Albany, earning a Bachelor's degree in Political Science with dual minors in Business and Economics. Outside of the classroom, he greatly enjoys any time spent outdoors – whether he’s teeing it up on the links, or strolling through his carefully manicured flower garden.

The New York Court of Appeals has historically leaned liberal and been ahead of its time. The highest court in the state of New York has been on the forefront of guaranteeing rights years ahead of other states and the federal government. Unfortunately, that historical trend did not hold true in the case of Matter of Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Breheny.

Happy is a fifty-one-year-old Asian elephant who is currently being housed in the Bronx Zoo. Happy has been there for most of her life, stuck for the entertainment of millions of people, after she was stolen from Thailand as an infant elephant. But things were not always so bad for Happy. At one point in time, she had her herd, but they have slowly died off. Therefore, Happy now lives in solitary confinement.

A petition for habeas corpus was brought on Happy’s behalf, but the Court of Appeals ruled that habeas corpus can only apply to humans. Did the court rule incorrectly? What can we make of the longest dissent in Court of Appeals history? Could a new court possibly reverse the error? This paper takes an in-depth look at Nonhuman Rights Project v. Breheny and attempts to answer these questions.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Center Editorial Board, 2023-2024


Sarah Midani is a class of 2025 student at Albany Law School.
With a keen interest in both labor law and education law, she serves as a law clerk in the Office of General Counsel at New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). Sarah first joined NYSUT as a Peggy Browning Fellow in the summer of 2023, where she researched the strength of federal and state workplace safety laws as mechanisms to protect teachers from student violence. At the law school, Sarah is a Government Law Center Fellow and a member of the Albany Law Review.
Prior to law school, Sarah worked as a broadcast and digital news producer at the NBC, CBS, and CW affiliates in Syracuse, New York.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in educational studies from Siena College, and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. 

Executive Editor
Priscilla Capuano is a third-year student at Albany Law School. Prior to attending law school, Priscilla earned her bachelor’s degree from Siena College, where she majored in Philosophy and minored in Creative Arts. During College she interned as a tour guide at the USS Slater in Albany, New York. 
Last year, Priscilla interned in the Albany County District Attorney’s Office in the summer of 2022. She continued her work there by completing a Field Placement over the fall and volunteering in the spring. Priscilla was on Albany Law School’s Criminal Appellate Travel Team where she competed in the 2023 Herbert Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition. She also competed in the 2023 Domenick L. Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition, in which she was a finalist. She also won the third best oral advocate award. As the Managing Editor for Production, Research, and Writing on the Journal of Science and Technology, Priscilla was involved in organizing and running the Journal Write-on Competition.
During the summer of 2023, Priscilla worked as a Summer Associate for Goldman Sachs. This fall, she has a Field Placement in the chambers of the Honorable Mae D’Agostino. She is continuing her involvement in the Journal of Science and Technology.

Executive Editor
Kelly Krull
is a third-year student at Albany Law School. 
Prior to attending Albany Law, she completed her bachelor’s degree in the 3+3 law program at Le Moyne College, where she majored in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-law. During her undergraduate studies, she interned for a Judge at the Worcester District Court in Massachusetts.
At Albany Law, Kelly currently is a work study in the Information Technology Department. She is also currently a research assistant for Professor Melissa Breger. In the fall of 2022, she joined the Family Violence Litigation Clinic in Albany Law’s Justice Center. 

Executive Editor
Cameron Bishop
is a third-year student at Albany Law School. Before law school, he earned a bachelor's degree from Siena College where he majored in Political Science, complemented by a pre-law certificate and completion of the Standish Honors Program. In the Standish Honors Program, he completed 100 hours of community service at the Schenectady Inner City Ministry and prepared an Honors Thesis on the advertising strategies in battleground states in the 2020 Presidential Election. He was a member of the Siena Mock Trial Team, as well as a captain of the team in his senior year.
Last year, Cameron interned at the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office. He was also a Dean Thomas Sponsler Honors Teaching Fellow, where he was a teaching assistant for Professor Mayer for Federal Civil Procedure and then for Criminal Law. He will continue working with her as her research assistant. He is also a member of the Albany Law Review.
As a 3L, Cameron will participate in a field placement in the chambers of the Honorable Mae A. D'Agostino, District Court Judge for the Northern District of New York. Additionally, he is a member of the Pro Bono Scholars Program and will be placed with the Schenectady County Public Defender's Office, hopefully doing work in drug court. He was a participant in the 2022 Donna Jo Morse Client Counseling Competition and competed in the 2023 Domenick L. Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition in which he and his partner were finalists, and he won the best oral-advocate award.
For previous years' staffs, click HERE.  

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Constitutional Individuation: The Jurisprudential √úbermensch

By Clarence Felix Nyiri
Clarence Nyiri will be graduating from Albany Law School in December of this year. Before attending Albany Law, he received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Marist College.
Clarence spends most of his free time as the frontman and lead writer for the internationally acclaimed alternative rock band “The Dissidents.” He also works as an independent novelist and screenwriter and is involved in a music-centered AI startup known as “Haven Music.”
Currently, Clarence is in the process of drafting a thesis that links foundational legal and moral values to necessary constants and synchronous systems within the fields of psychology, physics, and neuroscience.

Does the law have a shadow?

Among the most significant intellectual thinkers of the Western canon is Friedrich Nietzsche, whose works have offered a rounded and nuanced explanation for how people process their environment through gradually changing moral prisms. Carl Jung, a student and successor of Nietzsche, made great strides in applying the concepts inherent in Nietzsche’s teachings to the archetypal foundations of the human psyche. Jung’s career and contributions have greatly enhanced mankind’s understanding of how psychology relates to human interaction with reality, making him a highly respected figure in the field.

Central to the teachings of both thinkers is the idea that the creation of a psychologically balanced system of beliefs and morals relies on a process of gradual change through introspection, the confrontation of fears, and the integration of the ideologically opposite “shadow” complex with the conscious persona which governs our day-to-day operations.
In this paper, the ideal role of judges is examined and redefined through this method of thinking. A new “ideal judge” is posited which rivals the “Judge Hercules” proposed by Ronald Dworkin. In lieu of a judge with the absolute mental command of legal precedent and tradition of the United States, an alternative is proposed which seeks to balance the judicial self-interests inherent in legal realism, the moral archetypes which would not be out of place in a natural law conception, and their application to community interactions as would be seen in a positivist perspective.

Through a case study of the history of the incorporation doctrine; the application of the Bill of Rights to the states, a legal parallel is made to the processes of Nietzsche and Jung. An argument is presented that incorporation is an apt representation of American Jurisprudence confronting the essential dominant and suppressed elements of its legal “psyche,” and that effective and moral law is the byproduct of this union.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Justice Samuel Alito’s Approach to Stare Decisis

By Claire D. Hewitt
Claire Hewitt just finished her second year at Albany Law School. But she’ll be graduating early, in December 2023.
Before attending law school, Claire earned her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego, where she majored in criminal justice and was on the women’s softball team. 
At the law school, Claire has been an Associate Board Member of the Moot Court Program, Treasurer of Phi Alpha Delta, Teaching Assistant for Professor Wetmore’s Criminal Law course, and Certified Legal Intern for the Albany County DA’s Office in the Major Crimes Bureau. This summer, she is working at the New York County DA’s Office as a Summer Law Fellow. 
Claire has previously interned for the New York State Office of the Attorney General in the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. Before law school, she worked as a full-time legal assistant for a solo practitioner in Syracuse, New York, working on civil matters and appeals.

In his Senate confirmation hearing, Justice Samuel Alito testified that stare decisis is a fundamental part of the American legal system and ensured that he would respect the judgments and wisdom which are embedded in prior judicial decisions. However, actions speak louder than words. If Justice Alito truly believed that the judicial doctrine of stare decisis is a fundamental part of the American legal system, why is it that he will agree to overturn court-set precedent when it aligns with his personal views?

While stare decisis is an important doctrine that has helped regulate the judiciary for hundreds of years, its inconsistent implementation by Supreme Court justices like Justice Alito directly contradicts its purpose. Justice Alito appears to give great deference to stare decisis, as demonstrated in many of his judicial opinions, which reveal his reliance on precedent and historical practice as a method of reasoning and his disfavor of precedent-altering decisions. Yet, many of his opinions also reveal a willingness to depart from precedent as he chooses.

Despite his claim that judges are neither legislators nor rule makers, an observation of Justice Alito’s jurisprudence demonstrates that stare decisis is merely a political tool of convenience. Justice Alito is guilty of using this tool inconsistently, specifically to further his own religious views and political positions.  

This paper proceeds in three parts. Part I lays out a background explanation of the legal doctrine of stare decisis and its basic history and place in the Supreme Court. Part II focuses on Justice Alito’s stance on this doctrine by discussing many of his opinions, which cumulatively demonstrate three distinct observations of his jurisprudence. Part III discusses the resulting conflict that arises from the inconsistent implementation of stare decisis and its impact on the current Supreme Court and today’s society. Part IV ties together ideas and draws conclusions.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Relitigating Dobbs in a Conservative Court: The Potential Road from Justice Thomas and Natural Law

By James C. Ashley
James C. Ashley is a summa cum laude graduate of Albany Law School, class of 2023. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Linguistics from SUNY Albany, also summa cum laude.
At Albany Law School, James was an Executive Editor for Notes and Comments on the Albany Law Review, a Sponsler Fellow in Civil Procedure, and a Teaching Assistant in Lawyering. He was the winner of the 2022 Domenick L. Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition. James interned with the New York State Division of Human Rights, as well as with Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, where he will begin his career after the bar exam.

As early as 1991, reporters predicted that if selected for the Supreme Court, a Justice Clarence Thomas would one day vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

At his confirmation hearing, he was questioned about his prior embrace of the doctrine of natural law—the belief in the existence of a higher law that can be discovered by human reason—to draw out his views on abortion. Thirty years later, the Supreme Court held, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that the Federal Constitution does not provide protection for a woman’s right to have an abortion, with Justice Thomas voting to overturn Roe as predicted. He concurred separately, but with no explicit references to the natural law doctrine.

This paper examines Justice Thomas’s opinions on abortion for either implicit or explicit references to natural law. Then, it weighs the feasibility of several novel arguments that could be used to relitigate Dobbs before a conservative Court.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Supreme Loss: A Largely Ineffective Supreme Court Without the Sandra Day O’Connor Swing

By Elise I. Butler
Elise I. Butler is a third-year student at Albany Law School. Prior to attending law school, she graduated from Hamilton College where she majored in Psychology and minored in Biology.
At Albany Law, Elise serves as Executive Editor for Notes and Comments on the Albany Law Review. She has been a Sponsler Fellow in Federal Civil Procedure, a teaching assistant in Criminal Law, and a Peer Writing Assistant. Elise competed in Albany Law’s Senior Prize Trials, where she finished as a semi-finalist.
In her final semester at Albany Law, Elise is currently interning for Judge Mae D’Agostino in the Northern District of New York.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is often referred to as the most influential woman in American history.  This is largely due to her fair, impartial, and reasoned votes as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

O’Connor put her politics aside and voted not with the Republicans or Democrats, but with the side that deserved to prevail under the Constitution and law.  In today’s political climate, O’Connor’s reasoned, non-partisan voting is sorely missed.  Many hyperpolarized decisions reaching the Court today can be predicted based on the political affiliation of each justice’s appointer, something that was impossible with O’Connor on the Court. 

This paper explores the influence that Sandra Day O’Connor’s reasoned judgment had on the Court and on the law, and why it is sorely missed on the Court today.  This paper begins with a discussion of O’Connor’s judicial philosophy and influence on the Court and the law.  Next, this paper explores the political climate of today’s executive and legislative branches and their influence on the increased polarization of the judicial branch.  This paper concludes with an analysis of two of O’Connor’s opposing opinions on abortion and contrasts her reasoning for both with the reasonings provided in both the majority and dissenting opinions in the Court’s recent case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
To read the paper, open HERE.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Influence of Judicial Deference on the New York Court of Appeals

By Patricia T. Whelan
Patricia T. Whelan is a third-year student at Albany Law School. Prior to attending law school, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Penn State.
At Albany Law, Patricia is an Associate Editor of the Albany Law Review, a Board Member of the Elder and Disability Law Pro Bono Society, and the 3L Representative of the Student Bar Association. As a second-year student, she was the Chief Justice of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, where she received the Outstanding Law School Chapter Justice Award.
Patricia has interned for the Third Judicial District, Federal Public Defender’s Office, and served as the Law Student Liaison for the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law. She also enjoys competing in various Moot Court Competitions and was a finalist in the 2021 Donna Jo Morse Client Counseling Competition.
In addition to all of that, Patricia is the Editor-in-Chief of the Center for Judicial Process for the 2022-23 academic year, and she is currently working as a law clerk at Pierro, Connor & Strauss.

The legal decision-making process is deeply rooted in the judicial branch of the United States Government.  It is an art that is foundational to our justice system.  The process by which judges interpret and apply the law to arrive at legal conclusions is often perplexing and intriguing.  As such, the process of how judges make decisions is frequently discussed and studied amongst many forums.  Numerous philosophies and principles have been constructed and developed regarding the judicial decision-making process.  One significant aspect of the judicial decision-making process is the legal power of judicial review which grants courts the broad power to determine the constitutionality of government actions. 

Within the principle of judicial review, lies the philosophy of deference.  Judicial deference is often used by judges in their decision-making process.  It stands for the idea that courts may yield or defer its judgment to that of another legitimate branch of authority.  Under this standard of review, judges recognize that they may be required to uphold a certain interpretation of law, even if they do not believe that it is correct, given that the Constitution does not prohibit the legislature’s determination and there is a reasonable basis for it. 

The purpose of this paper is to consider the decisions of three different New York Court of Appeals judges who all seemingly employ a deferential attitude in reaching a legal conclusion.  First, this paper considers the majority opinion of Judge Charles D. Breitel in Byrn v. New York City Health & Hospitals Corp. Next, it looks at People v. Davis and the majority opinion written by Judge Lawrence H. Cooke.  Lastly, it discusses Judge Eugene F. Pigott, Jr.’s majority opinion in Shipley v. City of New York.  This paper concludes by drawing generalizations about the judges’ and their opinions based on the deferential standard of judicial review. 
To read the paper, open HERE.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

People v. Tiger, “[M]ore than it should and less than it seems”

The Court of Appeals’ Over-Emphasis on Finality and Conservation of Judicial Resources

By Olivia Harvey
Olivia Harvey is a 2022 graduate of Albany Law School. During law school, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Center for Judicial Process, as well as a teaching assistant and research assistant for Professor Vincent Bonventre.
Olivia also served as an intern at the law school’s Immigration Law Clinic, where she provided direct representation to an asylum-seeker, and as an intern at the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office, where she worked in the appeals unit.
Olivia is currently an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

In its 2018 decision in People v. Tiger, the New York Court of Appeals held that, for those convicted of a crime by guilty plea, there exists no right to bring a motion for post-conviction relief challenging the conviction on the basis of actual innocence, unless the claim involves newly discovered DNA evidence.

In dissent, Judge Rowan Wilson castigated the majority opinion for doing “more than it should and less than it seems.” Wilson criticized the majority for characterizing the issue in the case more broadly than necessary, while simultaneously failing to answer the question of whether the disparity its holding created between those convicted by plea and those convicted by trial verdict rendered either the specific provision at issue, or the statutory scheme as a whole, unconstitutional.

This paper seeks to demonstrate that the majority opinion does in fact do “more than it should and less than it seems,” in more than one way. Throughout the majority opinion, the Court focuses more than it should on how preventing defendants convicted by plea from bringing a claim of actual innocence serves society’s interest in the finality of criminal cases and judicial economy. At the same time, the societal interest in finality is far less important than the majority makes it seem; the fact that other states that have successfully permitted those convicted by plea to bring a claim of actual innocence and the structure of the statutory scheme illustrate this point.
To read the paper, open HERE.