Friday, December 18, 2015

The Virginia Judiciary

History, Structure, Selection, and Composition
By James Mims
James Mims is a class of 2015 Albany Law School graduate. He previously attained his bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University in 2011, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Public Service. James concentrated his studies on the field of governmental administration and regulation while at Albany Law. 
James supplemented his law study with significant internship experiences in the governmental sector. During the summer of 2013, James interned with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Regional Counsel in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he assisted with litigation of tort and employment discrimination claims. During his second year, he completed a field placement with New York Department of State Office of General Counsel where he worked with local government counsel to provide technical assistance to local officials and the public in relation to land use matters. In the summer of 2014, he served as an executive intern in The Norfolk Emerging Leaders Program in Virginia. There he coordinated with community business leaders to research and formulate entrepreneurial growth initiatives.
James plans to pursue a legal career in the public sector through which he can make a positive impact in underserved communities. His paper, which analyzes the Virginia judicial system’s correlation with norms of American judicial process, was prepared for Prof. Bonventre’s Judicial Process Seminar.

This paper analyzes Virginia’s judicial system in four main parts. It begins by tracking the historical formation of the commonwealth’s court system from its beginnings in the Colonial Era. It considers the correlation between Virginia’s Colonial Era courts and prominent judicial philosophies in American jurisprudence.

Next, it explores the current structure and operation of Virginia’s judiciary. This section explores the Virginia judiciary’s current organization in relation to judicial process norms concerning access to justice. Following the discussion of structure, the paper analyzes the judicial selection process employed by Virginia law. It addresses the role that politics and merit play in the selection process.

Lastly, the paper examines a few of the recent prominent judges that have risen to the pentacle of the Virginia judicial system, the Virginia Supreme Court. This section focuses on the judges’ paths to their distinguished seats, their individual significance, and their judicial philosophies as demonstrated by majority or dissenting opinions in major cases during their tenure. In doing so, the paper determines whether the judges’ philosophies match any of the main types of judicial philosophies traditionally propounded in the American judicial system.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Judge Pigott on Medical Malpractice

His Positions in Divided Cases
By John J. Phelan
Jack Phelan, a 2014 graduate of Albany Law School, served as an executive editor of the Albany Law Review. His student note was selected for publication: "The Assault Weapons Ban--Politics, the Second Amendment, and the Country’s Continued Willingness to Sacrifice Innocent Lives for 'Freedom'” (77 Alb. L. Rev. 579).
While at Albany Law, Jack also participated in the Senior Prize Trials, his team finishing runner-up, and he served a judicial internship with the Honorable Edward O. Spain of the Appellate Division, Third Department.
As an undergraduate at Hartwick College, Jack was a standout football player making five different All-America teams in his final two seasons.  He is also a member of Hartwick College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jack is currently an associate at Smith Sovik in Syracuse where he had participated in the 2013 Summer Associate program. He focuses on all areas of civil litigation including products liability, professional malpractice, premises liability, trucking and motor vehicle accidents, Labor Law and construction accidents, labor and employment, and the defense of Workers’ Compensation Claims.
He prepared this paper for Prof. Bonventre's Court of Appeals Intensive Seminar.

This paper analyzes Judge Eugene Pigott’s voting patterns in divided medical malpractice cases since he has been on the New York Court of Appeals.

Judge Pigott—long before he was appointed to the Court of Appeals in September of 2006—practiced law in Buffalo, New York with the firm Offermann, Fallon, Mahoney & Adner in two separate stints from 1974 to 1982 and 1986 to 1997. Judge Pigott told our Court of Appeals Seminar class, in a session with us during the semester, that he handled all kinds of personal injury cases for the plaintiff’s side during his time working at Offerman. This included medical malpractice actions.

Before I read a single Court of Appeals case, my initial thought was that Judge Pigott would be sympathetic to the plaintiff in close medical malpractice cases. As it turns out, I was right.

From the time Judge Pigott joined the Court of Appeals in 2006 until this study was prepared, he voted in nine divided cases involving medical malpractice. Not entirely surprisingly, Judge Pigott voted with the plaintiff in all but one of those cases.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chief Judge Lawrence H. Cooke: An Era of Progression in New York State

By Jaime M. Collins
Jaime Collins is a third-year student at Albany Law School. She graduated from the University of Albany in 2012 with a major in Political Science and a double minor in Chinese and History. She has been working at the New York State Assembly since 2012, and continues to do so while attending Albany Law.
Jaime is currently a member of the Albany Law Review; she is this year's Executive Editor for the annual New York Appeals issue. She has been interning at the Albany County District Attorney’s Office since this past summer. She previously interned at the Appellate Division, Third Department, for Justice Christine M. Clark.
Upon graduation, Jaime hopes to pursue a career as a Prosecutor.
This paper was prepared for Professor Bonventre’s Court of Appeals Intensive Seminar.

This paper takes a look at some of the many landmark decisions written by Chief Judge Lawrence H. Cooke, Albany Law School class of 1938. Undeniably, many of his decisions have had a lasting impact on the jurisprudence of the New York Court of Appeals and especially the law of fundamental rights.

The first part of this paper is a brief introduction to Chief Judge Cooke’s journey to the high court. The second part is an examination of his landmark decisions, divided into three parts: first, an analysis of those decisions written by Chief Judge Cooke regarding a defendant’s fundamental right to counsel; second, an analysis of vehicle searches and a comparison to the Supreme Court’s rulings on the same topic; and third, an analysis regarding due process.

Chief Judge Cooke authored all of the cases that will be discussed. The paper closes with a few concluding observations.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Legal Interpretivism and Dworkin’s Distinction

Appropriating Natural Law Theory and Legal Positivism

By Christopher A. Saco
Chris Saco, a December 2014 graduate of Albany Law School, did his undergraduate work at the College of the Holy Cross. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in 2012 as a double major in economics and philosophy. Additionally, Chris’ capstone paper in phenomenology dealt with the intricate complexities of epistemology and moral agency.
It was his interest in morality that led Chris to attend Albany Law. He was accepted into the accelerated program and earned his J.D. in 2 ½ years. While in law school, Chris pioneered the new academic consortium and studied Invention, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lally School of Management and Technology.
Chris has taken and passed the New Jersey bar exam and is now a member of that state's bar.

There exist a variety of intersections between the law and philosophical discourse, and one of the most prominent junctures of these two fields occurs in the study of Judicial Process. Legal scholars and philosophers alike have arrived at different understandings of the judiciary’s indispensable role in establishing a principled society. Their knowledgeable decisions and publications frequently incorporated not only the black letter law, but also gave credence to humanity, morality, culture, and philosophy.

Undoubtedly, the law is a vital component within the institution of a functioning democracy, the chief reason being that an insufficiency of either democracy or law would lead to the inadequacy of the other. Furthermore, the history of civilization teaches us that a society with an established legal system often seeks to articulate the underlying reason for requiring these laws.

The question for legal philosophers such as Ronald Dworkin then becomes a matter of asking whether the reason for the law’s necessity is ingrained in morality or society. The principle focus of this paper will discuss how Dworkin integrates morality both into the choice of legal theory and into the legal argument itself.  In particular, this paper will explore Dworkin’s theory of Legal Interpretivism and how it appropriates the prior concepts of Natural Law Theory and Legal Positivism.
To read the paper, open HERE.
(The power point presentation will be posted shortly.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Center Staff for the 2015 - 2016 Academic Year

Vincent Martin Bonventre

Student Editorial Board

Center Editor-in-Chief,            John Daley
John Daley, John Daley is a third year student at Albany law School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Siena College and a Master of Business Administration from Union Graduate College.
Daley is currently a legislative researcher to New York State Assemblymember John T. McDonald III. Additionally, he is a research assistant to Professor Vincent M. Bonventre. In the past, he has interned at General Electric, Co. and in the office of United States Senator Charles E. Schumer.
Daley was a sub-editor of the Center for Judicial Process prior to his time as editor-in-chief.

Executive Editor
Desiree Santos, a second year student at Albany Law School, holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from St. John’s University, where she graduated cum laude in 2007. Prior to law school, Desiree was a freelance writer for various magazines over a six year period. She is currently Vice Director of the Pro Bono LGBT Rights Project as well as the Latino American Law Student Association, and interns for the NYS Attorney General’s Office Sex Offender Bureau.
Staff Editors
Kaitlyn Marie Guptill is a second year law student at Albany Law School.  After growing up on her family's 200 acre dairy farm outside of Syracuse, Kaitlyn attended SUNY Albany where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Kaitlyn serves as an Associate to the Donna Jo Morse Negotiations and Client Counseling Competition in the Anthony V. Cardona '70 Moot Court Program, holds a position on Albany Law's Travel Trial Competition Team, is a representative for Themis Bar Review and an Eboard member for Albany Law's Criminal Law Society. She has interned for Hiscock Legal Aid Society in Family Court, the New York State Attorney General's Office in the Sex Offender Management Bureau, and the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office in Appeals and Narcotics.  Currently, Kaitlyn is a judicial intern for Judge Carter in Albany City Criminal Court.

Jeremy Andrew Millard is currently a 2L at Albany Law School. He graduated from SUNY at Albany in 2011 with a BA Magna Cum Laude in European History and Classical Studies (Latin) and a Master’s Degree in European History focusing on 18th Century France, for which he wrote a Master’s thesis “Rousseau, Robespierre, and the French Revolution: An Examination of the Origins of the Reign of Terror.”
During the summer of 2015, Jeremy was an intern with Disability Rights New York, the Protection and Advocacy agency for New Yorker’s with disabilities.
Jeremy is currently working on a research paper dealing with the differing approaches to freedom of speech in France and the United States of America.

For previous years' staffs, click HERE,

Monday, April 27, 2015

New York Search & Seizure in the Lippman Era

By Peter F. Stroe
Peter Stroe is a third year student pursuing a concentration in criminal law at Albany Law School. He received his B.S. in Criminal Justice, with a concentration in pre-law, from Utica College, and wrote his Bachelor's thesis on the pre-selection of guilt for indigent defendants when having appointed counsel.
While at Albany Law, he served as an Editor for the Center for Judicial Process, a Student Member of the Justice Jackson Committee, a Student Intern with the Albany County Office of the Public Defender, and Vice President of the law school's Cardozo Society.
He prepared this Presentation, for Professor Bonventre's Judicial Process Seminar, Fall 2014.

Jonathan Lippman was nominated to be New York's Chief Judge by Democratic Governor David Paterson on January 13, 2009. He was then confirmed by the state senate and sworn in on February 11, 2009. Replacing Judith Kaye in the center seat of the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, Jonathan Lippman brought a wealth of knowledge and passion to usher in a new era of civil rights and liberties.

This paper will examine five significant cases to help examine the court’s jurisprudence in the area of searches and seizures. The cases will be discussed in chronological order. They cover the following topics: GPS tracking devices,  warrant requirements,  canine sniffs,  “founded suspicion,”  and the “exigency exception” to the warrant requirement.

The so-called “Lippman Era” could be said to have begun with People v. Weaver.  That was the first major search and seizure case that the new court decided with the participation of Chief Judge Lippman. Writing for the majority––and reversing both lower courts––Chief Judge Lippman held that the placement of a GPS tracking device and its subsequent monitoring of a car’s location did, indeed, constitute a “search” and, as such, required a warrant under New York’s Constitution.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Does Gender Impact Judicial Decision Making?

By Lindsay N. Zanello
Lindsay Zanello is a third year law student at Albany Law School. She graduated from Boston College in 2005, double majoring in Sociology and Human Development. In 2009, Lindsay received her Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. She was previously a paralegal with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
Lindsay currently serves as Executive Managing Editor of the Albany Law Review and is a law clerk at O’Connell & Aronowitz.
Following graduation, Lindsay will serve as a law clerk on the New York Court of Appeals Central Legal Research Staff.
This paper, discussing the impact of gender on judicial decision making, was prepared for the Judicial Process Seminar in the fall of 2014.

What role does gender play in judicial decision making?

Some scholars and judges have said that it affects overall judicial decision making, even proclaiming a "woman’s voice.” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, however, has frowned upon this kind of analysis, noting that “questions about whether female judges reasoned in a ‘different’ voice [are] ‘dangerous and unanswerable.’”

Who is correct? Is it the feminine perspective that causes judges to vote certain ways or does gender not play a role at all? Perhaps it is the combined totality of one’s experiences. What about the impact of female judges on the bench as a whole?  Does having female judges on the bench affect their male counterpart’s decisions? This paper explores these very issues.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Supreme Court of Kentucky: Dual Sovereignty Approach to State Constitutional Law

By Michelle K. Piasecki
Michelle Piasecki, a 2013 summa cum laude graduate of Albany Law School, is an associate at the law firm of Couch White LLP, in Albany, New York, and primarily practices in the fields of energy and environmental law.
While at Albany Law, Michelle was a research assistant for professor Timothy Lytton.  As a member of the Albany Law Review, she served as Executive Editor for State Constitutional Commentary during her third year. She also served as the Executive Editor for the Center.
This essay--the latest of several papers to be published by the Center--was originally prepared for the State Constitutional Adjudication Seminar.

State supreme courts across the country approach state constitutional adjudication in different way. Some look primarily to their own state law, some primarily--and some, only--to federal law, and others equally to both or simply make no distinction between the two.

The Supreme Court of Kentucky applies the so-called "dual sovereignty" method. For example, in Riley v. Gibson (2011), a Jefferson Circuit Court Judge had held a closed hearing to determine if a member of the jury was in contempt of court for disobeying the judge’s order to “avoid publicity about the case.”

In issuing its decision, the Supreme Court of Kentucky analyzed both federal and state law without specifically relying on one or the other. Several other recent decisions by the Kentucky Supreme Court produced similar results.
To read the essay, open HERE.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Observing and Learning from the Court of Appeals

Lessons Learned Studying New York’s High Court
By Michael L. White
Michael White, a 2014 cum laude graduate of Albany Law School, graduated magna cum laude from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
While in law school, Michael served as the Executive Editor for Symposium for the Albany Law Review. He also won the award for best oral advocate in the Domenick L. Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Competition, and he was selected to represent the law school in a national moot court competition in Virginia. Additionally, he worked for the United States District Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and he completed an internship with the City of Albany’s Law Department.
Michael has begun his legal career at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP, which he views as a great fit for his experience and his passion to help people—especially in times when they need an advocate most to protect their rights.
He prepared this essay based upon an independent study he undertook in his last semester in law school, part of which involved joining the Court of Appeals Intensive seminar's visits to the state's high court and meeting with its Judges.

This paper will highlight the lessons that I learned in my final year at Albany Law School studying effective oral advocacy techniques and the judicial process.  Much of what I learned came from an independent study I undertook which included visits to New York’s highest court, with the Court of Appeals Intensive seminar, in my last semester at the law school. Those visits gave me the opportunity to observe oral arguments and listen to Court of Appeals judges who spent time with the class explaining what they perceive their role to be as Judges on the high court.

While speaking to our class, Chief Judge Lippman made an interesting point about the effect advances in technology have on a judge’s role in shaping or interpreting law.  Chief Judge Lippman stressed the importance of how societal changes, technological advances, and other policy factors should all be considered when a judge, particularly on a state’s high court, is deciding an issue.

Take for example the Matter of Empire Center for New York State Policy v. New York State Teachers' Retirement System case (23 NY3d 438 [2014]), where at issue was the disclosure of the names of public employees who received a pension from the state.  To de-emphasize the privacy concerns, some of the judges were making a point through their questioning that most of the information that was sought to remain exempt from disclosure might already be searchable on the internet.  The judges seemed to be aware of the privacy concerns, but also cognizant of the lower expectations of privacy people now have with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.  This balance between the cherished right to be “let alone” and the emerging world of social media reminded me of one of Chief Judge Lippman’s most famous and oft cited rationales.