Welcome to the Roundtable, a forum for incisive commentary and analysis
on cases and developments in law and the legal system.
on cases and developments in law and the legal system.
By Rachel Pomerantz
Rachel Pomerantz is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
A basic role of criminal legal codes is to define illegal, or societally unacceptable, behaviors. The prohibition of murder is one of the most basic examples of this. Surprisingly, the German legal code currently does not define the act of murder, but instead states that a murderer is, “someone who causes the death of another person out of certain specified unacceptable motives, such as ‘murderous lust’ or the satisfaction of sexual desires, ‘greed or otherwise base motives,’ through treacherous or cruel methods or in order to cover up another crime.”  Someone convicted of murder, or Mord, must receive a life sentence. In the same section, Tötung, a crime that loosely translates to manslaughter, is described as murder without the aforementioned motives and carries a minimum sentence of 5 years.
It does not describe murder as an unjust act but instead as certain acts that reveal someone’s defective character. Yes, this phrasing seems odd and out of line with most modern legal definitions of murder. In fact, the origins of the definition reinforce this anomaly in the German legal system. The current definition of murder was written in 1941 by the infamous Nazi judge Roland Freisler.  After the war, the definition was accepted by West Germany while, like most European countries, East Germany defined murder in terms of an action. Upon reunification, the Nazi language applied to the entirety of Germany. 
By Luis Bravo
Luis Bravo is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
Turing Pharmaceuticals was the subject of heavy backlash after CEO Martin Shkreli increased the price of Daraprim astronomically. This drug is used to fight common parasites that attack people with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS and cancer patients. In a drastic move, the price was increased by nearly 5,000%, pricing each pill at $750 instead of its previous $13.50.  Though this incident has received a significant amount of coverage from various media outlets, drastic hikes in the price of prescriptions are common-- and completely legal-- decisions by pharmaceutical companies to increase revenue from specialty medication. In fact, the change in the price of Daraprim is modest in comparison to the 2014 change of the prescription pill Tertracycline, which increased in price by a whopping 17,714%.  With Americans facing exceptionally large prescription costs in comparison to other developed nations, it is imperative that the federal government adopts an active approach in reducing the costs of medication.
In comparison to our European counterparts, Americans pay more than double for prescription medications.  Though there are various factors that influence the cost of drugs, including differences in the organizational structure of our respective medical systems, pharmaceutical price regulation measures are the primary reason the European Union is able to maintain low prescription costs. The E.U. heavily intervenes in their pharmaceutical market by instating price caps for the sale of generic drugs and setting a maximum reimbursement rate.  This is a significant divergence from the United States, whose only policies regarding the pharmaceutical industry focus on safety. Most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, are frustrated by rising prescription costs and favor the passage of policies allowing the government to further control drug costs. 
By Lindsey Li
Lindsey Li is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate editor of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal.
With hundreds of students flying home for school breaks and the holidays over the next two months, the number of families looking for deals on airline ticket prices continues to grow, as do ticket prices Even discount airlines, such as Frontier, on which this author flew home from Philadelphia to Texas during our school’s Fall Break for only $101 round-trip, and Spirit have inflated prices almost four-fold for the upcoming weeks as students near highly-anticipated Thanksgiving and winter breaks.
Enter SkipLagged. The start-up, founded by Aktarer Zaman in 2013 after graduating with a major in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, aims to “book cheaper flights by taking advantage of ‘hidden city’ fares.”  In other words, it utilizes connections so that the flier will never actually take the second leg of the trip.  Now, as most frequent fliers know, it is often cheaper to fly, for example, from San Francisco to Houston to New York than it is to take a direct flight from San Francisco to New York. However, what SkipLagged does is present the former option to the flier whose final destination is Houston, provided it is cheaper than a direct flight from San Francisco to Houston.
Warning: This post discusses sexual violence.
By Sandeep Suresh
Sandeep Suresh is a recent graduate of the National Law University in Jodhpur, India.
Sexual offenses against women have always shocked our collective conscience. In the process of creating sensitivity about such offences against woman, we have not been successful in infusing morality into the society, for morality is something inherent and difficult to be imparted. Unfortunately, in India, the Criminal Justice System has also failed to sensitively deliver justice to the victims of such crimes and to restore their dignity. More specifically, trials of sexual offences in India portray an abysmal state of affairs concerning the way in which victims are treated and evidence is appreciated.
This post analyzes two judgments delivered by Special Courts in Bangalore, India specifically designated to conduct rape trials. Both these judgments unfortunately reveal that these Special Courts are not really “Special.” They expose several discrepancies concerning the treatment of victim testimony and methods used to appreciate evidences while deciding a rape case. Undoubtedly, such discrepancies are chiefly due to Special Court judges being insensitive towards the nature of such a heinous crime as sexual offence and being unaware of the binding legal precedents laid down by the Supreme Court of India (SCI).
By Tanner Bowen
Tanner Bowen is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying business.
The history of college athletics has been a long and complicated one. During the course of this history, the NCAA has developed a set of rules in order to foster a sense of amateurism at the collegiate level, while still allowing students to both perform athletically and obtain a solid college education. Out of all of these rules, the most highly contested is whether student athletes should be paid above the cost of attending the school. The NCAA has said no, and the courts have taken a similar opinion on this subject.
In the court case O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that college athletes should not be paid above the full cost of attendance to a university. But what was particularly interesting about this case was that it was brought under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1898, as the plaintiffs alleged that the NCAA was engaging in anticompetitive activities through not allowing deferred compensation. In particular, they were restraining “trade” in the sense that college athletes could not sell their names, images, or likenesses (NILs) to video game producers or other licensors.
By Dan Spinelli
Dan Spinelli is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying English and Political Science.
Christianity is a religion of radical forgiveness. Beginning with Jesus’s prescient statement to the flock of people rushing to stone an adulteress: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” Christian tradition encouraged forgiveness.  Modern examples often run counter to our natural instinct for revenge and anger. This past June, in Charleston, South Carolina, Dylann Storm Roof killed nine people at a Bible study in the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  At Roof’s arraignment hearing, survivors and their families shocked the nation with their gentle words of forgiveness.  “You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you and I forgive you,” said Nadine Collier, the daughter of Ethel Lance, a tragic victim of the shooting. 
Forgiveness is not only an incredibly powerful and beautiful Christian tradition, but also allows those affected by atrocities to begin to move on from their horrifying experiences. However, what happens when forgiveness preempts legal punishment or even helps a perpetrator evade punishment? What if a magistrate decided that Roof was sincerely remorseful of his actions and let him off without punishment? Despite the victims’ friends and family members’ willingness to forgive him, they would nevertheless demand justice for the immoral decision. But, to extend this metaphor, what if Roof was really, really sorry and even ritualized his remorse?
By Derek Willie
Derek Willie is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
When something threatens the safety of Americans, the government always responds quickly, sometimes even wantonly, to the threat. The most prominent twenty-first century example of this is undoubtedly the USA PATRIOT Act, passed just two months after the attacks of September 11, 2001.  More than eighty percent of the House of Representatives endorsed the measure despite widespread reservations about the law’s constitutionality.  It seems reasonable then to assume that the federal government would pursue some sort of action to curb gun violence, which killed ten times more people in 2001 than 9/11 and other attacks branded as terrorism. In fact, more Americans were slaughtered by Adam Lanza at Newtown in 2012 than by all of the terrorist acts of 2013 combined.  Nevertheless, Congress has done nothing to prevent gun violence, even in the wake of so many mass shootings.
Some lawmakers, whom many consider beholden to the National Rifle Association (NRA), balk at any attempt to institute more gun safety laws, claiming that the Second Amendment forbids further gun regulation. Yet how can the same lawmakers who supported a partly unconstitutional law as an effort to keep Americans safe oppose gun laws serving the same purpose, whose constitutionality still remains disputed? It thus becomes our objective to discern whether these constitutional objections are valid or whether they are merely talking points of an uncompromising gun lobby.
By Sanjay Dureseti
Sanjay Dureseti is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate editor of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal.
Martin Winterkorn, the now-former CEO of German automobile giant Volkswagen AG, recently admitted to his company’s use of secret software to fool diesel emissions tests. When the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) caught wind of VW’s duplicity, they launched an investigation that revealed further disturbing truths. Estimates state that 11 million road-bound cars, ranging from cheaper models to luxury vehicles, are programmed with Volkswagen’s “defeat device.” 
Such emissions standards have been the cornerstone of the EPA’s regulatory approach since its inception. Concerns for the effects of vehicular pollution first arose in 1960s and 1970s, when the postwar boom led to an explosion in automobile manufacturing, causing rampant atmospheric contamination.  President Richard Nixon, in an attempt to harness the electoral potency of the environmental issue, decided to form an umbrella organization designed to engage in all realms of environmental protection. 
By Omar Khoury
Omar Khoury is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
In signing the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, 188 countries of the United Nations vowed to universally uphold the dignity of the human person and collectively condemn those who dare have the audacity to question it. Once these nations ratified the Declaration in 1976, the bill took on the full force of international law.  The Declaration was adopted to define "human rights,” and thus the Declaration is a fundamental constitutive document of the United Nations. In addition, many international actors believe that the Declaration forms part of customary international law and is a powerful tool in applying diplomatic and moral pressure to governments that violate any of its articles, as it "constitutes an obligation for the members of the international community” to all people. 
Because of its profound legal effect, the Declaration continues to be widely cited by governments, academics, advocates, and constitutional courts, and by individuals who appeal to its principles for the protection of their endowed human rights. Yet, despite almost unanimous support for the Declaration, the reality of our world is eerily different. 
By Nayeon Kim
Nayeon Kim is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
The recent theft of sensitive data from the Office of Personnel Management that supposedly originated from China has raised concerns about the vulnerabilities of cyber security in the U.S. government and further strained the relationship between China and the U.S. Referring to the increased number of cyber attacks perpetrated by China and other nations, President Obama stated that there would be a point where the U.S. would consider these breaches “a core national security threat” and noted the possibility of retaliation. 
Although the Office of Personnel Management case is one of the largest breaches of sensitive personal data, it is not the only attack suspected to be carried out by China. China, which is responsible for a startling 70% of all global intellectual property theft, is one of the major perpetrators of the crime.  U.S. security officials believe that the Chinese government is behind many attacks on U.S. commercial data and often shares these data with Chinese companies.  Such a strategy predates even the Internet as a comprehensive and detailed book on Chinese industrial espionage suggests that China has long maintained a policy of utilizing and sometimes illegally obtaining Western technology to drive growth in key technological areas.  Even though China repeatedly denies its relation to intellectual property theft, the U.S. believes that China puts extraordinary effort in acquiring valuable foreign technology.