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 Natasha Kang
Natasha Kang is a senior at the University of California, Davis.
Whether it was in government class or Law & Order, we have all heard about the right to counsel, an important right listed in the highest law of the land: the United States Constitution. The Sixth Amendment stipulates that in criminal prosecutions, the accused will “have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”  However, the Fifth Circuit of Appeals has passed a decision seemingly in conflict with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Maples v. Thomas that attorney abandonment is a valid excuse for a failure to appeal a denial of habeas relief.
A writ of habeas corpus is used as post-conviction relief for prisoners in both the state and federal levels who wish to challenge the legal grounds of the application of laws used in the court proceedings that resulted in their conviction.  If a court denies the habeas application, the defendant may attempt to appeal their denial, but the appeal must filed within a certain time period. If a notice of appeal is not filed in time, federal habeas review will be barred from the petitioner due to his or her failure to follow state appellate procedure, also known as procedural default. 
By Katie Kaufman
Katie Kaufman is a sophomore at Bowdoin College studying Government and Legal Studies.
On Wednesday October 8th, the Supreme Court blocked a ruling to uphold two components of North Carolina voting law—a ban on same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct voting. This ruling blocked an October 1st decision to overturn the law by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and was reversed in favor of the state of North Carolina.  Supporters of increased voting restrictions in North Carolina argued that a late change would stir confusion among voters. 
Civil rights groups and voters were concerned the current voting law indiscriminately targeted black voters, who statistically use same-day registration more than whites. In 2010, over 21,000 voters registered to vote on Election Day. This past May, due to the change in election law, over 400 votes were not counted in election primaries. 
By Sandeep Suresh
Sandeep Suresh is a fifth-year law student at the National Law University in Jodhpur, India.
On September 23rd 2014, a constitutional court of India delivered a promising judgment on the right of an individual to state that he does not believe in any religion and therefore has “no religion.” A few days ago, the United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated that the American Constitution is only obligated to protect freedom of religion and not freedom “from” it. In that light, this development in India would definitely be an interesting event for the American society to take note of.
The judgment under consideration came in the matter of Dr.Ranjeet Suryakant Mohite v. Union of India.  The petitioners in this case were members of a registered organization that believed that Jesus Christ did not intend to form Christianity as a religion and hence claimed that they did not have religious faith. The contention in the petition was that the State cannot compel any individual to disclose his religion while submitting government forms or declarations. The petitioners also requested of the court that an individual be allowed to state that he belongs to “no religion.”
By Graham Reynolds
Graham Reynolds is a student at Trinity College Dublin obtaining his Bachelor in Laws (LL.B.).
The British High Court of Justice’s recent ruling, which quashed the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to afford immunity to the Prince of Bahrain, is a welcome shift in the jurisprudence of “state immunity”. The ruling consequentially gives preference to the doctrine of “universal jurisdiction” within the adversarial relationship of state immunity and the former. It is felt that this ruling is reflective of the growing tide against arbitrary nature of some of the earliest doctrines of international law and their incompatibility with the influx in internationally recognized human rights.
As a starting point, it is necessary to distinguish that the lexicographic scope of “universal jurisdiction” refers solely to the competence of national judicial authorities, rather than any international judicial body.  It affords the state the ability to initiate criminal proceedings regardless of its sovereignty. This principle differs from the typical scope of international criminal proceedings as the nature of the act may in itself confer jurisdiction on any state, “without regard to where the crime was committed.”  Most contemporary authors recognize the existence of such a universality principle; the issue is therefore not its existence, but its content and scope. In theory, such widened scope of assertion provides for obvious possibilities of abuse and conflicting jurisdictional claim, yet as the Arrest Warrant case shows, the courts in the past had typically implemented a weakened construction of the principal, if any. 
By Jonathan Stahl
Jonathan Stahl is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) with a minor in American Public Policy.
On October 6th, Brittnay Maynard was featured in a YouTube video uploaded by the advocacy group Compassion & Choices, in which she explained on that November 1st she would exercise her right to physician-assisted suicide. She would do so in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by friends and family. Maynard was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in early 2014; in April, she was told that she had six months to live. Given her bleak prognosis and deteriorating quality of life, which included violent, frequent seizures and painfully debilitating headaches, Maynard and her husband decided that it would be best for her to seek physician-assisted suicide rather than let the disease run its course. 
By Alexandra Aaron
Alexandra Aaron is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying History and Political Science.
On September 26th Thomas Eric Duncan arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas having just returned from Liberia with symptoms consistent with Ebola. Despite having this information, the hospital sent him home.  Duncan passed away three weeks later, and anyone he came in contact with is at serious risk of contracting the disease.
Failure to correctly diagnose a patient can be the basis for claims of medical malpractice, and in this case the hospital could be liable to anyone infected by Duncan after his release. But, unfortunately for Duncan and those infected, Texas has in recent years become the country’s leader in tort reform, or, what those opposed to it call, “tort deform.”
Intended to combat what corporate lobbyists and legislators have dubbed “frivolous lawsuits,” a 2003 Texas law made it nearly impossible to sue for medical malpractice and capped non-economic damages at $250,000 and $100, 00 at certain hospitals for those who do manage to get their day in court.
By Dan Spinelli
Dan Spinelli is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE).
Fitting for a work with parallels to The Odyssey, James Joyce’s Ulysses had a journey of its own. Wandering from Joyce’s beginnings with the novel in 1915 to its official publication in the U.S., the work finally reached “home” in 1933.  The ensuing 18 years proved to be a voyage marked by litigation, illicit publication, and more litigation…eventually producing one of the most classic defenses of the freedom to express and create works of artistic value.
The battle over Ulysses began in 1921, when Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, publishers of The Little Review, were convicted for publishing “indecent matter” after serializing an especially scandalous chapter of Ulysses.  The Little Review had been serializing the work since March of 1918. 
When Anderson and Heap were first introduced to Ulysses, they were so enamored with the work that they swore to “print it if it’s the last effort our lives.”  Their noble effort ran into trouble, however, when they published the Nausicaa chapter. In this portion of the work, protagonist Leopold Bloom voyeuristically lusts after the young Gerty MacDowell. Joyce’s signature stream-of-consciousness style reveals the erotic nature of Bloom’s emotions in an intimate, overtly sexual manner. Without looking at the novel’s merit in its entirety, the judges ruled against The Little Review, convicting Anderson and Heap on the charges of presenting obscene material in the Nausicaa chapter and fining its publishers $50 each.