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Published: November 2nd, 2015

Category: News

Bob Dekle
Director, Criminal Prosecution Clinic; Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Center; Master Lecturer

“Necessary for Justice” (Clay Today, Oct. 8, 2015)

This article looks at the process of evaluating whether someone is mentally fit to stand trial.

From the article:
“When you bring somebody before the justice system, they need to understand what is happening to them,” Dekle said. “If someone does not have the mental capacity to do this, then prosecuting them is believed to be unjust.”

Dekle said that anyone in the court system, including the judge, prosecutor or defense attorney, can motion to have a defendant examined for competency.

“If any of these parties have any reason to believe that the defendant is not competent to stand trial, they are able to take steps to determine whether they are or not,” he said. “If they aren’t and we prosecute them, it’s like spanking a 6-month old baby for crying – they don’t have the mental capacity to understand what is going on.”

“Retrial to start without destroyed evidence” (Oct. 17, 2015)

Dekle commented in this article that looks at the case of a man going to trial after his murder conviction was overturned but in the intervening years, key evidence for the case has been destroyed.

From the article:
George R. Dekle, a former 3rd Circuit assistant prosecutor and University of Florida Law School legal skills professor, said the missing evidence would not affect the trial going forward.

He said it is unfortunate the evidence has been destroyed, which happens in old cases, but noted that while the appeal was still pending it should have never been an issue.

“All the evidence the defense needs to test was there the first time,” Dekle said. “You would assume the evidence was thoroughly evaluated at that time and it would have been tested. If there was a smoking gun that would have been used in the first trial.

“Now that it’s gone, it’s gone,” he added.

Larry DiMatteo
Affiliate Professor, Levin College of Law; Huber Hurst Professor of Contract Law & Legal Studies; Affiliate Professor, Center for European Studies

DiMatteo presented “Share Economy in the United States” at a workshop on the “Digital Revolution: Challenges for Contract Law in Practice” at the University of Münster on Oct. 1, 2015, in Münster, Germany. This workshop was sponsored by the EU Commission as part its consultative process.

DiMatteo presented “Contract and Consumer Sales Law in the United States” at a Consumer Sales Law Conference at City University of Hong Kong on Oct. 14, 2015.

DiMatteo presented “Use of Soft Law in Arbitration” at City University of Hong Kong on Oct. 23

DiMatteo will present “Negotiating International Business Contracts” at TSL School of Business, Quanzhou Normal University, China, on Nov. 9, 2015.

Joseph Little
Professor Emeritus

“Antiquated laws remain on the books” (Highlands Today, Oct. 3, 2015)

Little commented in this article that takes a look at old, antiquated and often unenforceable laws.

From the article:

Joseph Little, a professor at the University of Florida School of Law, said Houchin would probably not be the only prosecutor reluctant to prosecute such a case.

“I don’t think you will find prosecutors willing to get into that sand pile because there’s no end to it,” he said.

Little said that although the law is on the books, he believes there’s probably a winning legal argument that it’s unenforceable.

The cohabitation law is not the only unenforced law on the books. Little said that a law may be popular when its enacted, but less so as societal attitudes change over the decades.

Martin McMahon
James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar in Taxation and Professor of Law

McMahon presented at the University of Montana School of Law for the 63rd Annual Tax Institute in Missoula, Montana, on Oct. 23 on “Recent Developments in Corporate and Partnership Taxation.”

McMahon presented at the 50th Annual Southern Federal Tax Institute on Oct. 19 in Atlanta on “Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation” (jointly with Professor Ira Shepard and Professor Bruce McGovern).

Jason Nance
Associate Professor of Law; Associate Director, Center on Children and Families

“Role of School Police Officers Questioned” (Wall Street Journal Oct. 28, 2015)*

With a video showing a South Carolina police officer using excessive force on a high school student in the classroom gaining national attention, this article examines the purpose and effectiveness of maintaining a police presence on campus.

From the article:
Jason Nance, an associate professor of law at the University of Florida law school, said he analyzed federal data from the National Center for Education Statistics and found that having a police officer at school increased the odds teachers will refer children to law enforcement for low-level offenses such as fighting.

The University of Florida’s Dr. Nance, a former middle school teacher, said having an officer on campus can mean students are unnecessarily thrust into the criminal justice system. Spring Valley “is not an isolated incident,” he said.

*A version of this story also appeared in The Wall Street Journal Europe.

“Your school is becoming a police state: The shocking Orwellian rise of ‘school resource officers’” (Salon.com, Oct. 28, 2015)

From the article:
“We should question whether we need SROs in schools at all,” says Nance, in an email. “From a cost-benefit standpoint, the benefits of having SROs in schools, if any, are unclear; yet, the costs are high – they are expensive to hire, they impede school climate in many schools; and SROs are linked to having more students involved in the justice system.”

No nationwide data on school-based referrals to law enforcement exists. But data from individual districts cited by Nance shows that such referrals skyrocketed in the early 2000s.

“Twenty-seven states require school officials to refer students to law enforcement for incidents relating to controlled substances,” Nance explains. “Fifteen states require referral for incidents involving alcohol. Eight states mandate referral for theft. Eight states for vandalism of school property, and 11 states for robbery without using a weapon.”

“Do Cops in Schools Do More Harm Than Good?” (Time, Oct. 29, 2015)

Fewer than 100 police officers were in schools when the practice began in the 1950s, says Jason Nance, a University of Florida law professor who studies SROs. But they increased significantly throughout the 1980s and 1990s as tough-on-crime federal and state policies attempted to bring down juvenile crime rates around the country.

The shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 led to even more SROs after the federal government provided money for stepped-up security in schools. The number of school cops likely peaked around 2007 at roughly 19,000, Nance says. There are no definitive numbers on how many SROs are currently in the U.S., but the National Association of School Resource Officers estimates it’s between 14,000 and 20,000. Nance says the number likely dipped a bit after 2007 but picked up following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and has remained steady since.

Laura Rosenbury

UF Law Dean; Levin, Mabie & Levin Professor of Law

“See How Your Life Would Change If We Cloned Ruth Bader Ginsburg” (Mother Jones, Oct. 10, 2015)

Feminist law professors and lawyers have come together for a new book called Feminist Judgments, which re-examines key Supreme Court cases related to gender and re-writes the decisions as if they were the judges. Rosenbury’s contribution is referenced in the article.

From the article:
Griswold v. Connecticut: This case came about after the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut was convicted under a state law that made it illegal to offer married people counseling or medical treatment related to birth control. In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that the law violated sexual privacy rights for married couples. In Feminist JudgmentsLaura Rosenbury, dean of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, says she “extend[ed] the scope of this liberty interest to all personal relationships between adults—whether married or unmarried and without regard to the adults’ sexual orientation.” She also pointed out that the Connecticut law violated equal protection for women by allowing the sale of condoms but not other types of birth control.

Danny Sokol
Professor of Law

“No slam dunk in Ninth Circuit antitrust ruling in O’Bannon v. NCAA” (The Washington Post, Sept. 30, 2015)

An amicus brief co-authored by Sokol was referenced in this opinion piece written by Sasha Volokh on O’Bannon v. NCAA.

Sokol was a keynote at the annual European econ association industrial organization meeting along with Aviv Nevo (Northwestern – Kellogg School of Management) and Bill Rogerson (Northwestern Econ).  See http://www.cresse.info/default.aspx.

Sokol presented on Law and Entrepreneurship at Northwestern Law School.

Sokol presented “Antitrust and Big Data: Is This Actually a Big Deal?” at Stanford Law School.

Danaya Wright
Clarence J. TeSelle Endowed Professor

“Opinion Divided Over Pastor Protection Act” (Oct. 9, 2015)

Wright weighed in on the controversial Pastor Protection Act that is meant to protect “religious leaders’ right to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony.”

From the article:
The difference lies in the kind of service being provided, said Danaya Wright, a professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, who specializes in constitutional law.

Bakers or florists are providing a civil service, but performing a marriage ceremony is a religious service and is protected by the Constitution, she said.

Jennifer Zedalis
Senior Legal Skills Professor; Director, Trial Practice; Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Center

“Marion County opens public access to court documents” (Ocala Star-Banner, Oct. 5, 2015)

Zedalis offered commentary on Marion County’s new policy of allowing public access to court documents via the Internet.

From the article:
Because no documents are now available online that were not already publicly available at the courthouse, the change primarily affects public convenience, said Jennifer Zedalis, a senior legal skills professor at the University of Florida.

Going to the courthouse, she said, “is laborious. You have to drive down there. A human being who works in the clerk’s office has to go through hundreds of paper files. If you want copies of records, you have to pay for them.”

With records more conveniently accessible, Zedalis said, she expects that more people will seek out information. In addition to journalists, lawyers or family members, she said, public accessibility could also benefit the average person following a high-profile case.

“UF student fights for justice for accused rapists” (The Alligator, Oct. 9, 2015)

Zedalis commented on this article that highlights the efforts of a UF student to clear the names of four black men who were falsely accused of rape in 1948.

From the article:
Jennifer Zedalis, a criminal defense attorney and UF law professor, said the racism of the Jim Crow South spread into the Groveland case, resulting in a heavily biased, unjust trial. The rights of the men involved were violated, she added, and a government exoneration would acknowledge that fact.

“It would be a symbolic gesture,” Zedalis said. “What happened to these young men is outrageous.”

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