The Iowa Caucuses

iowa-43756_960_720

The Iowa Caucuses are a mystery to many people.  We understand that they occur and that the outcome can have a great impact on the eventual outcomes of the Convention’s candidate decisions, but how do they work exactly and how do they affect the outcome?

The Iowa Caucuses work differently than primary voting.  Voters from each precinct gather at a polling station but do not initially cast a vote.  The caucuses start with representatives speaking about their respective candidates, giving speeches to try to influence the other voters.  After the speeches are complete, voting begins.  In the republican caucus, votes are cast by secret ballot.

In the democratic caucus, voting is done by groups of people moving together into representative groups.  If a candidate is seen as unviable, meaning they receive less than 15% of the vote, the people from that candidate group will then move to one of the other candidate’s groups.

Through this process, winners are announced at the end of the day of caucusing.  Iowa only represents 1% of the votes at the national conventions, a very tiny amount, and yet it receives a huge amount of hype leading up to the caucuses.  This is because these are the first primary conventions in the country and the momentum which can be achieved by candidates selected is significant.  When a candidate has won the first state, it makes it easier to continue to convince other states that you should win there too.  If a candidate instead makes a poor showing in Iowa, they may choose to bow out and allow the election to continue without them on the ballot.

When watching the caucus results, it is important to remember that these elections are not actually to choose a candidate, but instead delegates who currently represent that candidate.  This is very important, as representatives for a specific candidate can change their minds about their candidate between now and the time they vote in higher level conventions.  Nothing is set in stone based on the results of this, or any other, primary.

Caucusing identifies 1,681 precinct delegates who will go to the 99 county-level conventions.  The process will be repeated at these conventions and delegates will be selected to go to congressional district-level conventions where the process will repeat again.  Lastly, the last group of representatives will go to a state-level convention where delegates for the national convention are selected.  This final selection of delegates to the national convention will occur sometime late in May.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: What to Expect from your 1L Spring Semester

by Veselin Simonov

As you’re taking the last few exams of your 1L Fall Semester, it’s almost time to relish the holidays and the respite they bring. But before you turn your attention to eggnog and relaxation, casting away all thought of torturous hypos and complicated legal rules, allow me to give you a quick rundown of what you can expect from your next semester.

First, there are some curriculum changes going from Fall to Spring. Yes, you still take Contracts, Civil Procedure and Lawyering: Foundations, but Property replaces Torts as your big four credit hour class and Criminal Law takes the place of Research Methods. Criminal Law is three credit hours compared to Research Methods’ one credit hour. That does make it more time-consuming and your schedule will be busier on that basis alone. Scheduling is just as important as it was during your Fall Semester and I recommend sitting down at the beginning of January and carefully blocking out your schedule to account for the tougher workload.

There are some things you can expect from your new classes. Property – as you can most likely guess by the name – covers a large bundle of rights and rules related to owning all sorts of things. This includes intellectual property, real and personal property, rules for transferring property, etc. It’s a very broad topic and you get through a lot of complicated material in that class. That said, there are some really fun and interesting cases you’re likely to come across. If you’ve ever wondered who gets to keep the ring when an engagement is called off or who exactly owns that baseball that landed in a gaggle of people after a homerun hit, then you’ll likely enjoy the class.

Criminal Law is probably the most different thing you’ll encounter in the curriculum. The class is also a sort of broad overview of the most important topics in the subject area. You’ll most likely spend a lot of time discussing the Model Penal Code – a statutory text meant to assist lawmakers in making an effort to update and standardize penal law across all the varying jurisdictions in the US. The class doesn’t really get all that much into the procedure of criminal law – we have several other courses you can take in your 2L and 3L years that focus solely on that aspect. Still, the course serves as an excellent introduction to the theories behind why our society punishes criminals the way it does. You’ll learn things like what state of mind requirements apply to certain crimes, how accomplice liability works, when certain affirmative defenses are available, etc. Overall, the course is a great way to gauge your interest in the subject area.

Among the continuing classes, you’ll notice some changes as well. Most notably, you’ll begin to write motions for Foundations. You’ll have to shift to a more persuasive style of writing from the balanced, neutral tone of the memos. The transition can be a bit jarring, but you’re still applying the analytical skills you started developing in the Fall Semester. Focus on those and the transition should go smoothly.

For Spring Semester in general, while some of the particulars in your classes and schedule may change, the overall goal is still the same – you’re developing your reasoning, analysis and time management. Just keep an eye on that core set of skills and you’ll handle all the curriculum changes just fine. Yes, your schedule will probably end up busier but because of all the work you put in during the fall, you’ll be better equipped to manage everything. In fact, I strongly encourage you to go beyond your classes in the spring and allocate some time to extracurricular organizations that capture your interest. They’re a great way to build relationships with your future colleagues and they can be very rewarding. Remember – law school isn’t just about academics. It’s also about connecting with people and making a difference.

LinkedIn Tips for Law Students

by Catherine Schutz

image by flickr user The_Seafarer

image by flickr user The_Seafarer

LinkedIn is quickly becoming one of the most powerful online tools for job searches and professional networking. Using LinkedIn, there are plenty of opportunities for showing off your experience and skills, and connecting with colleagues. But how can you make your profile competitive, and is there any specific advice for law students? Here are some of the best tips and tricks from around the web:

 

How to write your profile:

  1. Make your profile public! Since one of the main reasons for joining LinkedIn is to connect with others, now is not the time to hide your profile.
  2. Include a photo of yourself – but make sure it is professional looking. The same picture you use on Facebook or Instagram may not be suitable for LinkedIn. If necessary, get together with a fellow law student and take pictures in suits in front of a plain background.
  3. Create a personalized URL – your default URL in LinkedIn will be a string of numbers. But you can change your URL under Public Profile in LinkedIn. Most suggest changing it to linkedin.com/in/FirstnameLastname.
  4. Using the short introductory summary can be a powerful way of introducing yourself and explaining your career goals.
  5. Your LinkedIn profile should not be exactly like your resume. It’s OK to use more colloquial and friendly language on LinkedIn than you would in your resume.

How to connect with others:

  1. Send personalized contact requests. Don’t use LinkedIn’s generic language of “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Instead change it to specifics of how you know this person.
  2. Connecting with people on LinkedIn is important, and it’s good to extend your connections to 2nd and 3rd degree connections. Using the “People You May Know” can be helpful with this. But quality is always more important than quantity, and beware of accepting (or sending) connection requests from people you don’t know.
  3. You can also use LinkedIn to search for GSU College of Law alumni. Use the “Advanced People Search” and type in “Georgia State University College of Law” into the “School” box.
  4. As a law student, beware of conflicts of interest. By connecting with judges, experts or opposing counsel, you may be creating a conflict of interest for a firm that wants to hire you.
  5. Consider asking for recommendations from people you’ve worked with through LinkedIn.

How to make the most of groups:

  1. Using groups on LinkedIn can be a good way of connecting with contacts and learning about legal news.
  2. Some particularly good groups to check out as a law student:
    1. ABA Young Lawyers Division
    2. E-Legal
    3. Law Student Career Network
    4. LAW Jobs

For more tips and tricks, see these articles:

Remember, Remember … the Leisure Collection

by John Evans

image by Flickr user gato-gato-gato

image by Flickr user gato-gato-gato

“Remember, Remember the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and plot. I can think of no reason why the Gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” Guy Fawkes, anarchist hero or misunderstood historic figure? I don’t know. Either way, it makes for a pretty good movie. Speaking of movies, have you checked out the library leisure collection of movies? From the classic court room drama Perry Mason to the modern political drama House Of Cards; from a British comedy like Monty Python and the Holy Grail to dystopian sci-fi thriller The Hunger Games, this collection has something for everyone.  The movies can be checked out for one week and are located on the fifth floor of the library. As you exit the elevators continue straight ahead until you pass the IT help desk and are standing by the printers. Turn left, and the leisure collection is on the far wall.

“But Mr. Evans,” you might say, “I have no time for leisure. Do you not know that I am a Law Student? I must study all day.” Well, I say to you, leisure is an important part of life. Without leisure you might, like V, the eponymous hero of V for Vendetta, become too fixed on just one goal. So “Remember, Remember the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and plot, take a break for a show, so your focus won’t go, and all your law dreams are forgot.”

Can Bikram Yoga by Copyrighted?

By Catherine Schutz

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that a series of yoga poses is a “sequence” and therefore inappropriate for copyright protection.[1] The ruling was widely praised within the yoga community, with many relieved to finally have clarity on the question of whether yoga can be “owned.”[2] But how does this ruling fit into wider intellectual property law? And what is the rationale for protecting some industries with intellectual property law and not others?

In the 1970s, Bikram Choudhury developed a series of 26-yoga poses and breathing exercises, which he named “the Sequence,” to be practiced in a studio with a temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit. In 1979, he published a book called Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class which outlined the poses, which he registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. In 2002 he also registered the compilation of poses outlined in the book. Choudhury’s style of yoga gained in popularity, and he began teaching other yoga teachers his particular style. In 2009, two of his former students opened Evolation Yoga, which offered many different styles of yoga, including “hot yoga” based on the teachings of Choudhury. In 2011, Choudhury brought suit against Evolation Yoga claiming copyright infringement.[3]

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower courts finding that “at bottom, the Sequence is an idea, process, or system designed to improve health. Copyright protects only the expression of this idea—the words and pictures used to describe the Sequence—and not the idea of the Sequence itself.” In their ruling, they cited 17 U.S.C. § 102, part (a) of which outlines what can be copyrighted (literary works, musical works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, etc.) and part (b) of which outlines what cannot be copyrighted: “any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery…”[4] The Court said that Choudhury’s “Sequence” falls on the “idea” side of the “idea/expression” dichotomy.[5]

This isn’t the first time that people have attempted to copyright ideas only to have the courts rule them unsuitable for copyright. The fashion industry is unique in the creative arts for having very little copyright protection. Within fashion, copyright protection is limited to “pictorial designs printed on fabric.”[6] However, outside of logos, courts routinely hold that fashion is too utilitarian to be protected by copyright. They will allow fashion houses to copyright their logo printed on a bag, but not the use of pleats or peter pan collars in a garment.

The lack of intellectual property protection within fashion has been the subject of much debate. The Council of Fashion Designers of America advocates for increased protection “without stifling creativity, spurring frivolous lawsuits, and hindering the industry’s ability to do business.”[7] Senator Charles E. Schumer in 2012 introduced the Innovative Design Protection Act which would extend intellectual property protections to “never-before-seen” fashion designs. However, academic Johanna Blakley argued in her Ted Talk that not providing the fashion industry with intellectual property protection actually improves creativity and helps business.[8] This was also the question that Mark Lemley grappled with during his 56th Miller Lecture in September at the College of Law, where he addressed the topic of “Intellectual Property in a World Without Scarcity.”[9]

On the other hand, copyright protections are widespread within the music industry. However, courts have struggled to determine the line between copyright infringement and creative influence. This struggle reached the Federal District Court of the Central District of California when the descendants of Marvin Gaye brought suit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, arguing that their hit 2013 song “Blurred Lines” infringed upon the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s song “Got to Give It Up.”[10] The District Court found in favor of Gaye’s descendants, finding Thicke and Williams liable for over $7 million of damages. Some lawyers have criticized the ruling saying that Thicke and Williams were only influence by Gaye, and that “no one owns a genre or a style or a groove.”[11]

This lively debate on what should and should not be protected by intellectual property laws is unlikely to reach a resolution any time soon. As Mark Lemley discussed during the Miller Lecture, the advent of internet has changed the industry in a way that is only now being research, debated and understood. But all Bikram Yoga lovers should rest assured that their practice will not be interrupted by a court case any time soon.

Sources

[1] Bikram’s Yoga Coll. of India, L.P. v. Evolation Yoga, LLC, No. 13-55763 (9th Cir. 2015).

[2] Federal Court Rules that Bikram Doesn’t Own Yoga: Copyright Claim Can’t Stand the Heat, Evolation Yoga, https://www.evolationyoga.com/copyright-ruling-story/ (last visited Oct. 19, 2015).

[3] See note 1.

[4] Copyright Act of 1979, 17 U.S.C. § 102 (2012).

[5] See note 1.

[6] Dan Hunter, The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Intellectual Property 220 (2012).

[7] Protecting Design, Council of Fashion Designers of America, http://cfda.com/programs/protecting-intellectual-property (last visited Oct. 19, 2015).

[8] Johanna Blakley, Lessons from Fashion’s Free Culture, (Apr. 10, 2010), https://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture?nolanguage=en+-+t-623373.

[9] 56th Miller Lecture: Internet Revolutionized Creativity, Changing IP Law, Georgia State University (Sep. 17, 2015), http://law.gsu.edu/2015/09/17/56th-miller-lecture/.

[10] Williams v. Bridgeport Music, Inc., No. 13-06004 (C.D. Cal. July 14, 2015).

[11] Justin Maya, Music’s “Blurred Lines” Verdict Broadens Copyright Protection, FIU Law Review Blog (Apr. 15, 2015), https://law.fiu.edu/blurred-lines-verdict/#_edn23.

What Is a Grand Jury?

by Murtaza Khwaja

Have you ever wondered how a grand jury works?

Well, look no further.

Grand juries originated in the English common law system and were employed in several common law jurisdictions. However, currently, the United States is virtually the only country in the world that retains the use of grand juries.

As many of you probably already know, the 5th Amendment establishes the role of the grand jury in criminal law. The 5th Amendment states that “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury…” Which pretty much just means that a person suspected of a federal crime cannot be tried until a grand jury has determined that there is enough reason to charge the person.

All fifty states also have provisions for grand juries but only half actually use them, while twenty two of those states require the use of grand juries. Instead of grand juries, some jurisdictions prefer to use preliminary hearings before a trial judge, which are adversarial in nature, to determine whether there is evidence establishing probable cause.

But how do grand juries actually work?

Grand juries are made up of anywhere from a minimum of 16 to a maximum of 23 people, and at least 12 members must concur in an indictment if — any only if — the probable cause standard as espoused by the prosecutor has been met.

Federal courts use a grand jury that consists of 23 citizens but can operate with a quorum of 16. States use a grand jury consisting of as few as five but no more than 23 members. Grand juries are chosen from lists of qualified state residents of legal age, who have not been convicted of a crime, and who are not biased against the subject of the investigation.

Grand jury proceedings are secret and held in strict confidence. There is no judge present and it is the prosecutor’s responsibility to explain the law to the jury and work with them to gather evidence and hear testimony. The prosecutor prepares a bill of indictment (a list explaining the case and possible charges) and presents evidence to the grand jury.  The grand jury then reviews the adequacy of evidence presented by the prosecutor and then decides whether to indict the accused. The general rules of evidence are not controlling, and a grand jury has broad discretion to hear, compel, and see whatever evidence they would like. Even if a grand jury chooses not to indict, a prosecutor may still use their discretion to bring the defendant to trial if the prosecutor believe the state has a strong enough case. The defendant generally has no right to present his case or any evidence to dispute the prosecutor’s charges.

However, Georgia serves as a one of few exceptions to the rule. In Georgia, certain state officials, including police officers, are allowed to be present in cases where they are the accused and offer testimony that by law cannot be challenged by the prosecutor. For more information on this exception and the effects it has on grand jury proceedings, check out this article recently published in the AJC.

Hopefully, this blog post helped broaden your understanding of grand juries and how they work. For any more questions you may have check out these links below which includes all the information from this post and much more.

 

 

Mind over Subject Matter: Stress Management and Mental Health Resources on Campus

by Veselin Simonov

image by flickr user bottled_vold

image by flickr user bottled_vold

It’s about that time of the semester where students start wondering where exactly all the time went. August and September flew by at breakneck speed and – at this pace – you might just blink and miss October. As the clock ticks ever faster, law students find themselves facing escalating pressure stemming from classes, writing assignments, work, and a plethora of other responsibilities. As the stress mounts, avenues of relief become more and more necessary. As we shared in an earlier blogpost, there are certain mental strategies you can use to cope with such a heavy workload. In addition to that, however, GSU offers numerous, valuable stress management and mental health resources to students. This guide summarizes these resources below in the hope that law students use them to get through the significant strain of law school without succumbing to anxiety.

The Mind-Body Clinic

The GSU Counseling and Testing Center (CTC), located on 75 Piedmont Ave, N.E., Suite 200A, has established a clinic with the sole purpose of helping students fight stress. To take advantage of any of the services the clinic offers, either stop by the above mentioned address or call 404-413-1640 to make an appointment.

One of the main draws of the clinic is the Relaxation Room. The room features a variety of interactive audio and video resources that cover meditation, guided imagery, sleep issues, relaxation, etc. The Relaxation Room also has a sophisticated massage chair that can give personalized Shiatsu and Swedish massages by adjusting to each user’s weight, height, and width.

The clinic also offers nutrition services which can help with weight management, preventing or overcoming eating disorders, and healthy nutrition. Individual nutrition counseling is available by appointment.

Biofeedback is another useful resource the clinic offers that can help control anxiety. Biofeedback uses technology that monitors vital signs in order to estimate stress levels. The technology gives specific feedback on coping strategies, thus allowing the user to more-effectively control his or her physical state. Using biofeedback to train yourself to manage the physical symptoms of stress can help with sleep problems, test and performance anxiety, and (for all you future trial and appellate attorneys out there) public speaking.

The clinic offers a variety of wellness workshops as well. These seminars offer guidance on a variety of issues including substance abuse, relaxation, nutrition, communication, relationships, etc.

Group and Couples Counseling

Law school is a huge time commitment, and it can strain the relationships you have with friends, family, and loved ones. CTC offers brief couples counseling services free of charge, and partners need not be GSU students. Group counseling can also help fight stress. CTC runs several, specifically-tailored support groups, including a group especially for graduate students.

Individual Counseling and Psychiatric Services

Some students may feel that group counseling doesn’t suit their needs. As such, CTC also offers short-term, individual counseling services. The number of counseling sessions offered depends on clinical need, counselor availability, and the professional judgment of the counseling staff, however counseling can include up to 15 sessions within the academic year. The center also offers options for transferring medication needs and medication monitoring to CTC.

Substance Use Risk Reduction Program (SURRP)

Lawyers are twice as likely to struggle with alcohol abuse and other chemical dependencies compared to other professions in America, according to the Lawyer Assistance Program. Work-related stress and a work environment that may involve social drinking both contribute to these unfortunate statistics. However, help is available. GSU offers a Substance Use Risk Reduction Program (SURRP) which helps assess the risk of alcohol and drug-related problems. The SURRP also provides the support necessary to make low-risk choices in order to avoid future substance abuse problems.

Conclusion

You can find more detailed information about everything above and more on the CTC Services webpage or by calling 404-413-1640. I sincerely hope you use these resources when the need arises. I also recommend turning to fellow students or to faculty and staff if you need someone to talk to about managing the heavy workload. They probably have a pretty good idea about what you’re going through and there is absolutely no shame in asking. Remember – help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.