Current Issue

  • Volume 67,
  • Number 7 -
  • April 2018

Articles

Fixing Law Reviews
Barry Friedman
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Very few people are happy at present with the law review publishing process, from article submission and selection to editing. Complaints are longstanding; similar ones emerge from faculty and students alike. Yet, change has not occurred. We remain locked in a process in which neither faculty nor students are happy.

This Article recommends wholesale changes to the submission and editing process. The first part details the dysfunctions of the current system, including everything from lack of student capacity to evaluate faculty scholarship—particularly under the gun of the expedite process—to faculty submitting subpar work in light of rigid submission cycles. It then turns to a perverse defense of the current system. In light of technological change, law reviews play a very different function at present than even twenty years ago. Most faculty publish their work on electronic databases prior to submission to law reviews. Law reviews serve as the final resting place of those articles for archival purposes, while ostensibly providing students with a sound pedagogical experience. Even so, the system has huge and unacceptable costs; student editors scramble over one another to accept manuscripts, often wasting time on rejected submissions, while faculty labor with student overediting, all in the service of articles that for the most part are rarely or never cited.

It is time to change the present system, to produce better published scholarship, at lower cost to faculty and students. This ought to include blind submission, elimination of submitting articles to one’s own school, and some form of peer review. Authors should be required to limit submissions, or to accept the first offer they receive. And the editing process should be simplified, as the present system is far too elaborate, and fails to make scholarship the best it can be.

Capitalizing on Criminal Justice
Eisha Jain
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The U.S. criminal justice system “piles on.” It punishes too many for too long. Much criminal law scholarship focuses on the problem of excessive punishment. Yet for the low-level offenses that dominate state court workloads, much of the harm caused by arrests and convictions arises outside the formal criminal sentence. It stems from spiraling hidden penalties and the impact of a criminal record. The key question is not just why the state over-punishes, but rather why so many different institutions—law enforcement institutions as well as civil regulatory agencies and private actors—find it valuable to do so. This Article argues that the reach of the criminal justice system is not just the product of overly punitive laws, but also the product of institutions capitalizing on criminal law decisions for their own ends. Criminal law is meant to serve a public purpose, but in practice, key institutions create, disseminate, and rely on low-level criminal records because they offer a source of revenue or provide a cost-effective way of achieving discrete administrative objectives. These incentives drive and expand the reach of the criminal justice system, even as they work in tension with the state’s sentencing goals. This dynamic creates obvious harm. But it also benefits key actors, such as municipalities, privatized probation companies, background check providers, employers, and others who have incentives to maintain the system as it is. This Article identifies how organizational incentives lead a host of institutions to capitalize on criminal law decisions, and it argues that reform efforts must, as a central goal, recognize and respond to these incentives.

From Theory to Doctrine: An Empirical Analysis of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms After Heller
Eric Ruben & Joseph Blocher
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As a matter of constitutional doctrine, the right to keep and bear arms is coming of age. But although the doctrine has begun to mature in the decade since District of Columbia v. Heller, scholars, advocates, and judges disagree about (and sometimes simply do not know) how to characterize it.

This Article is the first comprehensive empirical analysis of post-Heller Second Amendment doctrine. Beginning with a set of more than one thousand Second Amendment challenges, we have coded every available Second Amendment opinion—state and federal, trial and appellate—from Heller up until February 1, 2016. The dataset is deep as well as broad, including dozens of variables regarding the content of each challenge, not just whether it prevailed. Our findings help provide an objective basis for characterizing Second Amendment doctrine and framing new scholarly inquiries. This is a particularly important task now, as the Amendment becomes a part of “normal” constitutional law and increasingly susceptible to the standard tools of legal analysis.

2017 David L. Lange Lecture in Intellectual Property

The Puzzle of Traditional Knowledge
William Fisher
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Drawing on three case studies, this Essay contends that the proper role of law in managing uses of traditional knowledge is highly contextual. In some settings, distributive justice, cultural diversity, and group identity formation would be promoted by according indigenous groups more power to control or to benefit from uses of knowledge developed and sustained by their members, while in other settings, respect for individual autonomy and the promotion of semiotic democracy counsel against providing the groups that power. The Essay then outlines two alternative legal frameworks, either of which could accommodate this complex combination of competing values. The first would incorporate in a multilateral treaty a set of provisions that, by increasing the risk that unauthorized use of traditional knowledge would result in forfeiture of intellectual property rights, would put pressure on private firms to accede to reasonable requests made by the governments of developing countries and by representatives of indigenous groups. The second would augment and harness public discourse concerning the morality of particular uses of traditional knowledge by creating a disclosure obligation, disconnected from intellectual property law, analogous to the labelling requirements commonly imposed on the producers of food, clothing, and drugs.

Note

A Free Bite at the Apple: How Flawed Statutory Drafting Has Undermined the Purpose of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board
Rebecca Gentilli
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In the years before Congress passed the America Invents Act, patent litigation became exorbitantly expensive. Congress created three types of proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which were intended to provide a cheaper and more cost-effective alternative to district court litigation over patent validity. A major factor in ensuring that the PTAB proceedings effectively substituted for district court litigation was a harsh estoppel provision that prevented any petitioner from relitigating any issue which was raised or reasonably could have been raised during the PTAB proceeding. The Federal Circuit, however, recently applied a narrow interpretation to the estoppel provision which jeopardizes the ability of PTAB proceedings to replace district court litigation.

While it would be easy to place all the blame on the Federal Circuit for defanging the estoppel provision, this Note argues that the failure of PTAB proceedings to substitute for district court litigation ultimately stems from poor drafting within the America Invents Act. The combination of broad Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) substantive rulemaking power, unreviewable PTAB decisions to institute, and a sweeping estoppel provision doomed PTAB proceedings to failure. This Note offers that Congress must update the language of the statute itself in order to effectively address the issues presented by this combination.