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Students Present at Law Review Student Journal Symposium

Monday, November 21, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Max Rodriguez
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Dean Broderick
Dean Broderick
Leandra Carrasco
Leandra Carrasco
Sakinda Skinner
Sakinda Skinner
Laura McMahon
Laura McMahon
Amanda Penrod
Amanda Penrod
Virginia Hebert
Virginia Hebert
Parisa Dada
Parisa Dada

On November 16th, UDC Law Review held a symposium to discuss articles in the Law Review's Student Law Journal, which showcases the best papers written for elective seminars, as nominated by UDC-DCSL professors. Dean Shelley Broderick gave a brief introduction, and Leandra Carrasco 3L, Student Publications & Bibliography Editor of the UDC Law Review, moderated the panel, which included 3Ls Sakinda Skinner, Laura McMahon, Amanda Penrod, Virginia Hebert and Parisa Dada.

Sakinda Skinner opened the panel by discussing a paper she wrote for Professor John Terzano’s class on how eyewitness testimony can lead to wrongful convictions. She gave 5 reasons why eyewitness misidentification can lead to wrongful convictions: 1) pursuit of money by witness, 2) juries become convinced by criminal informants, 3) government depends heavily on criminal informants and the police are not in a position to conduct their own investigation, 4) using informants goes unregulated, 5) prosecutors don’t disclose information about informants’ motivation. Sakinda offered some solutions to this problem including: 1) prosecutors should have an obligation to tell juries that informants have a financial incentive to testify, 2) must tell defendant about informants’ incentives for testifying, 3 ) mandatory recording of all informants, 4) need a review board tasked with oversight. In short there need to be systemic safeguards to protect innocent people against harmful testimony.

Laura McMahon then presented on the LGBT community’s fight for reproductive justice. She made the case that biological and non-biological parents must have parental rights to adopt children. She said the benefits of having non-biological parents having the right to adoption are enormous: offering the child access to health care, Social Security, child support, and having 2 parents equally involved in the child’s life. However, step parent adoption and heterosexual adoption are less onerous than adoption by non-biological parents, and judges often decide the case.

Amanda Penrod discussed a paper she wrote for Professor Kemit Mawakana’s class on how to value parenting. She said there are two reasons society doesn’t value parenting more: the wage gap between men and women, and a gendered view of the division of labor. Amanda said, "If women made the same amount of money as men then both parents would have the option of staying home to parent.” She proposed using Professor Edgar Cahn’s Time Banking concept for parenting. The way this would work is that a parent could use 40 hours of time banking credits to be redeemed at a food bank, school, etc. in exchange for them contributing 50 hours of community service.

Virginia Hebert also wrote a paper for Professor Kemit Mawakana’s class where she discussed how the family court system is in shambles and should be modified for family preservation. She said most child abuse cases go unreported while black families are disproportionately represented in child and family services. Virginia said there are two reasons normally given for this: 1) black families are more likely to be in poverty and therefore under greater scrutiny by the state, 2) racism. It becomes difficult to reunite a child once a judge decided they can’t go home. She said one way of fixing this would be to have a clearer definition of the "Best Interest of the Child” standard.

Parisa Dada presented her paper from John Terzano’s class on eyewitness misidentification leading to wrongful death penalty sentences. Parisa said there are 3 factors that lead to eyewitness misidentification: 1) cognitive – misinformation, 2) procedural/law enforcement – criminal justice system focuses on one suspect and rules out the others, and 3) judicial standards – the Supreme Court test on eyewitness testimony actually works against the defendant. She then discussed the wrongful conviction of Frank Lee Smith in Florida, who was falsely incarcerated for murder and died in prison while awaiting the DNA results from his case.

Parisa offered some recommendations for law enforcement including having police caution eyewitnesses that a suspect may not be in a lineup, make all the suspects in a lineup look the same or have similar qualities, proper documentation for police, a double-blind lineup, and a sequential lineup. She also proposed several judicial recommendations such as excluding police suggestiveness and allowing an expert witness to testify on psychological factors affecting eyewitness testimony.

Leandra Carrasco closed the Law Review Student Symposium by announcing that Heather Strickland, ’11, had her paper selected for inclusion in the UDC Law Review discussing autistic children who are caught in the legal system.

For more information about the UDC Law Review, visit www.law.udc.edu/LawReview.

 

 


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