The Constitution in Your Community
Assume that you are working as a paralegal for a newly formed law firm that wants to specialize in civil rights litigation. As a part of this new practice, the firm would like to represent individuals whose constitutional rights have allegedly been violated. A number of the attorneys with the new firm are not from your home state, and so they are not that familiar with your state’s constitution. Certainly, all of the lawyers are well trained in U. S. constitutional law and the Bill of Rights. But they would like to know the extent to which your home state’s constitution affords individuals greater legal protections in some areas. For example, does your home state constitution place greater restrictions on police search and seizures or custodial interrogations ( see Chapter 13 ) than those imposed by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution? The attorneys need this information so that they can make strategic decisions as to what law to use in filing certain types of constitu-tional- based civil rights suits. Accordingly, you are asked to prepare a memorandum identi-fying whether and to what extent your home state’s constitution either provides individuals with additional rights not protected under the Bill of Rights and/ or affords greater legal protections for rights, such as speech, religion, etc., currently protected by the Bill of Rights.
Going Federal
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller ( 2008) and McDonald v. Chicago ( 2010) ( discussed earlier in the text), a number of communities, including Chicago, have rewritten their gun- control laws in an effort to comply with the Court’s ruling. For example, Westchester County, New York, Alan Kachalsky, and Christina Nikolov filed a federal complaint challenging the local handgun permit proc-ess. Using electronic resources, locate the complaint filed in Kachalsky and Nikolov v. Westchester County . Next, identify a handgun permit law in your jurisdiction or in a location that has recently revised its handgun laws in light of Heller and McDonald. Then, using the complaint filed in Kachalsky, prepare a federal complaint challenging your local handgun law under the Second Amendment.
Moot Court
In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in McDonald v. Chicago ( 2010), which incorpo-rated the Second Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, thereby making it applicable to the state and local governments, many people are left to wonder whether the Supreme Court should do the same with the yet- to- be- incorporated Fifth Amendment right to a grand jury indictment in felony cases. As discussed earlier, ever since the Court’s ruling in Hurtado v. California (1884), states have been free under the Bill of Rights to use the grand jury process to indict persons for felonies or to use another system, such as the information process, whereby a prosecutor can directly charge person with a felony. Assume that you are working with a criminal defense attorney whose client was charged with a felony in a state jurisdiction that does not require a grand jury indictment. The attorney wishes to use the Supreme Court’s reasoning in McDonald to challenge the constitutionality of the felony charge by arguing that the client’s Fifth Amendment right has been violated. Working in teams of two, the first team should prepare a five- minute oral argument presentation wherein they use the Court’s ruling in McDonald to support an argument that the Fifth Amendment right to a grand jury indictment ought to be incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment and made applicable to the states. Conversely, the second team should prepare a five-minute oral argument asserting why the Court’s ruling in McDonald should not be used to incorporate the Fifth Amendment right to a grand jury indictment.

  • CreatedAugust 12, 2015
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