The Constitution in Your Community
Assume that you are working as a paralegal in a local prosecutor’s office. You have been asked to work on a criminal case, where three defendants have been charged with disorderly conduct based on their behavior during a local football game. It seems that the three defendants got agitated after their team lost the game in double overtime.
Afterward, the defendants began shouting various barbs at passers- by. The first defendant yelled “You guys suck!” to members of the opposing team as they went into the locker room. The second defendant screamed “ Your team is a bunch of inbred hicks who want to marry their sisters” to a group of opposing- team parents leaving the stadium. And the third defendant, shouted “ Hey, you dumb cop, why don’t you go back to the donut shop where you belong?” to an officer who was arresting the first two defendants. Each of the defendants maintains that his speech after the game was protected under the First Amendment. Locate the disorderly conduct statute for your local jurisdiction or state. Then prepare a memorandum analyzing whether your prosecutor’s office should proceed with criminal charges against each of the three defendants or whether some or all of the charges should be dropped based on constitutional protections under the First Amendment.
Assume that you are working for a criminal defense attorney, who has just been retained to represent Ima Reider, a librarian from a public university. It seems that federal authorities have charged Ms. Reider with violating provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, which bars record keepers, including librarians, from discussing government searches of records within the custody of record keepers, including public libraries. Under the federal indictment, Ms. Reider is accused of telling a student at the university that FBI agents sought and obtained the student’s library records during a search. Ms. Reider acknowledges her conversation with the student, but asserts that this form of speech is protected under the First Amendment. Obtain a copy of the USA PATRIOT Act— the federal law passed shortly after September 11, 2001— and review the provisions that restrict certain record keepers from discussing governmental searches of private records, such as those from a library, academic records, or medical information. Prepare a three- page memorandum in which you address whether these restrictions are constitutional under the First Amendment.
Assume that you have been asked to assist a group of attorney in preparing for oral arguments in a First Amendment case challenging a law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. The case concerns a law that criminalizes the sale of violent video games to minors. Specifically, the law states, “[ a] person may not sell or rent a video game that has been labeled as a violent video to a minor.” Using the briefs filed in the U. S. Supreme Court case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association , Case No. 08- 1448, prepare and present an oral argument that addresses the basic First Amendment issues involved in the dispute. The first team should prepare a five- minute oral argument presentation, wherein they assert that the law violated the expressive freedoms of minors under the First Amendment. Conversely, the second team should prepare a five- minute oral argument asserting why the law constitutes a reasonable and permissible regulation of speech under the First Amendment.