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Author Archive

HOW AND WHY RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIALS, A STAPLE IN MEDICINE AND PSYCHOLOGY, SHOULD BE USED TO EVALUATE AND REFORM PUBLIC CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Jason Warfield

Most criminal defendants cannot afford their own attorney and instead rely on attorneys provided by the government.[1]  Ever since Gideon[2] guaranteed representation to defendants facing possible imprisonment, critics have harshly criticized the quality of that representation, focusing in particular on jurisdictions where public defenders have staggering caseloads that make it effectively impossible to routinely go beyond “meet ‘em, greet ‘em, and plead ‘em,”[3] and where appointed and contract counsel have compensation schemes that demand the rapid resolution of cases.[4]  In some jurisdictions, attorneys lack the time—sometimes best measured in minutes per case—to perform even a basic investigation of the facts much less develop a meaningful attorney-client relationship or probe the prosecution’s case for weaknesses.[5]  Public defense attorneys with too many cases often also lack support services like investigators or expert witnesses.[6]  Although the highly deferential Strickland Test provides a remedy for ineffective counsel in extraordinary cases,[7] it has done little to stop assembly-line justice from flourishing in the years since Gideon, a once-revolutionary decision that is widely considered a broken promise.[8]

LIVING IN A “MATERIAL” WORLD: THE CASE FOR MANDATORY ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, AND GOVERNANCE (ESG) DISCLOSURES IN THE UNITED STATES

Lancee Whetman

“Sustainability momentum—that’s where the magic is going to happen.” – Eddie Perkin[1]

Investors admonish major companies for “hiding” their environmentally related plans to deal with climate change.[2] In fact, worldwide trends indicate that investors have a strong interest in companies’ climate-related plans.[3] And some companies have “bowed to [these] investor demands” already.[4] However, despite this trend, some of the world’s largest and well-known companies still remain silent on how critical climate-related issues affect their business—including Berkshire Hathaway, Facebook, Netflix, PayPal, and even the electric-car maker, Tesla.[5] And, in recent years, fossil-fuel giants—BP, Exxon, and Chevron—have stopped disclosing their climate-related plans.[6] The reason: because disclosures on environmental, social, and governance issues (ESG) are a dollar-and-cents issue, and revealing climate-sensitive information could be bad for certain businesses.[7] In 2016, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) reported that out of 1,500 disclosures by 637 companies across different 72 industries, nearly 30 percent of the disclosures did not include any climate-related information.[8] Most corporations evade climate-related disclosure because companies do not consider the risks of climate change to be material or that the company does not have a duty to report. Further, in the United States, ESG disclosures are an entirely voluntary measure, so companies have no obligation to report it—for now that is. Despite this disclosure dilemma, tackling climate change must ultimately go beyond the corporate dollar-and-cent mentality.[9]

THE SKY-HIGH COURT: DETERMINING PROPER VENUE FOR CRIMES COMMITTED ON BOARD DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

Solal Wanstok

American filmmaker and writer John Waters once said: “I’d be arrested if I still smoked because I’m the one who would be changing the battery in the airplane in the lavatory to take out the smoke detector. I would’ve been those people they warn you against.”[1] Given the current state of federal law, Waters would have not only inconvenienced the passengers and flight crew, but also given many restless nights to his attorney.

LEGAL FOUNDATIONS FOR GROWING A REGENERATION ECONOMY IN VERMONT

Lauryn Sherman

The State of Vermont has been working on designing a payment for ecosystem services (PES) system that would hire farmers to improve watershed function as a strategy to moderate and adapt to climate change.[1]  This paradigm recognizes that deep topsoil can provide “flood protection, clean water, food security, and climate resilience and mitigation.”[2] The State and other parties would invest in rebuilding the land’s capacity to provide these services, much like it would invest in rehabilitating physical infrastructure.[3] 

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: DISCUSSING NEW YORK’S NEED FOR NEW ELECTRICAL GENERATION SITING LAWS

Dan Krzykowski

On October 28, 2012, a full moon was on display over New York harbor.[1] Twenty-four hours later the pull of that same moon, paired with many other events, brought destruction into the greater New York Metropolitan Area.[2] Superstorm Sandy killed 43 New Yorkers, flooded 51 square miles of the city’s landmass, caused over $19 billion of damage, and shut the power off for weeks.[3] The storm was a tragedy, and a sign of things to come.[4]

GET IT ON THE RECORD! EXPLICIT FACT-FINDING AT BATSON’S THIRD STEP AS A COMPROMISE TO REJUVINATE THE BATSON RULE

Sean Noonan

“Object anyway!” said James Kirkland Batson to his defense attorney when the prosecutor struck the only three black jurors from the venire during jury selection for his trial.[1] When Mr. Batson first inquired about the seemingly discriminatory peremptory challenges to his public defender, his attorney replied, the prosecutor does not need to disclose why he struck the jurors.[2] This did not sit right with Mr. Batson. He encouraged his attorney to object anyway, and his attorney did.[3] This choice was the catalyst that would lead to the monumental Supreme Court decision on peremptory challenges and the Fourteenth Amendment.[4]

A SLIPPERY SKI SLOPE: APPROVAL OF VERMONT’S FIRST INTERBASIN WATER TRANSFER ILLUSTRATES THE INADEQUACIES IN RIPARIANISM AND REGULATORY CONTROL OF SURFACE WATER IN OUR CHANGING CLIMATE

Kelsey Schweitzer

This year, Vermont ski area Pico Mountain (Pico) broke ground on a project ramping up its snowmaking.[1] In the past, Pico’s snowmaking has suffered from running out of water when their “snowmaking needs are greatest.” Starting this 2019-2020 winter season, Killington Mountain Resort (Killington), another Vermont skiing destination, will be piping water from Killington’s water sources directly to the privately owned Pico ski area snowmaking pond (Killington-Pico snowmaking interconnect).[2] Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the Department) approved this 2.1 million dollar snowmaking project on September 17, 2019.[3] With access to Killington’s water supply, Pico will be able to “keep making snow without pause” ending the problem that has limited Pico’s snowmaking in the past: “running out of water when snowmaking needs are greatest.”[4] This investment is only the most recent of Pico’s improvements to take place since Killington acquired the ski area in 1997.[5] Snowmaking is not new to the ski-industry in Vermont, but becoming more quintessential to the survival and longevity of the season.[6]

A PERSISTENT PROBLEM: APPLYING RCRA’S CITIZEN SUIT PROVISION TO PFAS

Paul Quackenbush

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have become the subject of public outrage in recent years after revelations that manufacturers of these chemicals have long known of their potential dangers but hid this knowledge from the public.[1] In one of the most infamous examples, DuPont chemical company knowingly disposed of one type of toxic perfluoroalkyl substance for over fifty years in unlined pits, contaminating the drinking water of more than 100,000 people in West Virginia and Ohio near DuPont’s Washington Works facility.[2] The Washington Works case has spurred a class-action lawsuit involving 80,000 plaintiffs that settled for $343 million, a documentary, and a feature film, and has helped focus public attention on this toxic and environmentally persistent class of chemicals.[3] Despite increased public scrutiny, the federal government has been slow to regulate PFAS.[4] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet promulgated a legally enforceable standard for any of the more than 4,700 individual chemicals in the PFAS group, in part, due to the still incomplete understanding of the effects of PFAS on human health.[5] In the absence of formal federal regulation, a handful of states have begun to regulate PFAS, primarily in drinking water.[6] Yet few state regulations exist that address PFAS waste, which contaminates soil, groundwater, and other media, despite the growing realization that contamination from PFAS waste is widespread.[7]

MELTING ICE WITH RICO: HOW WE CAN FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE TERRORISM ON IMMIGRANTS

Katherine Kral

Imagine you are an immigrant.[1] You are legally in the United States on an F1 Visa.[2] You have almost completed your university studies when you get an unsuspecting email from the President of another University applauding your accomplishments and enticing you to further your studies at his school.[3] You check out the school’s website and verify its accreditation.[4] The school appears legitimate.[5] You send in your application, get accepted, and pay tuition.[6] You think you are legally in the United States on an F1 Visa, until that school closes, blaming their own recruiters, and you, for scamming the system.[7] Not only do you lose the money you paid for tuition, but you also lose your status in the United States.[8]

TO BOLDLY INVADE WHERE NO EARTHLING HAS GONE BEFORE: WHY FORWARD CONTAMINATION NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

Nick Hinckley

The mysterious void of outer space is one of the last great unknowns yet to be understood. Is there life beyond earth? That question plaguing humans for generations has yet to be answered. However, the solution draws near.[1] We may not know what is out there, but we do know that organisms from earth can survive the vacuum of space.[2] Not only can simple organisms survive, but even animals have been found to survive the extreme dehydration and UV radiation they encounter beyond Earth’s atmosphere.[3] So when we discover life, how can we be sure that we were not the ones who brought it there?

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