The Fountain Blog

Ghomeshi Acquitted on All Charges: The Legal System’s Failure to Address Rape Trauma Syndrome in Prosecuting Sexual Assault

May 12th, 2016

Ghomeshi Acquitted on All Charges: The Legal System's Failure to Address Rape Trauma Syndrome in Prosecuting Sexual Assault

By Kate Ross  Last month, Canadian radio celebrity Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted of rape and assault, after three women who came forward faced antagonistic cross-examination on their memory lapses, delays in reporting the abuse, and failure to mention subsequent interactions with Ghomeshi.[1]  The complainants offered evidence that these gaps were irrelevant to the assaults or symptomatic of emotional confusion and trauma that often accompany experiences of sexual assault, but the judge found them fatal to the complainants’ credibility nevertheless.

Another SAT Overhaul May Fail NYC Minority Students

May 2nd, 2016

Another SAT Overhaul May Fail NYC Minority Students

The following post is a winning submission for the 2016 Jason Libou Online Writing Competition. Competitors were prompted to write a blog post on a topic of their choice relating to urban law and policy.  By Immanuel Kim  The College Board implemented a new version of the Standardized Admissions Test early this year, purportedly to even the playing field for students across various socioeconomic statuses. The test now focuses more on material that a typical high school student learns in school.  In other words, it is another means of testing student progress under the Common Core, an educational standard followed and adopted by most of the country, including New York State.  The redesign may leave New York City’s minority students less prepared for college than their recent predecessors.

How States Are Dealing with Unconstitutional Life Sentences for Juvenile Offenders

March 28th, 2016

How States Are Dealing with Unconstitutional Life Sentences for Juvenile Offenders

By Claire Glass In its 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court of the United States found mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violate the 8th Amendment, unfairly subjecting juveniles to the same sentences as their adult counterparts without giving  judges an opportunity to consider the defendant’s age and individual circumstances as mitigating factors. The landmark decision left unanswered, however, whether it would apply to the 2,500 some incarcerated people around the country already serving these unconstitutional sentences, and if so, what process should be employed for re-sentencing.

Scalia’s Legacy in Land Use Law

March 13th, 2016

Scalia's Legacy in Land Use Law

By Herbert Rosen After Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, much has been and will continue to be written about his landmark opinions, originalist/textualist methods of interpretation, and his words which inspired some and angered others. However, Scalia should also be recognized for his significant contributions to land use law.

Cruel and Unusual: The Practice of Shackling Pregnant Incarcerated Women

February 29th, 2016

Cruel and Unusual: The Practice of Shackling Pregnant Incarcerated Women

By Claire Glass In 2009, New York State banned the longstanding practice of shackling of pregnant incarcerated women during childbirth, but a 2015 report by the Correctional Association (CA), a non-profit with authority to enter and inspect the state’s correctional facilities, reveals that New York State and county institutions routinely break this law. The vast majority of women interviewed reported being shackled at varying stages of pregnancy, some through labor and delivery.

Bike Wars: How NYC has dealt with litigation in the advent of the Citi Bike

February 18th, 2016

Bike Wars: How NYC has dealt with litigation in the advent of the Citi Bike

By Vinh Hua While policies that promote bicycle usage in urban environments are becoming more common, they remain a divisive issue among urban planners and city managers. Support for such policies is evidenced by the creation of bike lanes to the usage of bike-share programs like Citi Bike, while the governmental support or ambivalence to these programs is also the subject of both discussion and litigation.

Legal Battles in the Bay: Litigation over Gentrification in San Francisco

January 29th, 2016

Legal Battles in the Bay: Litigation over Gentrification in San Francisco

By Vinh Hua San Francisco is currently the site of a number of major battles over gentrification, as residents, developers, tech companies, tech professionals, and landlords fight for their interests in both the court of law and public opinion. San Francisco has become the most expensive city to live in the United States, even beating out Manhattan. The city has skyrocketing rents, as the growth of the tech-sector creates a burgeoning population of well-paid tech-sector employees. These professionals have driven demand for rental units through the roof, with rental prices soon following. A perfect storm of limited housing stock, market pressures, and transportation improvements allowing San Francisco neighborhoods to become more accessible to commuters, has made San Francisco the fastest gentrifying city in the United States.

The Road Not Taken: Why Courts Should Recognize Uber Drivers as Employees and Not Independent Contractors

January 18th, 2016

The Road Not Taken: Why Courts Should Recognize Uber Drivers as Employees and Not Independent Contractors

By Kate Ross It’s hard to imagine how an Uber ride could ever lead to a roadblock. Prompted by the tap of a few buttons, the Uber app connects users with nearby drivers to send them on their way to virtually any destination within minutes.  It’s no accident that the word “uber” itself suggests a road to endless possibilities. Borrowed from the German term übermensch, meaning “superman,” the company’s trademark invokes the American dream for human progress and upward mobility.  In one commercial, riders and drivers alike zip along the road to schools, new homes, and jobs in time to the slogan, “We’re all going somewhere.” Indeed, this message is geared towards drivers, as well as customers—a quick glance at the website makes the job’s flexible hours and lack of oversight sound like the perfect source of extra cash and stability in today’s unpredictable economy. But the reality is that Uber drivers are destined to hit a dead end before […]

The Campaign for Safe Injections Facilities in New York City

January 18th, 2016

The Campaign for Safe Injections Facilities in New York City

By Claire Glass On September 30, activists gathered for a town hall and to launch SIFNYC, a coalition of criminal justice and drug policy advocates campaigning to bring Safe Injection Facilities(SIFs) to New York City. SIFs in Europe, Canada, and Australia already provide clean needles, health services, and a police-free place to use intravenous drugs to users who would otherwise be forced to use in public where rates of overdose and contraction of infectious disease dramatically increase. Along with immediate safety improvements, SIFs offer access to clinical professionals and recovery services but, importantly, don’t mandate recovery efforts in exchange for use of the sites. SIFs go one step further than needle exchanges, offering both clean needles and a place to use drugs beyond the reach of law enforcement and the public eye, relieving the threat of discovery that leads to unsafe injection. According to Vocal New York’s Policy Director, Matt […]

Law Enforcement’s Growing Use of Social Media to Target Gang Activity

November 11th, 2015

Law Enforcement's Growing Use of Social Media to Target Gang Activity

By Vinh Hua Social interaction among teens and youths increasingly occurs in the digital world via the use of social media. Social media has become a central facet of the lives of many youth. As the internet becomes more ubiquitous, more Americans have web access. More young men and women in the inner city and in other poverty-stricken communities now participate in social media. Among these youth are gang members. Searching for the adoration of their peers, many of these young men and women post pictures and status updates that incriminate either themselves or their friends.  As the digital world takes on more prominence, gang culture has made its own imprint on the social media landscape.