The Texas’ “Hemp Program” Problem

TexasWeedWhen Texas enacted their “Hemp Program” it caused mass confusion for law enforcement officers, attorneys, and judges. People have claimed confusion to the point of identifying if the flower in someone’s possession is legal or illegal and some have even accused officials of decriminalizing marijuana with the enactment of the “Hemp Program.”

First, let us look at the argument regarding to not being able to identify if the product in someone’s possession is legal or not. Marijuana and hemp are the same plant called cannabis and for all intents and purposes, they look and smell the same.  The difference is a hemp plant cannot contain more than .3% THC and if it the plant does contain more than .3% THC, it is a marijuana plant. Therefore, in order to determine if the flower in someone’s pocket or glove compartment or rolled up in papers is under the .3% level, it must be tested to determine the level of THC in it.

Unfortunately, this test is expensive and Texas crime labs are unable to perform the test – so it has to be tested by a private lab. This has cause district attorneys to be unable to accept marijuana cases without a test proving that the THC level in the product confiscated was under the .3% limit – resulting in counties and cities having to decide how much they are willing to spend to enforce the state’s marijuana laws. Which takes us to the second issue of decriminalization accusations.

The constant accusation of the hemp laws decriminalizing marijuana has state lawmakers and even Governor Abbott having to reaffirm that marijuana is still illegal in the state of Texas. Counties and cities all over the state are having to adjust, some have noticed over a 50% drop in marijuana cases, some are holding open all cases until a state lab is provided to test and yet others are trying to determine how much money should be budgeted to test cannabis for possible prosecution.

With these issues it is easy to understand why people are claiming the hemp laws in Texas have inadvertently decriminalized marijuana. It is up to the State, now, to help alleviate this confusion.

While law enforcement needs a way to test THC levels in products quicker, easier, and cheaper a possible solution to all this is to first figure out this testing conundrum and then start-up with the prosecutions (instead of putting the horse before the cart).

By: Ashley Ann Sander
December 2020 Graduate

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The Bucks couldn’t care less about the bucks!

Many businesses, schools, and social events (including sports) were shut down and canceled this year as our country dealt with the effects of COVID-19. As the country tried to start the reopening process, many sports organizations, including the National Basketball Association (“NBA”), set its sights to reopen and restart their seasons. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed to resume the season on July 30 as long as strict safety and health precautions were followed. The league established a restricted area at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida to adhere to the safety and health precautions. The resort hereinafter referred to as “the bubble.” This bubble was created to restrict players’ travel and maintain a safe environment for players and staff, free from the transmission of COVID-19. 

This bubble kept players away from family members and friends, but it did not keep them away from news reports and tragedy. In the wake of another senseless act of police brutality in the shooting of another African American man named Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by Wisconsin police, NBA players decided to use their platform to promote change. The Milwaukee Bucks, the only NBA team in Wisconsin, decided to boycott their game five playoff matchup with the Orlando Magic. This stance sparked other NBA teams and other sports teams to boycott their night’s games as well. 

Although this sign of solidarity is a moral and social win in promoting change, could this act cause legal implications in the future? Did the Milwaukee Bucks, other sports teams, and players breach contracts when they decided not to play?

A breach of contract is the failure to perform an obligation required under a contract. Article 30, section 30.1 of the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) states, “neither the Players Association nor its members shall engage in any strikes, cessations or stoppages of work, or any other similar interference with the operations of the NBA or any of its Teams.” It further states in section 30.3, “[T]he Players Association agrees that it will not engage in any concerted activities to breach, induce the breach of, or threaten to breach or induce the breach of, any Player Contract.”

The Milwaukee Bucks were in breach of their agreement with the NBA. With this being a joint effort as a team they will be protected, as the NBA cannot fire the whole team. Also, this will not make for good press as the media that would surround the NBA for punishing players for participating in social justice issues will cripple the NBA. The relationship between the owners and the individual athletes play a major role as some flexibility to the agreement is allowed.

The flexibility with the NBA and the players through the CBA is one thing, however the contract between the NBA and the media outlets is another story. The NBA has a duty to provide content to different television networks such as Turner Network Television (“TNT”) and Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (“ESPN”). In October 2014 the NBA announced a new deal with major television networks that will keep the league on their broadcasts’ channels through 2025. Due to the possibility of strikes, networks and sports organizations normally agree to terms that provides remedies for possible strikes. In this case, the NBA probably would not be in danger of breach of contract because they postponed the games to be aired on different days on the networks.

By: George E. Graham, II
       Candidate for Juris Doctor, Spring 2021
       Library Research Fellow 2019-2021

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On the Basis of Sex

In June of 2020, SCOTUS handed down a ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which has presented some questions as to how far the freedoms under Title VII actually reach.

Bostock, in brief, held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does protect employees against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Title VII notes that: “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, or to classify or refer for employment any individual on the basis of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

The Bostock ruling defined that this basis of sex did include sexual orientation and gender identity because discrimination on those employed was related directly to sex.

Gerald Bostock was working for the department of social services in Georgia when he joined a gay softball league. Following this, he received criticism at work and inappropriate remarks from coworkers. Shortly thereafter, Bostock was fired for “conduct unbecoming of an employee.” Bostock filed a complaint with the EEOC and then three years later filed a lawsuit based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that firing an employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity was a violation of the Civil Rights Act. Bostock was consolidated with two similar cases, Altitude Express v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens. The court in Bostock said that discrimination on the basis of sexuality or transgender status required an employer to intentionally treat an employee different because of their sexual preferences.

The court did acknowledge that in 1964, when Title VII was drafted, this issue would have not been considered, but the majority opinion did not give any value to the legislative history of the act. This was one of the main divergences between the opinions of the majority and dissent.

You can read the full opinion at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1618_hfci.pdf.

~Katherine N. Fuller

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Exploring Elements of Civil Causes of Action

Tecklenburg Amanda Image Elements of Civil Causes of ActionElements of Civil Causes of Action, by Michael G. Sullivan and Douglas S. MacGregor, is the South Carolina civil practitioner’s go-to guide for research. Published by the South Carolina Bar, the fifth edition includes definitions and elements of 50 of South Carolina’s most common civil causes of action.

Each cause of action is listed in alphabetical order, by chapter. This concise formatting makes it an easy and quick method to research any general question, saving you hours of research time. Each chapter breaks down and defines the cause of action into its component parts. The chapters also include a discussion of defenses and remedies. Additionally, the book is heavily annotated with citations to controlling authority, including cases and statutes.

Where do I get my copy?

This book is so helpful that the CSOL library has updated our collection with each new edition. The library has copies of the second, third, fourth and fifth editions. There are two copies of the fifth edition—the most recent edition from 2015—on class reserve.

This book is also available on the South Carolina Bar’s website for purchase for $95. The book also comes with a CD containing sample pleadings for certain causes of action. The price is well worth the handy material. A successful attorney recently told me she uses her copy so often her cover has fallen off.

For students, the best option to access the book may be online. LexisAdvance has the book available on its database. It is even one of the “top sources” of secondary material in the South Carolina collection.

Why you should use this resource

 Just recently, I used this book to help me draft a complaint for premises liability. Elements of Civil Causes of Action gave me a good starting point to allege each element in my complaint. I was very thankful to have it as a resource, and I hope that this blog post will help a fellow student with their assignments one day.

Written by:  Amanda Tecklenburg

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Exploring Oxford Constitutional Law

The Oxford Constitutional Law research database serves as an excellent resource for any student, practicing attorney, or general academic with a curiosity and passion for understanding the history, theories, and intricacies behind Constitutions, and the questions that inevitably come up in their enforcement.

This database, which is owned and run by Oxford University (and accessible through the Charleston School of Law library), includes the institution’s three constitutional law services: Oxford Constitutions of the World, US Constitutional Law, and the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Constitutional Law. Each of these services provides a different look into constitutional law, and though the types of materials offered are the same for each, the contents themselves are extremely varied, giving the researcher access to a comprehensive and diverse collection of documents to view.

Having all of their products in one location, Oxford has created a database that allows the user to pull up a myriad of information available in one location, while still allowing the researcher to narrow the search to the product of their choosing. This lends itself to a research platform that is very inclusive and thorough, and yet still extremely easy to navigate.

The types of content offered by Oxford Constitutional Law include the following:

  • Constitutional instruments and materials
  • National instruments and materials
  • Commentary and analysis

The Constitutional instruments and materials contain actual Constitutions (national, sub-national, and indigenous) from all around the world, as well as amendments that have been made to them and related documents that may have been influential in their formation (for example, the United States’ Declaration of Independence). The amount of information contained here is truly impressive; in fact, this is the only resource that contains English language versions of every constitution in the world.

The National Instruments and materials consist of different national legislation from around the globe that is related to that country’s or state’s respective Constitution, such as laws passed to clarify a provision or to expound upon a certain subject. This provides for even more context surrounding not only the history of the document, but the ways in which its provisions have been interpreted and debated throughout time.

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An example of what a Search looks like on Oxford Constitutional Law

The third type of content available on Oxford Constitutional Law is commentary and analysis. This section consists of mainly what would be considered secondary sources, and includes information in the following forms:

  • Book content
  • Encyclopedias
  • Bibliographies
  • Constitutional overview (by jurisdiction)
  • Notes
  • Chronologies

These resources offer information focusing on different constitutional law subjects, the histories behind the Constitutions themselves, and various pieces that attempt to clarify common issues that have been frequently raised in this area. They also offer analyses and comparisons of Constitutions throughout the world, to provide true perspective to the study as a whole.

The final component of the Oxford Constitutional Law database is the Oxford Law Citator. This tool allows the user to search for a subject, case, piece of legislation, etc., and then provides them with a citation for a piece of legal information, other documents that cite or mention what is being searched, or links to full text within the Oxford Law system and across the web. The Oxford Law Citator is a fast and easy way to find a wide variety of credible resource related to the subject of your choosing.

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The home page of the Oxford Law Citator

The Oxford Constitutional Law database is a great resource for anyone involved in the history and study of constitutional law as a whole. As far as practice goes, this resource is very limited in its scope, and though it offers numerous and varied in depth pieces of information, those looking for more primary sources and more general information may not gain much from its use. However, the material is routinely updated and contains solid primary information, as well as credible secondary sources verified courtesy of the Oxford Law Citator.

For those devoted to the study and for the academics with great interest in that area, Oxford Constitutional Law is a must have. The material is routinely updated and contains solid primary information, as well as credible secondary sources verified courtesy of the Oxford Law Citator.

Written by: Jack Jackson

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Simplify your research by owning a copy of South Carolina Family Law Annotated

FamilyFrom marriage, divorce, blended families and family assets, family law is a constantly evolving area of the law, being up to date on the law is crucial to effectively helping your clients. Published by Thomson Reuters, South Carolina Family Law Annotated (“SCFLA”) is the one stop guide to South Carolina Family Law. Not only does it consist of the relevant statutes and cases, but also provides the family court rules, South Carolina Constitution and alternative dispute resolution rules and procedures.

In my opinion, the SCFLA is a great resources for attorneys, mediators and judges alike. It provides relevant statutes along with the pertinent cases that accompany them. It has brief descriptions of the most relevant cases with citations to more specific cases that may guide your research. The SCFLA provides a quick and concise reference for anyone practicing in the realm of family law.

This resource also contains West Key Number System to be able to reference other related cases when doing research. The SCFLA would be useful for law students who are studying family law or doing research on how South Carolina has applied their family law statutes.

This book contains information on:

  • Divorces
  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Adoptions
  • Asset distribution
  • Guardianship of disabled adults
  • Qualifications and requirements for marriage
  • Name changes
  • Estate related matters

It is organized by the way the statutes appear in the South Carolina Code, and has a very in-depth index that helps to guide you to the exact information that you need. If I were practicing family law this would be a welcome, and necessary, addition to my library.

The SCFLA is published annually and is available for purchase on Thomas Reuters Website for $311. It is also available for a monthly subscription through their site for $24 a month. The benefit to the subscription is that it is updated with the new information and new editions as they are published. Additionally, if you have access to the Charleston School of Law Library there is the 2009-2019 editions of the SCFLA located in the South Carolina Practice Materials.

Written by: Katherine Fuller

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South Carolina Requests to Charge—Criminal

SCCriminalThe South Carolina Requests to Charge—Criminal, Second Edition provides general jury instructions as well as criminal charges and defenses to those charges. In a criminal trial, after closing arguments, the court charges the jury, meaning the court gives the jury their instructions and definitions of law that relate to their specific case.

When lawyers provide the court their jury charges, it allows them to guide what they want from the jury during deliberations. To do this attorneys can provide the judge tailored law as it pertains to facts of the case. Defense attorneys should provide the proper defenses including their definitions. This is crucial to provide a zealous defense. The judge makes the final call on what instructions the jury takes with them into the deliberation room.

This source gives easy to understand lay term instructions and definitions about criminal law that lawyers can use as a guide in writing their instructions for the jury. Jury instructions are one of the most important parts of the trial because these documents are taken with the jury when they go deliberate.

To provide a clear and easy understanding of the law for the jury can win or lose a case. The jury must first understand the law in order to apply it. Like many jurisdictions, South Carolina prohibits jurors from taking notes during the trial and therefore, jury instructions are among the only written materials that go into the deliberation room when they make their determinations.

In 2010, the South Carolina General Assembly passed the Omnibus Crime Act which abolished many common law offenses and instead incorporated statutory offenses. This source provides an easy understanding of the new statutory law put into place by the Omnibus Crime Act and its definitions, as well as the applicable South Carolina code sections to each charge and governing cases in the state.

An interesting addition to the law is the common law offense of  “lynching” superseded by statute as “assault and battery by a mob.”

The resource includes:

  • General instructions
  • Definitions of offenses
    • sex offenses
    • drugs offenses
  • Confessions
  • Defenses

This supplement is for sale by the South Carolina bar for $125. Each hardcover text sold includes the entire text on a CD. The CD format allows for easy searching and faster research when in a crunch. Although the most recent version was published in 2012, it is a great resource for any attorney planning on practicing criminal law in the state of South Carolina.

Written by:  Estafany Foracker

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American Maritime Cases: From Stem to Stern

boatIn the technology driven, “I know what I want and I want it now” quicker more than ever, world that we live in, a subscription to the American Maritime Cases (“AMC”) online database is a no brainer for U.S. maritime attorneys. For admiralty and maritime subject matter, AMC provides everything, including the galley sink.

The Charleston School of Law (CSOL) is one of only three law schools in the U.S. that offers a Maritime and Admiralty L.L.M. As such, CSOL has a subscription providing all of their students with access to the print and online resource.  Availability to the AMC database can be found on the Charleston School of Law Library website under databases. There is a quick-link called “Library Databases” that will take you to a catalog of all the database links of which CSOL has access. AMC is under the Admiralty & Maritime Law heading. Clicking on the link will take you to the online database where you can research cases that involve everything from ship wrecks, like that of the Golden Ray (pictured above), to maritime liens. 

American Maritime Cases (AMC) has been a comprehensive print, and now online, resource for researching significant maritime decisions by U.S. federal and state courts since 1923. AMC also reports legislative action, administrative law and arbitration decisions, Canadian and other international cases, as well as other significant items.  The eight editors are based in AMC’s office in Baltimore, MD. They are experienced maritime attorneys who are responsible for case selection, headnote drafting and key AMC policy decisions.

The major benefit of AMC is that it includes practically all U.S. maritime cases covering a myriad of maritime subject matter. Covering everything from maritime salvage, maritime lien priority, punitive damages, etc., an AMC subscription is a must have for maritime practitioners. Moreover, an annual online subscription that cost $475 is much more affordable that the four and five figure Westlaw and Lexis subscriptions.

AMC’s copyrighted indexing system provides maritime attorneys with a subscription prime access to admiralty and maritime laws most comprehensive research tool. In this day and age practitioners and law school students alike are relying more and more on digital resources to conduct their research. AMC is kept current up to practically the present day. For quick access, there is a column on the right-hand side of the home page where one can find the most recent decided cases that are under review for publication.

On AMC’s homepage, there is a link that takes one to a page that highlights all the topics and subject matter covered:

  1. Click “Latest Issue” link
  2. Click on subject matter of interest (i.e. “salvage”)
  3. Click page number hyperlink associated with topic

Additionally, once on the latest issue page, to more quickly access topics:

  • Click “Headnotes/Principal Topic List”
  • For Advanced Search:
    • Click “Search Cases”
    • In Search bar type:
      • various information to find cases of interest

Admiralty and Maritime attorneys will find this resource very valuable as the editors work hard by continuously updating the database which provides a thorough, accurate, and balanced resource that will prove indispensable in the technical and complex area of the law.

Written by:
Landon Brock
Juris Doctor Candidate, 2020
Maritime Law Society: Vice President
Maritime Law Bulletin: Brief Editor

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Everything about Animal Law: Animal Law Resource Center

Biggs Brittany Image pet laws iconAnimal Law Resource Center is an advocacy website with the goal to provide access to legislation and legal matters pertaining to animals and the law. The electronic resource is a project of the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS). NAVS is a not for profit organization and dedicated to advancing science without harming animals that operates out of Chicago, IL.

Animal law impacts criminal law, contracts, torts, sales, and professional licensing. Information on the website includes animal cruelty, laboratory animal welfare, wildlife management, and other animal related issues. The electronic source is free and does not require a person to register for use of the resources. Animal Law Resource Center can be accessed at http://www.animallaw.com/. The website can also be accessed through the Charleston School of Law Sol Blatt Jr. Law Library under the Free Internet Portal.

Chicago area interns update the website regularly. The website states it is a searchable database intended to help legal professionals, students, advocates, and the general public. Animal Law Resource Center utilizes information from State and Federal Websites and provides direct access to pending legislation and current laws.

On the website’s homepage there are links for:

  • Laws
  • Legislation
  • Case Law
  • Bibliography
  • Model Laws
  • Take Action
  • Donate

The Laws tab provides statutes that can be narrowed to focus on federal or state material, categories, and parameters. The law section would be beneficial for the general public, law students, and practicing attorneys since it does redirect to the actual statute for the topic related to your search.

The Legislation tab allows you to click on a state to see the status of bills under that state. You can click on the bill number and this will redirect you to a different website that tracks the status of that bill, track.govhawk.com. I believe congress.gov would be a more reliable resource to check the status of bills.

The Case Law tab provides an insight on how judges interpret laws regarding animals. However, the case link does not redirect to the actual case and does not include if there are issues with the case. I would not recommend this section for law students or practicing attorneys to utilize for information or citing.

The Bibliography tab includes searches for articles and books on specific topics of animal law. The sources provided in the search are not linked to another resource.  This is not beneficial since you would have to go through the same style of search within another resource after utilizing this search.

The Model Law tab provides suggested language that can serve as a template for drafting legislation. The topics provide model laws, additional commentary, and sources utilized by Chicago Law School advocates. These resources can be beneficial for research and may lead to other sources.

Under the Take Acton tab there are two options. The Animal Advocacy Center provides Federal Legislation, State Legislation, and National Issues. The weekly newsletter provides updates on legal and legislative developments for animal advocates, the general public interested in animal law, or students and attorneys who are involved in animal law to guide you towards beneficial research that might affect your area of interest or practice.

The Learn More tab includes more information pertaining to the Animal Law Resource Center and what the resource aims to accomplish. This section would be a good quick review and help when beginning searching certain areas of animal law if you are not familiar with the topic of animal law.

Overall, the Animal Law Resource Center would be a good resource for the general public that would not have access to other electronic resource websites. However, I would not recommend this site for law students or attorneys practicing in animal law unless it was for a starting point in research. I believe this site could help narrow down areas of law to search pertaining to your topic.

Some of the links and information are not connected to authoritative information. The resource could lead to other secondary sources that would be beneficial and lead to authoritative information, but I would recommend double checking this information and making sure that it is the most updated information and still relevant. This could cause an extra step in research for law students and practicing attorneys that may not be the most efficient and effective use of time.

Written by: Brittany Biggs

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GALE PRIMARY SOURCES: U.S. Declassified Documents Online

classified1U.S. Declassified Documents Online is an online database that provides researchers with an uncanny view of declassified documents generated by United States governmental agencies. This highly engaging resource, compiled by Gale Primary Resources for the purpose of legal and historic research, has contributions from multiple governmental agencies speaking to a wide array of classified, secret, and top secret topics in unredacted detail.

The collection, according to Gale resources, is the most comprehensive collection of declassified documents from the executive branch. Materials in U.S Declassified Documents Online Include: Intelligence studies, policy papers, diplomatic correspondence, cabinet meeting minutes, briefing materials, and domestic surveillance and military reports.

The collection editors have actively monitored the release of formerly classified documents from presidential libraries. They have also added numerous major releases of declassified documents from the Department of State, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other executive agencies.

This resource is free to students at The Charleston School of Law and is available on the Library database catalogue; the breadth of information provided by this database is enormous and the sensitive nature of the material makes this resource both highly engaging and interesting!

Written by: Dillon Calhoun Biering, J.D. Candidate

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