Death Penalty Law

Combating the “CSI Effect”: An Analysis of Forensic Science in North Carolina
-George C. Kourtsounis

Introduction

Forensic science is defined as the use of science to answer legal questions. Drastic reforms are needed in the field of forensic science to ensure that the administration of justice is unbiased and accurate. Forensic science has proved to be a vital component of our criminal justice system for decades. In fact, popular crime dramas like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its progeny give the impression that forensic science is flawless. These dramatizations portray the science as unimpeachable and the analysts as arms of law enforcement with boundless resources who are able to process massive amounts of evidence with breathtaking speed and unflappable precision. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. As such, it is imperative that we not overlook the critical need for reform that exists within the criminal justice system. The independence of these findings and the accuracy of the results are critical to ensuring that forensic science is a tool that can be used for generations to come. The power of the forensic science in a legal context is limitless and the technological advances that are taking place nationwide, particularly in the area of DNA testing, have allowed law enforcement to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent.

In fact, in North Carolina alone there have been seven individuals set free as a result of post-conviction DNA testing. Great power comes from these scientific tools and it is imperative that we ensure that the best and brightest minds in the scientific community are using proven scientific methodology when the integrity of the criminal justice system hangs in the balance. This paper will highlight several problem areas that exist with the practice and use of forensic science and will provide some practical solutions to ensure this vital investigative and legal tool is utilized to its highest level of effectiveness.

Download full PDF to continue reading

Immigration Law

“Particular Social Group” Classification: A Case For Mexican Drug-Violence Asylees
-Leticia A. Corona

I. Introduction to Mexican Drug-War Asylum Applicants

Narcotic and drug cartel related violence has escalated at an alarming rate over the past few years, and the Mexican government has been unable to curtail the violence with as many as 10,000 deaths attributed to the drug-war conflict since January 2007. Corruption at nearly every level of the Mexican government and the deep infusion of drug cartels throughout the country have prevented the Mexican government from making substantial headway into curbing the violence. As the violence has escalated throughout the U.S.-Mexican borderlands, Mexican refugees continue to cross into the U.S., hopeful that they will be granted asylum. In recent months, the influx of Mexican asylees has grown to include journalists covering drug-war related crimes. The circumstances surrounding the plight of most Mexican refugees fleeing the recent and escalating violence causes them to be poorly served by current United States asylum law.

The difficulty for Mexican asylum seekers fleeing violence related to the drug war lies in the limits of current protected grounds for asylum eligibility under federal law, which must be shown as a impetus for the persecution. Among the five available classifications, most of these Mexican asylum applicants will likely seek to demonstrate that they should be granted asylum under the protected ground of particular social group. In additions to establishing membership in a particular social group the asylees must demonstrate a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of membership in that group. Unfortunately, these asylum applicants encounter an overall trend in the administrative immigration courts and circuit courts of appeals to limit the breadth and applicability of the particular social group classification. A more lenient, yet reasonable interpretation that expands the scope of this protected ground would allow Mexican asylees escaping drug-cartel violence to be more readily granted asylum. The broader interpretation that exists in the Ninth Circuit should be uniformly adopted.

Download full PDF to continue reading

2010-2011 UDC Student Law Journal

The first annual UDC Student Law Journal features articles on five subjects: International Human Rights Law, Immigration Law, Race and the Law, Reproductive Justice, and Death Penalty Law.

1. Reproductive Justice
Seeking Reproductive Justice: Written Practice Agreements and [the lack of] Home Birth Choice
-Leandra Carrasco

2. Immigration Law
“Particular Social Group” Classification: A Case For Mexican Drug-Violence Asylees
-Leticia A. Corona

3. International Human Rights Law
Non-Intervention, Regional Stability and the ASEAN Court of Human Rights
-Ben Petok

4. Death Penalty Law
Combating the “CSI Effect”: An Analysis of Forensic Science in North Carolina
-George C. Kourtsounis

5. Race and the Law
Racial Implications of an Expanding DNA Database
-Brec Cooke
(author is currently completing a new version of this article and it will be available when completed)