Monthly Archives: May 2014

Protection in Leasing: Pennsylvania’s GMRA Forces Lessees to Get Creative

Author: Brad Dunkle, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

Last year, a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that including a provision in an oil and gas lease assigning a portion of the royalty back to the company violated the Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act (GMRA).[1]  In Southwestern Energy Prod. Co. v. Forest Res., LLC, an oil and gas company attempted to have a lessor “assign-back” half of its royalty for marketing purposes.  Pennsylvania’s GMRA guarantees that mineral owners leasing their land for oil and gas production receive a minimum of one-eighth royalty on oil and gas produced from property.[2] Although the court held that its ruling in no way affects a lessor from assigning or conveying its royalty independent of the lease, this holding alters the way oil and gas leases are constructed in Pennsylvania and may have an impact on current leases assigning royalties.

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Obergefell, Bourke, and “Fundamental Rights”: Gradually Bringing Same-Sex Marriage to Ohio and Kentucky

­Author: Ryan Goellner, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

With recent narrow decisions in two federal lawsuits[1] challenging state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, federal judges in Ohio and Kentucky have propelled the Sixth Circuit to the vanguard of interpreting the Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Windsor.[2] The two district court judges not only utilized the constitutional momentum generated by Windsor to chip away at and severely curtail those amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage, but also essentially invited the Sixth Circuit to review their respective decisions and to reexamine its own jurisprudence on sexual orientation in light of Windsor. In one respect, the results in these lawsuits mirror many federal courts’ recent decisions in similar cases.[3] More importantly, however, these cases illustrate the struggle to wade through Windsor’s unclear standard of review, the intricate legal hoops through which district courts are jumping in post-Windsor lawsuits, and the building bottoms-up pressure for the Federal Courts of Appeals to assist in Windsor’s interpretation and application.

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Will Aereo Kill the TV Star?

Author: Matthew Byrnes, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

In late April, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case that has the potential to drastically change how Americans watch broadcast programming. The case, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., (“Aereo”) involves the online television subscription service Aereo.[i] Founded in 2012, Aereo allows its users to view or record local network broadcasts on their computer or web-enabled devices starting at $8 a month, plus tax.[ii] Unlike a cable television provider however, Aereo does not pay licensing fees to carry these over-the-air transmissions. Broadcasters fear this will undercut more than $3 billion in annual revenues that they receive from retransmission fees.[iii] In light of the “cut-the-cord” trend, this fear is warranted. If Aereo’s business model is upheld amidst copyright infringement claims, it will rock the traditional cable provider structure. However, when looking to the history of the Copyright Act and its treatment of the broadcasting industry, the Supreme Court is right to pull the plug on Aereo’s system unless it starts paying royalties.

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Experimenting with Death: Baze v. Rees, the Execution of Dennis McGuire, and the Constitutionality of Experimenting with Lethal Injection Drugs

Author: Johnny Holschuh, Contributing Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

The “horrific” execution of Dennis McGuire by the state of Ohio in January 2014 has aroused international attention regarding the death penalty. The decision by the Southern District of Ohio denying McGuire’s federal petition challenging Ohio’s use of a new drug combination in his execution demonstrates the inability of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Baze v. Rees test to ensure that rapidly changing execution protocols utilizing new drugs and dosages to kill condemned inmates do not violate the Eighth Amendment. With both international and domestic law prohibiting non-consensual scientific experimentation on humans, the legitimacy of the Baze test and the legality of experimenting with lethal injection drugs must be reconsidered.

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