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

On December 11, 2001, China formally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).[1] The WTO develops policies aimed at promoting global integration of member-states’ economies.[2] When China was inducted into the WTO, §15 of China’s Protocol of Accession (POA §15) allowed WTO members to designate China a non-market economy (NME). NME status allows WTO members to assess the true cost of production in China by using any fair method, rather than just the nominal price of production in the Chinese market.[3] These methods are used to determine countervailing duties (CVD) and anti-dumping laws (AD) for imports from China. With the POA §15’s expiration on December 11, 2016, the debate is whether its expiration automatically grants China market-economy status (MES), or whether national law makes such a determination. POA §15’s expiration does not grant China automatic MES status, and the United States is unlikely to grant China MES at the end of

I. Legal Framework Surrounding China’s MES.

China argues that the POA it signed in 2001 will grant it immediate MES after its expiration. Mei Xinyu, a researcher with China’s Ministry of Commerce, said, “[POA §15] is very clear and it’s unconditional” to this effect.[4]  However, there is no language in the POA that suggests that MES is automatic upon the expiration of the clause. Rather, each WTO member nation will determine individually whether or not China has liberalized its economy enough to earn MES. Continue reading

Institutional Activist Investors: The “House Flip” of Corporate Governance

Meg Franklin, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

Similar to a handyman homebuyer who purchases a house in order to make a profit on improvements made to the house, institutional activist funds “flip” a corporation in order to provide a profit to shareholders.  These institutional activist investors use ownership of shares to affect change in management.[1]  Once the corporation has increased in value, activist funds pressure a board into selling so that the owners can realize the profit.  Opponents of institutional activist investors believe this short term strategy sacrifices long term corporate stability.[2]  Yet, proponents believe institutions carry more knowledge than individual investors which enables them to steer corporations away from profit-reducing decisions.[3] Engaged Capital, an activist fund currently targeting SunOpta, provides an excellent example of strategic institutional activist investment and exemplifies the overall investment trend. .[4]  While time will tell whether Engaged Capital will impact positive change in SunOpta, Engaged Capital holds itself out to be a fair investor looking to improve the business from within. Continue reading

Observe, Record, and Report: Fighting Police Misconduct in the Technological Age

Author: Kalisa Mora, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

The advancement of technology serves many beneficial purposes, but it also raises constitutional issues not before considered. Recording public officials, specifically police officers, is increasingly becoming a tool for individuals who have been pulled over, engage in civil disobedience, or witness an interaction between a civilian and an officer to draw attention to police misconduct and excessive force. Facebook now also allows a Live[1] feature. Moreover, as the focus on race and policing in America continues to be discussed, the question of whether recording public officials is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment requires an answer now more than ever. The Supreme Court has never ruled on this question, but several circuit courts have considered it. Most of the circuit courts have ruled that there is a First Amendment right to record public officials, specifically on matters of public interest.[2] While other courts have declined to hold a First Amendment right was “clearly established” at that time in their circuits, no circuit court has ever rejected the complete existence of the right.[3] However, in a recent decision, a district court in the Third Circuit has placed a significant limitation on that right.[4] There is an urgent need for all the circuit courts to recognize that individuals have a First Amendment right to record public officials. Otherwise, the Supreme Court will be obliged to step in and officially recognize the right to record public officials as a protection under the First Amendment. Continue reading

The Defendant’s Right to a Jury Determination on Criminal Forfeiture

Author: Melanie Navamanikkam, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

In the minds of most, lawyers and lay people alike, the culmination of a criminal trial is when the jury reaches its verdict. What follows a jury’s announcement of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ is viewed as procedural formalities that merely finalize the verdict. However, in cases where a jury has returned a guilty verdict, there is often one more procedural step that could play a large role in a defendant’s life. In criminal cases that go to trial, the Government may seek to deprive a defendant of the “fruits” of his criminal labor by seeking criminal forfeiture of property created or gained through the criminal activity.[1] If the defendant is found guilty by the jury, and the Government has complied with the relevant statutes and procedures to state its intent to seek criminal forfeiture, there will be a determination on whether the court should order the forfeiture.[2]

Although there is no constitutional right to a jury determination on the issue of forfeitability,[3] the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides parties such a right through Rule 32.2(b)(5)(A), stating that, “the court must determine before the jury begins deliberating whether either party requests that the jury be retained to determine the forfeitability of specific property if it returns a guilty verdict.”[4] Once it has been established that the jury will be retained, the jury will then determine whether the Government has established the required nexus between the offense the defendant committed and the property the Government seeks to seize.[5]

Although the rule places an affirmative duty on courts, most courts hold that the burden rests on the defendant to affirmatively request a jury determination, or waive the right altogether. Some courts have suggested that they find that the rule places an affirmative duty on the court–however, there is unfortunately no precedent that firmly states so. Due to this, the majority of courts wrongfully ignore the duty the rule places on them. Continue reading

Keeling v. Hars: A New Take on Fair Use

Meg Franklin, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

The Balance Between Monopoly and Public Domain

Fair use is often seen as a statutory check to the monopoly power copyright holders receive from the Copyright Office.[1]  By excluding certain activities from copyright infringement, the fair use doctrine balances the tension between the copyright holder’s rights and the public’s interest in a rich public domain.  In the midst of this tension, fair use “makes sure that the rights of the public expand at the same time, so add-on creativity and innovation can continue to thrive.”[2]  Academics and judges oft ponder the right balance between copyrights and fair use.[3]  Yet, instead of mere one-dimensional territorial gain—with fair use either expanding or contracting—there might be a different, multi-dimensional approach to the doctrine.

The doctrine of fair use is traditionally applied as an affirmative defense. Yet, the Ninth Circuit took a nontraditional approach to fair use in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp.[4] where Similarly, the Second Circuit in Keeling v. Hars[5] was confronted with fair use in an unusual context.  In both cases, the courts balanced the purposes of copyright law with the fair use doctrine.  Yet, each case also showcased new contexts that may allow copyrights to adapt to technological or cultural changes in the arts and media. Continue reading

Stop Upstream Surveillance: The NSA is Overreaching, and Congress Can Respond

Author: Alexander Spaulding, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

On December 31, 2017, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) is set to expire.[1] The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) enumerated powers and checks on the federal government’s ability to conduct surveillance and investigation on foreign parties.[2] FISA sought to balance the need of protecting civil liberties with the need for ensuring national security by allowing the government to wiretap foreign powers abroad to obtain foreign intelligence.[3] The 2008 Act amended FISA and broadened the government’s power to target foreign communications without warrants.[4] However, the government has used loopholes in the Act to justify mass, warrantless surveillance of American citizens’ international communications.[5] The government’s surveillance of Americans has been a contested and salient topic since 2005, when the New York Times exposed that the Bush administration had authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to wiretap American citizens.[6] The surveillance then became one of the largest political issues of the decade, when Edward Snowden disclosed that the NSA had intercepted over 160,000 private conversations, most between ordinary Americans, not legally-targeted foreigners.[7] Many Americans are uncomfortable with the amount of information that the NSA has collected and continues to access. But beyond their discomfort, the American people have certain constitutional rights—most prominently the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures—that the NSA violates through its surveillance. Fortunately, in the wake of the FAA’s inevitable expiration, current litigation is challenging the NSA’s practices, pressuring Congress, to reevaluate the Act and protect our rights. Continue reading

When Can I Fire My Lawyer?

Author: Andrew Fernandez, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

The Sixth Amendment of the United State Constitution protects a criminal defendant’s right to counsel. A significant component of this fundamental right is the ability of a defendant to choose their own counsel if they can afford to do so.[1] A criminal defendant is denied the right to choose counsel if they are not provided the opportunity to choose their own counsel.[2] The court must grant a substitution of counsel must if the substitution does not interfere with the “fair, orderly, and effective administration of the courts.”[3] In many cases, if a criminal defendant cannot afford a lawyer, a criminal defendant will be provided counsel pursuant to the Sixth Amendment.[4] However, under these circumstances, a criminal defendant does not have the right a specific lawyer, nor may a defendant fire the appointed attorney absent good cause.[5] Good cause can constitute “a fundamental problem, ‘such as a conflict of interest, a complete breakdown in communication or an irreconcilable conflict which leads to an apparently unjust verdict.’”[6] The circuit courts are split on whether the Constitution protects a right for a defendant to fire counsel if the defendant seeks to substitute court-appointed counsel in place of their own. The Eleventh Circuit in U.S. v. Jimenez held that a defendant does not need to demonstrate good cause in order to replace their attorney with a court-appointed attorney.[7] Alternatively, the First Circuit in United States v. Santana argued the defendant must show good cause in order to substitute their retained lawyer for a court-appointed lawyer.[8] The Eleventh Circuit is the better opinion because it protects the fundamental right of the ability to choose one’s counsel protected by the Sixth Amendment, is supported by case law, and helps to ensure criminal defendants make the best choice for their well-being. Continue reading

Business Responses to December Overtime Changes may Nullify Employee Protection: A Circumstantial Option that Can Appease Both Parties

Author: Alexander Spaulding, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

 On December 1, 2016, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will change drastically. In May 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) and President Obama published their final rule updating overtime regulations, greatly expanding employers’ overtime wage requirements for white collar workers under the FLSA.[1] The December changes are a response to inflation over the past forty years.[2] However, while Obama sought to create a substantial remedy for workers, this legislation will have a greater impact on businesses. Unfortunately, many small businesses cannot absorb substantial new regulatory costs,[3] and will have to restructure their payment in order to comply with the new laws, without actually paying employees more money.[4] In those cases, employers must find the best way to balance the changes in classification, hours, payment, and extra duties so that both the employers and employees are satisfied. While none of the options are perfect, one circumstantial option, the fluctuating work week payment scheme, is comparatively attractive. The primary downside is that the payment scheme may only be used in specific circumstances. Continue reading

Freedom of Speech: Motivations of Public Employees should not Impact Speech

Author: Adam Pitchel, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

Public employees occupy a unique position within First Amendment jurisprudence. Generally, public employees are private citizens and must be provided all of the rights, protections, and privileges guaranteed under the Constitution.  However, public employees are also considered an extension of the State and are limited in the sort of speech they can engage in and the ideas that they may endorse. The Supreme Court attempted to lend a machete to this jurisprudential thicket, and crafted a test in Garcetti v. Ceballos and Pickering v. Board of Education.[1] This test asks first “whether the employee spoke as a citizen on a matter of public concern.”[2] If so, the question then becomes “whether the government employer had an adequate justification for treating the employee differently from any other member of the general public.”[3]

This test has produced several issues relating to what constitutes a “matter of public concern.” One of these issues is whether the motives of the speaker are relevant in deciding if the public employee discussed a “matter of public concern.” The Second, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits argued that speaker motivation is essentially irrelevant for First Amendment purposes.[4] Conversely, the Seventh, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits decided that speaker motivations have some role in deciding if the public employee spoke on a matter of public concern.[5]

The approach adopted by the Second, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits is correct, simpler, and more applicable to the complicated facts that typically accompany First Amendment cases. Continue reading



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

For some time in American politics, one important issue has been domestic corporations that keep profits earned overseas in subsidiaries and other investments, rather than repatriating those profits to the United States. The Internal Revenue Code §901(a) provides that any income corporations earned outside the United States shall be credited.[1] Foreign income is not taxed until it is repatriated to the United States, meaning that it is removed from the foreign country where it was earned and brought back to the United States, and can be credited for taxes paid in the country from which the profits were earned.[2] Because the United States has one of the highest tax burdens in the world, and because our tax credit allows corporations to defer taxes until the income is repatriated, the current system incentivizes corporations to keep profits in countries with lower taxes. In 2015, United States companies had about two trillion dollars in profits in overseas markets.[3] The United States can incentivize corporations to repatriate foreign income into the United States and make the United States more competitive for business investment by reducing the corporate tax burden and introducing more elements of a territorial tax system Continue reading