The Proceedings of the NYU Moot Court Board, or just “Proceedings,” is the online journal of the NYU Moot Court Board, documenting new approaches to unsettled legal questions proceeding from moot court activities, particularly law student competitions.
Proceedings aims to realize for the wider legal community a benefit of mooting that has hitherto accrued only to participants. As most appellate lawyers know, one of the best ways to refine a theory of a case or an area of law is to argue about it, either with colleagues or before law school professors. But student Moot Court competitions, which consider some of the most interesting and intractable problems in law, generate hundreds of hours of formal, inquisitorial analysis of those problems by professors, practitioners, and judges (not to mention reams of legal writing)–and then, too often, the results are thrown away when the competition is over.
No longer. Proceedings is the journal where lawyers and law students can publish their “test results” from the legal laboratory of mooting that tests both old and new approaches to unsettled areas of law. It aims to realize mooting’s potential not only as a valuable educational exercise, but as a productive forum for legal research.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. But proving an Eighth Amendment violation based on dangerous or unfit prison conditions is difficult because it requires a showing of subjective culpability on the part of prison officials. Federal courts have grown increasingly aware of the harmful nature of solitary confinement, particularly for juveniles, the mentally ill, and inmates with special medical needs. In this Contribution, Jane M. Mahan (’22) argues that the placement of vulnerable inmates in solitary confinement for a period exceeding fifteen consecutive days should be per se unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.
The First Amendment’s Religion Clauses provide that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof .…” The Religion Clauses clearly prohibit both the Federal and state governments from establishing an official state religion or hindering religious practice to such an extent that it results in a constitutional infringement. However, the Supreme Court has long acknowledged that absent those two clear commands “there is room for play in the joints” when addressing the constitutionality of government action that implicates religious belief. Does a tax benefit that provides a financial benefit to a limited class of religious employees and their employers violate the Establishment Clause? In this Contribution, Alec Soghomonian (‘22) argues that the Parsonage Exemption, found in 26 U.S.C. § 107(2) of the United States tax code, unlawfully provides a benefit to religious employees and employers because it does not extend to similarly situated non-religious institutions.
In copyright law, an artist does not sign away the copyright to an artwork simply by allowing the artwork to appear in an art gallery. However, where parties agree in writing that a work is a “work made for hire” and where a work is a “contribution to a collective work,” the commissioning party—and not the artist—is the copyright owner. In this Contribution, Michael Gladstone (’22) argues that in at least one case, an art gallerist could own the copyright in an artist’s work: where the work was specifically commissioned for use in a permanent art installation.
Law enforcement agencies are increasingly seeking to compel the disclosure of passwords from the owners of password-protected encrypted devices, such as cell phones. Does the government have the right to compel this disclosure? In this Contribution, Diego Wright (‘22) argues that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination protects an individual from being forced to disclose their passcode when analyzed under the “foregone conclusion” doctrine unless the government can demonstrate they already know the testimonial communications tacit in the act of providing the passcode.
Only human beings have been recognized as inventors under the Patent Act. This is largely because patents are only granted to inventors capable of “conception.” Until recently, it was an agreed upon fact that no non-human entities are been capable of performing the mental acts required of conception. However, advancements in artificial intelligence (“AI”) technology have cast serious doubt on this position. Thus, the question has arisen; can an artificial intelligence be recognized as the inventor of a patent? In this contribution, Delon Lier (‘21) considers whether the USPTO was correct in determining that the Patent Act and Federal Circuit precedent forecloses the possibility of AI entities being recognized as inventors. Ultimately, this contribution argues that while the USPTO was correct to reject inventorship under the text of the Patent Act, it was incorrect in determining that any future AI would fail the Federal Circuit’s legal standard of “conception.”
This Contribution examines whether an artist can claim copyright protection over art they created with the assistance of an artificial intelligence program. Naomi Perla (’21) argues that such works satisfy the “original work of authorship” requirement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 102(a), thereby granting copyright protection to the artist. The requirements of both authorship and originality are satisfied due to the artist’s creative choices that are largely reflected in the finished pieces. Moreover, the Copyright Act is meant to expand to include new works of art so that artists are consistently incentivized to create for the benefit of the public.
Negotiating a plan of reorganization is the most consequential aspect of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process for both debtors and creditors. The balance of power in that negotiation process is principally defined by the requirements for voting and plan approval which are laid out in section 1129(a) of the Bankruptcy Code. Courts are divided as to whether, in a case where a class of claims is proposed to be impaired under a joint, multidebtor plan, section 1129(a)(10) of the Bankruptcy Code re-quires acceptance from at least one impaired class of claims of any one debtor (the “per plan” approach) or, alternatively, acceptance from one impaired class of claims of each debtor (the “per debtor” approach). In this Contribution, Elaine Andersen (’21) argues that the “per plan” approach better comports with the text, context, and purpose of the section.
In this Contribution, Emily Kaplan (’21) addresses the propriety of summary judgment when a casino patron raises a voluntary intoxication defense to contracting. Courts around the country recognize the voluntary intoxication defense in a casino context, which requires the casino patron to prove his and the casino employees’ states of mind. In general, summary judgment is typically not appropriate in cases involving state of mind because whether a party had the requisite state of mind will be a question of fact. This has even more weight in the voluntary intoxication context, where a court will rarely be able to decide as a matter of law whether a casino patron was sufficiently intoxicated to render the patron unable to understand the nature and consequences of his action, or whether the casino knew or had reason to know of that intoxication. Both determinations are required to prevail on a voluntary intoxication defense. Moreover, it would be a poor policy choice to allow casinos to profit off of their overly intoxicated patrons. This article does not address the propriety of allowing a voluntary intoxication defense in the casino context, but as long as the defense is recognized, it cannot be merely illusory; patrons must have the ability to prevail, at least to trial. Therefore, casinos should generally not be able to use summary judgment as a tool to profit off of intoxicated casino patrons.
Despite decades of Federal Circuit precedent, a clear definiteness rubric for functional patent claims covering software inventions remains evasive. Questions persist on what constitutes sufficient structure to absolve these claims of means-plus-function treatment. The level of algorithmic specificity required to ensure definiteness for claims that are drafted in means-plus-function form is similarly abstruse. In this Contribution, Zachary Hadd (’21) argues that even software-specific “structure” is best interpreted under the means-plus-function framework and that according definiteness to anything less than step-by-step algorithmic de-tail is not only unjustified, but ultimately inconsistent with Federal Circuit precedent.
Crimmigration is the intersection of immigration law and criminal law. At this intersection, officials are widening the net of deportable offenses at an alarming rate to make immigrants more susceptible to removal. The “crime involving moral turpitude” provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act has been one means by which officials have arbitrarily expanded the reasons why a person may be deported out of the United States. But is the moral turpitude provision in 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act—used to justify deporting “criminal aliens,” including lawful permanent residents—void for vagueness pursuant to the Fifth Amendment? In this Contribution, Kameron Johnston (’21) argues that the recent Supreme Court decisions Johnson v. United States and Sessions v. Dimaya require that the exacting vagueness test used in criminal contexts be applied to immigration law as well. Finally, this Contribution demonstrates that the moral turpitude provision has provoked unpredictability and judicial confusion that simply cannot be reconciled with the fair notice and enforcement standards that due process demands.