Category Archives: Publications

Alzheimer’s – The Faces Behind the Numbers

By: Nolan Hale

Everyone likely has been affected by the cruel disease known as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans are living with the Alzheimer’s disease. 

Like many families, my family watched the steady decline of a wonderful human being who we lost too young. My grandmother had the disease when she was in her early 70’s. I remember there being many hurdles that my family had to overcome, like getting the proper treatment and competent nursing home care. While I was young, I remember the stress on the faces of my family members up until the very end. My grandma is one of millions who go through this nightmare and researchers have been trying to find answers. Unfortunately, there have been new developments that are not so promising. 

Last Monday, the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix released the results of a study of people who are destined to develop Alzheimer’s at a young age because of rare gene flaws. The study involved 200 people in the United States and Europe. Unfortunately, the results were a disappointment for scientists. The drugs failed to prevent or slow mental decline of the people who inherited rare gene flaws. Each person had a genetic mutation that almost guaranteed Alzheimer’s in your 30’s to 50’s. While these people account for 1% of Alzheimer’s cases, their brains are similar to those who develop the disease at a later age.

The numbers surrounding Alzheimer’s are staggering and there are many reasons to lose hope. Behind these numbers is something that people seem to forget – the caregivers. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Additionally, these caregivers provide an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care valued at $234 billion.

Is there any hope left? I am sure many of you are wondering. Meet Jack and Beverly Blackard. Jack has been battling Alzheimer’s since 2019. They live in Clarksville, Tennessee and Beverly has been Jack’s full-time caregiver. The Alzheimer’s Association is pushing to pass a three-year policy program that would provide state funded home care and delivered meals for caregivers. Jack and Beverly are advocates for passing the bill by meeting lawmakers and telling their story. Some assembly members are taking notice.  Assembly members Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and Monique Limón (D- Santa Barbara) introduced Assembly Bill 2047 and Assembly Bill 2048, flanked on the floor of the State Assembly. The bills provide seniors, providers, and caregivers with the tools they need to recognize and plan for an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Other lawmakers are taking notice and many hope that the bills will take steam. However, like trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, passing a bill of this magnitude will take a long time. In the meantime, families should be aware of their options.

According to Karl Steinberg, a California geriatrician, “If you’ve got the resources, where you’ve got family and paid caregivers at home, you’re all set.” However, he states that if you are living in a facility, you are likely to die in the facility. Many Americans have turned to dementia directives created in recent years. The Advance Directives are growing in demand because a patient can refuse oral assisted feeding when they are in an advanced state of dementia and cannot make decisions. It is controversial because terminally ill patients will likely die within two weeks after refusing food and water. The directives drafted in New York and Washington State have drawn hundreds of users. 

People need to be aware that Alzheimer’s can put you in a situation where you can no longer take independent action. There are many different viewpoints as to whether someone should be able to decline medical intervention in advance. Dementia is different for everyone and it may be difficult for doctors to determine when they can no longer make decisions. Some are at home with a caregiver while some are in a facility that may be understaffed and poorly operated. If a doctor does not give food or water because of a directive against the family’s wishes, legal battles could ensue. Where should the doctor draw the line? 

In conclusion, there are many ways to fight Alzheimer’s. The harsh reality is that having Alzheimer’s and caring for one with Alzheimer’s is a long uphill battle. It is best to have a plan in place if you or a loved one is struck with dementia before it is too late. This includes talking with your loved ones about how they would like to be taken care of and financially planning for any disease. There are options like Long term care Medicaid, a special needs trust, and powers of attorney. In the meantime, love your family like Beverly loves Jack – unconditionally and through thick and thin.

JoNel Aleccia,Diagnosed with dementia, she documented her wishes for the end. Then her retirement home said no,Washington Post(Jan. 18, 2020),

John Ross,What an Elder Law Attorney Has to Say About Alzheimer’s Disease, cbs19 (Feb. 16, 2020),

Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry and Limón introduce legislative package to tackle Alzheimer’s crisis, Lake County Record-Bee (Feb. 5, 2020),

Facts and Figures, Alzheimers Association, (last visited Feb. 18, 2020).

Dementia Advance Directive, End of Life Choices New York, visited Feb. 18, 2020).

Joshua Prestonet al., The Legal Implications of Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease Earlier, AMA Journal of Ethics (Dec. 2016),

Vaccination Nation

By: Maddie Loewenguth 

In the summer of 2019, after a series of measles outbreaks in New York schools during the previous academic year, a new state law was passed that ended the religious exemption for vaccinations.

Under the new law, Public Health Law Section 2164 and New York Codes, Rules and Regulations Title 10, Subpart 66-1, all children attending public, private or parochial school in New York State must be immune to diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, varicella, and meningococcal in accordance with Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations. 

In the fall of 2019, all children had to begin getting their vaccines within the first two weeks of classes and complete them by the end of the school year, June 2020. This new law affects about 26,000 New York children who previously obtained religious exemptions. Parents who chose not to vaccinate their children had two options, home school or move out of New York. 

The measles outbreak began in New York City in October of 2018. There were 654 reported cases in New York City and 414 in other parts of the state. The majority of the cases involved unvaccinated children in Hasidic Jewish communities. Dr. Oxibris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner issued a statement that the “best defense against renewed transmission is having a well immunized city.”

The passage of the New York State law took place on June 13th. New York is now the fifth state following California, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia, to enact a law requiring children in public schools to be vaccinated and barring all nonmedical exemptions to vaccinations. New York is now considered the state with the strictest policies in the nation. 

Maine’s law does not go into effect until 2021 and makes exceptions for special education students. California, where nonmedical exemptions ended in 2015 allows districts to exempt disabled children. 

All states require children to receive certain vaccinations before entering public school, but every state allows exemptions for children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. There are also states that allow for religious exemptions and for nonreligious exemptions based on personal belief. 

Several states have banned nonmedical exceptions, others have imposed rigorous requirements for parents seeking nonmedical exemptions. For example, in Nebraska, parents must submit “an affidavit signed by a legally authorized representative stating that the immunization conflicts with the tenets and practices of a recognized religious denomination of which the student is a member.” 

Three states also specify that “philosophical arguments” must not be cited as a basis for granting a religious exemption. For example, Alaska law states that “statements indicating philosophical or personal opposition to vaccines will invalidate religious documentation.” 

Parents are advocating on both sides of the issue, those against vaccines, either believe that their children have been injured by previous vaccinations or that it is against their religion to vaccinate their children and are exploring homeschooling options. Parents on the other side are worried about the effect non-vaccinated children will have on the health of their children and are asking schools not to place their children in classrooms with students who have not been vaccinated. 

The most recent news regarding the NYS immunization battle is the introduction of the HPV vaccine to be added to the mandatory list of vaccines for New York schoolchildren. HPV is associated with many cases of cervical cancer and the rates at which parents are vaccinating their children is dropping. It will be interesting to see if the HPV vaccination bill will pass and be added to the list of mandatory vaccines, as well as what states will follow New York in barring non-medical exemptions.  

Sharon Otterman, Get Vaccinated of Leave School: 26,000 N.Y. Children Face a Choice, New York Times, (Sept. 6. 2019)

Leksandra Sandstrom, Amid Measles Outbreak, New York closes religious exemption for vaccinations but most states retain it,Pew Research Center(June 28, 2019).

N.Y. Pub. Health Law§ 2164 (Consol. 2019). 

David Robinson, HPV Vaccine Joins NY school immunization battle, (Jan 11, 2020).

The New Kinship: Constructing Donor-Conceived Families

By: Ashley Jacoby

Introduction: In The New Kinship: Constructing Donor Conceived Families, author Naomi Cahn examines how families and relationships form when individuals utilize assisted reproductive technology (“ART”) to conceive and bear children. Cahn proposes that The New Kinship serves three purposes: firstly, it explores how emotional connections are created and develop within families who opt to use donor gametes, and documents these evolving relationships; secondly, it offers a legal foundation for promoting the development of these communities, and argues that current law should not be primarily focused on medicine, technology, and commodification, but rather family and constitutional law; thirdly, The New Kinship illustrates how donor families simultaneously reinforce and complicate the meaning of family, thereby offering an opportunity to reconsider the meaning of family generally.

In seeking to offer an in-depth look at how “donor families” both support and confuse the social, cultural, economic, and legal meaning of family, Cahn offers a chronological and thematic exploration of the donor world. Consequently, this review will begin by examining the basic meaning of family and outlining the composition of the donor world. The second section of the review will address the questions of “who” searches for donor-based relationships, and “why.” The third section examines the law’s approach to, and relationship with, donor-conceived families. The last section discusses Cahn’s proposals for legal reform in this emerging area of law. The review will conclude by addressing the broader implications and benefits of allowing for the expansive construction and conception of the meaning of family.

Click here to read the full review.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation: How Will it Affect Non-EU Enterprises?

By: Manu J. Sebastian

Introduction: In a world where technology is ever changing and personal data is being processed and saved at every turn, corporations must be held accountable for the data they collect, store, and use. The consumer truly does not understand the levels of data capture and retention that corporations employ, and the European Union’s (“EU”) government is on a mission to ensure that its citizens are protected because it believes personal data protection is a fundamental right that all people should enjoy. The EU created the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) in an attempt to protect data without detrimentally inhibiting cross-border data flow.

The GDPR is in its final stages of adoption and corporations around the world are working to preemptively establish controls within their internal structures in order to be compliant. These new changes will protect personal data on a level that has never before been seen, but it will come at a great cost to the consumer. The data that is being protected moves far beyond identification numbers and medical data. The GDPR seeks to protect names, phone numbers, addresses, economical data, cultural identity, racial origin, social identity, profiling data, and online identifiers such as IP address and location data, on top of the normal protections of health data and biological samples. The regulation is based on the notion that every single person has the right to have his personal data protected and it protects all people in the EU. These new changes make us ask a very important question: How exactly will Non-EU enterprises be affected?

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Domestic Presence in the Skies: Why Americans Should Care About Private Drone Regulation

By: Tyler Hite

Introduction: Within the past decade, drone strikes and the concept of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have become not only commonplace among major news headlines, but continue to lead the way for modern warfare tactics and strategy. With precision missile and surveillance capabilities, Predator drones have led to the successful elimination of high-valued targets listed as terrorists by the United States. However such success is not absolute, with several documented mishaps ending with civilian casualties. While the United States Military continues to implement UAVs overseas, American citizens should become cognizant that drone activity above U.S. soil is on the precipice of a market explosion comparable to that of Apple in the 1980’s. Yet these drones will not be operated by military personnel under specific military orders, but by fellow citizens, local governmental officials, and even neighbors regulated by yet-to-be developed laws and restrictions.

Thus the driving question becomes, what limitations will be developed for individuals who purchase and operate private drones? With some drones currently on sale for as little as $300, potential problems are primed to become actual issues. Additionally, federalism concerns arise regarding whether the regulation of drones will be left to the States to decide how to craft restrictions within their jurisdiction, or whether the Federal government is better suited to enforce private drone regulations. This paper will attempt to shed light not only on the capabilities and functions of privately owned drones, developed for use by private individuals, but will also look to the developing regulations already emanating from both state and federal governments, and how those regulations will shape the expansion of the private drone market. While legislators still have yet to determine the exact guidelines for private drone operation, the logical solution seems to be registration and licensing of unmanned aerial vehicle operation, either with the federal government or the several states.

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I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did [Social Networks and the Death of Privacy]

By: Justin McHugh

Introduction: Since the creation of Facebook, people have been flocking to social media to have their voices heard. Facebook now has over 750 million members making it the “third largest nation in the world.” With so many followers, Facebook has essentially become its own nation with its own followers, financial system, legal system, and relationships with fellow real world nations. Just like with any nation, there are issues of privacy and governmental intrusion into people’s lives. Generally, Facebook and the Internet have never given great reverence to users’ privacy. Instead, Facebook and sites like Spokeo continue to collect data on people and sell it to the highest bidder. Spokeo and Facebook are a part of a “multibillion-dollar industry of data aggregators.” These companies take Internet users data, bundle it up into neat little packages, and sell it to all sorts of interested third parties. Advertising agencies, businesses, and government agencies can all benefit from the research and use of this data. Advertising agencies can develop more narrowly tailored marketing strategies to get individuals to buy things that they do not really need. Businesses can perform intrusive background checks on potential employees. Lastly, the government or big brother can keep a better eye on us with promises of better security and protection. The true repercussions of the continued sale of our search histories and Internet use are the loss of our privacy. Sadly, one judge even went as far to say that once you start using Internet services, “the right to privacy is lost, upon your affirmative keystroke.”

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To Protect and Serve, But Not Drive: Police Use of Autonomous Vehicles

By: Geoffrey Wills

Introduction: Images of Knight Rider, Herbie the Love Bug, or HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey might be the first thing people think of when discussing artificial intelligence and self-driving vehicles, but that is quickly changing. While a self-driving car used to be just a pipe dream, an ever-increasing number of car manufacturers are taking off with the concept, but technology still needs to be developed and perfected before autonomous vehicles can be mass produced and used for daily use. Currently, fully autonomous vehicles have traveled safely at speeds up to 31 miles per hour. Car manufacturers including General Motors, Audi, Nissan, and BMW all expect fully autonomous, driverless cars to be in dealership showrooms by 2020.

As curiosity and demand for these vehicles increase, the need for understanding how the law applies to them also increases. This leads to an important question that could have major implications for the future: what if police departments use this technology to patrol the streets and keep cities safe? This note will analyze and attempt to answer these questions, and will also discuss the technological history of autonomous vehicles, as well as the evolution of applicable law that will dictate the use of these “driverless” cars. This essay will be broken down into several parts. Part I will give a brief rundown of how autonomous vehicle technology works. Part II will discuss the legality of vehicle automation and the technologies inside the car, including how many of these technologies not only currently exist, but are legally permissible for crime prevention and surveillance purposes. Part II will also look at social acceptability of autonomous vehicles patrolling the streets and enforcing laws. Finally, Part III considers how autonomous vehicles will have the capability to take subjectivity, discretion, and potential prejudice out of patrolling and traffic stops, as well as increasing officer safety and efficiency.

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Privacy Expectations in Online Video Games: In Light of Edward Snowden’s NSA Document Leak

By: Matthew Knopf

Introduction: On December 9, 2013, the British Newspaper The Guardian published documents from the National Security Administration (“NSA documents”) provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. These documents revealed that surveillance agencies of the United States and United Kingdom governments were conducting intelligence operations in a search for terrorists inside of massive multiplayer online (“MMO”) video games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life. The documents contained a memo and a series of essays that detailed the ways in which video games, even those video games that do not directly connect to the Internet, could be used as recruitment and communication tools for terrorists. However, these operations have brought about privacy concerns for some who worry that their government could or would listen to their conversations as they are playing these videos games. It is not clear how the government collected or accessed the data or communication from these video games. It is likely that government agents created their own profiles and avatars in these games to access the virtual worlds. Additionally, privacy concerns have not be assuaged by the fact that there is no indication from the documents that any of the intelligence operations led to the foiling of any terrorist plots or to the arrest of any criminal. The National Security Administration (“NSA”) and the federal government may have free reign to spy on foreign peoples and foreign governments, but under the U.S. Constitution it does not have the legal authority to spy on American citizens without a warrant.

Online video games have players who live across the globe and within the United States. Many of the computer servers on which the video games operate and communicate are inside of the United States. Since the intelligence collecting process has not been revealed, it is unclear if the NSA or other federal agencies have been accessing the data and the monitoring communications of innocent Americans whose identity and nationality may have been concealed behind their virtual avatar. The debate over the expectation of privacy concerning different types of Internet communication is growing, especially concerning social media. Violations of privacy could hinder player anonymity, which is a key component of certain types of online gaming that encourages escapism. On the other hand, ending anonymity could encourage fairer and more civil discourse in the virtual gaming worlds. The revelations of these documents has led to the question of whether there are any expectations of privacy for video game players and the communications between players which occur within those video games.

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