Articles Posted in The Documents Corner

Election administrators and their staff, spread throughout thousands of voting jurisdictions in the United States, perform a core service dedicated to maintaining and preserving our democracy. Their work has become significantly more difficult, as our contentious politics have clouded much of what they do with misunderstanding and distrust. These challenges have made clear that election administrators may, and typically do, lack the full range of resources they need.

As election officials gain both increasing  public visibility and scrutiny, it has become increasingly obvious that the time has come for identifying the ethical standards unique to the election administrator profession. It is essential to identify national standards for election officials that provide guidance  in the administration of voting throughout the United States.  It is therefore encouraging to learn that  the American Law Institute (ALI) has provided a forum, released to the public on January 29, 2024, for a working group developing such standards, resulting in a report Ethical Standards for Election Administration

The report sets out seven principles, discussed in detail, along with the basis for each. It is the hope of the working group that these principles provide the professional election administration community with a common vocabulary for communicating the moral underpinning of their work; assist in the training of the next generation of officials; and help guide officials in carrying out their responsibilities when the law does not supply the answer and public scrutiny is keenest. These principles also supply the grounds for specific standards of conduct that reflect these principles and put them into practical effect.

The death penalty remains a highly contested issue in the United States, with arguments raging on both sides. However, beyond the ethical and legal debates lies a lesser-known aspect: the phenomenon of failed executions. These attempts, often characterized by prolonged suffering and technical difficulties, raise serious concerns about the very concept of a humane and constitutional capital punishment system.

Historically, the U.S. has employed various methods for execution, each with its own share of botched attempts. The electric chair, implemented in the late 19th century, witnessed numerous cases where the condemned endured extended periods of agony due to malfunctions or improper application. Lethal injection, the current primary method, has also been plagued by issues. From 2000 to 2020, an estimated 7% of all lethal injection executions were classified as botched, often involving prolonged struggles to establish an intravenous line, raising concerns about unnecessary suffering inflicted upon the condemned. It is estimated that 3% of U.S. executions in the period from 1890 to 2010 were botched.

The case of Thomas Eugene Creech in Idaho in 2023 exemplifies the harrowing realities of failed executions. Despite repeated attempts by medical personnel, a suitable vein could not be located for lethal injection, forcing the execution to be halted. This incident, like many others, highlights the inherent fallibility of the execution process where unforeseen complications can transform the intended punishment into an act of torture. In his article in Verdict discussing this case, Austin Sarat, a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College, argues that “systemic issues and denial by state officials perpetuate the cruelty and inefficiency of lethal injections, urging an acknowledgment of its failures and a cessation of its use for capital punishment”.

Introduction.

The polarization of American politics has become a prominent and concerning trend in recent years. This post aims to explore the multifaceted factors contributing to the polarization of American politics, analyzing historical, social, economic, and institutional elements. By understanding the roots of this polarization, policymakers, scholars, and citizens can work towards fostering a more cohesive and collaborative political environment.

Historical Factors:

Presiding Justice Hector D. LaSalle and the Justices of the Appellate Division, Second Department on January 11, 2024, announced the creation of a Task Force to study

the interplay of artificial intelligence and the courts of the Appellate Division, Second Department. The Task Force will meet with experts in the field of artificial intelligence

and propose recommendations on how the Appellate Division, Second Department and the trial courts within its jurisdiction may best utilize reliable artificial intelligence

The year 2024 promises to be a pivotal year for Artificial Intelligence (AI), with advancements across various sectors and a growing focus on real-world applications. Here are some predictions taken from various sources including my own expressing a variety of opinions as to what we can expect in the near future. The predictions are grouped into six broad categories: Widespread Integration, Generative AI, Practical Applications and Explanability, Health Care, Legal and Ethical Considerations, and Emerging Trends, followed by a list of references to materials discussing various aspects of the topic. For those who may be less familiar with AI, I have also included under References a citation to a posting by Bill Gates that can be read as a general introduction.

  1. Widespread Integration of AI:
  • AI will become increasingly ubiquitous, seamlessly integrated into homes, businesses, and everyday activities. This could range from personalized AI assistants to smart homes that anticipate your needs.

A presentation by Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysts Rebecca Heller, Shannon Mok, and James Pearce, and Census Bureau research economist Jonathan Rothbaum at the American Economic Association Annual Meeting, Committee on Economic Statistics on January 5, 2024. According to the CBO, the purpose of this presentation is to summarize preliminary work conducted by CBO and the Census Bureau as part of CBO’s ongoing efforts to increase its capacity to analyze budgetary and economic outcomes for various demographic groups.

INTRODUCTION TO PRESENTATION:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data provide high-quality measures of income and are useful for studying how the tax system affects households. But those

Judge Scott U. Schlegel of the Fifth Circuit Court of the State of Louisiana currently serves as Chair of the Louisiana Supreme Court Technology Commission, and is recognized as a pioneer in using technology in the Louisiana State Courts. He has managed what is considered by many to be one of the most advanced technology courts in the nation in terms of delivering online justice.

According to the Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals of the State of Louisiana website,  “he is the Immediate Past President of the Louisiana District Judges Association (LDJA) and serves on many other committees. Judge Schlegel has received numerous awards including the National Center for State Courts’ 26th Annual William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, one of the highest judicial honors in the country. Judge Schlegel was also featured on the cover of the American Bar Association Journal and is a nationally recognized speaker on legal tech and the modernization of the justice system including matters related to artificial intelligence and the law,”

Judge Schlegel has also been appointed as a member of the Advisory Council of the ABA Taskforce on Law and Artificial Intelligence in recognition of  his efforts to understand and communicate the important issues and challenges related law and artificial intelligence.  On November 28,2023, Judge Schlegel wrote the following open letter which we think is an important addition to this discourse and needs to be distributed widely. Therefore we are reproducing Judge Schlegel’s letter, titled A Call for Education Over Regulation An Open Letter in full and hope you will find it helpful:

Introduction.

This posting provides information to help explore the key arguments surrounding this question from both positive and negative perspectives and to provide a useful framework to inform the debate.  Commentary is organized into the following categories: Survey Information, Historical Context, Current Challenges, Arguments for a New Constitutional Convention, Arguments Against Convening a New Constitutional Convention, Alternative Considerations, Some Thoughts About the Future, and a concluding statement.

The United States Constitution, adopted in 1787, has endured for over two centuries as the foundational document governing the nation. However, in recent years there has been growing debate over whether it is time to convene a new Constitutional Convention to address contemporary challenges and issues.

In a previous posting on this blog, Reflections of a Retired Law Librarian: From Mimeograph to Generative AI, I urged professional organizations, including the American Bar Association (ABA) and the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), to appoint committees or commissions at the highest level to  facilitate the development and implementation of standards sufficient to address the real ethical and safety concerns related  to the increasingly rapid adaption of AI, including  Generative AI, as a technology of choice in the workplace.

It is gratifying to learn from recent announcements from the American Bar Association that it has already been taking steps to address the legal challenges of Ai faced by the legal community. As Mary L. Smith, President of the American Bar Association, has said: “As a national voice for the legal profession, the ABA must play a  leadership role in helping to identify for the legal community the benefits and risks of continually changing AI and machine learning systems and capabilities.”

Measures already taken by ABA include Resolution 112 adopted in August, 2019, Resolution 604 adopted in February, 2023, various articles and podcasts published by its various Sections, including the ABA Business Law Section and the Sci Tech Lawyer published by the ABA Science and Technology Section.

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