Past Issues

Previous issues of MJR&L are now available at the MLaw Journal Repository

Volume 22.1 (Fall 2016)

Content titles link to full text on the MLaw Scholarship Repository.



The Tyranny of Small Things by Yxta Maya Murray

In this legal-literary essay, I recount a day I spent watching criminal sentencings in an Alhambra, California courthouse, highlighting the sometimes mundane, sometimes despairing, imports of those proceedings. I note that my analysis resembles that of other scholars who tackle state over-criminalization and selective law enforcement. My original addition exists in the granular attention I pay to the moment-by-moment effects of a sometimes baffling state power on poor and minority people. In this approach, I align myself with advocates of the law and literature school of thought, who believe that the study (or, in this case, practice) of literature will encourage calls for justice by disclosing buried, yet critical, human experience and emotions.


Am I My Client? Revisited: The Role of Race in Intra-Race Legal Representation by Julie D. Lawton

This Article examines the challenges of intra-race legal representation for lawyers of color, law students of color, and those teaching law students of color by analyzing how the dynamics of the lawyer’s and client’s racial sameness impact legal representation. This Article brings together three strands of lawyering theory – the role of race in lawyering, critical race theory, and the role of the lawyer in intra-race legal representation. In doing so, this Article explores a number of provocative questions: Does being the same race as their clients make lawyers better legal representatives? Should lawyers of color embrace or resist race’s influence on intra-race legal representation? How do lawyers balance their desire to remain representative of their race with their responsibility to their clients? This Article also scrutinizes the role of the lawyer of color in intra-race legal representation by examining questions that are under-reviewed, such as: Do lawyers of color engage in the same explicit and implicit biases against their clients of color that lawyers of color similarly suffer? Do racial stereotypes tempt the lawyer to be more sympathetic towards, and understanding of, their same-race clients, or does it cause the lawyer to view the same-race client as an ‘other’? For lawyers of color and clients of color who seek same-race legal representation, this Article explores a difficult question— Is the lawyer of color representative enough of the race to be a representative for the client, particularly when the lawyer of color and the client of color live in different socio-economic environments? Given the resurgent examination of the role of race in interactions between persons of color and persons of power, this Article presents a timely opportunity to examine and question the role of race and the impact of divergent socio-economic status in intra-race legal representation.

Black Health Matters: Disparities, Community Health and Interest Convergence by Mary Crossley

Health disparities represent a significant strand in the fabric of racial injustice in the United States, one that has proven exceptionally durable. Many millions of dollars have been invested in addressing racial disparities over the past three decades. Researchers have identified disparities, unpacked their causes, and tracked their trajectories, with only limited progress in narrowing the health gap between whites and racial and ethnic minorities. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the movement toward value-based payment methods for health care may supply a new avenue for addressing disparities. This Article argues that the ACA’s requirement that tax-exempt hospitals assess the health needs of their communities and take steps to address those needs presents a valuable opportunity to engage hospitals as partners in efforts to reduce racial health disparities. Whether hospitals will focus on disparities as they assess their communities’ health needs, however, is uncertain; preliminary reviews of hospitals’ initial compliance with the new requirement suggest that most did not. Relying on Professor Derrick Bell’s interest-convergence theory, this Article explores how hospitals’ economic interests may converge with interests in racial health justice. It presents two examples of interventions that could reduce disparities while saving hospitals money. The Article closes by identifying steps that health justice advocates, the federal government, and researchers should take to help, in Professor Bell’s words, “forge [the] fortuity” of interest convergence between hospitals and advocates for racial justice, and lead to progress in eliminating racial health disparities.

Tightening the OODA Loop: Police Militarization, Race, and the Algorithmic Surveillance by Jeffrey L. Vagle

This Article examines how military automated surveillance and intelligence systems and techniques, when used by civilian police departments to enhance predictive policing programs, have reinforced racial bias in policing. I will focus on two facets of this problem. First, I investigate the role played by advanced military technologies and methods within civilian police departments. These approaches have enabled a new focus on deterrence and crime prevention by creating a system of structural surveillance where decision support relies increasingly upon algorithms and automated data analysis tools and automates de facto penalization and containment based on race. Second, I will explore these militarized systems, and their effects, from an outside-in perspective, paying particular attention to the racial, societal, economic, and geographic factors that play into the public perception of these new policing regimes. I will conclude by proposing potential solutions to this problem that incorporate tests for racial bias to create an alternative system that follows a true community policing model


Pushing an End to Sanctuary Cities: Will it Happen? by Raina Bhatt

Sanctuary jurisdictions refer to city, town, and state governments (collectively, localities or local governments) that have passed provisions to limit their enforcement of federal immigration laws. Such local governments execute limiting provisions in order to bolster community cooperation, prevent racial discrimination, focus on local priorities for enforcement, or even to a show a local policy that differs from federal policy. The provisions are in the forms of executive orders, municipal ordinances, and state resolutions. Additionally, the scope of the provisions vary by locality: some prohibit law enforcement from asking about immigration status, while others prohibit the use of state resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Despite these variations, such local provisions intend to stifle cooperation with the federal government to adopt a more inclusionary local enforcement policy. Immigration policy is unanimously understood as a federal power, suggesting that federal immigration laws preempt the local governments’ provisions. Such preemption challenges have been brought to court, yet sanctuary cities remain largely untouched.

The July 2015 murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, CA, renewed political discourse on the topic. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who had been previously deported five times, was charged for the murder. Mr. Lopez-Sanchez’s long history of crime and immigration violations fueled critiques of city policies and put the federal spotlight back onto sanctuary cities. The House of Representatives has since passed H.R. 3009, which would deny some federal assistance to localities that enact provisions prohibiting officers from taking certain actions with respect to immigration. President-elect Donald Trump recently announced his bold plan to cancel all federal funding to such localities. Other immigration-focused measures continue to be introduced and discussed in Congress.

If passed, what practical impact would H.R. 3009, or similar legislation, have on local immigration enforcement? The bill still has considerable obstacles to overcome. However, enactment of such legislation has the p

How the E-Government Can Save Money by Building Bridges Across the Digital Divide by Alison Rogers

As government agencies and federal aid recipients begin to build a presence online, they must recognize that language accessibility is morally required, fiscally responsible, and compulsory under federal civil rights law. This Note explores statutes, federal policies, and case law that purport to protect the rights of limited English proficient (“LEP”) individuals in cyberspace. The Note suggests reforms, policies, and programs that should be adopted by federal aid recipients to ensure that LEP individuals have meaningful access to online services.