Common Threads of Justice: Judith S. Kaye Teaching Fellowship Update

Over the next few weeks, we will be providing you with updates from our Judith S. Kaye Teaching Fellows as they teach remotely in BHSEC Queens and Manhattan. This week we are featuring new Fellow Jason Schulman, who is teaching Privacy, the Law, and New York on the Queens campus.

He had this to say:

I am teaching (remotely) at BHSEC Queens.  Our class, “Privacy, the Law, and New York” has 17 students.  They are a really good group, which makes my life easier and quite enjoyable.  They are very active in class discussions (over Zoom) and their written assignments have been impressive thus far. 

We started the semester with an introduction to the idea of privacy, and then spent some time on the topic of “publicity.”  (We read, and the students enjoyed, Daniel Kornstein’s piece, “The Roberson Privacy Controversy” from Judicial Notice, 2006).

Last week we delved into Katz v. United States, and its famous “reasonable expectation of privacy” test (most of them are about 17 and have never actually seen a phone booth before).  Once they had a handle on that, we had a debate over how they might rule as judges in the JFK airport bathroom case, People v. Mercado (NY Court of Appeals, 1986).  The highlight so far (for me at least) was their first big writing assignment, which they just handed in: I gave them a hypothetical case involving a police officer going through someone’s trash and they had to write briefs to the Court for both sides.  They seem to have, for the most part, handled it really well and written some fascinating analyses.

I’m excited about the weeks ahead.  This week we are discussing the “open fields” doctrine and the protection of the “curtilage,” and next week we are discussing dog sniffs in cases like People v. Price (NY Court of Appeals, 1981); People v. Dunn(NY Court of Appeals, 1990); People v. Devone (NY Court of Appeals, 2010); and Florida v. Jardines (SCOTUS, 2013).

Through our cases, we are coming to appreciate the special role played by NY in the history of the right to privacy, and the power of state (and dual) constitutionalism as described in our reading by Judge Kaye in “The Brennan Lecture,” Green Bag, 2014.

In our next Common Threads of Justice, we will hear from our other new Teaching Fellow.

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