Should Rapists Have Parental Rights? Alabama Thinks So

By Kelly Barrett

In Alabama, a survivor of rape can be forced to co-parent with their rapist. Further exacerbating the problem of rapist parents are abortion bans passed in several states in recent years. Alabama’s 2019 abortion ban, which was preliminarily enjoined by a federal court as applied to pre-viability abortions, mixes with Alabama’s absence of laws allowing for termination of parental rights based on rape to create a toxic environment for rape survivors. Women should be free to choose to terminate their pregnancies, and rape survivors should not be forced to have their children and potentially be forced to enter into a co-parenting relationship with their rapist.

Alabama’s abortion ban legislation does not allow for abortions at any stage of pregnancy, except in limited health related circumstances that do not include rape or incest.  Thus forcing a woman to have a child if she does not act quickly after conception to end her pregnancy or seek a risky illegal abortion (as noted here in amicus briefs in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and June Medical Services v. Gee, many women may be at risk for health complications or death if they pursue unregulated illegal abortions). Further as far as risks to women’s health, childbirth is a greater risk than an abortion.

Thirty-two states allow for termination of parental rights based on if the rapist was convicted of sexual assault against the mother. Twenty states have legislation limiting parental rights of rapists (with some overlap). However, in contrast with some states that allow for termination of parental rights based on any conviction for rape or sexual assault (including Kansas and Massachusetts), or that do not require a conviction at all (Alaska and Colorado for example), Alabama requires a conviction for rape in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree or incest in order for parental rights to be terminated for this reason.… <Read More>

Raising the Age, Lowering the Crime

Effective October 1, 2018, the Raise the Age law took effect in New York. What does it mean to “raise the age”? New York no longer automatically charges all 16-year-olds as adults. Why is New York raising the age? Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that youth incarcerated in adult facilities are not only more likely to suffer abuse but they are also more likely to recidivate. By raising the age, New York is lowering the crime rate.

Why did New York “raise the age”? The results in other states indicate success. Studies by the Connecticut Juvenile Jurisdiction Planning and Implementation Committee show that young people prosecuted as adults are likely to reoffend. Young adults in stricter facilities are also at an increased risk for suicide. Raising the age for young adults to be prosecuted in family court instead of being tried as adult, may decrease the number of reoffenses.

In 45 states, 17 years old is the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction. Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin are the only states that draw the juvenile/adult line at age 16. Since 2007, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and South Carolina passed laws to raise the age so that the majority of young people who are arrested will be served by the juvenile justice system. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), between 2005 and 2015 juvenile crime fell in Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts, and in the United States in general: the federal violent crime index fell 29% and property crime rates fell by 42%.… <Read More>

The Real Cost of Student Debt: Why New York State Should Allow Common Law Marriages

By Raelynn Leggio

As law students we are experiencing first hand the crushing weight of debt in order to obtain our degrees. In 2012 the average law student had incurred approximately $140,616 of debt. This figure doesn’t include undergraduate debt, and millennials are truly feeling the pressure as tuition for undergraduate and graduate programs only continues to increase.

So what does that have to do with marriage?

Although many millenials face significant debt burdens, the cost of a formal wedding continues to increase. Wedding spending is at an all time high in the U.S., with a 2015 survey from The Knot revealing that couples shell out an average of $32,641 for their big day; that’s about the same price as the average tuition at a private undergraduate university. If you want your big day to be in Manhattan, you could be spending about $82,299. Every reception category from the venue price, to custom guest entertainment, to wine and liquor tastings has increased, while the lists of invitees have gone down to an average of 139 guests.

But that is the reality we face today. The cost of getting married is just added to the mountain of debt that students owe. Student debt has become the new normal and so is the delay of experiencing many life milestones. Marriage, buying a home, and purchasing a car are the top three things that are being delayed by the recent graduate, according to the Consumerist, with 56% of the millennial age bracket stating that their debt has turned them away from investing or starting a family.… <Read More>

The Every Student Succeeds Act

By: Jarienn James

On December 10, 2015, a bipartisan bill revising the National Education Law was signed into law by President Obama. Using twelve pens, President Obama repealed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA prepares children for college and affirms the government’s commitment to ensuring each child receives quality education. President Obama remarked NCLB had the right goals such as:

high standards, accountability and closing the achievement gap… [However,] it didn’t always consider the specific needs of each community. It led to too much testing during classroom time. It often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn’t always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see.

This war on education began in 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). President Johnson believed that “full educational opportunity” should be “our first national goal.” This civil rights law would expire every three to five years, leaving Congress to reauthorize it. In 2001, the Government, in response to the significantly low achievement standards of the poor and the minority students created the NCLB.

Purpose of the Acts

The purpose of the NCLB was “…to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” The NCLB delved further and listed twelve steps that States may use to achieve its goal.… <Read More>

Molloy v. Molloy: What is “Good Cause” for an Extension of an Order of Protection


By: Mallory McGee

Earlier this year, the Second Department of the Appellate Division of New York, issued an opinion on the issue of extension of orders of protection for “good cause.” In Molloy v. Molloy, the petitioner/wife was granted a two-year order of protection pursuant to the Family Court Act § 842 against her husband. As the order was about to expire, the petitioner filed for a five-year extension. The Family Court of Queens County denied the motion stating that the goal of the Family Court Act § 842 was to protect victims for two years and that the petitioner failed to demonstrate the requisite standard of “good cause” to grant an extension.


What is “good cause” allowing for an extension of an order of protection? In Molloy, the Family Court found that the evidence presented by the petitioner of three domestic incident reports detailing violations of the first order of protection and the respondent’s girlfriend warning the petitioner that the respondent would kill petitioner once the order expired, was insufficient to support “good cause.”


The Appellate Division stated that the issuance of the initial order of protection did not render the extension superfluous. It cited legislative history on matters involving domestic violence which demonstrated a long standing history of protections for victims. The Appellate Division noted that lack of any abuse occurring during the term of the order does not necessitate a denial of the extension application. In reversing the Family Court and finding that the petitioner had established the “good cause” necessary to extend the order of protection, the Appellate Division held that:

“Thus, in determining whether good cause has been established, courts should consider, but are not limited by, the following factors: the nature of the relationship between the parties, taking into account their former relationship, the circumstances leading up to the entry of the initial order of protection, and the state of the relationship at the time of the request for an extension; the frequency of interaction between the parties; any subsequent instances of domestic violence or violations of the existing order of protection; and whether the current circumstances are such that concern for the safety and well-being of the petitioner is reasonable.”… <Read More>