Eastern District of Louisiana: The Nation’s MDL Laboratory

The Louisiana Law Review’s 2013 symposium, Eastern District of Louisiana: The Nation’s MDL Laboratory, will be held Friday, March 22, 2013, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the McKernan Auditorium at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. Admission is free. 6.0 hours of Louisiana CLE credits are available. Click here for the brochure and registration information. The deadline to pre-register is March 15th. If you have any questions, please contact Jessica Lewis or Justin Marocco.

The procedural landscape of multidistrict litigation (MDL) has been rapidly evolving and become a critical focal point of complex litigation. MDL cases have generated a vast array of procedural and administrative innovations aimed not only at efficient management of massive numbers of cases, but also forging new pathways to global settlements. The Eastern District of Louisiana has been the source of many of these innovations, offering path making approaches to managing, administering, and ultimately resolving some of the most complicated disputes in the nation. How have these innovations come to be, and what do they mean for the future of MDL in Louisiana and the nation? The Louisiana Law Review is proud to bring together leading federal judges, attorneys and scholars to explore these questions.

Presenters include the following: Honorable Lee Rosenthal, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas; Honorable Eldon Fallon,United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana; Honorable Kurt D. Engelhardt, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana; Honorable Stanwood Duval, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana; Francis McGovern, Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law; Elizabeth Cabraser, Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann, & Bernstein, LLP; Samuel Issacharoff, Professor of Law, NYU School of Law; Teddy Rave, Furman Fellow, NYU School of Law; Calvin Fayard, Fayard & Honeycutt, APC; Patrick Juneau, Juneau David, APLC; Jeremy Grabill, Phelps Dunbar LLP; Allan Kanner, Kanner & Whiteley, LLC; Leonard Davis, Herman, Herman & Katz, LLP and Herman Gerel, LLP; and Philip Garrett, Philip Garrett, CPA.

Supreme Court to Hear (and Likely Uphold) a Challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965

On the heels of an election season in which voting rights were a hot-button issue, the United States Supreme Court is now poised to ratchet up the debate even further. On November 9, 2012, the Court granted certiorari in Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder,1 a case involving a challenge to the 2006 extension of certain portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“the Act”).2 Specifically, the Petitioners in Shelby question the continued constitutionality of Section 5 of the Act, which requires certain jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination to obtain “preclearance” from the federal government before implementing any change to their voting practices or procedures.3 Whether a jurisdiction is considered to have a history of voter discrimination (and therefore subject to preclearance) is determined by the Act’s nearly 50-year-old “coverage formula.”4 Petitioners argue that the retention of such an outdated standard exceeds Congress’s enforcement authority granted by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.5

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U.S. Supreme Court to Determine Constitutionality of Forced DWI Blood Draws

A state highway officer was performing his regular patrol at 2:00 a.m. when he stopped a driver for speeding.1 The routine traffic stop quickly turned into a DWI investigation when the driver, Tyler McNeely, exhibited the telltale signs of drunkenness: the smell of alcohol on his breath, bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech.2 The officer arrested McNeely after he failed standard field sobriety tests.3 When asked to submit to a DWI Breathalyzer test, McNeely refused, so the officer took him to a hospital and ordered a lab technician to draw McNeely’s blood for chemical testing.4 The test results revealed a blood-alcohol content of 0.154 percent—almost two times the legal limit of 0.08%.5

At trial, McNeely moved to suppress the blood test results, arguing that the forced withdrawal of his blood constituted an unreasonable search in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.6 The State of Missouri relied on the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision Schmerber v. California7 in arguing that the quick dissipation of alcohol from McNeely’s body constituted exigent circumstances justifying the warrantless blood search.8 In Schmerber, the Supreme Court held that a nonconsensual, warrantless blood draw was permissible—under the specific exigencies present in that case—if based on probable cause and performed in a reasonable manner.9

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Volume 73 Junior Associates Announced

The Volume 73 Board of Editors congratulates the newest members of the Louisiana Law Review. The Junior Associate class of 2012–2013: Lance Casey Auttonberry, Brooksie Bonvillain, Danielle Borel, Minia Bremenstul, Ashley Carver, Mandie Cash, Elizabeth Cuttner, Julia d’Hemecourt, Brian Flanagan, Peter Frazier, Ashley Gill, Emily Gill, Katherine Hand, Jackie Hickman, Amelia Hurt, Keely Knapp, Laura Leggette, Steven Levitt, Kevin Connor Long, Jody Clark McMillan, David Safranek, Anna Scardulla, McClain Schonekas, Clare Svendson, and Martha Thibaut.