The Constitutionality of Section 23 of Massachusetts’s Recreational Marijuana Law

By Patricia Pérez Elías

This article explores whether an equal protection claim under the Massachusetts Constitution could be brought to successfully challenge the local control provision currently included in Chapter 55, Section 23 of the Massachusetts Acts of 2017 (“marijuana law”) regarding adult use marijuana. The local control provision (“Section 23”) of the marijuana law differentiates between Massachusetts municipalities based on how they voted on Question 4 of the 2016 election ballot, which was titled “Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana.” Specifically, Section 23 allows local elected officials in municipalities that voted against the legalization of marijuana to adopt ordinances that limit the number of marijuana establishments within their borders without first submitting the ordinances for approval by the voters. On the other hand, Section 23 requires officials in municipalities that voted in the affirmative on ballot Question 4 to first submit such ordinances to voters for approval. A claimant seeking to challenge Section 23 on state equal protection grounds would argue that the local control provision burdens the fundamental right to vote . . . 

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Copyright and Social Media: What Does it Meme?

By Maya Fe Holzhauer

Internet memes, pictures with juxtaposed text which evolve through imitation, reproduction, and mutation, have become a widespread phenomenon with millions of memes being created and shared daily. Memes influence modern communication and culture, and are used as a form of entertainment, as business and marketing tools, and as a method for making social commentary. The ease with which memes can be created and shared has led to a vibrant social internet culture. Meme creators are usually not the copyright owners in the underlying work: surprisingly, however, there has been little litigation on this issue. This article examines why legal claims based on copyright infringement are unlikely to succeed in the meme context….

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The Case against Nathan Carman: Death, Dynasty, and the Distribution of Wealth under the New Hampshire Slayer Rule

By Jennifer Cullinane

On July 17, 2017, the Chakalos sisters petitioned a New Hampshire probate court to declare their nephew, Nathan Carman, their father’s murderer. Just days before Christmas in the winter of 2013, 87 year-old John Chakalos was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds in his Connecticut home. His grandson, Carman, was the last person to see him alive. Contending their father’s sudden death “froze his estate plan at a time when it was structured to provide millions of dollars for [Carman’s] benefit,” the Chakalos sisters claim that Carman murdered his grandfather to prevent changes to the estate plan and to accelerate his inheritance. Pursuing a “slayer” action against the person they believe killed their father, the sisters requested that the court declare Carman “committed this heinous act out of malice and greed” and impose a constructive trust over the portion of the estate that would otherwise flow to his benefit. Rarely seen in New Hampshire probate courts, such a claim stands not only to captivate an audience hungry for scandal but also to shape New Hampshire jurisprudence. The law underlying their action is simple. A “slayer rule” requires “[a]n individual who feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent” to “forfeit[] all benefits . . . with respect to the decedent’s estate[.]” A reflection of the common law maxim that a wrongdoer should not profit from his wrongful act, the American slayer rule aims to preserve the testator’s unspoken intent – that no victim would want their killer to benefit by virtue of their death....

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