UCLA Law Review Discourse, Volume 62


An Interrogation and Response to the Predominant Framing of Truancy

This Article explores the predominate framing of student truancy and uncovers the problems associated with the prevailing framework. California Attorney General Kamala Harris frames the issue as an economic crisis in which truant students and their parents are to blame. This framing of truancy has led to punishment-based solutions that not only exacerbate the school to prison pipeline, but also are ineffective in solving truancy. Punishment for truancy disproportionately affects poor students of color. Thus, the framing of truancy needs to shift towards one that acknowledges race and poverty in order to develop productive solutions.

Cracking the Cable Conundrum: Government Regulation of A La Carte Models in the Cable Industry

This Article examines the practice of cable bundling, a term describing how cable providers offer channels in “packages” of channels rather than allowing consumers to buy channels individually. These cable bundles have been criticized by politicians, academics, and the public alike, many of whom believe cable bundling simultaneously increases the price of cable and forces consumers to pay for programming they neither want nor use. Politicians have responded to these criticisms by advocating for legislation requiring cable companies to offer a la carte pricing options, in which customers can pick and choose individual channels. But evidence that an a la carte requirement would improve consumer satisfaction is scarce. Government intervention would introduce new inefficiencies to the market, thereby increasing consumer costs. Additionally, if the much maligned bundle is truly inefficient, any need for government regulation will likely be obsolete in the near future. The growing popularity of new media platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go will almost certainly necessitate more consumer-friendly offerings from cable companies sooner rather than later.

Probative or Prejudicial: Can Gang Evidence Trump Reasonable Doubt?

This study was designed to examine the potential biasing effect of gang evidence on jury verdicts. Two hundred four participants viewed one of two versions of a simulated trial that included opening statements and closing arguments by the prosecution and defense, and direct and cross-examination of the eyewitness and investigating officer. Half of the participants saw a version of the trial that included no mention of gang involvement, while the other half saw a version in which the prosecutor argued at opening and closing that the crime was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang. In the gang version, participants also heard testimony from a gang expert who described the primary criminal activities of the gang. Jurors were read standard California jury instructions and deliberated in small groups. The prosecution’s case was very weak by design. Results revealed that when mock jurors were polled before deliberations, only 13 percent who saw the trial without gang evidence voted guilty compared to 36 percent in the gang condition. After deliberation, none of the jurors found the defendant guilty in the no-gang condition. However, when gang evidence was introduced, 10 percent of the jurors continued to vote guilty. When faced with potent gang testimony in the absence of persua-sive evidence, some jurors appeared to disregard reasonable doubt and vote to convict the defendant who was depicted as a dangerous gangster. This behav-ior appears to be driven by a form of jury nullification in the reverse direction, in which the defendant is judged to be deserving of punishment despite a lack of evidence related to the charge at hand. Implications of these data in the court-room are discussed.