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Washington and Lee Law Review - Uncategorized


by Scott Koven

To combat the continued devastation wrought by the opioid crisis in the United States, forty-eight states have passed medical amnesty (or “Good Samaritan”) laws. These laws provide varying forms of protection from criminal punishment for certain individuals if medical assistance is sought at the scene of an overdose. Thus far, the nascent scholarly conversation on medical amnesty has focused on the types of statutory protections available and the effectiveness of these statutes. To summarize, although medical amnesty laws have helped combat drug overdose, the statutes are replete with arbitrary limitations that cabin their life-saving potential.

This Note extends the dialogue on medical amnesty in two ways. First, it examines how judges, in applying these laws, can either frustrate or promote their life-saving purpose. Second, this Note connects the conversation on medical amnesty laws to the broader context they have entered—namely, the United States’ troubled history with the criminalization of addiction.

Medical amnesty laws reflect a legislative interest in health over punishment. Today, substance use disorder is recognized as a medical, neurological issue and the overdose crisis is recognized as a public health phenomenon. This Note argues that, both in statutory language and judicial application, gaps in the medical amnesty response stray from this reality and instead reflect the stigmatizing, racist normative view promoted during the War on Drugs—that substance use is a moral failing, symptomatic of a lack of personal responsibility. This Note’s key point is that, as long as legislators and judges fail to acknowledge, interrogate, and learn from the United States’ prior failures in responding to addiction, fatal gaps will continue to exist both in medical amnesty laws and in the broader response to the drug overdose crisis.


by Christopher L. Mathis

This Article introduces a novel concept, higher education redress statutes (“HERS”), to illustrate efforts that acknowledge and amend past wrongs towards African Americans. More proximally, the Article shines a probing light on the escalation of HERS in southeastern states that serve as a site for state regulation and monitoring. The Author exposes how higher education redress statutes, designed to provide relief or remedy to Black people for states’ higher education’s harm, categorically ignore groups of Black people who rightfully should also be members of the statutorily protected class. This Article queries whether legislators can expand the scope of such statutes and reveals the myriad ways in which higher education redress statutes now serve as tools for aiding in the erasure of the higher education industry’s culpability and complicity in slavery, degradation, and discrimination toward Black people. As such, this Article shows the growing hostility toward Black people’s contribution to the higher education industry and states’ unwillingness to offer redress efforts inclusively, broadly, and robustly. This Article serves as a platform for recognizing Black people’s harm and hurt and the degree to which that recognition has been undermined by the states’ disparate treatment of their humanity. Lastly, this Article proffers recommendations to activists, legislators, and other relevant stakeholders regarding the enforcement and promulgation of more comprehensive and inclusive higher education redress statutes.


FINAL Symposium Logo

To begin Friday, February 15th, 2019 at 9 a.m.

Millhiser Moot Court Room
Washington and Lee University School of Law
Lexington, VA

The Symposium will feature three panels to explore the past, present, and future of social and environmental shareholder activism. In March of 1968, a civil rights organization, the Medical Committee for Human Rights, received five shares of Dow Chemical Company stock as a gift. Well-known for its work deploying doctors and nurses on the front lines of civil rights protests across the American South, MCHR had no track record of shareholder activism. Within a year, however, MCHR had initiated its first shareholder proposal to stop Dow from manufacturing and selling napalm for military use in the Vietnam War. The activism campaign advanced MCHR’s commitment to civil and human rights, but it also represented an important innovation in shareholders’ use of corporate governance tools. The civil rights group had catalyzed a movement: shareholder activism campaigns on pollution, minority hiring, and apartheid were quickly brought by other shareholders at major U.S. companies like General Motors and Honeywell, Inc. and, over the decades, numerous other campaigns have followed.

Today, shareholder activism on ESG matters is surging. In the 2019 Proxy Season, companies will face shareholder campaigns on economic inequality, human rights, discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation, board and workforce diversity, and executive compensation, to name just a few topics.

Keynote Speaker:

• Lisa M. Fairfax, the Leroy Sorenson Merrifield Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, will give a public keynote lecture, and a number of highly regarded experts will participate in panel discussions to connect the movement’s origins to the modern era.




by Russell W. Jacobs

This article proposes a solution to a problem in the cannabis industry resulting from the unavailability of federal trademark registration for that sector. The author offers modest changes to the existing state trademark registration systems to make up for the gaps at the federal level. The proposed reforms would strengthen the trademark framework by conferring on cannabis trademark registrations presumptions of ownership, exclusive rights, and validity beyond the presumption of registration currently afforded under state laws. To extend protection throughout the geographic breadth of the cannabis marketplace, the states with legalized recreational cannabis would offer reciprocal recognition of state cannabis registrations, meaning that one state in the consortium would recognize a registration issued by another consortium member as if it had issued the registration itself. This reciprocity will limit bad-faith adoption of trademarks by those seeking to usurp the goodwill of a cannabis business operating in a different part of the country.