Study: Minority homebuyers pay higher interest rates

Robert Bartlett quoted in HousingWire, November 20, 2018

Robert Bartlett, co-author of the study and professor at Berkeley Law, suggested there could be legal implications for lenders using these algorithms.

Bartlett said fair lending laws prohibit price discrimination and that courts have ruled that pricing variations can only be justified by credit risk.

“The novelty of our empirical design is that we can rule out the possibility that these pricing differences are due to differences in credit risk among borrowers,” Bartlett said.

Alameda County Ends Criminal Justice Fees

Stephanie Campos-Bui quoted in OaklandPost, December 14, 2018

According to Stephanie Campos-Bui, supervising attorney with the Policy Advocacy Clinic at Berkeley Law, “Research has shown that fees can undermine public safety by increasing recidivism. This move by the Board will free up money to pay for basic necessities like housing, food, and clothing, and help ensure that people exiting the system will have a better chance of successfully reentering into their communities.”

Crime solvers embraced genetic genealogy

Andrea Roth mentioned in ScienceNews, December 17, 2018

Innocent people looking for long-lost family may be surprised to find that putting their DNA on a public website opens them and their relatives to police scrutiny, says Andrea Roth, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley Law.

She and other critics charge that genetic genealogy searches put too many people under police scrutiny and should be regulated like law enforcement databases. For instance, California allows police to do family searches of law enforcement databases only as a last resort for the most serious crimes and limits what material can be used. Roth would go a step further: People whose DNA is collected as part of a genetic genealogy investigation and are not linked to the crime must have their data wiped from police databases.

Should Smart Contract Developers Be Held Responsible?

Olga Mack writes for Above the Law, December 17, 2018

Smart contracts, self-executing code based on “if-then” encoded logic, provide an alternative way to transact. Increasingly though, regulators ask, “Who should be held responsible? Who should be held accountable?”

Florida Executes Inmate As Report Cites ‘Continuing Erosion’ Of Death Penalty

Elisabeth Semel quoted in NPR, December 14, 2018

In an interview with NPR, Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic at Berkeley Law school said that despite the fact that executions are up slightly from a 25-year low in 2016, “there’s no question that this is a dramatic downward trend.” Semel said Americans’ support of the death penalty has chilled since it reached a fervor during the “tough on crime” mentality of the 1980s and 90s. “I think there’s been a reassessment, just as there’s been a reassessment about mass incarceration,” Semel said. “It’s become less of a battle cry for politicians than it used to be.”

Berkeley scientists developing artificial intelligence tool to combat ‘hate speech’ on social media

Erwin Chemerinsky quoted in [your]NEWS, December 17, 2018

But no matter how well intentioned, any attempt to control speech raises Constitutional issues. And the First Amendment is clear on the matter, says Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law.

“First, the First Amendment applies only to the government, not to private entities,” Chemerinsky stated in an email to California. “Second, there is no legal definition of hate speech. Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment.”

Opinion: Where is the progressive interpretation of the US constitution?

Erwin Chemerinsky writes an Op-Ed for The Guardian, November 22, 2018

Over the course of American history, there have been great gains in individual freedom and enormous advances in equality for racial minorities, women, and LGBT people. But much remains to be done. Unfortunately, we are now at a profoundly challenging moment for these values. We have a president who is not committed to them, and for the foreseeable future we face the prospect of a hostile supreme court.

UN human rights investigators increase tracking of Internet hate speech

Félim McMahon quoted in The Boston Globe, November 27, 2018

Félim McMahon, who directs the technology and human rights program at the University of California at Berkeley law school’s Human Rights Center, described the United Nations’ pace of reform as ‘‘turning several battleships tied together.’’

The United Nations’ human rights office, however, has now realized, ‘‘We need to have our small teams, not just in the field, but on the Internet,’’ McMahon said.

‘‘This is essentially putting the UN at the cutting edge of this investigative opportunity. In terms of arriving at the scene of a crime, they are going to be the first ones there,’’ he added.

No West Coast Climate Bloc

Ethan Elkind quoted in Planetizen, December 7, 2018

“California has largely been ‘going it alone’ on major climate policy, specifically the state’s carbon trading program through cap and trade,” blogged Ethan Elkind, Director of the Climate Program at the UC Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, on Tuesday. “But the election today in Washington and Oregon could change that dynamic and possibly usher in a West Coast climate bloc of states willing to tackle carbon directly,” writes Elkind.

California Today: ‘Why Is California Not Polarized?’ Ask the State’s Chief Justice

David Carrillo quoted in Wew news, December 12, 2018

David A. Carrillo, executive director of the California Constitution Center at Berkeley Law, said he was not surprised at the chief justice’s comments and her emphasis on consensus. In a study due to be published this month, Dr. Carrillo analyzed 302 opinions by the state Supreme Court over the past three years and found only one in which the justices appointed by Mr. Brown voted as a distinct bloc against the other justices.

“People ask this question all the time, ‘Why is California not polarized?’ We are divided as a nation but not so much as a state,” Dr. Carrillo said. “I think it’s particularly telling that we have a state high court that reflects that consensus.”