Ken Chan

Ken Chan

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Mandatory Fees at the University of CaliforniaThe California State Auditor recently released a report titled The University of California: Its Admissions and Financial Decisions Have Disadvantaged California Resident Students. Figure 9, which charts the mandatory fees paid by undergraduate students, caught my attention. I’ve removed the numbers and the Y-axis scale for illustrative purposes.

At first glance, it appears that residents are paying higher mandatory fees than nonresidents. From 2011 onwards, the chart gives the impression that residents are paying twice as much as nonresidents. However, this chart is incredibly misleading.


Posted in: Education Law

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SUPREME_COURT_7375

Same-sex marriages are legal in the United States, but you would not know that if you only consulted the state codes. Last June, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015). In Obergefell, the Court considered two questions: (1) did the Fourteenth Amendment require states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex; and (2) did the Fourteenth Amendment require states to recognize a same-sex marriage that was lawfully licensed and performed in a different state. On both questions, the Court answered in the affirmative.

So, what happens when a court holds that a state law is unconstitutional? I wanted to see if state legislatures updated their state codes in the face of adverse United States Supreme Court precedent so I looked up the marriage laws from the states that were the subject of this litigation: Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.


Posted in: Civil Rights

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Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. applied for an interesting fraud detection patent in March 2014. This patent covers the process of verifying the identity of a client who calls in for customer service. If you have ever called a credit card company or your bank, you should already be familiar with their security prompts. First, the bank sees whether the call came from an authorized phone number. Next, you are prompted for your mother’s maiden name or the answer to another challenge question.

This patent looks at voice biometrics by analyzing voice signals to detect stress during the verification process, such as when the caller is prompted by a verification or security question. If the caller provides a higher frequency response during the verification process, that may indicate a fear of being detected or exposed.

This process also seeks to match voice biometrics with voice samples of individuals suspected of being fraudsters from a database.


Posted in: Patent

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vaccinationAll states require children to be immunized or to be in the process of receiving immunizations against certain contagious diseases before a child care facility or a school may admit them. For each state, the immunization schedule may be found in the state code or its administrative regulations, usually in the sections governing education (for schools) or public health (for child care facilities). Besides specific vaccine requirements, these schedules may also refer to the schedules provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, American Academy of Family Physicians, or American Academy of Pediatrics.

Where states significantly differ is in their recognition of exemptions from vaccination. All states grant a medical exemption to children who cannot be immunized for health reasons. For example, the administration of a vaccine may be contraindicated in children who are allergic to a component of the vaccine or have a suppressed immune system. These exemptions are specific to the vaccine and health condition, and remain so long as the contraindication lasts.

Additionally, 48 states and the District of Columbia permit parents to claim a non-scientific exemption, such as if their religious tenets or practices conflict with immunization or if their personal, philosophical or moral beliefs are opposed to immunization. The lone holdouts are Mississippi and West Virginia. However, in the event of an outbreak, child care facilities and schools may exclude children who have not been vaccinated against the disease until the end of the outbreak.

Verdict offers some insightful analysis into the issue of religious exemptions:

Below, you will find links to state codes, statutes and regulations governing the immunization of children who attend day care, child care, elementary schools, private schools and colleges.


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Google EspañaLast month, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued a preliminary ruling on the right of natural persons to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data. In the case, Mr. Costeja González, a Spanish national, had lodged a complaint with the Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD), the Spanish Data Protection Agency, concerning a then 12-year-old announcement in La Vanguardia Ediciones SL, a Spanish newspaper, that mentioned a real-estate auction connected with attachment proceedings for the recovery of Mr. González’s social security debts. Mr. González wanted his personal data in the announcement removed from the La Vanguardia website. In addition, he wanted Google Inc. or Google Spain to remove the La Vanguardia web pages from its search results.

The AEPD rejected the complaint against La Vanguardia because the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs had ordered the announcement to promote the auction and secure as many bidders as possible. However, the AEPD upheld the complaint against Google Spain and Google Inc. The Google companies then brought separate actions before the Audiencia Nacional (National High Court), which stayed the proceedings and referred several questions regarding Directive 95/46 to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In upholding the right of data subjects to have certain search results associated with their names removed from search engines, the Court of Justice stated that search engines may initially be able to process accurate personal data regarding a person. However, over time, this right may conflict with the Directive if such results are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to those purposes and in the light of the time that has elapsed.” Accordingly, the right of privacy should be balanced against the economic interest of the search engine operator as well as the “interest of the general public in finding that information.”


Posted in: Google, Privacy, Technology

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May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. In his proclamation, President Obama cited the accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and acknowledged the difficulties that members of this community have faced both historically and in the present.

Let’s take a short trip through our nation’s case law to look at some of these difficulties. Your lessons in school might not have given you a complete picture on American history.

1. Korematsu v. United States

Exclusion Order No. 34

Photo Credit: National Park Service.

Fred Korematsu, an American citizen of Japanese descent, challenged his conviction for remaining in San Leandro, California, in violation of Exclusion Order No. 34, which required all persons of Japanese ancestry to evacuate from a designated geographical area. The Supreme Court stated that “legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group” must be subject to the most rigid scrutiny. “Pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.”

To justify the exclusion order, the Court cited the “definite and close relationship” between the exclusion order and “the prevention of espionage and sabotage.” The Court acknowledged the overinclusive nature of the exclusion order, noting that most of the people impacted by the exclusion order were “no doubt . . . loyal to this country.” However, the Court was not prepared to question the military’s judgment that “it was impossible to bring about an immediate segregation of the disloyal from the loyal” and upheld the exclusion order.

In dissent, Justice Frank Murphy acknowledged the deference that must be accorded to the military in its prosecution of the war. Nevertheless, the order by the military to remove all persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast was not reasonably related to its claimed goal of preventing sabotage and espionage because the reasons offered in support of the exclusion order were based not on expert military judgment, but on “misinformation, half-truths and insinuations that for years have been directed against Japanese Americans by people with racial and economic prejudices.”

Even if “some disloyal persons of Japanese descent on the Pacific Coast [] did all in their power to aid their ancestral land,” “to infer that examples of individual disloyalty prove group disloyalty and justify discriminatory action against the entire group is to deny that, under our system of law, individual guilt is the sole basis for deprivation of rights.”

See Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944)


Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Nearly 70 years ago, this wind-swept beach on the coast of Normandy witnessed the turning of the war.

Utah Beach


Posted in: Holidays

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This morning, Governor Jerry Brown and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA to sign a business agreement.

Computer History Museum

As expected, some people came to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and peaceable assembly. But, the crowds were no where close to when President Obama visited in 2011.

Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanctions


Posted in: Legal News, Technology

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Autumn LeavesFall has finally arrived in sunny California. For weeks, we have witnessed the shortening rays of the sun’s glorious light. Now, as the leaves explode in color to red, orange and yellow hues, we know that the holiday season is but a few weeks away.

For some, the holiday season can be stressful. How much turkey should I prepare for Thanksgiving dinner? Can I recycle a resolution from a previous New Year’s day? But one question that should be easier to answer this year is how much money to allocate to health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs).


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Amelia Earhart / courtesy of the National ArchivesA lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming alleged that the plane of Amelia Earhart had been located. Plaintiff Timothy Mellon stated in his Complaint that during its NIKU VI expedition around Nikumaroro from May 18, 2010, through June 14, 2010, Defendant The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) had obtained “footage of the wreckage of the Lockheed Electra flown by Amelia Earhart when she disappeared in 1937.”


Posted in: Legal News