The Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic is the leading clinical program in technology law and the public interest. Through hands-on, real-world work, the Clinic trains law and graduate students in public interest work on emerging technologies, privacy, intellectual property, free speech, consumer and citizen interests in technology deployment and design, creativity, innovation, and other information policy issues.
In this work, the Clinic pursues a dual mission: to support the public’s interest in technology law and policy, and to teach law students through real-world work, with live clients, on cutting-edge policy issues.
The Clinic’s affiliated faculty and staff support Clinic students and clients with world-class expertise ranging from patent and copyright law to electronic privacy and online speech.
Read about the Samuelson Clinic’s recent projects, events, and faculty news in our winter newsletter.
Recent Clinic Projects
People v. Macabeo
The Samuelson Clinic celebrated a win for Californians’ privacy rights in the California Supreme Court’s opinion in People v. Macabeo. Samuelson Clinic students represented the defendant in the case. The central question was whether officers can conduct a search incident to arrest based solely on the fact that they have probable cause for a minor traffic infraction, or whether an actual arrest must have occurred or be underway for the search incident to arrest warrant exception to apply. The Court held that probable cause for a minor traffic infraction is not enough to justify the search and, as a result, the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The ruling strengthens privacy rights and curtails unlawful police searches. Read the California Supreme Court’s decision here and more about the Clinic’s work on this case here.
No Tape, No Testimony: How Courts Can Ensure the Responsible Use of Body Cameras
Samuelson Clinic students co-authored a report with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts that argues that when a police officer fails to record a civilian encounter, courts should instruct juries to take that into account. The report, “No Tape, No Testimony,” comes in the wake of a national outcry over police violence against unarmed Black men. The report is premised on the idea that body worn cameras will not live up to their promise of improving police accountability unless there are strong incentives for officers to record encounters with civilians. It argues that jurors should be told to devalue an officer’s testimony, or—in extreme cases—disregard it altogether when police fail to turn on their body-worn cameras. Read more about the report here. Read the full report here.
Location Tracking Primers
Surveillance technologies and programs have a profound influence on how criminal cases are investigated, charged, and prosecuted. Yet, the pace of technological advancement and the secrecy surrounding surveillance technologies has resulted in a gap in the knowledge of many defense attorneys who encounter the use of these technologies in their cases. On behalf of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”), Samuelson Clinic students developed a series of primers to introduce different surveillance technologies to defense lawyers and to provide strategies and resources to combat them in cases. The suite of primers addresses three location tracking technologies: Cell Site Simulators, Cell Phone Location Tracking, and Automated License Plate Readers.
Fox News v. TVEyes Amicus Brief
Samuelson Clinic students recently filed an amicus brief in the Second Circuit to protect public access to archived TV news clips and political advertisements. The case involves a copyright dispute between Fox News and TVEyes, a service that records all content broadcast by more than 1,400 television and radio stations and transforms the content into a searchable database for its subscribers. The amicus brief, submitted on behalf of the Internet Archive and other library and archive organizations, argues that preserving ephemeral media and making television content available for public access constitutes fair use and promotes public discourse and political accountability. The brief describes how television archives contribute to the work of journalists, scholars, librarians, teachers, civic organizations and engaged citizens. Read more about the clinic’s brief here.