HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Updated Medicaid Primer Explains the Basic Components of Medicaid and How the New Health Reform Law Will Change the Program

Kaiser Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured posted an update to its Primer on Medicaid and explains how the new health reform law will change Medicaid: 

Medicaid: A Primer … provides an overview of the basic components of Medicaid, the nation's largest health coverage program. Medicaid covers nearly 60 million low-income individuals, including children and families, people with disabilities and seniors who are also covered by Medicare. The primer explains how the program is currently structured, who it covers, what services it provides, how much it costs and how it is jointly financed by the federal government and the states. In light of the new health reform law, the primer also examines how Medicaid will change and expand as it serves as the mechanism to provide coverage to millions of previously uninsured low-income adults and children. Also available is an updated two-page fact sheet, about the Medicaid program.

June 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Proposed Model Jury Instructions Limiting the Use of Electronic Technologies by Jurors

As a result of the increased use by jurors of web enabled mobile phones and devices, the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management of the Judicial Conference of the United States has issued a memo regarding Juror Use of Electronic Communication Technologies. This memo provides a set of suggested jury instructions that federal district judges should consider using to help deter jurors from using electronic technologies to research or communicate about cases while they serve as jurors.

The Proposed Model Jury Instruction reads as follows:

Proposed Model Jury Instructions

The Use of Electronic Technology to Conduct Research on or Communicate about a Case Prepared by the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management

December 2009

Before Trial:
You, as jurors, must decide this case based solely on the evidence presented here within the four walls of this courtroom. This means that during the trial you must not conduct any independent research about this case, the matters in the case, and the individuals or corporations involved in the case. In other words, you should not consult dictionaries or reference materials, search the internet, websites, blogs, or use any other electronic tools to obtain information about this case or to help you decide the case. Please do not try to find out information from any source outside the confines of this courtroom.

Until you retire to deliberate, you may not discuss this case with anyone, even your fellow jurors. After you retire to deliberate, you may begin discussing the case with your fellow jurors, but you cannot discuss the case with anyone else until you have returned a verdict and the case is at an end. I hope that for all of you this case is interesting and noteworthy. I know that many of you use cell phones, Blackberries, the internet and other tools of technology. You also must not talk to anyone about this case or use these tools to communicate electronically with anyone about the case. This includes your family and friends. You may not communicate with anyone about the case on your cell phone, through e-mail, Blackberry, iPhone, text messaging, or on Twitter, through any blog or website, through any internet chat room, or by way of any other social networking websites, including Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

At the Close of the Case:
During your deliberations, you must not communicate with or provide any information to anyone by any means about this case. You may not use any electronic device or media, such as a telephone, cell phone, smart phone, iPhone, Blackberry or computer; the internet, any internet service, or any text or instant messaging service; or any internet chat room, blog, or website such as Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter, to communicate to anyone any information about this case or to conduct any research about this case until I accept your verdict.

June 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Witness Prep Increases Accuracy of Testimony

Listen up lawyers. Finally some good empirical evidence to support what we already know --  careful prep of our witnesses helps them to provide more accurate testimony. Forensic Magazine provides the story:

The study, by researchers at the Universities of Liverpool and Leeds, showed that the construction and phrasing of 'lawyerese' questions can inhibit processes in the brain that impact on how a witness responds under cross-examination. The use of complex questions, containing multiple parts, double-negatives and advanced vocabulary may affect the brain's ability to filter and streamline information effectively.

Researchers showed more than 50 participants footage of a staged crime, as though they were eye-witnesses, and then subjected them to the kind of questioning techniques they might encounter in court. They found that participants, who had been given prior guidance on cross-examination techniques, were seemingly able to add to their understanding of the cross-examination process, so that when they encountered complex questions in court they were more able to respond appropriately and less likely to make errors.

Dr Jacqueline Wheatcroft, from the University's Centre for Investigative Psychology, said: 'Witnesses who come to court to give evidence have 'schematic' structures of experience. These structures allow the brain to organize knowledge around themes or topics. They act to streamline information so that we can cope effectively with daily life. We believe that exposing witnesses to the techniques used in cross-examination before they enter court, engages these structures, allowing the witness to organize their knowledge of events so that information can be accessed more easily in response to complex questions.'

'Witnesses who are were not given prior guidance, however, are likely to work much harder to answer cross-examination questions accurately and tend to become nervous and frustrated in court as a result. Familiarisation with questioning techniques 'frees up' capacity in the brain to process information, but if a witness is not given guidance, the frontal/executive systems in the brain are potentially forced to work harder, leaving less processing capacity to work on understanding and responding to questions properly.'

Dr Louise Ellison, senior lecturer in law at the University of Leeds added: 'People are going into the witness box with very little knowledge and preparation. The lay person has little idea of what to expect and this understandably impacts on their evidence. It puts witnesses at a disadvantage and barristers are able to exploit their inexperience. There is increasing evidence that the accuracy of evidence is undermined by these questioning techniques.'

June 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)