Open Journal Systems

FDA Authorizes Moderna and Phizer Booster Vaccines for All Adults

FDA cleared additional doses of Phizer’s and Moderna’s MRNA vaccines for all adults today after reviewing additional data about the decreased efficacy of the vaccines over time. The FDA had originally planned to begin administration of the vaccines on September 20, but scientists advised that the agency wait for more longitudinal data about the vaccines’ efficacy after several months post-injection. However, ethical criticism from the World Health Organization and other public health organizations calls into question the advisability of approving third doses in a wealth nation when poorer nations have still not been able to vaccinate many people even once.

NJ Court Order Authorizes Virtual Proceedings Post-Pandemic

On November 18, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order stating that certain types of court proceedings will be allowed to continue in a virtual setting even after the end of the pandemic. The court notes that in certain cases where physical presence of the parties is not crucial to a fair outcome, conducting proceedings through video conference has saved time, money, and produced fewer scheduling conflicts, allowing for timelier results in many cases. Some of the proceedings that will now be conducted mostly online are motion hearings, status conferences, and even municipal hearings and trials.

Psychologists and Criminologists Find Multiple Tests of Eyewitness Testimony Do More Harm Than Good

Testing eyewitnesses for their memory of suspects’ identities and behavior more than once is common practice, but a team of psychologists and criminologists from research institutions and law schools nationwide suggest that this should change. Because memory is malleable, psychologists have demonstrated that the first test of eyewitness memory “contaminates” the witness’ memory, decreasing the credibility of later accounts. The contradiction created by changing testimony provides admissible evidence which has been demonstrated to lead to far more wrongful convictions than when eyewitness testimony is tested only once. The research team behind the study posits single testing as a no-cost reform which could decrease the instance of wrongful convictions and increase jurisprudential efficiency.

PA Supreme Court Upholds a 1967 Ruling on Venue for Defamation Suits, Stretching Old Venue Rules Into the Digital Era

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld Gaetano v. Sharon Herald Co., a case holding that defamation claims may be heard wherever an allegedly defamatory statement is read and understood to be defamatory, clarifying its applicability in the Internet Age. The unanimous court held that “a cause of action for defamation arises where publication of defamatory statements occurs. And publication occurs where a third-party recipient understands the statement as being defamatory. … When a person is defamed via a medium with worldwide accessibility, a cause of action may arise in multiple venues.” The case giving rise to this ruling involved defamatory statements about a Delaware County mayoral candidate published on a website.