May 24, 2006
My Favorite Letter of Resignation
This resignation letter should win some sort of award.
Sunstein Compares US Reactions to Terrorism and Climate Change
Cass R. Sunstein, On the Divergent American Reactions to Terrorism and Climate Change, AEI-Brookings Working Paper 06-13. May 2006.
Abstract: Two of the most important sources of catastrophic risk are terrorism and climate change. The United States has responded aggressively to the risk of terrorism while doing very little about the risk of climate change. For the United States alone, the cost of the Iraq war is now in excess of the anticipated cost of the Kyoto Protocol. The divergence presents a puzzle; it also raises more general questions about both risk perception and the public demand for legislation. The best explanation for the divergence emphasizes bounded rationality. Americans believe that aggressive steps to reduce the risk of terrorism promise to deliver significant benefits in the near future at acceptable cost. By contrast, they believe that aggressive steps to reduce the risk of climate change will not greatly benefit American citizens in the near future – and they are not willing to pay a great deal to reduce that risk. This intuitive form of cost-benefit analysis is much influenced by behavioral factors, including the availability heuristic, probability neglect, outrage, and myopia. All of these contribute, after 9/11, to a willingness to support significant steps to respond to terrorism and to relative indifference to climate change. It follows that Americans are likely to support such steps in response to climate change only if one of two conditions is met: the costs of those steps can be shown to be acceptably low or new information, perhaps including a salient incident, indicates that Americans have much to gain from risk reduction in the relatively near future.
CBO Cost Estimate for Immigration Reform
The Congressional Budget Office has released a report detailing the cost estimate for S. 2611, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. Check it out. [RJ]
Opening: Research and Administration Computing Manager, UNLV Law
The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas seeks dynamic and experienced applicants for the position of Research and Administration Computing Manager. This is a full-time, 12-month professional position. The Research and Administration Computing Manager is responsible for managing all aspects of faculty, library and administrative computing at the Law School, working with other managers in Law School IT and law school administration. The Research and Administration Computing Manager is responsible for technical support and management of the school’s research and administration computing systems. This position is responsible for all phases of management of computer systems including development, hardware and software inventory, installation and maintenance.
The Research and Administration Computing Manager will work with a team that is primarily responsible for the Information Technology needs of the faculty and staff of the William S. Boyd School of Law.
The incumbent must be able to perform job tasks including installation and maintenance of workstations and accessories, assist faculty and administration with storage, analysis and security of data, and supervise student workers supporting departmental goals.
The incumbent will also be developing databases and web-based tools in support of administrative computing, reporting, research tools and public facing websites.
Required: Bachelor's degree in technical communication, computer support, or related technical field from an accredited college or university. Applicant must have at least two years experience in a comparable professional position.
The applicant must possess knowledge of system design and organization. The applicant must have a thorough understanding of complex detailed computer technology, the ability to develop, revise and implement changes in procedures and contribute to policy decisions, a demonstrated communication skill with students, faculty and staff at all levels and the ability to facilitate problem resolution through effective communication.
Applicant must have at least 1-2 years experience in programming web sites using Apache, PHP and MySQL. Equivalent knowledge of similar systems (i.e. Oracle, Informix or other SQL database) may be substituted for MySQL.
Preferred: Previous experience in higher education and especially law school environments.
SALARY RANGE: Salary will be commensurate with the labor market. Position is contingent upon funding.
APPLICATION DETAILS: Application materials must include a current resume, detailed cover letter, and names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three professional references who may be contacted. Applicants should fully describe qualifications and experience, since the initial review will serve to evaluate applicants based on documented, relevant qualifications and professional work experience. The review of materials will begin immediately. Address materials to Joshua Brauer, Search Committee Chair, and submit via on-line application at https:// hrsearch.unlv.edu . For assistance with UNLV's on-line applicant portal, contact Jen Feldmann at (702) 895-3886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNLV is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity educator and employer committed to excellence through diversity.
May 23, 2006
Wired News Publishes Secret Documents in AT&T-NSA Case
Mark Giangrande has the details at Tech Law Prof Blog.
Search Engines and the Future of the Book
What Will Happen to Books? Reader, take heart! (Publisher be very, very afraid.) Internet search engines will set them free. Read this “manifesto” by Kevin Kelly ,founding editor of Wired magazine, as it appeared in the New York Times Magazine, May 14, 2006.
Lee F. Peoples, Associate Director for Faculty, Research & Instructional Services, Oklahoma City University Law Library
Professional Reading: Why OpenURL?
Ann Apps and Ross MacIntyre, Why OpenURL? D-Lib Magazine (May 2006)
Abstract: The improvement of access to scholarly literature caused by electronic journal publishing quickly led to the wish for seamless linking to referenced articles. This article looks at the evolution of linking technologies with a particular focus on OpenURL, now a NISO standard. The implications for stakeholders in the supply chain are explored, including publishers, intermediaries, libraries and readers. The benefits, expectations and business drivers are examined. The article also highlights some novel, existing and potential future, uses, including increased user-empowerment and possibilities beyond referencing traditional bibliographic material.
Reconceptualizing the Digital Divide
The May issue of First Monday includes Amelia Bryne Potter's Zones of silence: A framework beyond the digital divide. Here's the abstract:
There is no doubt that much digital divide work — including connectivity initiatives, technology transfer programs, and other projects — is done with good intention. Yet, as has been widely recognized, the conceptual framework of the digital divide is limiting. The language of the digital divide not only places people into simplistic “have”/“have not” categories, making assumptions about the solution to “information poverty” with little attention to local contexts, its logic also continues a paradigm of development that engages with the global south only at the point of what it “lacks”. I propose a framework, which provides a wider, and more nuanced, lens to look through. It focuses work in ways and in areas consistently overlooked by the digital divide, particularly on the realities, voices, and complexities within its unconnected, “have not” spaces — the zones of silence. Encouraging critical questioning of assumptions and an understanding of local contexts and points of view, a zones of silence framework is a way to broaden the dialogue on global communication and information access beyond a discourse of need, to one of mutual questioning, sharing, and learning. I begin with a brief critique of the digital divide, followed by a definition of this zones of silence framework and how it can help us to see and consider issues differently. I then suggest three areas where work from this perspective might begin.
Website Reviews Published in Cornell Law Library's InSITE
The May 15, 2006 issue of InSITE reviewed the following websites:
- APRI: American Prosecutors Research Institute
- Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)
- Inclusion International
- Indigenous Peoples and the Law
- MSRB: Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board
Text of reviews
APRI: American Prosecutors Research Institute
The American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI) is a non-profit national clearinghouse for information on the prosecutorial function, as well as a research and program-development resource for prosecutors at all levels of government. The major program areas of the APRI include, among other topics, "Child Abuse and Exploitation," "Community Prosecution," "Drug Prosecution and Prevention," "Violence Against Women," "Gun Violence Prosecution," and "White Collar Crime." Each area contains information for visitors including an overview of the topic, news, CLE information, related publications, and links to other sites for further information. Legal researchers will appreciate the Institute's "Publications" section, organized by topic, which is a good source of in-depth and free documentation and resource guides. The "Research" section offers information about prosecution and criminal justice policies and programs, including a detailed section on empirical research. The APRI site is searchable. [BWK]
Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)
The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) “works with governments and civil society to foster and strengthen the democratic and civilian control of security sector organisations such as police, intelligence agencies, border security services, paramilitary forces, and armed forces.” An international foundation with 46 member states, DCAF provides advisory programs to governments, military authorities, and international organizations, and researches issues challenging democratic control of the security sector. The website details DCAF news and events, as well as current programs and activities. Of particular interest to the researcher are the available publications and information resources. Publications include “backgrounders,” books, occasional papers, and policy papers created by DCAF, all freely available in PDF. Information resources include DCAF’s searchable digital catalog of reference information, a list of topical e-journals, and its Legal Database, which provides publicly available national legislation from countries in the Euro-Atlantic region in the field of defense and security, easily searchable by country and topic. The entire site is keyword searchable. [JJ]
Inclusion International (II) is “a global federation of family-based organizations advocating for the human rights of people with intellectual disabilities worldwide.” II, one of the largest non-governmental organizations devoted to disabilities, is officially recognized by the United Nations. Working with numerous international agencies, including the International Labour Organization, II promotes inclusiveness in policy, practice, and investment strategies. The II website is organized into numerous sections describing the group’s various projects and initiatives, and offering its publications and other documents. One of the significant initiatives is the International Disability Alliance (IDA), in which II networks with several other international organizations. On the page devoted to the IDA, users will find numerous links to full-text United Nations and other international documents pertaining to disabled persons. Links to II’s priority areas are listed in a separate section and include poverty reduction, inclusive education, and self-advocacy. On each priority area page, users will find explanation and links to additional documents, such as slide presentations, reports, and briefing notes. Be sure to use the site guide and site map for help negotiating the extensive content. The II site is available in English, French and Spanish. [MM]
Indigenous Peoples and the Law
Created in cooperation with the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand-based Indigenous Peoples and the Law is an online portal to information about how the law affects indigenous peoples. Links on the page pertaining to indigenous peoples are organized alphabetically and geographically (New Zealand and the rest of the world), and cover a large number of important sites. The biggest draw to the site is its news digest, which is on the main page and updated daily. News articles are briefly abstracted and easy to browse; readers are referred to the original publication for the full text of the article. The news items cover both New Zealand-based and international articles and reports. The site is searchable. Readers’ responses are also selectively published. While some of the links are out-of-date, researchers new to this topic will find this site a good starting point. [BWK]
MSRB: Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board
The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) was established by Congress in 1975. Like the New York Stock Exchange, the MSRB is a self-regulatory entity subject to the oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Setting standards for all municipal securities dealers, the MSRB develops “rules regulating securities firms and banks involved in underwriting, trading, and selling municipal securities— bonds and notes issued by states, cities, and counties or their agencies to help finance public projects.” The website provides significant content pertaining to the regulatory business of the Board. The Board’s administrative, definitional, and general rules are published on the site. Its various forms are made available in PDF. Interpretive letters and notices are also provided. An extensive glossary of terms, helpful to novices and experts alike, is available. Other components of the site explain dealer registration and qualifications, and rules governing political contributions. Overall, the site is a useful source for researchers working in this particular administrative area. [MM]
InSITE contributors: Julie Jones, Research Attorney, Brandy Kreisler, J.D., M.L.S., Matt Morrison, Research Attorney, Jean Pajerek (editor), Head of Technical Services & Information Management, all current or former members of the professional staff at Cornell Law Library.
About InSITE: InSITE highlights selected law-related Web sites in two ways: as an annotated publication issued electronically and in print; and, as a keyword-searchable database. The law librarians at Cornell evaluate potentially useful Web sites, select the most valuable ones, and provide commentary and subject access to them.
Digital versions of this information can be accessed via:
1. Searchable database or by browsing current and archived issues on the web: Click InSITE at www.lawschool.cornell.edu/library
2. E-mail subscription. Send the following request: SUBSCRIBE InSITE-L <YourFirstName> <YourLastName> to: email@example.com
3. Readers can subscribe to the new InSITE RSS feed at http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/library/RESOURCES/insite.htm
The contents of InSITE and any recommendations therein are the opinions of the authors and do not reflect the views of Cornell University. InSITE is copyright protected by Cornell Law Library, © 2006 Cornell Law Library. Permission to republish InSITE issues on Law Librarian Blog has been granted. For permissions, contact Jean M. Pajerek [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Cornell Law Library URL: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/library
Empirical Look at the Pro Se
Interesting article by Erica Hashimoto from the University of Georgia Law School entitled, Defending the Right to Self Representation: An Empirical Look at the Pro Se Felony Defendant. Hat tip to OrinKerr.com. [RJ]
Unratified and Unsigned Treaties Still Constrain U.S. Action
"This paper illustrates why the United States must vigorously defend its position in international fora and negotiations directed at new treaties. It is insufficient for the United States simply to refuse to sign a treaty in the hopes of avoiding its adverse effects. Signing a treaty has consequences under international law. Specifically, a state (country) that has signed, but not ratified, a treaty is to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty until it shall have made its intention clear not to become a party to the treaty."
FOIA from the CIA
Electronic Reading Room from the CIA:
"The CIA has established this site to provide the public with an overview of access to CIA information, including electronic access to previously released documents. Because of CIA's need to comply with the national security laws of the United States, some documents or parts of documents cannot be released to the public. In particular, the CIA, like other U.S. intelligence agencies, has the responsibility to protect intelligence sources and methods from disclosure. However, a substantial amount of CIA information has been and/or can be released following review. See "Your Rights" for further details on the various methods of obtaining this information."
Opening: Circulation Librarian, Minnesota
The University of Minnesota Law Library is now accepting applications for Circulation Librarian. This professional position will manage all aspects of the circulation department in a highly service oriented academic law library that is nationally recognized for its outstanding collections. A full position description, qualifications, and application information can be viewed at http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/employment/openings/job136158.html Priority will be given to applications received by June 1, 2006.
Please share this information with potential applicants. For further information, feel free to contact:
Associate Director for Faculty, Research, and Instructional Services
University of Minnesota Law Library
229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55455
Telephone: 612) 625-0187
Fax: (612) 625-3478
May 22, 2006
State Department Buys Then Bans Lenovo PCs from Classified Work
The US State Department bought thousands of Chinese made Lenovo PCs it has now banned from use in classified work fearing that the PCs may contain spyware according to Engadget. But wait, why fear just Lenovo computers? Apple's MacBooks are made in China and ThinkPads and ThinkCenters were made in China even when IBM owned the brands. [JH]
Top Law Prof Factories
By Total Number:
1. Harvard University (77) (550)
2. Yale University (67) (200)
3. Columbia University (28) (400)
4. New York University (22) (400)
5. Stanford University (21) (150)
5. University of Chicago (21) (200)
By Per Capita Number:
1. Yale University (.34)
2. Harvard University (.14)
2. Stanford University (.14)
4. University of Chicago (.11)
5. Columbia University (.07)
Detailas at Top Producers of New Law Teachers 2003-2006 on Brian Leiter's Law School Reports. [JH]
Mersky to Deliver Address at Scribes Annual Meeting
Professor Roy Mersky (Texas) will discuss "Issues in Legal Research and Writing" at the annual luncheon for Scribes, the American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects, on Sat., Aug. 5, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mersky is the Harry M. Reasoner Regents Chair in Law and Director of Research at the Jamail Center for Legal Research of the Tarlton Law Library at The University of Texas School of Law.
The luncheon is held in conjunction with the American Bar Association's annual meeting and is sponsored by Thomson West. Professor Mersky will be introduced by Dean Donald J. Dunn of the University of La Verne School of Law. Dunn is co-author with Mersky on Fundamentals of Legal Research, now in its 8th edition.
A View from the Stacks: In Support of Anna Nicole
Two Law Librarians, both boasting an MLS degree, work at two different libraries. One works at a fully accredited law school. Another works at a busy law firm with bar card carrying lawyers. And both asked to get slip opinions of the Anna Nicole Smith case. Because the people asking just want “to read what the court has to say on this one.”
On May 1, 2006, Marshall v. Marshall, 547 U.S. ___, 2006 WL 1131904, was handed down. Written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the case was surrounded in media fanfare from the minute that the Supreme Court granted certiorari. While the actual subject of the case was dry by most folk’s standards (or wildly complicated) the players were not. On the one hand, you had the son of an oil rich Texas tycoon named E. Pierce Marshall, who was feuding with his siblings and his father’s widow. On the other, you had Vickie Lynn Marshall, a/k/a Anna Nicole Smith, a character unto her own self. Among the questions: Does the “probate” exception fall under federal court’s jurisdiction?
I have been following this case rather obsessively. Not because I have any stake in the probate exception. Should I ever marry a man 85 years my senior who is worth a small country's gross domestic product, I will make sure I am mentioned somewhere in the will. What struck me was how obsessed the media was in covering this case. I became obsessed with how much time the news chose to devote to this seemingly boring topic. In a day and age when the nightly news covers the birth of TomKat and whether or not Brittney Spears is a fit parent, you are hard pressed to see any reports on the Supreme Court being in session, let alone handing down decisions.
But, with the advent of Marshall v. Marshall, gossip blogs were even publishing reports about the decision. Nestled in between the latest Angelina Jolie gossip and what Paris Hilton did last weekend, there were reports about Justice Scalia being charmed by Vickie Lynn and Justice Ginsburg asking the tough questions of Pierce’s attorneys. Some legal pundits have argued that the coverage was not because the issue was so earth-shattering that all eyes should be watching (in fact, Dahlia Lithwick sums up the rather silly coverage that the news was providing of the case in her May 1, 2006 column for Slate) but because for the first time in a long time, the Supreme Court and celebrity gossip collided.
And made for really good TV. So good, in fact, that most people thought the trial was a complete joke.
And maybe it was, but truth be told, my hat is off to Anna Nicole Smith. Her persistence in battling this case all the way up to the Supreme Court (well, both sides persistence actually) may have unknowingly educated a few people to the court process. At the very least, it meshed the names of some Supreme Court justices in with today’s celebrities. The people from eBay cannot say the same thing about their Supreme Court Decision. Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not think for one minute that we are now a nation of legal scholars because of Ms. Smith, but there now may be one more person who knows that the Supreme Court exists. This could be considered a victory in this day and age.
And, while the actual case is still being argued, remanded back to the lower courts for further discussion, other judges did in fact take note. In fact, on the same day that Marshall v. Marshall was handed down, a case from a District Court in Iowa cited to the decision. In the case In re H&W Motor Express Company, 2006 WL 1192370, the decision cites Justices Ginsburg’s writings concerning bankruptcy judges entering judgment in non-core matters, and not just making recommendations that will be reviewed by the district court de novo. (On a side note: I really, really, really wanted to do a timeline of this case on a bulletin board at my work. But somehow, and don’t ask me why, the topic of immigration won out over the probate exception.)
I suspect, in the end, that this case will make for a wonderful Trivial Pursuit/ Pub Quiz question. However, when attorneys and students are taking time out of their days just to “read what the courts have to say” it means that the media did a very good job in making us care about the outcome.
Hopefully they will do the same with the 2008 elections.
Maybe if Anna Nicole Smith runs.
Stina McClintock, Library Technician, King County Law Library (Seattle)
Editor's Note: Damn! Not 85 years older, not worth a small country's GDP...
Legislative Resources for the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005
President Bush has signed into law Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act of 2005.
- The bill extends for two years the 15 percent tax rate for dividends and capital gains.
- It extends through 2006 changes to the alternative minimum tax.
- It extends through 2009 a tax cut that gives small businesses a write off -- up to $100,000 -- for equipment and other depreciable assets.
- Among other provisions, the bill also eliminates, for 2010, the $100,000 income limitations on converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs.
For the Reference Shelf: Database of State Tort Law Reforms
Northwestern's Ronen Avraham has posted Database of State Tort Law Reforms (1048 pp) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This manuscript contains the most detailed, complete and comprehensive legal dataset of tort reforms in the U.S. The dataset records state laws in all fifty states and the District of Columbia over the last several decades. For each reform we record the effective date, a short description of the reform, whether or not the jury is allowed to know about the reform, whether the reform was upheld or struck down by the states' supreme courts, as well as whether it was amended by the state legislator. Previous and current scholarship which studies the empirical effects of tort reforms uses various different legal datasets, (tort reforms datasets and other legal compilations), some which existed online, some created ad-hoc by the researchers. Besides being different from each other, these datasets frequently do not cover reforms adopted before 1986, miss reforms superseded after 1986, miss court-based reforms, ignore effective dates of legislation, and do not accurately record judicial invalidation of laws. It is possible that at least some of the persisting variation across empirical studies about the effect of tort reforms might be due to variations across legal datasets used. This dataset builds upon and improves existing data sources. It does so by reviewing original sources of legislation and case law to determine the exact text and effective dates. It is hoped that by creating one "canonized" dataset our understanding of the impact of tort reform on our life will increase.
Tort Liability Index Assesses Litigation Environments
From the Pacific Research Institute's U.S. Tort Liability Index: 2006 Report:
"PRI released this new study that ranks the civil justice system of each state based on the economic inputs and outputs in 39 categories of empirical data. 'This tort liability index measures which states have high tort costs, and which have enacted reforms to better position themselves for future economic growth,' said Dan Pero, president of the American Justice Partnership. 'CEOs and site selection planners now have a new economic analysis to use in evaluating where to expand jobs and operations, along with complementary reports such as the U.S. Chamber Harris Poll on states’ litigation environments and the American Tort Reform Association’s 'Judicial Hellholes' reports identifying pro-plaintiff court jurisdictions.'"
Best & Worst States: The top five "better tort climate" states (read, most favorable to business interests) are: Texas, Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio and Michigan. The bottom five (read, least favorable to business interests) are Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. [RJ]