November 4, 2006
High Court Reviews High-Dollar Cigarette Judgment
"The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a case to determine how high punitive damages can go when a state court finds extreme corporate misconduct. In a suit against Phillip Morris, the company was ordered to pay $79.5 million for a smoker's death."
See also, transcript of oral argument in Philip Morris USA v. Williams. [RJ]
Offering Perks, Lenders Court Colleges’ Favor
"With rising tuition and lagging government aid making private student loans a big and increasingly competitive business, these are some of the ways lenders are courting universities in hopes that they will steer students their way."
Free Online Textbooks With A Catch
On the first day of the class finance professor, Yash Puri, told students they could download their books from the Web free of charge. The catch? The books contain advertisements from a number of companies including FedEx Kinko's and Culver's - a fast-food restaurant in the Midwest. The ads aim to lighten the financial burden on students created by rising textbook prices, yet some critics worry that they will dilute a book's editorial integrity.
November 3, 2006
High Hogismo Among IHE Administrators
Read about some of the sweetest compensation packages in The Nation's College Presidents High on the Hog. [JH]
Republicans Outnumber Democrats Online
"Republicans outnumber Democrats on the Web, and the most common political leaning is moderate, a Web research firm said Wednesday.
Fully, 36.6 percent of U.S. online adults are Republicans, 30.8 percent are Democrats and 17.3 percent are Independents, Nielsen/NetRatings said. The Web site with the highest concentration of Republicans is RushLimbaugh.com, while BlackAmericaWeb.com had the highest percentage of Democrats."
Study Identifies Benefits of Plain Language Court Forms
Maria Mindlin, Is Plain Language Better? A Comparative Readability Study of Court Forms, 10 Scribes J. Legal Writing 55 (2005-2006) [Westlaw]
From the abstract:
A growing number of courts are converting their pro se forms and instructions to plain language. But are the plain-language forms easier to read and use? ... This article presents the results from our study -- the first quantitative readability study of plain-language court forms in the United States.
The results show a marked and statistically significant improvement in reader comprehension when court forms are converted to plain language. The results also suggest that because users understand more clearly what they have to do, when they have to do it, and where to seek support if they need it, there may be significant economies for the court.
RSS Reader Comparison Chart
Check out the cNet review of various aggregators, including a very helpful matrix that shows each aggregator with features side-by-side. [RJ]
Lack of Competition in Elections Fails to Stir Public
"The concern among some politicians and political experts over the lack of competitiveness in U.S. elections is generally not shared by the public. Moreover, voters appear to lack a clear sense of whether the elections in their own House districts are competitive or not."
Recent CRS Reports
Recent CRS Reports:
- "LOCALISM": STATUTES AND RULES AFFECTING LOCAL PROGRAMMING ON BROADCAST, CABLE, AND SATELLITE TELEVISION
- TELEVISING SUPREME COURT AND OTHER FEDERAL COURT PROCEEDINGS: LEGISLATION AND ISSUES
- UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING: ISSUES FOR CONGRESS
"LOCALISM": STATUTES AND RULES AFFECTING LOCAL PROGRAMMING ON BROADCAST, CABLE, AND SATELLITE TELEVISION
CRS Publication Date: 10/19/2006
Author(s): Charles B. Goldfarb, Resources, Science, and Industry Division
No. of Pages: 59
Document No.: RL32641
Abstract: Each broadcast television license is assigned a community of license, in the form of a specific city. Most broadcast television stations viewing areas extend far beyond the borders of their city of license, and in many cases extend beyond state borders. The local broadcast television stations that each cable system must carry are determined by the Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA) in which the cable system is located. In the 1992 Cable Act, Congress amended the 1934 Communications Act to require, subject to certain exceptions, each cable system to carry the signals of all the local full power commercial television stations within the same television market as the cable system, with that market determined by commercial publications which delineate television markets based on viewing patterns.
TELEVISING SUPREME COURT AND OTHER FEDERAL COURT PROCEEDINGS: LEGISLATION AND ISSUES
CRS Publication Date: 10/25/2006
Author(s): Lorraine H. Tong, Government and Finance Division
No. of Pages: 21
Document No.: RL33706
Abstract: In the 109th Congress, four bills have been introduced - H.R. 2422, H.R. 4380, S. 829, and S. 1768 - to allow television or other electronic media coverage of federal court proceedings. Another bill, relating to court security - H.R. 1751 - was introduced without such a provision, but was later amended in committee to include electronic media coverage. Three of these bills, H.R. 1751, H.R. 2422, and S. 829, would grant discretionary authority to presiding judges to permit photographing, electronic recording, broadcasting, or televising of district and appellate court proceedings, including Supreme Court proceedings. Two other bills, S. 1768 and H.R. 4380, would require the televising of all open sessions of the Supreme Court only. The five bills are similar, or identical, to legislation introduced in previous Congresses since at least the 105th Congress. This report also discusses the arguments that have been presented by proponents and opponents of electronic media coverage of federal court proceedings, including the possible effect on judicial proceedings, separation of powers concerns, the purported educational value of such coverage, and possible security and privacy concerns. Finally, the report discuses the various options Congress may address as it considers legislation, including which courts should be covered, whether media coverage should be authorized or required, possible security and privacy safeguards, and the type of media coverage that would be permitted.
UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING: ISSUES FOR CONGRESS
CRS Publication Date: 10/17/2006
Author(s): Marjorie Ann Browne, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
No. of Pages: 38
Document No.: RL33700
Abstract: A major issue facing the United Nations, the United States, and Congress is the extent to which the United Nations has the capacity to restore or keep the peace in the changing world environment. Associated with this issue is the expressed need for a reliable source of funding and other resources for peacekeeping and improved efficiencies of operation.
Minimum-Wage Hikes Sweep States
"Voters in a record number of states will decide Nov. 7 whether to hike the minimum wage, continuing an unprecedented two-year trend of state action on an issue that remains bottled up in Congress. In the past two years, more states have raised their minimum-wage rates than in the 68-year-history of the federal minimum wage law. Political analysts on both sides of the issue agree that recent fervor for the issue is as much related to politics as it is to policy."
Openings: Two Law Librarian Positions, CUNY School of Law
With the arrival of a new Dean this semester, CUNY School of Law is entering an exciting new phase in its history of training students to work in the public service. Since the school’s founding in 1983, our focus has been on creating a law school where our students and graduates work towards increasing access to justice and using the law to create a more equitable world.
Towards that end, we have committed resources to expand the library’s proactive services to the School of Law’s community, especially in providing additional services to the law faculty. As a result, we withdrew a previous posting about a law librarian opening at CUNY School of Law.
We are now looking for two enthusiastic candidates to work with the Director of the Library and the current library faculty to implement an innovative team approach utilizing the idea of quality circles. Each librarian will be primarily responsible for a major area (i.e. technology, faculty services, budget, or other areas as deemed necessary) with the Director having overall supervision. Thus, the approach will be one where opportunities exist to think creatively and expand professional skills in an atmosphere where an active service philosophy is encouraged.
In addition, Law Librarians are fully engaged in the governance processes of the School of Law, having full faculty status and helping shape the future of the institution. Working with our colleagues outside of the Library, librarians add to the rich diversity of the law school experience by having their own scholarship interests, in addition to supporting those of the other members of the faculty.
All librarians must have a J.D. and M.L.S. in order to be considered for these tenure track positions. Further detailed information can be found at: http://portal.cuny.edu/cms/id/cuny/documents/jobposting/017918.htm#P-11_0
We invite applications from candidates who are interested in working with us in the Law School’s unique mission of training lawyers who will work for social justice.
November 2, 2006
Professional Reading: What Happens When Factual Recitals in Court Opinions Are Inaccurate?
NYU Prof Jacob Jacoby has uploaded Judicial Opinions as Minefields of Misinformation: Antecedents, Consequences and Remedies to the SSRN depository. Here's the abstract of this very interesting study:
Discussing factors that may make judicial opinions a minefield of misinformation, Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner hypothesizes . . . judges' knowledge of the world . . . relevant to legal decision making, derives to a significant degree from judicial opinions that, he suggests, may often be systematically unreliable sources of information. To test this hypothesis, Judge Posner urges academic commentators to expand their study of cases beyond judicial opinions . . . [and] get hold of the briefs and record to check the accuracy of the factual recitals in the opinion. Doing as Judge Posner proposes yields support for his hypothesis. The analysis also reveals that where a court's factual recitals do not comport with the underlying record, the negative effects can extend beyond the delivery of justice in the instant matter to denigrating subsequent case law and generating other adverse effects as well. After considering the antecedents and consequents of erroneous factual recitals, remedies are suggested for mitigating the problem.
New GlobLex Guides
New legal research articles and guides on GlobaLex:
Basic Info and Online Sources for NAFTA and CAFTA Research (North American Free Trade Agreement and United States-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement) by Francisco Avalos and Maureen Garmon
Botswana’s Legal System and Legal Research by Lubabalo Booi
Egyptian Legal System and Legal Research by Dr. Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab
Laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan: A Guide to Web Based Resources by Oleg Stalbovsky & Maria Stalbovskaya
Protecting Property Rights, Preserving Federalism and Saving Wetlands
"The U.S. Supreme Court missed a golden opportunity to give landowners, federal regulators and the states clear guidance about which wetlands are under federal control and what actions can be taken to protect and/or develop them. According to a new study by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), far from clearing the legal air, the highest court made the issue cloudier - all to the detriment of the environment and the economy.”
Report refutes fraud at poll sites
"At a time when many states are instituting new requirements for voter registration and identification, a preliminary report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission has found little evidence of the type of polling-place fraud those measures seek to stop.
USA TODAY obtained the report from the commission four months after it was delivered by two consultants hired to write it. The commission has not distributed it publicly." [Emphasis added.]
Minimum Wage Trends
“There is a growing view among economists that the minimum wage offers substantial benefits to low-wage workers without negative effect. Although there are still dissenters, the best recent research has shown that the job loss reported in earlier analyses does not, in fact, occur when the minimum wage is increased.”
Opening: Law Librarian, Tarrant County Law Library, Fort Worth, TX
ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS: Provides legal reference services using manual and online services. Performs technical processing of library materials. Suggests library materials for purchase. Communicates with publishers. Prepares bibliographies. Assists and supervises library clerks. Maintains accessions and processes new materials. Sells copy cards and makes change, faxes information to law firms and services photocopiers. Performs all other related duties as assigned.
REQUIREMENTS: Master's Degree in Library Science or related field required to apply. Full-time equivalent of two (2) years experience in a law library setting required to apply. Knowledgeable in word processing, Internet, WESTLAW and LEXIS databases. If hired, must provide proof of educational attainment at new hire processing.
To view complete official job listing and to apply online: http://agency.governmentjobs.com/tarrant/default.cfm?action=viewjob&JobID=49482
November 1, 2006
100 Million Websites!
CNN is reporting that during the month of October the Web reached the 100 million milestone, quoting Netcraft's Rich Miller, "there are now 100 million Web sites with domain names and content on them." [JH]
McDade's The Book Thief: The True Crimes of Daniel Spiegelman
U of Illinois law librarian, Travis McDade, has written The Book Thief about a rare book crime and the unique federal sentence that stemmed from it. In 1998 Daniel Spiegelman (the book thief) received an upward departure from the federal sentencing guidelines based on the idea that the monetary value of the stolen books and manuscripts understated their actual value to society. See, McDade's website about the book. The Book Thief is on my reading list. How about yours?
The Book Thief: The True Crimes of Daniel Spiegelman
List Price: $49.95
Hardcover: 200 pages
Publisher: Praeger Publishers (October 30, 2006)
Book Description: In the spring of 1994, Daniel Spiegelman shinnied up an abandoned book lift in Columbia University's Butler Library, dismantled a wall, stole books, reassembled the wall, and snuck back down the shaft. Over a three-month period he did this more than a dozen times. He eventually escaped to Europe with roughly $1.8 million in rare books, letters and manuscripts. When he was caught in the Netherlands, he tried to avoid extradition to the U.S. by telling the Dutch authorities he was a financier of the Oklahoma City bombing-- knowing they wouldn't extradite someone facing the death penalty. Eventually, the FBI got him back to New York, where he finally stood trial for his crimes. Four years, four attorneys, one determined librarian, numerous court appearances, and one guilty plea after the initial crime took place, a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York meted out a sentence that ran counter to the plea agreement, nearly doubling the ordinary sentence for a crime of that magnitude. In so doing, he created a new justification for departure from Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Basing his decision on the potential harm inflicted on society as a whole by the theft of "rare and unique elements of our cultural heritage," Judge Kaplan redefined the value of such rare items and justified his sentencing by determining the value to be beyond the monetary realm. McDade recounts all the sordid elements of this true-crime caper in vivid detail, presenting readers with a retelling of the crimes, dialogue from the court transcripts, and explanations of the legal consequences and intricacies. In addition to the significant, overall legal themes, The Book Thief describes two prison escape attempts, one suicide attempt, a jailed defense lawyer, and the aftermath of this unique and interesting case.
Hat tip to Stephanie Davidson, Head of Public Services, University of Illinois, Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Memorial Law Library. [JH]
Professional Reading: Measuring Total Reading of Journal Articles
In the October 2006 issue of D-Lib Magazine, Donald W. King, Carol Tenopir and Michael Clarke report on a survey they conducted utilizing "a little used but powerful method of observing reading by scientists. This method is designed to measure the amount of reading of specific journal articles and entire journals to complement exclusive observations of electronic journal hits and downloads, transaction logs, limited counts of citations to journals or articles and rough estimates of total amount of reading by professionals compared with total number of articles published." [JH]