November 29, 2006
Professional Reading: Does it matter for the outcome of a trial who the judge is?
Judicial Fact Discretion
by Nicola Gennaioli, Andrei Shleifer
Abstract: Does it matter for the outcome of a trial who the judge is? Legal practitioners typically believe that the answer is yes, yet legal scholarship sees trial judges as predictably enforcing established law. Following Frank (1951), we suggest here that trial judges exercise considerable discretion in finding facts, which explains the practitioners' perspective and other aspects of trials. We identify two motivations for the exercise of such discretion: judicial policy preferences and judges' aversion to reversal on appeal when the law is unsettled. In the latter case, judges exercising fact discretion find the facts that fit the settled precedents, even when they have no policy preferences. In a standard model of a tort, judicial fact discretion leads to setting of damages unpredictable from true facts of the case but predictable from knowledge of judicial preferences, it distorts the number and severity of accidents, and generates welfare losses. It also raises the incidence of litigation relative to settlement, and encourages litigants to take extreme positions in court, especially in new and complex disputes where the law is unsettled.
Relief from the Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
William S. Hein & Co., 2006 | ISBN: 0-8377-3412-6 | $68.00
Book Description: The guide is the first comprehensive survey of U.S. laws and practices that offers a way to overcome or mitigate the collateral legal consequences of a criminal conviction. It begins with short analytical pieces on executive pardon, judicial expungement and sealing, deferred adjudication and set-aside, certificates of rehabilitation and laws that limit consideration of conviction in connection with employment and licensing. The heart of the guide is its detailed descriptions for each U.S. jurisdiction of available relief mechanisms and how they operate. Includes charts allowing easy state-to-state comparisons. It is an invaluable resource for policymakers and researchers dealing with the legal barriers to offender re-entry, and for practitioners at every level of the justice system.
Due to frequent changes in this area of law, Love plans to update this work every six months
Internet Watch List for the Lame Duck Congress
"As Congress returns for its post-election "lame duck" session, certain pending legislative measures that would carry grave consequences for Internet privacy and civil liberties could still worm their way into end-of-the-year legislative packages or otherwise get rushed into law. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) compiled this Internet Watch List so that lawmakers, journalists, and Internet activists can keep close tabs on the dangerous legislative efforts that cannot be allowed to slip through in the final days of the 109th Congress."
Check it out. [RJ]
AALL Handbook Now on AALLNET
New from AALL:
The AALL Handbook, formerly available in full only in the printed AALL Directory, is now available online via AALLNET. Although some portions of the Handbook were previously available on AALLNET, they were scattered throughout the Web site. Now, thanks to the hard work of Chris Siwa, AALL Web administrator, and Julia O’Donnell, AALL director of publications, a table of contents has been created that provides easy access to the various components of the handbook.
November 28, 2006
Spotlight on Law Librarians: Amy Wright
I graduated from UC Hastings in 1997, and I admit that the idea of becoming a law librarian never once crossed my mind during law school. In fact, I followed a conventional path throughout law school. I participated in on-campus interviews and worked as a summer associate at a downtown law firm. I was a member of Hastings Law Journal, worked as a research assistant to a professor, and served as a teaching assistant in the first-year Legal Writing and Research program. After graduation, I practiced health care law for about five years in San Francisco law firms and also worked as in-house counsel for a large health care system.
Over time, I grew increasingly dissatisfied with the demands of practicing law and found myself thinking seriously about a career change. I enjoyed legal research and mentoring junior attorneys, but I struggled with the long hours and the encroachments on my family life. I read a number of different books on alternative legal careers and found a tiny paragraph in the back of one book about law librarianship. I don’t remember which book it was, but I do remember that the author didn’t seem to find law librarianship to be a particularly exciting choice. But that didn’t matter. As soon as I read the short description, I was immediately intrigued because it mentioned that teaching and research were both primary job duties for academic law librarians. I loved doing research and working as a teaching assistant in law school, and I thought that it would be great to have a job that involved both activities. I started to read everything that I could find about being a law librarian. After two weeks of research and an intensive review of the AALL website, I realized that I had found my calling.
I applied to San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science and completed the MLIS program in May 2005. I joined the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL) and the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) immediately upon starting law school. I attended my first AALL conference in Seattle in 2003, where I quickly found out just how friendly and welcoming the law librarian community could be. I still recall telling my husband how different this conference was from all of the attorney conferences that I had attended over the past few years – “People will actually talk to me and offer career advice even though I’m just a student, and there’s lots of hugging!,” I told him. “I think I’ve found my people.”
During my final year of library school, I landed an internship at the University of San Francisco’s Zief Law Library, which was my first significant library work experience. It was particularly meaningful for me to work at Zief because I was a long-time patron of the USF law library as a law student and practicing attorney. I had always admired the staff and the collection, and it was such a great experience to come back to this law library to begin my new career. I worked at the reference desk, developed a plan for a new faculty resources web page, and made recommendations about the library’s health law and bioethics collections. I absolutely loved working there, and I couldn’t wait to find my first full-time librarian position.
In my first job after library school, I served as the Electronic Services Reference Librarian at Santa Clara University’s Heafey Law Library. I managed the library’s web pages, launched an internal blog for our reference department and an external blog for our patrons, and taught advanced legal research for the first time. I’m now well into my second semester of teaching Advanced Legal Research, and I’ve found it to be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. My teaching philosophy is simple – I try to teach my students all of the things that I wished I had known before I began practicing law. I cover traditional legal research topics such as legislative history, secondary sources, and federal and state administrative legal research, but I also include discussions about performance expectations for new attorneys, how to write solid timesheet entries, and cost-efficient research strategies.
I had a great experience at Santa Clara, but when a position opened this past year at the University of San Francisco closer to home, I decided to apply and was excited to receive an offer a few months ago. I am managing the law library’s online resources, overseeing our Lexis and Westlaw training, providing faculty research support, and preparing to teach Advanced Legal Research again in 2007. The USF Law students are inquisitive, friendly, and smart, and I really enjoy working with them at the reference desk and in the classroom.
I’m also an active member of NOCALL and AALL so that I can take full advantage of the supportive law librarian professional community and work to recruit others to law librarianship. I currently serve as the Co-Chair of the NOCALL Academic Relations Committee, and I’m a member of AALL’s Recruitment to Law Librarianship Committee.
In a recent tribute to J. Myron Jacobstein,  Bob Berring said that Professor Jacobstein once told him that "the best thing about law librarianship was that you could give it your best but you did not have to give it your soul. . . . [y]our soul was for your family." Professor Jacobstein had it exactly right. You should be able to love what you do and give it your best without having your job drain you dry. But I have to confess that, even though I don’t spend long nights and weekends at the office anymore, my job has stolen a little bit of my soul – in a wonderful way. I think about new methods of teaching legal research on my daily walks in Golden Gate Park, formulate new research hypotheticals for my class in the shower, and avidly read other librarians’ blogs on the weekends. I market law librarianship to law and library school students through AALL and NOCALL mentoring programs and speaking engagements. But I no longer resent the time that I spend thinking about my job “off the clock” – instead, I am immensely grateful and honored to be part of such a creative, collegial, and passionate profession.
 Robert C. Berring, Mike Jacobstein: Truly a Giant, 97 Law Lib. J. 633 (2005).
Editor's Note: The Spotlight on Law Librarians feature is edited by Lee Peoples, Law Librarian Blog Contributing Editor and Associate Director for Faculty, Research and Instructional Services, Oklahoma City University Law Library. Please feel free to recommend a colleague for this feature to Lee at email@example.com
Pushing Legal Research Beyond Google
"For some, Internet research begins and ends with fee-based services like Westlaw and LexisNexis. And while these sites are as valuable as ever, there is so much data stored online now that you can't access it all from a single source -- not even Google. In fact, looking beyond the ever-popular search engine can help unearth inconspicuous evidence or witnesses. And breaking away from pay-site dependency can save firms and clients money, too. " [RJ]
Strange But True: Andy Griffith Sues Andy Griffith
The star of "The Andy Griffith Show," who portrayed the sheriff of the fictional town of Mayberry, has sued under trademark and copyright laws, as well as the privacy of actor, a Wisconsin man who unsuccessfully ran for the Grant County sheriff post after legally changing his name to Andrew Jackson Griffith. Read more about it. [JH]
SEC Now Providing Full Text Search of 4 Years of EDGAR Filings
"[I]nvestors are now able to search the contents of the disclosure documents filed electronically with the SEC using a new full-text search tool on the Commission's website. The newly searchable information includes registration statements, annual and quarterly reports, and other filings by companies and mutual funds filed during the past four years on the Commission's EDGAR database."
New LLRX.com Guides and Articles
New on LLRX.com:
- Leveraging Blogs, RSS, News Alerts and Different Search Engines to Expand Your Research, by Sabrina I. Pacifici
- E-Discovery Update - by Fios Inc.: Keeping Current with E-Discovery Law, by Conrad J. Jacoby
- Gadgets, Gadgets, Gadgets! - by Barbara Fullerton, Sabrina I. Pacifici and Aaron Schmidt
- Burney's Gadgets for Legal Pros - Reviews: Dragon Speaking Naturally 9 and Adobe Acrobat 8, by Brett Burney
Opening: Reference/Electronic Services Librarian, Georgia State Law
The Georgia State University College of Law Library is seeking a new librarian to join the Public Services Department as a Reference/Electronic Services Librarian. Follow this link for a complete job description: http://law.gsu.edu/library/employment.php
November 27, 2006
American Lawyer's Summer Associate Survey Now Online
Read all about it at The Real World According to Summer Associates. [JH]
National Rankings (free registration required):
- Number 1: Arnall Golden (Atlanta)
Results by City (free registration required):
- Chicago No. 1: Bryan Cave
- D.C. No. 1: McKenna Long
- Los Angeles No.1: Heller Ehrman
- New York No. 1: Hunton & Williams
Reflections on the Death of H. Donald Wilson, First President of Mead Data Central
H. Donald Wilson died of a heart attack Nov. 12. He was the first president of Mead Data Central and was instrumental in commercializing what we now know as LexisNexis. In the late 1960s, he developed a business plan for an engineer's invention of a search engine for a database based on addressing words and phrases of fully inverted files. According to the New York Times, "[a] turning point for the acceptance of Lexis came in the early 1970s, when Mr. Wilson arranged for a skeptical audience at the Supreme Court to use the new system. The Lexis system found more cases than the court clerks found by using manual research methods."
Fifty-somethings like me remember the arrival of the first Lexis terminals. As a graduate student working at the University of Chicago Law Library, we had one terminal for the entire school and, because of its size, it was located in the Law Library's Rare Book Room. Like the rare books, access to the terminal was restricted.
Those huge machines with an array of function keys (which some of us still miss or fondly remember their "dot commands" replacements) and an acoustic coupler for telecommunication were a marvel. We all learned and taught our patrons full text searching using Venn diagrams while reformulating legal research principles around access points and routes in a format neutral frame of reference.
It wasn't long before the legal profession became dependent on "computer-assisted legal research." Later iterations of Lexis equipment did away with the manual acoustic coupler but I will never forget needing one of the older machines once. While working for a large law firm, we had to cite check a brief quickly but we could not establish a connection to Lexis using our newer automatic dialer-based terminal. All the lines were busy because Pope John Paul II had been shot that day. My Lexis rep came to my aid by giving me a telephone number and I rushed off to IIT Chicago-Kent Law Library because that library still had the older acoustic coupler terminal. The brief was checked and filed on time.
I never met Mr. Wilson, who according to the Washington Post died at his computer at home, but I can think of no one who had a greater impact on how we conduct legal research today. Those of us in our 50's experienced something unique in law librarianship. We are the bridge generation. We stand with one foot firmly planted in print materials and the other in online resources. We have Mr. Wilson to thank for that. [JH]
ALCTS Sponsors Digiblog
ALCTS -- the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services -- is sponsoring Digiblog as a forum for dialogue on critical issues to tech services and collection development. The blog is specifically related to controversial statements that will be used by a panel as part of the ALA Midwinter 2007 symposium entitled “Definitely Digital: an Exploration of the Future of Knowledge on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of ALCTS. [JH]
Professional Reading: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: The Legal Academy Goes to Practice
Georgetown Law Prof Neal Kumar Katyal has made Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: The Legal Academy Goes to Practice available on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This essay, for the annual Supreme Court issue of the Harvard Law Review, uses Hamdan to illustrate why the disparagement of theory in law schools is partially wrong. By examining a few of the litigation choices made in the case, it demonstrates some of the benefits of theory to practice. At least three different theoretical tools were involved in Hamdan: (1) cognitive psychological research on framing effects and bias toward compromise; (2) theoretical inquiry into the timing of Supreme Court litigation and the passive virtues; and (3) economic analysis of penalty default rules and political science research on the veto. The study of such tools in law schools is widely - and incorrectly - believed irrelevant to practice.
At the same time, it is easy to overstate the case for theory, as contemporary legal scholars frequently do. The truth is that very few top law schools today prepare all of their students to be lawyers. Some lessons along this dimension from the Hamdan case are explored as well, including the teaching of lawyering skills.
The essay also analyzes the implications of the Hamdan decision, concentrating on two central holdings: (a) the President cannot set aside or creatively interpret laws of Congress under claims of inherent authority, and (b) treaties ratified by the Senate constrain the exercise of executive power, and the President does not have unfettered ability to interpret such treaties as he chooses.
As to (A), the most important doctrinal lesson of Hamdan is its repudiation of the claim that the President is entitled to act alone. Indeed, Hamdan stands as a defining moment in constitutional law because it integrates the modern communication and transportation revolution into constitutional analysis.
As to (B), the Court's decision might best be explained on the ground that the President lacked support not only from Congress, but also from the executive branch's own experts. Hamdan second-guessed the President's interpretations on this view because those interpretations had not earned the approval of the bureaucracy, including the Judge Advocates General and the State Department. Through bypassing the interagency process, and squelching expertise under the aegis of political accountability, the Administration weakened the rationale for deference all on its own.
RSS feeds from UN bodies
First Guantanamo Tribunal Tapes Released under FOIA
JURIST has this very important story.
See also NPR's coverage:
"Audio recordings obtained by NPR provide the outside world with its first window into the secret world of military tribunals at the U.S. prison camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The recordings, made by the U.S. military, are of tribunals held in the fall of 2004 to review the "enemy combatant" status of six detainees who were arrested in Bosnia in late 2001. Lawyers for the men obtained the tapes under the Freedom of Information Act and provided NPR with copies of the recordings."
EPA To Regulate Silver Nanoparticles
The Washington Post is reporting that in a reversal of agency policy the EPA will regulate consumer products made with microscopic "nanoparticles" of silver. The decision will affect the marketing of high-tech odor-destroying shoe liners, food-storage containers, air fresheners, washing machines and a wide range of other consumer products. EPA regulations are expected in several months. Read more about it. [JH]
Opening: Reference Librarian, Fordham Law
The Fordham University Law School Library continues to seek an energetic, innovative, and dedicated librarian to fill an open reference librarian position. JD and MLS are required. For a detailed job description, please go to the official job announcement.
Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position, please submit a cover letter, resume, and the names of three professional references to: Mike Slauenwhite, Asst. Dean for Administration, Fordham University School of Law, 140 West 62nd Street, New York, New York. FAX: 212-636-6069, or Todd Melnick, firstname.lastname@example.org , Senior Reference Librarian, Fordham University Law School, Leo T. Kissam Law Library, 140 West 62nd Street, New York, New York 10023. FAX: 212-930-8818.
November 26, 2006
World Technology Usage Lags
World Technology Usage Lags
by Diego A. Comin, Bart Hobijn, Emilie Rovito
Abstract: We present evidence on the differences in the intensity with which ten technologies are used in 185 countries. To measure differences in technology use, we determine how long ago these technologies were used in the U.S. at the same intensity as they are used in the countries in our sample. We denote these time lags as technology usage lags and compare them with lags in real GDP per capita. We find that (i) many countries trail the U.S. in technology usage by several decades or more; (ii) usage lags are highly correlated with disparities in per-capita income; and (iii) usage lags are highly correlated across technologies.
Top 10 Reasons to Delay Your Upgrade to Windows Vista
In his Law.com commentary, Top 10 Reasons to Delay Your Upgrade to Windows Vista, solo attorney and Future Lawyer blogger Rick Georges views Microsoft's impending release of the Windows Vista operating system with skepticism. He offers 10 reasons to wait on an upgrade, plus criticisms of the OS's licensing agreement. [RJ]