March 17, 2007
Court Holds Software Was Practicing Law Without a License
A web-based "expert system" that helped users prepare bankruptcy filings for a fee made too many decisions to be considered a clerical tool, an appeals court said, ruling that the software was effectively practicing law without a license. Maybe the software app should take (a) some online law school classes and/or (b) the bar exam.
America is Falling Behind Other Nations in Degree Attainment
From the Chronicle: "The United States is falling behind other developed nations in terms of the share of its population with a college degree, and the gap will widen substantially unless the nation makes postsecondary education much more accessible, according to a report scheduled for release today by Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based research organization. (for subscribers)
Wikipedia Editor Who Posed as Professor is College Dropout
"He touted himself as a tenured professor with doctorates in theology and canon law.
But the volunteer editor and fact checker for the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia turned out to be a 24-year-old dropout from Centre College and Lexington Community College.
In a long feature last July, The New Yorker described how Ryan Jordan -- identified online and in the magazine article as Essjay -- was renowned for rooting out errors and obscenity from Wikipedia, whose entries are contributed and corrected by readers and volunteer editors.
Last week, however, after Jordan's credentials were exposed as fictitious, the magazine ran a correction -- and yesterday Jordan, who had written or edited about 16,000 entries, resigned."
See also, The New Yorker: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise? [RJ]
2007 Trade Policy Agenda and 2006 Annual Report
From the Office of the United States Trade Representative. [RJ]
March 16, 2007
Blogger Seeks to Retain Anonymity to Avoid Defamation Suit
Yesterday's New York Sun reported that an Orthodox Jewish blogger is asking a judge to protect her anonymity from a Long Island elected official who has gone to court to identity the blogger because the official may sue the blogger for defamation.
The elected official, Pamela Greenbaum, a member of the school board for Lawrence, L.I., asked a state judge last month to force Google to identify the writer behind a popular Web log for the orthodox community in the Five Towns area.
The blog, orthomom.blogspot.com, featured a posting in January critical of Ms. Greenbaum's position regarding the use by yeshiva students of public school facilities. In guest comments to the postings, Ms. Greenbaum has been called a "bigot.
Hat tip to New York Personal Injury Blog. [JH]
JURIST Conference, Law As a Seamless Web|site, Set for March 29
JURIST, the Webby award-winning legal news and research service based at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a one-day conference in Pittsburgh on Thursday, March 29.
The conference is entitled "Law As a Seamless Web|site" and highlights JURIST's ongoing mission of "Documenting Law to Empower People". Four panels and 14 distinguished speakers will be exploring a range of issues at the intersections of law, war, rights, social justice, technology, legal journalism, legal education and public service.
You can register for this free event at the official conference website: http://www.law.pitt.edu/juristconference/
Confirmed speakers include:
- Jonathan Freiman (counsel for Jose Padilla and Visiting Lecturer, Yale Law School)
- Marjorie Cohn (President, National Lawyers Guild)
- David Crane (former Prosecutor, UN Special Court for Sierra Leone)
- Geoffrey Corn (former Law of War advisor to the US Army JAG)
- Sherrilyn Ifill (University of Maryland Law School)
- Tony Mauro (Supreme Court correspondent, American Lawyer Media)
- Tim Stanley (CEO Justia; FindLaw founder)
- Ed Adams (Editor and Publisher, ABA Journal)
- Jim Chen (Dean, Brandeis Law School, University of Louisville)
- Nancy Rapoport (University of Houston Law Center)
- John Palfrey (Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School)
- Conrad Johnson (Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, Columbia Law School)
The conference's two keynote speakers are
- Ethan Katsh (Director, Center for Information Technology, U. Mass. Amherst); and
- Charles Bierbauer (former CNN Supreme Court correspondent, now dean of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina).
The conference will be officially opened via video from Strasbourg, France, by Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
This may be one of the best conferences of the year! Hope to see you there. [JH]
Law Review Editors Take Note
In Law Review Editing: Some Suggestions for Reform, Concurring Opinions blogger Dan Solove identifies two of the silliest rules and practices of law review editing:
- that nearly all cites need to have a parenthetical containing descriptive text; and
- that nearly every proposition in the article be footnoted.
Law review editors take note! Don't neglect to read the comments to Solove's post. [JH]
Anna Nicole Smith, Fodder for Wills, Trusts and Estates Classes
The Associated Press is reporting on how Anna Nicole Smith has become a hot topic in estate law classes. The late model has also been the subject of approximately 20 posts published in the Law Professor Blogs Network's Wills, Trusts and Estates Prof Blog including, for example, Why Did Anna Die? They Know But Aren't Telling!, Appellate Court Upholds Anna Nicole Smith's Burial in the Bahamas, Judge Seidlin's Order Now Available, Analysis of Anna Nicole Smith's Will, and Possible Big Winner in Anna Nicole Smith's Death -- The IRS!. [JH]
Cable Network Introduces New Copyright Policy and Expanded Capitol Hearings Website
Advancing its longstanding mission of bringing government closer to the people, C-SPAN announced today two major initiatives designed to greatly expand citizen access to its online video of federal government activities, such as congressional hearings, agency briefings, and White House events.
- C-SPAN is introducing a liberalized copyright policy for current, future, and past coverage of any official events sponsored by Congress and any federal agency-- about half of all programming offered on the C-SPAN television networks--which will allow non-commercial copying, sharing, and posting of C-SPAN video on the Internet, with attribution.
- In addition, C-SPAN also announced plans to significantly build out its capitolhearings.org website as a one-stop resource for Congressionally-produced webcasts of House and Senate committee and subcommittee hearings.
The Politics of Voter Fraud
From the press release: "Widespread “voter fraud” is a myth promulgated to suppress voter participation, according to a new Project Vote report released this week. “The Politics of Voter Fraud” finds that fraudulent voting, or the intentional corruption of the voting process by voters, is extremely rare. Yet, false or exaggerated claims of fraudulent voting are commonly made in close electoral contests, and later cited by proponents of laws that restrict voting. The report is authored by Lorraine Minnite, Ph.D., Barnard College, Columbia University." [RJ]
Opening: Web Services Developer, George Mason University School of Law
For the complete job announcement, see
The George Mason University Law Library in Arlington, Virginia is seeking a creative, energetic, and highly customer-oriented individual to design, develop, and maintain the School of Law's website, provide support in the design, development and maintenance of specialized databases and web-based resources, provide training and support to faculty, staff, and students in creating web pages and using web-based resources, and work closely with the law library director, members of the law school's computing services department, and the university's IT unit to plan, develop, implement, and support current and emerging technologies in the law library and law school. The Web Services Developer will report to the Associate Dean for Library & Technology.
Salary is competitive, commensurate with qualifications and experience.
Applications must be made online. To apply, go to http://jobs.gmu.edu and enter the Position Number: FA627Z. Candidates are required to submit a cover letter, resume, and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of 3 references. Candidates who are selected for interviews will be asked to do a 15 minute presentation on a web-based project that they have designed.
The application deadline is 03-28-2007.
March 15, 2007
Transcripts in Combatant Status Review Tribunals Released
Transcripts in last week's Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearings for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Faraj al-Libi and Ramzi Bin al-Shibh have been released. See our earlier post, Key 9-11 Suspects Face Combatant Status Review Tribunals at Gitmo for details about these hearings.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Confesses 9/11 Role. CNN is reporting that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, admitted to those attacks and numerous others during a U.S. military hearing on Saturday, according to an edited transcript of the hearing released by the Pentagon Wednesday. The transcript continues with the list of operations he was responsible for, including the Richard Reid shoe bomber attempt to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic Ocean, the Bali nightclub bombing in Indonesia, the 1993 World Trade Center attack and other attacks that were foiled. The list of some 29 operations he was responsible for is followed by a shorter list of operations he was partially responsible for, including an assassination attempt against then-Pope John Paul II while he was visiting the Philippines.
Here's the transcripts:
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Download transcript_ISN10024.pdf
- Abu Faraj al-Libi: Download Abu_transcript_ISN10017.pdf
- Ramzi Bin al-Shibh: Download Ram_transcript_ISN10013.pdf
Read more about it. [JH]
More DOJ Disclosures on White House Involvement in Firing 6 US Attorneys
"The latest round of disclosures from the Department of Justice raise new and troubling questions about the firing of six United States Attorneys.
We have just received documents from the Justice Department in the last hour and are in the process of reviewing them. At a minimum, we believe these documents show a coordinated effort, initiated by the White House, to purge every United States Attorney in the country."
E-mails Lay Out Plan to Dismiss U.S. attorneys
An e-mail from the Justice Department's Kyle Sampson in March 2005 laid out a simple formula for evaluating whether the 93 U.S. attorneys should stay or go.
On a chart given to then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers, Sampson -- chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- listed attorneys in three categories:
"Bold = Recommend retaining; strong U.S. attorneys who have managed well, and exhibited loyalty to the president and attorney general.
"Strikeout = Recommend removing; weak U.S. attorneys who have been ineffectual managers and prosecutors, chafed against administration initiatives, etc.
"Nothing = No recommendation; have not distinguished themselves either positively or negatively."
Sampson was in charge of deciding which U.S. attorneys would be removed in a shakeup last year. Eight prosecutors were eventually removed. Sampson resigned from his post Monday, just as the e-mails he wrote were released publicly.
Professional Reading: Information Literacy and Technology
Ann Grafstein, Information Literacy and Technology: An Examination of Some Issues, 7 portal: Libraries and the Academy 51-64 (2007)
Abstract: The literature on information literacy often assumes that there is an inherent link between the need for information literacy and what is commonly referred to as the information explosion. This assumed link is reflected in programs of information literacy instruction offered by academic libraries. This article argues that the basic concepts of information literacy predate and are largely independent of the new information environment. It contends further that an emphasis in information literacy instruction on the specific challenges posed by the Internet and related information technologies may lead to an insufficient emphasis on other more basic and enduring components of information literacy.
FBI Releases Annual Financial Crimes Report
"The arm of the FBI that investigates financial crimes ranging from underground pyramid schemes to institutionalized fraud in the nation’s corporate suites has issued its annual report detailing the most prevalent types of schemes investigators tackled in 2006.
The Financial Crimes Report to the Public is prepared each year by the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. The report, which covers a 12-month period ending September 30, 2006, explains in detail dozens of fraud schemes, tallies FBI accomplishments combating the crimes, and offers tips the public can use to protect itself." [RJ]
Web Giants Race for Online Library Services in China
Reuters is reporting that Google and its top rival in China Baidu.com are racing to create their online library services in a fierce battle for a slice of the world's second-largest Internet market. Baidu has already secured a strategic partnership with Peking University Library in Beijing, one of Asia's largest academic libraries, in preparation for the launch of its online book service, publishing and Internet sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday. 'Baidu has already secured good relations with many local universities and libraries,' said a Chinese publishing source familiar with the situation. [JH]
Cornell Law Library's InSITE Website Reviews
Reviews published in the March 5, 2007 issue of InSITE:
- Cybercrime Law
- Environmental Law Net
- NACA: National Association of Consumer Advocates
- NCAI: National Congress of American Indians
- Religion & the Law
Edited by Chief Judge Stein Schjolberg of the Moss tingrett Court, Norway, Cybercrime Law is a universal repository of information on cybercrime and the law. The site defines cybercrime as “offenses against information technology infrastructure,” with an emphasis on interception and interference. Crimes such as child pornography and copyright infringements are beyond the scope of the site. Legal researchers and practitioners will find the “Global Legal Framework” section useful, as it details the adoption of legal standards and recommendations from the G-8 States, OAS, APEC, The Commonwealth, EU, ASEAN States and United Nations. The website also offers a global survey of cybercrime laws, with unofficial English translations from non-English speaking countries. The “Papers” section offers visitors original research, presentations, and white papers. Students and researchers will appreciate the “Brief History of Computer Crime Legislation.” [BWK]
Environmental Law Net
Created as a client service tool in 1998 by environmental and energy lawyer David Blackmar, Environmental Law Net is a leading resource for environmental law research and news. This mega-site contains a wealth of original content not available anyplace else, on the Internet or in print. Visitors may access information via the two main content divisions: legal information libraries and community resources. There are six legal information libraries which are broken into document libraries and task-specific libraries. The document libraries cover laws and regulations, court and agency decisions, and other agency documents. The task-specific libraries cover compliance, enforcement and litigation, and real estate and corporate transactions. The community resources area provides a daily newsfeed, reference tools, a moderated interview and seminar forum, editorial articles, and other useful features. Comprehensive and interactive, this website is directed towards attorneys and business clients, but is free and open to the public. [BWK]
NACA: National Association of Consumer Advocates
The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is a nationwide association of attorneys and consumer advocates who have a wide range of experience curbing abusive and predatory business practices and who promote justice for consumers, particularly those of modest means. NACA focuses on areas such as home equity scams, unfair credit reporting practices, and mandatory arbitration clauses. The organization’s website is directed at members and potential members, as well as the general public. For the public, it provides information about the organization, and offers visitors useful tools such as a directory of attorneys practicing in the area of consumer law. Legal researchers will appreciate the site’s extensive collection of amicus briefs. NACA also offers a collection of the advocacy letters it sends to promote its cause. The site’s “Consumer Resource Center” provides fact sheets, handbooks, and other guides to consumer issues such as debt and deceptive practices. Most of this site’s documents are in PDF. [BWK]
NCAI: National Congress of American Indians
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was founded in 1944 in response to U.S. government policies towards tribal governments. Currently including 250 member tribes, NCAI works to inform the public and Congress about the governmental rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The NCAI website provides a wide range of information on social, political, and economic issues affecting American Indians today. Three main areas of the website will be of particular interest to the researcher. “Policy Issues” includes links to information and documents covering tribal governance, community development, health and human services, and land and natural resources. “Resolutions” records the NCAI’s official position on federal, state, local, or tribal legislation, litigation, and policy matters. And the “Policy Research Center” is a clearinghouse of research affecting Native American interests. Be sure to take advantage of the “Quick Search” that allows the user to search over 200 Indian specific websites at once. An additional resource of note is the Tribal Directory, providing contacts to tribes, tribal organizations, and the federal government. [JJ]
Religion & the Law
The Religion and the Law page is one of several offered by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Forum was launched in 2001 “to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs.” Religion and the law is one of the Forum’s key research areas covering various church-state controversies. The Forum provides additional issue pages addressing bioethics, gay marriage, religion and public schools, and other topics. The Religion and the Law page provides transcripts, publications, and news items. Transcripts of Forum-sponsored events on the death penalty and Supreme Court abortion cases are available. The publications provide users with detailed background and public opinion information on issues such as abortion, gay relationships, and holiday displays in public spaces. For detailed research on abortion, researchers should consult the section titled “Abortion Laws Around the World.” [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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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, © 2007 Cornell Law Library. Permission to republish InSITE issues on Law Librarian Blog has been granted. For permissions, contact Jean M. Pajerek [email@example.com].
Cornell Law Library URL: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/library
Historians Fight Bush on Access to Papers
Interesting story from the N.Y. Times: "Historians want to broaden access to documents by lifting White House restrictions on their release." [RJ]
New CFR Book Warning America Remains Vulnerable
The Edge of Disaster
Rebuilding a Resilient Nation
Stephen E. Flynn
A CFR Book. Random House, February 20, 2007
272 pages | $25.95
ISBN 978-1-4000-6551-6 (1-4000-6551-8)
Book Description: We have learned little from the cataclysms of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. When it comes to catastrophe, America is living on borrowed time—and squandering it.
The truth is, acts of terror cannot always be prevented, and nature continues to show its fury in frighteningly unpredictable ways. Resiliency, argues Flynn, must now become our national motto. With chilling frankness and clarity, Flynn paints an all-too-real scenario of the threats we face within our own borders. A terrorist attack on a tanker carrying liquefied natural gas into Boston Harbor could kill thousands and leave millions more of New Englanders without power or heat. The destruction of a ship with a cargo of oil in Long Beach, California, could bring the West Coast economy to its knees and endanger the surrounding population. But even these alarmingly plausible terrorist scenarios pale in comparison to the potential destruction wrought by a major earthquake or hurricane.
Our growing exposure to man-made and natural perils is largely rooted in our own negligence, as we take for granted the infrastructure handed down to us by earlier generations. Once the envy of the world, this infrastructure is now crumbling. After decades of neglect, our public health system leaves us at the mercy of microbes that could kill millions in the next flu pandemic. Flash flooding could wipe out a fifty-year-old dam north of Phoenix, placing thousands of homes and lives at risk. The next San Francisco earthquake could destroy century-old levees, contaminating the freshwater supply that most of California relies on for survival.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Edge of Disaster tells us what we can do about it, as individuals and as a society. We can—and, Flynn argues, we must—construct a more resilient nation. With the wounds of recent national tragedies still unhealed, the time to act is now. By tackling head-on, eyes open the perils that lie before us, we can remain true to our most important and endearing national trait: our sense of optimism about the future and our conviction that we can change it for the better for ourselves—and our children.