January 13, 2007
Senior DOD Official Wants to Boycott Gitmo Law Firms
CNN is reporting that Charles Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, has proposed a boycott of law firms that represent detainees. The Pentagon, however, has disavowed Stimson's remarks. [JH]
FBI's Gitmo Inquiry
From the FBI: "The FBI released documents related to an internal inquiry in 2004 of FBI personnel who had served at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since September 11, 2001 and had observed any aggressive interview techniques, interrogations, or mistreatment of detainees by representatives of law enforcement, the military, or the FBI. There were no documented incidents involving FBI personnel. These documents include summaries of what FBI personnel observed." [RJ]
More on the Administration’s Interrogation Policies
Senator Leahy, incoming Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, criticizes the Justice Department for their unwillingness to release documents pertaining to the Administration’s interrogation policies. See also, Department of Justice’s response to Senator Leahy. [RJ]
UK Must Rebalance US-Europe Relationship
Interesting report from the Chatham House entitled, ‘Blair’s Foreign Policy and its Possible Successor(s)’:
"The root failure of Tony Blair’s foreign policy has been his inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice - military, political and financial - that the United Kingdom has made. Blair has learned the hard way that loyalty in international politics counts for nothing and his successor will not make the same mistake of offering unconditional support for US initiatives in foreign policy at the expense of a more positive relationship with Europe." [RJ]
January 12, 2007
Legal Research - The Movie!
A group of students in Stanford Law's advanced legal research class created a short (3 minute) silent film, Legal Research: The Movie. Fantastic! I guess the movie isn't a "talkie" because some scenes were filmed in the law library.
Hat tip to Paul Lomio, Stanford Law Library. [JH]
House Passes Stem Cell Research Bill; White House Threatens Veto
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed HR 3, The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. The bill amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo. Limits such research to stem cells that meet the following ethical requirements: (1) the stem cells were derived from human embryos donated from in vitro fertilization clinics for the purpose of fertility treatment and were in excess of the needs of the individuals seeking such treatment; (2) the embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded; and (3) such individuals donate the embryos with written informed consent and receive no financial or other inducements.
In a press release issued immediately after passage, the Office of Management and Budget warned that
[t]he Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 3, which would use Federal taxpayer dollars to support and encourage the destruction of human life for research. The bill would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells, overturning the President’s policy that funds research without promoting such ongoing destruction. If H.R. 3 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.
(Emphasis in the original).
HR 3 passed by a vote of 253 - 174, short of the required two-thirds majority that would make the current bill veto-proof in the House.
- Text of HR 3
- Library of Congress Thomas Resources
- Administration Press Release
- Follow the story using Google News Search
USN&WR on Librarians
"Forget about that image of librarian as a mousy bookworm. Librarians these days must be high-tech information sleuths, helping researchers plumb the oceans of information available in books and digital records. It's an underrated career. Most librarians love helping patrons dig up information and, in the process, learning new things. Librarians may also go on shopping sprees, deciding which books and online resources to buy. They even get to put on performances, like children's puppet shows, and run other programs, like book discussion groups for elders. On top of it all, librarians' work hours are reasonable, and the work environment, needless to say, is placid." [RJ]
Law & Popular Culture: Two Works by UCLA Law Prof Michael Asimow
Available on SSRN:
- Popular Culture and the Adversarial System
- When the Lawyer Knows the Client is Guilty: David Mellinkoff's 'The Conscience of a Lawyer', Legal Ethics, Literature, and Popular Culture (with Cardozo Law Prof Richard Weisberg).
Popular Culture and the Adversarial System
by Michael Asimow
Abstract: This article addresses a puzzle: lawyers are the most distrusted and despised of all American professions, whereas the public has a much higher opinion of judges. Yet Americans believe strongly in the adversary system in which all the important procedural decisions during civil or criminal trials are made by lawyers. Even though people crave a justice system that discovers what really happened, they accept one that delivers only trial truth and procedural justice, not factual truth or substantive justice. This article explores various reasons why people might favor the adversary system despite their distrust of lawyers and their craving for truth, such as a belief in personal autonomy, a distrust of government officials, and a lack of knowledge about alternatives. However, the article suggests another possible reason: the influence of popular cultural portrayals of the trial process. Dating back to the days of history's greatest teacher of trial tactics - Perry Mason - media consumers have been taught that the adversary system delivers the truth. We can count on a great lawyer's cross-examination to reveal the identity of the real killer. Even though we hate and distrust lawyers, we want a good one by our side when we're in trouble or an aggressive one prosecuting the crooks. Countless films and television shows since Perry Mason's day have conveyed the same basic message, although in more sophisticated form. According to “cultivation theory,” people often extract information and form opinions based on fictitious stories told by pop culture media. Perhaps we derive our bone-deep belief in the adversary system from Perry Mason and the other great lawyers we've watched over the years.
When the Lawyer Knows the Client is Guilty: David Mellinkoff's 'The Conscience of a Lawyer', Legal Ethics, Literature, and Popular Culture
by Michael Asimow and Richard Weiberg
Abstract: David Mellinkoff's 1973 book 'The Conscience of a Lawyer' concerned a classic puzzle in legal ethics: what should a criminal defense lawyer do when the lawyer is certain that the client is factually guilty, but the client insists on an all-out defense? Mellinkoff focused on the Courvoisier case, a notorious English trial in 1840 in which defense counsel's tactics created an enormous public scandal. Legal ethicists have struggled with these issues ever since that time and they remain unresolved. This article draws a distinction between strong and weak adversarialism and explains how these two normative positions guide a lawyer's tactical decisionmaking in the certainly-guilty client situation. The article suggests that lawyers should have discretion to choose between the strong and weak positions, depending on context and their personal conscience. Both popular culture and great literature provide surprisingly interesting perspectives on the strong vs. weak adversarialism dilemma. Literature casts doubt on whether a lawyer can ever know with the requisite certainty whether a client is guilty. It presents numerous models of successful strong adversarialists and unsuccessful weak adversarialists. Few literary lawyers manage to be both skilled advocates and decent human beings. American popular culture, on the other hand, presents an emphatic answer to the question of what a lawyer with a certainly guilty client should do. According to pop culture, the lawyer's job is to betray the client to make sure the guilty criminal is convicted, dishonored, or killed. Pop culture's no-adversarialism model is a universe few lawyers would care to inhabit but which reflects popular views on the relationship of lawyering to truth.
The 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States
Trans Fat and Menu Labeling Legislation
"As of December 2006, no state has approved a ban on trans fat in foods, but legislation related to requiring restaurants to list the trans fat content of menu items and other nutritional information for foods served in chain restaurants has been proposed in at least 16 states and Puerto Rico since 2003." [RJ]
Balanced Budget by 2012
Fact sheet from the White House proposing increased tax revenues, coupled with spending restraint to reduce the deficit and balance the budget. [RJ]
January 11, 2007
Transcript of President Bush's New Strategy for Iraqi War Speech
CNN transcript of President Bush's speech to the nation Wednesday outlining his new strategy in Iraq, with links to key points. [JH]
Congratulations June Liebert
June Liebert, the Chief Information Officer and Lecturer at the University of Texas School of Law, has been appointed Director of the Law Library at John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She will begin her new appointment on May 31, 2007.
Securities Class Action Filings for 2006
"The number of securities fraud class actions filed in 2006 was the lowest ever recorded in a calendar year since the adoption of the Public Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) of 1995, notes the Securities Class Action Filings 2006 Year in Review report released today by the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, a joint project between Stanford Law School and Cornerstone Research. The study reports securities fraud class actions decreased by 38 percent since 2005, plunging from 178 filings to just 110, making this year’s numbers nearly 43 percent lower than the ten-year historical average of 193."
See also: "Despite a surge in lawsuits alleging options backdating, shareholder class action filings were down dramatically in 2006, even as settlements of existing cases soared past last year's record levels, according to NERA Economic Consulting's annual benchmark study, Recent Trends In Shareholder Class Action Litigation: Filings Plummet, Settlements Soar." [RJ]
Adobe Flaw Means Trusted PDFs May Be Treacherous
"Adobe's Reader browser plug-in has a significant flaw that can be exploited by attackers to snatch control of a PC from users running Firefox and Opera browsers, Symantec reported Wednesday.
National Institute of Justice 2005 Annual Report
"The Annual Report describes NIJ’s work in facing challenges both new and old. In today’s world, offenders are more technologically savvy, and the law enforcement community must have access to the latest information and tools. But the relationships among Federal, State, and local law enforcement, and between researchers and practitioners also play a key role in combating and preventing crime. NIJ’s 2005 Annual Report discusses its most recent contributions—in forensics, policing and corrections, victimization, and international crime—which center on these two principles." [RJ]
Opening: Associate Law Library Director and Head of Public Services, San Joaquin College of Law
San Joaquin College of Law, a highly-respected regional law school in Clovis CA, is poised to move toward a dynamic future coupling national accreditation with the development of innovative legal skills and cooperative degrees. SJCL seeks an experienced and creative Associate Director and Head of Public Services. Reporting to the Director of the Law Library, the Associate Director oversees the full range of public services for San Joaquin College of Law Library.
Clovis, CA is adjacent to Fresno, CA in the central San Joaquin Valley of California. Fresno/Clovis is located about an hour from Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, three hours from downtown San Francisco, about 4.5 hours from Los Angeles, and about 2.5 hours from the beautiful central California coast cities of Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, and Santa Cruz.
Clovis, CA schools are considered some of the best in all of California. Come and join this exciting institution as it prepares to apply for ABA accreditation.
For the complete job announcement please see:
January 10, 2007
Bloggers' Meeting at AALL: New Orleans
This might be too early to send this out but I'm looking at the scheduling for AALL in July and am looking for a place to have our 2nd Annual Bloggers' Get Together in New Orleans.
I'm putting together a little survey that will help me know how many will be attending and if you prefer a lunch, dinner or cocktail get together. This will also give me some time to invite some of the local bloggers .
To take the survey, please click on the following link:
It's a brief survey and should only take a few minutes to complete.
Editor's Note: Please take the survey by Feb. 1, 2007. [JH]
Teaching Law School Students to "Think Like Law Librarians"
Earlier this year I posted a list of IMHO Awards that covered a number of 2006 developments I thought worthy of highlighting, some good, some not. One positive development highlighted there is very forward-looking, namely NCBE's consideration of developing a legal research component for bar exams. I'm sure many readers wonder how legal research skills can be tested in bar exams, but they can be if legal research is taught by emphasizing principles of legal research in a format-neutral context. I know, some are wondering about the existence of legal research principles; I'm here to say they do exist.
When I was a large law firm librarian, the bane of my existence was teaching young associates how to perform legal research. Most of the young associates I worked with graduated in the ten percent of the top ten law schools. They simply did not learn effective legal research in law school; most still don't.
Access Points & Routes. Back in the mid-80's, Virginia Thomas, currently Director, Law Library and Information Technology at the University of Cincinnati Law Library but then Documents/Reference Librarian at IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law, and I, then a Research Librarian at Seyfarth, Shaw (Chicago), and occasional guest lecturer on labor law research for the graduate human resources program at Loyola University (Chicago) developed a novel teaching approach that focused on access points and routes using bibliographic analysis of document types within the context of the structure of legal literature. This teaching approach applied, and still applies, regardless of publishing format and the on-site availability of legal resources. It also overcomes one of the most serious problems faced by legal research instructors, namely, trying to teach legal research to students who know so little substantive law. Alas, we both were working stiffs who did not have time to publish but it is rewarding to see that some law librarians have published their insights into similar approaches to teaching legal research. See, for example, J.D.S. Armstrong & Christopher A. Knott, Where the Law Is: An Introduction to Advanced Legal Research (2d ed, 2006).
Anti-Toolbox Approach to Legal Research. At the time, Virginia and I characterized this approach as an anti-toolbox approach to teaching legal research. By that we meant to criticize the still all too common practice of trying to teach legal research by just explaining what each research tool did; "this is a digest, this is a case name index. this is an online research service..." Unfortunately the toolbox method still remains the prevalent approach to teaching legal research, performed perhaps more so by non-librarian legal research and writing instructors, but also still performed by law librarians, even in many elective advanced legal research courses.
Teaching Legal Research Tomorrow. How will legal research be taught if legal research becomes a bar exam component? This is the focus of an upcoming conference at the University of Texas Tarlton Law Library, one I hope all interested parties attend, not just law librarians. Of course I believe the approach Virginia Thomas and I use is one such way, but, relative to law school curricular changes, I also hope serious consideration will be given to requiring a legal research course separate and distinct from traditional legal research and writing courses.
It's time for the legal academy to recognize that legal research and writing classes do a very poor job at teaching legal research; the noise of the writing component drowns out the legal research message and, unfortunately that message is almost universally based, perhaps necessarily so, on a toolbox approach to teaching legal research.
Save the Date for the Tarlton Conference. Must law librarians teach the legal research course I am recommending for your consideration? Absolutely not. Anyone can teach legal research following the approach Virginia Thomas and I have used for years now. Come to the Tarlton conference on Oct. 18-20, 2007 [brochure] to contribute to improving the instruction of legal research in law schools.
Ultimately we must teach law students to "think like law librarians" but law librarians are not the only ones who already approach research thinking this way.
Cross-posted on Law School Innovation. [JH]
Professional Readings: Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge
Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View from Europe
by Jean-Noel Jeanneney
List Price: List Price: $18.00
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (November 1, 2006)
Book Description: The recent announcement that Google will digitize the holdings of several major libraries sent shock waves through the book industry and academe. Google presented this digital repository as a first step towards a long-dreamed-of universal library, but skeptics were quick to raise a number of concerns about the potential for copyright infringement and unanticipated effects on the business of research and publishing.
Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of France’s Bibliothèque Nationale, here takes aim at what he sees as a far more troubling aspect of Google’s Library Project: its potential to misrepresent—and even damage—the world’s cultural heritage. In this impassioned work, Jeanneney argues that Google’s unsystematic digitization of books from a few partner libraries and its reliance on works written mostly in English constitute acts of selection that can only extend the dominance of American culture abroad. This danger is made evident by a Google book search the author discusses here—one run on Hugo, Cervantes, Dante, and Goethe that resulted in just one non-English edition, and a German translation of Hugo at that. An archive that can so easily slight the masters of European literature—and whose development is driven by commercial interests—cannot provide the foundation for a universal library.
As a leading librarian, Jeanneney remains enthusiastic about the archival potential of the Web. But he argues that the short-term thinking characterized by Google’s digital repository must be countered by long-term planning on the part of cultural and governmental institutions worldwide—a serious effort to create a truly comprehensive library, one based on the politics of inclusion and multiculturalism.
See also David Bearman's important review of this work, published in the December 2006 issue of D-Lib Magazine. [JH]