October 13, 2007
Most HS Students Aren't Aware That Constitution Day Exists
"Three years after a new federal law took effect requiring schools to educate all students about the Constitution and the First Amendment, a new survey shows that a majority of America’s students aren’t even aware that Constitution Day exists.
This year’s “Future of the First Amendment” follow-up survey, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and done by the University of Connecticut’s David Yalof and Ken Dautrich, revealed these key findings:
- More than half of all high school students say they have not heard of Constitution Day, mandated by federal law since 2004 to be the day the Constitution is taught in schools. Just 1 in 10 remember how their high school celebrated the day last year.
- Despite increases in the number of First Amendment classes from 2004 through 2006, nearly three-fourths of students still don’t know how they feel about the First Amendment, or take it for granted.
- Students support individual free expression rights that directly affect or interest them; they’re less supportive of rights that are less relevant to their lives.
- Parents, not teachers, have the greatest influence on students’ choice of news sources.
- More students are turning to the Internet to find their news. Their definition of news isn’t much different than that of their parents.
iheard.com, a Search Engine for Radio Stations
"iheard.com makes it easy for people to find their favorite internet radio stations by providing an easy to use search interface and directory with thousands of stations organized by genre, country and language."
October 12, 2007
Friday Fun: And Then Came Law School..
I Lost My Life in Law School
Law School Musical
Online Resource for Legal Abbreviations
Looking for an alternative to Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations? Check out Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations.
From the site: "Legal abbreviations can be a puzzle to both new students and experienced professionals. This web-based service allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, from the British Isles, the Commonwealth and the United States, including those covering international and comparative law. A wide selection of major foreign language law publications is also included. Publications from over 295 jurisdictions are featured in the Index. The database mainly covers law reports and law periodicals, but some legislative publications and major textbooks are also included. The Index is still under development."
Librarians and Publishers Hope to Simplify eResources Negotiations
"For many college librarians, the annual process of placing orders and negotiating licenses for online journals and other electronic resources is far too cumbersome and time-consuming.
"Part of the problem is that libraries often negotiate different license agreements with each entity that provides them electronic content," says Deborah R. Gerhardt, copyright and scholarly-communications director of libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Each license can contain dozens of intricate provisions: Are faculty members permitted to place journal articles on electronic course reserve? Under what circumstances, if any, will off-campus users have access to the material?
Those licenses can take many hours to draft and negotiate, Ms. Gerhardt says -- which means that orders for new journals can sit on a librarian's desk for weeks. Small colleges and publishers, she adds, often lack the legal resources to maneuver through the licensing process.
But relief may be on the horizon. Several weeks ago, a coalition of librarians and publishers began to experiment with a radically simplified method of purchasing electronic materials. Libraries and publishers can now agree to use the "Shared E-Resource Understanding," or SERU, a five-page document that lists a few dozen stipulated points. (For example: "The subscribing institution will employ appropriate measures to ensure that access is limited to authorized users and will not knowingly allow unauthorized users to gain access." (for subscribers) [RJ]
Dispute Stymies Guantanamo Terror Trials
"A dispute between the chief Guantanamo Bay prosecutor and a Pentagon official has roiled the government's system of terrorism trials, the latest snag in a six-year bid by the Bush administration to establish an offshore court.
According to people familiar with the matter, the prosecutor, Col. Morris Davis, has filed a formal complaint alleging that Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, legal adviser to the administrator overseeing the trials, has overstepped his mandate by interfering directly in cases." [RJ]
Podanza - the podcast search engine
Looking for help finding relevant audio and video podcasts? Check out Podanza!
From the site: "Podanza.com is a podcast search engine and directory. We aggregate audio and video podcasts from over 5,000 international producers including top radio, television, print and independent publishers." [RJ]
FBI's Crime in the US
"The latest Crime in the United States providing local, state, regional, and national stats for 2006 is now available here (and only here) on this website, and we invite you to delve in. The report includes 81 tables in all, providing in-depth information on offenses, arrests, and police personnel.
At the national level, the report shows an increase of 1.9 percent in the amount of violent crime compared to 2005. The volume of property crime fell by nearly the same amount. While the rate of violent crime—473.5 per 100,000 inhabitants—rose for the second straight year, it is the third lowest total in the past two decades. Property crimes rates dropped to their lowest level since 1987." [RJ]
October 11, 2007
Impunity Watch Launches Today
Impunity Watch uses three distinct functions to inform, analyze and publicize human rights violations. First, law students research the latest human rights violations and reports in seven geographic regions. Each report is purely fact-based and meant to spread knowledge.
The second function encompasses the special features and scholarly articles sections. In this area, staff members write op-eds on overarching human rights issues and publish in-depth analytical human rights papers written by professionals, academics and students. The final function of Impunity Watch is the message board function. The message board creates a vehicle for persecuted people to tell the world that they are suffering and allows anyone to express their thoughts or opinions about human rights.
New “Single Search” Functionality On Lexis.com
"LexisNexis, a leading provider of information and services solutions, announced the launch of an innovative new search functionality on lexis.com® called “Search by Topic or Headnote” that enables legal professionals to perform a single search across multiple sources to efficiently receive faster, better and more relevant results through one unified process.
Building upon its leadership in the area of online legal research, the new search platform enables users to search by topic across content sources as diverse as exclusive Matthew Bender® titles, such as Collier on Bankruptcy®, Moore’s Federal Practice®, Chisum on Patents, Larson on Employment Discrimination and Appleman on Insurance, as well as leading state-specific Matthew Bender content. Primary source material, including cases, codes and administrative materials, as well as law review articles, restatements, legal news and practice forms are also included within the single search." [RJ]
The Culture of Citizenship
Boalt Hall's Leti Volpp's The Culture of Citizenship appears at 8 Theoretical Inquiries 571 (2007) A copy is available from SSRN. Here's the abstract to a paper that should challenge multicultualists to rethink their proposed solutions to "culture wars."
The headscarf debate in France exemplifies what is widely perceived as the battle between a culture-free citizenship and a culturally-laden other. This battle, however, presumes the existence of a neutral state that must either tolerate or ban particular cultural differences. In this Article, I challenge that presumption by demonstrating how both cultural difference and citizenship are imagined and produced. The citizen is assumed to be modern and motivated by reason; the cultural other is assumed to be traditional and motivated by culture. Yet citizenship is both a cultural and an anti-cultural institution. Citizenship positions itself as oppositional to culture, even as it is constituted by cultural values. Recent scholars of multiculturalism have turned to concepts of citizenship as a solution to the dilemma raised by conflicts over culture. But these concepts of citizenship, namely deliberative democracy and civic participation, replicate the presumption of a culture-less "citizenship" - and thus form an ironic choice of solution to the problem of cultural difference.
Over the Hill
Turned 55 today and by all accounts -- and I mean every damn account, every last one of them, I am not taking this milestone very well. So join me in a virtual sing-along by downloading the sheet music and lyrics for this pre-senior citizen discount classic: Over the Hill (1921)(click on image for a larger display of the great cover), courtesy of the National Library of Australia. -- Joe Hodnicki
The Dreaded 50-State Survey Assignment
Sometime ago, a law firm librarian whose name and affiliation I will not identify because the issue may be confidential solicited help on a listserv for a 50-state survey on body piercing. When I read the post I thought to myself, "good luck with that assignment." A little more than one hour later, another law firm librarian pointed her to State Laws on Tattooing and Body Piercing for Minors by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
I sometimes remind my younger colleagues that legal research today is much easier than it was in "my day." Years ago, decades ago in my case, the 50-state survey on a narrow topic was an assignment to be dreaded. If a firm librarian was lucky, he or she would send a paralegal off to see a friendly librarian at a nearby law school with advanced warning and a promise to buy lunch. If unlucky, well, the assignment would be great for billable hours.
Reflecting on my "good luck with that assignment" thought today, I realize I miss doing research like I did "back in the day" but I also realize I don't have the skills I once had because I don't perform legal research regularly. I will, however, reserve the right to make statements about legal research being easier now. Academic law library administrators get to do this as one of the few perks of the job. [JH]
Attorney Discipline Web Data Uneven
Interesting story from the NLJ: "When it comes to lawyers' disciplinary records, some states satisfy the public's appetite for online information, while others are lagging far behind. Deborah Rhode, a professor at Stanford Law School and founding director of the university's Center on Ethics, warns that if states don't provide more disciplinary information online, a growing number of private companies — some of which sell controversial ratings on lawyers' performance — will take up the slack." (sub. req.) [RJ]
Strategic Survey 2007
"Welcome to the launch of Strategic Survey 2007, the annual review by the IISS of world affairs. This volume contains broad thematic and comprehensive regional analysis of strategic issues complemented by extensive maps and chronologies. It is an indispensable source of information and commentary on international political and military trends. This press conference is intended to highlight a few of the key themes of this year’s book and offer the opportunity for a discussion with analysts at the IISS on current developments addressed in Strategic Survey."
October 10, 2007
Frank Snyder's Weekly Top 20 Law School Rankings
On ContractsProf Blog, Frank Snyder is offering up one of the first meaningful rankings system. He writes
Law school rankings are a dime a dozen, and most of them are entirely pointless, rating law schools on things that don't matter at all to most law students -- like how many law review citations their faculty members garner for articles that the students will never, ever unless they're assigned in class. So we at ContractsProf, for the second year in a row, offer our annual ranking of the Top Twenty American law schools based on something that is important to law students: the quality of the football team.
Check out the Snyder Rankings! [JH]
Professional Reading: Law Library Services for Students
Kumar Percy Jayasuriya, Georgetown Law Library, and Frances M. Brillantine, Catholic University of America, Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library, have deposited Student Services in the 21st Century: Evolution and Innovation in Discovering Student Needs, Teaching Information Literacy, and Designing Library 2.0-Based Services, Legal Reference Services Q. (forthcoming), in NELLCO. Here's the abstract:
The authors discuss the changing library needs of law students as computers, technology and legal publishing evolve. In order to track the evolving needs of students, the authors discuss ways that librarians can survey students and explain how focus groups and usability tests can provide further insights regarding students’ research skills and information needs. The article examines the literature regarding information literacy and suggests minimum standards for legal information literacy upon graduation, and the authors suggest new services that law librarians could create for law students. Next the authors examine the recent literature about Library 2.0 services, and offer suggestions on incorporating Library 2.0 principles into law library services.
The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project
"The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 212 countries and territories over the period 1996–2006, for six dimensions of governance:
- Voice and Accountability
- Political Stability and Absence of Violence
- Government Effectiveness
- Regulatory Quality
- Rule of Law
- Control of Corruption
The aggregate indicators combine the views of a large number of enterprise, citizen and expert survey respondents in industrial and developing countries. The individual data sources underlying the aggregate indicators are drawn from a diverse variety of survey institutes, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations.
The six aggregate indicators and the underlying data sources can be viewed interactively on the Governance Indicators webpage of this site. Documentation of the latest update of the WGI can be found in "Governance Matters VI: Governance Indicators for 1996–2006." Further documentation and research using the WGI is available on the Resources page of this website." [RJ]
The Truth about Torts: Using Agency Preemption to Undercut Consumer Health and Safety
"In recent years, the Bush administration has launched an unprecedented aggressive campaign to persuade the courts to preempt state tort actions. Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, Congress may choose to preempt state law from operating, and where Congress’s intent is not clear, it is up to the judiciary to determine if Congress intended preemption.
Widespread preemption of state tort law would significantly undermine, if not eliminate, the rights of individuals to seek redress for injuries caused by irresponsible and dangerous business practices and to hold manufacturers and others accountable for such socially unreasonable conduct.
At the same time, the administration has made a concerted effort to weaken federal health and safety standards, making state tort law protections all the more vital. Ironically, this apparent sweeping effort to nationalize standards is being made by an administration that professes deep attachment to notions of federalism." [RJ]
Check out Citebite
Citebite allows you to link directly to quotes in Web pages. Paste a chunk of text and the URL of the page containing the text and in return get a link that opens directly to your selection and highlights it. Very Cool! Check it out. [RJ]