August 9, 2008
Ads More Negative than Previous Years
A Report on the 2008 Presidential Nomination Ads from the Brookings Institution:
"In looking at campaign ads in this year’s presidential nominating election, prominent campaign ads were more negative than in previous races. Both parties featured open races with a large number of candidates, and the result was negativity levels that were above the historic averages. This finding raises the question of whether this fall’s general election will provide the quality of political discourse needed by voters.
According to an analysis of prominent nomination ads, 61 percent of the 2008 Democratic ads were negative, compared to 43 percent of the Republican ads. Both rates are higher than the average ad negativity of 31 percent for Democrats and 36 percent for Republicans in nominating contests from 1972-2008. Prominent ads were defined as those attracting major media attention." [RJ]
Human Rights, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
"This Fact Sheet has been prepared with the aim of strengthening understanding of the complex and multifaceted relationship between human rights and terrorism. It identifies some of the critical human rights issues raised in the context of terrorism and highlights the relevant human rights principles and standards which must be respected at all times and in particular in the context of counter-terrorism.
It is addressed to State authorities, national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), national human rights institutions, legal practitioners and individuals concerned with ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of terrorism and counterterrorism.
Specifically, the Fact Sheet is intended to:
- Raise awareness of the impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights;
- Provide a practical tool for practitioners dealing with terrorism, counter-terrorism measures and human rights;
- Provide guidance on ensuring compliance with human rights when countering terrorism;
- Illustrate specific human rights challenges in countering terrorism." [RJ]
August 8, 2008
8:08 PM on 8/8/08
The opening ceremony for the Olympics kicks off at 8:08 p.m. Beijing time on 8/8/08. When? Check out the World Clock for local time zone conversions. You have plenty of time because NBC TV coverage of the opening ceremonies is being delayed until 8 p.m. in your time zone.
Why all these eights? It's the most celebrated number in Chinese culture. Eight in Cantonese, baat, sounds like the word for prosperity, faat, which extends to connote all things lucky. (Has China's Olympic planners stacked the deck against us?) More about the number eight from the Los Angeles Time.
For those of us who aren't attending the Olympics, haven't yet visited Beijing or might not be able to attend next May's China-U.S. Conference on Legal Information and Law Libraries there [see Roy L. Sturgeon's (Touro) post on LLB: Beijing, China: 8/8/08 & May 2009], Beijing Time (Harvard UP, 2008) by Michael Dutton, Hsiu-ju Stacy Lo and Dong Dong Wu looks like a good substitute. Deeply immersed in the culture, everyday and otherworldly, this anthropological tour, from ancient cosmology to Communist kitsch, portrays the people of Beijing work and live. [JH]
Don't Mess with Librarian Bloggers
A Magistrate Judge recently issued an opinion harshly condemning an lawyer for his subpoena described by the court as "breathtakingly broad." The discovery requested all documents pertaining to the setup, financing, running, research, maintaining a website from an non-party to a pending case, "including communications with representatives of the federal government, the pharmaceutical industry, advocacy groups, non-governmental organizations, political action groups, profit or non-profit entities, journals, editorial boards, scientific boards, academic boards, medical licensing boards, any 'religious groups (Muslim or otherwise), or individuals with religious affiliations,' and any other 'concerned individuals.'"
The subpoena itself [redacted version] was clearly nothing more than a fishing expedition designed to intimidate Kathleen Seidel, a librarian who publishes articles she and others have written on the controversy about whether mercury has or has not created an autism epidemic on her website and blog.
The attorney, one Clifford Shoemaker, Esq., tried to justify the subpoena by alleging that the librarian was not
"a mere mother of an autistic child and housewife,” but a co-conspirator under 42 U.S.C. §1985 with her husband or “the defendant (Bayer) or by some organization dedicated to harassing this plaintiff (Ms. Sykes) and her witness ...” Shoemaker’s claim that Ms. Seidel was the “leader of a conspiracy to obstruct justice ...” is unsupported by any facts. It is clear that she has openly and extensively exercised her First Amendment right to speak out on the issue. Shoemaker certainly has the right to disagree with her, but he has no right to misuse the process to abuse her.
Shoemaker has not offered a shred of evidence to support his speculations. He has, he says, had his suspicions aroused because she has so much information. Clearly he is unfamiliar with the extent of the information which a highly-competent librarian like Ms. Seidel can, and did, accumulate. If Shoemaker wanted to know if Ms. Seidel was in part supported by or provided information by Bayer, he could have inquired of Bayer or limited the Seidel subpoena to that information. Instead he issued the subpoena calling for production of documents and a deposition on the day before he stipulated to dismiss the underlying suit with prejudice. His failure to withdraw the subpoena when he clearly knew that suit was over is telling about his motives. His efforts to vilify and demean Ms. Seidel are unwarranted and unseemly....
Quoting from the opinion (emphasis added).
Sanctions? You bet. For abusing the legal process, wasting judicial resources, and unnecessarily wasting the time and expense of the purported deponent, Shoemaker was ordered to attend a continuing legal education program on ethics and on the discovery rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. No word on whether Kathleen Seidel has offered to give Shoemaker instruction on information literacy but she has taught him one lesson, don't mess with librarians who blog. [JH]
The Proposed AALS Meeting Boycott: Much Ado About Something, But What?
Dave Hoffman thinks the proposed AALS boycott being promoted by the Legal Writing Institute, SALT, and several AALS sections, including the Section on Legal Writing Reasoning and Research, the Section on Teaching Methods, and the Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues, is "absurd" and a "depressing" spectacle. Reaction from Larry E. Ribstein's wife is "These people don’t have enough to do.” Brian Leiter is "always in favor of boycotting a meeting of the hopeless Association of American Law Schools" (for reasons stated here), and Paul Caron, who has never seen a blog post he didn't like to link to without reading, has gone ga-ga linking to blog posts covering the controversy. But, no need to read them all.
For an overview of the boycott, see Legal Writing Professors Take Leading Role in Protesting AALS Meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Legal Writing Prof Blog. The best critiques are presented on Prawfsblawg at On Boycotts: Individuals, Groups, and Specialized Groups and Ideoblog at The AALS boycott. See also Law Professors to React to Threatened AALS Boycott on Legal Blog Watch.
The Issue. The AALS will be holding its annual meeting at the San Diego Manchester Grand Hyatt in January 2008. Groups supporting the boycott are upset with the hotel's owner, Douglas Manchester, because he has donated $125,000 to an initiative that is trying to put a constitutional amendment to ban now lawful same-sex marriage in California on the November ballot. The grounds for the protest, LWI, SALT and AALS policies of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Problem. The hotel does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Douglas Manchester, reported to be a devote Catholic, is using personal funds to promote a political cause. Whether you agree or disagree with his position, the last time I checked, the Constitution allows this.
I don't think I would go as far as Dave Hoffman has, writing that the proposed boycott "is an example of how the AALS becomes distracted by ideology instead of, say, tending to the business of improving law school education," but the boycott does go too far. If law profs want to protest Manchester's views, they can form a picket line outside the hotel and reserve their lodgings elsewhere.
The Forecast. My crystal ball says any boycott of AALS will fail. San Diego's weather is too nice to miss in January. [JH]
Friday Fun: "I Quess You Didn't Know We Had a System!"
for shelving books!
Friday Fun Double Feature: They weren't meant to be or how discussing the Dewey Decimal System in the library leads to a break-up. [JH]
The Revised Transparency in Government Act Ready for Public Markup
In May, LLB reported on the Sunlight Foundation's Public Markup project for its draft Transparency in Government Act of 2008. The draft is a broad legislative effort intended to make the work of Congress and the executive branch more transparent by creating laws and regulations that would bring more information online and available to the public in a timely manner. An amalgamation of bills that have already been introduced, along with new provisions, if enacted, the model transparency bill would create historic changes in the way the executive and legislative branches provide information to the public.
New sections added to the bill thanks to public suggestions include improving oversight of the executive branch and provisions articulating the best methods for accessing legislative data. The revised Transparency in Government Act of 2008 is now available for comment at Public Markup. Sounds like a worthy project for librarians. [JH]
In the Era of Big Data, More Isn't Just More, More is Different
Hegel argued that Quantity becomes Quality when the number is large enough to stimulate a change in our understanding of reality. Wired argues in a series of essays, The Petabyte Age: Because More Isn't Just More — More Is Different, that our ability to capture, warehouse, and understand massive amounts of data is changing science, medicine, business, and technology. Check out The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete, Winning the Lawsuit: Data Miners Dig for Dirt and Visualizing Big Data: Bar Charts for Words. [JH]
Practicing Law in China: Career Profiles of Tao Jingzhou and Teng Biao
The Financial Times profiles the legal careers of Jones Day Beijing office partner, Tao Jingzhou, and activist lawyer, Teng Biao, both graduates of the prestigious Peking University law school in Rewards and Risks of a Career in the Legal System. [JH]
Has the Internet Created a New Kind of Reading that Schools and Society Should Not Discount?
Children now spent more than one and a half hours online. Are they reading all that time? Probably not, but some literacy experts say that when they are, their online reading skills will help children fare better when they begin looking for digital-age jobs. Read more about it in Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? [RJ]
August 7, 2008
Beijing, China: 8/8/08 & May 2009
At last, the Beijing Olympiad opens today! It will be fascinating to see whether the numerous controversies leading up to it continue during the Games. For comprehensive coverage of this quadrennial global sporting spectacle, check out the special websites of NBC and CCTV. World-renowned Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou will direct the opening and closing ceremonies inside the "Bird's Nest" stadium. If China's history-rich capital city arouses your curiosity and you desire to visit after Olympic fever subsides, then consider attending the first-ever China-U.S. Conference on Legal Information and Law Libraries next May in Beijing. In addition to sightseeing, it "will be an opportunity for law librarians and legal information professionals from both the U.S. and China to share experiences and exchange views in regard to legal information development and law library management. The major goals of the Conference are to promote communication and cooperation in the area of legal information and law libraries between the two countries." These goals would make Pierre de Coubertin proud. [RLS]
Party On, Political Dudes Attending Nominating Conventions
Thanks to a new Sunlight project, called Party Time, Quinn Gillespie & Associates has identified 370 parties, receptions and other unofficial events sponsored by Fortune 100 companies, beltway associations, etc., for attendees of the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions.
370 parties so far ... the lists Quinn & Gillespie compiled are not a complete list of events!
Innovative or Insulting, the Anime Torts Casebook
The ABA Journal is reporting that California Western law prof and assistant dean James Cooper wants to produce an animated casebook "to help make the law more accessible," explaining "I'd take the top 15 cases of tort law--famous cases in history--animate them and get them on the Web--YouTube."
Is this a new low in the perceived academic qualifications of Google generation law school students or an innovative use of digital publishing for law school education? According to the article, Cooper sketched his idea at a comic book convention. Perhaps he should check out using GoAnimate to cartoon 1L tort law doctrine. Could be fun. [JH]
Kudos to Bob Ambrogi
The American Society of Business Publication Editors has awarded Bob Ambrogi its national silver award for best contributed column in a publication with a circulation under 80,000. He received the award for his Law Technology News "Web Watch" column.
Bob is author of the book, The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web, and blogs at Robert Ambrogi's LawSites: Tracking new and intriguing Web sites for the legal profession. He also writes the blog Media Law, co-writes Legal Blog Watch and cohosts the legal affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer.
Congratulations Bob! [JH]
Which Fictional Attorney is the Most Unrealistic?
Take the Above the Law poll. Your choices are:
- Jack McCoy (Law and Order) v. Bobby Donnell (The Practice)
- Michael Clayton (Michael Clayton) v. Vincent Gambini (My Cousin Vinny)
- Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) v. Ally McBeal (Ally McBeal)
- Jack Brigance (A Time to Kill) v. Kobayashi (The Usual Suspects)
At the moment, the worst fictional lawyers are Bobby Donnell, Vincent Gambini, and Elle Woods. The Brigance-Kobayashi contest is too close to call. [JH]
Does Law Professor Quality Matter?
Adjuncts, tenure-track, or senior law faculty, who are "better" at teaching which courses?
Despite a rich literature on legal education and on teaching law, and despite the fact that nearly a quarter of all law school courses are taught by adjuncts, there has been very limited inquiry into or discussion about the effect of the adjunct’s role upon the education the student receives or upon legal education in general. Such analysis is essential because these part-time teachers most often have very demanding full-time jobs to which they owe their primary allegiance. If they are lawyers, they have clients whose needs are not neatly scheduled; if they are judges, they have dockets and opinions that have schedules of their own. Not only is most of adjuncts' time filled with something other than teaching, but also it is inevitable that conflicts will regularly occur that will impact their teaching.
Ah, aren't senior and tenure-track law faculty members time also filled with activities other than teaching?
Lander claims "only core courses such as constitutional law and first-year required courses remain largely the sole province of the full-time faculty." Largely but certainly not exclusively. We could also add other essential "bar courses" are routinely being taught by adjunct law professors as full-time law profs flee from classroom responsibilities to engage in largely ignored scholarly writing.
From my personal interaction with law school students, the use of adjunct law profs is a resounding "thumbs up" experience because their lectures, including those in substantive courses, are viewed as being much more relevant to learning how to become a lawyer.
On the Benefits of Junior Law Faculty Teaching: Check out Mississippi College School of Law professor Gregory Bowman's The Comparative and Absolute Advantages of Junior Law Faculty: Implications for Teaching and the Future of American Law Schools, 2008 BYU Educ. & L.J. 171 [Westlaw]. From the introduction:
In the ongoing debate about how to improve law school teaching, there is a general consensus that law schools should do more to train junior faculty members how to teach. While this may be the case, this consensus inadvertently leads to an implicit assumption that is not true--that in all facets of law teaching, junior faculty are at a disadvantage compared to senior faculty. In fact, there are aspects of law teaching for which junior faculty can be better suited than their senior colleagues.
From my observations, law students find younger tenure-track faculty member more accessible. Perhaps being near cohorts in age is a factor. Certainly, younger faculty members tend to have a better grasp of information and education technologies. I've yet to meet one who thinks he or she has become an IT guru by using clickers in the classroom. Their use of e-course management services seems to be "more evolved" and their Powerpoint presentations tend to be less bullet-point crazy. Their use of digital media is more purposeful, less I-techie gee wizzie. Of course, there are always exceptions. My favorite, the one slide Powerpoint presentation that only contained a small snippet of text. In general, younger tenure-track faculty members who spent a few years practicing law appear to have benefited from learning the ways and means of digital production and distribution from the law firms they worked in.
On the Benefits of Senior Law Faculty Teaching. .... there's got to be something published "out there." There are still some "old school" tenured law profs who believe that their teaching responsibilities come first. I know they exist because I've run into them at AALS meetings smoking outside the conference hotel and shaking their heads in bewilderment over some of the sessions they just left.
Are Students Viewed as One's Greatest Professional Legacy in the Legal Academy? Not quite on point, but William Gangi's article, A Scholar's Journey on the Dark Side, 11 Chap. L. Rev. 1 (2007) [Westlaw], a critique of contemporary legal education and scholarship upon the occasion of his fortieth anniversary as an academician, offers some hope that some tenured profs view their students as their greatest professional legacy. Certainly computer science professor Randy Pausch does in his The Last Lecture (Hyperion 2008).
Does the Quality of Professors Matter? Is there such a time as "better teaching." Are there metrics for measuring better educational outcomes? See Scott E. Carrell (Dartmouth College) and James E. West's (U.S. Air Force Academy) recent NBER report: Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors. [JH]
Tomorrow's Line-Up for The Law Librarian Internet Radio Program
Check in Friday afternoon at 1 PM (Eastern Time) for a next segment of The Law Librarian, the call-in internet radio talk show hosted by Nebraska's Richard Leiter and Brian Striman. From 1:00 to 2:00 PM (Eastern) the program's special guest, Margi Maes, Executive Director of Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) will talk about her vision for LIPA and the Alliance's plans for making the digital world safe for digital information.
In the second hour of the program, Jim Milles, (Buffalo School of Law) will join the hosts for a discussion the gadgets, gizmos and gollies of digital technology and their possible application, both present and plausible in law libraries. He will also be available to take phone-in or chat questions.
Video Resources for Legal Educators
The 1000 Voices Archive is a new online teaching resource for law educators. On Elder Law Prof Blog, Kim Dayton (William Mitchell) writes that this recently launched national collection of video stories was created by filmmakers and communities across the country to put a human face on the policy issues. Could be useful for classroom presentations. [JH]
Save the Date: Symposium to Examine Post-WSIS Issues on Internet Governance
Symposium on The Internet: Governance and the Law
MONTRÉAL, Québec: October 26, 2008 – October 29, 2008
McGill University will host the 3rd biennial symposium on The Internet: Governance and the Law in cooperation with the Center for International Legal Studies and Suffolk University School of Law. This symposium will examine issues of Internet governance which have arisen following the conclusion of the World Summit on the Information Society.
Background. At the conclusion of the Geneva phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), civil society was called upon to play an active role in the development and implementation of national strategies affecting multimodal communication. This role was intended to be primarily consultative in that civil society was deemed to have the potential power to assist in devising and implementing ICT policies and promoting the “good governance” of the Internet. Clearly, civil society showed its commitment to creating “an equitable Information Society” and has become a valuable stakeholder in the definition of action plans and the implementation of policy initiatives. Moreover, the inclusive “we” of the Tunis Commitment was intended to enlist the support of civil society in the building of “a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society”.
Several issues in the post-Tunis phase of WSIS have been topics of research and further discussion among civil society groups as interested stakeholders and between civil society and those charged with “good governance”.
This multilateral stakeholder approach has cast civil society in a consultative and representative role as a change agent in ICT decision-making structures affecting policies, standards, laws and regulations as well as the control and ownership of the Internet. In one sense, civil society has been empowered in fora where its voice may be heard while, in other instances, civil society has experienced a form of disempowerment which has limited its ability to act as a change agent.
Speakers at the 2008 symposium will address these and related issues under the guidance of the members of the Advisory Program Committee: James Archibald, Department of Translation Studies, McGill University, Dennis Campbell, Center for International Legal Studies, Richard Gold, Centre for Intellectual Property Policy, McGill University and Michael L. Rustad, Intellectual Property Law Program, Suffolk University School of Law.
Details at the Symposium website.
Politicized Hiring at the Department of Justice
See LLB's earlier post DOJ Releases Report on Politicized Hiring in Ofc of Attorney General for more information. [RJ]