September 20, 2008
Bush Administration's Three-Page Bailout Bill to Cost $700 Billion
The Bush Administration's bailout program seeks authorization to spend as much as $700 billion to buy troubled mortgage-related assets. In a scant three-page document the proposed bill [Text of Bill | Administration's Fact Sheet] requests unfettered authority for the Treasury Department to execute the largest financial bailout in United States history and raise the national debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion while placing no restrictions on the Administration other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress while granting the Treasury Secretary unprecedented power to buy and resell mortgage debt. See the New York Time's $700 Billion Is Sought for Wall Street in Massive Bailout and CNN's Bush wants OK to spend $700B. But will it work? [JH]
New Report Indicates Key Homeland Security Mandates Ignored
Committee on Homeland Security has released a new report examining the current state of the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 [Thomas]. Prepared by the Committee on Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs Wasted Lessons of 9/11: How the Bush Administration Has Ignored the Law and Squandered Its Opportunities to Make our Country Safer analyzes key statutory requirements and finds that although the Bush Administration has taken some steps to carry out the provisions of the Act, many of the key provisions show little or no progress. [RJ]
September 19, 2008
PDAs Trump Spouses in the Bedroom
A new survey found that 85% of professionals believe that modern technology makes them feel compelled to be connected to work 24/7 so much so that 84% check their PDAs just before going to bed and as soon as they wake up. If forced to make a choice, 35% would choose their BlackBerrys over their spouse! [JH]
Crowdsourcing the Legality of the Federal Bailout of AIG
On Legal Blog Watch, Carolyn Elefant surveys the issues presented in the law blogosphere:
- What specific statutory provisions authorized the Federal Reserve to make an $85 billion loan to AIG?
- Is the AIG deal a loan or a takeover?
- Can a court review the Fed's decision to bailout AIG?
- As a matter of policy, was the AIG deal the right thing to do?
SEC to Traders: Time-out for Short Selling
The SEC, acting in concert with the U.K. Financial Services Authority, has halted short selling in trading 799 financial companies "to protect the integrity and quality of the securities market and strengthen investor confidence." The action is immediately effective. Links to the emergency orders (Release No. 34-58588, Release No. 34-58591, Release No. 34-58592) and Form SH provided in the today's Press Release. The action comes after the SEC issued a new "abusive" naked short-selling rule. That action became effective yesterday and applies to the securities of all public companies, including all companies in the financial sector. [Press Release | Release No. 34-58572] [JH]
Friday Fun: You're not going to be happy if your bailiff touches me
You don't hear this sort of "banter" between judges and litigants in court everyday, not even in the People's Court. An arrogant defendant demands "a certain level of respect" from da Judge and gets thrown out of court but not before this exchange of words. [JH]
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
One could argue that imitation is the ultimate form of flattery, but passing off content as if it was your own is just plain wrong and it is an all too common occurrence in the blogosphere, Robert Ambrogi's discusses the challenges in Another Rip-Off Blog. [RJ]
Yale Digitization Project Stalls Because Microsoft Shutdown Its Live Book Search
The Yale Daily News is reporting that Yale Library is considering its options because of the cancellation of Microsoft's Live Book Search project. See LLB's earlier post. Microsoft has pledged to complete scanning of the approximately 32,000 volumes already sent to the scanners, but not the remaining 68,000 volumes that were part of the Company's original contract with Yale.
Options? In addition to drawing upon specific endowments set aside for Yale’s library collections, Yale Library will seek new funds from donors and grant and may consider joining Google's book digitization project.
Updating the Book Discovery Projects. The September issue of Walt Crawford's Cites & Insights is now available. Be sure to check out Updating the Book Discovery Projects describing recent developments with Microsoft Live Search Books, Google Book Search, the Open Content Alliance, and the Open Library. [RJ]
Google Reader in Plain English
The folks at Common Craft have put together a nice introductory tutorial for Google's RSS reader. Check it out. [RJ]
Opening: Reference Librarian, Elon University School of Law Library
Under the direction of the Associate Dean for Library and Information Services, this position participates as a member of the Public services department team of two professional librarians. Each reference librarian provides extensive general reference and research assistance to law students and faculty, develops and teaches online and traditional legal research instructional programs, authors research guides for the library's web site, actively participates in building the library's print and online collections and assists in the development, implementation and evaluation of reference and public services policies, procedures and publications.
J.D. from an A.B.A. accredited law school.
M.L.S. or equivalent from an A.L.A. accredited library school required.
A minimum of one year’s work experience in a law library with sound knowledge of online resources and technologies in law libraries.
Ability to work independently and cooperatively as part of a team in a patron orientated environment. Strong service orientation, organizational and interpersonal skills essential.
Substantial knowledge of Westlaw, LexisNexis and the Internet and experience teaching online research.
Commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits. Professional development and research project funding available.
Announcement can also be found on http://aall.org or go to Elon University Human Resources at https://www.elon.edu/webservices/employment/openings.aspx for complete information on the application process.
September 18, 2008
Scalia Disses Former Employer, University of Chicago Law School
University of Chicago Law School — where Justice Scalia once taught — has lost its edge and gone liberal. In his words:
"I don't think the University of Chicago is what it was in my time. I would not recommend it to students looking for a law school as I would have years ago. It has changed considerably and intentionally. It has lost the niche it once had as a rigorous and conservative law school."
Quoted in Abond Pallasch's Chicago Sun-Times story, Scalia says U. of C. has gone liberal. Hat tip to Mark Giangrande (DePaul) who summed it up nicely, 'Oh, the humanity of it all....." See also Brian Leiter's (Chicago) post. ("I get the sense he didn't mean it [gone liberal] as a compliment.")
And now for my Scalia story. While attending Chicago's Graduate Library School, I was a reference intern at U of C's Law School in 1979-80. One of my more exalted duties was to sort the mail every Saturday. Scalia would bop out of the freight elevator most every Saturday morning dressed in a black business suit wearing a white shirt and tie to pick up his mail. If his poor humble servant, that would be me, hadn't finished the mail (not an infrequent occurance because I was the only library staffer on duty on Saturdays), he would hunt me down and then proceed to look over my shoulder while I rummaged through the stack of letters and packages to find his mail. Being a strict constructionist, he never said anything more than "where's my mail?" or "that's mine."
How conservative was U of C Law back then? Well, there was a certain unhappiness among some faculty members when the club was integrated. The law school hired a young female law prof... [JH]
The Best and Worst Law Firm Websites
If you compare "the top 250 law firm Web sites against another 250 corporate or financial services firms of similar size, [you would find] that as a whole, the law firm group would lag behind in terms of the depth and quality of their Web sites." says Stephen Roussan, president of Web development firm ICVM, in Jonathan Thrope's The Top Web Sites in the Am Law 100. So which are the best and worst law firm websites? According to the article:
Best Sites: Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and White & Case.
Worst Sites: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Davis Polk & Wardell, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Pepper Hamilton, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Hacked Email Account: Was Palin Conducting Official State Business Using Personal Yahoo Email Account?
The Washington Post is reporting that hackers accessed Palin's personal Yahoo email account and published some of her emails on Wikileaks. The hackers claim their objective was to expose her use of a personal account to conduct government business. According to the story Palin declined to comply with a public records request in June to divulge 1,100 emails sent to and from her personal email account, citing executive privilege.
File under dumb (hackers) and dumber (Palin for not using secure offical email account). [JH]
LC Compiles Directory of State Digital Resources
Christine A. Pruzin, Digital Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress has compiled a list of state and regional digital projects and collaborations which “provide unprecedented access to materials that document local and regional growth and development as well as a look at the cultures and traditions that have made individual states and communities unique’. Check it out. [RJ]
ACTL Litigation Survey Finds "Serious Flaws" in US Civil Court System
A new survey from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) and the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) finds serious flaws in the US civil court system. According to ACTL Task Force Chairman Paul C. Saunders, “the costs and burdens of discovery are driving litigation away from the court system and forcing settlements based on the costs, as opposed to the merits.” IAALS Executive Director and former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis concurred noting, “millions of Americans seek the services of our courts every year—whether on an individual basis or on behalf of a business—and far too many walk away from that experience feeling that the system has let them down.”
Key findings in 2008 Litigation Survey of Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers include:
- The U.S. discovery system is broken;
- Electronic discovery was repeatedly described as a “morass” and 87% of respondents believe that form of discovery is too expensive;
- The broad legal system—while not broken—is in need of substantial repair; deserving cases are not brought because they fail a rational cost-benefit test (85% believe litigation in general and discovery in particular are too expensive);
- Litigation costs drive some cases to settle that should not settle on the merits (83% of respondents);
- The discovery and perhaps other portions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are not conducive to meeting the legal system goals of “just, speedy, and inexpensive” resolution of disputes (65% of respondents); and
- Judges should assume a stronger leadership role from case start-to-finish (89% of respondents)
Cornell Law Library's InSITE Website Reviews
Reviews published in the September 8th, 2008 issue of InSITE:
- Chesapeake Project: Legal Information Archive
- Civil Rights Oral History Interviews
- ESCR-Net: International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Chesapeake Project: Legal Information Archive
The Chesapeake Project is a "pilot digital preservation program established to preserve and ensure permanent access to vital legal information currently available in digital formats on the World Wide Web." Sponsored by the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) and managed by three LIPA member libraries--Georgetown University Library, the State Law Library of Maryland and the Virginia State Law Library--the Chesapeake Project makes available certain categories of legal documents from the individual collections of the member libraries, particularly those "born digital," and makes possible a union search of all such holdings. As a pilot project slated to end its initial phase in 2009, the Chesapeake Project has a somewhat experimental and unfinished feel. The site offers a fairly sophisticated search engine with multiple semantic search options and the ability to limit searches by institution or date. However, these searches lead to "solid" PDF-format documents and the results page does not list the in-text hits for keywords until the documents themselves are individually opened. The Project offers some innovative options for saving lists of "My Favorites" and for customizing the document viewer. The documents currently searchable are mostly secondary legal sources; the Project will hopefully become more useful to legal researchers once more documents--and more primary sources--are added to the overall holdings. [JPC]
Civil Rights Oral History Interviews
The Civil Rights Oral History Interviews website is sponsored by the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections of the Washington State University Libraries. The oral history interviews are part of a project to document the recollections of individuals with ties to the civil rights movement and to Spokane, Washington. Some of the specific topics addressed include: events in Alabama, raising a family, Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, and childhood experiences with prejudice. The homepage presents a brief background of the project and summarizes what each interviewee discusses to aid users in determining which interview(s) are most relevant for them. The site features a simple keyword search box, as well as a drop-down list of predefined searches to choose from. The link to the "Advanced Search" leads the user to a fielded search screen, and also provides access to the Libraries' other digitized collections, including the Black Oral History Interviews, recorded from 1972-1974. The interviews are presented as videos and can be viewed using Real Player. Users who do not have Real Player are directed to a link where they can download the software for free. [SA]
ESCR-Net: International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) include work, health, education, food, water, housing, social security, healthy environment, and culture. ESCR-Net is a way for human rights activists to share information and collaborate. Legal researchers in this field will find several useful features within the Issues & Resources and Caselaw Database sections on the main navigation bar. Issues provides a page for each ESCR with links to the relevant provision of the International Covenant on ESCR and its General Comment. A brief description of the right is followed by a list of “Legal Instruments” and another list of “Additional Resources.” Pertinent sidebar information includes news, events, cases, related resources, and the network members involved in protecting that particular right. Issues also includes pages on “Resources Related to the Protection and Promotion of ESCR” and “Resources Related to ESCR,” such as: websites, organizations, articles, conferences, UN documents, regional materials, and a relatively small list (11 links) under “ESCR Libraries, Publications, and Links” (e-books, articles, organizations). The Caselaw Database currently contains 72 cases, which are broadly defined to include “ … decisions of courts, administrative tribunals, international judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, review bodies of international financial institutions, national human rights institutions and other legal entities.” Cases are searchable by keyword, country, 22 global forums, and over 70 thematic issues. The entire database is browsable. Cases can be sorted by name, date, country, or forum. Decisions are presented with ESCR-Net’s editorial enhancements of title, country, thematic focus, forum and date of decision, nature of the case, summary, enforcement of the decision and other outcomes, and significance of the case. More importantly for researchers looking for primary materials, case documents are available (some in PDF) and contacts for the groups involved. Secondary sources accompany each case. The Caselaw Database will continue to grow. There is some overlapping of resources and the mouse-over lists of contents may not appeal to everyone. The Caselaw Database, a multifaceted resource, has well-designed research features and materials. [JC]
FedSpending.org is a project of OMB Watch (annotated in InSITE volume 4, number 19, May 29, 1999), a group dedicated to improving government transparency and accountability. Relying on federal data, the FedSpending site provides a database of federal grants and contracts, which gives journalists, analysts, and citizens easy access to government spending information. The data is complete for fiscal years 2000 through 2007, and there is partial data for fiscal year 2008. The database, divided between contracts and grants, can be searched or browsed using one or more of multiple criteria. Contract data can be accessed by contractor, place of performance, contracting agency, competition type, or by product or service. Similarly, grants data can be accessed by recipient, place of performance, granting agency, assistance type, or by program. Detailed information is available for each fiscal year. Breakdowns are available by state and Congressional district, allowing users to assess and compare geographically the flow of federal dollars. Dollar amounts by recipient or contractor, agency, and program are available for each geographic breakdown. Also, an extent of competition analysis is done for each state’s and district’s contract figures. [MM]
InSITE contributors: S. Allen, J. Callihan, J.P. Cusker, M. Morrison, J. Pajerek (editor)
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. This information can be accessed via the channels below, in addition to this mailing list:
1. Searchable database or by browsing current and archived issues on the web: InSITE home page
2. RSS feed
3. Print format for the Cornell Law School community.
Opening: Reference Librarian, John Marshall Law School Library
The Louis L. Biro Law Library is seeking an energetic candidate for a new, full-time Reference Librarian position. The Reference Librarian will be an important member of the reference team, which provides excellent reference, research, and instructional services to John Marshall Law School students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Chicago Bar Association members. This position reports to the Associate Director for Public Services. The full job description and contact information is available on our website: http://www.jmls.edu/library/pdf/reference_librarian_july_2008.pdf
September 17, 2008
Carl Malamud and Public.Resource.org Not Sued by State of California
Correction. In an email to me, Carl Malmud has said that Public.Resource.org has not been sued by the State of California. Although the State has asserted copyright on the California Code of Regulations, and Public.Resource.org has scanned and posted the CCR, no one from the State has contacted the company. Sorry about the misinformation. [JH]
One of our favorite public access activists Carl Malamud is being sued for copyright infringement by the State of California for posting the California Code of Regulations on Public.Resource.org. "We exercise our copyright to benefit the people of California," Linda Brown, deputy director of California's Office of Administrative Law. Quoted in California seeks compensation for posting laws online.
Can states copyright their own publications? Probably not but federal copyright laws do not apply to states. Malamud plans to fight for the Public Domain and we should support him. Hat tip to Legal Research Plus. [JH]
Kudos to Steven Luther
Washington University in St. Louis School of Law student Steven Luther is the $10,000 Grand Prize winner of Access Group's One Less Worry video contest for his "I Don't Know What I'll Do This Summer" video. The video takes the form of a trailer for a feature film about a law student's struggle over which summer offer to accept, one from a BigLaw NYC firm or a do-the-right-thing environmental nonprofit in Oregon. Bob Ambrogi suggests "Luther's best option might be to abandon a career in law in favor of one in Hollywood." LLB's earlier posts here and here.
Luther's "I Don't Know What I'll Do This Summer"
Access Group has also awarded $1,500 each to the top finalists in five categories as honorable mentions:
- Creativity: Michael Leonard, University of Chicago Law School
- Humor: Jordan Kirshner, Hofstra University School of Law
- Quality: Adam Friedman, University of Dayton School of Law
- Realism: Barron Oda, University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law
- Appeal: Andrew Lichtenstein, Loyola Law School
All the winning videos can be seen at Access Group's YouTube page for the contest. [JH]
Digital Resources for Constitution Day
221 years ago today the final draft of the Constitution was signed by 39 delegates. The document was then sent to the states for ratification, and went into effect on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution. Check out LC's new Creating the United States exhibit, the National Constitution Center's Interactive Constitution and Centuries of Citizenship (timeline of constitutional history), and the Constitutional Sources Project growing collection of digital resources. [JH]