November 29, 2008
New Member Pictorial Directory: 111th Congress Now Available
New from GPO: "Published biennially by the Joint Committee on Printing of the U.S. Congress, the Congressional Pictorial Directory provides a color photograph of each member of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It also includes information about a Member of Congress' length of service, political party affiliations, and Congressional district. Also contains pictures of the President, Vice President, and House and Senate officers and officials. Files are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) only." [RJ]
November 28, 2008
Friday Fun: "Anything read in the library must stay in the library."
In The Library Chronicles [website], a rogue librarian runs an underground library. Here's the trailer:
Public Records Law in Ohio
The Ohio Legislative Service Commission has just issued a report on retrievial of public records in Ohio. In, Public Records Law in Ohio the LSC describes what a public record is, procedures regarding public records requests, and the retention of public records in the State of Ohio. See also Ohio Sunshine Laws 2008: An Open Government Resource Manual. [RJ]
Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Ohio
The Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Ohio 1912 are now accessible and searchable through the Ohio Supreme Court’s Web site. “The interest in these documents goes beyond law school students at Cleveland State University. This access also will be of benefit to undergraduate and graduate students throughout the state as well as to lawyers, judges, the media and other researchers,” according to Steven H. Steinglass (Cleveland-Marshall) who initiated the request.
All 2,254 pages of the proceedings have been scanned and are grouped together according to date. [RJ]
November 27, 2008
- The First Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1676
- Congressional Proclamation of Thanksgiving, 1782
- President George Washington's General Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789
- President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day, 1863
For additional information about the history of Thanksgivings, see Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001, compiled by the Library of Congress. [JH]
November 26, 2008
15-30 Minutes to Boot Up Work Computers Basis for Frivolous(?) Employee Lawsuits
The National Law Journal is reporting that several companies are being sued by their employees because they are not being paid for the the 15- to 30-minute time it takes to boot up their computers at the start of each day and to log out them at the end of the day. Ah, 15-30 minutes, is that before or after they remember to plug in the computers to a power supply?
Add those minutes up over a week, and hourly employees are losing some serious pay, argues plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Thierman, a Las Vegas solo practitioner who has filed a handful of computer-booting lawsuits in recent years.
Management-side attorney Richard Rosenblatt, a partner in the Princeton, N.J., office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius who is defending a half-dozen employers in computer-booting lawsuits, sees it differently.
He believes that, in most cases, computer booting does not warrant being called work. Having spent time in call centers observing work behaviors, he said most employees boot the computer, then engage in nonwork activities.
In California, hundreds of customer service representatives at call centers are suing Cigna Corp., claiming that they were denied pay for the time spent booting up computers before and logging out after their shifts at the call centers. Hazel v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., No. C08-03552 (N.D. Calif.).
In Georgia, AT&T and BellSouth Corp. are also battling computer-booting claims, filed by sales consultants and associates who claim, among other things, that they were denied pay for time spent booting up and shutting down computers before and after their shifts. Brooks v. AT&T, No. 1:07-cv-3054 (N.D. Ga.).
In Missouri, UnitedHealth Group also is battling a proposed collective action that claims it failed to pay employees who work from home for time spent booting up their computers. Wolfert v. UnitedHealth Group Inc., No. 4:08-cv-01643 (D. Mo.).
Friday Fun on Wednesday: It's 10 Minutes to Closing Time
A policy is a policy is a policy (and don't we all feel this way today?). [JH]
The Presidential Signing Statements Controversy and Its Implications for Library Professionals
Two years out of library school and I-Wei Wang (Reference Librarian, Berkeley) was presenting her Lexis/Nexis Call for Paper Award winning paper at AALL's 2008 annual meeting. A revised version of the paper, Schoolhouse Rock Is No Longer Enough: The Presidential Signing Statements Controversy and Its Implications for Library Professionals, was recently published in the Fall 2008 issue of LLJ.
Money Wins Congressional Elections
Stating the obvious, the Center for Responsive Politics found that in 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning. Details. [JH]
Solomon on Civil Recourse Theory and Tort Law
Jason Solomon (Georgia) has posted Equal Accountability Through Tort Law on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
The traditional conception of tort law as individual justice has been revived in recent years, particularly through the idea of "corrective justice." But as corrective justice has had problems gaining traction among scholars and judges, a promising challenger in the individual-justice camp has emerged: civil recourse theory, which sees tort law as a means for empowering individuals to seek redress against those who have wronged them. Civil recourse theory has an advantage over corrective justice in its fit with the structure, concepts and doctrine of American tort law. But it seems to lack a morally appealing norm at its core. Indeed, critics such as John Finnis have charged that it seems to smack of vengeance, and treat such an impulse as morally worthy. Though the civil recourse theorists have pointed to reasons justifying a law of civil recourse, they have thus far stopped short of providing a robust normative justification. This paper seeks to provide such a normative justification. I do so by breaking down the normative case for civil recourse into three parts: first, in cases of accidental harm, why is the victim entitled to feel resentful towards the defendant such that second, she is morally justified in "acting against" the defendant in some fashion; and third, the victim is given access to a state-sponsored mechanism (tort law) for doing so. Though my focus is on civil-recourse theory, I think this discussion can illuminate the normative appeal of a broader set of individual-justice theories of tort law. I also aim to provide a response to those who would eliminate tort law through preemption, or significantly curtail it through "reform" efforts. In response to the question "What is tort law for?," my answer is: helping constitute a community of equals who are answerable to one another, and expected to treat one another with equal respect. Whether or not such an institution is worth having, in light of its costs and effect on other social goals, is for Congress, state legislatures, and citizens to decide. But that is what is at stake.
1L Survival Wiki
November 25, 2008
Personalize Search Results with Google's SearchWiki
Google has launched SearchWiki, "a way for you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results." [Official announcement] You can rank, remove and add notes to any result page and see those tailored results anytime you do that search while logged in to your Google account. Demo below. [JH]
Judge Disallows LexisNexis and Westlaw Expenses, Calls Services "Overhead"
In Class Lawyers Against Coke Get More Than $31.5 Million, Robin McDonald reports that U.S. District Court Judge Willis B. Hunt disallowed $93,960.67 for LexisNexis and Westlaw expenses in a $137.5 million class action securities fraud settlement. Judge Hunt explained, "This Court is of the opinion that charging separately for use of a research service is akin to charging for the use of a case law reporter. That is, the research service is a tool, much like a computer or a pen, and this Court considers the use of such a service part of a firm's overhead. ... Moreover, this Court is aware that many firms pay a flat rate to Lexis and Westlaw regardless of their usage, and class counsel cannot claim such flat rate payments as an out-of-pocket expense."
Hat tip to WisBlawg. [JH]
Tort Costs Up Slightly in 2007
Tort costs in the United States rose by 2.1% in 2007, according to the 2008 Update on U.S. Tort Cost Trends from global professional services firm Towers Perrin. The $5.1 billion climb from 2006 costs marks the first cost escalation since 2005 and comes on the heels of a 5.6% decline in 2006. From a statistical standpoint, the U.S. tort system cost $252 billion in 2007, or $835 per person — $9 per person more than in 2006. The 2008 report analyzes U.S. tort costs from 1950 through 2007, with projections through 2010.
Among the report's key findings:
- Overall economic growth in 2007 was 4.8%. As such, the ratio of tort costs to gross domestic product (GDP) shrank in 2007, marking four consecutive years of a decline in the ratio. Since 1950, growth in tort costs has exceeded growth in GDP by an average of approximately two percentage points.
- The total tort costs from commercial lines in 2007 increased 1.0% over 2006. However, the 2007 costs were below the levels seen in each of 2003 through 2005. The reduction from those prior years appears to be attributable to a reduction in the number of claims.
- The smaller increase in commercial tort costs can be attributed in part to asbestos. Insured asbestos losses increased approximately $1.2 billion in 2007. This was lower than the comparable increases in 2004, 2005 and 2006 ($7.3 billion, $7.0 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively).
Getting Permission, Now There's No Excuse for HeinOnline Resources
HeinOnline has integrated its online legal research collection directly with Copyright Clearance Center to provide legal researchers a fast and easy way to price and obtain copyright permissions for using content found in HeinOnline. From the announcement:
Using CCC’s Rightsconnect technology, HeinOnline’s users will have one-click access to obtain copyright permissions for distributing or using an article found in the legal research database. When a legal researcher chooses to print or download an article from HeinOnline, they can click on the "Get Permissions" button found on the print/download options screen to access CCC’s extensive rights licensing database. Once the researcher clicks "Get Permissions" they will be presented with a Permissions Summary page on CCC’s web site that displays the various permission types associated with that publication.
Informationoverlord's Directory of Government RSS Feeds
On Informationoverlord, Scott Vine is compiling a directory of government RSS feeds. So for feed lists are available for France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Slovenia and Slovenia here. Great project Scott!. [JH]
November 24, 2008
Congratulations to Karl Gruben
Karl Gruben has been appointed Associate Dean for Library and Information Services at the University of San Diego Legal Research Center, effective July 1, 2009. Karl has spent the last five years as Law Library Director and Professor of Law at St. Thomas University Law School (Florida). He has also spent many years managing the libraries at Vinson & Elkins in Houston and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Cleveland. In addition, Karl has taught at the University of Texas (Austin) Graduate School of Information, at the University of Houston School of Law, and at South Texas College of Law. [JH]
They Kill Turkeys, Don't They? Sarah Palin Pardons Turkey, Monty Python Style
Slaughterhouse employee didn't get the memo. [JH]
How Congress Works: Resources from the House of Representatives Committee on Rules
Want to know how Congress works? (read what to provide reading materials for your students to read on how Congress works?) Check out this House of Representatives Committee on Rules web page. It provides links to the following resources: Rules and Precedents of the House, Parliamentary Terms & Definitions, General Parliamentary Procedure, the Budget Process, House Floor Procedures, House Committee Procedures, Resolving Differences With the Senate, and the Legislative Process.
The How Congress Works page also provides CRS reports on the following topics: Congress: The House, Introduction & Origin of Legislative Measures, House Committees, Congress: The Senate, Relations With The Senate, Presidential Relations, House Floor Proceedings, Special Rules and the Rules Committee, and the Budget Process.
Useful for legal research instruction. Hat tip to AbsTracked. [JH]
2008 Plum Book Now Available
The 2008 edition of The Plum Book (United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions) is now available from the GPO. You can download entire chapters (such as the Legislative Branch or Executive Branch Departments) in PDF or purchase a print copy. [JH]