December 20, 2008
FBI Releases 2008-2009 Facts and Figures Report
In celebration of their centennial anniversary, the FBI has released its 2008-2009 Facts and Figures report titled Today’s FBI: Celebrating a Century of Service. This informative, 60-page pictorial reference book provides an overview of the FBI’s mission, priorities, capabilities, history, and general facts and statistics. [RJ]
December 19, 2008
Tennessee Supreme Court Libraries Going Out of Business
The Tennessee Supreme Court has decided to close all three of its law libraries in an effore to save money according to the Nashville Business Journal. Combined the law libraries housed about 125,000 volumes. The closures will happen on December 31, leaving at least five librarians and staff unemployed.
Hat tip to Kathy Sasala, Cleveland Law Library Assn. [JH]
Friday Fun: Hail to the New Chief, Al Gore
Calling Bush v. Gore "a ruling made in haste," the Supreme Court has overturned its 2000 decision ... making Al Gore the 43rd president until Jan. 20, 2009. President Gore admitted that making good on his campaign promises in the next six to eight weeks might be difficult. No word on (1) whether "independent" Vice President Joe Lieberman will be allowed in the Oval Office and (2) when former Vice President Dick Cheney will vacate his office in the White House. Details here.
Before the Supreme Court's action,
President Bush toured America to survey the damage caused by his disastrous presidency. Here's the news coverage:
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The Moss Law School Rankings
Scott Moss (Colorado) offers his unique version of law school rankings. He ranks law schools by their notorious alum. Here's his methodology:
Law schools accrue points by having alumni who were high public officials convicted, or simply forced to leave office, following criminal or otherwise serious unlawful misconduct they allegedly committed while in office in the 1990s or 2000s. A law school gets four points for a President, two points for a Governor or Senator, and one point for a member of Congress or non-Gubernatorial high statewide official.
The Moss Law School Rankings for 2008
1: Harvard (7 points) for Gov. Elliot Spitzer (NY) (prostitution; possibly abuse of state police resources); Rep. William Jefferson (LA) (bribes); Sen. Ted Stevens (AK) (bribes); Sen. Brock Adams (WA) (sexual harassment)
2: Yale (4 points): Pres. Bill Clinton (perjury, and a number of other things that may or may not have been illegal)
3: Tulane (3 points): Sen. David Vitter (LA) (prostitution); Rep. Robert Livingston (LA) (prostitution)
4: NYU (2 points): Sen. Bob Packwood (OR) (sexual harassment)
5: Georgetown (2 points): Gov. Don Siegelman (AL) (bribery)
5: Cincinnati (2 points): Gov. Robert Taft (OH) (illegal campaign contributions)
5: Rutgers (2 points): Sen. Bob Toricelli (NJ) (illegal campaign contributions)
5: Pepperdine (2 points): Gov. Rod Blagojevich (IL) (bribes; misuse of government funds to try to punish political opponents; etc.)
5: Louisiana State (2 points): Gov. Edwin Edwards (bribes)
10: Fordham (1 point): Rep. Vito Fossella (NY) (DWI while visiting child from extramarital affair )
10: Washington & Lee (1 point): Chief Judge Sol Wachtler (NY) (criminal threats related to extramarital affair)
How Does the Shift from Print to Electronic Research Change Researcher Behavior and Research Outcomes?
Katrina Fischer Kuh's (Hofstra) Electronically Manufactured Law, 28 Harvard Journal of Law and Technology ___ (2008) [SSRN] employs principles of cognitive psychology to generate empirical predictions about how the shift from a print-based to an electronic research process changes researcher behavior and research outcomes. The result is one of those "you are reading my mind" experiences. Highly recommended and watch for Kuh's follow-up article.
Here's the abstract:
We increasingly communicate and experience law through an electronic medium. Existing scholarship suggests that prior changes in the communication of law - from oral to scribal, scribal to moveable type, the widespread publication of cases - influenced the development of the law, including by contributing to the rise of basic concepts such as precedent. One element of the present shift in the communication of law is that the process by which we find the law has been transformed. Specifically, legal case research, once conducted exclusively through the use of print-based resources (reporter volumes, case digests, treatises), is now conducted primarily through searches of electronic legal databases. This Article employs principles of cognitive psychology to generate empirical predictions about how the shift from a print-based to an electronic research process changes researcher behavior and research outcomes. The Article then assesses the broader impacts of these changes with respect to the content and practice of law.
Specifically, the Article identifies three changes to the research process that are salient for predicting the broader impacts of the shift from print-based to electronic research: (1) Electronic researchers are not guided by the key system to the same extent as print researchers when identifying relevant theories, principles, and cases; (2) Electronic researchers do not encounter and interpret individual cases through the lens of key system information to the same extent as print researchers; and (3) Electronic researchers are exposed to more and different case texts than print researchers. The Article then considers these basic changes in light of principles of cognitive psychology, including the influence of labeling, categorization, and confirmatory bias on understanding, and offers empirical predictions about the impacts of the shift from print-based to electronic research.
First, the Article predicts that the shift to electronic research gives rise to "diversity in framing." There will be greater divergence between researchers with regard to the theories and principles identified as potentially applicable to a set of facts and this will lead to greater disputes about what is in dispute. Second, the Article predicts that the shift to electronic research leads to more "tilting at windmills." Researchers will have greater difficulty making accurate judgments about whether an argument has merit and will thus advance marginal theories and cases with greater frequency.
Each of these predicted changes gives rise to broader impacts on the law. In an adversarial system, judicial options for case resolution are largely defined - and constrained - by the theories proffered by counsel. Diversity in framing would expand judicial authority by providing judges with a wider variety of options for the resolution of disputes. This underlines the way in which counsel serve as gatekeepers by exercising independent judgment about which cases and theories have sufficient merit to warrant pursuit. Increased tilting at windmills may require critical reexamination of the existing limits placed on lawyers in their role as gatekeepers - such as Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 - to prevent a waste of judicial and client resources. A follow-up article will test the "diversity in framing" and "tilting at windmills" predictions.
Hat tip to Legal Research Plus. [JH]
Taking Pictures to the People
LC has released its Flickr Pilot report. The report finds that the Flickr project increased awareness of the Library and its collections; sparked creative interaction with collections; provided LC staff with experience with social tagging and Web 2.0 community input; and allowed the Library to provide leadership to cultural heritage and government communities. In order words, it was a success. Text of Full Report | Text of Summary. Check out LC's Flickr account page [JH]
2008 Supplement to the U.S. Constitution
Providing analysis and Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, as well as annotations of cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, the 2008 Supplement [Senate Document 110-17] is now available from the GPO. [RJ]
December 18, 2008
BigLaw's Rapid Death Spiral
Indiana University law professor William Henderson predicts that some large law firms aren't likely to survive another year in a recent Legal Profession Prof Blog post. The collapse of Biglaw could have a significant impact on national law schools. Henderson writes, "Even if law school follows the usual countercyclical pattern of higher admission volumes, the lack of cheap capital in combination with the lack of high paying jobs may stifle enrollment." [JH]
Sloan's Pragmatic Approach to Nonprecedential Opinions in the Federal Appellate Courts
In If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: A Pragmatic Approach to Nonprecedential Opinions in the Federal Appellate Courts, 86 Neb. L. Rev. 895 (2008) [SSRN], Amy Sloan (Baltimore) advocates the creation of a new category of "overrulable" authority to give non-precedential opinions some weight without giving them full precedential value. She contends that giving non-precedential cases this status would ensure that the opinions’ precedential weight would “correspond to their position within the hierarchy of federal decisional law.”
It's an interesting idea but one that might be somewhat difficult to implement. In this mixed precedential value scheme, the federal judiciary would have to institutionalize nonprecedential opinions in a way that still preserves the system of precedent. The article makes for good reading in ALR courses after Cleveland's more fundamental analysis of the precedential status of unpublished opinions in the federal courts. See my interview of David Cleveland. [JH]
Webcast of What Publishers Need to Know about Digitization
Liza Daly explains the ins and outs of digitization and how publishers can best utilize their options. Her talk, "What Publishers Should Know About Digitization," is an O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing presentation. Topics covered include:
- What's XML and do you need it?
- What's the cost-benefit analysis versus PDF or other formats?
- What should you consider when selecting a vendor?
- Should you use a centralized platform or go on your own?
- How can you monetize your digital offerings?
EJIL Talk Joins the Blogosphere
The European Journal of International Law has decided to launch a blog, EJIL Talk. According to the blog's About Page, "the decision to experiment with a blog – and an experiment it is – was decidedly not a bandwagon effect – they all have it, so should we. It is the result of serious reflection of the Editorial Board, with our Scientific Advisory Board, on the evolving relationship between traditional and digital forms of scholarship and publishing."
Hat tip to Legal Research Plus. [JH]
Tax Law Research Presentations
By University of Oklahoma law librarians:
- Legal Research: Nonprofit Organizations, by Jennifer Gerrish
- Legislative History Sources for Federal Tax Law, by Darin Fox
- Tax Procedure: Online Research, by Darin Fox
Hat tip to TaxProf Blog. [JH]
December 17, 2008
Google Abandoning Net Neutrality?
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "Google Inc. has approached major cable and phone companies that carry Internet traffic with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content" and this, according to the Journal, is evidence of the Company abandoning its net neutrality policy. See Google Wants Its Own Fast Track on the Web. But the only thing that Google appears to be doing is planning its own edge-caching service. On Google Public Policy Blog, Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, explains Google's OpenEdge plans and responds to the Wall Street Journal article in the following words:
Despite the hyperbolic tone and confused claims in Monday's Journal story, I want to be perfectly clear about one thing: Google remains strongly committed to the principle of net neutrality, and we will continue to work with policymakers in the years ahead to keep the Internet free and open.
Law Profs Complain About Bloated Delaware Corporate Law Opinions
Delaware corporate law opinions are too long according to Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA) and have too many footnotes according to Lawrence Cunningham (GW). Why? According to Cunningham the opinion writers are behaving in a too scholarly manner. And that creates a lot of work for corporate law profs. He writes:
Delaware's contemporary style certainly exports costs to the legal academy. And the costs can be saved. Delaware opinions are fat mostly because of things that easily can be omitted: excruciatingly detailed fact recitations that can span dozens of pages and scores of footnotes addressing tertiary matters of academic curiosity at best.
Of course the same critique could be leveled against law review articles but there's one difference. Delaware corporate law opinions will be read and cited ... can't say the same about law review articles. [JH]
How Much Does Google Really Know About You?
More than you think according to a new book out by Greg Conti entitled "Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You?". From Gmail to Google Mobile, Conti's book discusses the vast amount of personel information you reveal from using all of Google's popular applications and reveals how you go about reducing it. Check out Slashdot's review for more info. [RJ]
HeinOnline's List of 2008 Weekly Tips
HeinOnline has created a topical and library list of the weekly tips the Company's blog published in 2008. Topics covered: searching, citations and linking/navigation/printing. Collections covered include American Law Institute Library, Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register, Foreign and International Law Resources Database, Law Library Journal, Legal Classics/World Trials, Treaties and Agreements Library, U.S. Congressional Documents, U.S. Federal Agency Library, U.S. Federal Legislative History, U.S. Presidential Library, U.S. Statutes at Large and U.S. Supreme Court Library.
With 50-some tips, this is an excellent source of instructional materials for ALR classes. [JH]
W3C Releases New Version of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The World Wide Web Consortium has released Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and three helpful guides to their implementation:
- WCAG 2.0 at a Glance
- How to Meet WCAG 2.0: A customizable quick reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 requirements
- Understanding WCAG 2.0: A guide to understanding and implementing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
Rule of Law Handbook 2008 – A Practitioner’s Guide for Judge Advocates
"Focusing on operations occurring during and immediately following armed conflict, the handbook provides a framework, gleaned from practitioners, for conducting rule of law missions in the context of U.S. military interventions. The staff at the Center for Law and Military Operations (CLAMO) led the publication of the handbook, but the handbook draws upon input from many different military organizations and government agencies. Consequently, it reflects the interagency atmosphere in which rule of law operations occur. The handbook's purpose is to serve as a resource for military judge advocates performing rule of law operations, but it is also of value to the larger development community." [RJ]
Opening: Associate Dean for Information Resources, FIU Law
Florida International University is a diverse research university serving more than 38,000 students. Its College of Law, authorized by the Florida Legislature in 2000, opened its doors to its Inaugural Class in 2002. The law school was provisionally approved by the American Bar Association in 2004 and fully approved in 2006, the shortest possible time for attaining full accreditation. It is presently a candidate for membership in the Association of American Law Schools.
The College of Law is seeking an Associate Dean for Information Resources, with primary responsibilities for the Law Library. The Associate Dean will have significant responsibility for the development of the collection, for the hiring and supervision of professional, technical, and support staff, and for the management of the information resources of the law library. The Associate Dean may also play an instructional role in the legal research curriculum of the College of Law and, depending upon qualification, in other curricular offerings.
Substantial experience as director of an academic law library is preferred. Candidates, in addition to holding a J.D. and a degree in library sciences, should have the credentials for a tenured or tenure-track appointment, which would include significant professional accomplishments and some publications. The Associate Dean for Information Resources will be a member of the faculty of law; tenure, when awarded, will be in the Law Library.
Review of applications will begin on January 12, 2009. Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience.
Submit nominations and applications to:
Professor Scott Norberg
Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee
Florida International University
College of Law
Miami, FL 33199
FIU is a Member of the State University System of Florida.
FIU is an Affirmative Action/Equal Access/Equal Opportunity Employer