April 18, 2009
Local Government Gone Wild?
The Goldwater Institute has released "A New Charter for American Cities: 10 Rights to Restrain Government and Protect Freedom." The report recommends enacting a "Local Liberty Charter" consisting of 10 judicially enforceable rights to rein-in out-of-control local governments.
"The Local Liberty Charter is not a pledge signed by politicians," said Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute constitutional policy director and author of the report. "It is meant to be enforceable in court by ordinary citizens. Each right would be implemented by policies that furnish a private right of action, empowering individuals to file lawsuits, when necessary, to compel local governmental officials to respect freedom and perform their legitimate responsibilities." [RJ]
April 17, 2009
The Glass Half Full or How One Law Library Succeeds on Less, Much Less
Bud Maurer and the entire staff of the Duval County (Florida) Law Library probably should be the keynote speakers at AALL this year. They have captured the magic that is needed to thrive after significant finding cutbacks while serving some 200 patrons daily. Read more about it in the Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record. [JH]
Times Aren't Tough for Streetwalking Lawyers
Attention career placement counselors! [JH]
Law via the Internet Conference
A summary of the most recent "Law via the Internet" Conference, the annual meeting of legal information institutes and the "free access to law" movement, is now available on the VoxPopuLII blog.
Conference panel topics included:
The Right to Access Legal Information
Free Access to Law: Information Systems and Institutions in Europe
A Legal Framework for Open Access to Legal Information
The Global Scope of Free Access to Law
Information and Communication Technologies and the Quality of Legal Information
Strategic Solutions and Sustainability Models for the Diffusion and Sharing of Legal Knowledge
The summary is by Dr. Enrico Francesconi and Dr. Ginevra Peruginelli, both well-known legal informatics scholars at the Institute of Legal Theory and Techniques of the Italian National Research Council (ITTIG-CNR). Slides and abstracts of the conference presentations are available here and the proceedings will be published this month by European Press Academic Publishing. [Robert Richards]
LC Launches YouTube Channel
The Library of Congress recently launched its YouTube Channel with 70 videos. "But this is just the beginning," writes LC'sMatt Raymond. "We have made a conscious decision that we’re not just going to upload a bunch of videos and then walk away. ... [W]e intend to keep uploading additional content. We’re modifying some of our work-flows in modest ways to make our content more useful and delivered across platforms with built-in audiences of millions." [JH]
Reality Check: The Impact of Legal Technology for Lawyers
Dennis Kennedy, Tom Mighell, and Adriana Linares launch the Kennedy- Mighell Report on Legal Talk Network with a podcast entitled Reality Check: The Impact of Legal Technology for Lawyers. [JH]
2008 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics
The Yearbook of Immigration Statistics is a compendium of tables that provides data on foreign nationals who, during a fiscal year, were granted lawful permanent residence (i.e., admitted as immigrants or became legal permanent residents), were admitted into the United States on a temporary basis (e.g., tourists, students, or workers), applied for asylum or refugee status, or were naturalized. The Yearbook also presents data on immigration law enforcement actions, including alien apprehensions, removals, and prosecutions.
In addition to the Yearbook, the Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Reports and Annual Reports provide text, tables, and charts on legal permanent residents, refugees and asylees, nonimmigrant admissions, naturalizations, and enforcement actions. The Annual Flow Reports and Annual Reports have replaced the text chapters in the earlier editions of the Yearbook. [RJ]
April 16, 2009
Computational Legal Studies Blog
A new blog on the application of computation techniques to scholarly legal research, Computational Legal Studies, has been launched by Daniel Katz and Michael Bommarito, graduate students at the University of Michigan. Mr. Katz has a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. The blog discusses recent scholarly articles and projects that use computational techniques, and presents some of the authors' own computing experiments, such as a visual model of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. [Robert Richards]
Internet Crime Up 33% According to New IC3 Report
In 2008, more than $264 million was lost in 275,284 complaints, according to 2008 Internet Crime Report published by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). “This report illustrates that sophisticated computer fraud schemes continue to flourish as financial data migrates to the Internet,” FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Shawn Henry said in a statement.
Here’s a look at the scams prompting the most complaints (by percentage), along with the average amount of money lost per complaint (shockingly, the Nigerian letter fraud is still going strong):
- Non-delivery of merchandise/payment: $800 (32.9%)
- Auction fraud: $610 (25.5%)
- Credit/debit card fraud: $223 (9%)
- Confidence fraud: $2,000 (7.9%)
- Computer fraud: $1,000 (6.2%)
- Check fraud: $3,000 (5.4%)
- Nigerian letter fraud: $1,650 (2.8%)
Slave Trade Tribunals and the Constitutionality of International Courts
Hat tip to Mark Wojcik (John Marshall, Chicago) for calling attention to Eugene Kontrovich's (Northwestern) very interesting paper entitled The Constitutionality of International Courts: The Forgotten Precedent of Slave Trade Tribunals [SSRN] on International Law Prof Blog. Excerpted from the abstract:
Those interested in seeing the United States participate in [international] courts will find in the slave trade court episode not a constitutional straitjacket but rather a guide to tailoring their jurisdiction to avoid constitutional constraints. This Article unpacks the constitutional objections stated at the time and shows that some but not all international criminal courts are likely to be unconstitutional, while non-criminal international tribunals are far less problematic.
Aside from the precedential significance, the nineteenth century discussion of why joining such a court would be impermissible speaks directly to today's constitutional jurisprudence in modern terms. It provides surprisingly relevant guidance on questions like the permissibility of non-Article III courts; constitutional restraints on the Treaty Power; and the binding effect of judgments of international courts. Additionally, nearly every argument made today about American exceptionalism in international law and the conflict between domestic and international law was rehearsed nearly 200 years ago.
New Twitter Service for Legal Professionals
Hat tip to Cleveland-Marshall's Jan Novak and Rex Gradeless for calling attention to TweetLaw here and here. TweetLaw is a Twitter service designed specifically for legal professionals. Twitter users complete profiles, tag them by legal specialties such as "Legal Librarians" and share their tweats. See also Social Media Law Student's Top Twitter Applications for Everyone.
Meanwhile Jeffrey Young is reporting in the Chronicle that "twitter is quickly becoming a global faculty lounge." Wait, I thought the blogosphere was that. What next, a symposium on tweats as scholarship?[JH]
April 15, 2009
Tax Day Trivia
Tax Astrology. According to a Money Management International survey reported here, tax time can be very different for taxpayers born under different sun signs. The findings:
Aries (March 21-April 20) Those born under this Fire sign expect the smallest refunds ($1,400). They plan to save (46%) or pay debts (32%).
Taurus (April 21-May 21) Taurus is an Earth sign, associated with practicality. Those born under this sign are the least likely to expect a refund. Of consumers who expect to receive a refund, only 6% were born under this sign.
Gemini (May 22-June 21) Generally known to be logical, Gemini are the most likely to over-withhold on purpose.
Cancer (June 22-July 23) Protective Cancers are not likely to splurge with their refunds. Of those consumers who plan to splurge, less than 1% were born under this Water sign.
Leo (July 24-August 23) Generous Leos are more likely than those born under most other signs to spend their refunds. Of those who plan to splurge, nearly 20% are Leos.
Virgo (August 24-September 23) Practical Virgos are still deciding how to spend their expected tax refunds. In fact, more Virgos than those born under any other sign were “undecided” about what to do with their refunds (14%).
Libra (September 24-October 23) Known for balance, Libras surprisingly expect the largest refunds (an average of $2,200).
Scorpio (October 24-November 22) Scorpios are characterized as being passionate. Of those who plan to splurge with their tax refund, one out of four is a Scorpio.
Sagittarius (November 23-December 21) Sagittarians are known for being optimistic and are not likely to save their refunds. In fact, of those who plan to save, only 5% were born under this sign.
Capricorn (December 22-January 20) Earth signs, like Capricorn, are associated with practicality. Appropriately, Capricorns are not likely to splurge with their refunds. In fact, of those who plan to splurge, less than 1% are Capricorns.
Aquarius (January 21-February 19) Aquarius is an Air sign, associated with thought and perspective. Fifty-eight percent of surveyed Aquarians expecting a refund plan to use it to pay down debts.
Pisces (February 20-March 20) Idealistic Pisces are the least likely to save. In fact, of all those who plan to save, less than 5% are Pisces.
Favorite Tax Movies. Law profs chime in on their favorite tax movies on TaxProf Blog which is celebrating its fifth anniversary in the tax law blogosphere today. [JH]
Celebrating April 15 with Two New Tax Op Websites
"The Tax Daily for the Citizen Taxpayer." Launched by but "not an extension of Tax Analysts," the editorial tone of Tax.com is a bit Lou-Doubsian but it's early and perhaps it's just an attempt to attract an audience. From Christoper Bergin's Welcome statement:
This site is sponsored by Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has worked for almost 40 years to improve federal, state, and international tax systems, and to make tax administration more transparent. This site is not an extension of Tax Analysts, but it will tap that organization’s vast tax databases and its wealth of talented writers. I’m the president and publisher of Tax Analysts, and I’ll put in my two cents regularly on this site. And I won’t be alone. Some of our writers will weigh in as well. I hope you look around, let us know what you think, and visit us often.
At Tax.com, we provide facts and opinions. But we start with a basic premise or two. As Justice Holmes suggested years ago, taxes are the inevitable price we pay if we want to live in a civilized society. But taxes are more than inevitable. They are actually a good thing if done right and fairly. They finance our common defense, the highways on which we travel, and the retirement and health care that enables our senior citizens to live in dignity. That is, the taxes we pay reflect, or are supposed to reflect, the funding priorities that we set for our nation.
So, whether you think that your government is already spending your money like a brigade of drunken sailors; or you think that your government should spend even more of it by raising taxes to fund health care, education, and energy reform; or you just want to learn more about taxes, we hope you stick around and join the discussion. We think it will be worth your while.
Hat tip to TaxProf Blog.
And by the "Citizen Taxpayer." Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher a/k/a Joe the Plumber has launched IRSvote.com, to promote a Fair Tax system in Fox News style. Visitors to the site can vote on reforming the US tax system via the Internet, or by sending a text message or making a phone call to a 900 phone number. Note well, voters will charged 99 cents a vote. Is that a poll tax?
Yale Law School Library 2.0 Symposium
Summaries and slides of presentations at the April 4 Yale Law School Library 2.0 Symposium are available here. The panels addressed the topics "The Future of the Library," "Ethics and Politics of Library 2.0," "The Challenge of Copyright," and "Digitizing Collections." Here's the Twitter feed for the symposium. [Robert Richards]
The Public Domain Provisions of the Google Book Settlement Examined
On LibraryLaw Blog, Peter Hirtle reviews the procedures for identifing public domain books under the Google Book Settlement and then raises important concerns about the Settlement's public domain provisions. [JH]
Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in an Information Harvesting World
Hat tip to George Washington University Law School prof and Concurring Opinions blogger Dan Solvoe for calling attention to a new collection of essays about Internet privacy, Lessons from the Identity Trials: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society (Oxford UP, March 18, 2009) edited by Ian Kerr, Valerie Steeves, and Carole Lucock. Dan, whose latest book is Understanding Privacy (Harvard, 2008) writes, "the essays are fascinating and are written by a number of very prominent privacy scholars. Highly recommended!" Dan also notes that the book is available as a free download under a Creative Commons license, a first for Oxford University Press.
From the product description:
During the past decade, rapid developments in information and communications technology have transformed key social, commercial, and political realities. Within that same time period, working at something less than Internet speed, much of the academic and policy debate arising from these new and emerging technologies has been fragmented. There have been few examples of interdisciplinary dialogue about the importance and impact of anonymity and privacy in a networked society. Lessons from the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society fills that gap, and examines key questions about anonymity, privacy, and identity in an environment that increasingly automates the collection of personal information and relies upon surveillance to promote private and public sector goals.
This book has been informed by the results of a multi-million dollar research project that has brought together a distinguished array of philosophers, ethicists, feminists, cognitive scientists, lawyers, cryptographers, engineers, policy analysts, government policy makers, and privacy experts. Working collaboratively over a four-year period and participating in an iterative process designed to maximize the potential for interdisciplinary discussion and feedback through a series of workshops and peer review, the authors have integrated crucial public policy themes with the most recent research outcomes.
April 22 Webinar From AALL: Negotiation: Path to Collaboration
From the announcement: "Do you get a sinking feeling when told you’ll have to negotiate a contract? Do you feel unprepared to actually engage in a negotiation process? Attend Negotiation: Path to Collaboration on April 22, 12-1 p.m. EST, and explore the mechanics of a successful negotiation from start to finish. The webinar facilitator will be Sarah Nichols, a strategic information management consultant with 25 years experience in strategic planning and operational effectiveness for information management, research, and library functions within the professional services sector. Register by April 17."
April 14, 2009
Opening: Acquisitions Librarian, Florida Coastal School of Law Library
Florida Coastal School of Law (FCSL) is seeking experienced candidates for the position of Acquisitions Librarian.
FCSL offers a professional and pleasant work environment for its employees in addition to offering a competitive and comprehensive compensation and benefits package. To be considered for this opportunity, please apply online and submit a cover letter and resume to HR@fcsl.edu.
The Acquisitions Librarian reports to the Associate Director of the Library. The Acquisitions Librarian has primary responsibility for activities involving purchasing and acquisitions for the library collection. The library acquires materials in varying formats, both print and non-print.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Assist in developing and/or refining policies and procedures for purchasing materials for the library collections. Responsible for implementation and enforcement of these policies.
- Assist in developing and/or refining policies and procedures for the receipt and processing of library materials. Responsible for implementation and enforcement of these policies.
- Prepare orders for materials for the library collection, including conducting any necessary vendor research and evaluation.
- Perform pre-order searching and downloading of appropriate records from OCLC, or keying-in of records not available on OCLC, for materials identified for purchase. Retrieve records for electronic purchasing and invoicing from vendors.
- Ensure timely receipt of materials ordered.
- Process invoices for materials in a timely fashion.
- Train and supervise library assistants and other staff members in acquisitions and processing procedures.
- Maintain acquisitions-related records in the library=s III Millennium ILS system.
- Maintain acquisitions statistics and produce regular monthly and annual reports, as well as occasional reports requested by the library’s director and/or associate director.
- Participate with other librarians in faculty liaison program and collection development. Sort and distribute collection development materials to librarians according to subject specialties.
- Participate in Reference Desk rotation.
- Establish and maintain positive working relationships with publishers and vendors.
- Perform other duties as assigned.
Education & Experience Requirements
- Master of Library Sciences from an ALA-accredited library school
- Minimum of 1 year of experience in law library acquisitions (3+ years preferred).
Job Knowledge, Skills & Abilities
- Strong computer knowledge and ability to adapt to new systems.
- Knowledge of library systems including OCLC.
- Experience with Innovative Interfaces’ Millennium ILS.
- MS Office Suite and Internet skills.
- Self starter with service orientation and the ability to work independently.
- Ability to work well within a team environment and interface with students and staff.
- Excellent oral, written, and organizational skills.
- High attention to detail.
- Flexible and positive attitude – ability to work well with changing priorities and/or situations.
- Supervisory experience preferred.
FCSL is an equal employment opportunity employer.
The WeFollow Twitter Directory
In a recent LLB post, Do Law Librarians Twitter? Results of the LLB Poll, I mentioned that one task at hand for law librarians might be to identify and communicate to library patrons helpful Twitter sources. In one comment to the post, Meg Kribble reports that she has incorporated Twitter into an experimental research guide, specifically a feed of search results on various terms related to education law.
A new tool that might be helpful is s Twitter directory called WeFollow. Launched by Digg founder Kevin Rose, WeFollow lets you search for Twitterers by topic: just enter a topic or tag into the search field and WeFollow will present you with a list of related Twitterers in order of popularity. So if you find Twitter to be useful, this might be the place to go to find Twitter feeds about topics that interest you and/or your library patrons.
See also Top 100 Twitter Feeds for Law Students which lists feeds by the following categories: Law Students, Law Firms, Law Librarians, Professional Lawyers, Lawyers and More, Professors and Academics, Technology and the Law, Paralegals, Law Schools, and State and Federal Law. [JH]
Stanford's Paul Lomio on the Early Days of Computer-Assisted Legal Research
I've been doing this blogging thing for awhile now and have learned a thing or two along the way. First, dyslexia seems to get worse with age, or to put it another way, with the half-life of a blog post being less that 48 hours, what's the point of make corrections. More importantly, I've learned that the way to promote another blog to your readers is to not write one of those "this is a great blog" post. It's much more effective to "hat tip" the blog in your posts. Of course, proper attribution is a professional courtesy, but it is also a way of signally something to the effect like "I'm reading this blog, maybe you should take its feed too." Too egotistical? Don't know, but hat tipping is an effective way to share audiences.
For the last several months, some of us at LLB have been hat tipping Legal Research Plus in part, I think, because we cover similar topics for current awareness purposes (e.g., legal information developments, recent SSRN papers, conferences, new publications, etc.) but also because the blog's original contributions are informative. Now comes Paul Lomio's series on the history of CALR on Legal Research Plus, "an occasional and somewhat random look back at the early days of computer-assisted legal research." Should be very interesting. Here's Paul's first post. [JH]