August 11, 2009
Google Voice: Apple, the iPhone App Killer; FCC Wants Answers
On Public Knowledge Blog, Art Brodsky reports that the FCC wants to know why Apple rejected Google’s new Voice application, whether AT&T had anything to do with it, and what other applications have been rejected for the iPhone. The answers are due back to the Commission on Aug. 21.
Google Voice allows users to to get cheap long-distance over Google Voice lines by routing their phone calls through a Google number, plus provides free SMS messages, text translation of voicemail and other useful features. "It also makes it trivial to switch to a new phone service, because everyone calls the Google Voice number anyway," writes Jason Kincaid in his TechCruch post, Apple Is Growing Rotten To The Core: Official Google Voice App Blocked From App Store. "[S]o of course AT&T is not a fan," writes Elisabeth on Zittran's The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It Blog, What, you didn’t think Apple would ever kill an app you actually wanted?
Great dot-gov Websites 2009
Hat tip to the July issue of the AALL Washington E-Bulletin for calling attention to Joab Jackson's Great dot-gov Web Sites 2009 published in Government Computing News. Featured sites include OMB's Data.gov, The Defense Information Systems Agency's Forge.mil intranet site and the California Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Transit.511.org. Highly recommended.
The July issue also includes the following articles:
- Day on the Hill Participants Advocate for AALL’s Policy Priorities
- AALL Program Summary: G3: Evaluating Federal e-Life Cycle Management—A Town Meeting with OSTP, NARA and GPO
- AALL Program Summary: H5: Annual Legislative and Regulatory Update
- House Passes Bill to Increase Funding for Law Library of Congress
- Senate Committee Approves Bill to Improve Whistleblower Protections
- 2009 Chapter Leadership Roundtable: Government Relations
- National Security Archive Report Illustrates Continuing Overclassification Problem
August 10, 2009
House Votes Name Change: Law Library of Congress to Become the National Law Library
The House has voted overwhelmingly in favor on a bill that would rename the Law Library of Congress as the National Law Library. The bill also establishes the William Orton Law Library Support Program, which allows the Library to accept donations in partnership with other organizations. Any money received is in addition to regular budgeted funds from Congress, and not meant to supplant appropriations to run the Library. The Librarian of Congress is directed to separate out the Law Libraries expenses and salaries as a line item in preparing budget requests. Is the National Law Library on the road to becoming its own agency? The bill is the William Orton Law Library Improvement and Modernization Act, H.R. 2728. It is now pending in the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. Should the act be signed into law, new business cards are in order. [MG]
UNT To Get Law School
The University of North Texas will get a law school thanks to a bill signed into law last June by Texas Governor Rick Perry. The public law school will be located in the Dallas Metroplex area, joining Southern Methodist University and Texas Wesleyan as Dallas area schools. The school is expected to open for classes in the Fall of 2011. Projected enrollment will be 75 students in the first class, and about 750 students when the school reaches full operations. Welcome to the club. This means jobs for law librarians at some point. More is in the Fort Worth Business Press. [MG]
"As you mull over the lastest West invoice" ... Thomson Reuters 2Q Profits More Than Doubled
On Legal Research Plus, Erika Wayne, Stanford's Deputy Law Library Director, suggests some reading material "as you mull over the latest West invoice," The Age's August 7th financial news story, Thomson Reuters profit doubles on cost cuts, a story published around the time West's Message on AALL Sponsorship Policy explaining why the Company refuses to participate in AALL's Price Index hit AALL listservs. The Age story reports that the Company's "second-quarter profit more than doubled, fueled by cost savings from the deal and demand for the Westlaw legal service" with "revenue in the professional division, including legal and tax products, gain[ing] 4 per cent.” The story adds "[n]et income advanced to $US315 million, or 38 cents a share, from $US150 million, or 19 cents, a year earlier, New York-based Thomson said today in a statement. Earnings excluding some items rose to 58 cents a share, compared with the 44-cent average estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
All this probably contributes to why Thomson Reuters does not make the Good Guys List, "publishers and vendors who are listening — publishers and vendors who aren’t raising their prices, or offering new flexibility and services in this trying time" by Legal Research Plus. See also LLB's Updated: Did AALL Refuse Thomson-West Sponsorship Cash for the Annual Meeting? Yes. which includes as a comment AALL's recent law-lib listserv statement on this matter. [JH]
Cleveland's Unpublished Opinions Redux
LLB readers may recall the interview I conducted with David Cleveland (Nova Southeastern) last October about his two now published articles on the history, value, and future of unpublished opinions in the federal courts, Overturning the Last Stone, The Final Step in Returning Precedential Status to All Opinions, 10 J.App.Prac. & Process 61 (2009) and Draining the Morass: Ending the Jurisprudentially Unsound Unpublication System, 92 Marq. L. Rev. 685 (2009). Since then Cleveland has been working on two more articles on the subject of unpublished opinions. They are available on SSRN as Working Papers. I highly recommend both articles to law librarians. Cleveland's growing body of scholarship underscores just how critically important the issue of unpublished opinions is.
Clear as Mud: How the Uncertain Precedential Status of Unpublished Opinions Muddles Qualified Immunity Determinations examines a specific area of the law in which the denial of unpublished opinions harms the substantive law. The qualified immunity defense allows government officials immunity to civil rights claims unless the right they allegedly violated was "clearly established." The federal circuits vary on whether unpublished opinions may be used to determine clearly established law. This article argues that unpublished opinions are ideal sources for determining what law is clearly established. It proposes a resolution to this problematic circuit split through jurisprudential or rulemaking means. Opinions that are issued as unpublished are by definition clearly established law; opinions that make new law or expand or contract existing law must be published under the federal circuit rules. Denying precedential status to unpublished opinions has relegated these opinions to a second class status, which is unjustified and unconstitutional, but also obfuscates their inherent suitability to demonstrate clearly established law.
The second working paper is called: Local Rules in the Wake of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1. It examines the three attributes of federal unpublished opinions: non-published, non-citable, and non-precedential. It analyzes the federal rules on these three issues and finds that, despite attempts to create uniform rules, the federal circuits vary widely in how they decide what to publish, what they permit to be cited, and what precedential value they give these decisions. The most fundamental jurisprudential question: "what is law?" varies throughout the supposedly uniform federal system. The article proposes rule changes to make these rules uniform.
OpenCongress Relaunched with New Design and Features
OpenCongress recently completed a design re-do with a number of great new features. From their "what's new" announcement:
Contact Congress -- for the first time, from any page on OpenCongress, you're just one click away from sending an email to your senator or representative. For example, if you're reading about the major health care reform bill in the House (H.R. 3200), and you decide that you want your Representative to support or oppose it, just click the "Write Your Rep." button in the right-hand sidebar and a handy email form will pop up for your communication. Example at www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/show
Watchdog -- now, you have direct access to how your Members of Congress' votes on bills compare to your own personal votes, "aye" or "nay," -- plus, how they compare to what constituents in your state and district support and oppose. Login to your free "My OpenCongress" account (or create one) and click the "Watchdog" button in your profile to see an extensive side-by-side comparison, then hold your elected officials accountable for their votes. Go to your My OpenCongress account at www.opencongress.org/login
Social Tracking - we've layered in more helpful ways to find the things in Congress that are important to you. On the page of any bill, issue, or Member of Congress, see what other users tracking that item are also tracking, as well as what they are supporting and opposing. It works like "Six Degrees of OpenCongress" - if you care about a certain bill in Congress, you can explore the unique trail of user-generated info and find related bills, votes, and issues of interest.
More Data - we've boosted the level of detail on campaign contributions for lawmakers and bills from OpenSecrets and MAPLight, congressional scorecards from issue-based organizations on the OpenCongress Wiki, and more. Click the "money trail" tab on any bill, senator or representative page for details on which companies are funding their campaigns. Also, with the OpenCongress API, all of the uniquely-aggregated data about Congress and valuable user-generated content on the site is now freely available for web programmers to remix and share on their own websites.
RaceTracker - we announced this last month, but since then hundreds of people have added their knowledge and helped to make this into an incredible one-stop resource for every 2010 Senate and House race. RaceTracker is a crowd-sourced project on the OpenCongress Wiki that allows individuals to add information about who's running for office in their district and state, check out your local area and add what you know. Go to www.opencongress.org/wiki/Project:RaceTracker
A great resource just got much better. With these new features, OpenCongress is, if it wasn't already, the best web destination for monitoring federal legistration. [JH]
Light Reading Just Before the Start of the New Academic Year?
Commenting on Robert Schnakenberg's Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You About America's Legendary Justices (Quirk Books, 2009), Ruthann Robson (CUNY School of Law) writes in a Constitutional Law Prof Blog post "[the book] is a bit too scattered for engrossing beach/cabin/summer reading, but suitable for forays while waiting for a ferry or an airplane - - - and anticipating the start of the academic year." She adds "the historical material does put some of our present notions into perspective. A Justice who probably suffered from Alzheimers? A Justice who flubbed the administration of the Presidential oath? A Justice who was rumored to be gay? A Justice believed to be the "most devout Catholic" ever to sit on the Court? According to this book, the answers are not (only?) members of the Rehnquist or Roberts Courts." Sounds like the book is also suitable for Saturday afternoons at the reference desk during the academic year. [JH]
Opening: Director, St. John’s University School of Law Library
St. John’s University School of Law seeks applications for the position of Director of the Law Library, a 400,000 volume / volume equivalent library serving a faculty of 60 and approximately 900 law students. The Rittenberg Law Library’s primary mission is to support the curricular and scholarly activities of faculty and students at the Law School. The Library has 8 professional librarians, 17 support staff, and an annual budget of $3 million.
The Director of the Law Library has broad responsibility for managing all aspects of the operation of the library including: collection development and management; overseeing personnel management; supervising implementation and maintenance of library technology; developing and implementing the library budget; and implementing new procedures as conditions warrant. The Director is responsible, in collaboration with the Dean and faculty, for establishing and implementing both technological and traditional methods of delivery of information to support the research and other library-related needs of faculty and students. Consistent with the need to ensure that information technology serves the information needs of faculty and students, the Director oversees the Law School information technology department, which consists of 4 full-time staff. The Director manages the physical space of the Library to preserve and enhance its central role in the life of the Law School. The Director may also participate in teaching in the law school and producing scholarship.
A J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school and a graduate degree in library science (or its equivalent) from an ALA-accredited institution are required. The successful candidate should be an innovative administrator with a record of accomplishment and experience in a major university law library or have comparable experience. The successful candidate must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the scope, process, and demands of a law school library and the need to align services to changes occurring in the legal academy, the legal profession, and legal publishing. Familiarity with and interest in new technologies are essential.
Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. A generous benefits package is included. Depending on qualifications, the selected candidate may be considered for a tenured or tenure-track faculty position.
The School of Law is part of St. John’s University, a Catholic, Vincentian, and metropolitan institution committed to academic excellence. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, St. John’s encourages applications from women, minorities, and others whose background and experience would contribute to the diversity of the Law School.
Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information for three references. Submit applications and nominations by email or U.S. mail to
Paul F. Kirgis
Professor of Law and
Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship
St. John’s University School of Law
8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, N.Y. 11439
August 9, 2009
A Second First for Justice Sotomayor
Judge Sonia Sotomayor was officially sworn is as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts Saturday, August 8, in two ceremonies. The first oath of office was a private ceremony in a room where the justices hold their private conferences.. The second, below, was televised for the first time in the Supreme Court's history. [JH]
Overlawyered, Oldest Law Blog, Hits 10-Year Mark
According to Bob Ambrogi's Legal Blog Watch post, Walter Olson's Overlawyered is the oldest law blog in the blogosphere and July 1st was the 10th anniversary of its launch. Belated happy birthday. Ten years is one hellva long time to be blogging regularly like Olsen has done. January 1st will be the fifth anniversity for LLB but I can't even imagine blogging five more years to reach the 10-year mark. Quite a feat. Congratulations! Hat tip to Mitchell Rubenstein, Adjunct Law Prof Blog.[JH]