April 2, 2011
A Funny Thing Happened Reading Court Pleadings Today
Q. May a judicial officer compile humorous letters and/or pleadings sent to the court into a publication that could be sold with the proceeds going to a charitable cause?
A. "Yes" according to State of Washington Ethics Advisory Committee's Opinion 11-01, so long as that "it does not appear that the judicial officer is trivializing or in any way disparaging the persons who authored the letters or pleadings."
Kindle editions of "A Funny Thing Happened Reading Court Pleadings Today" coming soon? [JH]
April 1, 2011
3 Geeks Announces Plan to Open Its Own Law Firm!
In North Carolina because "the North Carolina legislature is set to pass the 'Allow Non-attorney Ownership of PC Law Firms' bill which will allow for up to 49% ownership of a law firm by non-attorneys." Check out the details here.
And I was retained today by Google to advise the Company on launching a hostile takeover designed to acquire the legal publishing wing of the largest "professional legal services" vendor who wants out of the publishing business. Didn't even have to sign an NDA. Talk about a retirement nest egg being dropped in my lap! [JH]
US News Agrees to Rank Law Schools Using Non-manipulable and Meaningful Metrics for Job Placement, Faculty and Student Quality
Details at US News to Adopt Leiter Methodology for Ranking Law Schools. [JH]
Friday Fun: Google Offers Solution to Privacy Concerns
It's opt-out village!
Well, thanks to the FTC's unprecedented privacy settlement with Google over the Google Buzz fiasco, it's now opt-in. But remember, May 1-7, 2011 is Choose Privacy Week. [JH]
Dear SCOTUS FOIA Officer
Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act as amended and regulations thereunder, this is to request copies of all emails into and out of the official federal government email accounts of Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, and Justice Alito from March 31, 2010 to the present which reference any of the following terms:
- Tea Party
- Charles Koch
- David Koch
- Glenn Beck
- Eric O'Keefe
- Sarah Palin
- Jim DeMint
- Ron Paul
- Michele Bachmann
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Federalist Society
- Institute for Justice
- Cato Institute
- Fox News
- American Spectator
- Federalist Papers
- Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this request, and please make me aware of any costs in advance of preparation of this request because I may not be able to afford it.
Yes, It's April Fools' Day But...: While the above is a little tongue-in-cheek follow up to Just Say "No" to the Republican Party of Wisconsin: Academic Freedom in the Public Sector vs. State FOIA Request for Prof's Emails, the incident reported in that post is not an isolated one. See the New York Times' recent article, Group Seeks Labor E-Mails by Michigan Professors and The Chronicle's 'Academic Freedom' Offers Little Protection Against New Efforts to Obtain Professors' E-Mails (subscription required). Hat tip to Groups Seek Access To Faculty Emails by Christine Corcos on Media Law Prof Blog for the update. [JH]
The Law through the Lens of Superheroes and Supervillains
Could it have been because as a kid in the 1950s we practiced "duck and cover" drills in case of a nuclear attack in grade school? If you see the flash, no superhero is going to save you. You are dead, you just don't know that at the moment.
I was, however, a big fan of the 1950s Godzilla movies while being utterly clueless back then that Godzilla was a metaphor for nuclear war. But I digress... .
Now, I'm gaining a new appreciation for comics because of the blog, Law and the Multiverse: Superheroes, supervillains, and the law, by James Daily and Ryan Davidison. About their blog, they write:
If there’s one thing comic book nerds like doing it’s over-thinking the smallest details. Here we turn our attention to the hypothetical legal ramifications of comic book tropes, characters, and powers. Just a few examples: Are mutants a protected class? Who foots the bill when a hero damages property while fighting a villain? What happens legally when a character comes back from the dead?
On Administrative Law Prof Blog, Ted McClure writes
They examine the legal implications of comic book characters and situations, and sometimes similar movie characters and situations. Often I forward them to my faculty members as potential discussion or exam questions.
Ted, you might want to forward some of your findings to I’ve Got a Hit!, a new wiki which collects examples of legal research concepts found in movies, TV shows, songs and print. I'm thinking research assignments based on the law seen through the lens of superheroes and supervillains just might keep law school students' attention. See Illustrating Legal Research Concepts Using Examples from Pop Culture: There's a Wiki for That! Contributions are welcome.
Endnote. Wouldn't you know someone has recently published an annotated topical bibliography called 50 Best Books for the Comic Book Crowd. [JH]
March 31, 2011
Want to Read More Than Your Monthly Quota of Free New York Times Articles?
Digital Inspiration explains how to get past the New York Times paywall. [JH]
Google Buzz: FTC Reaches Unprecedented Privacy Settlement with Google
As paidContent's Joe Mullin reported in his March 30, 2011 article, In Unprecedented Move, FTC Will Make Google Get Users’ OK To Share Data:
Quoting from yesterday's FTC press release:
Google Inc. has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers when it launched its social network, Google Buzz, in 2010. The agency alleges the practices violate the FTC Act. The proposed settlement bars the company from future privacy misrepresentations, requires it to implement a comprehensive privacy program, and calls for regular, independent privacy audits for the next 20 years. This is the first time an FTC settlement order has required a company to implement a comprehensive privacy program to protect the privacy of consumers’ information. In addition, this is the first time the FTC has alleged violations of the substantive privacy requirements of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, which provides a method for U.S. companies to transfer personal data lawfully from the European Union to the United States.
On the Official Google Blog yesterday, Alma Whitten, Director of Privacy, Product & Engineering, wrote:
The launch of Google Buzz fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control—letting our users and Google down. While we worked quickly to make improvements, regulators—including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission—unsurprisingly wanted more detail about what went wrong and how we could prevent it from happening again. Today, we’ve reached an agreement with the FTC to address their concerns. We’ll receive an independent review of our privacy procedures once every two years, and we’ll ask users to give us affirmative consent before we change how we share their personal information.
We’d like to apologize again for the mistakes we made with Buzz. While today’s announcement thankfully put this incident behind us, we are 100 percent focused on ensuring that our new privacy procedures effectively protect the interests of all our users going forward.
See Whitten's An update on Google Buzz. [JH]
40% of Internet Users Have Accessed Raw Government Data
From the Overview of Pew Internet's Government Online (2010)
Government agencies have begun to open up their data to the public, and a surprisingly large number of citizens are showing interest. Some 40% of adult internet users have gone online for raw data about government spending and activities. This includes anyone who has done at least one of the following: look online to see how federal stimulus money is being spent (23% of internet users have done this); read or download the text of legislation (22%); visit a site such as data.gov that provides access to government data (16%); or look online to see who is contributing to the campaigns of their elected officials (14%).
The report also finds that 31% of online adults have used social tools such as blogs, social networking sites, and online video as well as email and text alerts to keep informed about government activities. Moreover, these new tools show particular appeal to groups that have historically lagged in their use of other online government offerings—in particular, minority Americans. Latinos and African Americans are just as likely as whites to use these tools to keep up with government, and are much more likely to agree that government outreach using these channels makes government more accessible and helps people be more informed about what government agencies are doing.
From the Report's Summary of Findings:
As government agencies at all levels bring their services online, Americans are turning in large numbers to government websites to access information and services. Fully 82% of internet users (representing 61% of all American adults) looked for information or completed a transaction on a government website in the twelve months preceding this survey. Some of the specific government website activities in which Americans take part include:
- 48% of internet users have looked for information about a public policy or issue online with their local, state or federal government
- 46% have looked up what services a government agency provides
- 41% have downloaded government forms
- 35% have researched official government documents or statistics
- 33% have renewed a driver’s license or auto registration
- 30% have gotten recreational or tourist information from a government agency
- 25% have gotten advice or information from a government agency about a health or safety issue
- 23% have gotten information about or applied for government benefits
- 19% have gotten information about how to apply for a government job
- 15% have paid a fine, such as a parking ticket
- 11% have applied for a recreational license, such as a fishing or hunting license
Sounds like a damn good reason to actively support LAW.GOV to me. [JH]
Virginia Law - $40,000 a year and no job
ATL's Elie Mysal is reporting that "unemployed students at UVA Law School are protesting, blaming the law school administration for their wretched fate. Tipsters report that a number of UVA 3Ls have been menacing the 0Ls at UVA admitted students’ weekend. See Law Students at a Top School Protest Continued Unemployment, which includes an image of the t-shirt the protesters are wearing on campus. Elie observes, "Given the state of the legal economy and the cost of law school tuition, it’s a wonder that this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often…." [JH]
RIPS Teach-In Kit Now Available: Remember National Library Week is April 10-16, 2011
Each year in conjunction with National Library Week, April 10-16, 2011, AALL's Research Instruction and Patron Services Special Interest Section publishes via its website a Teach-In Kit containing fresh materials for use in institutional, promotional and instructional activities submitted by voluntary member contributions.
For National Library Week 2011, RIPS recently published its 19th Annual National Legal Research Teach-In Kit. This year's Teach-In Kit includes PowerPoint presentations, research assignments, lesson plans, syllabi, and more on a variety of topics including health law, animal law, and Google Scholar. Contibutions include but are not limited to:
- Advanced Environmental Legal Research-Course Syllabus, Christine Ryan, Vermont Law School Library
- Legal Research and Writing for Scholarly Publication, Vicenç Feliú, Director of the Law Library & Assistant Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia and Helen Frazer, Associate Director & Head of Public Services, Charles N. & Hilda H. M. Mason Law Library, University of the District of Columbia.
- A Quide Guide to Special Education, Brittany Kolonay, Emerging Technologies Librarian, Charles N. & Hilda H. M. Mason Law Library, University of the District of Columbia
- A Guide to Using Citation Tools, Michelle Cosby, Faculty Services Librarian, North Carolina Central University School of Law Library.
- Using Google Scholar to Find Law Review Articles, Kasia Solon, Access & Student Services Coordinator, Tarlton Law Library, Jamail Center for Legal Research, The University of Texas School of Law,
- Research Exercise: Judicial Assistant Handout - Legal Abbreviation Sheets, Amy Hale-Janeke,Head of Reference Services, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Library.
- Research Exercisse: Secondary Sources-Criminal, Michelle Cosby, Faculty Services Librarian, North Carolina Central University School of Law Library.
- Research Excecise: Getting to Know Secondary Sources Activity, Jennifer Duperon, Legal Information Librarian, Boston University School of Law.
Kudos to the RIPS Teach-In Committee members who, no doubt, spent a fair amount of time on this project. This year's RIPS Teach-In Kit was compiled and edited by Laura J. Ax-Fultz and David E. Lehma. Kudos also to the many contributors to this year's RIPS Teach-In Kit.
BTW Library week is sponsored by ALA. This year's Honorary Chair is John Grisham. [JH}
Opening: Research & Faculty Services Librarian, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Research & Faculty Services Librarian
IIT Downtown Campus Library
Chicago-Kent College of Law & other IIT graduate programs
Environment: Located in a state-of-the-art building in the heart of downtown Chicago, the IIT Downtown Campus Library primarily serves the Chicago-Kent College of Law and other IIT graduate programs taught at the IIT Downtown Campus. The library’s primary clientele are the faculty of both the law school and other IIT graduate programs and approximately 2,000 students. The library has an outstanding collection of materials relating to law, business, international relations, and the social sciences. Additional information about the library and IIT can be found at: www.library.kentlaw.edu and www.iit.edu
Responsibilities: Under the general direction of the Associate Director, the Research & Faculty Services Librarian will identify and recommend new ways to use technology to provide library services and instruction and will participate in the library’s faculty liaison program. All members of the Research & Faculty Services unit also provide instruction for the law school and for other graduate programs held at the IIT Downtown Campus. This position is also responsible for providing reference coverage, which requires a flexible schedule, including evening and weekend hours.
Requirements: This position requires an M.L.S. from an A.L.A.- accredited graduate program and a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school. Strong presentation and research skills are essential. This position also requires knowledge of web content management systems such as LibGuides and WordPress; familiarity with course management systems such as TWEN and Blackboard; and experience with tutorial production applications such as CALI Author, Camtasia, Captivate, or other general video production software.
Preferred: Knowledge of graphic design applications such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop or similar applications is preferred.
Salary: Salary is negotiable and competitive, commensurate with experience.
Position Available: Immediately; open until filled.
Apply: To view the full job description and submit an application, visit www.iitri.iit.edu/
Questions? Contact: Stephanie Crawford, Head of Research & Faculty Services, 565 W. Adams St., Chicago, IL 60661; scrawford(at) kentlaw.edu
Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity in Employment Statement: It is the policy of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) to provide equal employment opportunities to all qualified applicants and employees regardless of race, religion, color, age, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, special disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran status.
March 30, 2011
Morris Cohen Memorial Service Scheduled for May 1, 2011
A memorial service for Morris Cohen will be held in the Levinson Auditorium of Yale Law School on Sunday, May 1, at 2 p.m. Information regarding hotels and other matters pertaining to the service are available here.
Morris Cohen was one of the most influential law librarians of the 20th century. Yale Law School Professor Emeritus and Librarian Emeritus he directed two of the world’s most esteemed academic law libraries. Professor Cohen passed away Saturday, December 18, 2010, at his home in New Haven. He was 83.
For more about his career, many contributions to the academic law library community and living legacy to the profession of law librarianship, see Passing of a Giant: Morris L. Cohen, 1927-2010. [JH]
Professor Ronald E. Wheeler, Jr., Director of the University of San Francisco Law Library, has a recent paper posted on SSRN titled Does WestlawNext Really Change Everything: The Implications of WestlawNext on Legal Research. He raises some interesting questions, including how it will affect teaching legal research to law students and how its mechanisms can affect future legal precedent.
Anyone who has used WestlawNext or had more than cursory contact with publicity materials know that it is a game-changer in conducting electronic legal research. I was with a group of faculty the first time it was formally demonstrated at DePaul. The faculty were salivating over it, to say the least. It's been a year now since WestlawNext made its debut and the buzz has abated to some extent. It's really worth asking the question, now that it's here, what exactly are we getting ourselves into? Professor Wheeler's paper is a good start in formulating an answer.
He initially compares some of the searches in Westlaw Classic to those in WestlawNext. Though he praises WestlawNext's ability to find conceptual results against a wide variety of sources, his examples show something I've encountered myself. That is how WestlawNext tends to fall somewhat short when searching for a document one knows to exist but when only partial information for constructing a search is available. That result comes from the heavy emphasis WestlawNext places on searching legal concepts which is leveraged against its indexes, key numbers, and other metadata rather than specific terms. Add to that mix the crowdsourcing or ranking of results within groups using factors such as how many other researchers used these materials. It's no wonder a specifically sought item can get buried.
One of Wheeler's examples is where he searched for a specific law review article and it showed up much later in the search results than the initial first page. I think this is significant, not because one has to browse to find that specific result as much as the attention span of students (or anyone for that matter) conditioned to scanning a Google results page does not lend itself to deep browsing. The relevancy of later results tends to drop off quickly in Google despite the fact there may be millions of hits. The reality is no one will browse past the first few pages. That can have negative consequences in a legal research setting.
Another significant point raised in the paper is how WestlawNext could conceivably shape the law as use of the database becomes more prevalent. Wheeler again uses examples where the number of cases or other types of documents returned by WestlawNext are less compared to traditional electronic legal research. The plus of this, of course, is that these are the best or most cited materials available in relation to the query. The negative is that it is not everything. Legal research is one of those areas where the truly paranoid thrive. Some lawyers litigate that way and want the comfort of knowing about every angle in the precedent. WestlawNext may not be for that mindset.
The real concern, though, is that by not providing every case on point, that the law will coalesce around the most popular precedent available. I can appreciate that concern. I've worked with enough lawyers and faculty to know that sometimes it's not enough to find a case that holds in favor of one's position. Sometimes it is the distinct language of that holding that is more favorable to the specific facts at issue. A turn of phrase or a more detailed statement of the law conveys context when presented to a judge that is more nuanced in stating a client's position. While it is too soon to tell, I'm not sure WestlawNext may be up to that level of creative research. Result ranking is no substitute for analysis in any legal research setting. As I tell students, they still have to read the cases. Sometimes, though, the first case is not the best case. The WestlawNext system may imply that, however.
As we in academics teach the techniques and interpretation of WestlawNext search results, we will find that it is really good at some things and not so good at others. We've had traditional electronic research systems for some thirty-plus years now and there is a comfort level with them certainly. While WestlawNext is a research game-changer, it's still not the only game in town. Anyone who strives for efficient and cost-effective research will want to know when to use WestlawNext and when to use something else to get results.
The last part of the paper touches on this. Cost. We in academics tend to be blissfully unaware of the commercial costs associated with Westlaw and Lexis. There are components in teaching that try to give students some idea of the cost of commercial legal research. Nonetheless, the teaching focus is mainly on content and technique. The drug dealer analogy is still accurate, if not a bit tired. The first one's free, as in get addicted to electronic research in law school, and after that you pay.
WestlawNext's pricing structure is quite different from Classic Westlaw. Every click seems to generate a charge once the initial search is conducted. West counters this by noting the costs are higher, but the savings are in the efficiency of the system to get the materials in front of the researcher. I'm not convinced, but I guess I could be if I could see some real numbers based on real research alternatives. I'm not sure if it would or wouldn't be less expensive to gather citations and use other vetted online sources for content. WestlawNext seems to be priced for the largest firms and the most sophisticated researchers. Casual searching may result in sticker shock once the bill comes due. The actual charges are cited in the paper.
As Wheeler suggests, we are still figuring out this thing. The total research perspective suggests it is good for some types of research and not good for others. Researchers will want to know all of the tools they have available to them and which ones to use in specific situations. WestlawNext is a good tool, but marketing aside, it doesn't necessarily replace any of the others. The paper covers more details and issues than I have raised here. I would suggest anyone seeking more information to read it. The link in the earlier paragraph should lead to a copy. [MG]
New Marketing Analysis Software, LexisNexis Client Analysis, Launches April 1
Gone, long gone, are the days of researching Standard & Poor's, Hoover's, SEC filings and Nexis for business press news for client development purposes. On April 1, LexisNexis Client Analysis will launch. Looks like this deep analysis application could be very useful for client development marketing efforts in BigLaw. From the press release:
The software solution mines historical client performance data (including revenue generated by each practice area) and distills it into meaningful reports to identify potential cross-selling opportunities among existing clients while at the same time pinpoints at-risk clients in need of relationship-building activities. Using LexisNexis Client Analysis, law firm marketers can also produce rich analytical profiles that detail client profitability trends; identify characteristics shared by a firm’s best clients; and, use that information to make fact-based decisions on future business development strategies.
Not Just Timely for Private Sector Law Librarians: Registration for the PLL-SIS Summit II: Change as Action, Change as Opportunity, Due by June 17th
Registration is now open for the Private Law Libraries SIS Change as Action Summit being conducted on Saturday, July 23, 2011, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, just before the regular 2011 AALL Annual Meeting education and professional development sessions.
Personally, the first thing I do when planning my trip to attend our professional association's annual meeting is look at the agenda to determine how many days I can eliminate from the trip. Why? One, I'm an aging and decripit Boomber law librarian. My road warrior days are long behind me. I would rather be home in my own bed, with the Blog Widow and my four dogs, plus going to work with my staff (read, more productive). Second reason, cutting the duration of attendence has been pretty damn easy for years, scratch that, decades, because of the dismal programming.
Personally, my usual "rule of thumb" or tolerance level for AALL annual meetings is 3 days/2 nights. Anything longer requires prescription medication. This year, well, there is always an exception to the "rule." There are, OMG, enough potentially interesting regular sessions to go to. Kudos to this year's session programmers. In response to wide-spread complaints about annual meeting programming, I think AALL has made the first steps to correcting this. At least for this aging and decrepit Boomer law library director, the schedule is offering a few more interesting regular sessions than past years. I might exit some early but even the prospect of not doing so is a plus. Alas, the most interesting event is this year's PLL-SIS Summit.
The PLL-SIS Summit II: Change as Action, Change as Opportunity: It offers to be the most interesting "education and professional development" event in Philly 2011. I, for one, don't know why the PLL-SIS Summit II: Change as Action, Change as Opportunity should be outside the regular session (and hence require Saturday attendence with an additional registration fee). Professionally, I find the meeting extends well beyond the professional interests of private law libraries to include public sector law librarian issues (since, our issues are more aligned to the private sector than to the academic law library sector). I also think there are plenty of academic law librarians who would be interested in these matters too but may not be able to attend because of the additional cost (lodging for another day or two, supplemental registration fee, etc.)
From the announcement for this year's PLL-SIS Summit II: Change as Action, Change as Opportunity:
Esther Dyson, legendary technology visionary, will be our Keynote Speaker, sponsored by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. We’ll also be hearing from Jim Jones of Hildebrandt, David Curle of Outsell, Inc., Sabrina Pacifici of BeSpacific, the Three Geeks, and many more dynamic and intriguing speakers.
In addition, break-out sessions, based on the current PLL Law Firm Management webinar series, will allow attendees to engage in open dialogue on their favorite webinar topics, from law firm financials to knowledge management and client marketing.
In the afternoon, we will offer concurrent programs in three areas: administration, research/reference and technology/technical services on practical topics such as metrics, project management, legal publishing trends, and social media.
The $145 registration fee includes all programs plus a Friday night BNA Welcome Party, a breakfast sponsored by Priory Solutions, lunch sponsored by LexisNexis and an afternoon break sponsored by Law360. Registration is required by June 17th.
You don't have to be a member of PLL-SIS to register and attend. Just because it is sponsored by AALL's PLL-SIS, I hope law librarians in the public sector and academic sector spot this summit on their radar and find a way to attend.
Perhaps in the future, something like this will be scheduled during the "regular" calendar of education and professional development sessions and won't require additional expense to attend. There is no rationale that is persuasive to do otherwise. It's not like not scheduling AALL's Vendor Colloquium at a cost of $27K to the membership during Philly 2011 because "everyone will be too busy during the annual meeting." [JH]
New and Updated Research Guides from GlobaLex
- Introduction to Eritrean Legal System and Research by Luwam Dirar and Kibrom Tesfagabir
- “One Country, Two Systems” of Legal Research: A Brief Guide to Finding the Law of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by Roy L. Sturgeon and Sergio Stone
- Guide to Italian Legal Research and Resources on the Web by Elio Fameli and Fiorenza Socci. March 2011 Update by Diletta Tega
- Overview of the North Korean Legal System and Legal Research by Patricia Goedde
More articles on international, comparative, and foreign law research at GlobaLex. [JH]
Opening: Reference Librarian, North Carolina Central University School of Law Library
This is an EPA (Exempt from the State Personnel Act) Position. The person in this position will serve as a member of the team of reference librarians that provide research and instructional services to the law school faculty, students and staff. This includes working with the other reference librarians to provide extensive reference and research assistance to patrons.
Duties include, but are not limited to: participating in the faculty liaison program providing research services to an assigned group of faculty members; preparing research bibliographies, user guides and other research aids; participating in the selection of information resources; providing reference and research assistance to faculty, students, staff, the local bar and the public, developing and marketing outreach initiatives to educate faculty and students about library services. This also includes working with the Web Development Librarian to: arrange vendor and librarian-taught training sessions for law students and faculty and work with student assistants hired by the vendors; promote and provide instruction in the use of electronic materials for faculty, staff and students; develop new services and programs using electronic resources and maintain web content for the law school. The selected candidate may be assigned to coordinate an area of reference service.
This position requires a Juris Doctor degree from an ABA approved law school and an MLS from an ALA Accredited Institution; a demonstrated record of providing sophisticated research assistance to faculty or attorneys, excellent written and oral communication skills, a demonstrated ability to work well in a fast-paced environment; a familiarity with and understanding of legal research materials in all formats and a minimum of two years teaching/training experience.
To apply for EPA (exempt from the State Personnel Act) Faculty and Non-Faculty positions, submit a letter of interest, curriculum vitae or resume, and the names, addresses and telephone numbers of three professional references to the contact person listed on the vacancy announcement. Official college transcripts from appropriately accredited institutions will be required of the selected applicant. Materials should be submitted to Nichelle J. Perry, Assistant Law Library Director, NCCU School of Law Library, 640 Nelson Street, Durham, NC 27707 or by email at: nperry(at)nccu.edu.
The NCCU School of Law was founded in 1939 to provide an opportunity for legal education to African Americans. The School of Law now provides this opportunity to a more diverse student body than any other in the nation, as it pertains to race and gender. This environment of diversity better prepares our students to effect positive change in the broader society. The student body consists of more than 600 students and 38 faculty members. The Law Library serves the law school faculty and students as their basic library and study resource for teaching and research. Heavy use of the Law Library is made by members of the surrounding community and members of the bench and bar. The NCCU School of Law Library’s more than 360,000 volumes and volume equivalents are offered in a variety of formats providing the legal resources needed to meet the pedagogical, research and scholarship requirements of the Law School’s students and faculty. The Library is a selective North Carolina and United States Government Depository, has a special collection in Civil Rights Law and supports the J.D./M.L.S. and J.D./M.B. A. dual degree programs on campus.
NCCU, an EEO/AA employer, complies with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. All new employees must provide original documents verifying identity and employability within the first three (3) days of employment with the University. Accommodations for applicants who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, are available upon request.
March 29, 2011
Supreme Court Action Today
The Supreme Court issued two opinions today and dismissed one case on the ground that certiorari was improvidently granted. The first of the full opinions is Astra USA, Inc. v. Santa Clara County (09-1273). The case is notable because it interprets provisions of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The Court did not consider the constitutionality of the Act in this case as that was not the issue before it. Rather it is a drug pricing case in the context of Medicare and Medicaid.
§340B of the Public Health Act imposes ceilings on drug prices that pharmaceutical companies sell to local providers of medical care to the poor. Enforcement is through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Manufacturers enter into a standard agreement with HHS to provide the average price for their drugs, with rebate programs to states as a mechanism to meet the requirements of the price ceiling. HRSA handled the program informally, but Congress changed the procedure when it passed the PPACA. That Act requires the Secretaty of HHS to develop formal procedures subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act.
Santa Clara County, California, sued Astra and several other drug manufacturers for overcharging §340B entities under the theory that they are the intended beneficiaries of the Act. The Ninth Circuit said they had no right to sue directly under the statute, but could proceed as third party beneficiaries under the standard agreement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Act, the standard agreement, and other circumstances of the case did not give the §340B entities any rights to sue. Congress opted to strengthen enforcement of the Act by creating procedures to do so under the PPACA. The decision was 8-0 with Justice Kagan abstaining.
The second opinion concerns a §1983 suit arising out of a criminal action. This case is Connick v. Thompson (09-571). Thompson was convicted of armed robbery in one trial, and murder in another. The prosecution failed to turn over a lab report in the first trial, a Brady violation. Because Thompson was convicted in the robbery trial, he did not testify in the murder trial. Thompson spent 18 years in prison with 14 of them on death row. The lab report was turned over to Thompson one month before his scheduled execution in Louisiana. A judge later determined that the evidence was exculpatory and reversed both convictions. On retrial, Thompson was found not guilty of the murder charge.
Thompson then filed suit alleging the Brady violation was caused by the deliberate indifference to an obvious need to train prosecutors to avoid these constitutional violations. The District Court held Thompson did not have to show a pattern of violations to prove his case, only that the need was obvious. A jury found liability against the New Orleans prosecutor's office. The Fifth Circuit affirmed by an equally divided court.
The Supreme Court reversed, holding Thompson to a much higher standard. Acknowledging that there are circumstances when a lack of training rises to the level where it becomes government policy and a constitutional violation, it held that it is necessary to show a pattern of constitutional violations. Thompson relied on a hypothetical from earlier Court precedent involving policemen. The Court said that it did not apply here as prosecutors are lawyers, had ample training prior to joining the office, have to meet standards to join the bar, and are required to attend CLE sessions to maintain their licenses. They don't need training to know the law. Judgment should have been granted to the prosecutor's office as a matter of law in this case. The case was decided 5-4. [MG]
The Folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices Really Love Their NDAs
From TR's Emailed Survey Solicitation:
Thomson Reuters values your opinion and would like to include you in an online research survey regarding the products and services they offer. Your feedback is extremely valuable and will help us better meet the needs of professionals like you.
The link below will take you to a survey hosted by TRC, an independent market research company [link omitted]. The information you provide will be kept strictly confidential and will be reported only in aggregate form. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. If necessary, you can start the survey, leave the site, and finish at a later time by again clicking on the link in this email.
To participate in this project, please click the link below, or copy and paste the address into your browser bar, to access our secure website. [Link omitted]
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And the Questions Asked. Oops, NDA ... [omitted]. Nothing earth-shattering. Just indicative of TR Legal trying to catch up to the pack. Hum, perhaps that's why the NDA. [JH]