Friday, December 19, 2008

A new book to look for in 2009 - "How We Decide" by Jonah Lehrer.

Wunderkind Jonah Lehrer is scheduled to release a new book on February 9, 2009 that examines the science of decision-making and thus should be of interest to many readers of this blog who want to know more about the neuroscience of effective persuasion and advocacy.  The author's short interview from last Sunday's New York Times Magazine can be found here.

The following is taken from the publisher's description of the forthcoming book:

"Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate or we "blink" and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind's black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they're discovering that this is not how the mind works.  Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason—and the precise mix depends on the situation. . . .  Lehrer shows how people are taking advantage of the new science to make better television shows, win more football games, and improve military intelligence.  His goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?"

I am the scholarship dude.


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What do Lexis and ALR have in common with "the singing cowboy" Gene Autry?

They're "back in the saddle again!"  Although the similarity pretty much ends there.  LexisNexis is a online commercial information and research services provider while Gene Autry was a much beloved, but now deceased, performing cowboy.

Nevertheless, Lexis has announced that after a year's absence, it will once again be offering American Law Reports ("ALR") among its searchable databases.   I don't know how Gene would feel, but LWR Profs, law students, lawyers and judges will undoubtedly be pleased.

Hat tip to the WisBlawg - from the University of Wisconsin Law Library.

I am the scholarship dude


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

a high-school writing assignment that gives me hope . . .

I was visiting my cousins in CA this past weekend, and my 14-year-old cousin showed me an assignment in his English class (in the work documents category):  to revise a grading rubric to make it more effective pedagogically.

His teacher first showed them the original rubric and had them apply it to an assignment so that they would understand how it worked in practice.  They then discussed concerns about whether the rubric was effective and her goals for revision.  My cousin was busy at work on this assignment while I was there--talking about categories ranging from content to form, the merits of numbers-based versus descriptive words for evaluation, etc.  He said that his teacher planned to use some of the students' ideas for a new rubric to be used on class assignments.

I saw lots of good ideas in the exercise and am hopeful that this crop of students might eventually be in our law school classrooms!


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Amy Sloan's Pragmatic Approach to Nonprecedential Opinions in the Federal Appellate Courts

Sloan_amy_2Professor Amy E. Sloan of the University of Baltimore School of Law has published a new article in the Nebraska Law Review, advocating for a new category of "overrulable" legal authority to give non-precedential opinions some weight without giving them full precedential value.  Her article is called If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em:  A Pragmatic Approach to Nonprecedential Opinions in the Federal Appellate Courts.  Here's the abstract of her article as posted on SSRN:

For many years, judges and academics have debated the pros and cons of non-precedential judicial opinions in the federal appellate courts. Although the utility, necessity, and advisability of non-precedential opinions remain interesting issues to debate, at this point they are somewhat beside the point. Academics have lost the debate on non-precedential opinions. Judges control whether non-precedential opinions are permissible, and judges are not going to give them up anytime soon.

So, as the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Rather than continue to debate the merits of non-precedential opinions, the better course of action is to find a principled way to integrate them into the judicial system, both to provide clarity regarding the weight of the opinions and to preserve the legitimacy of the federal appellate courts.

This article argues that Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1, which eliminated citation restrictions on non-precedential opinions, should be revised to integrate non-precedential opinions into the judicial system. Specifically, the rule should expressly authorize non-precedential opinions, establish uniform procedures governing their issuance, and define their authoritative value. The easiest answer to this last issue is to make the opinions persuasive authority. A bolder step, and one this article advocates, would be to create a new category of "overrulable" authority to give non-precedential opinions some weight without giving them full precedential value. The article concludes that the federal judiciary must take steps to institutionalize non-precedential opinions in a way that preserves the system of precedent.

Joe Hodnicki of the Law Librarian Blog said that Professor Sloan has come up with "an interesting idea but one that might be somewhat difficult to implement."  Click here to read more of what he has to say about this idea on the Law Librarian Blog.


December 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Google announces magazines to be added to it searchable database.

On Tuesday, Google announced a deal with several publishers to bring a back catalog of magazines including New York Magazine, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Log Home Living, and Jet, among many others, to its searchable database of print resources.  At least initially, the magazines will be available through Google's once controversial searchable book database. Undoubtedly, the list of magazines available will expand greatly as Google's ongoing scanning project picks up steam. 

Another important, and free, research tool to impart to our students.

Hat tip to the BNA Internet Law News.

I am the scholarship dude.


December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The kind of Facebook "friend request" you don't want to receive - service of process.

Australia In a story that many legal blogs have reported, an Australian judge, possibly for the first time anywhere, approved the serving of a default judgment to a non-appearing defendant via Facebook.   As reported by Yahoo Tech and the Associated Press

"The Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court last Friday approved lawyer Mark McCormack's application to use Facebook to serve the legally binding documents after several failed attempts to contact the couple at the house and by e-mail."

"Australian courts have given permission in the past for people to be served via e-mail and text messages when it was not possible to serve them in person" but this is first time, perhaps anywhere, that service has been effected through the social networking site Facebook.  The company itself praised the court's ruling stating:  "We're pleased to see the Australian court validate Facebook as a reliable, secure and private medium for communication. The ruling is also an interesting indication of the increasing role that Facebook is playing in people's lives. . . ."

Hat tip:  The ABA Journal and Above the Law blogs.

I am the scholarship dude.


December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Beyond Lexis and Westlaw

Do any of you teach your students about electronic search services such as Fastcase, Loislaw or the National Law Library?  If the answer is yes, please leave a comment about your experience or send me an email.  Thanks. 

If you would like more information on Fastcase, Loislaw, or the National Law Library, just click on their names.  We also welcome your thoughts on other electronic search services beyond Lexis and Westlaw.


December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

LWI and ALWD Awards in San Diego at the AALS Annual Meeting


Alwd_logo_4 The Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors will present the Golden Pen Award honoring the National Association of Attorneys General and the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award honoring Linda H. Edwards on Friday, January 9, 2009, 7:00 p.m. at the New Children’s Museum, 200 W. Island Ave., San Diego, California.  The event also marks the launch of the 25th anniversary of the Legal Writing Institute.Edwards_linda


The printed AALS Program lists the Golden Pen Award as being given out at the San Diego Marriott.  THAT'S WRONG!  It's at the Children's Museum, across the street from the Marriott.  (The AALS program went to press before we finalized our venue at the museum.)  IF YOU HAVE A PRINTED PROGRAM BOOK go to page 100 and write in "New Children's Museum, 200 W. Island Avenue" at 7:00 p.m.  The ceremony itself shouldn't start before 7:30 p.m., so that you'll have time to go to the law school receptions that start at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. The supplemental progam you'll get when you register at AALS has the correct information on where the awards will be, and we'll also make some announcements at the section program and luncheon.  The event is listed correctly in the on-line version of the AALS Program.  Click here to see it.



December 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Duquesne Law School Dean Gets Fired. What's Up?

Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania increased its bar pass rate from 68 to 97 percent.  So many are wondering why the law school's dean, Donald J. Guter, suddenly got fired last week. Click here to read more on and on the Law Librarian Blog.

Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog


December 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)