Category Archives: Uncategorized

Libraries became public institutions during an era much like ours

It was during an era much like ours when the public library became an American institution, according to Barbara Fister in How Libraries Became Public (Inside Higher Ed, April 26, 2017):

I find it intriguing that the American public library grew out of an era that has many similarities to this one – the last quarter of the 19th century, when large corporations owned by the super-rich had gained the power to shape society and fundamentally change the lives of ordinary people. It was also a time of new communication technologies, novel industrial processes, and data-driven management methods that treated workers as interchangeable cogs in a Tayloristic, efficient machine. Stuff got cheaper and more abundant, but wages fell and employment was precarious, with mass layoffs common. The financial sector was behaving badly, too, leading to cyclical panics and depressions. The gap between rich and poor grew, with unprecedented levels of wealth concentrated among a tiny percentage of the population. It all sounds strangely familiar.

From the conclusion of the Inside Higher Ed article:

This [19th century constructive] response to turbulent social stress would be unimaginable today. President Trump’s proposed budget completely defunds the Institute of Museum and Library Services and cuts LSTA grants to local libraries. Our new FCC commissioner has cut out a program that made internet access affordable for resource-poor schools and libraries, rolled back privacy protections so ISPs can get into the targeted advertising game, and now is attacking net neutrality rules so that our telecoms will be able to favor their content and limit access to competitors’ – or to sites that aren’t run by deep-pocket corporations.

What made the vision of “free to all” so attractive in the late 19th century? Why now do we have to pay for “free” information services with our privacy and, ultimately, our freedom? And, given this dismal state of affairs, why do free public libraries persist?

— Joe

Book Review: Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus by Laura Kipnis

I like this book.  It has everything: sex, casual hookups, relationships, recriminations, jealousy, careers cut short, and much, much more.  That’s just the backdrop.  The real focus is what happens when any or all of these things go wrong and someone files a Title IX complaint.  Title IX protects people based on sex in educational programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.  It also prohibits harassment or retaliation for filing a Title IX complaint.  This is a powerful weapon.  The prevailing understanding is that men are predators and women are victims.  Add a distinct lack of due process in the investigation of a claim and one wonders why anyone would even say hello to another person on campus for fear of having charges filed against them.  I’m not kidding—much.

Kipnis uses the case of former Northwestern faculty member Peter Ludlow as a prime example.  Ludlow was a prominent academic in the Philosophy Department who dated a student.  She was not one of Ludlow’s students and not someone who would necessarily be affected by Ludlow’s status for good or ill any more than if they never met.  Nonetheless, they dated.  Kipnis notes that the relationship was not prohibited by any campus codes in effect at the time.  The relationship ran its course and that was the end of that until the student filed a Title IX charge that they had non-consensual sex.  Ludlow denied the claim and it was investigated.

It’s here that we discover that the Title IX investigator has immense discretion in characterizing the various claims with a decision based on “preponderance of the evidence” standard.  We also discover that the investigation process does not even remotely resemble fairness in that the object of the charges cannot bring a lawyer to the proceedings, can’t examine the evidence, and doesn’t know the details of the charges until after the decision is rendered.  The proceedings in Ludlow’s case a painful to read for those who are trained in legal process.  A judge would never tolerate this in a courtroom.

We discover other details.  The “victim” of these sexual liaisons might be coached by another faculty member.  There are examples in the book where a faculty member has encouraged someone to bring charges against a rival member apparently for malicious reasons.  There were some elements of this suggested in the Ludlow case.

Kipnis describes one case that shows just how out of touch Title IX can be with fundamental due process.  She describes how one female student brought charges against a male student two years after the alleged act was committed.  This happened (apparently) because the complaining student’s boyfriend had found out about her other relationship and she was trying to save face.  The result was that she destroyed the academic career of the other student.

Now, I don’t want to suggest, nor do I believe that Kipnis is suggesting, that men cannot be predators.  She does suggest, however, that women who are over the age of consent and are not so compromised by the “power” of their partner or a campus code of conduct that they cannot make decisions as to whom they can engage in sexual relations.  That is to say that women have sexual agency.  Not every case that falls within a Title IX investigation is automatically a case of predation despite the nature of the Title IX process.

Kipnis said as much in a 2015 essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education called Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe (premium content).  That essay, in fact, subjected Kipnis to her own Title IX investigation which lasted some 76 days before being closed in her favor.  She describes the case against her in one of the book’s chapter.

Kipnis is a bit of a lightning rod when it comes to ideas about sexuality.  Conor Friedersdorf wrote an article in The Atlantic recently about an attempt at Wellesley to ban her from campus because she might spread ideas that would cause “damage” or “injury.”  I guess that this book might cause the proponents of the ban an apoplectic fit if it became part of the library collection there.  I highly recommend the book.  The ideas are fresh and worth considering.

HarperCollins provided a copy of the book for review.

Mark

Mapping the global legal landscape of blockchain technologies

Blockchain technologies are beginning to push a broad array of global economic activities away from centralized and toward decentralized market structures according to Julie A. Mauplin in Mapping the Global Legal Landscape of Blockchain Technologies. “Governments should tackle the new regulatory conundrums of an increasingly disintermediated global economy by focusing on blockchain’s individual use cases rather than its underlying enabling technologies. Grouping the known use cases around common characteristics reveals three broad categories of blockchain/law interfaces: the green box, the dark box, and the sandbox. Each raises distinctive legal, regulatory and policy challenges deserving of separate analysis.”

— Joe

Is blockchain a general purpose technology?

From the abstract of Ethan Kane’s Is Blockchain a General Purpose Technology?:

Is Blockchain a General Purpose Technology? To answer this question, we create a new method for identifying General Purpose Technologies, utilising contemporary data rather than historical, and use it to identify Blockchain as a General Purpose Technology. We survey 200 Blockchain applications, identifying their function and grouping them by what sector they operate in. This data is used to show that Blockchain shares characteristics with General Purpose Technologies to such a degree that it can be identified as such even though it is still an emerging technology. We conclude with a look at the implications of our findings and examining the problems in identifying a General Purpose Technology at this early stage of its development.

— Joe

Recent CRS reports on sanctuary cities

Due to the prominence of immigration enforcement issues during the 2016 presidential election and the Trump administration’s recent warning that it will withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities soon, I thought I would look up recent CRS reports on sanctuary jurisdictions. Two reports seem most appropriate:

State and Local “Sanctuary” Policies Limiting Participation in Immigration Enforcement (July 10, 2015 R43457).

This report discusses legal issues related to state and local measures that limit law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The report begins by providing a brief overview of the constitutional principles informing the relationship between federal immigration authorities and state and local jurisdictions, including the federal government’s power to preempt state and local activities under the Supremacy Clause, and the Tenth Amendment’s proscription against Congress directly “commandeering” the states to administer a federally enacted regulatory scheme.

The report then discusses various types of measures adopted or considered by states and localities to limit their participation in federal immigration enforcement efforts, including (1) limiting police investigations into the immigration status of persons with whom they come in contact; (2) declining to honor federal immigration authorities’ requests that certain aliens be held until those authorities may assume custody; (3) shielding certain unlawfully present aliens from detection by federal immigration authorities; and (4) amending or applying state criminal laws so as to reduce or eliminate the immigration consequences that might result from an alien’s criminal conviction.

See also Sanctuary Jurisdictions and Criminal Aliens: In Brief (Revised January 10, 2017 R44118). — Joe

Books Are Violent

Everybody knows that I like cartoons.  Here is an excerpt from The Amazing World Of Gumball that urges people to read books.  I think it’s a great  Friday Fun.  Enjoy.

Mark

Some Thoughts on Thinking Like A Lawyer

What does it mean to “think like a lawyer?”  For all the years I’ve worked in legal education (about 40) I admit I haven’t thought about the phrase much.  I have cups from Lexis with the phrase embossed on them.  But the phrase keeps coming home to me from time to time beyond promotional materials.  I encountered it when I had some unfortunate experience with my home plumbing during the Christmas break.  My kitchen sink backed up on Christmas morning.  That led to a series of events that started with drain cleaner and ended with cracked pipes and water leaking into my basement.  Ugh.

The clog was still intact on the Tuesday after Christmas when two plumbers arrived to remedy the situation. I had bailed the sink more than a few times between Christmas and then.  We put a little water in the sink and it started to pool in the drain.  One of the plumbers asked me what chemicals were in the water.  I said there shouldn’t be in there by now.  He replied that the boiling had to be caused by something.  There was almost imperceptible bubbling in the drain water.  I explained that early on in this adventure a friend of mine and I used drain cleaner at first.  I said almost automatically that I needed to “disclose” that to him.  We then had a short conversation about legal duty, though he wasn’t concerned about that.  I continued that law school does that to people.  I could not think of the condition of the sink without considering the legalities.  I told him at this point it was hard not to because of the perspective legal training creates.

I remember talking to a student last semester.  He had been working at a firm specializing in family relations, particularly those that are strained.  He was only half way through the curriculum and started to view the relationships in his family through a legal perspective.  I told him not to fight it.  That’s what law school does.  That’s thinking like a lawyer.  It’s not that his relatives would be potential clients as much as legal training puts that overlay on life.  It’s either sad or it means law school did what it was supposed to, or both.  I admit, sometimes I watch Tom and Jerry cartoons and count up the civil causes of action both have against each other.  Sad, I know.

Anyway, that’s it.  You know you think like a lawyer when legal rules play a part, not necessarily the only part, of everyday perspective.  In my plumber’s situation, it’s duty to warn or make safe.  Since I couldn’t make the chemicals in the water safe, I had to warn.  I don’t want a lawsuit after all.

 

Mark

Supreme Court Action: Habeas Corpus and Apply the Federal Arbitration Act to State Proceedings

The Supreme Court issued two opinions this morning.  The first is a habeas corpus case where the underlying issue is where a juror was struck for cause due to ambiguous statements made about applying the death penalty during the voir dire.  That case is White v. Wheeler (14-1372).  Wheeler was convicted of two murders and sentenced to death in Kentucky.  One juror, identified as Juror 638, responded to questions about his ability to impose the death as a sentencing option with answers that went back and forth.  The opinion describes these statements:

In response to the judge’s questions about his personal beliefs on the death penalty, Juror 638 said, “I’m not sure that I have formed an opinion one way or the other. I believe there are arguments on both sides of the—of it.” App. to Pet. for Cert. 126a. When asked by the prosecution about his ability to consider all available penalties, Juror 638 noted he had “never been confronted with that situation in a, in a real-life sense of having to make that kind of determination.” Id., at 131a. “So it’s difficult for me,” he explained, “to judge how I would I guess act, uh.” Ibid. The prosecution sought to clarify Juror 638’s answer, asking if the juror meant he was “not absolutely certain whether [he] could realistically consider” the death penalty. Id., at 132a. Juror 638 replied, “I think that would be the most accurate way I could answer your question.” Ibid. During defense counsel’s examination, Juror 638 described himself as “a bit more contemplative on the issue of taking a life and, uh, whether or not we have the right to take that life.” Id., at 133a. Later, however, he expressed his belief that he could consider all the penalty options. Id., at 134a.

The judge considered the prosecution’s motion to strike and, after reviewing the juror’s statements, granted the motion.  The Kentucky Supreme Court upheld Wheeler’s conviction and sentence on direct appeal.  Wheeler filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court.  The District Court dismissed but the Sixth Circuit reversed and granted the petition.

The Supreme Court reversed.  It emphasized the deferential approach to state courts required under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) unless the decision was contrary to federal law as decided by the Supreme Court.  The Court reviewed its precedents and concluded that under the deference requirement the Sixth Circuit erred in granting the petition.  The Court issued the opinion per curiam.  There were no dissents.

The second case involved the application of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) as controlling over state law.  Readers may remember that the Court enforced an arbitration clause in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U. S. 333, awhile back.  That case came out of federal court where the Ninth Circuit enforced precedent (the Discover Bank case) that made waivers of class action suits unenforceable. The Court instead said the FAA preempted state law to the contrary and enforced the arbitration clause.

The present case, DIRECTV, INC. v.  Imburgia (14-462), concerns a variation of the Concepcion holding.  DIRECTV was sued in state court by individuals believing early termination fees violated California law.  The arbitration clause included in DIRECTV contracts limited dispute resolution to arbitration with a provision that waived class arbitration.  There was another provision stating that if “law of your state” makes the class arbitration waiver unenforceable then the entire arbitration clause was void.  The California trial court denied a request to send the matter to binding arbitration.  The California Court of Appeals agreed citing Discover Bank.

The Supreme Court essentially ruled that “law of your state” did not include state law that was invalid under federal law.  The Court cited multiple reasons for this conclusion, reasoning that in other circumstances courts would not rely on invalid state law in making decisions.   The “law” in this case includes the ruling in Concepcion which nullified the application of Discover Bank.  The Court made it pretty clear that there was no way of getting around the Concepcion ruling.  Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito, and Kagan.  Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.  Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion and was joined by Justice Sotomayor.  Justice Thomas believes that the FAA does not apply to proceedings in state court.  Justice Ginsburg would read the entire contract as benefitting the consumer rather than corporate drafters.  He expresses similar views as to Justice Thomas but with a little more depth.

Mark

RIP Zimmerman’s Research Guide, 1999-2015

Andy Zimmerman, Manager of Library Services for the D.C. office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, has decided to retire his go-to guide, Zimmerman’s Research Guide, after 16 years in existence. This valuable resource, hosted by LexisNexis the last 12 years, will go offline after December 31, 2015 according to this announcement. — Joe

It’s Pearl Harbor Day – New Text And Audio Collections at the FDR Presidential Library

Here’s a bit of news that archivists and historians may find useful on this anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II.  The Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library has placed some 46,000 pages of speeches in draft, transcript, and final form online.  This collection is accompanied by another which comprises the complete audio recordings available of those speeches.  The site describes the collection:

The FDR Library, with support from AT&T, Marist College and the Roosevelt Institute launches online one of its most in-demand archival collections – FDR’s Master Speech File – over 46,000 pages of drafts, reading copies, and transcripts created throughout FDR’s political career. Presented alongside the Speech File is the Library’s complete digital collection of Recorded Speeches of FDR.

The earliest recording is dated 1920.  That’s pretty amazing given the state of recording technology in that era.  It’s more amazing that it can be downloaded in the ubiquitous MP3 format.  It’s that casual.

I’ve visited this site plenty of times in the past.  There is a wonderful collection of public domain photographs that document the Great Depression, the New Deal, and World War II.  There is some amazing stuff in these collections.  Speaking of Pearl Harbor, scroll halfway down this page for digitized research materials relating to Franklin Roosevelt and the Day of Infamy.

23-0132M

The original caption reads: “USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee after attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.”  Archivist note:  USS West Virginia, BB-48, sinking after being hit with seven torpedoes and two armor-piercing bombs.  Along side is USS Tennesse, BB-43, after being hit with two bombs and being damaged by the explosion of the USS Arizona.  In the foreground are yard patrol craft which appear to be assisting in damage control and rescue operations.

Mark

Supreme Court Action: Suits Against Foreign Entities and the FSIA

The Supreme Court issued one opinion this morning.  The case is OBB Personenverkehr v. Sachs (13-1067).   The case involves a gruesome and unfortunate accident that befell Sachs as she attempted to board a train in Innsbruck, Austria. She fell on the tracks and before she could recover a moving train crushed her legs necessitating the amputation of both above the knee.  The train was operated by OBB which the parties agree is an instrumentality of Austria.  Sachs sued OBB in the Northern District of California for her injuries and alleged that jurisdiction was proper under the commercial activities exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.  One month before her accident she purchased a Eurail pass via the Internet from The Rail Pass Experts, a Massachusetts-based travel agent.  This was the only activity related to OBB that took place in the United States.

Sachs made five claims:

Sachs sued OBB in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, asserting five causes of action: (1) negligence; (2) strict liability for design defects in the train and platform; (3) strict liability for failure to warn of those design defects; (4) breach of an implied warranty of merchantability for providing a train and platform unsafe for their intended uses; and (5) breach of an implied warranty of fitness for providing a train and platform unfit for their intended uses.

The District Court dismissed the case stating that her claims did not fall within the commercial exception located at 28 U.S.C. §1605(a)(2).  A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed.  A rehearing en banc reversed the divided panel and said the sale of the ticket fell within the exception.  The Supreme Court reversed concluding that the sale of the ticket in the United States was too remote from the elements of Sachs’ claims to fall within the exception.

The Court’s analysis turned on whether the commercial activity was directly related to injuries she claimed in her complaint.  The Court said there was nothing wrongful about the sale of the ticket that could be the basis of a suit that survives the FSIA.  Otherwise, the Court stated, many more suits could be filed against sovereigns using creative pleading.  The Court rejected other arguments as well as they were raised for the first time in the Supreme Court hearing.  Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Mark

CRIV returns, vendor liaison position eliminated

In case you didn’t read AALL’s September 2015 eNewsletter issue, the vendor liasion position has been eliminated effective tomorrow and CRIV officially returns to its traditional role for the first time since 2009. Here’s the announcement:

The Executive Board has made some important changes to AALL vendor relations, which will be phased in during the next several months. The vendor liaison position, which was created in 2009, has been phased out, and those responsibilities will now be handled by the Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV).

CRIV members will now serve as liaisons to legal publishers and suppliers, holding regular biannual calls to exchange information about products, services, and other matters of concern to AALL members. Individual member questions, concerns, and complaints will continue to be handled by CRIV Chair Jacob Sayward.

Both the CRIV blog and The CRIV Sheet will continue to serve as communication tools for the work of CRIV. The CRIV Sheet is transitioning to a digital-only publication, which will be distributed to all members. The first digital issue of The CRIV Sheet is scheduled for publication on November 2. CRIV member Alexa Robertson serves as The CRIV Sheet editor.

A special thank you is in order for Margie Maes, who has served as the AALL vendor liaison for the past five years. Her work to develop our Vendor Relations Policy, to forge relationships with legal publishers, and to create opportunities for vendors and law librarians to discuss and educate themselves on legal information policy issues is greatly appreciated by the AALL Executive Board. Margie’s last day as vendor liaison is September 30.

Good riddance to a postion (not the person holding the position) that never should have been created in the first place. — Joe

Windows 10 is spying on you

“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to.” —  Microsoft’s 12,000-word Windows 10 Service Agreement

For details, see Zach Epstein’s Windows 10 is spying on almost everything you do – here’s how to opt out. — Joe

The law library as the lawyer’s laboratory: past, present and future applications of Langdell’s metaphor

Somewhere in my collection of old pBooks is a copy of the first edition of Lakoff & Johnson’s now classic Metaphors We Live By. The law library as the lawyer’s laboratory was not covered there. Dick Danner has in his forthcoming LLJ article, Law Libraries and Laboratories: The Legacies of Langdell and His Metaphor [SSRN]. Here’s the abstract for this highly recommended analysis.

Law Librarians and others have often referred to Harvard Law School Dean C.C. Langdell’s statements that the law library is the lawyer’s laboratory. Professor Danner examines the context of what Langdell through his other writings, the educational environment at Harvard in the late nineteenth century, and the changing perceptions of university libraries generally. He then considers how the “laboratory metaphor” has been applied by librarians and legal scholars during the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. The article closes with thoughts on Langdell’s legacy for law librarians and the usefulness of the laboratory metaphor.

— Joe

New Media Rights launches Fair Use App

The Fair Use App is designed to help filmmakers and online video creators learn more about fair use issues. You can check it out here. — Joe

Upcoming Workshops Of Interest

First of all, there is this from Washington University in St. Louis:

Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship Workshop 2015

The 14th annual workshop on Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship, co-taught by Lee Epstein and Andrew D. Martin, will run from June 15-June 17 at Washington University in St. Louis. The workshop is for law school faculty, lawyers, political science faculty, and graduate students interested in learning about empirical research and how to evaluate empirical work. It provides the formal training necessary to design, conduct, and assess empirical studies, and to use statistical software (Stata) to analyze and manage data.

Participants need no background or knowledge of statistics to enroll in the workshop. Registration is here. For more information, please contact Lee Epstein.

As a side note, I won’t be posting this Thursday or Friday as I will be attending the MichALL Spring Conference titled “Technology in Law Libraries: Where We’re At and Where We’re Going.” The event will be held on Friday, April 17, 2015, in the Wayne State Univ. School of Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights lecture hall. The program flier is here:

http://www.aallnet.org/chapter/michall/meetings/Spring_Event_Flier_031215.pdf.

Electronic registration is at http://goo.gl/tT89ar.  The conference fee is a very reasonable $20.

Mark

A Peek Inside the Inbox

As a writer for the Blog I get a tremendous amount of press releases and other publicity information in my inbox.  Sometimes the subjects are interesting enough to lead to a post.  Other times the subject is interesting but not viable to publish.  I obviously act as the filter here.  Since it’s Friday, usually the day I can wander subjectively, I thought I would share some of these items with readers.

For example, Senator Barbara Boxer tells us that she testified before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on the 10th of March on the LINE Act.  She introduced the legislation with Senator Ben Nelson.  It would require states to minimize waiting time at polls for voters by developing contingency plans when lines are long.  It targets states where long lines frustrated voters. Her video testimony is here, and more details about legislation are here.  I should mention that I am an avid reader of political stories though I tend to keep my opinions mostly to myself when it comes to the Blog.  I reserve my snarky comments to the comment sections for these stories.

I get offers to review books or articles that go somewhat afield of the law but are interesting nonetheless.  Here are several titles I could have received as review copies:

  • World War I For Kids by R. Kent Rasmussan (Chicago Review Press, 2014).  The release notes that this is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI.  The book description:  With vibrant illustration and original images, hands-on activities, and clear explanations on everything from how the war began to how United States’ entry into the war helped end it, World War I for Kids pinpoints the war’s impact on later historical events and encourages critical thinking. Instead of offering a laundry list of battles, names, and dates, Rasmussen notes that “it is more important to know what events were truly significant, why they happened as they did, and how they were connected with one another.”  I love watching stuff about World War I on what used to be the History Channel.  I watched one of the Channel’s documentaries on the Battle of Jutland on DVD recently.  Great stuff.  It’s a pity they don’t do more of it.
  • As I write this piece, Oxford University Press sent this to my inbox:  Oxford University Press recently published Dealing with Losers: The Political Economy of Policy Transitions, by Michael J. Trebilcock. This book explores the political economy of transition cost mitigation strategies in a wide variety of policy contexts including public pensions, U.S. home mortgage interest deductions, immigration, trade liberalization, agricultural supply management, and climate change, providing tested examples and realistic strategies for genuine policy reform.
  • Routledge sends this:  There is a threat to preserving the historical record of the Northern Ireland Troubles which may be as hazardous as any fire or flood. In a new article published in the journal Archives and Records James Allison King warns that the fallout from a recent intervention by the British Government risks silencing people’s accounts that would otherwise have been put on record.  In his paper, “‘Say nothing’: silenced records and the Boston College subpoenas”, King examines the ‘Belfast Project’ at Boston College, a ground-breaking oral history endeavour in which interviews gave valuable and previously unheard accounts of the Irish conflict. Those contributing were promised that the recordings wouldn’t be released until after their death. However, investigations by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Historic Enquiries Team into the 1972 murder of Jean McConville intervened. This resulted in the relevant interviews being subpoenaed by the US Federal Government at the request of the UK. An ongoing court battle has succeeded in limiting the number of oral histories to be released for now.  Read the article online here.  Readers know that I’ve covered the troubles at Boston College’s archive on this issue.
  • West Academic Publishing sent this:  Graduation time is just around the corner!  Coming next month is an indispensable volume of wisdom and advice for law students of all ages written by Paula A. Franzese, a nationally-acclaimed educator and unprecedented ten-time recipient of the Professor of the Year Award.  A Short & Happy Guide to Being a Law Student (West Academic Publishing March 2014) is a daily companion for school, work and life, Franzese shares essential wisdom on how to be one’s best and features five guideposts for success as well as priceless advice on how to succeed in class, on exams, on job interviews, at work and in relationships.  March 3, 2014 | West Academic Publishing | ISBN-978-0-314-29107-3 | Paperback | 293 pages | $17.00.

There is a press release that announces that  George Washington University created a highly informative infographic detailing a paralegal career titled,  “Changing the Legal Landscape: The Evolution of the Paralegal”  The over-saturation of the legal landscape is leaving eager law school graduates struggling to find suitable positions. With the decreasing employment rate for lawyers, one facet of this field is on the rise—paralegals. Due to their flexibility in working in a variety of areas of law and affordable starting salary compared to lawyers, paralegal careers are rising exponentially. Many attorneys thrive in the roles of managers, planners, and strategists, while paralegals tend to be very detail oriented and succeed as technicians and fact experts.

Readers may not know that I have lectured in commercial CLE programs aimed at paralegals.  The ABA and others have discussed the idea that law schools should consider creating programs that educate students in aspects of the law without leading to a J.D.  I believe law schools should be naturals at educating paralegals rather than leaving it to a separate program.

Finally, our friends at the American Library Association make this announcement:

On Friday, March 14, 2014, the American Library Association (ALA) will award President Barack Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies the 2014 James Madison Award during the 16th Annual Freedom of Information Day at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Review Group will receive the award for calling for dozens of urgent and practical reforms to the National Security Agency’s unlawful surveillance programs.

“The Review Group’s recommendations are aligned with the American Library Association’s commitment to maintaining public access to government information,” said Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association. “Thanks to the steadfast commitment of this group, impractical reforms to the government’s unconstitutional surveillance practices may soon be on the horizon.”

The full press release is here.

Thanks for reading.  And to all the press officers out there, keep sending the stuff.  I may do more of these posts every now and then.  – Mark

Friday Fun: New LLB’s first cat video

“Cats love cozying up in small spaces. Cats can also be furry little jerks. So, it’s safe to assume that when a cat decides to sleep in the (much larger) bed of a dog sibling, it’s done purely to screw with the dog,” wrote Sam Wilkes in his Huffington Post story about the below video compilation of cats stealing beds from dogs. — Joe

CRS on the Debt Ceiling and Government Shutdown

If anyone is wondering about the mechanisms available to raise the debt ceiling, the Congressional Research Service has the details.  See the report The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases (September 25, 2013, RL31967) by D. Andrew Austin and Mindy R. Levit.  A companion report is Votes on Measures to Adjust the Statutory Debt Limit, 1978 to Present by Justin Murray (February 15, 2013, RL41814).  And while we’re on the subject of turmoil in the government, here’s Shutdown of the Federal Government:  Causes, Processes, and Effects by Clinton T. Brass (September 25, 2013, RL34680).  Note that two of these reports were conveniently issued five days before the government closed.

Mark

Review: Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated

I alluded earlier in the week that I would comment from time to time on media, and that included Scooby-Doo.  Since it’s a Friday, I’m going to take that opportunity.  I’m a big fan of animation.  There are a lot of quirky shows on these days (Regular Show, Adventure Time among others).  One of the more amazing shows is Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated.  The show uses the Scooby-Doo gang and the mystery solving meme that’s existed since the late sixties.

This version of Scooby-Doo, though, goes well beyond the-monster-is-really-a-guy-in-a-rubber-mask.  The 52 episodes contain numerous subtle and not so subtle references to pop culture that makes one do a double-take at times.  Consider the casting.  One recurring character, Mister E (get it?) is voiced by comedic icon Lewis Black.  Science fiction author Harlan Ellison played himself in an episode that focused on the world of H.P. Lovecraft in extreme detail.  Udo Kier voiced the character of Professor Pericles, a super intelligent but evil parrot.  Kier has worked with many important directors and appeared in Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein among other films.  Sheriff Stone is voiced by Patrick Warburton who may be best known for playing Joe on Family Guy.

The pop culture references built into the show are both diverse and amazing.  One episode, The Battle of the Humungonauts, is an homage to the Toho Studios film The War of the Gargantuas.  Toho is the studio that brought us Godzilla and other Japanese monsters.  It even features the song “Stuck In My Throat” from that film.  Devo incorporated the song as a closer to their live act in the late 70s.  Another episode, Art Of Darkness, features artist Randy Warsaw, a parody of Andy Warhol, and a band called Sunday Around Noonish.  The song the band performs is a spot-on parody of the Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.  It’s played twice, in fact, with Scooby-Doo replacing the Nico character when she is indisposed by a piece of animated artwork.  Sample lyric:  “And what would you do if you met a caribou?”  The Lou Reed character was the villain.  It turns out he only wanted to play Polka music.  One episode takes place in the red room from Twin Peaks.  A significant character is the dancing man who is voiced by the same actor from that show.  I can’t list everything, so I would suggest checking the Wikipedia page that details each of the episodes and references.

The story arc tells the tale of Mystery Incorporated seeking a lost treasure supposedly buried underneath their town of Crystal Cove.  In reality, the treasure is a crystal sarcophagus containing a trapped alien, identified as one of the Anunnaki, and an evil one at that.  He has manipulated mystery solving groups for the last 500 years in order to free himself at the imminent coming of Nibiru.  Velma references Zecharia Sitchin at several points in the series to explain this plot point.  Anyone who is familiar with late-night radio dealing with paranormal subjects (I’m looking at you, George Noory) will be comfortably aware of this story element.

Scooby and the gang collect artifacts throughout the episodes that lead to the ultimate confrontation with the evil alien.  Along the way we are treated to emotional relationships between members of Mystery Incorporated, underwater Nazi bases, violent ends for major characters at times, and even a little bit of parallel universe theory.  And Harlan Ellison makes another appearance at the end that neatly ties up all of the loose ends.  My reaction to this show is that one has to be at least 50 to get all of the references, and at an elevated level within the blogosphere to appreciate them.  This is definitely not your standard Scooby-Doo.

Ok, what does this have to do with libraries?  Library and archival holdings are significant plot points that move the story along.  One episode’s villain turns out to be the town librarian.  So there.  The show is out on several DVDs.  It stands up to repeat viewing.

Mark