Chew on Citation Literacy

From the abstract for Alexa Z. Chew’s Citation Literacy, 70 U. Ark. L. Rev. 869 (2018):

New lawyers and law students spend a lot of time worrying about legal citation. But most of that time is spent worrying about the wrong thing—formatting. The primary purpose of legal citation is to communicate information to the reader. Thus, legal citations are integral parts of the legal documents that lawyers read and write. But rather than viewing citation as communication, law students, and the new lawyers they become, tend to view it as a formatting sideshow dictated by the Bluebook or other citation style guides. This view is both inaccurate and counterproductive.

I argue that the reason for this detrimental and misplaced focus on citation form is because law schools do not teach what I call citation literacy: the ability to both read and write legal citations. Despite the pervasive presence of citations in judicial opinions, which first-year law students spend most of their time reading, pondering, and discussing, law schools teach students only how to write citations. This “write-first” approach to teaching citation deprives legal novices of opportunities to learn to make meaning from citations as readers. Were students able to understand as readers how legal citations operate as communication, the tedious task of writing legal citations would be grounded in an intrinsic purpose rather than a seemingly arbitrary style guide. As things stand now, students must be prodded to follow citation norms for extrinsic gains, which satisfies neither student nor professor.

The citation literacy pedagogy I propose would first teach law students to study the citations in the documents they read—the edited judicial opinions they find in casebooks, the unedited judicial opinions they read in legal writing courses, and sample memoranda or briefs. To teach students to make meaning from citations, citation should be introduced concurrently with foundational lessons in legal authority. Once students understand what citations mean, they can more easily write the citation forms set forth in citation style guides and adapt that knowledge to the heterogeneity of citation forms they will encounter in practice.

Recommended. — Joe

Promotion & Tenure Procedures: A Study of U.S. Academic Libraries

Ruth Sara Connell’s Promotion & Tenure Procedures: A Study of U.S. Academic Libraries, Library & Leadership Management (v. 34, no. 4) “reports on the results of a study of tenure and promotion procedures at U.S. institutions where academic librarians are faculty. The author surveyed librarians from 200 institutions of higher education on promotion and tenure issues, and received 104 responses. Topics covered include: who performs reviews, whether organizations use library committees and/or university wide ones, how many external reviewers are used and what they are asked to review, and what documentation guides these processes. The results were compared for (1) institutional control (public/private), (2) small, medium, and large institutions, and (3) simplified basic Carnegie classification. The statistical results are presented.”

H/T Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

Destefano’s Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law

Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law (Ankerwycke, 2018) by Michele Destefano “is for anyone invested in the future of the legal profession, be it someone tasked with transforming their practice, someone looking to approach their work in a new way, someone looking for a fresh approach to client relations, or someone new to the field interested in a forecast of the world to come.” — Joe

The Citeable Opinion: A Quantitative Analysis of the Style and Impact of Judicial Decisions

From the abstract of Nina Varsava’s The Citeable Opinion: A Quantitative Analysis of the Style and Impact of Judicial Decisions (July 22, 2018):

Many commentators surmise a relationship between the style of judicial opinions and their legal impact or precedential power. However, little empirical work has been done to explore this relationship quantitatively. If writing style matters legally we should expect elements of style to vary systematically with a given decision’s uptake in subsequent decisions. Studying the relationship between style and citations can put that hypothesis to the test, and can help illuminate how and to what extent style matters to the law. I employ methods of computational textual analysis and natural language processing to uncover patterns between legal impact and stylistic features such as certainty, informality, and suspense. I derived my stylistic features of interest from the literature on judicial writing and measured their frequency or density in a sample of federal appellate opinions. I then investigated the relationship between these features and the number of cases that cite the decision. My results, generated from a series of regression analyses, suggest that readily measurable elements of style have strong associations with a decision’s precedential power. Qualities such as deference, lengthiness, and hesitancy are all positively associated with citation counts, whereas qualities such as certainty, suspense, and informality are negatively associated with citations. In general, the more citeable opinions are those that are relatively dull and legalistic in terms of style.

H/T beSpacific. — Joe

CRS Report: The Essential Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh Reader: What Cases Should You Read?

The Essential Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh Reader: What Cases Should You Read? (LSB10177, July 25, 2018) highlights many of Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial opinions that have received the greatest degree of attention from legal observers. — Joe

Cities Sue Trump Administration for Sabotaging Affordable Care Act [text]

Four cities and two individuals filed suit yesterday against the Trump Administration, arguing that the Administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the President’s duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Here’s the text of the complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief.

H/T Constitutional Law Prof Blog. — Joe

Who or what is QAnon?

QAnon refers to a conspiracy theory centered on Q, an online handle used on several image boards by a presumably American pseudonymous individual or group of individuals claiming to have access to classified information involving the Trump administration and its opponents in the United States, and detailing a supposed secret counter-coup against the alleged “deep state”. OAnon believers have been showing up at Trump MAGA events. Here’s three profiles:

What Is QAnon? The Conspiracy Theory Tiptoeing Into Trump World (NPR)

QAnon: latest Trump-linked conspiracy theory gains steam at president’s rallies (The Guardian)

#QAnon, the scarily popular pro-Trump conspiracy theory, explained (Vox)

— Joe

ALA Six-part Webinar: Licensing Electronic Resources to Serve the Library’s Mission

From the webinar’s announcement:

Licensing electronic resources must be undertaken in a way that supports the library’s mission by providing access to the highest possible number of databases, electronic journals, eBooks, and streaming media at the lowest possible cost. While the specific objectives and strategies of libraries will vary, skilled librarians must undertake a number of complex tasks in order to successfully license electronic resources. Some of the most important of these tasks or objectives include: negotiating the best possible terms in complex license agreements, maintaining positive working relationships with library vendors, communicating important information to internal and external constituencies, tracking changes in business models and relevant technologies, providing data for collection analysis, as well as coordinating their work with library administrators. This webinar series will cover these and other topics that address the needs of librarians working with the licensing of electronic resources.

This six-part series includes the following sessions:

August 22, 2018- Fundamentals of Licensing Electronic Resources

August 29, 2018 – Managing & Implementing Licensing Agreements for Electronic Resources, Part I

September 5, 2018 – Managing & Implementing Licensing Agreements for Electronic Resources, Part II

September 12, 2018 – Negotiation & Cost Containment Strategies for Electronic Resources

September 25, 2018 – Legal Issues in Licensing Electronic Resources

October 3, 2018 – Licensing Electronic Resources for Consortia

During this six-part webinar series, attendees will learn the fundamental structure of contracts, commonly used terms, and how to address indemnification clauses, constraints on use permissions, problems of legal jurisdiction, perpetual access rights, and some more recent developments such as the pursuit of text and data mining rights. Contributors will also explore some complex legal issues and other aspects of electronic resources management including how to maintain positive working relationships with vendors, track important changes in business models and technologies, and control costs. Above all, attendees should understand how licensing does not occur in a vacuum, but must be well grounded in a complex chain of information exchange within and beyond the library, all of which should be undertaken to support the library’s mission as understood and implemented by the library administration.

— Joe

Weekend reading: Malcolm Nance’s The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West

From the blurb for The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West (Hachette Books, June 26, 2018):

In the greatest intelligence operation in the history of the world, Donald Trump was made President of the United States with the assistance of a foreign power. For the first time, The Plot to Destroy Democracy reveals the dramatic story of how blackmail, espionage, assassination, and psychological warfare were used by Vladimir Putin and his spy agencies to steal the 2016 U.S. election–and attempted to bring about the fall of NATO, the European Union, and western democracy. It will show how Russia and its fifth column allies tried to flip the cornerstones of democracy in order to re-engineer the world political order that has kept most of the world free since 1945.

Career U.S. Intelligence officer Malcolm Nance will examine how Russia has used cyber warfare, political propaganda, and manipulation of our perception of reality–and will do so again–to weaponize American news, traditional media, social media, and the workings of the internet to attack and break apart democratic institutions from within, and what we can expect to come should we fail to stop their next attack.

Nance has utilized top secret Russian-sourced political and hybrid warfare strategy documents to demonstrate the master plan to undermine American institutions that has been in effect from the Cold War to the present day. Based on original research and countless interviews with espionage experts, Nance examines how Putin’s recent hacking accomplished a crucial first step for destabilizing the West for Russia, and why Putin is just the man to do it.

Nance exposes how Russia has supported the campaigns of right-wing extremists throughout both the U.S. and Europe to leverage an axis of autocracy, and how Putin’s agencies have worked since 2010 to bring fringe candidate Donald Trump into elections.

Revelatory, insightful, and shocking, The Plot To Destroy Democracy puts a professional spy lens on Putin’s plot and unravels it play-by-play. In the end, he provides a better understanding of why Putin’s efforts are a serious threat to our national security and global alliances–in much more than one election–and a blistering indictment of Putin’s puppet, President Donald J. Trump.

— Joe

AALL searches for association professional for executive director

Here’s the job description and qualifications needed for the soon to be open position of AALL executive director. No mention that a library degree is required or preferred. — Joe

Digital Object Identifiers and the Next Generation of Legal Scholarship

Here’s the abstract for Digital Object Identifiers and the Next Generation of Legal Scholarship (May 15, 2018) by Aaron Retteen and Malikah Hall:

The use of digital object identifiers (DOIs) in academic publishing has become so pervasive that robust, data-driven services using the DOI as the centerpiece of connectivity have been developed and integrated into the publication process. In fact, DOIs have become so commonplace that many services, ranging from academic social media platforms for individual scholars to proprietary products aimed at university administrators, expect most, if not all, scholarship to be tracked using a DOI.

In the academic legal community, the use of digital identifiers has not yet become pervasive, which means the academic legal community is not currently reaping the many benefits DOIs offer and that the academic legal community will be left out of future developments and innovations in generating and measuring impact data from scholarship. This project seeks to understand the current landscape of the use of persistent identifiers in the legal academic community (or lack thereof), identify potential barriers this community experiences regarding the implementation and widespread adoption of DOIs, as well as provide an anecdotal example of creating a sustainable workflow between the law library and legal publication organizations such as law reviews for other similarly-situated entities to follow as a guide.

In addition to the white paper, this project will result in a call to action and a usable toolkit for all law schools and law libraries to follow our example and implement DOI registration in their publication process.

— Joe

Facebook removes “bad actors” ahead of 2018 elections

Facebook has removed pages and accounts that were using “coordinated inauthentic behavior” intended to “mislead” other users ahead of the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, the company announced. From today’s press release:

Today we removed 32 Pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior. This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want people or organizations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing.

It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past. We believe this could be partly due to changes we’ve made over the last year to make this kind of abuse much harder.

— Joe

Indexing Capital Gains Taxes for Inflation

An excerpt from the summary of Indexing Capital Gains Taxes for Inflation (R45229, July 24, 2018):

Recently, proposals to index capital gains for inflation have re-entered the public debate. The proposed change would eliminate the part of capital gains that reflects inflation by increasing the basis (i.e., the amount subtracted from sales price to determine capital gains) by inflation occurring since acquisition of the asset. President Trump’s head of the White House National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, has long proposed the indexation of capital gains for inflation through regulation, and Americans for Tax Reform has urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to index capital gains. Senators Ted Cruz and James Inhofe have introduced S. 2688, the Capital Gains Inflation Relief Act of 2018, which would index the basis of assets for purposes of the capital gains tax. Similar bills, H.R. 2017 and H.R. 6444, have been introduced in the House by Representative Jack Emmer and Representative Devin Nunes. Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady, has indicated that some discussion of this issue is ongoing.

— Joe

OpenEDGAR: Open Source Software for SEC EDGAR Analysis

Here’s the abstract for Michael James Bommarito, Daniel Martin Katz and Eric Detterman, OpenEDGAR: Open Source Software for SEC EDGAR Analysis (June 27, 2018):

OpenEDGAR is an open source Python framework designed to rapidly construct research databases based on the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) system operated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). OpenEDGAR is built on the Django application framework, supports distributed compute across one or more servers, and includes functionality to (i) retrieve and parse index and filing data from EDGAR, (ii) build tables for key metadata like form type and filer, (iii) retrieve, parse, and update CIK to ticker and industry mappings, (iv) extract content and metadata from filing documents, and (v) search filing document contents. OpenEDGAR is designed for use in both academic research and industrial applications, and is distributed under MIT License.

— Joe

Kavanaugh returns Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire [text]

SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe highlights answers from Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s completed questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here’s the text of the completed questionaire. — Joe

CRS Report: Judicial Opinions of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh

Two excerpts from Judicial Opinions of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh (R45269, July 23, 2018):

Arguably, Judge Kavanaugh’s authored opinions provide the greatest insight into the nominee’s judicial approach, as a judge’s vote or decision to join an opinion authored by a colleague may not necessarily represent full agreement with a colleague’s views. This report provides a tabular listing of 306 cases in which Judge Kavanaugh authored a majority, concurring, or dissenting opinion.

While this report identifies and briefly describes judicial opinions authored by Judge Kavanaugh during his time on the federal court, it does not analyze the implications of his judicial opinions or suggest how he might approach legal issues if appointed to the Supreme Court. Those matters will be discussed in a forthcoming CRS report.

H/T beSpacific. — Joe

Legal Research, Legal Reasoning and Precedent in Canada in the Digital Age

Hat tip to Canada’s online legal magazine Slaw for calling attention to Jonathan de Vries, Legal Research, Legal Reasoning and Precedent in Canada in the Digital Age, 48 Advocates’ Quarterly 1 (2018). Here’s the abstract:

The past few decades have witnessed the rapid replacement of print-based sources of legal information by digital sources. This article summarizes the existing Anglo-American scholarship on the interaction between legal media, legal reasoning and substantive law, and applies it to the context of Canadian law and Canada’s unique experience of print-based legal information. While Canada adopted the intellectual methods of a print-based legal system, it lagged behind in the establishment of print-based sources of legal information, with the result that the intellectual and institutional structures that derive from print media were nowhere near as entrenched in Canadian law as compared with other common law jurisdictions. Therefore, to whatever degree the transition to digital legal information poses a threat of disruption to a common law legal system, this disruptive effect will be more acute in Canada than in the United States or England.

Interesting. — Joe

Weekend reading: James R. Clapper’s Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence

An excerpt from the blurb for James R. Clapper, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence, Viking, May 22, 2018):

The former Director of National Intelligence’s candid and compelling account of the intelligence community’s successes–and failures–in facing some of the greatest threats to America. Facts and Fears offers a privileged look inside the U.S. intelligence community and, with the frankness and professionalism for which James Clapper is known.

— Joe

How professional ideals for law students help in the LRW classroom

In The Complete Professional: How Our New Professional Ideals for Law Students Help Us in the Legal Research and Writing Classroom, 26 Perspectives: Teaching Legal Res. & Writing 14 (2017), Michele Bradley and Nancy Oliver explain how LRW courses benefit from the aboption and implementation of the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s The Complete Professional: Professional Ideals for Law Students because it provides a common language for the Cincinnati Law community tailored to the experience of law students. — Joe

Freedom Caucus Republicans File Impeachment Resolution Against AG Rod Rosenstein [text]

The resolution, unlikely to pass without Republican leadership support, accuses Rosenstein of seeking to block congressional oversight of Robert Mueller’s investigation. Here’s the resolution’s text. — Joe