Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fee Fi Fo Feoffmentes

Bankruptcy law is an area I'm unfamiliar and I wanted to understand a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, so I attempted to do some research, here it is.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Husky International Electronics, Inc. v. Ritz. Justice Sotomayor wrote the decision, which reversed the lower court's narrow reading of "Actual Fraud." To support this decision the Court set out to revive the common law definition of "Actual Fraud."

This case involved 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(A)
§ 523. Exceptions to discharge
(a) A discharge under section 727, 1141, 1228(a), 1228(b), or 1328(b) of this title does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt-
(2) for money, property, services, or an extension, renewal, or refinancing of credit, to the extent obtained by--
(A) false pretenses, a false representation, or actual fraud, other than a statement respecting the debtor's or an insider's financial condition;
I noticed no dictionary definitions of "Actual Fraud" were cited in the Court's opinion, so I pulled up Spinelli's Law Library Reference Shelf, a database on HeinOnline, to take a closer look.

Here is the earliest definition in Bouvier's famous dictionary:

"Frauds may be also divided into actual or positive and constructive frauds. An actual or positive fraud is the intentional and successful employment of any cunning, deception or artifice, used to circumvent, cheat or deceive another. 1 Story, Eq. Jur. § 186; Dig. 4,3,1,2; Id. 2,14,7,9."
Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Adapted To The Constitution And Laws Of The United States Of America, And Of The Several States Of The American Union 590 (2d ed. 1843).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five Funky Washington Laws

Image credit: Emily, Law Library Intern

I love finding obscure facts online. This week I stumbled across an interesting law and wondered what other weird laws Washington has. I hope you enjoy these five funky Washington laws!

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1. It is illegal to kill, or harm, a Bigfoot in Skamania County, Washington. To do so is punishable by a substantial fine or imprisonment. 

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2. Destroying a beer cask, or bottle, of another is illegal under the RCW.

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3. Thanks to RCW 70.98.170 it is illegal to use X-rays to fit shoes. Looks like you're going to have to settle for trying the shoes on now. 

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4. Seattle Municipal Code 9.20.010 says that is is a unlawful to color, dye, stain, or in any way change the natural color of any fowl or rabbit. So, no pink rabbits here!

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5. In Everett it is unlawful for a any hypnotist to display in any window or public place any person while under the influence of hypnotism. It is a violation of Everett Municipal Code 09.24.010 and can be punished by a $500 fine or imprisonment of up to six months!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Ten Tips for Law Students to Get the Most Out of Their Summer Legal Jobs

That is the title of a post on Justia's Verdict site.

Written by Vikram David Amar and Greg Miarecki (University of Illinois College of Law), these tips are specific and practical.

If you don't have time to read the post, browse this short version of their ten tips:

  1. Exhibit a positive, enthusiastic attitude.
  2. Don't be afraid to come in early and stay late.
  3. Focus on the larger unit or organization.
  4. Do and show your best work.
  5. Communicate and interact in a manner appropriate for your audience.
  6. Seek out new work assignments and new work experiences.
  7. Request feedback, actively but tactfully.
  8. Show respect for everyone, including the clerical staff. [and the librarians!]
  9. Get to know people in the office.
  10. Always maintain a customer-service mindset.
Although these tips repeat what you might have already heard, they are handy reminders. And may you shine as brightly as the summer sun!
Image source: tiny buddha

New Feature for Searching News Articles on Westlaw

Searching for news articles on Westlaw usually yields thousands of hits. It can be a real slog to browse the list of hits looking for longer, more substantive articles.

Now, Westlaw offers an option to limit results from a news search by the length of the article.

The Advanced Search includes a "Document Length" field that lets you select from the following:

  • short articles and abstracts (less than 200 words)
  • no short articles or abstracts (greater than 200 words)
  • medium length articles (greater than 200 words and fewer than 1,000 words)
  • long articles only (greater than 1,000 words)

With this new option, you can quickly retrieve in-depth, fact-filled articles on your subject of interest.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Forced Migration Review

You catch headlines about refugees all the time, but maybe you'd like a little more depth and analysis. Check out Forced Migration Review, published by Oxford University's Refugee Studies CentreForced Migration Review "presents concise, accessible articles in a magazine format. Each issue has a feature theme and, usually, a range of general articles on forced migration. FMR is published in English, French, Spanish and Arabic (and occasionally in additional languages), and is available free of charge in print and online."

The latest issue has articles discussing displaced people from Syria, Libya, Nigeria, and Colombia, among other countries.

Monday, May 9, 2016

HLS Online Exhibit--What (Not) To Wear: Fashion and the Law

The U.S. Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in a major fashion law case, Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., so it seems like a good time to promote the Harvard Law School library's online exhibit on Fashion and the Law. "What (Not) To Wear" does not signify fashion faux pas so much as it concerns the historical regulation of wearable things.

Image for "What (Not) to Wear: Fashion and the Law"

The exhibit is divided into three sections: 1. Sumptuous Origins, 2. Ceremony and Significance, and 3. Rules and Regulations, and it delves heavily into legal history. It's unlikely the Court will travel as far back into fashion law history as this exhibit goes; Star Athletica, a copyright case, is not a good vehicle to discuss sumptuary laws. What are sumptuary laws? Go to the exhibit and find out!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Japanese Law A-Z

Japanese Law A-Z
The Gallagher Law Library Japanese legal research guide is completely revised, with a new look, a new link (, and a new name: Japanese Law A-Z.

East Asian Law Quick Reference
For quick access to the most-used East Asian law resources, check out "East Asian Law Quick Reference," another new guide from Gallagher (

Detailed questions about East Asian legal research? Contact Rob Britt, Coordinator of East Asian Library Services in the Library's East Asian Law Department.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Soda Pop and Global Health

Carbonating the World coverFor you, a cold soda might be a refreshing drink or a mild vice (or a little of both). But there's a much bigger picture. Sugar-sweetened beverages are a huge global industry with equally large impacts on global health, as explored in a new study from coauthored by affiliate professor Allyn TaylorCarbonating the World: The Marketing and Health Impact of Sugar Drinks in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2016). Summaries (in English, Spanish, and Portuguese) are here.

For more about global health at UW Law, see the webpage for the Center for Law, Science and Global Health.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Library Closing Early on Friday-- Library Website Also Down

This Friday, May 6th, Gallagher Law Library is closing 1/2 hour early at 5:30 p.m. The Circulation Desk will close at 5:15.

All visitors, students, faculty, and staff, must leave the library and Gates Hall at 5:30 p.m. UW Law faculty, staff, and students, please see your email for more details.

The reason for the closure is a planned power outage to the entire building. This outage will affect the library's website (including legal research guides), the library catalog, and a few other resources. Most electronic databases will not be affected. The School of Law website will be similarly affected. Both sites should be back online on the morning of May 7th.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

13 U.S.C. § 113 established May 1 as Law Day, U.S.A., which "is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States--in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other and with other countries; and for the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life."

Every year, the American Bar Association assigns a theme for Law Day. Since 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark decision Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the theme of Law Day 2016 is Miranda: More than Words. The day will celebrate not only the protections afforded by Miranda, but also all of the procedural protections guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. It will also include a discussion of how the courts safeguard those rights and why those rights are essential to our liberty. The ABA provides lesson plan materials for elementary, middle, and high school classes. It also gives out awards to the best program promoting Law Day. The Award Categories include best student/classroom program, best public/community program, most innovative program, and best interpretation of the 2016 theme. The ABA also provides a Dialogue program which "provides lawyers, judges and teachers with the resources they need to engage students and community members in discussion of fundamental American legal principles and civic traditions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Inspired Infographics

Do you like infographics? Check out How Information Graphics Reveal Your Brain's Blind Spots, ProPublica (April 20, 2016). Kicking off a new series on Visual Evidence, Lena Groeger highlights dozens of creative graphics that can teach about all sorts of topics, from playing the stock market to segregation in housing.

For example, here's a graphic charting the severity of judges' rulings against when the judges had a meal break.

Pretty dramatic! To read the original study, which looked at over 1,000 rulings by 8 Israeli judges, see Shai Danziger et al., Extraneous Factors in Judicial Decisions, 108 Proceedings Nat'l Acad. Sciences 6889-6892 (2011)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fiction Writing Classes Being Offered at Law Schools

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Hopefully students don't choose to go to Law School with the intention of being fiction writers. But it is impossible to deny that many famous authors got their start as lawyers. Law graduates like James Patterson and John Grisham have become famous for writing novels with legal themes. Lawyer authors are not just found in the mystery or crime genres either. New York Times bestselling Young Adult author Carrie Ryan is a University of North Carolina School of Law grad.

With many lawyers becoming authors it should come as no surprise that Law Schools are offering fiction classes to their students. The University of Iowa, famous for their writer's workshop, offers a course entitled Narrative Strategies for Lawyers. Professor Michelle Falkoff, who taught the course for the first time in 2012, said that, "Fiction writing offers good lessons to lawyers about good writing and editing." Falkoff is the author of the young adult novel Playlist for the Dead

The University of Baltimore School of Law offers a class called Fiction Writing for Law Students. The class is designed for students who wish to develop story-telling and teaches the basics of fiction writing. The University of Arkansas also offers a seminar about the Law and Literature

Yale professor Stephen Carter said that one of the reasons many lawyers write fiction may be because of the Socratic Method. It teaches lawyers to think about the "what if's". This thought process can naturally spiral in to a full-fledged novel idea.

The lawyer-turned novelist is so prevalent that the Journal of Legal Education published, for the first time in 2013, a special fiction edition. The American Bar Association - Young Lawyers Division also wrote an article about the possible ethical pitfalls that could befall a budding lawyer-novelist.

If you are a short story writer the ABA Journal is hosting the Ross Essay Contest. The contest is currently accepting entries. The entries must be no more than 5,000 words and illuminate the role of law/lawyers in modern society. Submissions close May 31, 2016 and the winner will receive a $3,000 cash prize.

Whether it is the Socratic Method turning lawyers and law grads in to authors, or that law school teaches writing skills and diligence. One thing is for sure; many lawyers have found success in the publishing world. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Casetext Announces New Features

Casetext recently announced several new features designed to make finding cases more efficient. Casetext is a free resource that anyone can use. Law students who will be working this summer in positions where they will have limited access to Westlaw or Lexis Advance may find this website especially useful.

On Casetext, users can read the full text of cases, including cases from the U.S. Supreme Court, federal circuit courts, federal district courts, state supreme courts, and state appellate courts. These cases are annotated by attorneys and other members of the legal community. Casetext is a particularly helpful tool to use during the early stages of research when searching for relevant cases. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Supreme Court's Style Guide Now Available

You may be interested in this article from "Supreme Court's Style Manual is Private No More"

Jack Metzler, a patron at the U.S. Supreme Court Law Library, scanned the U.S. Supreme Court's Style Manual and is now selling it on Amazon. He's making a profit too (public domain?). Here are a couple selections from the article:
The manual, prepared by the office of the court’s Reporter of Decisions, states explicitly that it is “the property of the Supreme Court of the United States and is not for publication. It is intended solely for the use of the staff of the Court, and copies should not be distributed except to members of that staff.”
“I don’t have a confidential source,” Metzler said. Instead, he went to the court’s library, which is open to members of the Supreme Court bar like him as well as court staff and certain congressional and executive branch employees. He was given a copy—unnumbered—of the 2013 version of the manual, which he then photocopied.
This brings up a difficult collection development question for law libraries. I vote against.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Washington's Taxes

This morning KUOW compared the tax systems in Washington (no income tax) and Oregon (no sales tax, no business & occupation tax).

And today's installment of The Economics Daily from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Washington State and Oregon have, respectively, very low and very high concentrations of tax preparers.

Map showing concentrations of tax preparers by state, 2015
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Coincidence? I doubt it.

Friday, April 1, 2016

UW Law to Return to Condon

The University of Washington's Office of the University Architect announced last night that the School of Law will return to its former home in Condon Hall this summer, while Startup Hall and other functions currently housed in Condon Hall will move to William H. Gates Hall.
William H. Gates Hall (top) and Condon Hall.
If you look carefully, you can tell that the photo of Condon Hall is in color.

When asked to comment this morning, university officials acknowledged that there might be some disruption involved but assured students, faculty, and staff that the building swap would be for the best. "Being near the Foster School of Business will be very helpful for startups, while returning Law to the West campus will, um, move it back to the West campus," stated UW President Annie Mary Kossy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Break Library Hours

The library has shortened hours during Spring Break and is open 8 am to 5 pm today through Friday. The Reference Office is open 9 to 12 and 1 to 5. We are closed on Saturday, 3/26 and Sunday, 3/27.

For more detailed hours information, see our hours page.

Exceptional Alaska: Sturgeon v. Frost

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Alaska is exceptional. “All those Alaska-specific provisions reflect the simple truth that Alaska is often the exception, not the rule.” Sturgeon v. Frost, No. 14–1209, slip op. at 14 (U.S. Mar. 22, 2016).

Chief Justice Roberts's decision had two aspects I wish to highlight:

First, I want to highlight the Chief Justice's legal history of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which a thorough search leads me to conclude is the first of its kind. This will be the go-to judicial opinion for Alaska history buffs. It covers the U.S.'s acquisition of Alaska, Alaska statehood, and the "Great Denali-McKinley Trespass." Details of the trespass, which brought to mind the recent Bundy protests, are too good not to include:
President Carter’s actions were unpopular among many Alaskans, who were concerned that the new monuments would be subject to restrictive federal regulations. Protesters demonstrated in Fairbanks, and more than 2,500 Alaskans participated in the “Great Denali-McKinley Trespass.” The goal of the trespass was to break over 25 Park Service rules in a two-day period—including by camping, hunting, snowmobiling, setting campfires, shooting guns, and unleashing dogs. During the event, a “rider on horseback, acting the part of Paul Revere, galloped through the crowd yelling, ‘The Feds are coming! The Feds are coming!’” N. Y. Times, Jan. 15, 1979, p. A8; Anchorage Daily News, Jan. 15, 1979, pp. 1–2. 
Sturgeon v. Frost, No. 14–1209, slip op. at 4 (U.S. Mar. 22, 2016).
Second, I want to highlight a citation to case law made by the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice only relied on one case to arrive at his holding. (He made reference to two other cases in describing the parties' arguments.) Here is the citation:
Statutory language “cannot be construed in a vacuum. It is a fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.” Roberts v. Sea-Land Services, Inc., 566 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (slip op., at 6) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Sturgeon v. Frost, No. 14–1209, slip op. at 13 (U.S. Mar. 22, 2016).
I thought this was an interesting case to cite because it also involves an injury occurring at an Alaska marine terminal. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but he could have cited any number of cases for the same language. By citing to so few cases and relying on a case that occurred in Alaska, the Chief Justice nicely reinforces the opinion's theme of Alaskan exceptionalism.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Supreme Court Nominations

Since President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant due to Justice Scalia's death, the news and blogosphere have been filled with speculation on whether Senate Republicans will allow confirmation hearings to be held.

Are you interested in other information about nominations during election years?

Wonder no longer. Barry J. McMillion of the Congressional Research Service wrote a blog post on the subject. Nominations to the Supreme Court During Presidential Election Years (1900-Present) (March 16, 2016).

The table illustrates how few nominations have occurred and their dispositions.

For more information, take a look at the updated Gallagher guide on Supreme Court Nominations. The guide covers selected articles, books, other Congressional Service Reports, and websites on the nomination and confirmation process.

Follow links to read about the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary role in evaluating nominees to the federal bench and to HeinOnline's collection of nomination hearings going back to Justice Brandeis in 1916.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Math lovers like to celebrate March 14 as Pi Day, because the first three digits of Pi are 3.14. We could say that today is extra special because the first five digits are 3.14159, which rounds to 3.1416. This NPR story has links to a couple of entertaining videos on Pi.

Fun as math is, we're in a law school, where the more common sense of PI is Personal Injury. If you're interested in that practice area, check out this book from the ABA's Section of Law Practice Management: How to Build and Manage a Personal Injury Practice (2012), Gallagher Law Library Classified Stacks (KF1257 .G53 2012). Washington organizations for personal injury lawyers are the Washington State Association for Justice (plaintiffs side) and the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers. Law students can join the WSAJ free and WDTL for $10. Get to know your future colleagues!

How to Build and Manage a Personal Injury Practice book cover

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Create Citation Networks with Supreme Court Cases

Court Listener logo

CourtListener released an application developed by the University of Baltimore School of Law and the Free Law Project that allows users to visualize the historical development of the law for free. The application is "Supreme Court Citation Networks." 

Each opinion released by the Supreme Court is underpinned by references to other cases, precedent. Precedent develops into legal principles, and lawyers and legal scholars study precedent to better understand legal principles. CourtListener lets you take two cases and map the citations they have in common. It also allows the user to visualize whether the cases cited were "liberal" or "conservative" decisions.

Account registration is required to use the free app. Once in the app, creating Supreme Court Citation Networks is simple. Enter two cases and the app does all the work for you. Here is an example I did mapping interracial marriage to gay marriage, the first shows the degrees of separation and the second shows political ideology (click the images to enlarge them):

Interested in learning how lawyers and scholars can use visualization to tell a story? Watch this video on Mapping Supreme Court Doctrine: Civil Pleading:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy Civil Liberties Day!

The legislature declares that an annual day of recognition be observed in remembrance of Japanese Americans interned during World War II as a reminder that, regardless of the provocation, individual rights and freedoms must never be denied. RCW 1.16.090
February 19 is the "Day of Remembrance." On this day in 1942, Executive Order 9066 was signed. EO 9066 required the internment of all Americans of Japanese ancestry.

Washington State officially became the first and only state to recognize this day, in 2003 (see RCW 1.16.090 Legislative declaration for civil liberties day of remembrance). Some light legislative history research reveals that the bill (HB 1460) was passed unanimously.

The Washington State legislature made it official in 2003, but the history of the Day of Remembrance in Washington State dates back to 1978.

In fact, the nation's first Day of Remembrance was in Washington State. It was organized by the Evacuation Redress Committee and co-sponsored with many local organizations.

Here is a photo of Seattle Mayor Charles Royer signing a 1978 proclamation for the Day of Remembrance:

Mayor Charles Royer of Seattle, Washington, signs the proclamation for the Day of Remembrance, Nov. 1978, Seattle, Washington.
This photo, courtesy of the Kinoshita Family Collection, is from the Densho Encyclopedia, access it for more photos and Day of Remembrance history

Thursday, February 18, 2016

New East Asian Law Quick Reference Guide

The new East Asian Law Quick Reference guide is now available on the Gallagher Law Library website, replacing the old “East Asian Law Databases” page. The page highlights the most important resources for the legal systems of East Asia, with sub-sections for East Asia in General, China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and Taiwan. Convenient links to resources include, a Chinese legal database with full-text court decisions in English and Chinese, Westlaw Japan, with comprehensive access to full-text Japanese court decisions, plus many other important resources.

Find the new guide here:

New page highlights East Asian legal resources

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Supreme Court Appointment Process

Shortly after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, speculation began about his replacement. See the Congressional Research Service's Legal Sidebar What Does Scalia's Death Mean for Congress and the Nation?

While politicians and Court watchers are sharing their opinions freely, you can read up on the process itself. A Congressional Research Service report called Supreme Court Appointment Process: Roles of the President, Judiciary Committee, and Senate (Feb. 19, 2010).

For a deeper dive into the subject, see also these additional CRS reports, available on HeinOnline [UW Restricted]:

The Federation of American Scientists' free website also provides copies of these and other CRS reports on nominations to the Supreme Court.

And for even more references to CRS reports, books, nomination hearings, and related information, see the Gallagher guide on Supreme Court Nominations: The Nomination & Confirmation Process.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Govinfo Beta Website

The U.S. Government Publishing Office released the beta website of govinfo on February 3, which is available here: Govinfo will eventually replace the Federal Digital System (FDsys), which provides free online access to official federal government publications from all three branches of government.

Govinfo contains all of the content available on FDsys, such as the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, and the Federal Register, but has a more modern look to it and was designed to improve usability.

Homepage of