Thursday, December 31, 2009

State Court Statistics

Interested in what state courts are doing? After all, ninety-five percent of all cases initiated in the United States are filed in state courts! Check out the just released 2009 publication Examining the Work of State Courts: An Analysis of 2007 State Court Caseloads. This joint project of the Conference of State Court Administrators, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center for State Courts analyzes state court filing and disposition data. The Foreword to the publication (p. 6) provides links to other state court statistical information and states:

The purpose of Examining the Work of State Courts is to provide a concise, graphically oriented volume that makes state court statistics highly accessible. Examining the Work of State Courts has been designed to be interactive, giving the reader on-line access in its interactive PDF version to information that cannot reasonably be included in the text of the document. The links provided in this format encourage the use of the Web and provide the reader with additional resources that help to facilitate the understanding of the work of state courts.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Zillions of Book Reviews!

Bookmarks Magazine's website is a great source for book reviews. It includes the magazine's own reviews and links to other online reviews. For instance, if you look up SuperFreakonomics, you'll find links to reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Guardian (UK), the Independent (UK), the Los Angeles Times, the Telegraph (UK), the Times (UK), and the Washington Post.

I've heard law students say that they don't have time for leisure reading -- but I've also heard some say that they get a chance to read for pleasure when they're on the bus or winding down for the night. If you're among those students, this tip's for you.

And if you feel you have to read all law all the time, take a look at the books listed under the Legal Matters theme -- or maybe Government & Politics.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Library Hours for the End of the Year

The Gallagher Law Library will be closed:
  • Saturday, Dec. 19 through Tuesday, Dec. 22
  • Thursday, Dec. 24 through Sunday, Dec. 27
  • Friday, Jan. 1 through Saturday, Jan. 2
The Library will be open:
  • Wednesday, Dec. 24, 8am - 5pm
  • Monday, Dec. 28 through Thursday, Dec. 31, 8am - 5pm
  • Sunday, Jan. 3, 12 noon - 5pm
On the days that the Law Library is open from 8am - 5pm, the Reference Office is open from 9am - 12 noon and from 1 - 5pm.

Regular hours resume when Winter Quarter begins on Monday, January 4, 2010.

Happy Holidays!

Prof. Schnapper Testifies on Pleading Rules

Congress is considering legislation to undo the Supreme Court's holdings in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal (2009). The Washington Independent reports:
Does a House bill about legal civil procedures provide a way to restore the protection of civil rights in America, or is it an unwarranted gift to trial lawyers that could be “paralyzing if not deadly” to the federal government?

* * *

As in the Senate, House lawmakers appear divided along party lines. Democrats and their witnesses say that the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal have gutted the civil rights and antitrust laws and imposed an unfair and often insurmountable burden that will doom many valid claims. Republicans and their witnesses, meanwhile, say the court did the right thing to help reduce frivolous lawsuits that destroy small businesses and drag busy government officials into court unnecessarily.

Has the Supreme Court Undermined Civil Rights Enforcement?, Washington Independent, Dec. 17, 2009.

One of the witnesses was Prof. Eric Schnapper of the University of Washington, who argued that Congress should act quickly to overturn Iqbal and Twombly. whose 39-page prepared statement is here. The bill being considered in the House is H.R. 4115, the Open Access to Courts Act of 2009.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Circuit Courts Archiving Cites to Online Sources

Citing to internet sources can be tricky: the content can change, the address can change, or the site could disappear altogether. Courts have particular difficulty becuase those citations ultimately get incorporated into the law. The federal judiciary has begun addressing the issue. As reported in The Third Branch, The Newsletter of the Federal Judiciary in July 2009:

The Judicial Conference has issued a series of “suggested practices” to assist courts in the use of Internet materials in opinions. [...] The guidelines suggest that, if a webpage is cited, chambers staff preserve the citation by downloading a copy of the site’s page and filing it as an attachment to the judicial opinion[.]>

At least two of the circuits' law libraries--the fifth and the ninth--make those pdfs available from their websites. Watch here for other courts making those resources readily available.

5th Circuit Opinion Archived URLS -
9th Circuit Opinion Archived URLS-

-- Patrick Flanagan

Monday, December 14, 2009

Searching Online Law Journals via ABA

The Law Librarian Blog points us to a good resource for searching online law journals. The American Bar Association Legal Technology Resource Center has put together a Google-powered portal to search over 300 online journals: ( But, as they note:

Coverage may vary; for more complete coverage visit your local law library and fee-based online legal research services.

This fast and free search of secondary sources can certainly jump start your legal research.

-- Patrick Flanagan

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Good Law School Exam Answers

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has a great article just in time for this quarter’s exams: What Makes a Good Law School Exam Answer? Law Profs Weigh In. Author Ashby Jones presents comments from seven law professors across the country who were asked to complete the sentence “A good law exam answer is _______.” He does include this small caveat:
Of course, none of these responses will, alone, unlock the key to success. And an A exam to one might be a B plus to someone else. But taken collectively, they just might shed some light on what the Great Professoriate is looking for.
If you have a few minutes extra, check out the comments, reached by clicking the comments tab at the top of the article. Some are cynical, some are disgusted with the exam process, and some question the value of exams at all!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How Can You Compare Dollars (or Pounds or Yen) Over Time?

Measuring Worth is a website by two economic historians -- backed by an impressive advisory board -- to help us make sense of monetary amounts at different times. They introduce the topic like this:
Intrinsic things are priceless. The love of your life or a beautiful sunset. There is no objective way to measure these, nor should there be.

The worth of monetary transactions is also difficult to measure. While there is a price, wage, or other kind of transaction that can be recorded at a precise price, the worth of the amount must be interpreted.

The price of a hamburger is probably worth more to a starving homeless person than to a very wealthy one. An allowance of five pennies a week was worth more to a child in 1902 than it is to a child today.

It can be more difficult when the question is to determine the "historical" worth of something. The price, even deflated for inflation, is not enough. Was Andrew Carnegie richer than Bill Gates? Did Babe Ruth make more than David Beckham? Was the cost of a loaf of bread more then than now? These questions all depend on the context and the calculators on this web site enable users to make their own comparisons.
Suppose you're reading a case about a cow that was sold for $80 in 1886 (Sherwood v. Walker, 33 N.W. 919(Mich. 1887)). If you want to get a sense of what $80 meant in 1886, go to the Relative Values - US $ calculator. You find that there are different ways to look at it:
In 2008, $80.00 from 1886 is worth:

$1,888.62 using the Consumer Price Index
$1,775.84 using the GDP deflator, using the value of consumer bundle
$10,610.85 using the unskilled wage
$18,146.12 using the nominal GDP per capita
$94,854.54 using the relative share of GDP
No matter what, you see that $80 is not what it used to be.

By the way, if you'd like to learn the outside-the-casebook story of Sherwood v. Walker, see Norman Otto Stockmeyer, To Err Is Human, To Moo Bovine: The Rose of Aberlone Story, 24 T.M. Cooley L. Rev. 491 (2007), available at SSRN:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Faculty Publication on Open Source Software Licenses

Robert W. Gomulkiewicz, Open Source License Proliferation: Helpful Diversity or Hopeless Confusion?, 30 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 261 (2009).

Licenses govern the usage and redistribution of software and are required whether the software is proprietary (like Microsoft’s Windows) or free and open source software, aka FOSS (like Mozilla Firefox). The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a nonprofit organization that reviews licenses based on their compliance with the Open Source Definition, which sets standards to guarantee free access to software code and free redistribution rights. The OSI “certifies” licenses submitted to it that meet the Definition’s requirements and had approved about 60 different licenses at the time of the conference. This article explores those licenses granted to software developers in the FOSS world to determine whether the sheer number of different licenses is useful or causes unnecessary problems.

Professor Gomulkiewicz uses, as a vehicle for the discussion of license proliferation for FOSS, his own experience in submitting the Simple Public License to the OSI for certification. He then outlines the pros and cons of the present system based on what he found. In the final section of the article, he offers three steps that might be taken to ameliorate the problems created by the number and variety of certified licenses.

Professor Gomulkiewicz’s article is part of the tenth anniversary volume of the Washington University Journal of Law and Policy. All the articles are taken from papers presented at a 2008 conference held at Washington University that focused on open source and proprietary models of innovation in a number of technologies. Here is a description of the issue from its introduction:
Part I of the symposium consists of introductory articles on business, law, and engineering perspectives on open source innovation. Part II focuses on open source biotechnology, while Part III focuses on open source and proprietary software development. Part IV examines collaborative innovation, the economics of innovation, and two examples of constructed commons--namely universities and a multilateral system for plant innovation for food and agriculture.
Gomulkiewicz’s is one of three papers in Part III about software development issues.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

9th Circuit Case Summaries from the ABA

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements has launched a new site called Media Alerts on Federal Courts of Appeals. In the pilot program stage, cases from three circuits are available: the 3d, 5th, and 9th Circuits.
This website is designed to provide reporters, lawyers, educators, and the public with prompt, accurate, unbiased information about newsworthy and legally significant cases pending in and decided by the Federal Courts of Appeals. Our goal is to assist the media’s efforts to provide timely and extensive reporting about federal court decisions.
ABA members and non-members are invited to subscribe.

US Government Manual

The new 2009-2010 United States Government Manual is now available through GPO Access. You may search or browse the current edition and search former editions, beginning with the 1995-1996 issue. Here is a description of the Manual from the GPO Access website:
As the official handbook of the Federal Government, the United States Government Manual provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees. The Manual begins with reprints of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
A typical agency description includes:
  • A list of officials heading major operating units.
  • A summary statement of the agency's purpose and role in the Federal Government.
  • A brief history of the agency, including its legislative or executive authority.
  • A description of its programs and activities.
  • Information, addresses, and phone numbers to help users locate detailed information on consumer activities, contracts and grants, employment, publications, and other matters of public interest.
The Manual is revised each year. The Gallagher Law Library typically receives its copies in the fall, though receipt this year is running a bit behind schedule. Check out the most recent edition in the Reference Area or Reference Office at JK421 .U57; earlier editions are in the classified stacks at the same call number.

New Missing Persons Database

The US Department of Justice has launched a free, new database, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).

NamUs is "a clearinghouse for missing persons and unidentified decedent records."
The Missing Persons Database contains information about missing persons that can be entered by anyone; before it appears as a case on NamUs, the information is verified. NamUs provides the ability to print missing persons posters and even map out possible travel routes in a search for a missing person. Other resources include links to state clearinghouses, medical examiner and coroner offices, law enforcement agencies, victim assistance groups and pertinent legislation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Directory of open access journals

The Directory of Open Access Journals lists thousands of journals (4475) that are available free on the Web. Over a third of them (1718) are searchable on the article level.

Go to Law and Political Science and you'll find 77 law journals, including some you've probably heard of (Duke Law Journal) and some you probably haven't (Forum Historiae Iuris).

You don't have to stop at law, of course -- the directory includes art, psychology, math, biology, and more.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha - Numbers and More!

Wolfram|Alpha is an amazing project that seeks "to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone." Of course, it has not achieved that ambitious goal yet. But it has done a surprising amount and made it easily available, free, to any web user.

It's not a search engine -- when you enter a search, it doesn't go out and scour the web for you. Instead, it goes to its own datasets. The basic information is "curated" -- that is, screened by someone who's paying attention. Sources may be published studies, government reports, or reference works.

So what sort of data is in there? It's amazingly diverse.
  • Want to know how many calories in your latte? Type in 12 oz latte, and it comes back with all the nutritional information for a Starbucks latte: 132 calories (and 302 mg calcium, 8.5 g protein, 13 g sugar, etc.) What about nonfat milk? Type in 12 oz latte skim milk, and now the answer is 98 calories (345 mg calcium, 9.2 g protein, 13 g sugar).

  • Want some information about murder in Seattle? Type in homicide seattle, and in instants you see that a 2007 estimate was 4.1 crimes per 100,000 people per year, and you see a graph showing the rate dropping over the last 20 years. Click on "Source Information" to learn that Wolfram|Alpha got its data from the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2009.

  • What if you'd like to compare homicide rates in Seattle with some other cities? Type in homicide seattle san francisco houston baltimore:
    Seattle,Washington | 4.1 crimes/100000 persons/yr
    San Francisco,California | 13.6 crimes/100000 persons/yr
    Houston,Texas | 16.2 crimes/100000 persons/yr
    Baltimore,Maryland | 45.2 crimes/100000 persons/yr
    (Data isn't available if you try to do this for sydney, tokyo, and amsterdam. But try again in a month -- they're building their datasets all the time.)

  • Pondering job offers in different cities? Try this: cost of living seattle spokane portland:
    Seattle, Washington | 124 (Q3 2009)
    Spokane, Washington | 93.3 (Q3 2009)
    Portland, Oregon | 116 (Q3 2009)
  • Want to figure out how much monthly loan payments will be? Type in loan payment -- and then manipulate the balance, the term, and the interest rate.
    loan amount | $ 80000 (US dollars)
    loan period | 10 years
    annual percentage rate | 4%
    payment interval | monthly
    monthly payment | $ 809.96
    number of payments | 120
    time to first payment | 1 month
    effective interest rate | 4.074%
    (assuming the last payment is due the last day of the loan period)

  • The possibilities are, well, not endless -- but vast. Try:
    • us gdp
    • microsoft stock
    • quadratic equation
    • uranium
Does it do everything? No, not by a long shot. I tried a number of searches that didn't come up with anything -- looking for death penalty statistics, immigration statistics, the number of marriages that end in divorce, the number of abortions compared to the number of live births. So there's still a use for all the other sources we know and use. But, boy, when Wolfram|Alpha works, it's really, really slick.

Wolfram|Alpha is a site that can be used by very serious number-crunchers (engineers, scientists, economists, et al.). It can also be used by people who don't know an integral from an integer. The Wolfram|Alpha blog even features a video of a fourth grade teacher talking about how she uses it with her students!

Wolfram|Alpha's public release was in May (I'll confess it took me six months to hear about it, despite its coverage in blogs and other sources) and it will only get better. It's definitely a site to watch. Speaking of watching: take a look at Stephen Wolfram's 13-minute video introducing it. It's dazzling.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

JP Morgan Removes Arbitration Clauses

Parties to a contract often like arbitration clauses because they offer a cheaper and easier resolution to disputes than formal litigation. However, credit-card companies typically dictate the terms of the agreement for consumer debts and hire arbitration companies to handle all of their customer's disputes.

The Wall Street Journal reported last weekend that JP Morgan is removing arbitration clauses from their credit-card agreements. This change comes in the wake of several court cases addressing the close relationship the banks enjoy with arbitration companies.

Businessweek reported this summer that the Minnesota Attorney General filed suit against the industy-leading National Arbitration Forum. As Business week reports, "[The Minnesota suit] follows a bias case brought against NAF last year by the San Francisco city attorney in California state court."

-- Patrick Flanagan

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Find Legal Opinions on Google Scholar

Google announced today that legal opinions are now available via Google Scholar. Full-text opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts were made available just this morning. Go to Google Scholar, click on the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button, and enter a case name or citation. You may also search by keyword. Once you find a case, you will see more information behind the How cited tab.

“We think this addition to Google Scholar will empower the average citizen by helping everyone learn more about the laws that govern us all.” --Anurag Acharya, Google

Monday, November 16, 2009

Charges Filed Against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

Military prosecutors charged Maj. Hasan with 13 counts of premeditated murder on Friday, November 13. He will face those charges, and perhaps others not yet announced, in a military trial, a court-martial. Courts-martial are both the forums and the proceedings in which members of the armed forces are tried for traditional offenses, like rape or murder, and offenses that are peculiar to the military, like absence without leave.

The trial will be governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (10 U.S.C. §§801-946), which sets out the substantive provisions of the military criminal justice system, and the procedural rules found in the Manual for Courts-Martial. For a general overview of the process for this court-martial, check out’s article, “How the Military Will Try Nidal Hasan.” The Department of Defense has a more detailed description of the types of courts-martial at its Victim and Witness Assistance Council website.

In the Gallagher Law Library you can find the Uniform Code of Military Justice in the United States Code (including, of course, the USCA and the USCS), at KF62 in the Reference Area. The most recent edition of the Manual for Courts-Martial (which also includes the UCMJ in an appendix), is found in paper in the Classified Stacks at KF7625 .A852 2008. For more information about researching military justice, consult Chapter 9 (Military and Veterans Law) in Penny A. Hazelton, ed., Specialized Legal Research, KF240 .S63 in the Reference Office.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rule of Law Index from the World Justice Project

The World Justice Project (WJP) is an international organization whose mission is “to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the rule of law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.” Its sponsoring organizations include bar associations, associations of educators, human rights groups, chambers of commerce, and public health associations around the world.

The Rule of Law Index is a new tool that measures over 100 variables about the rule of law as portrayed in practice and as it exists “in the books.” As described at the WJP website, these factors are drawn from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments summarized in the following four statements, which constitute the WJP's definition of the rule of law:

  1. The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law.
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient.
  4. Access to justice is provided by competent, independent, and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives and judicial officers who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

Version 1.0 of the Index has been field tested in six countries so far. There is now a Version 2.0 and it is anticipated that the Index will be administered in 100 countries in 3 years. In each country, a Rule of Law Index report will detail the findings.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Search (Some) Washington Court Records Free

Now you can search some information in Washington State court records in a database from the Washington Courts.

You can search by name to find cases involving a person in any court in the state. You can also search by individual or business (or agency) name court by court.

This is NOT the official record and is intended only as reference. For some searches, you need to click that you agree to check the official record before acting on information with respect to an individual.

But it is convenient. And free.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Supreme Court Database

How many decisions did Justice Souter author? How many cases considered by the Warren Court (1953-1967) involved the federal habeas corpus act? In how many of those cases was the lower court’s decision affirmed?

If you are curious about Supreme Court statistics, check out the Supreme Court Database. It presently covers terms from 1953-2008 and is updated four times a year. More than two hundred pieces of information is included about each case, such as its origin, why the Court agreed to hear it, the issues involved, how each Justice voted, and the case’s disposition. An easy form lets you select specific parameters for your own analysis.

Arguing Word Usage with Justice Scalia

On Tuesday, 11/3, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Hemi Group, LLC v. City of New York (08-969). The case involves the issue of whether state and local governments have standing under the RICO statute to bring suit for recovery of uncollected taxes (and treble damages).

The Hemi Group sells cigarettes over the Internet, advertising that they are “tax-free.” It ships from low-tax sites, such as tribal lands. New York City imposes hefty taxes on tobacco products sold or used there. Of course, Hemi Group is not responsible for collecting the New York taxes; instead, New York customers are responsible for contacting the City and paying those taxes. Few customers, however, want to take that step. Recognizing the difficulty local governments would have in collecting these taxes, Congress passed the Jenkins Act in 1949. That act requires out-of-state vendors to report purchases to each customer’s state, which Hemi failed to do.

On behalf of Hemi Group, lawyer Randolph Barnhouse argued that New York had lost only an “opportunity” to collect taxes, an “inchoate interest” not amounting to property under RICO. In response to a hypothetical, Barnhouse referred to a “choate” interest in property, leading to this exchange with Justice Scalia (as reported by the online weekly ABA Journal):
“There is no such adjective,” Scalia said. “I know we have used it, but there is no such adjective as ‘choate.’ There is ‘inchoate,’ but the opposite of ‘inchoate’ is not ‘choate.’ "

As Barnhouse tried to move on, Scalia offered an example. “It's like 'gruntled,' " he said.

“But I think I am right on the law, Your Honor,” Barnhouse offered, but Scalia wasn’t done.

"Exactly. 'Disgruntled,' " Scalia said. Some people mistakenly assume the opposite of “disgruntled" is “gruntled,” he explained.
It would certainly be a bit embarrassing to be caught by a Justice using a “non” word. But is Justice Scalia correct? The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which is available online through the UW Libraries, describes “choate” as an “An erroneous word, framed to mean ‘finished’, ‘complete’, as if the in- of inchoate were the L. negative.” It then gives examples of its use by Oliver Wendell Holmes and Winston Churchill. The OED seems to have less of a problem with “gruntled,” which it simply defines as “Pleased, satisfied, contented.”

What about legal dictionaries? Black’s Law Dictionary, checked on Westlaw, includes these definitions of “choate:”

1. Complete in and of itself. 2. Having ripened or become perfected.

That also is the general sense of the more complete discussion of the word in A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage found on LexisNexis, though there it is referred to as an “invented” positive form of “inchoate.” Both dictionaries point to “choate” as a term used for a type of lien. Here is part of that discussion from A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage:
The word has become more or less standard in the phrase choate lien, corresponding to inchoate lien . . . . Although the word is the product of incorrect etymology, is ugly and illogical, it would be futile to call for its obliteration from the legal vocabulary. It has supplied a name for a fairly arcane legal doctrine, which is unlikely to be renamed. Choate is recognized in legal literature as "an illegitimate back formation" (Plumb, Federal Liens and Priorities, 77 Yale L.J. 228, 230 [1967]), but it is used even by those who deprecate its origins.
Neither Black’s nor the legal dictionaries in LexisNexis included “gruntled.”

By the way, if you would like more details about the issues in the Hemi Group case, check out this preview from the SCOTUSblog.

State Tort Trials Statistics

The Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics has released a 2005 snapshot of state court tort trials: Tort Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005. Here is a description from the website:

Discusses tort cases concluded by a bench or jury trial in a national sample of jurisdictions in 2005. Topics include the types of tort cases that proceed to trial, the differences between tort cases adjudicated by judges and juries, and
the types of plaintiffs and defendants represented in tort trials. The report also covers plaintiff win rates, punitive damages, and the final award amounts generated in tort trial litigation. Lastly, trends are examined in tort trial litigation in the nation’s 75 most populous counties, based on comparable data in 1996, 2001, and 2005.

Highlights include the following:

  • Together, bench and jury trials accounted for an estimated 4% of all tort dispositions in 2005.
  • Punitive damages were sought in 9% of tort trials with plaintiff winners. The median punitive damage award was $55,000.
  • In the nation’s 75 most populous counties, the number of tort trials declined by about a third between 1996 and 2005.

Friday, November 6, 2009

King County Community Health Indicators

The Seattle & King County Public Health recently released a new web page with statistics on King County Community Health Indicators. Click on any of the indicators (e.g., prenatal care, suicide, smoking) and you get another page with detailed statistics by age, race or ethnicity, sex, and income level.

Consider smoking. Would you have guessed that the poorest people are three times as likely to smoke as those with incomes over $75,000? But the highest percentage of excessive drinking is in the highest income bracket. Being overweight, on the other hand, is less sensitive to income -- but it's much more common among women than among men.

There's often a link to comparison data. For example, you can compare King County's rate of adults who are physically inactive (14.9%) with Hennepin County (Minneapolis) (14.1%) and Clark County (Las Vegas) (26.6%).

Speaking of public health: Another online service is a database of restaurant health inspection records. Use it to look up your favorite (or not so favorite) hangouts. (I'm proud of my local Taco del Mar for its perfect scores -- when I get dinner there, it's not only tasty and convenient, but safe!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gallagher Law Library in the Spotlight

The Gallagher Law Library has been selected as the Spotlight federal depository library for November by the US Government Printing Office. Gallagher is the first law library to be recognized in this way.

Selected for "its strong support of public access to Federal depository legal and other information resources," the Law Library became a depository for federal government publications in 1969. But its commitment to serving the legal and government information needs of the public has been strong for more than a century.

The federal depository library program provides free government publications and materials to nearly 1,250 libraries around the country, including academic, court, public, and special libraries. In exchange, these libraries guarantee public access to government information to all users.

Many staff members contribute to the Library's successful participation in the depository program. They manage the receipt of publications, creating and maintaining library catalog records, subscribing to commercial products that facilitate use and identification of government publications, printing archival copies of electronic documents, and answering questions about and directing users to government information sources.

We appreciate GPO's recognition of our service.

To learn more about government publications in the Gallagher Law Library, visit our United States Government Publications page.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Five Monsters You Meet In Law School | BITTER LAWYER

For some of us, law school was a horrifying place, filled with terror and dread. Fortunately, there’s Halloween—a time when we can collectively put our fears out in the open and (hopefully) conquer them. So, in honor of Halloween, Bitter Lawyer is revealing the spooky truth about real law school monsters.
Five Monsters You Meet In Law School | BITTER LAWYER, Oct. 29, 2009.

Remember this is all in fun. Don't go driving a stake through a classmate's heart or anything. They aren't really ghosts, vampires, and werewolves!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

GAO Report on Law School Costs & Diversity

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 40-page report on Issues Related to Law School Cost and Access. The report consists of slides from a presentation given to the staff of Congressional committees on education.

In this report, in response to a mandate in the Higher Education Opportunity Act,3 we examine the following questions: (1) How do law schools compare with similar professional schools in terms of cost and minority enrollment? (2) What factors, including accreditation, may affect the cost of law school? (3) What factors, including accreditation, may affect minority access to law school?

Three primary findings are reported:

  • Since 1994, tuition and fees at dental, law, and medical schools have increased, and trends in minority enrollment have been comparable across types of schools.
  • The main factors driving the cost of law school are the move to a more hands-on, resource-intensive approach to legal education and competition among schools for higher rankings.
  • Lower average LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs may have negatively affected some African Americans and Hispanics.

The graph illustrates the increasing level of debt owed by medical and law school students at private (dashed lines) and public (solid lines) universities.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Equality and Justice - Writing Competition

Do you have anything to say about equality and justice?

The Southeast/Southwest People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference is holding a writing competition for law students.
TOPIC: A cutting-edge legal/law and society issue related to the conference theme:
Equality and Justice in the Obama Era. Students may either write about equality or
justice as separate legal issues or their intersectionality.
First prize is $1000 plus an all-expense-paid trip to the conference in March. The submission deadline is Jan. 15, 2009.

Faculty Publication on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines & Tax Crimes

Scott A. Schumacher, Tomko and Sentencing Guidelines After Booker, 125 Tax Notes 149 (2009).

The federal sentencing guidelines attempt to prevent disparities among sentences imposed for the same crime and apply to tax crimes just as they apply to other federal crimes. Professor Schumacher’s recent article discusses several U.S. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals decisions dealing with interpretation of the guidelines and how the lower courts have attempted to apply those interpretations to specific cases.

The recent flurry of sentencing appeals started after the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005). The Court held that the sentencing guidelines were only advisory. For tax cases, this meant that the former rather rote sentencing, which, under the guidelines, had been based primarily on the amount of tax loss or tax evaded, was opened up to the other considerations outlined in Booker.

Schumacher describes the Third Circuit’s decision in United States v. Tomko, 562 F.3d 558 (3d Cir. 2009), as a struggle “to apply the principles set out by the Supreme Court in determining whether the sentencing judge abused his discretion in imposing a sentence with no term of imprisonment in a tax evasion case.” Had the sentencing guidelines been followed, Tomko’s tax deficiency of $228,557 would have resulted in prison time of 12-18 months. Check out this article to find what the court decided, why, and what this decision might mean for prosecutors and defense lawyers alike.

If you want an even more detailed discussion about how the guidelines impact the tax arena, check out this book co-authored by Professor Schumacher: John A. Townsend et al., Tax Crimes 301-08 (2008). KF6334 .T39 2008 at Classified Stacks

For a copy of the present guidelines, policy statements, and official commentary, all of which are contained in the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual, visit the United States Sentencing Commission website. That website also links to the proposed amendments the Commission has sent to Congress. You can find the current Manual as well as prior editions in the Gallagher Law Library. KF9685.A15 U55 at Classified Stacks

Faculty Publication on the Role of Hospitals in Credentialing Doctors

Sallie Thieme Sanford, Candor after Kadlec: Why, Despite the Fifth Circuit’s Decision, Hospitals Should Anticipate an Expanded Obligation to Disclose Risky Physician Behavior, 1 Drexel L. Rev. 383 (2009).

As Professor Sanford explains, hospital references play a significant part in the process of approving doctors for hospital privileges. But what happens when these references include partial rather than full information?

In 2002, Kimberly Jones, a healthy thirty-one-year-old, had a routine operation at Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, Washington. During the surgery she suffered massive brain damage, leaving her in a vegetative state. Later, the anesthesiologist, Dr. Berry, admitted to having been drug-impaired during the surgery.

Jones’ family sued Berry and Kadlec for malpractice. Dr. Berry was not an employee of the hospital, but was credentialed to practice there. The trial court ruled that even though he was an independent contractor, he acted as an apparent agent of the hospital and thus Kadlec could be vicariously liable for his actions. Shortly thereafter, the parties settled: the doctor paying $1 million and Kadlec paying $7.5 million.

Kadlec and its insurer then endeavored to recoup their losses. In granting Dr. Berry hospital privileges, Kadlec had relied in part on two strong letters of recommendation from members of his former anesthesia practice group and a short letter from Lakeview Regional Medical Center, his prior hospital, both in Louisiana. The hospital’s letter stated merely that the doctor had been an active member of its staff with anesthesia privileges for the past four years. In reality, Berry had been terminated from the practice group because of concerns about his drug use, which in turn had meant that he could not exercise his hospital privileges.

The trial court held the two doctors liable for their misleading letters and also found Lakeview to be liable for its neutral letter because of the importance of proper credentialing to patient safety. In Kadlec Med. Ctr. v. Lakeview Anesthesia Assocs., 527 F.3d 412 (5th Cir. 2008), cert. denied 129 S. Ct. 631 (2008), the Fifth Circuit disagreed that there was reason to depart from normal employment law analyses as far as the hospital was concerned. It held that the hospital’s letter was not misleading and that Lakeview, under Louisiana law, had no duty to disclose negative information to Kadlec.

After reviewing in detail the facts of this case and the trial court and Fifth Circuit decisions, Professor Sanford looks at the history and present trends in hospital credentialing of physicians. She points out that hospitals are increasingly viewed as having a duty to their patients to monitor those practicing there, whether or not the doctors are hospital employees. She argues that there is a “patient-centered framework” in health law “that views the central purpose of health law as the improvement of patients’ lives, and assumes that automatic application of doctrines from other areas of law is not necessarily appropriate given certain essential features of medicine and treatment relationships.” Thus, she deduces that in the future hospitals will be required to provide more complete information for credentialing, despite the Kadlec decision. The article concludes with Sanford’s suggestions about how hospitals can balance a duty to provide expanded disclosure with fair physician review.

Internet Archive Launches Ebook "Library"

The Internet Archive, home of the Wayback Machine, has launched BookServer, which
allows a wide network of publishers, booksellers, libraries, and even authors to make their catalogs of books available directly to readers through their laptops, phones, netbooks, or dedicated reading devices. BookServer facilitates pay transactions, borrowing books from libraries, and downloading free, publicly accessible books.
Texts are formatted in open book formats for read on a wide range of devices, from Kindles to laptops, game consoles to smartphones.

The keyword search engine retrieves items by author, title, word, or phrase. A search for "law" returned 34,282 hits.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Simply Washington

Curious about our state? Take a look at the Secretary of State's new online book, Simply Washington. It includes basic information about state government, tourist notes (with beautiful photographs), and an assortment of trivia (did you know that Adam West, who played Batman on TV, was from Washington?).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Faculty Publication on Information & Communication Standards

Jane K. Winn, Globalization and Standards: The Logic of Two-Level Games, 5 I/S: J. L. & Pol'y for Info. Soc'y 185 (2009).

Professor Winn’s article addresses the interaction of national and international organizations as they attempt to set technical standards for information and communication technology (ICT). Using Robert Putnam’s “two-level game’ analysis (from his article Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games, 42 Int'l Org. 427, 436 (1988)), she suggests ways that international bodies (Level I) can adopt ICT standards that will satisfy sometimes very different national (Level II) regulatory processes and priorities.

The emergence of global information products and services has led to “regulatory competition" between the United States and the European Union. Winn explains that the two are leaders in establishing ICT standards, but their approaches are based on very different regulatory cultures.

The European Union is a “coordinated market economy,” in which formal processes for developing standards is deemed legitimate. On the other hand, the United States, with its liberal market economy, perceives as legitimate both formal and informal standard-setting groups (such as private consortia that have been active and successful in developing ICT standards in recent decades).

The nimbleness of these private consortia in enacting national standards has repeatedly resulted in their ending up as de facto international standards in the marketplace. But these informal groups concern the European Union because, for instance, their processes are often not transparent nor open to all interested stakeholders. Other regulatory concerns, such as privacy, may also not be specifically addressed. Winn’s article proposes some alternatives that would preserve the agility of the informal processes while ensuring that regulatory concerns are met.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How Important Are Correct Citations Anyway?

Linda Espitia and Gordan Fouche were engaged to be married. Focusing on their transportation needs, the two bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle together. But the path of love is difficult, so when the two broke up, they entered into a Dissasociation Agreement and Promissary Note. When Fouche defaulted, Espitia sued. Disatisfied with the amount awarded by the trial court, Espitia appealed to the Court of Appeals.

Fouche, who proceeded pro se, did not file a brief. In support of Espitia's argument about her liquidated damages claim, her counsel cited "Buellesbach v. Roob 2005 AP 160 (Ct.App.Dist.I)." However, as the court explains in a lengthy footnote, this Buellesbach decision had nothing to do with liquidated damages. Moreover, the citation, and even the listed court (District I), was incorrect. Here is the Court's response, after it recounted the steps it took to locate the correct decision:

It is a violation of Wis. Stat. Rule 809.19(1)(e) to provide citations which do not conform to the Uniform System of Citation and of Wis. Stat. Rule 809.23(3) to cite to unpublished opinions. One reason may be that they can be time-consuming to locate. A $100 penalty is imposed against Espitia's counsel.

Espitia v. Fouche, 314 Wis.2d 507, 758 N.W.2d 224 (2008). By the way, the lower court's decision was affirmed, so Espitia lost her appeal.

Check out Legal Blog Watch for its discussion of this lawyer's sloppiness.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Washington Legal Research

Planning a research project involving Washington law? The second, 2009 edition of Washington Legal Research, co-authored by Professors Tom Cobb, Mary Hotchkiss, and Julie Heintz-Cho (former Seattle University professor who wrote the first edition), is a good place to start for information about the state’s legal resources.

This paperback book is concise and easy to use. It is designed for first-year law students and covers general research techniques and strategies. There are a number of helpful tables (e.g., a list of common citator phrases with their explanations) and figures (e.g., a case excerpt with the parts of the decision delineated). An appendix covers general legal citation conventions and Washington-specific citation rules.

Professors Cobb and Hotchkiss have rearranged the first edition to follow the research process taught by most law schools, beginning with secondary resources and moving on to primary law sources (statutes, cases, and administrative materials). Each chapter on primary Washington law includes additional information on federal legal research. Citators, legislative history, and digests are also covered. Readers are pointed to both print and online tools.

Whether you are in your first year of law school or just doing your first research project involving Washington law, consider consulting a state legal research guide. This book will get you quickly to the basic resources you will need. It is part of a series that now covers about nineteen states.

Other publishers also produce state guides. The Gallagher Law Library owns most of them and the most recent editions are located in the Reference Area. To locate a particular state legal research guide, run a subject search in the Law Library catalog like this one for a California guide: legal research California.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Selected West Publications on Kindle

According to an Oct. 8th press release, Thomson West is making selected titles available to Kindle users. Among the titles:
  • Contracts in a Nutshell, 6th ed.
  • Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, 2d ed.
  • International Taxation in a Nutshell, 8th ed.
  • Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success, 3d ed.
  • Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges
  • Writing a Legal Memo
Search Amazon for these and other titles. Then download your purchases to your Kindle or the Kindle app on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Art and Climate Change

The photos in the Galleria on the law school's first floor dramatically illustrate effects of climate change. The photos were originally mounted for the Three Degrees Conference last spring.

If you're out and about exploring Seattle, you might want to check out a new installation at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park: Sculpture park to host UW display on sea level and climate change, University Week, Oct. 8, 2009. Details here.

This work, mounted by SAM and the UW's College of the Environment and Program on Climate Change, illustrates the effects of a one-meter rise in sea level. It will be on view until Oct. 24, the International Day of Climate Action.

Photo: SAM Pocket Beach, from UW Program on Climate Change.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize 2009

The Nobel Committee has awarded President Barack Obama the Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Other sitting and former U.S. Presidents that have received the award:

2002 - Jimmy Carter -- former
1919 - Woodrow Wilson -- sitting
1906 - Theodore Roosevelt – sitting

A list of all Nobel peace laureates is here:

See also: Coverage by the NY Times, President Obama's full remarks

-- Patrick Flanagan

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Campus Rides and Walking Partners

The days are growing shorter, so we've had more questions about campus services to help you get around safely.
  • If you want someone to walk with you, call 685-WALK (685-9255).
  • NightRide "is a shuttle service that provides a safe and easy way for students, faculty and staff to get home at night. Starting September 30, 2009, shuttles will run every 20 minutes picking up passengers from 6 locations around campus before dropping passengers off at requested destinations within one of two zones."
  • Dial-a-Ride "is a free shuttle service available to University of Washington students, faculty, staff, and University-sponsored conference attendees with permanent or temporary disabilities that limit mobility. Transportation is only available between designated locations at University facilities located on campus and in the University District."

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Monday in October . . . in London

Britain's Supreme Court heard its first case Monday - an appeal by five terrorism suspects who say the British government has overstepped its power by freezing their assets without a conviction.

For hundreds of years, Britain's highest court of appeal had been the Law Lords, a group of justices who were part of the House of Lords in Parliament. The decision to create a Supreme Court was meant to emphasize the separation of governmental powers, even if the change is largely in name and location only.

The 12 justices are no longer part of the House of Lords but are still Britain's most powerful judges. Shedding their past image, they wore no wigs, no robes and sat in a new courtroom equipped with cameras and microphones for their first hearing.

A bit of trivia – the official emblem incorporates 4 plants, representing the jurisdictions within the UK: the English rose, Welsh leek, Scottish thistle, and Northern Irish flax. Click here for more on the emblem, and to read a commemorative poem and some of the quotes engraved in the Law Library.

“Law is order and good law is good order” - Aristotle

Friday, October 2, 2009

President Declares Information Literacy Awareness Month

On Oct. 1st, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring October
National Information Literacy Awareness Month.

The President states:

This month, we dedicate ourselves to increasing information literacy awareness so that all citizens understand its vital importance. An informed and educated citizenry is essential to the functioning of our modern democratic society, and I encourage educational and community institutions across the country to help Americans find and evaluate the information they seek, in all its forms.

"Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation."

And who has the skills to help you acquire and evaluate information? I can think of one honorable profession, practiced by the helpful team of people who reside in the foundation of the School of Law: Librarians!

Thanks for the indirect shout-out, Mr. President!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

CIA Center on Climate Change and National Security

According to a 9/25/09 press release, the Central Intelligence Agency is launching a Center on Climate Change and National Security. “Its charter is not the science of climate change, but the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources. The Center will provide support to American policymakers as they negotiate, implement, and verify international agreements on environmental issues.”

Returning Course Reserves

Items you check out from Course Reserve, the Reference Area, and the Reference Office are on short-term loan, usually 4 hours. This limited loan period is necessary because of the high demand for material from these locations.

Please return these items to the Circulation Desk or the book drop outside the Library entrance on Floor L1.

Circulation staff retrieve materials from the outside book drops only a couple of times a day. If you return short-term loan items to an outside book drop, they may not be picked up for several hours, resulting in overdue fines.

Questions? Talk with a full-time member of the Circulation staff. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Statistics on Contracts Cases

  • Plaintiffs win in about 66% of contracts trials.
  • The median damage award for plaintiff winners in contract trials was $35,000.
  • Trials involving business plaintiffs were more likely to be decided by a
    judge (72%) than cases involving individual plaintiffs (58%).
  • Approximately 1 out of 10 defendants appeared without legal representation in contract trials.
These and other statistics based on a 2005 Civil Justice Survey of State Courts are reported in a new document from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Contract Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005 reviews statistics from 8,917 contracts cases heard in state courts of general jurisdiction. These cases represent a third of all disposed civil trial cases based on a "nationally representative sample of urban, suburban, and rural jurisdictions."

Additional statistics deal with types of plaintiffs (individuals and businesses), median awards, punitive and compensatory damages, and types of contract issues:
  • employment discrimination and other employment disputes
  • fraud
  • mortgage foreclosure
  • partnership disputes
  • rental/lease
  • subrogation
  • tortious interference

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Michael Sandel Wants to Talk to You About Justice

Michael Sandel Wants to Talk to You About Justice says the Chronicle of Higher Education in a headline yesterday (Sept. 28, 2009). The article discusses "Justice" Prof. Sandel's wildly popular undergraduate course at Harvard ("Moral Reasoning 22" in the course catalog), and the PBS series based on the course.

Coincidentally, Prof. Sandel is speaking here at the University of Washington School of Law this Friday, Oct. 2, at 2:30 (rm 133).

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? is the book that complements the series. It's available here: JC578 .S25 2009 at Good Reads. (Well, as of this writing, it's checked out, but it will be back one day. You can request it in the catalog to be in line for it.)

The night before he speaks here Prof. Sandel is speaking and signing books at Town Hall. (See the University Book Store calendar.)

The television series has a website with supporting materials. You can even watch entire episodes.

The Law Library also has several of Prof. Sandel's earlier books:
  • The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering (QH438.7 .S2634 2007 at Classified Stacks)
  • Justice: A Reader (JC578 .J868 2007 at Classified Stacks)
  • Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982) (JC578 .S26 at Classified Stacks)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gallagher's WorldCat Local

This morning, we launched a new catalog service, WorldCat Local. This is in addition to our old catalog:

You might be familiar with WorldCat Local from the University Libraries, but ours is a little different.

The UW's version ranks material in this order: things held by the University Libraries; things held by Summit libraries (including Gallagher Law Library); things held by libraries anywhere else. Gallagher's version ranks material in this order: things held by Gallagher; things held by Summit libraries (including the University Libraries); things held by 25 top law libraries; things held anywhere else. You can also choose to search which subset of the database to search.

If you search our old catalog, you retrieve just the books, journals, and other materials we have cataloged. For instance, if you look for "war on terror," you get forty-nine records:

In WorldCat Local, the display looks like this:

And you get over 6,000 records -- quite a bit different, eh?

It's not just books. WorldCat Local includes some article citations, from a few databases. You probably aren't familiar with them (I wasn't), but the two biggies are Article First and British Library Serials. So the same search that got us books also gets us articles:

If you're coming by the library, take a look at the new displays about WorldCat and Summit near the entrance. And watch the Crier and the blog for more information. In the meantime, get in the driver's seat and take WorldCat Local for a little spin.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shorter Email Address Available

This summer, UW Technology improved our email addresses. Now you can send email to UW folks with either the old address ( or a new, shorter address ( An announcement explains that this makes addresses easier to use with mobile technology and reinforces the UW name. (The change is part of the UW Reputation Building Initiative and was a joint project of UW Marketing and UW Technology).

To receive mail at the new address, just tell your contacts. To have your outgoing mail show the new address, follow these instructions.

One thing to be aware of is that some systems might not know who you are if you change addresses. For example, the server at the American Association of Law Libraries knew me as whisner @, so when I tried to use a listserv after I changed my outgoing address to whisner @, I was rejected. I was able to fix it, of course -- I just want to point out that your various online identities sometimes need to match up and you can run into glitches.

I wonder how many keystrokes I would have saved by typing instead of for the last 20 years. Best estimate? A gajillion.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Betty Anne Waters, Law Student with One Case in Mind

Betty Anne Waters was working in a pub when her brother was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. She believed he was innocent and wanted to help. So she got her GED. She put herself through college. She went to law school. And with help from the Innocence Project and her law school classmate (whom she met on the first day of orientation), she was able to exonerate him.

Sadly, Kenny Waters only had six months of freedom before he died in an accident.

This summer, the Waters family -- again with the help of the Innocence Project -- settled with the town of Ayer, Massachusetts, in a civil rights case over the police's alleged misconduct that led to the erroneous conviction.

A feature film called Betty Anne Waters, with Hilary Swank in the title role, is in post-production. Minnie Driver plays Waters's law school friend, who is now a public defender in New Haven.

Oh, and what's Waters doing now that she finished the case she went to law school to work on? She's managing a pub.

Ayer to pay $3.4m for unjust conviction, Boston Globe, July 15, 2009.

Betty Anne Waters wins $10.7M for brother's wrongful murder conviction, Nat'l L.J., Sept. 17, 2009 (you have to register to view the story).

Courtroom Drama, New Haven Advocate, Aug. 18, 2009.

Here's the real Waters at an Innocence Project event (she appears at 2:58):

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Plea for Better Access to PACER

PACER is the online docketing system for federal courts. We have a subscription, and reference librarians will happily do searches and retrieve material for law faculty and law students for academic projects.

Why do we restrict it? Well, because we can't afford to have the bills pile up. Erika Wayne, a law librarian at Stanford, makes a plea for much wider, easier, and cheaper access to this important database funded by taxpayers: What public access?, Nat'l L.J., Sept. 14, 2009. If you agree with Erika, the article includes a link to a petition where you can speak out.

The graphic above is the beginning of a pleading we downloaded from a district court proceeding in United States v. Padilla. It's great to be able to get material like this. Not so long ago, we would have needed to find a courier to go to the court or pay the court (in advance) to photocopy and mail the document. The question is: should access be even better?

Celebrate Constitution Day!

Today is the 222nd anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Check out the UW's Constitution Day page, which includes a list of library resources, webcasts, and even a crossword puzzle!

UW students, staff, and faculty are also invited to sign up to be part of the October 9th event, "UW Reads the US Constitution Aloud." Gallagher Law Library staff members have participated as readers and can attest to the power of reading this document out loud.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Can't Lick a Great Supreme Court Justice

but you will be able to stick a stamp bearing the likenesses of four former Justices, thanks to the U.S. Postal Service.

Justices Brandeis, Brennan, Frankfurter, and Story appear on a new stamp to be issued on Sept. 22d at a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court Building.

Each of the Justices served lengthy terms on the High Court and are among its most distinguished members.

For biographies and other books in the Gallagher Law Library, click on the following links:

Approved Federal Court Rules Changes

The Judicial Conference of the United States approved court rules changes recommended by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure at its Sept. 15th meeting. Amendments include:
  • Appellate Rules 1, 4, and 29 and Form 4
  • Civil Rules 8, 26, and 56 and Illustrative Form 52
  • Criminal Rules 12.3, 15, 21, and 32.1
  • Evidence Rule 804

Several Bankruptcy Rules will also be revised.

One of the most interesting changes is to Appellate Rule 29(c), which requires

an amicus curiae to disclose whether counsel for a party authored the brief in whole or in part and whether a party or a party’s counsel contributed money with the intention of funding the preparation or submission of the brief, and to identify every person (other than the amicus, its members, and its counsel) who contributed money that was intended to fund the brief’s preparation or submission. The disclosure requirement, which is modeled on Supreme Court Rule 37.6, serves to deter counsel from using an amicus brief to circumvent page limits on the parties’ brief. It also is intended to help judges assess whether the amicus itself considers the issue sufficiently important to justify the cost and effort of filing an amicus brief.

The changes to Civil Rule 26 address practical problems with discovery of all communications between counsel and expert witnesses and all draft reports from experts. Rule 56 amendments deal with improved "procedures for presenting and deciding summary-judgment motions."

The Committee's 178-page report--complete with markup versions of the affected rules--is available online.

Following the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. secs. 2071-2077, the changes will be transmitted to the Supreme Court and Congress.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Managing Your Research Notes and Citations

A student asked today whether law students commonly use one database system for managing citations -- as many students and scholars in other fields use EndNote, for instance.

Law has been slower than other fields to adopt bibliographic management software, but there are some tools you can use.

EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero

The University of Washington Libraries makes available to the UW community web versions of both EndNote and RefWorks. See this page of Citation and Writing Guides, middle column.

Both EndNote and RefWorks have output formats for legal citations (using The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation)). They work best for secondary sources -- journal articles, magazine articles, books, and so on. I have a lot of citations in a RefWorks database and it works well.

Zotero is an add-on for the Firefox browser. it enables users to organize documents from many types of sources -- newspapers, journals, websites, etc. Users can sort and take notes on the material they gather. Just last month Zotero added "Bluebook Law Review" to its list of available output styles. The examples given are for secondary sources.

I haven't used Zotero myself, but it looks pretty cool. Pablo Sandoval, who was a law library intern last year, used -- and liked -- Zotero a lot. See his posts here and here.

Easy Export?

One thing that's attractive in a citation management tool is being able to export citations from whatever database you're using directly into your own database. For instance, if you search in LegalTrac and find a list of law journal articles, you can pretty easily export them to EndNote or RefWorks without having to retype everything. Typically, you click on export format, select the one you want, and there you go. The same is true if you find books in a library catalog.

One challenge for law is that a lot of the databases we love to use don't allow easy export. Like for instance LexisNexis and Westlaw.

It's not that they couldn't do it. This morning I gave a talk to undergraduates and showed them LexisNexis Academic, the version of LexisNexis that's marketed to colleges. When we looked at a law review article online, there were options to print, email, download, or ... well, I didn't recognize that last icon. Turns out, it's an option to export the citation in RefWorks format. I later tried it out -- it didn't populate the fields exactly right, but it was still better to have most of the information plopped into my RefWorks account and clean it up than to have to start from scratch. LexisNexis Academic has that option for cases, too.

Westlaw's parent company, Thomson Reuters, also owns EndNote, but so far that hasn't led Westlaw to make it easy to export a list of citations in EndNote format. (Thomson Reuters sued Zotero's creators, claiming that they had reverse engineered EndNote. The lawsuit was dismissed in June. See this post from the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Someone who wants to be able to use Zotero for legal materials has a wiki, named Zotero-for-lawyers, that has "translators" to extract citation information from a document and send it to your Zotero account. It includes HeinOnline, SSRN, the e-CFR, Cornell's Legal Information Institute, and a few other sites.

Challenges for Primary Sources

RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero all do better with secondary legal materials than with primary legal materials. Here are a few of my thoughts:

For primary materials, you need to consider who you're writing for. If you are writing for a Washington Court, you need to follow the the Washington Supreme Court Reporter of Decisions Style Sheet. If you're writing for a law review, the Bluebook says not to give parallel citations to state cases -- just use the regional reporter citations. But within the state, you do need parallel citations. If you're writing for a law review, you'll abbreviation Revised Code of Washington "Wash. Rev. Code," but if you're in Washington, you'll abbreviate it "RCW."

Citation of primary materials is often dependent on context. If you want to talk about the history of a statute -- say, what was going on when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- you cite it one way, but if you want to cite it as it's in effect today, with amendments, you'll cite it another way. Or suppose you're talking about a case that had Issues A, B, and C, and the case was reversed on Issue B. If you want to cite it for Issue A, then you'll add "rev'd on other grounds" and cite the later case. But if you want to cite it for Issue B, then you'll just say "rev'd" before the later citation. It's going to be hard for programmers to work all this into their bibliographic management systems.

In Practice . . .

I think people will find different approaches that work well for them. What you do might vary from project to project, or it might develop over time (and as developers come out with new tools to help us).

I think I'm not alone in straddling old and new technologies. Here are some of the ways I managed information for my last article (10-12 pages):
  • I emailed from Westlaw some chapters from a treatise and annotations from U.S.C.A., and then I sent them to my Kindle.
  • I read them on my Kindle and wrote down case citations on 3x5 cards. Then I used Find to retrieve them on Westlaw, emailed them, and sent them to my Kindle to skim.
  • I used HeinOnline for old Congressional Records. Looking through index entries, I jotted down page numbers on 3x5 cards.
  • I downloaded PDFs of the Congressional Record pages I used. And I downloaded PDFs of law review articles. And I kept these all in a folder on my desktop.
  • I entered citations of several of the law reviews into my RefWorks account (but I didn't use RefWorks when I was actively writing -- I looked at the citations I'd jotted on 3x5 cards).
  • I attended a panel and took notes with a pen on paper.
  • I cut and pasted excerpts from a government website into a Word document that I sent to my Kindle and saved on my computer.
  • I signed onto Westlaw and LexisNexis to check some things or look for examples as I was writing.
  • I looked at U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S. in print to get publication dates for citing.
  • I typed a quotation directly from a book into a footnote in my draft, without any intermediate note-taking on it.
Is this the perfect way to manage documents, notes, and citations? No. Is it the way I'll do things in my next writing project? Maybe, maybe not.

The old technology of 3x5 cards actually still works pretty darn well for a lot of things -- for instance, quickly referring to a note or a citation and rearranging notes to figure out a good order. Having a bunch of documents together in a folder on my laptop is great too -- for long passages that I wouldn't want to have to copy onto an index card, for reading PDFs, for checking quotations. And being able to go online to search or retrieve is convenient too.

Other tools: tables in Word, spreadsheets, Microsoft OneNote (I haven't tried it, but one student told me she used it for everything).

What do you use? Click on Comment to share your thoughts and tips.

Global Terrorism Database

The recent anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center has reminded us all of the horror of such events.

But they were not the first or the last such tragedies. The Global Terrorism Database chronicles more than 80,000 terrorist attacks from 1970 to 2007. Information about domestic, international, and transnational assassinations, bombings, and kidnappings is included, with specifics as to:
  • date and location
  • weapons used
  • nature of the target
  • number of casualties
  • responsible group or individual

These same factors are fields in the advanced search.

The Global Terrorism Database is provided by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland,

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Legal Battle for Lawyers - Online Attitude vs. Rules of the Bar

A Legal Battle for Lawyers - Online Attitude vs. Rules of the Bar -, Sept. 13, 2009. Several incidents are reported -- bar discipline for a blog post criticizing a judge, firing for disclosing confidential information, getting called by a judge for asking for a trial delay and then posting a series of Facebook statuses about partying. The moral? Be careful what you say!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Find That Lawyer

Looking for contact information for lawyers? How about biographical information? You have lots of options!


For Washington lawyers, my first stop is usually the WSBA's directory, at Since every lawyer who practices in this state has to be a member of WSBA, this directory is current and comprehensive. It's so comprehensive, it even includes deceased lawyers -- not that you'd hire them, but sometimes it's good to confirm that the person you're looking for isn't around. It also includes those on inactive status (lower dues but no right to practice).

The directory is programmed to find names that are close to what you type. So if you type "Mary" you'll also get "Maryann," and if you type "Reynolds," you'll also get "Reynoldson" and "McReynolds."

Recently, the site has added the ability to search by practice area (based on what lawyers submit), language, or access to TDD. And you can also find members of WSBA committees.

Martindale is the free, online version of the venerable Martindale-Hubbell print directories (the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory began in 1931; we also have Hubbell's Legal Directory, 1873-1930, Martindale's United States Law Directory, 1875-76, and Martindale's American Law Directory, 1897-1930).

Martindale listings generally have a lot more information than just name, address, and phone number. They'll list schools attended, areas of practice, languages, publications, and more. And you can search by all (or most of) those variables too.

So what's not to like? Well, it's not comprehensive, so you might not find the lawyer you're looking for. It has never been as strong for lawyers in government and non-profit organizations as it was for lawyers in private practice. And now a number of lawyers and firms are choosing not to pay the fee to be listed, so it is not as comprehensive as it used to be.

Martindale is changing with the times. Just yesterday, it announced a change in its rating system. Ratings Are Transforming, Blog, Sept. 10, 2009. And Martindale is hosting a social media site for lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell Connected.

Martindale-Hubbell directories are also on LexisNexis, often with more search options than on the free site.


Since Martindale-Hubbell was on LexisNexis (and is now owned by LexisNexis), you won't be surprised that Westlaw came up with a competitor, West's Legal Directory (WLD on Westlaw). The free version of WLD is the Findlaw Lawyer Directory -- in fact, I usually use the URL (for West's Legal Directory) because I find it easier to remember than the (Did you know that Findlaw is owned by Thomson Reuters, Westlaw's parent company?)

Like Martindale, Findlaw allows you to search by lawyers' practice areas, locations, and other variables. You can also search by name, if you're looking for an individual. Once you get to a lawyer's listing, you can find very basic information:

or a detailed profile:


Avvo is a relatively new service (founded in June 2007 -- see this post) that combines features of traditional directories with social networking.

Avvo draws basic directory information from state bar sites. Then its researchers fill in some data based on news stories and awards given to lawyers. And then other people -- either clients or colleagues -- can rate and comment on the lawyers. Lawyers who choose to can add to their profiles with pictures, biographies, or personal statements. Depending on whose profile you're reading, you can find either a little:

or a lot:


My advice? If you just want basic contact information, go with the WSBA directory. If you want to learn as much as you can about someone, try all of these.

Another day I'll write about ways to use LinkedIn.