Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lighten Up!

The Law Library has plenty of very serious works -- like the human rights and genocide books I've mentioned in recent posts.

But there are some lighter law books, too. And the wish to amuse oneself in the midst of serious work is not new: consider Bench and Bar: A Complete Digest of the Wit, Humor, Asperities, and Amenities of the Law, published in New York in 1867 (K183 .B54 1871 at Classified Stacks).

Here are a few recent works:
  • The Green Bag Almanac of Useful and Entertaining Tidbits for Lawyers & Reader of Good Legal Writing from the Past Year Selected by the Luminaries and Sages on Our Board of Advisors (2006, 2007, 2008), K184 .G743 at Classified Stacks and Good Reads. Not all of the Green Bag Almanac is humor -- most of the selected "good legal writing" is not -- but there are plenty of amusements tucked in.

  • The Party of the First Part: The Curious World of Legalese, KF184 .F74 2007 at Good Reads

  • Judges Say the Darndest Things, 2004 K184 .J83 2004 at Good Reads

  • Amicus Humoriae: An Anthology of Legal Humor, PN6231.L4 A64 2003 at Good Reads

Books too heavy? Here are some online sources for lawyer cartoons:
  • Courtoons (a daily blog).
  • Stu's Views (website).
  • Cartoonbank is the online source for New Yorker cartoons and covers. If you go to this page and choose the "Law Channel," you'll see a new law-related cartoon every 30 seconds.
For community building as well as some much-needed entertainment, go to the Student Bar Association's Law Revue Friday evening. Cocktail hour at 5:00, showtime at 6:00. Free food, free drink, free entertainment!

Speaking of "free" -- the first UW law student, staff member, or faculty member who emails the reference office with the phrase "law-related humor" will win a small prize.

Graphic: Photograph of President Truman sharing a laugh with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill aboard the President's yacht, the U.S.S. WILLIAMSBURG, during Churchill's visit to the United States, 01/05/1952, from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Human Rights Advocacy Stories

New in the library: Human Rights Advocacy Stories (JC571 .H86 2009 at Reference Area).

The 15 chapters cover topics as diverse as torture, sexual identity, indigenous land rights, and the death penalty. (The catalog record lists all the chapters and authors.)

If you were at the presentation on Tuesday night about the Rwanda tribunal (see post), you heard a little about the Akayesu case, which for the first time included rape in genocide charges. To learn much more, read Beth Van Schaack, Engendering Genocide: The Akayesu Case Before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, pp. 193-227 in this volume.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Genocide Reading

Yesterday I posted a note about tonight's presentation of interviews from Rwanda. Today I'll list some things to read if you want to learn more about the issue:
  • A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power, HV6322.7 .P69 2002 at Classified Stacks. This book won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2002 and the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 2003.

  • The Legacy of Nuremberg: Civilising Influence or Institutionalised Vengeance?, edited by David A. Blumenthal & Timothy L.H. McCormack, KZ1176.5 .L44 2008 at Classified Stacks.

  • The Genocide Convention: An International Law Analysis, by John Quigley, K5302 .Q85 2006 at Classified Stacks.

  • The Contribution of the Rwanda Tribunal to the Development of International Law, by L.J. van den Herik, KZ1201.A12 H47 2005 at Classified Stacks.
  • Nowhere to Hide: Defeat of the Sovereign Immunity Defense for Crimes of Genocide and the Trials of Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, by Michael J. Kelly, K5301 .K45 2005 at Classified Stacks.

  • My Neighbor, My Enemy: Justice and Community in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocity, edited by Eric Stover and Harvey M. Weinstein, K5301 .M9 2004 at Classified Stacks.

  • Genocide in International Law: The Crimes of Crimes, by William A. Schabas, K5302 .S32 2000 at Classified Stacks.

New Titles on BNA

The Library's subscription to sources from the Bureau of National Affairs now includes access to:
  • Alternative Investment Law Report, a weekly newsletter on legal, legislative, and regulatory developments affecting hedge funds, private equity, and similar investment vehicles
  • EEOC Compliance Manual, a collection of laws and expert analysis
  • Harmon on Patents: Black-Letter Law and Commentary, a new 1,000+ page treatise that "restates contemporary substantive patent law"
  • Tax Planning International Corporate Restructuring, a monthly newsletter on international mergers and acquistions and foreign investment issues
  • Web Watch, a weekly list of links to academic, government, and industry documents on today's hottest legal topics
  • Workplace Immigration Report, a biweekly report on new developments and guidance for employers
  • World Climate Change Report, a daily newsletter to help "legal, corporate, and government entitites monitor the changing business and regulatory climate.
Vist the Law Library's BNA page for links to these titles and a wealth of other resources covering topics ranging from Accounting to Trade & Commerce.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Witnesses to genocide: Program presents interviews with Rwandan tribunal

Tomorrow evening a program in Kane Hall will showcase a collection of video interviews with participants in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The program is free. Click here to register.

Prof. Batya Friedman from UW's Information School headed the team that visited Rwanda and Tanzania to conduct the interviews.
Friedman's team includes professional cinematographers, specialists in information systems and legal experts. The latter include former Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Utter, former U.S. Attorney and Seattle University Law Professor John McKay, former King County Superior Court Judge Donald Horowitz, Seattle University Law Professor Ronald Slye and law students from SU and UW. | Witnesses to genocide: Program presents interviews with Rwandan tribunal, Jan. 22, 2009.

Update (Jan. 29, 2009): For a discussion of the information management challenges involved in the project, see A Tool to Verify Digital Records, Even as Technology Shifts, N.Y. Times, Jan. 26, 2009.

Update (April 29, 2011): The link doesn't work.  Other UW articles:
Interview clips may be viewed at Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal. Material is still being added: the latest release was April 28, 2011.

Friday, January 23, 2009 and Wex

I came across, a site that collects student outlines and information about law firms in the U.S. and Canada. Like all wikis, it's still under development -- and, in fact, you could contribute.

Coverage is uneven and appears stronger for Canada than the U.S.

The course outline collection is just getting started. For instance, it has ten outlines from George Mason and just one each from Texas and Rutgers.

Right now the outlines are arranged by school. I think it might be more useful to see a subject arrangement. If you're looking for civil procedure and your school is represented, you might not care much where your outline comes from. Searching isn't necessarily the answer: when I searched for "civil procedure" I was taken to just one page, even though I had seen other pages with "civil procedure" in their titles.

Law-wiki is a work in progress. As it develops, it could become very useful. And if it has even one outline that works for you, it could be useful now.

A legal wiki with a different approach is Wex, from Cornell's Legal Information Institute. "Wex is an ambitious effort to construct a collaboratively-created, public-access law dictionary and encyclopedia." This isn't the place to look for an outline of all of civil procedure, but it is a darn good place to get an overview of jurisdiction, with links to the Constitution, title 28, state materials, and recent cases.

A list of Wex's topics is here.

Unlike, a href="">Wikipedia, which anyone can edit, Wex screens contributors.
We are interested in contributors with

* demonstrated expertise in particular areas of law
* a desire to educate law novices
* the ability to communicate effectively with an extremely diverse audience.

Our criteria are fluid, but in general we prefer formal legal education and give preference to legal academics and distinguished practitioners. The idea is to build the most authoritative source we can with a minimum of re-editing and tussling over content. A primary concern is that the material be useful to novices in particular areas of law -- a group that takes in practitioners learning about a new area, law students, and the general public. A desire and an ability to teach diverse groups is essential.
Hmm, looking for expertise and the ability to communicate. Interesting approach...

Mistakes Happen

We're all human and we all make mistakes sometimes. Chief Justice Roberts flubbed the oath of office rather publicly. Here in the Reference Office, we made just a little mistake: we accidentally deleted the winning entry in yesterday's contest. If you're the one who already sent us an email message, please write again.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's in an Oath?

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
U.S. Const. art. II, § 1.

As you might have noticed on Tuesday, Chief Justice Roberts and President Obama were unsteady on the oath of office: the "faithfully" got moved. Just to be on the safe side, Obama took the oath again yesterday. Constitutional law scholars say this was the way to go, since the oath is in quotation marks in the Constitution and isn't to be messed with. Experts say Obama should retake the oath, San Francisco Chron., Jan. 21, 2009. For more, see this blog post by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.

Steven Pinker calls the Chief Justice to task for his hypercorrection -- moving around "faithfully" to avoid the split infinitive ("to faithfully execute") when there's nothing wrong with it. Op-Ed Contributor - Oaf of Office -, Jan. 21, 2009.

Want to read up on your grammar and usage? See our guide, Legal & General Writing Resources.

The first UW law student, staff member, or professor to email the Reference Office with the phrase "oath of office" will win a small prize.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recent Article by UW Law Faculty Member on Justice O'Connor

Professor Stewart Jay recently published an article tracing Justice O'Connor's opinion's on abortion rights throughout her career. Ideologue to Pragmatist?: Sandra Day O'Connor's Views on Abortion Rights, 39 Ariz. St. L.J. 777 (2007). Westlaw

Jay states that O'Connor was neither an ideologue nor a pragmatist when it came to her decisions on abortion. Rather, she believed that the question of abortion belonged either in the legislative domain or in the individual woman's conscience. As both a legislator and a judge, O'Connor faced legal questions regarding abortion and believed the issue to be complex.

Once a member of the United States Supreme Court, O'Connor did not draw from the right-to-privacy line of cases when drafting her opinions. Instead, she created a "new" standard, the "undue burden test," which was eventually cited in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and became the national standard for determining limitations on abortion rights.

O'Connor was did not look at the issue of abortion without examining its context within the landscape of fundamental rights jurisprudence and how that shifted during her time on the bench. It is unclear whether the Court's 5-4 decision in upholding the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban would have been decided differently if O'Connor were still on the bench.
However, during her tenure at the Supreme Court, the central holding of Roe v. Wade was continually reaffirmed.

-- Jennifer Wertkin

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Slate on the New White House Website

fyi: I Do Solemnly Swear That I Will Blog Regularly: Touring the new - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine, Jan. 20, 2009.

The White House Is Blogging

President Obama's team moved quickly to load new content onto the White House's website, including three blog posts datestamped 12:01 p.m.

Prof. Mary Hotchkiss told me that she was discussing government publications in Legal Research II today and showed the class the new White House site minutes after it was up. She tried to show the old site, but couldn't get through on the Internet Archive (a very useful site for viewing snapshots of websites as they were in the past). In an update to her students (which she shared with me) she wrote:
I've just seen that the Inaugural Address is posted on the *new* Obama White House website. Researchers should be delighted with the speed that information is being posted. Although the Internet Archive (Wayback Machine) was not responding well today, the archived links show that the January 20, 2001, transition was much bumpier. The robust Clinton White House page was replaced with a skeletal Bush White House page, which had little content until mid-February 2001...
Remember our promise last week of occasional prizes for readers of this blog? The first UW Law student, staff member, or professor who emails the Reference Office with the phrase "government information" will win a small treat. Update (Jan. 21): We have a winner. Keep reading!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Recent Intellectual Property Articles by Three UW Law Faculty

Three UW Law faculty members recently published articles in a Japanese Intellectual Property publication, “I.P. Annual Report: 2008” [Bessatsu NBL no. 123]. All four articles are in Japanese (Professors O’Connor and Naeve’s articles are translated into Japanese from English). Below are summaries authored by Rob Britt, Japanese Legal Materials Specialist within the Library's East Asian Law Department. We expect to receive the Library's copy of “I.P. Annual Report: 2008" in the next few months.

Toshiko Takenaka, Beikoku ni okeru chizai no ugoki (Developments in American Intellectual Property), I.P. Annual Report: 2008 (Bessatsu NBL no. 123), at 127.
Professor Toshiko Takenaka summarizes developments in the past year in American Intellectual property. Highlights include a description of the bill to revise the U.S. patent law, revisions to the rules regulating the US Patent and Trademark Office decisions, and an overview of current developments in US trademark and copyright law.

Toshiko Takenaka, Beikoku ni okeru chiteki zaisan soshō no genjō to tenbō (Current conditions and prospects for cases in American intellectual property), I.P. Annual Report: 2008 (Bessatsu NBL no. 123), at 181.
Professor Toshiko Takenaka provides an introduction to, and an update on the U.S. intellectual property court system and its procedures. She first outlines the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and explains its importance with regard to intellectual property. This is followed by a sketch of the most important characteristics of patent procedure in the US, and a review of the various US courts that handle intellectual property. A listing and brief analysis of the current intellectual property cases is also provided.

Sean O’Connor, Beikoku kenpō no IP jōkō no shita ni okeru tokkyo taishō no kagakushi kara no kenshiki ni motozuita saiteigi] (Redefinition of views on the objects of patents founded in scientific history under the IP articles in the U.S. Constitution), I.P. Annual Report: 2008 (Bessatsu NBL no. 123), at 289.
In this article, Professor O’Connor reviews the history of patentability under the U.S. Constitution. He discusses in detail the so-called “Progress” and “IP” articles in the Constitution, and continues with an analysis of “science” as interpreted in the Constitution and constitutional court decisions.

Signe Naeve (with co-panelists), RCLIP tokubetsu seminā: Hōsō kontentsu no tensō o meguru shisutemu teikyōsha tō no chosakukenhō jō no sekinin : Ei-Bei no jōkyō o fumaete (Special RCLIP Panel: Liability under the copyright law of individuals providing a system to transmit the contents of a broadcast: Based on current conditions in England and the United States), I.P. Annual Report: 2008 (Bessatsu NBL no. 123), at 309.
Professor Naeve (Brunstad), with co-panelists Jonathan Griffiths, Tetsuya Imamura and Ryu Takabayashi at a presentation to RCLIP (Research Center for the Legal System of Intellectual Property [at Waseda University]), discussed liability under copyright law of individuals who provide systems for transmitting broadcast contents. Professor Naeve’s presentation centered on current conditions in the United States, comparing the U.S. situation with Japan and using U.S. cases to illustrate her points. She laid out the framework of laws and regulations underlying the American copyright liability environment, and discussed recent changes in the legal structure with regard to broadcasting. Finally Naeve reviewed court decisions on copyright infringement in the U.S. and discussed their implications for the future of copyright in this area. Questions from the audience following the presentations and the panelist’s answers were included in the article.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Comparing Online Tax Research Services

In The Virtual Tax Library: A Comparison of Five Electronic Tax Research Platforms, the authors provide side-by-side comparisons of the primary sources and functions of the tax collections from:
  • Bureau of National Affairs (BNA)
  • Commerce Clearing House (CCH)
  • LexisNexis
  • RIA Checkpoint
  • Westlaw
UW Law faculty, students, and staff have access to four of these five services (CCH is the exception).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's in It for You?

We started up this blog a couple of months ago as a way to share tips, news, and resources with you. We hope that the content will make reading it worthwhile. But while we're building our readership, we thought we'd sweeten the pot by offering some small rewards (including chocolate) to UW Law School people who visit the blog.

From time to time, you'll spot a note in a blog post saying that we'll give a prize to the first person to email the Reference Office with a special pass phrase. Only UW Law School students, staff, and faculty are eligible for these modest prizes. (Contributors to the blog are not eligible.)

Here's the first: to win a prize, email the Reference Office with the phrase "check the pocket part." We'll let you know if you've won the prize and can pick it up from the Reference Office. (And we'll post a note here when the prize has been claimed.)

Update (5:15 p.m.):

Congratulations to Cindy Fester, who wins the prize.

Keep your eyes open: we'll offer more prizes soon!

Criticism of Ex-Official in Hiring at Justice Dept.

Criticism of Ex-Official in Hiring at Justice Dept. -
A former senior official at the Justice Department routinely hired Republicans, Federalist Society members and “R.T.A.’s” — “Right-Thinking Americans”— for what were supposed to be nonpolitical posts and gave them plum assignments on civil rights cases, an internal department report released Tuesday found.

* * *

The report goes beyond the conclusions of three previous internal Justice Department inquiries in exposing the depths of political interference with personnel decisions. The conclusions of the latest inquiry, the first to focus on the Civil Rights Division, are likely to figure in the Senate hearing Thursday for Eric H. Holder Jr.’s confirmation as attorney general.
The report is: U.S. Dep't of Justice Office of the Inspector General & U.S. Dep't of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division (July 2, 2008; released publicly Jan. 13, 2009).

Monday, January 12, 2009


On Monday, Jan. 19, we celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Library will be open from 8am - 5pm and the Reference Office will be open from 1 - 4pm.

Coming a day before the inauguration of the country's first African-American President, this year's Day of Service is especially important. How can you make a contribution?

The King Day of Service website offers many service ideas and links to organizational partners in this effort. lets users search for events by zip code and type of event. Organizations and individuals can get more information about hosting and registering their events.

Looking for inspiration directly from Dr. King? Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, which manages the King Papers Project. It provides access to many of Dr. King's quotations, sermons, and speeches.

The Legislative Process: A New Legal Research Guide

A new legal research guide on The Legislative Process has been added to the Law Library website. It features books, websites, and a few articles on:

  • bill drafting
  • the legislative process
  • legislative history and intent
  • lobbying
  • legislative ethics

The guide was developed for students in Prof. Lea Vaughn's Legislation seminar. It complements existing guides on Federal Legislative History and Washington State Legislative History.

Professor O'Connor's article about the UW Law's Entrepreneurial Law Clinic

Sean M. O’Connor, How to Build IPR-Focused Entrepreneurial Law and Business Clinics to Assist Regional Economic Development Around the Globe, (International Intellectual Property Institute, Washington, D.C., 2008). UW Law Professor Sean O’Connor is founding Director of the UWLS Entrepreneurial Law Clinic as well as Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Studies and Research on Intellectual Property (CASRIP). In this article, which is part of the “How To” series published by the International Intellectual Property Institute, Professor O’Connor describes the role of intellectual property rights and entrepreneurship clinics as tools for fostering local economic development and social justice. He provides details about the UWLS Entrepreneurial Law Clinic and he explores the possibility of expanding such services to developing countries to benefit entrepreneurs and social justice concerns.

Recent UW Law Faculty Publication

Scott A. Schumacher, MacNiven v. Westmoreland and Tax Advice: Using “Purposive Textualism” to Deal with Tax Shelters and Promote Legitimate Tax Advice, 92 Marq. L. Rev. 33 (2008). In this article UWLS Professor Scott Schumacher analyzes recent legislative and regulatory changes to the standards applicable to tax advice which are aimed at stopping abusive tax shelters. What is in a standard? As a tax advisor, does your position meet the standard of “more likely than not” to succeed? Or the newer “realistic possibility of success”? As Professor Schumacher notes, the “government’s desire to ‘do something’ about the tax shelter problem is understandable. However, in attempting to fix the shelter problem, Congress and the Treasury should not make legitimate tax advice and legitimate tax planning more difficult.” Indeed, he argues for another standard – “purposive textualism” adapted from a British House of Lords’ opinion (MacNiven).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Multistate Bar Exam

Fifty-three jurisdictions require the multistate bar exam (MBE) for admission to the bar; Washington is not among them. However, if you are considering practice in one of those other jurisditions, you may be interested in this latest news. According to an article in the National Law Journal, the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which develops the MBE, is considering adding a new subject to the exam,

What is the new subject under consideration? If approved by the Conference, civil procedure will be added to the areas already covered - torts, criminal law, contracts, real property, evidence and constitutional law. Washington's list of subjects includes the ones above, plus others such as administrative law, business organizations, family law, Indian law/tribal sovereign immunity, and wills, probate, and trusts. Many of the states that use the MBE include additional state-specific questions as well.

For more information about Washington's bar exam (including the full list of subject areas), visit the Washington State Bar Association's website.

Finalists for the Dean of the School of Law

In case you haven't heard, there are four finalists in the search for a new dean of the law school. That is exciting news, but it gets even better - they are each coming to make a presentation and faculty, students, and staff are all invited! All the presentations are to be held in William H. Gates Hall, Room 133, with a reception to follow.

If you are in need of finding out where and when all the good stuff is happening, check this link for specific information about each of the four candidates and a link to each of their CVs (or resumes, if you prefer).

And here are the finalists:
Jim Chen, presenting on January 13 from 3:30 - 4:30, read his CV
Lawrence O. Gostin, presenting on January 15 from 3:30 - 4:30, read his CV
Patricia White, presenting on January 21 from 3:30 - 4:30, read her CV
Kellye Testy, presenting on January 23 from 3:30 - 4:30, read her CV

Enjoy the show!

-- Joe Cera

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

History of Government Bailouts

ProPublica has posted information about US government bailouts from 1970 to date.

From Penn Central and Lockheed to AIG and Chrysler, the page summarizes what happened, the cost of the bailout in 2008 dollars, and the resulting effect on the US treasury. Your money at work, folks!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Legal History Writing Competition

If you are a student in law, history, or librarianship, you can enter the Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. "Papers may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives." The deadline is April 15, 2009.

The competition is sponsored by the American Association of Law Libraries Legal History and Rare Books Special Interest Section. It honors Professor Emeritus Morris L. Cohen, Yale Law School, a scholar, leader in law librarianship, and mentor to many. Law students might know him as the co-author of Legal Research in a Nutshell (KF240 .C6 2007 at Reference Area); researchers in early American law value his magisterial, six-volume work, Bibliography of Early American Law (KF1 .C58 1998 at Reference Area), which provides access to monographs, lectures, pamphlets, trials, and other materials up to 1860.

Friday, January 2, 2009

State Budget Woes

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a report (updated Dec. 23) on the budget situation in the states: State Budget Troubles Worsen.

The ABA Journal offers an interactive map where you can hover your mouse over a state to see what the budget crisis has done to its justice system (for instance, King County's elimination of its drug court).