Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beam Me Up, Scotty

You asked for it! Now, you can scan documents and pages from books with a flat-bed scanner in the Law Library.

The scanner is located in the Reference Area, adjacent to the Circulation Desk and the Reference Office in a carrel with one of the legal-research-only PCs. The scanner saves images as PDF files. A page of instructions is provided.

You can save scanned images to a USB drive or email them to yourself or someone else.

So scan away to Spanaway and other points on the compass.

Having Some Beers? Check out this App -- a site that provides information about attorneys -- offers Last Call, an iPhone app that helps people keep track of their alcohol consumption. You plug in your weight and sex, select each drink you have (e.g., light beer, 12 oz.), and as time passes it estimates your blood-alcohol concentration. When your BAC is high, it helps you find a taxi. And, since Avvo is primarily a legal directory, the app will also help you find local DUI lawyers.

The app has a disclaimer that it's for entertainment only. I think that means that when the State Patrol pulls you over you shouldn't pull out your iPhone to challenge the officer's breathalyzer. But it still could be a handy reminder of how much you're imbibing.

Have fun at today's TGIT -- but be safe!

Photo credit: Chaval Brasil

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Statutory Research Tip

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a news release earlier this month about three new cases it had filed under the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Two of the three new cases allege that employers failed to provide "reasonable accommodation" for employees: in one case, a stool for a cashier with severe arthritic symptoms in her knees; and in the other, part time work during cancer treatments. In the third case, the EEOC alleges that the employer selected more two qualified, but disabled, employees for a reduction-in-force over other less qualified workers whom it retained. The release also provides a link to a more detailed discussion of each case that also includes its docket number.

The news release then continues with this little snippet of background for the 2008 amending act:

Originally enacted in 1990, the ADA prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of disability. During the ensuing years, federal courts took a narrow view of what conditions counted as "disabilities" under the law. Some courts had found that individuals with serious conditions - such as diabetes and cancer - were not covered by the ADA's protections against discrimination. In 2008, Congress responded to these interpretations by adopting the ADA Amendments Act, which made clear that the definition of "disability" is both broad and straightforward.

But what about the statutory research tip promised by the title to this blog? On the right side of this release is a gold mine of links for someone interested in the ADA, the 2008 amendments, and the enforcement vision of the EEOC. But, what if you were interested in this new law and how it fits in with the original ADA, and there was no such timely news release? Just go to the EEOC homepage and note among the links across the top of the page "About EEOC." In its drop-down menu you will find a link to the "laws and regulations" enforced by the agency. On that next page, just select "Disability."

So, a word to the wise. When you are doing statutory research, think about tapping the resources of the department or agency entrusted with its enforcement. That government entity is the expert and doubtless will provide you with all sorts of information for your research at the mere click of your mouse!

Sample Interesting New Writing About Law with Jotwell

Jotwell -- "The Journal Of Things We Like (Lots)" -- is a blog where a several law professors post substantive comments about recent scholarship. It's supposed to help people keep up with interesting writing from different fields.

Recent posts have included a reviews of a book about FDR and the Supreme Court, a forthcoming article about unconscious bias in employment discrimination, a law-and-economics piece about wealth accumulation, something about the epistemology of bail and crime, a paper about potential conflicts between two uniform laws affecting trusts, and an article about the legitimacy of international law. It's eclectic!

If you'd like to sample a wide range of thought-provoking legal scholarship, check out Jotwell.

What Difference Does e-Govt Make in Participation?

Has moving our government officials to within a few mouse clicks made a difference in who participates? Cary Coglianese, a professor at Penn Law, reviews a recent study that finds that political participation correlates highly with income and education levels. E-Government and Inequality in Public Participation, Jotwell, Sept. 27, 2010 (reviewing Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, & Henry Brady, Weapon of the Strong? Participatory Inequality and the Internet, Perspectives on Politics 8(2): 487-509 (June 2010).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Federal Court System

On September 24, 1789, President George Washington signed into law the Federal Judiciary Act, which created the three-tiered federal court system that exists today. The Supreme court, of course, had been established by Article 3, Section 1 of the Constitution:

The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

The Judiciary Act also established the jurisdiction of the lower courts and reiterated the original jurisdiction granted the Supreme Court in the Constitution's Article 3, Section 2. That first federal court system consisted of the Supreme court, three appellate courts, and 13 district courts. Today, there are 13 courts of appeals and 94 district courts!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Students, Get Your Work Published

Would you like to get published? Maybe you already have a terrific paper from a seminar or maybe you'd like to develop an idea.

Three law professors (Nancy Levit, Lawrence Duncan MacLachlan, & Allen K. Rostron) offer advice in Submission of Law Student Articles for Publication (July 26, 2010), available at SSRN: (Downloading from SSRN is free; you just need to register.) The authors include a long appendix listing all of the general law reviews in the U.S. with notes about their policies of accepting submissions from students. They also suggest other places to publish, such as specialty journals and bar journals.

We have a number of guides grouped under the heading Writing for & Publishing in Law Reviews, covering:

Facebook Evidence

According to a fascinating article in the National Law Journal, "Using Social Network Evidence in Family Court," by Mary Kay Kisthardt and Barbara Handschu, the use of electronically stored information as evidence there is on a sharp rise. Specifically, the article states:

The most striking change in the use of electronically stored information in family law cases has been the proliferation of media accounts relating to evidence found on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. In a recent survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81% of responders said that they had seen an increase in the use of social networking evidence during the past five years. In fact, the survey cited Facebook as the "unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence," noting that 66% of those surveyed cited it as a primary source.

The authors describe how such evidence is used, and problems that may be encountered. They also discuss the requirements for admitting such information into evidence as set forth in Lorraine v. Markel Am. Insurance Co., 241 F.R.D. 534 (D. Md. 2007). Five hurdles must be cleared:
1. Relevancy
2. Authentication
3. Hearsay
4. Original Writing
5. Probative Value v. Unfair Prejudice

The article closes with advice about social networking sites that family lawyers should consider passing along to their clients.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Guardian Newspaper Launches Global Development Website with Gates Foundation

The Guardian newspaper, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a new website recently that focuses on global development and keeping governments accountable for achieving the 8 millennium development goals (MDG), which they signed up to through the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The website includes statistical data and cases studies on topics, such as poverty, hunger, infant mortality, adaptation to climate change and economic development.

World Constitutions

Today is the day we celebrate the signing of the U.S. Constitution, but the U.S. isn't the only country with a constitution. How can you find others? Here are some resources.

First, an exciting new library from HeinOnline: World Constitutions Illustrated. It already (and will grow in the years to come). The editors explain:
This collection will contain the current constitution of every country in the world in its original language. For countries where multiple original-language versions exist, we will provide each one. Also included will be at least one English translation. Since translations depend on and reveal the preferences of their makers and their time, HeinOnline is providing you with multiple vantage points. This is something you won't find anywhere else!

We are working to identify and acquire the source documents for every historical constitution for every country. As historical documents are identified, they will be added to the constitutional timeline for each country. Documents identified but not yet acquired will be listed to provide a documentary history of the constitution's development. For every constitutional document, researchers will find the original text, amending laws, consolidated text, and important related texts. We will also link you to scholarly articles and commentary, and provide a bibliography of select constitutional books available elsewhere.
To use this collection, choose HeinOnline from the Find Legal Databases menu on our homepage. (If you're off campus, be sure to click the "Off-Campus Access" button in the upper right corner of the screen first.)

In print, check out Constitutions of the Countries of the World, K3157.A2 B58 1971 at Reference Area.

And to find constitutions available on free websites, use the Constitution Finder, maintained by the University of Richmond School of Law.

National Constitution Day

Sept. 17 is Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. (According to 36 U.S.C. § 106, it is also Citizenship Day.)

The UW's Constitution Day 2010 has a variety of resources, including commentary on the Constitution, reflections on constitutional law cases by UW students, a guide to information about the female Supreme Court justices, recommended books, links to Web resources, and more.

At noon on Friday, Oct. 8, you can join students, faculty, and staff from around the university for UW Reads the Constitution. You'll hear all of your favorite clauses and some obscure ones. It's always a moving community experience.

You know those silly Facebook quizzes where you answer a series of questions to learn what breed of dog or which Gilligan's Island character you most resemble? The National Constitution Center offers a quiz to find out which Framer of the Constitution you most resemble. No kidding!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1Ls: Sign up for Lexis & Westlaw training

1Ls: Lexis and Westlaw training sessions will be held on Thursday, 9/23/10 at various times.

To register for Lexis training:

1. Go to
2. You will see the training schedule with links to register next to each class. Click on the class you wish to attend.

To register for Westlaw training:

1. Sign into
2. Click on the Training Calendar link on the left side of the screen in the Support pane
3. Select your desired training session from the list and click on sign up

You will have other opportunities to learn more about Lexis and Westlaw this year.

Best Law Firms

US News & World Report, which publishes one of the better-known law school ranking reports each year, has teamed up with Best Lawyers (publishers of Best Lawyers in America), to rank American law firms. As their Best Law Firms website describes it, the two "have joined to rank nearly 9000 firms in 81 practice areas in 171 metropolitan areas and 7 states."

The website permits one to browse firms by practice area or to search by firm, city, state, and/or practice area. Firms are grouped, by practice area, into tiers rather than having assigned numerical rankings. Be sure to check out their methodology so you can decide for yourself how reliable you believe the rankings to be.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What CAN Money Buy?

Well, according to the Beatles' song (Paul McCartney, John Lennon), Money Can't Buy Me Love.

So, what do you think? Can money buy happiness, satisfaction? Can it prevent loneliness or worry? If the Gallup Organization surveyed you, where would you place yourself on the Cantril's Self-Anchoring Scale (described in the article below as "a ladder scale in which 0 is 'the worst possible life for you' and 10 is 'the best possible life for you.'")

Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton of Princeton University's Center for Health and Well-Being decided to study the effects of wealth on the emotional outlook of Americans and have published their findings in the article High Income Improves Evaluation of Life But Not Emotional Well-Being. This article is set to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), but is available now online in an "early edition." Here is the abstract of the article:

Recent research has begun to distinguish two aspects of subjective well-being. Emotional well-being refers to the emotional quality of an individual's everyday experience—the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one's life pleasant or unpleasant. Life evaluation refers to the thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it. We raise the question of whether money buys happiness, separately for these two aspects of well-being. We report an analysis of more than 450,000 responses to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a daily survey of 1,000 US residents conducted by the Gallup Organization. We find that emotional well-being (measured by questions about emotional experiences yesterday) and life evaluation (measured by Cantril's Self-Anchoring Scale) have different correlates. Income and education are more closely related to life evaluation, but health, care giving, loneliness, and smoking are relatively stronger predictors of daily emotions. When plotted against log income, life evaluation rises steadily. Emotional well-being also rises with log income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of ∼$75,000. Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone. We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being. [emphasis added]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Learn Trial Practice from Irving Younger

Irving Younger was a giant of trial advocacy -- professor (NYU, Cornell, Minnesota), practitioner, judge (City of New York, 1969-74). He was a masterful teacher and was famous for his lectures on evidence, discovery, and other topics.

Even though Younger died in 1988, he is still teaching, via recordings. See (and hear!) Trial Evidence Series (14 videotapes), KF8935 .Y68 1982 at Reference Area; The Ten Commandments for Cross-Examination (DVD), KF8920 T46 2000 at Reference Area.

Now the ABA Section of Litigation has published a book collecting a number of his speeches: The Irving Younger Collection: Wisdom & Wit from the Master of Trial Advocacy (Stephen D. Easton ed., 2010), KF213.Y68 E17 2010 at Classified Stacks. You can read his observations and tips on discovery, expert witnesses, scientific evidence, hearsay, jury selection, and cross-examination. You can also read his speeches on historic cases: Ulysses, Alger Hiss, and Erie.

The tone is casual, conveying messages through war stories, quips, and examples. Here's a passage I flipped to:
Lewis on cross-examination: "When this man jumped up on the running board, was he disguised in any way?"


"What was he wearing?"

"What I've told you -- khaki pants and a T-shirt."

"By a T-shirt, do you mean man's underwear, cut pretty short at the arms?"


"Did you get a good look at those arms?"

"I sure did. One of those arms was holding a gun to my head."

"Was there anything unusual about that man's arms?"


And at that point, Lewis turned to DeSisto and said,"DeSisto, stand up. Take off your jacket." He took it off. "Roll up your sleeves." He rolled up his sleeves and there was an audible gasp in the courtroom because from wrist to shoulder, both arms were tattooed like the tattooed man in the circus. The government stipulated that DeSisto had been tattooed in that fashion at the age of 20 some odd; he was now well into his forties. And Lews sat down. That's it. What more can you do on cross-examination? You have raised a serious question not as to whether there was a hijacking, not as to whether somebody didn't jump up on the running board, but as to whether Wimpy has identified the man who did it correctly.
p. 258.

If you want to be a trial lawyer or if, like me, you're just interested in trials, The Irving Younger Collection is worth checking out.