Wednesday, December 28, 2011

PACER iPhone App

The federal courts have released an iPhone app for accessing district court records from PACER.

Users need to have already registered for a PACER account and the app can be used to view documents but not to file documents.

The link provides a list of features as well as Frequently Asked Questions.

See previous posts on PACER on this blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hot Coffee Documentary

A new documentary explores the rhetoric and politics of "tort reform." Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served? begins with the the case that has been fodder for comedians and politicians, Liebeck v. McDonald's.
Seinfeld mocked it. Letterman ranked it in his top ten list. And more than fifteen years later, its infamy continues. Everyone knows the McDonald’s coffee case. It has been routinely cited as an example of how citizens have taken advantage of America’s legal system, but is that a fair rendition of the facts? Hot Coffee reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end. After seeing this film, you will decide who really profited from spilling hot coffee.
The next segment of the film looks at how a tort-reform damage cap has affected one family with a seriously disabled son.

And the third segment features Oliver Diaz, a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court who successfully campaigned against a candidate backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, only to be indicted for accepting a bribe and then for tax fraud. Despite his acquittals, the charges kept him off the bench for years and probably cost him his next election.

The filmmaker, Susan Saladoff, is a lawyer who took on this project – her first film – during a sabbatical from her practice. She definitely has a point of view, and in the film and on the website encourages people to take action opposing tort reform. Whether or not you ultimately share her position, the film offers important information, with clips from advocates on both sides of the debate. Check it out: KF1250.H68 2011 at Classified Stacks.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Federal Social Media Index

Ever wondered what federal agencies tweet about? No? Well, now the curious can find out. The Federal Social Media Index (FSMI) compiles Twitter activity from over 450 U.S. departments and agencies, ranking the federal Twitter accounts based on how well they engage with users.

The government's atwitter
The index is powered by ThinkUp, an application that tracks social media activity on platforms such as Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. The ThinkUp interface allows users to visualize activity on these social networks, from searching for past tweets to compiling graphs showing how many users follow accounts. 

The FSMI allows users to visualize sortable variables such as the number of followers the department has and the number of inquiries and answers the department receives and provides. For instance, although NASA (@NASA) has the most followers by far at 1,658,784--nearly tripling the next-highest, The Smithsonian Institute (@smithsonian)--the State Department (@StateDept) was named Agency of the Week for December 5-11 for having the most replies from followers (427 replies from 199,413 followers.)

The indexing is done automatically on a weekly basis, using the ThinkUp application without any tinkering from humans. The results are intended to provide an unbiased account of how the government interacts with the citizenry--or at least the portion that regularly uses Twitter--and to highlight overlooked but interesting comments from government departments. For more information, Internet entrepreneur/blogger Andy Baio has a write-up at ExpertLabs.

As an interesting sidenote, the FSMI excludes the White House, whose account has become one of the most popular on Twitter, with over 2.5 million followers, enough to earn it a spot as one of the 125 most followed accounts. Sadly, the Supreme Court (@SupremeCourtGov) is one of the least engaging accounts, having a scant 243 followers and no tweets since June 4, 2010. Perhaps the Justices have more important matters to attend to!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reducing Holiday Liability with 'The Company Party Checklist'

Ah, the office holiday party. At best, an awkwardly enjoyable fishbowl of free booze and treats on the company dime; at worst, a festival of liability that presents an open invitation to inappropriate canoodling, drunken slurs, and unwanted advances amongst employees, any one of whom might one day quit and sue you for fostering a hostile work environment, citing events that occurred one fine December evening when everyone was "supposed to be" having a good time.
Catherine Dunn, Reducing Holiday Liability with 'The Company Party Checklist', Corporate Counsel (, Dec. 14, 2011.

cartoon on drunken employees at party

To reduce the risk of a "festival of liability," Proskauer employment lawyer Enzo Der Boghossian offers a checklist for employers hosting parties:
  • Remind employees that the party is a work event.
  • Remind everyone of the company's anti-harassment policy.
  • Hold the party at an establishment with a liquor license and professional bartenders who will cut off the people who have had too much.
  • Perhaps forgo alcohol altogether.
  • Review your insurance policy.
See also Tip of the Month: Holiday Parties – Simple Precautions to Prevent Post-Holiday Problems, Proskauer Client Alert, Dec. 9, 2009.

Even apart from potential liability, some of these tips could be applied to non-work parties.

Would you like some help tracking your own consumption? Check out Avvo's Last Call iPhone app.  (See last year's post.)

Graphic credit: mw, using SketchBook Pro iPad app.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brain Science and the Law

Royal Society report
A panel of experts from the Royal Society has issued a report on Neuroscience and the Law (Dec. 13, 2011):

Neuroscientists seek to determine how brain function affects behaviour, and the law is concerned with regulating behaviour. It is therefore likely that developments in neuroscience will increasingly be brought to bear on the law. This report sets out some of the areas where neuroscience might be of relevance, along with some of the limits to its application. Specific issues discussed include risk assessment in probation and parole decisions; detecting deception; assessing memory; understanding pain; and Non-Accidental Head Injury NAHI).
The experts conclude that the science is potentially relevant to the law, but that it's too early to apply neuroscience directly in legal proceedings. They encourage further dialogue between neuroscientists and people in law.  See Maria Cheng, UK experts: Too soon to use brain science in court, Olympian (via AP), Dec. 12, 2011.

The 46-page report is available for free download in PDF, Kindle, or E-Reader format.

This is part of a series of reports the Royal Society is putting out on neuroscience and society.  The others are: Neuroscience, Society and Policy (Jan. 2011), Neuroscience: Implications for Education and Lifelong Learning (Feb. 2011), and Neuroscience, Conflict and Security (forthcoming).

Last March, the Royal Society and the National Academies co-hosted a two-day forum on neuroscience and the law in Irvine, CA. You can watch videos of most of the panels here.

Intrigued by this area of cross-disciplinary study? You can see posts on a variety of issues in The Law and Neuroscience Blog and the Neuroethics & Law Blog

New Book Offers Supreme Court Insights

Courtwatchers book jacket
Professor Ronald Collins gives a very warm review on SCOTUSblog to a new book, Clare Cushman, Courtwatchers: Eyewitness Accounts in Supreme Court History, KF8742 .C875 2011 at Classified Stacks.
Collins writes:
Remarkably researched and engagingly written, this book (replete with twenty-seven pictures/photographs) is nothing short of a treasure trove of all sorts of wonderful, informative, rancorous, touching, and sometimes amusing stories about the Court, its history, and its personnel – the Justices, their families, the Court reporters, the clerks, the lawyers, the staff, the journalists who wrote about it, and all others who had business with the Esteemed Institution. It has been a long while since I read a book on the Court and learned so much . . . without nodding off.
The review offers enough quotations to whet your appetite for more.
The publisher's page is here. A catalog record is here.

Interim & Holiday Hours

When most School of Law exams end this Friday, Dec. 16, the Law Library will operate on an abbreviated interim and holiday schedule.

The Law Library will be closed:
  • Dec. 17 - 19, Saturday - Monday
  • Dec. 23 - 26, Friday - Monday
  • Dec. 30 & 31, Friday & Saturday
  • Jan. 1 & 2, Sunday & Monday
The Law Library will open the remaining days of the 2011 from 8am - 5pm and the Reference Office will be open from 9am - 12noon  and 1 - 5pm.

Regular hours resume when School of Law classes begin again on Jan. 3, 2012.

New Faculty Publication: Watts on Constraining Certiorari

Kathryn A. Watts, Constraining Certiorari Using Administrative Law Principles, 160 U. Pa. L.  Rev. 1 (2011), available on SSRN.

Professor Watts latest article considers similarities between the U.S. Supreme Court's "discretion to set its own agenda" with administrative law.
Although certiorari and administrative law certainly differ, both involve congressional delegations of discretion to a less accountable body and therefore both raise concerns about accountability, transparency and reasoned decision-making.
The article provides a history of certiorari, the relevance of the administrative law analogy to certiorari reform, a comparison of checks on both systems, and some possible solutions to the Court's discretion based on administrative law principles. Some of these suggestions include:

  • Congressional legislation providing more specific standards to be used by the Court in making certiorari decisions
  • requiring the Court to give reasons or disclose votes on denials of certiorari petitions
  • increasing public participation through the filing of amicus briefs

Friday, December 9, 2011

5th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100

The ABA Journal has released its annual list of law blogs, Blawg 100.

Browse the A-Z list to look for your favorites and discover new law blogs of interest among 12 categories:
  • News
  • Trial Practice
  • LPM
  • Niche
  • For Fun
  • Opinion
  • IP Law
  • Labor & Employment
  • Criminal Justice
  • Business Law
  • Torts
  • Legal Technology

The ABA Journal explains how it selects the annual Blawg 100 in its F.A.Q.:
The Blawg 100 is compiled by ABA Journal staff and is largely a favorites’ list. We also ask for nominations from our readers through the Blawg Amici process. Most are blawgs that are regularly updated, contain original content, opinion and/or analysis. Many are also on our radar because the Journal staff finds the posts useful in terms of tipping us off to news or generating posts we consider worthy of coverage.
It's interesting to read how the list has changed over time. See the ABA's Journal post, We Honor the Fallen: Past Blawg 100 Entries Which Have Departed.

So what’s your favorite law blog? Cast your vote at ABA Journal online through Dec. 30 at

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Faculty Publication: Nicolas's Evidence Casebook, 3d ed.

Peter Nicolas, Evidence: A Problem-Based and Comparative Approach (3d ed., Carolina Academic Press, 2011).

The third edition of Prof. Peter Nicolas's evidence casebook has just been published.

It incorporates the restyled version of the Federal Rules of Evidence that became effective on December 1st. The Confrontation Clause section has been changed to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, Michigan v. Bryant, and Bullcoming v. New Mexico.

The section on state evidence rules and cases interpreting them has been expanded as well.

The book's table of contents is available at the publisher's website.

New Faculty Publication: Gomulkiewicz on Educating Leaders in IP Law

Robert W. Gomulkiewicz, Intellectual Property, Innovation, and the Future: Toward a Better Model for Educating Leaders in Intellectual Property Law, 64 SMU L. Rev. 1161 (2011).

"Intellectual property (IP) sits at the center of the global economy."

Prof. Gomukiewicz addresses the "big bang" in intellectual property law programs that occurred in 2000. He describes the students attracted to such programs: international students, "practice switchers," "resume enhancers," skill builders, and budding academics.

His blueprint for IP law programs includes a core curriculum on legal systems and skills and advanced courses, such as:
  • IP in depth
  • IP in relationship
  • IP in context
  • IP in practice
  • advanced writing in IP
Tutorials, course sequencing, mixing J.D. and LL.M students, and the next phases in the development of these specialized programs are also considered.

New CRS Reports: Privacy and Secrecy

Two new Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports of interest:

Governmental Tracking of Cell Phones and Vehicles: The Confluence of Privacy, Technology, and Law, December 1, 2011 (25 PDF pages):
Technology has advanced considerably since the framers established the constitutional parameters for searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment. What were ink quills and parchment are now cell phones and the Internet. It is undeniable that these advances in technology threaten to diminish privacy. Law enforcement’s use of cell phones and GPS devices to track an individual’s movements brings into sharp relief the challenge of reconciling technology, privacy, and law.
Congressional Lawmaking: A Perspective On Secrecy and Transparency
November 30, 2011 (19 PDF pages):
Openness is fundamental to representative government. Yet the congressional process is replete with activities and actions that are private and not observable by the public. How to distinguish reasonable legislative secrecy from impractical transparency is a topic that produces disagreement on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. Why? Because lawmaking is critical to the governance of the nation.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

News Tribune Investigates Drug Task Force in Kitsap County

Today's News Tribune has an investigative report on WestNET, the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team, a federally funded drug task force based in Kitsap County, with tendrils reaching into Pierce County. A Dirty Little War, News Tribune, Dec. 4, 2011.

While the task force's mission is to go after drug-trafficking organizations, much of its effort was spent on low-level cases. Critics say that the officers often had a "cowboy" mentality, breaking down doors and bursting into homes wearing paramilitary gear.

The newspaper's review of court records indicates that the task force often inflated its success rate.

At least two people allege that one officer (Roy Alloway, who has since pleaded guilty to federal firearms and tax offenses) pressured them to give evidence that was false, or said that they made statements they did not.

In A story like WestNET's takes considerable work, News Tribune, Dec. 4, 2011, the journalists describe the public records they used, from courts (federal and state) and law enforcement agencies. The Tahoma Narcotics Enforcement Team (TNET), based in Pierce County, presents a different picture. All of its cases went to federal court, while most of WestNET's cases went to federal court. TNET has a much higher success rate (although the journalists did not have a record of cases the prosecutors declined. How WestNET compares with Pierce County task force, News Tribune, Dec. 4, 2011.

If you'd like to read about a drug task force gone horribly wrong, I recommend Nate Blakeslee, Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town, HV8079.N3 B55 2005 at Good Reads. While focusing on one notoriously bad case – with a renegade officer at the center of the action – Blakeslee also discusses the structural factors that make drug task forces susceptible to abuse of power, sloppy police work, and worse. See chapter 11, The Jump Out Boys.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Supreme Court on TV

C-SPAN has asked to broadcast the arguments in the case testing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Adam Liptak, a leading legal reporter, writes: Supreme Court TV? Nice Idea, but Still Not Likely (N.Y. Times, Nov. 28, 2011).

Liptak suggests that the Justices are leary of being reduced to sound bites, but he notes that "newspaper reporters use the text equivalent of sound bites all the time. We call them quotations."

TVW has broadcast (on cable, on DVD, and online) Washington Supreme Court oral arguments for many years with no apparent ill effects. You can watch arguments 1997-present here.

Graphic: screen capture from oral argument on TVW, dressed up a little in Paint, by mw.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tips for Thrift

Most students are on tight budgets, but not everyone is naturally frugal. A law student who blogs as Cowgirl in the City offers a list of Lovely Money Saving Blogs (Nov. 18, 2011). Maybe some of them will have tips you can use.

Hat tip: @LNLawSchool.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Will You Practice Solo Sometime?

The New York Times has an article about attorneys who leave big firms to go solo (or practice with just one or two others). Skipping the Partner Track for a Shingle of One’s Own, N.Y. Times, Nov. 23, 2011.

Solo practice isn't really the Big New Thing: there have always been a lot more solo practioners than lawyers in big firms. What's newish is the trend for lawyers to leave big firms to go solo.

Here are some numbers pulled from ABA, Lawyer Demographics (2011):

Distribution of all U.S. lawyers
Private practice 68%73%74%
Private industry10%9%8%
Legal aid/public defender2%1%1%
Private association1%1%1%

Distribution of all U.S. lawyers in private practice
Solo 49%45%48%
2-5 lawyers22%15%15%
6-10 lawyers9%7%7%
11-20 lawyers7%7%6%
21-50 lawyers6%8%6%
51-100 lawyers7%5%4%
100+ lawyers*13%14%

It's likely that a lot of current students will one day have practices of their own. One way to start thinking about this is to take Law E536 Practical And Professional Responsibility Issues in the Small or Solo Law Practice.

Carolyn Elefant has a terrific blog with links to lots of practical resources:

You might also take a look at a book on the topic, e.g.,
  • Carolyn Elefant, Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Wanted to Be, KF300.Z9 E44 at Classified Stacks
  • Jay G. Foonberg, How to Start and Build a Law Practice (5th ed. 2004), KF300.Z9 F66 2004 at Reference Area
  • Flying Solo: A Survival Guide for the Solo and Small Firm Lawyer (K. William Gibson ed., 2005), KF300.F58 2005 at Classified Stacks
Professional groups include

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Faculty Publication: Peter Nicolas on Geography of Love (Second Edition)

Professor Peter Nicolas, the School of Law’s Jeffrey and Susan Brotman Professor of Law, has recently published the second edition of his book, The Geography of Love: Same-Sex Marriage & Relationship Recognition in America (The Story in Maps)
Co-authored with Geographic Information Specialist Mike Strong, this book provides the reader with concise summaries, tables, and full-color maps depicting the state of marriage and relationship recognition rights in the United States for same-sex couples. The second edition includes new legislation and recent court decisions, updating the first edition which was published earlier this year.
The book’s companion website, and the book’s back cover offer the following description: This publication begins with a detailed history of efforts to achieve marriage rights and other forms of relationship recognition (such as domestic partnerships and civil unions) for gay and lesbian Americans, from the first lawsuit filed in 1970 in Minnesota to the Delaware and Hawaii civil union laws that go into effect on January 1, 2012 – and just about everything (judicial and legislative) in between.
Peter Nicolas & Mike Strong, The Geography of Love: Same-Sex Marriage & Relationship Recognition in America (The Story in Maps) (2d ed. Peter Nicolas 2011) is currently featured in the School of Law Scholarship display at the Law Library’s entrance.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Library Hours for Thanksgiving

The Law Library will be closed several days for the Thanksgiving holiday:

Nov. 24-26, Thursday-Saturday

The Library will also close early on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 5pm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals on HeinOnline

The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals is now on HeinOnline!

IFLP indexes hundreds of journals from around the world, as well as chapters in collections of papers by different authors. You can use it to find scholarship about foreign and international law that you'll never find if you stick to just LexisNexis and Westlaw.

HeinOnline's interface for IFLP is straightforward and easy to use. You can search by keywords, author, title, subject, date, and so on:

IFLP search screen
For instance, if you search for winn j in the author field, you'll find articles that Prof. Jane K. Winn wrote in Studies in Transnational Economic Law (a Dutch journal) as well as articles in U.S. journals about international law, such as the Texas International Law Journal and International Lawyer.

Articles by Jane Winn

You can browse subjects to find one that the indexers would have used for your issue. For instance, if you try "Forced labor," you'll find the index uses "Slavery, forced labor, etc." And if you look up "slavery," you'll see the related concepts of related topics of "Crimes against humanity" and "Labor law" if you want to look more broadly.

Subject list

Click on "Slavery, forced labor, etc." and you get a list of all the articles indexed with that term since 1985, for example:

Entries under Slavery
When an article is available on HeinOnline, there's a convenient link. If the journal is not on HeinOnline, check the law library catalog to see whether we have it; if not, you can request the article through interlibrary loan.

Articles may be in English or in another language. Sometimes, they are in one language with a summary in another language. You can use the facets on the left of the screen to refine your search in different ways – e.g., by language or date, or jurisdiction.

Facets for refining search

Only 1985-date is set up as a database with different fields. But Hein has digitized all of IFLP, starting with volume 1 in 1960.

You can choose the print edition —

— and then use it as if you were thumbing through the books. Only you won't be carrying volumes to your table and you don't even have to be in the library to do it. And when you find a page with lots of good citations, you can just save it to your laptop instead of copying the citations one by one. What's not to like about convenience like that?

One or more of the articles you find in IFLP could make all the difference in your research paper or Jessup memorial!

Justice Frankfurter and Judge Wapner

Did you know that Justice Felix Frankfurter and Judge Joseph Wapner share a birthday? It's today, Nov. 15.

Matthew Mantel, a librarian at the University of Houston, discusses these two jurists' careers here (This Week in Legal History -- Judges, Nota Bene, Nov. 15, 2011).

Felix Frankfurter (l.) and Joseph Wapner (r.)
Photo credits: Felix Frankfurter from Library of Congress. Joseph Wapner from Los Angeles Times Hollywood Star Walk guide.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Library Hours for Veterans Day

The campus observes Veterans Day, Nov. 11, as a holiday.

The Law Library will be open from 8am until 5pm that day. The Reference Office will be open from 1 - 4 pm.

Regular hours resume on Nov. 12.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Anthology of Disability Literature

Christy Thompson Ibrahim, a part-time faculty member who has taught Disability Law since 2000, has just published An Anthology of Disability Literature.
According to the publisher's description:
This striking anthology includes works by Leo Tolstoy, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, John Hockenberry, Michael J. Fox, Charlotte Bronte, Harriet McBryde Johnson, Franz Kafka, Annie Dillard, Temple Grandin, Cris Matthews, Georgina Kleege, H.G. Wells, Rachel Simon, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jhumpa Lahiri, Helen Keller, Ursula Le Guin, Alexander McCall Smith, and others. The selections, both fiction and non-fiction, ranging from classics to modern favorites, contemplate a variety of disabilities — physical impairments, mental illness, and intellectual disabilities — and provide viewpoints from self-advocates, family, and friends. Expressing optimism, anger, love, hope, angst, drama, and realism, the readings and accompanying discussion questions provoke reflection about tolerance, community living, family dynamics, and disability rights.
Disability History Awareness Month ended on October 31, but the importance of disability studies did not!

W Day! -- Trademark Searching

Tomorrow, Nov. 4, is "W Day," when the University of Washington celebrates its 150th anniversary.

Recently I was wearing something with a W and the little TM, and a friend asked, incredulously, "Can they really trademark the letter W?"

Yes, indeed they can. And looking into the trademark created a good occasion to explore the trademarks resources on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, particularly the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). (I am NOT expert in trademark searching, but I was able to mess around and find some things.)

There are a lot of codes involved in trademark searching. For instance, Goods and Services (the [GS] field) are assigned codes, such as 015 for Musical Instruments (goods) and 037 for Construction and Repair (services). The UW provides a service coded broadly as 041, Education and Entertainment. There are also fields for data like the trademark owner's name [ON]. You use the Word Mark [WM] field to look for marks that are letters, punctuation, and words—like, say, W.

Searching for "university of washington" as the owner, and W in the Word Mark field, I found the trademark (serial number 77091314, filed Jan. 5, 2007; registration number 3377279, registered Feb. 5, 2008):

The UW's trademarked W.

I also found trademarked Ws with Huskies, one filed in 1992 and one in 1994.

Two trademarked Ws with Husky faces.
You might think: well, the Husky is distinctive, but that W is just a W.

Not so fast. Look at all the Ws that our W isn't:

1st row: Winona State Univ. (MN), Waynesburg Univ. (PA), Wright State Univ. (OH), Washburn, Univ. of Wisconsin (on its badger); 2nd row: Western Kentucky Univ. (twice), Washburn (again), Wayne State Univ. (Michigan); 3rd row: Waynesburg Univ. (again), Wichita State Univ. (Kansas), Univ. of Wisconsin (behind and on the badger), the Mississippi Univ. for Women; 4th row: Univ. of Wisconsin (a different style), Wharton (Univ. of Pennsylvania), Webster Univ. (MO), Weber State Univ. (UT), the Univ. of Wisconsin (one last time).
So it's not the letter per se, but the particular shape of the W that's trademarked. 

Note that the 16 Ws in the graphic are all universities' Ws. If you broaden the search, you can find Ws for banks, plumbers, and nearly every other kind of business.

This trademark doesn't have any letters or words on it:

UW Husky trademark, filed in 2000.
To search for similar trademarks, you can't look for letters or words. So TESS also allows you to search by design elements. They can be geometric (triangle, ellipse, etc.) or categories like people, trees, or whatever.  In this case the codes are:
03.01.09 - Coyotes; Hyenas; Jackals; Wolves
03.01.16 - Heads of cats, dogs, wolves, foxes, bears, lions, tigers

I learned (by failure) that you need to leave the periods out when you search, but when I got it right 030116[dc] turned up a wide variety of dog and cat logos, including these:

Top Dawg headphones, Bulldog Burgers, Angola LNG Supply Services,Shodogg (Touchstream Technologies), the Centers for Habilitation, New York Dawg Pound, Nutt Butt Bakery, Pupcake Productions, Montana State Univ. (bobcat head), Hooperstown Huskies, NC State (wolf), Jackson Generals (baseball), Charlotte Hounds (lacrosse)
Think of all the different looks our Husky could have had!

For more on trademark searching, see this guide from the UW Engineering Library. For the scoop on how trademarks work at the UW, see University of Washington Trademark and Licensing Policies. And for trademark law, see our guide (note the table of contents in the upper right: you need to click to get to the different sections).

And if you're so inclined, show your purple on Friday. It's even good for discounts at some local businesses!

Hat tip: Meg Butler.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Big News in Federal Sentencing

There's a big new study of federal sentencing AND the federal government has begun reviewing the sentences of people serving time for crack cocaine offenses.


Yesterday the United States Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress a huge (645 pages!) assessing the impact of statutory minimum mandatory sentences. Here are a few excerpts from the press release:
"While there is a spectrum of views on the Commission regarding mandatory minimum penalties, the Commission unanimously believes that certain mandatory minimum penalties apply too broadly, are excessively severe, and are applied inconsistently across the country. The Commission continues to believe that a strong and effective guideline system best serves the purposes of sentencing established by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.”
. . .
The Commission also addresses the overcrowding in the federal Bureau of Prisons, which is over-capacity by 37 percent.
. . .
The report was undertaken pursuant to a directive from Congress to examine mandatory minimum penalties, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Booker v. United States, which rendered the federal sentencing guidelines advisory.
. . .
  • More than 75 percent of those offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty were convicted of a drug trafficking offense.
  • Hispanic offenders accounted for the largest group (38.3%) of offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, followed by Black offenders (31.5%), White offenders (27.4%), and Other Race offenders (2.7%).
  • Almost half (46.7%) of all offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty were relieved from the application of such penalty at sentencing for assisting the government, qualifying for "safety valve" relief, or both.
  • Black offenders received relief from a mandatory minimum penalty least often (in 34.9% of their cases), compared to White (46.5%), Hispanic (55.7%) and Other Race (58.9%) offenders. In particular, Black offenders qualified for relief under the safety valve at the lowest rate of any other racial group (11.1%), compared to White (26.7%), Hispanic (42.8%) and Other Race (36.6%), either because of their criminal history or the involvement of a dangerous weapon in connection with the offense.
  • Receiving relief from a mandatory minimum penalty made a significant difference in the sentence ultimately imposed. . . .
The report is here. The executive summary is here.

Crack Sentences

Crack Cocaine Case Review May Free Inmates, All Things Considered, NPR, Nov. 1, 2011.

Across the country on Tuesday, federal judges began reviewing the prison sentences of thousands of men and women jailed on crack cocaine charges. Many inmates could be released or see their sentences sharply reduced.

Congress voted last year to ease federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine. But a decision this summer to revisit old drug cases has sparked new controversy.

New Faculty Publication: Bill Rodgers on Climate Change

Professor Rodgers, the School of Law’s Stimson Bullitt Professor of Environmental Law, has recently published Climate Change: A Reader (William H. Rodgers Jr., Michael Robinson-Dorn, Jennifer K. Barcelos & Anna T. Moritz eds., Carolina Academic Press 2011).

The back cover provides a description:

Climate Change provides a comprehensive and unique introduction to the emerging issues of global climate change. It presents many of the foundational documents, background scientific explanations, and excerpts from the leading thinkers in the vast literature on global warming. It features original articles and essays from scholars in the fields of environmental science, and environmental, energy, international and human rights law. Designed for use in the burgeoning number of new courses in areas such as global warming, climate change and climate justice, this book is organized around the topics of science, justice, impacts, energy, the U.S. response, international law, state and local law, and innovative litigation. The Reader weaves together the important story of the global warming saga in a thorough and approachable manner.
The book is organized into the following chapters:
  • Setting the Scientific Stage
  • The Justice of Transformative Change and the Spread of Global Fever
  • The Health of the Planet: The Atmosphere, the Earth, the Sea, the Residents
  • Reconstructed Energy Futures
  • Framing the Climate Change Debate
  • United States’ Response to Climate Change
  • The International Law and Policy of Climate Change
  • Local, State, Regional, Tribal and Private Climate Change Initiatives
  • Legal Initiatives Designed to Turn the Tide on Climate Change (on CD-ROM)
Throughout the book are extensive references, figures, and tables. A detailed index is included.

Climate Change: A Reader is located in the Classified Stacks at KF3783 .C578 2011.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Is Legal Education in Crisis?

Last week the National Law Journal launched Law School Review, "an online forum examining the current state and future of legal education."
We want to address the question, "Are law schools in crisis?" If the answer is yes, what are the most pressing problems and how should educators and regulators address them? If the answer is no, what is it that law schools are doing right? Is this enough to ensure their future viability? We have assembled a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the subject [noted law school deans and law professors], and we hope to create a robust dialogue and exchange of ideas.
If you're interested in what law schools do (and why wouldn't you be?), this is worth a look.

Halloween Treats

Its Halloween, but don't panic!
We've found litigation Satanic.

U. S. ex rel. Mayo v. Satan and his Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (1971).
Plaintiff, alleging jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 241, 28 U.S.C. § 1343, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 prays for leave to file a complaint for violation of his civil rights in forma pauperis. He alleges that Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff's downfall.

Plaintiff alleges that by reason of these acts Satan has deprived him of his constitutional rights.

We feel that the application to file and proceed in forma pauperis must be denied. Even if plaintiff's complaint reveals a prima facie recital of the infringement of the civil rights of a citizen of the United States, the Court has serious doubts that the complaint reveals a cause of action upon which relief can be granted by the court. We question whether plaintiff may obtain personal jurisdiction over the defendant in this judicial district. The complaint contains no allegation of residence in this district.

While the official reports disclose no case where this defendant has appeared as defendant there is an unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff. The defendant in that action was represented by the preeminent advocate of that day, and raised the defense that the plaintiff was a foreign prince with no standing to sue in an American Court. This defense was overcome by overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Whether or not this would raise an estoppel in the present case we are unable to determine at this time.

If such action were to be allowed we would also face the question of whether it may be maintained as a class action. It appears to meet the requirements of Fed.R. of Civ. P. 23 that the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, there are questions of law and fact common to the class, and the claims of the representative party is typical of the claims of the class. We cannot now determine if the representative party will fairly protect the interests of the class.

We note that the plaintiff has failed to include with his complaint the required form of instructions for the United States Marshal for directions as to service of process.

For the foregoing reasons we must exercise our discretion to refuse the prayer of plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis.

From the Gallagher guide on Judicial Humor.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Faculty Publication: Helen Anderson on Revising Harmless Error

Helen A. Anderson, Revising Harmless Error: Making Innocence Relevant to Direct Appeals, 17 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 391 (2011), available at

Professor Anderson’s latest article explores the history and development of harmless error. Describing findings from the Innocence Project, she examines how harmless error analysis is applied in cases where the likely causes of wrongful conviction are implicated.

She proposes guidelines and changes that can be made to reinvigorate harmless error analysis so that courts recognize and take seriously the possibility of innocence, writing:

It is time for a better-informed harmless error standard that incorporates the lessons of the last three decades about the realities of criminal justice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Law Professor's Memoir of Schizophrenia

Elyn Saks opens her memoir, The Center Cannot Hold, with a scene every law student can identify with: three students working in the law library on a weekend night, trying to get a moot court brief done. But the action moves to something most students don't experience, hallucinations that lead her onto the law school's roof and, eventually, to the state mental hospital, where anti-psychotic medications are forced on her.

The memoir offers a gripping inside look at mental illness and its treatment. Saks was hospitalized in both England (when she was studying at Oxford) and the United States (when she was studying at Yale), and the contrast between the two mental hospitals is striking. Although many psychiatrists think that schizophrenia can only be treated with drugs, Saks has found benefit from a combination of talk therapy and medication.

The book's call number is RC464.S25 A3 2007 at Good Reads. Links: Publisher's page; WorldCat; Amazon.

Saks has not only lived with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, she has also been very successful professionally. Despite that incident on the roof, she finished law school and became an expert in mental health law.

She is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California. When she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, she used the award to establish the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at USC.

(This is another post in our series for Disability History Awareness Month.)

Living Voters Guide

From UW Today:
"The Living Voters Guide is powered for the Nov. 8 election, updated with the three statewide ballot initiatives, two state constitutional amendments and 120 local and regional measures.

Actually, the guide is powered by citizens. It’s a website that helps ordinary voters form and share their opinions with other people, together producing a citizen-written voters’ guide. The guide was created for the 2010 ballot initiatives, but this year, regional and local measures have been added along with additional means for sharing opinions."

The general election voters guide (and much more) is at the Secretary of State's Elections and Voting page.

Monday, October 24, 2011

United Nations Day

Today marks the anniversary of the United Nations coming into existence—the day when a majority of the original 51 signatories of the UN charter had ratified it. (Today there are 191 member states.)
For a quick overview of the UN, see The United Nations: An Introduction for Students.  More detail about this large and complex organization is here.

The UN system includes a number of specialized agencies, such as:

If you want to observe Disability History Awareness month as you observe United Nations Day, check out the FAQs for the UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Graphic: mw

Friday, October 21, 2011

There's an App for . . . HeinOnline

HeinOnline--the go-to source for PDF images of law reviews--now offers an iPhone/iPad app!

It offers
image-based PDFs, access content by citation, browse by volume, navigate a volume with the electronic table of contents, and use full advanced searching techniques.
Correction: When you download the app, you will be asked to authenticate your access. The authentication will last for 30 days, at which time you will be asked to re-authenticate. So you don't need to use the Library's Off-Campus Access login as was first mentioned. Thanks to Mary Whisner for the correction.

Cameras in the Federal Courts

Since July, fourteen federal courts have been participating in a trial program [pun intended] for videotaping court proceedings. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington is one of the participants.

The Cameras in the Courts webpage identifies the courts,  provides an overview of the pilot program, links to the program's guidelines, and links to the videos. Currently the site provides videos of seven civil trials. No video from the Western District is available yet.

Three Degrees Project at UW School of Law

A think tank housed at The University of Washington School of Law is dedicated to promoting climate justice worldwide. Employing human rights discourse as a framework for addressing the problems of environmental degradation, Three Degrees Project “harnesses the power of the academy and the law to promote fair and equitable adaptation strategies in regions most vulnerable to climate impacts.”

Three Degrees was founded by Co-Executive Directors and former UW law students Jeni Barcelos and Jennifer Marlow. This leading climate justice center stemmed from a 2009 Conference at the UW School of Law that included a lecture by Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland and the former United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. The mission of Three Degrees is to “design future institutions capable of addressing the human impacts of climate change and to assist climate-impacted communities in seeking compensation for climate harms.”

In borrowing from environmental and human rights law, Three Degrees has not only gone on speaking tours around the world, but has also implemented the following projects:
  • Cambodia Project: Working with photojournalists Michael Harris and Kevin Ely, and the staff of Wildlife Alliance, Three Degrees produced a short video about the Southern Cardamom forest and the long-term threats posed by a titanium mine. 
  • Climate Justice Seminar: Open to twenty-five students from across the UW, the course examines predicted climate futures in locations around the world where climate change is likely to harm marginalized populations, and to understand the limitations and strengths of international and domestic legal and policy systems to alleviate these impacts.
  • Simulation Summits: Bringing local people together with scientists, legal experts, artists, and public health practitioners, Simulation Summits empower impacted communities to analyze climate threats specific to them. Simulation Summits identify responses to legal and policy barriers, which may include litigation, developing new fiscal mechanisms for supporting adaptation, creating international and domestic institutions for hearing climate claims, and increasing access to local legal and technical resources. 
In the near future, Three Degrees will be speaking at the Global Washington Conference: Opportunities and Obstacles in Turbulent Times located at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, WA on October 31 and at the World Affairs Council Forum in Juneau, Alaska in mid-November.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finding Historic Newspaper Articles

From time to time, you may need to find a news article as it appeared in its original format. It may seem like a challenging endeavor when the news article you are trying to locate is from 1911, instead of 2011!

There are many excellent sources for historical news. One resource you may want to try is the ProQuest Historical Newspapers database (UW Restricted).

Current coverage includes major newspaper such as The New York Times (1851 – 2007), The Wall Street Journal (1889 – 1993), the Los Angeles Times (1881 – 1987), and the Chicago Defender (1910 – 1975). Full-text articles are available in PDF format.

To find this database, go to the UW Libraries website (when you are working off-campus, be sure to log in with your UW NetID and password before connecting to a UW Restricted database).

Then, on the left side under "Find It," click on Subject Guides. The subject guides provide access to resources (article databases, catalogs, background information, web sites, and more) organized by topic, and are created by the librarians responsible for the areas of study listed.

Under "N," is a link to a subject guide for News. One of the choices on this page is a link to “News, pre-1990.” Look for the section on "Historical Newspapers," where you will see links to a number of news sources, including those mentioned above.

For historic news originating in Washington, see the Gallagher Law Library research guide Washington State News Sources Online.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lawyers with Disabilities

How many lawyers with disabilities are there? What challenges do they face? What accommodations are offered in the workplace? See The Second National Conference on the Employment of Lawyers with Disabilities: A Report from the American Bar Association for the Legal Profession (2009) (99-page PDF).
Check out the Lawyers with Disabilities portal on the American Bar Association's website.
The ABA's Commission on Mental and Physical Disabilities offers a mentor program that "pairs prospective law students, law students, and recent law school graduates with disabilities with a mentor."
Prof. Donald Stone has studied several aspects of lawyers with disabilites, such as accommodations in taking the bar exam and mental health screening in bar admissions. His most recent work looks at the workplace:
This Article proceeds in seven parts. Part I briefly outlines the ADA's position on reasonable accommodations. Part II addresses how law firms are reacting and responding to the fact that they employ lawyers with mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder, attorneys with learning disabilities, and individuals with alcohol or drug addiction. What disabilities are most often represented? Are lawyers with disabilities apt to receive work modifications to accommodate their disability? Are attorneys with mental illness provided with less stressful case assignments? Are lawyers with substance use disorders and alcohol or drug addiction assigned co-counsel to monitor or offer support to the disabled individual?

Part III of this Article outlines the annual ABA report on lawyers with disabilities, which includes recommendations as to how employers should accommodate disabled persons from the hiring process through employment. A fundamental concern underlying the provision of reasonable accommodations within the law firm is the potentially negative impact on client representation. Part IV of this Article analyzes the balancing act of providing reasonable accommodations to the disabled lawyer and the importance of providing competent representation to the client. Part V examines attorney disciplinary proceedings pursuant to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in order to shed light on the issues related to the disabled lawyer. Part VI discusses and analyzes court decisions in the area of reasonable accommodations in the workplace to note the impact of the ADA and the direction in which courts are heading as they tackle this challenging and significant area of law.
Empirical data contained in this Article serves as a backdrop for purposes of elaboration and comparison of these and other questions. Attorneys from fifty law firms in nine states were surveyed to obtain data and their opinions on questions relating to employment accommodations by law firms. Because of the significant number of disabled lawyers entering the workforce and seeking modifications and accommodations, such an inquiry is well warranted. Law firms are beginning to grapple with the disabled lawyer's claim for fair and equitable treatment, while still serving their clients to the best of their ability. Part VII presents and analyzes this empirical data. In conclusion, this Article offers recommendations regarding fair and equitable reasonable accommodations for disabled lawyers in the workplace.
For more of his work, see Prof. Stone's SSRN page.

Happy Disability History Awareness Month!

Film and Discussion: Civil Rights in 1961 and 2011

Organizers of the National Immigrant Integration Conference, taking place Oct. 24-26, invite the public to an evening event on Tues., Oct. 25: Connecting Across Movements and Generations 50 Years Later
Acclaimed film maker and Emmy-winning MacArthur "genius" fellow Stanley Nelson will share clips from his documentary "Freedom Riders," an inspiring documentary of the more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives to end legal segregation in the Deep South.
The Freedom Riders endured savage beatings and imprisonment to assert their humanity and to challenge the federal government to intervene on the side of justice. Today, our country desperately needs fresh energy from diverse people working together to enlarge social and economic justice. DREAM activists - undocumented young people who have been "coming out" by the hundreds - have been called the Freedom Riders of our day. Together with people of all ages and backgrounds, they are taking profound risks in standing up for immigrants and refugees as integral members of American society. 
Join us a rare and inspiring dialogue between civil rights activists and participants in the immigrant rights' movement as they exchange stories and lessons.
This event is free and open to the public. Tuesday, Oct. 25, 6:30-8 pm, Westin Hotel Grand Ballroom.

You can watch "Freedom Riders" here:

Watch Freedom Riders on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ginsburg's Advice to Judges: Dare to Disagree

At the National Association of Women Judges conference in Newark last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "offered a piece of advice: Dare to disagree."
"It is a subject that I have had the occasion to talk on quite often," Ginsburg said to laughter, referring to her long career on the bench and the many Supreme Court cases in which she has sided with the dissenting opinion.

. . .

The petite, 78-year-old jurist, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993, traced the history of dissension in the courts, starting as early as Justice Benjamin Curtis’ 1857 dissent in the Dred Scott Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers advice to female Newark judgesCase. In the infamous ruling, the Supreme Court’s majority opinion said that people of African descent in the United States could not become citizens.

"On rare occasions, a dissent turns the court and becomes the opinion of the court," Ginsburg said last night.

She noted that often a well articulated opinion can spark action, as occurred after her dissent in the 2007 Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. case.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers advice to female Newark judgesN.J. Star-Ledger, Oct. 16, 2011.

Justice Ginsburg has been interested in the role of dissents for some time. In 1989, when she was still on the D.C. Circuit, she spoke on the topic at UW Law. See Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Remarks on Writing Separately, 65 Wash. L. Rev. 133 (1990), HeinOnline, WLR archive.

You can see Prof. Schnapper's interview of Lily Ledbetter, the plaintiff in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., on UW Law's Multimedia Gallery.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Juvenile Crime in Seattle

A new report from the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention focuses on Hot Spots of Juvenile Crime: Findings from Seattle.

This study is "the first to identify where juveniles commit crimes and how these places differ from hot spots of adult crime. Over a 14-year period from 1989 to 2002, researchers mapped all crime incidents in Seattle in which a juvenile between ages 8 and 17 was arrested. They located juvenile crime hot spots, determined juvenile crime trends, and identified risk factors for juvenile crime."

Disability History Awareness Month

A few years ago, the Washington legislature found that
annually recognizing disability history throughout our entire public educational system, from kindergarten through grade twelve and at our colleges and universities, during the month of October will help to increase awareness and understanding of the contributions that people with disabilities in our state, nation, and the world have made to our society.
Lawmakers also hoped to "increase respect and promote acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities" and to "inspire students with disabilities to feel a greater sense of pride, reduce harassment and bullying, and help keep students with disabilities in school." Laws of 2008, ch. 167, § 2.  See RCW 28A.230.158 (K-12) and 28B.10.918 (higher ed).

Our Disability History Month blog posts began with a global perspective, looking at the World Report on Disability.  Watch for more posts over the next couple of weeks.

Middle Eastern & Islamic Resources

If you need Middle Eastern and Islamic resources for your research the Gallagher Law Library has access to the rich collection of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL). Through the UW Libraries’ membership in CRL we can request materials owned by this specialized library. Send your requests to our Resource Sharing Librarian at

To find out more about some of the resources and how researchers have benefited from the resources at CRL read the current issue of Focus on Global Resources which features Middle Eastern and Islamic resources. One of the types of resources that CRL collects are dissertations from countries outside the United States. Doing a quick search for “Islamic law” yielded a number of results ranging from The Journal of Islamic Law to dissertations such as The role of islamic law in commercial litigation in North Yemen [microform] / Isam Muhammad Ghanem (1987, University of London doctoral thesis).

Focus on Global Resources, Fall 2011, v.31, no.1, Middle Eastern & Islamic Resources:

HeinOnline's History of Bankruptcy & the U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit Come to UW Law

In nearly every modern State the situation of a trader who has ceased to pay his debts as they mature in the ordinary course of business is regulated by special provisions of law... the public interest is so closely involved, by reason of the plurality of creditors who have claims against the debtor, that in most countries the intervention of a public authority has been thought necessary to adjust the conflicting rights, and to discover and punish any wrong-doing.
S. Whitney Dunscomb, Bankruptcy; A Study in Comparative Legislation 9 (1893).

The tradition of regulating the reorganization of assets and liabilities of insolvents with special provisions of law has continued since before Dunscomb's time to the present. Today, bankruptcies are heard by federal bankruptcy district courts and bankruptcy appeals in the Ninth Circuit are usually referred to the U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) of the Ninth Circuit for disposition. The Law School will be hosting the BAP of the Ninth Circuit on Friday, October 21, 2011 while the panel holds hearings for four appeals.

Coincidentally, the Law Library just began a subscription to a new HeinOnline library; HeinOnline's History of Bankruptcy is considered Part III of Taxation and Economic Reform in America. If you happen to be one of the fortunate students or faculty attending the luncheon with the BAP after their hearings, you may want to impress your colleagues and the BAP by browsing and sharing information from one of the resources provided in the History of Bankruptcy Library. It includes legislative histories, treatises, documents and more related to bankruptcy law in America. It also includes classic books dating back to the late 1800s and links to scholarly articles that are related to the study of bankruptcy in America.

Photo Credit: Preservation Virginia
This small brick structure located in Accomac, Virginia was originally built in 1782 as a jailer's residence until 1824 when iron bars, oak doors, and locks were added and it was used as a debtors' prison until 1849.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Video: How to Use FDsys

The University of Colorado, Boulder, released another informative video, "How to Use FDsys."

FDsys, the Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System, provides free access to official federal government publications. Collections include the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Register; Congressional Record; Compilation of Presidential Documents; public and private laws; the United States Code; and congressional bills, reports, and some hearings.

How to Use FDsys is a companion to an earlier, quite entertaining video, "What is FDsys?"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

World Report on Disability

The World Health Organization and World Bank jointly issued the World Report on Disability earlier this year. The purpose of the report, as stated in the preface is:
. . . to provide the evidence for innovative policies and programmes that can improve the lives of people with disabilities, and facilitate implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in May 2008. This landmark international treaty reinforced our understanding of disability as a human rights and development priority.
The World Report on Disability suggests steps for all stakeholders – including governments, civil society organizations and disabled people’s organizations – to create enabling environments, develop rehabilitation and support services, ensure adequate social protection, create inclusive policies and programmes, and enforce new and existing standards and legislation, to the benefit of people with disabilities and the wider community.

The 350-page PDF report is here. For supplementary information, see: WHO, Disabilities and rehabilitation.