Wednesday, May 29, 2013

FOIAonline: A Multi-Agency FOIA Repository

Books in shelves
FOIAonline is a federal government multi-agency site that allows the public to submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to participating agencies, track the progress of an agency’s response to a request, search for information previously made available, and report on the progress of FOIA requests. 

If you register for a free account, you can  track the progress of FOIA requests, communicate directly with staff handling the request, and receive records electronically rather than by mail.

Limitations to FOIAonline
  • The content only goes back to the site’s launch date, Oct. 1, 2012, or Dec. 10, 2012 for certain agencies
  • Only certain federal agencies participate in the site
  • Only portions of the participating agencies have actually implemented FOIAonline 

Agencies participating in FOIAonline include:
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Labor Relations Authority
  • National Archives and Records Administration Office of General Counsel
  • The Treasury Department's -- note the Treasure Department only participates partially--it provides records of requests and appeals but makes the actual FOIA documents available only to the requestor. The Treasury Department’s separate FOIA program.

Agencies NOT participating in FOIAonline
  • The Internal Revenue Service
  • Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  • Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Feeling excited about FOIA? You can learn how to do your own requests, or find other previously requested material, at the National Security Archive.

The Archive is an independent non-governmental research institute and library housed at The George Washington University. It collects and publishes declassified documents acquired via FOIA request (searchable here); it also provides an extremely thorough tutorial on how to get the most from a FOIA request.

Previous Gallagher Blogs posts on FOIA topics:

EFF’s FOIA Documents Archive, May 20, 2010

Freedom of Information Website, March 16, 2011

The Lowdown on Public Records, May 4, 2011

Graphics: Linked to images on

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Reading Suggestions (once those pesky finals are out of the way)!

Spring quarter finals are finally underway! For most of you, that probably means you're more concerned right now about memorizing your various outlines. But, in just a few short weeks you'll be free again (I promise, finals will be over before you know it).

If you're dreaming up which books you'll be escaping into this summer, the Gallagher Law Library has a suggestion. Since 2011, the ABA Journal and the University of Alabama Law School have partnered up each year to award one legal fiction book the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

Just in time for Summer, this year's finalists have been announced! Even better, after you read the three books YOU can have a say in the prize winner by casting your vote on the ABA's website.

This year's finalists are:

The Wrong Man by David Ellis;

Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law Summer Access for Law Students and Recent Graduates

Are you a law student or soon-to-be graduate wondering about summer access to Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg Law? Look no further! Here's what you need to know:


Continuing students have unlimited access to Bloomberg Law during the summer. 

Graduating students have unlimited access to Bloomberg Law until 6 months after graduation. 

If you have questions or need to register for Bloomberg Law, please contact our Bloomberg representative, Tracey Broadhead Frith. 


Continuing students have access to Lexis and Lexis Advance for academic purposes as well as for summer employment if they are employed by a law firm, government agency, or court. They do not need to request summer access. However, they do need to have a Lexis Advance ID.

Graduating students will have the same access as continuing students, for the same purposes, until July 31st, 2013. 

Please contact Aaron Meyers, our Lexis representative, with questions or Lexis Advance registration requests. 


Continuing students must register for summer access. Westlaw and Westlaw Next summer access will be extended only for the following uses:

  • Summer law school classes
  • Law review or law journal work
  • Project for a professor
  • Moot court
  • Unpaid, nonprofit public-interest internship/externship pro bono work required for graduation
Graduating student access will expire after graduation in mid-June. 

If you have questions about access or need to register for Westlaw, please email our Westlaw representative, Zach Gose

United Nations NEW Research Guide

Searching for a document from the United Nations just became simpler! The UN library revamped its research guides, making them more clear while offering more information in one place.

The main search site gives easy access to call, chat, or email with a UN librarian. The left-hand side of the page gives an overview of UN documents and then has research guides for each major organization (General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, and International Court of Justice) and for each major issue the UN supports (Disarmament, Environment, Human Rights, International Law, Peacekeeping, and the UN Regular Budget).

The best tool I found was this research guide that gives step-by-step instructions (including videos) for finding UN documents.  You can look for help in finding a document by symbol, a resolution, a report, a meeting record & speech, or a voting record.

Not sure where to go or what to find? The UN Resources page has an exhaustive list of all the information across the UN system, alphabetically, by organization, by theme, library catalogs, statistics, and terminology databases.

The library is also on social media! Check out their Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Slideshare accounts for the latest news!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More dangerous brassieres?

You may remember a post last month about some bra bandits injuring a Victoria's Secret employee during their lingerie heist. Sadly, the claims of injury associated with bras do not end there!

Thomson Reuters blogger, Ronald V. Baker wrote a post about a recently dismissed product liability lawsuit claiming that Vanity Fair Vassarette bras caused breast cancer. The plaintiff claimed the Vassarette bra's underwire design lacked the necessary flexibility, leading her to develop breast cancer. She said the connection between the bra’s underwire design and her cancer is evidenced by the fact that her surgical scar mirrors the shape of the underwire.

U.S. District Judge Sharon J. Coleman of the Northern District of Illinois granted Vanity Fair's motion to dismiss stating a "lack of any factual basis for a connection between the alleged conduct and her injury [cancer], without some basis for that correlation".

Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon

If this controversy has you holding your bras over a fire, you may want to hold off on burning them. explains that "Underwire bras do not cause breast cancer" and attributes the increased incidence of cancer among bra-wearing women in comparison to bra-less women to a difference in their weight.

For more information on products liability, here are a few titles on products liability in the Reference Area: Understanding Products Liability Law, Principles of Products Liability and Products Liability in a Nutshell.

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Faculty Publication: Ron Collins' Books by Supreme Court Justices

Ronald K.L. Collins, Books by Supreme Court Justices, 38 J. Sup. Ct. Hist. 94 (2013).

Identifying 353 books, Prof. Collins bibliography is the latest and most comprehensive work covering works written, edited, or compiled by the Justices.

Chief Justices, in chronological order, are followed by the Associate Justices.

An earlier version of the list was posted on SCOTUSblog on March 12, 2012 and updated on Nov. 7, 2012.

If you are thinking about your summer reading plans, consider using Prof. Collins' bibliography as a starting place.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Faculty Publications: Toshiko Takenaka and Signe Naeve

Intellectual Property in Common Law and Civil Law (Toshiko Takenaka ed., Edward Elgar, 2013).

UW Law professor Toshiko Takenaka has edited and contributed chapters to this new work, which covers patents, copyright, trademark and unfair competition, enforcement and infringement remedies, and legal aspects common to all branches of IP.

Prof. Takenaka's chapters are:
  • First-Inventor-to-File under the America Invents Act: A View of First-to-File Lawyer and a View of First-to-Invent Lawyer, at 50-74
  • Employee Invention System: Comparative Law Perspective, at 365-400 (with Yves Reboul) 
Signe Naeve, Associate Director of the Law, Technology, and Arts Group at UW Law, also wrote a chapter: Trade Dress, at 224-47.

The Gallagher Law Library has a copy of this book in the Classified Stacks, call number K140 .I58 2013.

Friday, May 10, 2013

New Faculty Publication: Anita Krug on Investment Company as Instrument

Anita K. Krug, Investment Company as Instrument: The Limitations of the Corporate Governance Regulatory Regime, 86 S. Cal. L. Rev. 263 (2013). Available on SSRN.

U.S. regulation of public investment companies (such as mutual funds) is based on a notion that, from a governance perspective, investment companies are simply another type of business enterprise, not substantially different from companies that produce goods or provide (non-investment) services. In other words, investment company regulation is founded on what this Article calls a “corporate governance paradigm,” in that it provides a significant regulatory role for boards of directors, as the traditional governance mechanism in business enterprises, and is “entity-centric,” focusing on intra-entity relationships to the exclusion of super-entity ones. This Article argues that corporate governance norms, which came to dominate U.S. investment company regulation as a result of the unique history of U.S. investment companies, are poorly-suited to achieve the goals of investment company regulation. In particular, the corporate governance paradigm has given rise to a number of regulatory weaknesses, which stem from investment advisers’ effective control over investment company boards of directors and courts’ deference to state corporate law doctrine in addressing investors’ grievances. Accordingly, investment company regulation should acknowledge that investment companies are not merely another type of business enterprise with the same challenges and tensions arising from the separation of ownership and control that appear in the traditional corporate context. Toward that end, this Article contends that policymakers should view, and regulate, investment companies as an avenue through which investment advisers provide financial services (investment advisory services, in particular) to investors — and should view investment company shareholders more as advisory customers than as equity owners of a firm. This “financial services” model of regulation moves past the entity-focus of corporate governance norms and, therefore, permits dispensing with governance by an “independent” body such as the board of directors. More importantly, if adopted, this model would remedy some of the more significant problems plaguing U.S. investment company regulation.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reefer Reference: CRS on the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

The Congressional Research Service analyzes the Washington and Oregon state laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in relation to the federal Controlled Substances Act.

State Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: Selected Legal Issues (April 5, 2013).
This report summarizes the Washington and Colorado marijuana legalization laws and evaluates whether, or the extent to which, they may be preempted by the CSA or by international agreements. It also highlights potential responses to these recent legalization initiatives by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and identifies other noncriminal consequences that marijuana users may face under federal law. Finally, the report closes with a description of legislative proposals introduced in the 113th Congress relating to the treatment of marijuana under federal law . . . .
Washington's Initiative 502 and Colorado's Amendment 64 have sparked interest and controversy. The CRS report is a non-partisan consideration of the legal issues.

For more information about the Congressional Research Service, see the Gallagher guide on Congressional Research Service Reports.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Research Kobe's legal drama with his mama and get a cookie!

If your plans for celebrating your mom this year include only a tardy Mother's Day card, you're still doing better than Kobe Bryant.   While many have asked mom to cease and desist from showing old baby pictures, few have had to ask mom to cease and desist from auctioning off high school mementos.  (Not that your old mock trial trophies and high school wrestling singlet would fetch much cash out on the open market).

Happy Mother's please cease and desist!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Law Students are invited to a Gallagher Chat with Professor Collins this Tuesday!

Do you ever wish you had more opportunities to chat with professors about legal issues outside the classroom? Well, by golly, you are in luck! Gallagher Law Library is hosting a new series called Gallagher Chats*!  

Our first Gallagher Chat featured Professor Spitzer.  Law students were able to discuss the new edition of his book The Washington State Constitution, as well as share their views on a variety of interesting legal issues. Based on the success of our first Gallagher Chat, one of your fellow law students asked that we invite Professor Collins to our next Gallagher Chat. Your wish is our command!

The next Gallagher Chat will feature Professor Collins! Professor Collins will speak with law students about his books on Holmes the Judge, Abrams the Lawyer, HOWL the Poem & Dissent in America.
Professor Collins
Come by the Bogle & Gates Law Student Lounge in Gallagher Law Library this Tuesday, May 7 from 12:30-1:20pm for some refreshments, stimulating conversation with Professor Collins and some of Dean Hazelton's amazing brownies (if I don't get to them first...).

*Gallagher Chats are intended to foster faculty and student relationships. Each chat features a faculty member and centers on a hot legal topic of their choice. Law students are encouraged to join for refreshments, an opportunity to learn about current legal issues, and engage in thought-provoking dialogue with faculty in a casual, intimate setting. 

FDsys reaches 500 million retrievals

Gary Somerset of the Government Printing Office reports that FDsys has achieved 500 million retrievals:

The U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO) Federal Digital System (FDsys) has achieved the milestone of 500 million document retrievals. FDsys is a one-stop site for authentic, published information on the three branches of the Federal Government. Retrievals are measured by the number of times content is viewed or downloaded from FDsys. GPO launched FDsys in January 2009 and since that time it has expanded to include 800 thousand searchable titles. Examples of content found on FDsys include: the post-President Kennedy’s assassination tape recordings, President Nixon’s Watergate grand jury testimony, the Budget of the U.S. Government, the Congressional Record, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, and congressional bills, hearings, and reports. GPO is continually adding content and working with agencies on new collection opportunities.

Don't overlook FDsys when researching federal material.  There are a few ways to search FDsys (search box, browsing, by citation, etc.) and the underlying documents are authentic and free. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lawyer Rates Jails & Prisons on Yelp

5 star hotels are generally recognized for their luxurious accommodations, excellent room service and superior service. So what does a 5 star jail look like?
Prison Cells

According to lawyer, Robert Miller, the Theo Lacy jail in Orange County, California is worthy of a coveted 5 star Yelp review for being "the newest, and thus the cleanest and best organized of all the jail facilities in the County of Orange" as well as having deputies who are nice and friendly to lawyers and other professionals. Lawyers are not the only ones who have been rating correctional facilities, inmates have taken to Yelp to voice concerns (ranging from rodent and roach problems to riots and guard/inmate abuse) and also to make positive comments. One reviewer who stayed at Geiger Corrections in Spokane gave the facility a 4 star review praising Taco Mondays, pleasant guards and being able to talk to female prisoners (he did subtract 1 star for "loss of personal freedom").

One does not usually have a choice in which facility they are placed, so what purpose do the Yelp reviews serve? According to the Washington Post, Yelp reviews of correctional facilities have caused a bit of controversy. While on one hand, one must recognize that visiting a jail is not the same thing as visiting a restaurant or a movie theater (pointed out by a spokesman for the Los Angeles Country Sheriff); on the other hand, increasing awareness of mistreatment and poor conditions in prisons and jails is recognized as "a positive thing" by the director of the National Prison Project of the ACLU.

The veracity of the Yelp reviews have been questioned but it is worth noting that while the occupants at Theo Lacy jail might be in one of the highest reviewed jails in California, the King County jail here in Seattle has the lowest possible Yelp rating (1 star) by all of its reviewers.

Photo credit: