Friday, October 31, 2014

History of Halloween

Enjoy the History Channel's History of Halloween!

From its ancient origins to spooky superstitions, this page also features videos on candy corn, famous ghosts in American history, pumpkin carving, witches, and Halloween around the world.

Let's keep the good times rolling by looking forward to punkin chunkin!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bike Sharing and Helmet Mandates

Seattle's new bike-sharing program, Pronto, recently launched. Currently, there are 500 bikes available to rent from 50 stations located in the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, Belltown, South Lake Union, and the University District, among others. In fact, a Pronto station is located just steps away from the Gallagher Law Library, between William H. Gates Hall and Burke Museum of Natural History. That station has 12 docks for bikes, and, as of this writing, there are 7 bikes available to rent.
Map of Pronto bike stations
Map of Pronto stations

With the launch of Pronto, Seattle joins other cities in the United States, like Boston, Chicago, the District of Columbia, and New York City, with bike-sharing programs. However, Seattle is unique among those cities insofar as Seattle, and all of King County, require that cyclists wear helmets. Although Seattle is the first U.S. city to try to implement bike sharing while mandating helmets, cities outside of the United States have faced the same issue. For instance, Vancouver, Canada, has been engaged in a years-long and oft-delayed effort to implement bike sharing. Critics contend that the delays are largely attributable to British Columbia’s bike helmet mandate. Currently, Vancouver is anticipating a launch date in 2015. Melbourne, Australia, implemented a bike-sharing program alongside a mandatory helmet law. That system, despite an available government subsidy for users to purchase a helmet, has not had the success enjoyed by other cities with bike-sharing that do not mandate helmets. Notably, as of August 2014, no fatalities have been recorded in the United States among bike-share users since the launch of the first program in 2007.

For an in depth look at bicycle helmet statutes across the United States, see John B. Egberts et al., Bicycle Helmet Statutes: An Analysis of State Legislation, 23 J. Legal Aspects of Sport 36 (2013). In that article, the authors discovered that nine states that mandate bike helmets provided in their statutes that failure to wear a helmet would not be admissible at trial as evidence of a cyclist’s negligence. See id. at 41-42.

Image of unicyclists racing
Unicyclists racing
The Municipal Research and Services Center, which is an excellent source of Washington state city and county codes, has a subject guide on Bicycle Regulations and Operations. That subject guide includes relevant sections of the Revised Code of Washington and local government bicycle regulations, including a link to a table listing bicycle helmet requirements in Washington. Exploring local bicycle regulations on the Municipal Research and Services Center, I learned that Walla Walla's municipal code provides that a bicycle includes the term “unicycle” and “adult-size three-wheel cycle.” Walla Walla, Washington, Municipal Code § 10.19.020. Consequently, it is illegal to race unicycles on city streets in Walla Walla without a permit, which is required for "any bicycle race." Walla Walla, Washington, Municipal Code § 10.19.090.
Map image from
Unicycle race picture from

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Legal Theory Lexicon

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832).
See Legal Theory Lexicon 008: Utilitarianism
When you study law, you come across legal theory terms  (often drawn from economics, philosophy, or political science). If you aren't fluent in this language, it can be a bit bewildering. And if you are familiar with these concepts, you might be hungry for more depth.

Georgetown law professor Lawrence B. Solum has created the Legal Theory Lexicon to help you out. Entries explain concepts and provide bibliographies for further reading.

Some of the entries will be especially helpful to first-year students, e.g.:

By the way, Prof. Solum's latest article was in the Washington Law Review's symposium, Artificial Intelligence and the Law. See Lawrence B. Solum, Artificial Meaning, 89 Wash. L. Rev. 69 (2014).

Graphic credit: engraving by W. H. Worthington, from Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation 10 (1823 ed.), available in British Library's Photostream.

Writing Tips from Bryan Garner

Care about your writing? You should!

One easy step you can take is to read Bryan Garner's regular usage tips. Either sign up for email (see the lower right corner of his Law Prose homepage) or follow Garner's blog.

The email service is convenient because it just comes to you. But the blog is nice because you have the archive to browse or search. Try searching for "hyphen" or "whether" or "contracts."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Supreme Court Videos—with Dogs!

On the HBO program Last Week Tonight, John Oliver observed that without video Supreme Court oral arguments are pretty dry, even with courtroom sketches as backdrops. So he proposed that the audio be livened up with video. What video? Dogs!

Clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Oct. 19, 2014.

Oliver and his team didn't stop with a cute video of their own. They went further, posting clips of nine canine justices and two lawyers that others could mash up with oral argument recordings. Some of the casting is apt: Justice Ginsburg, played by a Chihuahua, is petite; Justice Scalia, played by a Bulldog, is assertive and jowly.

The YouTube community has responded. Just a few days after the original broadcast, you can now watch the canine Court hear arguments in:
. . . and more!

I can't be alone in finding these amusing (otherwise, why would so many people have gone to the trouble of making the mash-ups?). Love the dogs. I also like the court reporter pecking at her stenotpe machine.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fashion and Congress Do a Little Turn on the Legislative Catwalk

Piracy in fashion is nothing new, we've blogged about it many times before:

It is no shock to hear when a new lawsuit is filed over blatant infringement.  The most recently discussed would be Converse's (owned by Nike) complaints against 31 companies (including Skechers, Wal-Mart, Ed Hardy, Ralph Lauren, and K-Mart) for trademark infringement.  Articles discussing the details of the lawsuit can be found herehere, here and here.  Dockets as well as copies of the complaints can be accessed on Bloomberg Law by UW law students (if you'd like to learn how, stop by the Reference Office or ask us here and a reference librarian can show you!).

Photo Credit:

Piracy in fashion is so last season but the lack of any real legal protection provided to fashion designers (and consumers who are unaware that they are purchasing counterfeits) keeps the piracy trend alive and thriving.  The recently proposed Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act has some hoping that protection for fashion designers (and consumers) may be imminent.  See a recent student note, Eyes off the Runway: How to Prevent Piracy in Fashion in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review Online for an in-depth discussion of the IDPPPA.

While we wait for legislators to recognize fashion's need for protection, perhaps counterfeiters and copycats should heed the sage words of the late, great Oscar De La Renta:
Style is more about being yourself.
Rest in peace Oscar.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Former Washington Supreme Court Justice Robert Utter Dies

Justice Robert Utter, a UW Law grad '54, and former Justice on the Washington State Supreme Court, passed yesterday at 84.

Justice Utter served on the King County Superior Court (1959-69), the Washington Court of Appeals (1969-71), and the Washington Supreme Court (1971-95). He resigned from the Supreme Court to protest the death penalty.

Justice Utter also co-authored two books on the Washington Constitution with visiting UW Law professor Hugh Spitzer.

For more information about Justice Utter, see the Law Library's memorial page.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Street Harassment is NOT Okay!

Have you ever experienced being groped or harassed while on public transit, in a crowd or maybe even just walking down a sidewalk in broad daylight?  If so, did you report it?

Sadly, many victims of harassment are hesitant to report their harassers either because they are difficult to identify (in a crowd or in the dark), because they are ashamed, because they feel it is unsafe, or because street harassment and groping are sometimes not taken seriously by authorities.  (The list for not reporting is tragically long).

This past weekend, one Seattle woman, Julia Marquand found herself groped by a complete stranger in the middle of the day while walking into a store.  She confronted her harasser and even caught a photo of him with her phone.  Marquand visited the Seattle Police Department to file a police report to an officer who was unfortunately uninterested in the incident and the photo.  Marquand was informed that it was unlikely that the man could be charged.

Marquand decided to post the photo to her Twitter and Facebook accounts:
Fortunately, the tweet seemed to motivate some action by the Seattle Police Department who assigned Marquand's case to a detective:

Marquand's story has been covered by many outlets, read more at the Seattle Times, King5, SF Gate, and the Washington Times. If you would like more information about street harassment, read Huffington Post's Things You Can Do to Stop Street Harassment or check out a couple of organizations dedicated to ending street harassment:


Update (Oct. 16, 2014)
According to the Seattle Times, the alleged groper photographed by Julia Marquand is a level 3 sex offender (who among many other sexual assault crimes, was arrested by UW police for indecent liberties). The man is now being investigated in connection with groping!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Indigenous Peoples' Day

By unanimous resolution last week, the Seattle City Council declared the second Monday in October (that's today!) Indigenous Peoples' Day in Seattle. See Seattle Swaps Columbus Day For "Indigenous Peoples' Day", NPR, Oct. 12, 2014; Seattle to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day, Seattle, Oct. 6, 2014.

Of course, your interest in indigenous peoples is not limited to one day. And we support that interest: you can use our Indian & Tribal Law Research guide 365 days a year.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bestlaw – Improving WestlawNext Citations and Functionality

Have you ever been searching in Westlaw or Lexis and experienced that wonderful moment when you finally locate the perfect case for your argument or the best law review for further research?  Whether that moment occurred two minutes or a couple hours into your search, relief should set in, but all too often the most difficult and stressful part of research and writing has only begun: citing to your source in proper Bluebook format!

Well, fear no more!  Your citation needs have finally been answered, or so touts Bestlaw designer Joe Mornin, a law student at UC Berkeley School of Law.  Bestlaw is a Google Chrome extension, which can be installed from their site.  Bestlaw adds functionality and citation assistance for WestlawNext. 

The Bestlaw toolbar is located just below the "Return to list" tab on left side of the screen.

Over the past few days, I have utilized this extension and realize there is great potential for this free support product, but that there are currently many limitations that prevent this from being truly revolutionary.