Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Library Hours Changes

The Law Library will be closed from 3pm, Wednesday, Nov. 26 through Saturday,

Nov. 29. The Library will re-open on Sunday, Nov. 30. 

Enjoy sharing some time with friends and family!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Legal Scholarship Blog Moves to CALI

CALI Classcaster Logo
The Legal Scholarship Blog recently changed web hosts to CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction. CALI was created by the University of Minnesota Law School and Harvard Law School - and it hosts over 900 interactive legal tutorials written by law professors.  CALI also manages a blogging network called Classcaster, which hosts legal education podcasts and blogs.

The Legal Scholarship Blog was created in 2007 to consolidate and publicize notices of calls for papers, conferences, and workshops that may be of interest to legal scholars. The blog's "goal is to facilitate the legal academy's development and dissemination of scholarship." Today, the blog is managed in partnership with librarians at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and the University of Washington School of Law. Currently featured on the blog are a Suffolk University Law School event, "Protecting Your IP Overseas"; the event "Big Data and Death" hosted by the University of Wisconsin Law School Global Legal Studies Center and Human Rights Program; and a call for papers for "Graphic Futures - Imagining Law's Potential in Comics and Graphic Novels."  For more information about the Legal Scholarship Blog's move to CALI, read their blog post about it here!

In other CALI-related news, it is CALI recently celebrated its 32nd birthday. Check out the new library display at the law library entrance, where you can learn about CALI's history and helpful resources that it provides for law students. Particularly valuable are the lessons and quizzes that CALI offers. Some topics covered include Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Professional Responsibility, Property, Tax (Corporate, Partnership, S Corporation, Business Entities), and Torts. If you would like to access any of the content on CALI please ask a reference librarian for help registering.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Taking Images Seriously

Before you even got to the bookstore cash register when you bought your first books for law school, you probably noticed that law books don't have many pictures. Nor do briefs, pleadings, contracts, judicial opinions, or law review articles. What's up with that?

Now Prof. Elizabeth Porter takes a scholarly look at law's use of pictures and graphics: Taking Images Seriously, 114 Colum. L. Rev. 1687-1782 (2014).
Prof. Elizabeth Porter

Here's the article's abstract:
Law has been trapped in a stylistic straitjacket. The Internet has revolutionized media and communications, replacing text with a dizzying array of multimedia graphics and images. Facebook hosts more than 150 billion photos. Courts spend millions on trial technology. But those innovations have barely trickled into the black-and-white world of written law. Legal treatises continue to evoke Blackstone and Kent; most legal casebooks are facsimiles of Langdell’s; and legal journals resemble the Harvard Law Review circa 1887. None of these influential forms of disseminating the law has embraced—or even nodded to—modern, image-saturated communication norms. Litigants, scholars, and courts have been rebooting the same formalist templates for over a century—templates that were formed before widespread use of the cam- era, never mind the computer. Outside of trial, where image-driven advocacy has a long history, legal practice begins and ends with text.

But over the past five years, for the first time—unrecognized by scholars or courts—creative trial lawyers, receptive judges, and the iPhone camera are breaching these conservative bulwarks. Images are moving out of the evidentiary margins and are driving argument in litigation documents from pleadings to judicial opinions. If left unregulated, visual argument threatens fundamental premises of legal discourse and decisionmaking. Yet in comparison with law’s rich and detailed traditions for interpreting ambiguous text, lawyers and judges have few tools beyond common sense with which to ameliorate the interpretive risks of visual persuasion. “I know it when I see it” is not merely an aphorism; it is the reigning interpretive canon for images in law.

This Article, the first comprehensive scholarly treatment of images in written legal argument, identifies and critiques the nascent phenomenon of multimedia written advocacy as a vital, if potentially problematic, element of a lawyer’s tool box. It argues that despite substantial risks, the profession should cautiously embrace the communicative power of multimedia writing. It concludes by offering concrete suggestions for the fair regulation of multimedia persuasion, including two foundational canons of visual interpretation—the basis for developing new traditions for integrating images into written advocacy.
Appropriately, this is one law review article where you'll find pictures—in color, even!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Seattle Ponders Medical Marijuana

The City of Seattle will hold a public symposium on Nov. 20, 5:00-7:45 pm, at City Hall for those concerned about access to safe medical marijuana and the location of marijuana-related businesses in the city.

Medical marijuana logo from flyer for city symposium
Four 40-minute panels will address:
  • Testing of Marijuana for Purity & Strength
  • Access of Marijuana-Infused Products by Youth, Packaging and Labeling of Products, and Best Practices for Processors
  • Minimum Distance of Marijuana Businesses from Schools and Other Locations
  • The Disparate Impact of the Enforcement of Marijuana Laws on Youth and People of Color
KUOW reports on the symposium and the issues involved (Nov. 19, 2014).

Drone Law

What happens when a drone gets in the way of a crop-dusting airplane, as recently happened in Eastern Washington? Are there rules? KUOW reports FAA Takes Light Hand In Enforcing Flight Rules For Drones (Nov. 18, 2014).

A recent commercial use of drones was right here in the law library. A photographer used a small quad copter to go up into the skylight "crystals":

2 snapshots of small red drone in library
Drone carries camera from L2 up into the skylight and back. (Photos by Mary Whisner)

More on drone policy after the jump.

A Federal Robotics Commission?

We have federal agencies for mine safety, equal employment opportunity, disease prevention, aviation, and many more topics. Is it time for an agency on robotics?

Professor Ryan Calo thinks so. See his piece in Scientific American: Why We Need a Federal Agency on Robotics (Nov. 18, 2014) (it's in the December 2014 print edition). For more, see the white paper Prof. Calo prepared for the Brookings Institution: The Case for a Federal Robotics Commission.

Federal Robotics Commission seal from cover of
The Case for a Federal Robotics Commission

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Exhibit on Washington's Birth Year #WA125

Legacy Washington unveiled 1889: Blazes, Rails and the Year of Statehood. The exhibit (online and in the Capitol) has lots of great photos and stories.

banner for 1889: Blazes, Rails and the Year of Statehood

Among other things, you can hear Secretary of State Kim Wyman and a selection of children read excerpts from our constitution:

Washington State Passes 125-Year Mark: #WA125 Wahoo!

November 11 is more than Veterans Day and a day off: it's also the anniversary of Washington becoming a state in 1889.

You can learn about the Washington State Constitution in a short video from TVW. The video includes historic photos and film clips and features explanations by Prof. Hugh Spitzer.

If you want to go beyond the eight-minute video, you can take Prof. Spitzer's class, Washington Constitutional Law.

On the web, see our Washington State Constitution: History page, where we've gathered a wealth of resources.
First page of original
Constitution of the State of Washington,
from the Washington Secretary of State

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Law of Daylight Saving Time

Photo of Steve  Calandrillo
Professor Calandrillo
As the warm embrace of daylight saving time fades from our memories, and we begin to eagerly anticipate the Winter Solstice on December 21, take a moment to consider whether the United States should adopt daylight saving time year-round. University of Washington Law School Professor Steve Calandrillo and his co-author Dustin Buehler proposed just that in Time Well Spent: An Economic Analysis of Daylight Saving Time Legislation, 43 Wake Forest L. Rev. 45 (2008). Professor Calandrillo and his co-author provided a history of daylight saving time, examined empirical data from 1974 when the United States experimented with year-round daylight saving time, and argued that a cost-benefit analysis indicated that the United States should adopt daylight saving time year-round. During the winter, year-round daylight saving time would cause there to be additional darkness in the morning but the sun would set later. The authors argued, and provided data to support the claims, that extra sunlight in the evening would reduce traffic fatalities, criminal activity, and electricity usage. Vox.com is also in favor of year-round daylight saving time, and has an examination of areas of the world that have a local time that is ahead of solar time, that is, regions that effectively observe daylight saving time year-round.

The timing of an event can play an important role in litigation, and, in determining timing, daylight saving time can be the deciding factor. For example, in an attorney malpractice case, the client argued that his criminal attorney erred in failing to argue that a difference between Alaska Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time affected whether a newly enacted law was in force at the time of his crime. See Stewart v. Elliott, 239 P.3d 1236, 1243 (Alaska 2010). Although the client had successfully sought post-conviction relief due to the discrepancy between the timing of statute's applicability, the court in this case found that the client's attorney did not breach a duty of care in failing to raise that issue. Daylight saving time also played a role in Playboy Club, Inc. v. Myers, where the court held that Missouri's adoption of Daylight Saving Time in 1967 affected a Missouri law limiting the hours during which liquor could be sold and that as a result the plaintiffs could not base their closing time on Central Standard Time. Playboy Club, Inc. v. Myers, 431 S.W.2d 228, 233 (Mo. 1968). For more facts about Daylight Saving Time, visit WebExhibits.org's collection of incidents and anecdotes.
File:Portrait of Sir Henry Norman, 1st Baronet.jpg
Sir Henry Norman, 1st Baronet

If you are depressed by the fact that in Seattle the sun will set at 4:18 p.m. on December 16, know that on June 21, 2015, we will have nearly 16 hours of daylight and the sun will not set until 9:11 p.m. If June is too far off, perhaps a verse from Sir Henry Norman, quoted in Professor Calandrillo's article, will provide some comfort:

The very best way to lengthen the day

Is to steal a few hours from the night.

Image of Sir Henry Norman,via Wikimedia Commons at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_of_Sir_Henry_Norman,_1st_Baronet.jpg

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Getting to Know Your Supreme Court Justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also known as the Notorious R.B.G., is by far the coolest Supreme Court Justice right now, and is blowing up social media. She definitely won Halloween:

Not only did Justice Ginsburg win Halloween, she has her own Tumblr, her own t-shirt, and her own rap video as seen below:

Sousa's Birthday Too

Today is the birthday of John Philip Sousa (he'd be 160), the composer of our national march, "The Stars and Stripes Forever." See 36 U.S.C. § 304 (2012).

36 USC 304 National march

Inventor Adolphe Sax Turns 200

Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, was born 200 years ago today. He filed 14 patents for his invention (in a family of eight sizes) in 1846.

For more, hear Happy Birthday, Mr. Sax, NPR, Nov. 6, 2014. And see June 28, 1846: Parisian Inventor Patents Saxophone, from Wired's This Day in Tech series. Want to dig into the details? See William McBride, The Early Saxophone in Patents 1838-1850 Compared, 35 Galpin Soc'y J. 112 (1982), JSTOR link.

You can see photos of saxophones created by Adolphe Sax, courtesy of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota.

Four views of alto sax made by Adolphe Sax,
National Music Museum, USD

The development of the saxophone did not end with Adolphe Sax. One of the recent sax-related inventions is U.S. Patent No. 8,314,318, "Unified octave/register key and vent for musical wind instrument," invented by Michael S. Brockman, who teaches in the UW School of Music (the patent is assigned to the university). More on Brockman's invention, nicknamed "the Broctave key," is here, on the UW's Center for Commericialization (C4C) site.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

That Blue Football Turf

When they're at home, the Boise State University Broncos play football on their famously blue turf. Whether you think it's quirky or cool, it's trademarked: U.S. Registration No. 3,707,623, approved five years ago (Nov. 9, 2009).

drawing of football stadium with blue rectangle for field
Diagram from Boise State's trademark registration for blue turf
To learn more, see Michelle Gallagher, Who Owns Blue? An Examination of the Functionality Doctrine in University Sports Color, 104 Trademark Rep. 765 (2014)

High-Level Writing Tips from Bryan Garner

Some writing tips are at the micro level—e.g., don't mix up "affect" and "effect." But you also need to think of the big picture. For instance, number one in Bryan Garner's list of 10 Tips for Better Legal Writing: Be sure you understand the client's problem.

Here's the list, but you'll want to read the article to see the explanation of each tip:
  1. Be sure you understand the client's problem.
  2. Don't rely exclusively on computer research.
  3. Never turn in a preliminary version of a work in progress.
  4. Summarize your conclusions up front.
  5. Make your summary understandable to outsiders.
  6. Don't be too tentative in your conclusions, but don't be too cocksure, either.
  7. Strike the right professional tone: natural but not chatty.
  8. Master the approved citation form.
  9. Cut every unnecessary sentence; then go back through and cut every unnecessary word.
  10. Proofread one more time than you think necessary.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Just Mercy: New Memoir by Lawyer Passionate for Social Justice

Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, AL, and a professor at NYU Law, has written a memoir about his work: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.
Just Mercy cover

A very warm review, by Seattle lawyer Kevin J. Hamilton, was in yesterday's Seattle Times. You can read more on the publisher's webpage.

And you can hear Bryan Stevenson himself at 7 pm Tues. Nov. 4 at the Seattle Public Library Central Library.

The book was just published Oct. 21, so we don't have it in the library yet, but we hope to have it soon.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Congress.gov Leaves Beta!

Did you know?
Congress.gov officially removed its “beta” label 
on September 26, 2014, two years after launching beta.congress.gov! 

What does this mean? 

  • Any URLs that included “beta” in conjunction with “congress.gov” will redirect straight to congress.gov.
  • www.thomas.gov also automatically redirects to Congress.gov 

A Few Highlights: 

  • Advanced Search
    • The advanced search section now allows browsing across Congresses.
    •  30+ new fields were added to the guided search framework, allowing for in-depth and intricate searching. Users also have the option of using a command line search in lieu of the guided search.
  • Resources A to Z: this is an index covering a wealth of terms related to Congress and the federal government at large (e.g. amendments, nominations, NARA). It's great for those who wish to browse the site. 
  • Most-Viewed Bills” replaces the former “popular Top Ten” and is archived going back to late July 2014. 
What’s happened to THOMAS?
  • The name “THOMAS” won’t be officially retired until after the close of fiscal year 2015.
  • THOMAS can still be accessed through http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php 

What’s happened to “Yesterday in Congress”? 

“Yesterday in Congress” was a feature of THOMAS that listed all floor activity for the previous day. It is not currently a part of www.congress.gov, but a similar feature will hopefully be added in the future. 

For more information, see the official announcement regarding Congress.gov shedding its beta label and Library of Congress blogpost on the same topic.