Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Visualize the Legislative Process

The brainchild of University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy (CAPPP) and Schema, LegEx is short for "Legislative Explorer" and is a data-driven interactive tool that allows users to visually track the progress of legislation as it makes its way through Congress.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Global Business Jargon

Do you want to talk like a big-time financier? Or at least understand what the M&A folks and hedge fund managers are saying?

The law firm of Latham & Watkins offers a Book of Jargon® series, with titles covering European Capital Markets and Bank Finance, Global Mergers & Acquisitions, Global Restructuring, Hedge Funds, MLPs (Master Limited Partnerships), Project Finance, and US Corporate and Bank Finance.

For instance, The Book of Jargon--Hedge Funds defines "tiger cub":
Tiger Cub:
(1) a Hedge Fund run by an alumnus of Julian Robertson’s famous Tiger Management Corp.; (2) a baby tiger.

Tiger cub, photo by 8 Eyes Photography, posted on Flickr
and used with Creative Commons license
If you're scrabbling around looking for last-minute gifts, these are perfect. You can view them online, download PDFs, or load free apps from iTuns or the Google Play store. The price? Free!

End-of-Quarter and Holiday Changes to the Law Library's Hours

With the end of finals approaching this Friday, it is time to announce the Law Library's interim and holiday hours.

Dec. 13 - 16, Saturday - Tuesday: Closed
Dec. 17 - 19, Wednesday - Friday: 8am - 5pm
Dec. 20 - 21, Saturday - Sunday: Closed
Dec. 22 - 23, Monday - Tuesday: 8am - 5pm
Dec. 24 - 28, Wednesday - Sunday: Closed
Dec. 29 - 31, Monday - Wednesday: 8am - 5pm

Jan. 1 - 4, Thursday - Sunday: Closed

On the dates that the Library is open from 8am - 5pm, the Reference Office is open from 9am - 12noon and from 1 - 5pm.

Enjoy your time off!

More Follow-up to #Ferguson Forum

During the forum on Tuesday, there was discussion about why Darren Wilson was not interviewed for a few days after shooting Michael Brown. Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said that many police unions have negotiated a term in their contracts that provides for a delay of two or three days before questioning after a shooting incident, based in part on studies that suggest that memory would be better after the delay. Jeffery Robinson observed that civilians who are involved in shooting incidents might also experience psychological stress, but police investigators don't wait three days to interview them.

Here's a little more information on that issue:
  • In some states a statute gives officers a period to obtain counsel before they are interrogated. See Kevin M. Keenan & Samuel Walker, An Impediment to Police Accountability? An Analysis of Statutory Law Enforcement Officers' Bills of Rights, 14 B.U. Pub. Int. L.J. 185, 212-14 (2005) (links are to HeinOnline).
  • The Officer-Involved Shooting Guidelines from the International Association of Chiefs of Police Psychological Services Section (2013) provide:
    While officers may be asked to provide pertinent information soon after a shooting to aid the initial investigative process, whenever feasible, officers should have some recovery time before providing a full formal statement. Depending on the nature of the incident, the demands on the agency, and the emotional and physical status of the officers, this can range from a few hours to several days. An officer’s memory will often benefit from at least one sleep cycle prior to being interviewed leading to more coherent and accurate statements.3 4 5 6 7 Providing a secure setting, insulated from the press and curious coworkers, is important during the interview process.
  • p. 6 (citing articles about sleep and memory).

Twitter Feeds About Criminal Justice, Race, and Policy

To help you follow issues of race and criminal justice, here is a selective list of relevant Twitter feeds. The list focuses on organizations rather than individuals, although there are plenty of smart thoughtful individuals tweeting, too.

The list includes organizations' descriptions of themselves from their Twitter profiles.

Criminal justice

The Marshall Project, @MarshallProj
The Marshall Project is a not-for-profit, non-partisan newsroom dedicated to covering America's criminal justice system.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice Office for the Advancement of Research @JohnJayResearch
The Office for the Advancement of Research provides services to enhance the pursuit of academic research at the highest standards of scholarship.

Celebrities and Congress

What do Stephen Colbert, Oprah, Frank Sinatra, Mike Ditka, and Danielle Steel all have in common?
They have all testified before Congress!
These four are by no means the only celebrities to have testified before Congress. Others include Michael J. Fox, Julia Roberts, members of Metallica, and Mr. Rogers. Famous actors, writers, musicians, and sports figures have all come before Congress, to testify on a range of issues. Even Elmo* has testified before Congress (he also attempted to eat the microphone).
ProQuest Congressional, available to UW School of Law students and faculty members, has a page of Famous (Celebrity) Witnesses, linking to transcripts of the hearings. It is a fun and interesting page worth checking out in all that spare time you have. From there, you may want to brush up on ProQuest, with the other ProQuest LibGuides.

New E-comment Service Debuts At Washington Legislature

For the first time, the Washington legislature has an online form to accept e-comments on pending legislation.

According to their website:

E-Comments is a feature the Legislature is testing during the 2013 Session that lets you send comments on a bill to the members of the Legislature. The first time you comment, you will be asked to set up an account with your e-mail address and a password of your choice. To comment on a bill, you may:
  • Click the button below if you know the bill number, or
  • Look up a bill on the Bill Information page to get to a bill history page then click the link near the top of the page.
Legislators and their staff will not be able to respond to individual comments. If you wish a response, contact your legislators directly by phone, e-mail, letter, or in person, or by calling the Legislative Hotline at 800-562-6000.
Need inspiration? You might want to comment on some of these bills, recently highlighted in the Seattle Times:
Abortion: Senate Bill 5156 would prohibit a provider from performing an abortion on a minor without at least 48 hours advance notice to the minor’s parent or guardian. 
Wolves: Senate Bill 5187 would allow livestock owners to kill a “mammalian predator,” such as a wolf, that attacks livestock. 
Motorcycles: Senate Bill 5143 would end mandatory helmet use for motorcycle riders age 18 or over.
To try out the new comment service, click here.

And if all this civic participation piques your curiousity, you can find out more about the Washington state legislative process in Gallagher Law Library's recently updated research guide, The Legislative Process.

The Means of Innovation

Looking for the latest from Professor Sean O’Connor? Check out The Means of Innovation, a new blog about law, creativity, commerce, and entrepreneurship.

Professor O’Connor’s scholarship is focused on how legal structures and strategies facilitate innovation. With this broad focus, he is writing an entertaining and educational blog that covers a range of topics including intellectual property, innovation and invention, legal instruction, and legal theory and policy.

The blog is a fascinating read in particular because Professor O’Connor stays on top of interesting articles and books, then, after briefly summarizing the topic, he provides direct and immediate commentary on aspects of the article you may have never considered. For example, a recent post concerning a New York Times article about a young woman who invented a prosthetic limb that would reduce phantom limb pain in amputees served as a jumping-off point for a discussion of the role of “innovation producers” (i.e., those individuals who are “able to bring together all the resources needed to take a cool idea or vision all the way to something that can be produced at a cost that makes it reasonably accessible to the market.”)

The blog is written in a congenial style that makes it easy to read and understand. If you’ve had Professor O’Connor for a class, you’ll be happy to know his blog style reflects his teaching style in that he makes the complicated legal issues easy to understand through his examples and illustrations. Two practicing lawyers, Brian Endter and Patrick Franke(both of Graham & Dunn), also contribute to the blog.

The Means of Innovation is also a forum for dialogue among those who want to think deeply and seriously about innovation across all different spaces (not just “technology”) and how those interested in innovation can get serious about the nuts and bolts of know-how/show-how rather than reduce innovation to theory and symbolic language constructs.

Professor O’Connor is working on a book, Methodology: Art, Science, Technology, Law, and the Means of Innovation.

All Creatures Great and Small

Seattleites are known for their devotion to their pets. (In fact, one statistic says canine kids outnumber the human variety almost 3-to-1.) And two local news stories have brought municipal ordinances and pet owners' run-ins with the law into the spotlight.

Duke, the ne'er-do-well kitty discussed in this Seattle Times article had a penchant for pooping on his neighbor’s property. This unfortunate habit cost his owners $109 given that Duke's flouting of the law resulted in damage to the neighbor's property apparently sufficient to warrant court action.

Curious about which municipal ordinance could get a small cat into big trouble with the law? SMC 9.25.084 states

"It is unlawful for the owner to...[p]ermit any animal to damage public property or the private property of another."

The question at trial was whether Duke was the kitty offender in question and, unfortunately for Duke, Magistrate Adam Eisenberg ruled that a preponderance of the evidence indicated he was.

In other animal news, Amy, the adorable dog featured in this Seattle Times article fought the law and (presumably) the law won a few years back, with her owner ending up in court to contest the language of Seattle’s dog-scoop law, SMC 18.12.080:

"Any person with a dog or other pet in his or her possession or under his or her control in any park shall...carry equipment for removing feces...."

Amy’s owner argued that “equipment” had no definition and could really mean just about anything, particularly when a person is in a pinch when faced with a $54 ticket. It is unclear whether Amy’s owner prevailed, but the ordinance still stands as-is.

Down in the dumps about the plight of these animal owners? Do yourself a favor and bone up on pet-related municipal ordinances including those related to licensing and picking up after Fido. Gallagher Law Library also has a handy book you might consider, Every Dog's Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owner by Mary Randolph (2007), KF390.5.D6 R36 2007 (in the Reference area of the library). And for more on the significance of municipal ordinances and the ways they could impact your daily life, read Mary Whisner’s article, Enact Locally, 102 Law Libr. J. 497 (2010).

Graphics: Microsoft clip art.

Trademark Law...NSFW?

Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which governs federal trademarks, prohibits registration of trademarks that consist of or comprise "immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter." But who decides what constitutes an immoral, deceptive or scandalous mark?

As an initial matter, trademark examiners with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) make the call. While you might think you're stuck with Justice Potter Stewart's classic definition of obscenity ("I know it when I see it") when the examining attorneys make their decisions, a series of USPTO determinations has recently been collected that give you a more solid understanding of just what kinds of marks have been considered immoral, deceptive, or scandalous.

Trademarks Laid Bare: Marks that May be Scandalous or Immoral (available in the Gallagher Law Library here) gives an overview of the policy underpinnings of the prohibition against scandalous marks, summarizes the standard and applicable factors the USPTO considers when making assessments regarding such marks, then groups determinations by specific categories that could be considered objectionable (e.g., religious or ethnic marks, sexual references, drug references).

There are numerous instances when this book may come in handy, but one area in particular may be a hot topic in the coming years: In an April Fool's Day twist a few years ago, the USPTO opened up a new category for marks: marijuana strains. While it seems clear that federal law still prohibits registering marks for marijuana strains, state trademark law may come into play. For more information on trademark law generally, check out Gallagher Law Library's research guide on trademarks.

For state-specific information, check the websites for Secretaries of State (like this one for Washington) as they often have jurisdiction over state trademark law.

Controlling Distractions

Boy, that Internet is full of distractions, isn't it? You might want to be taking notes or working on a paper, and then the next thing you know you're looking at _______________ [fill in the blank with your most tempting site].

Aaron Kirschenfeld, who is working on his JD and MLIS at the University of North Carolina, offers some tips in this blog post. For instance, he uses Freedom, an app that disables Internet access for a period of time: he sets it for the length of his class. He also has also LeechBlock, a Firefox add-on that can limit time spent at websites you designate.

If you have trouble staying focused on your writing, you might try Write or Die 2, an app that lets you set goals (minutes writing, number of words produced) and then provides "consequences for procrastination and . . . rewards for accomplishment." UCLA's Daily Bruin reviewed Three Apps to Beat Procrastination (including Write or Die) last month.

December 23 is an odd time to offer these tips, since lots of students are away from school and have a chance to goof off a little without guilt. Just save the tips to use when you tackle your New Year's resolutions.

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Lex FIFA"--Swiss Money-Laundering Laws Changed to Include Sports Associations

The Swiss legislature today voted to change its money laundering laws so that officials of sports organizations like the International Olympic Committee and FIFA will be accountable as "politically exposed persons." Some news coverage:
For background, see Roger Pielke Jr., How Can FIFA Be Held Accountable?, Sport Management Review (2013). (If you're interested in sport policy, you might like to check out Pielke's blog, The Least Thing.)

For more about efforts to fight corruption—in business and government as well as in FIFA—see the website of the advocacy group, Transparency International.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Capital Punishment: Race, Poverty, and Disadvantage—Free Online Course

Stephen Bright is president and senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, a public interest law program that deals with human rights in the criminal justice and prison systems. He has also been a visiting lecturer or fellow at Yale Law School for over 20 years. Now Yale has posted Bright's  online course, “Capital Punishment: Race, Poverty, & Disadvantage,” on iTunes U and YouTube.
This course examines issues of poverty and race in the criminal justice system, particularly with regard to the imposition of the death penalty. Topics include the right to counsel for people who cannot afford lawyers, racial discrimination, prosecutorial discretion, judicial independence, and mental health issues. 
There are 40 videos, ranging from 18 to 45 minutes. I haven't figured it out, but that's a lot of instruction from one of the nation's leading authorities on the death penalty. Each video has related readings (from the YouTube description, you just click on a link to Dropbox).

If you're interested in criminal justice, this is a great resource.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Law School's Forum on #Ferguson

This afternoon attorney Jeffery Robinson led a discussion on the events in Ferguson, MO—the killing of Michael Brown last summer, the grand jury this fall, and the protests in Ferguson and around the country—and the larger issues of racism, criminal justice, and law enforcement. Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud and former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan were present and contributed to the discussion.

With a nod to Yogi Berra, Robinson titled his presentation "'You Can Observe a Lot Just by Watching': The Killing of Michael Brown and the Transparent Grand Jury Investigation."

This blog post lists some resources.

Washington State Minority and Justice Commission report mentioned by Justice Gordon McCloud: Mark Peffley et al., Justice in Washington State Survey  (2012, revised & updated 2014)

Project Implicit (Harvard website that Robinson mentioned that offers simple tests that reveal implicit bias).
  •   The developers of the Implicit Assocation Test (IAT) are two social psychologists, Mahzarin R. Banaji (now at Harvard) and Anthony G. Greenwald (UW). They have written a very accessible and fascinating book reviewing the research: Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People (2013). Catalog record.
  • Jerry Kang, a law professor at UCLA has done a lot of work bringing these studies into law. See his page, Getting up to speed on implicit bias. Kang has a Ted Talk on the topic, too:

Robinson showed a powerful spoken word video by Javon Johnson. View it here.

Robinson also had a powerful infographic with data on police stops from Racism Still Exists (which also has several other infographics).

The Cato Institute's National Police Misconduct Reporting Project is here.

1L Martina Kartman spoke about her experience going to Ferguson with a team from a Freedom School here in Seattle, the Tyree Scott Leadership Institute.

 You can find more resources in our guide, Race in the Criminal Justice System.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Presidential Action to "Fix" Immigration System

On Nov. 20, President Obama announced that he would take executive action to deal with problems in the immigration system.

Ten days earlier, the Congressional Research Service issued a 27-page report on Executive Discretion as to Immigration: Legal Overview.

The report addresses:
  • express delegation of discretionary authority
  • discretion in enforcement
  • discretion in interpreting and applying statutes.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides nonpartison research for committees and members of Congress. Unlike publications from Congress itself, CRS reports are not generally released to the public. However, many organizations and commercial vendors obtain copies and make them available. The Law Library website features a guide to Congressional Research Service Reports that identifies many of these sources.