Friday, October 26, 2012

AALL Bylaw -- don't forget to vote!

If you haven't voted on the bylaw change, do not forget to put in your 2 cents!


Of course there is that other tiny little election coming up, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions & Pleas

OK, I will admit that this website belongs to my sister, who was a prosecutor in Austin, TX for more than 20 years. She is now starting up a defense practice, (allowing her academic sister to watch the process). I am pleased, though, because I can really recommend this page from her website. There are not many folks out there talking about collateral consequences of criminal convictions or pleas. This page makes it all easily accessible to layfolks, but does a nice, complete job, including immigration effects. (use the menu on the lower part of the web pages at this site, not the top menu. There is more good stuff here besides just collateral consequences, but I think that's the unique jewel:

Folks like me who are watching how small firms are negotiating the new realities of moving practice to the web will be interested to see this site and others designed by James Publishing who has a lower-cost cookie-cutter legal website design practice. They will provide content for the firms, but allow a firm to provide their own unique content, which is what my sister's firm has done. I have advised her to periodically monitor the Internet to be sure other sites are not ripping off her content.

New Lawyers' Advice on Packaging Themselves for Public Service Jobs

For law students and recent graduates who may wish to look for work in public service areas, Prof. David Yamada has a classic article full of advice on packaging oneself for this field. Available on SSRN:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Windsor v. United States overturns DOMA in 2nd Circuit

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 18, 2012 upheld a District Court opinion finding the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. The decision in Windsor v. United States, follows an earlier decision striking down DOMA in the First Circuit, Massachusetts v. Health and Human Services Department. There are also two District Court decisions in the First Circuit, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Pedersen et al. v. Office of Personnel Management et al. which also challenge DOMA.(See's page of documents on these cases). The ACLU helps represent the plaintiff in Windsor, and provides a very complete page of documents for that case here.

The thing that is building excitement about the growing number of challenges to DOMA is the certainty that the Supreme Court will pick up one or another of these cases on appeal. The increasing number of jurisdictions that now have different rules for treatment of citizens because of these decisions puts pressure on the Court to resolve the differences.

Here is a NY Times article that includes a nice factual summary of the Windsor case. Because the federal government does not recognize same sex marriages, Ms. Windsor's inheritance from her deceased spouse was taxed at a much higher rate than it would have been had she been in a hetero-sexual marriage. But Ms. Windsor's statements make it clear that, for her, the law suit is much more personal than the money involved. She says she finds it
so offensive that this woman that I lived with and adored, and had loved me, that they treated her as if she was a stranger in my life.
The article, of course analyzes the possible outcomes of a Supreme Court review of same sex marriage and challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act. The Windsor decision is interesting because it raises the standard of review to heightened scrutiny, and finds that the DOMA fails to pass this review. The standard of review, of course is set according to the history of discrimination of the class, which the Windsor court described as "quasi-suspect." The panel found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional for violating equal protection.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Garrow's Law, Revisited

I previously blogged about a terrific BBC television series, Garrow's Law, which is available in DVD format from AcornGarrow's Law presents a somewhat fictionalized version of the life and times of William Garrow, the crusading barrister who helped to create the adversary trial system in England.  I just saw season 3 of the series, which is to be its last.  The first episode of series 3 focuses on a man who attempted to assassinate King George III.  Is the defendant insane?  If so, how does that affect his legal responsibility for his acknowledged acts?  How should the state inflict punishment in such a situation?  In another episode, Garrow essentially put the British colonial empire on trial; he exposed its human-rights abuses in a manner that profoundly embarrassed some of the most powerful members of the English establishment. 

The backdrop to Garrow's court-room triumphs is his troubled domestic life, which is shared with Lady Sarah Hill, the estranged wife of a vengeful aristocratic and would-be politician who refuses to allow Lady Sarah to have custody of their child, even though he believes the child is actually Garrow's.  It seems that there are no lengths to which Sir Arthur Hill will not go to make Lady Sarah suffer.  At one point, he says something along the lines of  "My only pleasure lies in inflicting pain on her."  The law at the time gave fathers absolute rights over their children, and Lady Sarah is seen over and over again trying to win custody of baby Samuel, all to no avail.  Eventually, I ran out of patience with Lady Sarah and her suffering and more or less stopped paying attention to her.  The trial scenes, however, remained fascinating throughout series 3 and made for compelling television.  Garrow's Law is highly recommended!  I'm going to miss it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of We: Pink, Networking, Mentoring! Blog Action Day 2012

Way back in 2006, I wrote a series of blog posts here, here, here, here and here that used the color pink as a way to think about so-called “feminine” aspects of the workplace and law school. I talked about my own experience as a child, law student, young lawyer and then law librarian. My reaction to the heavily male, patriarchal law school culture, like that of many young women, was to join up as one of the guys, even when I was pregnant! It made for a very alienated young law student, lawyer and law librarian – alienated from myself! And my guess is that it’s not just women, but also anybody who has an emotional, expressive side to their personality that gets suppressed in the traditional law school culture! So many of us are round pegs trying to fit into those square holes!

One important part of repairing the brokenness we experience in the law school culture is reaching out, and building an awareness that there is WE. Law students need to know that they are not alone, and so do young (and older!) lawyers and librarians who may be struggling with identity and simple expression of their selves. Times have changed since I went to law school – there are many organizations at most schools and later:

By gender and sexual orientation and identification:
National Womens’ Law Students Association (NWLSA) (these seem to be organized by school, for example at my school, Suffolk

National Women Law Students’ Organization (apparently affiliated with Ms JD blog)

National LGBT Bar Association Law Student Congress

By Ethnicity:
National Black Law Students Association

National Latin American Law Student Association

Hispanic Law Student Association (seems to be school affiliated)

Asian-Pacific American Law Student Association

National Native American Law Student Association

By Religious Affiliation:
(I don’t find any national association for Buddhists, B’hai’s, Hindus or Sikhs though we have small groups for law students at our school)

Catholic Law Students Association

Christian Legal Society (a more fundamentalist flavor than some sects)

National Jewish Law Students Association (Affiliated with Hillel -- does that explain everything?)

National Muslim Law Students Association

These student organizations raise money for causes, they offer advice and assistance for members, as well as mentoring and job networking. They are powerful organizations for students to empower themselves and to find a voice in an intimidating world. One example might be found here, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting him to investigate the New York City police’s surveillance of Muslim members of the community. Among a long and diverse list of signing organization is the National Muslim Law Students Association and Muslim Law Students Association – New York University School of Law.

You don't have to think pink to see how much more powerful we are when we stand together for whatever we are, we believe in, or hope for. But I think it helps.

A New Role for Professor Mann

If elected, Professor Elizabeth Warren would be the first female Senator from Massachusetts.  Her husband, Professor Bruce Mann, who also teaches at Harvard Law School, has been trying out a new role during the campaign--Elizabeth Warren's husband.  A recent article describes Professor Mann's contributions to the campaign and discusses the role of a candidate's husband, which is "less well-defined than that of a wife."  No one seems to know for sure what the expectations should be, or even what to call the husbands of successful female candidates.  In Alaska, for instance, Todd Palin was dubbed the "First Dude," which I always found to be lacking in dignity, but I guess it worked for the Palins, who were also lacking in dignity.

Professor Mann has taken a more low-key role than Gail Huff, Senator Scott Brown's wife and a well-known television reporter, who is campaigning full time this fall for her husband.  Professor Mann does events on his own, but they are usually not advertised to members of the press.  He sees "his role as helping people make the personal connection they need to support Warren."   Professor Mann is a highly respected legal historian.  His latest book, Republic of Debtors:  Bankruptcy in the Age of American Independence, broke new ground in the history of debt in the United States in its analysis of how debt was transformed in the eyes of society from moral failure into economic failure.  This transformation led to the Bankruptcy Act of 1800, the first federal bankruptcy statute, and eventually to today's "fresh start" for debtors. 

Thanks to Pace Law School student Kyle T. Pero, a native of Massachusetts, for pointing out this article to me.

Monday, October 08, 2012

ReadCube offers New Per-Article Access for Expensive Journals

There is an article in the business section of today's Boston Globe about a new start up called Labtiva, and the product is ReadCube Access. Started by two graduate students at Harvard, the service currently provides access to the Nature journal suite of titles. So far, University of Utah is the only partner, but they are rolling it out in the chemistry department this fall to test it.

There is some concern among the administrators at Utah, according to the article, about the pricing of the program and how it may eat up library budgets. The arrangement is like ITunes, in that DRM will allow the individual subscriber only to access the individual article. The article cannot be printed and cannot be shared with others. Articles can be accessed on a limited time basis for $6 or less (depending on the journal), or purchased for $11 or less, depending on the journal. Rick Anderson, interim dean of University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library is quoted,

Our journal collection is very, very lean, ... If we opened something like this up across the campus, you’d be taking a very big risk that your entire materials budget would get blown out in a month, ...
Anderson goes on to analyze a potential danger, not only to university budgets, but to the publishing industry in the model. He also compares the model to ITunes, and draws a parallel to the music industry's experiments with music delivery and DRM. Currently, libraries must purchase an entire journal's worth of articles to obtain the single article that is exciting the research community. That will change with the ReadCube Access model, which would address that market inefficiency. But it would drastically change the financial picture for publishers, who will face the same market upheaval currently shaking the music industry.

There is also a brief mention of the Open Access movement, though it is dismissed as a fringe movement. (Directory of Open Access Journals)

Monday, October 01, 2012

AALL Bylaw - Why Are they rushing?

A NO vote will force the Executive Board to move at a more deliberate speed and allow for a more inclusive conversation with the members – US! The FAQ claims that this change is driven by the conversation that they heard from a small selection of members at the Futures Summit as well as claimed demographic changes. When we asked for figures about the changes, the numbers compared the total membership seemed surprisingly low for a change of this magnitude in the definition of membership. The people pushing for this change need to provide the figures that underlie their arguments, and provide them in print for the entire membership of AALL, with time for people to consider rationally whether they want to vote for a Bylaw change that will redefine this organization from serving libraries to serving the entire legal information industry.

With all due respect to Ken Hirsh, I cannot help but get suspicious when a salesperson or an organization wants to rush me into a decision. It just sends up the old antennae. Why is there a need for speed on this decision? We were actually assured by several board members that they believed that this would be a year-long process. Obviously, they were as surprised as I was by the fast-track this bylaw change has been put on.


AALL Bylaw Debate & Voting

Dear OOTJ readers,
There is some debate bubbling along over at Ken Hirsh's Ispso Facto blog, if you want to see some discussion.


You should have received your pin number if you are a AALL member.