Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Today's post updates the one here about the law library in Buenos Aires with news that he met today not only with law library personnel at the Facultad de Derecho of the University of Chile in Santiago but also with a distinguished alumnus of the law school and an American law professor on the campus for a visit. Caroline Maulin, Law Librarian, who led the tour of the Biblioteca on behalf of Director Nora Carrion, explained that because of Chile's smaller population, as compared to Argentina, the law school in Santiago is much smaller than the one in Buenos Aires. Here the school has about 1,300 law students who study law over a period of five years and students are required to complete three major components to earn a degree: a practicum, a thesis and an examination. For more detailed reading on the subject, see Antonio Bascunan Valdes, Legal Education in Chile, 43 S. Tex. L. Rev. 683 (2001-2002) in HeinOnline available to BLS law school community on the Library's A-Z List of subscription databases. Caroline explained that there were two libraries at the University, the central library for most of the law students and another for the exclusive use of post grads.
While the tour was in progress, the law students at the University of Chile were in the middle of their final exams which take place in December and January just before the summer recess. The photo here shows that whatever differences there are in legal education in Chile and the US, law students have one thing in common: exhaustion.
The library collection consists of about 50,000 print volumes of which about 6,000 are on reserve and about 3,300 are reference material. The collection also contains more than 14,000 theses completed by graduate and post graduate students as well as more than 650 legal periodicals, mostly from South America but also from North America and Europe. There is also a special collection of about 19,000 volumes that is one of the most valued in the country especially its historical collection. Chileno law students, like their Argentine counterparts, have access to electronic databases without charge only in the law library.
Also in attendance on the tour was Daniel Friedenzohn, J.D., M.A., Assistant Professor of Law who teaches Aviation Law at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach FL. The alumnus responsible for the tour was Guillermo Aguero, who earned his law degree from the University of Chile thirty years ago and a graduate law degree in labor law a dozen years ago. Aguero is now a member of the municipal council of Ciudad Santiago and discussed the upcoming presidential run-off election in Chile between the two candidates who received the most votes on December 13 — center-right Sebastián Piñera and center-left Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle. The run-off will be held on January 17 with the winner to replace President Michelle Bachelet, the first woman to hold the position in the country's history. She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff and is ineligible to run for a second consecutive term under Chilean law.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
In this pod cast, Brooklyn Law School Professor of Law Derek Bambauer discusses his latest paper Cybersieves recently published at 59 Duke L.J. 101 (2009). Prof. Bambauer, who teaches Internet law and intellectual property, is also one of the co-authors of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School’s Info/Law, a popular blog that addresses Internet law, intellectual property, and information law. In his article, Prof. Bambauer discusses a framework for internet filtering and censorship that draws on procedural values respected in democratic societies. The abstract for the article reads:
This Article offers a process-based method to assess Internet censorship that is compatible with different value sets about what content should be blocked. Whereas China’s Internet censorship receives considerable attention, censorship in the United States and other democratic countries is largely ignored. The Internet is increasingly fragmented by nations’ different value judgments about what content is unacceptable. Countries differ not in their intent to censor material—from political dissent in Iran to copyrighted songs in America—but in the content they target, how precisely they block it, and how involved their citizens are in these choices. Previous scholars have analyzed Internet censorship from values-based perspectives, sporadically addressing key principles such as openness, transparency, narrowness, and accountability. This Article is the first to unite these principles into a coherent methodology. Drawing upon scholarship in deliberative democracy, health policy, labor standards, and cyberlaw, this Article applies this new framework to contentious debates about sales of censorship technology by Western companies, public law regulation of these transactions, and third-party analysis of Internet censorship.Prof. Bambauer’s other scholarly publications are available on his publications page.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
To deal with the growing national debt, the House leadership plans to raise the debt ceiling to nearly $14 trillion as part of a $626 billion bill next week to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other military programs in 2010. President Obama is expected to seek an additional $30 billion early next year to pay for the 30,000 troop buildup in Afghanistan with another $50 billion to pay for a six-month extension of unemployment benefits and health care insurance subsidies for the long-term jobless. With growing concern about the federal budget deficit, more than half of senior executives surveyed by the Tax Governance Institute expect some type of value-added tax (VAT) to be introduced in the US within five years according to a press release. A recent NY Times Many See the VAT Option as a Cure for Deficits explains why a value-added tax may be good for economic purposes but bad politics. A Congressional Research Service report A Value-Added Tax Contrasted With a National Sales Tax addressed the recommendations of President Bush’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform's final report with analyses of both a national sales tax (NST) and a value-added tax (VAT). How the VAT works is explained in this short video:
The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection the print version of Value Added Tax: A Model Statute and Commentary by the ABA, Alan Schenk, Reporter (Call #KF6598.A95 1989) which contains the report of the ABA Section Committee on Value Added Tax, an introduction to value added tax, the text of a model statute, and commentary on the statutory language. It is available on Westlaw (Database ID:ABA-VALADTAX). See also Reducing the Deficit through Better Tax Policy by Diane Lim Rogers published by the Brookings Institution (Call #HJ2051 .R64 2007) (INTERNET).
Friday, December 11, 2009
The most crucial thing to do as a 1L, in my opinion, is start outlining early in the semester and finish [your outlines] early enough to take as many practice exams as possible in real time. Professors test the exact same things year in and year out. If you do enough exams, you’ll begin to see a pattern which will give you a huge advantage on exam day.Those who have been less diligent in preparing for exams throughout the semester may want to check out A Law School Slacker's Guide to Cramming at Nuts & Boalts. To take a break from study, today's Law Librarian Blog in a posting under the category "Exams - Studying" about movies, A Tribute to the Movies, urges law students to give the brain cells a break and completely relax in order to be able to go back to the books refreshed.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
In this pod cast, BLS Professor of Law Michael Cahill discusses his latest paper about the crime of blackmail. Prof. Cahill, whose area of expertise is Criminal Law, co-authored the article Competing Theories of Blackmail: An Empirical Research Critique of Criminal Law Theory with Prof. Paul H. Robinson of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Daniel M. Bartels, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago. The article summarizes the results of an empirical study designed to test the competing theories of blackmail to see which best reflects prevailing sentiment. In this podcast, Prof. Cahill discusses the findings in the article as well as some of the unexpected issues uncovered by the study. Blackmail, a common object of criminal prohibition and a rich subject in popular culture (for example, the recent Letterman $2M sex affair extortion plot) is a crime in every American jurisdiction although with some variation in its formulation.
Prof. Cahill teaches courses at BLS in Criminal Law, Sentencing Law and Policy, Criminal-Code Drafting, Criminal Juries, Attempts and Endangerment Offenses. He co-authored with Prof. Robinson Law without Justice: Why Criminal Law Doesn't Give People What They Deserve (Call # KF9223 .R63 2006) on the role of retribution in the criminal justice system. His other scholarly publications are available on his publications page.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
At issue for UPS was its Uniform and Personal Appearance Guideline prohibiting employees in public-contact positions from wearing any facial hair below the lower lip. Until 1999, UPS did not place employees who wore facial hair below the lower lip in public-contact positions. In 1999, UPS adopted a formal religious accommodation policy that allowed employees an exemption from the Appearance Guidelines for religious reasons. The suit on which the Second Circuit ruled involved the EEOC's investigation of two cases, one from Buffalo and the other from Dallas, with a Muslim job applicant who alleged that he was denied a public-contact driver position because he refused to shave his beard and a current UPS employee, who claimed that he was denied a public-contact driver position because he refused to shave his beard and that when he requested a religious accommodation form and an accommodation, he was denied both.
The EEOC subpoena sought (1) all documents related to the Appearance Guidelines and a list of all jobs which are subject to the Guidelines; (2) identifying information for all job applicants denied employment because of their refusal to adhere to the Appearance Guidelines since January 1, 2004; (3) identifying information for all employees who requested a religious accommodation exemption from the Appearance Guidelines and the outcomes of those requests since January 1, 2004; and (4) identifying information for all employees who were terminated for reasons relating to the Appearance Guidelines since January 1, 2004.
An employer's obligation to make reasonable accommodations to the religious views of its prospective and current employees is one of the most contentious and difficult areas for employees and employers to navigate. In a diverse and religiously pluralistic society, conflict is bound to occur not only about appearances but also about religious beliefs. Consider the case of Buonanno v. AT&T Broadband, LLC, 313 F.Supp.2d 1069, 93 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 1204 (D.Colo. 2004) where the employer workplace diversity initiatives included acceptance of gays and lesbians that one employee found offensive on the basis of religion. The employee told his employer that his sincerely held religious beliefs against homosexuality conflicted with his employer's requirement that he sign a code of conduct that contains a diversity policy requiring each employee to “fully recognize, respect and value” differences among co-workers. He claimed that there was a conflict because he claimed he cannot value any “difference” that is “contrary to God’s word.” The District Court awarded $146,269 to the former AT&T Broadband worker after the company fired him for refusing to sign the diversity policy.
In reviewing that decision, an article entitled The Duty of Accommodation and the Workplace Religious Freedom Act of 2003: From Bad Policy to Worse Law at 55 Labor Law Journal 155 (Fall 2004) (Call #P L12 and online in ProQuest Central in the Library's A-Z list) captures some of the difficulties in serving both the interests of employees in the exercise of their religious beliefs and the interests of employers in the exercise of their legitimate managerial prerogatives. With the Second Circuit broadening the subpoena powers of the EEOC in the enforcement of Title VII religious accommodation duty, employers face even more of a challenge when dealing with religious views in the workplace.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The second new item in the BLS Library collection on nutrition is Food, Inc.: How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-- and What You Can Do about It edited by Karl Weber (Call #HD9005 .F6582 2009). The 321 page book is based on the film of the same name and has expert commentators Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, asking: Where does food come from, and who processed it? What role do agri-businesses play in food production and consumption? Are healthy foods available and affordable? The BLS Library has the DVD in its Audio Visual Collection on the 1st floor past the Reference Desk. The makers of the film have created a web site with links to the issues about food safety and NGO allies on the topic, a list a actions to take and a bibliography of material addressing industrial food. Here is the trailer for the film Food, Inc.:
Friday, December 4, 2009
The Billing case involved antitrust claims brought by investors in an initial public offering alleging that the underwriters engaged in questionable “tying” practices that required purchasing less desirable securities and “laddering” practices that required buyers to take additional shares at escalating prices, forcing them to pay high commissions on subsequent buys. In Billing, the District Court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that federal securities law impliedly precludes application of antitrust laws. The Second Circuit reversed and reinstated the complaints. The US Supreme Court, addressing the question whether there is a “‘plain repugnancy’” between antitrust claims and federal securities law, concluded that there is, interpreting the securities laws as implicitly precluding the application of the antitrust laws to the conduct alleged in that case.
For more on the Electronic Trading Group decision, see Mark Hamblett's NY Law Journal article Antitrust Claim Found Precluded by Securities Regime (password required).
The BLS Library subscribes to the Annual Review of Antitrust Law Developments (Call #KF1649 .A763) published by the Section of Antitrust Law of the American Bar Association, which summarizes developments each year in the courts, at the agencies, and in Congress. The annual supplements are recognized as an authoritative and comprehensive set of research tools for antitrust research.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Law students are equally, if not more, subject to stress during finals as undergrads and need to remember strategies to help relax and succeed on exams. In addition to taking time to eat a good meal, include protein as a reliable source of fuel during the test and avoid excessive carbohydrates and caffeine which may give a short burst of energy that may drop off in the form a sudden crash. Other useful test day preparations include:
- If the exam is early, set the alarm enough in advance to take a quick shower, clean up and arrive with time to spare before the start of the exam. Lateness causes stress so allow for traffic and other factors that could effect your arrival time.
- Be sure to bring what you need to the exam room including writing utensils and a bottle of water.
- Instead of last minute cramming, calmly read over the material you have already studied to keep it fresh in your mind.
- If time permits, try to get in a quick exercise session, like a brisk walk, to help clear your mind and keep you alert.
- Before coming to the exam, spend about five minutes stretching those parts of your body that feel tense. During the exam, take quick breaks to stretch your arms, legs and hands.
- Before the exam begins, take deep steady breaths especially when anxiety sets in as deep breathing calms the body and the mind.
- Be sure to use the rest room before the exam begins.
- If the exam tests you on something that you do not know fully, do not berate yourself. Do the best you can and move on. Mental lectures do no good while taking exams.
- Avoid comparisons to how other students are doing. How quickly other students finish their exams is not your concern. Concentrate on your own exam taking and do not worry about anyone else.
- Serious test anxiety is best discussed with an academic counselor who may have additional tips to relieve anxiety. They may also be able to offer students with serious anxiety extra time to take the exam or a different test environment in which to take it.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
In the second case, United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, the Court heard arguments (transcripts of which are available here) on whether a debtor may obtain a discharge of a student loan by including it in a Chapter 13 plan if the creditor fails to object after notice of the proposed plan. The petitioner debt collector appealed a decision from the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which held that student loans can be discharged within a Chapter 13 plan if the creditor receives notice of the plan and fails to object. The ruling held that creditors in the business of administering student loans are unlikely to be misled by customary bankruptcy procedures and "crafty student debtors," ruling that bankruptcy courts have "no business" interfering in such procedures. Petitioner argued that Counsel for the US argued as amicus curiae on behalf of the petitioner. Counsel for the respondent debtor argued that "it would be very, very upsetting to the bankruptcy jurisdiction, exceedingly upsetting to make a very broad exception to finality."
Brooklyn Law School students may want to look at the library’s large collection of bankruptcy related material including The Modern Rules of Personal Finance for Professionals by Susan A. Berson (Call #HG179 .B47 2008).