Friday, November 30, 2012

World Aids Day 2012

On the eve of World AIDS Day 2012, more than 40 top business leaders have called for the repeal of travel bans that restrict the freedom of movement of people living with HIV. For nearly 23 years beginning in 1987, HIV-positive immigrants and travelers were banned from entering the United States. But that changed on January 4, 2010, when the U.S. Government officially lifted its HIV travel and immigration ban. President Obama announted the repeal of the HIV travel and immigration ban on Oct. 30, 2009 when he signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, Public Law 111–87. See Medical Examination of Aliens—Removal of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection from Definition of Communicable Disease of Public Health Significance, 75 Fed. Reg. 56547 (Nov. 2, 2009) (to be codified at 42 CFR Part 34). The ban went into effect after a 60-day waiting period. Other countries like Armenia, China, Fiji, Moldova, Namibia, South Korea and Ukraine have also removed such restrictions in recent years. However, countries including Australia, Russia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates still maintain HIV travel bans as law.

Many countries enacted travel restrictions "to protect the public health" in the 1980s when ignorance, fear and prejudice surrounded HIV. Since then, effective HIV prevention has revolutionized the lives of people living with HIV so that they are fully productive workers living long and healthy lives. Newer treatments reduce the amount of HIV in one's body to an undetectable level, lowering the possibility of transmitting HIV to someone else by some 96%. There is no evidence that HIV travel restrictions protect public health. The travel ban leads some professionals to leave their HIV medicines at home during business trips for fear that their pills will be discovered by airport agents. Skipping one's HIV medication can lead to drug resistance, a troubling and expensive public health concern.

For these reasons, CEOs of more than 40 companies, including Levi Strauss & Co. and Kenneth Cole Production, issued a press release and pledge calling on the 45 remaining governments to lift their travel restrictions. These CEOs lead some of the world's largest companies from Johnson & Johnson to The Coca-Cola Company from the National Basketball Association to Heineken, Pfizer and Aetna. They represent industries from travel to technology from banking to mining and almost 2 million employees around the world.

For information on the topic of HIV-Related Restrictions on Entry, Stay and Residence, see the Brooklyn Law School Library's online resource Discrimination, Denial, and Deportation: Human Rights Abuses Affecting Migrants Living with HIV published by Human Rights Watch. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

History of Corporate Income Tax

The Brooklyn Law School Library’s most recent New Books List has 69 items on a wide range of legal topics. From Sword to Shield: The Transformation of the Corporate Income Tax, 1861 to Present by Law UCLA Law Professor Steven A. Bank (Call #KF6464 .B36 2010). An absorbing read for those with an interest in tax and those interested in the legislative process or in economic history, the book is the first historical account of the evolution of the corporate income tax in America. The author explains the origins of corporate income tax and the political, economic, and social forces that transformed it from a sword against evasion of the individual income tax to a shield against government and shareholder interference with the management of corporate funds. The 304 page volume has chapters titled The Roots of a Corporate Tax; From Industry Taxes to Corporate Taxes; Corporate Tax at the Turn-of-the-Century; The Rise of the Separate Corporate Tax; Non-recognition and the Corporate Tax Shield; The Origins of Double Taxation; The Lost Moment in Corporate Tax Reform; and The Present and Future of Corporate Income Taxation.

The U.S. corporate income has long been one of the most criticized and stubbornly persistent aspects of the federal revenue system. Unlike other industrialized countries, corporate income in the U.S. is taxed twice, first at the entity level and again at the shareholder level when distributed as a dividend. The conventional wisdom has been that this double taxation was part of the system's original design over a century ago and has survived despite withering opposition from business interests. In both cases, history tells another tale. Double taxation as we know it today did not appear until several decades after the corporate income tax was first adopted. Moreover, it was embraced by corporate representatives at the outset and in subsequent years businesses have been far more ambivalent about its existence than is popularly assumed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CD-Rom Study Aids

Brooklyn Law School students preparing for final exams during the reading period may want to consider listening to some study aids rather than reading them. Sum & Substance is a popular series of study aids  available on CD-ROM from the BLS Library. See for example, Sum & Substance Audio on Civil Procedure, 7th Edition by Arthur R. Miller (Call #KF8841 .M56 2010) in the library’s AV Collection. It provides the essentials of civil procedure in a clear, succinct, timesaving format and has a quick-reference indexing to easily locate all topics in the recording, and informed exam tips to help maximize your performance. Sections discuss clusters of procedure, citizenship, traditional basis of jurisdiction, constitutional principles, illustrative application, federal court jurisdiction, service of process, venue principles, pleading, sanctions, joinder, counterclaims, class actions, discovery, summary judgment, trial, jury trial, post-trial motions, new trial motions, motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, collateral estoppel, and appeals.

The BLS Library has other Sum & Substance CD-ROMs on constitutional law, federal income tax, and legal research. They are all located in the AV room 111 on the ground floor level next to the reference desk. Students can check them out for a 48 hour period, with renewals. It is possible that the one you want may be checked out. If so, stop by the reference or the circulation desk and request a staff person place a hold on the item. Then you will be notified when the item has been returned, and you will be next in line for it.

Law student who are iPhone users can purchase some titles from the Sum & Substance series from the App Store. Currently, the following titles are available: contracts, criminal law, constitutional law, criminal procedure, and real property. Prices range from $49.99 to $59.99. See details at this link.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Little Book of Movie Law

Movie lovers may want to take a look at Carol Robertson's The Little Book of Movie Law (KF4298 .R63 201) in the Brooklyn Law School Library collection.  The book, not so little with over 400 pages, looks at the legal world of cinema from Edison and the dawn of motion pictures to the Transformers and the big-business movie industry today. As with other books in the ABA Little Book series, the author selects cases to illustrate the law on the topic. This one  includes a selection of the best cases involving the movies with 30 "reels" in all, each featuring a separate case that made headlines and changed movies forever. Robertson examines the relationship of cinema and the areas of patent, trademark, copyright, obscenity, and cyberlaw, and explains the legal ramifications of each case as well as the relevance to movie history.  Cases examined in the book include:
De Havilland v. Warner Bros. Pictures, 67 Cal. App. 2d 225 (1944) (The “Studio System”)
Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, 343 U.S. 495 (1952) (The Catholic Church and Censorship)
Lugosi v. Universal Pictures, 25 Cal. 3d 813 (Cal. 1979) (Publicity)
Rogers v. Grimaldi, 875 F. 2d 994 (2d Cir. 1989) (Protection of a Celebrity’s Name)
Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207 (1990) (Copyright – Derivative Works)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day

The annual Presidential Thanksgiving pardon of a turkey is a relatively new tradition that began in 1989 when George H.W. Bush granted the first official pardon. This year, President Obama will pardon one of two turkeys, either Cobbler or Gobbler, to become the 24th turkey to receive the honor of the presidential pardon. Rumors of turkey pardons stretch back to President Abraham Lincoln who spared a turkey meant for Christmas dinner when his son Tad argued the turkey had as much a right to live as anyone. President John F. Kennedy spared a turkey not as an official pardon on November 19, 1963, shortly before his assassination, saying "Let's just keep him." In 1987, President Ronald Reagan deflected questions about pardoning Oliver North in the Iran-contra case by joking about pardoning the turkey that was already heading to a petting zoo.

The Brooklyn Law School Library collection includes a 75 page pamphlet The Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon, The Death of Teddy's Bear, and the Sovereign Exception of Guant√°namo. In it, the author sees the annual presidential reprieve as more than a lark but as “a symbolic pardoning act which, through public performance, establishes and manifests the sovereign’s position at the helm of the state by highlighting . . . his power to control matters of life and death.” These rituals raise troubling thoughts on the exercise of US sovereignty, from Teddy Roosevelt’s big-stick era to the holding of prisoners at Guantanamo.

The Encyclopedia Smithsonian says that the first Thanksgiving service known to be held by Europeans in North America occurred on May 27, 1578 in Newfoundland, although earlier Church-type services were probably held by Spaniards in La Florida. In 1941, the US Senate amended H.J. Res. 41, making the Fourth Thursday in November a national legal holiday for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Prof. Kelly Nominated to Bench

Congratulations to Brooklyn Law School Professor of Law Claire Kelly on her nomination to the U.S. Court of International Trade. In a White House Press Release, President Obama said  that he is “honored to put forward this highly qualified candidate for the federal bench. Ms. Kelly will be a distinguished public servant and valuable addition to the Court of International Trade.”

Prof. Kelly has a long history with Brooklyn Law School where she received her J.D. magna cum laude in 1993. She began teaching at BLS as an Instructor of Law in 1997 and moved on to become Acting Assistant Professor of Law in 2000, Assistant Professor of Law and Associate Director for the Center of the Study of International Business Law in 2003 and Associate Professor of Law and Associate Director for the Center of the Study of International Business Law in 2005. She has been a BLS Professor of Law since 2008.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tax-Free Exchanges of Art

Brooklyn Law School Professor Bradley Borden has posted on the SSRN website his latest paper, Tax-Free Exchanges of Art and Other Collectibles. The full text of the article appears at 29 Journal of Taxation of Investments 3 (Spring 2012) which is available in LexisNexis Academic through the BLS Library's subscription or by password in Lexis. The abstract for the articles reads:
In a thriving art market, investors making changes to their collections understandably might want to save tax dollars by structuring like-kind exchanges. But the lack of specific guidance regarding the definition of like-kind art and other collectibles — and the unusual nature of collectibles transactions — clouds the applicability of Section 1031 to such arrangements. This article suggests that tax advisors can create structures that will help such transactions come within the qualified intermediary safe harbor, while keeping in mind that many positions an owner might take with respect to like-kind art or other collectibles are subject to challenge.
The BLS Library has in it collection The Antique and Art Collector's Legal Guide: Your Handbook to Being a Savvy Buyer by Leonard DuBoff (Call #KF4288 .D825 2003), a guide to the legal aspects of art collecting and the antiques business cover such topics as purchasing collectibles, authenticating works, insurance, security systems, investments, and conservation and restoration. Chapters include: Acquisition and protection -- Getting started -- Purchasing and reselling your collectibles -- Due diligence on purchase and/or sale -- Authenticating the work -- Inventory and insurance -- A guide to protecting your home and collection from theft -- Investments -- Conservation and restoration -- Specific legal issues -- Copyright -- When rights collide -- Tax considerations -- Import and export restrictions for the collector -- When your artwork is held by others.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Voting Rights for Ex-convicts

A NY Times article dated November 3, 2012, Wrongly Turning Away Ex-Offenders, addresses state laws dating back to Reconstruction that deny the vote to people who have committed felonies barring about 5.85 million people from voting in the 2012 election. Policies on restoration of the voting franchise to convicted felons among the 50 states are so inconsistent that they create confusion among for both former offenders who wish to regain the right to vote as well as the officials charged with implementing the laws. See  the State by State Chart of Felon Voting Laws on the website. This past October, the Minnesota Supreme in Council on Crime and Justice and Enjoli Rosas v. Mark Ritchie issued an Order in a case where a probation office incorrectly told a voter who pleaded guilty to felony possession of marijuana, was placed on 5 years of probation, and received a stay of adjudication that she could not vote and doing so would be a new felony offense. After the State admitted its mistake regarding the petitioner’s ability to vote, the Supreme Court dismissed the case as moot. However, the case illustrates that kind of misinformation that discourages legally eligible voters from registering to vote and may cause confusion for former offenders who, unaware of their state’s restrictions, then register and vote, unwittingly committing a new crime.

Other countries address felony re-enfranchisement much differently. The Australian Senate recently voted to amend the Electoral and Referendum Act to give the right to vote to persons who are serving sentences of three years or less. The amendment came after the High Court of Australia 2006 ruling in Roach v Electoral Commissioner on the validity of Commonwealth legislation that prevented prisoners from voting. In 2002, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in Sauv√© v. Canada that any ban on prison voting violates Canada’s Constitution and is counterproductive to the governments’ professed goal of promoting civil responsibility and respect for the rule of law.

Last year, Brooklyn Law School Professor Susan N. Herman stated in a NY Times article, Restore the Right to Vote, that she does not view voting as a “privilege” and that “the idea that our democracy is only open to a chosen few flies in the face of decades of struggle to democratize the fundamental right to vote.” The Brooklyn Law School Library has a number of items in its collection on the subject of the loss of political rights including suffrage for ex-convicts in the United States including The Disenfranchisement of Ex-Felons by Elizabeth Hull (Call # KF9747.Z95 H84 2006) and My First Vote, a compilation of stories by the Brennan Center for Justice from people across the country who voted for the first time in November 2008 after having lost, and then regained, their right to vote following a criminal conviction.

Friday, November 9, 2012

LLRX for Law Students

The Law Library Resource Exchange, at, is a free Web journal that Founder, Editor and Publisher Sabrina I. Pacifici established in 1996. Its November 2012 edition has two interesting articles that are worthwhile reading for Brooklyn Law School and other law students. The first is Employment Resources on the Internet by Marcus P. Zillman, a guide with a full listing of employment resources available on the Internet. Its numerous links, search engines and resume writing sources from across many professional sectors will help students learn molre about designing a successful job search strategy. The second article by Brandon Butler and Jonathan Band is about John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Kirtsaeng, 654 F. 3d 210 (2d Cir. 2011) a case in which the US Supreme Court which heard oral argument in October and one that could change the way we own copyrighted material. The authors discuss how libraries, which own books, movies and other copyrighted works on behalf of the public, could be affected by this decision.

LLRX is a definitive online reference guide for legal research which has monthly columns for lawyers, law librarians, and others with helpful legal research and legal technology information. The October 2012 edition had an article by attorney Nicole Black reviewing the 12th edition of The Cybersleuth's Guide to the Internet: Conducting Effective Free Investigative & Legal Research on the Web, by Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch (on order for the BLS Library). The book helps lawyers learn how to use the Internet to conduct effective and free investigative and legal research. A second October 2012 LLRX article by attorney Nicole Black recommends a range of topical, go-to reference apps that will save time and effort and provide reliable, high quality information. Most of the apps are free or very low cost, and include Wolfram Alpha Lawyer’s Professional Assistant, iThesaurus, Recalls app, and the Wikipanion app.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

21st Century Election Law

The 2012 election is finally over after billions of dollars spent on both sides in the presidential election and with the expenditure of enormous amounts of money in Senate and House races as well. Efforts in a number of states to restrict voter access may have had an impact on voter turnout. With 99% of precincts reporting, Associated Press reports that some 118 million people voted in the 2012 White House race compared to 131 million people cast ballots for president in 2008. A preliminary estimate from George Mason University's Michael McDonald puts the 2012 turnout rate at 60% of eligible voters, a drop of more than 2 percentage points from 2008.

With political officeholders deciding issues about voter access, redistricting, and campaign finance, the interests of the voting public are subject to conflicts of interest that imperil the integrity of the election process. Perhaps it is time for citizen panelsinstead of elected officials to determine election law. Outdated laws governing elections also need revision. The ABA Journal reports on legal questions about ballots cast in an era that relies on new technology. Taking a photo of a filled-in ballot from a smartphone violates the law of some states, even constituting a felony. A post by NBC News discusses "election law" with possible social media aspects with an article about tweeting a photo of a ballot, showing it on Instagram, Facebook, or on other sites with a potential for prosecution. Kay Stimson, Communications & Special Projects Director of the National Association of Secretaries of State, a professional organization for secretaries of states around the country, told NBC News, that the issue is not just about photographing ballots but about displaying them.

Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society's Citizen Media Law Project posted a chart showing how all 50 states handle this kind of activity. The chart shows that while most states do not expressly prohibit recording/photography inside of polling sites, most states prohibit the public display of marked ballots. Stimson said "The states that do have such laws have adopted them to prevent vote buying and voter coercion." She added that “it is important to respect the integrity of the voting process. States generally prohibit any form of conduct that serves to intimidate voters, interferes with their right to exercise their vote, or disrupts voting."

On this subject, Brooklyn Law School Library has the new 5th edition of Election Law: Cases and Materials which covers developments in election law in the 2012 election season including; extensive coverage of Citizens United, super PACs, and other campaign finance developments; emerging issues in voting rights and redistricting, including coverage of the Texas redistricting and voter identification cases; and new coverage of issues in judicial elections. With perspectives from law and political science, the book is a good resource for law and political science courses.