Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Legal Implications of Throwing Eggs

Today's Wall Street Journal Law Blog posted a look at the legal consequences of some traditional Halloween pranks, including smashing pumpkins, stealing candy and "toilet papering". Enjoy!

Happy Halloween Law Blog readers! We might shut down a little early today to go celebrate with the kiddies, but before we do we want to make sure you’re all aware of the legal implications of trick or treating.

Let’s revisit an email we received last year from San Diego lawyer/radio host Jeff Isaac, who calls himself the “Lawyer in Blue Jeans.” “While some Halloween pranks are entirely predictable and sometimes regarded as a child’s ‘right of passage,’ most do break a law of some kind,” says Isaac, who ticked off the legal consequences of Halloween mischief. Here are a few examples:

  • Theft: Stealing candy from another person, or a location, is classified as “robbery.” Use a real or fake weapon in the commission of this robbery, and the stakes get even greater with possible felony-level re-classification as a “violent” crime for which penalties get gravely serious. So, trick-or-treaters should wield that pirate’s sword judiciously.
  • Vandalism: Throwing eggs or any other item at cars, homes or other personal property, smashing mailboxes, putting shaving cream on cars or garage doors can all cause permanent damage, and are considered more than just a prank by police. Retribution can include community service or repaying monetary damages that can add up to thousands of dollars.

  • Criminal Mischief: “Toilet papering” trees or other personal property, smashing pumpkins and other seemingly innocuous pranks are also unlawful, and can result in fines to cover property damages and other forms of civil law punishment.
Source: Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Posted by Peter Lattman October 31, 2007

Finding Old Web Pages

Greg R. Notess updated his guide, Finding Old Web Pages: "The Web changes constantly, and sometimes that page that had just the information you needed yesterday (or last month or two years ago) is not available today. At other times you may want to see how a page's content or design has changed. There are several sources for finding Web pages as they used to exist. While Google's cache is probably the best known, the others are important alternatives that may have pages not available at Google or the Wayback Machine plus they may have an archived page from a different date. The table below notes the name of the service, the way to find the archived page, and some notes that should give some idea as to how old a page the archive may contain."

Source: beSpacific

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

History of Federal Judgeships

The History of Federal Judgeships focuses on appellate and district court judgeships, but also includes historical information on authorized judgeships for all courts and judgeship appointments by president since 1933. With the exception of judgeship appointments by president, information on this site changes infrequently. When changes do occur, the appropriate sections are updated.

Courts of Appeals
Authorized Judgeships (pdf)
Chronological History

District Courts
Authorized Judgeships (pdf)
Chronological History

Judgeships and Appointments
Authorized Judgeships (pdf)
Judgeship Appointments by President (pdf)

Source: U.S. Courts

See also Gibson, James L. and Caldeira, Gregory A., "Knowing About Courts" (June 20, 2007).

In the abstract for this article, the author states: "Conventional wisdom holds that the American people are woefully ignorant about law and courts. In light of this ignorance, many question whether the public should play a role in the judicial process, as in whether legal actors should be accountable to the majority....The purpose of this paper is to revisit the question of how knowledgeable the American people are about the United States Supreme Court....[P]aying attention to courts not only provides citizens information, but it also exposes them to the powerful symbols of judicial legitimacy."

BOO! -- Scary Books in the BLS Library

Halloween means it’s time for a list of frightful Halloween books found in the generally not-so-scary stacks of the Brooklyn Law School Library. From mortuary law to witch-children, we cover the frighteningly fraught field where fear meets the law.

Anatomy of a murder /Robert Traver
Main -- PZ3.V857 An

Disputing the dead : U.S. law on aboriginal remains and grave goods / H. Marcus Price III
Main -- KF8210.A57 P75 1991

Helter skelter : the true story of the Manson murders / Vincent Bugliosi, with Curt Gentry.
Main -- HV6533.C2 B83

Highroad to the stake : a tale of witchcraft / Michael Kunze ; translated by William E. Yuill
Main -- BF1583 .K86 1987

Judging evil : rethinking the law of murder and manslaughter / Samuel H. Pillsbury
Main -- K5172 .P55 1998

Malevolent nurture : witch-hunting and maternal power in early modern England / Deborah Willis
Main -- BF1581 .W55 1995

Men of blood : violence, manliness and criminal justice in Victorian England / Martin J. Wiener
Main -- HV6535.G4 E55 2004

Mortuary law / Thomas F.H. Stueve
Main -- KF2042.U5 S734 1963

Salem story : reading the witch trials of 1692 / Bernard Rosenthal
Main -- BF1576 .R67 1993

The Salem witchcraft trials : a legal history / Peter Charles Hoffer
Main -- KFM2478.8.W5 H645 1997

Satan's silence : ritual abuse and the making of a modern American witch hunt / Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedeker
Main -- HV6626.52 .N37 1995

Witch-children : from Salem witch-hunts to modern courtrooms / Hans Sebald
Main -- BF1576 .S43 1995

Witchcraft and witch trials : a history of English witchcraft and its legal perspectives, 1542 to 1736 / Gregory Durston
Main -- KD371.W56 D87 2000

Come to the 2007 BLSPI Annual Talent Show in the cafeteria on Thursday, November 1. Doors open at 7pm. Dress up as your favorite undead person or make up your own undead character.

A Fresh Look at Legal Education

A network of 10 law schools has launched an ambitious project aimed at improving how law schools operate, ranging from changes in curricula to providing more practical, real-world training for law students.

Several reports and discussions this year have pointed out the challenges law schools face in educating and preparing students to become lawyers, including a report issued earlier this year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The California-based organization and Stanford Law School have taken the lead by forming a network of 10 law schools to tackle these issues. "We're hoping to create a significant catalyst for rethinking the idea of legal education for this millennium," said Lawrence Marshall, associate dean for public service and clinical education at Stanford Law School, who is spearheading the project.

Lisa Kloppenberg, dean of University of Dayton School of Law in Dayton, Ohio, which is among the participating schools, said, "I hope that this will give momentum to real change in law schools." Edward Rubin, dean of Vanderbilt University Law School, which will take part in the project, said one of the things he'd like to discuss is how programs can do a better job of advancing students from year to year so that the third year looks different from the previous two and the engagement of third-year students improves. Michelle Anderson, dean of City University of New York School of Law, said one of the areas that needs improvement is how law schools handle the relationship between theory and practice. "I'm most concerned with the assumption of the professional role of an attorney and the way that much of legal education does not talk about and teach the skills of what it means to be wielding the power of being a lawyer," she said. Details of the project have not been worked out. The agenda will not be set until the first meeting is held in Stanford, Calif., in December, Marshall said.

Other schools participating in the project are: Georgetown University Law Center, Harvard Law School, University of New Mexico School of Law, New York University School of Law and Southwestern University School of Law.

Source: The National Law Journal, Vesna Jaksic, staff reporter, October 29, 2007

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching website at has a detailed description of the Foundation's two-year study of legal education along with a link to Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law published in March 2007.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Future Hot Topics in the Law


According to the Deseret Morning News, Chief Justice Roberts recently responded to a question at Brigham Young University about areas of law likely to be important in the future by suggesting "that technology-related cases could be the most important area of law considered by the Supreme Court over the next quarter of a century."

Emerging technologies can create new questions about old laws. For example, imaging technology exists that allows law enforcement officers to see through walls. "Is that an unlimited search and seizure?" Roberts asked. "People tend to be focused on what are the hot issues right now," he added. "Those are not the issues I think 25 years from now will be the ones people will look back on and say were significant."

Justice Roberts' speech is available online at

Justice Alito made a somewhat similar comment last year after judging a moot court that touched on how the Fourth Amendment applies to computer networks: What constitutes a "search and seizure" online is a critical law debate and is constantly reshaping the Fourth Amendment, he said. "Now we're entering this new virtual world," Alito said, "and we have to translate the precedents and principles we have dealing with physical grounds to the world of electronic communication."

Source: The Volokh Conspiracy, Monday, October 29, 2007

Building a Better Legal Profession


A bunch of law students at Stanford have started assigning letter grades to their prospective employers, which pretty much tells you who holds the power in the market for new associates. It’s not easy to persuade new lawyers from the top schools to accept starting salaries of only $160,000.

The students are handing out “diversity report cards” to the big law firms, ranking them by how many female, minority and gay lawyers they have. “Many of the firms have atrocious, appalling records on diversity,” said Michele Landis Dauber, a law professor at Stanford and the adviser for the project, called Building a Better Legal Profession. The rankings are at

In New York, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton got the top grade, an A-minus. At Cleary, the project says, 48.8 percent of the associates are women, 8.7 percent are black, 8.3 percent are Hispanic and 4.5 percent are openly gay. Herrick, Feinstein, by contrast, got an F. Its numbers: 37.7 percent women, 4.9 percent black, 1.6 percent Hispanics, and no openly gay people. In Washington, no firm got an A. But seven scored in the D range, including Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Kelley Drye Collier Shannon; Baker Botts; and Mayer Brown.

The numbers were provided to a central clearinghouse by the firms themselves. “Our process is simple,” the student group said in explaining its methodology. “Cut, paste and rank.” Firms in the top fifth received A’s, in the second fifth B’s, and so on. Overall grades were arrived at by averaging grades for partners and associates in five categories: women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and gay people.

The firms with low rankings did not dispute the basic numbers, with one exception. Herrick Feinstein said it reported that it had no openly gay lawyers “because, at the time of the filing, we did not ask for that information.” There are, the firm said in a statement, openly gay lawyers working there, “including one on the diversity committee.”

The students have ambitious plans, including asking elite schools to restrict recruiting by firms at the bottom of their rankings. They also plan to send the rankings to the general counsels of the Fortune 500 companies with the suggestion that they be used in selecting lawyers. “Firms that want the best students will be forced to respond to the market pressures that we’re creating,” said Andrew Bruck, a law student at Stanford and a leader of the project.

Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a research group that supports colorblind policies, said the whole thing was pernicious. “Diversity is all too frequently a code word,” he said, “for preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity or sex, or lower standards, or being opposed to assimilation.” Vikram Amar, a professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, added that law firms might well be violating employment discrimination laws in the process of trying to improve their rankings. “As bad as their numbers are,” Professor Amar said of the firms, “the relevant applicant pool of law students with top grades is more white and Asian still.”

Whatever their consequences, the numbers the students have collected offer a fascinating snapshot of the profession. In New York, a third of the big firms had no black partners, and an overlapping third no Hispanic ones. Half the firms in Boston had no black partners, and three-quarters no Hispanic ones. “This is 2007,” Professor Dauber said. “If you can’t find a single black or Hispanic partner, that’s not an accident.”

The students also found relatively few female partners in New York, ranging from 7 percent at Fulbright & Jaworski to 23 percent at Morrison & Foerster. Those numbers are “a bit of a canary in the coal mine,” said Deborah L. Rhode, another Stanford law professor. “The absence of women as partners often says something about how firms deal with work-family issues.”

I asked the firms with particularly poor rankings for comments, and most of them responded, generally with quite similar statements. The issues are serious and difficult ones, they said, but they are working hard to make progress. Some questioned the grading system. Paul C. Rosenthal, a partner at Kelley Drye, called it “totally ridiculous,” for instance, because the firm’s Washington office received an A for the number of black associates and yet a D overall.

Others pointed to offices at their firms with better numbers, to particular partners of color, to expanded recruiting efforts and to “affinity groups” and “diversity coordinators” and a “diversity protocol.” None questioned the essential premise of the report, which is that numbers matter. The report cards seem to be having an impact. Mr. Bruck said a second-year student at Stanford had recently turned down an offer from one firm “as soon as he saw that it got an F on our diversity report card.” Professor Dauber said the student, who is white and male, “is the poster boy for our effort.” But the student did not get into Stanford by being stupid enough to pick a fight with a prominent law firm at the start of his career. He would not discuss the matter.

Published in the New York Times: October 29, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Legal Research - The Movie

Legal Research - The Movie

The Stanford Law Library reference librarians, who teach Advanced Legal Research, posted this video on YouTube.

Other law schools have posted videos relating to legal research that may be useful. See them at:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Episode 009 - Interview with a Law Professor Elizabeth Schneider

Episode 009 - Interview with a Law Professor Elizabeth Schneider.mp3

Professor Elizabeth M. Schneider, a national expert on gender and the law, joined the BLS faculty in 1983, after serving as a staff attorney with the Rutgers Law School-Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinic, and as a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. Professor Schneider chairs the Law School's Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship Program and is a prolific author of many publications. In this episode, Professor Schneider discusses her recent article The Dangers of Summary Judgment: Gender and Federal Civil Litigation which she presented at the BLS Faculty Workshop.

Theme Music: The Kings of Nuthin, Judge or Jury. (The Kings of Nuthin’s music is available through

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Episode 008 - Interview with CLARO/SAG student coordinators

Episode 006 - Interview with CLARO/SAG student coordinators.mp3

CLARO/SAG (the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office Student Action Group) provides BLS students with pro bono opportunities in a weekly clinic at the Kings County Civil Court where unrepresented litigants who are being sued for consumer debt can get free legal advice. Last year, volunteer attorneys and students assisted over 500 unrepresented litigants. CLARO/SAG offers the opportunity to learn about consumer debt issues and New York civil practice while helping unrepresented litigants and interacting with practicing attorneys and fellow BLS students.

In this interview, the student coordinators of CLARO/SAG talk about their work. They also discuss the video In Debt We Trust which they recently presented at a session in the Student Lounge. For more, see and the trailer for the video below.


Theme Music: The Undercover Hippy, Money, Money, Money. (The Undercover Hippy’s music is available through