Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Internet for Lawyers

The July issue of Your ABA, (“e-news for members”) has an article entitled Secrets of Internet Search: Insider Tips, Little-Known Resources, Backgrounding Experts, More with an interview of internet expert Carole A. Levitt. She and her co-author Mark E. Rosch, wrote Find Info Like a Pro, Volume 1: Mining the Internet’s Publicly Available Resources for Investigative Research (Call #KF242.A1 L4785 2010) which is part of the Brooklyn Law School Library’s collection.

Noting that the internet has become a legal researcher’s best friend and a logical first choice for finding people and gathering background on them, the article says that many judges believe lawyers have a “duty to Google” as part of their due diligence on a case and that most effective information searches involve more than Google. The interview is worth reading as Levitt with 20 years of experience as a legal researcher, California attorney and internet trainer, offers practical tips for effectively mining the internet for information. She cites a Missouri Supreme Court decision on the issue of due diligence required of lawyers to look at the court dockets when choosing jurors. The case arose as a result of a juror lying about not being involved personally in litigation. The lawyers discovered the truth after the verdict was returned. Using their state courts’ docket database, they found out that the juror had in fact been involved in several litigation issues. Thorough research goes beyond case and statutory law to what is available on the internet.

Speaking of her latest work, Levitt says “We added a 40-page chapter on social networking in this book – specifically dealing with the kinds of research issues you raise, and more. I think it’s the first thing that lawyers should know—how MySpace and Facebook work. We suggest that lawyers research not only the opposing party, but their own clients, opposing lawyers, jurors.” Other issues addressed include the need to verify and validate information found on the web, ethical issues on what lawyers can and cannot put on their profile pages and the admissibility of information found online especially for archived web pages found through the Internet Archive Way Back Machine. In addition to being able to read her book at the BLS Library, researchers can access Levitt and Rosch’s blog, Internet for Lawyers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

International Reach of US Securities Law

The US Supreme Court decision Morrison v. National Australia Bank is worth reading for the differing views of the role of the courts expressed by Justice Scalia in the majority opinion and Justice Stevens in his concurrence. Justice Scalia forcefully ruled that §10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (and associated Rule 10b-5) have no international reach and found a presumption against extraterritoriality. Justice Stevens called the presumption against extraterritoriality a nice catchphrase that overstates the point saying: "The presumption against extraterritoriality can be useful as a theory of congressional purpose, a tool for managing international conflict, a background norm, a tiebreaker. It does not relieve courts of their duty to give statutes the most faithful reading possible."

The case involved a private civil suit alleging securities fraud in a transaction that took place mostly in Australia with some minor US conduct. Eight Justices affirmed the Southern District of New York dismissal of the claim which the Second Circuit subsequently affirmed. But Justice Scalia’s opinion went on to criticize a general approach that has been the law in the Second Circuit, and most of the rest of the country, for nearly four decades. Justices Breyer, Stephens and Ginsberg joined in concurring opinions. Justice Sotomayor did not participate.

Justice Scalia's 24 page opinion on the extraterritorial reach of the §10b noted that it is a "longstanding principle of American law 'that legislation of Congress, unless a contrary intent appears, is meant to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.'" It also said "When a statute gives no clear indication of an extraterritorial application, it has none."
The ruling strongly criticized the New York-based Second Circuit for relying on a 1968 opinion Schoenbaum v. Firstbrook, 405 F. 2d 200 to use a conduct-and-effects test which asked “(1) whether the wrongful conduct occurred in the Unites States, and (2) whether the wrongful conduct had a substantial effect in the United States or upon United States citizens.” The conduct-and-effects test sought to ascertain what Congress would have done if it had addressed the eventual internationalization of the securities markets. Instead, Justice Scalia formulated a “transactional test” under §10(b), saying that it forbids not all deceptive conduct, but only deceptive conduct “in connection with the purchase or sale of any security registered on a national securities exchange or on any security not so registered.” Finding the statutory focus to be the “purchase and sale transactions,” he concluded that §10(b) applied to “transactions in securities listed on domestic exchanges, and domestic transactions in other securities.”

Today’s securities market is international in scope with few cases that are either wholly foreign or wholly domestic. The “transactional test” may leave unprotected US citizens who purchase or sell securities outside the United States as well as foreign citizens trading abroad who are victims of domestic conduct perpetrated by Americans over whom foreign courts may lack personal jurisdiction. Interestingly, the issue of the extraterritorial reach of US securities law is part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, the financial reform bill pending in Congress. §7216 of H.R. 4173 provides courts with extraterritorial jurisdiction for "1) conduct within the United States that constitutes significant steps in furtherance of the violation, even if the violation is committed by a foreign adviser and involves only foreign investors; or 2) conduct occurring outside the United States that has a foreseeable substantial effect within the United States."

For more on the Morrison case, see the post at the Securities Law Prof Blog

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

19th Edition of the Bluebook

The Brooklyn Law School Library has ordered multiple copies of the 19th edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation which will be available at the circulation desk this month. The 18th edition of The Bluebook was published in 2005 and had 415 pages. The 19th edition has 511 pages. The first edition of The Bluebook published in 1926 consisted of 28 pages.

The preface to the 19th edition states that the “current edition of The Bluebook retains the same basic approach to legal citation established by its predecessors . . . Some citation forms have been expanded, elaborated upon, or modified from prevision editions to reflect the ever-expanding range of authorities used in legal writing and to respond to suggestions from the legal community.”

The 19th edition of The Bluebook changes Rule 18 dealing with the Internet, Electronic Media, and Other Nonprint Resources primarily to allow increased citation to Internet sources. For example, Rules 18.6 and 18.7 now allow for the use of timestamps in citations to audio and video recordings. Before, The Bluebook had no rule for citing podcasts. Rule 18.7.3 now provides citation guidance for podcasts and online recordings. Citation to a podcast is found in Rule 18.7.3. with this example: Splitting Verbs, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Feb. 26, 2009) (downloaded using iTunes).

Other changes in the 19th edition include Rule 10.8.3 on Briefs, Court Filings, and Transcripts. The revised rule provides details for citations to audio recordings of court proceedings. Rule 13.4(d) on Reports, Documents, and Committee Prints now establishes specific citation formats for Congressional Research Services and Government Accountability Office reports. Changes in Rule 14 help improve citation to administrative agency materials.

Pace Law Library has compiled a list of the changes to the 19th edition and the associated rule numbers that are in this chart. Click on the image for the full-size PDF.

Critics of The Bluebook have called for its abolition. See the Volokh Conspiracy post Abolish the Bluebook. Practicing lawyers are also critical. See the post at the (new) legal writer The Bluebook (19th ed.): Something I don’t need to practice law says “I practice law for a living. There are many resources I need to do what I do. Not among them is the latest edition of the Bluebook.” Critics aside, the 19th edition of The Bluebook is indispensable for any judge, lawyer, or law student.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Charter of the United Nations

This month marks the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations which took place on June 26, 1945, at the San Francisco Opera House when the UN Charter and the Statute of the International Court of Justice was adopted unanimously at the end of the United Nations Conference on International Organization. Four months later, it entered into force when the required number of nations ratified the Charter on October 24, 1945 (officially United Nations Day) and the United Nations was established.

The Brooklyn Law School Library reference desk has the two volume Encyclopedia of the United Nations by John Allphin Moore, Jr. and Jerry Pubantz (Call #KZ4968 .M66 2008), a comprehensive guide to the UN's institutions, procedures, policies, agencies, historical personalities, initiatives, and involvement in world affairs. Alphpbetical entries direct readers to additional references for further reading and relevant Web sites. Graphics include captioned black-and-white photographs with charts and graphs. There is a list of acronyms used throughout the text along with appendixes that include the Charter of the United Nations and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a list of the 192 UN member states, important resolutions, a chronology, and UN Web sites. There is also a topically divided selected bibliography and a comprehensive index.

For more on the history of the UN, click on the Procedural History tab of the Historic Archives of the Audiovisual Library of International Law. There is also a video resources link to several films including an 11 minute documentary about the San Francisco Conference produced by the US Information Agency.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Father’s Day Turns 100 Years Old

One hundred years ago, on June 19, 1910, religious leaders in Spokane, Washington designated the first Father’s Day at the suggestion of 16 year old Sonora Smart Dodd, the "Mother of Father's Day". For more history, see the release issued by the Spokane Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau. This year, continuing the tradition of Presidential Proclamations begun by Lyndon Johnson in 1966, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation for Father's Day 2010. Father's Day officially became an American holiday on April 24, 1972, to be celebrated the third Sunday in June, after passage of the Father's Day Act, Public Law 92-278 . The law was codified at 36 U.S.C. §109.

USA.gov has some interesting facts about fathers. For example, the US Census Bureau estimates that there are 67.8 million fathers across the nation and that 25.8 million of them were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2009. Of the total number of fathers, 22 percent were raising three or more children younger than 18 (among married-couple family households only) and 3 percent lived in someone else's home. There were 1.7 million single fathers in 2009 and 15 percent of single parents were men.

As “nontraditional” family structures become more common, Father's Day is a day to honor any nurturing man – a “big brother,” a brother-in-law, an uncle, a neighbor or perhaps another special man who is “like a father”. To all of them, Happy Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Law Librarian and BLS Law Student

The American Association of Law Librarians (AALL) has awarded Robert Malesko, Brooklyn Law School Class of 2011, one of its scholarships from the LexisNexis/John R. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Endowment as part of AALL's effort to assist individuals to become law librarians. The endowment's 2010 scholarships went to three recipients: Ronald Fuller of Layton, Utah for a Library Degree for Law School Graduates; Jennifer Ekblaw of Indianapolis, Indiana for a Dual Library Degree and Law Degree and Robert Malesko for a Law Degree for Library School Graduates. See here for more information on the Scholarship Committee. Before attending Brooklyn Law School, Malesko worked for almost five years as a Law Librarian for the California Judicial Center Library in San Francisco. CJCL is the law library of both the California State Supreme Court and the California First District Court of Appeals.

In July, AALL will present the scholarships along with awards and grants at the 2010 Annual Meeting in Denver as part of the AALL Awards Program which was established to recognize the achievements of law librarians based on service to the profession and contributions to legal literature and materials.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Same-Sex Marriage

Researchers of same sex marriage and the law will not want to miss Same-Sex Marriage: A Selective Bibliography of the Legal Literature compiled by law librarian Paul Axel-Lute, Deputy Director of the Law Library at Rutgers School of Law, Newark. First published in September 2002, it is updated as of June 8, 2010 and has references to cases, articles, legislation, books, symposia and other resources on the Web. Axel- Lute includes references to articles that reflect varying points of view along with sites discussing same-sex marriage treatment in selected foreign jurisdictions. There are also sections on polygamy, parenting and tax issues.

On the subject of same-sex marriage, news reports state that Iceland’s parliament in a vote of 40 to 0 (with 14 not voting) changed the country’s marriage laws so that marriage is the legal union of two individuals and not only of a man and a woman. It ends the country’s system of registered partnerships for same-sex couples, meaning marriage will become their only option – as was always the case for opposite-sex couples. Iceland’s President must ratify the bill which seems likely. Polls suggest the marriage bill is extremely popular.

The Brooklyn Law Library has recently added several titles to its collection on the subject of same-sex marriage including:

When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage by M.V. Lee Badgett (Call #K699 .B33 2009). Chapters include Why marry?: the value of marriage -- Forsaking all other options -- The impact of gay marriage on heterosexuals -- Something borrowed: trying marriage on -- Something new: will marriage change gay people? -- Marriage dissent in the gay community -- Strange bedfellows: assessing alternatives to marriage -- The pace of change : are we moving too fast?

What's The Harm?: Does Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Really Harm Individuals, Families, or Society?, Lynn D. Wardle editor (Call #KF539 .W53 2008) Pt. I. Does legalizing same-sex marriage harm families and childrearing? -- Pt. II. Does legalizing same-sex marriage harm responsible sexual behavior and procreation? -- Pt. III. Does legalizing same-sex marriage harm the relationship and meaning of marriage? -- Pt. IV. Does legalizing same-sex marriage harm basic human freedoms and institutions?

Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law by Nancy D. Polikoff (Call #KF538 .P65 2008). Chapters include The changing meaning of marriage -- Gay rights and the conservative backlash -- Redefining family -- The right and the marriage movement -- LGBT families and the marriage-equality movement -- Countries where marriage matters less -- Valuing all families -- Domestic partner benefits for all families -- Coping with illness: medical care and family and medical leave -- When a relationship ends through dissolution or death: distributing assets and providing for children -- Losing an economic provider: wrongful death, workers' compensation, and social security

See also the Spring 2010 edition of BLS Notes to read Equal Access and the Right to Marry written by Nelson Tebbe, BLS Associate Professor of Law and former BLS Visiting Assistant Professor Deborah A. Widiss, where they offer a new constitutional framework for same sex marriage, a proposal they call Equal Access.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine similar to Google. It is not a search engine but more of a fact engine that generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base, instead of searching the web and returning links. For example, searching Google for “Denver” will result in a list of links to websites. However, a search of “population of Denver” in WolframAlpha provides with an immediate answer on WolframAlpha's site. In addition to the answer (City of Denver, population 598,707 - 2008 estimate), the site offers that Denver ranks 25th in population in the US and presents a graph showing population history, the metropolitan area population (2.552 million) and the population of nearby cities (Aurora - 319,057).

A search for a date will give results that include the time difference from today in years, months, weeks or days. It will also list observances for date including births of noted persons. The daylight information for that date is given telling the time of the sunrise and sunset and the duration of daylight as well as the state of the moon for that day. Results for a date, June 25, 1951 list an event listed for that day, "CBS becomes the first to broadcast television in color." A search for Brooklyn, NY yields not only the current population – population: 2.557 million people (2008) but also population growth: 0.4625%per year (2000-08); population density: 34723 people/mi (2000); annual deaths: 16533 people per year (2006) and annual births: 40492 people per year (2006).

Founder, Stephen Wolfram has found a way to take mathematical concepts and figure out a way to pull different types of data together and produce a rational result. He explains possible uses of the product in this video posted here.

For Legal Research, however, WolframAlpha is not yet ready according to a post at Three Geeks and Blog which reports that “legal” questions such as these did not yield results:

•Number of lawsuits filed against Exxon
•Patents held by IBM
•General Counsel of Wal-Mart
•Chairman of Skadden Arps
A NY Times article states "It is an early working version of a project that has been years in the making and will continue to evolve over years, if not decades. As such, there is much it cannot answer now." So perhaps, one day WolframAlpha can help law students understand the rule against perpetuities.

The two-part video is here:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hyman Brown, Class of 1931

A NY Times obituary reports the death of Hyman Brown (July 21, 1910 – June 4, 2010), Brooklyn Law School Class of 1931, at his home in Manhattan. Brown grew up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and went to Boy's High School, Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School. The Twenty-Ninth Annual Commencement Program in the Brooklyn Law School Library’s Archive collection lists Brown as one of the valedictory speakers at the ceremony held at the Albee Theater on June 11, 1931. The program spells his first name as Hyman - not Himan which he used in later life.

Acting and the entertainment business, rather than the law, was his great passion. While attending law school, he was producing and performing in live theater, Catskills revues, and on the fast growing medium of radio. Brown created a number of radio programs that became immensely popular in the 1930s and '40s. Among his most well-known was "Inner Sanctum Mysteries." The show opened with a signature sound effect of a creaking door. Using his legal training, Brown was the first to trademark a sound effect. His career in show business spanned eight decades from the 1920s to the 1990s directing more than 30,000 shows. Other notable series that Brown produced were The Rise of the Goldbergs, Dick Tracy, Adventures of the Thin Man, Grand Central Station, and the CBS Radio Mystery Theater.

A Founding Member of the Director's Guild of America, he started The Radio Drama Network to propagate the spoken word. Also a member of the Radio Hall of Fame, Brown received the American Broadcast Pioneer and the Peabody Award. He taught audio drama at Brooklyn College and the School of Visual Arts and was devoted to health care causes and other issues effecting people over 50 years of age. Brown was a great friend of the BLS Library. More biographical information is available at the Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection website.

Friday, June 4, 2010

109th BLS Commencement at Lincoln Center

Brooklyn Law School held its 109th Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2010 in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center where most of the 463 graduating students received their Juris Doctor degrees. Family and friends attending the ceremony filled the hall to capacity and heard speeches by James M. Hays II, Class Valedictorian, Law School Dean Joan G. Wexler and NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the commencement speaker. The mayor received the Law School's honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of his service to the City of New York, his work on behalf of charitable, cultural, and educational institutions, and his achievements in business and information technology.

In his remarks, Mayor Bloomberg told the assembled guests that Brooklyn Law School members play a major role in city government including his own in-house counsel, and his chief assistant, Anthony Crowell and Bill Heinzen, who both teach a course at BLS on the law of state and local government. He also noted that the City’s Chief Attorney, Michael Cardozo, has assembled New York’s largest law firm, the Corporation Counsel’s office, with more than 600 of New York City’s top lawyers of whom one out of every seven is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School. He cited BLS as a major source of city government’s legal talent in its agencies, such as the five district attorneys’ offices and the city courts.

Explaining why so many BLS grads do legal work for the city, the mayor said "Brooklyn Law School has a reputation that just happens to be true: No other school does a better job of preparing attorneys to practice law in New York. Year after year, BLS ranks among the nation’s best schools in clinical legal education, and in public service law. And no other law school produces graduates with a more ferocious work ethic and desire to succeed."

Among the Class of 2010, six received their degrees Summa Cum Laude: Sparkle L. Alexander, Justin W. Denton, Rachel E. Green, James M. Hays II, Rachel D. Lerner, Megan Prunella and William C. Vandivort. Twenty-six students received their degrees Magna Cum Laude and seventy-nine students received their degrees Cum Laude. The full list of students graduating with honors is here. A list of Commencement Prizes and Awards for the Class of 2010 is available here.