Monday, August 30, 2010

The Little Book of Coffee Law

The Brooklyn Law School Library has added to its collection The Little Book of Coffee Law by Carol Robertson (Call #KF1984.C6 R63 2010). Robertson also wrote The Little Red Book of Wine Law: a Case of Legal Issues (Call #K3935 .R62 2008). Her latest book traces the history of legal disputes involving coffee. One of the earliest US Supreme Court cases, Little v. Barreme, 6 U.S. 170 (1804) involved the seizure of a Danish vessel, the Flying Fish, with a cargo of coffee under orders of the Secretary of the Navy on behalf of President John Adams "to intercept any suspected American ship sailing to or from a French port." The Court, ruling that the order overstepped an act of Congress and that the action by the President was not constitutional, found Captain George Little liable for damages to the owner of the neutral vessel.

The book's 24 chapters cover cases with a wide range of legal issues from insurance law, Orient Mutual Ins. Co. v. Wright, 68 U.S. 456 (1863) to trademark law, Hills Bros. Coffee v. Hills Supermarkets, Inc. 428 F.2d 379 (2nd Cir. 1970) and, the Starbucks v. Sambucks case, Starbucks Corp. v. Lundberg, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32660 (D. Or. 2005). Also covered are the rights of publicity and the single-publication rule, Christoff v. Nestle USA Inc., 47 Cal.4th 468 (2009), liability for burns caused by hot coffee, McMahon v. Bunn-O-Matic Corp., 150 F. 3d 651, (7th Cir. 1998) and fair trade issues involving both U.S. litigation, El Salto, S.A., Escuintla, Guatemala, C.A. v. PSG Co., 444 F.2d 477 (9th Cir. 1971) and a 2007 European Union ruling
in Douwe Egberts Coffee Systems Netherlands B.V. v. Province of Groningen. Between chapters, there are coffee breaks with short pieces on coffee customs, coffee brewing methods, and the legal world in which coffee is grown, produced, shipped, marketed, sold, and consumed.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Law Student Guide to Free Legal Research

Sarah Glassmeyer, the Faculty Outreach Librarian and an Assistant Professor of Law at Valparaiso University School of Law has created a new website called, The Law Student Guide to Free Legal Research on the Internet. The site aims to help law students with free internet legal research and is sponsored by the Free Law Coalition, which includes Cornell's Legal Information Institute and Justia. The website offers a Research Primer as well as links to federal law resources, state law resources, and secondary sources.

A post on Sarah's website (SarahGlassmeyer(dot)com) leads off on a candid note:

Here’s a couple things I believe:

1.There are several providers of free legal information out there that are reliable enough to recommend to my patrons to use.
2.Librarians need to collaborate and communicate more with information vendors – all information vendors…Wexis, ILS providers, independents and non-profits.
3.Most legal research educational materials suck. They’re dry and the publisher bias contained within some is almost laughable.
4.Legal information vendors use tactics to get law students hooked on their products that would make a drug dealer blush.

The project is aimed mainly at law students and has links to these resources:

There is also a blog featuring developments in the #lawgov movement, new resources that are available and general thoughts on legal research. The inaugural post by Austin Groothuis introduced the new site using the same crack dealer/addict metaphor that critics of the major legal databases often use.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Women's Equality Day 2010

August 26, 2010 is the 90th anniversary of the effective date of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution which guaranteed all American women the right to vote. The road to the 19th Amendment was a long and difficult struggle that took decades of legal efforts, agitation and protest. From the mid-19th century, generations of woman suffrage supporters fought and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change of the Constitution. The first introduction in Congress of a sufferage amendment occurred in 1878. See the National Archive image of the first Resolution at this link. Supporters pursued a strategy of passing suffrage acts in each state. Nine western states adopted woman suffrage legislation by 1912. Other supporters pursued legal strategies challenging male-only voting laws in the courts and non-legal tactics such as parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. They faced fierce resistance from opponents who heckled, jailed, and sometimes physically abused them. By 1916, almost all of the major suffrage organizations united behind the goal of a constitutional amendment. When New York adopted woman suffrage in 1917 and President Wilson changed his position to support an amendment in 1918, the political balance began to shift.

The final push for the Federal Suffrage Amendment came with the introduction of House Joint Resolution No. 1 on May 21, 1919. On June 4, 1919, Congress approved the woman's suffrage amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. The House of Representatives voted 304-89 and the Senate 56-25 in favor of the amendment. Ratification the amendment by the states was by the closest of margins. Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920. Few remember, however, that the historic ratification occurred by just one single vote, that of Harry T. Burn, a lawyer who first opposed the suffrage movement. The General Assembly suffrage amendment vote was a 48-48 tie. Burn's vote would defeat it and postpone national ratification at least another month until the Connecticut Legislature vote. Shortly before the historic legislative tally, Burn received a long letter from his mother who wrote: "I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Don't forget to be a good boy”. Burn changed his "nay" vote to "yea." And the rest is history.

For more on the 19th Amendment, see the article at this link. More reading is available at the Brooklyn Law School Library which has in its collection Woman's Suffrage by Constitutional Amendment by Henry St. George Tucker (Call # KF4895 .T83 2003). Additionally, the legal classic Woman Suffrage and Politics - The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement by Carrie Chapman Catt is part of the HeinOnline Legal Classic Library. Chapter XXIX of the online book is titled Tennessee and has more details of the Harry Burn story on pages 449 to 452.

Today, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation on Women's Equality Day, 2010. The history of Women's Equality Day goes back to 1971 when at the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), the US Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Legal Encyclopedias

The Brooklyn Law School Library has legal encylcopedias for incoming law students who are unfamiliar with an area of law (as well as returning students who need a refresher). Legal encyclopedias are useful to look for a summary of an area of law or cases on a particular topic. Legal excyclopedias include:

  • Corpus Juris Secundum – a national legal encyclopedia covering all state and federal legal topics where general rules of law are summarized and limitations/exceptions to the rules are explained
  • American Jurisprudence 2d – a modern comprehensive text statement of both state and federal law, including recent developments
  • American Law Reports - (1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th & Fed. Series) – a multi-series set that provides summaries of areas of law along with how that area of law is interpreted in state and federal courts
  • New York Jurisprudence – a state legal encyclopedia with background and explanations of NY legal topics and citations to primary law (Not every state has a legal encyclopedia.)

Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS), a multi-volume legal encyclopedia, comes in both print and electronic versions. The print version, located in the library’s National Reading Room on the second floor, has over 400 separate topics covering state and federal legal topics. General rules of law are summarized in “Black Letter” headings with explanations in the text. CJS is organized by Topic of Law.

Each topic has:

  • A summary or general table of contents, with a detailed table of contents
  • The first part of each section has a scope or overview of that section. The overview may contain cross references and other topics to review.
  • A black letter summary or overview of the rule of law (this will appear in bold lettering). The detailed overview explains the precedent and rationale for that law and provides citations to cases, statutes and definitions of the law.
  • There is also a research reference section that refers to other publications, such as, topic and key numbers, American Law Reports, American Jurisprudence (AMJUR) and other publications.

At the end of the hard bound topic books, CJS has several soft cover books that contain:

  • The general index for all subjects of the law (and a general index update)
  • A general table of laws and rules that show where federal statutes, rules, regulations and uniform laws (including the restatements) are cited in the CJS and help find CJS articles discussing the statutes, rules and regulations
  • A Table of Cases to use when you have a case name or citation and would like to find a CJS article that discusses this case and where to find references to other cases, statutes and regulations

It is helpful to start with the general index that will lead the specific topics and browse through the general and detailed index for that topic to find the black letter law that you want to review. Make sure to update by using the pocket parts. In addition to the print version in the library, CJS is available on Westlaw (Database identifier CJS). The library catalog record links to the Westlaw database.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Episode 056 - Conversation with BLS Professor Robert Pitler

Episode 056 - Conversation with BLS Professor Robert Pitler.mp3

The New York Law Journal article, No-Fault Companion Bill on Maintenance Raises New Concerns discusses the recently enacted New York no-fault divorce bill. The NY State Assembly website has a summary of the bill. Gov. David Paterson signed thea bill making New York the last state to enact some version of no-fault divorce, do that people trying to leave a marriage will be spared the painful task of attacking their estranged spouse in court.

The NYLJ article refers to Brooklyn Law School Professor of Law Robert M. Pitler in his role as the Chairman of the New York State Law Revision Commission and its study on the setting of maintenance levels statewide to determine if courts are failing to take into account financial factors that could unfairly disadvantage one spouse or another. Prof. Pitler, in this podcast, talks about the work of the Commission and his appointment as a Member of the Commission in 1988. He has served as its Chair since 1992. He is a Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School where he teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Evidence. Before joining the Brooklyn Law School Faculty in 1988, he was Counsel to the New York County District Attorney and Chief of the Office's Investigations Bureau and Appeals Bureau. He has also taught at the University of Syracuse Law School and the University of Colorado Law School.

In the podcast, Prof. Pitler also discusses the classes he will teach this fall for incoming students and upper class members.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tips for 1Ls, 2Ls and 3Ls

With a new school year starting at Brooklyn Law School, law students are likely getting a great deal of advice from family, friends and other students about how to succeed, survive and manage in law school. Lawyerist—the lawyering survival guide, an online site published by Sam Glover and Aaron Street and a team of other writers, claims to be the leading law practice blog. Lawyerist provides advice on a range of topics from law firm marketing, practice management, technology, career development, law school success, legal ethics, to starting a law practice.

Among the law school topics of interest to incoming students, returning students and recent graduatesare are these Lawyerist posts from 2010:

Welcome to the incoming Classes of 2013 and 2014 and the returing Classes of 2012 and 2011.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Prof. Bernstein on Reparations for Human Rights Violations

Brooklyn Law School's Anita and Stuart Subotnick Professor of Law Anita Bernstein has posted on SSRN her most recent article Reparations, Microfinance, Gender: A Plan, With Strategies for Implementation) on SSRN. Professor Bernstein co-authored the article with Hans Dieter Seibel, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Cologne. The abstract of the article which will be published in the Cornell International Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 1 (2011) reads:

In separate writings the authors have argued that nations planning reparations for human rights violations ought to consider microfinance as a mode of pecuniary transfer. Joining a symposium on gender and violence and responding to calls from readers for more detail on how to install and fund such a plan, this article presents microfinance-based reparations as policy for a national government to consider. It addresses several strategic and practical considerations that an implementing gvernment would face.

Converting benefit payments into shares and deposits and beneficiaries into shareholders of microfinance institutions turns former victims into active partners of aid and owners of sustainable local entities. It also has gender-progressive effects. In many countries, women are already playing a prominent role in self-help groups, informal savings and credit associations, and other types of microfinance institutions on which a reparations plan can build to achieve economic as well as moral-reparative gains following a humanitarian crisis.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brooklyn Jury Convicts NJ Blogger

A local news item reports that a Brooklyn federal jury in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York found internet radio host and blogger Harold (Hal) Turner, of North Bergen, NJ, guilty of threatening three Chicago federal judges. In June 2009, US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office in Chicago charged Turner with threatening judges Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner and William Bauer in website postings because of their June 2009 ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. The case was moved from Illinois to Brooklyn to ensure a fair trial. Two earlier trials in Brooklyn ended with hung juries in March and December. The jury in the latest trial, where US District Judge Donald E. Walter presided, deliberated less than two hours before rendering its decision.

An ABA Journal article Posner Admirers Crowd Trial Over Blogger’s Online Rant Against 7th Circuit Panel reports that Brooklyn Law School student Kevin Turton, Class of 2012 and a summer intern in the Brooklyn federal court was in the courtroom to listen to Judge Posner’s testimony. Having read one of Posner’s books (the BLS Library's catalog lists 53 items for which Judge Posner is author), Turton said “He has somewhat of a celebrity status to us. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see him in person, to see him react in a courtroom setting as a witness.”

Turner’s blog posting included statements such as "Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions." Prosecutors claim Turner wrote approvingly on his blog of the February 2005 slaying of US District Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother by a disgruntled litigant. He wrote on his blog "Hope you think your job was worth what it seems to have cost you. Every other federal judge should take a good hard look. White people are tired of being pushed around by this government. We are slow to anger, but when we reach our limit, it isn't pretty."

At trial, Turned testified that he served as an FBI informant from 2003 to 2007 and had alerted the government to threats against President Barack Obama. Turner said the FBI explained to him how far he could go in his speech without violating the law. Defense lawyers focused attention on his long and complicated relationship as a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecutors portrayed Turner as a dangerous white supremacist who suggested that three judges deserved to be killed. His conviction under 18 U.S.C. 115(a)(1)(b) subjects him to imprisonment for not more than 10 years under 18 U.S.C. 115(b)(4) and a fine of not more than $250,000 is available as an alternative or supplementary sanction.

Friday, August 13, 2010

BLS Welcome 1Ls

The new academic year is fast approaching and Brooklyn Law School is set to welcome the incoming 1Ls. The welcome begins with First-Year Students Welcome BBQ Party taking place today at 5:00 PM in Geraldo’s CafĂ©, Feil Hall, 205 State Street. Next is First Year Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 14 at 10:00 AM at 1 Boerum Place, 3rd Floor where new students get a 10% discount on all school apparel. On Sunday, August 15 at 6:00 pm BLS holds its annual Convocation at the New York State Supreme Court, 320 Jay Street. A reception will follow in the Eastern District of New York Court Building at 225 Cadman Plaza East.

Brooklyn Law School Library Director Victoria Szymczak, Associate Librarian Linda Holmes and reference librarians Jean Davis, Karen Schneiderman, Harold O'Grady and Rosemary Campagna will welcome the new students at a series of thirteen library orientation sessions. They will be held in the Professor Joseph Crea Reading Room on the second floor of the library. (Librarian Kathy Darvil will be away on maternity leave.) Most of the sessions will take place in the daytime during the week of August 23 when the fall semester classes begin. There will be several addtional sessions scheduled during evening hours for part-time students.

The librarians will introduce the incoming Class of 2013 and the Class of 2014 to SARA the library's online catalog and the library website. They will also discusss study aids that are in the library collection as well as the 1L Resources Tips and Tools Libguide. In addition, incoming students will receive handouts on Case Law, Researching Statutes, Federal Rules and Regulations, Looseleafs & Databases, Law Reviews & Journals, and American Law Reports.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

ABA Endorses Marriage Equality

This week, at its annual meeting in San Francisco, the American Bar Association through its House of Delegates passed Resolution 111 which “RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges state, territorial, and tribal governments to eliminate all of their legal barriers to civil marriage between two persons of the same sex who are otherwise eligible to marry”. Among the groups sponsoring the resolution were the New York State Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. NYSBA President Stephen P. Younger says that the resolution passed overwhelmingly, with only one speaker voicing opposition during debate. The ABA's approval comes days after Judge Vaughn Walker’s Order in Perry v. Schwarzenegger which struck down California's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban. Younger says the timing of the ABA's vote is a coincidence.

The resolution lacks the force of law but shows that many in the legal profession feel that marriage equality helps meet the ABA’s goals to "Eliminate bias in the legal profession and the justice system" and "Work for just laws, including human rights, and a fair legal process". The initial report and recommendation for the resolution lays out the arguments for equality asserting that the lack of marriage for same-sex couples "offends our constitutional commitments to liberty and equality." It invokes many historic civil rights rulings, including Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court ruling that struck down prohibitions on interracial marriage, and Brown v. Board of Ed., which desegregated public schools:

Asserting that separate systems for classes of citizens can satisfy constitutional equality guarantees as long as identical legal rights are conferred invokes the long-repudiated reasoning in Plessy v. Ferguson. In that case, the Court upheld separate railway cars for African-Americans. . . . However, as our constitutional tradition and history has made clear, only full marriage equality comports with our constitutional standards that separate is not equal. See Brown v. Board of Ed., 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

In the past 20 years, the ABA has supported adoption and second-parent adoption rights for same-sex couples, statutes to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in child custody and other areas, and repeal of Section 3 of DOMA (which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages). It also opposed a federal constitutional amendment that would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages.