Thursday, March 31, 2011

Episode 064 – Conversation with Professor Elizabeth Schneider

Episode 064 – Conversation with Professor Elizabeth Schneider.mp3

In this podcast, Brooklyn Law School Professor Elizabeth M. Schneider talks about her recently published book Women and the Law Stories (Call #KF478..A5. W642 2011) which she co-edited with Prof. Stephanie M. Wildman and for which they wrote the Introduction. The book looks at landmark cases establishing women's legal rights, and tells the stories of the litigants, history, parties, strategies, and theoretical implications. Prof. Schneider uses the book in her Women and the Law course to give students the human stories behind the cases. The subject areas of the book include history, constitutional law, reproductive freedom, the workplace, the family, and women in the legal profession as well as domestic violence and rape. Prof. Schneider teaches Civil Procedure, Domestic Violence and the Law, Women and the Law and a Federal Civil Litigation, Public Law and Justice Seminar. Her extensive list of publications is available here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bridge the Gap Legal Research Program

The Law Library Association of Greater New York (LLAGNY) is sponsoring the Bridge the Gap Legal Research Program at New York Law School on April 8, 2011. The cost of the program is $40.00 and includes breakfast, lunch and course materials. Program description flyers and the registration form are now posted on the LLAGNY website.

There are separate program flyers for students and for attorneys. Here are the direct links to those materials in a PDF (fillable) format: for Law Students; for Attorneys; and for Library Students. There are also versions of the forms in Word at the website.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Madness and Sports Law

As March Madness sweeps across college basketball, the Brooklyn Law School Library has added to its collection Legal Issues in American Basketball edited by Lewis Kurlantzick (Call #KF3989.A75 L445 2011), a set of essays on a variety of legal issues facing professional basketball. The book is the second in a series dealing with the legal regulation of athletics. The BLS Library also has the first in the series, Legal Issues in Professional Baseball (Call #KF3989.A75 L44 2005). The new book has five chapters including an introduction by the editor, a law professor at the University of Connecticut School of law, and these chapters: Technology and Legal Issues in Professional Basketball; Labor Relations in the NBA: Beyond the Words and into the Practice; Thunder on the Road from Seattle to Oklahoma City: Moving from NOPA to ZOPA in the NBA; "We Got Next”: the Once and Future WNBA; An International Dimension: Player Movement, the NBA-FIBA Agreement, and Foreign League lLmitations on American Payers. The contributors are Robert C. Berry, Pofessor at Boston College Law School; Russ VerSteeg, a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law and Pofessor at New England Law School; Jacquelyn Bridgeman, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and Pofessor at the University of Wyoming’s College of Law; and James R. McCurdy, a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and Pofessor of Sports Law at Gonzaga University School of Law.

BLS students looking for a study aid on sports law can review Sports Law in a Nutshell by Walter T. Champion (Call #KF3989.Z9 C48 2009) on reserve at the circulation desk. The nutshell simplifies the complex world of sports law and provides a road map to issues such as contracts, torts, antitrust, liabilities, constitutional implications, labor law, and taxes. Sports Law Practice, a two-volume looseleaf set by Martin J. Greenberg (Call #KF3989 .G74 2009),is a more useful resource for the attorney or agent in the arena of sports law with sample forms, checklists, and examples that provide invaluable assistance in drafting contracts. Contractual analysis assists in understanding contract provisions and how to structure contracts and addendums.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World Water Day 2011

In 1993, a United Nations General Assembly resolution designated March 22 as World Day for Water, to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Each year since then, World Water Day has focused on a different aspect of freshwater. This year, the 19th annual World Water Day, the Republic of South Africa is hosting a conference called Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge. The conference program brochure states that for the first time in human history most of the world’s population lives in cities: 3.3 billion people. The urban landscape continues to grow and 38% of the growth is represented by expanding slums. City populations are increasing faster than city infrastructure can adapt. The objective of WWD 2011 is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.

Internationally, nearly one billion people lack access to safe water and 2.5 billion do not have improved sanitation according to, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries. And at the same time, the US Geological Survey estimates that the average American home uses between 80-100 gallons of water just for indoor use.

The Brooklyn Law School Library collection has Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It by Robert Jerome Glennon (Call #TD223 .G578 2009) which shows that the water crisis is not confined to the third world. This book has frightening and comical examples of how Americanws waste water from manufactured snow for tourists in Atlanta to trillions of gallons flushed down the toilet each year. State and local governments diverts supplies from one area to another to keep water flowing from the tap. Some time soon, water shortages will threaten not only the environment, but every aspect of American life: we face shuttered power plants and jobless workers, decimated fisheries and contaminated drinking water. New demands for water needed for ethanol and energy production, will only worsen the crisis. This book proposes market-based solutions that value water as both a commodity and a fundamental human right. When we recognize how valuable water is, we will begin to conserve it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Limits on Malpractice Damages

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other Democrats in the New York State Assembly defeated a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo to place a $250,000 cap on non-economic awards for medical malpractice, such as for pain and suffering,. Stating that the cap would work against the interests of women, the elderly, children and others with lower incomes who may have a claim for a grievous injury caused by medical professionals, Weinstien said “It hurts litigants who have a diminished quality of life for which they will not be compensated". The NY Law Journal article State Assembly Rejects Cap on Med Mal Pain, Suffering has more on the legislative process to adopt limits on malpractice awards as part of the budget.

A task force formed by the governor, the Medicaid Reform Team, suggested the cap as one of a number of ways to address the state’s $15 billion-a-year Medicaid program. See the New York Law Journal article State Bar Blasts Proposal to Cap Medical Malpractice Awards. The governor included all the task force's recommendations in his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, also opposed a cap on non-economic losses for pain and suffering, arguing that it would deprive deserving plaintiffs of their day in court.

Several state courts have abolished their medical malpractice caps, allowing injured patients to receive the full compensation that a judge or jury of their peers might award to them. Last year, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hosp., 930 N.E.2d 895 (2010), that the a state cap law violated the state Constitution's "separation of powers" clause because it took away power that should rest solely with judges. In Oliver v. Magnolia Clinic, 51 So.3d 874 (La. App. 3 Cir., 2010), a Louisiana state appeals court ruled the state's limit on medical malpractice awards unconstitutional and included a review of case law showing that when courts have considered similar malpractice caps in response to state constitutional challenges by severely or catastrophically injured victims, they have been troubled by the disparate impact caps have on this group. See the ALR Annotation discussing statutory recovery caps by Carol A. Crocca, Validity, Construction, and Application of State Statutory Provisions Limiting Amount of Recovery in Medical Malpractice Claims, 26 A.L.R.5th 245 (2001) (password required).

As states grapple with budgetary crises, large medical malpractice awards will remain tempting targets for legislators and tort reform proponents. Courts will also continue to have a say on limiting claims. The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its NY collection Medical Malpractice in New York by Robert Devine (Call #KFN6028.M35 M43 2009) in its third edition.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish-American Heritage Month

The US Census Bureau has some "Facts for Features" for Irish-American Heritage Month 2011 which honors the achievements and contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants living in the United States. For example, there are 36.9 million US residents who claimed Irish ancestry in 2009. This number was more than eight times the population of Ireland itself (4.5 million). Irish was the nation's second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German. See also the Library of Congress page for Irish Contributions to American Culture.

St. Patrick’s Day brings to mind shamrocks, Irish heritage, green beer, leprechauns, and perhaps most notably the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade. Dating back to March 17, 1762, the parade is associated with Guinness and other potent potables often drunk to excess. A NY Daily News article reported that, earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg faced boos and jeers at the Rockaway Queens St. Patrick's Day Parade, the second-largest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the city, for his comment last month at the Upper East Side headquarters of the American Irish Historical Society: "Normally, when I walk by this building there are a bunch of people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window waving." He later apologized but still faced taunts from the crowd perhaps due to plans to lay off 4,600 teachers.

Another Queens Parade, the “St. Pats Parade for All,” began in March 2000 as the city's only parade to welcome lesbian and gay contingents after the Manhattan St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, banned the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO) from marching as a group. ILGO, after several unsuccessful efforts to participate in the parade, sued and lost a court action seeking a permit to march. See Irish Lesbian & Gay Org. v. Giuliani, 143 F.3d 638 (2d Cir. 1998) citing the US Supreme Court decision in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group, 515 U.S. 557 (1995).

The story of the Irish is more than controversies about public intoxication and the exclusion of gays and lesbians. The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection a short easily readable book, How The Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill (Call # DA930.5 .C34 1995), which starts with the fall of Rome and the ensuing chaos that it unleashed. As the barbarian hordes were overrunning the remains of the Western Roman Empire, it was not just knowledge of the ancients that was lost. Cahill argues that people did not have time to think on great things. But along came the Irish from the wilds of Hibernia, where barbarians dared not go as the Celts were dangerous. They abducted foreigners into slavery most famously a young Romanized Briton named Patricius. After escaping, the future St. Patrick returned as a missionary to bring Christianity to the Emerald Isle.

The book shows that Christianity brought civilization and a strong sense of peace to the warring Celts of Ireland. It argues that Christianity, a faith that objected to violence as the solution to problems, created the space for study and knowledge. Early Irish Christians (as well as the Jewish nation) preserved the written word to keep civilization alive, saving the works of the ancient Greek and Roman pagans as well as their own literature. Without that effort, much would have been lost forever. The story of how we almost lost the foundations of Western Civilization and how a small group of Irish monks kept the light burning with the world plunged in the Dark Ages is worth reading on St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bicycling and the Law

Bicycling in New York City has become a legal topic as opponents of the newly installed two-way parking separated experimental bicycle lane (EBL) on Prospect Park West filed a petition under CPLR §78 this month against the NYC Department of Transportation in Kings County Supreme Court. The suit seeks a court order declaring the installation of the EBL as arbitrary and capricious and seeking an order directing its removal. The NY Times article, Lawsuit Seeks to Erase Bike Lane in New York City, has more details on opponents of the EBLs stating: “The lawsuit, filed by a group with close ties to Iris Weinshall, the city's transportation commissioner from 2000 to 2007 and the wife of Senator Charles E. Schumer, accuses the Transportation Department of misleading residents about the benefits of the lane, cherry-picking statistics on safety improvements and collaborating with bicycle activists to quash community opposition.”

Last month, the City Council enacted a series of three laws requiring police to provide monthly reports of traffic accidents and summonses. The legislation requires the information to be posted on the DOT website. The three bills are Intro 0370-2010 (in relation to pedestrian safety reporting), Intro 0374-2010 (in relation to requiring the compilation of bicycle crash data), and Intro 0377-2010 (in relation to traffic study determinations). Brooklyn Law School Adjunct Associate Professor of Law Brad S. Lander, a City Council Member representing Park Slope, supported the three bills which require New York City’s Department of Transportation to begin annual reporting on the number of bike and pedestrian crashes broken down by police precincts. The Bloomberg administration worked with the City Council to produce bills that made sense of the crash data. The mayor signed all three bills into law on February 22. The local law relating to the compilations of bicycle crash data became effective immediately upon enactment.

The information collected from the new city bike-crash data law, aside from helping those injured in accidents, will be of use to both friends and foes of bike lanes as both sides think the data will support their views. A January 2011 report by the NYC DOT on the Prospect Park West bike lane shows that it has made the neighborhood safer for drivers and for cyclists. Data showed that crashes were down 16 %; those that occurred were half as likely to include an injury; cars were much more likely to drive at or below the speed limit; and no pedestrian injuries or pedestrian-cyclist crashes occurred since the lane was installed last June. The controvery over the Prospect Park West bike lane has local political implications as well as ones that go beyond Brooklyn. See this article (How one New York bike lane could affect the future of cycling worldwide) from the Guardian in the UK.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Women's History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month this March, Brooklyn Law School Associate Librarian Linda Holmes has displayed a number of books from the BLS Library collection in the first floor library display case on Women and the Law. Among the titles included are these:

The Woman Advocate by Abbe Fletman and Evelyn Storch (Call #KF299.W6 W642 2010) with first-hand accounts by successful women lawyers of their experiences at all stages of career development. In the four parts of the book- Where We Are; How We Got There; What Our Environment Is Like; and Where We're Going-the contributors provide reflections, advice, guidance, and, of course, war stories in lively, entertaining and insightful prose.

Women Attorneys Speak Out! How Practicing Law Is Different For Women Than For Men (and Tips on How to Handle The Biggest Frustrations) by Judi Craig (Call #KF299.W6 C73 2008) where a cross-section of women attorneys in a variety of practice areas share their experiences, frustrations, and advice with those considering or currently practicing law. They discuss how they perceive the present state of legal practice for female attorneys, provide their favorite tips for achieving a work-life balance, and discuss a variety of solutions to work-life balance issues.

Women at Law: Lessons Learned Along the Pathways to Success by Phyllis Horn Epstein (Call #KF299.W6 E67 2004) a guide whose author interviewed more than 100 women lawyers of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyle in a wide variety of practice settings in the nation to find out how women lawyers define success.

Sisters-in-Law by Lisa Sherman, Jill Schecter and Deborah Turchiano (Call #KF299.W6 S54 2004) a humorous guide about the nuts and bolts of practicing law, finding a specialty that suits a woman lawyer's talents and moving from one firm to another while addressing the varied demands of being single woman, facing motherhood and managing a family.

Gender on Trial: Sexual Stereotypes and Work/Life Balance in the Legal Workplace by Holly English (Call #KF299.W6 E54 2003) which examines gender stereotypes that continue to plague both women and men in the legal workplace in the form of male-only executive teams and management committees; sexist jokes; women resenting other ambitious women; men being unable to work reduced hours; and firms remaining hesitant to hire women fearing they might leave the firm to start a family.

Women's History Month celebrates the achievements of American women. It began in 1981 with Congress' passage of Pub. L. 97-28. The Law Library of Congress' page for Women's History Month has legislative history. March 8 marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day which was first celebrated on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies to demand for women the right to vote and to hold public office, women's rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job. See more at the UN International Women's Day website.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Corporations and "Personal Privacy"

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in FCC v. AT&T that corporations do not have "personal privacy" for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act. AT&T sought to prevent the disclosure of documents to the FCC as part of an investigation on the grounds that their release would invade the corporation’s personal privacy. AT&T argued that a section of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(7)(C), provided an exemption shielding it from disclosing information that "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”. It argued that the word “person” includes corporations and that “personal privacy” must also include corporations.

Despite concerns that the Court would expand its ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, recognizing the First Amendment rights of corporations, to broader contexts such as the FOIA, the Court disagreed with AT&T. The case did not address constitutional issues but used plain language in statutory interpretation. Chief Justice John Roberts’ 15 page opinion, reversing the Third Circuit opinion in 582 F.3d 490 (2009), used other adjectives to demonstrate that an adjective does not always reflect the same meaning as the corresponding noun as shown in this passage:
Adjectives typically reflect the meaning of corresponding nouns, but not always. Sometimes they acquire distinct meanings of their own. The noun “crab” refers variously to a crustacean and a type of apple, while the related adjective “crabbed” can refer to handwriting that is “difficult to read,” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 527 (2002); “corny” can mean “using familiar and stereotyped formulas believed to appeal to the unsophisticated,” id., at 509, which has little to do with “corn,” id., at 507 (“the seeds of any of the cereal grasses used for food”); and while “crank” is “a part of anaxis bent at right angles,” “cranky” can mean “given to fretful fussiness.
In conclusion, Justice Roberts wrote perhaps the wryest closing sentence in the history of the Court: "The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations. We trust that AT&T will not take it personally."

With statutes being most of the relevant law heard in federal courts, judicial interpretation of those statutes has been the subject of great attention and dispute over the years. The Theory and Practice of Statutory Interpretation by Frank B. Cross (Call #KF425 .C76 2009) in the Brooklyn Law School Library has insights into the theory and practice of statutory interpretation by courts.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Episode 063 – Conversation with Robert Malesko, Class of 2011

Episode 063 – Conversation with Robert Malesko, Class of 2011.mp3

This podcast features Robert Malesko, Brooklyn Law School Class of 2011, discussing his career as a law librarian in the California court system before coming to BLS. He talks as well about his legal research studies this semester and last at Brooklyn Law School where the law librarians teach courses in Advanced Legal Research. Rob is also working on a special project with Law Library Director Victoria Szymczak for the law school’s new LLM program for Foreign Trained-Lawyers. In addition, he tells of his upcoming work in the California court system in San Diego after graduation. For more about Rob, see an earlier post here.