Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holidays Today and 100 Years Ago

For the upcoming Holiday Season, the BLS Library Blog will be away until the New Year. Brooklyn Law School and the BLS Library will close on Saturday, December 22 and will reopen on Wednesday, January 2.

BLS Library users looking for inspirational reading for the holidays will enjoy the short 84 page book Memory of a Large Christmas by Lillian Smith (1897-1966). Written fifty years ago in 1962, the book recounts Christmases of fifty years earlier in the South which Smith recalls as being certainly big with lots of people who ate lots of food in a house with lots of room. From the preface of Thanksgiving through the hog-killing, gift-buying, stocking-hanging and finally the main event, the small volume is packed with illustrations and a few recipes. Smith‘s recollection of Christmas as a child at the turn of the last century transports the reader to a kinder and gentler time where the anticipation of hog killing is a wondrous and dreaded occasion. In addition to being a writer, Smith became a vocal social critic of the Southern United States. A white woman who openly embraced controversial positions on matters of race and gender equality, she was a southern liberal unafraid to criticize segregation and work toward the dismantling of Jim Crow laws, at a time when such actions almost guaranteed social ostracism.

Best wishes for the Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Books List

The Cataloging Department at the Brooklyn Law School Library has put out its latest New Books List. It has 69 items including Legal Analysis: 100 Exercises for Mastery, Practice for Every Law Student by Cassandra L. Hill and Katherine T. Vukadin (Call #KF240 .H533 2012). Aside from helping preparation for first year exams, it teaches how to issue spot and to formulate answers to get the maximum points in the most efficient way. There are 100 paced exercises to sharpen students' legal analysis skills. The book will appeal to Professors who will find a bank of 100 legal analysis exercises at the ready, whenever students' analysis skills need attention or refinement; assignments that contain thoughtful sample answers and helpful annotations; learning objectives and outcomes for each chapter; Sample annotated answers for 50 of the exercises that their students can use to assess their own performance; and online resources for ready access to authority.

Students will receive tools to develop a keen understanding of rule-based and analogical reasoning; self-assessment opportunities to ensure progress in analysis; writing assignments with self-contained feedback; and online resources for easy access to exercise cases, statutes, and regulations and helpful tips on improving legal analysis and writing skills.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Human Rights Day 2012

December 10 is the day for the annual observance of Human Rights Day which the UN General Assembly designated to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR, adopted in 1948, lays out the basic human rights that every person is entitled to receive, regardless of race or gender or any other distinction. It was drafted as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations” and was the first universal statement that all human beings have certain inherent rights that are inalienable. Consisting of a preamble and thirty articles covering such human rights as freedom of expression, assembly, movement, and religion, it sets out the basic principle of equality and non-discrimination in terms of the enjoyment of human rights, and affirms that everyone shall be free from slavery, torture, and arbitrary arrest or detention. Article 1 describes the philosophy on which the UDHR is based. It reads:
• All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
In 1950, the UN established Human Rights Day and asked member states to celebrate however they choose. The 2012 theme for Human Rights Day is “on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.”

For a history of the UDHR, see the Brooklyn Law Library copy of A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Mary Ann Glendon (Call #K3238.31948 .G58 2001) which tells how in 1947, after a devastating war and mass displacement, the idea of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights seemed impossible yet necessary. With the coming of the Cold War, the American delegation to the UN, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, began writing what would become the world's first statement of human rights. The book traces the evolution of the document which was ratified on December 10, 1948, after six drafts and much debate by the UN General Assembly. It also presents a portrait of a woman driven to public service while still grieving for her late husband. The book concludes with a legal analysis of the declaration and a lengthy discussion of its applicability today, when many non-Western nations claim that the concept of "universal" human rights precepts precludes an acceptance of cultural differences.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pronouncing US Supreme Court Cases

Some US Supreme Court cases like Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), are easy to pronounce but others are more difficult. What are the correct pronunciations for Baas v. Tingey, 4 U.S. 37 (1800), Compagnie Générale Transatlantique v. Elting, 298 U.S. 217 (1936), Kawaauhau v. Geiger, 523 U.S. 57 (1998), Schuylkill Trust Co. v. Pennsylvania, 302 U.S. 506 (1938), and Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. ___ (2010)? To deal with this challenge, Yale Law School created earlier this year the Pronouncing Dictionary of the Supreme Court of the United States, a resource on how to pronounce foreign and other difficult party names from hundreds of Supreme Court cases. For each case, the dictionary has an Americanized pronunciation based on the Garner Pronunciation Guide from Black’s Law Dictionary as well as a pronunciation using the International Phonetic Alphabet. Audio of each pronunciation is provided as well. Although incomplete, it is a useful tool for those seeking accuracy and authenticity in pronunciation. Explaining the project, a team of Yale Law School students wrote an article published in the summer 2012 issue of the Green Bag. They are considering creating a second database on how to pronounce Justices’ names, a few of which – Roger B. Taney, for example – are counterintuitive. The correct pronunciation is TAW-nee. Those who prefer the spoken word can listen to a three minute NPR audio story (with transcript) about the project.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Law, Medicine, and Early American Libel

Another interesting title in the latest Brooklyn Law School Library New Book List is Law and Medicine in Revolutionary America: Dissecting the Rush v. Cobbett Trial, 1799by Linda Myrsiades (Call #KF228.R85 M97 2012). The book focuses on the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia, which resulted in the death of 4,044 people, and the ensuing libel trial of Rush v Cobbett that pitted medicine against the press, republicanism against federalism, and privacy against the public welfare. The case was between two critical figures in late eighteenth-century America, the new nation’s most prestigious physician-patriot, Benjamin Rush, and its most popular journalist, William Cobbett, editor of Porcupine’s Gazette.

Rush, an advocate of bleeding patients, would sometimes apply the treatment to a hundred patients in a single day. Evidence showed that bloodletting coincided with higher death rates. In 1797, Englishman William Cobbett stated that Rush had "contributed to the depopulation of the earth" in the wake of the yellow fever epidemics in 1794 and 1797. Rush then sued Cobbett in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for libel for criticizing him. Cobbett, being an Englishman, had little chance of defending himself in the newly independent United States and lost the case when, on December 14, 1799, the jury ordered him to pay $5,000 compensation to Rush, at the time the largest award ever paid out in Pennsylvania.

The book brings together many primary sources including trial records, press coverage, and personal correspondence, dissecting the libel trial and contributimg to the study of medicine, law, and the humanities. Using a rare surviving transcript, the author examines the trial's six litigating counsel whose narratives of events and roles provide a unique view of how the revolutionary generation saw itself and the legacy it wished to leave for future generations. On the one hand, the trial featured assaults against medical bleeding and its premier practitioner in the yellow fever epidemics; on the other, it castigated the licentiousness of the press in the nation’s then-capital city. The history shows the itigiousness of the new nation as well as the threat of sedition characterizing the development of political parties and the partisan press in the newly independent America nation. Chapters in the book include: Benjamin Rush and the culture of medicine -- Malpractice law and Benjamin Rush -- William Cobbett and the scurrilous press -- Libel law and William Cobbett -- The trial concluded.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dual Degree LL.M. with MSLIS

Brooklyn Law School has joined with Pratt Institute to offer a new dual degree program in Law Librarianship and Information Law where students will earn an MSLIS (Master of Science in Librarianship and Information Science) with an LL.M. in Information Law and Society. Students seeking admission to the program must have completed a J.D. degree at an ABA-accredited law school, and must apply to and be accepted by both Pratt Institute and Brooklyn Law School. To learn more about the application process, please visit. For further information, visit the BLS Website for its description of the Joint Degree: Library and Information Science - JD/MSLIS and the Pratt Website titled MSLIS / JD and MSLIS/ LL.M. Brooklyn Law School.

Intersted applicants can contact either Director of the Brooklyn Law School Library & Associate Professor of Law Janet Sinder by phone at (718) 780-7975 or by email at or Pratt Institute School of Information & Library Science Assistant to the Dean for Academic Programs Quinn Lai by phone at (212) 647-7682 or by email at

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Marijuana Legalization

Election Day 2012 saw voter initiatives in several states on marijuana legalization. Colorado and Washington became the first US states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday in defiance of federal law, setting the stage for a showdown with the federal government. Medical marijuana measures were on the ballot in three other states. In Massachusetts, supporters issued a statement declaring victory for what they described as "the safest medical marijuana law in the country." Seventeen other states, plus the District of Columbia, already have medical marijuana laws on their books. In Arkansas, a measure that would have made it the first state in the South to legalize marijuana for medical purposes appeared was defeated. In Oregon, a measure to remove criminal penalties for personal possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis was also defeated.

A newly released Quinnipiac University poll shows that American voters favor the legalization of marijuana, 51% to 44%, with a substantial gender and age gap. The poll states that men support legalization 59% to 36%, but women are opposed 52% to 44%. The racial split is barely noticeable on this question with 50% of white voters and 57% of black voters backing legalization. Those who are 18 to 29 years old support legalization 67% to 29% while voters over age 65 are opposed 56% to 35% and those who 30 to 44 years old like the idea 58% to 39%, while voters 45 to 64 years old are divided 48% to 47%.

The Brooklyn Law School Library has on order a book by retired police officer Howard Rahtz, Drugs, Crime and Violence: From Trafficking to Treatment, which examines the history of drug abuse and provides a unique perspective on the drug war. It covers all aspects of the “war on drugs” to help readers become well-informed and capable of developing an educated reasonable conclusion. Chapters include Drugs, Crime and Violence -- The Illegal Drug Market -- Learning From the Past -- Policy Options -- An International Perspective -- Drug Abuse-The Damage Done -- Addiction: The Driving Force behind the Illegal Market -- Marijuana-The Cartel's Cash Cow -- From Trafficking to Treatment -- The Costs of Policy Paralysis -- A New Direction.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Law Students by Gender

The Wall Street Journal article, Women Notch Progress - Females Now Constitute One-Third of Nation's Ranks of Doctors and Lawyers, reports that “"Women account for a third of the nation's lawyers and doctors, a major shift from a generation ago when those professions were occupied almost exclusively by men, new Census figures show. Women's share of jobs in the legal and medical fields climbed during the past decade even as their share of the overall workforce stalled at slightly less than half. Women held 33.4% of legal jobs—including lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers—in 2010, up from 29.2% in 2000. The share of female physicians and surgeons increased to 32.4% from 26.8% during that time. In 1970, women were 9.7% of the nation's doctors and just 4.9% of its lawyers, according to Census data." At Brooklyn Law School, the percentage of women law students is even greater as the 1,376 law students consist of 757 male students (55%) and 619 female students (45%).

An ABA article shows that statistics at BLS are consistent with law schools nationally but women's enrollment at law schools has been steadily declining since 2002, when women constituted about 49% of law students. ABA statistics show that women made up about 47 percent of all first-year law students for 2009 to 2010, and 45.9 percent of all law school graduates. The all-time high was in 1993, when women's enrollment bumped just above 50 percent. Figures for employment of new attorneys show the same downward trend as women make up 47 percent of first- and second-year associates, down from 48 percent in prior years. The 2011 Report of the Sixth Annual National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms by the National Association of Women Lawyers surveying the nation’s 200 largest law firms states that: “It may not be a huge change, but it suggests that the pipeline may be shrinking.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Internet Research

Brooklyn Law School Library has added to its collection The Cybersleuth's Guide to the Internet: Conducting Effective Free Investigative & Legal Research on the Web by Carole A. Levitt and Mark E. Rosch (Call # KF242.A1 L48 2012), a 520 page book that shows how to be a cyber-detective and unearth information that was once only available to professional researchers from expensive, fee-based sources for free on the Internet on the Web. The book includes numerous examples based on real world research scenarios. This book can help investigators find information fast and free. For the beginning searcher, the book covers many overlooked features of Web browsers, the "mechanics" of navigating the Internet, and basic research strategies and tools. For "power searchers," the book covers advanced search strategies and tip and tricks for getting the most out of many of the sites.

Content includes: Introduction to the internet and web browsers -- Reliability and admissibility of information from the internet -- How to search the web: search engines and directories -- Other favorite search engines and meta-search sites -- Finding older versions of web pages that have been deleted or revised -- Free investigative research resources: to locate and background people -- Finding experts and verifying their credentials -- Locating and backgrounding attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals -- Pay investigative research databases -- Using the internet for substantive legal research -- Free online case law databases -- Free "member benefit to lawyers" online legal research databases: case law and more -- Cite checking cases -- Internet sites for governmental resources -- Dockets -- Finding legal web sites that are topic-, jurisdiction-, or format-specific -- How to cite resources on the internet.

Monday, December 3, 2012

History and Future of the Passport

The Brooklyn Law School Library latest New Books List contains The Passport in America: The History of a Document by Craig Robertson (Call #KF4794 .R63 2010). The 340 page book is the first history of the US passport and offers an account of how the passport came to the most reliable document to answer the question: who are you? Historically, the passport originated as an official letter of introduction addressed to foreign governments on behalf of American travelers. Prior to World War I, passports were not required to cross American borders, and while some people struggled to understand how a passport could accurately identify a person, others took advantage of this new document to advance claims for citizenship. From the strategic use of passport applications by freed slaves and a campaign to allow married women to get passports in their maiden names, to the "passport nuisance" of the 1920s and the contested addition of photographs and other identification technologies on the passport, the book sheds  light on issues of individual and national identity in modern US history.

Interestingly, since 9/11, the difficulties in travel have not lessened the desire for travel as US Department of State statistics show that passport applications have almost doubled from 2001 when there were just over 7 million passports to almost 14 million this year. While the cost of a passport application is a relative bargain at  $135, the US Department of State last year attempted to make the process more difficult with its proposal for a new Biographical Questionnaire for passport applicants. The proposed new Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information.  The proposed form states that “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.” For more on the proposal, see the post at the Consumer Traveler blog. The US Passport Book and Passport Card for adults are valid for ten years. Passports for minors under age 16 are valid for five years. The US Passport is not just used for travel anymore. It serves as proof of citizenship and identity for important purposes such as work authorization and eligibility for many Federal benefits.

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 Guantánamo. 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 Sauvé 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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Disaster Law and Policy

Hurricane Sandy is likely to result in more losses than last year’s Hurricane Irene, leaving millions without power, causing widespread flooding and the shutdown of New York City’s subways for days, and the death of dozens of people up and down the U.S. east coast. Insurance estimates indicate that Sandy should outdo the roughly $4.5 billion in insured losses Irene caused after hitting the northeast in August 2011. Sandy is likely to cause anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion in insured losses and from $10 billion to $20 billion in economic losses. Estimates are that Sandy will rank as the fifth-worst hurricane in history surpassing the 2011 Hurricane Irene, based on inflation-adjusted losses. Losses will likely not surpass those incurred in the wake of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina but may exceed those caused by the 2005 Hurricane Wilma.

Because of Hurricane Sandy, Brooklyn Law School closed on Sunday and continues to face staffing shortages until restoration of public transit. The BLS Library has in its collection a number of items related to environmental disasters including Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World by Robert R. M. Verchick (Call # GE180 .V47 2010) where the author argues that, as Hurricane Katrina vividly revealed, disaster policy in the United States is broken and needs reform. The book suggests a new perspective on disaster law that is based on the principles of environmental protection with a prescription that comes down to three simple commands: Go Green, Be Fair, and Keep Safe. “Go Green” means minimizing exposure to hazards by preserving natural buffers and integrating those buffers into artificial systems like levees or seawalls. “Be Fair” means looking after public health, safety, and the environment without increasing personal and social vulnerabilities. “Keep Safe” means a cautionary approach when confronting disaster risks. 
See also Disaster Law and Policy (2d edition) by the same author co-written with Daniel A. Farber, Jim Chen, and Lisa Sun (Call # KF3750 .F37 2010) with chapters Why things go wrong : causes of disaster -- Who's in charge? : federal power to respond to disaster -- Emergency response -- Social vulnerability -- Evaluating and responding to risk -- Compensation and risk spreading -- Recovering from disaster -- International disaster law and policy.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

America Votes

With 10 days to Election Day 2012, Brooklyn Law School Associate Librarian Linda Holmes has assembled in the display case on the first floor of the library an interesting collection of campaign buttons. The historic ones date back to Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, and Dwight Eisenhower. More recent ones are for women candidates for national office, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin.

The display case also has several titles from the BLS Library collection including Voting in America by Morgan E. Felchner (Call # JK1976 .V69 2008) This three volume set is a comprehensive account by a group of academics, including political science and law professors, pollsters, and journalists who take a wide-ranging look at all aspects of voting in America. Chapters cover a wide range of topics such as the Electoral College, prisoner disenfranchisement, obstacles and options for American voters abroad, the rise of ballot initiatives, the elusive youth vote, the battle for the swing vote, local issues trends, Wisconsin voter fraud, waiting in line in Ohio, provisional ballots, and partisanship in voting companies.

The display also includes The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown by noted University of California Professor of Law and Political Science Richard L. Hasen (Call # KF4886 .H39 2012). The book examines the partisan war over election rules that followed the US Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore where election litigation has risen with accusations by political partisans of voter fraud and voter suppression. The effect has been a decline in public confidence in the electoral process as campaigns deploy “armies of lawyers” and the partisan press joins in. The book looks at future election disputes which are likely to be more acrimonious, more distorted by unsubstantiated allegations, and amplified by social media. Hasen argues that election reform is an urgent priority for both citizens and elected officials.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Homepage Law Library of Congress

The Law Library of Congress has a new homepage which is less text heavy, easier to scan, and includes a highlights carousel. Two of the most used products, and the Guide to Law Online, are prominently displayed.  The @LawLibCongress Twitter stream is now on the homepage in the right column.  The new homepage compliments the enhancements made in June that widened the page layout and improved search by adding metadata and related facets. For more on the June update, see the June 6 post from the official blog of the Library of Congress, In Custodia Legis, Latin for “in the custody of the law,” a nod to the fact that the Law Library of Congress is a custodian of law and legislation for both the nation and the world. See the October 25 blog entry Welcome to Our New Front Door: A Revamped Homepage, for more information on the new homepage.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Housing Finance Fraud Suit

The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued a press release about “the first civil fraud suit brought by the Department of Justice concerning mortgage loans sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac” which are government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and financial services corporations created by the United States Congress. The 46 page Complaint in U.S. ex rel. O'Donnell v. Bank of America Corp. and Countrywide Financial Corp. seeks to recover treble damages and penalties under the False Claim Act, 31 U.S.C. §3729 (“FCA”)and civil penalties under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, Enforcement Act, 12 U.S.C. §1833a (“FIRREA”). The Complaint’s allegations center on a “streamlined” loan origination program at Countrywide known as the “Hustle” that removed controls on loan quality. The charges state that “there was widespread falsification” of data entered into an automated system for underwriting loans and that the lender “knowingly originated loans with escalating levels of fraud and other serious defects and sold them to the GSEs” despite these problems. This latest legal challenge for Bank of America could cost it $1billion.

To find out more on the subject of the government's role in the U.S. residential mortgage market, see Brooklyn Law School Library’s copy of The Future of Housing Finance: Restructuring the U.S. Residential Mortgage Market edited by Martin Neil Baily (Call # HG2040.5.U5 F88 2011). The book examines the financial crisis of 2008 and the fundamental flaws in the U.S. housing finance market that contributed to the near collapse of America’s financial system. Given bipartisan agreement that government housing policies need to be reevaluated, this book looks at the Obama administration’s recommendations to reduce the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in housing finance, with the ultimate goal of replacing these GSEs with a private market that would become the primary source of mortgage credit bearing the burden of risk.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Celebrate Pro Bono Week

Since 2009, the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has sponsored Celebrate Pro Bono Week. This year it began on Sunday October 21 and runs through Saturday October 27. Pro bono has become an integral part of the US legal culture. Last month, the NY State Bar, following the lead of New York’s top judge, Jonathan Lippman, instituted a rule that applicants who plan to be admitted in 2015 and after must complete fifty hours of pro bono service to qualify. A Thomson-Reuters News & Insight article says New Jersey's top judge, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, has formed a committee to consider requiring prospective attorneys to complete pro bono work before being admitted to the NJ state bar.

Despite these and other efforts, the legal needs of the poor remain underserved. Celebrate Pro Bono Week is a coordinated national effort to address our most vulnerable citizens by encouraging and supporting local efforts to expand the delivery of pro bono legal services. The ABA is celebrating with JUST Stories, a digital video collection of legal advocacy stories highlighting the impact of pro bono work on lawyers and the clients they serve. The “video quilt” is on the home page of the National Pro Bono Celebration site, along with instructions on how to send in your own JUST Story. More information is available on the ABA website.

The Brooklyn Law School Library has a number of resources in its collection on the subject of how law students and newly admitted lawyers can provide pro bono service including an internet resource And Justice for All: Prioritizing Free Legal Assistance During the Great Recession, the summary of which says: “The 2009 recession is increasing the numbers of people needing free legal services as well as creating financial challenges for the organizations that provide these services. This report argues that closing the justice gap and ensuring low-income families can access needed resources will require substantial new commitments. At this point the federal government and the private bar may be best suited to contribute to the solution, but state and local governments, law schools, foundations, and individual donors can also play a role.”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reconstructing Marriage

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals  today ruled Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. The ruling upholds the granting of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff issued by the Southern District Court of New York in Windsor v. United States, 833 F. Supp.2d 394 (2012). There are appeals in several cases currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could choose to take up the issue in its current term. Two members of the three-judge panel ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, an 83-year old woman who argued that the 1996 law discriminates against gay couples in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union which represented the plaintiff issued a press release about the first federal appeals court decision to decide that government discrimination against gay people gets a more exacting level of judicial review, known as “heightened scrutiny.” For more on the subject, see the Brooklyn Law School Library copy of Reconstructing Marriage: The Legal Status of Relationships in a Changing Society by Caroline Sörgjerd (Call #KKV542 .S67 2012). The book explores what the meaning of marriage today, how has marriage been influenced by the legal recognition of new cohabitation models, and what should be the role of the institution of marriage in the future. With a focus on Sweden, it examines the historical development of marriage - beginning as a "gift from God" and now being a gender-neutral institution - from a legal and political perspective and taking into account the past and present role of the Church of Sweden. The book then makes comparative assessments concerning the legal and political developments leading toward the adoption of gender-neutral marriage concepts in the Netherlands and Spain despite different societal backgrounds.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Prof. Capers Elected Member of ALI

The American Law Institute (ALI), the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify the law, has announced 68 newly elected members, including Brooklyn Law School Professor of Law I. Bennett Capers. Professor Capers returned this year to the faculty at BLS where he teaches criminal law and criminal procedure. From 2003 to 2005, he served as a BLS Adjunct Associate Professor of Law and taught “Law, Literature, and the Construction of Race”. As a practitioner, he worked nearly 10 years as an Assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York and practiced with the firms of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

ALI was established in 1923 to promote the clarification and simplification of US common law. With more than 4,300 lawyers, judges, and law professors, ALI publishes Restatements of the Law on more than twenty legal topics. The aim of the Restatements is to distill the "black letter law" from cases, to indicate a trend in common law, and sometimes to recommend what a rule of law should be. In essence, they restate existing common law into a series of principles or rules. The BLS Library has in its collection more than sixty Restatements in both print and electronic form. This link provides a complete list. ALI also publishes model statutes, and principles of law that are influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Dean Advocates for Legal Jobs

The New York Law Journal has an article about newly appointed Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard titled Brooklyn Dean Campaigns for Graduate Employment. The article says that Dean Allard lauds Brooklyn Law's faculty, alumni and student body and says the school is "financially sound." But he still must confront deeper problems faced by all law schools: What changes should be made to curriculum, where will graduates find employment and how to attract the best students from smaller applicant pools? Acknowledging that the legal profession faces tough economic conditions and the challenge of defining legal practice for the future, Dean Allard is prepared to be an advocate for graduating students as they go out into the work force.

Dean Allard, who earned his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School,  has extensive experience in a wide range of legal settings. From 2005 until his appointment as Dean, he was a Partner with Patton Boggs; from 1993-2004, he was a Partner with Latham & Watkins; from 1987-1992, he was a Partner with Fox, Bennett & Turner. He also served as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan; Minority staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, an Associate with Kaye Scholer; and Law clerk to Judge Patricia Wald, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit and to Chief Judge Robert Peckham, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. A list of Dean Allard's publications and presentations is available here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Music and Copyright

The Brooklyn Law School Library New Books List for October 12 is out and among its 49 titles is Music & Copyright in America: Toward the Celestial Jukebox by Kevin Parks (Call # KF3035 .P37 2012). The ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law published the book in August. It is the first book to explore the history of music copyright from the early 19th century (with America’s first superstar of music, songwriter Stephen C. Foster) to the present. The author, an attorney, educator and entrepreneur, highlights the close relationship between new technologies and the evolution of music copyright, examining the historical debates and struggles over copyright that shape the industry today.

At 239 pages, the book’s Table of Contents is divided into seven parts (I - Music as American Commerce; II - The End of the World as We Know It (Part 1 Rolls, Cylinders, and Discs); III - Public Performance for Profit -- From Lüchow's to the La Salle Hotel; IV - Recordings and Recording Artists; V - Revolutions in the Air; VI - The End of the World, (Part 2); VII - Into the Cloud) and 49 chapters. See sample pages from the first four chapters from Part I: Music as Property — The Early Sheet Music Trade; Copyright in “Musical Compositions”; Music Goes to Court; and The First Superstar of American Song. Parks sheds light on how Americans have created and listened to music. Besides being rich in legal history, the book shows how individuals have created and shaped an industry. It is worthwhile reading for lawyers and law students, entrepreneurs and scholars, and anyone interested in the intersection of business, law, and culture.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Judge Block Book Talk

Judge Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York (which covers Brooklyn and Long Island) has written Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge, a 456 page book that offers a behind-the-bench look at some of the most newsworthy cases of the past 20 years. In the book’s three parts, Judge Block writes in Part I about how, as an outsider born in Brooklyn, he broke through the big-city establishment barrier and become a federal judge. Part II reflects on his early days as a federal court judge. Part III of the book comments on the death penalty, racketeering, gun laws, drug laws, discrimination laws, race riots, terrorism, and foreign affairs. Judge Block’s personal account of his experiences with noted cases from the last 20 years, (including the Kitty Genovese case, the trial of mob boss Peter Gotti, and his connection to the trial of Lemrick Nelson who was convicted of killing Yankel Rosenbaum during the Crown Heights riots) gives the average reader an understanding of the judicial system and the role that judges play.

Judge Block was appointed US District Judge for the Eastern District of New York in 1994. In 2005, he assumed senior status. Before that, he was a partner in a Smithtown, New York law firm and maintained his own general practice on Long Island. Judge Block will give a book talk at Brooklyn Law School’s Geraldo’s Café at Feil Hall at 6pm on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Thomson Reuters, the publisher of Disrobed, interviewed Judge Block about the book. A video of that interview is below.