Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April: National Poetry Monrth

National Poetry Month has been around since 1996 when the Academy of American Poets designated April as the month for schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets to celebrate poetry and its place in American culture. This April, the Academy of American Poets is celebrating the role that correspondence has played in poets' lives, as well as in their poems. Brooklyn Law School has just such an item in its collection with Calamus:  A Series of Letters Written during the Years 1868-1880 by Walt Whitman to a Young Friend, Peter Doyle (Call # LC1059 .A73). One quotation from that book is “I delivered my poem here before the College yesterday. . .  I am to go to Vermont for a couple of days, and then back to Brooklyn. . .  I will send you the little book with my poem, (and others) when I get back to Brooklyn.”
For law-related poetry, take a look at Supreme Court Haiku by Houston attorney Keith Jaasma who creates haiku poems featuring the decisions of the US Supreme Court. Seed for example the haiku for Moncrieffe v. Holder in which the Court ruled that a non-citizen cannot be automatically deported for the kindhearted but illegal act of bringing a few joints to a party. The haiku reads:
Immigrant’s drug crime
“Aggravated felony”?
No, just a few joints

The three line poems that Japanese poets write, usually about nature, are very witty. There are also haiku about the Constitution and various justices. The FAQ movie on the site is worth watching.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Episode 086: Conversation with Adam Horowitz

This podcast episode of the BLS Library Blog features an edited conversation with Brooklyn Law School student Adam Horowitz, Class of 2013. In the Fall 2012 issue of the Brooklyn Law Review, Adam’s note, Giving Battered Immigrant FiancĂ©es a Way Out of Abusive Relationships:  Proposed Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, appeared at 78 Brook. L. Rev. 123. After publication of the note, Adam received a 2013 Distinguished Legal Writing Award from the Burton Awards which honors effective legal writing. In the conversation, Adam shares the research process that led to his writing the note along with his thoughts about his experiences both as a Sparer Fellow and as a member and one of the Associate Managing Editors of the Brooklyn Law Review.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reforming Rules for Taxis and Limousines

In Black Car Assistance Corp. v. City of New York, Justice Carol E. Huff of the Civil Branch of the Supreme Court, New York County, ruled Tuesday dismissing a lawsuit by livery cab owners against the Taxi and Limousine Commission's (TLC) pilot program enabling riders with smartphones to summon yellow cabs for pick-up. Fares could also be paid electronically through the app. The program was adopted by the TLC in December 2012.

Livery-cab companies and black-car owners argued that the program would cut into their business of pre-arranged rides with customers. They also argued that the program could be discriminatory against elderly riders because they tend to lack smartphones. But New York State Supreme Court Justice Huff found the plaintiffs' arguments without merit writing "Any experiment to determine whether an e-hail program will work in New York City would require extensive participation to determine, for example, effects on street-hail availability and whether there would be sufficient numbers of participating taxi drivers to meet demand."

This decision is a victory for all the riders who want to decide for themselves what technologies and services they want to use," said TLC Commissioner and former Brooklyn Law School faculty member David Yassky. "The market will ultimately decide which apps rise or fall and we have an obligation to give the riding public that choice. Thanks to today's ruling, they have that choice."

The ruling removes a big hurdle for the TLC and the Bloomberg administration whose proposals to reform the taxi industry have faced obstacles in the courts. In June 2012, Judge Arthur F. Engoron of the Civil Court of the City of New York, New York County issued a temporary restraining order in Taxicab Service Association v. The State Of New York to block their proposed outer-borough street hail plan which would have allowed 18,000 livery cabs to take street hails in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan. Two months later, Judge Engoron issued an opinion invalidating the state law that permitted the street hail plan on the grounds that its passage required "home rule" approval by the New York City Council aksing the Legislature to act on an issue concerning New York City. The case is now pending before the New York Court of Appeals. The TLC website states that the city currently has 3,237 yellow medallion cabs. A NY Times article reported that the cost of medallions hit a record high in 2011 when two were sold for $1,050,000 each. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Future of Online Legal Materials

In Custodia Legis, the blog of the Law Library of Congress has a post titled Official, Authenticated, Preserved, and Accessible: The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act about UELMA. This model legislation was drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws for state legislatures can adopt to designate their online legal materials as official. The intent behind UELMA is the authentication, preservation and permanent public accessibility to the most basic state-level digital primary legal resources, namely "state constitutions, session laws, codified laws, and administrative rules with the effect of law" by state actors designated as "official publishers” to carry out the provisions of the Act in those instances where state governments are delivering such legal materials in electronic formats.

The blog post states that: "Digital technology makes documents easy to alter or copy, leading to multiple non-identical versions that can be used in unauthorized or illegitimate ways. Unfortunately, the ease of alteration has introduced doubt in users’ minds about the authenticity of many of the digital documents they encounter (...)" "While not proscribing any particular preservation or authentication method or technology, the law establishes a digital preservation framework for official electronic legal materials moving forward." "If legal material defined by the act is published only electronically it must be designated 'official' and meet the requirements of the act. If there is a print version of the legal material, an official publisher may designate the online version 'official,' but the requirements of the act to authenticate, preserve, and provide access must be met. Once designated 'official,' the Act requires the legal materials be:
  • Authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered;
  • Preserved, either in electronic or print form; and
  • Accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Teaching Contract Skills and Theory

The Brooklyn Law School Library New Books List for April 17, 2013 has 53 items including works on patent law, trial practice, constitutional law, same-sex marriage in Latin America, divorce settlements, wrongful convictions, and the right of privacy. BLS Faculty members can request a book by clicking on the “Faculty Book Request” tab in the SARA Catalog above the search box to submit a request. BLS Students can go to the open shelves to locate books and check them out at the circulation desk.

Because success in every law school course requires that students acquire and become expert at applying a set of skills that can be taught throughout the course, law professors and students may want to review David Nadvorney and Deborah Zalesne’s Teaching to Every Student: Explicitly Integrating Skills and Theory into the Contracts Class (Call #KF801.Z9 N337 2013). This guide aims to help professors modernize the curriculum and teach essential academic skills for case reading, note taking, and case briefing, as well as legal reasoning skills such as issue spotting and fact analysis, all within the curriculum of a first-year contracts course. The authors identify doctrinal units and the assigned cases that lend themselves to teaching each specific skill. Each chapter provides background on the role that each skill plays in legal analysis and its importance for law school exam writing, the bar exam, and practice. The chapter then suggests ways in which specific contracts cases can be used to teach that skill, and offers in-class and take-home writing exercises that include teaching notes. The book includes an entire section on teaching students to recognize different theoretical perspectives in judicial opinions and to notice the role of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in judicial decision making. It includes an annotated sample syllabus, lesson plans, and a 35-page appendix of cases.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Episode 085 – Conversation with Prof. Rebecca Kysar

In this podcast, Brooklyn Law School Associate Professor of Law Rebecca Kysar discusses her latest article The ‘Shell Bill’ Game: Congressional Avoidance and the Origination Clause, scheduled for publication in Volume 91 of the Washington University Law Review in 2014. The article discusses the use of “shell bills” to enact important revenue laws, such as the Affordable Care Act and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The practice is in tension with the Origination Clause of the Constitution which requires that bills raising revenue begin in the House of Representatives. While the Clause allows the Senate to amend such bills, the Senate has interpreted its amendment power broadly, striking the language of a bill passed by the House (the shell bill), and replacing it entirely with its own unrelated revenue proposal. Professor Kysar discusses a new legal challenge against the Affordable Care Act in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Sissel v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, based on the bill’s true origins in the Senate.
Professor Kysar’s article proposes a conceptual framework for analyzing existing jurisprudence interpreting the Origination Clause—a “congressional avoidance” doctrine, whereby the Court deflects searching review of the legislative process. Grounded in constitutional text and history, theories of judicial review, and longstanding principles guarding congressional purview over internal procedure, this congressional avoidance doctrine both anticipates and prescribes an expansive interpretation of the Senate’s amendment power.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flexible Low-Yield (FLY) Paper: Capitalism and Idealism

Brooklyn Law Professors Steven Dean and Dana Brakman Reiser have co-authored and posted a new article on SSRN. Titled Hunting Stag with FLY Paper: A Hybrid Financial Instrument forSocial Enterprise, the article is due for publication later this year in volume 55 of the Boston College Law Review. The abstract for the article reads:

Social entrepreneurs and socially motivated investors share a belief in the power of social enterprise, ventures that pursue a “double bottom line” of profit and social good. Unfortunately, they also share a deep mutual suspicion. Recognizing that social ventures — just like traditional for- and nonprofit enterprises — need capital to flourish, this Article offers a financing tool to transform that skepticism into commitment. Unlike the array of new entities that have emerged in recent years — including L3Cs, benefit corporations and flexible purpose corporations — the hybrid financial instrument it describes provides a robust and transparent solution to the puzzle that lies at the heart of every social enterprise: how to blend a profit motive with a social mission. Recognizing their shared dilemma as an example of what economists call a stag hunt, FLY Paper strikes that elusive balance by allowing investors and entrepreneurs to credibly signal a reciprocal commitment to the pursuit of a dual bottom line.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Symposium on Trade Secrets

Brooklyn Law School’s Trade Secrets Institute is sponsoring a Symposium: Keeping Your Secrets Secret on Thursday, April 11, 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm at the Subotnick Center, on the 11th Floor of 250 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn NY. To attend the event, RSVP online. The field of trade secret protection has become increasingly complex, in both legal practice and enforcement. The symposium will focus on trade secrets in cloud-based data sharing platforms and the federalization of trade secret misappropriation lawsuits. To view the Agenda, click here.
As more trade secret owners-share information with their employees via “secure” cloud-based data sharing platforms, a number of trade secret misappropriation claims have been arising between employers and departing employees. The result is a need for clarity on the technological and contractual obligations of trade secret owners if they seek protection under the UTSA and state common law. This symposium will also evaluate best practices for companies’ protection of trade secrets while employees are accessing information via numerous outlets, including mobile devices.
The BLS Library has an extensive collection of material on the subject of trade secrets including the second edition of Trade Secrets: Law and Practice (Call # KF3197 .Q56 2012) by David W. Quinto and Stuart H. Singer. The two highly experienced trial lawyers have assembled case law analysis and strategic advice on prosecuting and defending trade secret misappropriation actions, maintaining legally sufficient trade secret protection measures, and supervising outside attorneys in the course of litigation. The book contains an overview of litigation burdens, presumptions and inferences; a comprehensive analysis of the applicability of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to trade secret misappropriation claims; the latest developments in the evolving approaches to the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) preemption of common law and state statutory claims; and an expanded state-by-state analysis of trade secret litigation.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Recess Appointments

An article in the National Law Journal, New Congressional Research Report Looks at Recess Appointments, examines the D.C. Circuit’s recent ruling in Canning v. National Labor Relations Board in which then-Chief Judge David Sentelle restricted the power of the president to make recess appointments. The appellate court said the president can only make an appointment under "the recess" of the Senate. The case is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court which could uphold the decision, marking a shift toward increased Senate control over the appointment of government officials. The article cites a recent Congressional Research Service report entitled The Recess Appointment Power AfterNoel Canning v. NLRB: Constitutional Implications by legislative attorneys Todd Garvey and David Carpenter.
The report states that the case could also decrease the frequency of presidential recess appointments. Since 1981, more than half of all recess appointments have been made in Senate recesses that were during a session, something the president would no longer be able to do. “Thus, by limiting both the periods in which a President may make recess appointments, and the vacancies that may be filled by such appointments, the decision likely would strengthen the Senate’s 'Advice and Consent' role, while restricting the President’s authority to make unilateral appointments.”
The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection Justice Takes a Recess: Judicial Recess Appointments from George Washington to George W. Bush (Call #KF8776 .G666 2009) by Scott E. Graves and Robert M. Howard. The book explains how the Constitution allows the president to “fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” Examining every judicial recess appointment from 1789 to 2005, the book addresses how presidents have used recess appointments over time and whether the independence of judicial recess appointees is compromised. They argue that these appointments can upset the separation of powers envisioned by the Framers, shifting power away from one branch of government and toward another.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Older Versions of State Statutes

HeinOnline’s State Statutes: A Historical Archive is a newly added library in Hein with PDF versions of historic codes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Some materials date back to the early 18th century. This new collection includes more than 1,600 volumes and nearly 2,000,000 pages of historical superseded state statutes (but not current state statutes). It is a useful resource for legal researchers and scholars to understand historical statutes. The collection provides online access to superseded state code sections, which researchers previously had to access in microfiche at the Brooklyn Law School Library. Superseded codes give access to the text of the law in force, as amended, on a particular date in time, as opposed to session laws, which provide the text of the law as originally enacted by the legislature. A single code section usually contains small pieces from many different session laws. Determining the text of a code section on a particular date from only the session laws is a difficult and time-consuming process which State Statutes: A Historical Archive makes easier.

Current and some superseded state codes can also be found online in LexisNexis and Westlaw which have older versions of state codes that go back to the early 1990s. To find current state codes or more recent superseded codes which are not a part of Hein’s State Statutes: A Historical Archive library, or to get help using the new HeinOnline database, see a reference librarina at the reference desk.