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Showing posts from May, 2012

Wikipedia in Federal Courts - Part 2

A month ago, this blog, like a few others, discussed a report from the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog on federal appeals courts citing to Wikipedia. I thought it might be interesting to examine the federal district courts for citations to Wikipedia, but first a brief update:The Seventh Circuit Is At It Again!Since my last blog entry on this topic (dated April 28, 2012), the Seventh Circuit, which already led all circuits in number of decisions citing to Wikipedia (doubling the second place circuit, the Ninth, 34 to 17), has released four more decisions containing citations to Wikipedia!Two of the decisions were written by Chief Judge Easterbrook (who really needs to learn how to cite to Wikipedia (or have his clerks learn how to); here's an example of his masterful citation style: "The Wikipedia article 'Hip replacement' provides an overview of the components and procedures." Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 719 Pension Fund v. Zimmer Holdings, Inc., 20…

Citing to Vernon's Texas Codes Annotated: Finding Accurate Publication Dates (without touching a book)

When citing to a current statute, both the Bluebook (rule 12.3.2) and Greenbook (rule 10.1.1) require a  practitioner to provide the publication date of the bound volume in which the cited code section appears. For example, let's cite to the codified statute section that prohibits Texans from hunting or selling bats, living or dead. Note, however, you may remove or hunt a bat that is inside or on a building occupied by people. The statute is silent as to Batman, who for his own safety, best stay in Gotham City.
This section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife code is 63.101. "Protection of Bats." After checking the pocket part and finding no updates in the supplement, my citation will be:
Tex. Parks & Wild. Code Ann. § 63.101 (West ___ ). When I look at the statute in my bound volume of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, I can clearly see that the volume's publication date is 2002. But, when I find the same citation on Westlaw or LexisNexis, all I can see is that the …

This Day in Legal History--United States v. Shipp, 214 U.S. 386 (1909)

On May 24, 1909, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a verdict in its first and only criminal trial, U.S. v. Shipp, 103 years ago today. The resulting trial and decision provide what many acknowledge as the foundation for federal habaes corpus actions in state criminal cases.

The facts leading to this unusual proceeding commenced on January 23 1906, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when Nevada Taylor, a young white woman, was raped by an unknown man. Within days of the attack, pressure mounted to find the assailant, and  a reward of $375 was issued and reported in the Chattanooga News. The next day, a white man, Will Hixon, came forward and placed Johnson near the scene of the crime near the time of its occurrence. Arrested on January 26, Johnson was secretly moved to Nashville pending trial by order of the state criminal court judge, for fear he would be lynched before the proceedings could begin. That very night, a large mob attacked the jail at Chattanooga, believing Johnson was still deta…

O'Quinn Law Library Free CLE Workshop

On April 15 we reported on Nota Bene about the Library free CLE Workshop to be held at April 28.   I am glad to report that the workshop went well.  Titled "Essential Legal Information & Technology for Texas Lawyers", it included three sessions. Library Director Spencer Simons talked about Texas bill tracking, legislative history, and administrative agency research. Associate Director Mon Yin Lung discussed free and low cost online resources for lawyers. Reference & Research Librarians Chris Dykes and Emily Lawson's presentation introduced attendees to special mobile device applications for lawyers. The free program, approved for three hours of CLE credit, was targeted at recent graduates and solo and small firm practitioners. It was much appreciated by the twenty-eight attendees.




This Day in Legal History --Brown vs. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)

There are two kinds of “big” Supreme Court cases. The second kind of big case is the kind known mostly to students, practitioners, and academics. A good example of this is INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983) which seems to stand for half-a-dozen propositions. The first kind of big case is the kind that changes the way we live. Brown v. Board of Education is just about the biggest “big” case there has ever been.
Prior to the Brown decision states had the right to segregate schools based on the case of Plessy v. Ferguson which held that segregated public facilities could be equal. Brown ended that. Public facilities would now be open to all. The Brown decision ushered in the Civil Rights era and changed the face of the United States. 
The case is not without its critics who snipe at it around the edges, but they are a minority. The case has been analyzed every which way; I am especially fond of the book What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said: The Nation's Top Legal Expert…

This Day in Legal History -- Standard Oil of New Jersey v. United States, 221 U.S 1 (1911)

Houston (perhaps) rightly considers itself the home of the oil industry, but the most famous legal case involves a company headquartered in New Jersey. On this date the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Standard Oil of New Jersey v. United States, 221 U.S. 1 (1911). 
Standard Oil dominated the oil market in the United States and its path to such a lofty place was not without controversy. Ida Tarbell’s scathing investigation of the “Oil Trust” opened many people’s eyes to its tactics and control of the market. It also brought interest from the federal government and its antitrust powers embodied in the Sherman Antitrust Act.  States had tried to reign in Standard Oil, but had failed. New President Theodore Roosevelt felt he could do better, and he succeeded. 
At the time the case was brought the parties believed the case to be one of the most important cases heard by the Supreme Court. US Attorney General George W. Wickersham said of the case, “ never in the h…

Today in Legal History – The Constitutional Convention

Today is a special day in U.S. history. On this date in 1787 the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia, PA. Originally called to fix problems in the existing Articles of Confederation, the convention eventually came up with a new document; the document we are all familiar with today, the United States Constitution. 
While nothing monumental happened on this day, nothing at all really happened as only a small number of delegates had assembled, the gathering itself was what was important. The work that occurred between this date and the day the convention closed on September 17th laid the groundwork for birth of democracy not only in the United States, but also throughout the world.
While our political class appears divided and the interpretation of the Constitution is still an ongoing dispute, most citizens agree that our governing document has on the whole worked out pretty well, even though it has required a few tweeks here and there. 
For more information on the Consti…

Same-Sex Marriage Laws

Since President Obama’s recent announcement regarding same-sex marriage, there has been quite a bit of media attention surrounding the issue.  If you would like to learn a little bit more about same-sex marriage laws, a newly released Congressional Research Service Report, Same-Sex Marriages: The Legal Issues, provides a good overview of where the law currently stands on this issue.  The report provides information about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), including an overview of constitutional challenges to DOMA.  It also covers information about same-sex marriage in the states including state litigation and civil union laws as well as a summary of state constitutional amendments limiting marriage to a man and a women and state statutes defining marriage. 
To learn more about CRS reports, see our previous blog post on the topic.

New Online Edition of the Code of Federal Regulations

Yesterday the Cornell Legal Information Institute, along with the Government Printing Office and the Cornell Law Library, announced a new project providing online access to the Code of Federal Regulations. This new edition allows users to easily browse or search the CFR. In addition, it provides links to relevant statutory authority in the United States Code as well as links to pending regulations that may impact the particular parts of the code that you are interested in. This edition is updated concurrently with the version available on FDsys, but it also has links to the e-CFR edition for recent updates.

The project plans to add additional features in the future. For more information about this edition, see the full announcement.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Handbook by Robert W. Tarun

The ABA has recently published the second edition of the The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Handbook by Robert W. Tarun. This title explores the FCPA, enacted in 1977 and amended in 1998, to target bribery of foreign officials and establish reporting requirements and internal controls for companies in order to combat corruption. All aspects of the FCPA are reviewed  including the accounting and anti-bribery components as well as the broad jurisdiction of the act itself and related conventions, potential defenses to the act, and the impact of the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Act. Other issues addressed include 15 major risks for violating the FCPA as well as potential problems that could arise from foreign charitable and political donations,  travel, entertainment, lodging, and gifts. The United Kingdom Bribery Act of 2010 is discussed thoroughly and there is a chapter that provides an overview of major foreign bribery cases. This book is now available on the new titles shelf across from…

SSRN App

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has a free app (available for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad) that allows you to search by subject, author, abstract, or keyword  for over 260,000 working documents from scholars in the social sciences (including legal scholars) and the humanities. SSRN allows scholars to be "published" by enabling them to post their articles while they await acceptance by a scholarly journal. SSRN also helps scholars avoid having their research preempted by enabling them to locate working articles that pertain to their research before publication in a print journal. While articles can only be posted on the desktop version, the app will allow the user to view and e-mail documents.