Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Cases in Contradiction

Confusion often marks the plight of the law student, especially in the first few weeks of this new endeavor.  Sometimes confusion may stem not from misunderstanding a case but from inconstant judicial logic.

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean at the UC Irvine School of Law, identifies logical variations in three recent Supreme Court opinions dealing with bankruptcy:  "All come to reasonable conclusions. But they are markedly inconsistent in their approach to interpreting the bankruptcy act and to statutory interpretation more generally." 

Judicial inconsistency may be more common than you'd like, but some argue that it is not necessarily an evil.  Justin Driver, for example, discusses inconsistencies in one judge's work, Justice Stevens, deeming inconsistency a "virtue." 

So if you see ambiguities, think about reasons underlying them as well as what advantages and disadvantages you see in them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Convicted of a Crime You Didn't Commit...because No Crime was Committed

The ABA Law Journal brings us this headline: Prisoner exonerations are at an all-time high, and it’s not because of DNA testing, which states "Of the 87 known exonerations in 2013, 27 were cases in which no crimes had taken place. Almost half of the no-crime exonerations were for nonviolent-crime charges, mostly drug convictions." Law professor Samuel Gross have created a National Registry of Exonerations. Professor Gross and his colleagues primarily find exoneration cases through news articles.

Curious to try your hand at finding cases with exonerated defendants by looking at newspaper articles? We have a number of resources here in the law library for electronic versions of newspapers. In our Accuracy Check Resource research guide, for example, we've listed a number of them. The research guide also includes a link to all of the newspaper databases to which OSU has subscribed. Factiva, Press DisplayLexisNexis, Westlaw, and BloombergLaw are also online sources you can search for free.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Academic Success in Law School

Many law students excelled as undergraduates.  Law school brings new challenges, however, and the library has gathered together a number of resources on law school academic success in a research guide to help you meet these challenges.

This guide incorporates the West Study Aid collection we described yesterday as well as subject-specific study aids, books about exam taking, books about navigating law school, and OSU resources for study and learning strategies. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Westlaw Study Aid Subscription

Maybe it's too early to think about studying. That's probably true. But it helps to know your options when the time does come to buckle down and learn a thing or two, and now you have more options than ever.

We still have tons of study aids in print, including seven of the ten series The National Jurist identified as most popular. We also carry the Westlaw Study Aid Subscription, so you can use e-books when you need them:
 
 
To access this online collection, simply log in to Westlaw and click on MYePRODUCTS.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome Back and Looking Back

Welcome back to a new school year. Though classes are a week away, the entire university has been preparing for students' return. One fun news feature comes from The Ohio State University's main page, Hidden gems on campus, which highlights history here on campus and emphasizes that these landmarks are a way to connect with generations of students. In other words, if you're a student here, Ohio State history is now your history.

We in the law library have been digitizing your history. A part of this work can be seen in the Moritz College of Law Class Composites (i.e., old class photos). Keep an eye on the OSU Knowledge Bank and this blog as more law school history (like the Buckeye Barrister) is digitized.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Once a Buckeye

If you're one of our law students, you're getting ready for your return to Moritz. As you meet new people this year, remember that one day they will be your colleagues---for better or worse.

One of my favorite things about meeting new students is learning where they are "from," a sometimes-loaded question if they've moved around over the years. Hearing the myriad ways people pronounce crayon, rural, and roof can amuse me for hours too.

As you prepare to meet your new classmates, take a look at this chart from the New York Times: Where We Came From, State by State. Here's the lowdown on people who were born in Ohio:
Ohio is another state with negative domestic migration. Since 1980, the number of residents born in neighboring Pennsylvania and Kentucky has fallen by a quarter million. The state's population growth is driven mostly by people born here.
In 1990, 74 percent of Ohioans (i.e., people living in Ohio) were born in Ohio. That number is currently 75 percent. That means you have good odds the people you meet in Ohio were born and raised in Ohio. This is in sharp contrast to my home state, Florida, where only 36 percent (!!!) of residents were born in Florida. Seems like everyone in Florida is from somewhere else.

What does all of this mean? Well for one thing, if you are a law student and meet a classmate who was not born in Ohio, recognize you've met a somewhat rare individual. (You in fact might also be a rare individual if you weren't born in Ohio.) Also take a moment to think about what it means to be from somewhere else coming into a state packed with people from this state. Make friends, bond over sports or exam stress, and learn a little bit about other parts of the country. If nothing else, it'll help you see the world from another perspective, something that can only improve your chances of relating well to future employers and clients.
 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Most Useful Government Website?

The airline industry is heavily regulated, which makes sense if you think about that whole interstate commerce thing. For Pete's sake (pardon the swear), the Commerce Clause is seemingly older than dirt.

Some may be opposed to what they consider too much government intervention, but here's a great thing to come of it: the Air Travel Consumer Report, brought to you by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The data in the report can help you determine which airlines are late most often and why. Slate.com, for example, brings an analysis of why Southwest is late so often, then proposes a solution. So next time you're booking a flight, look to the DOT for info on consumer complaints (p. 46), on-time arrival and departure percentages by airport (p. 27), and mishandled baggage (pp. 40-42).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Career Resources Research Guide

We have loads of information in the law library about hunting for jobs, interviewing, and what it's like when you actually get the job. Our newest item: Career Resources, an online legal research guide. In addition to the classic job-search resources, the guide features tips on researching employers and alternative legal careers. Check out my favorite alternative legal career here.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Monkeys & the Copyright Office

Everyone has a favorite government website, right? Of course! My favorite comes from the U.S. Copyright Office: www.copyright.gov. Even the URL warms my heart (not that I don't love the alphabet soup sites the government churns out, like www.faa.gov, www.epa.gov, www.fta.dot.gov (a twofer!)).

What makes the U.S. Copyright site so special? It provides the answer to this only-on-the-Internet conundrum: if a monkey takes a selfie, who owns the copyright?* Per Section 20(a)1 of the U.S. Copyright Act, "Copyright in a work protected under this title vests initially in the author or authors of the work." Whether or not a non-human animal can own a copyright is addressed at Slate.com.

Need another reason to visit www.copyright.gov? It's fun facts. Today's fun fact from the U.S. Copyright Office: The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous sculptures ever registered for copyright, and may be the largest. In 1876 French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi submitted a photo of a model of his statue to the U.S. Copyright Office.


*I know, I know. This sounds like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," "If You Give a Pig a Pancake," "If You Give a Dog a Donut," or "If You Give a Moose a Muffin." These are very different what-if questions that likely only involve the ramifications of giving animals people-food.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Cases Heard Round the World?


This Wednesday, August 6, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in same sex marriage cases from four states.  As the Columbus Dispatch reports:  "It will be the single-largest legal event in the same-sex marriage debate since June 26, 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional."  If you plan to attend in Cincinnati, consult the Sixth Circuit's Notice to the Public.  According to this notice, audio recordings of the arguments will be available on the court's website "as soon as practical."
 
Prepare by reading the case briefs.  The Moritz Law community can find these documents on Bloomberg Law, which gets them from pacer.gov.  Select the "Litigation and Dockets" tab, choose the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and enter a party name.  Many of the briefs are posted online (sometimes by partisan organizations) – free search engines should also lead you to them. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Client Confidentiality in the Internet Age

How much do you know about Internet security? When you send emails, do you know if your email service is secure? As an attorney (or a clinic student working with clients), are you confident you are not violating the Rules of Professional Conduct when sending emails? How about when you use search engines with specific facts from a case---are those searches confidential?

To learn more about what you might be missing in this area, check out 7 Tips for Sharing Legal Files Securely and How to Secure Your Wi-Fi Network Against Intrusion

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Death and Your Digital Social Life

The death of a loved one can be difficult, especially when their online life continues to exist. A British funeral service called R Hyde Chambers has created an infographic to help the bereaved know what's what on social media sites if you're trying to wrap things up for someone or if you're planning for yourself. More on the infographic can be found here.

Also, apparently services in some countries offer more for those who wish to close out their online lives. Japan's Yahoo! is now offering Yahoo Ending. Once the search engine receives an official notice of death for a user, it will delete all his or her Yahoo Japan data, cancel any charges to Yahoo’s digital wallet, expunge files from Yahoo Box online storage and send farewell messages to loved ones."

The search terms "estate planning" and "social media" used together don't bring up much in the library catalog---consider whether this is because no book exists on the subject or no law exists on the subject. But that doesn't mean there isn't information out there. In fact, this area is so new, you might consider writing a law review note on it. If you do, feel free to stop by the law library reference desk for tips and suggestions on gathering your sources.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Now through August 27, 2014, you can help the law library test-drive a new database! We're always looking for more content for our patrons, and the latest is ProQuest Legislative Insight. Access is good through August 27, 2014, so please give it a try and let us know what you think.

What is ProQuest Legislative Insight? In a nutshell, it's extraordinarily comprehensive federal legislative history in PDF form (i.e., a form acceptable for most law journal acc checks). From ProQuest, The following document types may be included in a legislative history: bills, reports, documents, hearings CRS reports, committee prints, Congressional Record sections), Presidential Signing Statements, and Statutes."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Casetext Update

We wrote about Casetext in April; now there's new news: Casetext is transitioning to a new site, currently available at http://beta.casetext.com.

As part of the transition process Casetext has temporarily frozen the old database of cases. In other words, they are not being updated, which is why you can't find the US Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision on the old site.

This information serves as a helpful reminder to always know the coverage of the database you are searching. You might think you've found all there is to know on a subject, but your research is only as comprehensive as the source you are searching.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Coping with Bar Exam Stress

As the bar exam nears, stress often increases.  We have posted about mindfulness as a way to cope with exam stress.  The Moritz Law Library is developing a collection in the reserve room with a variety of health and wellness titles, from Jiu Jitsu Jurisprudence to Becoming a Joyful Lawyer. Your title suggestions are welcome!

If you're working form home or your local coffee shop, OSU's Center for Integrative Health and Wellness offers a number of free recordings to help you relax.  The Quick Links box on the Center's website will lead you to recordings on guided imagery, heart-centered practices, mindfulness, and relaxation response.