Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Economist Online Style Guide

This style guide is obviously intended for use by journalists at the Economist; however, I think anyone who wants to make his or her writing gooder will benefit from it. Among the guide's several sections is a section on common solecisms (grammatical mistakes). Here are a few examples:
Apostasy and heresy. If you abandon your religion, you commit apostasy. If that religion is the prevailing one in your community, and your beliefs are contrary to its orthodoxy you commit heresy.

Factoid: something that sounds like a fact, is thought by many to be a fact (perhaps because it is repeated so often), but is not in fact a fact.

Only. Put only as close as you can to the words it qualifies. Thus, These animals mate only in June. To say They only mate in June implies that in June they do nothing else.

Sensual means carnal or voluptuous. Sensuous means pertaining to aesthetic appreciation, without any implication of lasciviousness. [For all of you Animal House fans out there].

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Justices of Texas 1836-1986

The Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas School of Law is announcing a new online resource, Justices of Texas 1836-1986:
The resource highlights the contributions of the 160 individuals who have served as members of the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals from 1836 to 1986.

Justices of Texas 1836-1986 is one component of Tarlton’s Texas Legal History digital library; that online resource also includes historical Texas constitutions (1824-1876) and journals and debates from Texas’ constitutional conventions.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Important Court Decisions

The U.S. Supreme Court was busy today, issuing five new decisions.

However, in perhaps the most imporant legal news of the day, the Dry Cleaners won the $54 million pants suit. Read the opinion and the judgment (via WSJ Law Blog).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Scalia and Stevens Battle Over Statutory Interpretation

The WSJ Law Blog highlights the "battle" between Justices Scalia and Stevens over statutory intrepetation in today's Tellabs opinion.

How Congressional Rules Limit Member Websites

There is an interesting op-ed in the Hill about how Congressional Franking Rules are limiting how members of Congress can use their web sites:
These rules were created decades ago to restrict the use of mass mailings sent to congressional districts at taxpayer expense. Franking Rules, modified to apply to the Web in 1994 and last updated in 1996, state that members may not use non-congressionally provided services for their website, nor link to any site of a personal or political nature.
From Robert J. Ambrogi at

The Best and Worst Internet Laws

Law professor Eric Goldman is making a list.

From Law Librarian Blog.

History of third parties in the U.S.

The Librarians' Internet Index describes a web site from, What is the History of Third Parties in the United States?:
An introduction to the types of third parties in U.S. government and politics. Features a table listing parties, third party presidential candidates, voting percentages, and electoral votes. Parties listed include Free Soil, Populist, Progressive (Bull Moose), American Independent, Reform, and Green. From a company that publishes an online American government and politics textbook.
See also the U.S. State Department interview with Presbyterian College professor J. David Gillespie about the history of third party politics in America.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Free Legal Forms for Solo Practitioners

Carolyn Elefant has announced at her My Shingle blog that she has launched a new feature, SOLO-formania.
What is SOLOFORMANIA? It's a cornucopia of forms for the busy solo - ranging from FREE sample practice guides, fee agreements and retainer letters, to court forms for all 50 states (some free, some fee) to general form files on the Internet.
From Robert Ambrogi's Lawsites.

Summer Associates Can Write Their Way to Success

Ari L. Kaplan writes in a National Law Journal article that offering to co-author an article with a partner can help summer associates make lasting impressions on their firms.

From Carolyn Elefant at

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Americans Than Ever Serving on Juries

"More than one-third of all Americans are likely to serve as jurors at some point in their lifetime, according to a newly released study by the Center for Jury Studies of the National Center for State Courts [NCSC]...[t]he 'State-of-the-States Survey of Jury Improvement Efforts' is the most comprehensive study of jury policies, operations and practices ever conducted. "

Read the complete NCSC press release. Download the study here.

From beSpacific.

Copyright & Fair Use web site

From InSite:
The Copyright & Fair Use website from Stanford University Libraries is an essential resource for librarians and professors alike. It provides a thorough overview of copyright and fair use basics, including a FAQ section, answers about what falls into the public domain, when, why, and how to acquire copyright permission, special considerations for academic and educational use of copyrighted materials, and when to use a release. Resources are provided especially for academic librarians to inform their internal copyright policies. For those interested in the status and development of copyright law, the site links to primary federal and international law, including a thorough list of U.S. copyright cases. Additionally, current legislation dealing with copyright law is tracked, with links to bill text, news coverage, and more. This is a key site for professors grappling with copyright issues for their courses, librarians dealing with digital information management, and anyone looking for a solid starting point to begin copyright research.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Liveblogging the Case of the $54 Million Pants

Emil Steiner, at the Washington Post's Offbeat blog, has been live-blogging the $54 Million Pants trial. I tend to shy away from offering legal analysis about situations that I'm not entirely familiar with, but...I would be surprised if the plaintiff gets his $54 million in this case. Further trial blogging is available at WaPo's Raw Fisher Blog.

My favorite quote from the plaintiff, "You will search the D.C. archives in vain for a case of more egregious or willful conduct..." Those must have really been nice pants.

Thanks to

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ohio "Public Records Access Counsel"

The Cincinnati Law Library Blog discusses an Ohio bill that would create "the office of Public Access Counselor in the Court of Claims to receive complaints & issue advisory opinions concerning public records and open meeting laws..."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Laptop Use on NY Bar Exam

The New York Board of Law Examiners is using a lottery to determine which exam takers are permitted to use laptops on the bar exam. This approach seems problematic.

Negative Effects of Legal Education on Law Students

Law professor Mark Osler writes about a new study analyzing the emotional state of law students.

AltSearchEngines Blog Announces Top 100 Alternative Search Engines

From beSpacific:
The AltSearchEngines announced the June Top 100 (attached
), inclusive of name, URL and type of search (business, people, podcast, health, meta, games, google mash-up, charity and many other categories). Well worth a look, as you may be familiar with a few of these search tools, but others offer unique and expert features to conduct targeted research on topical and issues-related content.

Google Has Not Replaced the Phone Book

Kathy Coon explains why it's still a good idea to check the phone book.

Association of Religion Data Archives

"The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) strives to democratize access to the best data on religion. Founded as the American Religion Data Archive in 1997 and going online in 1998, the initial archive was targeted at researchers interested in American religion. The targeted audience and the data collection have both greatly expanded since 1998, now including American and international collections and developing features for educators, journalists, religious congregations, and researchers. Data included in the ARDA are submitted by the foremost religion scholars and research centers in the world. Currently housed in the Social Science Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State University, the ARDA is funded by the Lilly Endowment, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Pennsylvania State University."

From beSpacific.

Supreme Court Justices' Financial Disclosure Reports

From the Law Librarian Blog:
Money is reporting that the Supremes are generally well off financially. Only two justices have assets under $1M and many of the Supremes spent the past year jetting to such exotic locales as Malaysia and South Africa.

Pail Hilton Jail Watch

It was reported yesterday [6/7] that Paris Hilton was relased from jail, after serving only 3 days of her sentence, for undisclosed medical reasons. Ms. Hilton's early release earned a denouncement from Al Sharpton. It's now being reported that Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer has ordered Ms. Hilton to appear in court this morning. The Judge issued his order "after the city attorney filed a petition late Thursday afternoon questioning whether Sheriff Lee Baca should be held in contempt of court for releasing Hilton on Thursday morning."

It's becoming increasingly clear that Paris Hilton is tearing this country appart. I will post updates of this important news story throughout the day (maybe).

UPDATE (6/11):

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Paris Hilton Out of Jail After 3 Days

It is being reported that she was released for medical reasons.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey

Mary Sexton at Heafey Headnotes writes about a recent Smithsonian article discussing the digitization project, Proceedings of the Old Bailey. The "Old Bailey" was London's felony court. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey is a "A fully searchable online edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing accounts of over 100,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court." More details are available at Heafey Headnotes.

Presidential Debate Transcripts

Transcripts of the recent Republican and Democratic presidential debates are available at

Interview with Air Force’s Top Uniformed Lawyer

The WSJ Law Blog has an interesting interview with Major General Jack Rives, the U.S. Air Force's top uniformed attorney for the Judge Advocate General.

CALI Survey of Law Student Use of Faculty Podcasts

Bonnie Shucha from WisBlawg is reporting that the 2007 CALI Legal Education Podcast survey results are available. CALI surveyed law students, between March and May of 2007, who took courses in which faculty had podcast lectures as part of the Legal Education Podcasting Project.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Avvo Lawyer Rating Site Launched

Robert Ambrogi and Carolyn Elefant are discussing today's launch of Avvo. Avvo is a site that promises to, eventually, rate every lawyer in the country. Currently, the system has rankings for lawyers from Arizona, California, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. I searched the system for lawyers that I know, and I was puzzled by many of the results. I get the feeling that lawyers rated highly by Avvo are, in fact, likely to be fine atttoneys. However, I also get the sense that many fine attorneys will not be ranked highly by Avvo due to imperfections in the system's ranking criteria. I admire the effort and believe that the public would greatly benefit from an accurate rating of attorneys, but I think it's incredibly difficult to accurately rate lawyers. I think Robert Ambrogi sums up my thoughts, "I would worry that Avvo cannot live up to its promise, that plenty of well-qualified, hard-working lawyers will not get a fair shake, and that many consumers will be misled." Additionally, I think that for any system like this to truly help consumers, information about the attorneys' hourly rates should be included in their profiles. Consumer need to have cost information in order to make informed decisions.

UPDATE (6/7): Robert Ambrogi has more reaction to the Avvo rollout.

UPDATE (6/11): Should Bork Have Consulted Avvo?

Library opening with no classification system

According to the Librarian in Black, there is a new public library in Arizona that is not going to be using Dewey, LC, or any other classification system to organize books. An Arizona Republic newspaper article says that apparently this is the first public library in the country to not use the Dewey classification system. The library is going to be arranging its books by topic, similar to the way that bookstores arrange their holdings.

I don't think I'm a traditionalist when it comes to matters like this, but doesn't Dewey already organize titles by topic? Are things really easier to find at a bookstore than at the library? I can see some advantage for patrons who are primarily interested in browsing the stacks, but I can't understand how this would make it easier to find a specific title. I'm sure there's more to the library's new scheme than the article discusses, so perhaps it will work.

From Lex Scripta.

Jefferson Indictment

Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., was indicted Monday (6/4) on federal charges of racketeering, money-laundering and soliciting bribes. The indictment can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007