Wednesday, November 30, 2011

British Newspaper Archive

The British Library recently announced the launch of a massive historical newspaper archive providing access to over four million pages of UK and Ireland newspapers. The collection covers mainly 19th century issues, but also includes issues from the 18th century. The collection is available without fee. See the library's announcement for more information. Credit goes to Barco 2.0 for the initial coverage.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Convict Sues Couple He Kidnapped

Jesse Dimmick is currently serving a prison sentence for kidnapping, attempting to elude the police, and theft.  He is now suing the couple he kidnapped while he attempted to elude the police.

Dimmick claims that in the home of Jared and Lindsay Rowley, the three entered into a binding oral contract wherein the Rowleys would hide him from the police in exchange for an unspecified amount of money.  Instead, the couple fed Dimmick, waited until he fell asleep in front of a movie, then snuck out of the house, allowing police to enter and arrest him.  Dimmick was accidentally shot during the arrest, and now claims that had the Rowleys not been in breach of contract, he would not have been shot.

The Rowleys are seeking to have the suit dismissed, arguing that they never agreed to anything, and that even if they had, any contract would have been made under duress.  Also, there could be no contract because the contract would have been for the illegal act of hiding a fugitive.

Dimmick is suing for $235,000.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Hat tip: Lowering the Bar

Monday, November 28, 2011

Free Online Classes at Stanford

This fall Stanford has offered its three most popular computer science courses free to the public online. Thousands of students from around the world enrolled. Stanford is now offering additional classes that may be of cross-discipline interest to law students: Technology Entrepreneurship (on launching a successful startup) and The Lean Launchpad (on turning a great idea into a great company). See more details from Good News.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Health Care Reform video

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act, perhaps it's worth revisiting what the law actually does and does not do. The Kaiser Family Foundation provides a 9-minute animated video on some of the law's details. See also the Foundation's chart explaining the much-disputed "individual mandate" that eventually requires many individuals to purchase health insurance. To view the entire Act, see Public Law 111-148 (only 906 pages). This should help inform your Thanksgiving conversations. Enjoy the holiday tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bill Would End "Dangerous" Designation of Pit Bulls

House Bill 14 seeks to amend Ohio laws designating pit bulls as an inherently "dangerous" and "vicious" breed.  The bill has passed the House and moved to the Senate.  Both local dog owners and celebrities like Willie Nelson have spoken out in support of the bill.

WFMJ

Rolling Stone

Monday, November 21, 2011

Prosecution's Right to Jury Trial?

Ohio State Representative Lynn Slaby, a former county prosecutor and state appellate court judge, has introduced a bill that would give Ohio prosecutors the right to insist on a jury trial when a criminal defendant waives that right. See coverage from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the bill analysis from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

Friday, November 18, 2011

California Same-Sex Marriage Case

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that sponsors of California's ballot initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage have standing to defend the measure in court when state officials refuse to do so. The path is now clear for the Ninth Circuit to rule on the substantive issues of the sponsors' appeal of a federal district court ruling striking down the initiative. The Ninth Circuit heard oral argument on the appeal in late 2010. See additional coverage from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

19 Arrested in Free Beer Sting

Police in Derbyshire, England, came up with an imaginative way to track down suspects who had evaded arrest: offer them free beer.

Letters were sent to dozens of suspects, offering a case of beer for calling a "marketing company."  The calls went through to the police, who set up a date and time for delivery of the beer.  At that date and time, instead of getting free beer, the suspects were arrested.

The would-be beer drinkers are suspected of crimes ranging from robbery to sexual assault.  Some had evaded arrest for months.

News:

BBC

Time

Hat tip: Legal Blog Watch

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Health Care Oral Argument; CSPAN

In case you missed it, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As SCOTUSblog has written, the court has allotted a whopping 5 1/2 hours for oral argument. CSPAN has sent a letter to the court requesting television cameras in the courtroom (unobtrusively). Given the court's past practice, this seems unlikely, though perhaps desirable.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tips from HeinOnline

HeinOnline is one of the many databases available to students at our law library databases page.

Recently, Hein presented Top Ten Tricks for Using HeinOnline.  You can read them here or watch the two webinars (15 minutes each) here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nixon Grand Jury Testimony

The National Archives recently released records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, including transcripts of President Nixon's grand jury testimony of June 23-24, 1975. The records are available at the GPO's FDsys site and the Our Archives Wiki. Nixon's testimony begins at Folder 9/16. For background information, see the National Archives' press release.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Supreme Court Arguments: In Person

Earlier this week, we discussed the oral argument in the GPS tracking case at the Supreme Court.

Although it is now possible to listen to Supreme Court oral arguments and/or read transcripts, some prefer to watch and listen in person...even if they have to wait all night.

The Line to See Arguments in United States v. Jones


Hat tip: The Volokh Conspiracy

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ohio Election Breakdown

Ohio's referendum on SB 5 gained international media attention. See the county-by-county vote breakdown on the Ohio Secretary of State website for Issue 2 and the other statewide issues. The "Map It" feature provides a geographical representation of the results. Thanks to C-M Law Library Blog for the assist.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

GPS Surveillance Case: SCOTUS Oral Argument

Earlier this year, we talked about the case of long-term monitoring of a suspect via a GPS device attached to a car.  Today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in United States v. Jones.

News and commentary:

SCOTUSblog

The Volokh Conspiracy

Forbes

Huffington Post

Monday, November 07, 2011

Another Law Library Therapy Dog

In May, we wrote about Yale Law Library's therapy dog, Monty. Following Yale's lead, the University of San Francisco Law School has instituted its own therapy dog program. Read more in AALL Spectrum.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Justice Stevens Interview

SCOTUSblog has made available a recent interview of retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The interviewer is one of his former clerks, Stanford law professor Jeffrey Fisher. Stevens recently published Five Chiefs, his memoir of his time on the court.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

SCOTUS Health Care Case Filings

The U.S. Supreme Court has created a web page showing filings related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the health care reform legislation passed last year). Filings at this point include petitions for writs of certiorari and related briefs. The ACA litigation blog, whose primary contributors include Santa Clara law professor Bradley Joondeph, links to lower court documents.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"Shaken Baby" Case at Supreme Court

Shirley Smith was found guilty of shaking her infant grandson to death.  In its only opinion released yesterday, the Surpeme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, which had previously found that no rational trier of fact could have found Smith guilty.

The majority's unsigned opinion in Cavazos v. Smith stated that "it is the responsibility of the jury—not the court—to decide what conclusions should be drawn from evidence admitted at trial" and that "[b]ecause rational people can sometimes disagree, the inevitable consequence of this settled law is that judges will sometimes encounter convictions that they believe to be mistaken, but that they must nonetheless uphold."

Justice Ginsburg authored the dissent, with which Justices Breyer and Sotomayor joined, stating, "By taking up the case, one may ask, what does the Court achieve other than to prolong Smith’s suffering and her separation from her family. Is this Court’s intervention really necessary? Our routine practice counsels no."

Ninth Circuit's opinion here.

News and commentary:

SCOTUSblog

NPR

ABA Journal

Sentencing Law and Policy Blog

Los Angeles Times Blog

Christian Science Monitor

CNN