Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Science in the Courtroom

A recent article about the utility of using brain scans in the courtroom as part of a criminal defense got  me thinking. If something is scientifically possible, when should it be admissible?

If you're in trial and need authoritative cases fast, reach for Ohio Jurisprudence in the library or pull it up on Westlaw or Lexis (database identifier: OHJUR). If, instead, you want to articulate why the law should be changed and more broad scientific test results should be admitted, consider turning to texts that address science in the courtroom:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Law

As Sandy (once a hurricane, making landfall in New Jersey as a "post-tropical cyclone," and now a "superstorm") hits the East Coast, several websites are keeping us abreast of the status of courts, law firms, and law schools:

Hurricane Sandy: A List of Legal World Closures at Above the Law.

The ABA Law Journal has an updated list.

Hurricane preparedness tips can be found here.

Stay safe!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bob Ross's Happy Little Trees

Bob Ross, illustrious PBS painter, would be 70 years old today were it not for his untimely death. Mr. Ross, perhaps best known for his distinctive hairstyle, pet squirrel, and soothing voice, taught television viewers how to paint beautiful landscapes with "happy little trees."

A quick Google search indicates scores of websites where one can purchase a t-shirt or other memorabilia to commemorate Mr. Ross. This may leave you wondering, however, whether Mr. Ross's estate benefits from the proceeds of these sales.

The answer, of course, is that it depends. Rights of publicity are governed by states, and a person's rights of publicity depend on any restrictions their domiciliary state places on them. For example, in some states, the right only arises if you are a celebrity. In other states, you can only exercise your rights posthumously if you exercised them during your lifetime.

In Mr. Ross's case, he was a lifelong Floridian (despite a stint in the Air Force), and Florida does have a statute on point: FSA 540.08.

If you're considering estate planning as a career (rights of publicity may be descendible!) or you're curious to know whether you need to ask anyone's permission to start printing t-shirts with your favorite deceased celebrity (Horshack, anyone?) , understanding rights of publicity is essential. Check out Publicity Rights and Image: Exploitation and Legal Control in the library to learn more.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Government Websites: The New and the Beautiful

Just over a month ago, the Library of Congress launched a new website,, in conjunction with the legislative branch and the Government Printing Office. If you're in need of government documents (e.g., House and Senate Reports, the Congressional Record) in pdf form and dating back to 2001, make this your first stop.

Following suit, the Law Library of Congress has revamped its website to make searching easier. Now you'll be able to troll your favorite Law Library of Congress collections---like the digital archive of legal blogs (a.k.a. blawgs) and the Global Legal Information Network---faster.

Curious to see what the states are up to? This site recently reviewed and ranked the 50 U.S. States Websites according to design and access. This site recognizes notable government websites based on "innovation, functionality and efficiency."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Third Presidential Debate Mash-Up

Missed the third presidential debate, but not too eager to slog through newspapers and blogs for a summary? Take a look at the musical mash-up created by the Gregory Brothers for the New York Times.

NY Times

If you're curious about whether using clips from the debate to create the video was legal, the answer---as usual---is "it depends." The Gregory Brothers may have licensed the video, or they may have decided to rely on fair use as grounds for why they didn't need to ask permission in the first place.

For more on music and video licensing issues, check out these books in the law library:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Convictions Reversed Due to PowerPoint Presentation

During Edward Glasmann's trial for assualt, kidnapping, attempted robbery, and obstruction, prosecutors showed a PowerPoint presentation as part of closing arguments.  Slides included Glasmann's booking photo, with the word "GUILTY" printed over Glasmann's face.

Last week, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington ovetturned Glasmann's convictions, finding that the PowerPoint amounted to prosecutorial misconduct, and was "flagrant and ill-intentioned."

Opinion here.

WSJ Law Blog

Tacoma News-Tribune

H/T: Legal Blog Watch

Monday, October 22, 2012

LinkedIn - An Overlooked Research Tool

You may have a LinkedIn account with all the bells and whistles touting your work and educational experience. If you aren't familiar with LinkedIn, however, consider signing up. The site is essentially Facebook for professionals, allowing folks to post résumés, collect recommendations, and network. For example, you can join groups to meet like-minded types, like Moritz grads, possibly hearing about the latest employment opportunities well before they are posted in other places.

LinkedIn is also a great research tool. Simply log in, click "Advanced" next to the search bar (see below), and you're on your way.

Looking for lawyers in a particular city who practice civil rights law? Select the Law Practice industry type and the city or zip code where you're looking. Curious about the types of work or employment trajectories from alum from your undergrad? Type the undergraduate institution in the School field. Interested in working for the Disney corporation but not sure who to reach out to in the legal department? Type "Disney" in the Company field, legal services and law practice in the industry fields, and voilà.

And who knows, you may have shared connections or other things in common, facilitating the sometimes awkward process of meeting people.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Need Research Help?

If you have a paper or draft due for a journal, but you don't know where to begin, don't forget you can check in with the law librarians.  The reference desk is open 10am-5pm during the week and on Sundays from 1pm-5pm.

Stop by if you're not finding what you're looking for online, and we can help you develop your research strategy and suggest resources.

If you're working after library hours, take a look at Writing for & Publishing in Law Reviews to get started. Trolling some of the law library's online databases, like HeinOnline (with collections like "Foreign Relations of the United States" and "U.S. International Trade Library") or the Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises 1800-1926 may be a quicker way to start digging into secondary sources than searching Google.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Phone Book Has Full First Amendment Protection

A Seattle ordinance required the publishers of yellow pages phone books to pay a fee for each book, as well as have an advertisement for an opt-out service on the front cover.

On Monday, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the ordinance did not survive strict scrutiny and declared that the yellow pages enjoys full First Amendment protection.


WSJ Law Blog

Seattle Post Intelligencer

Monday, October 15, 2012

Somebody's Watching Me

The 80s and early 90s brought a wave of songs perfect for Halloween---Thriller, the Ghostbusters theme, and the Addams Family Groove. The one that stuck with me was Somebody's Watching Me. Maybe it was too many hours spent at the skating rink, or perhaps it simply foreshadowed my legal career and interest in data privacy.

Whatever the case may be, the idea of anonymous entities (politicians, corporations, hackers to name a few current bogeymen) digging up your personal preferences, shopping habits, and Internet usage for various reasons may give you pause as well.

To get up to speed on the state of data privacy law, a Google search might help, but looking for terms like "privacy," "security," and "data" are so broad you might be digging for hours. Here are two tips to get you started:
  1. Search the library catalog for the terms "privacy," "security," and "data" but limit your search to materials found in the law library and published in 2005 or later. To do this, click "Use advanced search" under the Keyword Search box. Once you have one interesting book picked out, click on the tab "Find Similar Items" and select the subject you're interested in.
  2. Search Westlaw Next using the Advanced Search feature. (To the right of the orange "Search" button, click "Advanced Search.") This way, you have a way to limit your searches a bit better.  Using just those three search terms above and clicking the "Search" button turns up 10,000 secondary sources, which is a bit daunting if you're simply looking for a way to start your research.
You might also consider chatting up a professor for insights into seminal works in the field.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Career Options: Agent or Counsel for Athletes

In addition to the obvious big sports presences here in Columbus (i.e., football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and ice hockey), Columbus is also home to gifted track stars, the Arnold Classic, the upcoming marathon, and scores of other sports.

If you're still trolling for a career path but you find yourself driven to distraction by football lately, consider breaking in to the sports law arena. Two suggestions for getting your foot in the door: learn the law and learn the business.

To build your legal know-how, you can enroll in Sports Law offered this Spring, peruse the library's collection of sports law books and journals, or review any number of legal research guides on the subject. If you find a book that looks good on another law library's website, search the Moritz catalog by call number to find a copy here:

To develop your business sense, enroll in a negotiation classread the blogs, and do a little networking with local counsel and agents.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pawn Stars Sued

It wouldn't be the kind of deal we usually see on Pawn Stars: A Las Vegas promoter claims that he was the manager of the stars of the popular reality show and had an oral contract, entitling him to a monthly fee and a percentage of merchandise sales.  Now, he is suing the stars of the show, as well as executives at the History Channel, alleging breach of contract and failing to pay promised fees.

Courthouse News Service


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

OSU-Nebraska Halftime Show: Legal Questions

By now I hope you've all seen the glory that is TBDBITL from the OSU-Nebraska halftime show last Saturday. In a nutshell, the Ohio State marching band performed songs from classic video games and marched in formations that called to mind Super Mario Brothers, the Legend of Zelda, Pac-Man, and more. The Plain Dealer reports the feat took 14 hours of on-field practice alone and was an idea five years in the making.

But if you've begun to develop a lawyerly mind, you may be thinking about the variety of legal issues this brief nine minute spectacle raises:
  1. Does OSU have to get permission to play the video game music?
  2. Does OSU have to get permission to reproduce any trademarks (e.g., Mario) in the band's formations?
  3. Who owns the copyright in the performance? Is it the same person that owns the copyright in the video of the performance that was posted to YouTube?
  4. Who owns the copyright in the musical arrangement?
If one day you face this hypothetical scenario (say, you're general counsel at a university), you may be tempted to turn to Google for an answer. That search may get you part of the way there. But consider checking with your friendly law library, with services available even to alums: 

And when you're not researching, take advantage of free opportunities to relive the thrill of TBDBITL with skull sessions and halftime replays at the Gateway Film Center Sundays after game day.   

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Sandusky Sentenced Today

We have written many posts about former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.  Having been found guilty of 45 counts relating to the sexual abuse of young boys, Sandusky was sentenced today to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Although he did not testify at his trial, Sandusky made a statement on Monday declaring his innocence.  Several of the victims made statements at the sentencing, and Judge John Cleland said that he expected Sandusky to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Wall Street Journal Law Blog

New York Times

York Dispatch


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Woman Who Rode Manatee Turns Herself In

Unsurprisingly, Florida has some pretty detailed laws relating to the disturbing of endangered animals.

In this case, the "disturbing" involved a woman who was photographed riding a manatee.

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez turned herself in after the pictures were circulated and the sheriff's office asked for the public's help in locating and identifying the woman.

h/t: Lowering the Bar

Tampa Bay Times


WTSP Tampa Bay

Houston Chronicle

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Interview Skills and Resources

For some of the latest reading on nailing your interview, head over to our research guide, Interviewing Information and Resources.

Also, if you're interviewing for a clerkship, take a look at some of the biographical info we have in the library on judges:
  1. Almanac of the Federal Judiciary
  2. BNA's Directory of State and Federal Courts, Judges, and Clerks
  3. The American Bench: Judges of the Nation

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Bonnie and Clyde Guns Sold at Auction

Two guns once owned by notorious outlaw couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were sold at an auction in New Hampshire this past weekend.  The auction was put on by RR Auctions and had the theme "Gangsters, Outlaws, and Lawmen."

Two guns were carried by Bonnie and Clyde when they were ambushed and killed by law enforcement officers in 1934.  Bonnie Parker’s Colt Detective Special .38 revolver sold for $264,000, and Clyde Barrow's Colt Model 1911 semi-auto pistol went for $240,000.  Other items at the auction included Bonnie Parker's cosmetic case and a collection of wanted posters, including one for John Dillinger.

Los Angeles Times



Monday, October 01, 2012

New U.S. Supreme Court Term Begins Today

The latest Supreme Court term has been touted as having a "docket studded with momentous issues." For a sample of perspectives around the country, the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times all have articles highlighting some of the bigger cases.

You can also get the latest on Supreme Court decision-making from the Supreme Court's website and the ever-popular SCOTUS blog. For more historical material, take a look at The Oyez Project.

Fun facts:
  • Justices don't have to be in court to hear oral arguments they rule on. Audio recordings and transcripts suffice.
  • Odds of having a writ for certiorari heard are approximately 75/10,000 (less than 1 percent). Some argue, however, there are ways to increase your odds.
  • The youngest Justice ever appointed was 32 years old (Joseph Story, whose most famous case was US v. The Amistad).
  • Justice Louis D. Brandeis was the first Jewish Supreme Court appointee. He sat from 1916-1939.
  • Two Associate Justices were named John Marshall Harlan. The first served from 1877 to 1911. The second, his grandson, served from 1955 to 1971.
Finally, to celebrate the new term, considering snapping up a few Supreme Court Bobbleheads or trading cards from the Green Bag or treating yourself to Supreme Court trivia.