Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lance Armstrong: Law and Library

Following his admission that he used banned substances and engaged in "blood doping" during his cycling career, including his seven Tour de France wins, Lance Armstrong is now the object of a class action lawsuit from people who purchased his books.

In other news of Armstrong's books, an Australian library posted a sign as a prank: the sign read, "All Non-Fiction Lance Armstrong Books, including 'Lance Armstrong - Images of a Champion', 'The Lance Armstrong Performance Program' and 'Lance Armstrong: World's Greatest Champion,' will soon be moved to the fiction section."

Fox Sports


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wrongful Convictions

The Dispatch reports on the overturned wrongful conviction of an Akron police officer 15 years ago. Doug Prade's conviction was overturned as the result of new DNA testing that indicates his DNA was not found at the crime scene.

If you'd like to read up on wrongful convictions, we have a number of resources in the library on the subject:

Achieving Justice: Freeing the Innocent, Convicting the Guilty
Life After Death Row: Exonerees' Search for Community and Identity
Wrongful Conviction: Law, Science, and Public Policy
The Thin Blue Line (movie)

You might be surprised at the subject heading under which you'll find items like this in a library's catalog: False imprisonment -- United States. (For more on the curious way the Library of Congress creates subject headings, check out It Takes a Village.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Résumé Advice

Your résumé may be the first impression employers have of you. Video résumés may seem like a reasonable way to go for some careers, but they haven't become an accepted norm in the legal profession, regardless of the example set by Elle Woods. Other creative alternatives, like creating a website that mimics is another innovative approach that is probably more miss than hit if you're seeking an attorney position.

The more traditional paper résumé may seem a little stodgy, but it's still your best bet for receiving an interview. Keep in mind, it's not always your credentials that get you in the door---the actual words you choose may make all the difference, particularly if you're applying through an automated system that skims résumés for keywords. Use a number of keywords the system is programmed to detect and you increase your chances of getting your résumé pulled from the pool.

For more résumé tips, check with Career Services. Also, swing by the law library to pick up a few handy books:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Avatar - Copyright Infringement?

When Avatar was released in theaters, much of the talk was about the new technology James Cameron created as a prelude to making the film. The technology was even patented as "3D camera with foreground object distance sensing." The talk lately, however, has been of copyright infringement.
According to the US Copyright Office, copyright infringement occurs when copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.

Under copyright law, you cannot copyright an idea, but you can copyright the embodiment of the idea. For example, star-crossed lovers who come from warring families but manage to find a way to be together nonetheless is not protectible, while setting those two characters in 1950s New York City, incorporating music, and having the warring factions be rival gangs is more likely a defensible story in a copyright infringement case.

In the case of Avatar, a former Cameron employee alleges the film Avatar illegally copies his script for K.R.Z. 2068. Mr. Cameron asserts he wrote Avatar five years before K.R.Z. 2068, and independent creation is a solid copyright defense, regardless of any similarities the two films may share.

Interested in following the case? We recommend running a docket search on Bloomberg Law. If you've forgotten your password or never registered, contact the reference desk at Then, click on the Litigation & Dockets tab:


Select Search Dockets:


And search:

Ta Da!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shepard Fairey Sentenced

I'm a little behind the ball on this one, but with the recent inauguration, Shepard Fairey was brought to mind. Mr. Fairey is the artist who created the Obama Hope poster, then faced allegations of copyright infringement and ultimately tampering with evidence. The case came to a close in September with the imposition of a $25,000 fine and two years' probation.

Mr. Fairey's fair use defense and championing of artistic freedom shares a thread with the case of Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit, who also faced criminal charges related to the copyrighted works of someone else.

Whether you're a staunch supporter of existing copyright laws or desire to see a change (for either longer terms or fewer restrictions), we have resources in the library for you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Roe v. Wade at Google Scholar.

Oral argument, December 13, 1971, at C-SPAN Video Library.

Roe v. Wade, including oral argument and reargument (October 11, 1972), at The Oyez Project.

Interview with Sarah Weddington, attorney for "Jane Roe."

Poll at The Washington Post.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Interview Tips

It seems like everyone has interview tips when you're job hunting. I think some tips might not hurt, but their efficacy isn't exactly certain. One friend I know always reads the front page of the news paper's main section and sports section in case he has to make small talk. He has no interest in sports, but it invariably comes up, so he wants to be prepared.

The tips published on fall into the too-surprising-to-be-true category, but it can't hurt to be reminded now and again about common sense etiquette and what not to say in an interview. My favorite: Candidate asked to be paid "under the table."

For more top tips on interviewing for that big job, check out the following:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Canton Marathon Dispute

Runner's World reports on a feud between former business partners in Canton, Ohio. The business partners organized last year's inaugural marathon but allegedly have not paid all vendors and other service providers from last year's event.

Papers to dissolve the partners' corporation have been filed (Stark County Court of Common Pleas docket search available here), and now each individually is organizing a marathon for the same day (June 15) in Canton.

Neither race organizer has filed for permits yet, and the city is planning a response in the event both organizers move forward with the separate races. (Canton is only 20.6 square miles in area, and while you don't need a huge space to run a marathon, the resources two simultaneous races would consume could be prohibitive.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Don't Underestimate the Force...But Don't Expect a Death Star

We've posted in the past about the White House petition site, where citizens can request a response from the administration on everything from the legalization of marijuana, to food safety, to the White House beer recipe, of a Death Star.

34,435 people petitioned the government to begin construction of our very own Death Star by 2016.  (Presumably, it would take longer for the battle station to become fully operational.)

Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and obvious Star Wars fan, authored the response ("This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For"), pointing out the high cost and the fact that it could potentially be destroyed by one cocky kid who used to bull's-eye womp rats in his T-16.

So, no Death Star for us, but everything's under control.  Situation normal.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Where Were you Five Years Ago Today?

Five years ago (January 2008), Atonement won the Golden Globe for best dramatic film, Bobby Jindal was sworn in as the first Indian American governor in U.S. history, and Hillary Clinton won the Michigan primary as the only serious Democratic contender in the election at that time. (Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary for the Republicans.)

And in blog news, we highlighted the pending State of the Union address (this year's will be held Feb. 12) by directing you to the state of the union archives on the Government Printing Office website. We also flagged for you a series of tips and stories for finding and keeping a law job.

For more research and news tips that are as handy today as they were five years ago, scroll through our blog archives.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Juror Misconduct? Steve Martin Tweets from Jury Duty

The ABA Journal reports comedian Steve Martin has been seated on a jury and is humorously Tweeting as the trial progresses. We've covered juror misconduct and new social media in a previous blog post (Trial Attorneys Beware - Legal Research Could Cause a Mistrial). Do comedians get a pass? Would your opinion depend on whether you're the defendant, judge, or prosecutor?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another Interesting SCOTUS Case...and SCOTUS Resources

As the Supreme Court begins the new Term, now would probably be a good time to show you some of the online resources that explain the cases, arguments, and decisions.

For example, argument took place yesterday in the case of Missouri v. McNeely, which centers around the taking of blood samples in drunk driving cases.

Of course, the Supreme Court's own website has many useful materials, including argument transcripts and argument audio.  (You can find the transcript for Missouri v. McNeely online already--the audio takes longer to appear.)

SCOTUSblog has a page for every case, including many of the filings, the opinion below, and blog coverage from the writers at SCOTUS blog.  Here is the page for Missouri v. McNeely, and a recap of yesterday's argument.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Happy Birthday Richard Nixon!

Were he alive today, Richard Nixon would be 100 years old.

Though younger people may only think of the classic film Point Break (directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow, incidentally) when hearing Nixon's name, and older people may simply associate him with Watergate, Nixon also has a somewhat-forgotten environmental legacy. Here are a few memorable highlights from that aspect of his career as president:
h/t Gallagher blogs

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Cases Update

The Supreme Court has released its schedule for the upcoming term, including the dates for oral arguments in the same-sex marriage cases.  Here, at SCOTUSblog, you can see the entire schedule. 

Wall Street Journal Law Blog

Huffington Post

CBS News

Monday, January 07, 2013

Great Legal Blogs of 2012

Some folks are good at staying up-to-the-minute current, while others (like myself) gladly read the work of those who seek current info to expedite the process of staying 'current.'

Dennis Kennedy, a popular technology lawyer, has highlighted some of the top legal blogs of 2012. Law blogs (a.k.a. blawgs) are a great way to get the most current information available on a legal issue. In other words, you can skim a few blogs to learn the latest snippets of legal info rather than doing all the legwork yourself.

Two other great reasons to check out law blogs:
  1. They're handy if you're hunting for a paper topic.
  2. Read a few subject-specific blogs before an interview (i.e., read a trademark blog or three if you're interviewing for an intellectual property position). Also, check your interview schedule---one of your interviewers just might have their own blog it would behoove you to have read.
Here are a few more lists of law blogs you might be interested in:

Friday, January 04, 2013

Rape, Defamation, Invasion of Privacy and Steubenville

Steubenville, Ohio, has been in the news of late with regards to a trial in which two high school students are charged with rape. Recently, an anonymous group has been leaking information on Twitter and other online media sites to share "facts" it believes have been kept hidden to protect the accused students, raising legal questions regarding whether the group is defaming or invading the privacy of local Steubenville residents.

Regardless of the legal outcome of any charges or claims brought, the case is also an interesting study in persuasive, biased, and objective writing on a sensitive subject. How the incident has been described (e.g., referring to the alleged rape as "alleged" or as an "incident") and the phrases used to describe the defendants (e.g., high school students, youth, football players, bullies) are fundamental elements of the case, and the attorneys' choice of words at trial will certainly shape the verdict.

Spend a moment considering how you'd phrase things if you were defense counsel or the prosecutor. For tips on persuasive and sensitive communication, check out Tongue-Tied America, The Anatomy of Persuasion, and Client Science: Advice for Lawyers on Counseling Clients Through Bad News and Other Legal Realities.

Rape, Lawsuits, Anonymous Leaks: What's Going On in Steubenville, Ohio? (

Herald Star Online (Steubenville newspaper)

Rape Case Unfolds on Web and Splits City (NY Times)

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Amish Beard-Cutters Await Sentencing

We have been following the case of the breakaway sect of Amish who cut the beards and hair of other Amish.  Sentencings are now scheduled for the first week of February, and here are several stories about the convicted men and women:

New York Times

New York Daily News

WKYC Cleveland

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Ohio Judges Retiring

The Dispatch today brings the story of two long-term judges retiring from the bench at the start of the new year. According to the story, the departures signal the start of a wave of looming retirements.

"In Ohio, judges aren’t permitted to begin a term after turning 70. Nearly one-fourth of the 45 sitting judges in Franklin County courts — Common Pleas, Domestic Relations, Municipal and Appeals — can’t run again."

Curious about pursuing a career on the bench? Try starting with a clerkship, and take a look at In Chambers: A Guide for Judicial Clerks and Externs or Judicial Clerkships: A Practical Guide. You may also want to peruse our list of judicial biographies. Some are available electronically if you can't bear to come in to the library over the semester break.