Brooklyn Ascendant in DC

As supplement to the November 17 post, readers may want to look at the November 24 issue of the New Yorker which has an article called More Brains by Jeffrey Toobin. In it the author  discusses the nomination of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch to run the Department of Justice. The article also mentions the rivalry between the prosecutors of the Eastern District, often seen as a kind of junior varsity with respect to their colleagues in the Southern District, across the East River. U.S. District Judge John Gleeson, a former prosecutor in the Eastern District and a former adjunct professor at BLS, is quoted as saying “I get the Hertz-Avis reputations of the two offices. But I honestly don’t feel any kind of inferiority complex. Maybe there’s some more humanity over here, some different attitudes. Loretta is a modest prosecutor.” Toobin goes on to say “Even before Lynch’s nomination, the Eastern District brand was ascendant in Washington. There is already a considerable Brooklyn mafia (so to speak) in prominent positions in the Justice Department.” He quotes Gleeson as saying, “Everyone knows Brooklyn is cooler now than Manhattan. My law clerks all want to live in Brooklyn, but they can’t afford it. They have to live on the Upper East Side.”


Law Library of Congress and HeinOnline Team Up to Offer Free Access to Historical Federal Primary Law

The Law Library of Congress and Willaim S. Hein & Co., Inc. recently announced that they will partner to to offer free online access to historical U.S. legal materials, including the United States Code, U.S. Reports, Code of Federal Regulations, and the Federal Register.  Legal researchers and the public can access these Hein libraries through the Law Library of Congress legal research portal, Guide to Law Online: U.S. Federal. The following collections of historical primary law are available:

While not as comprehensive nor as easily searched as the BLS Library HeinOnline Subscription Databases, these collections help to make important historical legislative, judicial, and executive branch publications freely available to the public.  Most of these collections are available on the federal government website FDsys, but coverage only goes back to the mid-1990s.  Generally, the free Hein libraries begin with the first edition of the publication in question, and end when free access via FDsys begins.

For assistance with using the Guide to Law Online links or the BLS Library HeinOnline Subscription Databases, ask a Reference Librarian.

Happy 225th Anniversary to “Mother Court”

from Third Branch News Blog

A 225th anniversary ceremony honoring the first-ever federal court session held court2under the U.S. Constitution and Judiciary Act, was held Nov. 4th in the ceremonial courtroom of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The ceremony honored a court session held Nov. 3, 1789, in the Royal Exchange Building in Manhattan.  The session, conducted by Judge James Duane, occurred three months before the U.S. Supreme Court also met in the Royal Exchange, which no longer exists. The 1789 session gives the Southern District of New York claiming rights as the nation’s “Mother Court”—although the first sitting was not momentous, adjourning immediately without hearing any cases.

The Library recently acquired the book, The Mother Court: Tales of Cases That Mattered in America’s Greatest Trial Court. It is the first book to chronicle the history of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, the most influential District court in the United States. It gives first-hand insight into the evolution of our justice system where it has been, where it is now and where it is going. It provides an anatomy of what a trial is all about in an American courtroom, featuring the most famous trials of the period in the greatest court in the nation.





Small Business Legal Academy

On Wednesday, November 19, 2014, from 9am to 3pm, Brooklyn Law School will host, in its Subotnick Center on the 10th Floor, the second annual Small Business Legal Academy (SBLA) bringing together corporate law firms, civil legal services organizations, financial services consultants, City and State agencies and other service providers to strengthen New York City’s vibrant and diverse small-business community. During the one-day event, small businesses in need of consulting services will be able to learn about starting and managing a business or nonprofit, and uncover solutions to the legal and financial challenges facing their organizations. The SBLA is a comprehensive one-stop shop for small business. The first annual event was held last year at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, where over 200 entrepreneurs received free legal counsel from volunteer attorneys representing nearly 35 top NYC law firms.

This year’s SBLA is expecting nearly 100 attorneys to volunteer in addition to the legal service providers, financial consultants, and City and State agencies that will be providing free services to the fledgling businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs who may otherwise not have the means to receive expert counsel. SBLA is sponsored by the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo) together with nearly a dozen non-profit public interest law firms and Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE). Registration is available at this link and walk-ins are welcome.

LasserThe BLS Library recently added to its collection an E-book titled J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2015: Your Complete Guide to a Better Bottom Line. Fully updated for 2014 tax returns and 2015 tax planning, this detailed guide provides concise, plain-English explanations of tax laws tailored to business owners who are experts in their field—not in taxes. A complete listing of available business expense deductions includes comprehensive information on dollar limits and record-keeping requirements, allowing business owners to quickly recognize the deductions for which they qualify and make tax-savvy business decisions year round. Sample forms and checklists allow small business owners to organize their preparation, and clear instruction on tax form navigation helps them get it right the first time. Small business owners have a full plate. Indeed, just keeping the business going is a more than full-time job. But when tax time rolls around, they still need to file—correctly, on time, and without making errors or leaving money on the table. This book simplifies the process, breaking down tax laws and the filing process. It has expert insight on every step of the process, from organizing paperwork to sending the check.

Lawyering Skills Quiz

The November 2014 edition of the ABA Journal, available in print at the Brooklyn Law School Library Circulation Desk, has a quiz to test whether you have the skills, traits and values of a good lawyer. The 10 question quiz, designed to let you know what skills are needed to be a great trial lawyer. Give it a try and see how well you score on the quiz which is also available online.

good lawyerIt is based on the book The Good Lawyer: Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law by University of Missouri at Kansas City Law Professors Douglas O. Linder and Nancy Levit (Call #K115 .L56 2014). The 360 page book published by Oxford University Press is a must-read for law students and prospective law students, new lawyers, and seasoned professionals. It is organized in ten chapters titled The Good Lawyer Is Empathetic — The Good Lawyer Is Courageous — The Good Lawyer Has Ample Willpower — The Good Lawyer Values Others in the Legal Community — The Good Lawyer Uses Both Intuition and Deliberative Thinking — The Good Lawyer Thinks Realistically about the Future — The Good Lawyer Serves the True Interests of Clients — The Good Lawyer Pursues Justice with Integrity — The Good Lawyer Is Persuasive — Seeking Quality in a Rapidly Changing Profession.

Witchcraft in American History

WitchcraftJust in time for Halloween, the Brooklyn Law School Library has added to its collection A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience (Pivotal Moments in American History) by Emerson W. Baker (Call #KFM2478.8.W5 B35 2015). The author, a professor of history at Salem State University and former dean of its graduate school, retells the familiar yet puzzling and misunderstood story of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 when 156 residents of Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk Counties were formally accused of practicing witchcraft, a capital crime. 113 were imprisoned. 20 persons were put to death and at least 5 died in prisons in Boston, Cambridge, Ipswich and Salem. Baker shows how the court functioned in terms of legal process when putting alleged witches on trial and he discusses the pressure put on the accused to confess, perhaps because this would help condone the court’s actions and attitudes. He notes that of the 28 put on trial before judges and jury, 28 were found guilty. The author’s dissection of events is original and persuasive, not least because the importance of political circumstance, legal expediency and personal relationships seems obvious once it is pointed out. Baker reminds us that witchcraft was above all a religious crime, which took on terrifying significance at a time of extreme danger in New England’s history. But his analysis of Salem’s causal roots and painfully enduring ramifications does more than just demystify the trials: it illustrates universal truths about human emotions and their place in modern society.

The table of contents of the 416 page book lists an Introduction: An Old Valuables Chest; Chapter One: Satan’s Storm; Chapter Two: The City upon a Hill; Chapter Three: Drawing Battle Lines in Salem Village; Chapter Four: The Afflicted; Chapter Five: The Accused; Chapter Six: The Judges; Chapter Seven: An Inextinguishable Flame; Chapter Eight: Salem End; Chapter Nine: Witch City? It also includes 16 illustrations: maps and photographs drawn and taken by the author. The Appendices list those persons accused of practicing witchcraft (a contribution from fellow Salem Trials scholar, Margo Burns). There has been serious recent scholarship resulting in significant and accurate findings in this field, particularly since the Tercentenary. In copious notes the author generously pays tribute to those who have come before. This landmark investigation into Salem Witchcraft so skillfully weaves its facts throughout that it reads like an absorbing novel. Emerson Baker’s book provides welcome clarity to complicated events during a specific time in our colonial past. This book represents a major contribution to understanding the Salem Witch Hunt.

Help Us See the Light!

The correct light bulb that is.lamp

The Library is considering new light bulbs for the library tables lamps on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the library.

Please look at the lights in the four lamps on the first table as you enter the Law Review Room on the 3rd Floor (the room facing the main stairway).

Ranking forms and a form collection box are located on the same table as the lamps.

Let your voice be heard!

Reminder: First Year Research Quiz Review Today & Bluebook Review Thursday

question-mark-460868_640If you are worried about your upcoming Legal Research and Bluebook Quiz, have no fear. Reference librarians are here to help. Bring any and all of your research questions and concerns to today’s or next Tuesday’s session. Librarians will answer your questions and address your concerns. This Q & A session is solely designed to answer questions. There will be no formal presentation. So if you have questions or are confused about some aspect of legal research, stop by Room 401 between 4pm-5pm today, October 28, 2014. If you cannot make today’s session, come next Tuesday, November 4, 2014 to Room 401 from 5pm-6pm.
Struggling with the Bluebook? Do you need a review prior to your quiz? Library Director and Professor Janet Sinder will guide you through everything you need to know about the Bluebook for your research quiz. Professor Sinder will hold two sessions for students on the Bluebook’s basics, including short form citation and sample questions. The first Bluebook review is on Thursday, October 30 from 4pm-5pm in Room 501. The second review session is next Monday, November 3 from 5pm-6pm in Room 601.

New Books List October 21, 2014

TocquevilleBrooklyn Law School Library latest New Books List has 70 items on a wide range of subjects. Of particular interest to legal scholars of administrative law is Tocqueville’s Nightmare: The Administrative State Emerges in America, 1900-1940 by Georgetown Law School Professor of Law Daniel R. Ernst (Call #JK411 .E76 2014). The subject may seem dry but Prof. Ernst, in less than 150 pages, tells a lively and compelling story of how legal giants from the early 20th (lawyers, judges and legal scholars such as Ernst Freund, Felix Frankfurter, Charles Evans Hughes, and Roscoe Pound) used the rule of law to respond to the problems posed by the growth of bureaucracy. Their combined efforts laid the foundations of American administrative law in the critical years between 1900 and 1940 culminating in the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act which codified already-established best practices.

In the introduction, Ernst explains the title of his work recalling Alexis de Tocqueville’s visit to America in the 1830s and his observation that, while the United States had “centralized government”, it had little “centralized administration” or bureaucracies imposing their will on Americans. Tocqueville warned that if the United States ever became habituated to centralized administration “in that country a more insufferable despotism would prevail than any which now exists in the monarchical States of Europe, or indeed than any which could be found on this side of the confines of Asia.”

By 1940, America had acquired a great deal of centralized administration with administrators resolving disputes, collecting taxes, regulating industry, and distributing grants and loans. Proponents of the administrative state argued that the new agencies made individual freedom possible in an age of industrial concentration and national markets, in marked contrast to the dictatorships of Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin. Ernst suggests that the primary reason for the success of the American administrative experiment was Americans’ belief that courts would deliver them from Tocqueville’s nightmare. This gave a legalistic cast to the administrative state by applying the “rule of law” and ensuring that common-law courts would continue to serve as the ideal against which administrative agencies were judged. Agencies in their “quasi-adjudication” roles were bound by concepts of due process, were required to maintain judicial aloofness from subordinates, and were to justify their actions in deciding individual cases in legalistic ways: holding hearings, compiling a record of testimony, including detailed findings of facts supporting their orders. Many of these procedural safeguards came about from fear that America’s administrators would take their lead from political bosses and “professional office-seekers” who like European bureaucrats had little training and expertise and served partisan purposes.

goodIn his concluding chapter, Ernst contrasts Elihu Vedder’s two murals in the Library of Congress, Corrupt Legislation and Good Administration: arresting depictions of the plight the creators of the American administrative state hoped to escape and the sound and just government they hoped to attain. In Good Administration, the central female figure is chastely robed and serene. The scales she holds are in equipoise and on her shield are emblems of a just government, the weight, scales, and rule. To her left, a young man drops a ballot into a voting urn. On the right, a young woman winnows wheat over another voting urn. Behind them is a thriving wheat field. In contrast, the central figure in Corrupt Legislation is a woman with a beautiful but depraved face. The path to her thrown is overgrown with wcorru[teeds, showing that people have abandoned a direct approach to Justice. In her left hand the woman holds a set of scales onto which a man is placing a sack of coins as his bribe. In the background is the man’s factory, smoke billowing from its stacks. Another factory to the woman’s right is still and in disrepair. A poorly clad girl, representing Labor, appeals to the woman for employment but is waved away.

If the early 20th Century father of the administrative state expected to avoid Tocqueville’s nightmare, they knew that administrators would not stay good on their own, and they designed the administrative state accordingly. The emergence of a procedural rule of law during the heyday administrative adjudication remains relevant as the various methods of holding administrators accountable tried out before 1940 are part of a repertoire that we still turn to today. Ernst’s history shows that we can have an administrative state without transgressing fundamental principles of American governance.

UnlawfulAnother new item in the BLS Library collection takes a different view of the subject. Is Administrative Law Unlawful? by Columbia Law School Professor of Law Philip Hamburger (Call # K3400 .H253 2014) has more than 635 pages which suggests only an affirmative response is correct for the question in the title. In his review of the book, Harvard Law School’s Adrian Vermeule says otherwise seeing praise of this book “as a sign of the times, a portent of the dimming of the legal mind, that this book is described in some quarters as ‘brilliant’ and ‘path-breaking.’ It isn’t; and the only sensible response to Hamburger’s question, as far as I can see, is ‘no.’ He calls the book a “dark vision of lawless and unchecked power” in which the author “wants us to see that American administrative law is ‘unlawful’ root-and-branch, indeed that it is tyrannous — that we have recreated, in another guise, the world of executive ‘prerogative’ that would have obtained if James II had prevailed, and the Glorious Revolution never occurred. The administrative state stands outside, and above, the law. . . . There is too much in this book about Charles I and Chief Justice Coke, about the High Commission and the dispensing power. There is not enough about the Administrative Procedure Act, about administrative law judges, about the statutes, cases and arguments that rank beginners in the subject are expected to learn and know. The book makes crippling mistakes about the administrative law of the United States; it misunderstands what that body of law actually holds and how it actually works. As a result the legal critique, launched by five-hundred-odd pages of text, falls well wide of the target.”