Welcome First Years!

The Library staff wishes our new entering class the very best of luck as you embark on your law school career.  We are here to help you in using the Library and with its electronic and print resources.  You will learn about some of these resources at your combined IT/Library orientation sessions next week.

Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg Law are three of the many electronic resources you will have access to while you are a student.  These are the three major legal databases, and during your Fundamentals of American Law class, or your Case Reading Workshop next week, you will receive your Lexis and Bloomberg Law registration cards and your Westlaw password.  Please follow the instructions on each of these items and register yourself in all three systems as soon as possible.  Training sessions in Lexis and Westlaw will be held in September and in Bloomberg Law in the spring semester.

Reference assistance is available to you in person at the first floor reference desk, by email (refdesk@brooklaw.edu), by phone (718-780-7567) or by Live Chat from the Library homepage

We have several events planned for you this fall:  two Bluebooking with Success Workshops and two Research Review Sessions in late October/early November and our 3rd Annual Legal Research Fair on September 30th.  Stay tuned for more details about these events.

Best of luck and we’ll see you in the Library!


Legal Research Guides – a Great Way to Get Started on Legal Research

Did you know there are detailed legal research guides freely available on the Internet on virtually any legal topic you can imagine?  Most of these guides are written by subject specialist law school librarians, although they can also be written by practitioners or government experts.  Research guides are a great place to turn when you are first beginning your research as they give an overview of an area of the law and provide links to primary law, secondary sources, relevant government agencies, and more.

Interested?  Start with our own collection of legal research guides at: http://guides.brooklaw.edu/.  First year law students, make sure to take a look at the legal research guide that we drafted especially for you http://guides.brooklaw.edu/1l.

Also, check out http://www.loc.gov/law/help/how-find.php and http://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide.php, the Law Library of Congress detailed guides to the laws of the 50 states, the Federal government, and most of the countries in the world.

Looking for more ways to find high quality legal research guides?  If you have a particular topic in mind, try doing a Google search: “Legal Research Guide [insert your topic]” or “LibGuide [insert your topic].”   This type of search will nearly always turn up one or more law school library legal research guides on your topic of interest.  A great way to get started on your research!

The Magna Carta Tour: Brooklyn Law School

Almost 800 years ago, on June 15, 2015, King John puts his royal seal on the Magna Carta, or the “Great Charter” following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule. To commemorate the 800th anniversary of that event, the American Bar Association and the Library of Congress will debut a special traveling exhibit of the sealing of Magna Carta on August 8 at the ABA’s Annual Meeting Expo in Boston.

The ABA Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress will unveil Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015 which will feature 16 banners, 13 of which reflect spectacular images of Magna Carta and precious manuscripts, books and other documents from the Library of Congress’s rare book collections. The exhibit also incorporates a video, produced by the Library of Congress, showing the Law Librarian and the exhibit curator handling the materials and explaining their significance.

The principles found in Magna Carta played a fundamental role in establishing the supremacy of the law in our constitutional, democratic society, including concepts embraced by the Founding Fathers in the Bill of Rights. The importance of Magna Carta to American laws and freedoms will be highlighted at the Annual Meeting as Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. speaks to the ABA House of Delegates on the subject Aug. 11 at 11 a.m. The exhibit will give people a better understanding of Magna Carta and its relevance to the modern-day rule of law.

After Boston, the exhibit will travel to public buildings such as courthouses, law schools, universities and public libraries around the United States, including Brooklyn Law School from September 14-28, 2015, hosted by the Brooklyn Law School.

The current schedule for the exhibit includes other stops including:

  • Indianapolis at the Indiana Statehouse, Sept. 29-October 10r
  • Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan Law School, October 1-21
  • Houston, at the ABA Midyear Meeting, February 6-8, 2015
  • Atlanta, at the Georgia Bar Center, Spring 2015
  • Salt Lake City, April 3-20, 2015r
  • Washington, D.C, at the ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting, April 29-May 2, 2015
  • Philadelphia, at the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Meeting, April 29-May 3, 2015
  • London, England, at the ABA London Sessions, June 11-14, 2015
  • Chicago, at the ABA Annual Meeting, July 31 – August 2, 2015
  • San Diego, at the ABA Midyear Meeting, February 5-7, 2016

Magna CartaThe BLS Library has two books on the subject of the Magna Carta that are well worth reading. From the perspective of the English is Magna Carta by J.C. Holt (Call # JN147 .H64 1992) which sets the events of 1215 and the Charter itself in the context of the law, politics and administration of England and Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The book has a chapter on justice and jurisdiction that provides a fresh approach to the legal provisions of the Charter that were to prove so enduring, along with appendices on matters as varied as vernacular translations of the Charter and grants of liberties in perpetuity.

MC TTThe second book is Magna Carta: Text and Commentary by A. E. Dick Howard (Call #KD3946 .H69 1998). This edition is geared towards the American perspective in which the author places the charter in context of the extraordinary surge of constitutionalism in the aftermath of the Cold War. The book is a cogent introduction to Magna Carta that students everywhere can readily appreciate.

BLS to Join US Patent Office’s Clinic Pilot Program

ptoBrooklyn Law School has been selected as one of 19 law schools to join the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program this fall.  Currently there are 28 law schools participating in the Program.  BLS  will participate specifically in the Patent practice area of the  Program.

The Law School Clinic Certification Pilot program allows law students enrolled in a participating law school’s clinic program to practice Intellectual Property Law before the USPTO under the strict guidance of a Law School Faculty Clinic Supervisor.

Students gain experience drafting and filing either patent applications or trademark applications for clients of the law school clinic.  Further, as they are authorized to practice before the USPTO, they gain experience answering Office Actions and communicating with either patent examiners or trademark examining attorneys for the applications they have filed.


Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional

Death PenaltyAfter the recent July 16, 2014 Order Declaring California’s Death Penalty System Unconstitutional by the United States District Court for the Central District Of California in the case of Jones v. Chappell, users at the Brooklyn Law School Library may want to review the second edition of The Death Penalty in the United States: A Complete Guide to Federal and State Laws by Louis J. Palmer Jr. (Call #KF9725 .P35 2014). According to the publisher, the new edition includes 13 new chapters. Areas covered by some of the new chapters include Capital felon’s defense team; Habeas corpus, coram nobis and section 1983 proceedings; the Innocence protection act and post-conviction DNA testing; Challenging the death sentence under racial justice acts; Inhabited American territories and capital punishment; and the Costs of capital punishment.

The opinion by the federal district judge will be the talk of the death penalty community in the near future and is likely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit (and perhaps the Supreme Court). The opinion 29-page opinion starts and ends as follows:

On April 7, 1995, Petitioner Ernest Dewayne Jones was condemned to death by the State of California. Nearly two decades later, Mr. Jones remains on California’s Death Row, awaiting his execution, but with complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether, it will ever come. Mr. Jones is not alone. Since 1978, when the current death penalty system was adopted by California voters, over 900 people have been sentenced to death for their crimes. Of them, only 13 have been executed. For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution. Indeed, for most, systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death. As for the random few for whom execution does become a reality, they will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary.

That is the reality of the death penalty in California today and the system that has been created to administer it to Mr. Jones and the hundreds of other individuals currently on Death Row. Allowing this system to continue to threaten Mr. Jones with the slight possibility of death, almost a generation after he was first sentenced, violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment….

When an individual is condemned to death in California, the sentence carries with it an implicit promise from the State that it will actually be carried out. That promise is made to the citizens of the State, who are investing significant resources in furtherance of a punishment that they believe is necessary to achieving justice. It is made to jurors who, in exercise of their civic responsibility, are asked to hear about and see evidence of undeniably horrific crimes, and then participate in the agonizing deliberations over whether the perpetrators of those horrific crimes should be put to death. It is made to victims and their loved ones, for whom just punishment might provide some semblance of moral and emotional closure from an otherwise unimaginable loss. And it is made to the hundreds of individuals on Death Row, as a statement their crimes are so heinous they have forfeited their right to life.

Recent Ruling: 5th Circuit Upholds UT at Austin’s Admissions Policy

5thCircuitYesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, applying strict scrutiny, upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions policies. The court held that “to deny UT Austin its limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity would hobble the richness of the educational experience in contradiction to the plain teachings of Bakke and Grutter.” Fisher v. Univ. of Tex. at Austin, No. 09-50822, slip op. at 40 (5th Cir. July 15, 2014).   If you would like to explore the law surrounding affirmative action, the library owns many titles that discuss this issue. Some of the more recent titles are listed below.

Randall Kennedy, For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law (2013).

The chapters in this title include: affirmative action in the history of American race relations; the affirmative action policy debate: the key arguments pro and con; the color-blind challenge to affirmative action; the Supreme Court and affirmative action: the case of higher education; and reflections on the future of the affirmative action controversy.

Jody Feder, Cong. Research Serv., R43205, Banning the Use of Racial Preferences in Higher Education: A Legal Analysis of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (2013).

This report reviews the case of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which the Supreme Court will review the upcoming term. Unlike earlier rulings in which the Court considered whether it is constitutional for a state to use racial preferences in higher education, the new case raises the question of whether it is constitutional for a state to ban such preferences in higher education.

Jennifer Pierce, Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash against Affirmative Action (2012).

The chapters in this title include: innocence and injury: the politics of cultural memory in print news media; filming racial progress: the transformation of white male innocence; racing for innocence: stories of disavowal and exclusion; stand by your man: women lawyers and affirmative actions; small talk: a short story; and commentary: ambivalent racism.

David Hamilton Golland, Constructing Affirmative Action: the Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity (2011).

The author examines federal efforts to diversify the construction trades from the 1950s-1970s, offering insights into the origins of affirmative action related policy. This work analyses how community activism pushed the federal government to address issues of racial exclusion and marginalization in the construction industry in key American cities.

New on Library Website: OneSearch

The next time you visit the library’s website, you’ll notice we’ve made a change to our home page.  Instead of a search box for our SARA catalog, you can now search the catalog plus multiple databases using our new service, OneSearch.

You can choose to search only a specific type of material by using the Books or Articles tabs, or see whether the library has a particular e-journal with the E-Journals tab.  If full-text is available, OneSearch will provide a link.

If you prefer to search only the SARA catalog, just check the box that says “SARA catalog only.”

Some of our databases are not included in OneSearch results: e.g., OneSearch does not search within Lexis, Westlaw, or Bloomberg/BNA.  However, it does search HeinOnline, Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, and other journal databases.

If you have questions about OneSearch, speak to a reference librarian.


The Flaws of Permanency in Adoption Law

Brooklyn Law School Assistant Professor of Law Cynthia Godsoe has posted Permanency Puzzle on SSRN. The full text article will appear in Volume 2013 of the Michigan State Law Review. The abstract reads:

Permanency lies at the heart of child protection policy. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) directs that children in foster care who cannot be reunified with their birth families be adopted as a first choice, or as a second choice, placed in one of a few narrow categories such as guardianship. Yet unpacking permanency reveals that the legal concept is based on rigid categories and flawed normative concepts of family rather than on empirical data. This narrow conception of permanency undercuts the reality of children’s and parents’ experiences. It also ignores the modern psychological understanding of permanency as “an enduring relationship that arises out of feelings of belongingness.” Under the latter definition, studies show that there is no difference between children being adopted and those being cared for by a guardian.

The law has been slow to adapt, as evidenced by the ongoing funding prioritization of adoption, and the preference for adoption, particularly closed adoption, over subsidized guardianship in state and federal law. In essence, the permanency framework tries to fit complex relationships and families into neat and tidy boxes. This approach is neither effective nor desirable, denying many children meaningful relationships with caring adults, and devaluing certain kinds of families.

A focus on permanency is important for two reasons. First, an outline of the current permanency framework’s flaws is necessary to rethinking the current ineffective approach to child protection. Second, the permanency framework illustrates how the differential treatment of parties in private and public family law results in significant inequalities between them. Inequality in the treatment of families is the subject of this symposium, and one significant, yet understudied, area of inequality is among the public and private family law systems. Private family law focuses on the private distribution of wealth and applies primarily to middle and upper class families. Public family law concerns state public benefits systems and thus generally applies to lower income people. Which system families enter, which “door” they come through, often has a significant impact on their custodial and other parental rights. One reason for this is the rigid and narrow conception of permanency.

This Essay proceeds as follows. Part I outlines the system’s definition of permanency and gives a snapshot of children in the child protection system. Part II explains how this definition is flawed, both starkly different from the reality of children’s experiences and fundamentally misguided as policy. Part III recommends some concrete changes to address these flaws.


The Best Way to Remember a Lecture? Try Leaving Your Laptop at Home and Taking Notes by Hand

A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal for the Association of Psychological Science, suggests that students may be harming their academic performance by taking class notes on their computers.  Pam Muller of Princeton University, lead author of the study, says that even when students use their laptops as intended – and not for buying things on Amazon during class – they may still be harming their academic performance.

In the study, students listened to a lecture and were told to use whatever strategy they normally used to take notes – hand writing or typing.  Students then completed three distractor tasks and, 30 minutes later, were asked to answer factual recall questions (e.g. how many years ago did an event take place?) and conceptual application questions (e.g. how did equality differ in the countries discussed?).  The study revealed that while the two types of note takers performed equally well on the factual recall questions, those typing their notes performed significantly worse on the conceptual questions.

The difference in performance may be explained by the fact that typists take almost a verbatim record of a lecture while writers must process what they hear and then write down the ideas in their own words.  According to Muller, the hand written notes might allow students to better remember the message of a lecture because they have already processed what the lecture meant.


Brooklyn Law at CALI Con 2014

At this year’s CALI Conference hosted at Harvard University, Brooklyn Law School Reference Librarian Harold O’Grady and Technology Educator Lloyd Carew-Reid presented a session called Evolving Legal Education to Encompass Entrepreneurship. It featured BLS Professor Jonathan Askin (calling in from London) and two BLS law students, Jared Brenner and Tatiana Borukhova, CUBE Innovator Competition winners earlier this year (calling in from New York). The participants discussed new ideas for legal education and entrepreneurship and exciting start-up proposals and other radical changes to legal education emanating out of Brooklyn Law School. A video of the session, which took place at 9am on Saturday, June 21, runs about one hour and is available below and at this link.