BLS Library Research Fair: September 30, 2014

The 3rd annual Library Research Fair will be held on Tuesday, September 30, 2014.  The fair will be held in the Student Lounge from 12Noon to 3:00pm.  Representatives from the following companies will be here to demonstrate their databases:

  • Bloomberg Law
  • CALI (Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction)
  • Fastcase
  • Lexis
  • ProQuest
  • Westlaw
  • Wolters Kluwer

In addition, the Library will have a table to demonstrate our new One Search database.

Come and learn how these databases will help you with your legal research.  There will be handouts, light refreshments, prizes and raffles for a Kindle Fire and $50.00 gift cards.

So, save the date:  Tuesday, September 30th, 12Noon to 3:00pm, Student Lounge.

See you there!

Effron on Future of Forum Non Conveniens

Brooklyn Law School Professor of Law Robin Effron has posted on SSRN Atlantic Marine and the Future of Forum Non Conveniens. In December of 2013, the US Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision upholding a general contractor’s ability to require its subcontractors to litigate disputes in the state or federal court of its choosing. The article is schedule for publication later this year in the Hastings Law Journal. Here is the abstract:

This essay explores the impact of the Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion in Atlantic Marine Construction Co., Inc. v. U.S. District Court on forum non conveniens doctrine. Although Atlantic Marine concerned a § 1404(a) transfer within the federal system, and therefore does not directly address forum selection clauses pointing to foreign forums, the case will undoubtedly have an impact on how courts treat forum selection clauses that point to a foreign forum. In this essay, I will argue that the Atlantic Marine opinion relies on a strict coupling of § 1404(a) and forum non conveniens for its holding. As a result, lower courts will be more likely to conflate these two doctrines that had been slowly but surely developing on parallel tracks. This essay explains why merging or conflating § 1404(a) and forum non conveniens doctrine is problematic, both as a general matter and as applied to the specific context of forum selection clauses. It also demonstrates that the Court’s blunder is symptomatic of problems inherent in the current § 1404(a) and forum non conveniens standards, as well as doctrinal difficulties in federal enforcement of forum selection clauses.

Constitution Day

Wednesday, September 17 is Constitution Day and Citizenship Day according to 36 U.S.C. 106 which states its purpose “to commemorate the formation and signing on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution and recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.” The history of Constitution Day goes back to 1952 when Congress passed a joint resolution (66 Stat. 9) that designated September 17 as Citizenship Day. In 1956, another joint resolution (70 Stat. 932) established September 17 through 23 as Constitution Week. Public Law 105-225 revised and codified laws related to “Patriotic and National Observances” as Title 36 of the United States Code in 1998. In 2005, Congress passed Public Law 108-447 that added “Constitution Day” to the law and mandated ” the civil and educational authorities of States, counties, cities, and towns are urged to make plans for the proper observance of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and for the complete instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and of the State and locality in which they reside.”

To mark the event at Brooklyn Law School, Constitutional Law Professors Bill Araiza, Joel Gora, Susan Herman, and Andrew Napolitano will conduct a discussion on the most significant Supreme Court cases of the last term. These include the Hobby Lobby case and cases about campaign finance, affirmative action, and cell phone searches. The professors will also address issues likely to come before the Court in the near future, including the status of cases about the right to marriage equality. Students are encouraged to attend and participate in a Q & A with the faculty members.

On Saturday, September 13 at 12:00 pm noon, BLS Professor Susan Herman who serves as ACLU president will appear on the long-running television show Open Mind on PBS Channel THIRTEEN/WNET to consider the 2014 Supreme Court decisions and their impact on individual liberty. She explores the Hobby Lobby case, among others, as well as how to balance privacy and national security concerns. The show will also air on CUNY TV at 9:30 am & 8:30 pm Sundays and 8:00 am & 2:00/8:00 pm Mondays.

ObsoleteThe BLS Library Law Library has an extensive collection of books on the Constitution, its history and interpretation. To locate books on the history of the Constitution, use the SARA catalog to conduct a subject search using the phrase: United States — Constitutional history. Some recent acquisitions in the BLS Library collection include Is the American Constitution Obsolete? by Thomas J. Main (Call #KF4550 .M255 2013), a comprehensive one-volume debate on the pros and cons of our basic law and how it deals with questions such as judicial review, political gridlock, direct election of the president and the future of the electoral college. It is ideal reading for courses that cover the Constitution.

CitizenAnother recent acquisition to the BLS Library collection on the subject is A Citizen’s Guide to the Constitution and the Supreme Court: Constitutional Conflict in American Politics by Morgan Marietta (Call #KF4550.Z9 M275 2014). The author provides an overview of the perspectives from the leading schools of constitutional interpretation–textualism, common law constitutionalism, originalism, and living constitutionalism. He discusses the points of conflict and competing schools of thought in the context of several landmark cases and ends with advice to readers on how to interpret constitutional issues ourselves.


LexisAdvance Has a New Look

As of today, LexisAdvance has a new look. According to Lexis, the new LexisAdvance offers a sleek, sophisticated new design, enhanced navigation and integration, as well as anywhere, any-device access.

Take a look here HERE to read more about the new LexisAdvance enhancements. You can also register for webinars on this page which are designed to help you to navigate the new Lexis interface.

Click HERE to watch video tutorials on using the new LexisAdvance, including an overview of new features and a series of “show me how” videos which demonstrate advanced skills such as working with folders, browsing sources, and Shepardizing.

If you need help using the new LexisAdvance, please see a reference librarian, we are happy to help!

Greetings and Salutations

The Fall semester has started and everyone at the BLS Library is looking forward to working with you towards a successful new year.

Just a few reminders –

The Library has resumed its regular hours

  • Monday – Thursday           8:00 am – 12:00 am
  • Friday                                   8:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Saturday                              9:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Sunday                               10:00 am – 12:00 am

Reference Desk Hours

  • Monday – Thursday            9:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Friday                                   9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Saturday                               Noon – 5:00 pm

If you haven’t done it already, check out OneSearch on the Library’s Web page.  You can now search the catalog plus multiple databases using this new service.

onesearchchatAnd don’t forget the Library’s Chat Service, also available on our web page.   Librarians are   available to chat during regularly scheduled reference hours.  If you do not get a response back, please leave your email address or phone number, and someone will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Looking forward to working with you in the coming year!


Thurgood Marshall and Legal History

Thurgood MarshallThe BLS Library recently added to its collection Thurgood Marshall: Race, Rights, and the Struggle for a More Perfect Union by Charles L. Zelden (Call #KF8745.M34 Z45 2013). This 232 page biography, accompanied by primary sources that present Marshall in his own words, will help students learn what Marshall did (and did not do) during his life, why those actions were important, and what effects his efforts had on the larger course of American history. The book has content as follows: Introduction: The Struggle for a More Perfect Union; Chapter 1 – The Education of Thurgood Marshall; Chapter 2 – “Thurgood’s Coming”; Chapter 3 – Social Engineer Lawyer; Chapter 4 – Going for the “Whole Hog”; Chapter 5 – All Deliberate Speed Means S-L-O-W; Chapter 6 – “I AM the Establishment”; Chapter 7 – Not Only the Robe Was Black; Chapter 8 – How Do You Feel About Writing Dissents?; Postscript: Thurgood Marshall, Activist Judge; and an Appendix of Documents.

Today, August 30, 2014 marks the anniversary of the confirmation by the Senate in 1967 of Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) as a Supreme Court justice. As the Court’s 96th justice and its first African American justice serving from 1967 to 1991, he was one of the most influential legal actors of his time. Before being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon Johnson, Marshall was a lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Federal Judge (1961-1965), and Solicitor General of the United States (1965-1966). He won twenty-nine of thirty-two cases before the Supreme Court including the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional. Marshall spent his career fighting racial segregation and legal inequality, and his time on the court establishing a record for supporting the “voiceless American.”

Marshall was an outspoken liberal on a court dominated by conservatives. In his twenty-four year tenure, he voted to uphold gender and racial affirmative action policies in every case in which they were challenged. He dissented in every case in which the Supreme Court failed to overturn a death sentence and opposed all efforts to narrow or burden the right of women to obtain abortions. No justice has been more forceful in opposing government regulation of speech or private sexual conduct. Nor has any justice been more egalitarian in terms of advancing a view of the Constitution that imposes positive duties on government to provide important benefits to people such as education, legal services, and access to courts regardless of their ability to pay for them. The legacy of change that he left behind continues to affect American society today.

Mulligan on US Constitution Translations

Brooklyn Law School Assistant Professor of Law Christina Mulligan, who recently joined the faculty of the Law School where she will be teaching Internet Law, Cybercrime, and Intellectual Property, has co-authored an interesting new article. Written with Michael Douma of James Madison University, Hans Lind of Yale University, and Brian Patrick Quinn, the article is entitled Founding-Era Translations of the United States Constitution. It is posted on SSRN. The abstract reads:

Before its ratification, the United States Constitution was translated into German and Dutch for the German- and Dutch-speaking populations of Pennsylvania and New York. Although copies of both the German- and Dutch-language translations have been preserved, they have largely escaped analysis — and public awareness — until now. This paper provides historical context for these translations and analyzes how they might aid our interpretation of the U.S. Constitution in the present day.

Supplemental to this article is an appendix containing the German and Dutch translations, as well as extensive commentary on the translations, also available at SSRN at this link.

Is your textbook on order? We can help!

As the fall semester is upon us, many students are scrambling to purchase text books for class. As a courtesy, thlibraryuseite library purchased one copy of each required textbook. The books are located on course reserve behind the circulation desk. You can check out course reserve materials for two hours at a time. Some of the titles are on order and will be placed on reserve as soon as the library receives them. Please note that the library does not purchase statutory supplements, because you can access the United States Code and state codes through several online resources, including Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law.  Click on the course reserves link to view the items on course reserve by course name or professors’ name.

BLIP Clinic Fights Off Patent Troll

The recent success of Brooklyn Law School’s BLIP clinic in bringing about the dismissal of the patent infringement case of 911 Notify LLC v. Carshield Services Inc. filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware demonstrates how law students help real clients. The BLIP students represented a California-based startup called CarShield in defending a patent infringement lawsuit filed in January of this year. The complaint came with no prior notice, no warning and no demand letter. The plaintiff, a shell company called 911 Notify, appeared to be a classic patent troll. Since 2013, it had filed more than 35 patent infringement suits, including some against such companies as Ford Motor Co., Lowe’s Home Centers and BMW North America. The defendant determined that what the plaintiff really wanted was a settlement of over $250,000 to make the lawsuit go away.

CarShield, which makes a car-connection device to monitor and alert owners and emergency contacts in case of accident, breakdown or theft, had no intention of paying. Through the Patent Troll Defense Network, a group set up by the App Developers Alliance and law schools to help app developers and small businesses, they found the Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy (BLIP) clinic. With BLIP’s help, six months after being served with the complaint, 911 Notify dropped the lawsuit. BLIP was able to fend off the plaintiff thanks to Brooklyn Law School students and their lawyer-adviser.

Brooklyn Law School Professor Jonathan Askin, Founder and Director of BLIP, showed his students the CarShield case and they agreed to take it on. Professor Askin said “They felt it was so egregious and a part of a systemic problem faced by startups. They knew a lot of companies couldn’t afford to litigate, but they would if they had support.”

Patent trolls win by offering to settle cases for less than the cost of the legal defense. With the help of the BLIP law school clinic, the cost of legal defense dropped to zero. In April, the students filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the case should not have been filed in Delaware because the startup is based in California and had never sold its products in Delaware. By July, all briefs had been filed and the team of students was preparing for oral argument. On July 24, the day after CarShield formally requested the court schedule oral argument, 911 Notify officially dropped the lawsuit, without prejudice.

Patent TrollsBrooklyn Law School Law Library has ordered a book on the subject of patent trolls, Patent Trolls: Predatory Litigation and the Smothering of Innovation by William J. Watkins Jr. and William F. Shughart II. It describes how patent trolls use overbroad patents to threaten litigation and bring infringement suits against inventors. Also known as non-practicing entities (NPEs), patent trolls typically do not produce products or services but are in the business of litigation. They wait for someone to create a process or product that has some relationship to the patent held by the troll, and then they pounce with threats and lawsuits. The authors call attention to this problem and the challenges it poses to maintaining a robust rate of technological progress. After describing recent trends and efforts to “tame the trolls,” the book focuses on ground zero in patent litigation—the Eastern District of Texas, where a combination of factors makes this the lawsuit venue of choice for strategically minded patent trolls. It also examines a more fundamental problem: an outmoded patent system that is wholly ill suited for the modern economy. Finally, the book examines proposals for reforming the U.S. patent system, which was created to spur innovation but today is having the opposite effect.

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 (, 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!