GPO to Replace FDsys with Govinfo

This month, the U.S. Government Publishing Office issued a press release announcing the launch of www.govinfo.gov, designed to replace the Federal Digital System (FDsys) in 2017. A Government Publishing Office’s spokesman has called it “the Google for government documents.” See Roll Call article from February 3, 2016. The site is currently in beta and users are encouraged to share suggestions with the U.S. GPO for further improvements. The site is a mobile-friendly, easy-to-use navigation system to information on the three branches of government. It currently offers more than 1.5 million titles, with more added each day. The alphabetized list of collections available includes the Federal Register and the CFR; congressional calendars, bills, hearings, committee reports; the U.S. Code; court opinions; the federal budget and many more government publications. Searchers can use a Google like box and then use the facets to find results. Alternatively, users can choose a category to search, limiting a search to just bills, or just regulatory documents, etc. If users are only looking for documents from a specific Congressional committee, they can choose that selection.

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For a Q&A to learn about the differences between FDsys and govinfo, read the post published on the site In Custodia Legis by the Law Librarians of Congress Meet govinfo, GPO’s Next Generation of Access to Federal Government Information.

Presidents’ Day Library Hours

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The Library will be open on Monday, February 15, 2016 from 9:00 am – 10:00 pm.

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

Most people associate Presidents’ Day with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, since Lincoln’s birthday is in February also (February 12).

The Library has several books on both of these presidents.  Check  out the titles below if you wish to learn more about these two presidents.

Freeman, Douglas Southall, George Washington, a biography (7 vol. set)

Marshall, John et al, The Life of George Washington (1838) Online Library of Liberty

Thomas, Benjamin Platt, Abraham Lincoln: a biography

Hubbard, Charles M., Lincoln, the law and presidential leadership (E-book)

 

 

 

BLS Library Pre-Oscar Movie Night

OscarDuring the week leading up to Oscar Night 2016, the Brooklyn Law School Library will host a Pre-Oscar Movie Night. The event showcases the Prof. Robert Pitler movie collection of more than 1500 DVDs. Click on the link to see the complete list of titles. The collection is located in the Student Lounge on the First Mezzanine level of the library. BLS Library users are encouraged to borrow items from the collection to view either at home or in the Library Audio-Visual Room on the first floor.

The BLS Library Pre-Oscar night will take place on Wednesday, February 24 at 8pm in the Student Lounge on the first floor of the BLS Law School. From today until February 19, BLS students, staff and faculty can vote for the film they want to see. Ballots are located at the reference desk. Stop by to vote and help decide which film to see.

From the Oscar contenders in the BLS Library collection, the nominees are:

The winning title will be announced in advance of the Pre-Oscar Movie Night. Before the screening of the film, Prof. Lawrence Fleischer will give a brief talk about the late Prof. Robert Pitler. Refreshments will be served.

Watergate Revisited

The 43rd anniversary of the January 30, 1973 convictions of former Nixon aides G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord Jr. for conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping in connection with the break-in at the Watergate hotel brings to mind the turbulent years leading to the only presidential resignation in US history. The conviction was later upheld in United States v. Liddy, 509 F. 2d 428 (D.C.Cir. 1974).

The BLS Library has an extensive collection of material related to the Watergate scandal. One item was written by a noted alumnus of Brooklyn Law School, the late Leonard Garment (Class of 1949) who later became a member of the BLS Board of Trustees and an Adjunct Professor of Law. Garment (1924 – 2013) was an attorney who served Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in various positions from 1969 to 1976, including Counselor to the President, acting Special Counsel to Nixon for the last two years of his presidency, and U.S. Ambassador to the Third Committee at the United Nations. Born in Brooklyn, he graduated Brooklyn Law School and joined the law firm of Mudge, Stern, Baldwin, and Todd (later called Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie & Alexander). There, Garment met Nixon and then worked on his 1968 presidential campaign, later becoming part of Nixon’s White House staff as special consultant to the president. He advised the president and worked on various special projects, particularly on civil and human rights, Indian affairs, and the arts.

His 418 page Garmentbook Crazy Rhythm: From Brooklyn and Jazz to Nixon’s White House, Watergate, and Beyond (Call No. E856 .G38 1997) is a fascinating autobiography of a Washington/Wall Street insider who thrived despite hard blows dealt him on more than one occasion. Garment tells how he left home early to pursue a career as a clarinet/saxophone player in jazz bands. After serving in WW II, he earned his law degree and soon became a close friend of the former vice president. An important member of the Nixon team, Garment became an all-purpose troubleshooter for the president. The tough-talking administration’s informal envoy to both US Jewry and Israel, Garment (who describes his ex-boss as operationally progressive but rhetorically retrogressive on social issues) also worked on civil-rights programs. He was untainted by Watergate, but his comments on the scandal are marked with perception and compassion. He eventually returned to New York City to serve as Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s special assistant for human rights during his stint as US ambassador to the UN, and then resumed the practice of law. The book is an engaging recollection of a free-spirited advocate who learned from his experiences close to the seats of power.

Seminar Paper Workshop

Are you struggling with selecting a topic for your seminar paper or suffering from writers’ block? Help is on the way. At 4:00 pm on Thursday, February 4, Prof. Fajans and Librarian Kathy Darvil will run their semi-annual workshop on how to research and write a seminar paper. The workshop will take a little over an hour and will be held in Room 400. Topics covered include sources for selecting your topic, sources for researching your topic, and how to effectively organize and write your paper. If you are unable to attend the workshop, you can access an online research guide which contains a recording of the workshop, links to and descriptions of all the research sources discussed, and the writing and research presentations. The online guide is available at guides.brooklaw.edu/seminarpaper. From the guide’s landing page, you will be able to access a recording of this year’s presentation, Professor Fajans’ slideshow on how to write your seminar paper, and Kathy Darvil’s online presentation on how to research your seminar paper. If you should need further help selecting or researching your topic, please stop by the reference desk for assistance.

The New York Court of Appeals: Women at the Top

DiFioreJanet DiFiore

On Thursday, January 21st, 2016, Janet DiFiore, former Westchester County District Attorney, was confirmed by the New York State Senate as the second female Chief Judge for the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York State.  The chief judge of the Court of Appeals is also head of the New York State Court system.  Ms. DiFiore was nominated for this position by Judge Andrew Cuomo in December 2015.

Judge DiFiore was originally elected as Westchester County District Attorney in 2005 and then re-elected in 2009 and 2013.  She has been a strong advocate for those who are affected by both child and elder abuse, forming teams within her office to deal with these issues.

She has been a strong advocate of reviewing what could be possible wrongful convictions, and her office was able to overturn the conviction, based on a new DNA analysis of crime scene evidence, in the case of Jeffrey Deskovic, who had been wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of a high school classmate.

Ms. DiFiore led the effort to establish the Westchester Intelligence Center, where Westchester County’s many local police departments, county police, state police and other state, regional and federal law enforcement agencies share information.

Prior to becoming Westchester County District Attorney she was a Supreme Court Justice from 2003-2005 and a Westchester County Court Judge from 1998-2002.

 

Judith_S_Kaye_-225x300Judith Kaye

On January 7, 2016, Judge Judith Kaye, the first female Chief Judge for the New York Court of Appeals died after a courageous bout with cancer.

Judge Kaye was initially nominated to the position of associate judge by Governor Mario Cuomo in 1983 and she served in that position until 1993 when Chief Judge Sol Wachtler resigned and Cuomo appointed Judith Kaye as Chief Judge.  She served in that position until December 31, 2008, when she reached the mandatory retirement age of seventy.  She was not only the first female chief judge of the state of New York, but also the longest-serving chief judge.

During her many years on the court she worked hard to address problems on many fronts, but one of her primary concerns was improvement in the New York State jury system and she worked to change what she saw as problems in the system.  She was able to end automatic exemptions for certain groups so that more people would be available to serve and she also recommended the expansion of juror source lists to include unemployment and other lists that were not previously used.  She also had brochures and pamphlets developed for potential jurors so that they could understand the juror selection process and the work of a jury.  She also sought to improve courthouse facilities so that jurors would at least have a pleasant place to “serve their time.”

Judge Kaye led in the development of problem-solving courts that seek to address the underlying problems that brought people into the court system.  There are now courts that deal specifically with with drug, mental health and sex abuse issues as examples.

Judge Kaye received many honors and awards during her lifetime, as well as many honorary degrees.  At Brooklyn Law School’s 93rd commencement exercise on June 14, 1994, Judge Kaye was awarded an honorary degree and gave the commencement address.  At the end of her remarks, I’ll always remember her telling the graduates that she wished them “the same good luck and good sense in the future” as had gotten them to this day.  Spoken, I thought, like a wise judge, woman and mother.

The library has several books in its collection on the New York Court of Appeals, including:

The Judges of the New York Court of Appeals: A Biographical History

The History of the New York Court of Appeals

The Powers of the New York Court of Appeals

 

New Limits on Insider Trading?

A Wall Street Journal article reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted a writ of certiorari to review the ruling by Judge Jed Rakoff in the case of Salman v. US, 792 F.3d 1087 (9th Cir. 2015). Judge Rakoff, who usually sits on bench of the Southern District of New York, served as a visiting judge temporarily assigned to the Ninth Circuit and wrote the opinion in Salman, which disagreed with last year’s Second Circuit ruling in US v. Newman, 773 F. 3d 438 (2d Cir. 2014). The Newman decision overturned the insider trading convictions of former hedge-fund traders articulating a narrower definition of the crime. The issue in Salman is what constitutes insider trading in a case involving an Illinois businessman’s appeal of his conviction for making $1.2 million trading on tips about mergers from his brother-in-law, a Citigroup banker. With the grant of certiorari, the Supreme Court may now decide a key question in insider trading cases, namely what benefits corporate insiders need to receive for any information they disclose to traders to be illegal. The Justice Department warned that overturning the convictions in Newman prosecution could hinder the government’s campaign to curb insider trading on Wall Street. The Supreme Court denied certiorari in Newman.

Salman was convicted of 2013 of making investments based on confidential information he received from a family member who worked in the health care investment banking group at Citigroup Global Markets in NY. Co-defendants pleaded guilty in 2011 and were sentenced to probation. Salman was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $738,000 in restitution. His appeal cites the Second Circuit decision in Newman where the court ruled that prosecutors must prove that a defendant had direct knowledge of the leaker, realize that a breach of fiduciary duty occurred and know that the leaker received a personal benefit in exchange for the information. In Newman, the Second Circuit held that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the tippers received a personal benefit in exchange for the tip. The court also explained that there needed to be “proof of a meaningfully close personal relationship that generates an exchange that is objective, consequential, and represents at least a potential gain of a pecuniary or similarly valuable nature.” In other words,  the relationship should suggest a quid pro quo from the recipient.

InsiderBrooklyn Law School Library has an extensive collection of material on  insider trading, the latest of which is Insider Trading Law and Policy by Stephen Bainbridge (Call # KF1073.I5 B35 2014). The textbook is for use in law school classes on insider trading, securities regulation, or business associations. It offers a clear and direct exposition of the law and policy concerns raised by this important and hcircleigh-profile area of the law. The author provides sufficient detail for a complete understanding of the subject without getting bogged down in minutiae. A second item in the BLS Library collection is  worth reading: Circle of Friends: The Massive Federal Crackdown on Insider Trading—and Why the Markets Always Work Against the Little Guy by Charles Gasparino (Call # HG4928.5 .G38 2013). It is a riveting work of narrative nonfiction, as engrossing and explosive as fictional thrillers of the finest magnitude and should serve as a wake-up call to the investing public.

Welcome Back – Spring 2016 Semester!

Welcome back to your Spring 2016 Semester at BLS.

The first day of classes is Tuesday, January 19th.

Here are the library’s hours from January 19th  –

Monday – Thursday            8am-12pm
Friday                                    8am-10pm
Saturday                               9am-10pm
Sunday                                 10am-12pm

On Monday, January 18th, Martin Luther King Day, the library will be open from 9am-10pm.

On Monday, February 15th, Presidents Day, the library will be open from 9am-10pm.

For additional information on library hours, see library hours.

Supreme Court Affirmative Action, Redux

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Fisher v. University of Texas this past December. The case centers around the use of race in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. The University of Texas at Austin considers race as one of various factors in its undergraduate admissions process. Abigail Fisher, who is Caucasian, was rejected for admission to the University’s 2008 entering class. She sued the University and school officials, alleging that the University’s consideration of race in admissions violated the Equal Protection Clause.  Ms. Fisher contends was rejected because of her race.

This case was originally argued before the Supreme Court in 2012 and the Justices issued a narrow opinion sending the case back down to a lower court for another look.  The Supreme Court has taken the case again and will issue their opinion sometime this year.

For those of you interested in this topic, I suggest you take a look at the following books in Library collection.​

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Affirmative Action and Racial Equity is a critical resource which helps the reader understand the nuances of the affirmative action legal debate and identify the challenges and potential strategies toward racial equity and inclusion moving forward.

 

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Controversies in Affirmative Action  is an engaging and eclectic collection of essays from leading scholars on the subject, which looks at affirmative action past and present, analyzes its efficacy, its legacy, and its role in the future of the United States.

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What precisely is affirmative action, and why is it fiercely championed by some and just as fiercely denounced by others? Does it signify a boon or a stigma? Or is it simply reverse discrimination? What are its benefits and costs to American society? What are the indications determining who should or should not be accorded affirmative action? When should affirmative action end, if it must? In For Discrimination, Randall Kennedy gives a concise summary of the policy.

Episode 096 – Conversation with Prof. Anita Bernstein

Episode 096 – Conversation with Prof. Anita Bernstein.mp3

In this podcast, Brooklyn Law School Professor Anita Bernstein and Loren Pani, BLS Class of 2015, her research assistant, discuss her series of articles on legal malpractice written for the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. Professor Bernstein reports on a data set of legal malpractice decisions issued during the last five years by the appellate courts of New York. To date four columns have been published:  Nine Easy Ways to Breach Your Duty to a Real Estate Client, which appeared in the August 11, 2015 edition of the NYLJ; Avoidable and Actionable Errors by New York Personal Injury Lawyers, September 17, 2015; Matrimonial Malpractice Before, During and After a Client’s Divorce, October 30, 2015; and  Judiciary Law §487 Claims For Attorney Misconduct, November 24, 2015. The fifth entry in the series, “Legal Malpractice Liability for Criminal Defense: Rare, Yet Possible”, is slated for publication on December 30. Prof. Bernstein and Loren credit BLS Reference Librarian Kathleen Darvil for her assistance in compiling the data set.