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.



Six Major Cases in Less Than a Week

That is what the Supreme Court Justices need to rule on before the  current term ends on June 30th.

Just this week, the high court ruled on the following cases -

These cases dealt with legal issues such as bank fraud, green gas emissions, and securities fraud.

The remaining cases will tackle the following legal topics -

National Popular Vote and the Electoral College

On April 15, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the National Popular Vote bill, making New York, with its 29 electoral votes, the 10th state along with the District of Columbia to enact the interstate agreement. The bill (S.3149) seeks to elect the president by national popular vote and creates a compact between the states and the District of Columbia. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) helped the Assembly pass legislation he sponsored to permit New York to award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote (A.4422-A). The bill had bipartisan support passing by a 102-33 vote in the New York State Assembly and a 57-4 vote in favor in the New York State Senate.

The total number of electoral votes of states that have adopted the National Popular Vote agreement is now 165 electoral votes, 61% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it. If passed, the plan would guarantee that the presidency would be won by the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and D.C. Under the compact, as soon as states having a total of the 270 electoral votes join in, the National Popular Vote becomes effective, and all the member states will cast all their Electoral College votes in accordance with the national popular vote instead of the state’s popular vote. This procedure allows the president to be elected by a simple, nationwide majority vote, without having to change the Constitution.

Before New York’s adoption of the National Popular Vote law, 10 other jurisdictions adopted the measure: the District of Columbia (3 electoral votes); Hawaii (4 electoral votes); Illinois (20 electoral votes); Maryland (10 electoral votes); Massachusetts (11 electoral votes); New Jersey (14 electoral votes); Washington (12 electoral votes); Vermont (3 electoral votes); California (55 electoral votes); and Rhode Island (4 electoral votes). The bill has now passed in 33 legislative chambers in 22 states and has been introduced in all 50 states.

The National Popular Vote plan, even if adopted by enough states, faces legal challenges regarding its constitutionality.  A number of law review articles have addressed the issue. See, for example, Norman R. Williams, Why the National Popular Vote Compact is Unconstitutional, 2012 Brigham Young University Law Review 1523 (2012) and Michael Brody, Circumventing the Electoral College: Why the national Popular Vote Interstate Compact Survives Constitutional Scrutiny under the Compact Clause, 5 Legislation & Policy Brief 33 (2013).

Episode 091: Interview with Jared Brenner

Episode 091: Interview with Jared Brenner.mp4

This episode of the BLS Library Blog is a video interview of Jared Brenner, a rising 3L at Brooklyn Law School with interests in IP, entertainment, and legal services for startups, artists, new media, and the tech community. Jared won first prize in the Inaugural CUBE Innovators Competition, receiving $2,000 for his “What If Wiki” proposal that would create a wiki based solely on legal topics, especially those concerning law lagging behind innovative technologies. In the interview, Jared talks about how he got involved in the competition and his vision for the future of his project. Jared and Professor Jonathan Askin, Founder/Director of the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic, have both agreed to participate remotely in the upcoming 2014 CALI Conference at Harvard Law School. The session, Evolving Legal Education to Encompass Entrepreneurship, will take place on Saturday June 21. BLS Reference Librarian Harold O’Grady and BLS Technology Educator Lloyd Carew-Reid will lead it.