Category Archives: BLS Faculty

Artificial Intelligence in Law and Education

robot lawAn intriguing new title in the Brooklyn Law School Library collection is Robot Law by Law Professors Ryan Calo, A. Michael Froomkin, and Ian Kerr (K564.C6 R63 2016). The 402 page book brings together research on robotics law and policy written by scholars from law, engineering, computer science and philosophy on topics such as liability, warfare, domestic law enforcement, personhood, and other cutting-edge issues in robotics and artificial intelligence. The book is an in-depth look at an area of law that is growing in importance. Like the Internet before it, robotics is a technology that will transform the social and economic landscape of legal research and practice. Robot Law looks at the increasing sophistication of robots and their widespread use in hospitals, public spaces, and battlefields requiring rethinking philosophical and public policy issues, including how AI interacts with existing legal regimes and changes in policy and in law.

Whether artificial intelligence will one day displace human lawyers has become so important that, this past April, Vanderbilt Law School hosted the first legal conference on the topic, “Watson, Esq.: Will Your Next Lawyer Be a Machine”. Speakers included Richard Susskind, author of “Tomorrow’s Lawyers” and “The Future of the Professions,” and Andrew Arruda, whose firm ROSS Intelligence helped build ROSS (which does not stand for anything), the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney, on top of IBM Watson.  Designed by students at the  University of Toronto, ROSS is meant for use by lawyers. Asking it a legal question will yeild an “instant answer with citations and suggested readings from a variety of content sources.” ROSS reads and understands language, postulates hypotheses when asked questions, researches, and then generates responses (along with references and citations) to back up its conclusions. It learns from experience, gaining speed and knowledge the more users interact with it.

A recent Washington Post news piece reports that the law firm Baker & Hostetler announced that it is employing ROSS to handle its bankruptcy practice of nearly 50 lawyers. CEO and co-founder Andrew Arruda, says that other firms have also signed licenses with ROSS and expects more announcements soon. Although still in the prototype stage, ROSS shows great promise as an innovative legal research tool. Tasks that ROSS can do include:

  1. Giving relevant answers – not a list of results – to natural language questions;
  2. Learning from user’s questions – it learns and improves the more it is used;
  3. Providing a consistent, easy-to-use experience on any devices used to access it.

At this week’s CALIcon 16 being held at the Georgia State University College of Law, BLS Reference Librarian Harold O’Grady and Technology Educator Lloyd Carew-Reid will present a session, The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Legal Education, Research and Practice. Also participating will be:

  • Professor Heidi Brown (Director of Legal Writing at Brooklyn Law School);
  • Mikhail Jacob (a Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology); and
  • Dr. Mark Riedl (an Associate Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing and Director of the Entertainment Intelligence Lab).

Looking for Federal Government Information? Try the New Govinfo website.

Govinfo

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has launched a beta version of its new GovInfo web site.  After it completes its beta phase, Govinfo will replace FDsys, the federal government website currently providing  free public access to over 50 different collections of federal government information, including the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, Congressional materials, and selected federal case law.   Users of GovInfo can browse by A-Z list, by category, by date, and by congressional committee content.  To see a list of collections available on Govinfo, visit here.

 

Episode 097 – Conversation with Prof. Heidi Brown

Episode 097 – Conversation with Prof. Heidi Brown.mp3

Heidi BrownIn this podcast, Brooklyn Law School Professor Heidi Brown talks about her article, The Emotionally Intelligent Law Professor: A Lesson from the Breakfast Club, 36 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review 273 (2014). The article examines the importance of teaching Emotional Intelligence (EI) as part of the law school curriculum and as a component of “professionalism.” In April 2016, Professor Brown joined the faculty at Brooklyn Law School as Director of the Legal Writing Program after serving as Associate Professor of Law at New York Law School, where she helped launch that school’s Legal Practice program. Before that, she was an Associate Professor of Legal Research and Writing at the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law in Orange, California. A prolific scholar and author on the importance of legal writing, she has published four books on predictive and persuasive legal writing and federal litigation, and other scholarly articles for law journals. Prof. Brown is  working on a forthcoming book The Introverted Lawyer.

Oyez Project Gets New Home

supremecourtThe Oyez Project, a free repository of more than 10,000 hours of U.S. Supreme Court oral-argument audio and other court resources, will be getting a new home.

Developed by Prof. Jerry Goldman, Oyez has had its home at the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law  for over 20 years.  It is a complete and authoritative source for all of the Supreme Court’s audio since the installation of a recording system in October 1955.  Oyez also provides detailed information on every justice throughout history and offers a panoramic tour of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of several justices.

Prof. Goldman is retiring this month and a new arrangement for the Project has been formed with Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute and Justia.   All of the information of the Oyez Project will not be available at the Legal Information Institute website.

50 Years Ago, BLS Alum Helps Overturn Poll Tax

jordanJoseph A. Jordan, was born in Norfolk Virginia and was a Brooklyn Law School graduate.  He was a veteran, paralyzed from the waist down during World War II and confined to a wheelchair.

As an attorney, Jordan and his firm, Jordan, Dawley & Holt, fought civil rights cases across the South during the 1960’s.  One such case made constitutional history,

In November 1963 Jordan filed suit on behalf of Mrs. Evelyn Thomas Butts to have the state’s poll tax declared unconstitutional. The poll tax was a tax levied on individuals as a prerequisite for voting. Although levied on all voters regardless of race, the tax effectively disenfranchised the poor, including many African-Americans. The tax was outlawed nationally in January 1964 by ratification of the 24th amendment, but it only addressed federal elections and remained silent on state and local applicability.

Jordan’s suit was defeated nine times by local and state courts before finally working its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In March 1966 the case became part of the landmark decision, Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections.   Only six years out of law school,  Jordan argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that Virginia’s poll tax should be struck down.  The court agreed and ruled it unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

Joseph A. Jordan went on to become the first black elected to the Norfolk City Council since 1889. He served three terms on the council, including two years as vice mayor. In 1977, he was appointed to Norfolk’s General District Court and retired in 1986.

Presidents’ Day Library Hours

pres

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.

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.

Episode 095 – Conversation with Prof. Lawrence Fleischer

Episode 095 – Conversation with Prof. Lawrence Fleischer.mp3

In this podcast, Brooklyn Law School Adjunct Professor Lawrence Fleischer talks about his Criminal Law, Procedure, Evidence and Film Lore Workshop, which he has been teaching for the past five years, initially with the late Professor Robert Pitler and now by himself. In the first part of the interview, Prof. Fleischer relates how the workshop uses movies to teach criminal trial evidence by requiring students to view legal films and give presentations to address current criminal law related matters. Prof. Fleischer, who serves of counsel to the New York law firm of Gotlin & Jaffe, received his B.A. in History Summa Cum Laude from City College of the City University of New York, a Juris Doctorate from American University School of Law, and an LL. M degree from New York University Law School. In addition to teaching at BLS, he teaches at City College of New York and has taught in the CCNY Political Science department, NYU’s School of Continuing Education, Hunter College’s Graduate History department, Brooklyn College’s Graduate department of Political Science, and Seton Hall’s School of Law. In the second part of the conversation, Prof. Fleischer discusses his use in his course of the case of Maria Barbella a/k/a Maria Barberi, the first woman sentenced to die in the electric chair in the US and of the Italian-American countess who came to her aid. The story is told in The Trials of Maria Barbella: The True Story of a 19th Century Crime of Passion by Idanna Pucci (Call #HV6053 .P83 1996) discussed in this site’s most recent blog available at this link.