Category Archives: Uncategorized

Suffering from writer’s block? There is help!

On Wednesday, September 18, Prof. Fajans and Librarian Kathy Darvil will be running their semi-annual workshop on how to research and write a seminar paper in Room 908A.  The workshop is from 4-5:30 PM. Topics covered include sources for selecting your topic, sources for researching your topic, and strategies for effectively organizing and writing 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 main page, you can access the recording of the 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.

Extra, extra! Register for the New York Times

The Brooklyn Law School Library is happy to announce that it recently obtained a site license that provides access to the New York Times for all faculty, staff, and students.  Our license will give you access via the website, https://www.nytimes.com/, as well as the NY Times apps for phones and tablets.

To register, go to https://nytimesineducation.com/access-nyt/, choose Brooklyn Law School from the drop-down, and then follow the instructions to register.  For your initial registration, you must either be on campus or go through our proxy server AND you must use your Brooklyn Law School email account to register.  Once you have registered, you can use your login name and password to access the site from anywhere.  Each year you will need to login from on-campus or using the proxy server in order to keep your access active.

Note that our access does not include e-reader editions, crossword puzzles, or the cooking app – those still need to be purchased separately.

If you have questions, send an email to askthelibrary@brookaw.edu.

50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots

This past weekend marked the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a pivotal point in LGBTQ history.  The New York Public Library is commemorating this event with an exhibition featuring photographs by two photojournalists, Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies, that captured major events in the gay rights movement in the 60s and 70s, alongside ephemera, periodicals, and other items from the library’s archival holdings.  The exhibition is free and open until July 13th at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Manhattan.   Be sure to check it out before it closes!  The NYPL has also provided book recommendations, podcasts, and other resources to learn more about the LGBTQ civil rights movement.  (https://www.nypl.org/stonewall50)

The BLS Library also has several LGBTQ resources. Check out our research guide for books, journals, major federal cases, legislation and a list of organizations advocating for LGBTQ rights. 

Summer in Brooklyn

The first day of summer was June 21, and heading into July it sure feels like summer! For those of you sticking around BLS to study, the Library will be open 9am-12pm every day but Sunday (10am-12pm). The Library will be open from 9am-5pm on July 4th. Reference Services will not be available for those days.

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As the count down to the bar begins, please remember to take care of yourselves! A good night’s sleep is valuable as we get closer. If you need a brief distraction, games and puzzles are available. Ask the Reference Librarian on duty for more information!

The first floor of the Library remains closed this for construction. Circulation, Reference, and Reserve services will be on the 3rd floor of the Library, near the internal staircase. Printing and scanning services will also be available on the third floor. If you have questions, you can always, Ask the Library.

Summer Studying

Well, there’s about another week or so before BAR STUDYING really begins in earnest. For those of you sticking around BLS to study, the Library will be open 9am-10pm every day but Sunday (10am-10pm). The Library will be closed on Memorial Day.

We welcome bar studying students from other institutions. Library passes are available for $50.00. Purchases may be made from M-F 9am-5pm. Please bring cash or check. Wireless access is available.

The first floor of the Library will be closed this summer for construction. Circulation, Reference, and Reserve services will be on the 3rd floor of the Library, near the internal staircase. Printing and scanning services will also be available on the third floor. If you have questions, you can always, Ask the Library.

If you would like to study at another law school, there are passes available to most other law schools in the area. You can Ask the Library, or contact the institution you are interest in for more information.

Congratulations Class of 2019

Kudos to you all! After commencement, you may be ready to leave BLS, but BLS will not leave you.  Brooklyn Law School offers many services to its alumni.  2019 graduates can access the BLS network and are able to print until August of the year following graduation.  For May 2019 graduates, you have access until August 2020.   

In addition, graduates can register for Westlaw’s Grad Elite program.  The Grad Elite “Practice-Ready” program provides access to Westlaw Edge and other practice tools for 18 months post-graduation, for up to 60 hours each month. These hours can be used for work-related research.  Through this program, you can research using Westlaw Edge, Practical Law, Drafting Assistant Essential, and Westlaw Doc & Form Builder.

To register for this program, log in to your existing Westlaw account and click on the Practice Ready Solution link in the screen’s upper right-hand corner.  On the Practice Ready page, you will see a link for graduates to extend their access.

Besides access to Westlaw for 18 months post-graduation, Brooklyn Law School Alumni Association members have unlimited access to the library’s print resources and limited access to certain digital resources for research purposes while in the library.  Books, however, cannot be checked out.

While in the library, members have access to LexisNexis Academic, a stripped down version of Lexis.  LexisNexis Academic contains federal and state case law, statutes, and regulations.  It also has a limited run of law reviews, and features Shepards.  To use the database, go to the library home page, select Complete Database List, and then select LexisNexis Academic.

Finally, if you ever run into a research quandary, remember you can call, (718) 780-7567, or email, askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu, the reference desk.  Reference librarians are here to help!

Mueller Report: Available On Reserve

“Over 400 pages of reading bliss, this is one you don’t want to miss” ~Anonymous


Now that we are into the thicket of law school exams, the library has provided some welcome diversions: puzzles, origami, and a Kindness Wall where students can leave encouraging notes for their peers. But what better way to destress than to play the “guess the redacted content” game?

Fresh off the press, the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, better known as the Mueller Report, is now in the library’s Reserve Collection (Call No. JF1083 .M84 2019)   

So take a break from deciphering the Rule Against Perpetuities and stop by the Circulation Desk. Flip through the Mueller Report and let your imagination run wild. Who are the subjects of the redacted ongoing investigations? Which classified secrets have been withheld from the eager public? What tasty tidbits in the grand jury materials were deemed verboten?

Maybe, just maybe, the Mueller Report will inspire you because of what it is: an impeccably researched and drafted legal document. It’s the stuff lawyers do. Someday, perhaps, you too will get to work on a legal project so monumental that it will have redactions galore when released to the public. One can only dream (but don’t dream for too long, IRAC awaits.)  

Keeping Up with the Issues: Immigration

Presidential candidate, Julian Castro, just released a comprehensive immigration reform plan which would repeal the provision of US law that makes “illegal entry” into the US a federal crime. Under Castro’s plan, an immigrant who crossed the border would be detained briefly by Border Patrol and, if no red flags are raised, released pending an immigration hearing. Instead of a crime, being in the US without legal status would be considered a civil offense for which the penalty is deportation. Thus, if an immigrant does not qualify for asylum or another form of legal status, they would still be deported. See Dara Lind, Julián Castro wants to radically restrict immigration enforcement, Vox (Apr 2, 2019) https://www.vox.com/2019/4/2/18291584/2020-immigration-democrats-policy-castro-abolish-ice

“Illegal entry” into the US has been a crime since 1929 under Chapter 8, Section 1325 of the US Code, but only in the last 20 or so years has this provision been routinely enforced.   To learn more about US law and policy regarding immigration and border control, take a look at these resources:

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History (Michael C LeMay & Elliott Robert Barkan, eds., 1999)

This book compiles 100s of primary documents including court cases and opinion pieces that illuminate the controversies surrounding immigration and nationalization policies throughout US history. The book includes explanatory introductions to assist the reader in understanding the significance of each document.

Margaret S. Orchowski, The Law that Changed the Face of America : the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (2015)

Margaret Orchowski, a journalist and immigration expert, examines how immigration laws have changed over the course of US history into the 21st century in light of globalization, changes in technology, terrorism, the recession and changing attitudes and expectations among younger generations. She also explores the roles that different branches of government and competing interests play in influencing immigration policy.

Ira J. Kurzban et al., Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook: A Comprehensive Outline and Reference Tool (16th ed. 2018)

Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook is intended to be a quick reference tool for practitioners and students that includes federal and administrative cases, regulations, statutes, and agency rulings.

Lucy E. Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law (1995)

This book examines the debates surrounding judicial enforcement of the Chinese exclusion laws as well as administrative power and reform of the Bureau of Immigration during a period of heightened nativism in the early 20th century.

Kevin R Johnson & Bernard Trujillo, Immigration Law and the US-Mexico Border: Sí Se Puede (2011)

Johnson and Trujillo review the history of Mexico – US migration patterns, the discrimination against US citizens of Mexican ancestry and policy debates over “illegal” aliens. Their discussion encompasses US immigration law and policy, the migration of labor, state and local regulation, and the contributions of Mexican immigrants to the US economy.

David Brotherton & Philip Kretsedemas, Immigration Policy in the Age of Punishment: Detention, Deportation, and Border Control (2017)

Immigration Policy in the Age of Punishment is an interdisciplinary exploration of immigration policies in America, Canada, and Europe during the Obama and Trump eras, within the context of what the authors refer to as a decades-long “age of punishment.” This book looks at deportations and border enforcement, national policy and jurisprudence, and the prison-to-deportation pipeline in its discussions of immigration laws and their enforcement.

Constructing Immigrant “Illegality”: Critiques, Experiences, and Responses (Cecilia Menjívar & Daniel Kanstroom, eds. 2014)

Constructing Immigrant “Illegality” is a collection of essays from the fields of anthropology, law, political science, religious studies, and sociology that explore the concept of immigrant “illegality,” how immigration law shapes immigrant illegality and how “illegality” takes effect in the lives of immigrants. The essays also examine power structures associated with the concept of illegality.

Immigration Stories (David A. Martin & Peter H. Schuck, eds. 2005)

This book tells the stories of 13 canonical immigration cases to illustrate how immigration law is made.

Disinformation Campaigns & Democracy

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As you have undoubtedly read, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign coordinated or colluded with the Russian government in its election interference activities.   What the investigation did establish was that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 Presidential election.  The report described Russia’s two prong approach to election interference: spreading disinformation through social media; and hacking into computers to gather and to disseminate information to influence the election.   If you are interested in learning more about disinformation campaigns and their influence on society, the library has several resources for you. Listed below are a few of those titles.

Robert N. Spicer, Free Speech & False Speech: Political Deception & It’s Legal Limits (or Lack Thereof) (2018).

This book examines the history of the legal discourse around political falsehood and its future in the wake of the 2012 US Supreme Court decision in United States v. Alvarez through communication law, political philosophy, and communication theory perspectives. As United States v. Alvarez confirmed First Amendment protection for lies, Robert N. Spicer addresses how the ramifications of that decision function by looking at statutory and judicial handling of First Amendment protection for political deception. Illustrating how commercial speech is regulated but political speech is not, Spicer evaluates the role of deception in politics and its consequences for democracy in a contemporary political environment where political personalities, partisan media, and dark money donors bend the truth and abuse the virtue of free expression

Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy (Larry Diamond et al. eds., 2016).

Over the past decade, illiberal powers have become emboldened and gained influence within the global arena. Leading authoritarian countries—including China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela—have developed new tools and strategies to contain the spread of democracy and challenge the liberal international political order. Meanwhile, the advanced democracies have retreated, failing to respond to the threat posed by the authoritarians.

As undemocratic regimes become more assertive, they are working together to repress civil society while tightening their grip on cyberspace and expanding their reach in international media. These political changes have fostered the emergence of new counter-norms—such as the authoritarian subversion of credible election monitoring—that threaten to further erode the global standing of liberal democracy.

In Authoritarianism Goes Global, a distinguished group of contributors present fresh insights on the complicated issues surrounding the authoritarian resurgence and the implications of these systemic shifts for the international order. This collection of essays is critical for advancing our understanding of the emerging challenges to democratic development.

Jukka Rislakki, The Case for Latvia. Disinformation Campaigns Against a Small Nation: Fourteen Hard Questions and Straight Answers about a Baltic Country (2014).

Finnish journalist and author Jukka Rislakki examines charges spread by Russian media and provides an outline of Latvia’s recent history while attempting to separate documented historical fact from misinformation and deliberate disinformation. His analysis helps to explain why the Baltic States (population 7 million) consistently top the enemy lists in public opinion polls of Russia (143 million). His knowledge of the Baltic languages allows him to make use of local sources and up-to-date historical research. He is a former Baltic States correspondent for Finland’s largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, and the author of several books on Finnish and Latvian history. As a neutral, experienced and often critical observer, Rislakki is uniquely qualified for the task of separating truth from fiction.

Paul Todd, Jonathan Bloch & Patrick Fitzgerald, Spies, Lies, and the War on Terror (2009).

This book traces the transformation of intelligence from a tool for law enforcement to a means of avoiding the law–both national and international. The “War on Terror” has seen intelligence agencies emerge as major political players. “Rendition,” untrammeled surveillance, torture and detention without trial are becoming normal. The new culture of victimhood in the US and among partners in the “coalition of the willing” has crushed domestic liberties and formed a global network of extra-legal license. State and corporate interests are increasingly fused in the new business of privatizing fear. The authors argue that the bureaucracy and narrow political goals surrounding intelligence actually have the potential to increase the terrorist threat.

Robert B. Laughlin, The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind (2008).

According to Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin, acquiring information is becoming a danger or even a crime. Increasingly, the really valuable information is private property or a state secret, with the result that it is now easy for a flash of insight, entirely innocently, to infringe a patent or threaten national security. The public pays little attention because this vital information is “technical”—but, Laughlin argues, information is often labeled technical so it can be sequestered, not sequestered because it’s technical. The increasing restrictions on information in such fields as cryptography, biotechnology, and computer software design are creating a new Dark Age: a time characterized not by light and truth but by disinformation and ignorance. Thus, we find ourselves dealing more and more with the Crime of Reason, the antisocial and sometimes outright illegal nature of certain intellectual activities.

Climate Change in the Courts

A recent ruling by a court in Australia is garnering international attention for considering the impact on climate change as a factor in its dismissal of an appeal by a coal mining company against a decision denying its application to establish an open-cut coal mine.

The decision, Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7, referred specifically to the impact that increased greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) would have on climate change, noting that “the GHG emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions. These dire consequences should be avoided.” Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7, para. 699.

While the impact of GHG emissions on climate change was not the sole factor relied upon by the court in issuing its decision, the inclusion of GHGs’ impact is noteworthy. In an article on Bloomberg, Martijn Wilder, an environmental lawyer at Baker McKenzie, noted that this was “one of the first times a mine has been rejected on climate grounds.” James Thornhill, Coal Developers Take Note: Climate Change Killed This Coal Mine, Bloomberg (Feb. 8, 2019), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-08/coal-developers-take-note-climate-change-killed-this-coal-mine.

David Morris, the chief executive of the Environmental Defenders Office which had joined the case noted that while this is a “case-specific” judgment that will not be binding on future decisions, “it will weigh heavily on the minds of decision makers [who assess fossil fuel projects]”. Michael McGowan and Lisa Cox, Court rules out Hunter Valley coalmine on climate change grounds, The Guardian (Feb. 7, 2019), https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/08/court-rules-out-hunter-valley-coalmine-climate-change-rocky-hill.

Judge Preston, who authored the decision, also notably rejected the “market substitution” assumption, an argument that was rejected by the 10th Circuit as irrational in WildEarth Guardians v. US Bureau of Land Management, 870 F.3d 1222 (10th Cir., 2017). The market substitution assumption is an assumption that approving the proponent’s coal leases “would not result in higher national GHG emissions than… declining to issue the leases because the same amount of coal would be sourced from elsewhere even if the leases were not issued.” Gloucester Resources Limited at para. 542. Judge Preston noted that

“[There is a] logical flaw in the market substitution assumption. If a development will cause an environmental impact that is found to be unacceptable, the environmental impact does not become acceptable because a hypothetical and uncertain alternative development might also cause the same unacceptable environmental impact.” Id. at para. 545.

For more on climate change litigation, see Alice Venn, Courts can play a pivotal role in combating climate change, The Conversation, (Oct. 12, 2018), https://theconversation.com/courts-can-play-a-pivotal-role-in-combating-climate-change-104727 and check out the following:

Sophie Marjanac, Lindene Patton, Extreme Weather Event Attribution Science and Climate Change Litigation: An Essential Step in the Causal Chain?, 36 J. Energy & Nat. Resources L. 265 (2018).

Marc Zemel, The Rise of Rights-Based Climate Litigation and Germany’s Susceptibility to Suit, 29 Fordham Envtl. L. Rev. 484 (2018).

Daniel Bodansky, Jutta Brunnée and Lavanya Rajamani, International Climate Change Law (Oxford Univ. Press, 2017).