Fastcase: Another Tool in the Legal Research Toolbox

Fastcase, along with Bloomberg Law, Lexis and Westlaw, is another electronic tool in the legal research toolbox.  Fastcase is a legal research service that began in 2008, and gives users access to primary legal authority covering cases, statutes and regulations for most state and federal jurisdictions, as well as court rules and bar association publications.

A benefit of Fastcase is that access to law review articles is provided through the library’s subscription to Hein Online.

Brooklyn Law School students may access Fastcase from the SARA catalog.

The library recently added to its collection the book Fastcase: The Definitive Guide by Brian Huddleston, call number:  KF 242 .A1 H833 2018.  This book has twelve chapters covering everything you need to know about Fastcase.

Members of the New York State Bar Association have free access to the Fastcase New York Library.  For further information see:  Fastcase bar associations.

Taxing the Church

The Brooklyn Law School Library New Books List for May 1, 2018 has 23 print titles and 54 E-book titles. There are so many topics covered in the list but the pending case of Gaylor v. Mnuchin which involves permitting housing allowances given by denominations to clergy to be exempt from taxation makes one book on the list highly topical.

The book is Taxing the Church: Religion, Exemptions, Entanglement, and the Constitution by Edward A. Zelinsky, Professor of Law at Cardozo School of Law. It explores the taxation and exemption of churches and other religious institutions. This exploration reveals that churches and other religious institutions are treated diversely by the federal and state tax systems. Sectarian institutions pay more tax than many believe. In important respects, the states differ among themselves in their respective approaches to the taxation of sectarian entities. Either taxing or exempting churches and other sectarian entities entangles church and state. The taxes to which churches are more frequently subject – federal Social Security and Medicare taxes, sales taxes, real estate conveyance taxes – fall on the less entangling end of the spectrum. The taxes from which religious institutions are exempt – general income taxes, value-based property taxes, unemployment taxes – are typically taxes with the greatest potential for church-state enforcement entanglement. It is unpersuasive to reflexively denounce the tax exemption of religious actors and institutions as a subsidy.

For many years, religious denominations in the United States have been largely exempt from paying taxes. However, some cracks are beginning to show in that armor. Principal among them is a suit awaiting a hearing by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Gaylor v. Mnuchin, in which the Freedom From Religion Foundation is challenging the constitutionality of a 1954 law, the so-called “parsonage allowance” under 26 U.S.C. § 107(2) that permits “ministers of the gospel” to receive cash housing allowances tax free, a potential violation of the Establishment Clause. The case is on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals For The Seventh Circuit seeking to reverse the district court’s opinion and affirm the constitutionality of the minister’s housing allowance under 26 U.S.C. § 107(2).

Springtime comes to BLS

Tulips in front of the law school

Officially, the first day of spring fell on March 20 this year. This was news to those of us living in New York City. According to Accuweather, the high temperature in downtown Brooklyn on that day was a whopping 37° F (time perhaps for a pop quiz on de jure versus de facto?).

Enjoying coffee in the BLS Courtyard

 

 

 

It has taken a while, but spring has finally arrived in Brooklyn. Though we are in the midst of our exam period, BLS students are taking advantage of the good weather. Many of them can be seen out in the courtyard, discussing the intricacies of the UCC (the code, not the coffee) or regulatory takings and the Penn Central test.  Students may be grappling with the fruit of the poisonous tree, but at least they can enjoy the blooming flowers and greenery all around the law school. 

Downtown Brooklyn – Columbus Park

(Photographs courtesy of Jean Davis)

Greek May Day Celebrations

May 1st is International Labour Day and in Greece it is called ‘Protomagia’ (literally meaning the first day of May). It is an urban holiday when people traditionally go to the countryside for picnics, to fly kites and to gather wild flowers. On this day there many parades and other festivities throughout the country. It is a national holiday which means that everything is closed, with the exception of cafes and food venues.

The custom of Protomagia has its roots in ancient Greece as a celebration of spring, nature, and flowers. Flower wreaths, typically made from hand picked wild flowers, are hung on the doors of many homes in a way to welcome nature and all things good. Maios (May) the last month of Spring took its name from the Goddess Maja, a goddess who took her name from the ancient word Maia, the nurse and mother. May, according to Greek folklore, has two meanings: The good and the bad, rebirth and death. The custom celebrates the final victory of the summer against winter as the victory of the life against death go back to the ancient years and culminate at the first day of May. This day was also dedicated to the goddess of agriculture Dimitra and her daughter Persephone, who on this day emerges from the under world and comes to earth. Her coming to earth from Hades marks the blooming of nature and the birth of summer.

May 1st is International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some places, a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement, anarchists, socialists, and communists and occurs every year on the 1st of May. The date was chosen as International Workers’ Day by the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. Being a traditional European spring celebration, May Day is a national public holiday in many countries, but in only some of those countries is it celebrated specifically as “Labour Day” or “International Workers’ Day”. The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held April 27 during the Roman Republic era.

Study Room Reservations and Library Hours for Reading/Exam Period

During the Spring 2018 reading and exam period which starts April 27, 2018 (Friday), you must make a reservation to use a library study room. All of the study rooms will be locked; please go to the first floor circulation desk when your reservation time begins to charge out the key to the room. The link for study room reservations can be found on the library homepage under Related Links.

Study Room Policies

  • Study rooms are for the use of groups of two or more students.
  • Study rooms may be reserved for the current day and three days ahead.
  • Study room reservations may be made in 30-minute time slots; the time slots must be contiguous.
  • Students may book up to 8 contiguous time slots per day for a total of 4 hours per user per day.

Library Hours for the Reading/Exam Period 

April 27, 2018 (Fri.) – May 10, 2018 (Thurs): 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM

(Circulation Desk closes at 12 midnight on these dates.)

May 11, 2018 (Friday): 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM 

Good luck on your exams!

 

Summer Access (& Beyond) to Bloomberg, Lexis & Westlaw

The three legal research databases, Bloomberg Law, Lexis & Westlaw, are available to Brooklyn Law School students this summer.   There is also continuing access for May 2018 graduates.  See the details below:

Bloomberg Law:  Provides unlimited and unrestricted access over the summer.  Student accounts will remain active and available all summer.  Graduating students have continued access for six months after graduation.

For questions, contact Julia Perdue, Client Success Manager, jperdue@bloomberglaw.com, 646-701-3831

Lexis Advance:  Students will have continuing access during the summer for all legal and news content on Lexis.  During the summer months of May, June and July, the permissible uses of your Lexis educational ID are expanded to include use at any law firm, government agency, court or other legal position, internship, externship or clerkship.

May 2018 graduates have continuing access to Lexis for six months after graduation to study for the bar exam, prepare for employment, improve research skills, etc.

For questions, contact Mary Beth Drain, Research Consultant, marybeth.drain@lexisnexis.com, 845-598-3203.

WestlawNext:  Students can use Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw, Practical Law, and the Practice Ready solutions over the summer for non-commercial research.  You can turn to these resources to gain understanding and build confidence in your research skills, but you cannot use them in situations where you are billing a client.  Examples of permissible uses for your academic password include the following:

  • Summer coursework
  • Research assistant assignments
  • Law review or journal research
  • Moot court research
  • Non-profit work
  • Clinical work
  • Externship sponsored by the school

You do not have to do anything to gain access to these tools over the summer.

Students who are graduating can use Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw and Practical Law, for eighteen months after graduation.  Your “Grad Elite” access gives you sixty hours of usage per month, with no restrictions against using them for professional purposes.

Extend access by logging into http://www.lawschool.westlaw.com, where a pop-up window will appear once you sign on.

For questions, contact Stefanie Efrati, Academic Account Manager, stefanie.efrati@thomsonreuters.com, 646-223-4918.

 

Lynching in America

Earlier this month, Oprah Winfrey reported on 60 Minutes on the Alabama memorial dedicated to thousands of African-American men, women and children lynched over a 70-year period following the Civil War. The project is being led by criminal defense attorney Bryan Stevenson who wants to shed light on a dark period in our past that most people would rather forget. These hangings were not isolated murders committed only by men in white hoods in the middle of the night. Often, they were public crimes, witnessed by thousands of people. Stevenson believes to heal racial divisions we must educate Americans of every color and creed. See the episode here.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opening to the public on April 26, 2018, will become the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, those terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence. Read the report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, which documents more than 4400 lynchings of black people in the United States between 1877 and 1950.

The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection a related title, The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan by Laurence Leamer (Call No. HV6465.A2 L43 2016). It is the powerful story of a brutal race-based killing in 1981 and the dramatic two trials during which the United Klans of America, the largest and most dangerous Klan organization in America, was exposed for the evil it represented. Leamer tells a gripping story of figures such as legendary civil rights lawyer Morris Dees, Alabama governor George Wallace, and Klan Imperial Wizard Robert Shelton and describes the Klan’s lingering effect on race relations in America today.

The story begins in March 1981, when Henry Hays and James Knowles, members of Klavern 900 of the UKA, picked up nineteen-year-old Michael Donald on the streets of Mobile, Alabama. They were seeking to retaliate after a largely black jury failed to convict a black man accused of murdering a white policeman. Hays and Knowles beat Donald, cut his throat, and left his body hanging from a tree branch in a racially mixed residential neighborhood. Arrested, charged, and convicted, Hays was sentenced to death, the first time in more than half a century that the state of Alabama had given that penalty to a white man for killing a black man.

Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, saw the case as an opportunity to file a lawsuit against the UKA. His colleagues told him that his lawsuit was impossible to win. Nevertheless, on behalf of Michael’s grieving mother, Mrs. Beulah Donald, Dees filed a first-of-its-kind civil suit and charged the Klan organization and its leaders with conspiracy. He proceeded to put the Klan leaders on trial, which produced some of the most audacious testimony of any civil rights trial as well as a stunning and precedent-setting verdict. Dees destroyed the UKA and created a weapon that the SPLC used time and again against other racist organizations. The Lynching is a suspenseful true story that takes us into the heart of darkness, but finally shows that Michael Donald and other civil rights martyrs did not die in vain.

Understanding the Attorney-Client Privilege

The raid of President Trump’s personal attorney’s law office raises questions of how the F.B.I and federal prosecutors will safeguard documents that fall under the attorney-client privilege.  If you want to learn about the privilege, the library has several recently published sources to help you understand this central component of the attorney-client relationship.

Vincent Walkowiak & Oscar Rey Rodriguez, The Attorney-Client Privilege in Civil Litigation (6th ed. 2015).

This edition provides updated and expanded treatment of the attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine. New topics include application of the revised federal rules and case law governing waiver of privilege, the pitfalls of privilege preservation and waiver in bankruptcy proceedings and international contexts, and the intersection of privilege and attorney/client-hired media consultants.

David Lender, Privilege Issues in the Age of Electronic Discovery (BNA 2011).

Also available on Bloomberg Law.

This BNA portfolio explains how the nature and scope of the attorney-client privilege and work-product protection have been impacted by technology, generally, and electronic discovery in particular.

The portfolio begins with an introduction to the relevant privileges and protections, each of which developed prior to the computer age. The portfolio then describes in detail the far-reaching implications of technology on these fundamental tenets of the legal profession. Included in this discussion is an examination of privilege as it relates to the reasonable expectation of privacy and related ethical issues, waiver, privilege logs, the crime-fraud exception, experts, litigation hold notices, and litigation support databases.

Paul R. Rice, Attorney-Client Privilege in the United States (2011).

This two-volume treatise, available on Westlaw, provides essential information for advising clients on protecting the confidentiality of their internal communications. This database provides instant access to: the history, theory, and purpose of the privilege, a comprehensive examination of court interpretations, the procedures for asserting, establishing, resolving, and appealing privilege matters.

Jessica Kunz, Attorney-Client Privilege & Work Product Doctrine: Corporate Applications (BNA 2009).

This online treatise is organized into three parts. Part One, Introduction, traces the historical development of the attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine and explains in detail their purposes, availability to corporations, scope of protection, and relation to each other. Part Two, Attorney-Client Privilege, covers a myriad of topics, including client identity, waiver of privilege, exceptions to the privilege, choice of law, shareholder suits and special committees, among many others. Part Three, Work-Product Doctrine, covers such topics as scope, waiver issues, and exceptions to the doctrine, among many others.

BLS Library Special Collections: Rare Books & Archives

The BLS Library has a rare book collection located on the second floor, second mezzanine and third floor levels.  While the books on all three floors are in locked cabinets, students may go to the first floor circulation desk and ask for assistance in retrieving these books.  The rare books may not be charged out, but they may be used in the library for as long as needed.  All rare books are cataloged and available through the SARA online catalog.

The rare books on the second mezzanine are a gift of the estate of Judge Nathan R. Sobel, 1906 -1997, and the collection is named in his honor.  Judge Sobel was a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, class of 1927, and a Justice of the New York Supreme Court for over twenty years; for nine years he served as Brooklyn Surrogate.

The books cover a wide variety of topics on all floors:  treatises, yearbooks, statutes, reporters, histories, biographies, etc.  To give you a sampling:

Room 107M on the first mezzanine contains the Brooklyn Law School archives.  This collection contains a wealth of information about the law school.  While the room is kept locked, for access to it, please go to the first floor reference desk.  Some of the titles that are located in the archives are:

  • Bulletins:  While the school no longer published a print bulletin or catalog, the archives contains the bulletins published from 1903 to 2006.
  • Class pictures:  Pictures of the graduating classes from 1901 – 1969; however, there is not a class picture for every year during this period.
  • Commencement programs:  Programs for the graduation exercises from 1903 to date.
  • The Justinian & BLS News:  The Justinian was the school newspaper, written by students for the BLS community, published from 1938 to 1998.  After an interval of four years, the student newspaper was re-named BLS News and published from 2002 – 2006.
  • Photo Profiles:  Print copies of pictures of the BLS entering classes from 1984 – 2001.
  • Yearbooks:  The BLS Yearbooks from 1982 – 2012.  (An earlier yearbook, called The Chancellor, was published in the following years:  1930, 1932 – 1935, 1948 and 1954.)

For a comprehensive listing of the material in the archives, see the BLS LibGuide: Brooklyn Law School Archives Collection.

Working-Class Shareholder

The Brooklyn Law School Library New Books List for April 1, 2018 has 42 print titles and 30 e-book titles. Among them is one e-title The Rise of the Working-Class Shareholder: Labor’s Last Best Weapon by David Webber, a rare good-news story for American workers. Combining legal rigor with inspiring narratives of labor victory, Webber shows how workers can wield their own capital to reclaim their strength. When the CEO of the supermarket chain Safeway cut wages and benefits, starting a five-month strike by 59,000 unionized workers, he was confident he would win. But where traditional labor action failed, a novel approach was more successful. With the aid of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, a $300 billion pension fund, workers led a shareholder revolt that unseated three of CEO’s boardroom allies. In the book, the author uses cases such as Safeway’s to shine a light on labor’s most potent remaining weapon: its multitrillion-dollar pension funds. Outmaneuvered at the bargaining table and under constant assault in Washington, state houses, and the courts, worker organizations are beginning to exercise muscle through markets. Shareholder activism has been used to divest from anti-labor companies, gun makers, and tobacco; diversify corporate boards; support Occupy Wall Street; force global warming onto the corporate agenda; create jobs; and challenge outlandish CEO pay. Webber argues that workers have found in labor’s capital a potent strategy against their exploiters. He explains the tactic’s surmountable difficulties even as he cautions that corporate interests are already working to deny labor’s access to this powerful and underused tool.

This book could be the modern bible of the movement to harness labor’s capital for working-class interests. It is a riveting and thoughtful book that is not only a fast and fun read, but contributes wonderfully to a new and ongoing conversation about inequality, dark money, and populism in the electorate. On Wednesday, April 18 at 4pm, Brooklyn Law School will host a Book Talk with David Webber, Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law to discuss the book. It is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation.