The United States Law Week

There have been many major legal developments in the United States over the past several weeks. The Supreme Court has issued several landmark opinions in regards to healthcare, marriage, housing, and congressional redistricting. In addition, the U.S. Congress has debated and passed notable pieces of legislation related to trade authority and national security. Moreover, several executive agencies have issued notices, proposed rules, and final regulations regarding topics such as contracting with inverted corporations and overtime pay.

The United States Law Week, published by Bloomberg BNA, is an excellent source for keeping up with key legal developments. This weekly publication provides news and analysis, Supreme Court docket summaries, and several other useful tools for staying abreast of recent legal news. One well known feature of this resource is its “Circuit Splits” table, which provides a monthly summary of splits between the federal courts on significant legal issues. Circuit splits is excellent way to forecast which issues may find their way in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.

You can access the United States Law Week online through Bloomberg BNA (GSU Campus ID and Password Required) or through Bloomberg Law (Username and Password Required).

Going Back to CALI

Today is the first day of the CALI conference for Law School Computing.  The conference is being hosted at Eckstein Hall, the new home to Marquette University’s Law School  (which was designed by the same architects the College of Law worked with during the pre-design phase of our new building).  I imagine as I type this law school technologists, librarians, faculty and administrators from around the U.S. are discussing law school technology on the shores of Lake Michigan while drinking beer,  and eating sausages.

CALI Conference Logo

CALI (the Center for Computer-assisted Legal Instruction) is best known by law students for their library of interactive, computer-based lessons. The CALI library of lessons is a collection of over 851 lessons covering 33 legal education subject areas. They are interactive tutorials written by law faculty to supplement traditional law school instruction. The format of the exercises varies according to the authors’ objectives.  The Georgia State Law librarians have authored several legal research lessons including:

  • Georgia Legal Research–Primary Source Material
  • Georgia Legal Research – Secondary Source Materials
  • Copyright and Trademark Legal Research
  • Mastering Looseleaf Publications
  • Forms of Federal Statutory Publication
  • Researching Federal Legislative History

Information on how to access CALI these and other lessons can be found here

Students may also know CALI for the awards they give out at the end of each semester.  The CALI Excellence for the Future Award is given to the highest scoring student in each law school class at many law schools including Georgia State Law. Past award winners can be found here.

In addition to the more visible lessons and awards, CALI is engaged in a number of interesting and forward-looking initiatives to better facilitate the teaching of law.   eLandell is  a new model for law school casebooks, namely electronic casebooks that better lend themselves to ebook and iPad users.  Classcaster is a blogging and podcasting solution to help faculty supplement their lectures. Free Law Reporter publishes nearly all appellate and supreme court opinions.   We recommend that you explore all of CALI’s resources.

What you may not know is how involved Georgia State College of Law has been in CALI.  As mentioned above Librarians have contributed significantly to the library of lessons.  Technologist and librarians presented at CALI every year for as long as I can remember.  This year Librarian Pam Brannon is presenting case management technology to better support faculty research.  Prof. Patrick Wiseman currently serves on the CALI Board of Directors.  Finally not one, but two Georgia State Law faculty members received the CALI Excellence in Service Award:  Dean Nancy Johnson and Prof. Patrick Wiseman.

If you are interested in viewing this year’s sessions you can do so online or if you are interested in exploring what all CALI has to offer you can get the Georgia State Law activation code here.

Professors Offer Summer Reading Suggestions

The semester is drawing to a close, and you may be thinking that a bit of non-caselaw reading could be just what your brain needs after a busy school year. But what to read? The law faculty has a few suggestions for you.

Pam Brannon

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
The idea of David Foster Wallace going to the Illinois State Fair is really funny in and of itself, but his report on the experience is even funnier. Besides, like me, Wallace was a geek who loved footnotes.

James Bross

Sarah Caudwell was the pseudonym of Sarah Cockburn (1939 – 2000, Cheltenham), a British barrister and writer of detective stories. She is best known for a series of four murder stories written between 1980 and 1999, centred around the lives of a group of young barristers practicing in Lincoln’s Inn and narrated by a Hilary Tamar, a Professor of Medieval Law (gender unknown), who also acts as detective.

This series of four books, described as “legal whodunits”, were written over a period of twenty years. Their primary setting is the top floor of 62 New Square at Lincoln’s Inn, where four young barristers have their chambers: Michael Cantrip, Desmond Ragwort, Selena Jardine and Timothy Shepherd. While the last named only appears sporadically, taxes barrister Julia Larwood, who works in the adjacent premises, is a regular visitor and is in effect the fourth member of the group. These characters are in some ways thinly drawn, never communicating in anything other than in an ironic tone, so that even when they are in deadly danger the atmosphere remains uniformly light-hearted. Even though the characters are sexually active, their cheerful friendship is sometimes reminiscent of the chummy gangs encountered in juvenile fiction.

Mark Budnitz

Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial by Janet Malcolm
This book includes several elements that make up a riveting story and that raise significant legal and moral issues. The main story is a murder trial, but the motivation for the murder was likely a child custody battle presided over by a judge who made a questionable ruling. The book also illustrates how poorly the legal system operates when the persons involved come from a culture that is different from mainstream American society.

Meg Butler

Broken by Karin Slaughter
Grady doctor Sara Linton returns to her home town and finds herself drawn into the investigation a rural Georgia murder. In her 10th novel featuring these characters, Karin Slaughter builds suspense and tells a compelling story, weaving together the lives of unlikely characters.

Sylvia Caley

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
Cultural sensitivity, bioethics, communication in health care setting

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Understanding, accommodating, accepting disability

Coma by Robin Cook
Scare resources, bioethics, buying/selling organs, organ sharing policy

Jennifer Chiovaro

The most memorable book I’ve read in the last year or so is Columbine by Dave Cullen. [It’s] the most definitive account of what really happened and why, although the entire truth won’t be known until the parents’ depositions are unsealed in 2027. Meticulously researched, the book dispels most of what was reported about the massacre. An essential read for understanding America’s deadliest high-school mass murder.

William Edmundson

For anyone saddened by the end of the US manned space program, I can recommend Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars and Riding Rockets by former astronaut Mike Mullane.

Anne Emanuel

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet
An easy read and a fascinating story.

Jessica Gabel

The Edgar Award Nominees for Best Novel, Best Debut Novel, and Best Paperback were a particuarly good crop this year, and I read most of them. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Laura Lippman, I’d Know You Anywhere. A woman who was kidnapped as a child comes to terms with why she survived the ordeal when other victims did not. A interesting read that goes back and forth between 1985 and 2010(ish) as the main character realizes that events she tried so hard to forget have shaped her adult life. Nominated for a 2011 Edgar Award for best novel.

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton. Winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for best novel. A mute man-child (i.e., he’s 18) with a knack for opening locks and cracking safes shares his escapades with the reader. I learned probably more than I wanted to know about picking locks, but the dialogue – both internal and between supporting characters is fantastic.

For those who prefer less mystery and more dialogue: Karen Russell, Swamplandia. A young girl aims to save both her family’s alligator theme park and her wayward older siblings. Nice to know that there is a family more dysfunctional than mine.

Lynn Hogue

I have two really great books to recommend: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly and The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly. Both are great yarns about lawyers and law. I finished both very recently and highly recommend them. Readers can learn something about the profession of law and be entertained at the same time. What could be better.

Nancy Johnson

The Confession by John Grisham takes the reader on an incredible roller coaster ride of emotions all centered around one hot-button issue: the death penalty. Grisham very clearly has strong opinions against the death penalty and The Confession makes absolutely no attempt to be an unbiased display of the facts of the matter. It is a quick read and a great story.

Julian Juergensmeyer

Although it is law related – I still recommend The Lawyer Myth: A Defense of the American Legal Profession by Rennard Strickland and Frank T. Read. I just think it gives a perspective that we tend to miss when we are involved with the “law” – in whatever capacity – on a daily basis.

Deborah Schander

If you’re the type of person to read the book once you’ve seen the movie (or vice versa), check out Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America (2005-present). It’s not the full 70 year history of the comic, of course, but the upcoming movie is apparently heavily influenced by Brubaker’s take on the story (which has even made the national news a few times). He focuses as much attention on Cap’s WWII origins as he does on what’s happening in the modern Marvel universe — and my bet’s on the inevitable movie sequel giving major screen time to something Brubaker introduces in his very first issue. The collection starts with Winter Soldier, Book One.

But if I can’t convince you to read a comic, try Alan Bennett’s novella The Uncommon Reader. It’s a funny, insightful look at the influence reading can have on people (in this case, the Queen of England).

Roy Sobelson

These are some of the books that have brought me the greatest enjoyment in the last couple of years. Most I’ve read, but some I’ve listened (unabridged) to.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Life in the Mississippi Delta at the end of WWII. A central character is an African American man who, after serving nobly in the Army, returns home to be treated precisely as he and other African Americans have been for ages.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
If you think Tina Fey is smart and funny (and who doesn’t?), check this out. Given the fact that she reads the audiobook, I recommend it over the written version.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
I’m not going to describe it. I’ll just say this is one of my favorite books of all time.

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel (no relation, so far as I know)
Using the correspondence between Galileo and his illegitimate daughter, Sister Maria Celeste (so named because of Galileo’s obsession with the heavens), the author tells a good bit of the story of the trial of Galileo, who had the gall to argue that the Earth revolved around the sun.

Austin Williams

February 18, 2011 was the 10 year anniversary of Robert Hanssen’s arrest at Foxstone Park. The Bureau and the Mole by David A. Vise is a thorough and concise overview of Hanssen’s life prior to and during his time at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read about how he initially created contact with the Soviet Union and what clues eventually led to his demise after 22 years of spying on the United States.

Doug Yarn

Out of the Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
True story of the survival of a book that John Calvin tried to destroy. This book makes one appreciate the sacrifices people made to express ideas and the extraordinary effect that the emergence of printing had on the history of ideas.

Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander by David Cordingly
If you like Hornblower or the Patrick O’Brian series about early 19th century naval warfare, you have to read this book to appreciate the real historic figure on which the main characters of those two series are based. Cochrane story is much more compelling and exciting.

Court-Watching Made Easy

We’re a little over 1 month into the Supreme Court’s 2010 term, and there have already been some interesting arguments touching on, among other things, the sale of video games to minors and the Westboro Baptist Church. You can follow the developments at the Court on the news, but there are also some great websites that track what’s going on, from grant of certiorari to decision.

SCOTUSblog, one of the best sources for Court news, keeps track of the most interesting recent petitions for certiorari and recently granted petitions. To prepare for oral argument, you can check the Legal Information Institute’s oral argument previews, and SCOTUSblog’s collection of briefs and other case documents. And, of course, after the argument you can check out the audio on the Supreme Court’s website and at the Oyez Project; starting with the 2010 term, transcripts and audio will be posted on Friday of every argument week. When the opinion is finally handed down, you can follow the happenings live at SCOTUSblog, get the syllabus sent automatically to your email account from the LII, see a visual representation of the votes from Oyez, and download the full slip opinion from the Supreme Court.

If that’s not enough, you can play some Oyez Baseball and find out where your favorite former Justice is buried. Or you could use all of this information to dominate your own FantasySCOTUS league!

Use for federal gov docs

If you’ve been using to access federal government documents, prepare yourselves for a long-awaited arrival:  the Federal Digital System, found at!   The Government Printing Office has announced that, at the end of 2010, FDsys will be the GPO’s electronic system of record for government publications.

From now through the end of 2010, the sites will operate concurrently, but in 2011 you’ll have to use FDsys to retrieve the United States Code, Code of Federal Regulations, presidential documents, the Federal Register, the United States Government Manual, and many other useful government resources.  The COL Library encourages you to take the time to explore the FDsys site and how it functions.  There are helpful tutorials available, demonstrating how you can search or browse using the site.  Because the site is currently in public beta, the GPO is seeking public feedback.  Now is the time to share your thoughts about the new site!

An exciting feature of FDsys is the number of authenticated government documents.  The GPO takes a number of steps to assure that many of the electronic government documents are unaltered from their original publication.  The authenticated  documents available on FDsys have visible digital signatures.  A verified, authentic document will contain a Seal of Authenticity.  The seal is a graphic of an eagle and the words “Authenticated U.S. Government Information.”  Visit and click on a recent piece of popular legislation–like the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act–to see the digital signature.

50th Anniversary of “Mockingbird”

The novel To Kill a Mockingbird turned 50 this summer. Harper Lee’s classic story features Atticus Finch, perhaps the most famous fictional lawyer in the world.

Did you know … ?

  • The character of Dill is based on Truman Capote, Harper Lee’s own childhood friend.
  • Robert Duvall made his film debut in the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird playing Boo Radley. To prepare, Duvall dyed his hair blond and stayed out of the sun for six weeks before filming.
  • In 1997, the Alabama State Bar erected a monument in Atticus Finch’s honor.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird is currently #4 on the American Library Association’s Top 100 Banned and Challenged Classics list.

The library owns copies of both the book and the movie in our Leisure Collection.