Honoring Representative Elijah Cummings

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© AFGE – 2017 AFGE Legislative Conference Sunday  [CC BY 3.0], from Creative Commons – Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/V2uWzD)

You may have heard that Congress suffered a loss this morning, as Maryland Representative Elijah E. Cummings passed away. Before beginning his lengthy public service career, Cummings graduated from Howard University with a degree in political science and later the University of Maryland with his J.D.

His lengthy terms of public service include 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates. Among his notable accomplishments, he was the first African American in Maryland history to be named as Speaker Pro Tem, according to Congressman Cummings’s official biography. At the time of his death, the Congressman represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. He served in that capacity since 1996, including his current assignment as the Chairman of the powerful Committee on Oversight and Reform.

You might wonder—how do we, as a country, honor our public servants when they pass on? (Note: this might be written slightly differently and described as an issue statement: whether the United States requires particular pageantry, ceremony, or memorial upon the death of a serving Congressman?)

The great news is that the United States Code (U.S.C.) offers some answers!

According to the 4 U.S.C. § 7(m), “The flag shall be flown at half-staff…on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.”  This code section generally addresses the position and manner of display of the flag.

As we parse statutes, we understand that there are often definitions that are relevant. In this code section, there is a sub-section 4 U.S.C. § 7(m)(3) which offers the following definition: “the term ‘Member of Congress’ means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.” Clearly, Congressman Cummings is a member of Congress.

As a researcher, parsing the code section, I might also wonder what “half-staff” means. Is that defined anywhere?

Yes! It is! First, 4 U.S.C. § 7(m) explains clearly that a flag flown at half-staff should first be raised to the top of the flag pole and then lowered to half-staff. A bit more reading, and the researcher sees “half-staff” defined! Unsurprisingly, “’Half-staff’ means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.” 4 U.S.C. § 7(m)(1).

There is a related Presidential Proclamation (No. 3044), issued by President Eisenhower on March 1, 1954 and amended on December 12, 1969 by President Nixon. The proclamation indicates that “the flag…shall be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia on the day of death and on the following day upon the death of a United States…Representative…, and it shall also be flown at half-staff on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal Government in the State, Congressional District, Territory, or Commonwealth of” the Representative “from the day of death until interment.”

President Trump issued his own Proclamation on the Death of Elijah E. Cummings, and it appears consistent with the requirements mandated in the United States Code. In fact, since 1994, there have been 26 presidential proclamations on the death of various individuals ranging from celebrity Bob Hope who was famous in part for entertaining troops; to United States Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White; to civil rights icons Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks.

In the interest of completeness, it may be worth checking for additional relevant statutes. (Remember, with no statutes there will not be relevant regulation.)

The index to the U.S.C. includes entries for the House of Representatives — Death. A sub-entry under Death is Monuments and Memorials, directing me to 2 U.S.C. § 4110 (formerly 2 U.S.C. § 51).

Upon reviewing the code section, the Sergeant at Arms of the House of Representatives has the duty of having a granite monument inscribed and erected for any deceased member of Congress who is actually interred in the Congressional Cemetery. The cost of the monument is paid from the contingent funds of the House of Representatives.

Need a break?

By Trina Holloway, Head of Collection Services

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You have been in law school for almost two months now, and you may be thinking, “when is the next break?” Well, the next break is not until November, but, there are several ways the law library can assist in helping you to take law exams and papers off your mind for just a few minutes.

 

“Professor Fowke plays multiple games while RBG watches on…”

Did you know the Law Library has a wonderful “Leisure” collection? It’s a perfect opportunity to read about something other than Torts, Constitution Law, Criminal procedures, etc. – you get the point. If you’re not in the reading mood, we also have plenty of DVD’s you can enjoy as well. Both collections are located on the fifth floor across from the Technology Desk.

Maybe you’re into games? The Law Library has these as well! We have board games and cards that can be checked out at the Circulation desk, as well as the quick games on the big monitor. You can challenge a friend or the computer to a game of chess, or enjoy playing solitaire, doing a crossword or word search puzzle.

There is also what we like to call the “puzzle option.”  This break can be exactly as short or as long as you want, depending on how many pieces you find or how “sucked in” you get. The puzzle is located in the Reference Desk area. Not only will you be able to contribute to the puzzle, but you will meet the great staff that works at the Circulation Desk and a fantastic Librarian who could help you with your future research needs.

Meet Cassandra Patterson

This is the long-overdue continuation of an “in-depth” interview series with new librarians at Georgia State University College of Law Library, See earlier installments here, here, here, here, and here.

We introduce our new librarians in the same way we introduced their colleagues at Georgia State Law Library– with a questionnaire invented by Austin Williams which is borrowed in spirit, if not in part, from Marcel Proust.

Austin (if he were still here): What is your name and what do you do?

Cassandra: Cassandra Patterson, I provide reference services, teach one class of legal research (Research Methods), and oversee the library’s outreach services.


A: How long have you been at Georgia State University College of Law Library? 

C: It will be three months next Tuesday. Time flies when you’re having fun!


A: What books are currently on your nightstand (or Kindle)?

C: I am currently reading books that focus on leadership and vulnerability. (I love self-development books!) This month, I am finishing up Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.


A: What is an interesting fact about yourself that you would like to share with our readers?

C: I love college sports, especially basketball. My love for basketball started when I played basketball in my “younger” days. I also played on a team during law school (1Ls vs 2Ls)!


A: When you are not saving the world here at GSU Law Library, what do you enjoy doing outside of work?

C: I enjoy watching sports and movies. I also love to travel and visit new sites.


A: Lastly, what is your favorite vacation spot? The place you go to leave it all behind for a few days.

C: My favorite vacation spots are the Isle of Palms in SC and Wrightsville Beach in NC.


There you have it, folks. The complete, unedited, behind the scenes interview with Cassandra Patterson.

Meet Gerard Fowke

This is the long-overdue continuation of an “in-depth” interview series with new librarians at Georgia State University College of Law Library, See earlier installments here, here, here, and here. 

We introduce our new librarians in the same way we introduced their colleagues at Georgia State Law Library– with a questionnaire invented by Austin Williams which is borrowed in spirit, if not in part, from Marcel Proust.

Austin (if he were still here): What is your name and what do you do?Gerard

Gerard: Gerard Fowke, I teach legal research, answer reference questions, and manage the library’s digital collections and services, all while drinking copious amounts of coffee and expresso.


A: How long have you been at Georgia State University College of Law Library? 

G: Approximately 2 months. I’m definitely a veteran of the institution 😉


A: What books are currently on your nightstand (or Kindle)?

G: The Dream Songs by John Berryman & The Library Book by Susan Orlean.


A: What is an interesting fact about yourself that you would like to share with our readers?

G: Way before I was a librarian, I was once a singer in a rock n’ roll band.


A: When you are not saving the world here at GSU Law Library, what do you enjoy doing outside of work?

G: I’m a big fan of museums and arts festivals. I also love trying new restaurants.



A: Lastly, what is your favorite vacation spot? The place you go to leave it all behind for a few days.

G: Now that I no longer reside there, I think Boulder, Colorado would be a great spot. The beauty of the place definitely has a relaxing quality I miss in the hustle and bustle of the ATL. 


There you have it folks. The complete, unedited,  behind the scenes interview with Gerard Fowke.

Search & Browse the U.S. Constitution Online

In celebration of Constitution Day, I want to highlight an amazing resource available freely on the web: The Constitution Annotated: Analysis and Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

The Constitution Annotated includes an explanation of the meaning of the Constitution, broken down Article by Article, Section by Section, and Clause by Clause. The explanation is direct and understandable, and it is heavily footnoted to the resources such as United States Supreme Court opinions that have historically interpreted the Constitution. 

Hosted by congress.gov and prepared by the American Law Division of the Congressional Research Service, this is a HUGE resource. In print, it is over 3,000 pages! The online version has functionality that makes it even more useful. For example, you can search using simple keywords. You can filter and refine your results to focus on articles, amendments, topics, and resources.

Researchers who would prefer to browse are easily able to do so.

For those who wish to review Constitution adjacent information, that is also available. The site includes a number of Tables—every researcher’s favorite! There is a Table of Laws Held Unconstitutional in Whole or in Part, a Table of Supreme Court Justices, and a Table of Supreme Court Decisions Overruled by Subsequent Decisions.

In addition to being a helpful resource to consider in beginning research on a constitutional law research problem, this website has the potential for helping a researcher identify trends in constitutional law over time. The site includes links to additional U.S. Constitutional Resources that are available through the Library of Congress.

Come by the library and visit our print copy—for today it is at the reference desk, regularly it’s located in the Reference Collection—or check it out online!

Welcome (& Welcome Back) Students!

The library staff and librarians want to extend a warm welcome to incoming and returning students.  We’re glad you’re back!

We’re looking forward to working with you this year and throughout your legal career.

Below are some helpful links and information about library resources for the upcoming semester.

  • Search our Catalog to locate materials within the library at our homepage. You can find Fall 2019 textbooks that are available on Reserve that you can use for 3 hours at a time.
  • Reserve one of the 27 study rooms available for use by groups of two or more law students. To increase efficiency and shorten lines at the circulation desk, we now ask students to make their own reservations in advance of picking up keys, including the names of all group members when making the reservation. This can be done using the online booking system.
  • Supplement your studies with our online study aids from Wolters Kluwer and West Academic, available at https://insidelaw.gsu.edu/study-aids. Print study aids, such as flashcards, are available at the circulation desk as well.
  • Learn things and earn your digital badge with the ALERT Program, which starts on August 28th. 
  • Check out our Research Guides which provide resources for specific subjects, as well as Life as a Law Student.
  • Get help with your Research Methods in Law homework and other research needs during reference hours, both live and via chat. The Chat Reference box is in red, located on the left side of our homepage.
  • Check out CALI lessons, an interactive electronic tool that provides legal information about a subject and then quizzes the student on this information. 

You can find our hours at https://lawlibrary.gsu.edu/calendar/. We are looking forward to seeing everyone throughout the semester.  If there is anything that we can do to help you, please let us know!

We’re Hiring!

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The Law Library is currently accepting applications for graduate research assistants (commonly known as GRAs) for the summer semester. We currently need multiple Reference and Research GRAs.  Position descriptions are linked below:

http://libguides.law.gsu.edu/grahiring 

Eligibility

Law Library GRA positions are open to all GSU law students who have completed their first two semesters of classes. Part-time students are eligible. Students applying for Summer positions must be enrolled in at least 4 hours of Summer classes. Students may apply for both types of GRA position, but cannot be hired for both positions at the same time.

Submission
Applications are due at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

Reference GRA applicants – Email one document which includes a 1) cover letter, 2) current resume, and 3) completed availability form (available in the link above) to Patrick Parsons (pparsons@gsu.edu). Include your last name in the file name.

Research GRA applicants – Please complete the application process through Symplicity.