Thanksgiving & Exam Hours

As usual, we’re changing up the library’s hours for the Thanksgiving holiday and the upcoming exam period.

During the week of Thanksgiving we are operating with reduced hours, as follows:

  • Monday, Nov. 21s & Tuesday, Nov. 22nd: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 23rd: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 24th – Saturday, Nov. 26th: Closed

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We will reopen for extended hours on November 27th through December 14th. During this period, the building is closed to those not affiliated with the College of Law.  Since we are open until midnight, do remember you can call a safety escort when you are here studying late.

After the exam period (whew!), we will again have reduced hours until the winter break, as follows:

  • Thursday, December 15th & 16th: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

The above is also on our calendar.

Coloring in the Library

You may have noticed the coloring materials available at the seats near the SHELF* in the library lobby.

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Coloring supplies in library lobby. Photo by Meg Butler.

Coloring is fun and some studies indicate it is great for stress relief. In other words, it is perfect for a quick study break during the lead up to exams.

Sam Briggs, a 1L, suggested that we post the completed pictures, so folks can see the images they have worked on. If this encourages folks to take a few minutes and color, even better! For now, we are posting the completed sheets in the library lobby.

If you are a member of the College of Law mindfulness group, you may want to try coloring as another way to meditate, focusing on the coloring, staying in the lines, the patterns in the pictures, etc.

If coloring is not your thing, the library recently purchased The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation.  You can find that in the 6th floor stacks, if you’d like to borrow it.

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Completed coloring page, image of Statue of Liberty. Photo by Meg Butler.

*The SHELF is the name for the large computer in the library lobby, which students are also welcome to use.

Paint by US Code Number : Presidential Elections

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Waterskiing Uncle Sam by Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

As we near the end of the US Presidential race, elections have taken center stage in American consciousness.  Headlines about recounts and possible non-concession have brought back memories of the Bush-Gore legal battles over Florida and a general re-interest in election law. But, where exactly does election law come from?  While the nuts and bolts of the actual elections is left to the states, the United States Code lays out a very particular, partly unknown, and maybe even esoteric set of steps required to elect the Preside of the United States.  So, come with me on an educational and entertaining journey through Title 3, sections 1-20 of the US code. Make sure to hold on to your hats- things might get weird.

 

3 U.S.C. § 1  – Time of appointing electors

This is straightforward, mostly.  The states appoint their electors, the people who actually elect the president, on the “Tuesday after the next Monday in November” following the presidential election.  Yes, you read that right.  States don’t even pick their electors until after the election. Contrary to popular belief, the citizens of the US do not actually elect the president, electors do.  Each state decides how the vote of their citizens effects the votes of the electors.  Typically, the electors select whichever candidate wins the state.  However, Nebraska and Maine election laws allow the states to split their electoral votes proportionally according to the popular vote.

 

3 U.S.C. § 2 – Failure to make a choice on proscribed day

If the state fails to choose electors on the proscribed day, the job then falls to the state legislature.

 

3 U.S.C. § 3 – Number of electors

This is probably the best known of the US election statutes.  The states get a number of electors equal to their number of Senators and Representatives.

 

3 U.S.C. § 4 (2012) – Vacancies in Electoral College

States can fill any vacancies in their electors when those electors meet to actually vote.

 

3 U.S.C. § 5  – Determination of controversy as to appointment of electors

This one is strange.  If the states choose, they can create procedures for settling any controversy in the picking of electors.  However, 3 U.S.C. § 5 requires that these procedures make a determination at least six days before the state electors meet to cast their votes. Don’t want to hold up the entire US Presidential election because of a few people fighting over who gets to be their states proxy vote now, do we?

 

3 U.S.C. § 6  – Credentials of electors; transmission to Archivist of the United States and to Congress; public inspection

Ok, this one is a bit long, and weird.  The executive of each state, typically the Governor, “as soon as practicable” must give “a certificate of ascertainment” , by certified mail, of all the state’s electors to the Archivist of the United States.  If the electors are chosen by votes, the governor has to include the number of votes too.  The governor must also send six duplicates of this certificate to each of the state’s electors.  If there was a controversy, the Governor must also send a certificate stating the outcome of that controversy.  The Archivist must keep all of these certificates for at least one year for public inspection, and give copies to both the house and senate of each and every certificate received.  I’m pretty sure certificate means letter or document in “Old Timey Government English”, and this whole electoral process stems from a time when electors had more power (ie. they were less likely to listen to the state’s voters.)  However, it a nice piece of election tradition as well as a reminder of American history, so, why not? Lets keep going!

 

3 U.S.C. § 7 (2012) – Meeting and vote of electors

Finally, an easy one.  Electors shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment at such place in each State.  That’s right, again.   The entirety of the nation is well aware of who is going to be the president well before they are actually elected by the electors.

 

3 U.S.C. § 8 – Manner of Voting

Another easy one.  The electors vote as directed by the constitution.  We’ll save the constitution for another day.

 

3 U.S.C. § 9 – Certificates of votes for the President and Vice President

The electors must make and sign six certificates, with each certificate containing two lists; one for president and the other for the vice president.  Yes, for each electoral vote they must provide six signed certificates.   They also attach one of the lists of electors given to them by the executive of the state, or Governor, to each certificate.

 

3 U.S.C. § 10 – Sealing and endorsing certificates

Another easy one- they have to seal and endorse the certificates.  That’s all this law says.  You’d think they could have just rolled that into § 9.

 

3 U.S.C. § 11 – Disposition of certificates

What do they do with all these new certificates?  § 11 and I are both glad you asked.  The electors deliver the certificates as follows: one to the President of the Senate, one to the Secretary of the State, two to the archivist of the US, and one to the judge of the district where the electors assembled.  The archivist must keep one of the copies in case the president of the senate requests it, and the other for public inspection.

 

3 U.S.C. § 12– Failure of certificates of electors to reach President of the Senate or Archivist of the United States; demand on State for certificate

This seems to be another section of the law that was much more important before you could pick up a phone and ask the governor; “hey! Governor!  Where are all the certificates?” If the certificates fail to arrive to the President of the Senate or the Archivist by the fourth Wednesday in December, probably a week after the voting, The President of the senate should request the backup certificates from the Secretary of the State.  § 12 also says that the Archivist should serve as back up, and do the requesting if the President of the Senate  is absent.

 

3 U.S.C. § 13 –  Same; demand on district judge for certificate

The reason for the six certificates, and the preference by the drafters for multiple contingency plans, is becoming more evident.  If the President of the Senate or the Archivist strike out with the Governor, they then should ask the District Judge.

 

3 U.S.C. § 14 – Forfeiture for messenger’s neglect of duty

So you were supposed to deliver the certificates to the President of the Senate, or Archivist, and you forgot?  Do not pass go.  Forfeit $1000.  Seriously. If you mess this up, by law, you must forfeit $1000.

 

3 U.S.C. § 15 – Counting electoral votes in congress

Where: The sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors, The House of Representatives

Who: Congress, both houses, the whole thing.

When? 1:00 pm

What: Counting the votes.  This section lays out, in tedious minutia, the rules for counting the electoral votes.  This whole thing is too long to cover here, but some of the highlights are:  The President of the Senate open the envelopes.  The state’s votes are counted in alphabetical order, starting with the letter “A.”  As they are opened, the envelopes should be immediately handed to two previously appointed tellers.  The counts are entered into both the House and Senate Journals.  Objections must be made in writing, and be signed by a member of both the House and Senate.  After all objections to a vote are received and read, the Senate leaves the House so each can debate independently.  But, so long as the electors were correctly certified, there’s not much either body can do.

 

3 U.S.C.A. § 16 –  Same; seats for officers and Members of two Houses in joint meeting

But where  is everyone going to sit?  Thank goodness, the statutes actually tell us.  President of the Senate: Speakers Chair; Speaker – on the Presidents left;  Senators – the hall on the Right; Representatives – anywhere the Senators are not sitting; Tellers, Secretary of Senate, Clerk of The House – at the Clerks Desk;  Other various officers – in front of the Clerk’s desk and upon each side of the Speaker’s platform.  This section also states that they can’t dissolve the meeting until all the votes are counted and the winner declared.  They cannot take a recess unless they have some question about the votes.  Even then, they cannot declare a recess beyond the next calendar day, Sunday excepted, at 10:00 “in the forenoon.”  If they haven’t completed the counting by the fifth calendar day, they cannot take any more recesses.

 

3 U.S.C.A. § 17- Same; limit of debate in each House

If the two houses separate to decide on an objection, as per § 15, each Senator or Member can only speak for five minutes, and not more than once.  The whole debate cannot go on more than two hours.  Limited filibustering only.

 

3 U.S.C.A. § 18 –  Same; parliamentary procedure at joint meeting

The president of the senate has the power to preserve order.

 

3 U.S.C.A. § 19 –  Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act

Like the constitution, we’ll deal with vacancies at another time.

 

3 U.S.C.A. § 20 – Resignation or Refusal of Office

….must be in writing and delivered to the secretary of state.  Thank goodness, this is over.

 

 

Casebook Audio +

Many law students are overcome with excitement when they find a way to LISTEN to the edited cases found in their law school casebooks.  AudioCasefiles, a part of Lexis Courtroom Cast, offers both individual cases and entire casebooks.

But wait, there’s more.  Courtroom Cast also offers:

CVN News – articles and video clips of legal news coverage
CVN Video Library – over 12,000 hours of on demand courtroom video
CVN Experts – find expert testimony recorded in the courtroom
CVN Training – the ONLY training platform with real courtroom video and expert commentary

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Accessing Casebook Audio:

Lexis Casebook Audio contains audio versions of selected cases from your casebooks. To access these audio files, one must scroll down to the bottom of the page, select the proper subject under the heading of “Browse Audio by Casebook,” and then choose the casebook which is being used for your class.  Unlike having a computer read the text of the opinion, these use real people and are much easier to listen to. These audio versions can be very helpful for those who have a significant commute each day. This can also be helpful for those who just get tired of reading so many pages each week.

Courtroom Training:

Upper level students will also appreciate the courtroom training videos. These cover a variety of topics, such as trial advocacy, rules of evidence, and appellate advocacy. The videos break these different skills down into manageable sections and provide commentary and analysis to improve one’s ability to better represent a client. The site also contains videos of complete trials, including many from Georgia. If you were ever interested in how a trial proceeds while in the courtroom, this could be very helpful.

Enjoy!

 

There’s a Guide for That

If you need directions, you can just punch an address into your phone, and within a second, you know exactly what route to take.  There’s an app for that.  Or many apps for that.

When conducting legal research, a researcher is trying to get to a destination–find answers to questions. In unfamiliar areas of law, it can be hard to begin research without  guidance.  There’s a guide for that. Research guides provide a map for a researcher, helping navigate legal sources.

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Research guides come in all shapes and sizes.  Some even offer charts and videos.  Here at Georgia State University College of Law Library, we have a variety of guides to help assist our users.  Other libraries also offer a wide range of guides.

So before you start researching an unfamiliar subject, try to find a research guide on your topic. Just like a good map, the guide can help you get from point A to point B with efficiency.

To access our web based guides, go to our LibGuides homepage. Below is a small sample of some of the guides we offer our users:

 General 

Topic Specific 

Student Life 

Laptops in Classroom: Useful Tool or Attention Drain?

By John Evans

Most law students love their laptops. Editable, searchable notes which take less space and are much lighter than traditional books and pens. Laptops can also enable access to online textbooks and research platforms—all in the middle of class.  These new age textbooks can substitute lower costs, incorporate all sorts of media, and integrate advanced note taking options.

On the flip side, there is the distraction of social media, online games, articles and newspapers. Are the academic benefits worth the attention drain and temptations?

Some classes greatly benefit from the incorporation of laptops. For example, I found that the ability to update my work in real time while discussing issues in class was of immeasurable help in Foundations and Advocacy. However in more traditional classes, laptops only serve as a note taking devices.

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By Dread83

 

Even professors seem divided on the issue. Some professors have issued outright bans.  Others have embraced technology by abandoning the analog casebook.

Recent academic studies do point to some answers. One study from the University of Michigan, showed that when laptop use is incorporated into classroom, as opposed to just being used to take notes, students report greater classroom engagement.  Another study showed that when laptops were only used for note taking, students who used laptops in class had a statistically significantly lower grade when controlling for academic aptitude. The study also found that 25% of students played games in class and 43% used the laptop to surf the web.

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By John Keane

 

Does this question come down to self-control? Is the onus on us, as students, to uses are laptops more responsibly. Should professors put their foot down and ban laptops?  Is it just another factor helping the cream to rise to the top? Does the ability to concentrate through available distractions demonstrate a useful job skill, thus reflected in a student’s GPA?

What strategies do you use to ensure you only use your laptop for classroom activities?