It’s National Mental Health Day!

Check out these resources for law students

The ABA Law Student Division, like other groups around the United States, is observing National Mental Health Day. How do we celebrate—or participate in the celebration? In addition to the stress associated with our everyday lives, we often start thinking about the end of the semester around now. And that ramps up the stress for students and faculty alike!

The ABA’s Mental Health Day programming includes sessions on depression, suicide prevention, and emerging from the pandemic. Check it out! You might even be inspired to break out the hashtags and take part in the ABA’s social media campaign: #LawStudentWellness and #ABAMentalHealth.

Maybe you would like to extend your knowledge about mental health resources available on campus? The obvious place to start is with the resources available through the Counseling & Testing Center. The Center offers, in addition to counseling appointments, Be Well Panthers includes short articles about mindfulness, adulting, exercise, relationships, and more.

As you might expect, the Law Library also has some incredible resources for you. It may be that you can minimize your stress by consulting tools like those found in our online study aids collection. But, you will be happy to learn that we have other books that might be of interest.

We have books on mindfulness, such as The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation, program materials from a continuing legal education session about applying mindfulness meditation in law practice, or Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—And Your Life.

If mindfulness or meditation are not your jam, maybe you would find something like A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress of interest.  Stress Management for Lawyers: How to Increase Personal & Professional Satisfaction in the Law might offer tools and strategies you would find useful.

We have online access to some other titles that might be of interest. For example, Stress at Work: Management and Prevention is easily available and offers an overview of stress and how it functions as well as coping strategies. There are a bunch of online books about mindfulness, and you can review the results of this library search to pick the book of your choice. If you’d prefer to change the focus and search for lawyer and anxiety or depression, there are also some books you might find of interest.

If you haven’t heard it before, you can remember that you heard it here: taking care of your mental health will only help you as you work your way through law school and your future career path.

Ode to Study Aids

How do I study, let me count the ways?

I review my notes, summarize, restate

My future self I picture, earning As

How long to study, I can’t estimate!

Why are civil procedure, contracts, torts

So hard to wrap my tired brain around?

I ‘m desperate, overwhelm’d, out of sorts

I’m dragging, I’m flagging, in highlights drowned.

Stumped by lecture, black letter, check my text,

Questions, no answers! Help I cannot find?

Colleagues struggle too—we are all vexed

How to embed these concepts in my mind?

Law Library’s got my back, study aids

Connect, clarify, lifting up my grades

Seriously folks, we in the Law Library realizes that study aids are a useful tool in the effort to understand material that is presented through your textbook, lectures, and other assignments in your doctrinal courses.

To that end, we have an excellent collection of study aids that you can turn to if you need assistance or clarity as you seek to understand—or check your understanding—of concepts from class. Students often ask how to choose a good study aid.

Of course, in law school, the answer is usually “It depends.” It depends on what you’re looking for—do you need just a statement of the law? Do you want something that you can quiz yourself with? Are you looking to confirm that you’re outline structure of the relationship between concepts makes sense? Different study aids have different strengths. Many are based on books, but they also may be videos or even lessons like those CALI lessons you’ve heard so much about in class!

If you want help figuring out what options exist for a class you’re in, you can check out our Study Aid Finder. It’s organized so that study aids for required courses in your 1L or 2Lyears are pulled out separately, and study aids for other bar classes are included under recommended electives.

Remember that there are a variety of formats available to assist you. Have long drives in Atlanta and prefer to listen to an audio version? You can! Want to check a study aid at 3 in the morning without leaving the comfort of your home? You can!

If you’re looking for study aids for classes that fall out of the scope of regularly recommended bar classes, you will also find some study aid recommendations on the research guides for those subjects. Check out our federal tax research guide for an example! If you have questions about how to access study aids, our Introductory Guide for First Year Students is an excellent resource.

Movie Binge!

If you’re an admitted law student—or a current law student or a recent graduate or a practicing attorney or—well, you may be interested in some law-related entertainment options this summer!

We all know that books and movies do not accurately portray lawyers and the practice of law. (Exception: some non-fiction books or documentary films.) That said, that can be what makes it entertaining to read about lawyers in a book or watch lawyers on a screen.

Following are some movies (the focus for today) that feature “lawyers” or “the law” that may be of interest to those who would like to take a vacation by way of the screen. There is little rhyme or reason to this list. I started with Chicago because I think the music is wonderful, and I got to see it performed in the West End with Lynda Carter as Matron “Mama” Morton. I am ending the list with Legally Blond, which I had the pleasure of seeing on Broadway. Don’t worry, there are no musicals in the middle.

*Chicago: This American musical is set in the jazz age, and it is definitely a satire. The lawyer to watch in this is Billy Flynn, whose Press Conference Rag is hilarious.

*I Am Not Your Negro: This documentary film made by Raoul Peck is based on James Baldwin’s notes for a book project about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  The trailer for the movie raises questions of what freedom means, encouraging us to consider how the law has shaped and continues to shape our country.

*The Lincoln Lawyer: This movie is based on the first book in Michael Connelly’s series. The movie presents an interesting approach to the practice of law—out of the back of a Lincoln. 

*To Kill a Mockingbird: I first read this book in an 8th grade English class, and the number of attorneys I know who have named their dogs after Scout is surprisingly high. Whether you’ve read Harper Lee’s famous book or not, this is a compelling story. Atticus Finch’s closing argument is freely available.

Just Mercy: You may have read Bryan Stevenson’s book. This movie tells Bryan Stevenson’s story as well, focusing particularly on the case of Walter McMillian. Though much of the filming was done in Montgomery, Alabama, some was done in East Point and Conyers, Georgia.

On the Basis of Sex: Ruth Bader Ginsberg is an icon for many, and this film presents the story of her struggle for equal rights. Like other law-related films, it has a compelling courtroom closing argument.

The Trial of the Chicago 7: If you weren’t alive for it (I wasn’t), you may not know that there were big protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Well, seven anti-Vietnam war organizers were accused of trying to incite a riot, and this movie tells that story.

*Legally Blonde: This movie tells the story of Elle Woods and her arc of personal growth as she approached and went through law school.

The Law Library includes in its resources some law-related entertainment that may be of interest. We have some of these movies available in our collection at the Law Library or at GSU Libraries—the * before a title indicates those titles!

Study Rooms Are Back!

Law Library study rooms are available for reservation by law students, we are happy to announce!

Study rooms range in size and location—we have rooms that accommodate groups as large as 10. On the Law Library’s fifth floor, we have study rooms with monitors that you can use to do group work on a big screen. Rooms have dry erase boards that groups can use to share notes, develop outlines, etc.

Reserving a study room is pretty simple, and if you’ve used the booking system before it will be very similar. Start from the library home page and checkout the booking explorer, so your group can find the right time and room that will work for your study plan.

You can book the rooms in 15 minute increments, with each law student in a group eligible for up to three hours of study room time per day.

In the picture below, Room 501 is unavailable, but 503 and the other rooms are each available for a reservation.

image of the room booking system showing the date, a legend of the colors indicating available, unavailable, and your booking, and a table listing the rooms on the y axis and the times on the x axis

When you book your room, you will still need to have (and list) the two or more law students who will be using the room for studying. Remember, when you’re finished using a study room that you need to lock the door and tell the folks at the circulation desk if you are leaving before the end of your reservation, so we can make sure that the room shows up as available to other students who may want to reserve the room. Knowing who is in the group can really help us with this part of reservation management!

Here’s a sample of the booking form:

Screen shot of the room booking form listing the fields for name, email other law students who will be using the room, and asking confirmation that the room reservation requires two or more law students

We look forward to checking the keys out to your groups as you work on your summer classes and prepare for exams!

screen shot of the banner on the room booking page
Screen shot of the Study room policy, including requirmements that there be two or more law students per reservation and that there is a maximum of three hours available for reservation for each person's campus ID.

Recommended Reading from Necessity of Unparalleled Unity CLE

Friday, March 19, the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism presented The Necessity of Unparalleled Unity, a program focusing on the ways that attorneys can serve the public and the common good by using the tools of professionalism and “lead our fellow Americans in bridging our divisions despite our differences” (Program Materials, p. 1).

The panelists represented a variety of perspectives and experiences, including judges and practicing attorneys with significant leadership experience. The panelists shared their thoughts and suggestions for attorneys to build bridges. Several panelists commented upon the need to build connection by developing relationships—talking and listening (not just waiting to talk again) with each other.

If you missed the program—moderated by Professor Tanya Washington—and wish to learn more, you may visit the website and read the speakers’ prepared materials, related articles from the August 2020 Georgia Bar Journal issue addressing the subject, and also review materials related to the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.

Several speakers recommended books that are available in the law library. Here are their suggestions. Books may be available as ebooks through GSU Libraries, as indicated below. Some are available for delivery to the College of Law to GSU students, faculty, and staff who log in to their library accounts and request the items, as described below.

Several panelists recommended some books to the attendees. These books are available for GSU students, faculty, and staff through the library. Mr. Bell recommended The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (available as an ebook too), and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (available as an ebook too).

Judge Dax Lopez recommended Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto. Ms. Patrise Perkins-Hooker recommended the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War by Douglas A. Blackmon (also available as an ebook). There  is also a DVD called Slavery by Another Name, which is based on the book and was an Official Selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

If you want to read any of these books, you can sign in to your library account (there is a link on the upper right). If you want to request delivery of the print version, you can select delivery to the library of your choice and either pick it up in person from the law library or arrange for curbside Express Pickup from one of the other university libraries.

Searching for Georgia Dockets

If you want to know the story of a case, the best place to start is with the case docket. It is a chronological listing of all the events in a case, including filings and proceedings. E-filing makes it even easier for attorneys and others to access and monitor dockets.

The information in dockets is useful to attorneys for a bunch of reasons. Attorneys may review filings to review underlying documents that other attorneys have filed. These may be helpful in drafting their own filings. They may also help attorneys evaluate the arguments to make before judges.

Georgia is a super special place for docket searching. Dockets are maintained by the courts, which means that each court in Georgia—and remember, we have 159 counties each with their own trial courts—has its own docket system.

* Image from: PeachCourt Home Page

PeachCourt, a portal for civil and criminal e-filing documents, allows for searching multiple Georgia counties at once. Even non-attorneys can search in PeachCourt. You do need to create an account in order to search the dockets for the participating courts.

Unfortunately, not all metro-Atlanta counties participate in PeachCourt. To be sure that you’re checking all the places you mean to check, it’s worth verifying whether PeachCourt coverage includes the court you’re interested in searching by checking the map of courts they serve. If you’re interested in Gwinnett County trial court docket information, for example, you would need to separately check the Clerk of Superior, State, Magistrate, & Juvenile Courts County of Gwinnett website and follow the instructions to search.

The Court of Appeals of Georgia and the Supreme Court of Georgia each make some of their own docket information available. The Court of Appeals provides a search tool that can be searched by party name or by docket number. Their system does not include the Emergency Motions docket. Although the docket information retrieves some cases docketed with the Court of Appeals of Georgia as early as 1999, the final decisions are only available from more recent opinions.

The Supreme Court of Georgia also uses a computerized docketing system, and it can be searched by the Supreme Court case number, attorney name, or party name. Interesting, you can see from the docket number of Supreme Court cases an indication of the type of matter being appealed. If you want to see whether an attorney has had recent cases before the Supreme Court of Georgia, it’s really easy to do an attorney name search.

If you have questions about docket searching, please chat with us from the library home page. We are happy to help!

Spotlight: Mindfulness, Stress Management, and Wellbeing Resources

You may have been thinking about it all semester, but after Halloween, the feeling that something spooky lurks in the future lingers…law school exams. This time coincides with the holiday season, which for many means disrupted routines and extra tasks or responsibilities, not to mention economic stress. This year, we have the added bonus of uncertainty associated with the global pandemic.

In light of all that, perhaps you would like to extend your knowledge about mental health resources available on campus?

The College of Law Mindfulness Program may be one resource of interest. A six-week program, the sessions provide basics about mindfulness meditation and opportunities to practice. The program is set to be accessed on your own schedule.

Another obvious place to start is with the resources available through the Counseling & Testing Center. The Center is open, and wellness programs are virtual.

But don’t fear! The Law Library has resources to support you too. It may be that you can minimize your exam stress by consulting tools like those found in our online study aids collection.

You may be happy to learn that we have other books that might be of interest. We have books on mindfulness, such as The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation, program materials from a continuing legal education session about applying mindfulness meditation in law practice, or Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—And Your Life.

If mindfulness or meditation is not your jam, maybe you would find something like A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress of interest.  Stress Management for Lawyers: How to Increase Personal & Professional Satisfaction in the Law might offer tools and strategies you would find useful.

We have online access to some other titles. For example, Stress at Work Management and Prevention is easily available and offers an overview of stress and how it functions as well as coping strategies. There are a bunch of online books about mindfulness, and you can review the results of this library search to pick the book of your choice. If you’d prefer to change the focus and search for lawyer and anxiety or depression, there are also some books you might find of interest.

If you haven’t heard it before, you can remember that you heard it here: taking care of your mental health will only help you as you work your way through law school and your future career path.

Celebrate Constitution Day!

Now is the time to celebrate Constitution Day! We could celebrate with a birthday song, commemorating the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Although that would probably be an interesting party (and awesome since the song is now considered to be public domain), there are other ways to celebrate.

Page 1 of the Constitution, available for viewing at http://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/downloads

The Law Library of Congress and the Library of Congress Center for Learning, Literacy and Engagement are hosting a celebration of the 2020 Constitution and Citizenship Day. “The Bulwark of Freedom”: African-American Members of Congress and the Constitution During Reconstruction will be presented by Michael J. Murphy, a historical publication specialist working in the Office of the Historian for the U.S. House of Representatives. The presentation addresses the lives of those African-American legislators serving during Reconstruction as well as the challenges they faced. Registration for the online event is free.

The National Constitution Center also has a series of special events planned, including a virtual kids town hall discussion including Justice Neil Gorsuch. The Center will also be streaming the 2020 Liberty Medal Ceremony recognizing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “for her efforts to advance liberty and equality for all.”

There are lots of celebrations for our constitution.

This year, as last year, 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 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!

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.

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!