Dear My 1L Self – DO NOT ‘Fake it Till You Make IT’

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to announce an all new Blackacre Times Series – “Dear My 1L Self.”  In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Students, and maybe even alumni will write letters to their 1L selves giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law.  We hope that some of this advice will be transferable to our readers, and show that even the most experienced of us have made a lot of mistakes. So, without further ado… 

Dear 1L Patrick, 

DO NOT fake it till you make it.  You are starting law school and are so much less prepared than you actually think.  The things that made you good at high school and college, mainly being really good at remembering lots of information,  are NO LONGER USEFUL. I mean, they’ll always be useful, but if you don’t strip down your intellectual process and rework your approach from the ground up you’re not going to do very well.  Read books about how to succeed in law school and do a ton of practice problems.  Having a really well put together outline will not matter if you don’t spend some time learning how to take law school exams.  In fact, you’ll end up getting a C+ in contracts, the class you basically explained to everyone all semester, because you didn’t really get what the professor wanted in the exam.   

This “clever slacker” persona that you’ve whole heartedly accepted for yourself will no longer work.  You’ll need to learn to ask for help, and give things enough time so asking for help is an option.  Remember when you were an undergrad and took symbolic logic and were terrified you’d fail, so you went to every office hour and ended up getting the best grade in the class?  You need to be that engaged for every. single. class.  I know you are very confident about your ability to do this.  That’s great, but it’s basically unfounded.  Innate ability alone is not going to be enough to do well.  You have a lot of work to do, and it’s better that this gut check comes from me (us?) now than after a whole semester of very inefficient work.  Go see your professors now.  Be engaged in class. Stop asking other 1L’s for advice – they’re more clueless than you.  Instead, bite the bullet and utilize your professors and academic success department.  Do things the right way.  This is the only way you’re going to do as well as you want.   

Also, stop going to chicken wing night every Tuesday at the William Penn Tavern.  If you can’t stay in, at least go late and leave early.  You can watch the Pittsburgh Penguins by yourself at home. 

Warmest regards, 

Future Patrick 

1L Patrick in the wild

Summer Content Suggestions – 2021 Edition

Books, movies, podcasts, music, and game suggestions from your favorite law faculty.

Person reading newspaper while floating in the ocean.
“Dead Sea newspaper” by inju is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hello everyone.  It has become a Georgia State University College of Law Library tradition to solicit summer leisure reading suggestions from our faculty and provide said suggestions via a well-written and entertaining blog post (typically by yours truly.)  Last year, we decided to open the content suggestions up to more than just books due to our new, more remote existences.  We liked the results from those submissions, so we decided to try asking for a variety of content mediums again. 

So, without further delay, here are some suggestions for books, movies, games, shows, podcasts, and music from GSU College of Law faculty.

Cassandra Patterson

Available in both book and Amazon Prime Video Series

The Underground Railroad by Colston Whitehead

A (somewhat fictional) story about Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When she meets Caesar, also a slave, he urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad. In Colson Whitehead’s conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop.

Jack Williams

Books

Breath by James Nestor

No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly. There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, they began to be killed off.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four, Osage, the newly created FBI took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations.

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky’s most revolutionary novel, Notes from Underground, marks the dividing line between nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction and between the visions of self each century embodied

Music

Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

anything by B.E.N. on Spotify

Bill Edmundson[1]

Podcasts

The Bruenigs

They are a couple, Liz and Matt, and they are informative and sure-fire fun.  Liz is a journalist now writing for The Atlantic. Matt is a labor lawyer turned policy wonk.  They have two young girls and mix together parenting advice, cultural commentary, policy analysis, and irreverent humor —all in roughly equal measure.  (Disclosure: Matt blurbed my forthcoming book.)

Chapo Trap House

The Chapos take vulgarity, brilliance, and the mercurial to the bleeding edge.  If you sometimes feel as if events are shoving you to the point of madness, this crew could serve as your guardrails.  Topical, opinionated —even perhaps, biased.  If you know of someone funnier than Felix Biederman, sassier than Amber D’Allee Frost, or more insightful than Matt Christman, please let me know.

Books

The Founders Coup by Michael J. Klarman

…should be on every American’s bookshelf.  No —on every American’s bedside table.  Beginning law students should especially give this book their attention.  Klarman teaches at Harvard Law, and he writes clearly while telling an unforgettably compelling story —the story of the rowdy formation of our basic norm, the U.S. Constitution of 1789.

Lincoln by David H. Donald

…is not to be missed.  “Honest Abe” Lincoln —”with all flaws”— has to be at least the provisional model of every decent lawyer.  Forget Atticus Finch, that “white savior” figment of the Southern literary imagination.  Put aside the estimable Bryan Stevenson, who will never come close to holding political power. Lincoln’s was a life lived by a real, powerful, imperfect human being, who was also a lawyer to his bony marrow.

Pam Brannon

Video Games

  • Breath of the Wild
  • Any and every other Zelda game
  • Psychonauts
  • Mass Effect, especially since the Legendary Edition just came out

TV Shows

  • Haikyuu!! – A shōnen sports anime series based on the manga by Haruichi Furudate, and produced is by Production I.G and Toho in conjunction with Japanese television network MBS. The anime consists of four seasons, four movies, and five OVAs.
  • Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – A woman starts to hear people’s innermost desires through songs.
  • Pose – A drama spotlighting the legends, icons, and ferocious house mothers of New York’s underground ball culture, a movement that first gained notice in the late 1980s.

Podcasts

  • Archive Atlanta – A weekly history podcast sharing stories about the people, places, and events that shaped the city of Atlanta.
  • Revolutions – A podcast exploring the great revolutions of history
  • Partially Examined Life –  A good reminder of my days as a philosophy undergrad.

Lisa Bliss

Board Games

Poetry for Neanderthals

…in which you have to get your teammate(s) to say the word by describing it to them using only single syllables. It’s pretty hilarious, can be enjoyed by all ages, and a game can be played quickly.

Quiddler

If you like word games, my husband and I have played a round of “Quiddler” every single night since the pandemic started.  It’s a game that uses cards with letters on them, and players use a combination of luck and strategy to create words using their cards and try to outscore the other player(s). I also love the game “Code Names.”

Kris Niedringhaus

Books

How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean-up and financial reparations to the villagers are made—and ignored. The country’s government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. Their struggle would last for decades and come at a steep price.

Told through the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula who grows up to become a revolutionary, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community’s determination to hold onto its ancestral land and a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom.

The Great Library Series by Rachel Caine

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon, both heretics and books will burn….

  1. Ink and Bone
  2. Paper and Fire
  3. Ash and Quill
  4. Smoke and Iron
  5. Sword and Pen

Podcast

Buried Truths Podcast –  We can’t change our history, but we can let it guide us to understanding. Buried Truths investigates still-relevant stories of injustice, resilience, and racism in the American South.

Terrance Manion

Books

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad

This is the never-before-told story of the musical revolution that happened right under the nose of the Reagan Eighties–when a small but sprawling network of bands, labels, fanzines, radio stations, and other subversives reenergized American rock with punk rock’s do-it-yourself credo and created music that was deeply personal, often brilliant, always challenging, and immensely influential.

Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture by Grace Elizabeth Hale

In Athens, in the eighties, if you were young and willing to live without much money, anything seemed possible. Cool Town reveals the passion, vitality, and enduring significance of a bohemian scene that became a model for others to follow. Grace Elizabeth Hale experienced the Athens scene as a student, small-business owner, and band member. Blending personal recollection with a historian’s eye, she reconstructs the networks of bands, artists, and friends that drew on the things at hand to make a new art of the possible, transforming American culture along the way.

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley

As the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award-winning historian and perennial New York Times bestselling author takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon.

Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton

The harrowing true survival story of an early polar expedition that went terribly awry–with the ship frozen in ice and the crew trapped inside for the entire sunless, Antarctic winter–in the tradition of David Grann, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Hampton Sides

Music (all on vinyl)

  • fIREHOSE
  • the Replacements
  • Husker Du
  • Dinosaur Jr (including their brand new album, Sweep It Into Space, which is actually good)
  • B-52’s
  • Pylon

Yaniv Heled

Books

The “Culture” series by Ian Banks

The Culture series or Culture cycle refers to a series of novels and short fiction written by Scottish author Iain Banks. The stories center around the Culture, a post-scarcity semi-anarchist utopia consisting of various humanoid races and managed by very advanced artificial intelligence.

Within the Culture series:

Consider Phlebas by Ian Banks

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died; billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it and with it their own destruction.

The Algebraist by Ian Banks

It is 4034. Humanity has made it to the stars. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, will be fortunate if he makes it to the end of the year. The Nasqueron Dwellers inhabit a gas giant on the outskirts of the galaxy, in a system awaiting its wormhole connection to the rest of civilization. In the meantime, they are dismissed as decadents living in a state of highly developed barbarism, hoarding data without order, hunting their own young & fighting pointless formal wars.

Nirej Sekhon

Book

East West Street by Philippe Sands

A renowned international law scholar discovers that this family history is wound up more intimately with international criminal law than he ever might’ve imagined.  This history/memoir/biography recounts Sands’ genealogical journey in gripping detail.      

Lauren Sudeall

Book

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her.

But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut.

Patrick Parsons

Podcasts

  • Cocaine and Rhinestones –  a podcast about the history of 20th Century Country Music and the lives of those who gave it to us.
  • Broken Record – a musical artist interview podcast by Rick Rubin, Malcolm Gladwell, and former New York Times editor Bruce Headlam.  Most notably, Rick Rubin is the producer responsible for albums like Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication, Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around, and System of a Down’s Toxicity.  He is undoubtedly one of the most influential music producers in American popular music.  This link goes directly to Rick’s interview with Atlanta’s own Andre 3000.

Video Game

  • Dragon Age Inquisition – I hadn’t owned video games since the Playstation 2.  This is still the only game I own, and it took more time to finish it than I’ve spent on anything in the past few years.  I might not buy another video game until the next Drago Age installment comes out. 

TV Show

  • The Last Narc – In 1985, DEA agent Enrique `Kiki” Camarena is kidnapped, tortured and murdered by Mexican drug lords. Special agent Hector Berellez reveals the truth about the conspiracy behind Camarena’s murder that stretches from Mexico to Washington, D.C.

[1] Descriptions by Professor Edmundson himself

Summer Lexis & Westlaw Access

WestLexis-holding-hands-on-beach-3727554

Lexis and Westlaw have historically altered their access policy for students and recent graduates during the summer. The Law Library has recently received an update from both Sue Moore at Westlaw and Brittany Conklin at Lexis. They will provide summer access as described below.

Access and Restrictions for Rising 2Ls and 3Ls

Lexis

Law students will automatically have free unlimited use of their law school Lexis ID this summer. No registration is required.

Westlaw

You do not have to do anything to gain access to Westlaw over the summer.  However, there are use restrictions.

You may only use Westlaw 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 specific client at a law firm. Examples of permissible uses for your academic password include the following but are not limited to:

  • Summer coursework or any type of academic research
  • Research Assistant assignments
  • Law Review or Journal research
  • Moot Court or any trial competition research
  • Non-Profit work
  • Clinical work
  • Externship/Internship sponsored by the school
  • Practicing your research skills

Access for Graduating 3Ls

Lexis

Graduates may access Lexis for free through December 31st, 2021. No registration is required.

Westlaw

You must register for Graduate access.

May 2021 Graduates will see grad access information when they sign on to lawschool.tr.com – their access is “normal” until May 31st. Starting June 1st – November 30th, they will have 60 hours of usage per month for six months. The direct link to extend for grad access is https://lawschool.westlaw.com/authentication/gradelite.

If you have any questions about Westlaw grad access, please email Sue at sue.moore@tr.com.

The Basics of Basic Tax Research

Liberty + Tax
“Liberty + Tax” by MTSOfan is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

For C.P.A.’s, accountants, and tax procrastinators of all kinds, April 15 is the anti-holiday of anti-holidays.  While the official tax “due date” was recently moved to May 17, April 15 will probably always exist as one of the more dreaded days for Americans.  In the spirit of tax day, we here at the Georgia State College of Law Library thought it would be fun, relatively speaking, to give the most basic of basic primers on tax law.  Unless you are well versed in tax law, even the lingo can be a little confusing.  So, without further ado, let us begin the non-tax person’s primer on tax law research. 

Where is it?

The tax code is officially codified in Title 26 of the United States Code, or 26 U.S.C. § 1 et. seq.  It spans from 26 U.S.C.  §§ 1-9834.  While it’s not the longest, and doesn’t contain the most words, 9834 sections is quite lengthy for a title containing only one topic.  For comparison, Title 42 – Public Health and Welfare is the longest but includes a number of sub-topics like housing, child welfare, energy, etc[1]

Citation is one point of constant confusion.  While you may cite the codification in the U.S. Code, you can also cite the Internal Revenue Code itself.  For example, 26 U.S.C. § 1 and I.R.C. § 1 cite to the same text, with the latter being favored by practitioners for brevity.

The tax code also creates and enables many Federal Regulations, Agencies (the I.R.S.), and administrative documents.  Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains most tax regulations.  Moreover, the Internal Revenue Service writes a number of advisory documents.  These non-binding writings try to offer some interpretation of the tax statutes, regulations, and administrative decisions.  While non-binding, they do offer some predictions as to what the I.R.S. might do or how they might interpret certain situations. Most are available on Westlaw, Lexis, or the I.R.S. Website. The I.R.S. website describes them this way:

“For anyone not familiar with the inner workings of tax administration, the array of I.R.S. guidance may seem, well, a little puzzling at first glance. To take a little of the mystery away, here’s a brief look at … the most common forms of guidance.

In its role in administering the tax laws enacted by the Congress, the I.R.S. must take the specifics of these laws and translate them into detailed regulations, rules and procedures. The Office of Chief Counsel fills this crucial role by producing several different kinds of documents and publications that provide guidance to taxpayers, firms and charitable groups.”

Some of the most common guidance documents are: [2]

Revenue RulingAn official interpretation by the I.R.S. of the Internal Revenue Code, related statutes, tax treaties and regulations. It is the conclusion of the I.R.S. on how the law is applied to a specific set of facts.
Revenue Procedure  An official statement of a procedure that affects the rights or duties of taxpayers or other members of the public under the Internal Revenue Code, related statutes, tax treaties and regulations and that should be a matter of public knowledge.  While a revenue ruling generally states an I.R.S. position, a revenue procedure provides return filing or other instructions concerning an I.R.S. position
Private Letter RulingA written statement issued to a taxpayer that interprets and applies tax laws to the taxpayer’s specific set of facts. A PLR is issued to establish with certainty the federal tax consequences of a particular transaction before the transaction is consummated or before the taxpayer’s return is filed.
Technical Advice MemorandumGuidance furnished by the Office of Chief Counsel upon the request of an I.R.S. director or an area director, appeals, in response to technical or procedural questions that develop during a proceeding.  Technical Advice Memoranda are issued only on closed transactions and provide the interpretation of proper application of tax laws, tax treaties, regulations, revenue rulings or other precedents. The advice rendered represents a final determination of the position of the I.R.S., but only with respect to the specific issue in the specific case in which the advice is issued. Technical Advice Memoranda are generally made public after all information has been removed that could identify the taxpayer whose circumstances triggered a specific memorandum.
NoticeA public pronouncement that may contain guidance that involves substantive interpretations of the Internal Revenue Code or other provisions of the law. For example, notices can be used to relate what regulations will say in situations where the regulations may not be published in the immediate future.
AnnouncementAn announcement is a public pronouncement that has only immediate or short-term value. For example, announcements can be used to summarize the law or regulations without making any substantive interpretation; to state what regulations will say when they are certain to be published in the immediate future; or to notify taxpayers of the existence of an approaching deadline.

Quick Federal Tax Research Tips

While navigating the seemingly endless statutes, regulations, cases, and guidance documents may seem impossible, there are sources available here at Georgia State that can help make quick sense of your tax law research question.  In particular, they allow you to do three main tasks: Research by I.R.C. citation, research by tax topic, and quickly pull I.R.S. guidance documents. 

Research by I.R.C. Citation

                This method works exactly like it sounds – If you have an I.R.C. citation, you can find associated secondary material, editorial content, and plain language explanations about the topics contained in this citation.  Historically, several sources have been organized around the I.R.C., but maybe the easiest for GSU students is United States Tax Reporter by R.I.A. in Westlaw.  If you have a citation, say I.R.C. § 1, all you have to do is open the corresponding dropdown menu, find the section, and the reporter will provide you with the text of the section, historical context, legislative history material, and editorial analysis. 

Research by Tax Topic

                If you don’t already know the I.R.C. code section dealing with your issue, you can also research by topic using the Lexis Tax Advisor.  You can search the entire publication, but the most powerful tool is the index. Not only can you find the topic you’re looking for, it will also give you some ideas for other sub-topics.  For instance, if you’re looking for information on accounting standards and look up “accounting,” you’ll see that one of the sub-topics is S Corporations.  A novice researcher may not have known that S corporations have their own unique tax accounting topics, but by using the index, they can discover these types of things. 

Retrieving Advisory Documents

Finally, the Westlaw Tax Find and Keycite page will allow you to retrieve the guidance documents listed above.  Just visit the page, select “rulings and releases,” choose the document you’re looking for, and enter the numeric part of the citation. It’s as easy as that. 

Conclusion

While tax is often seen as one of the more challenging law school classes, tax research is surprisingly accessible because of the powerful research tools made available to tax students and practitioners alike.  So long as you have a topic, I.R.C. section, or guidance document citation, you should be able to quickly and efficiently use the tools above to get started on your research.  Also, remember, if you run into difficulties, never hesitate to reach out to the librarians here at the Georgia State College of Law Library. We’re available by our individual emails, the reference email address  lawreference@gsu.edu, or by our reference chat available at http://lawlibrary.gsu.edu .


[1] https://bommaritollc.com/2013/08/19/is-the-tax-code-the-longest-title/

[2] https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understanding-irs-guidance-a-brief-primer

Reading Suggestions – 2020 Winter Break Librarian Edition

I know, I know.  You’re sick of reading.  I get it.  But, remember when reading wasn’t stressful?  Remember reading for fun, when forgetting a key piece of information was only a mild annoyance that interrupted the flow of your book instead of the difference between a B+ and an A-?  I do (probably because I haven’t been a law student for a decade) and I think you should too.

In light of our new, lighter approach to reading, the law librarians thought you could use a few fun, interesting, enjoyable books for winter break.  No, these won’t be on the exam. 

Books held by Georgia State hyperlink to the GilFind Catalog. Books available in online format are indicated.

Pam Brannon

Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greet

A struggling novelist travels the world to avoid an awkward wedding in this hilarious Pulitzer Prize-winning novel full of “arresting lyricism and beauty.”

Kris Niedringhaus

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades of her esteemed literary career.

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

A sweeping tale of clashing cultures, warring gods, and forbidden love: In 1000 AD, a young Inuit shaman and a Viking warrior become unwilling allies as war breaks out between their peoples and their gods-one that will determine the fate of them all.

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth’s underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time—from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk “hiding place” where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come—Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Cassandra Patterson

“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum

The author presents real-life examples and the latest research on how straight talk about racial identities is essential to facilitate communication across racial and ethnic divides. It helps readers to figure out where to start the conversation. 

Online Version Available

Terrance Manion

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

Rediscover the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths—stylishly retold by Stephen Fry. This legendary writer, actor, and comedian breathes new life into beloved tales. From Persephone’s pomegranate seeds to Prometheus’s fire, from devious divine schemes to immortal love affairs, Fry draws out the humor and pathos in each story and reveals its relevance for our own time. Illustrated throughout with classical art inspired by the myths, this gorgeous volume invites you to explore a captivating world, with a brilliant storyteller as your guide.

Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss (Forward by Judd Apatow).

I really don’t feel like this book needs a description.

Patrick Parsons

Levon: From Down in the Delta to the Birth of The Band and Beyond by Sandra B. Tooze

Not available in the library. Email me at pparsons@gsu.edu to borrow my copy. It’s awesome.

He sang the anthems of a generation: “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and “Life Is a Carnival.” Levon Helm’s story––told here through sweeping research and interviews with close friends and fellow musicians––is the rollicking story of American popular music itself.

Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers by Charlie Louvin, Benjamin Whitmer

Get ready for one of America’s great untold stories: the true saga of the Louvin Brothers, a mid-century Southern gothic Cain and Abel and one of the greatest country duos of all time. The Los Angeles Times called them “the most influential harmony team in the history of country music,” but Emmylou Harris may have hit closer to the heart of the matter, saying “there was something scary and washed in the blood about the sound of the Louvin Brothers.” For readers of Johnny Cash’s irresistible autobiography and Merle Haggard’s My House of Memories, no country music library will be complete without this raw and powerful story of the duo that everyone from Dolly Parton to Gram Parsons described as their favorites: the Louvin Brothers.

Meg Butler

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine

Shocked by the commerce in everything from pet cloning to patriotism, frightened by the downward spiral of her finances and that of the trash-strewn earth, Judith Levine enlists her partner, Paul, in a radical experiment: to forgo all but the most necessary purchases for an entire year.

Frugalwoods – Financial Independence and Simple Living

A website eschewing the philosophy “managing your money wisely enables you to pursue unusual aspirations and opens up a world of options for how to live your life.”

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Bee .. Haunted House Disclosure Law!

Copyright © 2015 Roger H. Goun. Available at http://www.virtualnexus.com/images/beetlejuicegroup2015small.jpg

Imagine this.  You’re a New York City real estate developer.  You just married your second wife, an interior designer, and are looking to get out of the big city and experience some country life.  Your real estate agent finds exactly the perfect house in Wind River, Connecticut (not a real place upon further inspection.) However, the current owners have no interest in selling.  Strangely the day after throwing your agent out of the house, the current owners drove off of a bridge and died.  You immediately swipe in and buy the Connecticut property, and move your daughter, wife, and wife’s interior designer friend Otho into the house.  Your wife immediately starts to remodel the home to give it a more modern esthetic, because, that’s what she does.

However, weird things start happening. One day while eating lunch, everyone present, as if they could read each other’s minds, starts in on what seems to be a well-rehearsed and well-coordinated version the Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song (Day-O.)  While it was really well done, and quite a bit of fun, it seemed strange because no one in your family really likes calypso music or is a particularly good singer.  Strange.  Then, you hear your daughter, who admittedly has always been a bit eccentric, having conversations with people in the attic.  Upon inspection, you find a strange model town and an even stranger book titled Handbook for the Recently Deceased.  Interior designer Otho has always been into these types of things, so he tries to have a séance as described in the book.  Before you know it, you have a couple of decaying ghosts floating above your kitchen table, your daughter dressed in an old-timey wedding dress, and this guy Beatleguise transforming into a purple and black snake.  Even though you always preferred Michael Keaton’s batman to all the others, this situation is less than ideal, and you’d really like to get your money back and return this ridiculous house. 

Of course, this is the plot of the cult classic ghost movie Beatlejuice from a different perspective.  But, this is a legitimate legal question that has been addressed by state legislatures and courts alike – are there remedies for homebuyers who buy haunted houses?  There are causes of actions for purposefully hidden defects like plumbing and electrical issues, so why not ghosts?

Unfortunately, in terms of legal remedies, the Deetz family is probably out of luck.  Connecticut has enacted a set of statutes sometimes called the “Ghostbuster Laws[1].”  These laws specifically state that the existence of a nonmaterial fact need not be disclosed in a real estate sale and that “no cause of action shall arise for the failure to disclose a nonmaterial fact[2].” Moreover, the law defines “nonmaterial fact” as the fact that a property has been infected with diseases or was at any time suspected to have been the site of a death or felony[3].  Disclosure must only be made if asked for by the purchaser.[4]  While the statutes do not specifically mention hauntings, Connecticut law seems to focus much more on whether any nondisclosed acts had any physical effects on the house.  So long as the sandworms didn’t smash big holes in the floor (which they ended up doing in the movie), the Deetz family is probably out of luck.

But, what about Georgia? If the Deetz’s house was in, say, Stone Mountain Georgia, they’d probably have a similar result.  Unfortunately, Georgia and the rest of the country handle hauntings disclosure in much the same way.  Similar to the Connecticut law, the Georgia Stigmatized Property Act states that no cause of action shall arise for failure to disclose if the property was occupied by a person with a disease or the site of a homicide unless specifically asked[5].  If states speak on this type of disclosure, this is the majority approach[6]

Hope is not lost, though, for haunted house owners countrywide.  In Stambovsky v. Ackley, the New York Appeals Court did hold that when a house seller failed to disclose her belief that a house was haunted by a poltergeist, the buyer could rescind the contract of sale but not receive money damages[7].     

In conclusion, US law seems to favor a more “Casper the Friendly Ghost” than a “suck you into the tv Poltergeist” approach.  State statutes typically only require physical defect disclosures and typically don’t require sellers to disclose known hauntings, past murders, or diseases. So, if you’re anywhere but New York state, make sure to specifically ask your seller if the house is haunted. If you’re in the right state, they’ll have to disclose.  Otherwise, you had better hope that your ghost is the Casper type, because beyond reselling, you’re probably stuck with your house and all your new paranormal friends.  


[1] So characterized in Robinson v. Parillo, 1999 WL 240735 (Conn. Super. Ct. 1999)

[2] Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 20-329dd

[3] Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 20-329cc

[4] Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 20-329ee

[5] O.C.G.A. § 44-1-16

[6] See 18 A.L.R.7th Art. 2 (Originally published in 2016) for more examples and detail. 

[7] Stambovsky v. Ackley, 572 N.Y.S.2d 672 (1st Dep’t 1991)

PAINT BY US CODE NUMBER : PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

[REBLOG FROM NOV. 2016]

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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 the 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 are 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 President 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 opens 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.

Featured Database – Proquest Congressional

Looking for government documents is an important part of Legal Research.  Whether you’re sourcing for a journal, trying to find an old committee report, or looking for some legislative history, most law students don’t escape the clutches of legal education without having to look through some federal government publications. 

While there are free sources that provide access to government documents, coverage, availability, and location can be challenging to navigate.  Publications can be spread across several different sites, each containing different coverage and search interfaces.  This is why, when a student swings by the reference desk to ask about researching federal government documents, I send them to Proquest Congressional. 

Proquest Congressional is an expansive collection of government documents.  It includes historic congressional bills, member records, hearings, debates, executive orders, and much much more.  Typically the coverage goes back to the 1700’s to the initial publications of the United States and sometimes even before.  If it is a government document cited in a brief, article, or case, I would bet that Proquest Congressional has it.

Beyond containing a lot of information, it also has simple, intuitive navigation.  The advanced search allows you to pick which collection to search without presenting an overwhelming number of options.  It also provides several fields which are incredibly useful if you’re looking for a particular person, date, or piece of legislation.  The “search by number” function, available in the Legislative and Executive Publications dropdown menu, makes searching for a citation a breeze.  Search by number provides prompts for almost any congressional document with fields designed to change with the selected publication.  This way, there is never a question about how to enter a citation, where to put a dash, or how to abbreviate a publication.

Proquest Congressional makes finding citations easy.

Proquest Congressional is something everyone should explore.  While you might not need it on a day to day basis, knowing the navigational basics makes you a much more powerful researcher.  The day that a government publication question comes, and trust me it will, a basic knowledge will let you find what you’re looking for in minutes instead of hours.  You’ll look like a gov docs whiz and impress the boots off of your editor, professor, or boss. 

Summer Online Content Suggestions

Summertime is fast approaching, which means it’s time for our annual summer reading suggestions!

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Every year we solicit summer reading suggestions from the Georgia State Law faculty. We usually purchase any books not available in our collection and add them to a summer faculty leisure reading suggestions display. Once it’s time to take the display down, the books are then added to the Law Library Leisure Collection.

Due to the new remoteness of all of our work, we’ve decided to change things up a bit.  Instead of asking for physical books that we can buy, we decided to ask faculty and staff for online content like blogs, videos, or really anything else they enjoy while away from the law school or relaxing at home.  Below are the answers we received… Enjoy!

*The recommendation list will be updated as submissions are received.

Pam Brannon

Bon Appetit – Bon Appétit is an “opinionated food brand” with it’s own YouTube channel. The channel features video content of recipes that everyone can create at home. There’s even a video with DeAndre Jordan cooking vegan pancakes!

Meg Butler

This summer I am considering a trial of the not-so-new Disney Plus service. There seems to be multiple options available to make my family happy, like Sophia and the Marvel heroes and villains. I, however, am most excited about July 3, 2020. According to the man himself (Lin Manuel Miranda), the Hamilton film will be available for streaming. We had tickets (a gross indulgence of my children and my own impulsivity) for the show at the Fox. I’m not sure how I feel about seeing the live show in August, but I’m super excited to be able to stream it from the comfort of my living room. Now that we are working from home, it sure seems to be “the room where it happened”!

Kris Niedringhaus

Buried Truths – Peabody Award-winning podcast. “Buried Truths acknowledges and unearths still-relevant stories of injustice, resilience and racism in the American South. The podcast is hosted by journalist, professor, and Pulitzer-prize-winning author, Hank Klibanoff.”

The Slowdown – 5 minutes of poetry and commentary from The Slowdown podcast or email newsletter.

A History of the World – A History of the World in 100 Objects from the BBC and The British Museum.

Recipes – A variety of recipes from Food52.

Patrick Parsons

Pasta Grannies – It’s exactly what it sounds like – short videos of older Italian grandmas making homemade pasta.  It sounds underwhelming, but I think it’s the best thing on the internet.

Cassandra Patterson

Goalcast – A “content production powerhouse”, Goalcast provides videos and other content intended to empower people authentically using real-life stories. It provides resources and practical advice to help motivate people.

Summer Westlaw & Lexis Access

WestLexis-holding-hands-on-beach-3727554Westlaw and Lexis have historically altered their access policy for students and recent graduates during the summer. The Law Library has recently received an update from both Sue Moore at Westlaw and Brittany Conklin at Lexis. Westlaw and Lexis will provide summer access as described below.

Access and Restrictions for Rising 2Ls and 3Ls

Lexis

Law students will automatically have free unlimited use of their law school Lexis Advance ID this summer. No registration is required.

Westlaw

You do not have to do anything to gain access to Westlaw over the summer.  However, there are use restrictions.

You may only use Westlaw 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 specific client at a law firm. Examples of permissible uses for your academic password include the following but are not limited to:

  • Summer coursework or any type of academic research
  • Research Assistant assignments
  • Law Review or Journal research
  • Moot Court or any trial competition research
  • Non-Profit work
  • Clinical work
  • Externship/Internship sponsored by the school

Access for Graduating 3Ls

Lexis

Updated 5/11/2020.  Lexis has extended their access through Feb 2021.

Graduates may access Lexis for free through December 31, 2020 February 28, 2021. No registration is required.

Westlaw

You must register for Graduate access.

Your access is “normal” until May 31, 2020. Starting June 1st and ending November 30, 2020, graduates will have extended Westlaw and Practical Law access for 60 hours per month for six months. This access is part of your academic subscription and there is no charge for this extended access.

To check if you signed up, graduates can go to lawschool.tr.com, sign on with their user name and password, and click on their name in the top right corner. They will see a link there for “Grad Access Status” and they can see if they have already extended. Graduates can extend at any time during the 6 month period but grad access will end on November 30, 2020. Any questions about Westlaw grad access, please email Sue at sue.moore@tr.com.