Library

Dr. Carla Hayden, the Next Librarian of Congress?

President Obama nominated Dr. Carla Hayden to be our next Librarian of Congress. If the Senate consents she will be the first female Librarian of Congress, a post which hasn’t been filled by a professional trained librarian in many years.  Dr. Hayden’s nomination has been supported by more than 140 Libraries and Non-Profits. On April 20, she gave her opening statement to Congress, “Of all the titles I’ve had in my professional career I’m most proud to be called a librarian.” Watch the complete hearing here: http://cs.pn/240aL5p. The acting Librarian of Congress is David Mao, a lawyer and librarian by training who held the post Law Librarian of Congress.

April is Poetry Month!

Ven-Fuel was convicted of fraudulent acts,
By the Trial Court’s finding of adequate facts.
We think it likely that fraud took place,
But Materiality was not shown in this case.
So while the Government will no doubt be annoyed,
We declare the conviction null and void.

U.S. v. Ven-Fuel, Inc., 602 F.2d 747, 748 (C.A.Fla., 1979). Written by Judge John R. Brown.
Ven-Fuel had been convicted of importing fuel oil under an import license obtained by fraudulent statements, but the appellate court found the statements not material. The entire poem is 14 lines, and an elegant summary of the case.

April is Poetry Month! Part 2

In our last blog post we celebrated Poetry Month with a poem from Fisher v. Lowe, 122 Mich.Ct. App. 418 (1983). Here’s an Easter Egg: Westlaw, in its summary of the case, responded with a poem of their own:

A wayward Chevy struck a tree
Whose owner sued defendants three.
He sued car’s owner, driver too,
And insurer for what was due
For his oak tree that now may bear

A lasting need for tender care.

The Oakland County Circuit Court,
John N. O’Brien, J., set forth
The judgment that defendants sought

And quickly an appeal was brought.

Court of Appeals, J.H. Gillis, J.,
Gave thought and then had this to say:
1) There is no liability
Since No-Fault grants immunity;
2) No jurisdiction can be found
Where process service is unsound;
And thus the judgment, as it’s termed,

Is due to be, and is,

Affirmed.

April is Poetry Month!

We thought that we would never see
A suit to compensate a tree.
A suit whose claim in tort is prest
Upon a mangled tree’s behest;
A tree whose battered trunk was prest
Against a Chevy’s crumpled crest;
A tree that faces each new day
With bark and limb in disarray;
A tree that may forever bear
A lasting need for tender care.
Flora lovers though we three,
We must uphold the court’s decree.
Affirmed.

Fisher v Lowe, 122 Mich.Ct. App. 418, 419, 333 N.W.2d 67 (1983), written by J. H. Gillis for a three judge panel. The trial court had granted summary judgment for the defendant.

If the poem sounds familiar, it is based on Joyce Kilmer’s Trees.

Judicial Appointments eBooks at SU

With President Obama’s recent Supreme Court nomination, judicial appointments have been in the news. If you’re interested in learning more about judicial appointments from the comfort of your home, check out these eBooks from Seattle University’s Library:

Two-Fer Electing a President and a Supreme Court by Clint Bolick (2012)

Available at: ebrary Academic Complete. Publisher’s Description:

Constitutional scholar Clint Bolick examines the importance of judicial nominations in current and future political campaigns—not just in campaigns for president but also for the senators who confirm the nominees and the governors who appoint state court judges. He offers his opinion of the framers’ original intentions—that the judiciary play a robust role in curbing abuses of government power and protecting individual rights—and provides both a historical perspective and a look at the courts’ decisions on today’s most contentious issues.

Court Nominations Issues in Nomination and Confirmation by Peter C. Kesterhoff (2009)

Available at: ebrary Academic Complete. Publisher’s Description:

This new book sheds light on whether Senate processing of lower court nominations, particularly to the courts of appeals, has tended over recent decades to slow down in presidential election years. The report begins by reviewing recent debate, and historical events dating back to 1980, concerning whether the Senate and its Judiciary Committee customarily observe a practice referred to as the “Thurmond rule.” Next, the report provides narratives on each presidential election year from 1980 to 2004, reviewing Senate and committee actions taken on court of appeals and district court nominations in each of the years. The book then compares these years quantitatively, examining the number and percent of nominations processed and the last dates of committee and Senate action taken. Findings include the following: Senators of both parties at different times have spoken of their expectations of a drop-off in processing of judicial nominations occurring earlier in presidential election years than in other years. However, there is no written Senate or Judiciary Committee rule — nor was any bipartisan agreement reached during the 1980-2004 period — concerning judicial nominations in presidential election years.

Advice and Dissent The Struggle to Shape the Federal Judiciary by Sarah A. Binder & Forrest Maltzman (2009)

Available at: ebrary Academic Complete. Publisher’s Description:

For better or worse, federal judges in the United States today are asked to resolve some of the nation’s most important and contentious public policy issues. Although some hold onto the notion that federal judges are simply neutral arbiters of complex legal questions, the justices who serve on the Supreme Court and the judges who sit on the lower federal bench are in fact crafters of public law. In recent years, for example, the Supreme Court has bolstered the rights of immigrants, endorsed the constitutionality of school vouchers, struck down Washington D.C.’s blanket ban on handgun ownership, and most famously, determined the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. The judiciary now is an active partner in the making of public policy.

Advice and Consent : The Politics of Judicial Appointments by Lee Epstein & Jeffrey A. Segal (2005)

Available at: ebrary Academic Complete. Publisher’s Description:

From Louis Brandeis to Robert Bork to Clarence Thomas, the nomination of federal judges has generated intense political conflict. With the coming retirement of one or more Supreme Court Justices–and threats to filibuster lower court judges–the selection process is likely to be, once again, the center of red-hot partisan debate. In Advice and Consent, two leading legal scholars, Lee Epstein and Jeffrey A. Segal, offer a brief, illuminating Baedeker to this highly important procedure, discussing everything from constitutional background, to crucial differences in the nomination of judges and justices, to the role of the Judiciary Committee in vetting nominees. Epstein and Segal shed light on the role played by the media, by the American Bar Association, and by special interest groups (whose efforts helped defeat Judge Bork). Though it is often assumed that political clashes over nominees are a new phenomenon, the authors argue that the appointment of justices and judges has always been a highly contentious process–one largely driven by ideological and partisan concerns. The reader discovers how presidents and the senate have tried to remake the bench, ranging from FDRs controversial court packing scheme to the Senates creation in 1978 of 35 new appellate and 117 district court judgeships, allowing the Democrats to shape the judiciary for years. The authors conclude with possible reforms, from the so-called nuclear option, whereby a majority of the Senate could vote to prohibit filibusters, to the even more dramatic suggestion that Congress eliminate a judges life tenure either by term limits or compulsory retirement. With key appointments looming on the horizon, Advice and Consent provides everything concerned citizens need to know to understand the partisan rows that surround the judicial nominating process.

Check out this handy guide for information on how to use eBooks at SU.

Hacking the Law

Read about one lawyer’s path from government attorney to legal hacker in Innovate by Embracing Your Inner (and Outer) Hackers. This is one way to promote access to justice – ability to code is optional.

The Dangers of Innovation

Read about the MIT students who were investigated by the New Jersey Attorney General for their student project. The university was unable to provide legal assistance to the students while they faced legal challenges for months. As a result, a new conference on the Freedom to Innovate will be held at MIT in October.

Law Day

May 1 is Law Day. This year’s theme for law day is the Magna Carta. The “Great Charter” is 800 years old this year. As the American Bar Association says: “Perhaps more than any other document in human history, Magna Carta has come to embody a simple but enduring truth: No one, no matter how powerful, is above the law.” The ABA site also has a tool kit and coloring pages for the enjoyment of people of all ages.

Justice Scalia Immortalized on Stage

Justice Scalia is the subject of the new play “The Originalist.” “The play is set in the Supreme Court term that ended in June 2013 with a major victory for gay rights. In the play, Justice Scalia debates that case and others with a liberal law clerk, and their odd-couple relationship, with antagonism shading into affection, gives the play its shape. ‘This is a boxing match,’ said Ms. Smith, the director. ‘What the play does is what any good play does: It humanizes the combatants.'”

Methow Valley Cabin Fight Brings Property Rights Issues Into Focus

Seattle architect Tom Kundig built a cabin on a ridge near Mazama, causing a groundswell of outrage among valley property owners. While other Methow Valley areas have the controversial “Ridge Buster” homes, Mazama prides itself on preserving and respecting the natural landscape. Residents have called the cabin “an extended third finger,” a “boil,” a “blight” and a “wart” to a Mazama area. A week long trial was held in August. “Fans of property law can peruse 180 pages of trial documents about who has standing in the lawsuit, and what the wording in the covenant actually meant.”