Great Summer Reads 2016

In 1879, the Bucks County Gazette (Bristol, Pennsylvania) published this advice about reading good novels (thank you to Bari Burke for unearthing this gem):

Dr. James Freeman Clarke commends highly the reading of good novels, and lays down a few rules for general use:

  1. Do not read many novels, but read the best ones often.
  2. Read slowly and reflect on what you read.
  3. The good novel is one which leaves your mind in a healthy state, fit for any work, and for daily duty.  It is a refreshment, not a dissipation.  It does not dissipate the strength, but recreates it.
  4. The good novel takes a cheerful view of life, and a kindly view of [wo]men.
  5.  A novel is immoral which assumes that men will go wrong, that society is corrupt, and that it is useless to try to resist evil.  A moral novel is one which makes us feel, that though temptations are around us and within us, we are able, if we will, to battle with and overcome them.

I echo Dr. Clarke’s recommendation of reading good novels and would add my recommendation to read interesting nonfiction as well. I don’t agree with his first “rule” though. Instead, I would amend Rule #1 to read: Read as many good books as you can. And I would add the reminder that summer is a great time to do that. To facilitate that, we are again presenting our annual Great Summer Reads blog.

The books on this list are gathered from faculty, staff, and students. They are a mixture of fiction, non-fiction, law books, non-law books, new books, and old books.

Fiction

thumbnail of cover of Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

thumbnail of cover of swamplandiaSwamplandia! by Karen Russell

The Museum of Extraordinary Things thumbnail of book cover museum of extraordinary thingsby Alice Hoffman

Non-Fiction

thumbnail of cover of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals AreAre We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

thumbnail of cover of lost in shangri laLost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of WWII by Mitchell Zuckoff

thumbnail of cover of abolition democracyAbolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons and Torture by Angela Davis

thumbnail of cover of Black Holes and Other Songs from Outer SpaceBlack Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin

Montana Connections (a new category this year)

thumbnail of cover of The Flood GirlsThe Flood Girls by Richard Fifield

thumbnail of coer of last chain on billieLast Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top by Carol Bradley

And with that, this blog is also going on vacation for the summer. Leave a comment to let us know how you liked the books you selected from the list. Have a great summer– see you in August!

 

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Google Abuse

Google Abuse

[goo-guhl]  [ uh-byoos]

 

  1. Wrong or improper use; misuse.

 

 

  1. Search behavior based on the erroneous belief that Google will find whatever is sought.

 

Although I’m coining the phrase here for the first time (as far as I know), Google abuse is very common. It happens all the time.  Google abuse happens when people attempt to use Google to answer questions or find things that are better answered or found using some other search engine, query, database, process, method, etc.  Google abuse is like using the wrong tool to get a job done: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work very well, and sometimes it totally botches the job. You would not use a hammer to drive in a screw or an eggbeater to cut your lawn, yet people persist in using Google to the exclusion of other resources, often with poor results. Ask any librarian.

Google is a wonderful tool for a vast number of questions. I use it for personal and professional information gathering all the time. I find it very helpful to verify things and to put thing in context. For example, I was recently asked about the prayer for relief aspect of a civil complaint in Montana.  Since I wasn’t sure what the term prayer for relief   meant, I went to Google and gave it a try. I quickly learned that it is the aspect of a complaint where the expectations of relief or remedy in a civil case are spelled out. Pushing my luck (and committing Google Abuse), I mixed the word “Montana” into my google search.  Of course it was a “Google Dead End” (another Google phenomenon where although you have thousands of hits, none of them are appropriate).

In order to integrate my useful Google results about prayer for relief into Montana’s legal structure,  I had to go to another source, namely the Montana Code Annotated and specifically the rules of civil procedure  to learn that the relief aspects of a complaint are addressed in section  8, rule 54. Finding cases where rule 54 was applied to the patron’s specific situation was simply a matter of moving to the MCA annotations.

In this case I used Google to verify a term and provide a context for that term.  It worked  but asking Google to then provide information about how the term fits together with Montana law failed completely.

Here are a couple of indicators that you either are, or are about to, commit Google Abuse.

  1. Your question is complex and very specific yet you hope Google answers it. My reference question above illustrates this. Another example: A professor wanted to know if his published paper appeared in a certain online resource. A google search did not indicate that it was so he concluded that it was not. In fact it was included in the online resource but Google could not make that determination.

 

  1. The first couple of pages of Google results don’t answer your question. Usually the most useful results of a Google search are on the first page, sometimes the second. There is rarely anything useful beyond the second page. If you find yourself looking at the 4th page of a google search, vary your search terms or consider a more appropriate resource.
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The End of the Internet…

Yep, pretty big news. Was it Trump? Kanye West? Apple? The FBI? No, none of them did it.  It was bound to happen from the beginning. Everything has an end, even the internet (well, except for one thing).  See for yourself.

http://hmpg.net/

Now that the internet has ended I guess we’re ready for the next big thing. And what is the next big thing? Spring break, of course!

So put down your laptop and pick up a book. The old fashioned kind, one made out of paper and cardboard, preferably fiction. Pop a top. Relax. Have a great spring break.

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Book Review– The Cold War: Law, Lawyers, Spies and Crises

thumbnail image of the cover of The Cold WarIn the recent Academy Award-nominated movie, Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks plays real-life James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer who was appointed by the Brooklyn Bar Association to defend an accused Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel. In the movie, as in the actual historical event, Donovan successfully argues Abel’s case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned Abel’s initial conviction. Also in the movie, again as in real-life, that was not the end of Donovan and Abel’s story, and Donovan ended up facilitating a prisoner exchange between the CIA and Soviet authorities in Berlin, Abel for U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. The movie thrillingly recounts these events, which happened over a 3 year period from 1957-1960 during the Cold War. Arthur T. Downey’s book, The Cold War: Law, Lawyers, Spies and Crises, not only tells the story just as compellingly, but also places it in the larger context of 40-year long Cold War.

The purpose of Downey’s book is not to retell all the stories of the cold war, but to highlight the role that lawyers played in the conflict. The book is structured not to tell story after story but to place the stories in within thematic contexts: international law, subversives and spies, presidential war powers, the economic cold war. Many events that happened during that time period are not covered in the book– the Pentagon papers and the Viet Nam War, for example. Lawyers were certainly involved, but those topics are too unwieldy, are well-covered elsewhere, and draw from the focus of the book. This book seems to highlight those events where lawyers weren’t just present, but were front and center.

Downey, a lawyer, teacher, diplomat, and government official, writes with a historian’s precision– the 162 pages of text are supported by 495 footnotes– and a writer’s use of language. The book is readable and thrilling, but at the same time adds context, details, and commentary that a movie never could. Two appendices add valuable insight to the topic: Appendix I is a list of Cold War events, starting with the Yalta Conference in 1945 and ending with the establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and the Russian Federation in 1991; Appendix II contains short biographical sketches of some of the lawyers who significantly influenced Cold War events.

Arthur T Downey, The Cold War: Law, Lawyers, Spies and Crises (ABA Publishing 2016).

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Mobile Law App:Part 2 – Best Apps for Lawyers

This week guest blogger, Terry Gilham, brings us the second part of her series on mobile apps for law students and lawyers. Part 1, Best Apps for Law Students, was posted of February 19.

Keynotthumbnail of keynote logoe
For iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch ($9.99 The App Store)

Keynote is Apple’s answer to  Powerpoint for IOS devices. The Keynote iPhone app lets you create presentations from scratch or from one of several dozen included templates. You can also edit existing presentations you’ve saved to an iCloud account or to another app. It is comprehensive in mimicking the desktop experience for creating, editing, and viewing presentations.

thumbnail of trialpad logoTrialpad 4.3
For iPad ($129.99 The App Store)

Trialpad is the Litigation app for organizing and accessing evidence.  It allows for adding files via Dropbox Box, and iCloud using wi-fi or Bluetooth.  You can import photos, quickly edit documents and re-upload via Dropbox.  Reports may be created from the evidence.  Trialpad has 5 presentation tools: Callout, Highlight, Pen Redact and Laser.  It allows for 2 documents side by side for comparison.  It also includes:  Exhibit Sticker and Admitted Exhibit Features; Audio and video capabilities,  ability to mark documents and partial documents as “key documents”.  Provides courtroom presentation capability on iPad and presents wirelessly with AppleTV.

thumbnail of dockelaw logoDocketLaw
For IOS or Android devices.  Pricing is by subscription and is available by State or by Court.

An app for rule based docket calculation and calendaring.  Available for 300 courts in over 30 states.  It is Jurisdiction specific and takes into account federal holidays.  Subscribers can choose only the courts they need.  The app allows a lawyer to manage the docket from anywhere.

thumbnail of audionote logoAudioNote
For iPhone and iPad and Android devices. ($5.99 on GooglePlay, $4.99 from the App Store)

The AudioNote app allows the user to sync audio with their handwritten or typed notes.  Audio is recorded at the same time that you take handwritten or typed notes.  The app automatically indexes meetings, lectures, interviews or study sessions.  Each note acts as a link directly to the point at which it was recorded.  Features include seeking directly to audio by tapping notes; highlighting of notes during playback; and inserting text, drawings, photos and highlighter notes.

thumbnail of camcard logoCamCard
For IOS or Android devices ($6.99)

CamCard is a unique card reader mobile app rather than a physical business card scanner.  It is a convenient way to save business card contacts.  Features include the ability to pull contact information from the card and store it in a contact program file.  It automatically detects and adjusts card images.  In addition, the app can connect to your email and if Microsoft Office is installed, can export contact information to those programs.

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This Week in Legal History

I’m a day late for Throwback Thursday, but in the spirit of thinking about the past, here are some events from this week in legal history, along with some sources for legal history research. Fair warning: this is the kind of research it’s easy to lose a whole day on just because it’s really interesting.

This Week in Legal History

Image from Dred Scott Opinion

March 6, 1857: The U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford issued, holding that because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and could not sue for his freedom. The case also held unconstitutional the Missouri Compromise, which restricted slave ownership in certain territories.

Photograph of Susan B AnthonyMarch 8, 1884: Susan B. Anthony testified in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee for the women’s suffrage and 19th Amendment.

 

 

Illustration of the revolt on board the slave ship Amistad.

Source: A History of the Amistad Captives by John Warner Barber. Electronic edition courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill.

 

March 9, 1841: Amistad slave ship case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

 

 

Button saying old enough to fight old enough to voteMarch 10, 1971: Senate approves 26th Amendment to lower voting age from 21 to 18.

 

 

For more legal history events, see Jurist’s This Day at Law and Findlaw’s Today in Legal History.

Legal History Research

American Memory Project: “American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.” Many of these collections chronicle the history of legal issues and cases. For example, the Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860 contains materials about the Dred Scott case, noted above.  Note that the Library of Congress is in the process of migrating the collections to a new digital collections platform and the legal materials are currently split between the platforms.

Famous Trials: This is an incredible collection of documents, images, testimony, timelines, news coverage, etc. of famous trials going back to the trial of Socrates in 399 B.C. This comprehensive collection is the work of Prof. Douglas O. Linder from UMKC School of Law. This collection includes materials on the trial and conviction of Susan B. Anthony for illegal voting, 13 years before her historic testimony before the Judiciary Committee, noted above.

Hein Legal Classics: The Legal Classics library on HeinOnline contains 6700+ historical law books, including books written by legal scholars like Joseph Story, Jeremy Bentham, William Blackstone, William Holdsworth, Henry Maine, Federick William Maitland, Frederick Pollock, and Benjamin E. Cardozo. The collection includes works dating as far back as pre-1700. HeinOnline is available to University of Montana students and faculty through the Law Library Databases web page.

Making of Modern Law, Legal Treatises 1800-1926: This digital collection includes casebooks, local practice manuals, form books, works for lay readers, pamphlets, letters and speeches that make it an invaluable research tool for 19th Century Anglo-American law. This database is also available to University of Montana students and faculty through the Law Library Databases web page. Other Making of Modern Law collections not available on the UM campus cover primary sources from 1620-1970, trials from 1600-1926, and U.S. Supreme Court records and briefs from 1832-1978.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online: 18th Century Collections Online is a database of full-text works published in England in the 18th century. The full collection is multidisciplinary and covers all academic topics, including almost 10,000 legal titles. This database is also available to University of Montana students and faculty through the Law Library Databases web page.

Legal History on the Web: Compiled by the Triangle Legal History Seminar, this is a comprehensive portal to everything legal history on the internet. In addition to a plethora of research sites, this site also links to scholarship, prizes, and jobs in legal history.

ABA Journal Precedents: ABA Journal’s Precedents feature highlights photographs of some of the most famous events in American law. Each month, the last page of the journal contains a summary and photographs. The Precedents feature is available online on the journals’ website.

Montana’s Early Women Lawyers: And for something local, Prof. Bari Burke’s blog provides insight into the history of women lawyers in Montana, and by extension, early women lawyers across the United States. For more information about this blog, see our earlier blog post, There’s a New Blog in Town.

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Casetext: Making All the World’s Laws Free and Understandable.

Guest blogger Morgan Hoyt is a 2L student at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law. When he became a Casetext Ambassador, we asked him to blog about this new resource.

This spring semester, I became the first Casetext Ambassador at Alexander Blewett III School of Law. I did not know much about Casetext prior to applying for the position. I first heard about it through a classmate and immediately became intrigued after learning that Casetext was a free legal research platform powered by insights from the legal community. The concept of democratizing legal research was intriguing, and I decided to apply because I wanted to get involved. The more I use and work with Casetext, the more I see a future where this becomes the place where lawyers, professors, and law students come together to make the law free and understandable. I’m excited to be a part of helping to increase access to those who would otherwise not have it.

In its simplest form, Casetext is a legal research and writing platform. Its library includes over 8.3 million cases and statutes, and they already have over 500,000 users visiting the site each month. However, what makes Casetext different from other platforms is the commentary and analysis from real life members of the legal coScreenshot of case from Casetextmmunity linked directly to the cases they are discussing. This provides context and gives life to the text of the case that you are researching.

Casetext also has a host of unique features to further aid your research. One of these features is the Heatmap. The Heatmap is a visual aid that helps you quickly navigate a case. It is located on the left hand side of the case, and it appears as a segmented line with varying shades of blue. The darker the color of blue, the more often that section of the case has been cited to. To travel to that section of the case, simply click on that portion of the line. I regularly use this feature when I need to quickly navigate to the crucial sections of a case.

Another unique feature is Judicial Summaries. Judicial Summaries are concise summaries of the key aspects of a decision extracted from explanatory parentheticals. Casetext has used data science to extract these summaries, and who better to provide you with a summary of the case then a subsequent judge? Together with the Heatmap, these two tools add an additional layer of analysis to your legal research.

Outside of providing access to cases and unique tools to better understand them, you can write about the law using Casetext’s writing tool called LegalPad. LegalPad makes it possible for users to easily write about and connect their analysis directly to the law they are discussing. Generally, these posts are in reference to either a recent court case or regard the contributor’s area of expertise. A great example of this is Doug Hallward-Driemeier’s post regarding the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges merely nine days after the Court issued their opinion.

Casetext has organized thisscreenshot of Casetext communities page kind of analysis into legal communities. After signing up, users can follow the communities or legal practices areas they are most interested in (e.g. Criminal Law). Each community has a feed similar to one you would see on Facebook so you can stay up to date on what members of that legal community are currently talking about. In my opinion, this is one of the coolest features of Casetext because you can easily stay up to date, and this is a great resource for students who are looking for current topics to write on.

A final feature of Casetext I want to highlight is the WeCite project. The WeCite project demonstrates just how Casetext is truly driving the democratization of legal research. WeCite is Casetext’s version of Shepardizing, but they are building it through crowdsourcing. Last semester, Casetext developed the WeCite project into an exclusive contest for law students, and it has really taken off with students from over 100 law schools participating. It is really easy to get involved, and I encourage students to check it out. All students have to do is go to casetext.com/wecite and sign up. You are then presented with a case and asked how a citation highlighted within that case is being treated. You then choose from one of four relationships to describe the relationship with points being awarded and prizes earned at certain milestones. As a student, I have found WeCite to be particularly helpful. By reading and analyzing citation treatments, my reading comprehension has greatly increased in both speed and accuracy, and I have also earned awesome prizes for my WeCites.

Overall, I have found Casetext to be extremely user friendly with a number of very useful features. It is easy to sign up and free. The access to the communities and blog posts alone make this service worth adding to your research routine. To sign up, head over to https://casetext.com. Do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about Casetext!

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