We the People: A Constitutional Day Miscellany

Constitution Day September 17th

September 17, 1787. 229 years ago tomorrow the drafters of the U.S. Constitution gathered to sign the document they created. Constitution Day was established by Congress in 2004 and since then, schools and universities in the U.S. have celebrated Constitution Day on September 17.


Each educational institution that receives Federal funds
for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United
States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students
served by the educational institution. (Pub. L. No. 108-447, § 111, 118 Stat. 2809, 3344 (2004)).

Trivia question: Pub. L. No. 108-447 also designated the National Tree.
What is the National Tree of the United States?


This year Constitution Day is being celebrated at the University of Montana on September 20 with a public lecture by Orin S. Kerr titled The Digital Fourth Amendment. The lecture will be held at 7:00 pm in Room 101 of the Law School.


Barry Faulkner's Constitutional Mural depicing signers of the U.S. Constitution

How many of the Signers can you name? (Answers)







The National Archives has some fun resources for observing Constitution Day, including an interesting of set of constitutional “trivia” questions. How many of these can you get right? (Answers)

  • How many lawyers were members of the Constitutional Convention?
  • Who was called the “Sage of the Constitutional Convention”?
  • Who was called the “Father of the Constitution”?
  • What did Thomas Jefferson have to do with framing the Constitution?
  • Who presided over the Constitutional Convention?
  • How long did it take to frame the Constitution?
  • Did George Washington sign the Declaration of Independence?
  • In ratifying the Constitution, did the people vote directly?
  • In what order did the States ratify the Constitution?
  • Is it possible to impeach a justice of the Supreme Court?
  • Who administers the oath of office to the Speaker of the House of Representatives?
  • Which is the longest term of office in the government, aside from judges?
  • How many methods of electing the President of the United States were considered by the Constitutional Convention?
  • What constitutes the Bill of Rights?
  • How many amendments to the Constitution have been repealed?

A couple other pages of interest from the National Archives:


The National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution allows users to explore the meanings of the Constitution through the discussions of expert Constitutional scholars representing a variety of viewpoints.


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What’s on Class Reserve in the Law Library?

Currently there are two principles guiding class reserve materials for law school courses.   Note: I am not addressing Moodle materials or facpacs – just the materials kept behind the circulation desk in the Law Library.

  1.    Required texts for required classes.

This category is straight forward. These are the same required books you will find at the bookstore.

2.   Materials that are placed on reserve at the request of the course instructor.

This category is less straight forward because it often includes the required texts for non-required classes. This sometimes leads people to believe that all required texts are on reserve in the library – not true.

If you have further questions about law school class reserves at the Law Library, please don’t hesitate to ask a library staff member or email me at phil.cousineau@umontana.edu

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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.


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


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.


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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