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!



Montana’s Haunted Legal Places

The logic of the law doesn’t make it immune to strange goings on and perhaps even hauntings. The stories of Montana’s reportedly haunted places are interesting. Here are a few with legal ties.

photo of Hotel Meade in Bannack. Two story brick building.The Meade Hotel in Bannack was built in 1875 as the Beaverhead County Courthouse. When the county seat was moved to Dillon only a few years later, the courthouse sat empty until it became a hotel and, for a while, a hospital. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of Dorothy Dunn, who drowned nearby when she was a teenager. She now appears wearing a blue dress, mostly to children. She isn’t the hotels only ghostly resident though and an older woman has been seen looking out a second floor window. The ghost town of Bannack, now a state part, is said to be haunted by a gang of outlaws, all of whom were executed there.

The Butte-Silverbow County Courthouse is said to be haunted by the ghost of Miles Fuller, who was executed in 1906 for killing a prospector. An odd happening with his casket left some believing he was innocent, the reason his restless spirit now wanders the grounds behind the courthouse where the gallows he was hanged on were erected. The old courthouse was torn down, but the current courthouse sits adjacent to the old grounds, still haunted by Fuller’s ghost. For more stories of haunted courthouses, see this photo gallery from the ABA Journal and this story from the Texas Bar Journal.

It’s a bit scary to be in the law school alone at night but it would be even scarier to be alone in the original law school building. The law school was originally housed in Jeannette Rankin Hall, one of the oldest buildings on the UM campus. With it’s seemingly floating floors, it is not hard to believe Rankin Hall is haunted. It is said to be haunted by a whole class of students attending a old lecture on one of the upper floors. There is no indication it is a law lecture, but maybe it was. Rankin Hall may also still be home to a professor who loved his job so much he didn’t want to retire. Closer to the current law school building, the basement of Brantly Hall is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a student who committed suicide there when her family lost their ranch in the 1929 stock market crash (it was a dormitory at the time).

Perhaps the most haunted of all is the Montana Territorial Prison in Deer Lodge. Both the prison and many of its inmates were notorious and the prison, now a museum (a really creepy one), has seen all sorts of paranormal activity. Two violent events may underlie some of the reported hauntings. In 1908, two prisoners attempted to escape. During the failed attempt, a deputy warden was killed and the warden was severely injured when he was stabbed in the back. Both prisoners were hanged in the prison. In 1959, another attempted escape, this time of about a dozen men, sparked a violent three-day riot. Again, the deputy warden was killed. The warden and others were held hostage while the riot raged. The riot was finally quelled by the National Guard but as the Guard moved in the two ringleaders died in a murder-suicide. Only possible prison ghost died not in a violent event, but of natural causes. “Turkey Pete” Eitner died in his cell at the age of 89 while serving a life sentence for murder. Turkey Pete was well-liked by the prison staff. His cell, (Cell #1) still contains photos of him, along with a few of his belongings– and perhaps his spirit.



October 1

As of October 1, “[t]he soil series known as Scobey, of the taxonomic class fine, smectitic, frigid Aridic Argiustolls, is the official Montana state soil.” Also as of yesterday, Montana’s new hard-won bullying statute finally took effect. However, if you don’t have your own print copy of the Montana Code Annotated or have access to a library with a print copy, you may not know that because even though most laws passed by the 2015 Montana Legislature went into effect yesterday, yesterday there were no available electronic versions of the 2015 Montana Code Annotated (MCA). Today, Lexis and Bloomberg Law have the updated code. Westlaw and Fastcase still have the previous code, but they at least link to the updates– a good interim step between the end of the legislative session in April and the publication of the new code in October, though it’s not ideal and hopefully won’t be the status quo for long. Inexplicably, Montana Legislative Services, the publisher of the MCA, still has the 2014 MCA without even an indication that statutes may be out of date. The print versions of the 2015 MCA have been sitting on shelves for a couple weeks. The online version is usually published simultaneous to, if not before, the print version so it is a surprise that is has not yet been posted– a disappointing surprise.

Given that there is free print access to the MCA and at least some electronic access, this post may seem unnecessarily grouchy. But Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law and Fastcase all require that researchers have a subscription. They are excellent research services, but most Montanans cannot access them. Although the Montana Legislative Services online version is not an official version of the MCA, it is a reliable version and is virtually the only access many Montana citizens have to the laws that govern them. There is no requirement that the Code Commissioner publish the online version, but there is a  policy argument to be made that without the online version, Montanans constitutional right to participate and right to now are not given full effect.

The legislature doesn’t just pass laws for the sake of passing them, nor does Legislative Services publish them just because the legislature passed them. Laws affect people’s lives. The MCA is published because people really do need access to the laws. Publication of the MCA should not be the goal; providing access to the MCA to the citizens of Montana should be the goal.

There’s a New Blog in Town

In the 1930s S.R. Ranganathan formulated his five laws of library science:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his / her book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.

In 2004 librarian Alireza Noruzi applied these laws to the internet:

  1. Web resources are for use.
  2. Every reader his / her web resource.
  3. Every web resource its user.
  4. Save the time of the user.
  5. The web is a growing organism.

And now I will apply the laws of library science to weblogs or blogs.

  1. Blogs are for use.
  2. Every reader his / her Blog.
  3. Every Blog its user.
  4. Save the time of the Blogger.
  5. Blogs are a growing organism.

Save the time of the blogger? What does that mean? I realize that its not a perfect application of the laws of library science but it helps to illustrate a point: There is very likely a blog about almost anything you can think up. Try it. Just add the word “blog” to your google search. It is surprising how much knowledge, information, insight and advice people have to share.

Recently, Professor Bari Burke created a blog about the first women admitted to the Montana bar called “Montana’s Early Women Lawyers: Trail-blazing, Big Sky Sisters-in Law“.

Professor Burke focuses on women attorneys in Montana between 1899 and 1950 by providing biographical and anecdotal information on each woman admitted to the Montana Bar. Professor Burke also provides some historical statistics and lists significant events for women lawyers in Montana. Her blog is kept up to date with entries that consist of historical newspaper clippings that address some aspect of the status of women practicing law in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Visit Montana’s Early Women Lawyers for a fascinating study of how women participated in the legal profession in Montana’s early years.

We the People of Montana

1884 Preamble
1884 Montana Constitution

This is my favorite quote from the 1889 Montana Constitutional Convention transcripts:

I must say that the ladies are very fond of this smoky city, as [Butte] is sometimes called, because there is just enough arsenic there to give them a beautiful complexion, and that is the reason the ladies of Butte are renowned wherever they go for their beautiful complexions. (Laughter). … Now talking about this smoke, I believe there are times when there is smoke settling over the city, but I say it would be a great deal better for other cities in the territory if they had more smoke and less diphtheria and other diseases. It has been believed by all the physicians of Butte that the smoke that sometimes prevails there is a disinfectant, and destroys the microbes that constitute the germs of disease. … [I]t would be a great advantage for the other cities, as I have said, to have a little more smoke and business activity and less disease.

I can’t claim to have read the entire 974-page transcript, but this is such a gem I can’t help but declare it my favorite passage. It actually is a very small part of a wonderfully funny speech by the mining-magnate William A. Clark, who is not generally regarded by history as being funny. This passage is part of a debate about where the capitol should be located during which he extolled the virtues of Butte, then a bustling hub of mining activity.

Montana has had only two constitutions, the 1889 Constitution that established our statehood, and the 1972 Constitution. Montanans had also adopted earlier constitutions, one in 1884 in support of a bid for statehood, which was denied by Congress for political reasons, and one in 1886, the only copy of which was lost before it was even printed. One legend is that it fell out of a saddle bag on its way to Minneapolis where the closest printing press was.

The 1972 Montana Constitution has been touted for its progressive ideas that protect Montana ideals: privacy, public participation, liberty, human dignity, and environmental protection. This makes the Constitution an interesting document to research, both for the lawyers and politicians who apply its provisions and scholars who look to it as both a historical and modern legal document.

Constitutional researchers are usually trying to answer one (or both) of these questions: 1) how has a certain provision been interpreted and applied; or 2) what is history of this provision? Here are some helpful sources and research hints for researching the Montana Constitution.

  1. Start by looking up the provision in the Montana Code Annotated/Montana Code Annotated Annotations in print or on Lexis or Westlaw. The “annotations” (called “notes of decisions” in the electronic versions) are summaries of the cases that apply and interpret the provision you are looking at. If you are on Lexis/Westlaw, also look at the “credits” at the end of the provision. They will show which provisions originated in the 1889 Constitution which will help if you are going to look more into the background of the provision.
  2. Look for law review articles. Law review articles will provide a scholarly discussion of the provision. Montana Law Review is an especially good source for Montana constitutional issues, but look broader as well to see how the Montana Constitution is being discussed by scholars elsewhere. However, you have to be especially aware of the scope of your source. Westlaw only has Montana Law Review back to 1994 (with selected coverage back to 1985); Lexis only has it back to 1999. If you are trying to determine the contemporary discussion– what were scholars writing about the Montana Constitution when it was new– Lexis and Westlaw are not good sources. Instead, try the Scholarly Forum @ UM Law, which has full-text of all issues of the Montana Law Review back to the first and everything (almost) published by UM Law faculty regardless of where it was published.
  3. Read the debates in the transcripts of the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention. Researchers are fortunate that there is a complete record of the Montana Constitutional Convention. The 8 volume set contains delegate proposals, committee reports, verbatim transcripts and an index that allows you to locate relevant portions of the debate by article and section. The Jameson Law Library has several copies of the print set and it is online courtesy of the State Law Library of Montana. In addition to the transcripts, the Library also has copies of the the memos, studies and occasional papers the delegates used as they were drafting and debating. These sources may provide insight into some of the sources and issues underlying the discussions.
  4. Research the ratification. When we research the “legislative history” of a statute, we are most often looking for the intent of the legislators who enacted the statute. Constitutions, however, are not enacted by a legislature– they are ratified by the people. Although the transcripts can provide insight into what the delegates discussed and what their concerns were and even what their intent was, the intent that may be most relevant is the intent of the people who ratified the Constitution. What did they think a particular provision meant? This is tricky (but really interesting) research. The Convention published a newspaper insert with the official text and brief explanations of the new new Constitution. This would have been widely distributed and likely was the document that would have been read by the largest number of people. Editorials and letters to the editors will provide great insight into what people were talking about and concerned with, but the discussions will be more localized. A historical newspaper database like the Access Newspaper Archive (available on the UM campus through Mansfield Library) is a good way to conduct this type of research. For coverage from Missoula, the Missoula Public Library has a searchable index to the Missoulian and both the Missoula Public Library and Mansfield Library have issues of the newspaper back to the earliest issues on microfiche.

A few other sources for your research:

  • 1889 Montana Constitution. The transcripts of the proceedings are available in print at the Jameson Library and the State Law Library but they aren’t online. The index to the Proceedings is online from the State Law Library.
  • 1884 Montana Constitution. The transcripts of the proceedings of the 1884 constitutional convention are available in print, but they are handwritten and not indexed.
  • Larry M. Elison & Fritz Snyder, The Montana Constitution: A Reference Guide (Greenwood Press 2001). This book is an excellent resource covering both the constitutional drafting & debates and constitutional interpretation.
  • Jameson Law Library Montana Legal Research webpage. The Montana Constitution section of this website links to many of the resources discussed above.
  • University of Montana Mansfield Library. Use the “Search library resources” search box to search for additional books and journals that discuss the Montana Constitution from other academic viewpoints.

Legislative Intent – part 1 1999-2015

What does “legislative intent” mean? Generally it refers to what the legislature meant or  intended when they passed a law and specifically it refers to what the committee members of the House or Senate said when they discussed a bill before it became a law.

The method of accessing documents that help determine legislative intent varies depending on the year that a law was enacted or amended.   Part 1 of our series on legislative intent will cover 1999 to 2015.

In the Montana Code Annotated the history of each statute is provided at the end of the statute. We are told when the law was enacted and when, if ever, it was amended.

For example, imagine that we wanted to know about the legislative intent of  MT 39-2-904.  Here is the statute as it appears in the Montana Code Annotated:

39-2-904. Elements of wrongful discharge — presumptive probationary period. (1) A discharge is wrongful only if:
(a) it was in retaliation for the employee’s refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy;
(b) the discharge was not for good cause and the employee had completed the employer’s probationary period of employment; or
(c) the employer violated the express provisions of its own written personnel policy.
(2) (a) During a probationary period of employment, the employment may be terminated at the will of either the employer or the employee on notice to the other for any reason or for no reason.
(b) If an employer does not establish a specific probationary period or provide that there is no probationary period prior to or at the time of hire, there is a probationary period of 6 months from the date of hire.

History: En. Sec. 4, Ch. 641, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 583, L. 2001

The history is provided at the bottom of the statute. It tells us that the law was originally enacted in 1987 and amended in 2001. Specifically it was amended in Section 2, of Chapter 583 of Laws of Montana  2001. We will focus on the legislative intent of the 2001 amendment. The crucial things to catch here are the chapter number and the year. With these two items we can find the bill number, the committee name, dates of the hearing and, usually but not always, the committee meeting notes. From 1999 to the current year this information will be online. The easiest way to proceed through the next few sections is to open two browser windows: one to follow the links and one to read my instructions. Here’s how it works.

First take note of the year and chapter (2001, chapter 583). Go to the Montana legislature website .

Montana Legislature_Page_1

and click on  “Session”, then “Past Sessions”

Montana Legislature_ Sessions

Then select “2001 Regular Session”  Scroll down to and select “2001 LAWS Session Information

Now select “Look Up Bill Information”  from the very top of the page.

LAWS Current Session Home Page

At this page you can enter the chapter number that you noted earlier (chapter 583).

LAWS Look Up Bill Information Page_Page_1

The result of searching for chapter 583 is a new page that provides the history on the bill that amended the original law.   What you will need from this page are the bill name, the committee names, and the committee hearing dates. In our current example  we are looking at the history of Senate Bill 4 (SB 4).

LAWS Detailed Bill Information Page_Page_1

Although there are many links on this page, none will take you to the transcribed committee hearing notes – Although beginning in 2011, there is a link on this page that will take you to the audio/visual versions of the committee hearings. The critical items to get from this page are the bill number (SB4), the committee name (Senate  Conference Committee), and  the hearing dates (3/23/2001 and 4/19/2001). Note that there was  also a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on January 8, 2001 and a House Judiciary Committee hearing on March 1, 2001.

We have clicked through many  screens to get these three vital facts : the names of the committees, the hearing dates, and the bill number.

Now with these three facts we can return to the 2001 Regular Session Homepage 

Montana Legislature_ Sessions57

Now we click on the link “Committee Minutes”

Montana Legislature_ Sessions57 committee minutes_Page_1

All that remains is to scroll down to “Conference Committees” and then select “Senate Conference Committees”.  Then click on “SB 4 –March 23” to access the committee meeting notes.  There is also a Senate Conference Committee hearing  entry for April 19. Lastly, check the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on the dates noted above (January 8, 2001 and March 1, 2001)  to see  how these committees dealt with SB4.

This brings part 1 to a conclusion. In part 2 we will look at accessing documents that may indicate legislative intent  from 1987-1997.

New Kid in Town

Montana attorneys have a new option for conducting electronic legal research, and this one is free, making it a game-changer for many attorneys who have had limited access to electronic legal research until now. The State Bar of Montana recently contracted with Fastcase to provide research services for Montana attorneys. This week University of Montana Law School students and faculty also gained access to Fastcase.

The Fastcase library contains cases, annotated codes, administrative regulations, constitutions and court rules from all 50 states and federal jurisdictions. In addition, through a partnership with Hein Online, Fastcase users can also research law review articles.

Fastcase has some unique features that set it apart. Fastcase’s relevancy results make sure the most relevant documents are always listed at the top of the results. The results screen weighs the relevancy of each document and in one glance shows how many times each has been cited, making it easy to find both the most relevant and most cited cases at the same time. For researchers who prefer visual cues to numbers, an interactive results map allows researchers to see both most relevant and most cited cases in one visual display. Fastcase’s authority checker doesn’t analyze how citing cases have treated a particular case, but it does show the context in which the case was cited and the language surrounding the citation. In addition, Fastcases’s new Bad Law Bot flags cases that have been treated negatively.

Twenty-five state bar associations now subscribe to Fastcase for their members. If you are a UMSL student or faculty member, you should have received your Fastcase password via email this week; if you didn’t, contact the law library. There will be training opportunities early next semester, but if you want to start trying it out now, there are some video tutorials you can use.

Two pumpkins surrounding a Happy Thanksgiving sign.


The Jameson Law Library Blog will take a break Friday, November 28 for the Thanksgiving Weekend. Look for us again on December 5.