Nov. 27: 9a.m. – 5p.m.

Nov. 28-30: Closed

Dec. 1 : 10:30a.m.- 8p.m.

Last month the Supreme Court announced it would address the issue of the death penalty and the mentally disabled. The scenario is one that Cornell Professor John Blume has published on frequently throughout his career and he has recently been quoted in media reports detailing the court’s decision to clarify its death penalty jurisprudence by granting cert in Hall v. Florida.

In Hall, the defendant faces the death penalty in Florida and the Court is considering whether his situation mirrors that of the Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002) when the court held that executions of mentally disabled criminals are ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

The Scholarship@Cornell Law repository is featuring two of Blume’s publications dealing directly with Atkins and the issue of mental disability in death penalty cases.

The first, co-authored with Sheri Lynn Johnson and Christopher Seeds is titled An Empirical Look at Atkins v. Virginia and its Application in Capital Cases, 76 Tenn. L. Rev. 625 (2009). The article looks at data of decisions post-Atkins to examine the implications it has had on factually similar cases. The second, Of Atkins and Men: Deviations from Clinical Definitions of Mental Retardation in Death Penalty Cases, 18 Cornell J. L. & Pol’y 689 (2009) also co-authored with Johnson and Seeds, examines the cross-jurisdictional similarities and differences of how states’ define mental disability post-Atkins.

For more on the latest scholarly articles from Professor Blume and the rest of the law school faculty visit the repository at Scholarship@Cornell Law.

The Law Library is pleased to announce that it now has four additional laptops (total of six) available for students, faculty and staff to borrow.

All laptops are equipped with wireless internet access and the full Microsoft Office Suite.  Laptops may be checked out for 24 hours.

Dear Students:

To better accommodate your needs, and currently a pilot program, there is a new designated space in the library for eating.  Students are welcome to bring food to the tables located by the third floor copy room at any time of the day.  Please be considerate of other library users and housekeeping staff and clean up after yourself in order to maintain a pleasant environment for all.  Receptacles are provided for waste and recyclables. 

The no-food rule remains in effect for the remainder of the library, including the Reading Room, stacks, and carrel areas.   Drinks in covered containers are allowed throughout the library.

We appreciate your assistance in keeping the library clean and pest-free.  Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

U.S. Supreme CourtWhen members of the legal community think about legal scholarship, what typically comes to mind is the concept of a print law journal (e.g., the Cornell Law Review, the Cornell Journal of Law & Public Policy, the Cornell International Law Journal, etc.).  These works undoubtedly serve a very important function, but I wanted to write a bit about another relevant legal journal sited at Cornell Law School: the LII Supreme Court Bulletin.  I am fairly familiar with this Web site, having served as an LII editor during the 2009-10 academic year (my now-outdated biography is viewable here).  The LII Supreme Court Bulletin (“Liibulletin”) contains previews of cases on the Supreme Court’s (“SCOTUS”) docket.  Because the previews are written with recourse to the relevant parties’ submitted briefs (the full versions of which are usually available here) and are published before the decisions are handed down, the previews generally reflect a balanced view of the legal issues unaffected by the bias of hindsight.

Liibulletin is a fantastic resource for people who are interested in keeping abreast of SCOTUS cases, but don’t have tons of free time to do so (e.g., law students who have more than enough assigned reading for courses).  But one of the really neat things about LII bulletin is that it is particularly comprehensible and may be utilized by people without legal educations or backgrounds.  In order to ensure that LII previews remain accessible to lay persons, all the previews contain hyperlinks to a free legal dictionary and encyclopedia called Wex.  You will also note, by the way, that this dictionary, although frequently embedded within Liibulletin, is its own free-standing resource.

Each preview contains the following sections:

(1) A few key subject areas and descriptive terms.  These lists of terms are useful since anyone can perform a subject-matter search in Liibulletin across SCOTUS terms.

(2) An executive summary.  This section, which is emailed to all Liibulletin subscribers, succinctly identifies the relevant facts, issues, and arguments of the case.  It also generally addresses the legal (and, if relevant, nonlegal) significance(s) of the case.

(3) Itemized questions presented. These are copied verbatim as provided on the Supreme Court’s case schedule.

(4) Itemized issues.  As I mentioned earlier, Liibulletin is published with the underlying goal of making the law accessible to the public.  In this way, this section can be thought of as a simplification of the questions presented section.

(5) Factual narrative.  Predictably, this section tells a balanced story of the case and discusses facts pertinent to the controversy before the Court.

(6) Discussion.  This is the section that focuses on the greater picture.  It calls into question the consequences of the case from largely a policy perspective.  This section more or less explains the importance of the case.

(7) Analysis.  The analysis section is a detailed and balanced analysis and explanation of the legal issues before the Court.  It typically goes beyond summarizing the parties’ briefs and actually synthesizes the lower courts’ opinions and the briefs submitted by amici curiae.

(8) Conclusion.  The conclusion essentially restates the executive summary by tying everything together.  Once in a while, LII editors will include their own opinions about how the Court should rule.

(9) Additional Sources.  Each preview concludes with a list of additional legal sources that discuss the case.

I absolutely encourage anyone (or better yet, everyone) with an interest in learning about the Supreme Court’s docket to peruse the previews. If you’d like to have the previews sent directly to your email address, you can subscribe to Liibulletin here.

Daniel Shatz, Cornell Law School 3L Student

Photo courtesy of dbking’s Flickr stream.

EU flagAs an associate editor of the Cornell International Law Journal and as an exchange student at the University of Amsterdam, there have been times when I have had to quickly familiarize myself with the substantive law of the European Union.  With very little knowledge of the EU legal system, I relied heavily on law blogs to give me the background necessary to conduct research, cite court cases, and write an intelligible paper on an unfamiliar issue.  Below are a couple of the sites that I have found to be very helpful jumping off points.

One great website, geared toward students, academics, and professors, provides excellent summaries of recent cases: EU Law Blog.  It also gives detailed background information, breaking down some of the more difficult concepts of EU law.  The author cites to relevant case law often, and includes hyperlinks to official versions of the cases, making corroborating the information quick and easy.  The only drawbacks of the website are that there is no information about the author, and occasionally the posts, though informative, sound politically charged.  Additionally, the site is not comprehensive, in that you cannot find any and all European Court of Justice cases.  However, the posts are categorized by subject matter, making searching simple.  Although it is probably not a source to ultimately use as authority, it is a great tool in understanding a complex legal system.

Another website that I found useful is the European Court of Justice Blog.  This website is also not comprehensive, offering only a sampling of court cases, but the search function allows a user to sift quickly through relevant cases.  For example, if you needed to learn more about the “free movement of goods,” one of the EU’s four freedoms, you can select that subject area under “labels,” which generates a list of appropriate cases.  Each case description includes the background, the provisions of EU law at issue, the analysis of the case, and a link to the actual text of the judgment.  Additionally, citations and links throughout make checking work much easier.  A lawyer specializing in European administrative law oversees the postings on the blog, adding to the credibility of the information presented.  Again, while probably not sufficient to use as a citation on its own, the blog provides very helpful information for someone unfamiliar with EU law.

Erin Lein, Cornell Law School 3L student

Bloomberg Law logoIf you are a 2L or a 3L and want to have access to one of the premier databases for company information and news, in addition to legal information, stop by Alcove 43 in the Reading Room on Monday, Feb. 7 and meet with our Bloomberg representative.  Pamela Haahr will be handing out passwords and providing individual instruction on how to use Bloomberg Law.  2Ls will be able to take Bloomberg Law with them to their summer employment because their passwords will remain active over the summer, unlike Lexis and Westlaw passwords.  Pamela will also have “give-aways” for interested students.

Dunia Zongwe, a JSD candidate at Cornell Law School, gave a lecture at the Cornell University Institute for African Development on Sep. 2, 2010.  Dunia, who is a former fellow of the Institute, spoke about how African countries can leverage their natural resources endowments to develop infrastructure, which in turn will promote the development of socio-economic rights.  Click here to read the paper.

Luwam Dirar, Cornell JSD student

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