If you are going to be clerking for a judge or are considering clerking for a judge in any of the federal district courts or courts of appeal, the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary is a great place to learn about federal judges. The Almanac comes in two large binders and is filled with interesting information (it is not available electronically). Volume 1 is organized by circuit and covers all the judges in the district courts. The second volume covers all the circuit courts.

The Almanac gives general information about judges from various sources, but relies heavily on information provided by judges to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Books and articles written by the judge are listed. Summaries or excerpts of testimony of judicial nominees or witnesses are supplied if of interest. Noteworthy Rulings, summaries of cases reported in the press and some recommended by the judges themselves, are included. In addition to coverage of cases, Media Coverage picks up other stories about the judges.

Of keen interest to students is the Lawyer’s Evaluation of each judge. The evaluations are collective opinions of a cross section of lawyers and former law clerks. The evaluations note where there is a division of opinion. Evaluations note the judges’ demeanor and, for the district court judges, their trial philosophies, settlement activity, and leanings in criminal cases and sentencing. The Evaluations give a useful insight into the judge’s temperament. Some quotes give a taste of what is included:

“He is always courteous and impeccably polite.”

“He micro-manages trials.”

“He is a stickler for evidentiary rules. He likes to get caught up in evidentiary hearings. He might require briefs every night.”

“He will not allow anyone to talk in his courtroom.”

“Her legal ability is very good. She is brilliant.”

“He can be very intimidating. He has been known to shout at lawyers.”

“He has a sense of humor….He does not torment the lawyers.”

“He is pretty active in oral argument”

At oral argument “[h]is demeanor is sphinx-like.”

In addition to evaluations of appellate judges, Volume 2 gives Lawyer’s Comments on the various circuits overall.

The Almanac is updated frequently to include newcomers to the bench. The Almanac also covers bankruptcy judges and magistrates.

This helpful set is on reserve.  Ask for it at the circulation desk, call number KF8775.A6 A44 1984.

Gettysburg AddressDuring the first three days of July 1863, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Gettysburg Civil War Cemetery on this day, November 19, 1863.  Famously, Lincoln drafted his speech on the back of an envelope on the train ride to Pennsylvania.  He later wrote out five copies of the text, one of which is in the Cornell University Library archives.

Cornell’s copy of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is one of five known copies in Lincoln’s hand, and the only copy owned by a private institution. The other four copies are owned by public institutions: two at the Library of Congress, one at the Illinois State Historical Library, and one in the Lincoln Room at the White House.

May your career in law be dedicated to the proposition “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Rana book coverIn honor of Professor Aziz Rana‘s new book The Two Faces of American Freedom, today Cornell Law School hosted a celebration featuring remarks from Nancy Rosenblum, the Senator Joseph Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government at Harvard University, William Forbath, the Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Law at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, and Richard Bensel, Associate Chair and Professor in Cornell University’s Department of Government.  The book is also being featured at the Law Library circulation desk in the Reading Room.

Professor Rana’s book, which grew out of his dissertation work at Harvard, argues that in the United States, freedom and exclusion were not competing values, but part of the same ideological system.  Those in power maintained their economic and social freedom by denying those same freedoms to others (e.g., Indians and African Americans).  This practice continues today; interest groups (for example, the Tea Party movement and labor unions) advocate for policies to protect their economic well-being and against policies that will extend privileges and benefits to others, fearing their own economic and political positions will diminish.  The book’s concluding argument is that political change and the preservation and extension of freedom has continuously been the result of groups of people, most often the marginalized, unifying their voices in support of freedom.  For these and other insights, presented in beautifully written prose, take a look at the book.

PiratesPiracy is funny when it involves parrots with risqué vocabularies, saying “Argggh” a lot, and Johnny Depp proudly debarking from his sinking jalopy of a raft.  Piracy is deadly serious when it is a form of terrorism in which routes of commerce are disrupted, people die, and a sea captain in Swiss Family Robinson makes his granddaughter dress like a boy to protect her from…well, I could never figure out from what when I was eight years old.  But something really, really bad.

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day this coming Sunday (September 19th every year), here are some resources for learning about the not-so-funny legal aspects of piracy.

Digital libraries

Books

  • The Law of Piracy. Alfred P. Rubin. 2nd ed. Irvington-on-Hudson, New York: Transnational Publishers, Inc., 1998.  Law Library call number K5277 .R89 1998.  This book traces the development of piracy and piracy law in the Greco-Roman world, England, and the United States.
  • La Piraterie au Vingtième Siècle: Piraterie Maritime et Aérienne.  Corinne Touret.  Paris: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence, E.J.A., 1992.  Law Library call number K5277 .T68 1992.  This book takes an international law approach.
  • Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution.  Robert H. Patton.  New York: Pantheon Books, 2008.  Olin Library call number E271. P27 2008.  Patriot Pirates describes of the history of American colonial privateers during the Revolutionary War (like Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, except in a different war), their motivations, and the questionable legality of their actions.

Articles (links to HeinOnline)

Web sites

Image: “The Pirates” Under False Colors-Can They Capture the Ship of State? from Cornell University Library’s Collection of Political Americana, available on flickr.com.

BNA is providing training for Cornell Law students on Monday, September 27 at 2:30 in room 279. The training ends at 2:55.

A special training for members of the law journals will be held in room 279 from 3:00 until 3:25.

The BNA representative will be passing out information in the foyer from 11a.m.-2p.m.

BNA publishes looseleaf services that help lawyers stay abreast of the latest developments in their practice areas.  BNA employs attorneys who report on legal news. BNA also publishes articles from high-profile attorneys analyzing the latest developments.  Some BNA resources include primary law sources such as cases and verdicts.

There are BNA resources for a wide variety of topics, from international trade to intellectual property, from environmental law to securities law, from employment law to criminal law.  View the full list of BNA titles available at Cornell Law School here.

A good BNA publication for all law students to subscribe to is United States Law Week, which provides a weekly report on the most significant U.S. legal news for all areas of law. Get the news delivered to your inbox by clicking “Sign Up For E-Mail” on the U.S. Law Week home page.

If you are headed up to Olin Library for library materials, your trip may not be instantly rewarding.  Olin is in the midst of a Fire Safety Improvements Project, which means various floors of the library and certain collections will not be accessible.

For specifics on the status of collections at Olin, check their schedule online, as well as the latest updates.

In the closed areas, the materials are still available but library staff will have to get them for you.  They will retrieve materials once a day, Mondays through Friday, after 2:00 pm.  No weekend retrievals.

To avoid a wasted trip, remember that many books can be sent to you here at the Law Library from Olin (and other libraries on campus).  When you find the item in the online catalog, click “Requests” on the screen and complete the information, selecting LAW as the library to which you want it sent.

Pardon the dust while safety improvements are underway!

HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated world logoHeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated is a great new resource for comparative constitutional law research.  It contains the current constitution for every country; past constitutions; substantial constitutional histories for the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Colombia (among others); more than 800 classic books about constitutional law; more than a dozen legal periodicals focused on constitutional law; links to scholarly articles and online resources, and bibliographies of important works.  Every country is linked directly to its primary and secondary resources; for instance, you can go to France and view all the resources related to the constitutional and political development of the country, all in one place.  The publisher invites librarians, scholars, and constitutional law experts from all over the world to contribute their works and knowledge to help continue building the constitutional development for every country.

Property Outlaws book coverCornell Law School is celebrating the publication of Prof. Eduardo Peñalver’s book Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership, which he co-authored with Sonia K. Katyal, Professor at Fordham University School of Law.  The library catalog information for the book is available here. You can see the Table of Contents and read selected pages from the book at amazon.com.

If you are intrigued by the concept of the role of the lawbreaker as a force in the evolution of property law, you can read an earlier treatment of the topic entitled “Property Outlaws,” co-authored by Professors Peñalver and Katyal in 155 U. PA. L. REV. 1095 (2007) and available in Scholarship@Cornell Law.  The book expands the scope of the earlier article and also introduces the concept of “Altlaws.”  Altlaws appear to violate the laws of intellectual property but “skirt the boundaries of property legality and can often make an objectively plausible argument that, although in a sense they are rebelling against the property status quo, their conduct actually falls within the boundaries of legal permissibility.”  Altlaws push against the unclear boundaries of intellectual property law, as opposed to Outlaws who clearly operate outside the boundaries of property law.

For more of Professor Peñalver’s writings, see his faculty publications page and the Scholarship@Cornell Law online repository.

The New York Law Journal published a special report yesterday on law schools that has a lot of good information for current law students, including articles such as:

  • Career Prospects in a Difficult Economy discusses how to make the best of the changing job market.  Look for the quotation by Dean Schwab on page 3 of the article.
  • Alternative Jobs.  Probably several people have told you that you can do many things with a J.D., but what exactly are those “things” (besides practicing law, of course)?  This article provides some answers to that question.
  • How High is Your E.I.? (i.e., Emotional Intelligence)  There’s a lot more to being a good lawyer than the ability to understand the U.C.C.  Having a high emotional intelligence makes you not only more employable but also more successful after you get the job.

Anyone can view the special report for free by signing up for the digital edition with a name and email address.

For more information for Cornell Law students on accessing other articles from the NYLJ, see my blog post from a few weeks ago, Legal troubles of Yankee Stadium.

An Unreal View of Earth courtesy of NASADid you know that although the first Earth Day was founded by a U.S. Senator, its successful organization was actually coordinated by a law student?  Denis Hayes, who later became an environmental lawyer, was, needless to say, preoccupied by issues other than his final exams at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in the spring of 1970.

If you are looking for a few moments of pleasant diversion during this 40th Earth Day, I recommend relaxing with a book from the Cornell University Library that celebrates the earth.  Some to consider are:

In any of these books you will find the inspiration you need to take a break from your studies and take action on this Earth Day.

Image “An Unreal View of Earth” courtesy of NASA

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