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 has a new resource available designed to help researchers navigate international legislation and case law regarding the acquisition and ownership of artwork.

Art Law & Cultural Property from the International Foundation for Art Research contains resources and information covering legislation that governs the export and ownership of cultural property from dozens of countries with primarily a European focus. Additionally, it covers case law and hard-to-find out of court settlement documents pertaining to art ownership issues in the United States.

The database is available to all Cornell students, faculty, and staff both on and off campus with the link given above.

 

Ben Rudofsky (3L) is the winner of the Halloween Research Competition and will receive a $25 gift card to the Cornell Store. Congratulations to all of you who had the correct answer of Royal v. Grounds, 471 F. App’x 324 (5th Cir. 2012).

The lesson – as always – vampires DO NOT have civil rights…or something.

Having first-rate research skills is a necessity in today’s legal job market. As you’re registering for the spring semester consider developing those skills through some of the specialized research courses taught by the law librarians at the Cornell Law Library. Course descriptions and names of the instructors are listed below:

LAW 6085 Law Practice Technology
Spring, 1 credit. Instructors: Femi Cadmus, Dan Blackaby,  and Carissa Vogel
This course introduces and investigates the use of current technologies in law firm practice.

LAW 6514 International and Foreign Legal Research
Spring, 2 credits. Instructor: Thomas Mills
The practice of law continues to become ever more dependent upon a clear understanding of the global context in which it occurs. This course provides an overview of sources, methods, and strategies for researching international and foreign law. Topics to be covered include the various legal systems of the world, public and private international law, the European Union, and the United Nations. The course will be delivered through lectures and hands-on exercises. Selected readings will be available online and on reserve; there is no required textbook. There will be a series of assignments and a final research project in lieu of a final exam. Foreign language ability is not required.

LAW 6739 Online Legal Research and Resources
Spring, 1 credit. Instructor: Amy Emerson
Take your research skills beyond the basics of Lawyering. This course provides an overview of the resources, methods, and strategies necessary to conduct efficient and effective online legal research for upper level courses and employment. Students will learn when and how to use various databases while considering their relationship to each other and to traditional print sources. The course will be delivered through interactive lectures and hands- on exercises. Internet access will be provided in the classroom. Selected readings will be available through the course website and on reserve; there is no required textbook. There will be a series of assignments and a final research project tailored to students’ individual interests.

 

nosferatu

Enter our research competition to win a $25 gift card to the Cornell Store! The rules are easy: email the answer to the question below to mjw332@cornell.edu by midnight on October 31. We will draw a winner from the pool of correct answers next week and announce it on the blog.

The Problem:

Bill Compton, a Louisiana prisoner and vampire, is claiming the prison where he is serving his sentence is violating his civil rights. Compton asserts that as Vampire King of the State of Louisiana, he has been barred from practicing his religion related to his role as leader of the vampires, which includes access to necessary food items such as real human blood rather than the Tru Blood synthetic bottled version that the prison has provided him.

Compton’s civil rights suit was rejected in district court on summary judgment and he appealed that decision in a federal circuit court. That court subsequently dismissed his claim as frivolous and noted that the suit counted as a “strike” under 28. U.S.C. 1915.

Locate a factually similar case involving a self-proclaimed vampire that inspired the story above. Send in the name of the case and the citation to mjw332@cornell.edu by midnight, October 31 for a chance to win the $25 Cornell Store gift card.

Professor Robert C. Hockett has been exploring the idea of using eminent domain as a way to relieve underwater mortgages in several of his recent publications. The research is more than just theory, as the city of Richmond, California took steps this summer to put such a plan into action, while several other municipalities are exploring the idea as well.

The Scholarship@Cornell Law repository is featuring one of Professor Hockett’s recent publications on this topic titled: “A Federalist Blessing in Disguise: From National Inaction to Local Action on Underwater Mortgages”, originally appearing in the Harvard Law and Policy Review earlier this year and co-authored with John Vlahoplus of the advisory firm Mortgage Resolution Partners.

The abstract describes the paper as:

Taking “the measure of the national mortgage debt overhang problem as a cluster of local problems warranting local action. It then elaborates on one form of such action that the localized nature of the ongoing mortgage crisis justifies – use of municipal eminent domain authority to purchase underwater loans, then modify them in a manner that benefits debtors, creditors, and their communities alike.”

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

Perhaps you’ve heard the federal government is currently shut down?

With budget negotiations at an impasse, and another debt ceiling battle looming, the Scholarship@Cornell Law repository is featuring two articles published by members of the law faculty that touch on these respective issues.

Professor Josh Chafetz’s essay “The Phenomenology of Gridlock,” turns the conventional dysfunction narrative on its head, arguing that the hunt for causes of gridlock are misguided. Originally appearing in Notre Dame Law Review’s 2012 “The American Congress: Legal Implications of Gridlock” Symposium, Chafetz argues that gridlock itself is not a phenomenon, but an absence of it, and that looking at why and how legislation occurs is the more fruitful course of action in determining institutional dysfunction.

Also, Professor Michael Dorf and George Washington University’s Neil H. Buchanan tackled the debt ceiling fight last year in companion articles “How to Choose the Least Unconstitutional Option: Lessons for the President (and Others) from the Debt Ceiling Standoff” and “Nullifying the Debt Ceiling Threat Once and for All: Why the President Should Embrace the Least Unconstitutional Option” appearing the Columbia Law Review and Columbia Law Review Sidebar respectively. In the papers, Dorf and Buchanan examine the recent history of the debt ceiling brinksmanship between Congress and The White House and examine the options the President may have to prevent the ceiling from becoming a negotiation tactic every time it needs to be raised. Additionally, visit Professor Dorf’s blog, Dorf on Law, where he’s been posting on the current budget negotiations.

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

HOL_BlackonWhiteBackgroundThe Law Library is pleased to announce that HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library is now available to Cornell alumni. This database contains more than 1,700 law and law-related journals with a broad range of coverage.  Alumni can search the database by article title, author, subject, state or country published, or by using keywords. Articles can be downloaded in a searchable PDF format.

Cornell alumni can log in to Law Journal Library using their NetID.  A log-in link is also available on our website (on the home page, scroll down to the link for HeinOnline Alumni Access in Research Tools).  Don’t have a NetID?  Go to Cornell University NetIDs to set up alumni access to this and other electronic resources provided to alumni by Cornell University Library.

Currently, HeinOnline Alumni Access does not work with Internet Explorer 8 or earlier.  If you are having trouble logging in to HeinOnline, please try using Internet Explorer 9 or 10, Firefox, or Chrome.

For answers to questions about using Law Journal Library, please contact Nina Scholtz.

Cornell law students may be wondering whether they can use Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg this summer.  Here’s some information to get you started:

Students may use Westlaw for academic-related work.  Otherwise, you may not use your Cornell Westlaw password over the summer.  Go to Westlaw’s Password Extension page for more information and to request extension.

Students may use their Cornell Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law accounts over the summer for any purpose, academic or commercial.

Questions? Contact Law Library Reference for more information.

The Cornell Law Library is pleased to announce the 2013 recipients of The Cornell Law Library Prize for Exemplary Student Research:

First Place: Libor Integrity and Holistic Domestic Enforcement, by Milson C. Yu, 3L

Milson YuMilson Yu crafted a coherent and well-written note embracing a complex and wide range of sources.  He looked at the history and methodology of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), an estimate of the cost of short-term borrowing for large London banks; examined the limits of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s enforcement authority in the context of rigging Libor; and outlined “a two-part plan to engage the CFTC in active oversight and enforcement of Libor.”  His sources included a sophisticated collection of unpublished private reports, administrative regulations, decisions, and reports, briefs and orders from federal litigation, federal case and statutory law, legislative history materials, and articles and empirical studies in law reviews and business journals, among other sources.

Through extended research into his area of interest, Milson discovered that advanced research techniques such as combining search terms with Boolean connectors and tracking updates to his research significantly improved his search results.

Second Place: How to Kill Copyright: A Brute-Force Approach to Content Creation, by Kirk Sigmon, 3L

sigmon_kirk_kas468Kirk Sigmon’s idea and research were quite original; he wove a collection of very different sources together for an interesting thought experiment.   In the course of examining the topic of copyrightable content randomly generated by computer, he drew on both research in computer science and a mix of primary and secondary legal sources to support his discussion of whether copyrightable content could be generated, whether the content would be amenable to copyright, and the legal ramifications of generating this content.

Kirk comments about his paper:  “It is a fusion of cryptanalytic science, computer science, and intellectual property law – a sort of hybrid that does not easily lend itself to research in a standard library.  But that was what made it a fun paper to write.”

A review panel comprised of Librarians Amy Emerson, Matt Morrison, Nina Scholtz, and Carissa Vogel selected the winners from among 19 competitive entries.

Funding for the Prize is provided by an endowment given to the Law Library by Barbara Cantwell in honor of her late husband, Robert Cantwell, a 1956 graduate of Cornell Law School.

In addition to receiving a monetary award, the winners are also invited to publish their papers in Scholarship@Cornell Law, the Law Library’s digital repository, and to feature their papers in Reading Room displays.

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