Law and All Hallows’ Eve

Halloween can be a catalyst for unique lawsuits.  A 2011 article in the New York State Bar Association Journal, titled Case Law from the Crypt: The Law of Halloween summarizes some of these strange cases.

In one case, the plaintiff alleged that a neighbor’s holiday decorations—which included an “‘Insane Asylum’ directional sign pointed towards the plaintiff’s house” and a tombstone referencing the plaintiff— were “defamatory, harassing, and caused emotional distress.” In addition to claims involving Halloween decorations, other cases have involved injury to persons or property and provocative costumes in the workplace.

In her book, Halloween Law, Law Professor Victoria Sutton calls Justice Scalia the “father of Halloween Law.”  During oral argument in Central Virginia Community College v. Katz, 546 U.S. 356 (2006), held on October 31, 2005, a light bulb exploded loudly.  This led to the following exchange:

Justice Scalia: Light bulb went out.

Chief Justice Roberts: It’s a trick they play on new justices all the time.

Justice Scalia:  Happy Halloween.

Justice Ginsburg:  That’s the idea

Justice Roberts:  Take your time.

Justice Scalia:  We’re even more in the dark now than before.

Listen to the Oral Argument on Oyez.org here (explosion at 42:59).

Happy Halloween!!

 

Survey Response: Longer Hours Please!

In response to student requests, we will again be offering expanded hours during reading days and exams. Insider tip: if you like expanded library hours please take advantage of these extra hours! We are paying attention to how many students are actually using the library late at night. So far, the numbers have been small.

For those who want to study after the library closes, there is an after-hours study hall in classrooms 120 and 121. These rooms stay open until 2:00 a.m. If you are in the building after 11:00 p.m. (when it closes to the general public), please keep your ID with you, and don’t lock yourself out of the building or prop the building doors open.

Survey Response: Printing

A number of survey responders were—not surprisingly—unhappy with the end of free Westlaw printing. This change was made by Westlaw, and the company has discontinued free print services at all law schools. Lexis continues to offer free printing from Lexis Advance.

One positive spin on this is that Westlaw and other major legal research databases provide robust features for saving and storing your research (i.e. folders, workspaces) that can both help you organize your work and save some trees! If you need assistance using any of these features, please stop by the Reference Office.

 

 

Survey Response: Study Aids

Students commented on the availability and currency of our study aids. Here’s what we have available:

Digital Study Aids:

Once again we are offering all students free access to West Academic Study Aids. There are more than 470 titles here including Nutshell Series, Gilbert Law Summaries, and Concise Hornbook Series.  New this year: our subscription now includes 40 titles from the West Hornbook Series!

Print Study Aids:

  • Examples and Explanations
  • Questions and Answers
  • Concise Hornbooks
  • Nutshells

We have the majority of available titles in each of these series. At least one copy of the current edition is kept on reserve and additional copies, including earlier editions, are available in the stacks. In response to student demand, we have purchased duplicate copies of many of the most popular titles.

Audio Aids

  • Gilbert Law School Legends Audio Series
  • Sum & Substance CDs

We have the most current editions of the majority of these CDs.  Unfortunately, these collections are rarely updated by the publishers. All these items are kept on reserve.

 

The Paper Chase Turns 40

The classic law school film The Paper Chase was released on October 16,1973. Based on the book by then Harvard law student John Jay Osborn, Jr., the film is especially known for John Housman’s oscar-winning performance as the infamous Professor Kingsfield (“Mister Hart, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.”)

Both the Book and DVD of the film are available in the law library’s new Popular Collection, located in the first floor reading room.

 

Survey Response: What About Current Legal News and Other Sources for Job Hunting?

GMUSL students have access to a number of subscription resources to keep up to date on legal news and employers including:

  • Vault Online Career Library:  This database is a compilation of career information and management tools. It provides access to industry and company profiles, including extensive coverage of law firms and the legal profession. To use this database, you must set-up an individual username and password.
  • Leadership Directory: This service allows users to find contact information for 400,000 individuals at 40,000 leading U.S. government, business, professional, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Bloomberg Law:  Career Articles and Resources:  This large dashboard of information includes links to research people, companies, and law firms.
  • WestlawNext: Profiler of Attorney & Judges: Includes more than 1,000,000 profiles of law firms, offices, and lawyers.

For additional information please see the resources on the CAS Intranet.

Law Library Survey Results

A huge thank you to the more than 100 law students who completed the 2013 Survey of Law Library and Technology Services. Every response has been read by the library and technology staff, and we appreciate your valuable feedback and suggestions.

Check back here in the upcoming weeks for responses to some of the commonly raised issues in the survey responses. Also, we are happy to receive comments about our services throughout the year either through our online suggestion form or in person. Please contact Debbie Shrager, Reference and Outreach Services Librarian (dshrager@gmu.edu) with any questions, comments, or concerns.

 

 

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez: It’s the First Monday in October

Since 1916, the Supreme Court’s Term has begun each year on the first Monday in October. 28 U.S.C. § 2.  Supreme Court terms are therefore called the “October Term”  followed by the year (e.g. October Term 2013). Why the first October Monday?

Under the Judiciary Act of 1789 (1 Stat. 73) the Court sat for two sessions, one beginning the “first Monday of August,” the second the “first Monday of February.” Congress subsequently altered the Court’s term a number of times:

  • 1801   Two Terms, began the first Mondays in June and December (2 Stat.89)
  • 1802   One Term, began the first Monday in February (2 Stat.156)
  • 1826   One Term, began the second Monday in January (4 Stat.160)
  • 1844   One Term, began the second Monday in December (5 Stat.676)
  • 1873   One Term, began the second Monday of October (17 Stat.419)

In 1916, Congress passed H.R. 15158 (39 Stat. 726) which amended the judicial code to, in part, fix the start of the Court’s term to the first Monday in October.  According to both the applicable House and Senate Committee Reports, the purpose of changing the term start date was “to shorten the vacation and give the court an extra week when the weather is favorable to work.” H. R. Rep. No. 794 at 1 (1916), S. Rep. No. 775 at 1 (1916).

For more information about the Court’s docket, including oral argument dates, consult the Supreme Court WebsiteScotusblog is another very useful source to keep up to date on cases before the Court.