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.

Will the Federal Register Shut Down?

Nope. The Federal Register has been published every business day since it was first introduced 78 years ago. In the event of a government shutdown it will follow “special procedures” described in—where else—the Federal Register, 77 Fed. Reg. 59974 (September 30, 2013). In brief:

In the event of an appropriations lapse, the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) would be required to publish documents directly related to the performance of governmental functions necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life or protection of property.

As a practical matter:

  • The Federal Register will get pretty skinny.
  • Researchers should use the official version of the Federal Register available on FDsys not FederalRegister.gov, which will not be updated.
  • The e-CFR will not be updated.

For more information, please see the OFR blog here.

 

CALI Lessons Are Available For More Than 30 Legal Subjects!

Students:  Don’t forget you you have access to over 900 interactive and computer-based legal tutorials from CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction.  Why try these?

  • Cali Lessons are written by law professors.
  • Cali Lessons can be a great way to master course material during the semester and study for exams.
  • They are FREE!

When you register for the first time at cali.org, use our school’s authorization code to create your user account. Don’t have our code? Stop by the law library reference office.

 

CALI

Banned Books Week 2013

Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

—Article 3, Library Bill of Rights

September 22-28 is Banned Books Week—an annual event launched by the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom to “promote awareness of challenges to library materials and celebrate[s] freedom of speech.”

The Banned Books Week Website includes a variety of information, including top ten lists of challenged books from the past decade. The 2011 list includes the legal classic To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Federal Courts have struck down a variety of efforts to ban access to books. A list of some of these cases is available on the ALA website here.

Spy wit’ ye eye these resources fer researchin’ piracy law

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! While talk o’ pirates makes us think o’ Captain Hook and Long John Silver, piracy on t’ high seas be serious matter o’ international maritime law.

Th’ primary legal framework governin’ prevention ‘o piracy be th’ 1982 United Nations Convention on th’ Law ‘o th’ Sea (UNCLOS). Article 101 ‘o UNCLOS states:

Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).

Useful online resources on th’ international law ‘o piracy include:

 

 

 

Constitution Day 2013

Tuesday, September 17 is the 226th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Pursuant to 36 U.S.C. §106, September 17 is designated as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day”, and under 36 U.S.C. §108, the President is requested to “designate the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 as ‘Constitution Week.’”

Useful resources about the U.S. Constitution include:

  • American Memory (Library of Congress) Find documents from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention (1774-1789), includes images of original documents and related materials. 
  • Founder’s Constitution (University of Chicago Press) Provides links to historical documents related to the development of the Constitution. 
  • LII: CRS Annotated Constitution Prepared by the Congressional Research Service, provides links to Supreme Court opinions, the U.S. Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • National Archives Images of original documents and historical information. 

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Wednesday, August 28 marks the 50th Anniversary of the historic “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Among the far reaching impact of this event was helping to pave the way for two significant legal changes: ratification of the Twenty Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (passed by Congress August 27, 1962, ratified January 23, 1964) which outlawed the poll tax, and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, desegregating public institutions and prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and religion.

In addition to the information about this anniversary that will be available from traditional news sources, here are few other resources that may be of interest:

MarchonWashington