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The Indiana Law Library Blog

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Tax Returns for POTUS & VPOTUS

 
President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Tax Returns are here at the White House Blog.

According to their returns, the Obamas made $5.5 million in income in 2009 and paid $1.79 million in federal taxes.  The Bidens reported a total 2009 gross adjusted income of $333,182 and paid $71,147 in federal taxes.

Super Bowl Lawsuits

One of the most popular legal blog posts pre-game day was the Bitter Lawyer’s top six Super Bowl related lawsuits.  (Be warned, it seems that he was a Saints fan.)  There are any number of sports related lawsuits, however.  There is a nice, though older, list of ten from CALA.  The 10 Spot Blog has another list of ten that is a year newer than the CALA list.  Go take a look!

Lawyer of the Year

For the past few years Above the Law, a self-styled ‘legal tabloid,’ has invited readers to choose their Lawyer of the Year.  Last year it was Barack Obama, and the year before the Loyola 2L famous for posting discontented messages around the web (s/he also took top place in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog’s contest that year).  At this point, ATL has narrowed the nominations down to ten choices, some of whom are on the list for their skill and success, others for less flattering reasons.  Go take a look at the list of nominees—you have through this Thursday to cast your vote for the most noteworthy lawyer of 2009.

Move Over, Fantasy Football

Fantasy sports are a long beloved past time, but there is no reason to limit yourself to sports any more.  Legal blogger Josh Blackman has started a fantasy United States Supreme Court league, FantasySCOTUS.net. You sign up and then are awarded points based on correct predictions about the outcome of cases, what the split was, and which justices were for or against.  Apparently, by popular demand, people will soon be able to join leagues for their particular school or firm.  Go take a look!

The Veterans History Project

Veterans Day is a time to celebrate the valiant men and women who have served in the armed forces, their stories, and our shared history.  The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center does just that, collecting first hand accounts and mementos of veterans and those on the home front during wartime.  Since its inception in 2000, the project has collected the stories of thousands of veterans and those in the war effort for preservation in the Library of Congress.  You can search or browse—many interviews are not digitized yet, but for some you can watch or listen to interviews, read transcripts, or view documents and photographs of interest. One very touching story is of a dog named Lucky who served in the Marines while his owner was in the Navy.  The Project does not conduct interviews themselves—their material comes from partner organizations and from volunteers.  Our own Senator Lugar has contributed greatly to the collection.  If you know a veteran with a story to tell (or are one yourself) you might consider participating in the project.  More details on how to do so can be found here. Happy Veterans Day!

Legal Fiction

It is always fun to pick up the latest John Grisham or Scott Turow novel, but have you ever considered writing legal fiction yourself?  Well now is your chance.  If you have ever tried your hand at legal fiction you should consider entering the New York Law Journal’s annual fiction contest.  Just submit five copies of your legal short story or first chapter by November 6, and you could be published and win fabulous cash prizes!  If you are interested you will find more information on the official flyer.

Law Firm Taglines

Law firms, like any other business, have slogans and taglines to advertise themselves.  Recently, the legal blog Stem collected 101 Law Firm Taglines from firms all over the world.  There are several varied approaches.  What do you think is important in a law firm catchphrase?  You want it to inspire trust and confidence of course, but does humor add or detract from a slogan?  The Harris Beach slogan (“Lawyers you’ll swear by. Not at.”) is pretty irresistible, but does it bring in people charmed by the wit, or deter people who want their lawyers to be serious?  Take a look at the list and see which ones you like. You might also take a look at the Legal Blog Watch entry, where Bruce Carton selects his list of the most memorable.

The Witching Hour

Halloween: a time of witches, brooms, cats, and trick-or-treating!  While you are happily gathering up your candy, spare a thought for the innocent (numbering many thousands) who were hunted, arrested, and persecuted for practicing witchcraft during Early Modern Europe (1480-1700). 

The current exhibit on display at the library entrance features a famous English witch trial (held in Bury St. Edmunds, 1662) which was to become influential and referenced in the renowned American Salem witch trials. The trial involved the prosecution of two Lowestoft women in the bewitching of several children. The children suffered fits, lameness, vomited nails and pins, and complained that the two defendants were witches. The major trial personages could have come straight out of a page of Who Was Who – Judge: Sir Matthew Hale (Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer and future Lord Chief Justice of England); Justice of the Peace: Sir Edmund Bacon; Serjeant-at-law: Sir John Kelyng (future Chief Justice of the King’s Bench); Expert witness: Sir Thomas Browne (author and physician).

While researching this trial, I became incredibly impressed by the wealth of primary and secondary sources held at Indiana University. The Lilly Library houses several fascinating treatises on witchcraft and have kindly lent their copy of the trial report for the exhibit. On a personal note, several generations of my family have lived in Lowestoft. So, if you would like to learn more about witchcraft bibliography and England, feel free to drop by the Circulation Office for a chat!

Happy Constitution Day and Citizenship Day!

The United States Constitution was signed exactly 222 years ago today.  So on this day, we celebrate both this important document, and all the people who have become American citizens.  Constitution Day is celebrated with presidential statements, laws, and lesson plans each year.  This year you can celebrate by learning more about Constitution Day from the Library of Congress website, or by finding out which Founding Father you most resemble at the National Constitution Center’s website.

Law in Middle-earth

As popular as the three Lord of the Rings movies have been, it’s not surprising that they have generated several legal arguments.  Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema had a few skirmishes, but more recently, New Line has been in hot water with the heirs of J.R.R. Tolkien.  The estate claims that they received only an advance payment of $62,500, and are still due to get 7.5% of all the profits, which are sizable.  A significant portion of that money would go to the Tolkien Trust, a charitable organization that manages the late author’s estate.  The lawsuit was brought last year, and it has been looking for some time as though it would go to trial.  The estate and New Line finally reached an agreement this week.  The details aren’t yet public, but maybe the most important thing for the general public is that New Line is now able to start work on a two-part version of The Hobbit. If you would like to know more, you can read the Associated Press article about the settlement, or you can look at an American Lawyer article published this summer that goes a little into the details of why the estate hadn’t been paid.

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