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The Financial Crisis

For those of you following the financial situation, yesterday the House rejected latest plan to rescue the economy. (For those of you who don’t have time to read the 110 page bill, here is a summary.) Stocks have been fluctuating wildly for the past couple weeks, and the government has been going back and forth about how to react. President Bush initially proposed a particularly succinct bailout bill, but the issue has since grown by leaps and bounds, becoming more and more partisan as it grows. Upon the failure of the bill to pass yesterday, the Dow fell a whopping 777 points in just a few hours. There is now much speculation as to what the next step is for the government.

Whichever side you take in this matter, it is an issue to watch. One place to do so is the New York Times, which has started a Times Topic to collect articles on the matter.

New and Noteworthy: LA Law meets Rumpole.

New Street Law: The complete first season[DVD]. London: BBC One, 2006 [PN 1997 .N49 2006 – Circ. Desk].

Television shows set in American courtrooms have been a staple on television since the days of Perry Mason (PN1997 .P4779 2006.) Besides the classic Raymond Burr series, the library has several other “first seasons” of television series with a legal theme (LA Law PN 1997 .L2 1988, Night Court PN 1997 .N52 1984, Law & Order PN 1992.8.D48 L393 1999, Boston Legal PN1997 .B67866 2006; all available at the Circulation Desk.)

To that list we can now add the first season of the British legal drama New Street Law (PN 1997 .N49 2006, Circ. Desk). Set in the chambers of two competing barristers (conveniently located in the same building on New Street in Manchester), the show is the creation of former criminal barrister Paul Freeman. Scotsman John Hannah takes the lead role as Jack Roper, a thirty-something barrister from a working class background. Roper has recently opened his own, defense only, chambers in the basement of the building where his mentor, Laurence Scammel, QC, operates a much more successful chamber with his wife and daughter. The basement vs. upper floor offices pretty much define the series; Jack and his young associates struggle to the pay the bills as they campaign for justice for the downtrodden, while the Scammel family seems to always represent the wealthy interests that apply the pressure on Jack’s clients.

Several case stories are told in each episode, involving all the members of Jack’s chamber. Intertwined in serial format are several stories about the lives of all the characters. All in all, the show is pretty formulaic and the constant battle between the two competing chambers seems a bit contrived. Still, it is an entertaining show and it is interesting to see the British legal system portrayed on television. The first season aired in 2006 (BBC One) and a second season followed, but the show’s official web site notes that the show has “finished.”

Another Setback for the RIAA

The RIAA, which represents four major music publishing companies, has been suing people for music piracy left and right for the last five years. They are attempting to stem the tide of file sharing that happens on peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa and Limewire. So far, however, they have started thirty thousand suits, and only ever won one at trial.

And now even that one had been overturned. A federal judge recently declared a mistrial in the case of Minnesota mother Jammie Thomas, a Kazaa user. It looks like the RIAA has a long battle ahead of it.

For more see the latest article on the subject from Wired.

Display Highlights Senator Bayh

In honor of Senator Birch Bayh’s visit to the law school this week, the Library has produced a display which highlights Bayh’s eighteen-year career in the U.S. Senate. Our display includes photographs and artifacts from Senator Bayh’s private collection, as well as a sampling of relevant government documents.

I’d like to thank the following people for their invaluable assistance:

Kate Cruikshank, Political Papers Specialist, Indiana University Archives

Karen McAbee, Law Library Administrative Assistant

Kristin Thomas Jackson, Gov Docs Intern

The Indiana University Libraries are the repository for the Birch Bayh Senatorial Papers Collection, which contains nearly 800 boxes of staff research files, speeches, constituent correspondence and photographs.

IU Welcomes Birch Bayh

As many of you may already know Birch Bayh, former U.S. Senator and alumni of the IUB Law School (JD with distinction, 1960) will be giving a talk tomorrow on the separation of church and state.

Senator Bayh served in Congress from 1963-1981. During that time he wrote two Constitutional Amendments, the 25th and the 26th, which deal with presidential succession and the voting age respectively. He was also instrumental in Title IX of the Higher Education Act, which very famously gives women equal opportunities at federally funded educational institutions.

We are very excited to welcome Senator Bayh back to IU, and highly encourage everyone who can to take advantage of the chance to see this remarkable man. He will be speaking tomorrow, Sept. 25, from 3:30-4:30 PM in the Moot Court Room. His talk is called “Separation of Church and State: As Important Today as in the 18th Century.” Hope to see you there!

The Elevator is Fixed!

Thank you for your patience while it was repaired. If you have any further problems please tell us immediately. And, on the off chance that someone again gets stuck, remember that there is a phone in the elevator that will connect you to help!

Are You Using an RSS Feed Reader?

Since you are here you obviously read at least one blog. If you read more than one or two you might consider checking out a RSS feed reader, like Google Reader or Bloglines. RSS stands for “really simple syndication” and it means just that. When you find a blog you like you can subscribe to it with your feed reader, and then, rather than you going out to check all your blogs every day, blog updates are sent to you. You can also organize your blogs by type, save your favorite entries, and tag things that are of interest to you.

Feed readers are for more than just blogs, too. They work for almost anything that is regularly updated, so you can get sections of newspapers, or even the Amazon.com deals of the day.

For a really nice, basic (and entertaining) explanation of RSS, check out this little video.

U.S. Law and the World

An interesting article in the New York Times a few days ago suggests that international courts are citing U.S. Supreme Court law less and less. The article discusses the interesting position U.S. law has long had—it is not terribly unusual for a foreign jurisdiction to cite us, but it is a little uncommon for American courts to cite foreign law. The article also presents reactions to this trend, from legal scholars and even members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This article is the latest in the American Exception series, which examines ways in which the American legal system is unique. Go check it out!

Using Microfilm or Fiche

The Library offers several options for accessing microform data, including: viewing, printing, and digitizing.  The Canon Microfilm Scanner 800 (MS-800) is like the older Canon machine (both located in the Law Library’s Media Center) – you can use it to read and print film or fiche, however, it has two notable differences. 

First, the MS-800 has a wide screen, which not only allows for clear viewing of detailed or large-format microfilm images, but also permits dual-page printing.  Second, the MS-800 can scan microfilm or fiche into a digital image directly to the attached PC.  With up to a 600 scanning dpi resolution, the MS-800 will allow you to save the images in the following formats: TIFF, BMP, JPEG, JBIG, PDF (depending on which scanning software you use):

  • Canon Scanning Utility 800 – easy to use, offers 4 file formats (TIFF, BMP, JPEG, JBIG)
  •  eCopy Desktop – easy to use, can save digitized documents in the following formats: TIFF, CPY, PDF.  Can create searchable text, which will then be imbedded behind the PDF.  Using OCR, can also convert the scanned document to editable text (Microsoft Word document).
  • OmniPage 15 – sophisticated OCR software generates the most accurate results and will save scanned documents into over 30 different formats (including Microsoft Word, Excel, XML, PDF and PowerPoint).  OCR proofreader allows you to correct the scanned image while simultaneously viewing a wide context of the document’s original text.

The Canon MS-800 has an attached high speed laser printer.  The cost of printing is 10 cents per page.  There will be no charge for scanning microforms, but you must save any scanned documents to your own storage device (USB flash drive).

As with any resource in the Law Library, please consult a reference librarian if you have any questions or if you need any assistance with using the Canon MS-800.

From the Suggestion Box: Casebooks

Suggestion: I was disappointed to find that the latest editions of casebooks — the ones that professors teach out of — circulate in the library with all other materials. It seems that these should be on hand at all times for quick reference; nobody really has a need for old editions of even the same casebook. The idea that one person can monopolize the use of a book while 99% of his peers pay a not unsubstantial amount of money for their own copies seems more than a little absurd. (And, sometimes, those expensive, heavy books get left at home, as I found out the hard way this week!) Might I suggest recalling the current casebooks when they’re due and keeping them within the walls of the library? Unless there is some defense of the current policy, though I cannot fathom one. Thanks for considering my suggestion.

Response: As a rule, the Library does not purchase casebooks, which is one reason that we do not keep them in a separate, non-circulating collection. We only have casebooks that have been donated to the Library, generally by a faculty member. The expectation is that students all have their own casebooks. Occasionally, when a casebook is in short supply, a faculty member will put a copy on reserve for students. The Library does purchase hornbooks for students to study from and we do keep those on reserve behind the circulation desk. We feel that this is a better use of our resources. Thanks for your suggestion.

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