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The Indiana Law Library Blog

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Advice on Entering the “Real World”

3 Geeks and a Law Blog has a very interesting post today in which they asked legal professionals from several different backgrounds what advice they would offer to students on preparing for the real world.  They offer ideas from several perspectives, from solo firms to marketing to the library. Some are things to remember once you are actually in the real world, but some of the advice, like maintaining good relationships with your classmates, being careful what you post on Facebook, getting in some clinic work, and learning to be an effective researcher are things that you can start doing now.

Justice Kagan’s Recusals

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court granted 14 new cases.  (Discussion of all 14 cases can be found on SCOTUSblog.) Justice Elena Kagan, the most recent addition to the high court, has recused herself from four of the cases, for a total of 25 cases she will not take part in.  This is not terribly surprising—in her role as Solicitor General she was involved in many of the cases that are slated to come up before the court.  Several months ago, before she was appointed, Ed Whelan of the National Review Online looked at the recusal statistics of Thurgood Marshall, the last Solicitor General appointed to the court, and found that he had to bow out of more than half of the cases heard during his first term.  So this number of recusals is neither unexpected nor unprecedented. But it does alter the dynamics of the court.  With Justice Kagan bowing out, nearly half of the cases coming up to the docket this term have the possibility of ending in a tie.  In the case of a tie, the decision of the lower court will stand.

A month ago the Washington Post ran an article about a suggestion from Senator Patrick Leahy and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens that in the event of a recusal a former member of the Court could step in on that particular case.  Leahy feels the plan would both address the tie issue, and make it easier for Justices to recuse themselves.  What do you think?  Do we need a contingency plan in the case of recusal?  If so, is this a good one?

The State of the University

Today at 1:30 IU President Michael McRobbie will deliver the State of the University address from the Indianapolis campus.  If you don’t wish to drive all the way to Indy to hear it, there are several other options for listening, including live streaming broadcast and an archived copy that will be available shortly after the speech.  For a list of those options, including channels and links, take a look at this page.

Registering to Vote

A week from today, October 4th, is the deadline for you to register to vote if you’d like to participate in the November 4th elections.  Registering to vote is fairly easy.  There is the old fashioned paper way, of course, but you can do it online at IndianaVoters.gov.  In fact, the Indiana Voters website has just rolled out a mobile version, to let you register to vote with a smart phone.  The “Who’s On Your Ballot” link of the bottom of the page will also tell you which candidates you can expect to see when you enter the booth.  And of course you can also check to make sure that you are registered, and see where your polling place is. 

Happy voting!

Stephen Colbert in the House

This morning Stephen Colbert testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee about migrant workers in America. Colbert stayed in character, and house members stayed relatively deadpan.  Take a look at the video on the Wall Street Journal blog here!

YouTube Copyright

If you’ve ever gone looking for your favorite clip from the Simpsons you know that sometimes you’ll find it, and sometimes you’ll get a message that it has been taken down as copyrighted material.  At the beginning of the year Google was finally able to claim victory in a one billion dollar copyright case filed against it and its subsidiary YouTube by corporate giant Viacom.  The case was first filed in 2007.  YouTube has long been the home for clips from last night’s television shows, and Viacom was claiming massive copyright infringement of material from MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central.  At the time, though, there was much speculation about the possibility that Viacom itself was adding its own copyrighted material to the site, to gain a wider audience. 

Recently a Spanish court threw out a very similar case against Google and YouTube, this time by a Spanish broadcaster, Telecinco.  Unlike Viacom, who whether it wants to or not, does receive some benefit from the traffic its material gets on YouTube, Telecinco claims that they were losing viewers because television shows were appearing on YouTube before they had been broadcast in Spain.  Google points out that the sheer volume of material uploaded to YouTube would make screening it nearly impossible—and that there are reporting tools made readily available to request that videos be removed. What do you think?  Can YouTube be responsible for content uploaded by its many users?  Should it be the responsibility of the copyright holder to watch for infringement, or the owners of medium by which it is infringed upon?

Florida Ban on Gay Adoption Found Unconstitutional

For the past thirty years Florida has enforced a blanket ban on adoption by gay people, the last state to do so.  Homosexual couples, though, are legally able to be foster parents.  In Florida Department of Children and Families v. In re: Matter of Adoption of X.X.G. and N.R.G. one such set of foster parents were able to adopt two boys they had been fostering for several years.  Hard on the heels of the case overturning Prop 8 in California this is definitely a victory for gay rights advocates. 

For more information check out articles from the New York Times, the Associated Press, and the Wall Street Journal.

The Death Penalty for Teresa Lewis

Tomorrow night will see the first execution of a woman in the United States in five years.  Teresa Lewis pled guilty to hiring gunmen to kill her husband and stepson in 2002.  Her last petition for a stay of execution was denied on Tuesday, making it very likely that the execution will go on as planned.  The case is a popular subject in the news, with articles from almost all the major news outlets, the New York Times, CNN, ABCNews, and the Washington Post to name a few. 

An interesting article from Slate.com points out that most news stories on the subject (including this one) start by saying that she is the first woman executed in the U.S. in five years, and the first in nearly 100 years in the state of Virginia.  Is that what makes this story interesting?  There are questions about her mental capacity, and about how manipulative the hired gunmen were, but the story might well have quickly lapsed into obscurity if the gender of the subject weren’t unusual.  How much does gender impact capital punishment?  How much should it impact capital punishment?  Let us know what you think.

Heroes on Trial

The Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale is offering a really interesting exhibit of its rare books collection—comics set in the courtroom.  Some of them are simply detective stories, but they also have comics in which you see some of your favorite heroes on trial, Batman, Superman, the Hulk, etc.  Should the Hulk be responsible for property damage?  Does Superboy, as a minor, require guardianship? It’s reminiscent of the legal troubles of the Incredibles at the beginning of the Pixar movie.

For more information, check out the New York Times article on the Yale exhibit, or the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Books Blog, which includes cover images of several of their comics.  And thanks to the Law Librarian Blog for mentioning this story.

Proposition 8

California’s Proposition 8, banning gay marriage, has been big news since it was passed in late 2008.  It is no less contentious since it was overturned in early August, by the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, with parties claiming that the overruling was beyond the scope of the court.  One interesting question in the case deals with the sexual orientation of the district court judge, Vaughn Walker.  Judge Walker has a history of being somewhat conservative, and though there is no official source declaring one way or the other, some are suggesting that he is homosexual.  Whether he is or not, and however you feel about Proposition 8, it seems that the real question at the moment is whether or not Walker’s sexuality makes a difference in the case.  What do you think?  Does he have a potential personal interest in the case that could affect his judgment?  Or, like San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney Theresa Stewart claims, is it no more of an issue than having a minority preside over a racial discrimination case?  Let us know what you think!

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