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The Indiana Law Library Blog

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John Paul Stevens Speaks Out

Having recently retired from the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens is speaking his mind about issues he dealt with on the court.  In a forthcoming book review for the New York Review of Books he discusses the death penalty, and why, more than 30 years after he voted to reinstate the death penalty in 1976, he no longer feels that it is appropriate.  The New York Times covers the story, and also suggests that this may be a new trend for retired justices, who tend to stay away from controversial issues in their retirement. On Sunday Stevens appeared on 60 Minutes, talking not only about the death penalty, but also the Bush v. Gore case, the rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees—and about being at the famous 1932 World Series ball game in which Babe Ruth called his shot.

Constitutional Law in the Law School Curriculum

Nearly a week ago a Prof. Elizabeth Dale talked about a trend away from teaching Con Law in law schools (also picked up on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog).  She says that some see constitutional law as important only if you plan on being a Supreme Court Justice or an ACLU attorney.  But, she points out, legal issues from many fields have constitutional implications.  How important do you think that constitutional law is in the law school curriculum?  Are we teaching it correctly?  Are there other things that you feel should be added or removed from the standard schedule of courses?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day for relaxing with friends and family and eating monstrous piles of food.  We hope that you have a good one!  If you need any help making the monstrous piles of food remember that the Butterball website is designed to answer Thanksgiving questions, including how much to buy, what exactly to cook, and how to cook it. 

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Chandra Levy Verdict

One of the big news stories of the day is that ten years after the Chandra Levy case made headlines there is finally some resolution to it.  Yesterday a jury returned a verdict finding Ingmar Guandique guilty of her murder.  There was a lack of forensic evidence, but there was circumstantial evidence.  This does finally take some of the shadow off of former Congressman Gary Condit, who was a suspect in the case for some time.

For more information see the news stories on and the Washington Post.

Alcohol, Caffeine, and Tobacco

The FDA has some strong words for the makers of a beverage called Four Loko.  Four Loko is a sweetly flavored malt liquor drink which is also highly caffeinated.  The beverage has been linked to several deaths, most recently a Florida man who shot himself in the head.  The family is suing for wrongful death.

This is very reminiscent of things like tobacco litigation.  Recently there is another tobacco case in the news concerning an alleged past practice of freely distributing cigarettes to children in Boston.  Dangerous products pose difficult questions.  Shady marketing practices and already addictive substances can be laid at the feet of large companies—but on the other hand, where does the free will of the consumer fit into the picture? 

What do you think?  Should the family in Florida prevail over Four Loko?  The family in Boston over the Lorillard Tobacco Company?  Let us know how you feel!

Prof. Henderson on Legal Success

National Jurist this month features an article by our own Prof. Bill Henderson on changes in what firms should be looking for in new hires.  Traditionally those with the best LSAT scores, the highest ranked schools, and the best grades are favored.  Prof. Henderson argues that just those limited factors aren’t enough to be predictors of legal success, and particularly in this tight job market, firms need to be looking for much more when they hire.  What do you think makes for a good and successful lawyer?  Are hiring practices likely to change accordingly? 

More from Above the Law, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, and the ABA Journal.

On Like Donkey Kong

Nintendo, with its new video game Donkey Kong Country Returns set to hit the shelves shortly, has just started a campaign to trademark the popular phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong.”  Does the inclusion of the name of one of Nintendo’s most popular characters make this a trademark worthy phrase?  Nintendo certainly didn’t invent the saying—many attribute it originally to rapper Ice Cube—but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a stake in it.  What do you think?  CNN has the story.

Happy Veterans Day!

November 11th, Veterans Day, is a day to celebrate veterans of all branches of the United States military. We honor our brave men and women in uniform.  After all the fighting is done, however, there is also much day to day work that needs to be taken care of for our veterans.  This is one of the reasons that the Department of Veterans Affairs has just this week launched a new blog called VAntage Point—Dispatches from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  VAntage Point is meant to be a place for veterans and the VA Department to communicate openly.  Not only will it be a forum for the VA to post news and information, but, maybe more importantly, it is meant for veterans to tell stories of fallen comrades, to complain about the red tape involved in getting benefits, anything and everything that is important to them.  Go take a look, and have a happy Veterans Day!

Class Action v. Arbitration

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard a case that some argue could essentially do away with class action lawsuits as we know them.  General consensus this morning (for example from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog and the National Law Journal) seems to suggest that the Court is likely to find in favor of class actions, but it is an interesting problem.  The lawsuit in question is AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, a California case in which a couple challenged the portion of their AT&T contract which bound them to individual rather than class arbitration.  AT&T’s lawyer suggested that this case could also reach the other extreme—doing away with arbitration clauses in many standard contracts.  What do you think?  Should class arbitration be a standard subset of arbitration?  More can be found from the New York Times.

Election Day

Today is Election Day, and a it is particularly tight one this year.  Yahoo News mentions Indiana as an indicator state.  We posted information yesterday on current local elections, and on how to find your polling place.  For a more general look at Election Day in the United States, has a nice page of links for things like the history of the Electoral College, and past vote counts.  Happy voting!

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