Friday, December 2, 2016

Federal Rules: What's New For December 2016

On December 1, changes to the federal rules of general application become effective, if they are adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court and submitted to Congress before May 1. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court has adopted amendments to selected Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Appellate Procedure, and Bankruptcy.

One of the highest-profile changes this year involved Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which expanded the scope of warrants to search computers. As the December 1 effective date drew closer, civil liberties groups and members of Congress expressed concerns about extending government "hacking" powers, but last-minute efforts to delay Rule 41 from taking effect were unsuccessful.

The U.S. Courts website Current Rules of Practice & Procedure outlines all of the changes adopted in late April, and includes the amended rule text in various formats. Online sources for the federal rule text (such as subscription research services like Westlaw, or the free Legal Information Institute) have already incorporated these 2016 changes to their text. Printed sources in the library, such as annual handbooks or looseleaf services which reprint the federal rules, may have a slight lag time before updating. Researchers should be aware of the annual December changes to the various federal rules.

Additional commentary on the changes is available at the following sources:

For help locating the updated federal rules, or more information about federal rules in general, visit the Goodson Law Library research guide to Court Rules or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Judge for Yourself

Data analytics are a rapidly-growing feature in legal research services. From the intellectual property predictive analysis in Lex Machina (now owned by LexisNexis) to the recently-unveiled Bloomberg Law Litigation Analytics, many legal research services are offering their users charts, tables, and other information about the connections between court opinions and orders, lawyers, judges, and companies.

Judges are a particularly interesting use case. Most research services provide a basic biographical profile of current judges, along with links to their full-text opinions and orders. However, some research services provide a bit more analysis and examination of individual judges.

The Judge Analytics module of  Ravel Law, featured in Forbes earlier this year, is one example of the possibilities. Duke Law students, faculty, and staff may request an Educational Account. Judge Analytics' coverage includes current and historical federal judges, as well as current state appellate court judges. Type a judge's name into the main Ravel search box and select their name from the "Judges" auto-suggest in order to view a dashboard. The "Opinions" tab provides quick access to the judge’s authored opinions. The "Analytics" tab includes lists of their most-cited opinions, judges, and courts. The "About" tab links to biographical information and available news articles.

Westlaw Profiler and Lexis Advance Litigation Profile Suite both include basic biographical information for state and federal judges, as well as links to opinions, court filings, and secondary sources, such as news. Westlaw and Lexis also include selected charts and tables, where available, of topics like ruling history and judicial reversal rates.

Bloomberg Law's Litigation Analytics module is currently limited to U.S. District Court judges, but includes profiles and analysis of opinions and orders, such as frequently-cited opinions, motion and appeal outcomes, and average length of case.

For more sources of information about judges, including access for the always-illuminating anonymous lawyer survey comments in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, visit the Goodson Law Library research guide to Directories of Courts and Judges or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Indecent Exposure

This weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live sounded a little different to viewers in the Raleigh-Durham market served by NBC affiliate WRAL-TV. Host Dave Chappelle's monologue featured several ten-second audio drops, omitting entire sentences and joke punchlines. The periodic audio interruptions continued into several SNL sketches. (Twitter user Nathania Johnson compared her local DVR recording to video clips from the national broadcast on Hulu. The WRAL interruptions are described in detail at her Medium post, 10 times NBC affiliate WRAL censored Dave Chappelle-hosted SNL last night.)

Raleigh's News & Observer confirmed that the local network affiliate had elected to provide additional local censorship of language, even though several pre-taped sketches already featured bleeping from the national broadcast feed. In an official statement released on Sunday, WRAL said,
"WRAL-TV has a station obscenity, decency and profanity policy that outlines 10 specific words that will not be broadcast on our air. This policy is based on our own standards in combination with FCC guidelines. Our broadcast operators have a 10-second delay button they can choose to use. During Saturday Night Live on NBC, guest host Dave Chappell [sic] used 2 of those words on 9 different occasions and they were silenced. Obviously, SNL is a live show so we had no prior indication about what would be said during the broadcast. We understand this caused disruption during the program. We wanted our audience to know this was a station decision, not the network's, and why we made that choice."

Later, in response to viewer complaints and increasing press coverage, WRAL apologized "for impeding the full flow and message of Dave Chappelle's monologue. It was not our intention to censor his message. We followed policies and procedures that have been in place for many years for programming of any kind," and pledged to review the internal policy while considering viewer input. Variety noted that the station had heard "from many viewers" about the local language censorship, and also had a history of refusing to air certain national programs during its time as a CBS affiliate.

In its statement about the local obscenity, decency and profanity station policy, WRAL mentions national "FCC guidelines" as well. The Federal Communications Commission regulates broadcast television and radio, and does indeed provide guidelines about obscene, indecent, and profane content. Obscene content falls outside First Amendment protection and is prohibited at all times; indecent and profane content is prohibited between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., "when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience." Saturday Night Live airs from 11:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

In the 1970s, the decade when Saturday Night Live debuted, comedian George Carlin’s famous "Seven Dirty Words" routine landed before the U.S. Supreme Court, which considered FCC indecency and profanity standards in the case of Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978). In the Pacifica case, a 5-4 Court upheld the FCC's finding that a radio broadcast of Carlin's routine constituted indecent speech.

The current federal standard for what constitutes indecent or profane content is discussed in the FCC's "Golden Globes order" of 2004, 19 FCC Rcd. 4975, available on the FCC's website. In the "Golden Globes order" (so named for the awards ceremony where singer Bono uttered a "fleeting expletive" in the live broadcast), the Commission cited an earlier internal policy document, Industry Guidance on the Commission's Case Law Interpreting 18 U.S.C. §1464 and Enforcement Policies Regarding Broadcast Indecency ("Indecency Policy Statement"), 16 FCC Rcd 7999. This policy statement outlined more clearly what factors the Commission weighs in determine whether content is indecent.

For more information on broadcast standards and the FCC, try a search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject heading "Broadcasting -- Law and legislation -- United States." You’ll find titles like Rodney Smolla's treatise Rights and Liabilities in Media Content: Internet, Broadcast, and Print (KF2750 .M472 & online in Westlaw) as well as historical works on broadcast regulation and indecency. For more information about the FCC's operations, check out the agency directories listed in the Goodson Law Library guide to Federal Administrative Law or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers and Law Students

It's that time of year again! Since 2009, the Goodson Blogson has compiled holiday gift ideas for the law students or lawyers in your life. We are proud to stand alongside long-time lawyer gift guide authors like Reid Trautz of Reid My Blog (which, sadly, seems to have ceased updating after its 2015 gift guide) and the ABA Journal. This year, we are getting a head start on our holiday shopping plans, with our earliest gift guide ever.

The gift shops of federal museums and other D.C.-area tourist attractions remain a great place to locate unique law-themed items. If you can't make it to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture (where advanced tickets quickly sold out until 2017), you can browse some of its souvenirs available in the Smithsonian Store, including books on African-American and civil rights history, t-shirts, and jewelry. The Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop and White House Gift Shop are also perennial favorites for legal and political-themed knickknacks, jewelry, and even jigsaw puzzles.

Since last year's gift guide, the National Archives and Records Administration store has expanded its inventory. Patent Prints now include a number of sports-themed patent artwork (e.g., basketball nets, golf ball cores, and soccer shoes) as well as musical instruments, toys, and vehicle parts. The Bill of Rights comes emblazoned on lunch bags, t-shirts, and coffee mugs. The Kitchen collection includes dishware and glassware featuring the Declaration of Independence, D.C. government landmarks, and a 1974 "cocktail construction chart" drawn by a former employee of the U.S. Forest Service.

Private museums and attractions are another great source for unusual law gifts. Ralph Nader's American Museum of Tort Law in Connecticut also hosts a small online shop, featuring t-shirts depicting the Brown v. Kendall "reasonable person" case, the exploding Pinto automobile which inspired Nader's classic book Unsafe at Any Speed, and the famous flaming rat (don't ask).

Online retailer Uncommon Goods offers The Devil's Dictionary Law Glasses, a pair of tumblers featuring humorous definitions of "proof" and "justice" straight from Ambrose Bierce's 1906 satirical Devil's Dictionary. (Similar glassware pairs are available for finance and medicine.) For less-sarcastic drinkers, the site also offers glasses featuring the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

In September, Florida became the first state to require a minimum number of continuing legal education hours in technology, a change which will take effect on January 1. Florida's recent rule change also made them the 25th state to adopt an ethical duty for lawyers to stay current with technology. With technology's importance to the law profession increasing by the day, gadgets make great gifts for law students and lawyers alike! Some ideas at various price points include:
  • Electronic organizers like Grid-It offer affordable options for safely storing cables, chargers, headphones, and other tech accessories.
  • Speaking of chargers, ThinkGeek's Electronics section includes several whimsical charging devices, such as Star Wars-themed USB chargers, and a Back to the Future flux capacitor car charger.
  • Noise-canceling headphones are a higher-end purchase, but can vastly improve study time in the law library as well as air travel. CNET recommends The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2016 at prices ranging from $165 to $440.
  • Tablets are a great option for the mobile lawyer or law student. Consumer Reports offers a Tablet Buying Guide to help users navigate the growing amount of choices on the market.
  • Virtual reality headsets don't come cheap, with the exception of Google Cardboard's introductory offering. But for gamers and budding geeks, virtual reality is undeniably appealing. CNET rounds up available options, including Samsung Gear and Oculus Rift. Be warned, though – Microsoft has just announced plans to develop a new $299 VR headset in 2017, meaning this year's gift might need an upgrade in the not-too-distant future.

When shopping online, be mindful to calculate the cost of sales tax (if applicable) and shipping to your purchase. Free shipping may be available from retailers with a specific purchase amount. There's also Free Shipping Day, in which online retailers offer no-minimum free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Free Shipping Day isn't until December 16, when desired items might be out of stock – so keep an eye out for shipping deals between now and then, such as "Cyber Monday" (the Monday following Thanksgiving).

Finally, don't forget to stop in at your local independent retailers. Yes, prices may be slightly lower at online giants like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but shipping costs can often even that score, or even cost more in the long run. Local retailers may also carry unique merchandise not available on other sites, such as Runaway Clothes' popular "Durm Bull" t-shirts. Sustain-a-Bull is Durham's alliance of more than 175 independent local businesses, many of which are retail stores offering unique local items.

All of us at Goodson Blogson HQ wish our readers a happy and safe holiday season.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New HeinOnline Library on the History of Slavery

The Goodson Law Library's HeinOnline subscription now includes the new library Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law. Edited by Paul Finkelman of Albany Law School, Duke's Fall 2012 John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History, the collection compiles slavery-related treatises, law review articles, case law, and statutes into a single place, which is described as "all known legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world."

The collection includes such seminal historical works as Catterall's Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro, a five-volume digest of early American case law concerning slaves. More modern works on slavery can also be found in the "Articles" tab as well as the "UNC Press" tab, featuring more recent e-books from the University of North Carolina Press.

The collection may be browsed or searched. For example, researchers who wish to learn more about the 1831 Nat Turner rebellion in Virginia (the subject of the current Hollywood film The Birth of a Nation) might search across this library for "Nat Turner." Results will include a reprinted pamphlet, Confession of Nat Turner, Leader of the Negro Insurrection in Southampton County. Results also include several 19th and 20th-century treatises on the topic, such as William Sidney Drewry's The Southampton Insurrection (1900), a compilation of interviews with surviving eyewitnesses. (Nate Parker, the writer/director/star of the 2016 film, has cited Drewry's work as important source material.)

The new Hein library now appears in the Duke University Libraries' HeinOnline landing page. Library users may access this library from anywhere on Duke's campus; Duke University students, faculty, and staff may also access HeinOnline from off-campus with a NetID and password. However, readers who are unaffiliated with Duke, or unable to visit a subscribing library in person, may also register directly with HeinOnline for free access to the Slavery in America and the World library. As noted in its October 5 press release, "The crisis revolving around race relations in America and the recent events surrounding this crisis have made the Hein Company rethink the idea of financially profiting from the sale of a collection on slavery."

To locate additional works in the Goodson Law Library about slavery and the law, consult the Duke Libraries Catalog or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Federal Rulemaking, In Case of Emergency

Over the last few weeks, you have probably heard about Samsung's Galaxy Note 7, which was recalled by its manufacturer after numerous reports of spontaneous battery fires. Last week, the company announced that it had ceased production of the Android phone, now under one of the largest recalls ever issued for consumer electronics. Late last week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced a ban of the devices on all U.S. flights, via an emergency order to be published in the Federal Register later this week.

The ban, officially known as Emergency Restriction/Prohibition Order No. FAA-2016-9288, took effect at noon on Saturday. It now prohibits passengers and crew from carrying the banned Galaxy devices "on their person, in carry-on baggage, in checked baggage, or as cargo." Passengers caught carrying the device will be denied boarding of the aircraft. If a person accidentally does bring the Galaxy Note 7 on board, the device must be immediately powered off, with activation prevented for the remainder of the flight. Violators are subject to "civil penalties of up to $179,933 for each violation" and may be criminally prosecuted, as well. The order will remain in effect until the Secretary of Transportation "determines that an imminent hazard no longer exists or a change in applicable statute or federal regulation occurs that supersedes the requirements of this Order, in which case the Secretary will issue a Rescission Order."

This news serves as a reminder that not every federal agency rule is subject to the notice and comment (informal) rulemaking process outlined by the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the APA, proposed agency rules are published in the Federal Register with an opportunity for the public to submit comments on the proposal, and rules are eventually republished in final form along with a summary of the comments and any agency response. 5 U.S.C. § 553(B) provides that agencies may skip the more protracted public comment process "when the agency for good cause finds (and incorporates the finding and a brief statement of reasons therefor in the rules issued) that notice and public procedure thereon are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest." The FAA's emergency order notes that federal statutes give the Secretary of Transportation jurisdiction to regulate transport of lithium ion batteries, and also allows for emergency restrictions when needed "to abate the imminent hazard."

On the Federal Register website, emergency notices like the FAA's Galaxy Note 7 ban appear on the online Public Inspection Desk as a "Special Filing." As a reminder, the Public Inspection Desk allows readers to preview recently-released administrative rules and other documents before they appear in the printed edition of the daily Federal Register. also allows users to search or browse issues of the Federal Register back to 1994.

Regulations.Gov is another important federal rulemaking bookmark, which provides access to proposed rules during their comment period, and allows users to submit or review comments to the agency. For more information about the federal rulemaking process, and options for researching pending or enacted federal regulations, check out the Goodson Law Library research guide to Federal Administrative Law or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On the Ballot

For obvious reasons, interest in election law spikes every four years. But even in non-presidential election years, laws related to the electoral process have a huge impact on citizens. They dictate the boundaries of election districts (such as the North Carolina redistricting at issue in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, McCrory v. Harris) , create requirements for voter eligibility (such as North Carolina's controversial voter ID law, partially invalidated by the 4th Circuit in July; a deadlocked U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant a petition for review, leaving the 4th Circuit precedent in place), and even determine the order in which candidates' names appear (such as the 2016 North Carolina legislative change, favoring the party of the current Governor).

Election laws are complex and vary widely by state. The National Survey of State Legislatures website offers a free roundup of Election Laws and Procedures, providing 50-state surveys on topics like voter ID requirements, registration rules, and maintenance of voter rolls. (For Law School community members, both Westlaw and Lexis Advance offer similar 50-state surveys on election law topics. On Westlaw, the SURVEYS database includes a Statutory Survey on Election Law; in Lexis Advance, follow the path Secondary Sources > LexisNexis® 50-State Surveys, Statutes & Regulations > Governments to view available election-related topics.)

For more information and the latest news about election law developments, check out Election Law Blog, Ballot Access News, and the CQ Voting and Elections Collection (available through Duke University). To locate books or other materials in the Goodson Law Library, try a search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject heading "Election Law -- United States" or Ask a Librarian.