Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hot Diggity DARE

The Goodson Law Library has just received the latest – and last – print volume of DARE, better known by its full title, the Dictionary of American Regional English. This massive, decades-long effort to document spoken English across America can be found in our Reference Collection at the call number Ref PE2843 .D52 1985. The set is arranged as follows:
  • Volume I (1985):  A – C
  • Volume II (1991): D – H
  • Volume III (1996): I - O
  • Volume IV (2002): P – Sk
  • Volume V (2012):  Sl – Z
  • Volume VI (2013): maps, indexes, questionnaire, and field data
DARE has a fascinating history, which began in 1889 with the founding of the American Dialect Society. The dictionary's web home at the University of Wisconsin outlines the print edition's development and format. Individual entries attempt to trace the earliest appearance of a term into American English, and also identify the region(s) where the word/phrase is most commonly used. The latest volume is an intriguing conclusion to the set, as it allows researchers to review the actual list of responses received to specific questionnaire inquiries, ordered by their popularity. So if you've ever wondered what to call a very light rain (question B21), how to describe particularly strong coffee (H74a), or wanted alternate terms for splitting a restaurant bill (II9), volume VI will get you started; it'll also highlight some colorful exclamations of joy (NN6a) which could have served as alternate titles to this blog entry. (And yes, the age-old debate of "soda or pop?" is addressed in question H78.)

Why should a law library concern itself with a slang dictionary? It's true that the original survey questionnaire, which circulated within 1,000 representative American communities between 1965-1970, doesn't cover much law-related ground (unless you count question P35's descriptions of "illegal methods for shooting deer" – generally at night, and known as "fire-lighting" in South Carolina, "jack-light" in the Northeast, and "headlighting" around Texas, according to the regional response map). But dictionaries of all kinds are an important tool for legal researchers, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas even cited to DARE last year while dissenting from the majority in Smith v. Cain. Surprisingly, the Smith dissent looks to be this dictionary's first appearance in a published federal court opinion, although it has also been cited in trial motions and appellate briefs.

Other dictionaries, of course, are regularly cited in court opinions: DARE's more highbrow cousin The Oxford English Dictionary has been name-checked by courts literally thousands of times, and can be found not far from DARE in the Goodson Law Library, at the call number Ref PE1625 .O87 1989 or in an online version available to the University. The full text of DARE is not yet available online, although the website currently offers 100 entries as well as reel-to-reel audio samples of the 1960s survey respondents.

Whether you need to know the definition of a legal term of art or a confusing piece of slang, be sure to Ask a Librarian for some good starting places.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Up in the Sky! It's...Cogent Legal Analysis?

Would the Joker be eligible for an insanity defense? Is discrimination against the X-Men mutants actually a hate crime? And could a masked Spider-Man really testify in court without violating the Confrontation Clause? These questions and more are tackled in The Law of Superheroes, a fun new title in the Goodson Law Library's James D. Cox Legal Fiction Collection.

Attorney-authors James Daily and Ryan Davidson also maintain the popular blog Law and the Multiverse (a recent finalist for the ABA Journal's "Blawg 100" awards), which since 2010 has examined a variety of legal issues through the prism of comic-book geekery. Their book compiles and expands the blog's analysis within thirteen different areas of comic-related law, including criminal law and procedure, tort and insurance concerns, and even immigration issues for world-traveling (and space-traveling) crime-fighters.

If you'd like to read more about superheroes and the law...you just might be out of luck if this particular title is checked out. However, a subject heading search of the Duke Libraries' Catalog for "Superheroes in Literature" turns up some amusing other results across campus, including a philosophy series available in e-book format (The Avengers and Philosophy: Earth's Mightiest Thinkers and Spider-Man and Philosophy: The Web of Inquiry). And while this superhero text might stand alone on the Goodson Law Library shelves, the Cox Legal Fiction Collection does contain many other titles related to law and fiction, including The Law and Harry Potter and Legally Correct Fairy Tales. For help locating more fun reads, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Spring-Cleaning Your Sakai Sites

The start of a new semester is a good time to take stock of your Sakai course sites, which are listed as tabs at the top of the screen. The Goodson Law Library's Digital Initiatives Librarian, Hollie White, offers these tips to rearrange, hide, and/or change the number of displayed course sites in Sakai.

To begin, log in to Sakai with your NetID and password. Make sure that the "My Workspace" tab is active. On the side bar, click Preferences. You should see a box that says "My Active Sites." Inside that box is a list of courses to which you are assigned.

To rearrange the order of tabs in "My Active Sites"

  1. Click and highlight the name of the course that you want to move.
  2. To the left of the course name are two buttons (one points up and the other points down).
  3. Click the up arrow to move the highlighted course to the left. Click the down arrow to move the highlighted course to the right.
  4. Click the "Update Preferences" button (below the "Active Sites" box) to save your order choice.
Note: "My Workspace" will always be your first tab on the left.

To change the number of course tabs displayed

  1. To change the number of tabs displayed, use the dropdown box to choose a number between 4 and 20. These numbers represent the number of tabs that will be displayed at the top of the screen.
  2. Once you have selected a number, click the "Update Preferences" button (below the "Active Sites" box) to save your choice.

To hide one tab/site

  1. To the right of "My Active Sites" are two sets of arrows and a box called "My Hidden Sites."
  2. Click and highlight the name of the course you want to hide.
  3. Click the arrow pointing right to move the course into "My Hidden Sites."
  4. Click the "Update Preferences" button (below the "Active Sites”"box) to save your order choice.

To hide multiple tabs/sites

  1. In "My Active Sites," click and highlight the name of the first course you want to hide.
  2. Press the "CTRL" button on your keyboard while you click and highlight names of other courses you want to hide.
  3. Click the arrow pointing right to move the courses into "My Hidden Sites."
  4. Click the "Update Preferences" button (below the "Active Sites" box) to save your order choice.

To hide all your sites

In "My Active Sites," click the double arrow button. All of your courses will move to "Hidden Sites."

Note: Hidden sites are still available to you. They will not be listed in tabs along the top, but will be in a drop-down menu. Remember that you can always move sites from "My Hidden Sites" to "My Active Sites" by using the arrows that point to the left.

For more information

For additional assistance with Sakai, please contact Digital Initiatives Librarian Hollie White.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Restorative Justice in Action

Today's New York Times Magazine contains an in-depth examination of "restorative justice" in action. Author Paul Tullis recounts the 2010 murder of Florida college student Ann Grosmaire, shot by her boyfriend Conor McBride after a lengthy and heated argument. But Grosmaire's tragic death is just the beginning of the story.

"Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?" asks the story's headline. For the parents of Ann Grosmaire, the answer was an emphatic yes. McBride had turned himself in to police almost immediately, confessing his guilt and remorse. He had been a welcome presence in their lives for three years prior to their daughter's killing. "Before this happened, I loved Conor," said Ann's mother, Kate Grosmaire. "I knew that if I defined Conor by that one moment — as a murderer — I was defining my daughter as a murder victim. And I could not allow that to happen."

After learning about restorative justice from a local prison chaplain, the Grosmaires and McBrides persuaded the prosecutor to work with an outside facilitator to explore alternative sentencing options for McBride, who would ordinarily face either a mandatory minimum life sentence or the death penalty under the charge of first-degree murder. The parents' effort was unprecedented in the Florida justice system, with even the nationally-renowned facilitator skeptical that this method would work for a violent homicide. Typically, restorative justice methods – which involve various meetings between the facilitator, the victims and the offender in order to determine an appropriate remedy – are used in less-serious property crimes. But D.A. Jack Campbell agreed to setting up a pre-plea conference at which the facilitator could employ restorative justice conferencing techniques. Tullis describes the conference and its eventual results in vivid detail.

To learn more about restorative justice, search the Duke Libraries Catalog for titles like The Promise of Restorative Justice: New Approaches for Criminal Justice and Beyond (available at Perkins/Bostock library) or Social Work and Restorative Justice: Skills for Dialogue, Peacemaking and Reconciliation (available electronically to the Duke University community through Oxford University Press). A keyword or subject search for "restorative justice" will return these titles and more; note that many of the titles in the Goodson Law Library relate to restorative justice after international conflicts. For help locating additional resources about restorative justice, be sure to Ask a Librarian.