Peasants, Tanners, and Psychiatrists: Using Films to Teach Comparative Law

Films are very popular with our faculty and students.  The law library has a large and growing film collection.   In Advanced Legal Research we show An Act of Congress and clips from Party Girl and Hair.  This new working paper discusses six films, all of which we need to add to our collection.  The films are:  The Return of Martin Guerre, Dingaka, The Story of Qiu Ju, A Question of Silence, The Conviction, and The Red Corner.

“Peasants, Tanners, and Psychiatrists: Using Films to Teach Comparative Law”

International Journal of Legal Information, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2008
Villanova Law Public Law & Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2008-15

JOSEPH W. DELLAPENNA, Villanova University School of Law

Films have proven to be a useful teaching tool for a course on Comparative Law. The films serve to introduce the class to the look and feel of legal proceedings from selected foreign legal systems and to illustrate particular aspects of how these legal proceedings differ from our own. The article summarizes the results of more than 10 years of experience in using films. It will be of interest to others who teach Comparative Law and also to lawyers, judges, and students who want a video means of oriented themselves to foreign legal traditions. The article discusses the limitations of such films as teaching (or orientation) tools, both in general and with regard to each particular film.

Source: LSN Legal Education Vol. 5 No. 23,  05/16/2008

FCC Hearing at Stanford

Our archivist Sarah Wilson has put together an impressive compilation of testimony transcripts, statements, press releases, news clippings and other items from the FCC public en banc hearing on Broadband Network Management Practices, held here on April 17, 2008.

The document is available as part of our Legal Research Paper Series.

Vietnamese Law: A Guide to Sources and Commentary

Vietnamese Law: A Guide to Sources and Commentary

Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2007
U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 328

PENELOPE NICHOLSON, University of Melbourne – Law School

QUAN HIEN NGUYEN, Swinburne University of Technology

This bibliography aims to assist legal practitioners, students and researchers navigate the diverse sources relevant to the Vietnamese legal system in the 21st century. Its focus is on secondary sources and does not include specific reference to Vietnamese laws. While the secondary sources listed are predominantly in English, consistent with the leadership of this journal, guidance on how to access Vietnamese laws and Vietnamese secondary sources has also been included.

This five-part bibliography includes a limited listing of bibliographies; secondary sources on Vietnamese law published in Vietnam; secondary sources in English on Vietnamese law across 18 legal categories; guidance on how to access Vietnamese laws and a listing of Vietnam law-focused internet sites, including those that canvas law reform issues. Each of these categories is preceded by a short analysis of the material included.

In particular, the authors suggest readings to enable new researchers to navigate the field quickly. With the exception of the ‘history section’, the emphasis in each category is on contemporary writing. The sources have been identified during the course of the authors’ research and teaching on the Vietnamese legal system at the Asian Law Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Source:  LSN Asian Law Vol. 6 No. 13,  05/16/2008


Law Schools and the Open Access Movement: An Article Review of Aux Armes Citoyens

Elena Maria Coyle, one of our students in the winter advanced legal research class, has written a wonderful paper, “Law Schools and the Open Access Movement: An Article Review of Aux Armes Citoyens.”  We have published this paper as part of our library’s Legal Research Paper Series.

Here are the introduction and conclusion (with footnotes removed – please see the posted complete research paper for footnoted citations):

“The advent of the Internet in 1994 inaugurated a “revolution”  in legal research. For the first time, the legal profession became poised to disseminate limitless levels information — both within its own community and to the public at large. Ironically, free access to legal information has become increasingly fettered. In recent years, the contraction of the publishing market has left only three corporations as the custodians of a deep repository of legal knowledge.   Although this market consolidation, coupled with staggering technological developments, has facilitated the expansion and improvement of online legal research services, such innovation has a price. 
            In Aux Armes, Citoyens, Ian Gallacher explores the implications of these changes with respect to their potential societal costs. Gallacher identifies the “seeds of a future problem,” which, if unaddressed, could further compromise equal access to justice. His analysis situates the legal research revolution within “a longstanding tradition of making the law inaccessible to the citizenry.” This tradition, which has favored insularity rather than access, and elitism rather than understanding, presents a twofold challenge: first, increasing the availability of the law; and second, making that law intelligible.
            Beyond mere analysis, Gallacher’s manuscript is a manifesto — a call to America’s law schools to take their place on the vanguard of the open access movement.  Yet who will bear the consequences of such a commitment?  In this paper, I will use the framework taught in Advanced Legal Research (ALR) at Stanford Law School as a touchstone for analysis of Gallacher’s call to arms. First, I will address his proposition that law schools are uniquely situated to respond to the problem of limited access to the law.  Second, I will assess which of the resources employed in ALR have comparable, open access substitutes to LexisNexis and Westlaw. Finally, I will briefly reflect on how Gallacher’s ten principles for the liberation of the law fit within and the objectives of a contemporary legal resource course and the comprehensive mission of a law school.”

In her conclusion, our student writes:

”  . . while the status quo of open access legal research may seem bleak, it is already possible- with effort, patience, and know-how — to conduct much of one’s legal research without reliance on the online services of LexisNexis or Westlaw. As technology continues to improve, and more individuals join the open access movement, the ease with which low and no cost research may be conducted with also improve.
The fodder is ready to feed the revolutionary flame. Following Gallacher’s lead, it is time for those with a stake in the future of the law to take arms!”

Decisions, opinions and orders – what’s the diff?

A reference question that comes up every now and then is “what’s the difference between a judicial opinion and a judicial decision.”  That’s an easy one, thanks to Elyse H. Fox’s wonderful The Legal Research Dictionary:  from Advance Sheets to Pocket Parts, Second Edition (I love this reference book!).  She defines, “Opinion – Technically, the written statement of the court explaining its decision . . . ”

Fuzzier to me has been the distinction between an order and an opinion.  A new law review article, with an intriguing title, “Docketology, District Courts, and Doctrine,” by David A. Hoffman, Alan J. Izenman, and Jeffrey R. Lidicker, offers a really interesting analysis following an “historical detour” look at U.S. District Court publication.  Here’s the opinion/order distinction they draw:

     “The E-Government Act of 2002 changed this distribution system by requiring federal courts to post all of their ‘opinions’ on the website, regardless of whether the opinions were designated . . . as published or unpublished. The Judicial Conference defines ‘written opinion’ as ‘any document issued by a judge or judges of the court . . . that sets forth a reasoned explanation for a court’s decision.’ . . . The databases harvest such opinions and, after adding codes like Keycites, make them available for a fee.

     “Thus in theory if a disposition is on Westlaw or Lexis, a judge has determined that it ‘sets forth a reasoned explanation for a court’s decision.’  If that modern disposition is not on Westlaw or Lexis, the judge has decided not to explain it fully.  Texts that judges do not designate as opinions will remain unseen, except for those individuals who are willing to pay to access the docket, or come to the courthouse in person.”

     “We are thus comfortable distinguishing between opinions and orders with a simple definition:

    For our purposes, an ‘opinion’ is any judicial disposition on Westlaw or Lexis; an ‘order’ is any disposition that is not.”

85 Washington University Law Review 681, 693 (2007)

Applying the Access Principle in Law: The Responsibilities of the Legal Scholar

Applying the Access Principle in Law: The Responsibilities of the Legal Scholar

International Journal of Legal Information, Vol. 35, No. 355, Winter 2007
Duke Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 204

RICHARD A. DANNER, Duke University School of Law

This article applies to legal scholarship the ideas developed and argued in John Willinsky’s 2006 book: The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship regarding the responsibilities of scholars to make their works widely available through open access mechanisms via the Internet. Willinsky’s access principle states that “A commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of such work as far as possible and ideally to all who are in interested in it and all who might profit by it.” For Willinsky, the transformation of scholarly journals from print to online formats means that not only researchers and scholars, but “scholarly societies, publishers, and research libraries have now to ask themselves whether or not they are using this new technology to do as much as they can to advance and improve access to research and scholarship.” This article considers the roles and responsibilities under the access principle of legal scholars and the institutions that support the creation and communication of legal scholarship for improving access to legal information

The article begins with a presentation of Willinsky’s access principle, then introduces the movements for open access to law and to scholarship in other disciplines, addresses questions regarding access to the legal journal literature in the U.S., the U.K., and South Africa, discusses means for enabling access to legal literature through open access journals and scholarship repositories, and describes one law school’s experiences in providing open access to its own scholarship. It concludes with suggestions for law schools and law libraries wishing to pursue the implications of the access principle in their institutions.

Source:  LSN Legal Education Vol. 5 No. 21,  05/09/2008