Law in the News

Embedded librarians support faculty, students where they work

Many faculty and students know that they can get help from librarians through online Ask a Librarian services, or inside Crerar, D’Angelo, Eckhart, Mansueto, Regenstein, and SSA libraries.  Increasingly, librarians are also providing customized on-site research and teaching services. From hospitals to classrooms, and legal clinics to a business incubator, University of Chicago librarians are using their expertise to support faculty, students, residents, and entrepreneurs where they work.

Librarians at the Hospital

Biomedical librarian with faculty physicians and medical student

Biomedical librarian Debra Werner (second from right) provides research support to faculty physicians, including (from left) Dr. Lolita Alkureishi, Dr. Nicola Orlov, and (right) medical student Riley Brian. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

Librarian Debra Werner joins the internal medicine team at UChicago Medicine’s Bernard Mitchell Hospital for patient rounds once a week, to provide research support as faculty, residents, and medical students develop a treatment plan for patients. Her iPad at the ready, she obtains rapid answers to patient-related clinical questions ranging from the side effects of pharmaceuticals to the evidence for selecting one treatment option over another for a specific patient.

Dr. Vineet Arora, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Scholarship and Discovery, as well as a member of the Board of the Library, is one of the attending physicians who brings Werner on rounds.   “I think that a librarian helps to promote greater awareness of the importance of clinical questions and evidence in patient care,” she explained. “It also helps us to understand when there is no data—and you realize that some of medicine is informed by your intuition or gestalt and not by evidence.”

Werner, who is Librarian for Science Instruction & Outreach and Biomedical Reference Librarian, is working with medical student Riley Brian and Dr. Lolita Alkureishi on a research project to assess the impact of having a biomedical reference librarian on the internal medicine and pediatrics inpatient clinical teams. They describe Werner as “a great addition to the team” and have found her research support invaluable. One study by Grefsheim et al. “showed that 97% of physicians who worked with clinical librarians would recommend working with them to other physicians,” they quoted. “Having a clinical librarian on rounds once or twice a week provides a bedside resource for complicated cases, can make patients feel like they are getting the most up to date and informed care, and can help team members learn how to approach answering difficult clinical questions.”

Biomedical Librarian Ricardo Andrade, who, like Werner, is based at the John Crerar Library, also goes weekly to the medical center.  At the request of Dr. Keith Ruskin and Dr. Jeffrey Apfelbaum, he provides on-site office hours for Anesthesiology physicians in the Center for Care and Discovery physician lunchroom, answering questions and raising awareness of research services he can provide.  “Being there, putting a face and a name to the Library, they can see me as their librarian,” Andrade explained.  Topics he has discussed with physicians run the gamut from how they can gain access to specific titles to the future of libraries.

Andrade and Werner both take advantage of their locations on-site to make UChicago faculty and residents aware of the support they can provide to those conducting systematic literature reviews for medical journals.  As medical librarians, they can bring their research expertise to bear by working with physicians as they develop a focused question, by constructing and documenting relevant, replicable searches across multiple medical databases, and by provide citations in the style required by chosen journals.

Librarians in the Classroom

Librarians and bibliographers have long supported a wide range of classes at the University by providing one-time training sessions to students in connection with research assignments. In recent years, they have been expanding the range and depth of their support for classroom teaching by developing tailored instruction with interested faculty.

For example, Nancy Spiegel, Rebecca Starkey, and Julia Gardner have worked closely with Professors Kathleen Belew and Susan Burns from the History Department to develop assignments and teach students information literacy and more advanced research skills as part of the course Doing History, which introduces first- and second-year students to how historians do their work.

Starkey and Spiegel began by teaching research fundamentals, such as how to use subject headings in the Library Catalog, find articles, and use databases to find primary sources.  As the course progressed, they provided support for assignments that required students to use scholarly articles, evaluate historical publications, analyze the contemporary reception of events, and study world history.  In the Special Collections Research Center, Gardner, who is SCRC Head of Reader Services, led multiple sessions that allowed students to interact with early manuscript material, learn about rare book printing, and gain experience using archival collections. With the help of librarians in a wide range of specialties, students’ final assignment was to develop an “archive” of historical materials exploring topics ranging from the relationship between bodegas and immigration patterns in Brooklyn to the role of historians in the making feature films.

Starkey, Librarian for College Instruction and Outreach, and Spiegel, Bibliographer for Art and Cinema and Bibliographer for History, expressed great satisfaction with the growth they have seen in students’ research skills over the quarter.  Students reported in course evaluations that they ended the class feeling increased confidence in their ability to use the library and their pride in their growth as budding historians.  “Then we see them over and over again doing work for other classes” Spiegel said.  “They’re really engaged with the library.  They ask good questions. They don’t just stop with Google or Google Scholar, and they’re a lot more independent.”

Starkey encourages faculty to contact librarians to discuss the many ways they can support coursework—not only through assignments and classroom instruction, but also via online help guides and tutorials.  “We can work with you to develop students’ skills over time based on the specific needs of your course,” she said.

Librarians support faculty who are teaching courses in disciplines across the University and at the graduate and professional as well as the undergraduate level.  For example, Emily Treptow, Business and Economics Librarian for Instruction and Outreach, recently supported faculty in the development and teaching of two new courses: Trustee Thomas Cole’s seminar for the College on Leading Complex Organizations, and Professor Stephen Fisher’s Chicago Booth School of Business course Marketing and Managing Luxury.

Librarians in a Business Incubator and Legal Clinics

Librarian Emily Treptow (left) shows business resources to entrepreneur Andrew Kim, President of HaulHound.com, at the Polsky Innovation Exchange. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

Librarian Emily Treptow (left) shows business resources to entrepreneur Andrew Kim, President of HaulHound.com, at the Polsky Innovation Exchange. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

This summer, Business and Economics librarians Jeffry Archer, Greg Fleming, and Emily Treptow began working with colleagues at UChicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which helps scholars and entrepreneurs translate their ideas and new technologies into start-up businesses and products. Archer, Fleming, and Treptow go to the Polsky Exchange office on 53rd Street monthly to advise UChicago faculty, students, and staff, as well as community members, on how to access the market, industry, and product research they need to develop their business plans.

On the other side of the Midway, D’Angelo Law Library staff provide support for a wide range of legal clinics that give law students hands-on experience addressing real-world legal issues.  The Law School’s Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab, for example, gives students the opportunity to develop practical legal and business skills through classroom instruction and work on cutting-edge projects with multinational corporations.

At the beginning of the year, D’Angelo provides a presentation on legal research process for all of the Corporate Lab students.  Then, D’Angelo librarians are assigned as liaisons to each project team, familiarize themselves with the teams’ projects, and meet with the teams at the beginning of the quarter to provide research assistance.  The liaison librarians function as resources for the project teams as they work throughout the year.

“The D’Angelo law librarians (most of whom are former practicing attorneys) are key to the success of our clinical program,” explains David Zarfes, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Corporate Lab Programs. “Certainly, they teach our students the skills necessary to research, analyze, and evaluate the accuracy, strength, and appropriateness of sources.   But their value extends beyond this. Fundamentally, the D’Angelo law librarians teach effective and innovative problem solving and communication skills that help our students navigate the path from law school to law practice.”

D’Angelo librarians also work closely with other clinics, including the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, the International Human Rights Clinic, the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic, and the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship.  Increasing the level of support D’Angelo offers to all legal clinics is an ongoing goal for D’Angelo reference staff.

UChicago faculty in all disciplines are encouraged to speak with librarians about their particular research and teaching objectives to learn how a librarian may be able to support them in their work.

Historic database on Chicago Police misconduct launched

The groundbreaking Citizens Police Data Project, launched yesterday by the Invisible Institute and the Law School’s Civil Rights and Police Accountability Clinic, is a searchable database that contains more than 56,000 complaints filed against more than 8,500 Chicago police officers between 2001 and September of this year. There are gaps in that 14-year period, but the database has every allegation of misconduct made against an officer between March 2011 and this September.

This data set is based on requests made under the Freedom of Information Act which became public information in 2014, when the Clinic won the landmark Illinois appellate case Kalven v. City of Chicago, 7 N.E.3d 741 (Ill. App. Ct. 2014). The database offers a variety of tools for sorting, filtering, and mapping the data. Each record contains information about the complaint and its outcome; the accused officer, including the officer’s name, race, age, gender, and unit of assignment; demographic information on the complainant, including race, age, and gender; and geographic information on where the incident occurred.

For related information on the topic, see the D’Angelo Law Library’s Civil Rights and Police Accountability research guide.

Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales), domestic violence, and the Inter-American system of human rights: online resources

This Wednesday, October 22, at lunchtime in Room IV, four Law School student organizations – the Human Rights Law Society, the Immigration Law Society, the Law Women’s Caucus, and the Domestic Violence Project – present the International Human Rights Clinic’s Caroline Bettinger-Lopez speaking on “Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States: Reframing Domestic Violence as a Human Rights Violation”.  Ms. Bettinger-Lopez was one of the ACLU attorneys who presented a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) against the U.S. government on behalf of Jessica and her deceased daughters on December 27, 2005 (see Merits Report 80/11, Case 12.626, July 21, 2011).

According to an IACHR press release:

“Jessica Lenahan, a victim of domestic violence along with her daughters Leslie, Katheryn and Rebecca Gonzales, ages 7, 8 and 10, obtained a restraining order against her ex-husband from the Colorado Courts in May 21, 1999. Not knowing the whereabouts of her daughters, Jessica Lenahan had eight contacts with the Castle Rock Police Department during the evening of June 22, 1999 and the morning of June 23, 1999. In each of her telephone calls and discussions with the police agents, she requested efforts to locate her daughters and she informed them that she possessed a protection order against Simon Gonzales. Her contacts were met with a police response that was fragmented, uncoordinated and unprepared, and it did not respect the terms of the restraining order. That morning, Simon Gonzales drove his pick-up truck to the Castle Rock Police Department and fired shots through the window. There was an exchange of gunfire with officers from the station in the course of which he was fatally wounded and killed. The deceased bodies of the three girls were found in his truck.”

Ms. Bettinger-Lopez/IHR Clinic will also be attending the IACHR hearing (follow-up on recommendations) on the Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) case this Monday, October 27, 2014. [UPDATE: Hearing at 10:15 a.m. EDT;  International Human Rights Clinic to Appear Before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Law School, October 23, 2014)]

OAS flag

The Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales)  et. al. v. United States of America case is an example of using the Inter-American human rights system to advocate for U.S. citizens.  Researchers looking for the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights use a variety of sources to access these cases.  Locating IACHR & IACtHR decisions by a topic or specific right can be difficult.  In that regard, the recent launch by Loyola of Los Angeles Law School of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Database is a welcome addition to available online resources.  The IACHR Project describes its database as follows:

“This freely-available database produced by the editors and staff of the IACHR Project under the supervision of Professor Cesare Romano allows users to search Inter-American Court decisions by case name, country, and topic. Advanced search features include the ability to search by specific violation of various Inter-American Conventions.

Search results include a brief description of the case, information on judges, and violations found by the Inter-American Court. When available, the database includes a link to a detailed case summary which includes case facts, procedural history, merits, and state compliance with the Inter-American Court’s judgment. To date, 74 detailed case summaries are available.”

Existing resources before this IACHR database including browsing the Commission and Court’s own websites, searching the IACHR-OAS database in WestlawNext (has Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System and the Commission’s annual reports), checking the print volumes of the Inter-American Yearbook on Human Rights = Anuario interamericano de derechos humanos, and the following online resources:

Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act signed into law in Illinois

August 27 UPDATE: Governor Quinn signed UELMA into law yesterday, as Public Act 98-1097. This makes Illinois the 11th state to enact UELMA.

May 30 UPDATE: The Senate unanimously voted to approve the House floor amendment, so SB 1941 has now passed both houses and will be sent to the Governor.

On Friday, May 16, the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) unanimously passed the Illinois House of Representatives. The bill (SB 1941), which was unanimously passed by the Senate in March, provides a technology-neutral approach to ensuring that online Illinois state legal material deemed official will be preserved and will be permanently available to the public in unaltered form. Currently, many Illinois legal materials, including the state code, are neither official, nor authenticated. Indeed, the version of the Illinois Compiled Statutes published on the Illinois General Assembly website bears the disclaimer: “The provisions have NOT been edited for publication, and are NOT in any sense the ‘official’ text of the Illinois Compiled Statutes as enacted into law. The accuracy of any specific provision originating from this site cannot be assured, and you are urged to consult the official documents or contact legal counsel of your choice. This site should not be cited as an official or authoritative source.” (emphasis in original). If passed, UELMA will require that Illinois primary legal materials are deemed official and that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that they have not been tampered with or altered accidentally.

A technical amendment to the bill was made in the House, so it will be returned to the Senate for concurrence with the House amendment. The hope is that the bill will be approved by the Senate before they adjourn within the next two weeks. Once the bill is signed by the Governor, Illinois will become the tenth state to pass UELMA, joining California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Oregon. The bill’s progress can be tracked via the Illinois General Assembly website, and more information about UELMA is available on the American Association of Law Libraries Government Relations website and on the Uniform Law Commission website.

Cholera in Haiti: The United Nations, public health, and the law

Cholera in Haiti

Cholera in Haiti

Since October 2010 when UN peacekeepers contaminated Haiti’s principal river with cholera-infected human waste, the disease has killed over 8,300 and sickened more than 650,000.”

On February 26, 2014, at noon, there will be a panel discussion at the Biological Sciences Learning Center on “Cholera in Haiti: Intersection of Public Health and Global Humanitarian Intervention.”  Then at 4:30, in Room III, of the Law School, a panel including Brian Citro of the International Human Rights Clinic, Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and Dr. Paul Pierre of Partners in Health (PIH), will discuss “Law in a Time of Cholera: The Failure of the United Nations in Haiti.” 

Background documents, including the IJDH claims against the UN (November 3, 2011 Petition for Relief filed with the Bureaux des Avocats Internationaux (BAI)) and October 9, 2013 lawsuit filed against the UN (Georges et al v. United Nations et al., Docket # 1:13-cv-07146-JPO, SDNY), are available at the “Cholera Litigation” section of the Institute’s website. Both panels are sponsored by the University of Chicago Human Rights Program’s Health and Human Rights Initiative, with the support of the Richard and Ann Pozen Fund.

Sherlock Holmes and the Curious Case of the Copyrighted Canon

The Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle claims ownership of the Sherlock Holmes Canon, the character Sherlock Holmes and story elements from the 4 novels and 56 short stories featuring Holmes written by Doyle and published from 1887-1927. The estate still collects license fees from the likes of CBS TV (for “Elementary”), the BBC (“Sherlock”), the producers of the Sherlock Holmes films with Robert Downey Jr., and Random House, publisher of A Study in Sherlock. A Study in Sherlock was a collection of stories written by contemporary authors such as Lee Child and Neil Gaiman, using the Holmes Canon characters and plot elements from stores that were first published before 1923 and are now out of copyright in the United States. Editors Leslie S. Klinger and Laurie R. King (the author of the Mary Russell series of Holmes Canon novels) have refused to pay license fees for a sequel, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, to be published by Pegasus Books. Klinger has filed a suit in federal court in Chicago for a declaration that these stories, and the elements of the Holmes Canon that first appeared in these stories, are in the public domain. (Ten stories that were first published in the United States after 1923, in The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, are still under U.S. copyright.)

The Economist and Publishers Weekly have covered the lawsuit. A good legal explanation of the legal issues in using elements of out-of-copyright works is Copyright and the Public Domain, by Stephen Fishman. (Print and Ebook.)

Explanation of new tax law available via CCH IntelliConnect

You’ve probably heard by now that Congress finally managed to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” by passing new tax legislation. The main features of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 are that it allows the Bush-era tax rates to sunset after 2012 for individuals with income over $400,000 and families with incomes over $450,000; permanently “patches” the alternative minimum tax (AMT); revives many now-expired tax extenders; and provides for a maximum estate tax of 40 percent with a $5 million exclusion. In total, the Act makes over 100 changes to the Internal Revenue Code. If you are interested in learning more about the specific implications for tax law (and who doesn’t find tax law fascinating?), then take a look at American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012: Law, Explanation & Analysis, a new publication available via CCH IntelliConnect. Since 1913, CCH has been a leading source of comprehensive, ongoing practical and timely analysis of the federal tax law.

 

United Nations resources

On this day, October 24, in 1945, the  Charter of the United Nations entered into force, and the UN was born.  To celebrate, here are a few useful resources on the Charter’s history and law, and the UN generally:

Flag of the United Nations

 

Supreme Court 2012 Term

Today is the start of the Supreme Court’s October 2012 term. The Court is expected to rule on affirmative action, in a case involving admissions at the University of Texas; same-sex marriage, in challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8; and the Voting Rights Act’s continuing restraints on southern state governments. Check out our Supreme Court Research Guide for sources of news and analysis, briefs, and calendars and transcripts of oral arguments. 

Chicago speed camera program delayed by old AG opinion

Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune reported that, due to a 38-year old Attorney General’s opinion, the City of Chicago has decided to delay the start date for its speed camera program until early next year. The program was set to begin with at least 25 speed cameras set up throughout the city in “safety zones” located within one-eighth of a mile of schools and parks. Drivers caught by the cameras would be issued a warning ticket on their first offense, followed by tickets of up to $100.

The Attorney General’s opinion interpreted the Illinois state statute on special speed limits in school zones (625 ILCS 5/11-605) to mean that children must be “visibly present” before the school zone speed limits can be enforced. The City has interpreted this opinion to mean that the speed cameras must not only capture photographs of the speeding car and its license plate, but also a child within the vicinity, preferably in the same shot.

The Tribune reports that the old AG opinion did not come up earlier during the debate over initiating the speed camera program. An excellent way to discover such opinions is to look at an annotated code, such as West’s Smith-Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes. In the “Notes of Decisions” section for the Illinois statute on speeding in a school zone, there is a citation to the relevant AG opinion with text stating that that the statute applies “only when children are physically present on such street or are outside the school building in a school zone.”

The moral of the story: always use an annotated code when doing legal research!