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Attention! Attention! CALI Bans Hotmail Email Address Users!

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

As a refresher, CALI is an acronym for Computer Assisted Legal Education, and offers over 300 tutorials on various subjects of law, legal writing and legal research. They are written by professors at distinguished law schools, librarians, and other legal education professionals.  You should have received a CD with CALI lessons (in case you’re working somewhere offline), and a card with an authorization code (in case you want to go online and track your lesson on the web version) during orientation.

Part of the process for registering your CALI authorization code is entering your email.  Most students use their WFU email; however, you can also use a personal email account through gmail or hotmail.  Oh wait!  Not hotmail.  CALI sent out a press release yesterday notifying users that hotmail accounts would no longer be accepted as an email address for CALI registration.  This new ban includes users that may have previously registered for CALI with a hotmail email address.

CALI stated “Due to a near-site killing influx of spammers and other internet ne’er-do-wells using Hotmail, we’ve had to ban all CALI.org accounts that are affiliated with a Hotmail email address.  Unfortunately, this will cause a number of legitimate registered CALI.org users to be banned from our system.  This is a small percentage of our total users, but still a decent amount of people.”

What to do if you’re banned? CALI suggests two options:

“(1) Send an email to webmaster@CALI.org with [your] name and a non-Hotmail email address that [you] wish to use with [your] CALI account.  The switch over will have to be done manually, so it’s entirely foreseeable that the process may get clogged up.   If [you] want instant gratification and access….

(2) Create a new account using a non-Hotmail email address.  Please note, if [you] do choose this option, [you] will lose all access to previous lesson run information. [You] will also need a valid authorization code from a member institution.”

So there you have it.  Issues with accessing CALI?  First check to make sure that you aren’t registered with a hotmail account.  Still having problems, contact the PCL Reference Desk at (336) 758-4520.

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Creating America’s Freedoms in the Limelight

With all the news reporting on the major changes in healthcare legislation and reform, some may have missed the newest decision analyzing the 1st Amendment.  I am not a constitutional scholar, but I do want to highlight this particular decision because of it close proximity to the Fourth of July.

You may ask yourself why there is any relation between the two.  Well first, let’s remember what the Fourth of July really stands for: Independence Day. No, not the Will Smith blockbuster.  The Fourth of July is a federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of the Independence on July 4, 1776 and the rights that were conferred onto the new colonies at America’s creation.

According to the National Archives, “drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson’s most enduring monument. Here, in exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people. The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in “self-evident truths” and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.”

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

With these words, many questions have grown.  What are self-evident truths?  What is liberty? What is freedom? Where does freedom come from? What is the difference between freedom and liberty? Is liberty a license to do whatever ‘I want” whenever ‘I want to’? To learn more, read Michael P. Zuchert’s article, “Self-Evident Truth and the Declaration of Independence” published in The Review of Politics.

The Declaration of Independence has been interpreted in wildly different ways throughout its lifespan.  Here are a few of the articles that might shed more light on the intent and construction behind the Declaration of Independence.

One of the liberties, which we do know fairly clearly, that the founders wanted to ensure with the new country is the Freedom of Religion.  To learn more on this topic read “Religious Freedom and the First Self-Evident Truth: Equality as a Guiding Principle in Interpreting The Religion Clauses” by Jay Alan Sekulow, James Matthew Henderson, & Kevin Broyles – 4 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 351 (1995-1996.).

Others came out in the development of the Bill of Rights, specifically the First Amendment. According to the National Archives, “during the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a ‘bill of rights’ that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.”

“On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States therefore proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that met arguments most frequently advanced against it. The first two proposed amendments, which concerned the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen, were not ratified. Articles 3 to 12, however, ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, known as the ‘Bill of Rights’.”  The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  And even though this was drafted in 1789, we’re still seeing its power today.

In last week’s Supreme Court decision, United States v. Alvarez, Justice Kennedy wrote, “Lying was his habit.  Xavier Alvarez, the respondent here, lied when he said that he played hockey for the Detroit Red Wings and that he once married a starlet from Mexico. But when he lied in announcing he held the Congressional Medal of Honor, respondent ventured onto new ground; for that lie violates a federal criminal statute, the Stolen Valor Act of 2005.  18 U. S. C. §704.”  However, the court found “when content-based speech regulation is in question, however, exacting scrutiny is required.  Statutes suppressing or restricting speech must be judged by the sometimes inconvenient principles of the First Amendment. By this measure, the statutory provisions under which respondent was convicted must be held invalid, and his conviction must be set aside.” And with the last words that “the Nation well knows that one of the costs of the First Amendment is that it protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace,” the court found that “though few might find respondent’s statements anything but contemptible, his right to make those statements is protected by the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech and expression.”  These protections being the same principles that were born in the Declaration of Independence.

Health Care Law Research in the Limelight

May 21, 2012 2 comments

There are many ways to describe health law.  Health Law is comprised of not only the law of the delivery of health care and the financing of these systems, but also all areas of law that are intersected between law and health.  These areas of law include bioethics (e.g. the ethics of end-of-life decisions), criminal law (i.e. the role of the government protecting elders and children from mistreatment), medical malpractice (i.e. the deterrence method for civil liability for health provider negligence), and employment law (i.e. occupational health and safety and worker’s compensation standards).  You may find that there are individual categories that make up health law as a whole.  For many, health law is subdivided into laws governing health care law, public and population health law, bioethics, and global health law.  This overview is just a mere snapshot in the big picture of what is health law. For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus on health care law.

Much of health care law focuses on legislative, executive, and judicial rules and regulations that govern the health care industry.  The intended audience of these laws include hospitals and hospital systems, public and private insurers, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, and the individuals who treat patients.  You may be familiar with some of the subcategories that include fraud and abuse dealing with insurance claims, food and drug laws and regulations (FDA), medical malpractice, and heath care mergers and acquisitions. Health care law researchers must deal with a variety of legal sources.  These sources range from the traditional statutes and cases to more complex administrative materials, which includes rules, agency decisions, commentaries, manuals, and guidelines.

Health care law exists at both federal and state levels.  The ability to regulate health care institutions is a policing power left to the states, and must further health, safety and the general welfare.  Licensure or certification is the primary method chosen by state legislatures to regulate the health care industry and its facilities. That being said, the major height of authority behind health care regulation is the federal-state Medicaid program.  In other words, a state’s authority under the Medicaid program is subject to federal regulation, specifically the federal Department of Health and Human Services. In order to participate in the Medicaid program, a state must submit a state plan that meets federal standards under the federal statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1396(a). Each state subscribes to different approaches for regulating the health care institutions within their borders.  To research each state, a 50 state survey may be extremely helpful for you to compare the differing laws and regulations. BNA, LexisNexis and Westlaw allow for you to access various 50 state surveys by topic.

Here are a few short (2-3 minute) video tutorials on how to access 50-State Surveys on each of the above resources.  For this example, assume you are looking for a state-by-state comparison of power of attorney laws and regulations:

As already noted, states have the ability to regulate health care facilities under their policing power.  Conversely, the federal government’s power to regulate this industry is derived from its financing authority or from the constitutional Commerce Clause.  The federal government as a purchaser, under the federal health care programs of Medicare and Medicaid, regulates health care facilities through a certification program.  Thus, in order to receive payments under either one of the federally funded insurance programs, the health care facility must be certified and sign a provider agreement with the Health Care Financing Administration for Medicare and with the state’s Medicaid agency for Medicaid. In sum, because the federal government provides a significant amount of funding to these programs, they are given the power to regulate the receiving facilities quality of care.

The majority of health care federal statutes are contained within the following U.S.C. Titles:

To make life easier, Westlaw and LexisNexis have created specific databases that house these collections of Health Care Federal laws:

But a better tactic than merely going and searching through these various databases or large statutory schemes, try to start your research with a research guide.  The following guides outline the various topics and relevant statutes for issues addressed in health care law.

Still have questions?  Jot it down in a comment and we’ll see what we can do to help you find the answer!

Amendment One … in the Limelight

Do you know what Amendment One is all about?  Let’s start with what North Carolina Session Law 2011-409 says: “AN ACT TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TO PROVIDE THAT MARRIAGE BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN IS THE ONLY DOMESTIC LEGAL UNION THAT SHALL BE VALID OR RECOGNIZED IN THIS STATE.”

Wait a second, I thought a Session Law is already an effective law passed by the General Assembly. Well this law is a bit different.  It is what is called a “legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.”  According to Ballotpedia, this means that this bill is “a proposed constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislative in that state voted to put it before the voters.”  State constitutions can only be amended through a specific procedure.  With a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment the citizens of a state are allowed a limited form of direct democracy compared to the initiated constitutional amendment. Converse to the  legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, with an initiated constitutional amendment, voters can initiate the amendment and approve it.  However, under the the legislatively-referred amendment, voters may merely approve or reject amendments presented by their state’s legislature.

There are various methods for amending state constitutions, from the number of legislative sessions that the amendment must pass to the size of the vote within the legislative body. One of the major differences among states in presenting a legislative-referred constitional amendment to the voters is how many different sessions of the state legislature must vote on the amendment.  For North Carolina, Section 4 of Article 13 of the North Carolina Constitution, states the following:

Sec. 4. Revision or amendment by legislative initiation.

A proposal of a new or revised Constitution or an amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be initiated by the General Assembly, but only if three-fifths of all the members of each house shall adopt an act submitting the proposal to the qualified voters of the State for their ratification or rejection. The proposal shall be submitted at the time and in the manner prescribed by the General Assembly. If a majority of the votes cast thereon are in favor of the proposed new or revised Constitution or constitutional amendment or amendments, it or they shall become effective January first next after ratification by the voters unless a different effective date is prescribed in the act submitting the proposal or proposals to the qualified voters.

Under Section 1 of this Session Law a new section (Section 6) will be added under Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution providing the following: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.  This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

Under this session law, the above amendment must be submitted to registered voters of North Carolina on the date of the first primary in 2012 (May 8, 2012), and “if a majority of votes cast on the question are in favor of the amendment set out [above], the State Board of Elections shall certify the amendment to the Secretary of the State, [where] the Secretary of State shall enroll the amendment so certified among the the permanent records of the office.”  Once certified the above amendment will become effective, and when it is effective, it becomes law.

No matter your views on the proposed amendment to the North Carolina Constitution, the fate of this amendment is in your hands.  To find out whether or not you are registered and eligible to vote, visit “My Election Information” at the North Carolina State Board of Elections.  They also provide information about campaign finance, candidates, absentee voting, as well as how to register to vote online.

P.S. The last day to register  in order to be eligible to vote in the primary is coming up quick — It is this Friday, April 13th!

What to do when you don’t know what to do

Liz’s Top 10 Suggestions for Summer Success

#10: Become familiar with legal research options at your location.  Each firm and agencies may subscribe to different venders, from Westlaw and Lexis to Casemaker (sign up for free with a student account) and Fastcase (Free to WFU students).  Know what each vender offers and the pricing models employed.  By asking a librarian about this, you will show your employers you are genuinely interested in conducting cost-effective legal research.

Think about when using print resources may be more effective than using online.  For example, you may want to use print resources if you are searching for material that isn’t available online – duh!  Some materials, such as CLEs and treatises, may not be available online through your subscription or generally.  Often it is better to start with a print resource when you need general information on a topic about which are unfamiliar, or when your search terms are general or the subject of your research involves broad concepts.  Additionally, I have found using print resources for statutory research much easier than trying to navigate them online.  That being said, online research is most effective when the material you need is not available in print – duh!  Some firms have quit updating print materials, you may need to head directly to online research when you begin.  Also, if you are searching with unique terms or for proper names, online searching is quicker than browsing through the voluminous print materials.

#9: Use “free” internet sites but be aware of their limitations.   What type of research do you think would warrant using free internet over a fee-based services?  My suggestion is to use these site for research statutes, legislative history/tracking, cases, regulations, some case law and policy considerations. But before you use a “free” site, please take the time to evaluate it just as you would a print source.  Consider:

  • whether the publisher of the site is reputable and knowledgeable?
  • whether the content of the site is accurate, authentic and objective?
  • whether the content can be retrieved via keyword, author, or title searching?
  • whether the information is current?
  • the frequency with which the information is updated.

#8:  The Mean Green — Know how much things cost. There are two basic models for pricing: (1) Transactional or per-search pricing charges you for every search you run, or (2) Hourly pricing charges you for the amount of time spent on a research service.  Transactional is best when you plan to spend time going through documents and is good for locating different types of databases in your interest area (before you search them). On the other hand, Hourly is best when you need to find something quickly, and is good when you want to run many searches in a row.

A good rule of thumb is that it takes about 7 minutes of hourly searching to equal a single transactional search.  Because of differences in vendor contracts, database costs, and other factors this is not always the case.

#7: Check database pricing & choose wisely. Lexis & Westlaw will often tell you the price of the database. Click the “i” information button after the database name.  Keep in mind that differences in vendor contracts may make the cost inexact, but it will give you an idea of how expensive it is.  WestlawNext and LexisAdvance throw a whole new piece to the puzzle with pricing guidelines?!?!

#6: Start Broad and narrow later.  Lexis and Westlaw allow you to narrow search results without incurring additional  charges when charged per Transaction.  Start with a broad search to get many documents and narrow down as needed.  Focus Terms v. Locate in Results = No extra charge to filter through results.

#5:  Browse the Table of Contents online.  Locating a document in the table of contents is cheaper than searching for it (although more expensive than getting by citation).  Often searching the table of contents is also cheaper than searching the database content itself.

#4: Tailor the search to the problem. Choose wisely between the key word search strategies: natural language and terms and connectors. The natural language (or proximity) search is often the default search option for search engines, and it retrieves a fixed number of documents (i.e. you may always get 100 documents regardless what your search is).  This technique may be helpful to search an area of law you are unfamiliar with (some good terms but not enough for a terms/connectors search).  Terms and Connectors searching, however, searches based on relationships between words (Precision search), and is often referred to as boolean searching.  In order to construct an effective search, you need to:

  • Develop initial search terms
  • Expand the breadth and depth by adding wildcard symbols
  • Add connectors and parentheses to clarify relationships among words
#3:  Familiarize yourself with finding tools. Make sure you having a working knowledge of West’s Topic and Key number system because using the digest in print will help you to be more efficient searchers online!  Statutory Finding Aids (Popular Names Table/Index) and headnote searching on Lexis are the “added value” that you are paying for when you use these big commercial databases.  Make sure you utilize the extra features.  And last but not least, update and expand your research by using Keycite and Shepards online.  It is worth the cost!
#2: Plan — Start slow to go Fast.  I highly suggest reading and thinking about the questions one by one before starting your research so that you feel comfortable before you start using any materials.  The 20 minutes it takes to answer these questions will save you exponentially more time in the long run. Once you have gathered some preliminary information you’re ready to start writing out a plan of attack for your research.  There are three components to a research plan: (1) An initial issue statement; (2) A list of potential search terms,  and (3) An outline of the sources you plan to consult.
Your initial issue statement does not need to be a formal statement that you normally write for a formal legal memorandum, but it should be a preliminary assessment of the problem that helps to define the scope of your research.  An example: “Can the plaintiff recover from the defendant for stealing her goat?”  This would be an incomplete issue statement for a brief or memo, but at this beginning point in your research it helps you direct your research to all the possible claims that would support or oppose recovery.  If you aren’t able to write a preliminary issue statement, that might be an indication that you are not sure about the scope of the assignment or that you may need to ask more questions about the problem.

Your potential search terms are generated by looking at the preliminary issue statement and using the TARP (from LP I) method of coming up with key words and topics.After you have performed a preliminary overview of the problem, you’ll want to outline the sources you plan to use and the order in which you plan to consult them.  First, you will need to determine which research sources are likely to contain relevant information, such as Strong’s North Carolina Index (a legal encyclopedia) if the problem deals with North Carolina law.  Next, you will need to determine the order in which you want to research these sources.

Lastly, get to know your librarians, at the firm or at the school, they’re the best resource you can have to learn how to start your research.  Also, both Westlaw and LexisNexis provide 24-7 research assistance to you as a student, as an intern, and as an attorney.  Use these resources, there are people out there that are ready and able to help you.  Remember you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

#1: Just Ask.

  • Jurisdiction
  • Useful Tips
  • Sources
  • Terms of Art
  • Ask
  • Sources
  • Key Cost Constraints

Key to success in your internship and in practicing law is asking questions, whether it be in the courtroom, to your client, or of your supervisor.  Be comfortable to approaching these people with questions, because the more information you have up front the more concise and efficient your research will be.  Make sure you understand what you are being asked to do, such as which jurisdiction you are applying, what is the scope of the assignment, and are there any key cost constraints that may constrict where you locate the information.  You might also consider asking about terms of art. Terms of art abound in the law, and often become automatic language for an expert attorney in that area of law.  For example, the phrase double jeopardy can be used in common parlance to describe any situation that poses two risks. In the law, double jeopardy refers specifically to an impermissible second trial of a defendant for the same offense that gave rise to the first trial.  Make sure you are clear on the context of particular, or unique, words before starting your research.

Just as a caveat, asking questions will be crucial to you conducting comprehensive and thorough research; however you need to still use good judgment in deciding how many questions to ask and who to ask the questions to. (Adapted from Georgetown Law Library)

Oh… and have a little fun too! If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, here are 5 tips for better work-life balance.

It is time to start training for summer.

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

It is time to start training for summer.

Check out our newly published ResearchGuide to supplement the program today!

Categories: Uncategorized

A kiss is just a kiss… until you write a book about it!

February 7, 2012 Leave a comment

“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” – Proverbs 24:26.

Honestly, but skipping the kiss, this book is interesting and intriguing from the start.The Legal Kiss, written by Victoria Sutton, Paul Whitfield Horn Professor at Texas Tech University School of Law, reads like a collection of short essays.

The clever titles for each chapter give you insight on where the author is going to take you – whether it be to the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas places an identifying kiss upon Jesus’ cheek or to a modern day New Delhi where Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty are publicly shamed for a passionate back-bending kiss at a charity event. In all of the situations that Sutton takes the reader, she outlines the act of the kiss and its intended and unintended consequences within society and the law.

As an academic librarian, I am always looking at how other people introduce and explain complex or abstract legal theories. For that purpose, I would recommend this book for being able to make obscure concepts of the law come to life. For example, Sutton discusses “the celebrated contractual kisses” in the context of whether or not a kiss (or a bunch of kisses) can be consideration for a contract. And if so, would the court require specific performance for the enforcement of said contract? In my opinion, it is much more interesting reading about specific performance when the performance involves the question of what constitutes a legal kiss rather than whether a duck is adequate consideration for a sales contract. As an added feature, I don’t believe libraries would have a hard time marketing this book to their patrons. It basically promotes itself. I think it would be an easy addition to any new books shelf or on a book display set up around our favorite February holiday because its title and appearance would spark the interest of shelf browsers.

Let me step back and take a hard look at the content, not just the packaging. Before Sutton begins to even explore the legal kiss, she provides the caveat that this work is not a complete treatise on the subject. Take her word for it. It is not. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of authority cited throughout the book and in the bibliography at the end. That being said, Sutton does provide the relevant authority when discussing subject-specific topics, such as citing the Restatements when discussing tort and contract claims, Supreme Court opinions when considering “Kisses and the Konstitution [sic],” and various other legal primary and secondary authority along the way. I believe the scope of the work is intentionally surface level, which provides an air of lightheartedness to the book.  Because of the coverage, I would not recommend this for a book to keep at reference, unless your reference staff is compensated with two lips in lieu of dollars and cents!

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  It was fun to sit and read about all the different ways a simple kiss on the cheek, lips, or a “Kiss my A**” has been twisted and construed by our courts and legislatures. If you plan to kick off your Valentine’s Day celebration with a kiss, make sure you read this book to be sure you’ll steer clear of any legal ramifications! Or if you do get caught kissing (say in Times Square) and someone makes big bucks off of the picture of you and your partner, know that you can consult this book for your chances to cash in. After reading this book, I kiss off with a positive and doting review.

This book review was originally published in the AALL Spectrum Blog.

The Legal Kiss: The Legal Aspects of the Kiss, by Victoria Sutton, MPA, PhD, JD. Vargas Publishing, Inc (2011). Trade paperback, 131 pages, listed on Amazon for $18.99.