Last night’s Republican National Convention has thrust “plagiarism” to the forefront of the news. One of last night’s speakers was Melania Trump, the wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. Trump’s speech sounded to many strikingly similar to one given eight years earlier—by First Lady Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
Incredibly so. Not just identical words, but nearly identical context and sentence structure. At one point, Trump says, “Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them” (emphasis added). Eight years earlier, Obama had said, “Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them” (emphasis added).
That is plagiarism.
(You can see a side-by-side text comparison here and here and side-by-side video comparison here.) Continue reading “When is it Plagiarism?”
Perhaps it is because I just spent an enjoyable few weeks judging the Appellate Writing and Advocacy class moot court rounds, that lately I have taken a few detours while doing research. While reading some of the NSA phone data cases, I watched an enlightening and very entertaining appellate argument online. We may wait a long time to see video recordings of U.S. Supreme Court arguments, but the Circuit Courts of Appeal oblige us for some of their cases, which is a bonus for everyone including students.
Several plaintiffs’ lawsuits that challenge the National Security Administration’s phone records surveillance program are making their way through the federal courts. Plaintiffs in these cases have claimed the NSA data grab violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment or that Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the original basis for the surveillance under President George W. Bush, cannot reasonably be interpreted as allowing the program. For students who participate in a moot court competition, or are considering it in the future, video of the oral arguments in these cases provides an opportunity to learn something about the privacy issues and also to see the types of questions and atmosphere an attorney might expect from a federal appellate panel.
Continue reading “Grilling By Judges? It’s Not Just for Moot Court.”
Rule 18.2 in the Bluebook governs citation to sources and information available on the Internet. Although the rules in the Nineteenth Edition provide significantly more guidance on the subject than the general principles articulated in the Eighteenth Edition, citation to Internet sources remains a source of confusion for many legal writers. Until the editors release the Twentieth Edition and its inevitable alterations to Rule 18.2, here are a few tips and reminders about citation to Internet resources.
Continue reading “Rule 18.2: Comments on Bluebook Citation to Internet Resources”
The Federal Courts app provides access to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, and all the local rules, as well as PACER. The app is now available for Android, iPhone, and iPad from KosInteractive, which also has state court apps (but not yet apparently for Wisconsin).
Each December, the national Legal Writing Institute (LWI) sponsors one-day legal writing workshops around the country. We are pleased to announce that one of this year’s workshops will be held at Marquette University Law School on Friday, December 6, 2013. The workshops are a great time for legal writing colleagues to come together and share teaching ideas.
The theme for Marquette’s workshop is Preparing Practice-Ready Students. Among the presentations scheduled are ones on what “practice-ready” means; on creating interactive materials for class; and on the ways that legal writing professors are connecting their students to practicing attorneys, both in and out of the classroom. We think we have a great program lined up. If you want to view the whole program or are interested in registering for the conference, see here.
The law school’s repository, Marquette Law Scholarly Commons, was formally announced on the Faculty Blog on August 8, 2012. Less than a year later, Marquette Law Scholarly Commons celebrates its 1,000,000th download! Researchers from all over the world have downloaded articles from the repository. The following twenty countries have the highest download count (from most downloads to least): United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada, Italy, Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, Tanzania, Ghana, Singapore, Pakistan, Colombia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Kenya, Poland, and France.
The one millionth article downloaded was Freedom of Contract and Fundamental Fairness for Individual Parties: The Tug of War Continues, by Professor Carolyn Edwards. Professor Edwards has been a member of the law faculty since 1974. She was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in philosophy at the University of California – Berkeley and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She is a graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law. Professor Edwards teaches contracts, sales, secured transactions, and negotiable instruments.
Please join us in celebrating this milestone by visiting the Marquette Law Scholarly Commons and browsing our collections.
As lawyers, we are often a conservative bunch. This may especially be so for litigators, who encounter the worst case scenarios of common experiences each and every day. Social media employment law cases are no exception. Inevitably, you will find yourself asking, “What on earth were they thinking when they did that?!”
But undoubtedly, social media tools can be extremely useful to professionals like us. Unfortunately, most lawyers seem to limit their use of social media to LinkedIn and writing the occasional blog post. I want to take this opportunity to encourage more lawyers to actually use social media. Namely, I aim to encourage you to start a Twitter account today. And, no, this is not done to try to attract more followers to my account (but who’s to stop you once you join?).
Continue reading “If You Tweet It, They Will Come”
The Eckstein Law Library is pleased to announce the formal launch of the Marquette Law Scholarly Commons, which offers free, online access to a growing collection of scholarly work of the Marquette University Law School community. Today, the Scholarly Commons has over 5300 items, including all four student-edited, Marquette law journals as well as articles written by Marquette University Law School faculty published in the Marquette law journals and elsewhere. In the future, look for additional journal articles to be added to these existing collections and for new collections to be announced. Although the full-text documents in the journal and faculty scholarship collections are the heart of the Scholarly Commons, the repository also serves as a gateway to other endeavors of the Law School community. Follow links to read the Faculty Blog or the Marquette Lawyer, learn about programs such as On the Issues with Mike Gousha, and explore faculty working papers and accepted articles in Marquette’s Legal Studies Research Paper Series on SSRN.
This repository grew from a shared vision of Dean Kearney, the Law Librarians, Associate Dean for Research Michael O’Hear and others to provide convenient and global access to the scholarly output of the Marquette University Law School. While preserving the scholarly output of the Law School, the Marquette Law Scholarly Commons also expands the reach of faculty scholarship and Law School journals. Indeed, in the past few weeks the repository had visitors from Australia, Japan, India, Brazil and China, among others.
We encourage you to be a regular visitor to the Marquette Law Scholarly Commons. If interested, you can monitor new items as they are uploaded to the Scholarly Commons by enabling the Marquette Law Scholarly Commons RSS feed in an RSS Reader or setting up personalized email notifications to be sent when content that meets specified search criteria is added. The Marquette Law Scholarly Commons is a service of the Eckstein Law Library.
Precedent and authority are concepts with which students become familiar early in law school and grow to appreciate even more in practice. Law students learn to look to details such as jurisdiction, court hierarchy, status of a decision as published or unpublished, dates of decisions, and subsequent treatment and build on these foundations to evaluate precedential value and weight of authority. Students and legal researchers in Wisconsin had to rethink some of what had been considered established principles regarding precedent after the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced in Blum that court of appeals decisions that it overruled retained no precedential value absent an express statement that portions of a decision were left intact. Today, the court in State v. Stevens reaffirmed the holding in Blum, but did so with the caveat that courts may have to determine whether an opinion was really intended to overrule all of a decision or only a portion thereof when applying the rule retroactively.
In Blum v. 1st Auto Casualty & Insurance Co., 2010 WI 78, 326 Wis. 2d 729, 786 N.W.2d 78, a decision issued two years ago tomorrow, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held “that when the supreme court overrules a court of appeals decision, the court of appeals decision no longer possesses any precedential value, unless this court expressly states otherwise.”¶ 42. The court discussed several public policy and practical considerations that it deemed would be served by this “bright-line rule nullifying the precedential value of an overruled court of appeals decision.” ¶ 51. The court viewed the rule as one that would help eliminate confusion that had grown regarding precedential value of reversed and overruled opinions and that “clarifies the law for the public as a whole.” ¶ 55.
Continue reading “State v. Stevens: Reaffirming Blum on No Precedential Value of Overruled Court of Appeals Cases – With a Caveat”
Emory and Michigan State Law Schools have teamed up to create a free database that allows you to search for a term or phrase in U.S. Supreme Court opinions (1791-2005) and automatically generate a time-series frequency chart of the phrase’s appearance. Continue reading “New Database Creates Time-Series Plots of Phrases in U.S. Supreme Court Opinions”
Westlaw released its new Westlaw Next research platform about a year ago. One of the new features of Westlaw Next is that a person can export research and then read it on the Kindle. A person can also take notes about the research on the Kindle and then print it all out.
The Westlaw representative told my Appellate Writing and Advocacy class about this new feature, and at least one of my students has tried it out with great success. She reported back to the class that she found it easy to read the research on the Kindle and appreciated the ability to take notes and highlight the material.
Continue reading “The Kindle as Research Tool”
In recent years, Marquette has won numerous kudos for its program in legal research and writing. Although the current version of the program is still relatively new, the teaching of legal research and writing at Marquette has its roots in the 1920’s.
In summing up the accomplishments of the Law School during the 1923-1924 academic year—the last in the old Mackie Mansion—the Hilltop (the university yearbook) noted: “Prof. Willis E. Lang introduced a new course of Legal Research for the students. It proved a most valuable subject as it teaches where and how to find the law.”
For a number of years prior to 1923, all Marquette Law students had been required to participate in the practice court program, which required them to draft pleadings and legal documents and do a certain amount of legal research. The Law School also required a one-credit course in Legal Bibliography that focused primarily on the use of proper legal citation in brief writing. However, Lang’s Legal Research course was apparently the school’s first attempt at systematic instruction in the mechanics of legal research and the entire canon of library resources. Continue reading “Professor Willis Lang and the Teaching of Legal Research”