Friday, July 22, 2016

United Nations Treaty Collection Has a Fresh New Look!

United Nations Treaty Collection,, an important stop for public and private international law researchers from around the world has just had a fresh makeover! The updates greatly improved the layout, menu options, navigation and research flows of the website.

Two oft-confused databases, Status of Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General (also known as the “Status of Treaties” or the “MTDSG” database) and United Nations Treaty Series (the “UNTS”), are now located under different tabs. Search functions for each database have also been streamlined, clarified and enhanced.

The link to the Status of Treaties database can be located on the left hand side of the homepage, or by clicking the “Depositary” tab on the top menu bar. The Status of Treaties database provides the most up-to-date information of over 560 multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The database is updated multiple times a day. It is the best place for you to find information with regard to the multilateral treaty’s entry-into-force date, the latest status of Member States, and the declarations, reservations or objections made by any of the Member States. Since almost all of those treaties are published in the United Nations Treaty Series, a link to the specific volume is also provided.

The Status of Treaties database is organized by chapters, with each chapter covering a specific topic, for example, human rights, refugees, health, status of women, etc. However, if you are not sure which chapter your treaty falls into, you may search it by title, by key word in full text, or by participant.

The link to the UNTS database is featured on the right hand side of the homepage. You may also get there by clicking the “Registration & Publication” tab on the top menu bar. According to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations, every treaty or international agreement entered into by any Member of the United Nations must be registered with the Secretariat and published by it. The UNTS database is the digitization of the United Nations Treaty Series, a publication produced by the Secretariat that contains over 2000 volumes and tens of thousands of individual treaties or agreements. One caveat is that although UNTS may be a good place for you to locate the full text of the treaty, the information there related to the status of the treaty may not be entirely up-to-date.

To search in the UNTS database, you may rely on the “Advanced Search” functions, or just as what you do in the Status of Treaties database, search by title, by key word in full text, or by participant.

The United Nations has also compiled a detailed User Guide to help you research and navigate the Treaty Collections website,

If you still have questions, please feel free to come talk to me or any of the librarians at the Reference Desk.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Adventurous Lawyers and the Law of Adventuring

Today's blog post is devoted to outdoor adventures, law and lawyers. 

Boston College Law Library recently acquired a book on the legal aspects of extreme sports, Adventure and the Law, by Cecil C. Kuhne, III. Law library student research assistant Allison Shely wrote the following review of the book (thanks, Allison!):  This slim volume entertains with the seemingly unlikeliest of topics: torts.  Kuhne, who worked as a whitewater rafting guide as an undergraduate, has a winning combination in his choice of extreme sports and lawsuits.

Dividing the book into three sections—“Land,” “Sea,” and “Air”—Kuhne examines sixteen cases of personal injury and wrongful death in the course of thrill-seeking. Four appendices include expanded discussions of additional cases. Does a scuba-related death fall under admiralty law?  What is the share of liability between the National Forest Service and drunken snowmobilers in a wrongful death case?  What is the monetary equivalent of the loss of a child in a bungee-jump accident caused by the owner-operator's gross negligence?  Come and find out in Adventure and the Law.

Wear your helmet; keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times; and remember the motto Kuhne adopted while working the rapids:  "If you're not scared, you're not having fun."

 The ABA Journal  is currently compiling a photo-essay gallery, Adventurous Attorneys, profiling lawyers who love the great outdoors.  If you'd like to share your own adventure story and photo for inclusion in the gallery, send them to or share them on social media with the hashtag #ABAJournalOutdoors.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Don’t Dance to the Star Spangled Banner in Massachusetts

The recent observance of Independence Day on July 4 brought some interesting laws to my attention.  See, 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a)(2012).  I sort of expected the statute that makes the Star Spangled Banner our national anthem to have something to say about behavior while the anthem is being played.  See, 36 U.S.C. § 301.  Basically the law requires those in uniform to salute the flag during the playing of the anthem or the source of the music if no flag is there.  36 U.S.C. § 301(b)(1)(A) &  (b)(2)(2012).  Members of the Armed Forces and veterans may salute as if they were in uniform. 36 U.S.C. § 301(b)(1)(B)(2012).  The rest of us should stand at attention with our left hand over our hearts and men should remove their hats.  36 U.S.C. § 301(b)(1)(C)(2012).

What was a revelation to me were the restrictions that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts makes on the playing of the song.  I was especially interested in this because the a cappella group I used to sing with sang the national anthem at a number of local events including many of my daughter’s high school sporting events.  The words that caught my attention related to singing it in a public place with, “embellishment or addition,” and, “fine of not more than one hundred dollars,” since we sang in four-part harmony.  See, M. G. L. ch. 264 § 9 (2014).  Luckily the prohibited addition or embellishment was to play it “other than as a whole and separate composition or number without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies.” Id.  The statute also prohibits the playing of the Star Spangled Banner as dance music, and exit march, or in a medley of any kind.  Id.  Luckily it isn’t really very dance-friendly nor can I see including it in a medley of any kind.  But it makes me wonder if there are some other little-known laws that I am unintentionally not following.

This could be one of the reasons the Massachusetts Bar Association recently voted to support Massachusetts bill H 43, the Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act.  This law, if enacted will ensure that Massachusetts law made available online and deemed official will be preserved and permanently available to the public in unaltered form.  UELMA only applies to electronic legal materials that have been designated official and includes the state constitution, state session laws, codified laws, judicial opinions, and agency regulations which have the effect of law.  UELMA is also supported by the American Association of Law Libraries, the Law Librarians of New England, and the Massachusetts Library Association.  We wouldn’t want to find ourselves accidently dancing to the Star Spangled Banner in violation of state law.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit - Press Coverage in the U.K. and Beyond

Interested in tracking Brexit coverage in the U.K. press and in other countries?  You can access the full-text of the last 60 days of newspapers from 100 countries - including same-day newspapers - using the Press Display database.  Press Display contains the actual newspaper images so  photos, graphics and all content are accessible. All members of the Boston College community have access to Press Display.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Is Starbucks in hot... coffee?

Nearly everyone has popped into Starbucks on a sleepy morning or in the middle of a long day of work or studying in hopes of getting a little shot of caffeine to help them get by.  However, some Starbucks customers are claiming they've been routinely shorted when ordering their much needed lattes by about 25 percent.  These thirsty consumers want justice, and they've filed a class action complaint to get it!

The case, Strumlauf et al v. Starbucks, was filed in March of this year, and recently, a judge has ruled that the case can go forward on the several of the plaintiffs' claims - particularly in regards to claims that is is plausible customers didn't realized they were getting less liquid than advertised by Starbucks.  This case will be interesting to watch as it moves forward, especially because Starbucks faced similar claims in regards to iced beverages earlier this year.

As this case unfolds, coffee drinkers may wish to keep their eyes on it - and using dockets is a great way to do so.  Dockets can easily be accessed via Bloomberg Law.  Just click on the Litigation and Dockets tab and select the Search Dockets option.  Bloomberg Law pulls from PACER, so you can feel confident that you are getting up to date materials - just remember to update the docket!

If you have questions about doing docket research, stop by the Law Library and see a Reference Librarian!

Friday, June 10, 2016

CRIN: Free Legal Database to Track Children’s Rights around the World

To help you research children’s rights around the world, the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) provides a legal database that pulls all the significant sources together and provides excellent search functions.

The database is freely available to the public and fairly up to date. You may search the database by keyword, types of instrument, date, monitoring body, theme, region, country, etc. The database covers international treaties, national laws, cases, standards, and other binding or non-binding legal instruments significant for children’s rights. Particularly, it is notable for its collection of case law from around the world concerning children’s rights. It features case law from domestic, regional and international courts and from other complaints mechanisms. In addition to that, you may locate case law tied to international treaties or conventions, e.g., the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

To aid your quick understanding of the case, each case is briefed in a short summary highlighting the case’s background, issues, resolution, and the court’s reasoning. The link to the full text of the judgment is usually provided at the end of the summary if you are interested in further reading.

Here is the link to the CRIN Legal Database,

Monday, June 6, 2016

Professional Development and Self-Improvement Opportunities via BC Online Databases

The BC Law School community (students, faculty and administrative staff alike) can access professional development webinars, interactive online lessons, lecture transcripts and instructional videos on a wide variety of subjects – from learning a foreign language or learning new dance techniques to continuing legal education webinars.  Here is just a sampling of the professional development and self-improvement opportunities via BC online databases:

MCLE Online Pass
Students, faculty and staff have unlimited access to Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education webinars (including links to the handouts), downloadable MP3 audiocasts, MCLE practice manuals and ebooks.

Courtroom View Network 
In addition to providing access to downloadable audio versions of legal decisions from 1L casebooks, Courtroom View Network also provides videos of trials, motion hearings and administrative agency proceedings.  Another feature of Courtroom View Network is the Courtroom Cast Training Library with video highlights of court proceedings with expert commentary and analysis. The training libraries include trial advocacy and evidence, with appellate advocacy coming soon.

Practising Law Institute Discover Plus
In addition to providing access to legal treatises, the PLI answer book series, and legal forms, this database also includes course handbooks and transcripts of PLI continuing legal education programs.

Hague Academy of Collected Courses Online
This HeinOnline library contains the publications of various workshops held at Hague Academy of International Law and over 1200 lectures in international law published in the book series Collected Courses of the Hague Academy of International Law.

The CALI Library of Lessons includes more than 600 self-paced, interactive computer-based lessons in a wide variety of legal topics.

All About Strength Training 
This anatomy and kinesiology online visualization tool includes strength training instructional videos.

Dance in Video 
This database includes nearly 70 dance instruction videos as well as videos of iconic performances and documentary films on dance.

Mango Languages 
This database is a self-paced interactive language instruction system with lessons in 72 languages.  The database’s motto is “pick one and conquer the world”!

Also, is another great self-improvement database which is available to those who have Boston Public Library cards and/or premium LinkedIn accounts.  This database features more than 5000 online courses on such subjects as project management, leadership, music, CAD, photography, data management and marketing.