Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Need A Spring Break Read?

Spring Break is almost here!  If you're looking for a book to read on the airplane, at the beach, or even while enjoying a day without classes on the couch, the Law Library has something for you!  Stop by the Law Library's Popular Reading Collection located on the main floor and check out the various options we have - don't forget, we also have DVDs if you want to take a break from reading entirely!

If you are interested in participating in this year's Community Diversity Read - Spring Break is a great time to read this year's book, Redeployment.  We have plenty of print and electronic copies available for checkout.  Just stop by the information desk for a copy.  The Law Library and Student Veterans Association will be sponsoring a community discussion of Redeployment on Thursday, March 12 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Law Library Rm. 279.  We hope to see you there!

Monday, February 23, 2015

You vs. You

In a recent opinion handed down by the Utah Court of Appeals, citizens of Utah now have the right to sue themselves.  How you ask?  Just ask Barbara Bagley. 


Bagley appears as the representative of the estate of Bradley M. Vom Baur and as his heir.  She is also the defendant being represented by her insurance company because it will have to pay if Bagley (as defendant) is found liable for the accident that killed Vom Baur.  This unique setup makes Barbara Bagley v. Barbara Bagley possible. 

Bagley’s complicated case turns on a reading of Utah’s wrongful-death statute and the court’s interpretation of a clause discussing when a person’s heir can sue whoever causes a person’s death when their death “is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another”.  The trial court interpreted the “of another” to mean someone who is not a negligent heir or personal representative and held that Bagley could not sue herself because she allegedly caused the death of Vom Baur.  The Court of Appeals, however, interpreted the statute to read the “of another”, since it was not separated by punctuation, to mean a person other than the decedent, allowing Bagley as heir and representative of the estate to sue herself.  

Unique situations such as this are referred to as "autolitigation" and if you are interested in reading about more cases like this (as well as some colorful commentary about the Bagley case) visit the law blog Lowering the Bar.

The Oscars edition of the Legal Eagle Blog


During last night’s Oscars ceremony, one of the most touching speeches came from Best Adapted Screenplay winner, Graham Moore. Moore wrote the screenplay for The Imitation Game, the popular Benedict Cumberbatch film about the team—led by computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing—that broke the Nazi’s supposedly unbreakable Enigma code during World War II.

Moore’s speech included a moving tribute to Turing, whose suicide in 1954 was largely prompted by his prosecution under Britain’s gross indecency law for consensual sexual acts with another man. Turing was ultimately pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013, and the Human Rights Campaign and others are now seeking pardons for the other individuals prosecuted under this law and other similar ones.

All of this, naturally, made me curious about the actual laws involved, which in turn made me re-familiarize myself with some of the wonderful free resources that exist for researching UK law.

Turing was prosecuted under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. Oscar Wilde was also prosecuted under this law. To see a digitized copy of this piece of legislation, along with tremendously helpful background information, take a look at the British Library’s website. To learn about the debate surrounding the enactment of this law (the so-called Labouchere amendment), read the debate on the floor of Parliament, via the freely available digitized editions of the Hansard reports.

For the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which repealed Section 11 with regard to private homosexual acts between males in England and Wales, see the fabulous free site legislation.gov.uk. The site provides the full-text of UK laws from 1988-present and a partial dataset of pre-1988 laws.

If you’re interesting in learning more about Turing and the history of these laws, take a look at this story from the Huffington Post. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

HeinOnline January Updates

HeinOnline has added some nifty new features already this year.

  • Dropbox Integration:
With this feature, you have the ability to download PDFs directly from HeinOnline into your Dropbox account. If you use Dropbox, an online file storage system, you can now save to your Dropbox either from your search results or directly from an article on HeinOnline.


        
 

                       

  • Congressional Record Daily to Bound Citation Locator:

Using HeinOnline's Congressional Record Daily to Bound Citation Locator you can quickly retrieve materials using the proper Bluebook citation.  This Locator has now been added to the Citation Navigator tab in the U.S. Congressional Documents Collection. Previously, this tool was available only from the Resources tab. Users can also access the citation locator at the top of the page to find both the Congressional Record Bound and Congressional Record Daily editions by their abbreviations. 

                                                                                                                            

The UN Human Rights Office Launched New Case Law Database



The UN Human Rights Office has just launched a major public online database, Jurisprudence, http://juris.ohchr.org, that contains all case law issued by the Treaty Bodies of the UN human rights committees, which include:
  • Human Rights Committee (CCPR);
  • Committee against Torture (CAT);
  • Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
  • Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD;
  • Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); 
  • Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED);
  • Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR); and 
  • Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The Jurisprudence database is intended to be the "one-stop shop" for all the human rights cases issued by all the above committees. Users may search the database by keywords, year of publication, region, state, treaty body, article of the treaty, different legal issues, etc., at the following page, http://juris.ohchr.org/search/documents


BC Law’s 7th Annual Diversity Read

The Law Library’s 7th Annual Community Diversity Read is quickly approaching and we are very excited to co-sponsor this year’s read with the Student Veterans Association.  This year we will be reading Redeployment by Phil Klay.  Comprised of twelve short stories, Redeployment focuses on the lives of soldiers both during and after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Redeployment won the 2014 National Book Award for fiction and made the N.Y. Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014 list.  The Community Diversity Read is open to BC law students, faculty, and staff and there are multiple copies available for check out in both print and electronic formats.


A group discussion of the book will take place on Thursday, March 12 from 12:30 to 1:30 – so keep your eyes open for more information!



Friday, February 6, 2015

The constitutionality of body armor bans


Last night while using Congress.gov, I could not help but notice that two of the ten most searched bills on the website concerned a national ban of body armor.  The bill before the current congress, H. R. 378, the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act,, would make it a crime for civilians to own or possess “enhanced body armor”.  Federal law currently prohibits only felons with violent crime convictions from owning body armor (18 U.S.C. Section 391) and provides for sentence enhancement when body armor is used to commit a crime (42 U.S.C. Section 3796ll-3).  Hunters, sportsmen and gun merchants are among those who use body armor for the legitimate purpose of preventing accidental injury or death from gunfire.  Constitutional challenges to federal and state legislation banning body armor have explored Commerce Clause and vagueness arguments and have largely been unsuccessful. See  e.g. Alderman v.  United States, 171 S. Ct. 700 (2011) (J. Thomas dissenting to denial of certiorari).  It occurs to me that there may be a Second Amendment argument worth exploring.  The right to wear armor just might be the flip-side of the right to bear arms.  There is an irony in protecting the right to bear arms while nationally banning a civilian’s use of armor designed to prevent, not inflict, injury.  The U. S. Supreme Court, in dictum, in United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) opened the door for this argument when it indicated that ordinary military equipment whose use could contribute to the common defense (which would include body armor) may be protected under the Second Amendment’s guarantee that “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed”.  I suggest that an examination of H.R. 378 through the lens of the Second Amendment would be an appropriate and timely topic for a law review note.