Monday, March 30, 2009

This Week's "People With Too Much Time On Their Hands"

Here is this week's example of people with too much time on their hands/not enough to do: 100,000 Britons downloading "certificates of de-baptism" as a way of renouncing their unfashionable Christian heritage. The standard reason seems to be that the water ritual was performed when the person was an infant, and is therefore not meaningful. I understand that part - as a teenager, I arranged to get re-baptized partly to make a point that it was my own choice. But I don't get why something that is "meaningless" isn't...well, not necessary to undo by downloading an unofficial, do-it-yourself, sacrilegious certificate from a website. The article, however, makes it sound like thousands of people are taking their own atheism very seriously - even devoutly. If two wrongs don't make a right, do two meaningless acts make a meaningful one? Was there nothing to watch on TV instead?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The New Law Prof Rankings

This innovative new empircal article, Reproduction of Hierarchy? A Social Network Analysis of the American Law Professoriate, by a group of professors at the University of Michigan, offers a new way to rank the "influence" of law professors on American society (or at least on our legal system), based on their institutional affiliation. Particularly interesting is the comparison to US News rankings.
My favorite part is this amazing graph of the law professor universe:



My alma mater is pretty easyy to find (center), and my current institution (South Texas) is in the upper left-hand quadrant - seemingly closer to the center of the intellectual-impact universe than Baylor, Texas Wesleyan, or Loyola NOLA. some of our regional competitors. This is great news for us!



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top Ten Most Wanted Government Documents

Click here to get the Report ByCenter for Democracy & Technology & OpenTheGovernment.org:

1. Public Access to All Congressional Research Service Reports
2. Information About the Use of TARP and Bailout Funds
3. Open and Accessible Federal Court Documents Through the PACER System
4. Current Contractor Projects
5. Court Settlements Involving Federal Agencies
6. Access to Comprehensive Information About Legislation and Congressional Actions via THOMAS or Public Access to Legislative Information Service
7. Online Access to Electronic Campaign Disclosures
8. Daily Schedules of the President and Cabinet Officials
9. Personal Financial Disclosures from Policymakers Across Government
10. State Medicaid Plans and Waivers

Law Prof’s Article on His Jury Experience Leads to Overturned Verdict

This article from the ABA Law Journal describes how an academic article by a law professor about his own experience as a jury foreman led to a reversal of a verdict in New Jersey (ordering a new trial due to juror misconduct). Finally, we have an example of published legal scholarship having a concrete effect on a real-world case. :-) From the article:

A New Jersey appeals court ruled today that the defendant deserved a new trial, in part because the professor’s explanation of legal concepts to his fellow jurors had a tendency to influence the verdict . . . The influence issue came to light after Seton Hall law professor Robert Martin wrote a December 2006 article for the New Jersey Law Journal reflecting on his experiences as foreman of the jury. Martin wrote that he was surprised that none of the lawyers used peremptory challenges to exclude him, even though he was a law professor, practicing lawyer and New Jersey state senator. . . In the article, published in December 2006, Martin wrote that other jurors were relying on him to deal with abstract legal concepts.

This appears to have been flagged first by the Legal Profession Blog

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Got tenure, can start blogging again

I am very thankful that I received tenure (officially) on March 24, 2009 at South Texas College of Law. Now I can start blogging again!


Check back soon.