“Who Knew?!” Department

Oh No!A word to the wise:  if you burgle a business and come and go through a snow-covered roof, you can expect to create enough reasonable suspicion to allow the police to follow the footprints to where you are located.  The case is People v. Weeks, 524 N.Y.S.2d 844 (1988). 


Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Today, we are celebrating the anniversary of the Bill of Rights!   Ratified on December 15, 1791, it lays out some of the key freedoms we enjoy.   As President Obama’s 2015 Bill of Rights Day Proclamation states, “Written to guarantee our fledgling Nation would never succumb to the tyranny it fought against, these first 10 Amendments to our Constitution help safeguard the bedrock principles of equality, liberty, and justice.”

Check out the rest of today’s Presidential Proclamation, all about the Bill of Rights.

Check out the Bill of Rights Institute to learn more about the Bill of Rights and play some Bill of Rights games.

Five Study Aids To Help You Get Through Exams

studyaidsIt’s that time of year!  Fall break is over, final memos are due soon, and exams are imminent! The library has a large collection of study aids just waiting to help you prepare for exams.

So how can you get ready for the end of the semester push?  Here are five study tools that will help!

  1.  Examples and Explanations (E&Es):  Available for all of the first year courses, 2L priority courses, and many other upper-level electives, E&Es are a great study tool.  They give you fact pattern examples with a question to answer on various sub-topics within that subject area, followed by explanations on how one would best answer that question.
  2. Questions & Answers (Q&A):  Another perennial student favorite, Q&As have multiple choice questions, followed by answers to the questions, including explanations of why the wrong answers are incorrect.  The library has these for all the first year courses and many of the upper-level courses.
  3. Another study guide series that has good practice questions is the Glannon Guide series.  Multiple choice questions are interspersed throughout, with explanations for why the correct answer is right and why the incorrect answers are not.  The library has these for many subjects.
  4. My personal favorite study series are the CrunchTimes!  These guides have amazing flowcharts at the front of each volume that help those visual learners out there figure out how to tackle a question.  The CrunchTimes also have study tips throughout each volume, bringing important things to remember to the reader’s attention.  Unfortunately, the library doesn’t carry many CrunchTimes, but gently used copies are usually available on Barnes & Noble or Amazon for really low prices–and they are worth it!
  5. If you’re ready to review what you’ve learned, CALI lessons are a great way to test what you know and what you still need to learn.  There are tons of lessons for both first-year and upper-level courses, and they’re broken down by topics so you can find a lesson on the exact unit you want to practice. To register, go to http://cali.org/user/register.  You’ll create your own username and password and be asked for the authorization code, which 1Ls receive a orientation.  If you’ve misplaced the Code, stop by the Reference Desk or ask your favorite librarian!

Good luck with exams!

Spine poetry

The World Series of Book Spine Poetry?

Last night the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets 7-2 in game five of the World Series.  This win clinched the series, giving Kansas City their first World Series title since 1985.  On their way to the World Series, Kansas City also defeated the Toronto Blue Jays and the Houston Astros.book spine royals

While the World Series usually gets top billing, for librarians the Kansas City and Toronto series was the far more interesting.  As the teams battled on the field, an equally vicious and hard-fought series raged between the Toronto and Kansas City Libraries; a battle of book spine poetry.

Book spine poetry is exactly what it sounds like, poetry created from the titles on the spines of books.  The two libraries took to the internet to provoke each other is this unique sort of way. Kansas City won the baseball series. However, Toronto bested by their Kansas City counterparts.  In the end they needed to block certain words from the book spine; a clear violation of book spine poetry rules.

Want to see more of these gems?  Click here for the whole illustrated story.


Also, for more library fun, you can follow the Kansas
City and Toronto Libraries on twitter @KCLibrary and @torontolibrary .

Legal Spooktacular: Vampires in Court

As if being Undead isn’t complicated enough, vampires also seem to suffer from (or cause) a variety of legal problems. Did you know that you can jeopardize your visitation rights for letting vampires babysit your children? Ditto moving in with a vampire (Bass v. Weaver, 101 Ark. App. 367, 278 S.W.3d 127 (2008)). A judge’s noting on the record that a defendant had been a practicing vampire since the age of 13 does not denote bias that would warrant the judge’s recusal (U.S. v. Lawrence, 88 F. App’x 913 (6th Cir. 2004)). A Michigan carjacker explained his car theft spree as an attempt to “escape from flesh-eating bats and vampires” (People v. Morgan, No. 284986, 2009 WL 1397132 (Mich. App., May 19, 2009)). A Massachusetts defendant testified to believing that he had been a vampire for years (Com. v. Riva, 18 Mass. App. Ct. 713, 469 N.E.2d 1307 (1984)). An Arizona defendant testified to stealing an ambulance and running it into a building in order to break a vampire curse. (State v. Ward, 2015 WL 1516506, (Ariz. App., April 2, 2015)). What does this mean for you? Well, for starters, if you come across a despondent vampire this Halloween, be kind. S/he may have had a bad day in court.

Available from http://tinyurl.com/na2wlpo

FEMA Fun Facts


As many of you know, South Carolina was recently hit with an unprecedented storm.  Some areas of South Carolina received over two feet of rain in a single weekend.  Of course, massive flooding soon followed causing widespread devastation and leaving the state with over a billion dollars in damage.

Luckily enough, at least for private residents, help is on the way. Here in the US we usually hear about FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in the wake of natural disasters.  FEMA provided a tremendous amount of aid in New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and they are currently working their way through the damage here in Columbia.  So, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little bit about FEMA.  Who are these people?  Where do they come from?  Can I have some money?

FEMA is an administrative agency of the US government under the Department of Homeland Security.  As we tell our 1L students, Congress can elect to give power to certain agencies, which then become a rulemaking arm of the Executive branch.  The agencies, then, are under the direction of the head of the executive branch (The President), who can direct these agencies to perform certain actions (by executive order).  President Carter used one of these orders to create FEMA in April of 1979.

FEMA’s job is to coordinate response to natural disasters that would otherwise overwhelm local and state governments.  Once a state governor declares a state of emergency and requests FEMA assistance, they then can provide assistance in a number of ways.

  1. Disaster Relief Centers – FEMA sets up care shelters to provide food, water, and shelter for those affected by the disaster
  2. Housing assistance – FEMA can provide either rental assistance and government housing if there is nowhere to rent for displaced persons
  3. Medical Assistance – sometimes even including funeral expenses
  4. Property – FEMA often provides assistance to store, transport, and sometimes even replace personal property
  5. Childcare

To qualify for FEMA assistance, a few things have to happen.  First, you must find out if you live in an area covered by a “Declaration for Individual Assistance.”  This declaration occurs after the governor requests help from FEMA.  Some declarations provide for individual assistance, while others may only provide for things like waste cleanup or public entity assistance.

Second, you must file an application with FEMA itself.  This application must include information about any insurance and insurance claims you have on damaged property.  You must file your insurance claims before you can receive FEMA assistance.   FEMA is not allowed to provide assistance for property covered by insurance.  Once your application is received, a FEMA inspector will visit the damaged property and create a report.

Finally, FEMA will review the application along with the inspectors report.  They will then either deny or approve a FEMA grant.  The grants are mailed out to recipients with specific instructions on how the money is to be used.  If the recipients fail to follow direction, they may not receive any further assistance and could be asked to return the initial grant.

Legal Spooktacular: Haunted House Law

Haunted house law is trickier (or treatier?) than you might expect. For instance, while a broker has no duty to disclose that a house is reputed to be haunted, once an owner has reported hauntings of the property in the public media, she is estopped from denying that the ghosts exist haunted house(Stambovsky v. Ackley, 572 N.Y.S.2d 672 (1991)), and a buyer may be able to rescind the contract. And yet, a deed obtained through misrepresentation that a house is haunted might be allowed to stand (Souza v. Soares, 22 Haw. 17 (1914)). Also, the fact that you believe a house to be haunted doesn’t give you a pass for vandalizing it (Hayward v. Carraway, 180 So.2d 758 (1965)).  Ghosts have feelings, too.

Did You Know ?: It Is a Federal Crime to Climb Mt. Rushmore

photo by John Carrel

photo by John Carrel

crime a day rushmoreThat’s right. As per our friends at the “A Crime a Day” Twitter feed, 36 C.F.R. 7.77 and 18 U.S.C. 1865 make it a federal crime to climb Mount Rushmore.  You don’t believe me (or us)?  Well, let’s take a look at the law.  36 C.F.R. 7.77 is pretty straight forward.  It states:

Rushmore CFR

18 U.S.C. § 1865(a) addresses the penalties.  It states that

A person that violates any regulation authorized by section 100751(a) of title 54 shall be imprisoned not more than 6 months, fined under this title, or both, and be adjudged to pay all cost of the proceedings.

Moreover, if you “willfully” destroy any structure, vegetation, or seemingly anything else,  you

“shall be imprisoned not less than 15 days nor more than one year, fined under this title but not less than $10 for each monument, statue, marker, guidepost, or other structure, tree, shrub, or plant that is destroyed, defaced, injured, cut, or removed, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 1865(c) (2012).

Now, you might be wondering what 18 U.S.C. § 1865 means when it refers to “any regulation authorized by section 100751(a) of title 54.”  That statute is the enabling legislation giving the secretary the power to create regulations for the management of the national parks.

Just Don’t Department

Oh No!There are countless approaches to the practice of law that will let you express your creativity and ability.  And then there are the things you just don’t do.

*Don’t comment on someone’s social media picture, even if you think you’re paying a compliment.

*Don’t leave voicemails laced with profanity and name-calling.

*Don’t hang Hitler’s portrait in your courtroom.

*Don’t get indicted for fraud.



Ten Totally Awesome Things Happening in Columbia in September

It’s that time again, the beginning of the month, in which we dispense information about ten fun Columbia happenings for the next month.  Here’s what September has to offer!

  1.  Check out Columbia’s outdoor music series, Rhythm on the River Playing tonight, Sept. 4th, is Deleveled. Free, starting at 6pm at Riverwalk Amphitheatre.  There are also shows on Sept. 18th and Sept. 25th.
  2. Celebrate Shag!  Check out the 2015 Year of the Shag Celebration on Sept. 5th and 6th.  Admission is free, so dance til you drop.
  3. Head out to Cayce on Sunday, Sept. 6th for the SC Food Truck Wars Festival and enjoy delicious eats from food trucks in the area.  $10, from 11am-6pm.
  4. Check out the Town Theatre’s production of Singin’ in the Rain!  Playing from Sept. 11 through Oct. 4th, it’s only $20 a ticket for students.
  5. Heard of Diner en Blanc, the dining events that have popped up around the globe? Head out to the Dinner in White at the Columbia Museum of Art on Sunday, September 13th for a unique event, with Chef Ryan Whittaker and 116 Espresso and Wine Bar catering.  All proceeds of the event go towards supporting the museum’s educational mission. ($120, $100 for museum members, group discounts offered.)
  6. If that’s too pricey a ticket, try the Columbia Classical Ballet Company’s Cabaret Night Fundraiser.  $45/ticket, for a fun night with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction.
  7. Feeling jazzy?  Check out Joe Gransden at CMA Jazz on Main on Sept. 18th at 7pm, kicking off the third season of the popular concert series. Only $5 for students!
  8. Take your family out to the Fall Festival and Pickin’ Party at the SC State Museum on September 19th from 10am-5pm.  Enjoy S.C. barbecue and other food, craft beer, live bluegrass music, artist demos, and much more.  Get in for the general price of museum admission, and then buy your own food and drinks.
  9. Check out our Gamecocks in action at Williams-Bryce Stadium on Sept. 26th v. UCF.  Get tickets here.
  10. Head over to McCutcheon House’s Wine and Beverage Institute for “Our Favorite for the Fall on Sept. 29th.  They’ll introduce you to great fall wines, and provide a tasty dinner to go with them.  $50/person.