Monthly Archives: October 2009

Assault with A Deadly Ferret

A Jacksonville Beach, FL, man shoplifted a pet-shop ferret by stuffing it down his pants. The perp exited the store and was confronted in the parking lot by a witness bent on rescuing the ferret. The bandit allegedly shoved the ferret into the witness’s face. The witness was bitten, the thief was charged with battery and theft, and the ferret was classified as a “special weapon” under Florida law. Read all about it by visiting the news databases on Westlaw (allnews) or Lexis (news, most recent 90 days) and typing: ferret /s pants.

But, all the cool courts do it…

The 7th Circuit is, no doubt, a trendsetter, what with citing Wikipedia and all.  According to the Blackbook legal blog, it recently cited movies in the footnotes of two cases.  In Sutherland v. Gaetz it cited “My Cousin Vinny” and in United States v. Haynes it cited “Training Day.”  It is the first court to cite to “Training Day,” however, it is not the first to cite to “My Cousin Vinny.”   The Chief Justice of the Texas Court of Appeals cited it in a concurring opinion in Kelly v. State, 151 S.W.3d 683 ( Tex. App. 2004), and in a dissenting opinion in Neely v. State, 193 S.W.2d 685 (Tex. App. 2006).  Courts have, for decades, cited to law-related movies on occasion.  A federal District Court in Massachusetts, cited to “Twelve Angry Men” in 1998 [U.S. v. Nippon Paper Industries, 17 F.Supp.2d 38 (D. Mass. 1998)] and a Minnesota state court cited the same movie in 1994 [State v. Weatherspoon, 514 N.W.2d 266 (Minn. App 1994)].


From the department of “You don’t say.”

GAO has released a report that concludes that rankings, rather than ABA accreditation standards, drive law school tuition increases.  Oh, and state-level budget cuts drive tuition increases at public institutions.  Their summary of relevant findings says:

“Multiple Factors May Affect Law School Cost and Access; Accreditation Requirements Do Not Appear to Be a Major Driver

•According to law school officials, the move to a more hands-on, resource-intensive approach to legal education and competition among schools for higher rankings appear to be the main factors driving law school cost, while ABA accreditation requirements appear to play a minor role. Additionally, recent decreases in state funding are seen as a contributor to rising tuition at public schools.” (emphasis added)


3L Law Student Speaks Out for Pro Bono Service for Students

Did you know that the SC Access to Justice Commission has a blog? It’s a great resource and worth checking out every day to stay in the know. However, you should really check out yesterday’s post by our own 3L Tiffany D. Gibson, Pro Bono Law Clerk for the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission.

USC School of Law’s Pro Bono Program website  is at    (TC)

Open Access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics to aid in the legislative decision-making process.  These reports are paid for by taxpayers, yet are not easily accessible to the public. Open CRS, a project of the Center for Democracy & Technology, in cooperation with several organizations and collectors of reports, maintains a database of CRS reports for public access. U.S. House Bill 3762 and Senate Resolution 118 would provide Internet access to non-confidential CRS publications. (TC)

It’s Open Access Week

This week is the first international Open Access Week. To read about the Open Access movement, visit the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) website.

Did you know there is an Open Access Law Program (OAL Program), which is part of the Science Commons publishing project?  To learn more about the OAL Program and its principles, and to view a list of Open Access law journals, visit the Science Commons’ Open Access Law Program webpage at .

There is also a Directory of Open Access Journals covering all areas of scholarship.  (TC)

Halloween Reads: Get Your Spook On at Caroliniana

The historic South Caroliniana Library on the Horseshoe is South Carolina Ghost Central. If you need local legends and haunted history this Halloween, look no further than your USC online catalog. Scope the catalog to Columbia South Caroliniana Library and run a keyword search for: ghosts carolina

You will notice that the catalog not only picks up titles containing the word “ghost”, it also does a little fuzzy logic and gives you titles such as Haunted Charleston, Spirits and Legends of the South Carolina Sea Islands, even some Weird Carolinas.

Visit Caroliniana and step into history, mystery, and fun.

Citation really does matter

However much you hate the Bluebook, hang in there and master it.  Citation really does matter in the real world.  A Wisconsin lawyer found this out to his dismay when he was hit with a $100 fine for citing a case incorrectly in a brief.  And take good research notes.  The lawyer not only got the citation wrong, but also the facts and the holding of the case.  The Wisconsin Court of Appeals expressed its frustration with the attorney in a footnote to an unpublished opinion, Espitia v. Fouche.*  “’Different name, different citation, different district (District IV) but, as promised, unpublished,’ the court said in the footnote.”  Legal research & writing – they really do matter.

*2008 WI App 160, ¶ 14 n.5, 314 Wis. 2d 507, 758 N.W.2d 224 (Ct. App. 2008) (unpublished table decision).