Monthly Archives: May 2013

Great Resources: HeinOnline — History of Supreme Court Nominations

Our series on HeinOnline’s digital collections continues.  For Part I, on the Congress and the Courts library, go here.

Another electronic library available through HeinOnline and Coleman Karesh’s electronic resources is called “History of Supreme Court Nominations.”  The database offers materials on both successful and unsuccessful Supreme Court nominations, starting with Justice Brandeis and going all the way through to Justice Kagan.  The available materials vary from nominee to nominee, but generally include transcripts of the nominations of potential justices; transcripts of confirmation hearings before the judiciary committee; presidential documents and statements about the nominees; congressional roll call votes on the nominations; selected opinions from a nominee’s time on a court of appeals or district court; briefs and oral arguments of some of the nominees during their time as practicing attorneys; and selected writings or articles by or about a nominee.heinonline-logo

There are noticeably more volumes on some of the more controversial nominees, or those whose confirmation hearings were particularly long or detailed.  For example, a nominee who was confirmed (or dismissed) with little or no disagreement may have only a single volume, or be grouped together with other nominees in one volume.  Unsuccessful nominee Robert Bork and successful but controversial Justice Thomas have the most volumes.  The resources available provide a user with a good overview of a justice’s career before coming to the Supreme Court, and a good insight into the often unpleasant process of Senate confirmation hearings.

To access the History of Supreme Courts Nominations library, go to http://www.law.sc.edu/library/limited_access/ and select HeinOnline.

Legal News of the Day: ICTY Convicts Six of Crimes Against Humanity

ICTYAfter celebrating its 20th Anniversary last week, on Wednesday, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted six Bosnian Croat military and political leaders for the persecution and murder of Muslims during the Bosnian Civil War.  Sentences ranged between ten and twenty-five years, for a range of crimes, such as murder, rape, illegal expulsion, and torture.  The ruling by Judge Antonetti specifically states that the torture and murder of Muslims taking place were not random acts, but were “part of a plan to permanently remove Muslims from territory claimed by Bosnian Croats.”  The ruling also named late Republic of Croatia President Franjo Tudjman and Gojko Susak, his former defense minister, as key participants in the crimes against humanity.

Great Resources: HeinOnline – Congress and the Courts

heinonline-logoHeinOnline’s Congress and the Courts is now available through Coleman Karesh Law Library’s Electronic Resources. This database focuses on the development and growth of federal courts and the judiciary as a source of original material of congressional fact-finding and decision-making, including legislative intent, testimony and pre-enactment history.

William H. Manz’s “Congress and the Courts: A Legislative History 1787-2010″ is the highlight of the database. Manz’s work is a thorough compilation of materials relating to various Congresses’ concern with the composition and structure of Article III Courts. The database also includes Federal Judicial Center Publications, CFR Title 28 – Judicial Administration, and links to numerous periodicals, scholarly publications and related materials.

In addition to the in-depth resources that reflect how Congress has shaped the role and function of the courts and judiciary, the database includes materials that provide insight into such varied topics as the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence, administration of judicial dockets, and the judicial decision-making process, to cite just a few examples. Overall, this database provides an excellent resource for research into how and why the Federal courts and judiciary function the way they do.

To access the Congress and the Courts library in Hein, go to http://www.law.sc.edu/library/limited_access/ and select Hein Online.

LinkedIn endorsements = ethical violations?

The most recent ABA Journal raises the question of whether endorsements on LinkedIn violate legal ethics rules.  The SC Bar addressed this issue in an Ethical Advisory Opinion in 2009.  The questions posed were:

Questions:
1) May a South Carolina lawyer claim his or her Company X website listing, including peer endorsements, client ratings, and Company X ratings?

2) May a South Carolina lawyer invite peers, clients, or former clients to post comments and/or rate the lawyer ?

And the answers were:

Summary
1) Yes, a lawyer may claim the website listing, but all information contained therein (including peer endorsements, client ratings, and Company X ratings) are subject to the rules governing communication and advertising once the lawyer claims the listing.

2) A lawyer may invite peers to rate the lawyer and may invite and allow the posting of peer and client comments, but all such comments are governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct, and the lawyer is responsible for their content.

The question still remains about unsolicited endorsements.  LinkedIn provides a way to hide endorsements.  Does doing nothing constitute claiming?  If a lawyer receives an unsolicited endorsement on LinkedIn and does not remove or hide it, has the lawyer “claimed” the endorsement such that it is now subject to all the rules governing communication and advertising, including those dealing with claims of expert status?

Legal News of the Day: New Brief Filed in Hopes of Expanding Rights of Gitmo Detainees

A new brief by attorneys for Yemeni national Ali Hamza Suliman Ahmad Al Bahlul seems to be an attempt to use the Court’s ruling in Boumediene v. Bush as the basis to expand the constitutional rights of those facing military commissions.  Should the case make it to the Supreme Court, Bahlul v. United States would be the first time the Court will look at the commission system that was put into place by Congress after the Court struck down the system put into place by Bush.

In January, Al Bahlul’s war crimes conviction was overturned by a three-judge D.C. Circuit panel.  The Circuit Court decided that Congress lacked the power to give a commission Guantanamo_Bay_mapthe authority to try Al Bahlul for actions that occurred well before the Military Commissions Act was passed.  Last month, however, the Circuit Court agreed to reconsider the case en banc, and it is scheduled to be heard on September 30th.

In the brief just filed, Al Bahlul’s lawyers argue to extend the Ex Post Facto Clause to Guantanamo detainees–that Congress cannot apply the Act retroactively.  So far, the only constitutional right recognized for those held at Guantanamo, as decided in Boumediene,  is the right to challenge their detention in a federal habeas court.  The brief also argues that the war crime of conspiracy was not a violation of international war at the time of Al Bahlul’s offense.

For more on the brief’s arguments, see this SCOTUSblog article.

Legal News of the Day: ICTY’s 20th Anniversary

On Friday, the UN Security Council commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s creation.  ICTYOn May 25, 1993, Resolution 827 was passed, establishing the ICTY as an “ad hoc measure” created to prosecute those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law, as reports continued about mass killing, organized and systematic detention and rape of women, and ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian civil war.

Since its inception, the ICTY has indicted 161 people.  Most recently, in March, the ICTY sentenced two former Bosnian-Serb police officers to war crimes and crimes against humanity for their actions during the civil war.  The war left approximately 100,000 dead and around 2.2 million homeless.

Legal News of the Day: Guatemalan Constitutional Court Reverses Former President Montt’s Genocide Conviction

On May 10, a Guatemalan trial court found former president Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and war crimes under Guatemalan law.  This was the first time that a former head of state had ever been convicted of genocide in a national court.  Montt was sentenced to eighty years in prison.

guatemalaOn May 20th, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court (the highest court in Guatemala) annulled the verdict based on alleged violations of the defendant’s due process rights.  Specifically, the defense had argued that Mott’s rights had been violated when his attorney was expelled early in the trial process and that the head judge should have recused herself.  Deciding that the trial should have been suspended while these appeals were in place, the case was sent back to the trial court.

The defendants (Montt’s military intelligence chief, Jose Mauricio Rodriguez  Sanchez, was another defendant in the case)  were on trial for crimes committed in the northern Quiche area of Guatemala against the Ixil Mayans between 1982 and 1983.  The charges were based on the Guatemalan penal code (link in Spanish), which contains provisions on genocide (Article 376) and “crimes against obligations to humanity” (Article 378).

Legal News of the Day: Brady Center Sues Over Nelson, Georgia Gun Law

File:Matt - pistol.jpgOn April 1 of this year, the small town of Nelson, Georgia (pop. 1,300) passed a new municipal ordinance requiring all heads of household to own guns and ammunition, in response to the recently renewed debate over gun violence and safety in the United States. The law is patterned after a similar law that has been in effect in a neighboring Georgia town since the early 1980s. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has gotten involved by suing the City of Nelson, Georgia in federal court, alleging that the new ordinance violates the First, Second, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

Legal News of the Day: Senate Judiciary Approves Immigration Reform Bill

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill S.744, entitled the Border Security, Economic Security, and Immigration Modernization Act, in a 13-5 vote.  Us-mexico-borderThe bill aims to create a thirteen year path to citizenship for current undocumented immigrants, but is contingent upon strengthening security along the Mexican-U.S. border.  The bill also seeks to improve the process used to bring high-skilled immigrants into the U.S. workforce.  The bill next goes before the full Senate.

Legal News of the Day: South Carolina Sued Over Child’s Sex Assignment Surgery

On Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) on behalf of couple whose adopted child, M.C., underwent sex re-assignment surgery while in the custody of the state.  The suit was also filed against individual doctors and social workers. state-flag-of-south-carolinaSCDSS decided to have the child, who was born with both testicular and ovarian tissue, undergo surgery to make M.C. a girl at the age of sixteen months.  Now eight years old, M.C. identifies as a boy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed lawsuits on behalf of the family in both state and federal court.  The lawsuits allege that the SCDSS violated the child’s due process rights to bodily integrity, privacy, and liberty by subjecting M.C. to a procedure that was both painful and medically unnecessary.  The parents are seeking a declaratory judgment as well as compensatory damages.