“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). 


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.

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.



Today In History: Frederick Douglass Escapes Slavery

Frederick DouglassOn September 3, 1838, Frederick Douglass, American abolitionist, social reformer, and statesman, escaped from slavery.  Wearing a sailor’s uniform (and carrying seaman’s protection documents) provided by a friend, he embarked on a perilous journey from Baltimore to Philadelphia.  Forty years later, he wrote a riveting account of his escape; you can read it here.

Spotify: How It Works, and How It’s Legal.

by Scott Beale

by Scott Beale

I have a normal routine when I get to work.  I come in, change out of my walking clothes, drink some coffee, turn on the radio, and then I can start preparing for the day.   Usually, I stream either our local NPR news station or something on Spotify.

In case you were interested, today I’m listening to Mariachi El Bronx.  I’d highly recommend, both for the music and the back story.

To me, Spotify is a strange animal.  For those of us around for the beginning of internet music, namely Spotify’s completely illegal cousins Napster and Limewire, and illegal torrent sites like Piratebay, completely legal internet streaming sites seem strange.  So, I decided it might be fun to look into exactly how these free streaming sites work.

First, Spotify is legal because it pays artists for their music.  There is no thievery going on here! Record labels, and occasionally independent artists, provide Spotify with copies of their music.  Spotify then streams the music to users via their website, downloadable platform, or application.  Then, artists receive money based on the number of times users play their songs.  How much money you ask?  Well, that’s the tricky part.

Spotify’s “artists” page says they pay different rates based on country of the user, type of user listening (free vs. subscription), subscription pricing, exchange rates, and the artists’ individual royalty rates.  Spotify states that they end up paying between $0.006 and $0.0084 to rights holders (artists).  While this might seem like a small amount of money, Spotify recently reported that a real-life artist was earning $425,000 per month in royalties for a “global hit album.”   This doesn’t give a lot of hope to smaller acts, but it does show that someone is making a lot of money from the service.

spotifyAnd where does all this money come from?  The answer is advertising and subscriptions.  Spotify’s free service uses ads to pay artists for music, while its subscription service charges users to listen without ads.  It then passes this money on to artists and stockholders alike.  In its free form, Spotify runs on a similar model to Google products like Gmail and Google Drive, which provide free services with advertisements.

So what’s the difference between Spotify and the illegal alternatives of my youth?  Not much, honestly.  Spotify is reliable and carries almost any music you could ask for.  Admittedly, some superstars like Taylor Swift and Prince have taken their music off the site.  However, generally speaking, the site works well and allows users to listen to almost anything they want without the threat of attorney letters and lawsuits.

Cocky’s Guide to the Law Library & IT

Trying to remember something that you learned during orientation about the library or IT?  We’ve compiled a guide with all the relevant information you heard: Cocky’s Guide to the Law Library & IT!

cockysguideLearn how to:

  • Reserve a study room
  • Order a book we don’t own through interlibrary loan
  • Register for the electronic research databases (Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg)
  • Get more printing credits if you run out of your $100 allotment, and
  • much more!

Of course, you can also email the Reference Desk at lawref@law.sc.edu, call the desk at 803-7777-5902, or stop by with questions on weekdays between 8:30am and 5:00pm!