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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
3/30/2015 3:32:59 PM


Book Review: Meltdown in Haditha: The Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians by U.S. Marines and the Failure of Military Justice

Englade, Kenneth F. Meltdown in Haditha: The Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians by U.S. Marines and the Failure of Military Justice. McFarland and Company, INC, 265 pages. 35.00 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-7864-9734-8

Meltdown in Haditha: The Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians by U.S. Marines and the Failure of Military Justice is an analysis of 7 men tried for their actions and cover up of the killing of 24 citizens in Haditha Iraq. 

Kenneth F Englade has the book laid out in four parts.  Part one is Anbar Province where he lays out what happened in Haditha Iraq.  It starts with what the men involved were doing prior to Haditha, goes into the convoy attack, the fall-out of the attack, and then finally the media finding out about the 24 citizens killed.  Part two is Repercussions where he discusses the investigation that is finally called for from Washington and the charges that are filed against seven marines.  The last two chapters in this section cover an interview on CBS one of the accused gave and the Bargewell Report.  The next section Hearings is a chapter for each of the men charged.  These chapters goes over the evidence presented to the judge for each of the defendants.  The chapters end with the recommendation of charges.  The final section of the book is Trials.  This section is the legal maneuvering of both sides as well as more in-depth information to what was presented in the last section. 

This book had a lot of repetitive facts throughout.  Section three and four covers the same information.  Section three breaks the information down to the individual trials but each chapter goes over the same evidence and essentially the same testimony.  Section four is the same information from section three just extrapolated slightly more.  Such as, how the United States Marine Corp tried to squash subpoenas.

The author used both military and civil terms for legal terms.  He felt it would be too confusing for the reader if he used military terms for judge, jury, and prosecutor but he was comfortable using other terms such as preferred instead of filed.  The terms he chose to use were actually more confusing to a civilian then the terms he didn’t want to use.  He should have stayed with all civilian or all military terms instead of picking random words. 

Another issue I had with this book was Englade starts to talk about things but does not concluded them.  An example of this would be in chapter five Congressman Murtha was sued for libel but there is no mention of what happened.  This would be a good book for people who want to learn the details about what happened in Haditha.  It is not for people who are interested in learning about military court cases.  The author has a variety of sources and he sites everything he writes about.  However, one of the biggest issues with this book is there seems to be a lot of information not provided.  The author stated there were issues getting information from reliable sources and the actual documents from the trial have been sealed.  He based his book on what was available since the trial documents have been kept sealed.


This book may appeal as a general interest book but for a law book, it is unclear and repetitive.  In trying to be comprehensive to a wide array of readers, he mixes terms from civilian and military which is confusing and somewhat inaccurate.  Overall, it is an interesting look at what happened in Haditha but not a concise and accurate book to address military law.

Author: Victoria Troemel (vgtroemel@indianatech.edu) is Technical Services Librarian at Indiana Tech Law Library, Fort Wayne, IN.

Posted By Victoria Troemel at 3/30/2015 3:32:59 PM  0 Comments
3/27/2015 9:49:00 AM

The Law Library Repository Conference is approaching!

Here in Wisconsin, we are finally starting to see signs of spring approaching. While we anxiously await its permanent arrival, I am counting the Law Repository Conference as its official start. I am fortunate enough to be able to attend the conference, which is March 30-31, with other special events on Sunday, March 29 in Williamsburg, Virginia. As a side note, I've never been to Williamsburg, and look forward to seeing more of the College of William and Mary, which looks to have a beautiful law library.

Picture Courtesy Wolf Library Website

At the University of Wisconsin Law Library, we are just starting to put together our own repository, so the timing of this conference couldn't be any more fortuitous. We have a general outline of what we want our repository to look and act like, but there are plenty of areas in which we have plenty of questions....such as....

What should our workflow look like once we get started? 

Should we incorporate student workers to help with the process of adding documents? How many librarians should be involved before we encounter 'too many cooks in the kitchen'? In what order should decide to add metadata, images and other information? Fortunately, one of the sessions I will be attending is the Lightning Talks on Process, Workflows and Strategies with Digital Repositories, which deals with mechanization of the process and other logistical challenges that come with repositories.

How will copyright affect our repository?

This is a complicated question, and a discussion I look forward to hearing. So far, we have been able to navigate copyright's choppy waters, but understanding how other librarians are tackling the same issue will be very helpful.  

OER and Perma.CC?

Perma.CC is a great idea to help eliminate link rot, and Wisconsin, along with many other law libraries, have already become partners in making it more prevalent. Discussing the future of Perma.CC with other librarians who have been working to improve it (or create it, in Harvard's case) is a chance too good to pass up.

Open Educational Resources (OER) presents another solution to a difficult problem; providing more legal resources to everyone. While repositories can contribute to this cause, learning more about how OERs can be created and put to use is the true reason I look forward to hearing more.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the keynote from Paul Royster, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His experiences in developing and running one of the country's largest institutional repositories will certainly get the conference off to a great start.

While conference registration is now closed, the full conference schedule can be found here, and includes descriptions of the numerous sessions that make me feel a little nerdy, since I get so excited reading them. Please feel free to email me and ask about any of the sessions as I am happy to share any information or notes that I have.

An added bonus: I will get to explore Colonial Williamsburg, which is nearby the conference site. Now if only we could have stayed in the Governor's Mansion, this would have been the perfect conference!

      Picture Courtesy Williamburgvirginiaguide.com

Enjoy the start to each of your springs, and happy conferencing!

Kris Turner (Kris.turner@wisc.edu)

Reference and Technology Services Librarian

University of Wisconsin Law School Library

Posted By Kristopher Turner at 3/27/2015 9:49:00 AM  0 Comments
3/13/2015 6:42:02 PM

Review: Constitute, “The World’s Constitutions to Read, Search, and Compare”

Constitute (https://www.constituteproject.org/) is a free website developed by the Comparative Constitutions Project, which is based at the University of Texas at Austin. It contains 194 constitutions that are accessible three ways: from an A-Z list, a full-text search, or selecting from a list of topics.

A useful feature is the ability to compare two or more nations’ constitutions by topic. To do so, click on the Compare button next to the applicable nations on the A-Z list and click on the Compare icon in the left frame of the screen. The texts of the constitutions will display side by side. To compare provisions in specific areas, do a full-text search in the box under the Compare icon in the left frame, or select from a list of topics located below the search box.

Below is a comparison of U.S. and Japanese constitutional provisions on the topic Rights and Duties/Legal Procedural Rights/Protection from Self-incrimination:

To find which nations’ constitutions address particular areas, be sure you’re in the List view (as opposed to Compare view) before using the search box or topics outline. A sample topic selection, Culture and Identity/Citizenship/Requirements for Naturalization shows that 118 constitutions have relevant provisions.

If you wish to preserve your search results, you can click on the pin icon near the top of the page, then click on the Pinned icon in the left frame, and then export to Google Docs, download as a PDF, or save as a .csv file. It appears that once you’ve pinned your search results you must take any of the above actions before closing your tab or window, as I saw no option for creating an account that would enable saving your results. Also, I discovered that my pinned search was gone once I closed the page and then returned, so the site doesn’t remember IP addresses.

While I enjoyed exploring Constitute, I encountered a couple of issues that would concern me if I were relying on it for research:

1.  When comparing the U.S. and Japanese constitutions, I clicked through the topic menu Rights and Duties/Legal Procedural Rights/Due Process. The one U.S. match was the 5th Amendment, but the 14th Amendment also contains the phrase “due process.”

2.  On the bottom left of Constitute’s main page there is a box that contains teasers of the site’s content. One was “Scotland, Catalunya, Who’s Next? 22 constitutions contain provisions on secession. Click here to see which.” When I clicked, I was directed to a search result list of the 22 nations, and the full-text box was populated with the phrase “secession of territory.” However, when I did a separate full-text search for just “secession,” I got 11 results that didn’t overlap. A search algorithm expert may know why this is, but I expect most users won't.

Posted By Colleen Williams at 3/13/2015 6:42:02 PM  0 Comments