AALL Spectrum Blog

  • Bookmark and Share

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.
5/23/2016 8:49:30 AM

Book Review: Ferguson's Fault Lines: The Race Quake that Rocked a Nation

Kimberly Jade Norwood, Editor, Ferguson’s Fault Lines: The Race Quake that Rocked a Nation, American Bar Association, 2016, 276 pages, inclusive of index, Paperback, $49.95, ISBN 978-1-63425-372-7  

Ferguson’s Fault Lines: The Race Quake that Rocked a Nation brings together contributing authors from a variety of fields within law, academia, and media to discuss implicit bias and inequalities in housing, education, and the criminal justice system, including solutions to these challenges in Ferguson and beyond.  Given the contributing authors’ extensive research in the fields of race, the criminal justice system, media, and education and how their work in their fields informs their analysis of race and issues of justice in Ferguson, the book is an ideal read for anyone wanting to know more about Ferguson, the issues surrounding the killing of Michael Brown, and the broader issues regarding race, inequality, and criminal justice in the United States. Contributing authors provide suggestions for resolving the challenges posed by implicit bias and a multitude of inequalities.  Due to its focus on current events and law within the United States, the book is a necessary addition to academic law libraries.  A paginated table of contents and index of key terms and prominent people make the book user-friendly.

The idea of implicit bias is a prominent theme.  In the Foreword, Current ABA President Paulette Brown, asserts that implicit bias is the major factor in the “School-to-Prison Pipeline” and suggests that taking an Implicit Association Test (IAT) can benefit everyone.  Brown does not mention a specific IAT, however, readers may be interested in a series of IATs offered by Harvard University.  L. Song Richardson and Phillip Atiba Goff define and give examples of implicit bias and Candice Norwood asserts that implicit bias is the result of the images regarding African-Americans and crime propagated by the media.  

Implicit bias is a major factor in the discussions of policing.  Howard M. Wasserman suggests that requiring police to wear body cameras that record encounters between the police and the public may not be a panacea because people bring their own biases to what they see.  He cites the case of Eric Garner as an example of how a video of what one person views as police misconduct may be viewed by another person as reasonable force.  

A large part of the discussion of the criminal justice system focuses on methods of policing. Thomas Harvey and Brendan Roediger describe the “muni shuffle” in which people who lack funds to pay fines are jailed and then released after they have paid all they can pay and jailed in another municipality for the fines they owe there.  To fund themselves, municipalities in the St. Louis area, raise money by issuing traffic tickets, fining people, and prosecuting people for petty crimes.  Richardson and Goff’s discussion of the community policing model versus the professionalism model and Chad Flanders’ discussion of how the escalated force model of policing prevailed over the negotiated management model during the protests in Ferguson detail the impact of actions of police on the local community.  Flanders mentions “militarized vehicles and tear gas” when describing the protest scenes in Ferguson.  Flanders’ imagery raises the idea of the militarization of the police and the effect of this militarization on the day-to-day activities of the police.  While the topics of whether the militarization of the police is necessary and how the militarization of the police impacted the protests in Ferguson were not explored, readers who are interested in these topics may be interested in an ACLU report entitled War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing which asserts that federal programs which place military equipment and weaponry in the hands of local police departments have caused this militarization.

The themes of inequalities in housing and education are prominent in the chapters by Kimberly Jade Norwood and Colin Gordon.  In the St. Louis area, policies in both the public and private sectors facilitated the continued segregation of blacks and whites in housing.  Schools in Ferguson remain segregated due to segregated housing patterns.  

Contributing authors propose a variety of solutions to the aforementioned challenges.  One solution, proposed by Christopher Alan Bracey, is something everyone can work on:  recognizing and supporting everyone’s humanity which begins with examining one’s own humanity.  

Review by  Latia Ward, Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor, Indiana Tech Law School, Fort Wayne, Indiana. llward@indianatech.edu

Posted By Latia Ward at 5/23/2016 8:49:30 AM  0 Comments
5/12/2016 11:34:22 AM

Book Review: America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights, 3rd edition

Benjamin E. Griffith, Editor, America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights, (3rd edition) American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law, 2016, 347 pages, inclusive of table of cases and index, Paperback, $116.95, ISBN 978-1-63425-422-9  

The third edition of America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting will make an excellent acquisition for any academic, firm, or county law library collection. The timeliness of the subject matter makes the book a necessary addition to the collections of academic law libraries and the book may serve as a starting point for researchers who wish to delve further into the topics discussed therein. In the Introduction, attorney and member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law Advisory Commission, Thurgood Marshall Jr., notes that America Votes! is accessible to both laypeople and experts due to its material regarding basic tenets of election law and suggestions for government officials and policy makers. For this edition, a variety of contributors including professors, practicing attorneys, and directors of organizations that seek to promote civic engagement have written about the history and future of developments within election administration processes, the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression, and challenges of redistricting.

The book begins with Ann Ravel’s overview of the origin and purpose of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in which she highlights recent case law regarding the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 and details where the FEC has fallen short. As the book progresses, contributing authors note a variety of issues within election law such as how restrictive photo ID laws have affected voters, the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions, and allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections.

Throughout the book, contributing authors have ended their chapters with possible solutions to challenges in the field of election law and presented how various jurisdictions have handled these challenges. For example, in the chapter entitled Language Assistance to Voters, Terry Ao Minnis discusses Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, which touches on how jurisdictions have populations that could benefit from language assistance, yet are not covered by Section 203, can assist these populations in exercising their right to vote. Minnis notes that in Beverly Hills, California, where there is a population of voters who speak Farsi, the City has provided ballots and other voting materials in Farsi. Tova Wang points out that the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions is not as publicized by the media as other forms of disenfranchisement, however six million people in the United States are not allowed to vote due to their criminal convictions. Wang sees the lifting of restrictions on voting for those with criminal convictions in Virginia and Delaware as a step forward. Wang also notes that another way to make sure that more people are registered to vote is through automatic registration at state departments of motor vehicles as is the practice in Oregon, the first state to implement this measure.  

As the title suggests, the book focuses on election law in the United States, however Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada’s former chief electoral officer, and Nancy G. Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida, introduce aspects of comparative law in the Foreword and the chapter entitled Immigration, Voting Rights, and Electoral Access, respectively. Kingsley’s brief summary of the electoral system in Canada and Abudu’s mentioning of jurisdictions that allow noncitizens to vote such as the European Union, Bolivia, and Colombia add a global perspective.

The Summary of Contents, Contents (which includes headings within the individual chapters), Table of Cases, and Index all provide page numbers that facilitate readers’ finding of major sections, case law, and key terms within the book. The contributing authors have documented their sources very well.  Each chapter ends with an extensive list of notes. Hopefully, there will be a future edition of this book which will address the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression, and challenges of redistricting after the 2016 presidential election.

Review by  Latia Ward, Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor, Indiana Tech Law School, Fort Wayne, Indiana. llward@indianatech.edu

Posted By Latia Ward at 5/12/2016 11:34:22 AM  0 Comments
5/6/2016 11:00:00 AM

DIGITAL EXTRA "Leveraging E-records Peer Pressure: One Library's Experience" | AALL Spectrum | May/June 2016 | Volume 20, Number 5

Leveraging E-records Peer Pressure: One Library's Experience

Created by: Carol Ottolenghi, Pari Swift, Nathan Owens, and Angie Crandall

Like many government agencies and public universities, the Ohio Attorney General's Office (AGO) is required by statute to have a records manager with attendant policies and retention schedules. Unfortunately, statutory requirements and universal acceptance are not synonymous. In fact, librarians may be the only people within an organization who truly understand the value of organized, well-weeded records.

The AGO records management team is nothing if not tenacious (they are librarians, after all). With time and guidance, many of the AGO practice groups developed records processes specific to their needs, which has led records, data services, and the library to tap into the AGO staff's competitive nature. With senior management support, they held an E-Records Fair in honor of Electronic Records Day. Records invited practice groups with innovative solutions to create games or displays that mirrored each group's specific records challenge.

Fair-goers were given cards to get stamped at the different game booths. Cards with seven stamps were eligible for a gift-card drawing. A few of the games and displays are described below. They can be adapted for staff or students of almost any organization.

Naming Conventions
Environmental cases can last decades. Legal and administrative staff can completely turnover during that time. So, the environmental practice group's records challenge was to name their files so that people with no knowledge of the case could find all relevant information quickly. The game was simple in concept, and could be played by multiple people at the same time.  Everyone was given paper, pen, and the same description of a file. They had one minute to name the file. They could not talk or look at what others were writing. Then, participants compared the names and discovered for themselves the value of naming conventions.

“Rusty Mountain” and Other Displays
Taking a page from Disney World's playbook, the records department gave fair-goers something to look at while waiting in line for food, by creating a “Rusty Mountain” mural that gave a visualization of the mountain of email and other e-records that needed to be migrated to the AGO’s document management system. The AGO's Bureau of Crime Investigation made a display that portrayed what a given number of bytes in e-records translates to in paper. The display pictured reams of paper stacked against a backdrop of the Empire State Building.

Data Security Duck Pond
Sound records management has enormous implications for data security. Data Services and ITs Security sections teamed up to present a data security duck pond. Several dozen yellow ducks floated in a child's wading pool. Each duck had a data or e-records security question written on the bottom. Participants picked a duck, answered the question and received candy.

E-Records Land
The Library created a game board that highlighted how e-records management (or mismanagement) can affect e-discovery and data integrity. Game cards included:

  • You are maintaining expired case files due to the reference value of one of the briefs instead of weeding and reclassifying that document. Move back one space.
  • You agree to produce specific types of documents in specific formats without verifying with IT that this is possible. You spend nine percent of your organization’s budget and STILL fail to produce. Get hit with sanctions; move back four spaces UNLESS you can name this famous e-discovery case.
  • You have not been following your retention schedules by deleting records in a timely manner. Due to a legal hold, your section is now spending $5,000 more annually to maintain these records for the duration of the legal hold. Move back three spaces.
  • Your client follows its record retention policy consistently. Some potentially harmful documents were destroyed prior to litigation becoming an issue. The judge agrees that destruction is defensible. Move ahead three spaces and give your client a high-five.

The E-Records Land cards were tailored for the AGO. The cards—like all of the E-Records Fair events—can be adapted for staff or students of almost any organization.

Posted By Heather Haemker at 5/6/2016 11:00:00 AM  0 Comments