Today is the start of Major League Baseball’s season, which, as we all know, is really just the opening act for the 28th Annual Virginia Law Softball Invitational that begins tomorrow. Baseball and the law have a long history. The Supreme Court ruled in 1922 that Major League Baseball was not subject to the Sherman Act in Fed. Baseball Club of Baltimore v. Nat’l League of Prof’l Baseball Clubs, 259 U.S. 200. You can use Westlaw or Lexis to determine whether this case is still good law. Remember, confirming the status of a case can be an important research step.
The Ninth Circuit has found itself involved with baseball as it handles the Barry Bond’s perjury case (see, for example, United States v. Bonds, 608 F.3d 495 (9th Cir. 2010) for the opinion ruling on the admissibility of certain evidence). You can track the current status of the case through a Wikipedia site dedicated to the ‘Legal Problems of Barry Bonds.’ The fans also make sure that baseball and the law stay friends; for example, in Thurmond v. Prince William Prof’l Baseball Club, Inc., 265 Va. 59, 574 S.E.2d 246 (Va. 2003), the court held “that when a particular adult spectator of ordinary intelligence is familiar with the game of baseball that spectator assumes the normal risks of watching a baseball game, including the danger of being hit by a ball batted into an unscreened seating area of a stadium.”
Not even fictional baseball characters escape the law’s long arm. Willie Mays Hayes, a character in Major League (Paramount 1989) who claimed he could “hit like Mays and run like Hayes,” makes an appearance in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If you’re interested in baseball and the law, VIRGO is a great tool for tracking down books in the law library’s collection. For example, a keyword search on baseball and limiting your search to the law library returns these books, including the law school’s own G.E. White’s Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953 (1996). The reference librarians are also happy to help you design your research plan—baseball related or not.
– Leslie Ashbrook
Congratulations to Ben Doherty for his lightning-fast performance Saturday in the annual Charlottesville 10 Miler. Ben's six-minute mile pace brought him in at 2nd place for his age bracket and 23rd place overall. It also gave him the fastest time of any Law School runner, 23 seconds ahead of second-year Rich Connaroe and more than two minutes ahead of Professor Jim Ryan.
Four other MoreUs runners also crossed the finish line: first timers Jon Ashley and Tim Breeden, and repeat contenders Katherine Jenkins and Cathy Palombi. Congratulations to all of our runners!
With its tasteful use of orange highlights, WestlawNext has been taking UVA Law by storm. At the library we’re enthusiastic about this new direction for legal databases (and are looking forward to Lexis’ future contributions to the trend). If you’ve hopped on the WestlawNext bandwagon, we say good for you, but make sure you are using it as a critical researcher: taking advantage of everything it has to offer and noting what it may not provide.
While WestlawNext’s main search box works well for many searches, be sure to take advantage of its advanced search screens. The advanced searches available in specific databases are particularly robust. For example, try selecting the “Federal Cases” database under the Federal Materials tab and then clicking on the “advanced” button at the top. That opens up all of the document fields and a list of “connectors and expanders” to which expert Westlaw and Lexis searchers are accustomed. You can do the same types of advanced searches from Next’s main search screen. However, you have to know the right connectors or field abbreviations to enter, kind of like having to know to order your burger “animal style” at In-N-Out Burger, even though it’s not on their menu. Using the advanced search option in the different WestlawNext databases gives you the menu, so that you can take advantage of those more precise search tools.
Keep in mind too, that WestlawNext is a work in progress. There is a lot of information that you can get in Westlaw.com (or Lexis) that has not yet migrated to WestlawNext, such as foreign or international legal material. As a savvy researcher it is as important to realize what Next cannot yet do as it is to take advantage of all it has to offer. Finally, our law firm colleagues would have our heads if we did not remind you that once out of law school you’ll need to pay attention to cost. Like its content, WestlawNext’s pricing structure is evolving, but upon arriving at a firm or other organization, asking the librarian or whoever is in charge of Westlaw or Lexis there how the pricing for your organization works is always a good idea.
– Ben Doherty
Once you’ve explored ideas for a paper topic, perhaps by using sources like blawgs and tweets, and have decided what to write about, start your research by looking at what other people have written. Running searches for law review articles and books on your subject will help you to refine your topic (or change it if someone else has already written about the exact same thing), and to find relevant cases and statutes. Using a legal periodical index that categorizes law review articles by subject, like Legal Periodicals Full Text and LegalTrac, can lead you to helpful articles even more quickly than keyword searching. For example, if you’re writing about insanity pleas in criminal cases, browse the articles listed under the subject heading “insanity defense” and then get to the full text articles by clicking the “Find at UVa” links. These indexes also index articles written about specific cases or statutes, so you can use them to find the most pertinent articles if you already have a particular primary source in mind for your topic. You can also Keycite or Shepardize a case or statute and narrow your results to secondary sources.
Also consider expanding your research to non-legal sources. For your paper on insanity pleas, look for relevant articles by psychologists in the PsycINFO database. U.Va. provides access to a number of useful business, public policy, medical, and many more topical databases. A complete list, and research guides by subject, are in the University Library’s guide to databases.
Check out Principles of Legal Research for help developing a research plan, and Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review for help thinking through the writing and editing process.
– Kristin Glover
Have you returned from Spring Break in need of a paper or note topic? With their focus on hot legal issues, blawgs can be a great place to troll for ideas. Although blawgs can be quite sophisticated in their analysis of current legal trends, they tend to catch on to developments in their early stages, before anyone has addressed them in a scholarly paper. You can use blawgs, then, to find issues that legal scholars or lawyers care about, but have not yet been covered by scholarly literature. There are blawgs on almost any legal topic, and even a blawg on “circuit splits,” that always popular avenue for student note or comment publishers who would like to have their article noticed by the Supreme Court. A good place to start is the ABA’s Blawg Directory, where you can browse hundreds of the most popular blawgs, grouped by topic.
Twitter feeds are not as useful for paper ideas because of their limited content, although there are a number of legal academics on Twitter. Perhaps more useful to soon-to-be attorneys is that government agencies are increasingly using Twitter to communicate with the public. The White House tweets, as do major agencies. For example, the Consumer Product Safety Commission puts out its product recall announcements through Twitter. While Twitter’s main use may always be for professional athletes to insult one another, why not make use of the service as a good way to stay on top of legal developments as well?
– Ben Doherty
The week after spring break will see not only the return to classes but Charlottesville’s annual Virginia Festival of the Book. This year’s festival features appearances by several members of the Law School community.
Brandon Garrett’s eagerly awaited Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong won’t be published until April, while Paul Halliday’s Habeas Corpus: From England to Empire was released last year to glowing reviews. They will appear together in The Writ of Habeas Corpus and the Injustice of Wrongful Convictions, Wednesday, March 16th at 12 noon in the City Council Chambers at 605 E. Main Street.
Tomiko Brown-Nagin recently celebrated the publication of Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement, the culmination of more than a decade of research. She will appear at UVA’s Culbreth Theatre on Thursday, March 17th at 6 p.m., in the program Engaging the Mind: Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Human Rights, moderated by fellow law professor Risa Goluboff (author of the award-winning The Lost Promise of Civil Rights).
At the very same time, Thursday at 6 p.m., Lois Shepherd, author of If That Ever Happens to Me: Making Life and Death Decisions After Terri Schiavo, will be appearing in the City Council Chambers downtown in a program on Health Care in America Today.
Finally, on Friday, March 18th at 4 p.m., Siva Vaidhyanathan, whose The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Worry) is due out this week, will be discussing the Internet giant’s impact in Google, the New Media: The Present and Future at the UVA Bookstore.
So there are lots of good opportunities to slip away from the Law School and support your professors. And that doesn’t even include Book Festival sessions on fiction, poetry, travel, and other slightly-less-legal topics.
- Kent Olson
MoreUs: Official blawg for the Arthur J. Morris Law Library is published by the law librarians and staff at the University of Virginia Law School. Our hope is to help keep our students and faculty up-to-date on the latest news about the library, its collections, and how to make the most of their legal research time.
About the name: We named our blawg “More Us” because we hope to tell you more about “us” — our entire community of library users, staff, scholars, the publishing industry, and IT professionals. We’ll share information about the resources we use, what happens behind the scenes at the library, and the rapid evolution of information discovery techniques for legal researchers and scholars.
In addition to the traditional “news and announcements” about the latest databases, training opportunities, and schedule changes, we’ll blawg research tips, tech reviews, and recommendations of newly acquired videos, books and articles. We also hope to hear from you. Whether it’s a comment on a posting or a complaint about a library policy, we welcome your feedback.
About the banner: The banner is based on a cartoon by French satirist Honoré Daumier. This sketch was originally published as Number One in the series “Les Avocats et les Plaideurs” (“The Lawyers and the Litigants”) in the French newspaper Le Charivari on November 12, 1851. We find a kindred spirit in our banner version of Daumier’s avocat: like the UVA Law Library, he is steeped in tradition even as he embraces state-of-the-art technology in his legal research. Prints of Number One and several of Daumier’s other works can be found on display near the Klaus Room in the UVA Law Library.