Share Video Highlights of State Proceedings with WisconsinEye’s Clipping Tool

Here in Wisconsin, we are fortunate to have our own non-partisan, state-wide public affairs cable network.  WisconsinEye features coverage of the Wisconsin Legislature (floor sessions and committees), Governors’ addresses, Supreme Court oral arguments, as well as other programs of state interest such as panels, forums, town halls, and programs about state history.

The WisconsinEye website offers both live and archived video coverage of state public affairs.  They’ve recently launched a new and improved clipping tool which allows users to create custom URLs of video content timed to the exact moments that you’d like to share.  These links can then easily be embedded on websites and shared via email and social media.

See the FAQ for more info about how to use the video clipping tool.

New UW Law School Faculty Scholarship

Here is the latest faculty scholarship appearing in the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies Research Papers series found on SSRN.

The University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies journal contains abstracts and papers from this institution focused on this area of scholarly research. To access all the papers in this series, please use the following URL: http://www.ssrn.com/link/u-wisconsin-legal-studies.html

A Book of Legal Lists: The Best and Worst in American Law with 100 Court and Judge Trivia Questions

By Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian

For ages, people have been putting together books of lists.  Librarians love to catalog books making lists.  Merchant marines make manifests.  In fact, there is probably a list for everything.  In the present book, A Book of Legal Lists (1997), the author Bernard Schwartz tackles the law.  Here there is a list for the “Ten Greatest Supreme Court Justices” and a list for the “Ten Worst Supreme Court Justices.”

It stands to reason then there’d be lists for the “Ten Greatest Supreme Court Decisions” and “Worst Supreme Court Decisions,” as well as, one for the “Ten Greatest Dissenting Opinions.”  While Mr. Schwartz would be the first to admit these lists stem from his personal choices, it is also true each entry is followed by a brief essay explaining how these “are reasoned selections derived from a lifetime’s work in law and legal history.”

It is these little essays that make this a wonderful little history book.  One will also find lists for the “Ten Greatest Non-Supreme Court Judges” and “Ten Greatest Non-Supreme Court Decisions.”  And more lists for the “Ten Greatest Law Books,” lawyers, trials, and legal motion pictures.  All the while there is a bit of history sprinkled in for the reader to take away.

Where it really gets fun is when we play Trivia!  Dealer shuffles the questions.  You have to answer, if you can!  (An answer key follows below, but give it your best bet first.)

Let’s get started:

Q1: Who is the first Justice to hire a law clerk?

Q2: What Justice enjoyed a reputation as a minor poet?

Q3: What Justice was known for playing Trivial Pursuit on the bench?

Q4: What Justice wrote the most opinions while on the Court?

Q5: Who wrote the most opinions of the Court?

Q6: What Justice signed the Declaration of Independence?*

Q7: What Justices served on the Confederate side in the Civil War?

Q8: Where did the Court sit after the British burned Washington in 1814?

Q9: Who was the first former law clerk to become a Justice?

Q10: What Justice was an all-American football player?

Answer Key –

A1: Justice Horace Gray began the practice of employing a young law school graduate to aid him.  At first, he paid the expense of this himself until, in 1886, Congress provided $2000 a year for the purpose.

A2: Justice Joseph Story.  While studying law, he composed a lengthy poem “The Power of Solitude.”  He published it with other poems in 1804.  According to his son’s biography, Justice Story later bought up and burned all copies of the work he could find.

A3: Justice William H. Rehnquist.  When the Burger Court sat, one of Rehnquist’s clerks would every now and then pass notes to the Justice.  These were not legal memos but Trivail Pursuit-style questions.  Justice Rehnquist would answer them and then hand them to Justice Blackmun for that Justice to try his hand.

A4: Justice William O. Douglas authored 1,164 opinions (of these 486 were dissenting opinions).  He also holds the record among Justices for having the most wives (four) and the most divorces (three) while on the bench.

A5: Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who authored 873 opinions of the Court.

A6: Justice Samuel Chase.  He is also the only Justice to be impeached.  The U.S. Senate acquitted him on all counts.  *Upon further research, it has come to light that Justice James Wilson signed the Declaration of Independence as well.

A7: Justices Lucius Q. C. Lamar, Horace Lurton, and Chief Justice Edward D. White.

A8: The burning of the Capitol left the Court without its basement chamber.  During the next two years the Court held its sessions in the house of Elias Boudinot Caldwell, its clerk, on Capitol Hill.

A9: Justice Byron R. White, who had been a law clerk to Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson in 1946.

A10: Justice Byron R. White, popularly known as “Whizzer” White, was an all-star back at the University of Colorado in 1937.  He was also later named to the National Football League Hall of Fame.  Justice White’s Wikipedia entry adds: He was selected in the first round of the 1938 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers) and led the National Football League in rushing yards in his rookie season.

A print copy of A Book of Legal Lists is available for your inspection and retrospection in the UW Law Library Reference Collection at: Ref KF387 S39 1997.

This article was inspired by Michael Widener, Rare Book Librarian, at the Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Law Library.  His recent article Legal Literature’s Greatest Hits got the ball rolling in a big way!

Merger of WI’s Legislative Reference Bureau and Legislative Council Considered

In a guest column in the Capital Times, the reports that the Wisconsin Legislature is considering merging the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) with the Legislative Council.

Both are nonpartisan legislative agencies but they serve different functions.  The LRB provides legal, research, and information services to the Wisconsin Legislature whereas the Legislative Council staff supports effective lawmaking by providing legal advice and guidance to standing committees of the Legislature.

The agencies also have different confidentiality requirements under Wisconsin Statutes 13.91 (Leg Council) and 13.92 (LRB).

See the article for more information.

New Google Apps Help with Accessibility

Image of basset hound with its ears pulled out
Photo via Unsplash.

Google is working to make communicating easier for those with hearing difficulties, recently releasing two new apps, Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier.

Live Transcribe works as a “live” transcription tool. It uses cloud-based speech recognition to transcribe conversations in real time. This can help those with hearing difficulties to participate in conversations without a time lag or delay, since they can read the conversation as it’s happening, instead of struggling to hear and missing out on what’s being said.

If you have a Pixel 3 device, Live Transcribe is already installed. If not, Google Play is adding it as an option in beta- you can sign up here to be notified when it’s ready. 

Sound Amplifier is like a hearing aid in the form of an app- it functions kind of like noise-cancelling headphones. It can cut out background noise and raise the sound of what you’re trying to hear or listen to. It does require wired headphones to work, and also comes pre-installed on Pixel 3 devices. You can also download it from the Google Play app store here. You can play with the settings in order to tweak it to fit your personal needs.

CRAAP Test Provides Tips on Spotting Fake News

Reports of fake news seem to be increasing every day.  In her recent Practice Innovations article, UW Law Library Reference & Instructional Services Librarian Jenny Zook offers some helpful tips on spotting fake news.  The list is based on the cleverly named CRAAP test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose) developed by a librarian in 2004.

You apply the test by searching for clues to the authenticity of a news item by asking yourself a series of questions:

  • Who wrote the article? What is the byline ? Does it have an author, and if it is a scholarly article, is the author an expert in that field of study?

  • Check the date. When was the article written? Is it dated anywhere in the article? Fake news is often undated or lacks currency.

  • Is the URL from a trustworthy source or does the URL only mimic a trusted site? For a compiled list of untrustworthy sites, check the listing from Dr. Melissa Zimdars in Tips for analyzing news sites.

  • Is the site clickbait? Do ads pop up the moment you click on the link?

  • Boom! Does the news elicit an emotional reaction, like anger? Is the language inflammatory or one-sided?

  • Look for confirming bias. Fake news spreads quickly because we seek out information that reinforces what we believe.

  • Is the article written well or is it filled with grammatical errors and typos? Is it written in all caps? Fake news creators may be clever, but they aren’t known for their smooth writing skills or style.

  • What, if anything, does the article link to? Does it cite reliable sources of information? Is the data verifiable? Who are the experts cited?

  • If the article includes images or videos, can you trace them to another source? Fake news will often include mislabeled or altered photos or videos.

“Right to be Forgotten” Doesn’t Apply to Searches Made Outside EU

Five years ago, Europeans gained the right to ask search engines to block certain information about them.  It was unclear, however, if this “right to be forgotten” extended to Internet searches made outside the European Union.

It appears now not that it does not per an opinion issued by European Court of Justice advocate general Maciej Szpunar.  “Search requests that are made outside the territory of the European Union should not be subject to the de-referencing of search results,” wrote Szpunar.

The decision relates to a 2015 dispute between Google and the French watchdog group CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés) over Google’s decision to limit the right to be forgotten just to its French domain rather than apply it to all its national search engines.

See Reuters and The Inquirer for more.

Scientists Examine What Having Constant Access to Information Does to Our Memory

Several years ago, tech writer Nicholas Carr sparked a debate with his thought-provoking Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”  In it, Carr suggested that not only is the Internet shaping our lives – it’s physically changing our the way that our brains function.

“[W]hat the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

Intrigued by this question, researchers from UW-Madison, Columbia, Harvard took a closer look at what having constant access to information does to our capacity to retain information, reports Interesting Engineering.  “Together, they conducted a series of experiments with student volunteers which provides support for the contention that the Internet has an effect on our memory.”

In one experiment, students were asked to write down 40 pieces of trivia.  Some were told that their answers would be recorded, others were told that they would be erased.  When asked later to write down as many statements as they could remember, those who were told that their answers would be erased remembered more statements that those who thought they would be recorded.

In another experiment, a group performed a similar task, but everyone was told their work would be saved in folders with labels.  When asked to recall the written statements, students could only recall 25% of them.  But when asked in which folder a specific statement had been saved, they were able to identify 50% of the folders.

The experiments are telling, although not surprising.  Both demonstrate that we process and remember information differently when we know that we have technology backing us up.

Although exacerbated by the Intenet, this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.  I make a grocery list before going to the store.  As a student, I took notes in class.  As a librarian of a certain age, I even used a physical card catalog to locate library materials.  Pencils, notebooks, card catalogs, books – these are all technologies that have long enabled us to record information so that we don’t have to have perfect recall.

Interesting stuff.  Check out the article for a further exploration of this phenomenon going all the way back to the ancient Greeks.