What’s Up In Italy?: The Referendum & Beppe’s Words of Wisdom

By: Julienne Grant

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Flag of Italy

Let’s step away for a moment from the transition drama (particularly the wacky tweets) and focus on an important vote that’s taking place somewhere else in the world—in Italy.  And while we’re on the subject of Italy, I’d like to highlight an Italian journalist’s take on our presidential election, as I think Americans can learn something from it.

The Referendum

This Sunday (Dec. 4), Italians will vote on a far-reaching plan for constitutional reform. The Italian parliament approved the changes in April with an absolute majority, but not a two-thirds majority—thus sending the vote to a popular referendum (per article 138 of Italy’s constitution). There are excellent overviews of the complex proposal available online, so I won’t detail too much here. Specifically, I recommend the Global Legal Monitor’s Nov. 18th post, and the coverage available on the EUROPP blog. In short, though, the proposed platform puts Italy’s parliamentary system on the chopping block.  One element of the program, for example, would streamline the Italian Senate from 315 Senators to 100, with the Senators no longer being directly elected. The Senate would essentially become a consultative chamber, rather than an equal player in the country’s legislative process.

The push for reform has been guided by Italy’s 41-year-old suave Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. Mr. Renzi is the Secretary of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), and he served as the mayor of Florence before becoming Italy’s top executive in Feb. 2014. In a “60 Minutes” interview with Charlie Rose this past Sunday (Nov. 27), Mr. Renzi argued:

This referendum is not a referendum to change democracy in Italy. [It] is a referendum to reduce bureaucracy in Italy. Italy is the worst country for bureaucracy around the world. And this is very important. If we have a system with a lot of politicians the consequence is 63 government change[s] in 70 years.”

EUROPP again does a good job of summarizing both sides of the issue, so I won’t belabor either here. Succinctly, Mr. Renzi’s camp believes the changes will create a more efficient process for law-making, resulting in government stability, and in turn, an economic boost that the country desperately needs. The Italian business community generally supports the platform, and outside of Italy, U.S. President Barack Obama has openly endorsed Mr. Renzi’s plan.

Opponents, though, claim that the reforms will make the legislating process chaotic and place too much power in Mr. Renzi’s hands. Several of Italy’s, shall we say, more colorful political parties have been quite vocal in their opposition—the xenophobic Lega Nord (LN), Silvio Berlusconi’s signature Forza Italia (FI), and the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), which was founded by comedian Beppe Grillo. By all accounts, the referendum has perhaps become more of a plebiscite on Mr. Renzi than on constitutional reform. Beppe Severgnini, a popular Italian journalist also interviewed on “60 Minutes,” explained what a “Yes” vote will mean as it directly pertains to Mr. Renzi:

“Well, if it’s a yes, “yes” vote, we have to be very careful. We have to find a way to, to anchor Matteo Renzi somewhere down to earth because he’s gonna float in Rome. You see, you look at the sky. This Matteo Renzi’s floating away. Because he’s gonna be over the moon.”

The Implications

Mr. Renzi has indicated that he will resign if the referendum fails, as the UK’s David Cameron did after the Brexit vote. Whether Italy’s Prime Minister will follow through with that pledge, however, is unknown. Predictions abound as to what will occur if there is a “No” vote victory.  The EUROPP blog includes several of these, but the mainstream media in the UK, Europe, and even the U.S. have also chimed in. Most of these “negative outcome” pieces are of the “doom and gloom” type—foreseeing a political crisis in Italy, which would consequently scare investors away from a number of Italian banks that are already on the brinks.  Such a banking crisis in Italy, some analysts contend, could rock European financial markets and spark another Eurozone crisis. (see, e.g., “Next Wild Card for Markets: Italy’s Constitutional Referendum,” Wall St. Journal, Nov. 18).

The Vote

Italian law bans the publishing of opinion polls during the final two weeks of political campaigns, so the most recent polls available are from Nov. 18th. Those polls showed the “No” vote ahead by a fairly wide margin, but a lot can happen in two weeks, and there are still undecided voters. Having been a student of the wild world of Italian politics for a number of years, and having listened to an Italian friend bash Mr. Renzi, my own sense is that the “No” vote will prevail. Pass or fail, however, the referendum is significant; if it’s “Yes,” about a third of Italy’s constitution will be drastically changed, and if it’s “No,” at least one of the predicted financial meltdown scenarios could play out.

Beppe’s Words of Wisdom

Just a final note as Italians approach their monumental vote, and many Americans are still coming to grips with the Nov. 8th vote here.  Ironically, it is perhaps an Italian who can best put the U.S. presidential election into perspective.  Journalist Beppe Severgnini, mentioned above, is about as astute as they come in terms of cross-cultural savvy, and his recent observations about our election are worth noting here. Mr. Severgnini’s piece, “What a Trump America Can Learn From a Berlusconi Italy” (New York Times, Nov. 15) serves concurrently as a warning, a sign of hope, and a scolding.  As a warning–that the similarities between Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump are eerily striking. As a sign of hope—that Italy survived Mr. Berlusconi.  And, as a scolding—“We [Italians] just hope that this [presidential] election, and what comes after, makes America less willing to lecture the rest of us on what does and does not constitute good government.” It is this last point, in particular, that I hope Americans will heed.

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Italian Senate

Introducing…Alyson Drake as the November 2016 FCIL Librarian of the Month

1. Where did you grow up?alysondrake1

Elmira, NY, a small city in upstate New York.  Looking back, I always wanted to escape, but now that I live so far away from home, I long to get back there to see my family, especially in the fall, when the hills are all lit up in oranges and reds.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

I began working in libraries through work study as a freshman in college and never left—I just always felt comfortable surrounded by books.  After going to gets my M.L.I.S., I decided to go to law school, because I wanted to specialize in a subject that I would find interesting.  As a philosophy and history major in college, law seemed like a good fit.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

I’ve always been interested in other cultures.  As a history major, I focused on the classical world and have always been its fascinated by its norms.  Studying abroad in Greece only increased my interest in other countries and so once I was in law school, my interests leaned strongly toward international law.  I was lucky enough to serve as a research assistant to one of my international law professors at William & Mary.  She focused on international criminal law and I became hooked.  Because of my background in international research from law school, international legal research questions started coming my way almost as soon as I began working as a reference librarian.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?

I worked at Texas Tech University School of Law.  I started here in January of 2016, so I’m still relatively new here.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Speak?  No.  I read Ancient Greek and Latin, and can pick my way through some Italian and Spanish, thanks to the Latin background.  I took a little French and some Modern Greek in college, but they’ve fallen to the wayside due to lack of use.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Probably the recent scholarship I’ve been working on.  My first (post-law school) scholarly publication is coming out in the next issue of Law Library Journal.  I also just completed an update for a Globalex article and had a second article accepted by a law review.  That being said, I think the best is yet to come—and I’m particularly excited to be the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of RIPS-SIS this year, especially as we are starting work on an exciting initiative with other SISes (including FCIL-SIS) to bring instruction to law librarians on how to be better teachers!

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Cheese.  Which is especially problematic as someone who is lactose intolerant.

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

Anything by Tom Petty.  It used to accompany all my trips back and forth to college.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

I would like to be able to teleport anywhere in the world.  More realistically, I’d like to have better foreign language skills.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you not go a day without?

Puppy snuggles.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

As the co-chair of the FCIL-SIS Publicity Committee, I love getting to hear about all the exciting initiatives that FCIL-SIS members are working on.  We’re always looking for new content for the blog, especially in the areas of technical services, collection development, and instruction.  Instruction is a particular passion of mine, and I’m hoping to start a monthly column sharing teaching ideas from FCIL members, so if you have any ideas, please contact me.

Antiquarian/Rare Books Vendors and Dealers: Foreign and International Law

By Lyonette Louis-Jacques

domesday-book-1804x972For those building special collections of rare law books, here is a list I compiled recently after a call for suggestions to the AALL FCIL-SIS (Foreign, Comparative, and International Law) and LHRB-SIS (Legal History & Rare Books) e-Communities, and the INT-LAW (International Law Librarians) listserv. Thanks especially to Mike Widener, Andreas Knobelsdorf, and Jonathan Pratter for suggesting names of antiquarian vendors/dealers/publishers, etc. of foreign, comparative, and international law rare books. Please send any other suggestions or updates to me at llou@uchicago.edu).

Here is the list:

Sometimes FCIL rare books are sold through auctions via Bonhams or Doyle.

Mega-catalogs or rare book search pages for identifying rare FCIL titles include AbeBooks.com, viaLibri, ZVAB (Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Bücher), WorldCat, and KVK – Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog (you can limit your search to the Buchhandel = Book Trade section). You can use these sources to check if a law title is unique or owned by few law libraries.  You can check these sources or digital libraries or commercial databases directly to see if a rare law book you own has already been digitized (if you’re thinking of special digitization projects).

For tracking the literature related to FCIL history, it’s useful to regularly review the Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law which includes an annual bibliography of essays and books) and “Orientamenti Bibliografici”, a bibliography coordinated by Rosalba Sorice with contributions from Manlio Bellomo, etc. published  in the Rivista Internazionale di Diritto Comune.

You can enroll in Mike Widener’s course for training in law rare book collecting. It’s a Rare Book School class called Law Books: History & Connoisseurship. He teaches it every two years or so. A reading list is available. Mike’s most recent law rare books class was in June 2016 and covered Roman, canon & civil law in addition to Anglo-American law. Bill Schwesig reported on this year’s class in the summer 2016 issue of the CALL Bulletin. Susan Gualtier, Teresa Miguel-Stearns, Sarah Ryan, and Fang Wang reported on the summer 2014 class in the March 2015 issue of AALL Spectrum.

It might be also useful for FCIL rare book collection development to check the catalogs and new acquisitions lists of research center libraries such as the Library of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (which, BTW, has a great digital library!).

Some of the libraries that have strong collection of rare FCIL book include Yale (including the Library of the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law), Berkeley (Robbins Collection on Religious and Civil Law), Law Library of Congress (The Rare Book Collection), and the Peace Palace Library (Grotius Collection). Sharing knowledge with them, generalist rare book librarians, or EXLIBRIS-L subscribers, on FCIL rare book collecting would be important for others new to selecting materials in this area. What are some strong FCIL rare book collections or specialized vendors?

Introducing…Xiaomeng “Alex” Zhang as the October 2016 FCIL Librarian of the Month

alex-zhang1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Shenyang, a city in northeast of China. It was the capital of Manchuria Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China and it was also occupied by Japanese for quite a few years during the World War II. As a result, Shenyang, today, has a diversity of history, culture and architectural styles.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career? 

As a philosophy and law major, I always enjoy critical thinking, researching, and writing. My advanced legal research class experience at the University of Kansas Law School and my later internship at the Law Library of Congress exposed me to the law librarianship field and made me realize that law librarianship is a perfect field that would not only allow me to continue to develop my critical thinking, legal research and writing skills, but also give me the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with others through teaching, research, and reference work.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law? 

I was extremely lucky to get to know many great mentors at the very early stage of my career: Jenny Selby (former Head of Reference and International Law Librarian at Michigan Law Library) introduced me to the profession. Barbara Garavaglia (current Director and former Assistant Director of Michigan Law Library) trained me and is still training me to become a better FCIL Librarian day by day. I started to learn about FCIL selection from Barbara and Jenny while I was still a student at the School of Information of the University of Michigan and I fell in love with and became attached to the area immediately.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there? 

University of Michigan Law Library. A bit over 7 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages? 

I work with materials in many different languages on a daily basis, but I do not speak any besides English and Chinese (which is actually my native tongue).

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I would say the best is yet to come🙂 But I feel VERY honored to become the vice chair and chair elect of FCIL-SIS this year and look forward to working with all of you to accomplish something significant!

7. What is your biggest food weakness? 

Thai food.

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

I am a big fan of K-pop (Korean Pop Music), so I would say Super Junior’s Sorry, Sorry.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

I would like to improve my empirical research skills a bit if time allows. I would also like to learn Spanish.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you not go a day without? 

My new watch🙂

11. Anything else you would like to share with us? 

I enjoy reading, writing, and traveling.

EISIL Update

The Electronic Information System for International Law (EISIL), sponsored by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) experienced outages last week.  Upon request, Don Ford agreed to update the FCIL-SIS on his knowledge of EISIL’s status.

By: Don Ford

EISIL Update: In 2012, shortly after ASIL eliminated its librarian position, Barbara Bean (Michigan State University Law Library) and I volunteered to serve as EISIL’s general factota.  Barbara continued training EISIL editors and I continued accumulating potential new sources for EISIL.  However, since early 2013, ASIL has allowed no updating of EISIL because to do so might crash the EISIL system, which is superannuated.  This has caused the database to become seriously outdated, as no new content has been added, and existing content has not been updated.

Barbara and Don also tried to keep EISIL alive.  During the period 2012-2016 there were a number of discussions, both with Elizabeth Andersen, ASIL’s former Executive Director, and with Mark Agrast, ASIL’s current Executive Director, about migrating EISIL to a new platform.  In addition, repeated attempts were made to include EISIL within the broader framework of the ASIL website redesign project, to no avail.  This spring, Don and Barbara felt they had to recommend to ASIL that the database be suppressed until it can be properly updated.

An article on the history of EISIL and on the efforts to keep it alive will be published in the fall 2016 issue of the Informer, the electronic newsletter of ASIL’s International Legal Research Interest Group (ILRIG).  In the meantime, please let ASIL Executive Director Mark Agrast know your concerns.  He may be reached at magrast@asil.org.

 

Introducing…Julienne Grant as the September 2016 FCIL Librarian of the Month

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Lake Bluff, Illinois; it’s a small town about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee.  Lake Bluff is not a very happening place, but it was a joy to spend my youth there.  Exploring the ravines, riding Lake Michigan’s waves, powering a 3-speed Schwinn, and slurping blue Mr. Freeze bars (it’s an acquired taste) was my idea of fun. Imagine, kids having fun without cell phones and tablets!

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

I wouldn’t say I “selected” it; it sort of just happened.  My goals of becoming an accountant (high school), an economist (college), and a Latin American Studies bibliographer (grad school/library school), didn’t pan out. I subsequently decided to go to law school, realized I didn’t want to practice, and thus law librarianship was my best option.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

I was originally hired as a general reference librarian at Loyola, but FCIL questions immediately started coming my way, and I hit the ground running. I had not studied FCIL in law school, so I learned on the job. I found the FCIL work to be a good fit, as I have a background in foreign languages and an M.A. in Ibero-American Studies.  “Foreign and International Research Specialist” was added to my job title in 2007.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?

I have worked at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law Library for almost 12 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I was a Spanish major at Middlebury College, and studied in Spain and Mexico.  I don’t speak as well as I used to, but I can get by.  My real love, however, is Italian. I’ve studied intermittently since college and received my B1 CILS (Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera) in 2011.  I studied at the B2 level in Rome in 2013.  I also studied French at the Alliance Française de Chicago for a few years, but I didn’t have an affinity for it.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I just finished writing a book chapter with Teresa Miguel-Stearns (Yale Law School).  On par with that, I was awarded a bursary to attend IALL 2016 in Oxford, England (a terrific experience!).

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Dark chocolate.

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

This will probably age me, but the B-52s’ “Love Shack.”

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

I would love to be able to speak Portuguese.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you not go a day without?

I try to exercise every day.  I really enjoy swimming, but I also walk and use weight machines.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

Colleagues often ask me where my love of travel (sometimes I feel like the roaming Travelocity gnome) and interest in Latin America originated. My family is responsible.  My maternal grandparents traveled to over 100 countries—my grandfather sometimes in the pilot’s seat. Both of my parents lived abroad at some point during their childhoods (my father in South Korea, and my mother in Guatemala).   My parents and I traveled a lot to Mexico when I was growing up, and we also took a trip to Guatemala when I was in high school.

Also, my first gig out of library school was organizing a private library in a restored Moorish castle in Mallorca, Spain. Ask me about it sometime;  I’m always happy to reminisce.

Skipped the London Eye, Headed for the UK Supreme Court

By: Amy Flick & Julienne Grant

After IALL in Oxford, some of us seized the opportunity to take a few extra days to explore London. London is full of tourists, and sometimes the lines can be daunting, particularly at sites like the London Eye.  Tourists were not pounding at the doors of the UK Supreme Court, however, which made for a very pleasant visit.  Several of us opted for guided tours and also explored the excellent exhibition in the basement.

The UK Supreme Court has only existed since October 2009 per the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Final judicial authority for the UK was previously vested in the Appellate Committee of The House of Lords, its members serving as judges known as Law Lords.  When the UK Supreme Court opened for business, the 12 Law Lords became the first sitting UK Supreme Court Justices. According to the Court’s website, the Court was “established to achieve a complete separation between the United Kingdom’s senior Judges and the Upper House of Parliament, emphasizing the independence of the Law Lords and increasing the transparency between Parliament and the courts.”

The UK Supreme Court is housed in the former Middlesex Guildhall, which sits on Parliament Square, across from the Houses of Parliament and next to Westminster Abbey. Constructed in 1913, the building once served as a Crown Court and was refurbished to house the new UK Supreme Court.  There are three courtrooms in the building with the first being the largest and most traditional in appearance. The second courtroom is sleek and modern, and its glass back wall is etched with an Eleanor Roosevelt quotation. Court 3 is used by the Judicial Committee of The Privy Council (JCPC).

The 12 Justices sit on panels of five, seven, or nine, with five being the most common. Panels are assigned by the Court’s president, currently the Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury.  The Court is the final court of appeal for civil cases from all of the UK, and criminal cases from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The Court hears around 100 cases a year with about a quarter being criminal, and the rest covering a broad range of topics. The 12 Justices also sit on the JCPC, although other Commonwealth judges may be invited to sit on those panels.  The JCPC docket runs about 50 to 60 cases per year.

Cases can take up to four years to wind through the UK lower courts, but can be expedited if they are time sensitive.  Cases are chosen for a hearing in the Supreme Court if they have an arguable point of law and/or a “general impact on society.” The Court operates from October through the end of July, spread over four terms.  Hearings average between one and five days in length.  One recent, and quite compelling case, involved a transgender individual. In that case, the plaintiff applied for her state retirement pension when she was 60, but was denied as she had not formally applied for a gender recognition certificate.  The Court had not yet decided the case when we were on site, but the judgment came down last week. The Court elected to defer the legal question to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). One assumes that the CJEU will be out of the picture completely once Brexit is implemented.

The Court’s Justices are selected in a process that is quite different from that in the U.S., which is highly politicized. To be eligible to serve on the Court, a candidate must have served at least 15 years as a “qualifying practitioner” or two years as a judge in the UK court system.  An independent panel of legal and non-legal experts vets and interviews candidates.  The Queen formally makes the appointment.  Mandatory retirement age is 75 for those Justices who were Law Lords, and 70 otherwise.  In the next couple of years, half of the Court will be retiring.  Currently, two Justices are Scottish, another is from Northern Ireland, and the Baroness Hale of Richmond is the only female Justice.  The current lack of diversity on the Court will seemingly be addressed with the forthcoming wave of retirements.

The Court’s elegant emblem includes the blue flax flower of Northern Ireland, England’s Tudor rose, Wales’ green leek leaves, and Scotland’s purple thistle. These symbols are intertwined with a Libra representing the scales of justice, and an Omega, which represents the Court as the final source of justice in the UK.  The Court’s colorful carpeting repeats the emblem and was designed by Sir Peter Blake, who also designed the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album cover.  The Court’s interior is functional, but also quite attractive; you can even rent out the place for a wedding, dinner, or other event. (Somehow it’s difficult to picture a wild wedding reception taking place here, but anything is possible.)

The Court employs eight Judicial Assistants (JAs)—one permanent, the others serve for one year.  The four Justices with the highest seniority have their own clerks, while the remaining eight share four JAs.  The Justices don’t wear traditional robes in the courtroom and sit on the same level as the parties’ legal teams.  The Court’s usher does wear a gown, and barristers have the option of wearing wigs and robes.  Barristers address the Justices as “Lord” and “Lady.”  Hearings are streamed live and remain on the Court’s web archive for a year.

The Court’s library is generally not open to the public, but we were allowed a visit, hosted very graciously by Head Librarian Paul Sandles (one of two librarians on staff).  The library spans two floors, and the walls have quotations (selected by the Justices) penned by a wide variety of authors ranging from Aristotle to Martin Luther King. The print collection is somewhat limited since most of the Law Lords’ book collection remained on site within the House of Lords. The library concentrates on basic texts on subjects covered in court, adding titles preemptively and as needed. There are some primary and secondary foreign materials. The library’s U.S. Reports set was donated by the U.S. Supreme Court after a visit by the U.S. Justices.

Although the Court tour does not offer the London Eye’s “view you’ll never forget,” it is nonetheless a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon.  In a jurisdiction that can lay claim to the Magna Carta (1215), it is fascinating to get a glimpse of a legal institution in its infancy.