FCIL-SIS Book Discussion Group to Meet Again in Baltimore This Summer

By Susan GualtierKorematsu Cover

Over the past several years, the FCIL-SIS Book Discussion Group, started by Dan Wade in in 2014, has become a popular informal addition to the AALL Annual Meeting’s FCIL conference programming.  Each year, we select a book to read in advance of the conference and meet during the conference to enjoy a book discussion, lunch or snacks, and each other’s fine company.

This year, the group will meet on Monday, July 16, at 12:30.  As in past years, we will meet in the Registration Area, and will find a table or small room from there.  The event will be BYO lunch or snacks.

This year’s book selection is In the Shadow of Korematsu: Democratic Liberties and National Security, by Eric K. Yamamoto.  Professor Yamamoto is the Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai`i. He is nationally and internationally recognized for his legal work and scholarship on civil procedure, as well as national security and civil liberties, and civil rights and social justice, with an emphasis on reconciliation initiatives and redress for historic injustice.  The following book description appears on the Oxford University Press website:

The national security and civil liberties tensions of the World War II mass incarceration link 9/11 and the 2015 Paris-San Bernardino attacks to the Trump era in America – an era darkened by accelerating discrimination against and intimidation of those asserting rights of freedom of religion, association and speech, and an era marked by increasingly volatile protests. This book discusses the broad civil liberties challenges posed by these past-into-the-future linkages highlighting pressing questions about the significance of judicial independence for a constitutional democracy committed both to security and to the rule of law. What will happen when those profiled, detained, harassed, or discriminated against under the mantle of national security turn to the courts for legal protection? How will the U.S. courts respond to the need to protect both society and fundamental democratic values of our political process? Will courts fall passively in line with the elective branches, as they did in Korematsu v. United States, or serve as the guardian of the Bill of Rights, scrutinizing claims of “pressing public necessity” as justification for curtailing fundamental liberties?

These queries paint three pictures portrayed in this book. First, they portray the present-day significance of the Supreme Court’s partially discredited, yet never overruled, 1944 decision upholding the constitutional validity of the mass Japanese American exclusion leading to indefinite incarceration – a decision later found to be driven by the government’s presentation of “intentional falsehoods” and “willful historical inaccuracies” to the Court. Second, the queries implicate prospects for judicial independence in adjudging Harassment, Exclusion, Incarceration disputes in contemporary America and beyond. Third, and even more broadly for security and liberty controversies, the queries engage the American populace in shaping law and policy at the ground level by placing the courts’ legitimacy on center stage. They address how critical legal advocacy and organized public pressure targeting judges and policymakers – realpolitik advocacy – at times can foster judicial fealty to constitutional principles while promoting the elective branches accountability for the benefit of all Americans. This book addresses who we are as Americans and whether we are genuinely committed to democracy governed by the Constitution.

This year’s book selection promises to foster a rich discussion, and we look forward to welcoming both past book group members and new members interested in joining the discussion.  Again, this is an informal event, and RSVPs are not necessary; however, please feel free to let us know if you are planning to participate, so that we can get a general head count ahead of time.  Any questions or comments can be emailed to Susan Gualtier at sgua@law.upenn.edu.  We look forward to seeing you all in Baltimore for another great book discussion!

Supporting SR-SIS’s Carbon Offset Project for AALL 2018

By Erin Gow

Carbon_footprint.jpgAs you mark your calendars for all the FCIL related sessions and events taking place at the AALL conference in Baltimore this year, why not also consider contributing to the Social Responsibility SIS carbon offset project? This is a great opportunity to come together with librarians from other sections across AALL to make an international difference.

Climate change is a truly global issue, with international laws and treaties addressing a range of environmental issues that must be tackled beyond the borders of any single nation. This year the Social Responsibility SIS is providing an opportunity for everyone to make a difference to the international crisis of climate change by making a small donation to offset the carbon impact of travel to the 2018 AALL conference. In addition to making a difference by offsetting carbon emissions, this year’s project also has a direct impact on the lives of people in Uganda, by providing cook stoves that are safer and cleaner than the toxic fires many families currently have to rely on to cook their meals. Visit www.cooleffect.org/content/news/aall to find out more about the project and to make a donation.

Teaching FCIL Research: Revisiting 15 DipLawMatic Posts on Teaching

By Alyson Drake

As the semester winds teachingdown, many of us begin turning to summer projects. For some us, this involves either revamping or overhauling our FCIL Research courses. Others may be prepping to teach FCIL Research for the first time. With that in mind, this month’s installment of Teaching FCIL Research revisits DipLawMatic Dialogues‘ posts on teaching. Check them out for tips as you begin thinking about your courses!

  1.  Textual Selection: Chair of the Teaching FCIL Research Interest Group Beau Steenken gives some considerations for choosing a textbook for your FCIL research course.
  2. 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Teaching Legal Research: Alyson Drake shares some broader considerations on teaching, including some helpful resources for getting started with course planning.
  3. Using the “A” Word in Legal Research Instruction: Alyson Drake advocates for the importance of talking explicitly about research as an analytical task.
  4. Fun with FCIL Assignments: Beau Steenken gives some tips on developing assignments for a FCIL simulation course.
  5. Reflections on Teaching Foreign & International Legal Research for the First Time: Beau Steenken reflects back on his first semester of teaching his Foreign & International Legal Research course.
  6. Teaching Foreign Customary Law: Tips and Tricks: Susan Gualtier gives her pointers for tackling teaching foreign customary law.
  7. Teaching Foreign & International Legal Research — From the Beginning:  Beau Steenken outlines steps for creating your first FCIL research course.
  8. Using News Stories to Connect Students to the World: Alyson Drake discusses the four reasons I use news stories as a teaching tool in my FCIL research course.
  9. An Experiential Learning Primer: Alyson Drake outlines the requirements that must be better to meet the ABA’s Standards for experiential learning courses.
  10. The Special Challenge of LL.M. Students: Jim Hart addresses some of the challenges of teaching LL.M. students.
  11. First Time Teaching FCIL Research: Final Weeks: Alexis Fetzer reflects on teaching foreign law to her students and giving them their final project.
  12. First Time Teaching FCIL Research: Weather Woes & Student Conferences: Alexis Fetzer reflects on holding conferences with her students for their final projects.
  13. First Time Teaching FCIL Research: Initial Class Meetings: Alexis Fetzer reflects on her first few weeks teaching FCIL Research for the first time.
  14. First Time Teaching FCIL Research: Preparing a Syllabus & Marketing My Course: Alexis Fetzer discusses her process for creating a syllabus and advocating her course to her school’s curriculum committee.
  15. On Film and the FCIL Librarian: Susan Gualtier discusses using films in FCIL courses to help students understand different legal systems.

Are there teaching-related topics that you’d like to see covered on DipLawMatic Dialogues? Leave your ideas in the comments and we’ll work to solicit posts on those topics in the coming months!

Book Review: Law’s Picture Books — The Yale Law Library Collection

lawspicturebooksBy Stacia Stein

Michael Widener & Mark S. Weiner. Law’s Picture Books – The Yale Law Library Collection (Talbot Publishing, 2017). 220 p. Paperback $39.95.

The exhibition catalog of Law’s Picture Books is almost as beautiful as the exhibit itself. In curating the exhibit Michael Widener and Mark S. Weiner were interested in, not just the pictures in the books, but the book as object as well. As Weiner notes in his introduction, the images “generally weren’t experienced independently of the books in which they appeared.”  Therefore, viewing the images in an exhibition catalog, unmoored from their books might, at first, seem contrary to the spirit of the exhibit. However in bringing together pictorial highlights of the Yale Law Library Collection, the images are given a new context and the catalog itself becomes its own book as object to be appreciated. With lady justice smiling enigmatically from its jaunty blue cover, and with its thick glossy pages and squat square shape, Law’s Picture Books is a standout on any bookshelf. As to be expected of a catalog from such an exhibit, the pictures are indeed a delight. However, adding to the books charm, is the warmth, humor, and erudition of the curators which is revealed in the commentary.

Among the many illustrations Widener and Weiner included in the exhibition is a woodcut from De alluvionum iure universo, a 16th century treatise on riparian water rights by Battista Aimo. This centuries-old image surely sheds light upon historical laws, but it also sheds light upon Mike Widener’s collection development practice. For it was this woodcut, which simply and succinctly illustrates the effects of alluvium upon the size and shape of a piece of land, that inspired Widener to begin his decades long quest, first at University of Texas’s Tarlton Law Library and currently at Yale Law School’s Lillian Goldman Law Library, to uncover the legal illustrations of the past. Because of exhibitions like “Law’s Picture Books” these illustrations are now able to inspire further generations throughout the world to engage with legal history.

The images run the spectrum from the informative (who owns the fruit of a tree that grows at the intersection of several pieces of property) to the tawdry (a woman losing her inheritance for sleeping with a musician) to the mundane (the unlawful disposal of household garbage). The pictures bring the past alive, and the captions bring the pictures alive, highlighting fascinating details, raising interesting questions, and sometimes even engaging in word play.

The catalog, like the exhibit, is organized into 10 groupings: (1) Symbolizing the Law; (2) Depicting the Law; (3) Diagramming the Law; (4) Calculating the Law; (5) Staging the Law; (6) Inflicting the Law; (7) Arguing the Law; (8) Teaching the Law; (9) Laughing – and Crying – at the Law; and (10) Beautifying the Law.   There are no chronological or geographical limits, although the majority of the illustrations are from the U.S. and western Europe with dates ranging from 1473-2015.

In addition to reflections by the two curators and authors, the book includes essays by Jolanda E. Goldberg and Erin C. Blake which address the medieval history of the ars memoria and the history of book illustrations, respectively.  These essays both add to the reader’s appreciation and understanding of the illustrations that follow and add to the value of Laws Picture Books as a valuable pictorial and textual resource.

DipLawMatic Dialogues Needs You: Call for Bloggers!

SlawFCILCareersWordle1DipLawMatic Dialogues has had another great semester of blogging, with wonderful contributions from both new and veteran DipLawMatic Dialogues bloggers, everything from our new “From the Reference Desk Series” to great posts from ASIL’s annual meeting.  Due to this excellent weekly content, we are on track to smash 2017’s record number of total views by the end of June–only halfway through 2018!  This isn’t possible without a fantastic line up of bloggers, so I hope many of you will consider volunteering to start a new series (to continue into the fall) or to do a one-off post for us for June or July.

A few types of posts we’re looking for:

  • Contributors to our highly read Teaching FCIL Research Series. Share a post on an assignment you or your students particularly like, discuss how you teach a particular aspect of foreign or international law, or let our readers know how you use technology in your FCIL research classes. As we head into a new school year, sharing these ideas is critical for new FCIL librarians and for those looking to freshen up their courses!
  • Firm or government librarians who can discuss aspects of FCIL librarianship in their setting.  Our most read post of 2018 so far is Catherine Deane’s fantastic account of moving from academic to firm librarianship, so we’d love more content from a variety of library types.
  • Current Events posts: Julienne Grant did a wonderful post on the crisis in Catalonia last year, and it was a hit! We’d love to include more posts on current events in the FCIL arena.
  • Issues posts:  Carlos Pagan’s topical posts on human rights are very popular with our readers. Is there an aspect of foreign or international law that you’re fascinated with? We’d love to do a series on your favorite topics, on a quarterly or bimonthly basis.
  • New FCIL Librarian Series: Jessica Pierucci, who has been keeping us updated on her first year as an FCIL librarian, will be doing her last post in the “New FCIL Librarian Series” in August; we’d love to have another brand new FCIL librarian fill her shoes for the 2018-2019 academic year!
  • Anything else you want to write for us (book reviews, posts on cataloging FCIL materials, collection development or acquisitions work related to FCIL materials, etc.): Some of our best posts have been suggestions by prospective bloggers, so tell us your ideas!

To our readers, what types of posts would you like to read that you haven’t seen on the blog yet?  Are there any topics or aspects of FCIL librarianship you’d like to see covered?

Volunteer to blog with us or send your suggestions for topics on posts to Alyson Drake, co-editor of DipLawMatic Dialogues, alyson.drake@ttu.edu, and she will try to find authors on these topics.

MHz & Me: How a Crime-Solving Priest Saved My Italian

By Julienne Grant

I thoroughly enjoyed Katherine Orth’s DipLawMatic Dialogues series on “Acquiring Foreign Languages.” Boy, can I relate. I studied Spanish and Italian in college and tried French a number of years ago, but my skills have really deteriorated over time. For a while, I was making the rounds between the Chicago outposts of the Instituto Cervantes, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, and the Alliance Française. Yes, I was a serial foreign language student, and it was costing me plenty in terms of time and money. I also found myself nodding off in evening classes—especially during discussions of the finer points of Italian grammar (try studying the congiuntivo after an eight-hour workday).

Although my institution, Loyola University Chicago (yes, the NCAA tournament was a blast), does offer some foreign language courses, I could not fit them into my schedule. Then, a small miracle happened a few years back (perhaps it was Sister Jean’s divine intervention).  A friend told me about MHz.

MHz Networks is a media company headquartered outside Washington, D.C. It focuses on bringing international programming to U.S. and Canadian viewers via its products, MHz Worldview and MHz Choice.  The former is a service that provides foreign news, mysteries, and dramas to television stations (sans commercials); the latter is a subscription streaming service that includes some of the programs shown on MHz Worldview, as well as an additional repertoire of foreign programs (all subtitled in English). As luck would have it, the City Colleges of Chicago television station, WYCC, was broadcasting MHz Worldview when I found out about it.  I was soon happily immersed in a wide variety of foreign television programs, although one in particular from Italy became a favorite—Don Matteo.


Along with being the name of the series, Don Matteo is the program’s main character—a Catholic priest with a knack for solving crimes, mostly homicides.  The program has been running in Italy on RAI 1 since 2000 and has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. The series was originally set in the small town of Gubbio, but recently moved to Spoleto. Along with the main character, Don Matteo, the program features some goofball carabinieri who don’t possess Don Matteo’s same talent for crime solving.  Don Matteo is portrayed by Italian-German actor, Terence Hill (born Mario Girotti), who starred in a series of popular “Spaghetti Westerns” in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Don Matteo series is not exactly realistic; some of the investigative methodology, for example, is rather suspect. Further, actual homicide rates in Gubbio and Spoleto don’t match the numbers on the show; during the time I have watched the program, well over a hundred characters have been knocked off.[1] Despite the inaccuracies, however, Don Matteo is kind of charming, and most importantly for me, it has rescued what was left of my Italian. In addition to a plethora of colloquialisms, I have picked up some legal-related vocabulary;  e.g., indagini preliminari (preliminary investigations); notizia di reato (crime report);  and pubblico ministro (public prosecutor).

As things tend to happen here in Chicago, however, a politician got involved in WYCC. Early in 2016, Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, agreed to sell WYCC’s broadcast spectrum in an FCC auction.  WYCC’s spectrum fetched $15.9 million (probably a lowball price), and the channel went dark on November 27, 2017.[2] Thankfully, however, all was not lost.  Enter MHz Choice. For under eight dollars a month, I can access five seasons of Don Matteo, along with a bunch of other foreign programs.  Incidentally, MHz Worldview has returned to Chicago’s television airwaves (albeit senza Don Matteo), just like some of our politicians who tend to disappear and resurface.  Along with Don Matteo, listed below are a few other MHz programs that I have found helpful in terms of acquiring legal-related vocabulary.  Note that some of these are also available on Netflix.

Un Caso di Coscienza (A Case of Conscience) (Italy):  Rocco Tasca is a brilliant lawyer with a conscience who takes on various causes for the “little guy.” Set in Trieste, there are numerous courtroom scenes with specialized legal vocabulary.

Il Commissario Montalbano (Inspector Montalbano) (Italy):  Based on the wildly popular gialli (crime novels) by Andrea Camilleri, the television series follows Inspector Salvo Montalbano and his team as they solve various crimes in Sicily.  There is also a separate Young Montalbano series.

Engrenages (Spiral) (France):  This is a gritty and downright creepy series that follows the lives of a group of Parisian detectives, a juge d’instruction (investigating magistrate), and several less-than-honorable avocatsEngrenages really demonstrates how France’s civil law system operates—particularly how much power judges yield.  Highly recommended for anyone trying to pick up French legal-related vocabulary, although it’s not for the faint of heart. Season six is scheduled for release on MHz Choice the first week of June.

Nebbie e Delitti (Fog and Crimes) (Italy):  Franco Soneri is a moody detective who has a talent for solving difficult cases. Originally set in Ferrara, and later in Torino, the series tends to break open some of Italy’s historical wounds.

Le Sang de la Vigne (Blood of the Vine) (France):  Along with being a renowned wine expert, Benjamin Lebel is also proficient at solving puzzling murder cases.  Fairly light fare that could be successfully paired with a pinot noir.

Il Segreto dell’Acqua (Palermo Connection) (Italy):  I’m not sure why this series is translated as “Palermo Connection” instead of “The Secret of the Water,” which is the literal translation. In any event, the series revolves around a group of detectives in Palermo investigating why water has stopped flowing to the majority of the city’s households.

Squadra Anti-Narcotici (Anti-Drug Squad) (Italy):  Rome’s elite squad of anti-narcotics detectives utilizes a combination of instinct, pavement pounding, and technology to track down the city’s most notorious drug kingpins.

There are also some great German and Scandinavian crime dramas on MHz Choice, although I can’t say that I’m speaking fluent German, Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian at this point.  I have yet to see any Spanish-language programming on MHz Worldview or Choice, but I’m hoping this will eventually change.

In short, for FCIL librarians who are trying to find an inexpensive, entertaining, and easy way to preserve some of their foreign language skills, and concurrently pick up some legal-related vocabulary, MHz is not a bad choice.  Happy viewing.


[1] The homicide rate (encompassing voluntary homicides, attempted murders, and infanticides) for the entire province of Perugia, where Gubbio and Spoleto sit, was 4.24 people per 100,000 in 2016, http://www.infodata.ilsole24ore.com/2017/10/09/furti-rapine-truffe-informatiche-le-classifiche-dei-reati-2016-provincia/.  Perugia’s total population is around 660,000,   http://dati.istat.it/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=DCIS_POPRES1.

[2] Deanna Isaacs, “Why did WYCC receive millions less than expected in auction?” CHI. READER (Dec. 6, 2017),  https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/wycc-city-colleges-public-television-government-auction/Content?oid=36040649.

From the Reference Desk: When Librarians Google

By Lora Johns

Google.pngToday’s post is a reminder that sometimes, even for information professionals, Google really is the answer.

A patron forwarded a Google Alert to the library that linked to an article on India Today. The article reported a ruling from one of India’s High Courts holding that solitary confinement, even for death row prisoners, amounted to torture and violated basic human rights. It runs afoul of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the “Nelson Mandela Rules”) and the Constitution of India.

The patron wanted to read the ruling itself. Easy! I thought to myself. I can find that. While I am far from an expert in the law of India, I knew from GlobaLex that Judis would surely contain the ruling I wanted. Off I went to the High Court website and searched by Court and date of judgment.

No dice. What the heck?

Here’s what I knew from the news article:

  • The article about the ruling was published April 27
  • The issuing court was the Uttarakhandi High Court
  • The petitioners were two men sentenced to capital punishment and solitary confinement
  • The justices who wrote the opinion were Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Sing

I tried searching by justice (both names), multiple dates (just in case the article was off)… and still, I found nothing.

Sensing that the task may require an expert rather than a neophyte, I consulted my colleague John Nann, who literally wrote the book on legal research and is more adept at finding obscure Commonwealth case law than any other human being alive. Half an hour later, like magic, the ruling materialized in my inbox and the patron’s.

Rather awed, I asked John how he executed this feat of librarianship, when even the official court website was useless. I felt a tiny bit less self-critical once he said he’d followed the same research path that I had, without luck — except that he had additionally consulted SCC Online, “India’s premier legal database,” which also had no trace of the ruling.

So John — the consummate reference librarian par excellence — turned to Google. Pulling key terms from the India Today article, John added a twist that, in its simplicity, betrayed sheer genius. He added the word “judgment” to the Google search.

When I recreated his research trail (partly because I wanted to read the judgment, partly to practice being a better reference librarian for next time), Google immediately gave me another news article, published on LiveLaw.in. Its headline proclaimed, Solitary Confinement of a Death Convict Before the Exhaustion of His Complete Legal and Constitutional Remedies Unconstitutional: Uttarakhand HC [Read Judgment].

Published two days after the judgment issued, the article had embedded a PDF of the court’s judgment at the end. Success at last!

What are the takeaways of this story?

  • Sometimes, the “right,” librarian-y methods are not necessarily the best or fastest path to an answer. I would have saved time if I’d tried Googling first. In fairness to me and John starting with more specific sources, it’s still a mystery why both the High Court website and the paid database both lacked this important judgment.
  • Google pays software engineers full-time salaries to design the best and brightest search algorithms. There is no shame in using them. (With the caveat, of course, that we must acknowledge that algorithms are as prone to bias as any human.)
  • I have brilliant, patient, and kind colleagues who invite me to reach out to them for help and generously lend me a hand when I need it. Especially as a baby librarian, I am grateful for the mentorship and guidance, and I hope to pay it back someday when I’m older and wiser.
  • I will be bookmarking in and following Apoorva Mandhani, the reporter who wrote the story, on Twitter to keep up-to-date with developments in Indian courts. Who knows when it may come in handy?