Cuban Law and Legal Research: A Snapshot During the Deshielo (Congelado?) – Monday, July 17, 2017, 9:45 a.m., Austin Convention Center, Room 18AB

By Julienne Grant

IMG_9721 (003)“The history of the United States and Cuba encompass[es] revolution and conflict, struggle and sacrifice, retribution and now reconciliation. It is time now for us to leave the past behind. It is time for us to look forward to the future together.”

-President Barack Obama, March 22, 2016, Havana, Cuba

 

“Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.” 

-President Donald J. Trump, June 16, 2017, Miami, Florida

 

“Again, the United States Government resorts to coercive methods of the past, adopting measures to intensify the blockade, in force since February 1962, which not only causes damage and deprivation to the Cuban people and constitutes an undeniable obstacle to the development of our economy, but also affects the sovereignty and interests of other countries, inciting international rejection.” (Julienne E. Grant, translation)

-Declaration of the Revolutionary Government, June 16, 2017, Havana, Cuba

 

When I drafted a proposal last fall for an AALL program on Cuba, I envisioned a continuation of the dramatic deshielo (thaw) of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Specifically, I assumed there would be a progression of the rapprochement that former President Obama alluded to in his speech in Havana on March 22, 2016.  What I didn’t foresee while crafting the program were the most recent proclamations by President Trump and the Cuban government.  Trump’s June 16th announcement in Miami that backtracks some of the previous administration’s initiatives has halted the thaw a bit. As such, this program is perhaps more appropriately a snapshot during the deshielo congelado (frozen thaw). However U.S.-Cuba relations can now be characterized, though, Cuba is on the cusp of dramatic changes, and it’s a hot topic.

Please join Dr. Marisol Florén-Romero (Florida International University), Teresa Miguel-Stearns (Yale), and me (Loyola University Chicago) as we first explore this enigmatic jurisdiction from a law librarian’s perspective. Our program will include a brief overview of the somewhat unwieldly nomenclature of Cuban law, as well as a short assessment of English-language sources that can provide insight into Cuba’s legal landscape. In addition, Teresa will offer a quick summary of her experience purchasing legal materials in Havana last year.  Accompanying the program is a useful 26-page handout that will be available for download.

Our featured speaker, however, is Professor Jorge R. Piñon, whose talk is titled “Cuba Business Scenarios:  Challenges and Opportunities,” certainly a timely topic in what is an extremely fluid political and economic environment.   Professor Piñon is the Interim Director of The University of Texas at Austin, Center for International Energy & Environmental Policy, and the Director of its Latin America & Caribbean Energy Program.

Professor Piñon is also recognized as an expert on Cuba’s energy sector, as well as on the island’s future economic transitional challenges and opportunities.  He is an advisor and a member of the Cuba Task Force at The Brookings Institution and co-author of “Cuba’s Energy Future: Strategic Approaches to Cooperation,” Brookings Institution Press, 2010.

Hope to see you on Monday for what is sure to be a lively, engaging, and enlightening hour!

 

07/17/2016 Summary and a Word about DuSable

By Julienne Grant

I was walking home from the Hyatt after the conference ended and an AALL member stopped me on Michigan Ave. to tell me how much she loved Chicago. That made my day.  I sent colleagues all over the city during the conference—to the Chicago History Museum, Wicker Park, Old Town, the CAF boat tour dock, the West Loop, and to Eataly (they owe me a huge cut). Throughout all of this, I was supposed to be writing up reports of various programs/meetings, and I got a little behind.  The following are short summaries of several events from Sunday, July 17:

Latino Caucus:  My DePaul law school classmate, Matt Katz, gave a compelling and provocative presentation that focused on the precarious and truly abominable state of immigration law in this country, providing specific case examples from his firm (Katz Law).  Mateo also berated the increasing trend of prison privatization in the U.S., mentioning a 2013 article in The Guardian, “America’s Private Prison System is a National Disgrace.” To drive his points home, Matt drew upon a wide range of authors, including French philosopher Michel Foucault.  Matt distributed copies of a piece he recently penned, “Como Indocumentado, Que Debo Saber y Hacer en la Era del Trump y la Negación de DAPA por La Corte Suprema?” (As an undocumented immigrant, what should I know and do in the era of Trump and the Supreme Court’s rejection of DAPA?).

After Mateo’s talk, the Latino Caucus began its business meeting, led by Chair Marisol Florén-Romero (Florida International U). The Caucus discussed a number of proposed projects, including one called “Latino Voices.” The goal of this initiative would be to compile information on selected members of the Hispanic legal community, including law librarians.  These personal profiles would be featured on the Caucus’ web page.

MattKatz3

Matt Katz

Asian Legal Information in English: Availability, Accessibility, and Quality Control:   This was a very interesting and useful program; kudos to all the presenters who covered China (Alex Zhang, U of Michigan), Hong Kong/Macao (Anne Mostad-Jensen, U of North Dakota), South Korea (Juice Lee, Northeastern), and Japan (Mike McArthur, U of Michigan). The presenters did an excellent job of explaining the complexities involved in translating the law from these jurisdictions and the inherent pitfalls of English-language translations. Free websites and commercial databases were presented, and in some instances demoed live.  Juice Lee’s PowerPoint slides are posted on AALL’s website.

Foreign Law Selectors Interest Group:  The meeting drew about 30 attendees, and was led by Marci Hoffman (UC Berkeley).  Schaffer Grant recipient Rheny Pulungan of the University of Melbourne’s Law School Library offered a brief overview of her library’s print and electronic resources, which she described in more detail during her presentation on Monday, July 18 (summary forthcoming). Representatives from the Law Library of Congress, Yale, Harvard, NEFLLCG, and LLMC Digital provided updates. The LA Law Library was not represented, as Neel Agrawal has left his position there. Marci also brought the group up to date on recent developments related to the Foreign Law Guide (FLG) and Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP). Regarding the former, there are newly-updated entries for Azerbaijan, China, France, Japan, and Mexico.  Updates for Germany, South Korea, and Switzerland have been completed and will be loaded soon; revisions for Argentina, Chile, Italy, and Spain are in the works. She also indicated that the IFLP will soon have a multilingual subject thesaurus and that the database will be adding 10 new Japanese journals.  Marci will post the full minutes of the meeting on the Foreign Law Selectors Interest Group web page.

 

Rheny

Rheny Pulangan

 

Before closing, I want to say just a bit about the convention center’s DuSable room, which apparently piqued the interest of a few FCIL-SIS members. I’m quite sure the room is named for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable who is known as the founder of Chicago. DuSable was purportedly a Haitian of African and French descent who established the first permanent settlement here in the 1780s. Next time you’re in town, check out the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

 

 

 

Recap: Jurisdictions Interest Groups Joint Meeting

By Alyson Drake

This year’s Jurisdictions Interest Groups Joint Meeting was a fantastic opportunity to hear from our FCIL-SIS colleagues on interesting topics and interest group projects.

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jenJennifer Allison from the European Law Interest Group kicked off the meeting with an informative discussion of recent changes to German asylum law.  First, Jennifer explained that asylum for the politically persecuted is a constitutional right in Germany, under Grundgesetz article 16a.  She highlighted three 2016 laws related to German asylum law:

  • The Data Exchange Improvement Act, aimed at improving procedures for the exchange of data between government groups and other entities dealing with refugees;
  • The Act Introducing an Accelerated Asylum Procedure, which explains how accelerated asylum procedure will work for those cases where a fraudulent application for asylum is expected or where there’s a potential risk to the safety of the country by an applicant; and
  • The Act Simplifying Expulsion of Foreign Criminals and the Broadened Suspension of Refugee Recognition for Criminal Asylum Applicant, which amends earlier asylum laws.

She also discussed the Integration Act, the latest asylum legislation, which has yet to come into force and encourages asylum seekers and grantees to participate in training programs to help integrate them into German culture.

german law guideJennifer also provided a handout with various German law sources and other helpful sources, which can be found on her German Law Research Guide; it includes a section on German asylum law.  She also highly recommended following Jenny Gesley, who is the German Law Specialist at the Library of Congress, on Twitter for updates relating to German law.  One other resource she highly recommended is the Linguee German-English Dictionary, which gives good examples of legal terminology in context.

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Next up were Juice Lee and Steven Alexander de Costa, speaking on behalf of the Latin America Interest Group.  They presented the IG’s progress on the “Guide to Legal Research on Cuba.”  The guide will include information on Cuba’s history and Cuban law.  It will also include both Spanish and English language resources. The expected completion date of the guide is September 1st, 2016, and the group is still deciding on where to publish the guide after completion.

Steven discussed a little about his experiences working on the legal history portion of the guide.  He explained that the project was unique because materials relating to Cuba’s legal history weren’t widely available, particularly in English.  He noted that he learned some interesting facts about Cuba’s legal history, including that the modern history of Cuba began with the 1959 revolution, and that the legal system entwines both civil and socialist law, as well as some common law.  Interestingly, Cuban law still owes a lot to Spanish civil codes.

cuban lawIn the discussion that followed the update, it was noted that LLMC is currently working on digitizing approximately 200 Cuban materials, and that the National Library of Cuba has joined to cause and is helping find rare titles and more materials.  Teresa Miguel-Stearns also briefly discussed her recent trip to Cuba.

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The third speaker was Yemisi Dina from the Africa Interest Group, updating the group on completing phase one of her the South Western Nigeria digitization project.  One recent development is that she’s created a blog, digesting cases before customary courts in two cities in South Western Nigeria.

Yemisi shared several observations with the group:

  • yemisiCustomary law has a future in the legal system of Nigeria and other African countries. Customary courts are disorganized, but the government is interested. Yemisi noted that the government put a structure together for her to visit.
  • The resolution process is open to everyone, not just certain demographic groups. Yemisi observed that educated people are using the customary courts to resolve their disputes.
  • The majority of issues before the customary courts are divorce; rent; and child custody. Yemisi mentioned that land disputes used to be before the courts a great deal, but that those disputes have died down.
  • The courts face several challenges, including financial issues, as they are not funded by the government; limited resources, such as courts having only one staff person working at the court; and a lack of technology.

Yemisi welcomes comments about and suggestions for her project.

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perkinsFinally, Steven Perkins from the Indigenous Peoples Interest Group gave an interesting talk on some of the issues regarding DNA testing of Indigenous Peoples.

First, Steven discussed some of the different types of DNA testing that can take place, including the testing that can be done to determine the ethnic groups from which a person gets their DNA.  Next, Steven provided a brief history of the relationship between scientists and Native American tribes, namely that scientists have been analyzing tribe blood over the last 50 years, but that some challenges arose in how scientists were using their samples.  Scientists conducted research beyond the scope of what they told the tribes would be done, gave samples out to other scientists, and moved around the blood samples to different schools.  As such, the tribe had to set some boundaries and recollect the blood that had been passed around.  As such, tribes have created a guide to decide how to approach these situations.  The guide is found on the National Congress of American Indians website.  Most notably, the tribes keep the data and keep custody of the samples, and have procedures for determining whether a person is part of a particular tribe.

Thank you to all the speakers for presenting such a robust Jurisdictions IG meeting!

FCIL-SIS Jurisdictions Interest Groups To Meet On Sunday

FCIL-SIS invites all AALL conference attendees to join us for our Jurisdictions Interest Groups Joint Meeting this Sunday, from 12:30pm to 2:00pm, in the Hyatt-Water Tower Room.  The program will include substantive presentations from several of our interest groups, as well as 15 minutes at the end of the meeting for each group to discuss their plans for the coming year.

The agenda for the meeting is as follows:

SUNDAY July 17, 2016

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

FCIL-SIS Jurisdictions IG Joint Meeting (Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, Indigenous Peoples, Customary & Religious Law, Roman Law) (Hyatt-Water Tower)

Meeting Topics:

  • Welcome and Intro (Susan Gualtier, Louisiana State University School of Law Library) – 5 minutes
  • European Law: Recent Developments in German Law Related to Asylum and Refugees: A Brief Overview for Law Librarians (Jennifer Alison, Harvard Law School Library) – 20 minutes
  • Latin America: Cuban Legal Research Guide (Julienne Grant, Loyola University Chicago Law Library, et al.) – 10 minutes
  • Africa: Updates of the Digitization Case Law Project from South Western Nigeria (Yemisi Dina, Osgood Hall Law School Library) – 20 minutes
  • Indigenous Peoples: Indigenous Peoples and DNA Testing: Friend or Foe? (Steven Perkins, Greenberg Traurig, LLP) – 20 minutes
  • Individual Interest Groups business meetings – 15 minutes

Everyone is welcome to attend the presentations and to check out our interest groups, so please spread the word to anyone interested in these areas of foreign law.  FCIL-SIS looks forward to seeing you there!

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Forthcoming: “Guide to Legal Research in Cuba,” By the Latin American Law Interest Group

The Latin American Law Interest Group is excited to announce its forthcoming publication, “Guide to Legal Research in Cuba” (edited by Julienne Grant, Sergio Stone, and Marisol Florén-Romero.)

The purpose of the Guide is to provide a snapshot of Cuban law and legal research as they exist in the political fluidity of the moment.  Historical context will also be included. Research for the project in general has been painstakingly difficult. Both Spanish and English-language resources will be covered.

Twelve authors have contributed to the project, which is currently in the editorial phase.  The IG expects to complete the guide by September 1, after which it will be submitted to a journal or published in open access.

Want to learn more? The Latin American Law Interest Group will give a brief presentation on the development of the research guide at the FCIL-SIS Jurisdictions IG Joint Meeting, to be held on Sunday, July 17, 2016, 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM, in the Hyatt-Water Tower Room. Presentation by Steven Alexandre da Costa (Boston University School of Law) and Juice Lee (Northeastern University School of Law.

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Schedule of FCIL Events in Philadelphia

Blog Postcards 2015Hello FCIL-SIS!  Are you ready for Philly?  We at the publicity committee certainly are!  We have swag for the exhibit hall ready to go, and we’re looking forward to seeing all of our SIS friends again next week!

As we approach the 2015 AALL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, we encourage you to keep an eye on the blog and to follow us on Twitter for coverage of FCIL-SIS programming both during and after the conferenceIf you are interested in covering any of the events listed below, please contact blog administrators Susan Gualtier (susan.gualtier@law.lsu.edu) or Loren Turner (lturner@law.ufl.edu).  Finally, remember to send us your original photos from the Philadelphia conference so that we can share them with our readers who were unable to attend!

FCIL-SIS EVENTS

2015 AALL ANNUAL MEETING, PHILADELPHIA

Saturday, July 18

9:30am – 4:45 pm

Researching the European Union (University of Pennsylvania Law School)

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Exhibit Hall Ribbon-Cutting/Opening Reception. Stop by the FCIL-SIS table!

Sunday, July 19

11:30 am – 12:45 pm

AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers: Researching International Agreements other than Article II

Treaties (PCC-Room 104A)

FCIL-SIS Jurisdictions Interest Groups Joint Meeting (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon C)

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Cross-Border Disputes: Dissecting the International Investment Arbitration (PCC-Room

201BC)

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Designers’ Workshop: Subject Guides that Create the Effect You Want (PCC-Room 103BC)

5:15 pm – 6:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Foreign Selectors Interest Group (Marriott-Room 306)

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Internships and International Exchanges Committee (Marriott-Room 310)

FCIL-SIS Publicity Committee (Marriott-Room 308)

Monday, July 20

7:15 am – 8:30 am

FCIL-SIS Business Meeting and Breakfast (PCC-Room 110AB)

3:15 pm – 4:25 pm

FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign and International Legal Research Interest Group (PCC-Room

112A)

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm

FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians Fundraising Committee (Marriott-

Conference Suite 2)

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians Recipient Presentation (Marriott-Grand

Ballroom Salon D)

5:45 pm – 6:45 pm

International Attendees Joint Reception (AALL/FCIL/IALL) (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon

IJ)

Tuesday, July 21

8:30 am – 9:30 am

Mighty MT: Enhancing the Value of Machine Translation Tools for FCIL Reference and

Collection Services (PCC-Room 103BC)

12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

LHRB/FCIL-SIS Roman Law Interest Group: Researching the Corpus Juris Civilis (PCC-Room

105A)

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

FCIL-SIS Education Committee (Marriott-Grand Ballroom Salon B)

FCIL-SIS Electronic Research Interest Group (PCC-Room 104B)

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IALL Recap: Recent Developments in Access to Laws and Legal Information in Argentina

By Teresa Miguel-Stearns

digesto_620_350Argentina recently published a digest of laws currently in force in the country in an attempt to make clear to its citizens which laws on the books are actually in effect. The resulting panel was “Development Process of the New Argentine Legal Digesto.”

Our first guest, Ramon Brenna, discussed his 15 years of work on the digest following a law approved by the National Congress to create a digest. But why a digest? And why in Argentina or in any country? According to Mr. Brenna, “The law is a message. It can be the solution to inform the people and to communicate the social demand of the people. This is crucial to any people in any country. The legal system is a collection of rules, laws that regulate life, our lives; and what is more important in the world than our lives? This is a very difficult job to compile all this legislation and legal systems are becoming more opaque; it’s hard to know what is in effect at any given time. The laws regulate our lives from the time before we are born to well after we leave this world. In any society transparency and access is very important.”

Mr. Brenna further explained that beginning in 1999, the government decided that the Argentine legal system was opaque and it was very difficult to access the law; the people did not know the law and didn’t know how to access the law. This was the ethical basis for the intervention — to make Argentine law more known, more accessible, and more human. Argentina has about 27,000 laws on the books, many pertaining to regulating government offices and other obscure and inconsequential regulation, but which makes it very difficult for anyone to find anything. What person could be expected to know 27,000 laws?

As a result of compiling the digest, we’ve gone from 27,000 laws to really only 3,353 laws, or about 10% of what we actually have. Of these, over 1600 are international treaties, which leaves only about 1600 national laws. This is much more manageable.

The Digest is the work of many people — over 120 professors within the Universidad de Buenos Aires alone have reviewed the work, and probably over 300 professionals altogether.

Our next speaker, Daniel Almakr, further explained that Argentina has been passing laws over laws without withdrawing old laws such that there has been a “contamination of laws” and the volume of laws has gotten unmanageable.

Ley 94,667 mandates the State to ensure that the people have access to the laws in force in Argentina and that it is organized for easy access. Our guests worked with the three major publishers as well: Jurisprudencia, La Ley, and El Derecho.

The methodology was in two major stages: normative and documental. Teams of lawyers trained in the analysis of laws, reviewed the national gazettes from 1983 to 2005, and looked back to 1853. They detected and identified laws that had not been contaminated and others that had been abrogated and contaminated. This first review of laws, decrees and resolutions were also examined to see which had been contaminated and others that hadn’t been. They were entered into a database which became huge when they included all the 140,000 laws, decrees, and resolutions. Fully 48,000 laws remained after the first analysis.

The first organizational step was to create a basic thematic index into which every law was inserted by using key words created after significant analysis. The creators attempted to use language that regular citizens would use. The first stage, then, ended with a huge database of all laws organized by theme and with a cross-analysis of what affected what laws. There were about 1300 national laws in force organized thematically and 1600 international treaties.

Our speakers also worked on the projects of other provinces to organize the law of social security and other government ministries in the national government. When finished, there were only 298 resolutions.

An audience member asked, “What is the relationship between the Digest and the Codes?”

Our guests answered, “The analysis includes all the codes. Still, the Codes have incorporated it’s norms and changes over the years, including the recodification of them. The Commercial Code had special treatment because it’s so large.

Another question, “What about the future?”

Answer: “The contamination of laws is extreme and constant. We have a tool for legislators called the Manual de Tecnica Legislativa that advises the explicit derogation or modification of previous laws — the Law of Consolidation.”

Our final speaker of the first session, Susan Cayuso, was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic. She spoke “Case Law and Developments in Legal Information in Argentina.”

The effect of Sentences of the Supreme Court of the Argentine Nation are similar to in the U.S. in that the Argentine Supreme Court is a primary power of the country and acts as a constitutional court. Argentina does not have an independent Constitutional Court. Rather, the Supreme Court diffuses its decisions to other courts. The Supreme Court is not the only decider of cases, but it is the ultimate decider.

This system has proven to be problematic in a republican government. The pronouncement of a sentences is the way that judges interpret the laws that are passed and therefore have a huge influence on democracy. The question is what is the effect the decisions have on the people?

The publicity and publication of the sentence form part of the democratic process.

A Supreme Court decision must be published within 24 – 48 hours for all to access. In the past, there was a huge delay in publishing cases because the Court was pronouncing 250 – 500 cases per week (not including cases were cert was denied). The Court was deciding over 9000 cases per year!

Our speaker then asked herself, “what is best for the citizen? Full-text or summaries/abstracts?” They have created a database and search where the result is a series of items that are aggregated. The database they’ve created certainly competes with the vendors, but it is free. Our speaker noted that this type of job on this grand scale required resources that aren’t available at the universities in Argentina.

“Ultimately, we want to show through the sentences that there have been modifications of the decisions of the Court. We want to show the Court’s development and changes over time.”

Thus, our last morning was filled with insights into the function and organization of Argentine legislation and jurisprudence, and how we might find and utilize both.