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What Does it Take to Vote?

By Ruth Geos, Reference Librarian

Maybe you woke up to a campaign pitch for a Ballot Measure hanging from your front door, or were stirred by the Democratic candidate debates this week–or every day as you walk in the city, wish you could weigh in who should be making policy and setting up priorities for the future of San Francisco. If so, the time to vote is very soon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2019
Vote in the Consolidated Municipal Elections
Registration by October 21, 2019

Can you vote?

To vote you must first register to establish your voter qualifications; and to register to vote in San Francisco for all candidates and measures, these are the checkmarks:

  • A United States Citizen
  • A San Francisco resident
  • At least 18 years old before or on the day of the election
  • Not be in state or federal prison, or on parole for the conviction of a felony
  • Not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court

Aren’t I already registered?

It’s simple to find out. Use the Voter Registration Status Lookup with the San Francisco Department of Elections.

Voter Image

If you’re not there, even if you remember voting sometime in the past,  you may need to update your address through a Registration Update. You can scan the Update and return to  SFVote@sfgov.org. or, if you like, mail it back:

Department of Elections
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
City Hall, Room 48
San Francisco, CA 94102

And if you are registering for the first time, or using this moment to declare your party preference in advance of the State Primary in 2020,  you can Register online or use print options, following the clear instructions, links and even video demonstration, all provided by the SF Department of Elections:

While you’re filling the page out, in whatever mode you choose, you might as well select other options you might like. Want a large-print Informational Pamphlet? Want to skip the print altogether and receive the Pamphlet as a pdf?  Prefer to vote by mail? To do all this in a language other than English? No problem. Just do it before October 21st: 15 days before the election: or then, it is not so easy at all.

Other questions? Call the SF Department of Elections at 415: 554-4375 or take a look at their voting resources, at:  https://sfelections.sfgov.org/


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Carleton Watkins’ Mammoth Plate Photos At Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco September 5 – October19

A wonder to itself, every season is reason enough to visit Yosemite. Yosemite has just regained the iconic Ahwahnee name, and for those of here in San Francisco or environs, twelve of the Mammoth Plates are coming to town, including Upper Yosemite Falls, 1600 Ft. View from Eagle Point Trail, Yosemite, 1878-81, as part of the Carleton Watkins exhibition just opened at The Fraenkel Gallery.

Earlier this summer, under this same spell, three Carleton Watkins books at the San Francisco Law Library were highlighted: Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs [an illustrated catalog from the J. Paul Getty Museum]; a selection of just the Yosemite mammoth plate photographs, Carleton Watkins in Yosemite; and a history and a consideration of the impact and influence of Carleton Watkins photography, Carleton Watkins: Making the West American, by Tyler Green.


The opening reception for Carleton Watkins: 12 Mammoth Plate Photographs is Thursday evening, Sept 12th at 5:30-7:30 pm. The Fraenkel Gallery, located at 49 Geary, is open to the public, Tuesday – Friday, 10:30-5:30, and Saturdays 11-5. The Gallery also plans a walk-through the exhibition with Tyler Green on Saturday, September 21 at 1:00 pm. A concurrent exhibition at the Fraenkel Gallery, Another West, curated by Richard Misrach, widens the view yet more with contemporary visions of the landscape of the West–which we all inhabit one way or another.

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National Voter Registration Day at the Law Library

NVRDlogoThis year the Law Library is participating in National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), the only holiday that helps register people to vote. It’s celebrated on the fourth Tuesday of every September, so we’re a few weeks away, but leading up to September 24th we will have a series of posts related to NVRD and elections. Be sure to check for new posts, and also stop by or tell people you know to stop by the library on September 24th to register to vote!

Our first post features information on important dates for the upcoming November 5, 2019 Consolidated Municipal Election:

Are you Registered? Are you sure?

Yes, it’s true, all eyes it seems are pointed towards November 2020 for the General Election that stars the Presidential contest. But first, there’s more: the Presidential Primary coming up in March 2020—the very first time California will have an early primary, so that CA voters will be in play to help determine the opposition candidates.

But before that, it’s local. And as they say—all politics is local. Next up is the November 5, 2019 Consolidated Municipal Election. If, in the bluster of national and international news, this one has so far this one has escaped you, we are voting for the San Francisco Mayor’s first full term, for a new District Attorney, a new Public Defender (San Francisco is the only county in the state of California that elects its Public Defender) and a few other local offices, all which affect our own civil society.

Key Dates:

Next Election: November 5, 2019
Register To Vote By: October 21, 2019

Registration to vote ends 15 days prior to the election, so this is the moment to check your current registration status with the San Francisco Department of Elections, and do a full update for this election and those just ahead on the political horizon.

  • To check if you are currently registered to vote in San Francisco, use the Voter Registration Status Lookup tool.
  • To update or makes changes to your Registration, as for example, change of address, choice of party affiliation, or request to go green for an online version of the Voter Information Pamphlet instead of the bulky paper version, some changes can be done online and others by mail. Take a look at Make Changes to Your Registration Record.
  • Or, Registering for the first time (old ways or new): If you have a signature on file with the CA DMV, you can register online using the California Secretary of State’s Online Registration Application or by requesting a paper application, through the SF Department of Elections contact form or by calling (415) 554-4375.
  • Or, if none of this is working for you, plunge ahead and just email the San Francisco Department of Elections: SFVote@sfgov.org or give them a call at (415) 554-4375

And for those who may love San Francisco and wish it all good civic fortune, but live in another California county, take a look at what elections may be brewing in your own backyard this November, and how to sign up for this one—and everything that comes in 2020: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/upcoming-elections/county-administered-elections/

Look for upcoming posts, as well as a lunchtime program that will help make sense of San Francisco’s new voting system.

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September Book of the Month: The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Judicial Behavior

Oxford Handbook of U.S. Judicial BehaviorThe Oxford Handbook of U.S. Judicial Behavior
Edited by Lee Epstein and Stefanie S. Lindquist

Reviewed by Ruth Geos, Reference Librarian

Attorneys use their skills and experience to focus on advocacy of their claims or defenses: briefing the law and the facts of the case to the court in the most advantageous way, arguing the merits and demonstrating how both precedent and public policy goals support their position. The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Judicial Behavior offers another perspective, using social science empirical analysis to look at the dynamics of judicial decision-making beyond the law of the case. In asking other kinds of questions, these studies see the process of judicial decision-making as taking place with a larger institutional, social, and constitutional construct, subject to internal and external influences. Over a wide range of inquiries, the authors assess studies that measure the personal, psychological, financial, institutional, historical, and political influences that impact judicial behavior and ultimately, judicial decision-making.

By poking behind the curtain of the law in this way, a very different look at the courts is presented: how the courts function both as gatekeepers and reciprocal partners in public policy, with hints for the rest of us to glean along the way as to what might strengthen a case, settlement, an oral argument, or a petition for certiorari.

Some of the statistical rigor presented can be dense, but there is much to appreciate in the methodology, especially in the narratives that are caught in the same sociological net. One fascinating example of a study protocol is the use of plagiarism detection software to evaluate how much content of a lower court opinion or content from amicus briefs are included in Supreme Court opinions as a means of tracking influence from these sources. Meta-analysis from another study shows that ideology is a better predictor of votes at the Supreme Court level than at either the District Court or Circuit Court level. Descriptions about the workings of the courts, and particularly the U.S. Supreme Court, offer compelling inside-views, such as the expanded role of Supreme Court law clerks (who have their own law clerk dining room), describing the “cert pool,” established in the 1970s, by which petitions for certiorari are reviewed initially not by the Justices themselves but by a shared pool of law clerks for six of the eight justices (Justices Alito and Gorsuch currently opting out of the pool). Another chapter considers the influences that may have come to bear on Chief Justice Roberts when he shifted his initial position with the conservatives on the court, to join in the vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act. And a made-for-movie story is that of Chief Justice Burger wanting his childhood friend, Harry Blackmun, on the court, which didn’t turn out well for them, but opened a study into the significance of common social backgrounds.

The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Judicial Behavior is perhaps not the kind of book to read cover-to-cover, but it has treasures to ponder, along with an introduction to a new way of thinking about our court system—and the litigation we lay at its door.

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September Book Drive

Book Drive

Each month we will seek donors to purchase a new title for the Law Library. Here is our Wish List for the month of September. Growing our collection is about so much more than a single book—it is a living demonstration of how the Library expands the public’s access to justice and provides legal practitioners with the tools they need to represent members of our local community. Please see our Donation Guide for more ways to support the Law Library.

Cal Med Mal

California Medical Malpractice: Law and Practice, rev. ed.
Volumes 1 & 2
Written by George McDonald
$273 per volume, Hardbound, 2003 with 2018–2019 Pocket Part

Thank you to author Heidi K. Brown for generously donating her two books Untangling Fear in Lawyering: A Four-Step Journey Toward Powerful Advocacy (part of the May Book Drive) and The Introverted Lawyer: A Seven-Step Journey Toward Authentically Empowered Advocacy.

Please take a look at our Book Drive page to see Wish List items from prior months. We are still wishing for these books!

To donate, please contact sflawlibrary@sfgov.org or call (415) 554-1791. We appreciate your contribution!

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Free Westlaw MCLE Wed. Aug. 28

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019, Noon to 1:00pm
Statutes and Legislative History with Westlaw
1 Hour free Participatory MCLE Credit –
An Email address is required to receive the MCLE certificate from Thomson
Presented by Jonathan Dorsey, Esq.
Client Representative, Government, Thomson Reuters
***Download Flyer Here***

In this class we will cover researching statutes, including finding links on Westlaw to other documents that cite to your statute.  We will also cover how to research legislative history on Westlaw.

Aug 28 2019 Statutes and Leg Hist with Westlaw MCLE Flyer

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Free MCLE Aug. 9 – The Introverted Lawyer

Friday, August 9, Noon to 1:00pm
​The Introverted Lawyer
1 Hour free General Participatory MCLE Credit
by Heidi K. Brown, Professor & Author
Director of Legal Writing and Associate Professor of Law
Brooklyn Law School

Author of The Introverted Lawyer Untangling Fear in Lawyering
***Download Flyer Here***

While naturally loquacious law professors, law students, lawyers, and judges thrive in a world dominated by the Socratic question-and-answer method and rapid-fire oral discourse, quiet thinkers and writers can be sidelined. This talk will illuminate the valuable gifts that introverted, shy, and socially anxious individuals bring to the legal profession—including active listening, deep thinking, empathy, impactful legal writing, creative problem-solving, and thoughtful communication. The author also will offer a seven-step process for amplifying our advocacy voices in an authentic manner, including steps focused on mental and physical reflection, and mental and physical action.

Aug 9 2019 Introverted Lawyer MCLE Flyer