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Elections LibGuide Updates

Today, May 21, 2018, is the last day to register to vote for the June 5th Statewide Direct Primary Election. Just in time to make this deadline, the San Francisco Law Library has updated our Elections LibGuide with information on candidates and ballot measures featured in the June 5th Election, as well as how to register to vote, where to vote, new materials we have added to our print collection, and more.

For more information on this and other elections, visit the SF Department of Elections and the California Secretary of State’s Elections and Voter Information Page.

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Free Lunchtime Program May 17 – Celebrating Human Greatness in the Law

Thursday, May 17, 2018 – Noon to 1:15pm

May 17 John O_Grady Flyer ImageCelebrating Human Greatness in the Law

Presented by Attorney and Mediator John E. O’Grady
 

Celebrating Human Greatness in the Law is a group conversation about how the human spirit gets expressed in high conflict situations.  We share stories of times that greatness touched our lives, enriching each other with our memories and re-connecting with our own greatness.  Many of us will tell stories from our rich experience in our work as lawyers, mediators, paralegals, and legal workers. Get to know lawyers and others on the journey while being inspired to live and work fully in the moment.  When have you acted in greatness?   Have you seen others acting in the spirit of greatness?  Bring your stories. Our meeting will be facilitated by John O’Grady.  John guides people to navigate family conflicts about guardianship, aging, death, taxes, inheritance, and property rights while addressing the underlying conflicts, salvaging important relationships, and staying connected and in conversation for a lifetime. This end result is priceless.

John O’Grady is an estate planning lawyer and a mediator of inheritance battles.  He has been practicing in San Francisco for more than twenty-five years.  He served as the 2012 Chair of The Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Section of The Bar Association of San Francisco.

May 17 2018 Celebrating Greatness Flyer


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Free MCLE May 16 – Veterans Law Overview

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 – Noon to 1:00pm

Veterans Program ImageVeterans Law Overview – How to File a VA Disability Claim and How to Change a Bad Paper Discharge

Presented by Cathy Wong
Staff Attorney, Swords to Plowshares
1 Hour Free Participatory MCLE
 
Learn how to put together a winning a claim for VA service-connected benefits. Understand the three elements of service connection and how to develop and present evidence on these elements to the VA to support a veteran’s benefits claim. Additionally, learn how to change a bad paper discharge to make a veteran eligible for VA health care and benefits.
May 16 2018 Veterans Benefits MCLE Flyer


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May Book of the Month: Dissent and the Supreme Court

Dissent and the Supreme CourtDissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court’s History and the Nation’s Constitutional Dialogue
by Melvin I. Urofsky
Reviewed by Tony Pelczynski, Reference Librarian


Dissent and the Supreme Court, by legal historian and professor of constitutional history Melvin Urofsky, is a dense but lively examination of the evolution of the written dissent in U.S. Supreme Court Constitutional jurisprudence. In less skillful hands, such a topic might not spark much excitement; here, Urofsky manages to keep things moving along briskly enough for the casual reader.

After beginning the book with a relatively brief but informative introduction, including side-trips explaining concurring and “seriatim” (separately-written) opinions, Urofsky traces the history of U.S. Supreme Court dissent largely chronologically, with chapters devoted to particularly significant cases and prolific dissenters (including Louis Brandeis, the subject of a separate Urofsky biography). Early on, Urofsky lays out the historical arguments for and against the very idea of dissenting judicial opinions. To grossly oversimplify, this debate breaks down to something along the lines of: dissent (in the author’s words) “weakens the force of the decision and detracts from the court’s institutional prestige”; versus (quoting Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes) “[a] dissent in a court of last resort is an appeal to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of a future day, when a later decision may possibly correct the error into which the dissenting judge believes the court to have been betrayed.” The tension between these competing beliefs regarding the role of the judicial dissent, and how that tension has played out on the Court, provides the focus of Dissent and the Supreme Court.

Dissent CourthouseThroughout the book, Urofsky pays particular attention to dissenting opinions that have directly impacted later Supreme Court jurisprudence in areas of universal national concern. For example, he succinctly explains how dissents written in the 1883 Civil Rights Cases provided the analytical framework for the Court’s later upholding of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Likewise, Urofsky devotes an entire chapter to Brandeis’ famed dissent in Olmstead v. U.S., a 1928 case in which the Court upheld the conviction of a Prohibition-era bootlegger convicted on the basis of what would now be considered illegally-obtained wiretapped telephone conversations. According to Urofsky, Brandeis’ dissent ultimately “reinvented Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” albeit belatedly, as the Court fully adopted Brandeis’ position and overturned Olmstead completely in 1967.

While the significance and role of the dissenting opinion has waxed and waned over time, we are currently living in an era where, by the author’s accounting, four out of five U.S. Supreme Court decisions include one or more dissenting opinions. And since the book’s original publication in 2015, the Court (and, perhaps, the nation) may have become even more ideologically divided. Clearly, judicial dissent has become a ubiquitous feature of U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. To help make sense of it all, Urofsky has written a well-researched and highly readable examination of the history of judicial dissent in U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence, its evolution and function over time, and why it matters.

Dissent and the Supreme Court was generously donated by Shannon K. Mauer of Duane Morris LLP, as part of our February Book Drive.


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May 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 May, featuring books about the infamous Dred Scott case and cannabis. 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.

Dred Scott

Dred Scott v. Sandford
Opinions and Contemporary Commentary

Written by Douglas W. Lind
$85, Paperback, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-8377-4061

Joint Tenancies

Joint Tenancies: Property Leasing in Cannabis Commerce
Written by Michael Newton Widener
$55.95, Paperback, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-64105-064-7

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


Recent Book Drive Donations

Thank you to Shannon K. Mauer of Duane Morris LLP for generously donating Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court’s History and the Nation’s Constitutional Dialog, part of our February Book Drive.

Thank you to Robert Gates for generously donating The 2018 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide, part of our February Book Drive.

Thank you to James Michel for generously donating Fair Credit Reporting and Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice.

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

Thank you for your support!


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Book Review: The Limits of Presidential Power

Limits_of_Presidential_Power_cover-375x561The Limits of Presidential Power: A Citizen’s Guide to the Law
By Lisa Manheim & Kathryn Watts
Reviewed by Courtney Nguyen, Reference Librarian

Written in response to the many questions people around the country have been asking about what a president can or cannot do, The Limits of Presidential Power: A Citizen’s Guide to the Law, by law professors Lisa Manheim and Kathryn Watts, provides readers with clear and concise answers about the laws governing presidential power, and where the average citizen fits into this arrangement. Manheim and Watts divide the book into three sections: first, an exploration of the law of presidential power, starting with a description of the underlying constitutional structure; next, a discussion of the actual powers a president has, whether via the Constitution or Congress, and what tools he has at his disposal to use them; and lastly, a call to you, the reader, to participate in your government and protect these very same democratic structures. From Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer, the 1952 landmark ruling on the scope of presidential power, to current events concerning immigration and climate change, the authors use real-life examples to trace the constitutional and statutory bases of the president’s vast and wide-ranging power, at all times stressing that the sources of law and powers also define their limits. Indeed, a major message of the book is that with great power comes not only great responsibility, but also great built-in checks against abuse.
Stop Sign

The book ends with a reminder that it’s not only the government and the states that can affect legislation, but also “outsiders”—the media, interest groups, and voters. Manheim and Watts exhort all of us to get involved by staying informed, contacting our representatives in Congress, participating in state and local government, or voting. Another good way might even be to stop by your local law library, especially if you’re interested in further research on this or any other legal issue.

An excellent companion piece to our April Book of the Month, Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide, look for The Limits of Presidential Power: A Citizen’s Guide to the Law at the Library today.


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April Book of the Month: Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide

ImpeachmentImpeachment: A Citizen’s Guide
by Cass R. Sunstein
Reviewed by Courtney Nguyen, Reference Librarian


Often just a footnote in first year constitutional law classes, impeachment takes center stage in the Library’s April Book of the Month, Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide by Cass R. Sunstein. The slim size, minimalist blue cover, and conversational tone conceal a treasure trove of information and insight into one of the lesser known clauses of the Constitution. Impeachment takes readers through the history and historical practice of this “remedy of last resort,” from the Revolutionary War, when the Framers intended this tool as a safeguard against a monarchy and officials who abused their authority, to discussions of the three presidents who have undergone various impeachment proceedings—Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. Sunstein analyzes the legitimate and illegitimate grounds for removing a president from power, all the while stressing that political neutrality is key.

White HouseIn addition to historical anecdotes, Impeachment also includes constitutional law brainteasers in the form of twenty-one hypothetical impeachable actions (some of which may sound familiar), a brief discussion of the Twenty Fifth Amendment and incapacity, and a chapter modestly titled “What Every American Should Know” which helps clear up some common misconceptions about this essential tool for a self-governing people. Sunstein, a law professor at Harvard who actively participated in the Clinton impeachment proceedings, considers this book a “love letter to the United States,” and that care can be seen in the quality of his research and his emphatic reminder to the reader that impeachment, more than any other aspect of the Constitution, was a “fail-safe” designed for We the People.

So if you would like to learn about the difference between impeachment and indictment, try to understand exactly what “high crimes and misdemeanors” means, or find out why Congress wanted to push out John Tyler in 1842, take a look at Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide, a new title in the Library’s collection.