Monday, March 2, 2015

New Titles from January and February 2015

Check out our Featured Acquisitions page for January and February 2015 to see the new titles in the Law Library!

A few sample titles:

And the new DVDs from last month:
  • The Castle, 2002.  A family fights to keep their home when a nearby airport wants to expand into their land, taking their case as far as the High Court.
  • Sacco and Vanzetti, 2006.  Through interviews and their prison writings, documents the story of Italian immigrants and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti who were executed for murder in 1927.
  • True Grit, 2010.  Following the murder of her father by hired hand Tom Chaney, 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross sets out to capture the killer along with a U.S. Marshall and a Texas Ranger.

A selection of our new titles can be found on our "New Books" display atop the reference section in the library lobby.  Enjoy your browsing!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesdays Around the World: Security Council Reform?

Amnesty International, an N.G.O. dedicated to the protection of human rights, recently suggested that permanent members of the United Nations Security Council should lose their veto powers in cases of mass atrocity. Calling for reform of the Security Council is nothing new as various commentators have called for adding permanent members or providing for a veto override of sorts.

Of course, the problem with these campaigns is that they will require a certain amount of buy-in from current permanent members. After all, the whole reason the veto is there is to prevent extremely powerful nations from leaving the U.N. or directly (and possibly militarily) flaunting its will. Both scenarios happened during the tenure of the U.N.'s predecessor the League of Nations, as the Empire of Japan withdrew as a member after the League condemned its activities in Manchuria, and fascist Italy basically ignored admonitions against its territorial expansion.

Thus, while improving the international system is a worthy goal, reformers need to be careful to avoid having the whole structure collapse.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Update: Law Library Weather Closures

Due to severe weather, the law library at the University of Kentucky will be closed Saturday (2/21). As of Saturday, February 21st the law library plans to open at noon on Sunday, February 22nd. These hours are subject to change at anytime due to weather. Updates will be posted here on KLaw Prints and on the University of Kentucky Law Library website.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesdays Around the World: ICJ Elections

Unlike some institutions whose heads are appointed with lifetime tenure, the International Court of Justice elects its own President and Vice-President who then serve for discreet terms of three years. Earlier this week, Ronny Abraham of France was elected President, and Abdulqawi Ahmed Usuf of Somalia was elected Vice-President. The linked press release also includes a list of the other 13 Judges and their home jurisdictions, highlighting the court's international flavor.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Evidence Issue: Is it wise to take a selfie with a murder victim?

Location of Jeannette, Pennsylvania

The popular and youth cultures of the United States celebrate the selfie photograph. Selfies of celebrities at award shows are the crème de la crème of the genre. What could be on the opposite end of that spectrum? Might I suggest that if you murder someone, it is poor form to snap a selfie with you and the victim.

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, the authorities in Jeannette, Pennsylvania discovered 16-year-old Ryan Mangan's dead body in his residence. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. Two days later, Westmoreland County officials charged 16-year-old Maxwell Morton with homicide, first-degree murder, and possession of a firearm by a minor. The police are reporting that Morton used SnapChat to capture an image of himself with the victim in the background. One of the recipients of the SnapChat took a screenshot before the image deleted itself. As you can probably guess, this image helped the police to generate a possible suspect in the homicide. It is being reported that Morton confessed to killing Mangan.

Time will tell whether Morton is found guilty of any crime. That said, our society is at an interesting crossroads with respect to social media, youth culture, and criminology. Television is filled with crime dramas, and I assumed that after watching a few hours of these shows you would learn tips for getting away with crimes. Apparently, there is an opposite force in play. There is a criminal pathology that requires individuals to brag about their accomplishments. For example, Russian criminal gang members cover their bodies in tattoos memorializing their misdeeds. Apparently, American teenagers do not need the hardened look that comes from a Siberian work camp, they can have the glossy and filtered product of a smart phone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wednesdays Around the World: Unintentional Genocide

This week the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its decision in the case of Croatia v. Serbia. The two nations were accusing each other of genocide during the exceptionally violent Yugoslav Wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia at the end of the Cold War. (Croatia sued Serbia in the I.C.J. under the terms of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and then Serbia filed a counter-claim alleging essentially the same transgression.) While the I.C.J. found that the actus reus of genocide occurred, the evidence did not support a finding of intent on the part of either nation. Note, however, that a good number of individual (as opposed to state) actors have already been convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for genocidal actions taken during the same conflict. The main difficulty seems to be in imputing intent to a state, though if a corporation can possess religious beliefs, wouldn't you think a state would be able to possess mens rea?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesdays Around the World (Literally): The (increasingly inaccessible) Final Frontier

International Law, via the Outer Space Treaty, treats space and uninhabited bodies such as the moon as "the common heritage of mankind." This concept, borrowed from the Law of the Sea, is supposed to mean that no individual nation-state can monopolize, exploit, or otherwise impair the rights of all to these vast expanses of territory and any resources they may contain. Unfortunately, the handful of space-faring nations may have already impaired the ability to venture beyond the Earth, albeit completely by accident.

It turns out that satellites, booster rockets, and other sorts of man-made objects put into space actually deteriorate over time, and thus, we now have a layer of "space debris" or "orbital junk" surrounding our planet. The problem with this is that these pieces of space junk have the potential to damage spacecraft trying to leave Earth's atmosphere, thereby restricting space exploration, and also creating more space junk that will further limit space exploration. It may eventually reach the level where spaceflight from Earth is rendered impossible.

Incidentally, for fans of science fiction, this problem will form one of the premises of an upcoming novel by noted speculative fiction author, Neal Stephenson. As a reference librarian, I highly recommend Stephenson's works to anyone who likes science fiction (and the occasional historical fiction) that incorporates sound science while maintaining a devotion to plot, characterization, and humor. Be warned, however: Stephenson's novels typically are on the long side, tend to be heavy on detail, and generally require the reader to pay attention. In short, they're fantastic!