Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sombra Is Law Cat of the Week

cat photo

This week's SIU Law Cat is Sombra, who is a true member of the law school family. Here is the story of how Sombra came to live with Laura Cates Duncan, who is secretary to the law library director.

One of our law professors stumbled onto Sombra and one of her siblings while walking his dogs last spring. He rescued the kittens and brought them to one of our library specialists in hopes she would take them home or find homes for them. Not having ANY idea they were being babysat in our technical services area, Laura innocently walked back to speak with someone. She peeked into the large recycling tub and saw this tiny tuxedo kitten with huge eyes looking up at her. She scooped up the kitten and cuddled her. In return, she spontaneously began purring to beat the band. "That was all it took to capture my heart!" (Sombra is Spanish for shade or shadow.)

To see photos of all previous Law Dogs and Cats of the Week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs and Cats, which you can find under "Related Links" in the sidebar. See Submitting Your SIU Law Dog and Cat Photos for instructions.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Illinois Laws Take Effect 1/1/2007


The Governor's office issued a press release yesterday summarizing some of the new laws that will go into effect Monday, January 1. The press release refers to the laws by the bill numbers assigned when the legislation was originally introduced in the General Assembly.

To see the legislative histories for the bills and link to the Public Acts that the bills became, go to the Bills and Resolutions page for the 94th General Assembly. When the 95th General Assembly replaces the 94th, you can find this information under Previous General Assemblies. Here are links to some of the new laws:

  • Ill. Pub. Act 94-0741, the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector Act, requires an "approved carbon monoxide alarm" in each "dwelling unit" (home or apartment) that (i) uses fossil fuel for heating, ventilation, or hot water; (ii) is connected to a garage; or (iii) is close to any ventilated source of carbon monoxide. The owner of the property is responsible for installation of the alarms, but tenants are responsible for replacement of batteries.
  • Ill. Pub. Act 94-0799 amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to provide additional protection from identity theft. It allows all Illinois residents to place a security freeze on their credit reports. The reporting agency has 10 days to confirm the freeze and assign a PIN or password, other than a Social Security number, to be used when lifting or removing the freeze. The agency may charge a fee up to $10 for each freeze, removal, or temporary lift of the freeze, except it may not charge "(i) a consumer 65 years of age or over for placement and removal of a freeze, or (ii) a victim of identity theft who has submitted to the consumer reporting agency a valid copy of a police report, investigative report, or complaint that the consumer has filed with a law enforcement agency about unlawful use of his or her personal information by another person." 815 ILCS 505/2MM
  • Ill. Pub. Act 94-1055, the Equity in Eminent Domain Act, amends the Eminent Domain Act, 735 ILCS 30/1-1-1 to 99-5-5, and many other sections of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, to require the State or local government, or any other entity authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain, "if the exercise of eminent domain authority is to acquire property for private ownership or control, or both, then the condemning authority must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the acquisition of the property for private ownership or control is (i) primarily for the benefit, use, or enjoyment of the public and (ii) necessary for a public purpose."

The Illinois Equity in Eminent Domain Act is one of many state laws passed nationwide in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005), in which the Court affirmed a decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court, allowing private property to be condemned for an economic development project that was to include many commercial buildings and private residences, as well as a marina, a pedestrian riverwalk, and a museum.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Five Things You Didn't Know About Me


Both Mary Whisner (Trial Ad Notes) and Bonnie Shucha (WisBlawg) tagged me for the "5 Things You Didn't Know about Me" meme a few days ago, but I waited until today, so I could include the last thing I reveal below. See Mary's explanation of this meme thing.

  1. I practiced law for 13 years before enrolling in the UW Law Librarianship program.
  2. I love my work and frequently spend days off and vacations working on projects I don't have time to do when I am at work.
  3. I have started to write a column for Law Library Journal on "Technology for Everyone." My first column will appear in the next issue, due out early next year, and I have almost finished the second installment.
  4. My dog Dakota died this fall. We were devastated, and Candy hated to stay home alone after that. So we adopted Dooley. Dooley will be an SIU Law Dog of the Week sometime in January.
  5. The first time Dooley visited the vet, we discovered that he had heartworm disease. He started treatment for it a little over a month ago, and today his post-treatment heartworm test was negative.

I tag James Duggan and Frank Houdek, both of Law Dawg Blawg, Rob Truman, BoleyBlogs!, Matt Steinke, Moritz Legal Information Blog, and Little Sheba the Hug Pug, if they want to participate.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lucy Is Law Dog of the Week

dog photo

This week's SIU Law Dog is Lucy, a six year-old American Cocker Spaniel, parti-colored black and white. She is shown here modeling a baby beanie that Elizabeth knit for her baby nephew—Lucy definitely doesn't like wearing hats.

Some activities Lucy enjoys: chasing kitties and squirrels, snuggling with Mom (Elizabeth Kee, '08) and Dad (Ed Albin, '06), riding in the car, playing with her stuffed animals, and getting her hair brushed. Favorite Eats: ice cubes, Greenies, and Dairy Queen soft serve. She can be pretty timid around new grown-ups but loves kids. During thunderstorms she usually hides under the bed or in the shower.

To see photos of all previous Law Dogs and Cats of the Week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs and Cats, which you can find under Related Links in the sidebar. See our Call for Photos for instructions on submitting your SIU Law Dog or Cat photo.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

To Be a Law Librarian

cover of Practicing Reference

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a law librarian, or considered law librarianship as a career? We have just received a book that you should read: Practicing Reference: Thoughts for Librarians and Legal Researchers by Mary Whisner. You can find it in the law library at Z 675 .L2 W495 2006 or purchase it online. (The author arranged with the publisher to make it available to students at a reduced price.)

Mary Whisner is Assistant Librarian for Reference Services at the M.G. Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington. She was one of the law librarians who trained me when I attended the UW Law Librarianship program. She is also author of the Trial Ad Notes blog and of the "Practicing Reference" column in Law Library Journal.

Other resources on law librarianship:

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Driving in Illinois


Most drivers, when passing an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road, probably shift to the other lane or slow down because of courtesy or common-sense safety. In Illinois, it's the law, and, according to an article in today's Southern Illinoisan, state police are starting to crack down on violators.

On a typical four-lane highway, a driver "approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, when the authorized emergency vehicle is giving a signal by displaying alternately flashing ... warning lights" is required to "yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions" or "reduce the speed of the vehicle, maintaining a safe speed for road conditions, if changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe." 625 ILCS 5/11-907(c).

Illinois law also requires drivers to "yield the right of way to any authorized vehicle or pedestrian [working in a] highway construction or maintenance area," and to change lanes or reduce their speed when "entering a construction or maintenance zone when workers are present." 625 ILCS 5/11-908(a) and (a-1).

Sections 11-907 and 11-908 are exceptions to the general rule in Illinois that "[u]pon an Interstate highway or fully access controlled freeway, a vehicle may not be driven in the left lane, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle." 625 ILCS 5/11-701(d) and (e).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sparkplug Is Law Cat of the Week

cat photo

This week's SIU Law Cat is Sparkplug, one of Erin Leindecker's cats. Erin is a first-year law student at SIU. Sparkplug is very studious, and appears to be very focused on his research project.

To see photos of all previous Law Dogs and Cats of the Week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs and Cats, which you can find under "Related Links" in the sidebar. See Submitting Your SIU Law Dog and Cat Photos for instructions.

Submitting Your SIU Law Dog and Cat Photos

I have been posting a weekly dog photo from an SIU School of Law student, professor, staff member, alumnus, or friend here on Law Dawg Blawg for almost a year. By popular demand, I have begun including cat photos. To see photos of all previous Law Dogs and Cats of the Week, visit the Gallery of SIU Law Dogs and Cats.

Members of the SIU Law extended community are invited to send me their dog and cat pictures. Photos must be of your dogs or other dog photos you have taken (not photos you found on the internet). I can also accept your drawings or other pictures that we can digitize for the web. Send them by email or give them to me directly. Although I am willing to post your picture without identifying you or your dog or cat by name, I will not accept anonymous submissions.

Each SIU Law Dog or Cat whose photo is submitted will be featured—in the order the photos are received. They also get their own "Law Dog of the Week" or "Law Cat of the Week" web pages. Click on any of the thumbnail photos in the Gallery of SIU Law Dogs and Cats to see the individual pages.

Thursday, December 14, 2006 and Blawgs.FM logo

The folks at Justia have released the first beta version of, a search tool for legal blogs. The database of more than 1,000 editorially selected legal blogs is updated throughout the day with new posts. You can sort your search results by relevance or posting date, and you can subscribe to RSS feeds of your searches.

There is also a blawg directory, with subject and locality categories, and a blawg-rankings system. Thousands more legal blogs, as well as additional features and functionality, will be added. logo

If you are looking for podcasts and other multimedia files, try Now available in its first alpha version, searches all of the posts that are included in, but just returns those posts that have audio or video files attached to them. There is also a directory of legal podcasts and vidcasts, categorized by subject and locality, and ranking of the podcasts.

See the Justia Legal Marketing Blog for more information, including forms for suggesting a legal blog, podcast, or vidcast.

Google Patent Search

Google Patents logo

Google has added another specialized index, Google Patents. You can search over 7 million patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office—from those issued in the 1790s up to mid-2006. See About Google Patents for more information.

Hat tip to Steve Nipper at The Invent Blog.

Meet Candle Wester-Mittan

Candle Wester-Mittan

Candle Wester-Mittan joined the SIU Law Library last week as Access Services Librarian and Assistant Professor. You may see her at the reference desk, teaching legal research in Lawyering Skills, or supervising access services (e.g., circulation, reserve, and interlibrary loan).

Candle has a BS in business administration from Nebraska Wesleyan, JD from the University of Nebraska, and MSLIS from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. We are delighted to have her on board. Please help us welcome her to Carbondale and the law school.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Resource for SCOTUS Watchers: Supreme Court Times

A post on Robert Ambrogi's LawSites (to which we were alerted by the Barclay Blog) introduced us to the Supreme Court Times website, a great source for up-to-date information about cases currently on the docket of the Supreme Court of the United States. The cases are listed both alphabetically and in chronological sequence by date of oral argument. Clicking on the link to a particular case leads you to a page that provides "Plain-English descriptions; Plain-talk commentary," including a statement of the questions presented by the case as well as links to a variety of useful information. The latter include links to the lower court decision(s), oral argument transcript, official docket sheet, briefs filed in the case, and commentary on the case from the Supreme Court Times Blog. In addition, once the case has been decided, a link is provided to the full text of the actual decision.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tis the Season--for Gift Cards?

bah humbug

Did you know that gift cards may have expiration dates or fees, including monthly maintenance fees and inactivity fees, that are deducted from the card's value? See the FTC Consumer Alert on Buying, Giving, and Using Gift Cards, which has tips on buying gift cards, using gift cards, and what to do if you have a complaint.

For more information:

The Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act requires that gift certificates and gift cards subject to a fee or an expiration date "must contain a statement clearly and conspicuously printed on the . . . front or back of the gift certificate in a location where it is visible to any purchaser prior to the purchase." 815 ILCS 505/2QQ.

The Illinois Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act treats certain gift certificates and gift cards that contain "language indicating there is an expiration date, expiration period or language indicating that there is any type of post-sale charge or fee" as abandoned property, which must be reported and remitted to the State Treasurer. 765 ILCS 1025/10.6.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Zack Is Law Dog of the Week

dog photo

This week's SIU Law Dog is Zack, who belongs to Laura Suttell, a friend of the SIU Law Library. He was rescued from a pound and is sweetheart.

Click on the photo here to see another photo of Zack. I asked Laura how she gets him to pose like that, and she told me that she takes him to a wonderful local photographer at Furtography.

To see photos of all previous Law Dogs of the Week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs, which you can find under Related Links in the sidebar. See our Call for Photos for instructions on submitting your SIU Law Dog photo.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Dog Laws

drawing of dog on chair eating from table

At its meeting Tuesday night, 12/5/2006, the Carbondale City Council adopted an ordinance amending title 3, Animals, of the Carbondale Revised Code. Although it has not yet been codified (incorporated into the code), the ordinance has been published in pamphlet form. You can find the calendar, agenda, minutes, and audio recordings for City Council meetings at the public meetings page on the Carbondale city government website.

Most of the changes are based on recent changes to Illinois statutes concerning the definitions and control of dangerous and vicious dogs. See Ill. Pub. Act No. 94-639, amending the Illinois Animal Control Act, 510 ILCS 5/1–5/35. Other amendments are intended to create an incentive for spaying and neutering dogs and to permit prosecution for inhumane treatment of animals, including starvation, lack of fresh water, leaving a pet in a parked vehicle, and abandoning animals.

The amendments raise fees for licenses to $2 for spayed or neutered dogs and to $10 for unaltered dogs. (3-4-1C) Applications for licenses are due by December 31 each year; the penalty for late application is $10 for altered dogs and $20 for unaltered dogs. (3-4-1F) Some fines are also larger if the dog has not been spayed or neutered. (3-8-1A)

The amendments also add starving and refusing water to the definition of cruelty to animals (3-6-2); add a new subsection on abandonment and endangering (3-6-9); and significantly increases the penalties for a number of violations, including cruelty to animals and abandonment or endangering. (3-8-2D)

The image above is from Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures, by Heinrich Hoffman, found at Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Duggan Elected AALL President

The returns are now in and the Law Dawg Blawgers’ buttons are bursting with pride that one of their very own—James Duggan—has been elected Vice President/President-Elect of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the world’s largest organization of professional law librarians (5000+). James, who serves as Associate Law Library Director and Professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law Library, will commence his term in July 2007 at the AALL Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Then, in July 2008, he will take over the reins as AALL president.
James is highly qualified to fill this important position. He has previously served as a member of the AALL Executive Board, as chair of several AALL national committees (currently he chairs the advisory committee that oversees the Association’s website, AALLNET), as chair of the Social Responsibilities and Computing Services special interest sections, and as president of the Mid-America Association of Law Libraries. Locally, James has chaired the SIUC Faculty Senate and is currently a member of that organization; he also served a two-year term as president of the Carbondale Public Library Board and remains today as a member.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Punkin, Bella, and Vinnie Are Law Dogs of the Week

dog photo

This week's SIU Law Dog photo was sent in by Vik-Thor Rose, who worked in the law library 1987-91. The dogs are Chihuahua or mixed; all three were rescue dogs adopted by Vik-Thor's boss. Click on the photo to see their "Law Dogs of the Week" page.

To see photos of all previous Law Dogs of the Week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs, which you can find under Related Links in the sidebar. See our Call for Photos for instructions on submitting your SIU Law Dog photo.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oyez Project--Great for Supreme Court Watchers

beSpacific reminds Law Dawg Blawgers about the Oyez Project blog, a great source for U.S. Supreme Court watchers (and listeners). Oyez describes itself as "a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work. It aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. The Project also provides authoritative information on all justices and offers a virtual reality 'tour' of portions of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of some of the justices."

According to its FAQ, the Oyez site "contains more than 3000 hours of audio materials delivered as streamed and downloadable mp3s." In addition to oral arguments and access to cases by subject or term, Oyez also provides news about the Supreme Court and loads of interesting tidbits about the justices themselves. As for the latter, one of the quirkiest is Supreme Court Internments, whereby "Oyez can pinpoint where your favorite Justice is buried, thanks to Google Maps (or Google Earth)."

Whether you're interested in how the Court has dealt with a particular area of the law or just a Supreme Court junkie, Oyez is for you!

Research Tip: Read the Stuff You Find


We talked about this in class, but it is worth repeating. You are not finished with your research when you find a statute, regulation, or case that seems to match the facts of your research assignment. You have to read each authority that you find to make sure that it really applies to the situation you are researching--and that it says what you think it says.

I was reminded of this tip when I read this entry on The Practice blog, dedicated to "Helping law students and lawyers learn everything they wanted to know about law practice management, but did not learn in law school." The author recounts receiving a motion in which opposing counsel cited to a code section but had not read far enough to realize that the section did not give them grounds to file the motion. He advises: "Just take the extra few minutes to make sure you read the entire section and not just the section that helps you. You may save yourself more work in the end!"

That advice may seem obvious, but apparently it is disregarded far too frequently. I heard a state Supreme Court Justice, speaking to a group of law librarians, express concern about the number of briefs she saw in which it was clear that the attorneys had not read the cases they cited. They quote seemingly perfect language to support their position, but if they had read a few more paragraphs of the quoted case they would have read: "We decline to adopt that approach."

Here is how the Curmudgeon put it: "We must know that the cases that we cite stand for helpful propositions. We must also know, however, that those cases do not hurt our client's position in some way. We do not cite cases that have a sentence or two that supports our client's position, but ultimately hold that our client should lose."