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Research & Litigation

Interview with Samantha O’Brien O’Reilly – Global Legal Research Intern

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 9:47am

Today’s interview is with Samantha O’Brien O’Reilly, an intern with the Global Legal Research Directorate.

Describe your background.

I am from a small town called Kells in Co. Meath in Ireland. I have just completed my first two years of a four-year undergraduate degree in Law with French Law at University College Dublin. I will spend next year studying at L’université Panthéon-Assas in Paris. I am fortunate enough to be a member of the Washington Ireland Program for Service and Leadership class of 2014. The program brings 30 university students from a diverse range of backgrounds in both the North and South of Ireland to Washington D.C. for summer work placements and leadership training. Together we learn how to respect and co-operate with one another to build a sustainable and peaceful future for the whole of our island.

How would you describe your job to other people?

The primary mission of the Law Library of Congress is to provide members of Congress with comprehensive information on both American and foreign law. However, any member of the public may also submit a research request to the Library, as may other federal agencies. I work as an intern in the Global Legal Research Center under the supervision of Claire Feikert-Ahalt, the UK Law Specialist. I mostly conduct research and prepare reports in response to questions of UK and Irish law but I have also had the opportunity to research laws from jurisdictions such as Montserrat, Bermuda and Belize.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

I believe the Law Library of Congress provides a vital service to the US government. It is of immense importance in an increasingly globalized society that those who make the law have an awareness of laws from other jurisdictions. The Law Library of Congress provides the government with the opportunity to receive comprehensive research on laws from around the world so legislators can be aware of how any proposed laws for the United States fit into an international framework.

Lawyers from jurisdictions all over the world work in the Global Legal Research Directorate. I have been provided with a plethora of opportunities to expand my international legal knowledge and that is in no small part due to the friendly and collaborative working environment that prevails here. Many of the lawyers here are described as ‘specialists’ but this can be misleading, as they are not specialists in any one particular area of law but rather are specialists in their chosen jurisdictions. They are asked to answer a wide range of legal questions in a myriad of areas from their chosen jurisdictions on a daily basis. The intellectual stimulation and opportunities for continued growth and learning this presents are very attractive for a young law student.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

A sign of how interesting and varied an experience my internship has been is evident in the number of responses I could give to this question. However, my favorite fact so far is after the Taliban fell in Afghanistan, efforts were made to restore the previous system of law. However, while the Taliban were in power, they destroyed all copies of Afghanistan’s previous codes and statutes so none could be found to provide an authority on the previous system. However, the Law Library of Congress managed to find a unique English translation of Afghanistan’s laws in its collection, which was then used to rebuild the country’s legal system.

For me, this example highlights the unique role the Law Library’s immense collection of more than 2.5 million items can play in global affairs.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I very much enjoy acting and have performed in many plays and pantomimes back in Ireland.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Introducing the Indigenous Law Portal

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 8:25am

The Law Library of Congress Indigenous Law Portal Map

At the recent American Association of Law Libraries Conference, Jennifer Gonzalez, Jolande Goldberg and I had an opportunity to unveil a new Indigenous Law Portal. The Indigenous Law Portal brings together collection materials from the Law Library of Congress as well as links to tribal websites and primary source materials found on the Web. The portal is based on the structure of the Library of Congress Classification schedule for Law (Class K), specifically the Law of the Indigenous Peoples in the Americas (Classes KIA-KIP: North America).

Indigenous law materials can be difficult to locate for a variety of reasons. Tribal laws are usually maintained by individual tribes or groups of tribal peoples who may or may not have the resources to make them available in electronic format, or they may only be passed on through oral tradition. In some cases tribal legal materials are available electronically, but they may not be available freely on the Web, or the tribe may want to restrict outside access to the materials. However, through our research, we have found many tribes compile their laws and ordinances into a code, and they often provide a digital version of their most recent code and constitution online. In the Law Library, we already have digitized copies of historic American Indian constitutions from our collection and other legal materials available on our website. It makes sense to bring all these materials together in one place.

But how to organize such a collection of digital resources? Especially when the complexity and availability of resources varies from tribe to tribe. We wanted a structure that would allow us the flexibility to organize and expand as needed. Something that would provide a basic backbone for organizing the materials and also detailed information about the tribes individually and as a whole. The answer to our dilemma came from an unexpected place: a new classification schedule developed by Jolande Goldberg of the Library of Congress Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate: the Law of the Indigenous Peoples in the Americas.

Typically library classification is used by catalogers to categorize and record bibliographic information about library resources. It is the complex formula by which cataloging professionals create often very long call numbers found on the spine of books in academic libraries, like this: KIK756.2 1936. Unfortunately, this looks like a mysterious code to most of us! But those letters and numbers can tell the informed user much more about a resource than its location on a shelf or in a library collection. They can provide a great deal of information about the topic, the author, and the date a resource was created.

Each part of a classification number corresponds to a caption, or text label. If we delve into the classification just a bit more, looking at those captions instead of the number and letters, we begin to see an incredibly rich, very detailed, amazingly structured set of information about indigenous law and indigenous peoples. The schedule is organized by jurisdictions, which correspond to geographic regions users already know, such as the Northeast Atlantic and Pacific Northwest. And within those regions in the classification, we find an extensive list of tribes.

Example page from Class KIA-KIX, the Law of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, showing the Hopi Tribe in the New Southwest Region

If we decode the classification number mentioned above, KIK756.2 1936, we find the initial “K” indicates Law, and the full “KIK” corresponds to “United States: New Southwest” in the classification schedule. What about that number with the decimal, 756.2? Well, “756.2″ lies within a range of numbers designated for the “Hopi Tribe of Arizona.” The numbers “1936″ are indicative of the date the resource was published.

Armed with this knowledge (the equivalent of super-secret classification decoder rings) we began to structure a web portal using the indigenous classification as the backbone of our website structure and filling in as much information as we and our cadre of fantastic interns from the University of Virginia could find. At the moment we are focusing on tribal laws within the geographic United States. We aren’t finished – and as with many collections of constantly changing materials, we may never be finished – but the portal is live in a beta release on the Law Library website.

One of the hardest challenges we face with this portal is a usability issue. The portal homepage includes a map organized by region as well as state. The classification schedule is organized only by region, not state, which makes good sense when you consider U.S. state boundaries have no bearing on a tribe’s location. In fact, some tribal lands cross state lines. Ideally, we would like to organize all materials by region. Unfortunately, when we tried to build our portal using just the regions as delimiters, the end result was not usable. We had five extremely long pages, which required the user to scroll down an extensive list. So for now, we are using states as geographic boundaries to break up the information into smaller, more easily navigated chunks. We are working to find a better way to provide access for future releases.

We hope all our users find this new resource useful. We still have a long way to go, but we hope you will take a look at our work and send us your feedback. We will complete the United States region in the next few weeks and plan to move on to the aboriginal peoples of Canada in the near future.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Becoming a lawyer in Massachusetts

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 2:00am
The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners has scheduled the semi-annual Bar Examination to take place July 30th and 31st, 2014. Passing the bar exam is the last step to becoming a practicing attorney in Massachusetts. 

"The BBE evaluates each bar applicant to determine whether they have the qualifications and acquirements required for admission, and whether they '…(e)mbody that degree of honesty, integrity, and discretion that the public and members of the bench and bar have the right to demand of a lawyer.' "

The education of lawyers has changed in interesting ways throughout American history, as reported in these excerpts from the book  Legal Education,Law Practice and the Economy: A New England Study (1990):

Early American attorneys like Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall acquired their legal skills as apprentices to George Wythe, often called the “first law professor”.  Generally a formal examination (“bar exam”) also was required for admission to the legal profession (the “bar”).  In 1779 William and Mary appointed Wythe to its faculty.  Soon other schools followed, and undergraduate law departments were begun, at Harvard (in 1817) and Yale (in 1824)….
By the 1820s, however, separate law “schools” began to emerge. …Although these institutions depended somewhat on practical instruction and apprenticeship training, they also sought to elevate the law as an intellectual discipline (akin to medicine) over other professions or “trades”.
With Jacksonian democracy, however, an anti-intellectual movement began.  Many states passed laws that abolished or sharply reduced the formal training required of lawyers and other professionals.  Almost anyone could be licensed.  Apprenticeship requirements were abolished in Massachusetts in 1836 and in New Hampshire in 1838.
The legal establishment reacted to this “tradesman’s approach” by gradually re-establishing and raising bar admissions requirements, and by allying themselves with university teaching faculties as a separate graduate discipline. By 1870, students at Harvard pursued legal studies as a three-year, postgraduate course instructed by a full-time, academic faculty.  Soon thereafter, Harvard’s ChristopherColumbus Langdell introduced the case method[sic., casebook method], whereby legal principles were extracted from case decisions, rather than presented in lengthy lectures.
By 1900, the norm among recognized law schools was a graduate course of study that, by the 1940s, required seven years of higher education. Although some states still allow for other routes into the profession (including the traditional apprenticeship), virtually the only one used begins with a law school degree (J.D. or L.L.B.).  Thus American legal education has moved rapidly from local apprenticeship to substantial formal education.
You can read more about lawyers on the website of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries.  Books in our libraries about legal education include The inception of modern professional education: C.C. Langdell, 1826-1906
Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Niousha Riahi, Global Legal Research Intern

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 2:54pm

Photo Credit: Donna Sokol

Today’s interview is with Niousha Riahi, an intern with the Global Legal Research Center of the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I have just completed my L.L.B. degree at l’Université de Montréal.  I am passionate about human rights and am committed to volunteering and working for human rights causes. I therefore contributed to legal research projects for the Iranian Unicef office and for the Ligue des droits et libertés (League of Rights and Liberties), Québec  Section.

I love to learn about different areas of law. During my studies I gained experience in diverse subjects by interning at Canada’s Department of Justice and by participating in several competitions at the National Model United Nations 2012, the Jean-Pictet moot court, and at the Aboriginal Law (Plan-Nord) discussion forums. I also worked as a legal assistant at a private law firm that specializes in immigration and administrative law.

How would you describe your job to other people?

The Law Library of Congress conducts legal research in foreign, international and comparative law. The requests come from the United States Congress, other federal agencies, and courts, as well as from individuals. The responses to requests vary and include analytic reports, memos and reference information.

My work as a foreign law intern is to contribute to legal research projects involving Canadian legislation and common law, under the supervision of Mr. Tariq Ahmad. Foreign law interns are encouraged to participate in the Law Library blog, In Custodia Legis, and I intend to contribute a blog post on a Canadian legal topic. I look forward to the experience of using what I have learned (this summer) to contribute to the Law Library’s blog.

 Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

The work in Law Library of Congress enables me to further my study by conducting research in a variety of fields of law from different countries. Having a keen interest in legal research, I have found the experience of conducting research and preparing responses to the Law Library’s diverse clients very stimulating. The Law Library offers an immense and impressive collection of legal resources from all around the world. Its ambiance encourages mutual exchanges between colleagues and makes it a unique place for young lawyers to work.

In addition, living in Washington, D.C. is a real asset. Washington has lots of events and conferences given by notable institutions; it has beautiful parks and flowers in which one can jog in the evening; and visiting the Smithsonian ensures you will never feel bored during the weekends.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

My experience at the Law Library of Congress is really rich in terms of learning. The most interesting fact that I have learned is to be courageous and not fear the unknown. It was  here I came to understand that there is no legal question which cannot be researched or answered. The law experts of the Law Library of Congress can conduct legal research on any field of law from any country or jurisdiction, analyze it and explain the information to requesters who may not necessarily have any legal expertise.

In addition, I believe that the outstanding work of the Law Library of Congress is inspired by cooperation between its employees. Each foreign legal expert and each member of the editorial group and administrative staff collaborate together to work efficiently and joyfully. 

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I have lived without my parents since I was fifteen years old as they have moved back to Iran. Since that time, I have mostly lived with my elder sister and recently my elder brother who left France to join us in Montreal.

I adore dancing and I have participated in a few performances, notably, in festival de Weekends du Monde de Montréal in the summer of 2013.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Our #1 "Go-To" Book on Landlord Tenant Law...

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 10:25am
Legal Tactics is one of the most heavily used reference books on Massachusetts landlord and tenant issues.  The editor, Annette Duke, was at the Worcester Law Library for a meeting and mentioned that the chapters on Security Deposits (chapter 3), Evictions (chapter 13) and the Housing Code Checklist have recently been updated.

Visit the Mass Trial Court page on Landlord Tenant under Best Bet, we have a link to the book available full-text in Adobe from Mass Legal Help. Don't forget, you can borrow a copy from any one of the 17 Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries.
Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with John Trotman, Junior Fellow

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 9:44am

Today’s interview is with John “Trot” Trotman.  John is working in the Collection Services Division of the Law Library of Congress as part of the institution’s Junior Fellows Program.  The program’s focus is to increase access to our collections for our various patron groups.

Describe your background: 

I grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia and went to school in Great Bridge. There I was lucky to have great teachers, friends, and family who, one way or another, have continually supported me in all my endeavors.

What is your academic/professional history? 

Though I’m still relatively young, I’ve held a number of jobs. I’ve worked as an resident adviser (RA), an advocate for a refugee family, a substitute teacher, a marketing manager, and a crew chief for a paint company. Similar to my jobs, my studies have been very diverse. I graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in International Relations, but I also studied education methodology, environmental studies, international law, Middle East politics, and economics. My biggest problem is choosing which area to pursue in graduate school!

How would you describe your job to other people? 

Working as a Junior Fellow in the Law Library is incredible! I look through countless legal documents from various countries and add missing materials to our existing collections. In the process of collating all the materials, I’ve chosen to highlight legislation from other countries that deals with environmental management. Because of the work my colleagues and I did, future researchers will be able to use the collections of the Library of Congress to study Papua New Guinea’s 1991 Forestry Act, Seychelles’ laws protecting green turtles, the laws establishing Israel’s Water Authority, and so much more.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

Education is so incredibly important, therefore I wanted a job that would provide me the opportunity to continue learning. What place could be better than the Library of Congress in developing your education?  I was right to apply, because new and interesting materials are always on my desk. Just the other day I learned that Papua New Guinea banned sorcery in 1971 – and some people think law is boring!

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

My colleagues know everything there is to know about law. If you wanted to know anything about the Egyptian legal system, recent cases in the US Supreme Court, or how to get a fishing license in Cameroon, there’s someone here who can help.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you? 

I know where they stash their candy and have been taking it periodically.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Happy Birthday, Medicare and Medicaid!

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 6:30am
”July 30thmarks the 49th anniversary of the establishment of the Social Security Act Amendments.  In 1965, on this date, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law what is better known as the Medicare law. This established both Medicare, the health insurance program for Americans over 65, and Medicaid, the health insurance program for low income Americans. You can read this Public Law in the United States Statutes at Large on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).

From a blogpost on GovernmentBookTalk, U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO) blog. The author of this blogpost  is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program. Ms. Seifert goes on to give more background information about the circumstances surrounding the passage of the law in 1965, and more particularly, the Medicare resources and services that both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the GPO make available to people today.An authenticated copy of the Public Law is available in a link from Fdsys, GPO’s Federal Digital System, in a format certified by Superintendent of Documents, U.S.GPO. “Massachusetts Law About Medicare” provides more links to information about the federal program, tailored for Massachusetts citizens.“Massachusetts Law About Medicaid (MassHealth)” provides links to information about MassHealth, Massachusetts’  public health insurance program for low- to medium-income residents. Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are combined in one program in Massachusetts called MassHealth.President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill. President Harry S. Truman is seated next to him. Others looking on include Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Bess Truman. July 30, 1965. Photo courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives.
Categories: Research & Litigation

International Arbitration Law in Mexico – Global Legal Collection Highlights

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:55pm

This is a guest post by Dante Figueroa, a senior legal information analyst at the Law Library of Congress.  Dante is a frequent contributor to In Custodia Legis. His recent posts include Introduction to Roman Law – Global Legal Collection Highlights, Introduction to Canon Law – Global Legal Collection Highlights, Resources and Treasures of the Italian Parliamentary Libraries, and A Fresh Update on the Canonical Rules on the Election of a New Pontiff.

January 1 of this year marked the twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed between the United States, Mexico and Canada. While there are conflicting views on the overall economic impact of NAFTA, I believe that NAFTA had a great impact on Mexico’s culture regarding international commercial and investment arbitration. From a historic reluctance to international arbitration embedded in the Commerce Code of 1889 and the Constitution of 1917, Mexico has witnessed a growing openness to international arbitration.

Growing Openness towards Arbitration in Mexico

During the last two decades, commercial arbitration, both domestic and international, has experienced rapid development in Mexico. The underlying rationale behind the efforts to promote arbitration in commercial matters is to reduce the workload of the Mexican judiciary and the costs associated with judicial adjudication, as well as to provide an expedited and specialized solution to commercial disputes.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Office of the United States Trade Representative Website

The arbitration of international disputes received an important boost in 1994 with the passage of NAFTA. In 1993, in preparation for NAFTA, the Mexican Congress amended Article 14 of the Organic Law of PEMEX  (Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company), allowing contracts involving PEMEX to be subject to arbitration.  PEMEX became the only Mexican government entity allowed to use arbitration at that time. Later, in 2009, when the Mexican legislature amended the Law for Public Works and Services and the Law for Acquisitions, Leases and Services of the Public Sector, works contracts, particularly long-term acquisition contracts executed by all federal agencies, were allowed to contain arbitration clauses. Then, in 2012, another amendment to the Public-Private Partnerships Law (PPPL) removed the long-term requirement previously prohibiting arbitration in government acquisition. Consequently, to date all federal acquisition contracts may be subject to domestic or international arbitration.

It should be noted, however, that several restrictions concerning the termination and rescission of administrative contracts remain in place. Specifically, the PPPL excludes “acts of authority” and “administrative acts” from arbitration.  Recent academic and judicial debate in Mexico has focused on whether the administrative termination or rescission of an administrative contract qualifies as an act of authority or administrative act and is therefore, as a matter of public policy, not subject to arbitration.

Litigation Involving U.S.-Mexico International Commercial Arbitration

This debate is reflected in the case of Corporación Mexicana de Mantenimiento Integral (Commisa) v. Pemex, recently decided by a U.S. district court. In this case, the U.S. court confirmed an International Court of Arbitration arbitral award against PEMEX, a decision that was later overturned by a Mexican federal district court on several grounds.   In general, the Mexican appellate court found that “administrative rescissions were not arbitrable,” and that “it was unacceptable for arbitrators to resolve a matter of public policy.”  Behind the Mexican court’s decision lies the centuries-old French doctrine of “Le Contrat administratif” (administrative contract) that applied in Latin America during the nineteenth century based on the Napoleonic Civil Code. This doctrine recognized the public policy character of contracts where the government was involved and in practice, prohibited or greatly restricted arbitration.

Commisa v. Pemex is a highly complicated case that highlights the changing attitudes toward international commercial arbitration in Mexico, from a historic reluctance, to a growing openness followed by this recent reversal in trend. Among the myriad of relevant legal issues discussed in this case are: the arbitrability of government contracts in two different jurisdictions, the retroactive application of foreign laws to U.S. litigation, the effects of a foreign court decision on litigation held in the United States, as well as issues of international comity, reciprocity, and enforcement of international arbitral awards.

General Resources on International Commercial Arbitration

The Law Library of Congress holds a vast collection of resources on international commercial arbitration, including several recent publications:

In addition, we have numerous bibliographical resources available that deal with the topic of international arbitration with a focus on Mexico:

The Law Library of Congress Reading Room is open to the public six days a week.  To access materials you will need a Library of Congress Reader Identification Card.  You can also submit questions to our legal reference specialists through the Ask a Librarian form on our website.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Sales of Alcohol on Sunday Mornings

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 6:00am
On July 23, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law House Bill 228, "An Act Permitting Sales of Alcohol on Sunday Mornings."  Chapter 182 of the Acts of 2014, amends Chapter 136, Section 6, Paragraph 52 by striking out the words "12:00 noon" and inserting the following words: "10:00 a.m."

The bill allows Massachusetts liquor store owners to sell alcohol to patrons before noon on Sundays.  However, it won't take effect for another three months.

Steve Annear, staff digital writer at Boston Magazine, posted on their Boston Daily blog on July 25, 2014, an overview of the law in an article entitled, "Massachusetts Liquor Stores Can Soon Sell Alcohol Before Noon on Sundays: Homemade Bloody Marys and Mimosas Have Never Sounded So Enticing".

For additional information, see the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) website.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Police K9 Siren

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 1:56pm
It might be considered widely known that provisions under the law for the protection and safety of our beloved pets and domesticated animals  have been in place for some time.
Violation of MGL Ch. 272 §77 'Cruelty to Animals'  is punishable both by imprisonment and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.
Perhaps a little less known is that an additional layer of legal protection is afforded police horses and K9 officers.  Violation of MCL Ch. 272 §77A 'Willfully Injuring Police Dogs and Horses' is also punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.
In addition to risking their lives while protecting our cities and towns, these animals often
become targets for retaliation as noted by WCVB's  Reward Offered in Poisoned K9's Death.
Siren, a 5 year old Westport Police K9, had to be put down after ingesting rat poison which his handler believes was planted in his yard for retaliation for his own years as a police officer.  The Westport Police Department is seeking help from anyone who has information that might lead to a suspect. Siren's partner is offering a $1,000 reward for information that helps track down the person behind the alleged poisoning.

Categories: Research & Litigation

July 28, 1914 – State of War with Serbia Declared

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 10:04am

This is a guest post by Jim Martin, senior legal information analyst at the Law Library of Congress.  Jim has written some of our most popular posts over the years including The Articles of Confederation

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Hapsburg presumptive heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated in the city of Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a member of a Serbian backed secret para-military organization.  This event followed several years of tensions between the governments of Austria-Hungary and Serbia after the former’s annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908.

As a result of the shootings the government of Austria-Hungary communicated a list of demands to the government of Serbia.  The Serbian government agreed to comply wholly, or in part, with most of the ultimatum, but, after obtaining guarantees from the Russian government that it would receive support against Austria-Hungary, it rejected the last demand that would have resulted in a major infringement of its sovereignty.    The government in Vienna broke diplomatic relations and announced a mobilization of the army against Serbia.  On July 28, 1914, after a report of an unverified incident involving Hapsburg and Serbian troops, the government of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

This image is taken from a July 28, 1914, extra edition of the Wiener Zeitung, the official newspaper of the Austrian government, announcing that a state of war exists with Serbia.  It is printed in both German and French.  A similar announcement was published on August 6, 1914, the day that war was declared on Russia.  The Wiener Zeitung is one of the oldest official newspapers published.

Image by Jim Martin

Princip was tried by Haspburg authorities for his role in the assassinations.  He was convicted of the crimes, but due to his age at the time of their commission he escaped the death penalty and was instead sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.  He died in prison in 1918 of complications from tuberculosis.

World War I was fought on three continents and across the world’s major oceans.  Four empires ended as a result of the war:  the German; Austro-Hungarian; Russian; and Ottoman. Approximately 8.5 million combatants died during the course of World War I.

Selected bibliography:

Williamson, Samuel R., Jr., Austria-Hungary and the origins of the First World War (1991).

Herwig, Holger H., The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918 (1997).

Owings, W.A. Dolph,  Trans. & Ed. Elizabeth Pribic and Nikola Pribic, The Sarajevo Trial (1984).

Categories: Research & Litigation

Masschusetts Enacts Strict Compounding Pharmacy Oversight

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 9:00am
Gov. Patrick recently signed Ch. 159 of the Acts of 2014, "An Act Relevant to Pharmacy Practice in the Commonwealth".  It was passed unanimously by both Houses to regulate compounding pharmacies in Massachusetts, after a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 and sickened hundreds across the U.S., was traced to a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.  The now closed Framingham pharmacy was found to be actually operating as a drug manufacturer, rather than a pharmacy filling individual prescriptions.   These large scale operations will now have to register with the federal Food and Drug Administration and follow regulations for drug manufacturers.

The legislation is extensive and charges the Board of Registration in Pharmacy with creating new regulations to implement changes regarding licenses, education, labeling and inspections.  It requires these pharmacies to have staffed consumer hotlines during working hours.  Compounding pharmacies must also eventually report certain information on the Department of Public Health website for viewing by consumers.  The law also cites mandatory compliance with  U.S. Pharmacopeia and National Formulary standards.
Categories: Research & Litigation

New Amendments to Deleading and Lead-safe Renovation Regulations

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 7:30am
 454 CMR 22.00 applies to the activities of employers, employees and others engaged in deleading of residences containing dangerous levels of lead, except for the activities of: owners of residential premises and owners' agents who perform deleading work in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Director of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program pursuant to M.G.L. c. 111 s. 197(d); and contractors who, pursuant to 105 CMR 460.175(A) or the activities in accordance with 105 CMR 460.15(A) or the activities set forth at 105 CMR 460.100(D) in or on short-term vacation or recreational rentals.   Lead Safe Renovation 454 CMR 22.00 also applies to all renovation work conducted for compensation in Target Housing and Child-Occupied Facilities.

More information can be found at Massachusetts Law About Lead Poisoning and Control 
Categories: Research & Litigation

An Introduction to Animal Law

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 9:00am

This is a guest post by Ashley Sundin who was an intern with the Law Library’s Public Services Division this summer.

Animal law is a rapidly growing area of law, especially in the past decade.  The human–animal interaction comes in a variety of forms including companionship, agriculture, and science.  As a result, animal law extends into many areas of law including criminal, torts, property, and constitutional law.

This guide will provide an overview of the resources available covering animal law, wildlife law, and animal rights and welfare.

Whoopie and Englehurst Gillette two of the White House dogs with Robert R. Robinson (March 29, 1929). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,


For Beginners



The materials in this section explore animal law career options for those considering a career in animal law and provide litigation strategies for those currently working in this area of practice.

Foreign & International

State & Federal Law

You will find laws at the federal, state, and local levels that relate to animal law.  You can directly search for federal and state laws by consulting the United States Code and your local state statutory code.  Be sure to also take into consideration your local laws by consulting municipal codes. The Animal Legal Defense Fund site contains a finding aid that may prove helpful to locating legislation.


The following sites compile notable cases in the area of animal law.  You can also locate cases related to animal law using free sources on the web such as Google Scholar.  Alternatively, you can visit your local law library for access to subscription legal research databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis.


Subject Headings

You can also search the Library of Congress catalog by browsing subject headings for books on this topic. Click “browse” and use the drop-down to select “SUBJECTS beginning with” or “SUBJECTS containing,” and then input a subject heading using one of the examples shown below. Finally, click on a result and you can browse the materials classified under that subject heading.  Here are a few examples of possible subject headings:

  • Animals–Law and legislation–United States
  • Animals–Law and legislation–[Country]
  • Animals–Law and legislation–[State]
  • Animals–Law and legislation–United States—Cases
  • Animal welfare–Law and legislation–United States
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Categories: Research & Litigation

What Legal Processes are Available to the Journalists Imprisoned in Egypt?

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:15am

The following is a guest post by George Sadek, a senior legal research analyst at the Law Library of Congress.  George has previously written various posts related to Egyptian law for In Custodia Legis, including about the constitutional developments in the country in the past couple of years.

As has been widely reported and discussed in the news media, in December 2013 the Egyptian authorities arrested and detained three journalists working with the Al Jazeera news network.  Later, charges were also brought against a number of other Al Jazeera journalists who were outside of the country.  The General Prosecutor charged the journalists with joining the Muslim Brotherhood, which is currently considered  a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government, and with disseminating false information abroad that damaged Egyptian national interests.

After six months of detention and five months of court proceedings, in June 2014 the Cairo Court of Appeal found the three journalists guilty under articles 80(d) and 86 (bis) of the Egyptian Penal Code.  Article 80(d) provides that any individual who deliberately disseminates false news abroad, information, or rumors related to the state’s internal situation, which will cause the country’s financial credibility to be weakened or to harm the dignity and prestige of the Egyptian state, are criminally punishable.  Upon conviction, a person can be subject to a term of imprisonment between six months and five years, a fine of between 100 and 500 Egyptian pounds, or both penalties.  Likewise, Article 86 (bis) imposes a term of imprisonment that does not exceed five years on individuals found guilty of joining any association, corporation, organization, group, or brand with a goal of interrupting the constitution or laws, preventing public authorities from exercising their work, encroaching on the personal freedom of citizens or other freedoms granted by the constitution, or impairing national unity or social peace.

The criminal court sentenced each of the three journalists to a total of seven years of imprisonment on these two charges.  It sentenced one of them to three additional years of imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds as he was also found guilty of the crime of possession of ammunition.  The court also tried eleven other journalists in absentia, including three foreign journalists, sentencing all of them to ten years of imprisonment.

I have been following the cases with interest, including discussions about whether the journalists could be released following further proceedings.  It appears that two legal processes could be used by the defense attorneys to seek the release of the journalists: 1) petitioning the Egyptian President for pardons; and 2) submitting a petition for appeal to the Court of Cassation (the highest judicial body in the Egyptian court hierarchy).  I checked the relevant laws and other sources to learn more about these processes.

With respect to the issuance of a presidential decree pardoning the convicted journalists, article 155 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014 grants the President of the Republic the right to issue a pardon or reduce a sentence.  This practice is not unheard of in the Egyptian legal system.  For example, in October 2008, former President Hosni Mubarak exercised this constitutional right when he pardoned a journalist, Ibrahim Issa, after the latter was convicted by the Cairo Court of Appeal with reporting and disseminating false information related to the president’s health.  Additionally, I found that in 2012, former president Mohamed Morsi practiced the same constitutional right when he pardoned an array of individuals detained and tried in incidents related to protests against the regime of Hosni Mubarak in January 2011.

The second legal procedure that could apparently be used to seek the release of the journalists is to submit a petition to the Court of Cassation.  Under article 446 of the Egyptian Code of Criminal Procedure, the Court of Cassation has the authority to scrutinize the decisions of the criminal and civil chambers of the Court of Appeal.  If the Court of Cassation finds that there was a breach of law during the trial process or in the interpretation of the Criminal Code by the judges, it will void the previous sentence issued by the Cairo Court of Appeal.  The Court of Cassation will also return the case to be adjudicated by different judges.  The prosecution has the ability to appeal the decision of, and sentences imposed by, the Court of Appeal as well.

I am sure we will hear more about the legal processes involving the journalists soon.  Recently, it was reported that the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, had said that he wished the three journalists had been deported rather than put on trial.  However, he previously stated that he would not interfere in the verdicts issued by the court.

The Law Library of Congress holds the official gazette of Egypt, which contains the Egyptian Penal Code and the law of criminal procedure.  In addition, we have a variety of reference books that analyze Egypt’s criminal law and its historical development, such as Studies in the Egyptian Legal System: Courts & Crimes (1979) (English); Commentary on the Egyptian Criminal Law (1914); Jarāʼim al-ghishsh wa-al-tadlīs (Crimes of Fraud under the Penal Code) (1992) (Arabic)  and the Egyptian Penal Code (1999) (Arabic).  If you have a broader interest in Egyptian law, we also have a research guide and other information on our website and can provide reference assistance to help guide your research.

Categories: Research & Litigation


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