Legal Research Blog
Law is a common and yet distinct aspect of everyday life in modern societies. This course examines the central features of law as a social institution and as a feature of popular culture. We will explore the nature of law as a set of social systems, central actors in the systems, legal reasoning, and the relationship of the legal form and reasoning to social change. The course emphasizes the relationship between the internal logic of legal devices and economic, political and social processes. Emphasis is placed upon developing a perspective which views law as a practical resource, a mechanism for handling the widest range of unspecified social issues, problems, and conflicts, and at the same time, as a set of shared representations and aspirations.
We will explore the range of experiences of law for its ministers (lawyers, judges, law enforcement agents and administrators) as well as for its supplicants (citizens, plaintiffs, defendants). We will examine how law is mobilized and deployed by professionals and ordinary citizens. We cannot cover all aspects of the legal system, nor focus on all the different actors. A set of topics has been selected to develop understanding of the situational and systemic demands within which actors in the legal system operate and perform their roles; at the same time, we will try to discover systematic patterns in the uses and consequences of law. Throughout the course there is concern for understanding what we mean by legality and the rule of law.
Wikipedia junkies from throughout the Middle East were invited to partake in Wikimania 2008, which has dedicated a good deal of time to issues specifically related to Arabic Wikipedia. Some controversy was stirred up by several reporters, who questioned Wikipedia’s commitment to the Arabic version (which is tiny in comparison to the English, which has over 25 million posts), and who took an interest in the presence of Israeli contributors at the conference. The administrators of the Arabic Wikipedia site maintained that it was the responsibility of the users and public to make greater contributions, and that the collaborative process can take time. As for the two Israelis in attendance, while they did run into some skepticism from their Arab counterparts, their Arabic language fluency and desire to work and learn from the meeting’s cultural
dialogue eased the tension.
Most importantly, the conference addressed the urgent need for the dissemination of knowledge and freedom of speech in the region. The presence of the Israeli wikipedians was evidence enough of the site’s commitment to incorporating the valid content of any contributor, regardless of perspective or philosophy. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales also graced the conference with an analysis of the current threat to the project in Egypt itself, where President Mubarak has been known to imprison bloggers and restrict the press.
But despite Wikimania’s message of free expression, the traditional liberty accorded Wikipedia posting may be tightening. Wiki has recently begun to tackle the plague of vandalism that has hit several of the Wiki sites. German articles have been especially prone to bogus posts, and so German Wikipedia has chosen to implement a system of “checks” which must take place before any article is viewed by the public. Administrators hope that the process will only be a temporary measure to discourage bad posts, rather than a permanent method of censorship. Jimmy Wales hopes this will allow Wikipedia to eventually feature “stable” versions of articles as well.
Source: The New York Times
The trial has started out slowly beginning with an official not guilty plea from Hamdan and now has moved onto jury selection. Considering the nature of the case, it is necessary that both the judge and jurors are military officers. The prosecution and defense must agree on at least 5 of those chosen by the Pentagon to serve on the jury panel for the trial. In addition to the reminder issued by Allred, he was also sure to strike any evidence he considered to be gathered inappropriately. With emotions still running high from the 9/11 attacks and questions lingering about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, it will be hard for the landmark case to stay out of the spotlight. It is clear though from Allred’s various decisions, he would like the trial to move forward quickly and remain as non-controversial as possible.
American’s suffering from sleep disorders can rest easy now that the D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of considering the disabilities under the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Those suffering from a lack of sleep have seen employers question for years the legitimacy of their claims, considering none severe enough to qualify as a disability.
In the case of Desmond v. Mukasey, FBI special agent trainee Martin Desmond accused the FBI of discriminating against him for a sleep disorder he developed from his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Desmond worked with a number of FBI officials to treat his condition and applied for a location transfer in order to relieve some of his symptoms to no avail. Ultimately, Desmond was kept from graduating from the special agent program sparking the lawsuit into action. The suit purported that the FBI refused to recognize Desmond’s inability to sleep as a viable disorder and that discrimination ensued.
The court ruled in favor of Desmond and set the precedent that all employers must consider sleep disorders in the same light as all other disabilities. For sufferers, the affect of the loss of sleep will have no bearing on whether or not it is considered a disability. Any person receiving only 2 to 4 hours of sleep a night for a period of at least 5 months is considered to suffer from a disorder that affects “major life activity”. Upon this decision, anyone suffering from a sleep disorder has the right to invoke any and all provisions under both the Rehabilitation as well as the Americans with Disabilities Acts without further scrutiny.