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Law Library News for February 25, 2002

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Books for African American History Month

by Mary Whisner

In honor of African American History Month, I thought I would highlight some recent Law Library acquisitions and, along the way, some older works.

Superficially, Derrick Bell�s casebooks look like many others, but Prof. Bell�s approach is different. In the fourth edition of his casebook, Race, Racism and American Law in 2000 (KF4757.B35 2000 at Reserve), he commented that in the first edition in 1973 (KF4757.B35 at Classified Stacks), he broke with the traditional �neutral� approach of casebooks and �took the position that racism is wrong and that the task at hand was to explore its history, its current methods of functioning, and perhaps grasp the factors contributing to its continued existence.� 4th ed., p. xxi.

In addition to casebooks, Prof. Bell has written several books exploring issues of race and American law. And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice (E185.615.B39 1987 at Classified Stacks) and Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (E185.615.B395 1992 at Reserve) both feature a fictional heroine named Geneva Crenshaw. Allegorical stories illustrate issues and various positions. The fictional device makes the challenging topics more accessible and the underlying tensions more explicit. In Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protester (KF292.H325.B35 1994 at Classified Stacks), Prof. Bell explores his own experience in taking an unpaid leave from Harvard Law School in protest of that school�s failure to hire and tenure a woman of color.

Speaking of women of color: you can read a variety of their stories in Rebels in Law: Voices in History of Black Women Lawyers (KF299.A35 R43 1998 at Classified Stacks). The editor, J. Clay Smith Jr., gathered 38 previously published articles and 24 original submissions. Some are personal memoirs; others are essays or speeches addressing particular topics. You can read the book straight through or jump from article to article (lingering perhaps on the wonderful photographs mid-volume).

Another new book is Jon-Christian Suggs, Whispered Consolations: Law and Narrative in African American Life (KF4757.S84 2000 at Classified Stacks). In his preface, the author announces that the book is �interpretive and draws on law, history, and literature.� p. xi. His list of references encompasses fiction (by, for example, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright), archival sources (such as the NAACP Papers in microfilm), Ph.D. dissertations, historical works, and more. Drawing from this broad array of material, the author ranges across an equally broad array of theoretical issues.

For additional descriptions of selected books see the Book of the Week Archive.

Citation Blues

by Sarah Hollingsworth, Reference Intern

The expression, form follows function, was the credo of Louis Sullivan, mentor of the great American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. As a way of looking at art, the phrase embodied the notion that the elevation of form over substance usually leads to an undesirable or unpleasant result. Wright, of course, not only embraced the principle but went on to extend its meaning to his philosophy of organic architecture, to suggest that form ultimately becomes function.

Form and substance are words that commonly appear in the literature of the law---forms of pleading, the substance of an argument, a will form, the substantive law. Likewise, the elevation of form over substance is a concern within the field of law as surely as it is within that of architecture, or any other discipline, for that matter. Consider, for example, the limitless possibilities for elevating form over substance that are inherent in the citation of authority. A lot of collective energy has been focused on the �proper� format of citations, due in part to the essential role that authority plays in legal communications. As a consequence, there is simply no getting around the need to learn the protocols for the citation of authority in various types of legal documents.

That being said, when does the focus on citation format begin to obscure the substance of the authority itself? There are those who would say that point was reached long ago. The Bluebook, for example, having grown from a mere 89 pages in 1949 to just under 400 pages in 2000, continues to grow new rules like kudzu grows vines. Do we really need 400 pages of rules to communicate effectively amongst ourselves? What does it tell us that the Bluebook has finally become so problematical to navigate that it has spawned a new guide-maps-through-the-Bluebook genre (see below)? What could be driving this near (or, arguably, outright) obsession with �The Rules�? Judge Richard A. Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has attempted to describe this dark shadow in the law:

[T]he Bluebook is elaborate but not purposive [and in it,] the superficial dominates the substantive.The vacuity and tendentiousness of so much legal reasoning are concealed by the awesome scrupulousness with which a set of intricate rules governing the form of citations is observed.

Richard A. Posner, Goodbye to the Bluebook, 53 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1343, 1343-1344 (1986).

Related References

  • American Association of Law Libraries, Committee on Citation Formats, Universal Citation Guide (1999). KF245.A258 1999 at Reference Office
    This is the latest entrant onto the citation manual playing field, and it encompasses a couple of novel approaches. For one, it adopts a universal citation standard, designed for vendor- and medium-neutral citations to enable competition in legal publishing opportunities. Second, it purports to work as a complement to the Bluebook, not in opposition to it. Its success will depend upon individual states� adoption or allowance of the universal citation format.
  • Association of Legal Writing Directors & Darby Dickerson, ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (2000). KF245.A45 2000 at Reserve & Reference Office
    This is one of the newer citation guides that are similar to, but somewhat easier to use than, the Bluebook. t is presently in use by a limited number of courts and law schools.
  • Bieber�s Dictionary of Legal Citations: A Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students (Mary Miles Prince, 6th ed., 2001). KF246.B45 2001 at Reserve & Reference Office
    This reference guide will assist you, should you feel the need, in aligning your citation format with that required by the Bluebook.
  • Alan L. Dworsky, User�s Guide to the Bluebook (2000). KF245.D853 2000 at Course Reserves
    Originally published in 1996 under the title, User�s Guide to the Uniform System of Citation: The Cure for the Bluebook Blues, this small paperback book (the 2000 edition has only 52 pages total) is already in its fourth iteration, giving some hint of its popularity. This will likely not be useful to those already well-versed in Bluebook lore (unless absolutely stuck), but it might be a good adjunct for anyone just being introduced. The 2000 edition, by the way, was updated to incorporate the latest changes in the 17th edition of the Bluebook.
  • The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia Law Review Ass�n et al. eds., 17th ed. 2000). KF245.U5 2000 at Reserve, Reference Office & Quick Reference Floor 6
    If you are interested in tracing the billowing growth of this citation standard, you can find copies of older editions located in the Classified Stacks under the given call number.
  • The Bluebook: A Sixty-Five Year Retrospective [with Introduction by Robert Berring] (1998). KF245.B583 1998 at Classified Stacks
    This book qualifies as leisure reading for Bluebook aficionados. A true retrospective, it traces the Bluebook�s origins back to its predecessor, A Uniform System of Citation, which was published by The Yale Law Journal in 1921 and 1924.
  • Richard A. Posner, Goodbye to the Bluebook, 53 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1343, 1343-1344 (1986). KF245 .P67 1986 at Reserve [excerpt]
    Judge Posner takes the Bluebook to task for its "entrenched and cavalier form-over-substance approach to legal authority." This makes for a good, short read.
  • The University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation (U. Chi. L. Rev. & U. Chi. Legal F., eds., 1989). KF245.C55 1989 at Reserve & Classified Stacks
    Commonly referred to as the Maroon Book, this citation manual was first published in 1986 in response to Judge Posner�s essay, Goodbye to the Bluebook, a portion of which is quoted above. It represents one of the serious efforts at dislodging the Bluebook and attempts to simplify the process of citation. It is still in use at the University of Chicago Law School.

Public Interest Awareness Month

The Career Planning & Public Service Center at UW Law is celebrating Public Interest Awareness month.

There are books, journals, and videotapes available in the Law Library dealing with public interest law. To locate some of these materials, conduct a subject search in MARIAN, the online catalog, for "public interest law - united states." You'll find books about trial lawyers fighting for public justice or providing guidance on writing an amicus brief, a deskbook for pro bono project development, an annotated bibliography, and a guide to pursuing a career in public interest from the ABA.

You may want to browse some of the periodicals in the field such as the Public Interest Law Reporter (from the Loyola University of Chicago Center for Public Service Law) or the Boston University Public Interest Law Journal.