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Law Library News for November 25, 2002

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Human Rights Report

The U.S. Department of State released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001 on March 4, 2002. These Country Reports are submitted annually by the U.S. Department of State to the U.S. Congress. They cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights include freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; from prolonged detention without charges; from disappearance or clandestine detention; and from other flagrant violations of the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person.

The 2001County Reports are available full-text on the Web along with the text of a special briefing by Secretary Colin L. Powell, According to Secretary Powell, "[t]hese annual Reports are one of the most important instruments America has for championing respect for fundamental freedoms all over the globe."

Country Reports are available from 1993 to the current year via the U.S. Department of State website, These Reports are also available in the Library (JC571.U48; current editions on Reserve & older in Reference Stacks). If you are interested in other human rights materials, check out our Human Rights Research Guide.

What's in the Basement?

The most important thing for law students in the basement of Condon Hall is probably the set of lockers for storing your books, followed by the mail files, student organization offices, and the small computer lab. But there are also library books in the basement. The Library area of the basement is closed to the public, so the Circulation staff will retrieve books on your behalf.

Although you can't browse the basement library stacks to find out what's there, most of the items are in the online catalog, MARIAN. The "location codes" that are given to materials in the basement (which you will see in the catalog record) include: Historical, Basement Reserve, Basement LC, and Rare Book Room.

What types of materials are in the basement? Large sets of superceded materials, early issues of the Federal Register and the Congressional Record, older historical materials, British and American books published before 1800 (fragile condition), and back-up copies of heavily used sets. We also have briefs for cases filed in the following courts in the basement: United States Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Washington Supreme Court, Washington Court of Appeals, and the Washington Territorial Court. If you need help locating a brief, stop by the Reference Office.

Why are the books in the basement? We need the space. Gallagher Law Library is one of the largest academic law libraries in the West, with over 500,000 volumes in print and microforms. In the new law school building, William H. Gates Hall, the Library will be on two floors, with all non-rare book stack areas accessible by patrons.

For a more detailed description of the materials in the library see the Library Holdings guide on our website.

Unpublished Opinions

A rule recently proposed by the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules would allow the citation of unpublished decisions in all federal courts, for persuasive value only. For a news story on the topic see, According to the article, the rule if enacted would be subject to a public comment period, and approval by the U.S. Judicial Council and the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently the federal appellate courts are split on the issue of how to treat unpublished opinions. For example, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Washington state) does not allow citation of unpublished dispositions and orders of that Court except in particular circumstances outlined in the rule (see Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3, Citation of Unpublished Dispositions or Orders, available online,

Select law review articles on the topic of unpublished opinions include:

  • Johanna S. Schliavoni, Who's Afraid of Precedent? The Debate Over the Precedent Value of Unpublished Opinions, 49 UCLA L. Rev. 1859 (2002).
  • Suzanne O. Snowden, "That's My Holding and I'm Not Sticking To It!" Court Rules That Deprive Unpublished Opinions of Precedential Authority Distort the Common Law, 79 Wash. U. L.Q. 1253 (2001).
  • Jon A. Strongman, Unpublished Opinions, Precedent, and the Fifth Amendment: Why Denying Unpublished Opinions Precedential Value is Unconstitutional, 50 U. Kan. L. Rev. 195 (2001).
  • Carl Tobias, Anastasoff, Unpublished Opinions, and Federal Appellate Justice, 25 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 1171 (2002).

In Washington State, Court of Appeals unpublished opinions lack precedential value (see RCW 2.06.040) and under RAP 10.4(h) they may not be cited as authority