Friday, February 27, 2015

New ICWA Guidelines Published

The U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, recently published new guidelines regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  The updated guidelines, available here, are the first to be issued since 1979.

According to an in-depth news article available here on Native News Online.Net, the new guidelines:

"... clarify the procedures for determining whether a child is an Indian child, identifying the child’s tribe, and notifying its parent and tribe as early as possible before determining placement..."

"... provide comprehensive guidance on the application of active efforts to prevent the breakup of the Indian family..."

and "... provide clarification that ICWA’s provisions carry the presumption that ICWA’s placement preferences are in the best interests of Indian children."

The article also provides details on the history of ICWA and remarks by Assistant Secretary of the Interior Kevin K. Washburn.  The release of the guidelines was also featured in a recent post on Turtle Talk, the Indigenous Law and Policy Center Blog of the Michigan State University College of Law.

Interested in learning more about the Indian Child Welfare Act?  Consider some of the following resources available in the Law Library's collection:

Children, Tribes, and States: Adoption and Custody Conflicts over American Indian Children / Barbara Ann Atwood

Facing the Future:  The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30 / edited by Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Wenona T. Singel, and Kathryn E. Fort

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act / Native American Rights Fund

Thursday, February 19, 2015

USD Law Students Participate in TYLA Competition in Omaha

Congratulations to Tony Teesdale, Vanessa Arzberger, and Sara Boyum Hento, who recently participated in the Region 9 Trial Competition sponsored by the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA).  The competition was held at the U.S. Federal Court Building in Omaha, NE from February 6-8, and included teams from law schools in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

While the team did not make it to the final four, they placed third of 25 teams in total points scored, with an impressive 775 points of 900 total. 

Sarah Kammer of the Law Library staff and Professor Sean Kammer accompanied the team to Omaha. 
Left: Vanessa Arzberger, Right: Tony Teesdale, Not Pictured: Sara Boyum Hento

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Collateral Consequences Database Available From the ABA

The Criminal Justice Section of the ABA (American Bar Association) recently completed an online database called the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction (NICCC). 

The database (available at utilizes a user-friendly graphical interface which allows researchers to easily discover "federal and state laws and regulations that restrict employment, housing, and education benefits and other opportunities for people with convictions."  More information about the database is available here from the ABA. (H/t to the WisBlawg at the University of Wisconsin Law Library for their recent post on this topic.)

Interested in learning more about collateral consequences?  A chapter on this topic is available in The Law and Policy of Sentencing and Corrections in a Nutshell, available in the Law Library's Study Aids collection on the main floor of the Law Library. 

Happy Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday!

In celebration of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday, please stop by the Law Library Circulation/Reference Desk and enjoy a piece of king cake, courtesy of Law Library Director, Darla Jackson!

Fun legal fact:  Did you know that the Louisiana Revised Statutes contain provisions regarding Mardi Gras as a state holiday?  See Louisiana Revised Statute 1:55 available here from the Louisiana Legislature's website. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cool Tools: Free Browser Extensions for Legal Research

During this busy time of the year, who doesn't love a free tool to save them time?  There are a number of free browser extensions available that offer functions to help save you time with your legal research.

Last fall, the Ms. JD blog offered an in-depth post on the Bestlaw browser extension.  This browser extension is available for the Chrome browser and works in conjunction with WestlawNext to offer additional features, such as a Table of Contents feature, a Bluebook citation tool, and links to WestlawNext documents which are available in free databases, such as the Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII).

Speaking of the Legal Information Institute, LII powers the Jureeka browser extension, which turns legal citations in regular webpages into automatic hyperlinks to the text of the statute, rule, or case as it appears on LII's website.  For example, say you were reading this blog and we referenced 5 U.S.C. 6103, the code provision that provides for President's Day (Washington's birthday) as a legal holiday.  If you had Jureeka installed, a hyperlink would automatically appear underlining the code citation, linking you directly to the text.  (Just in case you're curious, we've provided the link here to this code section in LII.)

A number of other browser extensions are available to aid law students and lawyers in their productivity.  Check out a recent article here by the Legal Productivity blog which highlights several other extensions.  An example is Feedly, which allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed or blog (such as the Prairie Law Blog!) with a single click. 

(Click here for more information about Ms. JD and their affiliation with the National Women's Law Student Organization.)  

President's Day is Monday, February 16 - Law Library Hours

Monday, February 16 is the President's Day holiday.  No law school classes will be held and the McKusick Law Library will be closed to the public.  We will resume our normal hours to the public of 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, on Tuesday, February 17.

Law students will have continued 24/7 access to the Law Library throughout the holiday weekend with their University ID cards.  Circulation and reference services will be available to students on Sunday, February 15 from 12:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., but there will not be any service hours for students on Monday, the 16th.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lexis Training Session for 1Ls on Wednesday, Feb. 11

Please see the below announcement from Fred Abboud, the Law School's Lexis representative:

Attend our valuable 1L training session! This training session will be Wednesday, February 11 from noon-12:40 in Room 102. Lunch will be provided and all who attend will receive 400 Lexis Rewards Points (enough for a $5 gift card).

Plus, all who attend will be entered into a drawing to win 5,000 Lexis Points. There will be three winners from those that attend this session.