Monday, July 21, 2014

Law Library Construction Progress

The construction in the law library is continuing to progress, with the arrival of new furniture for the technology learning center and new chairs and study tables.  The continued patience of our patrons throughout the construction process is much appreciated!  The Prairie Law Blog will continue to post pictures as the construction progresses.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a member of the library staff.

Older chairs are stacked to be moved out of the library.

The older study tables will also be relocated.

New chairs are lined up between the stacks, awaiting their installation.

Pieces of the technology learning center tables, which will be located on the main floor of the library.  The learning center will feature large screen monitors and an interface that will allow laptops, IPads, and other devices to be viewed on the monitors. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today in Legal History: Scopes Trial Began July 10, 1925

Often considered one of the most famous American court trials, arguments in the case of State of Tennessee v. John T. Scopes began in Dayton, Tennessee on July 10, 1925. The case, which began to be referred to as "The Scopes Trial" or the "Monkey Trial", involved the prosecution of high school teacher John Scopes for violation of a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolutionary biology in the state's public schools. The trial involved renowned civil rights attorney Clarence Darrow, representing Scopes, and William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution.

The trial was extensively covered in the press at the time, and while Scopes was ultimately convicted of violating the Tennessee law, the case placed a national spotlight on the issue of creationism and evolution in education. The legal principles at the center of the Scopes Trial have remained hotly contested in the many decades since they were argued at Dayton. Eighty years later, the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005), involved a challenge to public school district policy that required the teaching of intelligent design. The court in Kitzmiller ultimately held that the policy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The Law Library has several titles in its collection which focus on the Scopes Trial and the Kitzmiller case. A display is currently being featured which highlights these resources, including:

Center of the Storm: Memoirs of John T. Scopes / John T. Scopes and James Presley

Bryan and Darrow at Dayton: The Record and Documents of the "Bible-Evolution Trial"/ Leslie H. Allen, editor

In the Interest of Justice: Great Opening and Closing Arguments of the Last 100 Years / Joel J. Seidemann (Chapter 9 focuses on the arguments in the Scopes Trial)

Law, Darwinism & Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of Intelligent Design / Francis J. Beckwith

The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America / Lauri Lebo

40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, Oxycontin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania / Matthew Chapman

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Database Enhancements

New enhanced features are available via Bloomberg Law, including the addition of new Litigation Portfolios and an enhanced News Search, which allows users to more easily include or exclude web sources from their news search. Bloomberg Law has also expanded coverage of their one-click access to court opinions discussing federal laws and regulations.  The coverage now includes all of the United States Code (USC) and Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). 

Bloomberg Law is available to USD Law faculty and students, and to subscribers.  For more information about Bloomberg Law, please ask a member of the law library staff.

Lexis Advance is also planning global enhancements to its platform.  For a preview of the new features, see information here from LexisNexis for Law Schools (sign-in required).  Both a video and webinar recording are available which highlight the new platform.

South Dakota's First Veterans Treatment Court Now Open

As part of the the judicial reform law passed by the South Dakota legislature last year, the State is implementing a new system of veterans treatment courts.  These courts will offer veteran offenders with the option of alternate sentences, including treatment, as opposed to prison time.

The first of these courts opened this week in Watertown, SD, serving Codington County.  An article from about the opening is available here.  South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson was present at the opening and provides his comments in the article.  According to the article, the opening of two additional courts in Sioux Falls and Rapid City is planned for the future.

Interested in learning more about Veterans Affairs in South Dakota?  The Law Library has a LibGuide page available here with links and more information.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Independence Day Display

Each year, as a nation, we celebrate July 4 as Independence Day to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The Declaration of Independence, being of central importance to American history and our U.S. legal system, is the focus of the Law Library's current Independence Day display. The display offers copies of the Declaration for reading and reflection, as well as the following titles in the Law Library's collection:

Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy, and Theology / by Allen Jayne

Declaring Independence: The Origin and Influence of America’s Founding Document: Featuring the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection / Christian Y. Dupont and Peter S. Onuf, editors

To Secure These Rights: The Declaration of Independence and Constitutional Interpretation / by Scott Douglas Gerber

The display also offers information about the history of the Declaration of Independence from the Library of Congress' Declaration of Independence Web Guide. The Web Guide provides a chronology of events leading up to and following July 4, 1776. For instance, did you know that the engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence was not signed by most of the delegates until August 2, 1776? The Web Guide links to the Journals of the Continental Congress for this reference and many other interesting historical details.

Hobby Lobby Decision Sparks Nationwide and Local Reaction

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the Hobby Lobby case, holding that "as applied to closely held corporations, the regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services requiring employers to provide their female employees with no-cost access to contraception violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (from the SCOTUSblog summary, available here).

The 5-4 opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc., authored by Justice Alito, has sparked reaction across the country, and South Dakota is no exception.  A recent article from, a local news affiliate, offers reactions from local political leaders and South Dakota citizens.  An article from the Argus Leader, a Sioux Falls newspaper, is available here

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Law Library Hours - July 4th

The McKusick Law Library will be closed to the public on Friday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day. The Law Library will resume its normal summer hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays on Monday, July 7. Law students may continue to access the Law Library 24/7 throughout the weekend, using their ID cards.