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New on LLRX – Is it a “Good” Case? Can You Rely on BCite, KeyCite, and Shepard’s to Tell You? – Kristina L. Niedringhaus calls our attention to a recent article by Paul Heller whose research identified 357 citing relationships that one or more of the three major citators labeled as negative. “Out of these, all three citators agree that there was negative treatment only 53 times. This means that in 85% of these citing relationships, the three citators do not agree on whether there was negative treatment.”
New on LLRX – Move to a paperless law firm with these scanning tools – Nicole L. Black discusses how e-filing mandates in many jurisdictions are causing lawyers to digitize their law firm’s documents, and as a result more firms are moving toward a paperless law office—or at the very least, an office with less paper. She suggest some effective avenues to achieve this goal.
Bennett Moses, Lyria, Helping Future Citizens Navigate an Automated, Datafied World (January 1, 2019). UNSW Law Research Paper No. 19-28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3370016
“If there is one thing everyone has an opinion on, it is education. Everyone has been to school and many people go on to have opinions on the experiences of their children. I am therefore conscious that I am neither a school principal nor a teacher, but rather stand at a unique point in the broader education system. In particular, I teach tertiary students enrolled in a law degree and conduct research at the intersection of law and technology. One subject I teach is practical – how to design expert systems and run a small technical project for a not for profit to improve access to justice. This requires students to think about technical solutions to assist in resolving a practical challenge in access to justice (navigating complex information, under-resourced centres, understanding community needs). The other subject is more theoretical – what legal issues arise as technology changes, how does law deal with disruptive innovation, and how can we retain core protections in the face of developments such as automated data-driven decision making. I am therefore accustomed to encouraging students to think outside the disciplinary box to which they are otherwise assigned. Because of my role, I do have some insights into the challenges of teaching in an interdisciplinary context. I am also researching legal and ethical challenges that society is facing relating to datadriven inferencing and decision-making. Many of the new tools being developed are described as artificial intelligence, and I will discuss the relationship among these ideas below. Developing technologies including those associated with artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning, are changing the world that young people need to learn to navigate. When tools are used by those who don’t understand them, there can be individual and community harms. There are thus important questions being asked about how the education system needs to take account of these new technological developments. This essay articulates a vision or idea about how education could best equip students to navigate an increasingly automated and datafied world. It also develops a broader argument about crossdisciplinary learning that can be applied to other important modern challenges that cannot be solved within a single discipline.”
District Judge, DC – Congressional Democrats’ emoluments lawsuit targeting President Trump’s private business can proceed
Washington Post – “Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption ban and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene. In a 48-page opinion, the judge refused the request of the president’s legal team to dismiss the case and rejected Trump’s narrow definition of emoluments, finding it “unpersuasive and inconsistent.”
Memorandum & Opinion, BLUMENTHAL et al v. TRUMP, No. 1:17-cv-01154 (D.D.C. Apr 30, 2019): In its previous Opinion, the Court held that plaintiffs, approximately 201 Members of the 535 Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, had standing to sue defendant Donald J. Trump in his official capacity as President of the United States (“the President”) for alleged violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause (“the Clause”). See Blumenthal v. Trump, 335 F. Supp. 3d 45, 72 (D.D.C. 2018) (“Blumenthal I”). The President has moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim because, inter alia, he contends that “Emolument” should be narrowly construed to mean “profit arising from an official’s services rendered pursuant to an office or employ.” Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss (“Mot. to Dismiss”), ECF No. 15-Case 1:17-cv-01154-EGS Document 67 Filed 04/30/19 Page 1 of 48 2 1 at 38.1 The President’s definition, however, disregards the ordinary meaning of the term as set forth in the vast majority of Founding-era dictionaries; is inconsistent with the text, structure, historical interpretation, adoption, and purpose of the Clause; and is contrary to Executive Branch practice over the course of many years…” [Document is via Brad Health, USA Today]
“The New York Police Department provides data for every motor vehicle collision in NYC since July 2012. Each record includes location coordinates and other metadata, most notably the number of injuries and fatalities, segmented further by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. I wrote some code to process the raw data, and built an interactive heatmap of 1.4 million collisions between July 2012 and January 2019. By default the color intensity represents the number of collisions in each area, but you can customize it to reflect injuries or fatalities…
The map shows the areas with the most injuries and fatalities, but I’m hesitant to use the phrase “most dangerous”, as the collisions data does not tell us how many motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians traveled through each area without injury. For example, more pedestrians are injured by motor vehicles in Times Square than in any other area, but Times Square probably has the most total pedestrians, so it’s possible that “pedestrian injuries per mile walked” is higher elsewhere. It might make for interesting further analysis to estimate total vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian travel in each area, then attempt to calculate the areas with the highest probability of injury or fatality per unit of distance traveled…”
Yale Environment 360: “There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new analysis by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university. The research, presented at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington, D.C., argues that planting additional trees is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases. Trees are “our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change,” Crowther told The Independent. Combining forest inventory data from 1.2 million locations around the world and satellite images, the scientists estimate there are 3 trillion trees on Earth — seven times more than previous estimates. But they also found that there is abundant space to restore millions of acres of additional forests, not counting urban and agricultural land…”
Dykstra, Jason, Beyond the ‘Practice Ready’ Buzz: Sifting Through the Disruption of the Legal Industry to Divine the Skills Needed by New Attorneys (March 25, 2019). Drexel Law Review [Vol. 11:149 2018]. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3359804
“A heightened velocity of change enveloped the legal profession over the last two decades. From big law to rural practitioners, the traditional law firm model proved ripe for disruption. This disruption is fueled by several discrete changes in how legal services are provided, including technological advances that allow for the automation of many routine tasks and the disaggregation of legal services; enhanced client sophistication and cost-consciousness; global competition from offshoring routine legal services; the rise of the domestic gig economy, creating a new wave of home-shoring legal services; and competition from non-traditional legal services providers. In the face of declining revenues, rapid systemic changes, and burgeoning competition from near and far, law firms have shuttered many of the traditional mentorship opportunities for new attorneys. Firms have also curtailed many once-billable activities that formerly served as profitable training grounds for new associates at law firms.
Given this new norm, students must emerge from law school both ready for practice and prepared to immediately generate revenue, whether they ply their practice-ready skills as contract attorneys, associates, in-house counsel, or solo practitioners. This Article proposes designing a required, upper-division legal writing class that incorporates the skills most needed by new attorneys entering the practice of law. The data shows that most new lawyers are destined for private practice, whether with small firms or as solo practitioners, and most likely, this private practice will include civil litigation. Since most civil litigation resolves by settlement or dispositive motion, new lawyers will focus primarily on pretrial civil litigation. Given this reality, the Article proposes requiring an upper-division legal research and writing course designed to introduce practice-style legal research and writing. This course would serve as an analogue to introduce the pretrial civil litigation skills most needed by new attorneys.”
“The United States optimizes the efficiency of its growing criminal justice system with algorithms however, legal scholars have overlooked how to frame courtroom debates about algorithmic predictions. In State v Loomis, the defense argued that the court’s consideration of risk assessments during sentencing was a violation of due process because the accuracy of the algorithmic prediction could not be verified. The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the consideration of predictive risk at sentencing because the assessment was disclosed and the defendant could challenge the prediction by verifying the accuracy of data fed into the algorithm.Was the court correct about how to argue with an algorithm?
The Loomis court ignored the computational procedures that processed the data within the algorithm. How algorithms calculate data is equally as important as the quality of the data calculated. The arguments in Loomis revealed a need for new forms of reasoning to justify the logic of evidence-based tools. A “data science reasoning” could provide ways to dispute the integrity of predictive algorithms with arguments grounded in how the technology works.
This article’s contribution is a series of arguments that could support due process claims concerning predictive algorithms, specifically the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (“COMPAS”) risk assessment. As a comprehensive treatment, this article outlines the due process arguments in Loomis, analyzes arguments in an ongoing academic debate about COMPAS, and proposes alternative arguments based on the algorithm’s organizational context…”
Law Technology Today – “Everyone loves a good comeback story. We all know how it goes; a rising star with a promising future falls from grace only to fight their way back and become better than ever. From Hoosiers to Rocky, there’s nothing better than watching a hero rise from the ashes and reach their potential. Within law firms, this age-old story of redemption and reclaimed potential is playing out in an unexpected way—with legal intranets. Recently, legal intranets have been experiencing resurgence among legal teams. After a lull in popularity, law firm intranets have found new life as hubs for storing and sharing legal knowledge in law firms. But these aren’t your father’s intranets. They’re not even your old intranets…”
Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) – “To date, 37 states (including DC) have adopted the Medicaid expansion and 14 states have not adopted the expansion. Current status for each state is based on KFF tracking and analysis of state expansion activity. To view this data in a table format, click here. To download a Powerpoint slide of the expansion status map, click here.”
c/net – Exclusive: The cache included information on addresses, income levels and marital status. “In a blow to consumers’ privacy, the addresses and demographic details of more than 80 million US households were exposed on an unsecured database stored on the cloud, independent security researchers have found. The details included names, ages and genders as well as income levels and marital status. The researchers, led by Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, were unable to identify the owner of the database, which until Monday was online and required no password to access. Some of the information was coded, like gender, marital status and income level. Names, ages and addresses were not coded. The data didn’t include payment information or Social Security numbers. The 80 million households affected make up well over half of the households in the US, according to Statista. “I wouldn’t like my data to be exposed like this,” Rotem said in an interview with CNET. “It should not be there.” Rotem and his team verified the accuracy of some data in the cache but didn’t download the data to minimize the invasion of privacy of those listed, he said…”
ubergizmo (Windows and Mac versions): “It has become increasingly common to find images that have been “stolen” and reposted online without either paying for the licensing rights or attributing its creator. It seems highly unlikely that this is a problem that could ever truly go away. However, watermarking your images is one of the ways that you can actually use to combat the problem, and here’s how you can go about doing that. There are, of course, many ways to watermark your images, such as through image or photo editing programs. However, if you’d rather not spend money on a program just for watermarking purposes, the steps below will show you several free methods that might be worth checking out…”
“The New York Fed’s Educational Comic Book Series teaches students about basic economic principles and the Federal Reserve’s role in the financial system. Created for students at the middle school, high school, and introductory college levels, the series can help stimulate their curiosity and raise their awareness of careers in economics and finance. In addition, lesson plans created for each comic book meet national and state standards for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The New York Fed has published comic books since the 1950s and is reintroducing this popular series with a modern spin. While the comic books are intended for a student audience, they are also available to the public…”
“Discontent is tied to concerns about the economy, individual rights and out-of-touch elites. Anger at political elites, economic dissatisfaction and anxiety about rapid social changes have fueled political upheaval in regions around the world in recent years. Anti-establishment leaders, parties and movements have emerged on both the right and left of the political spectrum, in some cases challenging fundamental norms and institutions of liberal democracy. Organizations from Freedom House to the Economist Intelligence Unit to V-Dem have documented global declines in the health of democracy. As previous Pew Research Center surveys have illustrated, ideas at the core of liberal democracy remain popular among global publics, but commitment to democracy can nonetheless be weak. Multiple factors contribute to this lack of commitment, including perceptions about how well democracy is functioning. And as findings from a new Pew Research Center survey show, views about the performance of democratic systems are decidedly negative in many nations. Across 27 countries polled, a median of 51% are dissatisfied with how democracy is working in their country; just 45% are satisfied. Assessments of how well democracy is working vary considerably across nations. In Europe, for example, more than six-in-ten Swedes and Dutch are satisfied with the current state of democracy, while large majorities in Italy, Spain and Greece are dissatisfied…”
Federal Workforce: Key Talent Management Strategies for Agencies to Better Meet Their Missions. GAO-19-181: Published: Mar 28, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2019. Technology, demographics, and attitudes toward work are evolving in the private and public sectors. But federal government employment policies were designed generations ago. As a result, the government may struggle to compete for talented workers—which is one reason why federal human capital management is an issue on our High Risk list. We reported on talent management strategies, among other things. For example, agencies can attract and keep talented workers by:
- Offering work/life balance such as flexible scheduling
- Recruiting graduating students earlier in the school year
- Making work meaningful and offering development opportunities..”
Foreign Affiars – “For U.S. intelligence agencies, the twenty-first century began with a shock, when 19 al Qaeda operatives hijacked four planes and perpetrated the deadliest attack ever on U.S. soil. In the wake of the attack, the intelligence community mobilized with one overriding goal: preventing another 9/11. The CIA, the National Security Agency, and the 15 other components of the U.S. intelligence community restructured, reformed, and retooled. Congress appropriated billions of dollars to support the transformation. That effort paid off. In the nearly two decades that U.S. intelligence agencies have been focused on fighting terrorists, they have foiled numerous plots to attack the U.S. homeland, tracked down Osama bin Laden, helped eliminate the Islamic State’s caliphate, and found terrorists hiding everywhere from Afghan caves to Brussels apartment complexes. This has arguably been one of the most successful periods in the history of American intelligence.
But today, confronted with new threats that go well beyond terrorism, U.S. intelligence agencies face another moment of reckoning. From biotechnology and nanotechnology to quantum computing and artificial intelligence (AI), rapid technological change is giving U.S. adversaries new capabilities and eroding traditional U.S. intelligence advantages. The U.S. intelligence community must adapt to these shifts or risk failure as the nation’s first line of defense. Although U.S. intelligence agencies have taken initial steps in the right direction, they are not moving fast enough. In fact, the first intelligence breakdown of this new era has already come: the failure to quickly identify and fully grasp the magnitude of Russia’s use of social media to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. That breakdown should serve as a wake-up call. The trends it reflects warrant a wholesale reimagining of how the intelligence community operates. Getting there will require capitalizing on the United States’ unique strengths, making tough organizational changes, and rebuilding trust with U.S. technology companies…”
CRS via LC – Frequently Asked Questions about the Julian Assange Charges, April 22, 2019. “After spending nearly seven yearsin the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assangewas arrestedby British police, was convictedfor violating the terms of his bail in the U.K., and hadanindictmentagainst him unsealedin the United States—all in a single day. Despite the swiftness of therecentaction, the charges against Assange raise a host of complexquestionsthat are unlikely tobe resolvedin the near future. This Sidebar examines the international and domestic legal issues implicated in the criminal cases against Assange..”
“This report was written by the staff of the Partnership on AI (PAI) and many of our Partner organizations, with particularly extensive input from the members of PAI’s Fairness, Transparency, and Accountability Working Group. Our work on this topic was initially prompted by California’s Senate Bill 10 (S.B. 10), which would mandate the purchase and use of statistical and machine learning risk assessment tools for pretrial detention decisions, but our work has subsequently expanded to assess the use of such software across the United States.
This report documents the serious shortcomings of risk assessment tools in the U.S. criminal justice system, most particularly in the context of pretrial detentions, though many of our observations also apply to their uses for other purposes such as probation and sentencing. Several jurisdictions have already passed legislation mandating the use of these tools, despite numerous deeply concerning problems and limitations. Gathering the views of the artificial intelligence and machine learning research community, PAI has outlined ten largely unfulfilled requirements that jurisdictions should weigh heavily and address before further use of risk assessment tools in the criminal justice system. Using risk assessment tools to make fair decisions about human liberty would require solving deep ethical, technical, and statistical challenges, including ensuring that the tools are designed and built to mitigate bias at both the model and data layers, and that proper protocols are in place to promote transparency and accountability. The tools currently available and under consideration for widespread use suffer from several of these failures, as outlined within this document. We identified these shortcomings through consultations with our expert members, as well as reviewing the literature on risk assessment tools and publicly available resources regarding tools currently in use. Our research was limited in some cases by the fact that most tools do not provide sufficiently detailed information about their current usage to evaluate them on all of the requirements in this report. Jurisdictions and companies developing these tools should implement Requirement 8, which calls for greater transparency around the data and algorithms used, to address this issue for future research projects. That said, many of the concerns outlined in this report apply to any attempt to use existing criminal justice data to train statistical models or to create heuristics to make decisions about the liberty of individuals…”
“Airfare prices are volatile with a capital “V”. Did you know that the average economy fare changes a total of 61 times before a trip? So it stands to reason the number one question we get from customers is “When should I buy my airline ticket to get the best deal?” Luckily, we’ve got tons of data and a crack team of analysts to help you make that all-important travel decision – the best time to buy your airline ticket. The CheapAir.com 2019 Annual Airfare Study is based on an analysis of 917 million airfares in more than 8,000 markets. Following the recommendations could save you hundreds of dollars on your travel this year…”
Guidance about Planning for Natural Disaster Debris – “The Planning for Natural Disaster Debris (PDF)(150 pp, 6 MB, April 2019, EPA-F-19-003) guidance is an update to the version that EPA published in March 2008. It is designed to help all communities (including cities, counties, territories, tribes, etc.) create disaster debris management plans, which EPA strongly encourages. The Planning for Natural Disaster Debris guidance assists communities in planning for natural disaster debris before a disaster occurs, including hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, floods, wildfires and winter storms, by providing useful, relevant information that is intended to increase community preparedness and resiliency. Information is included on the following:
- Recommended components of a debris management plan,
- Suggested management options for various natural disaster debris streams,
- A collection of case studies that highlights how several communities prepared for and managed debris generated by recent natural disasters,
- Resources to consult in planning for natural disasters, and
- EPA’s recommended pre-incident planning process to help prepare communities for effective disaster debris management.
- Note: EPA integrated lessons learned from the 2017 hurricane seasons into this 2019 final guidance document…”