Legalizing Othering – the United States of Islamophobia

Legalizing Othering – the United States of Islamophobia

The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society has published a Research Report (September 2017) about the rise of the “anti-Sharia law” movement since events of 9/11.  The report and online database aim to unmask the multiplicities of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam movements that have propelled the adoption of federal measures (2002 to present) and capitalized on electoral politics and state legislatures (2010 – 2016) to disproportionately legalize the “othering” of Muslims across the United States.

The title is available in the Alameda County Law Library collection  –

BP52/ .L44 / 2017

Legalizing othering : the United States of Islamophobia / by Elsadig Elsheikh, Basima Sisemore and Natalia Ramirez Lee.

Berkeley, CA : Haas Institute, 2017 Research Report September 2017.


Litigation In Practice By Curtis E. A. Karnow

Currently on the Alameda County Law Library’s New Materials cart is the title ~ Litigation in Practice by Curtis E. A. Karnow (KF 277.P7 K37 2017)

In his new book, the author, a judge of the San Francisco Superior Court, discusses the theoretical – managing complex litigation, as well as, the practical – how to behave in the courtroom.  Judge Karnow’s voice of courtroom experience is well worth a read for anyone, lawyer or pro per.

His courtrooms dos and don’ts will be especially helpful for the litigation novice.  He provides advice on topics not touched upon by California procedural practice guides.  Attorneys can confident in Judge Karnow’s in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of California litigation.  He is a co-author of the authoritative Rutter Guide Civil Procedure Before Trial.

Some snippets of wisdom from Judge Karnow follow.  County law library reference librarians can easily concur with the simple truth of his recommendations.  Many patrons come to the Reference Desk seeking resources to help them challenge a court ruling that could have easily been avoided by attending to standards of courtroom behavior.  (“I was only 15 minutes late because of [traffic, parking, long security lines] but the judge ruled against me anyway.”)


Be very nice to them… staff report everything to the judge.”


Don’t interrupt the judge.  The judge can interrupt you.”

“‘Judge’ is informal.  In the courtroom use ‘Your Honor.'”

Honor the office otherwise we can’t have fair and efficient trials.”


Here is the basic rule: technology is great if lawyers know what they are doing and a distraction and waste of time if they don’t.”

Bring in everything you need.  Assume the courtroom is bare.”  California court budgets are being stretched thin these days.

“Set aside time to meet with the courtroom clerk to discuss setting up equipment.”

(On highly designed charts and graphs for use in courtroom.) “Jurors may be colorblind.”  And remember citizens who are blind are also part of the jury pool.


On time means getting to court early.  A nine o’clock appearance requires your attendance at 8:55, not later.


“…let go the Sin of Excess to concentrate on the One (or perhaps Few) Important Things.”


Book Review – Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes by Sheldon Novick

Review of Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, by Sheldon Novick by Eric Yap, Alameda County Law Library

Holmes - Book Jacket
Photo by Eric. Yap

We have all heard that the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause does not protect a person from “falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”   And though we may not be happy about the amount government takes out of our paychecks, “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”  These and other sayings that originate with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. have seeped into the daily discourse of lawyers and non-lawyers alike.   Who was Holmes and why has his influence persisted to this day?

Holmes was born into a Boston Brahmin family in 1841, and he was a son of the physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.  Originally, he made his mark as a scholar, publishing his writings into a celebrated volume “The Common Law” while a faculty member at Harvard.  Next he moved on to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, serving as a Justice and later Chief Justice on that court.  However, Holmes is best known for serving on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932.  His long tenure on the high court cemented his reputation as an intellectual giant:  Holmes’ judicial opinions and scholarly writings influenced generations that followed.

ACLL recently acquired a copy of Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sheldon Novick’s biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.  Novick’s detailed account portrays Holmes’ life in a straightforward manner without providing a grand psychological narrative as commonly seen in other biographies.  Holmes’ life would have been ripe for such psycho-analysis given the stature of his father and their lifelong tension.  Moreover, his early years coincided with the Civil War; Holmes was wounded on the battlefield on three separate occasions, the most severe being at Antietam where he was shot in the neck.  Novick suggests that Holmes felt he was sent by his parents to be sacrificed in the war effort, and that this shaped his outlook on life.  While this seems a bit speculative on Novick’s part, echoes of the theme of sacrifice can be heard in the infamous Virginia forced-sterilization case, Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927).  Holmes, writing for the majority to uphold the law, states that “the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives” before chillingly concluding that “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Holmes - with Hiss
Holmes with legal secretary Alger Hiss at Beverly Farms in the summer of 1930 Image from the book, Honorable Justice. E. Yap

For the most part, Novick’s approach serves his subject well.  In the later sections of the book, after Holmes has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, the man is allowed to speak for himself through his judicial opinions.   His reputation for being a model of judicial restraint is well documented in Honorable Justice.   Holmes was known for writing pithy, quotable opinions, especially in dissent and Novick is happy to provide ample examples.  The earlier sections are more uneven, and it is interesting to see what the author chooses to emphasize.  Novick alludes to an intimate relationship between Henry James and Holmes, a topic he would later expound on in his biography of James.  The reader also learns a lot about Lady Castleton, an Irish aristocrat the married Holmes openly courted on his visits to Europe, but little about Holmes’ two decades on the highest court of Massachusetts.

In Honorable Justice, we are provided many minute details of Holmes’ life but connecting the dots is left up to the reader.   Still, one could do worse than to give this book a read.  After all, as a wise judge once wrote, a page of history is worth a volume of logic.

The ACLL call number for Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, by Sheldon Novick is KF/8745/.H6/N69.  It is currently housed on the New Titles cart at the Oakland location.

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Fee Agreement Forms Manual – Reference Review

Fee Agreement Forms Manual – A Review

By C. X. Berber

A new (to me) legal, ready-reference resource: Fee Agreement Forms Manual (KFC/77.5/ F43/ P52/2007 — Reference), is published by the Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB).  Although this resource is in the midst of the ready-reference section and I’ve probably laid eyes on it every day I’ve worked here, when the page updates came in I realized I wasn’t familiar with it. I took the time to find out what exactly this book would be used for.

fee_forms_agreement_imageThis is a manual of forms with sample contracts for client-lawyer agreements, for use by lawyers. These forms can be used as-is, or as a template for creating one’s own form. Subjects covered are Business, Civil, Bankruptcy, Criminal Debt Collection, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Limited Scope Representation, Marital Dissolution, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Probate, Unlawful Detainer, and Wrongful Termination.
At the end is a chapter of letters for non-engagement, and completion of representation. The final chapter, “Statutes and Rules”, has the text for pertinent sections of the California Business and Professions Code and Rules of Professional Conduct discussed in Chapter 1. The Tables of Statutes, Regulations and Rules contains all the codes used in the manual listed under code titles, and refers the user to the pertinent section of the manual. The volume is indexed.

ONLAW_icon-80The format is in 8-1/2” x 11” size binder for easy copying. It is also available online, through our OnLAW subscription database. As this is a reference item, it can only be used in the library. There are copy machines available in the library for your convenience.

The forms manual is current, and the loose-leaf filing is up-to-date. This manual is cited as 2d ed Cal CEB.

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Advocating for Veterans: New Book

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Advocating  for Veterans: The Basics on VA Benefits, Discharge Upgrades and Veteran Cultural Competency 2013/

Theresa Mesa and Teresa Panepinto, cochairmen New York : Practising Law Institute, c2013

 KF7709 A38 2013 New Books Cart *DONATION


PLI Course Handbooks are excellent resources. If you have used them, you know that the Course Handbooks consist of reprints of speakers’ presentation materials. My only quibble with this one is the quality of copies of forms and other sections which are very faint. But in general this is an excellent guide to Veterans benefits.

The presenters are from Swords to Plowshares, the Veteran Justice Center at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and The Office of Legal Services, The State Bar of California.

The Course Handbook includes:

  • Benefits for disabled veterans

o   Explanation, forms, sample documents and briefs

o   Self-help materials

o   Agent Orange

o   PTSD

o   VA overpayments

  • Military discharge

o   Upgrade and review

o   Forms, briefs, and procedure including codes and rules

  • Advocating for Veterans

o   Understanding Veterans’ military culture

  • Combat experience
  • Duties
  • Training
  • Injuries and trauma

o   Understanding Veterans’ cultural competencies

  • Segueing to community
  • Conflicts with military culture may lead to
  • Physical and mental illness
  • Domestic violence
  • Other criminal behavior


*This book was donated to the Law Library by an attorney who attended the PLI Program. If you have materials from PLI, West or other programs which you no longer need, please consider a donation to the Law Library.

California Basic Practice Handbook: A Crash Course in Practicing Law in California

california basic practiceIn this tough economy, many recent law school graduates are unable to secure employment at an established law firm in the Bay Area. With significant debt and few prospects, some will decide to go into practice for themselves. Unfortunately, law schools emphasize theory over practical skills, and new lawyers typically possess limited knowledge of California law or procedure. These would-be solo attorneys are equally unfamiliar with the business aspects of opening and running a law firm.

Published by Continuing Education of the Bar, California Basic Practice Handbook attempts to address the needs of these new solo practitioners. Chapter 1 concentrates on establishing and managing a law practice, offering advice on entity selection, accounting practices, purchasing insurance, and marketing. The next three chapters provide an overview of California civil procedure, discussing the mechanics of drafting, filing and serving pleadings, creating a discovery plan, and law and motion practice.

Subsequent chapters offer an introduction to consumer-oriented practice areas that tend to be dominated by solo practitioners, such as criminal defense, personal injury, consumer bankruptcies, landlord-tenant, small estate administration, and uncontested family law matters. Each chapter includes an overview of important terminology, governing laws and procedures, available remedies, and issues that frequently arise during representation. The text extensively cross-references other CEB practice guides, directing readers to suitable resources for more in-depth research.

Offering a crash course in the fundamentals of California law, California Basic Practice Handbook is an essential reference for new attorneys. Likewise, it is an excellent primer for established attorneys seeking to transition into a new practice area.

California Basic Practice Handbook is available at the Main Library in Oakland for in-library use only.