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Halloween is almost here–time to resurrect the ghosts of First Year Property Law past. . . with Stambovsky v. Ackley. This was my favorite case in law school, and I think about it every time I watch Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State. In a professional context, of course–don’t these people know what they are doing to their property values?! Who wants to disclose that their house was on a ghost reality show?

Stambovsky, as you may remember, attempted to rescind a housing sale contract on the grounds that the defendant seller failed to disclose to plaintiff buyer that the house was haunted. Because the seller publicized the “hauntings,” the house had a negative reputation in the community which affected the value of the home. Plaintiff, who did not live in the area, had no way to discover this reputation and the Court found an exception to the general rule of caveat emptor in real property contracts. It held that “as a matter of law, the house was haunted.” Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 AD 2d. 254, 256 (New York App. Div. Dept. 1 1991). The opinion is full of colorful language:

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Harvard Law School, Photograph of front facade, Austin HallTimes have changed.  The legal job market now tilts in favor of law firms, not law school graduates.  Newly minted JDs are competing with laid-off associates who have years of experience, and are already admitted to the bar.

Some law schools have opted to subsidize their unemployed new graduates by either paying them or law firms, so that their JDs can garner relevant work experience in their new profession.

Here is a look at four law schools that subsidize unemployed graduates looking for work: Continue reading →

46 years ago, Ronald Reagan delivered the above televised campaign address for the Goldwater presidential campaign. With the upcoming election just one week away, a time for choosing is again upon us. If you are voting by absentee ballot, be sure to mail your ballot sufficiently in advance with the correct postage.

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Recently, I had the chance to look through the online videos available at FedFlix. For those of you unfamiliar with FedFlix, it’s a joint venture between the folks at Public.Resource.Org and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), a bureau within the Department of Commerce. Pursuant to their agreement, NTIS and other agencies, such as the National Archives, send public domain videotapes to Public.Resource.Org, which in turns digitizes the videos and uploads them to the Internet Archive, YouTube , and the Public.Resource.Org public domain stock footage video library. Public.Resource.Org then sends the videotapes back to the government along with a disc of the digitized video. At this point, the collection includes more than 1,500 videos from over 100 federal and state agencies and covers a wide-range of topics. For purposes of this post, I thought it might be interesting to browse through the available videos related to law, in particular the offerings from the Department of Justice, the Federal Judicial Center and the National Archives. What follows are just a few of the highlights from my search – check out more for yourself when you have time!

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Sometimes people mistake Justia’s mission, “To advance the availability of legal resources for the benefit of society,” as being only about advancing the availability of legal resources for lawyers, but society is much larger then the legal community. This week’s App of the week is free for the iPhone and iPad from our friends at Nolo, and it’s geared at making the often confusing landscape of legal terms easier to understand for everyone.

I am not a lawyer myself, nor have I gone to law school.  I came to Justia as a programmer.  While I have learned much about the law since I started working here in 2006, I still find myself constantly coming up against legal terms that I don’t know.  There are a few places I turn to find out what those words and phrases mean discreetly so when the lawyers in my midst say them I can pretend I knew what it was all along, and one of the best sources I’ve found is Nolo’s Plain English Legal Dictionary available for free at

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On this day in 1966, the Supremes became the first all-female music group to attain a No. 1 selling album: The Supremes A’ Go-Go.

This little piece of trivia made us think of the “Supremes” of the legal world: the Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States. This term, for the first time ever, female justices compose one-third of the bench, and have the potential to contribute significantly to the Court’s jurisprudence. Many reporters have already speculated on how these female justices may shift the direction of the court and affect certain decisions.

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OnGuard Online, a website by the Federal Trade Commission, urges people to exercise discretion when using social networking sites. While their advice is targeted towards parents of young children, it applies equally to people of all ages.

In general, the FTC cautions people to only post information to social networking sites that they are comfortable with others seeing. While the FTC recommends the use of privacy settings to restrict access to your social networking profile, we would add that once you send an e-mail or post a message or photo on your social networking page, this information can easily be viewed by or forwarded to persons outside of your intended network, regardless of your privacy settings.

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'The Fastcase App for your iPad

Do you like free, quick access to case law and codes? Of course you do. What’s not to like?

With an iPad or iPhone, you can download the free Fastcase app to research state and federal court opinions, as well as find state and federal codes.

That’s right, it costs you and your firm nothing. Nada. Rien. Zilch. You pay nothing to get it, and nothing to use it. No other legal app out there gives lawyers and legal professionals this much portable legal research, convenience, and speed for virtually nothing.

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Part of our work here at Justia is the promotion of  “free law,” through which we’ve had the opportunity to engage in projects and partnerships that support free online access to primary and secondary source legal materials for legal practitioners and lay people alike.  In that regard, we were excited to participate in the many work shops put together by Carl Malamud at held all over the United States earlier in the year.  We have also been introduced to some cool librarians who are increasing open access to legal scholarship by creating and promoting The Durham Statement which, “calls for all law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats.”

This week, Duke University will host a one-day work shop co-sponsored by the J. Michael Goodson Law Library at Duke Law School, the Center for the Study of the Public Domain and Harvard Law Library titled  Implementing the Durham Statement:  Best Practices for Open Access Law Journals. The work shop, primarily aimed at student law review editors, law librarians, law review advisers, and publishers (but also for anyone interested in open access and legal publishing) will cover issues and best practices for law journals to consider as they migrate to electronic publishing.  While registration for the conference is now closed, we encourage you to watch the free live web cast of the proceedings on Friday, October 22nd.  You can also post comments or questions remotely, some of which moderators will share with the participants.  For those of you unable to catch the live web cast, the proceedings will also be archived and posted online.

Additional Resources on Open Access & The Durham Statement

Yesterday, we discussed some of the evidence presented at trial in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America et al., a case heard in the United States District Court Central District of California by Judge Virginia A. Phillips. Today, we continue with the court’s analysis and conclusion.

Analysis of Evidence and Findings of Fact

Based on the evidence presented, the Court found the following negative impacts from DADT:

Discharge of qualified servicemembers despite troop shortages

From 1993-2009, the Government discharged 7,856 servicemembers under the Act. Troop shortages in the midst of two wars are a pressing issue for the Armed Forces.
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