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36 U.S. Code § 116 requests that the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying for permanent peace. Here are some photos and videos of how various Presidents and the people of the United States have observed Memorial Day / Decoration Day over the ages.

Memorial Day 2010: President Barack Obama laying a wreath at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

Credit: Pete Souza.

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Who doesn’t like puppies? They are cute, adorable, and have a way of helping folks part with hard-earned cash in their wallets. Thankfully, more states are enacting stricter laws to regulate commercial puppy mills that breed dogs for profit, but often raise and house them in deplorable conditions.

Federal laws like the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. § 2131, et seq.) regulate some aspects of commercial dog and cat breeding, but they don’t go far enough.
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Last week, Justia had the distinct pleasure of helping the Massachusetts Bar Association celebrate its centennial year during the Bar’s two-day annual meeting in Boston.  A variety of events took place to highlight the Bar’s century of commitment to public service and the legal profession.  I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Centennial Ball, which included a keynote speech by US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

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Justia CubaThe Justia Latinoamerica project seeks to provide legal research tools for persons interested in laws and legal issues throughout Latin America. Today, I want to share with you Justia Cuba, our website that compiles most of Cuba’s legal resources. This project posed some unique challenges in that some of the material was hard to find, Cuban web servers were frequently down, and access to these servers were further constrained by the limited bandwidth connecting Cuba to the outside world.

Justia Cuba Legislation Resources

From the Justia Cuba homepage, you can easily access most Cuban legislation. The constitution, laws, resolutions and many more legal documents are available for browsing, as well as statistical information and useful links on all of Cuba’s provinces, which are the country’s equivalent of state divisions.

We also have a compilation of law schools and attorney bureaus in Cuba.

The Administrative Office of the US Courts issued a press release last week announcing that a “New Pilot Project Will Enhance Public Access to Federal Court Opinions.” According to the statement, select federal appellate and district courts will make their published opinions available on FDSys, as “FDSys can provide the public with a robust search engine that can search common threads across opinions and courts.” FDSys is run by the Government Printing Office (GPO), which issued a similar statement.

Let me start by saying I think this is a good thing. PACER has a lot of limitations, and moving opinions into a better search engine that is free to use and search is quite helpful. I like the idea of putting the bulk of government legal material (cases, codes, memos, etc.) into one database. It helps that the database will have the imprimatur of government on it, which will quiet the concerns about authentication that always pop up in these discussions.

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Last Sunday, our nation celebrated Mother’s Day, a national holiday that recognizes the love, guidance and service that all mothers have devoted to our families and communities. However, May is about more than just mothers, as far as Washington, D.C. is concerned.

Free Comic Book Day

H. Res. 250 called on the House of Representatives to congratulate and commend Free Comic Book Day. Seriously, if you tell mom that you are reading comic books to develop literacy and a life-long love of reading, as the bill suggests, mom will not be fooled. Calling comics a wonderful educational tool that teaches narration, dialogue, and visual design is indeed a form of creative writing.

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Last month, I mentioned that Justia friend Mary Minow had testified before the California State Senate on Senate Bill (“SB”) 445, which proposes enhanced privacy protections for public library patrons. In yet more news concerning California reader privacy, the State Senate on Monday approved SB 602, the California Reader Privacy Act. This bill will protect consumers against unwarranted searches of records related to book purchases. While you can probably already guess that the bill covers works in both paper and digital format, of note is how “book” is defined in the bill. As Sonya Ziaja notes in her post linked below, “Under this [new] definition, news articles, blogs, magazines, and potentially some websites could all be considered “books.” This would mean that “book providers” could include LexisNexis, Google Reader, Amazon and your local bookstore.”

SB 602 now heads to the California Assembly for consideration.

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From the Sunshine State comes news that the Florida Senate has abandoned a contentious proposal to split the Supreme Court of Florida into two divisions: civil and criminal.  Under the proposal, Governor Rick Scott (a Republican) would have been able to appoint three new Justices to a newly created civil division of the Supreme Court while three sitting Justices appointed by Democratic governors would have moved over to the second division to handle criminal matters. Claims have been made that the proposal was simply a partisan attempt by Florida Republicans to pack the court with like-minded appointees. In other words, let’s just file this one under one person’s “judicial activist” is another’s “reasoned jurist.”

In reading up on the proposed split, I learned that it is part of a larger package of proposed changes coming out of the Legislature to overhaul the Florida Judiciary which will go before voters next year.  Among other items, the bill permits the Legislature to repeal judicial procedural rules of the Florida Supreme Court.  The bill also provides the Judiciary with full financing and, in light of a current $78 million dollar budget shortfall, would certainly offer some needed financial relief. Many Democrats, lawyers and judges though find it hard not to see this as simply a cynical move by Republicans of offering financial security in exchange for subverting the independence of the judiciary.

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It’s that time, dear Justia readers, when we review some monthly lists. Here’s the scoop on April’s highest scoring lawyers on Justia Answers, along with a look at which Onward blog and Facebook posts readers viewed the most.

Justia’s Top 10 Legal Answerers for April 2011

  1. Kenneth Mitchell Kaplan, 3,225 points, 100 answers