University of Louisville Law Faculty Blog

Great explanation of why downloading music doesn't seem as bad as stealing a car.


A student in my IP Survey class sent me a link to a youtube clip by Mindy Kaling (who played Kelly from The Office) giving a great explanation of why downloading music without paying doesn't seem as bad as stealing a car. She gets why comparing downloading music to theft of physical goods doesn't really work. Enjoy.

Biophilic Cities Guest Blog on Resilient Cities and Adaptive Law (Part 1)


I am guest blogging on resilient cities and adaptive law over on the Biophilic Cities blog. 
This is the first of four parts based on recent work on adaptive law concepts by environmental scientist Lance Gunderson and me, and how these concepts might apply to the social-ecological resilience of cities.  The link is here:


Computers for Girls


During the first two weeks of August 2013, I'll be volunteering with the World Computer Exchange (WCE) as part of their eCorps Liberia technology training team travelling to Monrovia. I and other members of this team will assist with education and technology training of teachers and school staff at their partner organizations. This particular project is part of the Computers for Girls initiative, which seeks to provide better opportunities for women and girls in developing nations by using technology to remove the barriers to education and advancement.

I received a small grant which covers a portion of my flight and administrative fees. I’m seeking donors to help cover the additional costs. Donations are tax-deductible. Each sponsor who provides me with a mailing address will receive a handwritten postcard from Liberia. When I return, I plan to post a report and photos from the trip on my faculty blog.

If you’d like to contribute to this project, please choose one of the following methods:

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about this project.  Any and all donations, no matter how small, are greatly appreciated! I’m extremely grateful to my parents, friends, employer and colleagues for their encouragement.

Online Activity in the Workplace

I was thrilled to participate on the panel "Online Activity in the Workplace" at Fordham University School of Law on March 19, 2013.  C-SPAN recorded, and the video is available here.

2013 Kentucky Legislative Update


This past Tuesday, I attended the Greater Louisville Sierra Club's annual legislative update, presented by Tom Fitzgerald, Director of the Kentucky Resources Council (KRC) and an adjunct professor at the law school.

The Kentucky legislature convened for its regular session on January 8 and will adjourn on March 30. Since there are no major elections this year, the process is expected to move along quickly. Tom provided a list of legislation that the KRC is monitoring. They pertain to power production, sustainability, timber, telecommunications and more. His favorite is SB 145 proposed by Bob Leeper, the legislature's only Independant Senator, which would amend Kentucky's Constitution to repeal annual sessions.

The following may be of particular interest to environmentalists and social justice advocates:

SB 29: relating to surface mining, written by Tom Fitzgerald for the Kentucky Resources Council.

SB 46: relating to biomass. Passed on February 21.

SB 50: relating to industrial hemp and HR 33: relating to industrial hemp and making an appropriation therefor. It has bipartisan support, but is opposed by law enforcement. Fitzgerald pointed out that all the bill serves to do is set up a framework for regulation, but that it's essentially useless because hemp production is still federally prohibited.

SB 53: relating to nature preserves and Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead specifically, KY's only urban nature preserve.

SB 80: relating to the prohibition against implementing the United Nations Agenda 21, a non-binding action plan pertaining to sustainable development. Tea Party activists assert that it will deprive Kentucky of its autonomy.

SB 88: relating to telecommunication. Supported by AT&T and two dozen lobbyists. Opposed by the AARP and the KRC because it would impose a hardship for impoverished and rural areas. To follow the "Phone Deregulation Debate", visit KET.

SB 134: relating to sand and gravel operations.

SB 190: relating to water quality. Would require more transparency from the Energy and Environment cabinet. There was a public hearing for input on the Floyds Fork watershed on February 19.

SJR 118: directs the Department for Environmental Protection to establish a water quality advisory group. Fitzgerald objects to the fact that the group is comprised soley of industry representatives and no environmental experts.

HB 53: relating to consumer protection. Essentially, it would re-regulate AT&T, but it's unlikely to pass.

HB 110: relating to utility rate adjustment for fuel costs. Might reduce coal dependency, but would increase fracking because natural gas production is becoming cheaper. Because of the high clay content, nitrogen fracking is preferred to hydrofracking in Kentucky.

HB 111: relating to the economic and environmental sustainability of forest lands. Would allow family forest land owners to receive Forest Stewardship Council designation. Passed in the House on February 21.

HB 126: relating to the Petroleum Tank Environmental Assurance Fund. Fitzgerald supports its reauthorization, which would extend the period for gas tank removals and other contamination site cleanups. Passed in the House on February 21.

HB 165: relating to rock quarries. It was criticized in an op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader on February 3, "Breaking the rules with few consequences; Unauthorized quarrying in rural zone."

HB 170: relating to energy. Would require Kentucky's power producers to use increasing amounts of renewable energy. A hearing has been scheduled in the Tourism Development & Energy committee on February 28.

HB 348: relating to the reclamation of oil and gas well sites and making an appropriation therefor by establishing the oil and gas well reclamation fund.

HB 363: relating to fuel use for electric generation. Attempts to prevent utilities from using natural gas for base load power, which is more efficient and less polluting.

HJR 41: directs the Department of Housing, Building and Construction to form a Task Force to conduct a study of the energy consumption in manufactured housing in Kentucky. The reading was adopted on February 21.

HCR 42: would establish a Timber Theft and Trespass Reduction Task Force to study issues regarding timber theft and trespass.

HR 78: urges LG&E to consider alternative coal ash storage and to preserve the Wentworth Limestone Cave in Trimble County, which may have been part of the Underground Railroad.

Other items that I found interesting include a couple of amendments to exsisting legislation that would provide gender-neutral language; penalties for animal abusers (HB 374); HB 7 that authorizes a bond for the expansion of UofL's Student Activities Center, which has already been signed into law; SB 91 & HB 70 an amendment that would restore voting rights to some felons; several bills relating to alcoholic beverages including HB 310 that seeks to permanently prohibit grocery stores from selling wine and spirits and HB 440 that would allow microbreweries to sell malt beverages on their premises. There are also a few pieces of legislation that relate to attorneys, the Attorney General, and Commonwealth Attorneys.

Tom Fitzgerald implored the crowd to action by stating, "It's never been easier to get involved," then provided the following tips.

How to Take Action

First Year Property Takes Environmental Justice Tour


Russ Barnett, Director of the Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development and professor with the University of Louisville Department of Urban and Public Affairs treated Professor Tracey Roberts's first year property class and Professor Jamie Abrams' Torts class to an Environmental Justice Tour of Louisville Saturday, February 17th. The tour included a visit to Bourbon Stockyards, Beargrass Creek, the levees in Butchertown, the historic Trolley Barn site (currently the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage), Rubbertown, the Cane Run Power Station, and the Lee's Lane Superfund Site.








Relax! You'll Be More Productive


Relax! You'll be more productive

More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.



Scholastica vs ExpressO


In today’s episode of Law School Tech Talk, they discussed Scholastica, a multidisciplinary open access journal submission tool.  Scholastica claims to be gaining popularity among law reviews as an alternative to bepress’s ExpressO, which our law school uses. The list of publications currently available includes 54 journals, yet the panelists stated that the Iowa Law Review is the only one they know of that is using Scholastica exclusively at this time. Most law reviews still use ExpressO and some are using both.

Most of the discussion about Scholastica is presented from three perspectives: publishers & editors, faculty, and students.  Some concerns that have been addressed are escalating costs due to faculty blasting mass submissions to a large number of journals. A caveat to this is that because it's so easy to point, click, and submit, editors are over inundated with submissions and are using automation tools to deselect submissions based on certain criteria, such as one’s history of publication. Scholastica argues that it's going to provide more tech support and enhancements and some welcome the competition. One example is the ability of the author to submit their articles with anonymity. Other issues include concerns about authority. One panelist pointed out that career impacting publishing decisions are being made by law students who are not yet professional scholars. One tip for faculty is to better target your submissions and to make a better argument for your article and its placement in a particular journal. These issues are likely to be addressed at the next National Conference of Law Reviews in March.

A post at Law Prof Blog on February 5 notes that Professors Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit have revised their article, “Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals,” which includes charts about law school journal submissions.

Review of A Hidden Madness

My book A Hidden Madness has just been reviewed by June Maffin, an independent reviewer from Vancouver Island in British Columbia in Canada and posted on the site at .  It is generally accurate (other than having me teach at U.Va. Law School).The full text of the review is as follows:

Over three hundred brightly costumed Disneyland audio animatronic children of the world sing “It’s a small world after all.”  As I read A Hidden Madness, I couldn’t get the Disney music or lyrics out of my head.   “It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears; it’s a world of hopes, it’s a world of fears. There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all.”

It *is* a small world and sadly, it’s one where many who suffer from mental illness become victimized by stigma, keeping their illness a secret to save themselves from painful rejection and ridicule. Faced with living with the frustration of chronic illness, the mentally ill are also faced with discrimination and the knowledge that most people cannot understand the path they walk.

University of Virginia law professor James J.R. Jones knows this path only too well.  Despite suffering for over thirty years from bipolar disorder; despite hiding his illness for decades from co-workers; despite a childhood replete with bullying; and despite five hospitalizations in psychiatric facilities, the author finally realized that hiding his reality of bipolar disease, was killing him.  He experienced the hell of mental illness that can take its toll in a variety of painful ways: an inability to get along with people, dependence on others; powerlessness to deal realistically with real-world issues; inability to handle criticism appropriately; continually dwelling over problems (perceived and/or real); and a physiological reaction to life’s stressors.  Jones has experienced all of these and yet somehow, he had the determination and tenacity to believe in a better tomorrow for himself and for all who suffer from mental illness. In 2009, he began to let others know and two years later, he published A Hidden Madness.

While the neediness of the author (to be liked by others, to be validated, affirmed, encouraged) is a window into mental illness that may be uncomfortable for some readers, the author’s open and frank self-reflection and his desire to write a book that will be of help to others suffering from mental illness overrides any personal concern the reader may have along those lines.  However, because  A Hidden Madness is a book of humanity and hope for those who suffer from mental illness, those who love, are friends with, or professionally care for the mentally ill, this reviewer wishes that the author had included a sub-title to at least allude to the hope available to those who suffer from mental illness.

This hope emerges in the story that the author weaves about his personal life and continues throughout the book, gently reminding readers about the importance of appropriate use of medication and therapy; of having loving family and supportive friends; of being attentive to coping mechanisms; and of having a personality that defies surrender to doom-and-gloom medical diagnoses, but instead rises and marches to the drum that refuses to let disease control one’s life. 

The author has been blessed with such a personality trait.  He has been blessed with a solid education that give him the ability to write. And, he has been blessed with a calling to talk about - not keep silent any more - about his ongoing journey with mental illness.  For the countless millions whose lives have been affected in some way by mental illness, the response to the publication of this book is “Thank you.”