Friday, June 29, 2012

U.S. Flag Laws

As we approach the July 4th holiday, I thought it might be interesting to have a short article about the U.S. flag. As a symbol of our country, the design of the U.S. flag has changed throughout history.

Flag usage and design is outlined in the U.S.C., Title 4, section 1-10. The American Legion has an extensive Flag Display FAQ that covers the following issues of proper flag ettiquete:

1) Can a flag that has covered a casket be displayed after its original use?
2) What is the significance of displaying the flag at half-staff?
3) When the flag is not flown from a staff, how should it be displayed?
4) How are unserviceable flags destroyed?
5) Can the flag be washed or dry cleaned?
6) Are you required to destroy the flag if it touches the ground?
7)  What is the proper method for folding the flag?
8) May a person, other than a veteran, have his or her casket draped with the flag of the United States?
9) What is the significance of the gold trim seen on some U.S. flags?
10) Is it proper to fly the U.S. flag at night? 

More details on these topics can also be found in the 2008 Congressional Research Service Report: The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions. 

Flag Related Cases From the Oyez Supreme Court website:

Minersville School District,  310 U.S. 586 (1940) - Did the mandatory flag salute infringe upon liberties protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?
In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court declined to make itself "the school board for the country" and upheld the mandatory flag salute. The Court held that the state's interest in "national cohesion" was "inferior to none in the hierarchy of legal values" and that national unity was "the basis of national security." The flag, the Court found, was an important symbol of national unity and could be a part of legislative initiatives designed "to promote in the minds of children who attend the common schools an attachment to the institutions of their country."

West Virginia Board of Education, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) - Did the compulsory flag-salute for public schoolchildren violate the First Amendment?
In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court overruled its decision in Minersville School District v. Gobitis and held that compelling public schoolchildren to salute the flag was unconstitutional. The Court found that such a salute was a form of utterance and was a means of communicating ideas. "Compulsory unification of opinion," the Court held, was doomed to failure and was antithetical to First Amendment values. Writing for the majority, Justice Jackson argued that "[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

Texas v. Johnson491 U.S. 397 (1989) - Is the desecration of an American flag, by burning or otherwise, a form of speech that is protected under the First Amendment?
In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that Johnson's burning of a flag was protected expression under the First Amendment. The Court found that Johnson's actions fell into the category of expressive conduct and had a distinctively political nature. The fact that an audience takes offense to certain ideas or expression, the Court found, does not justify prohibitions of speech. The Court also held that state officials did not have the authority to designate symbols to be used to communicate only limited sets of messages, noting that "[i]f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."

United States v. Eichman,  496 U.S. 310 (1990) - Did the Act (Flag Protection Act) violate freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment? 
In a 5-to-4 decision, coming on the heels of a similar holding in Texas v. Johnson (1989), the Court struck down the law because "its asserted interest is related to the suppression of free expression and concerned with the content of such expression." Allowing the flag to be burned in a disposal ceremony but prohibiting protestors from setting it ablaze at a political protest made that clear, argued Justice Brennan in one of his final opinions.

Please note that the Law Library be closed on July 4th, 2012 since it is considered a University holiday.

Written by Patty Wellinger, Reference Services Coordinator

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Library Closed on July 4, 2012

The Westminster Law Library will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, 2012 which is a University holiday. Regular hours will resume the next day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

New CO Statutes Website

LexisNexis is the official publisher of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.). As part of their contract with the state of Colorado, they are required to provide a free, online source to the C.R.S. for the public. LexisNexis recently released a new version of their free website. The new site requires that the searcher click on "I agree" to their terms and conditions before continuing on to the database. It states This website is maintained by LexisNexis®, the publisher of the Colorado Revised Statutes, to provide free public access to the law. It is not intended to replace professional legal consultation or advanced legal research tools. To report errors regarding this website, please complete the Feedback Form.

The new site still includes the Colorado Statutes, Colorado Court Rules and the state and federal constitutions. There is a new feature called "Colorado Advanced Legislative Service" that looks through Colorado Session laws from StateNet, which is another LexisNexis company.

There is an advanced search template that includes terms & connectors, natural language, the Easy Search template and segment searching options. An extensive Help feature and tutorial are also included.  These options make the advanced search template look very similar to the LexisNexis Academic database format that we subscribe to for University (non-law) students.

Written by Patty Wellinger, Reference Services Coordinator

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Are you in a course in which the Professor enjoys discussion of current happenings in law? Do you want to find an easy, authoritative way to keep up to day on what’s happening in the legal world? Or, maybe you’re looking for a topic for a paper and want to look at current topics to find inspiration – and information! 

The Law Library’s homepage contains a link to Jurist’s Paper Chase, the University of Pittsburgh’s blog for current domestic, foreign, and international law. This source is constantly updated with the “headline” legal news from around the world, so with a simple click, you can review the headlines, and, with another click, have access to an excellent summary of the issue. Even better, from a research point of view, each article contains links to any primary documents, press releases, or prior posts related to the story. 

A favorite paper topic for the last several years has been “piracy.” Students who start with Jurist posts (use the simple search box in the upper right hand corner) get a quick look at all the latest laws and cases dealing with piracy, and can then use that information to begin an outline of the topic and formulate a research strategy.

Written by Joan Policastri, Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian

Monday, June 18, 2012

Continuing Legal Education Opportunities

All attorneys licensed in Colorado are required to complete Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits unless they are listed as inactive status. The Board of Continuing Legal and Judicial Education  provides complete details of the requirements to fulfill RULE 260 OF THE COLORADO RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE (CRCP)

The Rule states that: Continuing legal education (CLE) credits are earned by taking part in certain organized legal educational activities. To receive credit for the activity, its primary focus must be the increase of professional competence of registered attorneys and judges, and it must deal with subject matter directly related to the practice of law or the performance of judicial duties.

Attorneys must complete 45 general credits every three years. Seven of these credits must be in legal ethics. These credits may be completed in a variety of ways including: 
  • graduate legal studies
  • pro bono / mentoring activities  
  • teaching
  • published research
  • committee research
  • self-administered study
New attorneys get three years in addition to the year that they pass the bar examination to complete their 45 CLE credits. They are also required to take the Practicing With Professionalism course, sponsored by the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation and the Colorado Bar Association prior to being sworn in as an attorney. The course is worth 6 CLE credits. 

Need some CLE credits? CLE in Colorado is a popular source of seminars, books & home-study CLE offerings throughout the state. Another online CLE provider is the West LegalEdCenter . The University of Denver Sturm College of Law also offers in-person CLE presentations through the Alumni office  and Graduate Tax departments, as well as conferences and symposiums held at the SCOL. The Privacy Foundation, run by Professor John Soma, offers low cost CLE programs several times per year to area attorneys.  

Written by Patty Wellinger, Reference Services Coordinator

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Research Guide – Sustainable Development and International Law

The latest addition to the Foreign and International Law Research Guides, Sustainable Development and International Law is based on the resources used in the Sustainable Development Series which is taught at the Sturm College of Law in three separate courses focusing on three different levels of law: international, national (domestic/foreign), and community. The Research Guide features tabs linking the user to resources that will be of interest to those beginning research in any of those areas. Treaties and United Nations materials are important at all three levels and there are tabs for each of those topics. Other tabs are for the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. As a group, the world’s indigenous peoples are affected by the concept of development, whether as a program such as REDD+ that is promoted as sustainable, the WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee on Traditional Knowledge/Genetic Resources/Traditional Cultural Expressions (folklore) or the current focus on energy development and mining projects. As most issues involved in sustainable development will have an indigenous component, there is a separate tab for Indigenous Peoples. Various codes and certifications are also common to all the courses and a basic list of links to these are provided under the Codes and Certifications tab.
When researching sustainable development, it can be helpful to begin with basic research guides to both international environmental and economic law. Links to the American Society of International Law’s electronic research guides for each of these topics is found on the Guide’s home tab. And, given the interdisciplinary nature of sustainable development, students will want to be sure and take advantage of the Penrose Library’s Summon@DU, as well as the extensive science, business, and social science resources accessible online and through interlibrary loan.

This summer’s course will feature national policies and legislation concerning sustainable development and the most useful beginning resources will be located in the Foreign Legislation and Case Law tab. Here you will find relevant links for the European Union, China, and India, as well as free online resources for broader sites.  

Finally, for additional materials or to answer any questions, please contact your Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian, Joan Policastri, at , in Rm. 230 of the library, or at 303-871-6017.

Written by Joan Policastri, Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer Westlaw & Lexis Password Extensions


If you are a SCOL recent graduate or continuing law student, your Westlaw password through the Westminster Law Library was turned off at the end of May. There may still be some options available if you need Westlaw access over the summer.

Continuing Students – Go online to the Westlaw law school site at There is a button over on the side for continuing students needing summer access because they are taking classes, interning, doing law review, etc. You will need to click on the link and fill out the form. Please remember that students are not supposed to use their school's Westlaw access for paid summer employment.

May Graduates – Go to the Westlaw law school site at and click on the link  for recent graduates called "Graduate Extension". Westlaw has a transitional plan in place for recent graduates that allows you to use your DU Westlaw ID for up to 10 hours of usage per month for June & July. 

The Law Library also has two public access Westlaw terminals that you can use onsite if you need additional online research time. The public access Westlaw software is available on the two computers farthest from the door on Level 3. These contain limited Westlaw resources - statutes, regulations, cases, law reviews and some other secondary sources. You will need a printer/copier card in order to print using the DUNet printers since these machines are not tied to the free student Westlaw printers.

If you have problems extending your password, please contact DU's Westlaw Academic Rep, Jeff Brandimarte at Jeff.Brandimarte@thomsonreuters.comor (720) 839-1388. If you need assistance using the public access Westlaw in the Law Library, please stop by the Reference Desk on Level 2.


LexisAdvance passwords for current students will automatically be extended through the summer. For students that are doing internships, taking classes, working for a professor, etc., there is an option to  sign up for summer access to   To sign up, go to and sign in, then look for the link to “2012 Summer Access” in the lower left corner.  Then you will need to click on the link to the summer access registration form.  Summer access runs from June 1 to July 31.

If you have problems extending your password, please contact DU's Lexis Academic Rep, Katy Sparks at If you need assistance using Lexis in the Law Library, please stop by the Reference Desk on Level 2. 

Written by Patty Wellinger, Reference Services Coordinator

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bi-Lateral Investment Treaties

The United States announces updated Model Bilateral Investment Treaty

On April 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of State and the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced the posting of a revised Model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The new document, 42 pages in length, updates the 2004 Model BIT. It can be found here.  Additional background materials can be found here  and here. Here is a link to the USTR page on the 40 current US BITs. Some non- U.S. BITs and  additional investment treaty information, including other model BITs  can be accessed here.  BITs for OAS countries can be located here.

A BIT provides binding legal rules for the treatment of one country’s investors by a foreign jurisdiction and aims to protect the interests of the overseas investor. Their general aims are to protect the interests of a country’s investors when making investments in countries where investors’ rights may not be sufficiently protected by existing treaties or international agreements. BITs cover topics such as fair and equitable treatment of foreign investors compared to domestic investors, issues of compensation if/when expropriations take place, questions concerning management personnel,  and can be helpful when they address funds transfers (possibly stipulating market rates), and may also include a stipulation concerning the form of dispute resolution to be used. BITs can promote transparency and are generally seen as supporting the development of international law standards.

According to the State Department press release: “The Administration made several important changes to the BIT text so as to enhance transparency and public participation; sharpen the disciplines that address preferential treatment to state-owned enterprises, including the distortions created by certain indigenous innovation policies; and strengthen protections relating to labor and the environment.”   

Some books that may be of interest include:

Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements: commentary and analysis HF1721 .B485 2009 

Written by Joan Policastri, Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Legal Research Corner

Members of the Colorado Association of Law Libraries (CoALL) write quarterly articles on legal research issues and databases that are published in the Colorado Lawyer bar journal in a column called the Legal Research Corner. Recent articles include: