Law and Legal

Crowdsourcing Accurately and Robustly Predicts Supreme Court Decisions

Crowdsourcing Accurately and Robustly Predicts Supreme Court Decisions — By Daniel Martin Katz, Michael Bommarito, Josh Blackman – via SSRN

ABSTRACT:  Scholars have increasingly investigated “crowdsourcing” as an alternative to expert-based judgment or purely data-driven approaches to predicting the future. Under certain conditions, scholars have found that crowd-sourcing can outperform these other approaches. However, despite interest in the topic and a series of successful use cases, relatively few studies have applied empirical model thinking to evaluate the accuracy and robustness of crowdsourcing in real-world contexts. In this paper, we offer three novel contributions. First, we explore a dataset of over 600,000 predictions from over 7,000 participants in a multi-year tournament to predict the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. Second, we develop a comprehensive crowd construction framework that allows for the formal description and application of crowdsourcing to real-world data. Third, we apply this framework to our data to construct more than 275,000 crowd models. We find that in out-of-sample historical simulations, crowdsourcing robustly outperforms the commonly-accepted null model, yielding the highest-known performance for this context at 80.8% case level accuracy. To our knowledge, this dataset and analysis represent one of the largest explorations of recurring human prediction to date, and our results provide additional empirical support for the use of crowdsourcing as a prediction method.”  (via SSRN)

Categories: Law and Legal

Interview – The U.S. Has Way Too Many Secrets

The U.S. Has Way Too Many Secrets, December 11, 2017 by The Archive. This article originally appeared in Bloomberg.

“A Q&A with Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, on the historical value of Hillary Clinton’s emails, the sins of Julian Assange, and what national secrets are really worth keeping. How much does it cost to keep a secret? Well, the U.S. government sort of has an answer: $16.89 billion. That’s how much it spent in 2016 to classify information that it deems too sensitive to be released to the public. Some secrets are worth keeping, of course — like how to cook up chemical weapons, for instance. But others, less so. Rodney McDaniel, a top National Security Council official during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, estimated that only 10 percent of classification was for the “legitimate protection of secrets.” Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, a head of the 9/11 commission, said that “three quarters of what I read that was classified should not have been.” In fact, he argued that overclassification had left the U.S. more vulnerable to the 9/11 attacks. And that’s to say nothing of its everyday effects on government accountability and efficiency, congressional oversight and public awareness…”

Categories: Law and Legal

WaPo – Data visualization for users to track major techn transformations during their lifetime

Washington Post Viz: What Tech World Did You Grow Up In? “In the past three decades, the United States has seen staggering technological changes. In 1984, just 8 percent of households had a personal computer, the World Wide Web was still five years away, and cell phones were enormous. Americans born that year are only 33 years old. Here’s how some key parts of our technological lives have shifted, split loosely into early, middle and current stages…”

Categories: Law and Legal

MIT Technology Review – Victims of Sexual Harassment Have a New Resource: AI

MIT Technology Review – The Download: “If you have ever dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace, there is now a private online place for you to go for help. Botler AI, a startup based in Montreal, on Wednesday launched a system that provides free information and guidance to those who have been sexually harassed and are unsure of their legal rights. Using deep learning, the AI system was trained on more than 300,000 U.S. and Canadian criminal court documents, including over 57,000 documents and complaints related to sexual harassment. Using this information, the software predicts whether the situation explained by the user qualifies as sexual harassment, and notes which laws may have been violated under the criminal code. It then generates an incident report that the user can hand over to relevant authorities. Ritika Dutt, a cofounder of Botler AI, was stalked at a previous job, and the experience left her feeling trapped. “I didn’t know if it was something that was really going wrong or if I was just being overly sensitive about it,” Dutt says. “I didn’t know what my rights were, if he was breaking any laws, or how to deal with it.” Her personal experience—along with the recent string of allegations of sexual misconduct, particularly among powerful men in media, entertainment, and politics—motivated Botler AI to attempt to create an unbiased tool that can be a resource for the average person. “At the end of the day, hearing about all these cases angered me. On a personal level I got so annoyed and upset,” Dutt says. “How many people think they can do this and get away with this? Everyone should be able have a resource to go to get information and get educated without fear of judgment…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Knowledge Management Resource to Support Strategic Workforce Development for Transit Agencies

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Knowledge Management Resource to Support Strategic Workforce Development for Transit Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24961.

“TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) has released a pre-publication, non-edited version of TCRP Research Report 194: Knowledge Management Resource to Support Strategic Workforce Development for Transit Agencies. The guidebook explores the importance of knowledge management (KM), which is an organization’s process for collecting, storing, and sharing organizational information and knowledge, and provides guidance on implementing KM strategies in transit agencies. In addition, the guidance includes action plans for developing particular aspects of KM, analysis of KM strategies at several transit agencies, and a catalog of KM technology tools and resources.”

Topics
Categories: Law and Legal

The New Rules of Dog Ownership – A codified set of behaviors for dog owners in public places

Wes Silver – Outside: “Human society is made possible by rules, both written and unwritten. Yet there’s no such series of concrete, accepted rules for dog owners, and that’s becoming a problem. Take my experience this past weekend. In need of a quick getaway, my girlfriend and I booked a room at the Kimpton Goodland, in Santa Barbara, California, with our two mutts. All Kimpton hotels are incredibly dog friendly, which makes the boutique chain a unique resource for dog owners. There’s no extra deposit or fees for dog owners, and the pups are allowed anywhere in the hotel. (Except for the restaurants.) It’s a unique opportunity to enjoy a nice hotel with your dogs. But this weekend, even we were annoyed with the behavior of other dog owners. Dogs locked in rooms unattended barked persistently. Owners let their small untrained and unsocialized pets bark at other guests in the lobby and hotel bar. Some took their dogs to the poolside lawn for bathroom breaks.  Of course, Kimpton, and other dog-friendly businesses, has some basic guidelines for dog owners: pay for any damage the dogs cause, pick up after them, keep them under control. But rules like that are both vague and extremely basic. There’s no further instruction on how to behave in public with your dog from dog owner organizations like the American Kennel Club. While the AKC offers a Good Canine Citizen certification to the dogs themselves, it offers no guidance for owners.  If we want to be able to take our dogs into more hotels and businesses, and if we want to be welcome in public places and in general get along with the rest of human society, then us dog owners need a rulebook—an agreed-upon set of behaviors that will allow us, as a community, to better share our limited resources and to interact with the non-dog-owning public in a way that’s positive for everyone. This is my best effort at setting those rules down in writing…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges

Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges By Dan Bauman, Tyler Davis, Ben Myers, and Brian O’Leary December 10, 2017 – “The Chronicle‘s executive-compensation package includes the latest data on more than 1,200 chief executives at more than 600 private colleges from 2008-15 and nearly 250 public universities and systems from 2010-16. Hover over bars to show total compensation as well as pay components including base, bonus, and other. Click bars to see details including other top-paid college employees, how presidents compare with their peers, and how presidential pay looks in context to an institution’s expenses, tuition, and pay for professors. Updated December 10, 2017, with 2015 private-college data.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Video: How the Court System Is Abused to Chill Activist Speech

EFF: “One of the most pernicious forms of censorship in modern America is the abuse of the court system by corporations and wealthy individuals to harass, intimidate, and silence their critics. We use the term “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” more commonly known as a “SLAPP,” to describe this phenomenon. With a SLAPP, a malicious party will file a lawsuit against a person whose speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment. The strategy isn’t to win on the legal merits, but to censor their victims through burdensome, distracting, and costly litigation. SLAPP suits often make spurious defamation claims and demand outrageous monetary penalties to bully their enemies.  In EFF’s work, we’ve seen SLAPPs deployed against journalists and bloggers, cartoonists, and even people who have posted reviews on websites like Yelp and eBay. They’ve been used by election power players against their political opponents and by corporations against non-profits whose job is to hold them in check. In fact, EFF faced such a scheme when an Australian company filed a lawsuit to censor one of our “Stupid Patent of the Month” articles.  Although EFF won in court, the lawsuit required resources that we otherwise could have devoted to other battles…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New data on: Commuting Times, Median Rents and Language other than English Use

“The nation experienced an increase in commuting time, median gross rent and a rise in English proficiency among those who spoke another language. These are only a few of the statistics released today from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012-2016 American Community Survey five-year estimates data release, which features more than 40 social, economic, housing and demographic topics, including homeowner rates and costs, health insurance and educational attainment. “The American Community Survey allows us to track incremental changes across our nation on how people live and work, year-to-year,” said David Waddington, chief of the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division. “It’s our country’s only source of small area estimates for socio-economic and demographic characteristics. These estimates help people, businesses and governments throughout the country better understand the needs of their populations, the markets in which they operate and the challenges and opportunities they face.” The survey produces statistics for all of the nation’s 3,142 counties. In addition, it is the only full dataset available for three-fourths of all counties with populations too small to produce a complete set of single-year statistics (2,322 counties). Each year, Census Bureau data helps determine how more than $675 billion of federal funding are spent on infrastructure and services, from highways to schools to hospitals…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress, Katelin P. Isaacs, Specialist in Income Security. December 5, 2017: “…Under both Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees’Retirement System (FERS)., Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New on LLRX – Virtual Chat Reference Services

Via LLRXVirtual Chat Reference Services – If our library had a virtual chat service linked to our website, would our reference librarians receive more questions? Brandon Wright Adler answers this question in the affirmative and shares her recommendations for services that merit your review and consideration.

Categories: Law and Legal

American Bar Association focus of attacks in efforts to approve unqualified judges

Politico: “Senate Republicans have declared war on the American Bar Association. Since 1953, the venerable legal organization has played a critical, behind-the-scenes role in assessing judicial nominees and their fitness to serve on the bench.But with the ABA emerging as a major stumbling block in President Donald Trump’s effort to transform the courts, the GOP is accusing the nonpartisan group of holding a liberal slant and is seeking to sideline it. The ABA has deemed at least four of Trump’s judicial nominees “not qualified” — a high number, although other administrations had the ABA evaluate candidates privately before they were nominated. Democrats warn of dire consequences of ignoring the group’s evaluations. But Republicans are intent on a dramatic reshaping of the federal judiciary that could last for decades and so far, haven’t been persuaded by the ABA’s ratings. As the Senate prepares this week to confirm one appellate nominee that the ABA said was not qualified for the bench, Republicans are instead ratcheting up their attacks to try to discredit the century-old group. “The ABA’s record on judicial nominations has been highly questionable,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It has demonstrated over past decades repeatedly partisan interests and ideological interests.” Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee and is a vocal GOP critic of Trump, added: “Not a big fan of the ABA.” “It’s blatantly political,” Flake said. “Often. Not always.” The bar association has already been diminished somewhat under Trump. In a shift from the Obama White House and a return to the policy of George W. Bush, the administration decided earlier this year not to allow the ABA to review potential candidates before they were nominated…[emphasis added]”

Categories: Law and Legal

OpenCorporates ingesting registered trademarks from multiple sources and reconciling them to companies

“Here at OpenCorporates, our core mission has always been about making official public data about companies more widely available, more usable and more useful. Much of this comes from one of the 120+ company registers we use as a primary source, but an increasing amount comes from other public sources, which now includes US and global trademark registers. This is useful information in its own right, but it now also allows you to search for companies by the trademarks they own – which is for some a more natural way of doing things. It’s fairly common to think of companies as the trademarks, logos and product names we interact with daily, rather than as legal entities. For example, while lots of people will recognise the brand Nestlé, fewer will know the full company name – Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. In many cases, brand names and the name of the company that holds the trademark are not even close. Alongside over 900,000 existing trademarks from the WIPO Madrid Register, OpenCorporates now also has 4.5 million trademarks from the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office, and we’re pulling in new trademarks and updates every day…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Iraq Study Group Papers of former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton are now available in digital format

Indiana University Bloomington: “The Iraq Study Group Papers of former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton are now available in digital format from Indiana University Libraries, providing researchers and the public with a behind-the-scenes look at a bipartisan panel that influenced U.S. policy in Iraq. Hamilton, now a distinguished scholar in the IU School of Global and International Studies and professor of practice in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, served as co-chair of the study group, which assessed the conduct of the Iraq War and recommended changes in U.S. policy. The collection, donated by Hamilton, consists of the electronic and paper files created by Hamilton and by his senior advisor and special assistant to the study group. The files document the formation of the group, its work, the creation of its final report and follow-up activities. “The Iraq Study Group marked a serious effort by Congress to examine the conduct of the Iraq War and to play its proper role by providing oversight of American foreign policy,” Hamilton said. “I am grateful to Indiana University Libraries for digitizing these records and making them accessible, and I hope that students of government and history will learn from them for years to come.” The papers include notebooks, working papers, office files, meeting minutes, memos and records of news media coverage of the study group’s work. Archivists have prepared an extensive guide allowing users to find and view a digital image of individual documents from the collection…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CJR – Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media.

Columbia Journalism Review: “Since the 2016 presidential election, an increasingly familiar narrative has emerged concerning the unexpected victory of Donald Trump. Fake news, much of it produced by Russian sources, was amplified on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, generating millions of views among a segment of the electorate eager to hear stories about Hillary Clinton’s untrustworthiness, unlikeability, and possibly even criminality. “Alt-right” news sites like Breitbart and The Daily Caller supplemented the outright manufactured information with highly slanted and misleading coverage of their own. The continuing fragmentation of the media and the increasing ability of Americans to self-select into like-minded “filter bubbles” exacerbated both phenomena, generating a toxic brew of political polarization and skepticism toward traditional sources of authority. Alarmed by these threats to their legitimacy, and energized by the election of a president hostile to their very existence, the mainstream media has vigorously shouldered the mantle of truth-tellers. The Washington Post changed its motto to “Democracy Dies in Darkness” one month into the Trump presidency, and The New York Times launched a major ad campaign reflecting the nuanced and multifaceted nature of truth during the Oscars broadcast in February. Headline writers now explicitly spell out falsehoods rather than leaving it to the ensuing text. And journalists are quick to call out false equivalence, as when President Trump compared Antifa protesters to Nazis and heavily armed white supremacists following the violence in Charlottesville. At the same time, journalists have stepped up their already vigorous critiques of technology companiesFacebook in particular, but also Google and Twitter—highlighting the potential ways in which algorithms and social sharing have merged to spread misinformation…”

See also this paper – Related Fact Checks: a tool for combating fake news, Sreya Guha, Castilleja High School, Palo Alto, California. “The emergence of ”Fake News” and misinformation via on-line news and social media has spurred an interest in computational tools to combat this phenomenon. In this paper we present a new ”Related Fact Checks” service, which can help a reader critically evaluate an article and make a judgment on its veracity by bringing up fact checks that are relevant to the article. We describe the core technical problems that need to be solved in building a ”Related Fact Checks” service, and present results from an evaluation of an implementation.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Federal Weapons Prosecutions Rise for Third Consecutive Year

TRAC: “The latest case-by-case records from the Justice Department covering all of FY 2017 indicate that federal criminal prosecutions for weapons offenses grew by 10.8 percent over the levels seen during FY 2016. This is the third year in a row to see an increase in federal weapons prosecutions. Prosecutions during FY 2016 had risen a comparable rate – with 11.5 percent more than in FY 2015. This follows the March 8, 2017 memorandum that Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent Department of Justice prosecutors directing them to “partner with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to specifically identify the criminals responsible for significant violent crime in their districts” and singled out statutes penalizing firearms offenses as among the “substantial tools at their disposal.” The recent growth in federal criminal prosecutions for weapons offenses marks a return to the levels of weapons prosecutions last seen ten years ago in FY 2007, but it is still far below the peak level of federal weapons prosecutions reached in 2004. However, it is important to keep in mind that most gun prosecutions occur at the state and local level, and federal prosecutions are almost certainly dwarfed by anything that is done by the state and local governments. To read the full report, go to: http://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/492/

Categories: Law and Legal

University of Pennsylvania: Online Books Page

University of Pennsylvania: Online Books Page – “The Online Books Page is a website that facilitates access to books that are freely readable over the Internet. It also aims to encourage the development of such online books, for the benefit and edification of all.Major parts of the site include:

The Online Books Page was founded, and is edited, by John Mark Ockerbloom, He is a digital library planner and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. He is responsible for the content of the site. Alison Miner is Associate Editor. The site is hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, who provide the server, disk space, and network bandwidth for the site. They also employ the editor, and support him in his various digital library activities (of which this is but one). The online books listed on this page have been authored, placed online, and hosted, by a wide variety of individuals and groups throughout the world (and throughout history!). The Online Books Page originally was founded in 1993 by the current editor, while he was a student at Carnegie Mellon University. He maintained it there until summer 1999, with Web space and computing resources provided by the School of Computer Science. In 1999, it moved to its present location at Penn…”

Categories: Law and Legal

2017 in Photos: How the First Months Unfolded

2017 in Photos: How the First Months Unfolded – “As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2017. Among the events covered in this essay (the first of a three-part photo summary of the year): the inauguration of President Donald Trump; the Women’s March on Washington; the retaking of Mosul, Iraq, from ISIS; observations from Saturn; massive opposition rallies in Venezuela; and much more. See also, the Top 25 News Photos of 2017, and, from this series, the Year in Photos, Part 2, and Part 3. The series comprises 120 images in all. Warning: Some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Diversity is growing in law firms but not at the top

WashingtonPost: “Minority lawyers now make up 16 percent of law firms – a record high – but remain scarce at the top, where only 9 percent of law partners are people of color, according to new data collected by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Put another way, nearly half of their white counterparts make partner, while the vast majority of minorities remain associates. The disparity is also reflected in the corporate world, where only 11 percent of general counsels at Fortune 500 companies are black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American even though minorities make up a third of the legal profession as a whole…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Convenience and Compliance: Case Studies on Persistent Identifiers in European Research Information Management

This report provides university and research library leaders with useful insights on emerging practices and infrastructures in European research information management (RIM), on the current and future role of persistent person and organization identifiers, and, more specifically, on incentives and barriers to adoption in three different national settings—Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands—in order to better understand the decision-making dynamics in this space. Through research and semi-structured interviews with practitioners and stakeholders within universities, national libraries, and collaborative information and communications technology (ICT) organizations in Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands, the authors explore local institutional RIM practices and examine the role—perhaps even the necessity—of persistent identifiers for the facilitation of group-scale RIM activity and data aggregation. This work was part of a joint research collaboration with LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries). This report documents a rapidly changing RIM landscape, as CRIS systems aggregate more types of data, harvest publications from a growing number of external sources, and serve as an important node interoperating within a large, complex scholarly communications landscape…”

Categories: Law and Legal

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