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November 29, 2010

Wireless Password: olive

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of November 29, 2010 is olive.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

November 26, 2010

Spice Bans in Utah Counties & Cities

dea.bmpSpice, incense laced with synthetic cannabinoids or other chemicals that produce a marijuana-like high, is being sold in smoke shops and convenience stores throughout Utah. However, many counties and cities have enacted bans on the sale and/or use of spice and the Utah State Legislature will consider a similar statewide law in the upcoming 2011 legislative session.

Among the cities and counties that have passed local ordinances, Cache County (see page 9), Iron County, Kaysville (see 6-4-5), Layton, Ogden, and Providence City have made their ordinances available online to view. If a local ordinance is not available online, contact the local city or county clerk for a copy.

As noted in the Controlled Substances Advisory Committee minutes, the committee has recommended the legislature examine a statewide law to regulate spice.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that on November 24, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration temporarily placed five of the synthetic chemicals on the list of forbidden controlled substances, making it illegal to distribute or possess them, effectively criminalizing the use of some spice sold here in Utah. The DEA's statement regarding this action is here.

November 24, 2010

Law Library Closed on Thanksgiving

Turkey_Pardon_2009.jpgThe Law Library, and all Utah State Courts, will be closed Thursday, November 25 for Thanksgiving. Regular hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) resume on Friday.

Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November since 1941. For more information about the history of Thanksgiving in the United States, visit the Library of Congress' Today in History page for November 25.

Interested in more Thanksgiving traditions? A curious holiday tradition happens at the White House the day before Thanksgiving: the presidential pardon of a turkey. Today, President Obama will pardon the national Thanksgiving turkey, just as he did last year. You can read the presidential pardons in the Compilation of Presidential Documents. The presidential pardoning was not a consistent tradition until 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.

Karzai Robe

IMG_6632.jpgThis Afghan chapan was presented to Utah State Court Administrator Dan Becker by a delegation of judges from Afghanistan. The robe is now on display in our library lobby.

A chapan is a long-sleeved calf-length men's coat or cape worn over clothes. These coats are typically made of silk, usually in combinations of green, black, purple, yellow and beige. They are adorned with intricate threading and come in a variety of patterns.

The chapan is worn in Central Asia, including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and other surrounding countries. Afghan president Hamid Karzai is often shown wearing a chapan.

You can see additional photos of the robe on our Facebook page.

November 23, 2010

Utah's Constitution Digitized

utconstitution.jpgThe University of Utah Marriott Library, in cooperation with the Utah State Archives, recently digitized the 1895 Constitution of the State of Utah.

This constitution was drafted by a group of 107 elected delegates over a period of 9 weeks in Salt Lake City. The 1994 issue of Beehive History is dedicated to the topic of the Utah Constitution, and includes several articles describing the drafting process and the issues delegates considered:

  • Lola Van Wagenen, Unity, Victory, Discord - The Struggle to Achieve Woman Suffrage

  • John S. McCormick, Utah's Constitution Was Framed in Salt Lake City and County Building

  • Miriam B. Murphy, Utah's Unique Declaration of Rights

  • Miriam B. Murphy, Delegates from Distant Counties Sacrificed to Attend Convention

  • Linda Thatcher, "Well done, thou good and faithful servants": Cache County and Statehood

  • Delegate Charles Nettleton Strevell Recalls the Constitutional Convention

  • Louis Lavalle Coray Worked to Preserve Utah's Constitution

You can read the discussions of the convention delegates on the Utah State Legislature's website:
Official Report of the Proceedings and Debates of the Convention Assembled at Salt Lake City on the Fourth Day of March, 1895, to Adopt a Constitution for the State of Utah.
On January 4, 2011 the State of Utah will be 115 years old.

November 22, 2010

Supreme Court Briefs

The library has received 3 Supreme Court briefs. The docket numbers are 20070266, 20080998 and 20081054 (supplemental briefs).

If you're looking for a specific brief, contact the library by phone (801-238-7990) or email to make sure we have it. If you can't come in to make copies yourself, we offer a document delivery service for 25¢ per page and will scan the briefs and email them to you.

Wireless Password: nanum

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of November 22, 2010 is nanum.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

November 19, 2010

Proposed Rules to Avoid Wireless Phone "Bill Shock"

wirelessphone.jpgThe recent announcement from Verizon Wireless stating the company would be refunding millions of customers for erroneous data charges has been popular in the news. However, the Federal Communications Commission has been interested in creating consumer protection measures against extra wireless charges for some time.

This past April and May, the FCC conducted a survey which found that nearly 20% of Americans experienced a cell phone bill increasingly suddenly from one month to the next. 23% said their sudden increase was $100 or more. In May, the FCC sought public comments in the Federal Register regarding wireless phone usage alerts and whether companies are already using them.

This month the FCC is proposing rules designed to protect consumers from unexpected wireless charges, or "bill shock," which would amend Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These rules include requiring a wireless company to send a voice or text alert to customers who are about to use more than their minute, text, or data plan allows or if they are about to be charged roaming fees.

For more information and tips on avoiding sudden additional charges to your wireless and data plans, check out the FTC's Tips for Avoiding Bill Shock.

November 18, 2010

New Utah Judges

ct mtns.jpgThe Utah State Senate yesterday voted to confirm Charlene Barlow (Third District) and Andrew Stone (Third District) as new Utah State Court judges.

For information about the new judges, check out Governor Herbert's news release announcing his nominations. After the governor makes his nominations, the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee convenes to discuss the character and fitness of the nominees. The audio recordings, agenda and committee reports are available online. To find recordings and reports about these two judges, select the November 10, 2010 meeting date.

In this case, the committee gave a favorable report for the two nominees, so their names were forwarded to the entire senate, which met yesterday, November 17, in the 2010 12th Extraordinary Session to vote on the governor's nominations. The audio recording and related materials are also available online.

November 16, 2010

New Database for Searching Federal Information

metaliblogo.bmpMetaLib is the U.S. Government Printing Office's newest database for searching information from more than fifty federal agency databases. The databases available cover a variety of topics including health, medicine, energy, transportation, and the military.

Metalib has a variety of search options, including:

  • a basic keyword search in general resources.
  • an advanced search by subject, title, author, or year.
  • an expert search where you can search multiple fields or narrow your search by database or federal agency.

From a search results screen, you can save records to a unique feature called My E-Shelf. From there you can email documents or save them.

Not finding a database you were looking for? Use the Suggest a Resource link to recommend a database you'd like to see added to MetaLib.

November 15, 2010

Plain Writing Act of 2010

Last month President Obama signed into law the Plain Writing Act of 2010.The stated purpose of the law is

"...to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use."

"Plain writing" is defined as

"...writing that the intended audience can readily understand and use because that writing is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain writing."

The Act requires federal agencies to use plain writing in any document it produces which provides information about obtaining federal benefits or filing taxes, or if it explains how to comply with federal requirements.

PlainLanguage.gov provides several examples of government regulations, manuals, handbooks and reports that were re-written following plain language principles. For example, here is a change in a Medicare Fraud Letter:

Investigators at the contractor will review the facts in your case and decide the most appropriate course of action. The first step taken with most Medicare health care providers is to reeducate them about Medicare regulations and policies. If the practice continues, the contractor may conduct special audits of the providers medical records. Often, the contractor recovers overpayments to health care providers this way. If there is sufficient evidence to show that the provider is consistently violating Medicare policies, the contractor will document the violations and ask the Office of the Inspector General to prosecute the case. This can lead to expulsion from the Medicare program, civil monetary penalties, and imprisonment.

We will take two steps to look at this matter: We will find out if it was an error or fraud.

We will let you know the result.

Find additional information about this new law on the Thomas website.

Wireless Password: mulch

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of November 15, 2010 is mulch.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

November 09, 2010

Law Library Closed on Veterans Day

utahva.bmp The Law Library, and all Utah State Courts, will be closed on Thursday, November 11 in honor of Veterans Day. Regular library hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) resume on Friday, November 12.

Looking for information about benefits and services for Utah's veterans? Check out the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs website and our blog post on Federal Benefits for Veterans. The VA website also lists upcoming events, including Veterans Day celebrations. If you're looking for other Veterans Day events, check out the University of Utah's Veterans Day Commemoration or your local newspaper for event information.

November 08, 2010

Federal Benefits for Veterans

fed_benefits_cover.jpgTitle 38 of the U.S. Code mandates certain benefits for returning veterans such as educational assistance, medical care, and employment services. The U.S. Government Printing Office has recently released a new guide to these resources, the Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, and Survivors (also available in Spanish).

In this you can learn about a variety of veteran benefits, including:

  • home loan guarantees which can be used to buy or repair a home, purchase a condo, or refinance an existing home loan
  • programs for homeless veterans
  • medical benefits for dependents of veterans
  • veterans benefits provided by other federal agencies

    Utah's Department of Veterans Affairs has a description of Utah veterans' benefits available on their website, such as tuition waivers or reduced-fee UTA bus passes.

    The Utah State Courts' self help page on Military and Veterans has links to legal information and assistance for servicemembers facing civil litigation. We blogged about this page earlier this year.

  • Wireless Password: lilac

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of November 8, 2010 is lilac.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

    November 05, 2010

    Daylight Saving Time laws

    DaylightSaving.JPGThis Sunday, November 7, most residents of the United States will turn back the clock one hour in observance of Daylight Saving Time (see our previous posts about this observance from March and last October). However, some states are exempt from observing Daylight Saving Time. How does that happen?

    The Federal Law governing Daylight Saving (15 U.S. Code §260 et seq.) provides that "any State that lies entirely within one time zone may by law exempt itself from the provisions of this subsection providing for the advancement of time" (§260a(a)). Two U.S. states have enacted laws exempting observance of Daylight Saving Time: Hawaii and Arizona. Hawaii's standard time law was amended in 1967 (H.R.S. §1-31). Arizona enacted its exemption law (A.R.S. §1-242) in 1968 (see the Arizona State Library's information page on the history of Daylight Saving Time in the state).

    In the 2010 General Legislative Session, Utah House Representative Kenneth W. Sumsion introduced H.B. 288 to exempt Utah from observance of Daylight Saving Time. The bill was struck by the house before it could reach the Senate. If it had been enacted into law, it would have taken effect January 1, 2011.

    November 03, 2010

    Utah's Senior Legal Helpline

    PHONESCAM.JPGAre you 60 years old or over? Do you have a legal problem? Did you know there is a free legal service available for you by telephone?

    Utah's Senior Legal Helpline is a toll-free, statewide legal information, advice, and referral service for Utah residents 60 and over. You can call 1-800-662-1772 between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday to get help in the areas of consumer issues, elder abuse, estate planning, housing and public benefits.

    Rather talk to someone in person? Some senior centers offer free in-person legal clinics. In Salt Lake County, contact your local senior center to schedule a 20 minute consultation with an attorney. In Roosevelt, there is a free legal clinic held the second Wednesday of each month, 3:00-5:00 pm, at the Roosevelt Senior Center, 50 East 200 South. In St. George, you can make an appointment to speak with a volunteer attorney at the St. George Senior Center, 245 North 200 West, by calling 435-634-5716.

    Of course, there are free legal clinics offered throughout the state, many of which aren't limited to those over 60. A complete listing is provided on the courts' Legal Clinics, Agencies & Organizations page.

    November 02, 2010

    Election Day 2010

    vote.JPGToday is election day in Utah and across the country. You can have a hand in electing local and state-wide officials, help decide whether Utah's Constitution should be amended and whether many judges should retain their seats on the bench. If you haven't voted yet, you have until 8 p.m. tonight to cast your ballot. Need to know where to vote and who's on your ballot? Check out Utah's voter information site at vote.utah.gov.

    And be sure to check out our previous election day posts here and here. Information about judicial retention elections is here.

    November 01, 2010

    Wireless Password: kiwis

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of November 1, 2010 is kiwis.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.