Current Events

On this page, you’ll find a list of short posts I’ve made linking to or discussing current events.


Too busy to write anything of length here. Nevertheless, I absolutely had to pass along this incredible new resource from Current Directions in Psychological Science: a volume full of studies examining the intersections of psychology and the law. I’m very frustrated that I can’t just sit down and read every article right now. Sadly finals still consume me. But for those of you lucky enough not to be studying for finals or otherwise really busy, check this out!

Trust me, it’s worth it!

Current Directions in Psychological Science February 2011

-Zachary Cloud


The legal world is abuzz these days. Whisperings and mentionings of some book called Typography for Lawyers. Perhaps you’ve heard about it; maybe you haven’t. Either way, you should definitely buy it.

I’m a  visual person so it’s not surprising that I was immediately intrigued by the title when I heard it referenced. Blawgs such as Defending Peopleand The Jury Room both made reference to it in posts. I quickly arrived at Matthew Butterick’s website, the forerunner to the book. I was fortunate enough to have some spare Lexis points so I cashed ’em in for my copy, which I now keep handy right beside the Chicago Manual of Style and Bluebook. These books are ones that can be found on my desk in perpetuity.

Why is this book good? Because it might, just might, make lawyers stop following all of the bad formatting habits of the profession in their writing. Court documents, memoranda, contracts, etc… are treated as utilitarian documents by most attorneys, with little to no emphasis being put on how these documents look. Before Butterick’s book, the few who hated this utilitarian reality were in an awkward position– they could march to the beat of a different drummer with the likely result being admonition or they could acquiesce to the world of ugly typography in legal documents. Now, there is an authority we few can rely upon to support our typographic decisions.

Okay, but why else is it good? First, it’s easy to read. The text is accessible and does a good job of assuming you’re an intelligent yet uninformed reader. Second, the book makes great use of examples. All throughout the book, Butterick provides visual examples of what is effective and ineffective— true proof by example. Third, the book explains the mechanics of of how to accomplish the desired effect. Even if your experience level with a word processor is limited, there are instructions for the major options (e.g. Apple’s Pages and several versions of Microsoft Office). I could continue but I think it’s best to let you see for yourself.

Coverage of this book has grown like wildfire all over the blawgosphere, which means you might soon be left in the dark if you don’t get your hands on a copy. Soon, more and more lawyers will be following Butterick’s guide to varying extents. The chances you interact with one of these people is only going to get higher so you’d do well to not have the uglier of the two briefs, pleadings, etc… The book retails for $25 USD and is available on Amazon. It’s a small price to pay so go out and get it. Just do it– you’ll be glad you did.


Gallup released poll results today, which are a part of their annual Crime survey. The results can be found here.  To summarize, Americans (on average, of course) report that crime is increasing both nationally and in their local area.  Specifically, 60% of respondents said there was more crime nationally whereas 17% said there was less crime.  I have not studied their methodology in detail yet so I do not know where the other 23% is.  49% of respondents said crime was up in their area, as opposed to 30% who said crime was down.  Again, I don’t yet know what happened to the 21% missing.

As some of my readers may know, before coming to law school I did psychological research on jury decision-making.  A necessary companion to that research was a fairly advanced knowledge of statistics, survey methods, report measures, and the like.  Given that experience in statistical analysis, I feel comfortable embarking on a detailed analysis of the Gallup findings.  I hope to write up an article about them within the next couple of days.

Stay tuned!

-Zachary Cloud


The title above is that of a new article coming from the Wisconsin Law Review.  I just learned of this from Doug Berman’s Sentencing Law & Policy blog so I haven’t had a chance to read the article yet.  But it certainly has caught my eye and I may author a reaction to it soon.

-Zachary Cloud


Now that’s the kind of title I like reading in the morning!  It comes from a brief post that I’m passing along from SCOTUSblog.  I’ll peruse the petitions for cert in these cases when I have a chance and I might discuss them more in detail if any really catch my eye!

Here’s the SCOTUSblog post:

-Zachary Cloud


Just a quick post about an incredible drug bust that occurred in Texas.  I’m mostly blown away at the sheer amount: over 6000lbs of marijuana.  Here’s the link:


Doug Berman posted this article on his blog today linking to a new study regarding the role that an offender’s memory should be afforded in considerations of criminal punishment.

I haven’t yet had the chance to read the article in great detail but I wanted to go ahead and pass it along due to its clear relation to criminal law and psychology.

-Zachary Cloud


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