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Charles B. Sears Law Library SUNY Buffalo Law School

Law Library News

Publication featuring Professor Saran wins national award

Posted on: | by John Beatty |

SaranThe New York State Bar Association’s Disability Law and Practice Series, a three-volume print and e-book set, won the 2017 ACLEA Award of Professional Excellence for Publications, Small Organizations division. UB Law professor Melinda Saran contributed a chapter to the first volume. Her chapter, Discipline of Students With Disabilities Attending Public Schools in New York State, was co-written with Kathleen E. Surgalla. Professor Saran also acted as a reviewer on all three volumes.

ACLEA, the Association for Continuing Legal Education, gives two annual awards recognizing the contributions of its member organizations. The Award of Professional Excellence is its top award in several categories including best publication.

Purchase Volume One here. See more about ACLEA’s awards here. Or visit the law library and read our copy.

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Embedded in Puerto Rico

Posted on: | by Nancy Babb |

Brian Detweiler, Student Services Librarian at the Charles B. Sears Law Library, is traveling with law students who are participating in UB School of Law’s Puerto Rico Recovery Assistance Legal Clinic. The clinic is providing legal services to Puerto Ricans in need following Hurricane Maria and Brian is there to support their research efforts on the ground. Brian is taking embedded librarianship to a new level!

Photo of Student Services Librarian, Brian Detweiler

Photo of Student Services Librarian, Brian Detweiler

Welcome, Christine Riggi!

Posted on: | by Nancy Babb |

Please join us in welcoming Christine Riggi, the Law Library’s newest addition to our team.

Christine has a Master of Library Science degree, and has experience working as a reference librarian and as a circulation supervisor at Niagara University and Canisius College. Her most recent position was at a customs brokerage firm. In all of her positions, her focus has been on providing excellent customer service.

Christine is our Evening Supervisor for the Circulation desk, joining Melissa and John in staffing one of our most important service points in the Law Library. Among other things, she is in training to take on course reserves, hiring, training and managing students, and managing our physical stacks. We are thrilled to have her in the Libraries.

Observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Posted on: | by Nancy Babb |

The Law Library will be closed on Monday, January 15, 2018, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

MLK photo

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in Buffalo, NY, November 1967 (photo from University at Buffalo Libraries Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Buffalo collection

Each year, people throughout the country gather in service to honor Dr. King. You can find local opportunities with UB Student Engagement and the IDC and explore resources via the national service site.

You may also enjoy browsing the University at Buffalo Libraries’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Buffalo collection, highlighting Dr. King’s visit and speech, “The Future of Integration”, in Buffalo, New York on November 9, 1967.

New chapter by David A. Westbrook

Posted on: | by Nancy Babb |

The Law Library has received a new publication, Power, Policy and Profit: Corporate Engagement in Politics and Governance, featuring a chapter by University at Buffalo School of Law Professor David A. Westbrook, “Reflections: Leaving Flatland? Planar Discourses and the Search for the G-Axis.”

Looking for more? Enjoy exploring Professor Westbrook’s works via his Faculty Profile and Publications list.

Bootleg Bluebooks???

Posted on: | by Brian Detweiler | 1 Comment

Yes, you read that right! According to our colleagues at the Brooklyn Law School Library, some law students who purchased Bluebooks through third-party vendors unknowingly bought scanned knock-off copies:

Bluebook Prohibition

You can check your Bluebook using the images in the original BLS Library Blog post, and if you did pick up a bootleg 20th edition, don’t worry! The UB Law Library has several (legitimate) copies you can use:

Happy New Year

Posted on: | by Nancy Babb |

Welcome to the new year at the Charles B. Sears Law Library!

The Law Library will be open on the following schedule for January:

Tuesday, January 2 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Law School Winter Session (Bridge) – January 3-27, 2018 *

Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday Closed
* Exceptions:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday 1/15/2018 Closed

Last Week of Law Winter Session (Bridge) – January 28-February 4, 2018

Sunday 1/28 Closed
Monday 1/29 7:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Tuesday 1/30: Last Day of Law Winter Session Classes 7:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Wednesday 1/31: Law Winter Session Reading Day 7:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Thursday 2/1: Law Winter Session Exams 7:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Friday 2/2: Law Winter Session Exams 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday 2/3-2/4 Closed

Full Law Library hours are posted at Hours at other University Libraries are posted at

Winter Recess hours and closures

Posted on: | by Nancy Babb |

The Law School’s Winter Recess begins on Saturday, December 16th.

The Law Library will be closed this weekend, Saturday, December 16-Sunday, December 17, and will be open 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 18-Friday, December 22.

The Law Library will then be closed from Saturday, December 23-Monday, January 1, re-opening at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 2.


Snowy view of Flint Loop from the Second Floor Reading Room

image of winter recess schedule

Full Law Library hours available at

Massachusetts’ Highest Court Cites UB Law Professor Guyora Binder in Narrowing Scope of Felony Murder Rule

Posted on: | by John Beatty |

In a recent opinion, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts relied in part on University at Buffalo School of Law professor Guyora Binder’s 2004 article The Origins of American Felony Murder Rules, 57 Stan. L. Rev. 59, to significantly narrow the scope of the felony murder rule. The case, Commonwealth v. Brown, 81 N.E.3d 1173 (Mass. 2017), concerned the felony murder conviction of a man who supplied a hooded sweatshirt and gun to a friend that he knew intended to commit an armed robbery. Two men were killed in the in the course of that attempted armed robbery.

Under the felony murder rule, if a person dies during the commission of certain dangerous felonies, it is considered a murder regardless of intent. The Massachusetts implementation of the rule removed the jury’s discretion to decide whether such a death was first-degree or second-degree murder.

A unanimous court agreed that, under this version of the rule, the jury verdict was proper, but also that the result was unjust. Consequently, the Court, in the interests of justice, reduced the first-degree murder conviction to second-degree murder and remanded the case to a lower court for sentencing.

A majority of the Court, however, went further. In a concurring opinion authored by Chief Justice Gants, four justices narrowed the scope of the felony murder rule. Relying in part on Professor Binder’s “exhaustive analysis of the origins of the American felony-murder rules,” the Court required that in all future murder trials, all elements of murder must be found before applying the felony murder rule to increase the degree of the crime. In doing so, the Court abolished the theory of constructive malice, requiring that the jury find actual malice under the murder statute.

The Court used Professor Binder’s history of the rule to track the rule’s development in Massachusetts law. The rule began as a “felony aggravator statute” that merely increased the degree of murder whether or not it was premeditated or performed with extreme atrocity or cruelty. Prior to the statute’s adoption, there was scholarly writing on such a rule, but no English or American court had ever convicted a defendant of murder in absence of a finding of all of the elements of murder.

The Court found that the first case in Massachusetts imposing such liability was Commonwealth v. Campbell, 89 Mass. 541 (1863). The Court further found that the opinion in Campbell rested on two principles of law that have been otherwise rejected in the state’s jurisprudence: “vicarious substantive criminal liability for every act committed by a joint venture, and the conclusive presumption of malice from the intent to commit an inherently dangerous felony.” Because the rule “contravened two fundamental principles” of Massachusetts criminal law, the Court removed the constructive murder aspect of the rule, allowing it only to increase a second-degree murder to first-degree where all of the elements of second-degree murder have already been found.

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