I am what the college calls “a returning learner.” That is not quite accurate because to return to something means you had to have been there before. I never went to college after high school, I went right to work, got married shortly thereafter and two years after that I started my family. I didn’t take my first college course until I was in my late twenties. I like to joke that I’m on the thirty-five year plan for an Associates Degree. The first classes I ever took were in the legal field. I thought at the time I wanted to get a paralegal degree since I was working as a legal secretary. My next field of study was criminal justice as by then I had started my career in law enforcement. That degree field soon lost out as my love of photography and everything Adobe and web design came to the forefront and I changed my major again to Multimedia and Web Design. I have been attending college full time since I retired last year and am now on track to receive my degree at the end of this semester. I’m not going to tell you how many credits I have for a sixty credit degree.
In my Environmental Science class we are using the textbook Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. Tonight in class we were studying the chapter of Environmental Policy: Decision Making and Problem Solving. This chapter encompasses environmental policies and how the laws and regulations are made. One particular page was devoted to “Approaches to Environmental Policy” and how these conflicts can be addressed in court and tort law. The textbook quotes “In 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Boomer v. Atlantic Cement Company”. Going back to my first interest in legal studies, I decided to Google this court case to read a little more about this it. To my surprise, I could find nothing that cited this case as a Supreme Court ruling . Each citation contained a reference to the New York Court of Appeals.
I can never leave anything alone. I had to find out if this textbook was wrong (wouldn’t that be great?). After finding a lengthy article on line, I emailed Professor Dan Farber from the Berkeley Law School, the author of the article entitled The Story of Boomer: Pollution and the Common Law to ask his expert opinion. This is his response to me today: “There seems to be an error in your textbook — the New York Court of Appeals opinion is what they should have cited. Dan Farber”.
Hah! Am I gloating? Well, not exactly…