2016 Winners

First Place:  Robert Skousen, Redefining New Water: Inland Surface and Groundwater Desalination

Second Place:  Simon Goldenberg, Considering Abusive Marriages in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community and Ways for Agunot to Escape

The Ross-Blakley Law Library at the Sandra O’Connor College of Law is pleased to announce the 2016 recipients of the Ross-Blakley Law Library Award for Exemplary Student Research

Robert Skousen is the first place award recipient for his paper, Redefining New Water: Inland Surface and Groundwater Desalination and Simon Goldenberg earned second-place honors for his paper, Considering Abusive Marriages in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community and Ways for Agunot to Escape. Their papers demonstrate sophistication and originality in the use of research materials, exceptional innovation in research strategy, and skillful synthesis of research results into a comprehensive scholarly analysis. 

A review panel comprised of librarians Victoria Trotta and Beth DiFelice and Clinical Professor Kimberly Holst selected the winners from the very competitive entries. In addition to receiving a monetary award, the winners are also invited to publish their papers in the Law Library’s digital scholarship repository, and to feature their papers in the Law Library Display Case.

An indication of Skousen’s exceptional research skills was his use of a wide variety of resources for his paper. His paper includes at least one of each of the following sources: cases, statutes, journal articles, treatises, international treaties, books, eBooks, and government studies. Skousen began his research project by creating a document where he listed sources he planned to use with excerpts and page numbers from each source. He then looked to the Internet to find -information about the levels of saline water in Arizona. He found a study, a speech, and journal articles via Google Scholar to supplement this study. He used a textbook to research water law. He found cases in the textbook and then used Westlaw to update his case research. Because his paper is specific to Arizona law, he consulted the Arizona Revised Statues on Westlaw for relevant laws.

Skousen said the most helpful source he found for reciting the history of water law was a treatise he checked out from the Ross-Blakley Law Library. The treatise included cases that were relevant to the topic of his paper, and he used these cases to supplement his arguments. Skousen points out that inland desalination raises transbouandary issues in water law. He found a treaty between the United States and Mexico governing the use of the Colorado River.  He also found an interstate agreement concerning the sharing of the Colorado River between states.

Going beyond the realm of Law Library resources, Skousen found information concerning desalination technology at one of the ASU Libraries.  Since desalination technology can change quickly, he used many journal articles and e-books about the newest technologies that are being used in desalination.  Skousen said, “Throughout the writing process, the most valuable lesson that I learned was the value of organized research. I learned the importance of writing down sources, and writing down where exactly within a source I found a citation. I worked hard to find varying types of sources to strengthen the credibility of my note.”

Goldenberg’s research process involved the use of social justice, religious studies, and sociology journals in addition to law journals. There was very little case law on his subject because the substance of it occurs behind closed doors or private religious courts. Goldenberg said, “I learned a great deal about a topic that has fascinated me since I participated in a prayer for Agunot.”