The Indigo Book – a Free Legal Citation Guide Based on the Bluebook

A free alternative to The Bluebook legal citation guide is now available.  The Indigo Book, formerly called “Baby Blue,” is available online without charge in PDF or HTML.

indigo

To make legal citation more accessible, the team behind The Indigo Book, led by Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org, separated the widely used system of citation codified in The Bluebook from its particularized expression thus avoiding infringement of that work’s copyright.

The blog, Citing Legally explains:

Working under the guidance of NYU copyright expert, Professor Christopher Sprigman, a team of students spent over a year meticulously separating the “system of citation” reflected in The Bluebook from that manual’s expressive content – its language, examples, and organization.  The Indigo Book is the result . . .

As the work’s forward explains, providing “pro se litigants, prisoners, and others seeking justice but … lack[ing] resources … effective access to the system lawyers use to cite to the law” was, for its creators, an important goal.

New Legal Realism Blog Features Reminiscences by UW Law’s Galanter & Macaulay

New Legal Realism Conversations is a website devoted to the Law-and-Society movement approach to interdisciplinary legal studies:  “We believe that all of the social sciences have a contribution to make to our understanding of law. ”

Since January, the NLRC blog has featured reminiscences by UW Law School Professors Marc Galanter and Stewart Macaulay.  Most recently, Macaulay responds to Galanter’s comments about the University of Chicago Law School in the mid-1950s.

Hat tip to UW Law School Professor Elizabeth Mertz.

Implementation of Mandatory eFiling in Wisconsin

Last month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a
new rule requiring mandatory electronic filing  statewide.  (Wis. Stat. § 801.18)

According to a recent edition of The Third Branch, the quarterly newsletter of the Wisconsin court system, the mandatory eFiling rule takes effect July 1 but will be phased in gradually over the next three years.

Mandatory eFiling will be established first in a small number of pilot counties that already offer voluntary eFiling in civil, family, small claims and paternity cases and then expand in those case types to other counties statewide by the end of 2017. Other case types will be added with a targeted completion date for mandatory eFiling in all case types statewide by Dec. 31, 2019.

The court’s CCAP staff will implement the program with initial help from contractors.

Federal Court to Consider whether PACER Fees are Excessive

From Robert Ambrogi’s Law Sites:

A class action lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenges the fees charged by PACER, the federal courts’ online court records system, as excessive. The lawsuit seeks to obtain relief on behalf of “all individuals and entities who have paid fees for the use of PACER within the past six years, excluding class counsel and agencies of the federal government.”

The lawsuit, filed by the Alliance for Justice, the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the National Consumer Law Center, claims that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which mandates that the fees to access court records online cannot exceed the amount needed to maintain the system itself.

The lawsuit alleges that the Administrative Office has improperly increased fees to cover other costs such as courtroom audio systems and flat-screen televisions in jury boxes.

Article: High Court Won’t Hear Copyright Challenge to Google Books

According to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the Supreme Court has denied cert to Authors Guild, et al. v. Google, Inc., in which the Authors Guild and individual writers argued that Google engaged in copyright infringement “on an epic scale” by digitizing, indexing, and displaying snippets of print books in internet search results.

From the article:

The last major development came in October when a federal appeals court in New York ruled for Google….

The dispute involves the boundaries of “fair use,” the legal doctrine that permits unauthorized copying in certain, limited circumstances. The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in October that Google’s scanning millions of copyrighted books wasn’t infringement because what the company makes viewable online is so limited.

Tips for Enabling and Completing Fillable PDF Forms

Have you ever been asked to complete and electronically submit a fillable PDF form only to find that you couldn’t save it after you’d finished completing it?  That all you could do was print it, then have to snail mail, fax, or scan it back in?

Or maybe you’re the one who created a form then received complaints from users who spent time completing the form but couldn’t save it?

If those completing the form were using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, you’ve probably encountered this problem.  While saving fillable PDFs is easy with Adobe Acrobat Pro, it’s often not possible for those using Acrobat Reader.

There are a couple of ways around this problem without spending hundreds to purchase Acrobat Pro.

For form creators, there are some simple changes that you can make to way that you save your form in Acrobat Pro that will allow users to be able to save the form that they’ve just completed.  Rather than selecting Save, you’ll do a Save As and select Reader Extended PDF.  For more information, see these instructions from Adobe.

I followed the instructions and successfully created a form that I could complete and save using the free Acrobat Reader.  I also found that I could reopen it later and add more information.  That’s especially useful for longer forms.

For form users, there is an app called Sign My Pad that allows one to fill out as well as sign any PDF form, regardless of how it was saved.  It doesn’t even have to be a fillable form.   You can add text, boxes, signatures, etc. to any PDF.  Sign My Pad is available for less than $4 for both iPad and Android.

Recent UW Law School Faculty and Staff Scholarship

Here is the latest faculty and staff scholarship from the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies Research Papers series found on SSRN.

The University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies journal contains abstracts and papers from this institution focused on this area of scholarly research. To access all the papers in this series, please use the following URL: http://www.ssrn.com/link/u-wisconsin-legal-studies.html

Dive into Criminal Justice Data and Statistics with “Hall of Justice”

Stats and data about any aspect of the legal world have often been notoriously difficult to track down. I know that when I am asked a question about stats at the reference desk, I always prepare myself for what could be a difficult search.

That sigh of relief you are hearing is from law librarians and legal researchers across the US as Sunlight Foundation announced their new repository of Criminal Justice statistics called “Hall of Justice”. Not only does Hall of Justice collect many datasets into one convenient place, but it also, as HOJ’s homepage puts it, brings “criminal justice data transparency” to the forefront.

This data is out there and publicly available, but it can be nearly impossible for a casual searcher (or lawyer, or law faculty, or law librarian) to locate easily. With Hall of Justice, nearly 10,000 datasets are collected in one place and tagged with relevant keywords, allowing users to quickly locate data on a wide array of criminal justice topics ranging from sexual offenders to identify theft. While the repository is not comprehensive, it is still a great step forward in making this important information much more available.

The interface is very intuitive, and a searcher can use it to search by keyword, category or location. Once you have made your initial search, you can then filter the results by Groups (who owns/created the dataset), Sectors (governmental data or non-profit), or by Access Type. This makes the searching process simple and effective.

Try it out yourself and see what useful and eye-opening data you can find.  Hall of Justice can also be found on the Law Library’s database list. If you have any questions, be sure to ask a law librarian!

New Edition of Wisconsin Guide to Citation Now Available

The Wisconsin State Bar has recently published a newly updated edition of the Wisconsin Guide to Citation.

The new eighth edition reflects recent changes made to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, now in its 20th edition. New developments discussed in this edition of the Wisconsin Guide include:

  • A new section on how to cite uniform acts, model codes, sentencing guidelines, and standards
  • New sections discussing how to cite blog and social media posts
  • Update to guidelines for citing sources on the Internet
  • Update regarding how to cite legal dictionaries
  • New examples showing how to cite various sources with different pincites

I’d like to thank Attorney-Editor Rita Knauss for offering me and my Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin colleagues the opportunity to comment and make suggestions for the new edition.

More information about the Guide, including information about how to order it, is available on the State Bar of Wisconsin website.