The Free Law Project’s CourtListener.com Contains Every Free PACER Opinion

The Free Law Project has recently announced that in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor and Georgia State University, they have collected every free written order and opinion that is currently available in PACER.

New opinions will be downloaded every night (!) to keep the collection up-to-date.

Currently, the collection contains about 3.4 million orders and opinions from cases dating back to 1960. All of the documents are available for search, and the Free Law Project has also partnered with the Internet Archive to upload a copy of every opinion as well (the Internet Archive is a non-profit whose mission is to permanently store digital content).

Read more about this exciting new initiative here.

US Supreme Court to Require Electronic Filing

Beginning in November, the US Supreme Court will require electronic filing of case documents.  According to a SCOTUS press release, counsel will initially submit filings both in print and electronically.  An exception will be made for pro se parties; Court personnel will scan and make their filings available electronically.

Once the system is in place, the new electronic filings will be made freely available from the Court’s website.  The e-filings will not be part of PACER system, reports the National Law Journal.

 

 

Welcome to Emma Babler, UW Law Library’s newest librarian!

The UW Law Library is pleased to announce our newest law librarian: Emma Babler. Emma will be our new Reference and Technology Librarian, where she will be tasked with assisting students, staff, and anyone who asks a question! Emma comes to us from the UNLV Law Library but received both her MLS and JD from the University of Wisconsin.

Welcome, Emma! We’re excited to be working with you!

A small but critical change on Congress.gov

 

Congress.Gov announced yesterday that with their new version of searching, users will now get slightly different results. The reason? The default operator is now AND and not OR. So, as Congress.Gov’s post points out, a search for National Park will yield results that include National AND Park instead of National OR Park. A nice improvement, if I do say so myself!

Read more about Congress.Gov’s change here.

New Tool Compares County Criminal Justice Statistics for Wisconsin and Other States

Earlier this week, the nonprofit Measures for Justice launched an amazing new data portal “to assess and compare the criminal justice process from arrest to post-conviction on a county-by-county basis. The data set comprises measures that address three broad categories: Fiscal Responsibility, Fair Process, and Public Safety.”

According to The Marshall Project:

The project, which has as its motto “you can’t change what you can’t see,” centers on 32 “core measures”: yardsticks to determine how well local criminal justice systems are working. How often do people plead guilty without a lawyer? How often do prosecutors dismiss charges? How long do people have to wait for a court hearing? Users can also slice the answers to these questions in different ways, using “companion measures” such as race and political affiliation.

Just six states are included so far, but fortunately for us, Wisconsin is one of them.  The others are Washington, Utah, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

The site is really incredible.  It allows you to zero in and compare data for measures including bail payments, diversion, dismissals, case resolution, type and length of sentence, and more.  Data is then presented by county with the option to further limit and compare by race/ethnicity, sex, age, offense severity, and offense type.

For example, here’s a screen shot from the tool comparing non violent felonies sentenced to prison by Wisconsin county further filtered by race/ethnicity.  Note that you can select specific counties to more deeply explore and compare data as shown below.

Kudos to Measures for Justice for creating this remarkable and easy-to-use tool.

New ABA Guidance on Protecting Client Confidentiality in E-communications

Yesterday, the American Bar Association issued new guidance on  protecting client confidentiality in electronic communications (Formal Opinion 477, Securing Communication of Protected Client Information).  This guidance updates a 1999 ABA opinion.

According to the new opinion,

A lawyer generally may transmit information relating to the representation of a client over the Internet without violating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct where the lawyer has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access.

However, a lawyer may be required to take special security precautions to protect against the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of client information when required by an agreement with the client or by law, or when the nature of the information requires a higher degree of security.

Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites has an excellent run-down of the opinion and its importance to legal professionals.

Guide to Grant & Publishing Resources

Have you ever thought of applying for a grant to support your research or a special project but weren’t sure how to get started?  How about publishing an article in a professional or scholarly journal?

The American Association of Law Librarians Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section Committee on Research & Scholarship has created a very useful guide to grant and publishing resources.  It’s specifically targeted toward law librarians, but the sources that it recommends are useful much more broadly.

The grants section contains sources with tips on how to apply for grants and sources of grant funding.  The publishing sections, covering both law reviews and library journals, offers lists of potential journals in which to  seek publication and tips on getting your writing accepted for publication.

One type of publication that’s not listed in the guide but should be is state bar publications.  In Wisconsin, both the Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack are excellent venues for publication for legal professionals – including law librarians.  See the submission information and writing guidelines for the Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack for more information.  Full disclosure: I’m on the State Bar of Wisconsin Communications Committee which serves as the editorial board for the Wisconsin Lawyer and have authored a number of articles for that publication myself.

WI DOJ Launches Attorney General Opinion Archive

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has recently launched an archive of formal Attorney General opinions.  The opinions, in PDF, are available from the first bound volume of opinions in 1912 to the present.

Note that the bound opinion volumes were published between 1912 and 1994.  From 1900-1912, opinions were printed in the Biennial report of the Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin.  Since 1994, individual opinions have been made available on the DOJ website.

Kudos to Amy Thornton, senior librarian, DOJ Division of Legal Services for making this collection available.

UW Law Library Celebrates a Decade of Faculty & Staff READ Posters

For the last fifteen years, the University of Wisconsin Law Library has encouraged research and learning through our National Library Week celebration.  Over the years, we’ve organized numerous events, including trivia and research contests, displays, book giveaways, and reading recommendations.  But the most popular and long lived of all our National Library Week events has been our “celebrity” READ posters featuring UW Law School faculty and staff.

Since we unveiled our first READ poster in 2006, over twenty Law School faculty and staff have been featured, each holding a book that has sparked their interest or that has had an influence in their lives.  Book subjects have varied broadly, ranging from contract law to Muslim jurisprudence, from science fiction to shoes, and from mathematical proofs to metaphysical motorcycle journeys.

In commemoration of our ten years of UW Law School faculty and staff READ posters, we’ve put together a photo book featuring all seventeen posters.  See Deputy Director, Bonnie Shucha if you’d like to view or order a copy.

All of our “celebrity” posters are permanently on display throughout the UW Law Library.  You can also see them in our Pinterest READ Posters collection.

National Library Week Events at the UW Law Library

It’s National Library Week!  Check out this year’s celebrations at the University of Wisconsin Law Library.

Monday – Law Student Book Giveaway
Watch out – free books for law students!  They go pretty quickly but there may be a few good ones left.

Tuesday – Law Library Open House for Faculty and Staff
Yesterday, we welcomed about seventy Law School faculty and staff to our first NLW Open House.  This amazing cake from Lane’s Bakery really set the theme.  How many of these classic books have you read?

NLW cake

Wednesday – Trivia Contest for Law Students
Tonight Head of Reference and Trivia Master, Kris Turner will put our law students to the test.  We’ll see how they fare against our Law Library team.

Thursday – READ Posters
Tomorrow is a great day for a Make-Your-Own READ poster at the Law Library.  Grab your favorite book and say cheese!  Stop by the Circulation Desk anytime this week to have your photo taken.
While you’re here, check out our latest faculty READ poster.  This year’s “celebrity” is Professor Larry Church – five time winner of the UW Law School Teacher of the Year Award.  For our previous posters, see our Pinterest READ Posters collection.

Larry Church

Friday – Bluebooking Tips for the Write-on and Beyond
We’ll round out the week with our ever popular Bluebooking workshop for law students preparing to write-on to one of the UW Law School’s three journals – the Wisconsin Law Review, the Wisconsin International Law Journal, and the  Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society.

But Wait, There’s More! – What Are Our Faculty & Staff Reading?
Looking for some great book recommendations?  See our LibGuide of titles recommended by UW Law School faculty and staff.