All posts by Emma Babler

News on the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau

A recent article from Madison’s local newspaper, The Isthmus, outlines some significant cuts to the staff and services of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, particularly in the LRB research and library services department.

For example, the article cites a reduction in the number of “plain language” reviews of laws or court cases from 27 in 2014 to 11 last year. The number of reports produced by the LRB has also fallen in recent years from 22 in 2014, 16 in 2015, 5 in 2016, 1 in 2017, and none so far in 2018.

See the article for more information about the cuts as well as a bit of history of the LRB in Wisconsin.

Book Review- Table for 9: Supreme Court Food Traditions & Recipes

Brand new for your reading leisure!  This delightful book takes you way behind the scenes of the Supreme Court, and spotlights the culinary traditions that have been a part of the institution since its first session in 1790.

From cover to cover readers will be rewarded with recipes, wonderful photos, and stories brimming with history.  The author Clare Cushman, who is the Supreme Court Historical Society’s publication director, chronicles a very human side of the Justices.  Admittedly, not all their recipes or dietary habits are exactly appetizing, but there’s no accounting for taste.  The First Chief Justice, John Jay (1789-1795), liked oysters for breakfast, and there’s a recipe for scrambled eggs and oysters if that’s your thing (p.97).  Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson (1941-1954) enjoyed cowslip sandwiches for lunch (p.124).  Who knew?  Now you do.

Many of the Justices brought their lunches to work.  For Samuel A. Alito Jr. (2006-) it’s leftovers from home.  Word has it his wife is a wonderful cook.  Benjamin Cardozo (1932-1938) brought a slice of cake every day for lunch, but the other Justices teased him and he stopped bringing it (p.16).

This next one is sure to bring a laugh.  There was a time in the late nineteenth century when oral arguments were heard five days a week from noon to 4:00 p.m.  With no break for lunch, it was not uncommon for one or two of the Justices to leave their seats and slip behind the bench to take a bite.  The audience could not see them, but they could distinctly hear “the rattle of knives and forks.”  One day an advocate complained to Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller (1888-1910) that there was no quorum present.  The Chief Justice reassured him: “Although you may not see them…there are two Justices present who can hear the argument, and you may proceed.”  After many complaints, a formal lunch break was instituted from 2:00-2:30 p.m. (pp.13-15).

And how about this “A dietitian, Maryan Stevens has been credited with her husband John Paul Stevens’ longevity on the bench: he sat from 1975-2010 and was the third-longest serving Justice in history when he retired at age 90” (p.106).  His preferred lunch happens to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off (p.16).

There’s an entire chapter on Birthday Traditions, and does that pineapple coconut cake ever look good!  This would be Bill’s Birthday Cake by Natalie “Nan” Cornell Rehnquist (pp.54-55).  Another delightful chapter features Justices in the Kitchen.  Thurgood Marshall’s (1967-1991) grandmother taught him to cook although he tended not to follow recipes.  Sandra Day O’Connor (1981-2006) loved to cook and entertain.  She worked hard to revive the tradition of the Justices eating lunch together which had waned over the years.

There is so much to appreciate about this book, but you must really see it for yourself to take in its full impact.  Many of the photographs look good enough to eat, while others present the Justices as regular people enjoying the company of good food and friends.  The stories and captions that go along with them make for a wonderful hearty stew.  Bon Appétit!

This book is located in our library stacks, call number KF8742. C875 2017.

This post was written by our Evening Reference Librarian, Eric Taylor.

In Memory of Margo Melli

The Wisconsin Lawyer recently published a wonderful article celebrating the life and career of UW Law School Professor Emerita Margo Melli, who passed away on January 6, 2018.

Prof. Melli graduated at the top of her UW law class in 1949, and eventually became the first female tenure-track law professor in the history of the UW Law School.

As the article states, she was a “trailblazer” for women lawyers in Wisconsin and will certainly be missed.

WI Legislature Recently Introduced Two Bills Related to CCAP

CCAP, or the Consolidated Court Automation Program, is the Wisconsin electronic circuit court case management system. Recently, several bills were introduced in the Wisconsin legislature regarding CCAP.

 

Both of these bills, Assembly Bill 723 and Senate Bill 612, list what categories of information should be provided and searchable on CCAP, including:

 

  • County where charges were filed
  • Judge assigned to the case
  • All cases adjudicated by the judge
  • The criminal charge filed
  • Whether the case resulted in a conviction
  • The penalty that was imposed, if any, in the case

 

This is certainly something we’ll be keeping our eyes on in the near future!

It’s Not Science Fiction, It’s a New Way to Search

Here in law library-land, we’re all familiar with the concept of “citation chasing”- i.e., finding one good on-point article and then mining its citations, footnotes, and citing sources for other relevant articles. But what if there were a way to let an algorithm look at the relevant article you’d already found and mine it for keywords, ultimately generating you a list of other relevant articles?

 

Sound like science fiction? It’s not- this is a basic description of JSTOR’s new tool, “Text Analyzer.”

 

This tool allows you to place large chunks of text (or even the entire text of an article!) into its search box, which will then analyze the text and return other relevant JSTOR articles. If you’ve ever used the “related articles” link on Google Scholar (another great way to citation chase), it’s a similar algorithm. EBSCO also has a similar tool.

 

However, JSTOR’s Text Analyzer does several things these tools do not. Text Analyzer will also provide a list of what it has identified as relevant keywords in the article, along with importance/prominence. After you’ve run your search, though, you can play with these keywords and elevate their importance, or add or delete keywords in order to re-run your search. Therein lies the true strength of this new tool- not assuming that the search or algorithm gives perfect results right away, but allowing the user to tweak and re-tweak in order to find what they are looking for. It’s still not perfect, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction as far as search engines go, and I’m hoping this pushes other search engines to develop similar and even better tools for searching.

UW Law Professor Emeritus Herman Goldstein Awarded the 2018 Stockholm Prize in Criminology

UW Law Professor Emeritus Herman Goldstein has been awarded the 2018 Stockholm Prize in Criminology, as announced today.

This prize recognizes Prof. Goldstein as “the world’s most influential scholar on modern police strategy.”

Goldstein’s seminal 1977 book, “Policing a Free Society” and its 1990 follow-up, “Problem-Oriented Policing,” discussed police authority and discretion as well as conduct and corruption, and posited strategies for improving police function. His strategy of “problem-oriented policing” has been adopted in various forms by a large number of police agencies in the United States and internationally.

Goldstein based much of his early work on his own experiences in the mid-1950s and early 1960s with city management and policing– he spent two years as a researcher for the American Bar Foundation Survey of the Administration of Criminal Justice, observing police operations in Wisconsin and Michigan, and then was executive assistant to O.W. Wilson, the “architect of the professional model of policing” and superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. After these experiences and subsequent writings, Goldstein received a Ford Foundation grant to continue his work within a law school setting, and he joined the Wisconsin law faculty in 1964.

See the law school’s official announcement here  for additional information, as well as this recent oral history interview with Prof. Goldstein (hosted by the UW Law Library’s Digital Repository).

Congratulations, Prof. Goldstein!

Access LLMC Digital Remotely With Your Wisconsin State Law Library Card

LLMC Digital is a searchable archive of historical primary legal sources for Wisconsin, the United States, and other jurisdictions. Wisconsin materials included in LLMC’s collections include historical Wisconsin reports, session laws, and statutes. A large number of secondary sources including federal government periodicals and treatises are also searchable via LLMC.

The Wisconsin State Law Library has recently announced that with your Wisconsin State Law Library card, you can now log into LLMC Digital from outside the library.

Wisconsin State Law Library cardholders also have off-site access to HeinOnline, the Index to Legal Periodicals and Books, and Legal Trac.

Arrest Data Analysis Tool Available from Bureau of Justice Statistics

Established in 1949, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is the United States’ primary source for criminal justice statistics. BJS publishes many reports such as the seminal Crime in the United States as well as several data analysis tools. The Arrest Data Analysis Tool, for example, allows users to generate tables and graphs of national arrest data from 1980 onward. The results can be customized either by age and sex or by age group and race for more than 25 offenses.

Users can also view data on local arrests because the arrest data is compiled from the reporting of individual law enforcement agencies. The FBI has collected arrest counts for several decades now through its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program which forms the backbone of the underlying statistics. Over 18,000 city, university/college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily participate in the program covering about 80% of the U.S resident population. The output from this dynamic tool can be downloaded to Excel format.

This User’s Guide will help you get started.

This post was authored by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian at the UW Law Library

Update from 511 Wisconsin to Help You Plan Your Next Trip!

511 Wisconsin is a website with up-to-date information about Wisconsin traffic, travel, road conditions, etc.

According to the website, “We’re updating the 511 Wisconsin website with additional features that will help My 511WI users personalize travel planning needs. These enhancements mean that all My 511WI users will need to re-enroll when the new site goes live on Wednesday, July 12. When you visit www.511wi.gov that morning, you’ll notice a new look with a responsive, mobile-friendly design that’s engineered to maximize the ‘know before you go’ experience.”

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.