All posts by Kris Turner

Making case law accessible to all

There have been some very exciting advances in the fight to make court documents more freely accessible to everyone. As many legal researchers and law librarians are aware, many legal materials can be relatively rare or sheltered behind a paywall. Movements are afoot to change this, at least in part, and there has been progress over the past several months.

Harvard’s Case Law Access Project, which involves scanning scanning in Harvard’s entire collection of case law books, recently scanned it’s last volume. That may sound blase, but that means that nearly 44,000 volumes with roughly 40 million pages of case law have been digitized. This case law will be made freely available to anyone who needs to review it.

In addition to finishing their scanning, Harvard also recommended providing bulk digital data of future case law to make it easier to add to the currently scanned collection.  The director of Cornell’s LII and a Professor of Law from Indiana University also testified on behalf of the continued digitally accessible case law.

Lastly, and potentially most exciting, was the announcement by the Internet Archive of their desire to store PACER records from Federal Courts and make them freely available.  While it remains to be seen if this proposal will come to fruition, it is another indication of legal material becoming more easily available to anybody. For now, many PACER documents can be found via RECAP, a free website that is co-run by the Internet Archive and Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy.

As you search for case law and other legal materials, imagine how that process may become easier as it all migrates to the open web!

Position Annoucement: Reference and Technology Services Librarian

The University of Wisconsin Law School Library invites applications for the position of Reference and Technology Librarian. The Reference and Technology Librarian will be responsible for promoting and implementing technology that will support faculty, students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Law School in their research and scholarship as well as thorough legal research and reference assistance.

The full position description and questions about the application process can be found at: http://jobs.hr.wisc.edu/cw/en-us/job/494295/reference-and-technology-law-librarian

To ensure consideration, applications must be received by March 12, 2017. Contact Kris Turner with any questions about the position.

Lexis.com retiring from Law Schools on December 31

It’s the end of an era as Lexis.com, the long-running and highly regarded database says its final goodbyes to the Law School community.

With 100% of Lexis content now migrated to Lexis Advance, the small amount of loyal Lexis.com users will have to prepare for the switch to Lexis Advance, which has slowly been becoming the primary Lexis database over the past several years.

Both Lexis and Westlaw have transitioned to their new platforms and retired their flagship databases in recent years.

The University of Wisconsin Law School announces the Bhopal Digital Repository

Last week, the UW Law School hosted a symposium on the Bhopal Disaster, which killed thousands of people in the Bhopal region of India, left a long legal trail, and is still controversial to this day.

As a part of that symposium, the UW Law Library, in conjunction with faculty members Mitra Sharafi, Sumudu Atapattu and Marc Galanter, launched “Bhopal: Law Accidents and Disasters in India: A Digital Archive initiated by Marc Galanter“.  This digital archive, housing nearly 3,500 scanned items related to Bhopal, is freely available for anyone to use.  The resources range from court documents and newspaper clippings to embedded video and other secondary resources. The court documents can be downloaded as full-text PDFs from anywhere in the world, while the newspaper clippings can be downloaded at the Law School.

Professor Marc Galanter, who was involved in the Bhopal legal case in the United States, provides pertinent background history and context for new researchers, and his collection is what both inspired and formed the foundation for the digital archive.

Researchers can quickly do a full-text search across the entire collection or narrow down to search only newspaper clippings or court documents. A bibliography of related Bhopal resources is also included.

Potentially the most exciting part of the Bhopal archive is that it will continue to grow. As other Bhopal scholars volunteer their unique material, it will be reviewed and added to the collection, thereby strengthening the usefulness of the collection itself.

The Bhopal collection is the first special collection of the UW Law School Digital Repository.  If there are any questions about the Bhopal collection or the repository itself, please feel free to contact Kris Turner, or more information can be found at the UW Law School Library website.

Recent UW Law School Faculty Scholarship

Here is the latest faculty scholarship appearing in 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!

“Follow the Chicken”: a transcript and video of law gone weird

 

As with all careers, there are times when lawyers must question their professional choices. I think that the attorneys involved in this deposition with the man who ‘follows the chicken’ most certainly had a few of those moments, though they probably got a few laughs out of it as well. The New York Times, too, found some humor in this depo, having actors play out the story that the attorneys were trying to scratch out of their man.

Enjoy, and breathe a sigh of relief that you didn’t take part in questioning this gentleman.

 

Wisconsin Blue Book 2015-2016 Available Online

Post written by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian:

The 2015-2016 edition of the Wisconsin Blue Book is now available on the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau website.
What is the Wisconsin Blue Book?

The State of Wisconsin Blue Book remains the primary one-volume reference source about the state, documenting the organization of the state’s three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial).
Typically, each volume includes extensive description and statistics on virtually all aspects of life in Wisconsin, including major sections on the state’s population, geography, history, election data, educational resources, social services, finance, agriculture, industry, transportation system, etc. Various useful lists are also provided, such as of statewide associations, news media, local governmental units, post offices, political parties, etc.
[from the UWDC]

Each edition contains a feature article. This time, the article is entitled “Wisconsin in the Civil War.”
Prior editions of the Wisconsin Blue Book are available at the LRB website from the 2005-2006 edition through present. Older editions from 1853 to the 2003-2004 edition are available at the UW Digital Collections website.

Hein Online adds an email delivery option

 

Good news for all you Hein-heads out there (I am certainly one of them). Hein Online recently added a great new feature to their interface where you can email a link to a Hein PDF…and anybody can access it, whether they are authenticated by Hein or not.

Granted the link will expire after 7 days (if the user isn’t authenticated…if they are it will never expire), but that is still more than enough time to share research or a great article with a colleague or student that may not know how to access Hein or not have access at all.

For full directions on how to email these PDFs straight from your Hein search, check out Hein’s blog post. Happy Hein-ing!