2016 WI State Capitol Ornament Features Supreme Court Hearing Room

Looking for a holiday gift for the attorney on your list?  This year’s Wisconsin State Capitol Ornament features the beautiful State Supreme Court Hearing Room.

ornament

According to The Third Branch, newsletter of the Wisconsin Judiciary,  the ornament “is a replica design of the most prominent
features of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Hearing Room,
including The Signing of the Constitution, the carved
mahogany judicial bench, and pilasters of Italian Breche
Coraline marble.”

Since 2004, the proceeds from ornament sales have
supported over $70,000 in restoration projects around the
Capitol building. Previous ornament sales have helped to
fund the visitor’s bird’s-eye view from the glass perch inside
the dome of the State Capitol.

The State Capitol Ornament is presented by the Wisconsin Historical Foundation and is available for purchase from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

New Site Aims to Make Every CRS Report Publicly Available Online

If you’ve ever tried looking for a CRS Report, you know that they can be very difficult to track down.  A new site called everyCRSreport.com is hoping to make them more publicly accessible online.

Currently the site includes 8,260 CRS reports, although that number will change regularly.  It’s unclear what date range is covered by the site, although it does say that “if you’re looking for older reports, our good friends at CRSReports.com may have them.”

[update 10/27: Per @danielschuman at Demand Progress “the @EveryCRSReport website has all the reports currently available to congress. They can go back to the 90s, but not usually.”]

If you’re not familiar with CRS Reports, they are reports issued by the Congressional Research Service which is a legislative branch agency housed inside the Library of Congress.  These reports contain analytical, non-partisan information on topics of interest to members of Congress. 

Although the reports are works of the United States Government and not subject to copyright protection, the federal government has, thus far, not made them publicly available.  Numerous non profits and commercial vendors have been working to fill the gap.

According to the website, EveryCRSReport.com is a project of Demand Progress in collaboration with the Congressional Data Coalition — a bipartisan coalition founded by Demand Progress and the R Street Institute to promote open legislative information.

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.

WI State Law Library Named in Honor of Justice Prosser

In a ceremony on October 19, the Wisconsin State Law Library was officially named the David T. Prosser, Jr. State Law Library.

From the State Law Library blog:

The event, attended by a number of public officials, marked Prosser’s 40 years of public service on the Supreme Court, Tax Appeals Commission, and Legislature prior to his retirement in July of 2016.  [The] ceremony was also an opportunity to highlight the library’s 180 years of service to the State of Wisconsin.

For more information, see the WI Court System’s press release.

UW Law Library Celebrates 35th Anniversary as US Government Documents Depository

This month, the UW Law Library celebrates its 35th anniversary as a Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Selective Depository.

As a Selective Depository, the Law Library receives certain classes of federal government documents free of cost and makes them available to the university and law school communities and to the general public.  The Law Library also houses some documents for the UW Madison General Library System which serves as a Regional Depository.

Our Documents Assistant, Margaret Booth, has created a lovely display entitled “Documents Through the Decades” showcasing the history of our 35 years in the FDLP and some interesting documents of various media types.  There are even a few floppy disks – remember those?

fdlp1

There are also some giveaways, including brochures, pocket constitutions, bookmarks, notepads, and pencils.

fdlp2

Latest on the Pacer Litigation

There is a good piece on the latest in the Pacer litigation on Quartz.  Several non-profits claim that fees charged by Pacer, an online database of papers filed by litigants in the US federal courts, exceed the cost of providing the records.

While the 10 cents a page that most people are charged to view documents doesn’t sound like much, critics say that the very existence of the paywall has stifled the development of tools to meaningfully search and analyze the data.

“You should be able to say, for example, ‘Give me everything that has the word motion in its description and that talks about copyright,’” says Mike Lissner, executive director of the nonprofit Free Law Project. “That’s not possible.”

Lissner, whose group provides free online access to primary legal materials, says the system’s shortcomings are a direct result of the fees attached to Pacer documents. “If the data were free,” he says, “you’d see an ecosystem cropping up with competitive services improving it.”

The case is currently before the US District Court for the District of Columbia.  Judge Ellen Huvelle is expected to decide in the coming days whether a lawsuit accusing the government of setting Pacer fees at unlawfully high rates can proceed.

Head of Reference position open at the UW Law Library

The UW Law Library invites applications for the position of Head of Reference. The Head of Reference is responsible for overseeing the reference and instructional service programs of the Law Library. The position directly supervises four reference librarians.

A full position description with application instructions is available at http://www.ohr.wisc.edu/Weblisting/External/PVLSummaryApply.aspx?pvl_num=88230

Please contact Bonnie Shucha with any questions about the position.  To ensure consideration, applications must be received by October 23, 2016.  Anticipated start date is January 2017.

– Update 10/11/16:  Although the preferred start date is January 2017, we will consider candidates who may be unable to start until May or June 2017.  Please indicate possible delayed start date in your cover letter.

Florida 1st State to Mandate Technology CLE for Lawyers

The Florida Supreme Court has approved a rule requiring state lawyers to take technology-related CLE courses.

From Ambrogi’s LawSites:

The rule change, ordered by the Supreme Court of Florida on Thursday, added a requirement that Florida lawyers must complete three hours of CLE every three years “in approved technology programs.” The rule raises the state’s minimum credit hours from 30 to 33 to accommodate the tech requirement.

For more information, see the ABA Journal.

Predicting Bar Exam Success Using LSAT Scores and Law School Performance

A team from Texas Tech University School of Law has recently released a very interesting study entitled, Will I Pass the Bar Exam?: Predicting Student Success Using LSAT Scores and Law School Performance.

Here’s the abstract:

Texas Tech University School of Law has undertaken a statistical analysis of its recent alumni, comparing their performance in law school with their success on the Texas bar exam. The authors conclude that LSAT predicts bar exam success while undergraduate GPA does not. The study also replicates findings in previous literature that both 1L and final law school GPA predict bar exam success.

Going beyond existing literature, this study also conducted more specific analysis of how student performance in specific courses can predict success on affiliated subcomponents of the bar exam; the Article identifies which courses have significant impact on bar exam performance and which do not.

Additionally, the Article reports a completely new analysis of whether student participation in curricular student engagement activities (such as journal, clinic, and advocacy competitions) predicts bar exam success.

Read more details at the Law School Academic Support Blog