CRS Reports to be Made Publicly Available

Under a provision of the 2018 omnibus appropriations act that was passed by Congress and signed by the President earlier this month, all non-confidential Congressional Research Service  reports must be made publicly available online within 90 to 270 days.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the non-partisan public policy research arm of the United States Congress.  They produce analytical, non-partisan reports on topics of interest to members of Congress.  Because of their high quality, CRS reports are excellent resources for legislative or public policy research.

Until now, there had been no comprehensive, official public online source that provided access to this government information.  Under the new policy,  approximately 3,000 non-classified reports will be released annually.

For more information, see these articles from Demand Progress, Federation of American Scientists, and Government Executive.

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.

Steve Barkan honored by Wisconsin Law Journal for Leaders in Law Lifetime Achievement

In yesterday’s post, we were happy to announce Bonnie Shucha as the new Law Library Director of the UW Law School Library, taking over for the retiring Steve Barkan.

On February 15th, the Cover of WI Law JournalWisconsin Law Journal held their annual award ceremony honoring Leaders in Law. In addition to the 23 annual winners, Prof. Barkan was the recipient of  the Wisconsin Law Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award along with Judge John Dimotto. The ceremony was held at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

Prof. Barkan is retiring from the UW Law School after 23 years of service. Before joining the UW Law Faculty, Prof. Barkan worked at Marquette Law School, making him the only person who has been a tenured faculty member at both UW and Marquette Law. For more about Steve’s incredible career, check out his profile from the Wisconsin Law Journal’s award issue. 

It goes without saying that the UW Law Library, UW Law School and the legal community in general will miss Prof. Barkan. Thank you for all your dedicated years  of teaching, supervising, overseeing, collaborating and mentoring!

Group photo from UW Law
Prof. Steve Barkan and UW Law Colleagues at the Wisconsin Law Journal Awards Ceremony on February 15th.

Bonnie Shucha named the new UW Law Library Director

Sometimes we get to post really great news. In that vein, it is with great pleasure that I announce that Bonnie Shucha, the creator of WisBlawg, has been appointed the Law School’s Associate Dean for Library and Information Services and Director of the Law Library.  Her appointment, which followed a national search, took effect February 6.
Bonnie Shucha
Ms. Bonnie Shucha

Bonnie joined the Law Library staff in 1999.  She has served as our Reference and Electronic Services Librarian, Head of Reference, Assistant and then Associate Director for Public Services, and most recently Deputy Director.  Her professional accomplishments are extensive, and she has been an active participant in local and national  library activities and associations.  
 
Bonnie is taking over for Steve Barkan, who will be retiring this spring.  Steve, the UW Law School’s Voss–Bascom Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library, joined our Law School faculty in 1995.  He has also held library positions at Marquette Law School, the University of TX at Austin School of Law, the US Supreme Court, and the University of Southern California Law School.
Steve Barkan
Mr. Steve Barkan

Among many other activities, Steve taught Torts I and Torts II for many years.  He is chair of the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners, and he has served on numerous ABA site visits.   He is a co-author/editor of Fundamentals of Legal Research and founding editor of Perspectives.  He will be receiving a Wisconsin Law Journal Leaders in Law Lifetime Achievement Award later this month.
 
Congratulations to Bonnie on her new position and to Steve on his upcoming retirement.

Peter Christianson, class of 1977, donates rare 1876 UW Law School Diploma

Peter C. Christianson's graduation photo.
Peter C. Christianson’s graduation photo.

The Law School recently marked a reunion worthy of the school’s history and its graduates.  Pete Christianson, J.D. 1977, is a big Badger booster and avid collector of UW Homecoming commemorative buttons, and other memorabilia.  Mr. Christianson has a long family history as one of five generations of Badger lawyers.  His interest in UW Law’s history would connect him with the Old West and Henry Frawley, another UW Law School alum from 1876, when Frawley’s diploma was put up for auction this past July.  It was in the summer of 1877 Henry Frawley moved to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory, and went on to become a noted rancher and frontier attorney.  After the passing of the younger Henry “Hank” Frawley last year, his father’s 1876 law degree from the UW went up for bid.  Bidding started at $300 and Mr. Christianson got it for $500.

Christianson presenting the diploma
Mr. Christianson presenting the 1876 Frawley diploma to UW Law Faculty and Staff on February 2nd.

The plan then was to give the diploma as a gift to the Law School ahead of its 150th anniversary this year.  Mr. Christianson spoke and presented the Frawley law degree to the Law School at their Feb. 2nd Faculty Meeting.  Speaking with local columnist Doug Moe later, Mr. Christianson said of the time spent on the project, “It was a tremendous amount of fun, and I was just so happy after I bought it to find out they actually wanted it.”

The story gets more interesting.  As chance would have it, there is another diploma from 1876 hanging in the halls of the Law Library.  Clarion Augustine Youmans graduated in the same class as Henry Frawley.  Clarion Augustine Youmans made his fortune in Wisconsin and was a prominent resident of Clark County.  He wore many hats with great success during his lifetime as a farmer, lawyer, county judge, district attorney, and state senator.

Original reporting by Doug Moe A UW Law School diploma for the ages : Alum buys Deadwood resident’s paperwork at auction

Readers can learn more about Henry Frawley at the Deadwood Wall of Fame.

The Clark County Wisconsin History homepage hosts two biographies of Clarion Augustine Youmans.  The second entry has more information about him as a farmer.

Photo by Emilie Buckman, UW Law School Engagement & Outreach Coordinator

Author: Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian


Update 6/6/18:  OnWisconsin, the UW Madison alumni magazine, did a story about our two 1876s Law School diplomas.

Attorneys Rate State Circuit Court Judges in Wisconsin Judicial Performance Database

The USA TODAY NETWORK has recently published the results of a survey in which practicing attorneys throughout the state were asked to score the county judges before whom they have appeared.  The Wisconsin Judicial Performance Database compiles more than 4,000 responses rating 209 Wisconsin circuit court judges.

Below is a snapshot of the highest rated Milwaukee County judges (click on image to enlarge).

According to the article, the survey “incorporates not just the attorney survey results, but also reports the number of times lawyers sought substitute judges to avoid their courtroom, and the number of times their rulings were overturned in appeals courts.”  These figures, as shown to the right, are available on a “Details” screen for each judge.

 

For  more info on the survey, how it was conducted, and some caveats about the results, see the Green Bay Press Gazette.  Hat tip to Eric Litke, Investigative Reporter, USA TODAY NETWORK.

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!