Friday 30 January 2009

Google Streetview fighting crime?

The Google subnet has a story about how Google StreetView & Google Earth is being used to solve crimes. In one case, StreetView was instrumental in returning a kidnapped Massachusetts girl safely to her home (she was kidnapped by her grandmother and taken to a motel in rural Virginia and police were able to track her down using her cellphone and Google StreetView). In another case, GoogleEarth helped a Swiss police team detect a 1.2-acre marijuana field and nab the gang responsible.
These incidents may help make up for the recent story of a Google StreetView camera car killing "Bambi" - a baby deer.

Superbowl closing

The Barco Law Building and Barco Law Library will close at 6 pm on Superbowl Sunday. Pittsburgh police will close the streets of the Oakland neighborhood, home of both Pitt and CMU, at 9 pm. on Superbowl Sunday.
Go Steelers!

Legal Professionals on Twitter

Justia has compiled a list of legal professionals on Twitter, complete with pictures and a map of locations.

Dept. of Defense releases annual review of mission

The Department of Defense has announced the release of the 2009 Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review (QRM) Report to Congress (48 page pdf) in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. Although the department has completed similar reviews in the past, this was the first review conducted with the intention of establishing a framework for performing roles and missions analysis on a recurring basis every four years.
In the review, the DoD defines its core missions and core competencies and reviews recent efforts undertaken across the force to improve its ability to conduct joint operations in several evolving mission areas.
The report concludes with the DoD's vision to support maturation of "whole-of-government" (interagency) approaches to national security problems.

"Browse Topics" looking for volunteers

Browse Topics, a pathway to federal websites by topic, is a service of the Federal Depository Library Program. It is maintained by volunteers from the FDL community from institutions across the United States and sponsored by the U.S. Government Printing Office. The editors are looking for contributors in the area of Agriculture; anyone interested in contributing should see the Contributors page on the Browse Topics website.
The topics in the area of Agriculture include:
Animals and Livestock
Education and Outreach
Food and Nutrition
History, Art, and Biography
Laws and Regulations
Marketing and Trade
Plants and Crops
Research and Technology
Rural and Community Development

Thursday 29 January 2009

Census report on Educational Attainment in the US

The Census Bureau has released a new report, “Educational Attainment in the United States, 2007,” (16 page pdf). The data comes from two separate sources: the estimates of current educational attainment come from the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS), while historical trends in median annual earnings come from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Some of the statistics it contains: Of people age 25 or older who live in the United States but who were born elsewhere, 10.9 percent have an advanced degree, while only 9.9 percent of those born in the United States have one; 10.7 percent of men have an advanced degree v. 9.6 percent of women; among racial and ethnic groups, 19.6 percent of Asian Americans have an advanced degree, followed by 11.3 percent of non-Hispanic white people, 5.8 percent of black people, and 3.9 percent of Hispanics. A map on page 7 showing the "Percent of People Aged 25 and Over Who Have Completed High School or More Education Relative to the National Mean by State: 2007" is remarkably split along north/south lines, with only New York joining southen states in being below the mean and only Florida joining northern states in being above the mean.

PACER news

Yesterday I emailed PACER to ask about the cost and payment system for court documents - over a year ago there was a pilot project offering free access to PACER from a few select libraries with the hope that eventually PACER might be free in other libraries. Here's the answer I got back from PACER today: "The free access from certain libraries has been suspended indefinitely. There is no plan to change our payment system in the future." Sounds pretty final.

NFL oks Superbowl in churches

The NFL says that churches can show the Superbowl coverage big-screen TVs without fear of violating copyright laws, according to a report. In 2007, many churches cancelled Super Bowl parties after the National Football League (NFL) warned an Indiana church that it would be illegal to show the game on anything larger than a 55-inch screen. But members of Congress threatened to change copyright laws, and the NFL dropped the restriction beginning with this year's Super Bowl. Churches may show the game on any monitor, so long as they do not charge admission and hold the party at a location used for other large gatherings.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

New lawyer directory launched

The Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell law school recently launched a new, free online directory of lawyers. The directory is the result of a year-long collaboration with Justia, and promises to be a useful and comprehensive source of information about lawyers.

New website about the author of "Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties"

Government Documents and the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have announced the launch of a website entitled Charles J. Kappler - A Life Beyond Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. The site provides a portrait Kappler (1868–1946), the person who was the first to compile these important American Indian legal materials. He was a staff member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs; served as co-counsel in the first case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague; brought important tribal issues before the courts just a quarter century after the Battle of the Little Big Horn; and participated in a number of major Indian law cases before the United States Supreme Court, prior to the creation of the Indian Claims Commission.

Panorama of the Inauguration

During the Obama Presidential Inauguration last Tuesday photographer David Bergman attached a robotic arm called the Gigapan Imager onto a railing and snapped 220 images with his Canon G10 to create this amazingly detailed image.
A regular camera fits into the Gigapan Imager. The photographer marks the corners of the panorama and Gigapan calculates how many pictures the camera needs to snap. The robotic device captures hundreds or thousands of photos, and Gigapan software integrates the image afterward. Bergman says that it took his Macbook Pro six and a half hours to finalize the nearly 2 gigabyte image--the highest resolution panorama of the inauguration.
The Gigapan Imager was developed as part of a larger project between Carnegie Mellon University, Google, NASA and National Geographic to create high quality images for maps and disaster relief efforts.

hat tip: MIT Technology Review

Monday 26 January 2009

PACER recycling

Carl Malamud and his organization Public Resource have a project to "recycle" documents that you buy from PACER, the Federal Judiciary's centralized registration, billing, and technical support center for electronic access to U.S. District, Bankruptcy, and Appellate court records. They have a page of FAQs to answer any questions you may have - and, by the way, provide some interesting stats on PACER usage and fees.
Here are the simple instructions from the site for how to recycle your PACER documents:
"Just upload all your PACER Documents to our recycling bin. Click on the recycle bin and you'll be presented with a dialogue to choose files to upload. Then, just hit the “Start Upload” button and you'll hear the sounds of progress as your documents get reinjected into the public domain.
We'll take the documents, look at them, and then put them onto for future distribution. This is a manual process and you won't see your documents show up right away. But, over time, we hope to accumulate a significant database of PACER Documents. "

HeinOnline blog demos

The HeinOnline blog uses the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to demonstrate how to use their new social indexing tool, Hein's ScholarCheck. They show how you can look up the case in the Supreme Court library (or just by searching) and once you have the case you see immediately the number of scholarly journal articles that cite to it and how many times these articles are cited by other scholars.

Mednar search engine for health information

Deep Web Technologies’ Mednar has been named the 2008 best health information search engine by AltSearchEngines, a well-respected blog that focuses on specialty search engines.
Mednar (still in beta) is a one-stop federated search engine designed for professional medical researchers. It enables users to quickly access information from a multitude of credible sources, including deep web content not indexed by popular search engines. “Mednar offers access to an array of databases that are simply not mined by other health search engines and features a dependable email alert service that enables users to keep up on the latest publications on the medical topics of their choice,” said AltSearchEngines reviewer Hope Leman. “Mednar is the Secretariat and gold medal winner of medical search at this point.”

Advice on dealing with law school debt

Slate has an article entitled "The Law School Debt Trap: How to escape it and have a career in public service law" prompted by a question from a law student with $100,000 in debt. The article offers several partial solutions ranging from debt forgiveness programs to fellowships to frugal living.

Britannica 2.0

Search Engine Journal reports that Britannica 2.0 is ready for launch, and among its new features it will allow users to edit, enhance, and contribute to the online encylopedia Wikipedia-style. Any changes or additions made to Britannica entries online would have to be vetted by one of the company's staff or freelance editors before the changes were reflected on the live site.
The encyclopedia had set a benchmark of a 20-minute turnaround to update the site with user-submitted edits to existing articles, which are written by the encyclopedia's paid expert contributors. They hope that researches will turn to Britannica 2.0 as a more authoritative source of information which still has the agility of Wikipedia.

New: Who Runs Gov blog

The Washington Post has launched a new blog called "WhoRunsGov". According to the first post, "With a new presidential administration in town for the first time in eight years, there will be hundreds of new faces appearing on the subway, in congressional hearings, on K Street and of course in the White House. And many of us will be asking: Who Are They?". The blog will be an ever-growing database of government power-brokers containing key information on new administration officials, lawmakers, senior Hill aides and ultimately interest group and think tank experts. The WaPo staff are currently adding professional profiles of people in the government - you can browse the list; the blog says that eventually readers will be able to add or edit profiles too.

The Clery Act and campus crime stats

The Chronicle of HIgher Education has a story that discusses the Clery Act and its effectiveness. The Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges to send the government lengthy reports on campus crime each year, detailing their policies and tallying their total crimes. It was intended to inform families, to change students' behavior, and to keep them safe. But research on the use of the reports shows that very few students look — and even those who seek solid information can't find it. The article concludes that the Clery Act has created more bureaucracy on campus yet the information on campus crimes tends to be deceptive and confusing.

Friday 23 January 2009

Are law schools exploiting students?

The ABA Journal has a report that the dean of New York Law School, Richard Matasar, said that law schools are exploiting their students who fail to succeed. He made the remarks, available in a podcast, at a program at the recent Association of American Law Schools meeting. He is quoted as saying that “We own our students' outcomes. We took them. We took their money. We live on their money. … And if they don't have a good outcome in life, we're exploiting them. It's our responsibility to own the outcomes of our institutions. If they're not doing well ... it's gotta be fixed. Or we should shut the damn place down. And that's a moral responsibility that we bear in the academy.” In a recent year at 50 law schools, 20 percent of the students either flunked out, can’t find jobs or have unknown outcomes. And many students graduate with a staggering amount of debt: another ABA Journal article tells the story of divorcing law school grads who were unable to cope with their combined $190,000 debt despite both earning six figure salaries. Both articles point to a recent story in Forbes magazine entitled "The Great College Hoax" that questions the idea that higher education is always a good investment.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Google calendar desktop gadget

If you use Google calendar, you will be pleased to hear that Google has just released a gadget that lets you keep your Google calendar on your desktop. You can click on an event to see details, including a map of the location, a list of attendees, and start and end times.

Peanut butter recalls from the FDA

The FDA has provided an online website and search form that lets you find out whether a peanut butter or peanut butter product that concerns you is on the recall list. It includes everything from Keebler peanut butter crackers to Trader Joe's celery with peanut butter to Peanut Toffee Buzz Clif bars.

Westlaw FormFinder now in academic passwords

Westlaw FormFinder is now included in Westlaw Academic passwords. You can use it when you're looking for a single, specific form. FormFinder contains literally hundreds of thousands of forms including federal, state-specific, and general forms. It includes major national treatises and form sets as well eforms and checklists. The forms are indexed into 45 distinct categories with subcategories to help zero in on a needed form. It's available from the top navigation bar on the Westlaw screen.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Inauguration coverage live from MSNBC

Obama Inauguration Coverage

For coverage of the Obama inauguration, check out Obama.alltop. Forty five websites and blogs including the Washington Post, New York Times, and Twitter--all at quick glance and updated continuously.

Friday 16 January 2009

Mergent Web Reports database

Mergent WebReports is now available through ULS. This database provides access to a vast archive of corporate and industry related information. It consists of the full contents of the Mergent/Moody's Manuals back to 1909. ULS will receive future editions of the Mergent Manuals via this database rather than in print.
NOTE: This title is not yet on the Databases A-Z list; it may not go up before everyone at ULS heads to the winter ALA meeting. There is a record in PITTCat with a link or you can just go directly to Mergent WebReports .

GPO's Federal Digital System now in beta

GPO’s snazzy new website called the Federal Digital System (FDsys) is now available in beta, and they want your feedback. The site provides public access to government information submitted by Congress and Federal agencies and preserved as technology changes. According to the site, the migration of information from GPO Access to FDsys will be complete in mid-2009. The migration is occurring on a collection-by-collection basis. Collections currently available on FDsys are:
Compilation of Presidential Documents (1993 to Present)
Congressional Bills (103rd Congress to Present)
Congressional Documents (104th Congress to Present)
Congressional Hearings (105th Congress to Present)
Congressional Record (1994 to Present)
Congressional Reports (104th Congress to Present)
Federal Register (1994 to Present)
Public and Private Laws (104th Congress to Present)

In conjunction with the change of administration on January 20, 2009, the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents will provide more timely access to Presidential Documents by making materials available in electronic format on a daily basis.
Visually, the site is light years ahead of the GPO Access site. We'll have to test whether it's better at finding information.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Judge rules RIAA case can be televised

A federal judge ruled today that Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society can broadcast online a hearing in a recording-industry lawsuit scheduled for January 22. Sony BMG Music Entertainment is suing Joel Tenenbaum, a graduate student at Boston University, for alleged copyright infringement. "The public benefit of offering a more complete view of these proceedings is plain, especially via a medium so carefully attuned to the Internet Generation captivated by these file-sharing lawsuits," Judge Nancy Gertner wrote. Coverage will be gavel to gavel. Courtroom View Network will work with the court's IT department to stream video footage from cameras already installed in the courtroom to the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Berkman will cover all costs for the streaming and the video feed acquisition, and the footage will be placed on the web for all to watch.

Congress on YouTube

YouTube has launched 2 new channels in conjunction with Congress, one for the House of Representatives and one for the Senate. According to the YouTube blog, "as the 111th Congress kicks into gear, many of your elected representatives are starting their own YouTube channels. They're posting videos direct from their Washington offices, as well as clips of floor speeches and committee hearings alongside additional behind-the-scenes footage from Capitol Hill. " When you go to these channels you can click on a map of the US to find out if your representatives have any videos on YouTube.

hat tip: Sallie Smith

Twitter for lawyers?

This week on the legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer there is an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of Twitter as a tool for legal professionals. Twitter , a popular social networking and micro-blogging service has been both praised and shunned by legal professionals. bloggers and co-hosts J. Craig Williams and Robert Ambrogi discuss the pros and cons of Twitter and whether it is a phenomenon or a necessity for lawyers and law firms with Kevin O’Keefe, CEO of LexBlog and owner of LexMonitor, and attorney Scott Greenfield, author of the blog Simple Justice.
Download or listen to the show at the Legal Talk Network.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Supreme Court clerkships

Prof. Brian Leiter at the University of Chicago law school has compiled a list of law schools that have placed students in S. Ct. clerkships and the total number of clerks hired from each law school by an active justice of the Supreme Court. He also looks at class size , saying that "the total number of clerks divided by recent class size is not a measure of the likelihood of getting a Supreme Court clerkship, but rather some indication of the relative success of schools in placing graduates as Supreme Court clerks taking into account their size."
No surprises, the top 5 are Harvard, Yale, U. Chicago, Stanford and Columbia.

Monday 12 January 2009

Law professor Barack Obama

There's a fascinating video interview on CNBC in which Douglas Baird, University of Chicago Law School professor, discusses how he gave President-elect Barack Obama his academic career start and Prof. Obama's teaching style.


If you like Wikipedia, take a look at a new site called VisualWikipedia. It contains the same information as Wikipedia (All article text is derived from Wikipedia and licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License- the site has no connection to the Wikipedia organization) but presents the information differently, more visually. It makes iteasier to navigate the huge amounts of information. When you point your to one of those many internal Wikipedia links a window pops up showing the first paragraphs of text on that page - so you can find out if the page is of interest before you click.
Other features: each article is followed by a tag cloud and often a mind map detailing how the subject of the article relates to other concepts; and in the right margin of the articles you can browse related YouTube videos. The Main Page has news articles, a featured article, a section of "On this day", and some interesting factoids from recent Wikipedia entries.

Sign Language Dictionary

Technology Review has an interesting story about some researchers at BU who are developing a searchable dictionary for sign language, where any user can enter a gesture into a dictionary's search engine from any online computer by signing in front of a built-in camera. It is still a work in progress but a very interesting one.

Supreme Court

Cornell's Legal Information Institute blog reminds us that the Supreme Court January argument round starts today, and they kindly provide the schedule of cases that will be heard as well as links to the LII analysis of each case:
Monday, 12 January:
Coeur Alaska v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (w/ Alaska v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council)(Clean Water Act, mining discharge, effluent limitations)
Ministry of Defense of Iran v. Elahi (Iran-US Claims Tribunal, Terrorism Risk Insurance Act)
Harbison v. Bell (Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act, counsel, capital punishment)
Tuesday, 13 January:
Montejo v. Louisiana (insanity, habeas, ineffective assistance of counsel)
Vermont v. Brillon (indigent, assigned counsel, Wingo test)
Knowles v. Mirzayance (Sixth Amendment, Miranda)
Wednesday, 14 January:
Puckett v. United States (sentencing, plain error doctrine)
Boyle v. United States (RICO, due process, 5th Amendment)
Wednesday, 21 January:
Corley v. United States (Miranda, FRCP 5a, McNabb-Mallory)
Kansas v. Ventris (6th Amendment, right to counsel, perjury)
Nken v. Mukasey
And US Law Week reports that the Supreme Court today denied review in 94 cases on its appellate docket.

TWEN and course websites now on one page

With the help of WL rep Ryan Vandegrift and Law School webmaster Mark Frey I've created a webpage on the law school site that has links to all the TWEN courses for the spring semester and also has links to course websites that have been created by faculty on their own. Hope it's useful.

Friday 9 January 2009

2009 Consumer Electronics Show

The 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES)is underway in Las Vegas. This is where techies from all over the world gather to check out the hottest new and emerging technologies. So far the standout entry is the Palm Pre, which won't be available for 6 months. Here's TechCrunch's Peter Ha and Pop17's Sarah Austin describing the Palm Pre - and saying that they will immediately toss their iPhones and Blackberries when they can get their hands on a Palm Pre.

Thursday 8 January 2009


I was recently lamenting that published collections of epistolary correspondence will soon be extinct. But here's something new that reflects modern ways of communication: the blook. Legal Blog Watch reports that one law blogger has compiled 471 of his past blog posts (on outside counsel management) into a 290-page PDF blook (a hybrid of a blog and a book).

Word Warriors: words that deserve more use

Wayne State University has started a website called Word Warriors, a list of neglected but eminently useful words that they would like to bring back into fashion. According to the webiste, "Not all these words will make our list of top choices, but there's a great deal of quality here, most are wonderful additions to anyone's vocabulary, and all could use some exercise." Best of all, you can nominate your fave words for inclusion in the list. Hmmmm.

New databases added to the Pitt ULS A to Z list

Dennis Smith, the Coordinator for Collection Development for the University Library System, has announced that the following databases have been added to the A-Z List. These are databases that are available freely on the internet. They are key resources in their respective fields, and it was determined that they should be added to our list of available databases. 1. Compact Memory: offers actual reproductions of important research journals for German-Jewish history and genealogy research, covering the entire German-speaking world.
EUR-Lex (The portal to European Union law): provides direct access to European Union law. Contains the Official Journal of the European Union as well as treaties, legislation, case-law and legislative proposals.
Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS Online): a bibliography on Latin America consisting of works selected and annotated by scholars. Edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, the multidisciplinary Handbook alternates annually between the social sciences and the humanities.
Hebrew University Antisemitism Studies: This database searches four sources of information on antisemitism: Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism; Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archives; Oral History Department – Contemporary Jewry: Demography – Contemporary Jewry.
Latin American Periodicals Tables of Contents (LAPTOC): a searchable Web database that provides access to the tables of contents of more than 950 journals, primarily in the humanities and social sciences, published in Latin America. (The ULS is a participating library in this project.)
Latindex: includes a directory and catalogue of scholarly journals produced in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. The interface is in Spanish. Links to online full text are provided when available.
Orion Dead Sea Scrolls Bibliography: This resource indexes books, articles and reviews related to the Dead Sea Scrolls from 1995 to the present.
Social Science Research Network (SSRN): SSRN is devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research and is composed of a number of specialized research networks in each of the social sciences.

What do you want to know?

The Boston Public Library has rolled out a cool new marketing campaign called "What do you want to know?" Watch the ads on their website - they feature real BPL Librarians. My favorite line: "I can answer any question, big or small, kind of like a search engine... only more awesome."

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Pitt Law TWEN courses

With the help of Ryan Vandegrift, our ever-helpful Westlaw rep, and Mark Frey, law school webmaster, we now have a page on the website that lists all the TWEN courses for the Spring '09 semester. The list also provides links directly into a place where students can enroll for that class by logging into Westlaw.

Jury duty = Art?

The online American Gallery of Juror Art features doodles and drawings created by jurors. One of the most pleasing images is by Pittsburgher Elizabeth Perry, a drawing she did during jury duty.

hat tip BoingBoing

Friday 2 January 2009

Law Journal Rankings Database updated

The law journal rankings database at Washington and Lee has been updated through 2008. According to the a law librarian there, an extra effort was made this year to rank all listed journals (in previous years a significant number of law journals had been listed in the database but not ranked). The rankings use both total cites and impact-factor; the website has a detailed description of how ranking is determined.

Thursday 1 January 2009

US Code on GPO Access

GPO Access has the 2006 Edition of the U.S. Code available online (Titles 1 – 41, with the exception of Title 38A). In addition, the United States Code browse feature has been restored. The browse feature allows you to browse individual U.S. Code titles, down to the section level for the latest available update. In the current browsable Code Titles 1 through 41, with the exception of 38A, are based on the 2006 edition (January 3, 2007) of the Code. Titles 38A, and 42 through 50 Appendix, are based on Supplement V of the 2000 Edition (January 2, 2006) of the Code.
hat tip: beSpacific

Chronicles of America: Jan. 1, 1909

You never know what info the Library of Congress is going to pass along in its Daily Digest Bulletin emails. I wasn't really expecting one on New Year's Day but they did send a couple of interesting links. The first is an editorial cartoon from the Jan. 1, 1909 Washington (D.C.) Herald, "1909 Hopes, Successes...". It depicts the advent of a new year with optimism, displaying a Wright airplane labeled "1909" flying in with "Hopes," "Successes," "Happiness," and "Peace". On the ground, a bearded old man wielding Time's scythe labeled "Disaster" and "Ruin" retreats into the distance in a open automobile labeled "1908."
The second link is to an article in the (New York) Evening World, Jan. 1, 1909 with the title"...Trousers for Women Is the Latest Freak Decreed by Fashion (but Modistes declare it will never be a "Go" here)". Apparently a brand new fashion in Paris in 1909 was the "Robe Androgyne", a "frankly bifurcated garment" that resembled pegleg trousers. The article's author says that the "new fashion is calculated hideously to reveal the defects of the female figure and to conceal its beauties" and that "fashionable dressmakers are unanimous in saying that New York women will not take to the new mode".

The year in social media

WebProNews has an interesting article entitled "The Year in Social Media". Social media are all those interactive websites where people socialize - virtually. They include Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Twitter, Ning, and many many other websites. Social media have been growing, changing, and expanding like crazy - especially over mobile devices (like cellphones). The shorthand used for text messaging, Twitter, IMing has become so widespread that Hewlett Packard even provides a short list of the "top business texting shorthand and terms" on their website. AFAIC it's a good idea to keep up with this stuff.

Federal Judiciary Report

Chief Justice John Roberts has issued his 2008 Year-End Report(15 page pdf) on the Federal Judiciary. He points out that The Judiciary, including the Supreme Court, other federal courts, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, and the Federal Judicial Center, received a total appropriation of $6.2 billion in fiscal year 2008 - representing two-tenths of 1% of the United States’ total $3 trillion budget. He states that despite the "miniscule" amount the Judiciary adds to the cost of government, the courts have undertaken rigorous cost containment efforts, a process begun four years ago, long before the current economic crisis. In September 2004, the Judicial Conference—the judges who set policy for the Judiciary—endorsed a cost-containment strategy that called for examining more than fifty discrete operations for potential cost savings.
Some 2008 Court statistics in the report:
Federal Courts of Appeals: The number of appeals filed in the regional courts of appeals in fiscal year 2008 rose by 5% to 61,104 filings; all categories of appeals increased except bankruptcy appeals.
- Administrative agency appeals grew by 12% to 11,583 filings, primarily because challenges to the Board of Immigration Appeals decisions climbed by 13% to 10,280 petitions for review.
- Criminal appeals rose by 4% to 13,667 filings; the increase stems from sentencing appeals in non-marijuana drug cases.
- Civil appeals increased by 4% to 31,454 filings. Prisoner petitions rose by 9% to 16,853 filings. Overall, non-prisoner civil appeals dropped by 1% to 14,601 filings.
- Bankruptcy appeals fell by 9% to 773 filings.
Federal District Courts:
- Civil filings in the U.S. district courts increased by 4%, rising from 257,507 cases to 267,257 cases. Diversity of citizenship filings grew by 22%, an increase of 15,838 cases. Excluding the diversity filings, the number of civil cases decreased by 3% during fiscal year 2008. The rise in diversity of citizenship filings resulted primarily from the near doubling of personal injury cases related to asbestos and diet drugs in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- Labor law cases fell by 10%, down by more than 1,800 cases.
- Copyright cases declined by 27%, down by 1,166 cases nationally.
- The number of criminal cases filed in 2008 rose by 4% to 70,896 cases, and the number of defendants in those cases increased by 3% to 92,355 defendants.
- Immigration criminal case filings jumped by 27% to 21,313 cases, and the number of defendants in those cases rose by 26% to 22,685 defendants. This resulted mostly from filings addressing improper reentry by aliens and filings involving fraud and misuse of visa or entry permits in the five southwestern border districts.
- Sex offense case filings grew by 9% to 2,674 cases, and the number of defendants in those cases climbed by 7% to 2,760 defendants.
- The number of drug cases dropped by 7% to 15,784 cases, and the number of defendants charged with drug crimes fell by 3% to 28,932 cases.
Bankruptcy Courts
- Filings in the United States bankruptcy courts rose by 30% from 801,269 cases in 2007 to 1,042,993 cases in 2008.
- Non-business filings, which accounted for 96% of all filings, rose by 30%.
- Business filings increased by 49%.
- Chapter 7 filings increased by 40%, Chapter 11 filings by 49%, and Chapter 13 filings by 14%, while Chapter 12 filings fell by 8% in 2008.