Thursday 28 August 2014

Free Federal Rules books from LII and CALI

CALI has announced that 2015 versions of the Federal Rules of Evidence, Criminal Procedure and Civil Procedure are now available. These books are powered by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School and distributed by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction's eLangdell Press. The books come in .epub format, which is compatible with iPads, Nooks, Android devices and basically everything but kindles.
 These editions of the books include:
• The complete rules as of December 1, 2014 (for the 2015 edition).
• All notes of the Advisory Committee following each rule.
• Internal links to rules referenced within the rules.
• External links to the LII website's version of the US Code.
And yes, all totally free. You are more than welcome to download as many copies as you'd like and add to digital collections.
 Here are the direct links to the books:
 2015 Federal Rules of Evidence 
2015 Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
2015 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

hat tip: Sarah Glassmeyer

PACER news

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has cause an uproar with the recent announcement that many previously available dockets in the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system are no longer available electronically. This is due to an upcoming upgrade in the electronic file management system that they are using - according to the announcement, "the locally developed legacy case management systems in the five courts listed below are now incompatible with PACER; therefore, the judiciary is no longer able to provide electronic access to the closed cases on those systems." No longer available are: 
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit: Cases filed prior to January 1, 2010
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit: Cases filed prior to January 1, 2008
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: Cases filed prior to January 1, 2010
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit: Cases filed prior to March 1, 2012
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California: Cases filed prior to May 1, 2001
Stosh Jonjak, a Pittsburgh law librarian at Reed Smith, has blogged about the news and included links to the major news reports on the topic.  Ars Technica, in a scathing article titled "US courts trash a decade’s worth of online documents, shrug it off", points out that the dockets were removed without any warning, and the announcement came afterwards.
The American Assn. of Law Libraries is monitoring the developments and is considering a more detailed response to the AOC (comments from members to the Govt. Relations Office are welcomed).
Meanwhile, some of the dockets are available from Bloomberg Law, depending on whether they were ever requested by a Bloomberg account holder.  The same is true for Lexis and Westlaw.

Thursday 14 August 2014

back-to-school shopping tips for law students

Above the Law has a post titled "The Essential Law School Shopping Guide" with lots of information on what every law student needs - or maybe not necessarily needs, but might want to pick up - before heading back to law school. It includes all-important tips on buying highlighters and post-it flags for marking up casebooks; buying a good bookbag; useful law student books; and some good sources of caffeine.

Hat tip: Karen Shephard

Wednesday 13 August 2014

New website with Presidential Documents & information

The Legislative Research Special Interest Section of the Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. (LLSDC) is pleased to announce the availability of a new website entitled “Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documents: Sources and Explanations". The site attempts to briefly lay out and link to all major sources for these materials which includes Presidential directives, proclamations, signing statements, executive orders, memoranda, and other documents. In addition the site links to many sources, such as CRS reports, that explain these documents. Members of the Special Interest Section have also recently updated their publication, “Questions and Answers in Legislative and Regulatory Research”, which is now only available in (a 21 page) PDF. It's got answers to lots of frequently as well as infrequently asked questions about legislative research. 

Sunday 10 August 2014

Dept. of Energy to provide access to publications

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Department of Energy has developed a plan to give public access to the results of research funded by the DOE.   This is in response to a directive from the Obama administration to plan to make publicly supported research available within a year of publication. The DOE is the first agency to release its plan, which is an online site called "PAGES": Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science. The site is currently in "beta" but you can already search and find articles on the site. The advanced Search function allows you to search by a variety of metadata categories. The resulting documents are, as you might expect, very scientific in nature.

Friday 8 August 2014

Words you will never hear a lawyer utter

This week's "Question of the Week" on the ABA Journal website is "What is something you will never hear a lawyer utter?" Readers are urged to provide answers in the Comment section. Lawyer jokes anyone? 

Internet Legal Research (on the cheap)

Attorney At Work is a website designed for practicing attorneys that provides "One Really Good Idea Every Day for Enterprising Lawyers".  The site was created by a team of  practice management experts. A recent post, called "10 Must-Know Tips for Internet Legal Research on the Cheap", has some great tips and is provided as a downloadable pdf.
Hat tip: lawlib listserv

Friday 1 August 2014

Friday fun: Movies!

The ABA Journal has a story today titled "12 movies with pivotal lessons featuring lawyers".  Here's the alphabetical list, with links to the explanation of why each is important.

"Let Me Google That For You Act"

"Let Me Google That For You Act" is the informal title of Senate bill 2206 (summary) (full text of bill), which seeks to abolish the NTIS (National Technical Information Service). The companion bill in the House of Representatives  is H.R. 4382.  A number of library organizations, including the AALL, ALA and ARL have been involved in discussions with Congressional staff about the bill, working to support the NTIS. The Free Government Information (FGI) Blog has more information about the bill, and why these gov doc librarians are opposed to it. FGI points out that the sponsors of the bill seem to lack understanding of how Google works - that Google doesn't actually write the NTIS reports, it just links to them when you are searching on a particular topic. 
"The text of the bill observes that many reports available from NTIS can also be found through publicly searchable websites, such as Google and, but fails to appreciate that this availability is often precisely because NTIS had a hand in collecting and publicly distributing them....Furthermore, many of the agencies which published reports in the NTIS collection no longer exist, leaving NTIS as their only surviving source. In fact, over two million of its reports exist only in paper or microform, and are not available in digital form from any source. Alarmingly, this bill makes no provision for the preservation of these reports or the cataloging data which facilitates access to them."

Court says Westlaw, Lexis use of lawyer's briefs not copyright infringement

The White v. West Publishing Company and Reed Elsevier case (S.D.N.Y, available online) begins: "On February 22, 2012, plaintiffs Edward L. White, Edward L. White, P.C., and Kenneth Elan filed a putative class action alleging copyright infringement against defendants West Publishing Corp. ("West") and Reed Elsevier, Inc. ("Lexis")." The plaintiffs were claiming that their legal briefs' inclusion in the Lexis and Westlaw databases was copyright infringement. However, District Judge Rakoff ruled that the use of the briefs by West and Lexis is fair use. Both companies transform the documents to a different purpose and use according to the Judge’s analysis: West and Lexis’s processes of reviewing, selecting, converting, coding, linking, and identifying the documents “add.. something new, with a further purpose or different character.”