Leah's Law Library Weblog


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Leah's Law Library Weblog

  Friday, August 30, 2002

This is an old post from Bag and Baggage that I meant to put up a month ago:

"Dow-burt" Versus "Dough-bear", And Other Mysteries. For the lawyer types: Peter Norberg is webmastering a useful and well thought out site all about litigation under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., called Daubert On The Web. In addition to answering the great pronunciation question, Peter's signature graphic alone is worth the visit (a lawyer? trapped in a beaker), plus over 250 appellate decisions under Daubert (organized both by circuit and field of expertise), statistics and explanations regarding admissibility and exclusion affirmance rates, a user forum, and some slick "ideas . . . that the author wishes somebody else would try first." More like this, please!

I checked it out today and loved the District Court Decision of the Week: Bicycle seats and erectile dysfunction.

1:06:21 PM comment []   

  Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Rick Klau asked this morning about adding paragraph numbers to blog posts. 

Why? Thanks to an e-mail from reader Edward Chiu, I realized that there's really no way for researchers to adequately cite to blogs. This is a big deal in the legal world, and I imagine it would have applicability in broader academia as well. If I write a law review article, I need to tell the reader where I got a fact/opinion/etc. In order to do so, the norm is to simply identify the publication, the author, etc. and the page number.

But with electronic writing, you don't have page numbers. And in the legal profession, there is a strong push to identify "pin-point" cites. If you have a long post with dozens of paragraphs, it's hard for someone to identify the source of the particular assertion.

. . . I think if there were a way to automatically add paragraph numbers to posts, it would make it easier for anyone citing to blogs. This would eliminate one potential barrier to acceptance in academic research, and go just a bit further to legitimizing blogs as a communication medium. Even though blogs are in some way time-sensitive, it's not hard to imagine something on a blog being useful down the road in a research setting. (In fact, I think blogs may be invaluable as a way of capturing background information on subjects that may not make it into more traditional, formal publications. But that's a different subject.)

There's some stuff that needs to happen under the hood as well. Instead of providing hypertext anchosrs to the individual post, you'd want to tie the anchor to the post and to the paragraph. That wouldn't be hard - just something to contemplate as we build it.

Unfortunately, I can define the spec but don't know the first thing about programming in Radio. Ideally, this would be supported in other blog platforms like Blogger and Movable Type. I'd love to work with someone on this. Anyone else have thoughts on the usefulness or necessity of this?

I totally agree with Rick on this, but like him know nothing about programming. If blogs are going to be as big as we think in the future, we need to start planning for this type of thing now, rather than a year or two down the road so we can capture the information.

11:19:56 AM comment []   

Professor Brian Leiter's newest version of Educational Quality Rankings of U.S. Law Schools, for 2000-2002, is up on the web. These rankings differ from those from U.S. News & World Reports by emphasizing the quality of the faculty, of the students, and of the teaching. One nice result is that state law schools get more credit than private schools. Arizona is ranked 27th on this list versus 40 on US News & World Report's list.
10:51:00 AM comment []   

  Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Via TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime:

Comprehensive Guide to Clemency. The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (CJPF) today published the nation's first compilation of state-by-state and federal information on executive clemency for prisoners at its Web site.

From their press release: . . . "CJPF provides information on the procedure to obtain clemency and commutation of sentence in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, as well as the federal procedure. It gives prisoners, their attorneys and their families the information they need to apply for an early release from a state or federal prison sentence. Sample application forms are provided for some states and the federal government."

Looks like an interesting source.  The Arizona information includes a link to a PDF form to apply for sentence commutation.

4:29:18 PM comment []   

  Thursday, August 22, 2002

Via explodedlibrary.info:

Welcome back to our law students. I know some people in libraries, administration and faculty say that campus (and their jobs) are nicer without you, but I don't agree. You are the reason we're here. In addition I like the enthusiasm and the bustle and I'm glad that the academic summer is over - all of its "summer projects" make it more stressful than the rest of the year.

Our reference desk has been unstaffed during the summer, but it's opening again today and I'm about to head out to it. Remember, no question is too trivial or silly for a librarian. We're here to help you, not to grade you. We should be able to answer your question, help you answer your question, or point you to the resources you need.

Frankly, I love dealing with law students (well, except the crazy ones), especially after first year when they realize that what we've been telling them about legal research is important after all. I just wish they took more advantage of us.  Someday they will wish they had and we might not be available.  As for summer projects, why is it that we keep saying "I'll get that done over the summer."  Then things happen and, boom! summer's over.  I'm not sure what I got done this summer other than starting this blog.  Oh, well. Now that I'm working one night a week, maybe I can get some of those projects done.

6:54:04 PM comment []   

Following up on my recent post concerning shrinkwrap licenses for books and UCITA, two recent articles have come to my attention.  The first, Academic Library Groups Still Oppose Modified Software-Licensing Act, is from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The other is a column by Ed Foster, the guy who wrote the article about shrinkwrap book licenses. It's called License to Hide and is a good summary of what happened this summer at the NCCUSL meeting here in Tucson. Both articles contain links to more info about UCITA.
1:33:52 PM comment []   

  Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Some further comments on my post responding to Ernie's post on eGovernment:

Delivering the law via RSS. More courts should heed Ernie and Leah's urging and get the lead out when it comes to making the law understandably available online.   After all, law is free.  In West Virginia, all Supreme Court opinions back to 1991 are online and searchable.   Moreover, thanks to Radio, since earlier this year links to the full text of all new opinions, along with topical summaries written in semi-plain english, have been available in a weblog format and as RSS feeds.  . . .

So curious citizens can visit the official blog pages and learn, for example, of today's filing of a report in a case challenging the constitutionality of federal law terminating welfare benefits.  Perhaps more importantly, all of this primary source information about the law is sorted and freely available as RSS.   Also, because the RSS feeds are registered and available for subscription from a variety of personal RSS aggregators, folks who use tools other than Radio can stay posted and learn about developments in the law.  If, to use an old example picked up by Sam Ruby and Jon Udell, a lawyer or journalist in Louisiana wants to keep abreast of asbestos mass litigation developments in West Virginia, that lawyer could subscribe to the civil topical feed via services like Syndic8 (feed 1, 2, 3, 4) and Fyuze, among others.  (Though Radio permits custom elements in RSS feeds, I haven't seen the need to insert custom elements thus far.  I've been content to use the title element to describe the topic at hand.) [Rory Perry's Weblog]

Thanks, Rory for this info.  Now if someone who works in the Arizona court system could learn about this. Ernie also responded, as did Morgan.

3:11:39 PM comment []   

Some hints for the first year law student.  Alice W. is back at her keyboard, and I couldn't have said it better myself. [How Appealing]

This is a little late, but great advice.  I'm responsible for posting "relevant" articles on the library bulletin board for students and I really wanted to post this one.  Unfortunately, Alice's blog scrolls and I couldn't print it out.  BTW, her blog is well-written and law students and other interested parties should check it out.

12:59:27 PM comment []   

From Ernie the Attorney: 

eGovernment & online records - is there any reason why we shouldn't be able to access important government information online?  Especially statutory law, and court rulings.  Did you know that there is a legal presumption that by publishing laws (in whatever arcane dusty volume those things get printed in these days) the unwashed populace is presumed to have knowledge of those laws?  Yep, that's right.  Forget about whether the average person stands a chance of understanding the laws that get passed; you're supposed to know what the law is.  So here we all are living in a world where the government could pretty easily publish those laws to the web.  Why isn't this more prevalent?  You've paid for the laws to be passed; it seems like the least that government could do is to put a copy out there where you could see it.  Free of charge. [Ernie the Attorney]

Very good point, Ernie.  Arizona just showed up as number one in several categories in the Digital State Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government. Arizona does several things right as far as providing electronic services; for example, statutes, bills, and session laws are pretty quickly available at the Arizona State Legislature site and the Arizona Supreme Court does a decent job of providing their opinions in PDF format.  But the Court of Appeals' websites (Division One and Two) are pretty bad. The Arizona Administrative Code site is also not very user friendly.  Then there's the problem of finding superceded statutes and regulations.  That's hard even in paper, especially for the Administrative Code, which is a looseleaf.  It appears that the
Arizona State Law Library may be the only place in the state to find old regulations.

Then there's the problem of Westlaw and Lexis often acting as if they "owned" the law.  I can't find a reference to it right now, but there was a bill proposed in Ohio (home of one of these companies) that would have required something on the lines of the state having to establish it could provide electronic services cheaper than a commercial provider, before it could provide electronic information. Someone else could probably provide more details on that proposed bill and what happened. That's one of the reasons librarians are opposed to certain database protection bills.  ALA/AALL has learned that another objectionable bill is likely to be proposed this fall.  For more information, check out ALA's background paper.

10:48:45 AM comment []   

  Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Professional Reading Shelf: A Special Issue of "Information Research" Devoted to Semantic Web [The Virtual Acquisition Shelf & News Desk]

Librarians may be particularly interested in The Semantic Web, universalist ambition and some lessons from librarianship by Terrance A. Brooks, from the Information School, University of Washington. 

This article ties in with the third plenary presentation at AALL, Weaving Meaning: The Semantic Web, presented by Eric Miller, the Semantic Web Activity Lead at W3C. After a very engaging and informative presentation, Dr Miller concluded by discussing the need for librarians to get involved in this area. The presentation was very well attended, but the need for more information was clear.  At one point, he asked how many in the audience knew what RSS was; I think mine was the only hand raised (and frankly, I just know what it does, not really what it is).  I hope that changes by this time next year.

4:30:57 PM comment []   

Here are three articles I recently sent to my boss and supervisor to help explain what I'm doing.  I originally got the links from various sources; I know I got the first one from Dave Winer, but I've forgotten or there were multiple sources for the others.

Good explanatory article on blogging from Megnut. The only complaint I have is that the article primarily deals with more personal blogs than I envision the work one being.  Here's another more business oriented article from WorldCom. Finally, here's a chapter from a soon to be published book about blogs, on Using Blogs in Business.

3:18:40 PM comment []   

Here's my article on blogging for the MALL (Minnesota Association of Law Libraries) newsletter. [explodedlibrary.info]

This took me way longer than I intended to post.  It's a good basic article on blogging.  BTW, note that explodedlibrary.info has moved to a new location:  http://blogs.salon.com/0001404/.

2:55:32 PM comment []   

Article about law library web sites. Kent Milunovich, Designing and Maintaining Law Library Web Sites: Some Practical Considerations, 94 L. Lib. J. 487 (2002)

I know some people don't like links to pdf files, but there's no alternative here - and anyway, the link is for my benefit for when my paper copy gets lost in the clutter. [explodedlibrary.info]

Looks like a useful summary.  I don't mind pdf files, either.

2:36:55 PM comment []   

  Friday, August 16, 2002

Via Copyfight:

Like Copyfight but prefer a more stripped-down, just-the-facts-M'am blog style? Check out Current Copyright Readings by M. Claire Stewart, head of Digital Media Sources at Northwestern. (Thanks Hylton!)

Looks like a good resource, but wish it had an RSS feed.  I've been using Mark Paschal's Stapler so I can aggregate sites like this, but wonder if there's an easier way.

3:47:01 PM comment []   

  Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Sometimes husbands, especially ones who work in the computer field and are going to library school, can be helpful.  Mine just sent me an e-mail concerning this interesting article from InfoWorld on shrinkwrap licenses for books. The books the author discusses appear to be specialty items, but I think I've seen one or two come into our library.  This is another reason to be very wary of UCITA.  
3:41:04 PM comment []   

There've been several recent articles on law.com concerning last year's Supreme Court term.  The one today is entitled Practioner's Views of the Supreme Court.  It's a little different in that Tony Mauro is moderating a roundtable of five practioners who argued before the Court this term about how Supreme Court appellate practice has changed over the years.  There's also the standard who's going to retire, what's going to happen next year stuff, too.  One thing came out that I hadn't realized:  15 - 20 - 30 years ago, the Justices didn't ask many questions.  Now many attorneys, myself among them, are a bit critical of Justice Thomas for not asking questions, but that used to be more the rule than the norm.  Another point they make concerns the stability of the Court.  These folks have been together for eight years and they know each other well.  This fact, combined with the fact of more firms specializing in Supreme Court practice, means that trust and some understanding develops between the Justices and the attorneys arguing before them.  It's well worth a read.  I'm sure Howard will cover this, too, but I wanted to get something out before I read his commentary.

The other law.com articles are found off the High Court High Points:  2001-02 page; it has links to articles about Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice O'Connor; charts cover the term, and articles breaking down the decisions by type of case, i.e., criminal, employment, education, and business. Worth a look or a link.

9:27:42 AM comment []   

  Monday, August 12, 2002

Librarians Are Natural Newscasters.

Breaking News: Law Librarians as Newscasters

"If librarian newscasting is the solution to the problem of information overload for legal professionals, how is it accomplished? By using any and all media available....

The hottest new method of sharing information on the Internet -- known as 'blogging' -- could be adapted by law librarians in order to share news with members of their organization. Blogging, or a Weblog, can be a type of online diary used to share some details of their personal lives or summaries of entire industries with links to full news stories published elsewhere on the Internet.

For example, as a librarian surfs the Web, he can instantly post information concerning newly discovered Web sites to the log. Later, as time permits, this information can be transferred to sections of the intranet as official, categorized and organized 'links.'

Or, a librarian could conduct ongoing discussions with members of a particular practice group. By posting questions to the group and gathering answers in one place, the information will be useful not only to members of that group but also to members of other practice groups with similar interests.

By producing a type of Weblog, a law librarian can quickly provide ever-changing information to information hungry, time-pressured legal professionals." [Law.com, via Morgan's Web Wanderings, via Ernie the Attorney]

This is true for any library, not just law libraries. Academic and school libraries could provide subject-based blogs in support of specific classes or departments. Other specials such as newspaper, government, or medical libraries could follow the model noted above for law libraries. And public libraries can provide a general blog for their patrons. [The Shifted Librarian]

This is another one of those articles I want my boss and others to read about how the usefulness and the future of blogging. I'm also responsible for the News and Events portion of the College of Law's website and, as of this week, of putting the weekly bulletin in HTML and on the website.  How much easier this would be if I could just post this information on a limited-access blog and point faculty and students to it.  Still wishful thinking, but maybe next year?

4:45:43 PM comment []   

Several sources had this link:

Eldred site - Donna Wentworth of Copyfight blogs: "Larry Lessig just sent me an email pointing to Eldred v. Ashcroft: Intellectual Property, Congressional Power, and the Constitution--a terrific collection of draft papers from a symposium on the Eldred case, to be published in the upcoming Fall issue."  [Ernie the Attorney]

Definitely some good articles here.  I forwarded this to our IP professor as soon as I saw it last week.

4:25:17 PM comment []   

Via Library Stuff:

Libraries and the FBI. - Slashdot has a discussion going on public libraries and the FBI. Also, there was a report on this topic on All Things Considered (.ram format) this weekend.

I don't read stuff from Slashdot much because of the rants and flames.  It's one of the advantages of blogging that you can avoid a lot of that kind of stuff (check out an interesting article discussing this on Ray Ozzie's Weblog). The main theme of the Slashdot serious comments is how to build "anonymous-friendly computer libraries." 

3:13:14 PM comment []   

Via How Appealing:

Ninth Circuit reverses dismissal of suit challenging Arizona prison ban on same-sex snuggling in the visiting room: A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today reversed a trial court's dismissal of a lawsuit challenging as unconstitutional a policy of the Arizona Department of Corrections that prohibits same-sex kissing and hugging during prison visits unless the visitor in question is a member of the inmate's family. You can access the Ninth Circuit's opinion here.

I watched a videotape of the oral argument in this case aired by C-SPAN and, I must admit, am not surprised with the result. The prison maintained that its policy protected inmates from being labeled as homosexuals and from being targeted for abuse. The plaintiff, however, countered that prisoners who wish to hide their sexual orientation will not openly display same-sex affection during visits, and thus the policy only punishes those prisoners who are already open about their sexual orientation. The Ninth Circuit's ruling does not mean that the policy necessarily will be invalidated, but it does mean that the prison's victory in getting the suit dismissed at a very early stage of the litigation has been reversed.

2:03:58 PM comment []   

  Sunday, August 11, 2002

Ok, I've been really slow getting back to this since the AALL Convention and my vacation.  I have lots of stuff to update and hope to get going again next week. One of the nice things was that this blog was mentioned in the 60 Sites in 60 Minutes presentation.  I've also been contacted by a law librarian who's interested in the process and discovered Morgan Wilson's blog, explodedlibrary.info. Morgan's the Reference/Electronic Resources Librarian at Hamline University School of Law in St Paul. So the world of law librarian blogs appears to be growing.  One more thing:  I've joined the Legally-Inclined Weblogs NetRing.  Check out the < ? law blogs # > under the calendar for more info and more law-related blogs.
1:53:38 PM comment []   

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Last update: 9/28/2002; 3:30:37 PM.