What is your favorite Study Aid: a Nutshell, a CALI lesson, a outline, your favorite reference librarian, an extra large latte from Pavement, your dog? Celebrate with us. Send your study aid Shelfie to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it on our Facebook page.
What is a Shelfie? A picture or portrait of your bookshelf. We are extending that to include your study aid, wherever it may reside. Google recently did an April fools post about Shelfies which they were calling a “the SHareable sELFIE.”. But in the world of libraries and book lovers the shelfie is about what your bookshelf reveals about you. And we want to know what your favorite study aid says about you.
The library has recently licensed two new resources that could help: AILA Link and the Hein Immigration Law and Policy in the U.S. library. AILA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, is starting to digitize their very helpful books and pair them with primary source materials. To access these materials please stop by the reference desk. Hein, which does such a fantastic job of providing access to historic primary source materials, has created a library that contains all the primary source material you will need for most immigration questions: current and historic versions of Title 8 of the USC and the CFR, as well as precedential agency ajudications.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) issued a forceful report this week on the human rights record of the United States under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The report is linked here.
The committee’s “concluding observations” included 22 numbered sections detailing areas of concern and recommendations. These included topics that have been commented on frequently (NSA surveillance and privacy rights, the death penalty, targeted killings by drones and racial profiling) and a range of other concerns (from voting rights and the “criminalization of homelessness” to non-consensual psychiatric treatment and domestic violence). The report includes recommendations in all of these areas; and calls on the United States, among other things, to report on its compliance with several of the HRCs’ recommendations within one year, and to provide information on implementation of all the recommendations in its next periodic report, five years from now.
The HRC is one of the “treaty bodies” (or panels of experts) that receives reports from member states on their obligations under international human rights conventions. After receiving the member state’s report and hearing from, e.g., human rights and other “civil society organizations” about that state’s compliance or non-compliance with the convention, the treaty body issues its “Concluding Observations,” in which it states its principal matters of concern and recommendations.
Other UN treaty bodies include, e.g., the Committee Against Torture, which monitors implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment; and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).
In addition to the treaty bodies, the UN’s human rights apparatus includes the Human Rights Council, a body of 47 UN member states elected by the General Assembly and based in Geneva that coordinates human rights activities for the UN; and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, the part of the UN’s Secretariat, or permanent bureaucracy, that works to advance human rights by, e.g., speaking out on human rights issues, coordinating activities with human rights organizations and other UN bodies and providing assistance to national governments.
Just in time for finals (and the bar exam), Paper Chase has come out with new review apps. 1Ls, download the free criminal law or property apps for a series of multiple choice review questions. Review by topic, mix ‘em up, and add more questions for $9.99 (or go analog and check out our Law-in-a-Flash flash cards at the circulation desk for free!). 3Ls and LLMs, if you’re preparing for the bar exam and want more topics, Paper Chase: Contracts and Paper Chase: Torts are also available.
One new resource that will be of interest to those whose research includes United Kingdom court decisions is ICLR Online. This database is provided by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR), the publisher of the Law Reports, deemed the official reports of the UK.
The Law Reports include House of Lords cases (H.L.), Appeal Courts (A.C.), Queen’s Bench (Q.B.), Chancery (Ch.) and other included court decisions selected by the ICLR. As The Bluebook (Table T2. 42.1) directs, for UK cases since 1865, “Cite to the official Law Reports, if therein. … Other reporters should only be used if a case has not been reported in the Law Reports …”
To retrieve the classic British case on the necessity defense in criminal law, Regina v. Dudley and Stephens (1884) 14 QBD 273, for example, the Case Search feature can be used to search by Case name or by citation.
ICLR Online also allows for searching for keywords in the full text. Each case reported in the Law Reports and the associated Weekly Law Reports is included, in HTML and PDF formats. ICLR Online provides a Citator service that (depending on the case) provides some or all of the following: subject matter indexing, the appellate history of the case, cases considered in the case, legislation considered, subsequent consideration of the case in the courts, a words and phrases feature and links to select commentary.
Other research tools for accessing UK case law include the Law Reports database in Westlaw Classic and various UK case law databases available on Lexis.com, as well as the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII).
Due to popular demand, the Library has just added 6 more sessions, one each, of the following classes for the week after Spring Break:
Alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw
Finding the Best Way
Free Legal Research
Hot Topic: Technology and the Law
Sign up HERE.
With court cases constantly in the news, you will increasingly be asked to obtain court documents. Bloomberg Law has all federal dockets, as it is constantly downloading from PACER, the federal electronic docketing system. PACER began in the late 1990′s with different courts joining at different times. All courts but the Supreme Court are currently on PACER. Anyone can establish an account on PACER, but the administrative office of the federal courts recently decided to continue it as a pay database. It only costs $.08/pg, however that can add up. If you spend less than $10.00/quarter your cost is waived. Federal dockets and briefs are also available on WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.
State dockets and briefs are more difficult to acquire. A jurisdiction like Massachusetts, which has not yet moved to a publicly available electronic docketing system, still requires the public to visit the court house to obtain filings. Bloomberg Law now has most Massachusetts dockets online, but doesn’t include the District Courts. The underlying documents are usually not available because they must be retrieved from the court house – a service that Bloomberg Law only extends to law firms for a fee. Other states have implemented electronic filing systems, as documented here by the NCSC, but public access varies from state to state. Again, Bloomberg Law, Westlaw and Lexis will have some filings from important cases and those will probably vary from service to service.
Learn how to navigate and understand dockets and court documents on Wednesday, Feb. 19th and Thursday, Feb. 20th at 1pm in Rm 334.
Interested in learning about the Law of Indigenous Peoples? The Library has a class for that: Wednesday, February 19th at 1 PM in room 334. This class is part of our “Hot Topic” series offered through the “Legal Research Skills for Practice” Certification program designed to broaden and hone your research efficiency.
Sign up now at:
With every search engine, be it Google, WestlawNext or LexisAdvance, they have built in ways to control your search. Most of us are content to let the algorithm do the searching most of the time. But sometimes there are situations where that is not enough. In the two classes this week we will be looking at controlling your search:
Wednesday @ 1pm in Rm 334 and Thursday @ 1pm in Rm 334
The most common ways to control your search are using Boolean connectors, using wildcards, using field searching and doing proximity searching. Boolean connectors let you control the universe of your search using AND, OR and NOT. Wildcards allow you to search for words that might be spelled differently or have different endings: super*ede or bully!. Most documents in a database have been tagged so that you can identify different sections of them – these are fields. By searching them you can look just of the author by indicating that is the part of the document you want to search. This probably varies the most over different databases. I find the most useful way of controlling to be proximity searching. This allows the author of the search to say “I only want to find a document that has this sentence” (more or less). So I can write: warrantless /s search /p stop /p trunk. This will allow me to get cases (if I am searching in a case database) involving warrantless searches that involve a stop (by the police) and the trunk being searched. If I ran this search without the proximity connectors I would be far too many results.
Here are some tip sheets for WestlawNext, LexisAdvance and Google.