Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Who's Liberal or Conservative in Congress?

How conservative or liberal is your Senator or House Representative? National Journal has released its 2005 Congressional Vote Ratings. According to the website:
Since 1981, National Journal's annual vote ratings have defined where members of Congress have stood ideologically in each chamber. The ratings rank lawmakers on how they vote relative to each other on a conservative-to-liberal scale in both the Senate and the House. The scores are based on the members' votes in three areas: economic issues, social issues, and foreign policy.
The ratings can be browsed or searched in a variety of ways.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A New Look for the Ohio Supreme Court Website

The Ohio Supreme Court website has been redesigned, and it looks great. Most of the page content appears to be the same. Users can still find Ohio court opinions, Ohio court rules, video of Ohio Supreme Court oral arguments, and all of the other familiar information from the website. However, enhanced navigational features, such as the expandible menu on the left side of the page, should make the site much easier to use.

Saving Money

Did you know that keeping your car's engine tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure can save you $100 a year? And that credit cards with rebates, cash back, travel awards or other perks may carry higher rates or fees? The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) has published a brochure titled "66 Ways to Save Money" that is designed to help consumers.

The Department of Energy (DOE) maintains webpages that address saving energy and money at home. Topics include windows, water heating, and insulation and weatherization. You will also find more information on home energy savings from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Alphabet Soup

If you're looking for help figuring out a legal abbreviation try the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations. This wonderful site can help you decipher the most obscure citation.

If you're perplexed by a Federal Government abbreviation or acronym, Inter Alia suggests this handy directory, which includes links to the appropriate government agency or program.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Navigating Time Zones

WorldTimeServer.com allows users to calculate time differences between any two countries in the world. Users can even narrow down selections by choosing individual states or territories when appropriate. The step by step process directs the user to select the initial location, time and date and finally a second location to complete the conversion process; in return, the user is provided with the time difference, even taking into account Daylight Savings Time when applicable.

[Written by Paul Venard]

Women's History Month Resources

It will soon be Women's History Month, so it's a perfect time to visit the Women's Legal History Biography Project from Stanford's Robert Crown Law Library. Along with profiles of women (such as Ohio's first female lawyer Nettie W. Cronise Lutes), the site has a list of online resources & articles and books about women's legal history.

The Census Bureau has collected facts about American women including education, involvement in businesses, voting, and use of computers & the internet.

New Location for Law Journal Citation Database

The valuable Washington & Lee - Most Cited Legal Periodicals Database, administered by John Doyle, has moved. The database has been moved to a new location and has a new URL (http://lawlib.wlu.edu/LJ/). According to John, "[t]he emphasis of the page has changed, with a de-emphasis on rankings, and more emphasis placed on the function of assisting authors with journal selection and article submission." Due to this new emphasis, the name of the webpage has been changed to "Law Journal Submission Information." Read more about the database changes here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Resources on Exam Writing

The first stop for law school students seeking to improve their exam writing skills, should be their own professors. These resources (available from law libraries or online) may give 1Ls some insight into how to improve exam writing skills.

  • Richard M. Fischel, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams (Carolina Academia Press 1999).
  • Ann M. Burkhart, How to Study Law and Take Law Exams in a Nutshell (West 1996).
  • John C. Dernbach, A Practical Guide to Writing Law School Essay Exams (F.B. Rothman 2001)
  • Helen Shapo & Marshall Shapo, Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success (Foundation Press, 2002).
[Research by Paul Venard]

New Immigration Law Source

Bender's Immigration Bulletin is a new resource that users can use to keep up to speed on immigration law issues. The website is edited by Daniel Kowalski. The site joins other websites such as Immigration Daily and VisaPro that one can use to stay current on developments in this rapidly changing area of law.

From St. Thomas Law Faculty Services Blog.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

European Views - Recent CRS Reports

Two recently released CRS Reports discuss European views and attitudes toward the Middle East and U.S./Europe relations. The reports are:

European Views and Policies Toward the Middle East

The United States and Europe: Possible Options for U.S. Policy

From Open CRS.

ExpectMore.gov - Measuring Government Performance

ExpectMore.gov is a web resource, created by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, which rates the performance of various federal programs. Programs are either "Performing" or "Not Performing." "Performing" programs can be "effective," "moderately effective," or "adequate." "Not Performing" programs can be "ineffective" or "results not demonstrated." The purpose of the website is to tell the public how effectively tax dollars are being spent.

From BarclayBlog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Juvenile Crime Statistics

The Statistical Briefing Book brings together statistics on juveniles and the justice system including juveniles as victims and offenders, juveniles in court and corrections, juveniles on probation, juvenile reentry and aftercare, juvenile population characteristics, and juvenile courts and other legal systems. Each topic has FAQs, links to related publications and websites, and data analysis tools.

For example, the topic "Juveniles as Offenders" answers such questions as "What time of day are adults and juveniles most likely to commit violent crimes?" (Answer) and "What proportion of violent crimes are committed by juveniles?" (Answer) and links to resources on juvenile arrests and youth gangs.

Legislative History Guides

Doing a legislative history search for a federal law is hard enough, but where do you turn when you need to do a search for legislative history for a state law? Law libraries, of course!

Indiana University Law Library at Bloomington has put together this very handy website with links to online legislative history guides (most from law libraries) for all fifty states.

Human Trafficking Database

Human Trafficking Search is a database created by the National MultiCultural Institute. The Institute created the database "as a service to those individuals and organizations working to eliminate human trafficking." The website provides access to thousands of documents on the web produced by various groups and organizations. The site is organized into four general topics: Human Trafficking, Child Labor, Bonded Labor, and Sex Slavery.

From ResourceShelf.

Federal Forms Catalog

The Forms Catalog, from Forms.gov, provides users with a common access point to search for federal agency forms. Forms are searchable by agency, title, or form number.

From Law Librarian Blog.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Finding Quality Legal Information on the Web

While it's easy to find legal resources online, it's not as easy to find quality legal resources on the Internet. InSITE can help. Since 1996, Cornell law librarians have been finding high-quality websites and adding them to the InSITE database. They also offer tips about using the websites, including a summary of the content, in the database annotations. Use the search feature to find websites on a particular topic.

InSITE also offers a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting new additions to the database and just announced an RSS feed. Visit InSITE for more details.

Happy 10th Anniversary InSITE!

Al-Qa'ida Documents

Captured al-Qa'ida documents in the Department of Defense's Harmony Database have recently been released. Some of these documents have been declassified and have been given to the Combatting Terrorism Center ("CTC") at West Point. Twenty-five of these documents are available from the CTC as PDF files. These documents include such things as Al-Qa'ida's Bylaws, Al-Qa'ida Goals and Structure, and letters from Bin Laden. These documents are available here from the CTC.

From NESLReference.

The 2006 Winter Olympics - Resources and Databases

ResourceShelf has compiled a very comprehensive list of resource links for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. The list includes links to maps, photos, Olympic history databases, event guides and much more.

The Law Journals Formally Known As The Journals of Law

Call numbers are great because they keep together a complete run of a law journal whereas an alphabetical sorting would require law journals to be scattered all over the library. Take for example the Brandeis law journal. The Brandeis law journal is the new title of the Brandeis Journal of Family Law which used to be called University of Louisville Journal of Family Law and before that the journal was titled the Journal of family law, University of Louisville School of Law. (This example was chosen because I just happened to be looking for that journal; I know there are other journals with just as many changes or even more!)

There are many creditable reasons why a journal would change names, such a shift in focus from more general coverage to a more specific topic or vice versa. Also a journal may wax and wane in interest as the topics they traditionally cover goes from very hot and new to old news (e.g. energy law in terms of petroleum very hot during the 1970s, not as hot in the 1990s, currently very hot).

Catalogers have done a great service by adding in a library record, notes of either “continues” or “continued by”. “Continues” let you know what a journal used to be titled and “continued by” indicates the new name. In many cases the record for the old or new title is hot linked from record to record, so it is easy to track the evolution of name changes.

Another way to track the history of a journal is to search by the name of university that publishes the journal. You can a run a search in a library catalog using the university’s name as the author. If the catalog you are using does not automatically default to search only in the law library, you will want to do so before you run the search. Otherwise your results maybe very large and require lots of weeding

Friday, February 17, 2006

GAO Documents Related to Disasters

The Government Accountability Office ("GAO") has compiled a list of GAO Reports and Testimonies Related to Disaster Preparedness, Response and Reconstruction, which concern the quality of the federal government's activities with respect to man-made and natural disasters. It includes reports on topics such as homeland security, public health, the response to the September 11, 2001, attacks, and the response and recovery efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

From Librarians' Internet Index.

U.S. Gov't Budget: Fiscal Year 2007

The Budget of the U.S. Government, FY 2007, has been released. It is available on GPO Access. From GPO Access:

Issued by the Office of Management and Budget, the Budget of the United States Government is a collection of documents that contains the budget message of the President, information about the President's budget proposals for a given fiscal year, and other budgetary publications that have been issued throughout the fiscal year. Other related and supporting budget publications, such as the Economic Report of the President, are included, which may vary from year to year

Thursday, February 16, 2006

NPR Guide to NSA Eavesdropping Debate

NPR has created a "A Guide to the NSA Eavesdropping Debate." NPR has collected articles that provide helpful background information about the controversy. Topics include an overview of the National Security Agency ("NSA") warrantless domestic wiretapping, a timeline of "Wiretaps' Use and Abuse," and summaries of legal arguments (pro and con) from the White House and the Congressional Research Service.

From Librarians' Internet Index.

"Dirty Dozen" Tax Scams for 2006

The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") has released its annual listing of notorious tax scams, the “Dirty Dozen,” reminding taxpayers to be wary of schemes that promise to eliminate taxes or otherwise sound too good to be true.

Top 10 Consumer Fraud Complaints

The Federal Trade Commission has released its annual report detailing consumer complaints about fraud and identity theft in 2005. Complaints about identity theft topped the list. Some other top categories of fraud complaints included Internet Auctions, Foreign Money Offers, Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales, and Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries. The full 77 page report can be downloaded in PDF form.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

African-American History Month - Facts

Did you know that there are 2.4 million African-American military veterans or that there are 44,800 African-American lawyers in the U.S.? The U.S. Census Bureau has released Facts for Features for African-American History Month. Facts includes numerous interesting statistics about African-Americans in the United States.

Recent CRS Reports

ResourceShelf's DocuTicker has a nice list of recent Congressional Research Service ("CRS") Reports. Some of the Reports included in the list:

U.S. Aid to the Palestinians

Military Forces: What is the Appropriate Size for the United States?

HUD's Response to Hurricane Katrina

National Security Whistleblowers

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day (from the U.S. Census Bureau)

Did you know that 180 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually or that Americans consume 24.7 pounds of candy per capita in a year? The hopeless romantics at the U.S. Census Bureau have released their annual Valentine's Day facts.

Westlaw Releases RegulationsPlus

Westlaw has released RegulationsPlus. This new resource should make researching federal regulations on Westlaw a little easier. Law Dawg Blawg provides a nice summary of the features of this new product. Read Westlaw's description of RegulationsPlus here.

From NESLReference.

2006 Economic Report of the President

The 2006 Economic Report of the President is now available. The Economic Report of the President is an annual report written by the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. It overviews the nation's economic progress using text and extensive data appendices. The entire 2006 Report can be downloaded as a PDF file. Economic Reports of the President can be downloaded (from 1995 forward) and searched (from 1996 forward) at GPO Access.

From beSpacific.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Think Tank Links

The John F. Kennedy School of Government Library at Harvard University has complied a list of links for "think tank" websites.

From DALL Blog.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Federal Statistics

The federal government creates a lot of statistics, so finding just the one you need can be difficult. The first step is looking in the right source. This directory entitled Federal Agencies with Statistical Programs can help.

Just scan the list to find a agency that deals with the subject matter of the unknown statistic. To determine what type of statistics the agency can offer, click the "Key Statistics" link to the right of the agency's name.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Common Errors in English Usage

Washington State University English Professor Paul Brians has created a website that lists common errors in English usage. Considering the subject matter, the site is surprisingly entertaining. Here is an example of an entry:

MOOT POINT"Moot" is a very old word related to "meeting," specifically a meeting where serious matters are discussed. Oddly enough, a moot point can be a point worth discussing at a meeting (or in court)—an unresolved question—or it can be the opposite: a point already settled and not worth discussing further. At any rate, "mute point" is simply wrong, as is the less common "mood point."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Confused by Library Jargon?

The next time you're perplexed about library jargon, check out Colorado State University Libraries' "Glossary of Library Terms" and "Library Lingo" webpages. The Glossary of Library Terms explains terms common to most, if not all, libraries. Library Lingo was written with CSU Libraries in mind; but many of the terms are common to other libraries.

For example, if a librarian tells you to be sure to check the "Pocket Part" when you're doing statutory research in print and you're too embarassed to ask what a "Pocket Part" is, Library Lingo will explain that a Pocket Part consists of "[u]pdates to a title that is inserted in a pocket inside the back cover which are usually superseded."

Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations

From Bad to Great: Transforming Your PowerPoint Presentations is the title of a free Web Cafe seminar from Office Depot. You can replay the entire presentation or just read the highlights.

From WisBlawg.

O CFR, CFR! Wherefore Art Thou CFR!

The default assumption for most legal research is that you want the most current version of a legal text, but what happens when you need older or superceded versions of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations)?

Lexis and Westlaw both have older versions. In Westlaw the CFR runs from 1984-2004. The database name is CFR plus the last two digits of the year. For example CFR00 is for the CFR for the year 2000. In Lexis the CFR date from 1981- through the last calendar year. You can find them through the following links Legal > Federal Legal - U.S. > Archived Code of Federal Regulations.

If you do not have access to Westlaw or Lexis, GPO access provides free access to some older versions of the CFRs. You can get there from the GPO home page. On the Home Page you will see the heading "GPO Access Resources by Branch", then the subdivision of "Executive Resources ", and then the listing of the Code of Federal Regulations. GPO runs from 1996 through 2004-2005 (as of the date of this posting).

In order to obtain copies of the CFR before 1996, you will need to visit your local law library. In some cases you can find a posting on the web of older versions of the CFR, by a group or organization with an interest in a particular part of the CFR, but unless they are in a PDF you have no way of verifying that the text has not be altered or determining the date of the publication. Even if you do find a PDF, it is always wise to visit your law library and compare what you have found to either a print or microfiche/film resource.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Institute of Politics Opens Video Archive to the Public

The Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government recently announced that video footage of nearly thirty years of public addresses and panel discussions held in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum (formerly the ARCO Forum of Public Affairs) is now available on the IOP’s website.

From Law Librarian Blog.

Saddam Hussein Trial Website

The Law Library of Congress has created a website for "The Trial of Saddam Hussein." According to the website, it "...is intended to provide the viewer with essential information related to the relevant trials. It will also set out a selection of reference materials that will further explain important aspects of the trials."

From BarclayBlog.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ohio Legislative History: General Assembly Video

Video of the Ohio General Assembly's Senate and House proceedings are archived by date on The Ohio Channel. So how do you find video related to a specific bill?

Using the search features of the legislature's website, find the page devoted to your bill (e.g., the page for the pending bill regarding gift cards), look for a reference to the Status Report of Legislation along the left side of the page. The Status Report reveals which dates the bill was considered in the Senate and House.

Then return to the video collection on The Ohio Channel and browse the video collections for the date the bill was considered. For each day, the videos are broken down by subject, such as bill number.

Real Player is necessary to view the videos.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Agency Spotlight: GAO

Agency Overview: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) studies the programs of the federal government with an eye towards fiscal responsibility and efficiency. The agency also investigates allegations of illegal activities. The head of the agency (The Comptroller General) also issues some legal decisions.

Relevance to Legal Research: These nonpartisan reports can support policy arguments (e.g., by providing statistics regarding a program's effectiveness and total federal money spent on programs) and may be a useful supplement to legislative history as GAO representatives often testify at Congressional hearings.

Research Tips: The GAO website has a searchable database of GAO reports going back to before 1970 that may be searched by keyword or browsed by topic. Westlaw's GAO Reports Database (GAO-RPTS) has reports back to 1994.

Keep up with new GAO reports by signing up for email notification or subscribing to an RSS feed.

Taking the Ohio Bar Exam on a Laptop?

The Ohio Supreme Court's new pilot program will allow up to 100 of the February 2006 bar exam takers to volunteer to take parts of the Ohio Bar Exam (the essay and MPT sections) on their laptops. Details are currently here.

Detailed information about the Ohio Bar Exam is available from the Office of Bar Admissions.

Law Students Write About Law Libraries

Rob Hudson, from the St. Thomas University School of Law, has written an article in the Spring ALL-SIS Newsletter about law students' attitudes toward libraries based upon his review of numerous law student blogs (or "blawgs"). Interesting reading.

From WisBlawg.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

New FirstGov.gov Search Engine

FirstGov.gov, the U.S. Government's Official Web Portal, launched a new search engine last week. Researchers can use a single search box to search for content from U.S. federal, state, local, tribal and territoral sources. This new interface should make finding government information a little easier. SearchEngineWatch has a great article about the new FirstGov.gov search features.

Ohio Citation Style

Many law students are surprised to learn that Ohio courts have a special citation format that is different from the Bluebook. The Ohio Supreme Court's Reporter of Decisions prescribes the citation rules for opinions published by Ohio Courts. Many practitioners use this citation format when writing briefs and other legal documents. These citation manuals (the 1992 version and 2002 revisions) are available in PDF on the Supreme Court of Ohio's website.

When citing a case, it's good to remember that Ohio's manual:*
  • requires that the year be placed right after the case name (e.g., Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436).
  • requires use of the WebCite along with other parallel citations (e.g., Bonacorsi v. Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. Co., 95 Ohio St.3d 314, 2002-Ohio-2220, 767 N.E.2d 707.)
  • prefers pinpoint citations to paragraph numbers rather than page numbers (e.g., Bonacorsi v. Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. Co., 95 Ohio St.3d 314, 2002-Ohio-2220, 767 N.E.2d 707, at ¶15.) (Paragraph numbers appear in all Ohio cases decided after 2002.)
*All of the above examples are taken from the 2002 Revisions to the Manual of Citations.

LexisNexis Congressional - Redesigned Interface

LexisNexis has redesigned the LexisNexis Congressional interface. The new interface allows users to search across different data sources, such as legislative histories, hearings, bill, etc., all within a single search. Read all about the redesign at the LexisNexis website.

From Law Librarian Blog.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

President Bush's State of the Union Address

The complete text of President Bush's State of the Union address is available from GPO Access. The site also has all of the State of the Union Addresses since 1992.

Read the Democratic response to the 2006 State of the Union address at CNN.

Get Newsworthy Legal Documents Emailed to You

Findlaw's Documents service offers complaints, indictments, and other documents from high profile cases in either a weekly email digest or emailed as the stories break. Recent documents include documents related to Judge Alito's confirmation, the Senate's upcoming hearings on NSA surveillance authority, and lobbyist Jack Abramoff's plea agreement.

Sign up for the free email service or the weekly compilation (as well as other Findlaw newsletters) here.