January 22, 2005
A Quick Look at the Trial Watch Database
TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) is an Association under Swiss law founded in June 2002. "It is apolitical and non-confessional. Its principal goals are in the fight against impunity for the perpetrators, accomplices, and instigators of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of torture. TRIAL will go to court and defend the interests of the victims of such acts before the Swiss courts and the International Criminal Tribunal."
The Association maintains a database of individuals charged with the above-mentioned violations and tracks the progress of proceedings against them. The database is provided in French, German and English language versions. Unfortunately the English language version lags behind the French and German versions.
A Quick Look at The Search Systems Free Public Records Directory
Search Systems claims to provide to the largest directory of links to free public record databases on the Internet -- "over 23,057 public records databases. Researchers can browse the public record links by geographic location or use a "Public Record Locator" to search for a type of public record in a specific area.
This resource is organized by directory listings as follows: US national, US states, US territories, Canada Nationwide, Canada by Province, Worldwide (foreign), and Outer Space (but not quite what you might think).
Of course not all public records in Search System's databases are free. The good stuff, like criminal records, cost money.
Belated Happy Anniversary to BoingBoing
Scalia and Breyer on Foreign Law and the US Constitution
The transcript of American University's Washington College of Law's January 13th webcast of United States Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Breyer discussing the relevancy of foreign law to U.S. constitutional interpretation is now online.
Index to Legal Periodicals Goes Retro
H.W. Wilson will add ten more years of retrospective coverage in September 2005, making it possible for Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective users to search periodicals as far back as 1908. Read all about it: announcement.
Ron Jones (Univ of Cincinnati Law Library)
January 21, 2005
Top Ten Privacy Stories of 2004
Here is the Electronic Privacy Information Center's (EPIC) the Top Ten Privacy Stories of 2004 with a list of issues to watch in 2005.
January 20, 2005
Table of Contents RSS Feeds
John Doyle (Washington and Lee University Law Library) comes to the rescue again! John has compiled a list of law journal table of contents RSS feeds for the current issues of 123 commercial journal.
John explains the value of this service in his post:
"The main advantage to reading tables-of-contents information via a feed reader is that the software takes care of which journals have been looked at and will automatically download any new issues as they become available. Other advantages include the ability to search for words in the article titles of all the journals, the display of article abstracts (if available at the publisher's site), and possibly a link to the full-text if licensing permits."
For instruction on installing a feed reader, and importing his list, see John's guide.
Create Your Own Journal Feed. If you want to creat your own feed for a journal, John has made the process idiot proof. Follow the link in his post entitled RSS Feeds for Law Journals.
Dayton Law School Disrupts the Summertime Peace and Quiet of Law Librarians
According to this recent press release, the University of Dayton School of Law is the first law school in the nation to offer an accelerated option that allows highly motivated students to finish law school in five, instead of the traditional six, semesters.
How? If students begin their law studies in the summer, they can graduate in two years.
Students in the summer! Somebody better stop this before it begins a trend. This won't be a good thing for academic law libraries. What's the point of low pay, short hours, four weeks of vacation, and getting a lot more holidays off than firm librarians, if you don't get to go on cruise control during the summer!
D-Lib's January Issue Contents
D-Lib's January 2005 issue is now online. Articles include
- Building Educational Protals atop Digital Libraries
- Trend Analysis of the Digital Library Community
- Transparent Format Migration of Preserved Web Content (which promotes the LOCKSS system)
New Legislative Tracking Service
The site's automated monitoring services are free, and the data is obtained from federal sources including THOMAS and the websites of the U.S. House and Senate. Users may track bills, issues or committees, representatives, or topics. Daily or weekly email updates are available for registered users, as well as news feeds. The site also includes blog postings on legislation, by authors registered with the site to have their comments appear on the GovTrack Blog.
Ron Jones (Univ of Cincinnati Law Library)
askSam Creates Sarbanes-Oxley Database
The good folks at askSam are at it again. This time they have created a free, searchable database of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The text of the Act has been imported into a searchable, hypertext-linked askSam database. The individual sections of the legislation are divided into separate documents in the database. This allows you to easily locate sections pertaining to specific topics. The database also contains a pre-defined report that gives you an overview of all sections containing any search term you enter.
To view this and other askSam databases, download the free askSam viewer.
Ron Jones (Univ of Cincinnati Law Library)
Tales from the Frontlines
Law Library Directors have been sharing their strange but true tales from the Reference Desk on the lawlibdir listserv. Here's a sampling:
One of our students told us that he does'nt want to be trained in WESTLAW, as he intends to practice on the East coast...
We had a 1L student in the last year or so looking for the reporter that covered all of California, not just West California.
Prior to implementing a limited access policy, we had an unemployed gentlemen seek assistance from a reference librarian on several matters that appeared to be more for his entertainment than for a serious concern. My favorite was when he wanted the reference librarian to find the law that would require Chick-filet-A restaurants to be open on Sundays.
A man with two pagers and a cell phone hanging from his belt came into the library. He was looking for information on possession with intent to deliver.
One of my favorites (not asked of me, but one of our librarians) is the student who asked where the bicentennial digest was shelved.
"How many years can you get for statutory rape?"
"I want to sue my auto insurance company because they won't pay for someone else wrecking my car because I lent it to that person in exchange for drugs."
So this is what our bosses are doing while we work our fingers to the bone.
No Post-Rehnquist SCOTUS!
News flash from The Onion: The Supreme Court to break up if Chief Justice William Rehnquist steps down.
Ron Jones (Univ. of Cincinnati Law Library)
JURIST Provides Links to Today's Presidential Inaugural Ceremony
The 55th Presidential Inaugural Ceremony [official website] will be held today, beginning at 11:30 AM ET as Vice President Dick Cheney takes the oath of office. President Bush will be sworn in at 12 PM ET. View a schedule of events. A live webcast of the day's events is available via C-SPAN beginning at 8 AM ET.
January 19, 2005
Removal of Gov Docs That Could Impact National or Homeland Security
My bad! Better late than never:
The Information Dissemination Policy Statement (ID 72) took effect on Jan. 10, 2005. It superseded SOD 72 (July, 22, 2002).
This policy statement governs official agency requests to withdraw, withhold or restrict access to information products or services available from the GPO Information Dissemination (ID) collection and distribution programs administrated by the Superintendent of Documents.
Maybe Hein should buy one copy of every gov doc so libraries could replensh their collections by buying from Hein after having removed docs per an official directive to do so. See below:
Excerpts from the Statement:
Causes for removal directive:
Problems warranting an Action include:
- production (printing, software, mastering, etc.) errors;
- content errors;
- presence of classified or sensitive material that could impact national or homeland security; or
- presence of strictly administrative or official-use only material distributed in error, unless subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
[ I'm just being paranoid, aren't I? The "content error" category doesn't open the door to rewritting history, does it? It's probably just me but whenever I hear the phrase "homeland security" my imagination conjures up images of circa 1935 Nazi Germany.]
This policy pertains to all U.S. Government information products and services subject to the jurisdiction of the Superintendent of Documents. However, the following limitations apply.
1). Under the Sales Program, products sold are no longer the property of the federal government and not subject to the same provisions. However, in cases of national security, GPO will work with publishing agencies to determine what actions, if any, may be feasible. (emphasis added)
2). Products disseminated through the International Exchange Service (IES) are distributed under international treaty. In such cases, ID will consult with the appropriate officials of the Library of Congress to jointly determine what actions, if any, may be feasible.
3). Emergency situations involving an information product impacting national security may arise. Such situations will be handled with the utmost expediency as determined by the Superintendent of Documents.
3). Depending upon the content of the publications, local representatives of some or all of the major library associations (American Library Association, American Association of Law Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Special Libraries Association, and Medical Libraries Association) will also be notified in order to assure support for the actions taken to the maximum extent possible. (emphasis added).
4). Depository Library Council members will also be given advance notice.
The Director, Library and Customer Relations Service ensures:
1). Copies of withdrawn tangible items are transferred to the National Collection of U. S. Government Publications and/or an equivalent collection of the National Archives and Records Administration to be held without public access until such time as the restriction is lifted. If (when) the restriction is lifted, the content will be returned to public access through the appropriate Information Dissemination collections or distribution programs.
2). Copies of electronic files withdrawn from GPO Access or the GPO electronic archive are maintained in the National Collection of U. S. Government Publications and/or an equivalent collection of the National Archives and Records Administration to be held without public access until such time as the restriction is lifted. If (when) the restriction is lifted, the content is returned to public access through the appropriate Information Dissemination collections or distribution programs.
The United States and the Rule of Law in International Affairs
The United States and the Rule of Law in International Affairs by John F. Murphy (Cambridge University Press, Published November 2004).
Review. "Professor Murphy has written a thoughtful, intellectually rigorous, readily accessible overview of the relationship between the United States and contemporary international law. This volume provides a superb starting point for those seeking to understand the role of the sole superpower in today's global legal order." Michael Byers, Duke University School of Law
See also G. John Ikenberry's review in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2005 issue ("This book provides a useful overview of Washington's ambivalent, shifting stance toward the international rule of law. Murphy does not offer a grand theory to explain growing U.S. resistance to international legal agreements. His emphasis is on the ambiguity of international law, its unsettled status under the U.S. Constitution, and the expansion in the range of issues brought into the international legal realm.").
Book Description: "John Murphy offers an insightful analysis of why the United States does not always accept the rule of law in international affairs, even though it has made immense contributions to its creation, adoption, and implementation. Examining the reasons for this failure, John Murphy analyses a number of cases, not to make a case that the United States has been an international outlaw, but to illustrate the wide-ranging difficulties standing in the way of US adherence to the rule of law. He explains how the nature of the US legal system and the idiosyncrasies of the international legal process combine to compound problems for the United States, and he explores several alternative scenarios for the position of the United States vis-à-vis international law. This timely book offers a much needed examination of US attitudes and practices and makes a major contribution to the contemporary literature in international law and international relations."
Hardback | ISBN: 0521822564 at $85
Paperback | ISBN: 0521529689 at $30 (Available in March, 2005)
New Federal Docket Management System
The Office of Management and Budget plans on launching an expanded version of the Regulations.gov website this summer with the implemenation of the new Federal Docket Manaagement System.
"For the first time, citizens will be able not only to comment on proposed regulations using the Internet - as they do now on the site - but also will have access to supporting agency documents, every public comment and rules that are already in place, " reports Shawn Zeller at GOVEXEC.com
January Releases from West-Thomson
January releases from West-Thomson:
- Federal Civil Rules Handbook, 2005 ed.
- Commercial Litigation in New York State Courts, 2d
- Missouri Employment Law and Practice, 2005 ed.
- Daniel's Georgia Criminal Trial Practice, 2004-2005 ed.
- Louisiana Civil Code, 2005 ed.
- Colorado Court Rules, State & Federal, 2004 ed.
Library Fines To Aid Tsunami Victims
From LISnews: "York, Maine is one of several towns and cities that have decided to contribute late fees paid by patrons towards tsunami relief. Many Maine libraries chose to begin the drive last week (Maine library week), and most are contributing to UNICEF. The idea was spearheaded by Elizabeth Moran, director of the Camden Public Library."
Nat'l Research Council Publishes "Firearms and Violence"
Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review (2004), Charles F. Wellford, John V. Pepper, and Carol V. Petrie, Editors, Committee on Law and Justice, National Research Council
Description: "For years proposals for gun control and the ownership of firearms have been among the most contentious issues in American politics. For public authorities to make reasonable decisions on these matters, they must take into account facts about the relationship between guns and violence as well as conflicting constitutional claims and divided public opinion. In performing these tasks, legislators need adequate data and research to judge both the effects of firearms on violence and the effects of different violence control policies.
Readers of the research literature on firearms may sometimes find themselves unable to distinguish scholarship from advocacy. Given the importance of this issue, there is a pressing need for a clear and unbiased assessment of the existing portfolio of data and research. Firearms and Violence uses conventional standards of science to examine three major themes - firearms and violence, the quality of research, and the quality of data available. The book assesses the strengths and limitations of current databases, examining current research studies on firearm use and the efforts to reduce unjustified firearm use and suggests ways in which they can be improved."
In a Nutshell: "The role of guns in U.S. society is a subject of intense policy debate and disagreement. However, current research and data on firearms and violent crime are too weak to support strong conclusions about the effects of various measures to prevent and control gun violence, says a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council. A comprehensive research program on firearms is needed if criminal-justice and crime-prevention policy is to have a sound basis.
Some of today's most pressing policy issues in this area cannot be tackled with existing data and research methods, which are weak, the report says. For example:
- There is no credible evidence that "right-to-carry" laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime. To date, 34 states have enacted these laws.
- There is almost no evidence that violence-prevention programs intended to steer children away from guns have had any effects on their behavior, knowledge, or attitudes regarding firearms. More than 80 such programs exist.
- Research has found associations between gun availability and suicide with guns, but it does not show whether such associations reveal genuine patterns of cause and effect."
Source of summary: Data on firearms and violence too weak to settle policy debates
File under "More Research Needed."
Hardback 0-309-09124-1 $43.16 (place order on the web)
PDF Book 0-309-54640-0 $32.50
Read online for free.