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May 31, 2005

Cost Effective Research Tips & Other Guides from Lexis & Westlaw

Novalawcity points to a pair of handy cost effective research tip sheets from LexisNexis and Westlaw.

For additional documentation and tip sheets on using those services, see Westlaw User Guides and LexisNexis Literature & Reference Materials & Law School Reference Literature. Most guides are available for download in PDF format. For hard copies, contact a vendor representative - many guides are available at no charge.

Patent Monitoring RSS Service

Robert Ambrogi reports that a new service called PatentMojo:
. . . enables patent professionals to create watchlists for patent searches and monitor them through RSS feeds. . . Its users are able to create watchlists using any search criteria. The service searches the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data daily and delivers updates via RSS. A seven-day free trial is available through the site, after which subscriptions cost $15 a month.

Database of Cease & Desist Notices

Chilling Effects is a joint site from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several academic institutions which "aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities"

One of their projects is the development of a database of Cease & Desist notices. They are inviting users to submit notices that they may have received.

Source: AbsTracked

Tips for Finding Legal Forms

Back when I was a law firm librarian, I can remember being asked all the time to locate legal forms. And it's not always easy.

For some good advice, check out DCLRC Blawg's latest legal research tip on finding legal forms. It covers mandatory court forms, county specific forms, forms on the Internet, form manuals, and what to do when there isn't a form.

May 26, 2005

Statewide Book Discussion Series - A More Perfect Union: The Common Defense

Connie Von Der Heide of the Wisconsin State Law Library reports that the Wisconsin Humanities Council is coordinating a statewide book discussion series entitled, A More Perfect Union: The Common Defense. Discussion kits are available from the WHC.

Series description:

The second A More Perfect Union book discussion series explores the founders' mandate "to provide for the common defense." Since 1787, the U.S. has acted on many occasions and in many ways in "the common defense," fighting both on our own soil and abroad to defend U.S. ideals and interests. What is it that the U.S. has considered worth defending here at home? How have we defended our national interests when it comes to acting overseas? When is defense justified? What is the role of citizens, elected representatives, and government officials in making decisions about the common defense? Today, what do we consider worth defending? What is "common" - or uncommon - about those interests or ideals?

New Edition of the Bluebook Now Available

Now available - The 18th edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.

To learn what's changed, law librarians can attend the AALL Annual Meeting program, "Is the New Bluebook New?," on Tuesday, July 19th.

Source: AbsTracked

Victim's Blog Leads to Arrest of Murder Suspect

The New York Daily Times reports a chilling tale about a murder victim's last blog post.

In what may have been just minutes after posting to his blog that his sister's boyfriend was in the house, a New York man and his sister were murdered. The entry led police to arrest the boyfriend for the crime.

See CrimLaw blog for a discussion on whether the blog entry might be admissible in court.

Sources: Ernie the Attorney and NY Supreme Court Criminal Term Library blog

Blog About Madison Schools "Growing Force" in Local School Policy

There was an interesting article in Wednesday's Capital Times about School Information System, a blog about the Madison school system which is "seen as a growing force in local school politics and policy."

According to the article, School Information System blogger, Jim Zellmer, believes that "The news media here pays too little attention to schools. . . so he began putting together a blog and posting candidate interviews, campaign finance reports and links to media coverage on his Web site."

(Article should be available electronically to Wisconsinites via BadgerLink's Wisconsin Newsstand.)

May 25, 2005

National Sex Offender Registry Planned

TVC Alert reports that:
The Department of Justice announced on Friday plans to build a Web site that would deliver sex offender registry information to the public for all U.S. states and territories. Initially, it hopes to have information for at least 20 states available in about 60 days.

Follow the Activity of a Congressperson

Find out what our U.S. congressmen and women are up to with Plogress, a new service that reports on the activities of individual representatives via automated blogs.

View a listing of Wisconsin's senators and representatives or choose another state from the listing on the left side.

Source: inter alia

Thursday is Take Your Brat to Work Day

Thursday is NBC15's Take Your Brat to Work Day in Madison. No, not the naughty kid kind---the sausage kind. Only in Wisconsin!

As a warm-up event to Memorial Day's The World’s Largest Brat Fest, viewers are invited to drive through the NBC15 parking lot and take some delicious Johnsonville bratwursts to work with them. The event runs from 6am to 9am and brats are available for $1 each.

On Friday through Monday, get your brats at The World’s Largest Brat Fest held at the Alliant Energy Center this year. Hours are 11am to 7pm and parking is free. Brats are $1 and hot dogs $.50.

It's really quite an event - my family and I go each year. My kids love the hot dogs and seeing the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile. And where else can you feed a family of four for about $5?

May 24, 2005

Find Authoritative Medical Information with PubMed

PubMed has been around for a long time, but it's such a wonderful resource that it's worth repeating for those who may not have discovered it yet.

A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed includes over 15 million citations for biomedical articles back to the 1950's. When available, links to full text articles and other resources are provided.

A related resource is MedlinePlus, which offers consumer-oriented health and drug information for patients, family and friends.

List of WI Law Libraries Open to the Public

The Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin's Public Access to Legal Information Committee has developed a useful list of Wisconsin Law Libraries Open to the Public.

The list contains location, hours, contact info, library staff and collection size, and a description of services available to the public. A very handy list!

May 23, 2005

Directory of Expert Witnesses, Consultants, Etc.

ALMExperts.com is a free online directory of 15,000+ experts, expert witnesses, investigators, court reporters, consultants, and litigation support professionals.

According to House of Butter:

The redesigned site features listings in 36 main categories, with over 2,300 searchable subcategories ranging from accident investigation to medical/health to document analysis. Users can browse by category or use powerful keyword searching to quickly zero in on the specific expertise or service they require. Many listings also feature links to ALM's VerdictSearch(R), allowing users to view verdict details on cases the expert has testified in, with a single click.

Free Acrobat 7.0 Webinar for ABA members

From PDF for Lawyers:
The ABA Law Practice Managment Section is sponsoring a free webinar on what's new in the latest version of Adobe Acrobat 7.0. It's free for ABA Members, who can register at this link. The webinar is a one hour deal that will take place on Tuesday May 24th at 12:00 pm noon CST, or 1:00 pm EST (do the math for the other time zones on your own).

Comment on Federal Regulations with Regulations.gov

From Cornell Law Library's InSITE:

Regulations.gov is a federal government initiative to encourage public participation in the rulemaking process. As experienced legal researchers know, when a federal agency proposes a new rule it is published in the Federal Register and a comment period is provided. The Regulations.gov website revolutionizes the commenting process by taking it online.

What's the Buzz on Local Blogs

Blogs are great for keeping up on national news, but what about the local buzz? Check out Blogdigger Local to "see what they're saying in your neck of the woods!"

Madison has its own aggregator of local blogs. "Dane101 is a website for Madison and Dane County, about the persons, events, and issues that shape the region, and written by contributors from and familiar with life here." Check out the list of Madison blogs on the left side.

May 19, 2005

Be Notified of New Books from your Favorite Authors with Amazon Feeds

LISNews.com announces that there is a new service for RSS feeds from Amazon.com. Use it to search for your favorite author and subscribe to the feed to be notified when he/she publishes something new.

You can also search for other things that Amazon sells, such as electronics, music, toys, and more.

Source: AbsTracked

DCLRCBlawg Features Q&A with Dane Co Legal Community Members

Speedy Trial: Q&A with Dane Co's Legal Community is a new feature of DCLRCBlawg. Members of Dane County's legal community are introduced as they answer a series of questions posed to them. Should be interesting.

First up is Deb Smith, Director- Assigned Counsel Division, Wisconsin State Public Defender.

Happy Birthday, WisBlawg!

It's hard to believe, but tomorrow WisBlawg will celebrate its first birthday. Even more unbelievable to me, is the fact that just a year and a month ago I hardly knew what a blog was!

WisBlawg began as an experiment to see if a law library blog had a place in the blawgosphere. At that time there were only one or two other law library blogs in existence. In the grand tradition of the "Wisconsin Idea" coupled with a librarian's desire to dispense information, I began to share my knowledge of legal and Internet resources with Wisconsin's legal practitioners.

It seems that WisBlawg has indeed earned its place. Statistics reveal that the blog receives about 75 hits per day and has 100+ subscribers. It's readership includes attorneys, librarians, judges, paralegals, students, faculty, reporters and many other bloggers. I've also been told that it has also served as an example for other law library blogs, as there are now over 30 of them by my count.

I'm pleased at the success of WisBlawg and I thank each of you for your readership. As always, I enjoy hearing your comments and suggestions. Now where did I put that birthday cake?

May 17, 2005

Map of "Cheap Gas" in Wisconsin & Nationwide

CheapGas is a new site that combines the power of Google Maps and gasbuddy by creating maps that pinpoint the location of and fuel prices at gas stations in cities across the U.S. In Wisconsin, choose from Milwaukee, Madison or a view state wide listing.

Source: ResearchBuzz

11.5 Billion "Visible" Web Pages Are a Fraction of All Web Content

A new study reports the size of the "visible" or "indexable" Web ("the part of the Web which is considered for indexing by the major engines") is currently 11.5 billion pages.

While that number is indeed strikingly large, consider that according to another study, 84 percent of the information available on the Internet is found only on the "invisible Web," or "deep Web," and is not visible by the major search engines.

To find out more about the invisible Web and learn how to alter your search strategies to find this content, see my article, Searching Smarter: Finding Legal Resources on the Invisible Web. Or sign up for my Conquering the Invisible Web workshop at the Wisconsin State Law Library on August 10th.

Source: Search Engine Watch Blog

Free Gov Newsletters - Business, Taxes, Foreign Affairs, Etc.

FirstGov has a nice collection of free government newsletters available by email subscription. The newsletters cover a variety of subjects, including business and finance; education and employment; taxes; environment and agriculture; foreign affairs; health, safety and consumer protection, and more.

May 16, 2005

Associations Unlimited - A Database of Associations from Milwaukee Public Library

Because Wisconsin's public libraries provide some awesome electronic resources for professionals and too few people know about them, I'll be highlighting a few of them in the coming weeks.

Associations Unlimited is a wonderful Milwaukee Public Library database of information about U.S. and international nonprofit membership associations. It also includes IRS data on U.S. 501(c) nonprofit organizations. The database can be searched by organization name, location, subject or keyword, and is the electronic equivalent of the well-known print source, the Encyclopedia of Associations.

Associations Unlimited is available for use within City of Milwaukee libraries and by remote access to City of Milwaukee library cardholders. It is also available at the UW Madison libraries.

The World Fact Book 2005 Online

The World Fact Book 2005 edition is now available online. Although the book was created by the CIA as a reference for their own personnel, it is very useful for anyone wishing to learn about a country.

It contains country profiles divided into categories: Geography, People, Government, Economy, Communications, Transportation, Military, & Transnational Issues.

Source: After Hours in the Law Library

Index to Dane Co. Circuit Ct. Decisions Available Online

Paula Seeger of the Dane County Legal Resource Center reports that an index of decisions for the Legal Decision Access Project (LDAP) is now available online.

As reported earlier, LDAP makes selected decisions of the Dane Co Circuit Court judges available to the public. Eleven judges are participating in the project by contributing their decisions. The decisions are available in binders at the Dane County Legal Resource Center but may eventually be made available online.

Over 100 decisions are currently available, including the recent decision on Madison's minimum wage.

May 12, 2005

Looking for a Good Book?

Do you enjoy reading but aren't sure what to read next? Try What Do I Read Next - an awesome resource from the South Central Library System.

In addition to the typical author and title searches, you can also search by time period, genre, settings, characters, and more. Or, enter the title of your favorite book to find other books with the same characteristics.

What Do I Read Next is available at SCLS (Madison area) libraries and online with a SCLS library card. Currently, this includes LINK public libraries, Marshfield Public Library, Portage County Public Library, Rio Community Library, and the Lester Library of Rome.

Google Has Aerial Photos of Your Neighborhood

As a supplement to Google Maps, Google now includes aerial satellite photos. Just enter an address in Google Maps, then click on "Satellite" on the top right to view the photo. You can even zoom in or out and move in all four directions.

Check out the image of the State Capital.

Google Blog offers some interesting applications:

Looking for a new apartment or house? Type in an address you're considering, get a view from the air and, with a quick local search, find out if you can walk to your favorite Saturday morning cup of coffee. Thinking about spending time at the shore this summer? Search for hotels with Google Local and check out the "beach" in "beachfront." You can even see driving directions with real images.

State Capital History for Sale

This Saturday, May 14, the UW SWAP shop will be selling old fixtures from the Wisconsin State Capital Building.

Most of the items are from the original second State Capital (circa. 1912-1917). Examples of items are quarter-sawn oak doors, trim & windows, glass globes from light fixtures, and more.

Read more in the Wisconsin State Journal or visit the SWAP shop web site. The UW SWAP shop located at 2102 Wright Street, Madison, WI.

May 11, 2005

Map of U.S. Circuit & District Courts

The U. S. Courts have created a new map which delineates each of the 12 regional judicial circuits and 94 judicial districts within the federal court system.

Clicking on the map will lead you to the web sites of the circuit and district courts in that area. Links to PACER and ECF are also included.

Wisconsin Public Records Databases

BRB Publications has compiled a very comprehensive list of free public records databases for Wisconsin. It includes court records, corporate registrations, inmate records, unclaimed property, property assessments, and more.

Similar lists are available for each state, as well as, a nation wide public records page.

This site earned an "editor's choice" rank on TVC's Tools for Finding Public Records so you know it has to be good!

Tennessee Governor Starts a Blog

Phil Blog is a new initiative from Tennessee Governor, Phil Bredesen.

Although he confesses that he won't blog daily, he will "on a regular basis, use this space to share my ideas on issues and provide personal dispatches from trips I take and events I attend, like the National Governors Association conferences."

This is neat. What a great way for elected officials to keep in touch with their constituents.

Source: Library Stuff

"The Law Firm" Reality TV Show Debuts This Summer

This summer, look for a new reality TV show from NBC called "The Law Firm." Here's the description from the NBC:
Real lawyers. Real cases. Real consequences. Executive producer David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal) brings a real legal drama to television. Trial attorney and legal analyst Roy Black will manage 12 actual lawyers competing against each other while trying real court cases with judges and juries, resulting in outcomes that will be final, legal and binding. Each week, one legal eagle is eliminated and the top attorney will receive a prize of $250,000. With plenty of drama inside and outside of the courtroom, the result is riveting entertainment.
The 2-hour series premiere will air Wednesday, July 27th on NBC.

Source: Stark County Law Library Blawg

Survey of State Tax Collection

2004 data is now available for the U.S. Census Bureau's annual State Government Tax Collections (STC) report. The report provides a summary of taxes collected by state for up to 25 tax categories. Data is available for 1992-2004.

In States Ranked by Total Taxes and Per Capita Amount: 2004, Wisconsin ranks 16th. For more detail, see the State Government Tax Collections: 2004 - Wisconsin.

Source: Law Librarian Blog

May 10, 2005

Reinhart's Experience With West km

Carol Bannen, Director of Information Resources at Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren, describes the firm's experience with West km (knowledge management) in a recent Law Technology News article. (registration required to view article)

In summary, she writes:

The ability to use Westlaw searching capability, to update any legal citations and to see easily when there is a Reinhart document citing a case has been invaluable to us and to our clients.
Ms. Bannen is a member of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin and coordinator of the association's successful publishing campaign.

Search for Anyone's Birth Date

Want to find out the birth date of someone? Try Anybirthday.com - simply enter in first and last name and optional zip code. The database contains over 135 million birth dates.

I found myself, but noticed that my zip code is old. Also, it has me listed by my given first name, "Bonita" - not my shortened name, "Bonnie" - which makes sense since it's based on public records.

You can also set up an email reminder service so you'll never forget your spouse's birthday!

Be Notified About UW Law Library's New Books, Videos, & Gov. Docs in Your Practice Area

Although it's not a new service, you may not be aware that the UW Law Library offers a Recent Acquisitions Email Service.

Simply create a profile in which you select subjects in your area of interest and of each month you will receive a citation list of newly received books, videos, and government documents matching your selection.

Or, if you would prefer to scan the full list each month, it is also available on the Law Library website.

If something interests you, complete our online Outlaw Document Delivery Service form to request that it be delivered to you. But, be aware - not all items can be delivered.

The Vanishing Trial

The Wisconsin Law Journal reports on UW Law Prof. Marc Galanter's study about the decline of jury trials in the United States. From the article:

In the past several decades class actions, technology, regulation and legislation have made the fact questions quite apparently answerable, thus the need for answers on the law are all that are necessary to resolve many disputes. As a result, we've seen the decline of jury trials in America.

May 9, 2005

"I'll Give You a Cup of Coffee If You Tell Me Your Password"

It's hard to believe, but Information Week reports that, in exchange for a $3 Starbucks gift card, 85% of computer-users surveyed were willing to reveal their password or at least give hints about it.

The survey was conducted by an Internet security and infrastructure company called VeriSign Inc, who questioned passers-by on San Francisco's Market Street.

One wonders, however, if people actually gave their real passwords, and, if so, how many changed it immediately afterward. Interesting, nonetheless.

Source: Legal Technology Blog

More Podcasts from LRB

The folks over at the Legislative Reference Bureau have been busy podcasting lately. Some of the latest topics include the Public Trust Doctrine, TABOR, and more.

Advice to Law Firm Bloggers

Friday's ABA Journal E-Report offers some advice for attorneys and other legal practitioners who are thinking about blogging. It also encourages firm administrators to establish guidelines for their employee bloggers.

Milwaukee Small Claims Self-Help Clinic

The Milwaukee County Courthouse has established a self-help clinic for small claims matters. The clinic will run every Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The clinic is seeking volunteers to help provide general information and assistance in filling out small claims forms. For more information, see the notice in the MBA Messenger.

UPDATE 5/10/05:

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge, Richard Sankovitz emailed me the following:

Credit for operating the clinic goes to Nancy Trueblood, a local lawyer who has operated the clinic almost single-handedly for three years, and to von Briesen & Roper, which, starting last February pledged to staff the clinic every Thursday for a year.

Also, we offer a self-help clinic for unrepresented family law litigants four times per week, thanks to volunteer lawyers, to the Association for Women Lawyers and to staff members and lawyers of our county Child Support Enforcement office.

Our ambition is to operate the clinic full time, like Waukesha, with volunteers available to assist individuals as often as possible.

Thanks, Judge Sankovitz ! I'm always glad to receive comments or additional information about WisBlawg posts.

May 4, 2005

Historical GATT Document Database

The GATT Digital Library is a new database from Stanford University & the World Trade Organization. The collection contains over 30,000 documents of and about the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), an organization that promoted international commerce and the reduction of trade barriers among member states from 1947-1994.

Although a small number of WTO documents are also included on this site, the majority of official documents distributed by the WTO are available on the WTO Documents Online service.

Source: Bill Ebbott, Assistant Director for Information Services, UW Law Library

Pretrieve Links to Court Records

Pretrieve, my new favorite people finder, has added court records to it's search results. In Wisconsin, this means that it will conduct a search in the WI Supreme Court opinion & orders database and the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) database.

However, as Genie Tyburski points out, "Pretrieve's coverage extends only to courts with Web-based search engines for querying judicial opinions. . . If you are conducting the research for a client, or for the purpose of making a business decision, you would do far better to consult with an experienced public records researcher."

Wiretap Report

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts has issued their 2004 Wiretap Report.

The report covers the number and nature of federal and state applications for orders authorizing or approving the interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications in 2004. It also provides supplementary information on arrests and convictions resulting from intercepts concluded in prior years.

Source: Law Librarian Blog

L&E News Hosts Blawg Review #4

UW Law School's very own Law & Entrepreneurship News hosts this week's Blawg Review. As you may recall, Blawg Review offers weekly summaries of the week's hot posts from around the blawgosphere. This week's topics include: law schools, IP law, war stuff, canon law and more.

And thanks to Blawg Review and Patent Baristas for mentioning that I serve as Research Advisor (a.k.a "information detective") to L&E News. I've had fun working with Prof. Smith and his excellent team of student editors. And I really do love Almond Joy ice cream!

May 3, 2005

Free Online Reader's Companion to American History

Houghton Mifflin has made its full-text Reader's Companion to American History available at no charge online.

It contains the following titles:
+ Reader's Companion to American History
+ Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History
+ Reader's Companion to Military History
+ Encyclopedia of North American Indians
+ Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia
+ Civil War Battlefield Guide
+ Great American History Fact-Finder

Although the site can only be browsed, ResourceShelf offers tips on searching it with Google or Yahoo.

Man Dies of Starvation Trying to Keep Up with Online Communities?

MediaDailyNews has a sad story about a NY man who died of starvation while trying to keep up with almost 50 online forums and contributing to 375 different blogs.
He was glued to his computer 24/7," [his wife] said tearfully. "He was so afraid he was going to miss an opportunity to contribute a comment or start a discussion, that he just stopped eating.

"He felt under terrible pressure to be part of the online community," said his son, Lucian, who says he tried several times to get his father's attention and lure him away from the computer.

Source: inter alia

Update: Seems I've been duped along with a lot of others! This is apparently not true. It did seem unbelievable, but the story looked legit.

Article: Overview of Findlaw

Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin member, Beth Bland, has written an informative article entitled, Findlaw for Legal Professionals: An Overview, which appears in the April 27th edition of Wisconsin Law Journal.

The article describes the features available in FindLaw from a legal professional's point-of-view.

May 2, 2005

"Freed by the Wisconsin Innocence Project"

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the murder case against Evan Zimmerman has been dropped. As you may recall, this was Wisconsin Innocence Project's latest case.

Eau Claire County District Attorney Rich White asked a judge Friday to throw out the case mid-trial, saying he lacked the evidence to show "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Zimmerman had killed his former girlfriend. . .

After the short hearing was adjourned, Zimmerman, 58, grabbed his attorneys, Keith Belzer of La Crosse and Keith Findley, a UW-Madison law professor, in a tear-filled embrace. He later held up a white T-shirt declaring "Freed by the Wisconsin Innocence Project."

Blogger Easily Views Confidential Portions of Pentagon Report

It seems that a blogger has recovered confidential text from an an official Pentagon report regarding the murder of an Italian secret agent in Bagdad.

The Pentagon, which issued the document in PDF, had hidden much of the confidential content by blacking it out. However, by simply copying and pasting the blacked-out text into a word processor, the confidential text was revealed. Check it out for yourself at vowe dot net.

There is a lesson here, as PDF for Lawyers, points out: "If you are going to redact documents, get a clue. There are a couple of things to remember here -- don't blow off understanding the structure of PDF because it's "technical;" and learn how to use your tools."

Auto Recalls Site and RSS Feeds

Justia has created a site complete with RSS feeds for auto recalls. Choose the make, model and year of a vehicle to view the recalls issued. Even better, subscribe to that specific RSS feed to receive notification of future recalls.

Source: Robert Ambrogi's LawSites

May Edition of WSLL At Your Service

The May edition of the Wisconsin State Law Library's newsletter, WSLL At Your Service is now available. Highlights include a profile of the rare books collection, upcoming classes and recent acquisitions.

Dane County Circuit Ct State of the Judiciary Report

Dane County Circuit Court has recently issued the State of the Judiciary Report (April 2005). According to the introduction:

This report has been prepared to provide information on the organization of the Dane County Circuit Court system, the functions of its many components, the work it has performed for our citizens and the fiscal implications of its operations.

Source: DCLRC Docket

Local Decision Access Project Makes Dane Co Circ Ct Decisions Available

The Dane County Legal Resource Center has started a new project called LDAP - Local Decision Access Project. According to librarian, Paula Seeger:

The Project makes selected decisions of the Dane Co Circuit Court judges available to the public. The decisions are arranged by court branch number in binders and are located next to the Wisconsin Reports at DCLRC. So far, the decisions are indexed by judge/branch and statute. The decisions are being indexed by subject by law school students and a subject index will be added this summer. Phase II of this project will make the decisions available online and is expected to be launched later this year.

More information about the project is available in the May edition of the DCLRC Docket.