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October 31, 2008

WI Appellate Courts Briefs to be Filed and Made Available Electronically

From the Wisconsin Law Journal:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Oct. 28 took another step in broadening an electronic filing system for attorneys, but the court also made it known it is not willing to go entirely paperless anytime soon.

Starting on July 1, 2009, attorneys in the state will be expected to file briefs and no-merit reports with state appellate courts and petitions for review and subsequent responses with the Supreme Court, both in paper and electronic form....

While the court accepted the majority of the original revisions to Wis. Stat. Secs. 809.19, 809.32 , 809.62 and 809.80, the justices did make one significant modification to increase the benefits for attorneys.

At the behest of Justice David T. Prosser, the court decided to allow electronically filed appellate briefs to be accessed by members of the general public. But the court also ruled that brief appendices, which will not have to be electronically filed by attorneys, also will not be publicly available on-line....

Several justices suggested that other attorneys may be interested in reading briefs about cases which may be parallel to ones they are involved with, but the court also will allow parties involved in the cases to redact confidential information, if necessary.

Haunted Campus: UW Madison Ghost Stories

The Badger Herald has gathered an spooky list of hauntings on campus. Wisconsin Union Theater, Science Hall and Memorial Library are among the supposedly haunted.

Memorial Library is also mentioned by Britannica Blog in their list of haunted libraries. From the list of Midwest libraries:

Madison, University of Wisconsin, Memorial Library. The ghost of English professor and novelist Helen Constance White (1896-1967) has reportedly been seen floating through the library stacks. One Christmas break when the library was closed, a student library assistant doing catch-up work in the reference stacks heard someone whisper "Sally Brown" when no one was around.

Why would Helen C White be haunting Memorial? Would it make more sense for her to be over at College Library (which is in Helen C. White Hall)? And who is this mysterious "Sally Brown"?

The Badger Herald has a bit more:

According to a brief catalog of library ghosts by Katie Buller Kintner, a former shelver at Memorial Library, a mysterious whispering of this name was heard during one of Kintner's shifts at the library over Christmas break. Upon checking the alumni records, Kintner and her colleagues found no such name registered, and it is believed that Brown may have been one of the library's former cataloging assistants whose pictures hang upon the walls.

Being the librarian that I am, I went looking for more on this. I turned up what I assume is Katie Buller Kintner's original column about library ghosts which reveals that the "Sally Brown" library in question is the SLIS Library, not Memorial. And she wondered whether "Sally" might be one of the early 20th century library school students depicted in the photos which adorn the library school.

I also found that there was indeed a "Sally Brown" who attended UW Madison in 1976.

October 29, 2008

Christian Science Monitor Weekly to Go Online Only

"After a century of continuous publication, The Christian Science Monitor will abandon its weekday print edition and appear online only," reports the New York Times.

"The paper is currently published Monday through Friday, and will move to online only in April, although it will also introduce a weekend magazine."

The article discusses the growing online only publication model, specifically mentioning The Capital Times and Superior's The Daily Telegram, both of which have cut their print publications.

October 28, 2008

UWDCC Real Estate Collection Offers Consulting Reports from 1960s-90s

The Real Estate Collection is a new resource from the UW Digital Collections Center. It contains materials and examples of commercial work in real estate done by celebrated University of Wisconsin professor James A. Graaskamp and others.

James Graaskamp taught real estate at the UW-Madison from 1964 to 1988 and was chairman of the Real Estate Department from 1968 until his untimely death in 1988. This digital collection contains over 165 of Landmark Research's consulting reports completed between the late 1960s to the early 1990s. There are appraisals, market and feasibility studies as well as other types of research and analysis.

Publisher/Author Settlement Agreement with Google Opens Door for Full Online Access to Millions of Books

A settlement has been reached in the class action lawsuit against Google over access to copyrighted material in Google Books.

From the AP:

According to a statement issued Tuesday by the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and Google, the agreement "will expand online access to millions of in-copyright books and other written materials in the U.S. from the collections of a number of major U.S. libraries participating in Google Book Search."

Under the deal, Google will pay $125 million to establish a Book Rights Registry to resolve royalty claims.

Google suggests how this might change things...

Until now, we've only been able to show a few snippets of text for most of the in-copyright books we've scanned through our Library Project. Since the vast majority of these books are out of print, to actually read them you'd have to hunt them down at a library or a used bookstore....

This agreement will create new options for reading entire books (which is, after all, what books are there for).

  • Online access - Once this agreement has been approved, you'll be able to purchase full online access to millions of books. This means you can read an entire book from any Internet-connected computer, simply by logging in to your Book Search account, and it will remain on your electronic bookshelf, so you can come back and access it whenever you want in the future.
  • Library and university access - We'll also be offering libraries, universities and other organizations the ability to purchase institutional subscriptions, which will give users access to the complete text of millions of titles while compensating authors and publishers for the service. Students and researchers will have access to an electronic library that combines the collections from many of the top universities across the country. Public and university libraries in the U.S. will also be able to offer terminals where readers can access the full text of millions of out-of-print books for free.

See the Google Book Press Center for the text of the agreement and other related documents, including the Library Opportunities from Google's agreement with Authors and Publishers.

October 27, 2008

Woman Arrested for Killing Virtual Husband

From Yahoo News:

A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday...

The woman used login information she got from the 33-year-old office worker when their characters were happily married, and killed the character. The man complained to police when he discovered that his beloved online avatar was dead....

She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000.

October 24, 2008

Law School Course Page Options & Best Practices

I recently gave a short presentation to our students and faculty on the various course page options available at the UW Law School. I prepared a handout highlighting the pros and cons of the various tools, including LexisNexis Course Pages, TWEN, Moodle and Desire2Learn.

My presentation was followed by a discussion of what the students liked and disliked about course pages. After the session finished, I developed a list of best practices based on their feedback.

Because I thought that others might also find these handouts useful, I've posted them to Scribd.

October 22, 2008

Wisconsin Law Journal Articles on Exonerees Highlight WI Innocence Project

The latest edition of the Wisconsin Law Journal has several articles about the challenges facing persons exonerated of crimes and released from prison. A number of the cases highlight students and faculty from the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

Want to Share a Google Search? Shorten It Up With Look.fo

Ever wanted to share the results of a Google search with someone? Look.fo makes it easier - well, shorter anyway.

Say I want to share the results of a Google search for WisBlawg. I could send you a long, ugly search string that looks like this:


Or, I could just send you this one:


Just append your search term(s) after the root "http://look.fo/"
Look.fo will help you generate the url based on what you type in the search box.

And did you know that there are tools to shorten long URLs also? I like TinyURL, but there are lots of others.

Source: inter alia

Libraries Get Busier As Budgets Get Tighter

"Tough economic times means more people are checking out their local libraries, hoping to cut down on the amount they spend on books, magazines and movies," reports Channel3000.

From the article:

In Madison, libraries are getting busier as household budgets get tighter. "We're seeing increases most frequently or more often in our more economically diverse neighborhoods," said Tana Elias, Web resources coordinator for the central branch of the Madison Public Library....

"Nationally, library use had been up even before the economy down-turned. But now with the economic situation, we're seeing even more growth and use of libraries," said Lisa Strand, executive director of the Wisconsin Library Association.

The Wisconsin Library Association said the bad economy means that while library usage is up, funding will be tighter than ever.

But officials said libraries make excellent use of taxpayer dollars. "For every dollar of taxpayer investment, there's a $4.06 return," said Strand.

"It's a taxpayer service, and you might as well get your money's worth by coming down to your local library," Elias added.

October 17, 2008

$10K Scholarship for Student Bloggers

Know any students who write a great blog? Direct them to The Blogging Scholarship from Collage Scholarships.org. Or nominate them yourself. Last year's $10,000 scholarship winner was a law student from Loyola.

October 16, 2008

WI Courts to Allow Citation of Unpublished Opinions

On Oct. 14, the Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted in principle Judicial Council petition 08-02 to amend Wis. Stat. Rule 809.23(3) to allow citation of unpublished opinions for their persuasive value. An audio recording of the hearing is available from the WI Courts.

The Judicial Council petition states:

The supreme court adopted the concept of citing unpublished opinions for persuasive value with the following amendments to the Council's petition:

1. Citations will be limited to authored opinions signed by one or three judges, in civil and criminal cases, and does not include per curiam.
2. Only opinions issued as of July 1, 2009, will be citable.
3. Counsel must submit a copy of any unpublished opinion being cited to opposing counsel.
4. The court will appoint a committee to set up procedure to identify materials that would allow an evaluation and to determine what statistics shall be noted. The court will review the rule in 2011.
5. The rule will include Judicial Council note: Section (3) was revised to reflect that unpublished opinions are increasingly available in electronic form. This change also conforms to the practice in numerous other jurisdictions, and is compatible with, though more limited than, Fed. R. App. P. 32.1, which abolished any restriction on the citation of unpublished federal court opinions, judgment, orders and dispositions issued on or after Jan. 1, 2007. The revision to Section (3) does not alter the non-precedential nature of unpublished Wisconsin appellate opinions.

Source: WisBar.org
Update: See this Wisconsin Law Journal article for some analysis of the decision.

October 15, 2008

CiteGenie Creates Bluebook Citations from Westlaw

CiteGenie is a new extension for the Firefox web browser that, as its website promises, "automagically" creates Bluebook formatted pinpoint citations when copying from Westlaw.

Wow - this is really impressive. If you're a Westlaw user, this could save you a lot of time when writing papers or briefs. I've created a quick video of me using CiteGenie. As you can see, it's very easy to use. One thing to note, however, CiteGenie does not work if you have the Jureeka add-on installed.

A review of CiteGenie appears in LLRX.com. Author, Marc Hershovitz explains how it works and shares his test results for various citation types.

October 9, 2008

Legal History Resources Online: Avalon Project, A Century of Law Making & ConSource

The following is reprinted from a column in the UW Law School News. It was written by my colleague, Eric Taylor.

In this week's column, we review three free online resources of historical legal documents relating to the formation and development of the United States of America. For students, scholars, history buffs, and interested citizens alike, there is a great deal of American treasure to be mined from these three resources.

Avalon Project : Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy (Yale Law School)

Online since 1996, this resource offers a truly remarkable and ambitious collection of historical materials. It includes documents from before the Magna Carta (1215) to the 9/11 Commission Report. A simple click on the "Documents Collection" link shows a list of discreet collections that looks much like a ladder through time. Listed below are just a few of the collections you'll find:

  • Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Documents;
  • The American Constitution - a Documentary History;
  • Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England : 1765-1769;
  • The Jefferson Papers;
  • Presidential Papers;
  • The Barbary Treaties 1816-1836;
  • Confederate States of America : Papers;
  • Nuremberg War Crimes Trial;
  • Soviet-American Diplomacy;
  • United Nations - Documents

One drawback to this site is that the vast majority of documents are in html. Nonetheless citation is given to the source document and many of these can be cited by their title, chapter, article, paragraph, and section numbers. In terms of sheer volume and easy access to primary documents defining the broad outlines of American and Western legal history, the Avalon Project is an outstanding source.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation : U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates (1774-1875)

This resource is one component of the Library of Congress' "American Memory" historical collections. The focus here is on the records and proceedings of the U.S. Congress over the first century of our Nation. Quoting from the website's introductory remarks: "These documents record American history in the words of those who built our government."

One look at the homepage immediately reveals the scope of this collection. A short list of the titles one may find here, include:

  • Journals of the Continental Congress;
  • Letters of Delegates to Congress;
  • United States Statutes at Large;
  • American State Papers;
  • U.S. Serial Set (selected documents and reports);
  • Journals of Congress;
  • The Debates of Congress, featuring:
    • Annals of Congress;
    • Register of Debates;
    • Congressional Globe;
    • Congressional Record

Most collections appear to be in PDF format, offering a digital facsimile of the original, though there are some in html. Readers can browse or search the content. Historical background, a citation guide and links to related information are also available.

ConSource : the Constitutional Sources Project

This is by far the most focused of the three online resources under review. ConSource offers a collection of primary and secondary sources related to the formation and ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For a quick overview of the site's content, click on the "All Collections" link at the bottom-right of the homepage.

Some of the collections may already be familiar to you, such as, The Federalist Papers and James Madison's Notes of the Constitutional Convention; other collections may not be, such as the Bill of Rights' Legislative History, the Papers of George Washington, or the State Ratification Debates. The documents are available in both html and PDF of the original source.

ConSource features two useful tools for searching constitutional content. The first, the Clause Browser is a pull down menu which directs the user to a particular clause by number. There is also an advanced search feature which allows you to search by constitutional topic or keyword.

Another interesting feature is the "Documents by Author" link at the bottom of the ConSource Collections page which includes many letters of correspondence among the Delegates to the Convention.

Most of the most powerful features of this collection are the constitutional cross-references. Below the text of each constitutional clause, ConSource contains cross references to other titles in the collection that are connected to the clause.

Although many of the documents in this collection are also available at the Avalon Project and elsewhere, the biggest strength of ConSource is that it has gathered these core documents together in one place.

CircuitCourtPro Offers Customized Notifications of WI Circuit Court Filings

The folks behind Foreclosure Alarm have expanded their offerings and now offer real-time notification of filings for all case types in the Wisconsin circuit courts. The new product is called CircuitCourtPro. Like Foreclosure Alarm, the data is derived from CCAP.

Here's how it works:

  • You decide what types of new cases you are interested in and in what geographic area
  • Each morning, you receive a spreadsheet containing the names and addresses of all new cases that match your criteria
  • Data is specifically formatted for Microsoft Word mail merge

CircuitCourtPro is pretty much the same as ForeclosureAlarm, but for all case types. The price is currently $40/month. A free trial is available.

So what's the difference between CircuitCourtPro and CCAP itself? Although the data is derived from CCAP, CircuitCourtPro's notification service is unique. While CCAP does offer RSS feeds now, they are only available for the basic search. There seems to be no way to get a CCAP feed based on a class code or case type search. Plus, CircuitCourtPro also offers downloadable spread sheets for mail merging.

According to developer, Philip Crawford there are plans to offer calendar integration in the future.

October 8, 2008

Free Webinars for Librarians on Tech Planning & Tech Toys

SirsiDynix is offering two free webinars for librarians:

Doodle - Scheduling Meetings the Easy Way

The next time you need to schedule a meeting, give Doodle a try. Doodle is free, although you may run into ads here and there.

Here's how it works:

  1. Create a poll - choose several possible times for the meeting
  2. Forward the link to the poll to the participants
  3. Follow participant responses online

See the example to see how it works. You can also use Doodle to create other kinds of polls.

October 6, 2008

Recent SSRN Enhancements

The folks at Social Science Research Network have been kind enough to share with me info about some recent enhancements. These features include a completely revised Simple Submission process, a new sign in process, and redesigned Author and Abstract Pages. See the announcement for more information.

I recently spoke with SSRN pres, Gregg Gordon who tells me that they are working on a open url resolver. With this feature, a reader coming across a fee-based article in SSRN would see a link to the full-text article, if available, from their local library. I'm all for that!

Future of the Legal Course Book

Seattlepi reports on a the Workshop on the Future of the Legal Course Book at Seattle University Law School.

Traditional publishers are confused about what professors want and where the industry is going....

Teachers want more flexibility, such as the ability to add their own information to text, insert audio files and provide links. They also want more ways to engage students and sought digital copies of textbooks that can be sorted and searched.

See also coverage from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Legal Times and the National Law Journal.

Why Learning Emerging Technologies is Every Librarians' Business

Kathryn Greenhill of Librarians Matter has put together an excellent presentation on finding the time and reasons to learn about emerging technologies.

The presenation title comes from the two phrases I hear most when people find out what I do. If they are lukewarm about new technologies, they tell me that they don't have time to learn about new technologies in their jobs. If they are enthusiastic, they often tell me that "THEY" (their workmates, their organisation) just don't understand why they should spend time finding out about new web tools.

The presentation covers:
1. What are emerging technologies ?
2. Five reasons to learn about them
3. Compass points to work out where to put your energy
4. Preparation
5. Tools
6. Useful sites
7. Convincing THEM (Taking it back to your organisation)

EPA Reopens Regional and Headquarters Libraries

Faced with a firestorm of opposition from scientific and library organizations, as well as a congressional mandate, the EPA is reopening its libraries in Region 5 in Chicago, Region 6 in Dallas, Region 7 in Kansas City, and the EPA Headquarters and Chemical Libraries in Washington, D.C. In fact, they're not just reopening them, they're enhancing them by expanding staffing, operating hours, and services.

Per a notice in the Federal Register: "All libraries will be staffed by a professional librarian to provide services to the public and EPA staff via phone, e-mail, or in person. The libraries will provide access for a minimum of 24 hours over four days per week on a walk-in basis or by appointment. All libraries will provide core information services of reference/research assistance and interlibrary loan/document delivery."

Source: Information Today

Social Networking Sites as Tools to Investigate Clients, Witnesses & Jurors

"Defense attorneys do their clients a disservice by not at least checking with them to see if they maintain a Web page used for social networking, in addition to the standard methods of digging up dirt." So says defense attorney William R. Gallagher in a recent Wisconsin Law Journal article on using social networking tools to investigate clients, witnesses and jurors.

Whether that "truth" comes in the form of a text message on a cell phone or a posted photo on MySpace, Gallagher said attorneys can take advantage of personal information that is often displayed publicly.

"Shortly after events a lot of times people, who believe they are in their own private world, will write down or say what is the truth," added Gallagher....

[Public Defender Katherine J.] Dorl said that clients or witnesses often appear to be more open with their conversations on a social site, rather than in a courtroom setting.

At the same time, many do not realize their posted pictures or comments are not one-on-one, but more like one-on-one million....

Even if a Facebook profile doesn't offer any valuable case information, it could at least give an attorney some insight into his client's world.

"People are willing to put so much out there, and it's stuff that people my age don't share with the world," said Dorl. "It's amazing, but not necessarily in a good way."

October 3, 2008

Proposed 2009 Milwaukee County Budget Includes Court Staff Cuts

The Wisconsin Law Journal reports on the 2009 Milwaukee County budget proposal.

From the article:

In his 2009 proposal, [County Executive Scott] Walker plans to abolish 27 staff positions, not mandated by the state, to help offset a multi-million dollar hole in the court's budget....

The most substantial cuts would be nine legal research interns who serve in a dual capacity as bailiffs and law clerks, according to Kremers. Walker plans to replace the interns with nine administrative assistants, at half the cost.

Milwaukee County Clerk of Court John Barrett said he would have a tough time attracting people to do twice the work for half the pay.

"We have lawyers in those positions now and you are not going to get a lot them to provide bailiff services with no benefits for about $10 an hour," said Barrett, who added that legal interns currently earn about $20 per hour.

Barrett also addressed eight deputy court clerk positions slated to be cut by Walker.

Barrett said that state statute requires clerks be present for court proceedings and if four in both the Misdemeanor/Traffic Division and Civil Division are eliminated, proceedings could be delayed.

October 2, 2008

Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin Calendar

The Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin has embarked on a new marketing initiative this year - a LLAW calendar. The calendar features pictures taken by LLAW members, as well as, interesting dates in legal, library and pop culture history.

Calendars are available at a cost of $15 plus postage. If you are interested in purchasing a calendar and promoting law librarians, please contact Bev Butula by Oct. 10th.

October 1, 2008

SAGE Offers Free Online Access to Journals in October

SAGE is offering free online access to over 500 of its journals until October 31, 2008. Content is available from 1999 to the present. Registration is required.

Source: LISNews

Free PACER Pilot Program Suspended Pending Evaluation

Barco Law Library reports that the 2-year free PACER pilot program has been suspended pending evaluation. [What is PACER?]

A notice went out that "GPO and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts undertook a pilot to provide free public access to Federal court records at 17 Federal depository libraries through (PACER) ....The pilot has been suspended, pending an evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete, the judiciary and the GPO will determine what steps need to be taken in order to move forward.The pilot is part of GPO's efforts to increase public access to government information as well as the judiciary's continuing effort to expand public access to court records."
Source: Legal Dockets Online Blog