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March 26, 2010

LLAW Plans Educational Institute for Librarians

On Friday, October 8th, 2010 the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin will host an all-day educational institute for librarians at the new Marquette University Law School building, Eckstein Hall, in Milwaukee, WI.

The theme for the conference is The Strength of Change. Registration will cost $100, and includes continental breakfast and lunch. The dual-track event will have sessions appropriate for all types of librarians.

More details to follow. Questions? Contact Emily Koss or Jamie Kroening.

March 24, 2010

Wisconsin Diploma Privilege Challenge Dismissed

From WKOW TV news:

State attorneys have settled a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's policy of allowing in-state law students to practice without passing the bar exam.

The state has agreed to pay Corrine Wiesmueller $7,500 to drop the lawsuit.

Wiesmueller and her husband, Christopher, alleged Wisconsin's so-called diploma privilege violates the federal Commerce Clause by giving Wisconsin law students an unfair advantage over out-of-state students, who need to pass the bar before they can practice in Wisconsin.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has dismissed the lawsuit.

See the stipulation and order of dismissal.

March 19, 2010

US Supreme Court Launches New Website with New URL

Yesterday the US Supreme Court launched a new website - complete with a new look and new URL. The Court will now be hosting the site in-house at www.supremecourt.gov. Previously, it had been hosted by the Government Printing Office (GPO) at www.supremecourtus.gov. The GPO URL will redirect users to the new site through July 1, 2010.

Here is a screen shot of the new site:

According to a press release:

Visitors will find that the Supreme Court Web site has an updated and more user-friendly design. The site continues to provide online access to the Court's slip opinions, orders, oral argument transcripts, schedules, Court rules, bar admission forms, and other familiar information. But it also has several new features, including enhanced search capabilities, an interactive argument calendar, improved graphics, and additional historic information. The Court plans to continue to update and expand the site's features over time. The process of launching the new design may occur over several hours, but the new version of the Web site should be available to all users by the end of the day.

Source: Carolina Blawg

March 17, 2010

Bubbl.us Helps You Visually Organize & Brainstorm Ideas

Bubbl.us is a simple, free web application that lets you create mind maps for organizing and brainstorming ideas. Mind maps are great for visually laying out ideas and seeing the connections between them.

Here is an extremely simple map that I did.

As you can see, you can also get much more complex.

Bubbl.us is an extremely simple to use application. Simply hit enter to create a new main topic and tab to create a subtopic. Use your mouse to move topics around and change their relationships between each other. You can also change the color and size of the topic bubbles.

PACER Fee and Access Changes

The Judicial Conference of the United States has approved some changes to the PACER system to "improve public access to federal courts by increasing the availability of court opinions and expanding the services and reducing the costs for many users."

  • One change is regarding fees. Users will now not be billed "unless they accrue charges of more than $10 of PACER usage in a quarterly billing cycle, in effect quadrupling the amount of data available without charge. Currently, users are not billed until their accounts total at least $10 in a one-year period."

    Looks like the change means that if you don't spend $10 in a quarter, then your balance reverts back to zero at the start of the next quarter. So, you can get up to $40 worth of free content per year (4 quarters x $10) now versus the previous $10 per year.

  • A pilot was also approved for up to 12 courts to publish federal district and bankruptcy court opinions via FDsys (the sequel to GPO Access). I think that this project has good potential for making opinions more accessible to the public. Although all court opinions are available through PACER free of charge and will remain so, the fact that you have to have a PACER account to view them is off-putting for many public patrons. Putting them of FDsys is a better option.

  • Finally, courts will now be allowed, at the discretion of the presiding judge, to make digital audio recordings of court hearings available online to the public through PACER, for $2.40 per audio file.

    This decision comes after a two-year pilot project in which there was significant interest in accessing the audio files, however during the pilot, there was only an 8 cent access charge. The increase to $2.40 was deemed by the Conference to be "reasonable and come closest to recouping, but not exceeding, costs." Digital audio recording is used in most bankruptcy and district courts.

For more info, see the press release on the US Courts website. Hat tip to Marc Weinberger at the U.S. Courts Library, Western District of Wisconsin.

C-SPAN Video Archive Now Available Online

From Et Seq, The Harvard Law School Library Blog:

Can't get enough of Congress? Is Book TV your idea of Must-see TV? If so, you'll be excited to learn that "virtually every minute" of C-SPAN's archives for the last 23 years are now available at C-SpanVideo.org. The total? 160,000 hours.

March 16, 2010

PACER's U.S. Party/Case Index is Now PACER Case Locator

PACER's U.S. Party/Case Index has been replaced by a new search tool called PACER Case Locator. It appears that the underlying data is the same - Case Locator just offers improved search and display capabilities including the ability to:

  • request lists of cases for a specified date range by court type;
  • conduct searches based on chapter, discharge date and dismissal date for bankruptcy cases;
  • access case information for the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation;
  • choose result formats, including HTML, delimited text, and XML which can be easily imported to other programs for analysis;
  • change the sort order of the results displayed; and
  • conduct refined searches within the results of a previous search.

Here's a screen shot of the new Case Locator interfacenewpacer.jpg

As you can see from the old U.S. Party/Case Index screen shot below, it was high time for an interface upgrade. The U.S. Party/Case Index will be available for the next few months to allow users time to become familiar with the capabilities of the new Case Locator. oldpacer.jpg

I'm not sure why they changed the name though - but I never like it when databases change names.

Source: Legal Dockets Online Blog

March 11, 2010

CLE Books will Soon be Available Online through State Bar's Books UnBound

On April 15, the Wisconsin State Bar will launch a new product called Books UnBound. This subscription database will contain content from CLE books published by the State Bar. Primary law links will point to Fastcase which is available to State Bar members.

The initial library will include 29 titles, i.e. the majority of the CLE Books treatises (Brown Binders and WBA Series) that are currently available in print, with approximately 10 titles being added each month. The entire finished library will consist of 59 titles. Codebooks will not be included.

According to the State Bar, Books UnBound is not intended to replace the print books, but rather to provide greater flexibility for members to conduct legal research.

Prices for law firms will be established through tiers based on the size of the law firm. Pricing for larger entities has not yet been finalized.

Access will be through Wisbar.org. Attorneys will login using their regular Wisbar login (i.e. their State Bar member number). Non-attorney staff must register for their own non-member ID number and password. Law students will receive free access to Books UnBound by registering as Law Student Associates with the State Bar.

Books UnBound will replace access to the CLE books through Loislaw, however CLE content will continue to be available, with updates, to Loislaw subscribers until the end of their contract terms.

Read more at the State Bar website.

UW Law Prof Asifa Quraishi Delegate to UN Commission on the Status of Women

Asifa Quraishi, UW Law School professor and founding member of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers and the California group American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism, is part of the U.S. Delegation attending the 54th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She is one of only five Public Delegates from the United States.

Today's panel discussion is being webcast by the UN.

March 10, 2010

Justice Walsh Bradley Gives Delightful Talk on Wisconsin Women's Legal History

Last evening I had the treat of hearing Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley speak at a meeting of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin. Her topic was Wisconsin women's legal history.

Not only was the subject on of particular interest to me but Justice Walsh Bradley is a wonderful story teller and really made the topic come alive. She took us through the history of women's legal rights and legal practice in our state using first hand accounts of the remarkable Wisconsin women that made it happen.

I was particularly moved by the story of Louise J. Smith, who attended the first women's suffrage convention in Seneca Falls at age 12 and was one of only two women in attendance who lived to see her dream of suffrage come true with the ratification of the 19th amendment at age 84. See the neat newspaper clipping about it from the Wisconsin State Historical Society.

Copies of this year's Bucky Badger READ Poster Available

Each year, the UW Madison Libraries create a campus READ poster. This year's features Bucky Badger on Bascom Hill with the Go Big Read book selection, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan.
Contact bucky@library.wisc.edu for copies. See the library web site for past READ posters. The project was paid for with private support.

March 9, 2010

Recent UW Law School Faculty Scholarship

Here is the latest faculty scholarship from the UW Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series via SSRN.

Track Federal Register Rules and Comments Closing with GovPulse

From Novalawcity:

GovPulse.us is a fantastic new app that puts "the Federal Register at your fingertips". The front page gives you lists (with links) of comments closing and opened in the last 7 days, followed by rules taking effect and proposed within that time period. Also on the front page is a map of your area with links to other FR entries mentioning cities/towns within a 50-mile radius of your location.

Here's a screenshot of the neat map feature:

Map of Free Legal Resources Provided by State Bar Associations

3 Geeks and a Law Blog had created a nifty map of free legal resources provided by State Bar Associations. Looks like Casemaker and Fastcase top the list.

Summary of Changes to the Eastern District of WI Local Rules

Barbara Fritschel at the US Courts Library has created a summary sheet of the many changes to the Eastern District of Wisconsin Local Rules.

She includes changes to the General Local Rules, Civil Local Rules and Local Criminal Rules along with the citations to each.

Update 3/10: A full copy of the rules is available on the court's website.

March 5, 2010

More Creative Uses for Old Books

A while back I did a post on some clever uses for old books. Since I've run into a few more, I thought I'd update the list.

  • Kathy Kelly, an Erie law librarian, has developed a business called BookBags in which she makes purses and laptop computer cases from the covers of outdated law books and other volumes. The bags will be on display in the Fayette County Law Library beginning next month.

  • This Into That artist, Jim Rosenau makes some really neat arts from vintage books, including book cases, book shelves, chairs, etc.

  • How to Make a Hollow Book (from wikiHow):A hollow book can be a nifty way to hide something, whether it's a spare key, a secret note, or even money. Most people wouldn't think to browse your library for private or personal things. It's also a great way to pass something to someone discreetly--an unsuspecting onlooker will just think you're sharing a very good read!

  • How to Turn a Book Into a Picture Frame (from wikiHow): Search the basement, the attic or the back of the bookshelves for an old book that has not been opened for years. Make sure that it isn't a valuable antique or first edition! Follow the steps to insert a favorite picture into the frame. Place the book on the end table to be enjoyed and shared by everyone.

  • Instructables also has a video tutorial on how to make this cool Recycled Book Lampshade.

How to Make and Do has some other fun ideas, including a literary clock, stacked book table legs, and personalized flap books.

Don't have the right books for these projects? Then stop by the Friends of the UW Madison Libraries used book sale on April 7-10, 2010. Held at the Memorial Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this is the largest used book sale in Wisconsin and includes more than 15,000 books covering almost any subject.