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Welcome New Students!

Welcome to the new 1L class, and congratulations on starting orientation today!  We hope that you have a wonderful law school experience, and at the Law Library will do everything that we can to make your time here fun and interesting.  The library is a place to study, learn, reflect, and prepare.  We hope that you will spend lots of time here, and if you have any questions we can help with, please don’t hesitate to ask any of the library staff.   We are excited about working with all our new students over the next three years. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

New Social Media for the Law Library!

The Law Library now has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts!  In addition to information, we will also be using these pages for fun.   Like us on Facebook and see historical photos of the Law Library or get a jump on useful legal resources.  Follow us on Twitter for important library announcements!  Both will also tie in with our YouTube channel, where a new video was just added.  In this one a Young Timmy is learns all about how helpful indexes can be with the help of an ever patient and condescending 1950’s narrator.  Go check these new pages out!

When is a Grey Mare not a Grey Mare? And Other Tidbits from English Legal History

A patron recently requested information about a 1726 English case involving an action for recovery of a wager. The parties were in agreement that the plaintiff’s “grey mare” outran the defendant’s “bay mare,” but the plaintiff (an “eminent distiller”) was nonsuited anyway because he could not prove that the “grey mare” in the race was the one originally matched. Apparently he pulled a switcheroo, and substituted a different horse with “a far better share of heels.” As more than 500 £ were wagered on each side, it is not surprising that the newspaper account of the case reported that “the dispute has been the subject of conversation for these two years past at most public meetings of gentlemen sportsmen.”

The patron wished to know whether there might be an official report of the decision, but unfortunately did not know the names of the parties or even the court in which the cause was heard. With only a hint that the court sat at Guildhall, we could surmise that it was the Lord Mayor’s Court (which still exists!), and at least some of that court’s decisions did find their way into the English Reports. But how to find the case without party names?

Fortunately, the English Reports, Full Reprint, is included in HeinOnline. This database permits the user to search for terms in the decision, such as “grey mare,” “bay mare,” and “wager.” Unfortunately, a search for these keywords retrieved nothing. Likewise a search in the Lexis English case law file containing decisions going back to 1561. So it appears that no report was made in any of the so-called nominative reports that comprised the ‘official’ world of case reporting in 18th century England.

Continuing on the subject of online reports of older English case law, those with a historical bent of mind might want to look at the proceedings of the Old Bailey, a free online database of English criminal cases spanning the period 1674-1913. This is an absolutely amazing collection of 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court, described as “[a] fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published.” Just for fun, I searched for cases involving grey mares, and in fact found 10 cases in which such horses were stolen. Perhaps one was the ringer used to dupe the “gentlemen sportsmen;” if so, it profited its seller no more than the “eminent distiller” who could not collect his gambling debt.

Perhaps it is fitting (and maybe even ironic) that the Old Bailey database is funded by the English National Lottery.

Fun with Gov Info: Popular Baby Names

Find out the most popular baby names of 2011 (courtesy of U.S. Social Security Administration).

You can search the popularity of names dating back to 1880. You can also look up popular names by birth year, decade, or state; popular names for twins; and popular names in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

H.T.: USA.gov

Hot Topic: Student Loan Interest Rate Reduction

Direct Stafford Loans, from the U.S. Department of Education’s William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, provide loans to undergraduates to help pay for their education. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 has resulted in the interest rates on these loans to being lowered steadily over the last four years from 6.0% to 3.4%. On July 1, however, these interest rates are set to spike, doubling to 6.8%.

According to the White House website, this change will affect over seven million students, who will have to pay an extra $1,000 a year if no action is taken in Congress to prevent the rise before July. Preventing this change, however, comes at a cost. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will cost $6 billion to extend the current interest rates for one year. While Democrats and Republicans both agree it is important to keep student loan interests rates low, they are currently at odds with each other on how to pay for it. On May 8, Senate voted against the first attempt to freeze rates. It was a Democratic proposal that suggested an offset could be achieved ending the tax break for the wealthy. Republicans are countering this idea with their own proposition of attaining the money by eliminating a public health fund created by President Obama’s national health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub.L. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119, codified as amended at scattered sections of the Internal Revenue Code and in 42 U.S.C.)

If you are interested in tracking the progress of this issue, I suggest you follow the development of both the House and Senate bills (H.R. 4628, S. 2343). You can do this through the following legislative databases:

Having the history of a bill will also inform you of any members of Congress who have given testimony or a floor statement on the issue, which you can then find in the Congressional Record, which is available through ProQuest Congressional, CQ.com, and Thomas.

By Jen Kulka (Library Intern & Guest Blogger)

European Court of Justice decisions added to HeinOnline

The Court of Justice of the European Union is the court of general jurisdiction that interprets European Union law for all the member states of the E.U. For a very basic description of the Court’s composition, jurisdiction, and procedures, one should view its page at the European Union’s Europa web site. HeinOnline recently added decisions of the European Court of Justice to its Foreign and International Law Resources Database. Decisions of the E.C.J., dating back to its foundation in 1954, are already available at Curia, the Court’s own web site, as well as in both Lexis and WestLaw. However, the addition of its decisions to HeinOnline provides yet another access point to the jurisprudence of this important court, via HeinOnline’s own search interface.
The E.C.J. decisions on HeinOnline are a complete collection of the European Court Reports through 2008. More recent decisions are available in Lexis and WestLaw, and documentation from pending decisions is available through Curia. However, you should bear in mind that not all decisions of the Court are published in the European Court Reports. For example, since 2004 the E.C.R. typically have not included orders, decisions rendered by three-judge panels in non-preliminary matters, and five-judge decisions lacking an Advocate General’s Opinion (because not precedent-setting).

Researching the History of International Law

International law scholars have always been interested in the historical development of their subject. In part this is so because the historical evolution of international law doctrine continues to influence its current understanding and application. But it is also true that the historical approach simply reflects the inherent interest of studying international law from that perspective.

The Law Library has many resources that are potentially quite useful to international law historians. First and foremost, the Library has a substantial collection of books on international law dating back to the mid-19th century. Many of them were originally purchased by the Wells Library, but transferred to the Law Library collection in the mid-1990s. These books can easily be located in IUCAT by means of an Advanced Keyword Search. For example, you might search for the subject keywords “international law” combined with a publication date range of 1850-1935 in order to get an overview of the Library’s older collection of international law monographs. Of course, more specific subject terms are also available. For example, you might use the subject keywords “Hague Peace Conference” to find books in the collection about the 1907 2nd Hague Peace Conference. Remember that IUCAT searches default to All Bloomington Libraries, and that you will need to change the default in order to search just the Law Library’s collection.

The Library also has several databases that would be useful to anyone researching topics in international law history. First, the Library recently subscribed to HeinOnline’s History of International Law Library. This database provides access to more than 725 titles (mostly monographs) and 600,000 pages dating back to 1690. The database can be browsed by broad categories, such as war & peace, international arbitration, law of the sea, and Hague conferences and conventions. Standard HeinOnline field and advanced search templates are also available to search title words, full-text terms, etc.  Second, the Encyclopedia of Public International Law has a broad subject heading, “History of International Law”, which is assigned currently to 96 articles. An Advanced Search template permits one to combine this subject heading with full-text or title words to zero in more precisely on desired articles.

In addition to these databases, the Library also subscribes to several general databases with content relevant to the history of international law. For example, the Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises, 1800-1926, documents the development of American and English law during the 19th century, including the development of international law doctrine. LLMC Digital also includes a number of 19th and early 20th century international law treatises.

Finally, the Library has recently subscribed to The Making of Modern Law: Foreign, Comparative, and International Law, 1600-1926, which will become available this summer. Its international law component features works of some of the great legal theorists, including Gentili, Grotius, Selden, Zouche, Pufendorf, Bijnkershoek, Wolff, Vattel, Martens, Mackintosh, and Wheaton, among others. Like other components of the Making of Modern Law series, this collection is drawn from the Harvard Law School Library, the Yale Law Library, and the Law Library of Congress.

When using these electronic resources, you should keep in mind that all titles in LLMC Digital, the Making of Modern Law Series, and the HeinOnline History of International Law Library are included in IUCAT, meaning that you can search for content either in IUCAT or using the individual database search interfaces. However, if you want to use IUCAT just to search for printed works in the collection, you can do that by constructing an Advanced Keyword Search that excludes any record containing the keyword “electronic.”

Pink Slime and the Congressional Research Service

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a new report on the recent pink slime controversy. But Congress hasn’t made it publicly available.  You can find this report at Secrecy News (a blog of the Federation of American Scientists):

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the non-partisan public policy research arm of the U.S.  Congress.  Since 1914 this Library of Congress “think tank” has provided Congress with research and objective analysis on a wide variety of topics.  CRS reports and issue briefs are widely regarded as a source of non-partisan, timely, and accurate information, but Congress does not make these reports easily available to the public.  Traditionally, if you wanted a CRS report, you had had to ask your Representative in Congress to send you a paper copy (or a PDF). 

CRS reports are now available through a few commercial vendors, including ProQuest Congressional (1916—present ), which you can access from the Library’s website, under Online Resources.

You can also find collections of CRS reports that are in the public domain at the following sites:

  • Open CRS:  searchable database of over 10,000 CRS reports (including many libraries’ collections).
  • National Council for Science and the Environment: posts CRS reports on the environment and related topics. The site provides a search engine including title, author, topic and date with over 2000 reports listed.
  • Federation of American Scientists posts CRS reports on the following subjects: Intelligence; Military and National Security; Space and Science; and Nuclear, Chemical and Missile Weapons and Proliferation.
  • U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Center posts a small number of reports, updated daily, on subjects including foreign nations, terrorism, foreign assistance, and military affairs.
  • Franklin Pierce Law Center posts intellectual property, cyber-law, and electronic commerce related documents from 1993 to the present.
  • Thurgood Marshall Law Library has a collection of CRS reports that you can view by subjects such as Taxation, Criminal Law & Procedure, Election Law, Labor and Employment and many others.
  • University of North Texas Libraries provides searchable access to over 11,000 CRS reports dating back to 1970. You can also browse by subject.

If you need help finding CRS reports or any other Congressional publications, just ask for assistance at the reference desk!

Count Down to Tax Day!

April 17 is this year’s deadline to file your 2011 federal tax return.

Here are some last-minute resources and useful information, courtesy of USA.gov:

You can check your refund status within 72 hours of e-filing or within 4 weeks of mailing a paper return.

If you can’t file your tax return by the deadline, you can request an extension. An extension does not give you additional time to pay if you owe taxes. You’ll need to estimate the amount you owe and submit a payment in order to avoid interest and penalty charges.

Jumpstart Returns!

The extremely popular Jumpstart research program returns to the Law Library. Jumpstart sessions will be available April 9th-April 17th. The program, designed by the reference librarians, will again work towards preparing law students for summer clerkships and the first year of practice. During last year’s sessions, a number of students learned the necessary research skills for dealing with materials such as legislative history, administrative law and the regulatory process, and computer-assisted legal research.

Following the formula established in previous years, each of the Jumpstart sessions will begin with a brief review of the basic legal resources so that every student has a complete grasp of the legal research process. The librarians will also provide information about more specialized types of reference books, including practice aids and form books. The Jumpstart sessions will then focus on individual student problems and questions about legal research, with an emphasis on the type of practice student participants will be seeing in the summer.

If you have any questions about the Jumpstart programs, be sure to drop by the Reference Office and speak to a reference librarian. We’d especially like to hear from those of you who already know in what jurisdiction you’ll be working this summer and any special areas of law with which you’ll be dealing. We tailor the Jumpstart sessions to your particular needs in order to make the program a continuing success.

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