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Documents in the Charles Taylor Trial Available on the Web

On April 26th, Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on all counts of an 11-count indictment for aiding and abetting rebels in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s long civil war. The trial was historically significant as the first in which a head of state was convicted by an international tribunal.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established in 2002 through an agreement between the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone. Its purpose is to try those responsible for serious violations of humanitarian law and the law of Sierra Leone committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since the end of 1996. Charles Taylor is the most widely known defendant, but 13 individuals were in fact indicted in 2003, with eight trials now complete through the appellate phase. Two of the original indictments were withdrawn due to the deaths of the accused, and Taylor’s trial is now in the appellate phase at the Hague. Thus, the Special Court is nearing completion of its mandate.

For those interested in the activities of the Special Court, a great deal of documentation is available at the Court’s web site, including a transcript of the trial judgment in the Taylor case. Trial and Appeals Chamber decisions are also available for the eight cases now completed. In addition, there is a complete collection of important court documents, such as rules of procedure and evidence, the Special Court Agreement, and rules of detention, as well as annual reports of the Court and various practice directives and directions issued in the course of the Court’s proceedings.

HeinOnline Adds Official Canada Supreme Court Reports

HeinOnline recently added the official Canada Supreme Court Reports to its basic subscription, beginning with volume one (1876). While the entire collection is of potential interest, volumes published since 1982 are of particular interest to constitutional law comparativists. In that year Canada “patriated” its constitution, formerly the British North America Act, 1867, and added to it the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is analogous to the U.S. Bill of Rights. The new constitution conferred on the Canadian Supreme Court the power to interpret the provisions of the Charter, leading to the advent of constitutional judicial review, previously unknown in the British Commonwealth.  The Canadian Supreme Court’s subsequent jurisprudence is of great interest to American comparativists because it addresses many of the same issues that have come before the U.S. Supreme Court during the same period. Full Story »

New International Law Databases

The Library recently added the Collected Courses of the Hague Academy of International Law (CC) to its HeinOnline subscription. Published since 1923, and containing lectures presented at the Academy’s summer courses on international law, this title comprises a massive and authoritative encyclopedia of both public and private international law subjects. Currently the title runs to almost 350 volumes.

As part of the HeinOnline platform, the CC can be searched via the familiar field and advanced search interfaces. In particular, this allows the researcher to search titles and full text, using both Boolean and proximity connectors. In addition, it is possible to search by author, and through a very extensive set of subject headings which are easily browsed and combined with other search methods. As with any good encyclopedic source, the CC can be used either as a source of information itself or as a source of further bibliographic information.

The Library also recently added a database to its HeinOnline subscription, entitled History of International Law. This collection includes more than 500 monographic titles dating back to 1690, and greatly expands the depth of sources available to researchers interested in historical topics, such as, e.g., the Nuremberg trials, the Hague Peace Conferences, or the advent of the League of Nations. The database is searchable through HeinOnline itself, but bibliographic records will be available through IUCAT as well.

Resources for U.S. Government Publications

New to Law School? Or have you forgotten where to find government information and documents? The Law Library provides access to free and subscription-based indexes and full-text sources of government publications. These databases are accessed from the Law Library Online Resources web page, grouped under the heading Government Resources.

Here is a quick overview of resources for locating government documents (including bills, hearings, committee reports, debates, statutes, regulations, committee information, agency decisions and treaties). Full Story »

New Foreign and International Databases Added to Library’s Collection

Reporting from the foreign and international desk of the Law Library newsroom, I am happy to inform new and returning law students that the Library added a number of significant and interesting databases over the summer break, related to various aspects of foreign and international law. Subsequent blog entries will describe these databases (and others) in greater detail; the purpose of today’s entry is just to provide a thumbnail overview of these shiny new sources that await your discovery. Full Story »

New United States Code Website

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives has created a new online version of the United States Code.  Key features, including a new search engine and an expanding “Table of Contents” style browse of the Code, are described here.

Additionally, the Law Librarians of Congress have blogged about the beta site at In Custodia Legis.  So as not to reinvent the wheel, I’ll link to their blog post about the new version of the USC here.

FYI…note the new Title 51 (National and Commercial Space Programs)!

LexisNexis Congressional: New Name and New Content

 

LexisNexis Congressional has been renamed ProQuest Congressional.

Back in December 2010, ProQuest acquired several products from LexisNexis, including LexisNexis Congressional and LexisNexis Statistical Insight (now renamed ProQuest Statistical Insight).

New Content

We now have access to a new collection of digital content on Proquest Congressional: 

House and Senate Unpublished Hearings Digital Archive, Part A (1973-1979).

Want to know more about Unpublished Hearings?

ProQuest publishes many useful guides on their products and content, including this background information on unpublished hearings:

  • Not all congressional hearings are published. Each committee makes its own decision regarding which hearings are to be published. A committee may decide not to publish a hearing because it contains classified or sensitive information, or because it pertains to private or other legislation deemed to be not of great interest to the public at large, or simply because committee budget or workload considerations preclude the publication. The committee does not have to justify its decision not to publish.
  • The transcripts of unpublished hearings are transferred to the National Archives. Senate hearings generally remain closed for 20 years, and House hearings remain closed for 30 years. Hearings that contain classified or sensitive material generally remain closed for 50 years.
  • When they are released, unpublished hearings are not normally published by the committees, although in unusual circumstances they may be. For example, the transcripts of the Senate Government Operations Committee Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations 1953 hearings to investigate alleged espionage and subversive activities were published as a Government Operations Committee print in 2003.

You can access ProQuest Congressional and ProQuest Statistical Insight from the Law Library’s Online Resources page.  Please see a reference librarian if you need assistance with ProQuest Congressional or any other database!

United Nations Treaty Series Back By Popular Demand

The Law Library recently added the United Nations Law Collection to its HeinOnline subscription. The Library previously cancelled its subscription to this database and relied on the official web site of the United Nations for the text of treaties. However, problems with the United Nations web site together with the difficulty of using its search software led the Library to reinstate its subscription to United Nations treaties through HeinOnline. In this Library you can search for treaties published in the United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS), the most comprehensive collection of treaties concluded since 1947.  You can also search for earlier treaties published in the League of Nations Treaty Series (LNTS), as well as a variety of important international-law related United Nations sources, such as the Yearbook of the International Law Commission.

The Search interface allows you to search using familiar HeinOnline search types – quick search, field search, and advanced search.  Fields specific to the UNTS and LNTS collections include treaty number, short title, country name, and subject heading.  In addition, there are finding aids unique to the Library, including a search by UNTS citation, LNTS citation, and search by treaty popular name.

One useful feature is the Scholar Check, which links your search results to the law journal library, so that you can link directly to law journal articles that cite the treaty you are interested in.  Another useful feature is the treaty summary screen, which lets you instantly determine a treaty’s current status.

For treaties too recent to be included in the UNTS, don’t forget that HeinOnline also includes a U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library, which provides access to virtually all U.S. treaties.  Therefore, if the treaty you need is too recent to be included in the UNTS collection, but the U.S. is a party, you can still find the treaty text in the Treaties and Agreements Library.

Oxford Scholarship Online

The Law Library recently subscribed to the law subject component of Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO), an electronic database of monographs published by Oxford University Press.  OSO currently contains approximately 4,500 titles, of which 365 are law titles, and about two thirds of them were published from 2008 onwards.  Last year 55 new law titles were added to OSO, and another 28 have been added so far in 2011.  Altogether, OSO adds up to 500 new titles per year. Full Story »

Law for Kids

Arizona has a website devoted to the law for kids.  It includes several things aimed at children, such as cartoons, games, and stories, but it also links to the law itself and other legal websites.  It answers serious questions from kids about crimes, custody, and emancipation among other things.  Is this the correct approach to take to educating kids about the law? Should Indiana have a website like this?  For more websites devoted to youth law (though most with a more adult focus) take a look at this research guide from the University of Washington.

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