Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Unfriendly Skies: Regulating Drones

From modern warfare to planned Amazon Prime delivery, drones (also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or UAS) have become more commonplace in the last few years. As drone technology continues to grow more accessible to consumers (see Gizmodo's recent review of household drones, just in time for the holidays), lawmakers have scrambled to react to the potential implications for aerial surveillance and airspace crowding. The Federal Aviation Administration already maintains an information page on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, with frequently-asked questions, links to regulations, and news releases concerning the use of unmanned aircraft for recreational or other purposes. Most recently, the FAA prohibited the use of drones over sports stadiums which seat 30,000 or more people, through a special security notice posted to its website.

The National Conference of State Legislatures maintains a 50-state survey, Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape. This page maps the 20 states which have also enacted some sort of drone-related legislation since 2013, along with a summary of each law. Even North Carolina, the birthplace of aviation, enacted drone legislation as part of the 2014 appropriations bill. The new provisions took effect on October 1.

A report released earlier this month by the Brookings Institution urges lawmakers to exercise caution when enacting legislation related to aerial drone surveillance. Author Gregory McNeal, a law professor at Pepperdine, notes that most legal focus has been on the technology itself rather than setting reasonable limits on the surveillance power of law enforcement. Other scholars have also explored various aspects of drone technology; check out the open-access articles available through the ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center custom search engine or use the subscription databases available under the "Finding Articles”" tab of Legal Databases & Links. For help finding additional resources on drones and the law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Mother Court

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York celebrated its 225th anniversary earlier this month, with the festivities documented in a just-released video from the U.S. Courts. Featuring historical artifacts as well as interviews with federal judges and even courtroom artists, the video provides a quick overview of the S.D.N.Y.'s important place in judicial history.

The Southern District of New York was the first new federal district court to be established following the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789. Its historic first session, on Nov. 3 of that year, earned the S.D.N.Y. the nickname "the Mother Court." The name has endured, as the S.D.N.Y. continues to enjoy a position of influence among federal courts. It has served as the setting for many major trials throughout our nation's history, and has most recently emerged as a pioneer in electronic discovery practice, thanks to Judge Shira Scheindlin in the Zubulake cases.

To learn more about this influential federal court, check out the recent American Bar Association publication The Mother Court: Tales of Cases that Mattered in America's Greatest Trial Court (KF8755.N9 Z57 2014). The book chronicles some of the most well-known cases tackled by the court, including the Ulysses obscenity trial, the espionage case against Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and numerous Mafia convictions. Author James D. Zirin, a former U.S. Attorney in the S.D.N.Y., provides both a short history of the court and a more thorough personal recollection of the cases with which he was directly involved. Because Zirin's former World Trade Center office was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the personal anecdotes were assembled from memory – a particularly impressive feat for a lifetime of law practice before the court.

Additional publications on the history of S.D.N.Y. have been digitized by the court. For assistance with researching the history of federal courts, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Magna Carta at 800

Today, the Library of Congress opened its long-awaited exhibition Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor, a 10-week celebration of the foundational charter of liberties which has informed the democratic rule of law in both England and the United States. At the heart of the exhibit is one of only four surviving copies of the 1215 document, on loan from England's Lincoln Cathedral. (As noted in a historical document from the Goodson Law Library's collection, also digitized on HathiTrust, the Lincoln Cathedral previously loaned their copy to the Library of Congress for an exhibition in the late 1930s.)

Today's Washington Post succinctly summarizes the history of this "Great Charter". In an attempt to subdue a rebellion among his feudal barons, King John agreed to the terms of the document, which ensured the rights of land-owning subjects and limited the power of the Crown. Forty-one copies were made and distributed to each baron; the document on display at the Library of Congress is one of the few left from this set. However, King John later voided the charter with the help of Pope Innocent, sparking the First Barons' War. Finally signed into law in 1297, Magna Carta rose to philosophical and scholarly prominence in the 17th century, thanks to Sir Edward Coke's Second Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England. And the rest, as they say, is history.

For more information about Magna Carta as its 800th anniversary nears, check out http://magnacarta800th.com/. For more information about the Library of Congress exhibit (which runs through January 2015), visit the exhibition website. The American Bar Association is also planning some anniversary events in 2015. To learn more about Magna Carta's history and impact before its 800th birthday celebration, try a subject search of the Duke Libraries catalog for "Magna Carta" or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Online Index to American Doctoral Dissertations, 1933-1955

In honor of Open Access Week, the Goodson Blogson is highlighting another free research resource. Last week, we brought you the news that HeinOnline and the Law Library of Congress had teamed up to provide free public access to historical federal legal materials like the U.S. Code and U.S. Supreme Court cases. Today, we're featuring a new free resource for historical doctoral dissertations.

Earlier this month, EBSCO announced the release of American Doctoral Dissertations 1933-1955, a free digitized index of nearly 100,000 doctoral dissertations which were accepted by American universities during those three decades. The database, available at http://opendissertations.com/, includes scans of a print index set, Doctoral Dissertations Accepted by American Universities, which is also available in the Duke University Libraries' off-site storage facility.

Searching this free database does not include the same features as other EBSCO-produced subscription databases, but expert field codes are available to perform more advanced searching. For example, to retrieve a list of dissertations from Duke University on the subject of law, use the Advanced Search AF(duke) and KW(law). To limit your search keywords to only the title of the document, try an Advanced Search like TI("supreme court"). Results include a scan of the printed index's relevant page, rather than the full text of the dissertation. However, the increased accessibility of this index should help researchers uncover useful citations from this time period for retrieval.

The full text of many dissertations can be found online via ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. This subscription database, available to the Duke University community and to on-site visitors, offers full-text PDFs for selected dissertations as well as indexing back to the 1860s. ProQuest also offers free access to the full text of open-access dissertations in its collection, via PQDT Open.

Dissertations not available in full-text via these ProQuest databases will likely require an interlibrary loan request. The text would have to be supplied from either the degree-granting institution or from a library which owns a microfilmed copy. For help with locating the full text of a dissertation, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Free Access to Federal Law

The Law Library of Congress has just announced an agreement with legal publisher William S. Hein which provides free public access to historical federal publications, including the United States Code, U.S. Reports, Code of Federal Regulations, and the Federal Register. While neither as complete nor searchable as the HeinOnline subscription libraries which are available to current Duke University community members, these collections linked within the Law Library of Congress's Guide to Law Online help fill in the historical gaps for these important legislative, judicial, and executive branch publications, which have long been available back to the mid-1990s on the federal government website FDsys. Generally, the free Hein libraries begin with the first edition of the publication in question, and end when free access via FDsys begins.

The free collections have been added to the Goodson Law Library's handy list of Federal Law Links, and will be added to subject-specific library research guides as they are updated. The links can also be accessed through the Law Library of Congress's Guide to Law Online web portal. Users may browse to specific volumes or issues, and can download up to 20 pages at a time. (In the subscription-based version of HeinOnline, the download limit is 200 pages at once; a search function is also available.)

Hein describes the free collections as "a donation to the Library and to the American public." Researchers everywhere will undoubtedly benefit from this increased access to historical federal law publications. For assistance with using the Guide to Law Online links or the Duke University version of HeinOnline, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pattern Jury Instructions, Online and Off

Effective on October 6, North Carolina Bar Association members can no longer access the state's Pattern Jury Instructions (PJI) online through the Fastcase research service. Private vendor CX Corp is now the exclusive online source for North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions, and is offering direct individual subscriptions after 11 years of providing access through the state bar association's member research service.

Goodson Law Library users can continue to find print copies of the North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions, compiled and updated by the state's Conference of Superior Court Judges and published by the UNC School of Government, in the Walker North Carolina Alcove on Level 2. There are separate volumes for civil, criminal, and motor vehicle instructions. The library's research guide to North Carolina Practice includes information about these PJI publications as well as other state legal research tools.

What's all the fuss about Pattern Jury Instructions? PJI, sometimes also called "model jury instructions" or "standard jury instructions," provide sample language that judges may read to juries before trial deliberations. The instructions generally outline the necessary elements, burdens or proof, and other jury considerations in clear and plain language. PJI publications frequently also include citations to case law and other authority within the jurisdiction. For both of these reasons, they are valuable legal research tools.

PJI from other states are often available in full-text online in Westlaw, LexisNexis, or free through court websites. To locate all jury instruction publications on WestlawNext, follow the path Secondary Sources > Jury Instructions. On Lexis Advance, choose Browse > Sources > By Category > Jury Instructions to see available titles. Available jury instruction publications can also be accessed through the source menu for a specific state.

For help locating or using PJI publications, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Guide to International Legal Research 2014

The Goodson Law Library recently received the 2014 edition of the Guide to International Legal Research, available for consultation in the Reference Collection on level 3. The George Washington International Law Review first published the guide in 1986 as a special double issue (available to Duke users in HeinOnline, under the journal's former name, the George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics), but began an annual book publication of the popular guide in 1990, in partnership with LexisNexis.

The updated Guide is also available online in Lexis Advance. To browse or search, type Guide to International Legal Research into the Lexis Advance search bar, and click "Table of Contents" to reach the full text.

The text of the Guide is divided into two general parts. First, a regional section describes the legal systems and major legal resources for countries and multinational organizations within Africa, Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the former USSR, Europe, and Latin America. This portion of the Guide is a valuable overview of available sources for statutes, case law, and treatises, as well as valuable links to government websites and local media outlets.

Following the regional bibliography are subject-based guides to resources on international law topics. These include international law in general, as well as more specific topics like animal law, space law, public health, international criminal law, and more. Like the regional chapters, each topical chapter contains a general overview followed by an annotated bibliography of organizations, primary law (such as treaties), and secondary sources covering the topic.

For more assistance with researching international law topics, consult the library’s Foreign & International Research Guides, including International Law, International Criminal Law and Treaties. For help locating resources listed in GWU's Guide or the Goodson Law Library, be sure to Ask a Librarian.