Monday, July 9, 2018

Newspapers Off the Beaten Path

Researchers have many options for accessing historical full-text archives of major news publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post, or popular magazines like Time and Newsweek. (Search the Duke Libraries Catalog  to see your options in print, electronic, and microformats.) But if you are researching a topic of limited geographic reach, or just interested in finding a variety of perspectives, a search of more specialized news resources might be in order.

Two campus-wide databases provide access to alternative press publications:

Additional resources for searching current and historical news publications can be found in the Duke University Libraries research guide to Newspapers. Some additional databases that can provide valuable historical perspective include:
  • African American Newspapers, 1827-1998 spans more than 150 years of African-American newspapers and periodicals.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch covers 1959-present, and includes more than 400 newspapers, magazines and journals from the ethnic and minority press around the world.
  • GenderWatch dates back to 1970 and includes a mix of women's studies and gender studies newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals.
  • Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980 spans more than 150 years of publications in English, Spanish, and French, digitized from the University of Houston.
  • LGBT Life With Full Text includes magazines, newsletters, and newspapers focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues.

For help finding or using news databases – whether they are mainstream publications or a bit off the beaten path – be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Researching the SCOTUS Shortlist

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his intent to retire from the Court earlier this week, speculation immediately began as to the identity of the next Court nominee. Back in November 2017, the White House released a list of 25 potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees from the federal and state benches, and the President confirmed this week that the next nominee would be a member of that shortlist. Online oddsmakers have been busily tracking the most likely nominees, with Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit and Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit as the current front-runners.

The Washington Post has written brief summaries of the likeliest nominees, but there are additional resources available to conduct research on these or any other judges. Many are listed in the library's guide to Directories of Courts & Judges. Highlights include:
  • Almanac of the Federal Judiciary (online in Westlaw & Wolters Kluwer): A unique biographical directory for federal judges that includes information about noteworthy rulings, media coverage, publications, and "lawyers' evaluation" comments on the judge's behavior and demeanor.
  • Ravel Law, Judge Analytics. Provides biographical profiles of federal and state judges, linked to analysis of opinions and orders. Analytics include most-cited opinions, judges, and courts. Duke Law students and professors are eligible for free Ravel access through the "Request Educational Account" link. (Lexis Advance, which purchased Ravel Law last year, is in the process of incorporating Ravel visualizations into its search results, but the Judge Analytics have not yet been incorporated into Lexis's own Litigation Profiles for judges.)

The guide also links to various tools for tracking judicial vacancies and nominations. For help navigating resources about judges and nominations, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Bitcoin Reaches SCOTUS

With only a few days left in the U.S. Supreme Court's term, all eyes have been on SCOTUSblog and other sources for news and analysis. Yesterday, the Court released four opinions, including the much-discussed "Internet sales tax" case South Dakota v. Wayfair, and Pereira v. Sessions, which interpreted rules regarding immigration removal notice and procedure.

Compared to those higher-profile opinions, Wisconsin Central Ltd. v. United States received less attention in yesterday's news media. A case determining that stock options are not taxable compensation under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act, this opinion is likely of greatest interest to tax professionals (or, presumably, retired railroad employees). But something notable lurks in the dissenting opinion by Justice Breyer: the Court’s first-ever reference to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in its opinions.

Moreover, what we view as money has changed over time. Cowrie shells once were such a medium but no longer are, see J. Weatherford, The History of Money 24 (1997); our currency originally included gold coins and bullion, but, after 1934, gold could not be used as a medium of exchange, see Gold Reserve Act of 1934, ch. 6, § 2, 48 Stat. 337; perhaps one day employees will be paid in Bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency, see F. Martin, Money: The Unauthorized Biography—From Coinage to Cryptocurrencies 275–278 (1st Vintage Books ed.2015). Nothing in the statute suggests the meaning of this provision should be trapped in a monetary time warp, forever limited to those forms of money commonly used in the 1930's. (Breyer, J., dissenting)

Bitcoin is no stranger to other U.S. courts. The search term appears in more than 100 opinions on Westlaw, including a 2016 order in the asset-forfeiture case United States v. 50.44 Bitcoins. But yesterday's opinion is the highest court's first reference to Bitcoin, and to cryptocurrency more generally, in an opinion's text. As Breyer acknowledges, the evolving nature of currency suggests that such references will become more commonplace.

Want to learn more about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency? You can find about 30 titles in the Duke University Libraries catalog with a subject search for Bitcoin. (You can also find the Felix Martin title referenced by Justice Breyer in a separate search by title, or by the subject "Money -- History.") A few days before the SCOTUS opinion's release, the Bank for International Settlements released an annual economic report that includes a brief chapter on cryptocurrencies, which describes their history and development and is highly critical of their potential flaws. Bloomberg's Securities Law Daily analyzed that report in more detail.

For help with researching U.S. Supreme Court opinions, cryptocurrency, or any other legal topic, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Legal Research Bar Association Benefits

Why do lawyers join the American Bar Association and state or local voluntary bar associations? These organizations provide attorneys with a professional networking community, access to continuing legal education (CLE), and discounts on products and services. In 49 states and the District of Columbia, bar association membership also comes with the benefit of free access to an online legal research service: either Fastcase or Casemaker. (California is the only state bar association that does not provide statewide legal research access, but many local bar associations in California offer members a similar benefit.) Law firms with access to premium research services like Westlaw and Lexis may require their attorneys to consult these low-cost alternatives first; for other attorneys, the state bar research benefit may be their primary source for online legal research.

Both of these legal research services provide attorneys with access to case law, statutes, and regulations. Fastcase also includes access to law reviews (through a partnership with HeinOnline, and its own Full Court Press), treatises (through its acquisition of Loislaw and independent publishers), and selected state ethics opinions, CLE materials, and jury instructions (including North Carolina). Casemaker's additional features include foreign case law and legislation through a partnership with vLex, and integration with the CosmoLex practice management service.

Currently, Fastcase claims the majority of state bar partnerships, with Mississippi becoming the 30th state-level bar association to adopt its service on June 1. Casemaker is available as a benefit of 21 state bar associations. (Texas offers access to both Fastcase and Casemaker.) The Duke Law Library map of Legal Research via State Bar Associations has been updated to reflect the latest changes to state bar benefits.

Want to learn more about the legal research benefit in the state where you plan to practice? Current members of the Duke community may access an educational version of Fastcase with their NetID and password. Current Law students and faculty may create an account on CasemakerX. For access to other legal research resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

CLE: The Learning Never Stops

As reported in the ABA Journal this week, the North Carolina State Bar has proposed an amendment to its annual requirements for continuing legal education (CLE). Attorneys in North Carolina are already required to complete 12 credit hours of approved CLE each year; the proposal, if approved, would mandate that one of those hours be focused on "technology training" topics. (As outlined in the State Bar website, some of those hours must already focus on professional responsibility topics, including substance abuse awareness.)

Back in 2012, the American Bar Association amended Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.1 on competent representation, in order to include an understanding of technology within its scope. Comment 8 to the rule now reads, "To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject" (emphasis added). Since that time, 31 states have formally adopted a similar duty of technology competence for attorneys in their professional rules.

In 2016, Florida became the first state to require CLE credit hours focused specifically on technology topics. As noted in the ABA Journal this week, Pennsylvania is considering a similar update to its CLE requirements, and many more states will likely follow suit.

Continuing legal education requirements already vary widely by jurisdiction. The West LegalEdcenter maintains a helpful interactive map of required credit hours, with links to state bar websites for more information. CLE is mandatory in nearly all states, with the exceptions of Maryland, Massachusetts, and South Dakota (the District of Columbia bar likewise does not have mandatory CLE). Within mandatory CLE states, there is wide variety in the amount of credit hours required, the length of the reporting period, specialized topics required, and whether credit hours may be completed online. (Note: Current Duke Law faculty and staff who need to complete CLE credit hours can be added to the West LegalEdcenter.)

Beyond fulfilling professional education requirements, CLE publications can be useful legal research tools. Historical North Carolina CLE publications can be found in the online catalog. Current publications from North Carolina and other states can be found online:
  • Bloomberg Law: To browse CLE publications, follow the path All Legal Content Search > U.S. Secondary Sources > Books & Treatises to view titles. State CLE publications are available from Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJ ICLE), North Carolina Continuing Legal Education (NC CLE), and the Oregon State Bar.
  • Lexis Advance: Under Content Browse, select "Secondary Sources" to view publishers. Available state CLE publications include Continuing Education of the Bar (California), The Florida Bar, Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA), Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc., New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, North Carolina Continuing Legal Education, The Missouri Bar, State Bar of Arizona, South Carolina Bar, and CLE materials from the University of Kentucky.
  • Westlaw: Under Secondary Sources, click the Publication Type filter for "CLE & Seminar Materials" to view available titles. State CLE publishers in Westlaw include Maryland Continuing Legal Education, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, and the State Bar of Texas.

For help with locating a particular CLE publication, or with other questions about attorney professional responsibility requirements, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Library Summer Renovation Update

The start of summer always brings changes to the Law Library – most notably, access and service desk hours (now weekdays 8:00 am – 5:00 pm until the start of fall classes in August). But some important additional changes are taking place this summer, with accompanying moves to library collections and equipment.

The library's former Document Production Room on level 3 will be transformed into a new classroom and meeting space this summer. As a result, ePrint station 3A has moved to the end of the library service desk, along with one overhead scanner. The other overhead scanner, and color printer/photocopier device have moved to the Microforms Room on Level 1, where additional ePrint stations and a Lexis printer are already available. The document feed scanner/outbound fax device is temporarily located outside of the library entrance, next to printer 3C (it is expected to move back into the library Reading Room later this summer).

Changes are also coming to the four library alcoves on levels 2 and 3. New locations for the affected collections are listed below:
  • Christie Jurisprudence Collection: now located at the top of the stairs on Level 4. (The former alcove's wooden table and chairs, which were original to the 1930s Law Library, can now be found next to the Nixon portrait nearby.)
  • Walker North Carolina Area: former alcove contents now located in the Reading Room, at stack numbers 53-58. (The Practice & Procedure collection materials formerly shelved in this area, including form books and federal litigation treatises, can now be found nearby in Reference.)
  • Gann Tax Area and Thigpen Tax Collection: now located in call number order within the Level 2 stacks, with some titles in Superseded Tax and/or Government Documents on level 1.

Maps and directional signage throughout the library and in the Duke Libraries Catalog reflect the former locations of collections until updated floor plans are received. Please ask staff for assistance with locating items.

Renovation work may be noisy and disruptive at times. Foam earplugs (courtesy of CALI) are available upon request at the library service desk; headphones may also be borrowed at the Circulation/Reserve desk during library service hours. We apologize for any inconvenience as this work is completed over the summer.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Prestatehood Legal Materials Meet the 21st Century

[This guest post by Reference Librarian Wickliffe Shreve highlights the new digital version of Prestatehood Legal Materials in HeinOnline.]

Depending on your outlook, a request to do a legislative history or other legal historical research for a project can inspire dread, excitement – or perhaps a mixture of both. The Goodson Law Library's guide to Federal Legislative History helps get you started so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel...as long as the question is, of course, one of federal law. If you need to do research on a state statute or regulation, not only will you have to learn the state's government structure and legislative process, you may have to cobble together sources from the state law library, state courts, and local law schools to be sure that you have covered all your bases (see, for instance, Indiana University's State Legislative History Research Guides Inventory).

But what if your research requires looking to sources of law that existed before the state was even a state? Before there was even a "United States"? This week, HeinOnline added Prestatehood Legal Materials to its database collection. This seminal 2005 research guide, edited by former Duke Law librarians Michael Chiorazzi and Marguerite Most, has previously only been available to the Duke community as a two-volume set in our print Reference Collection (Ref.
KF240 .P688 2005). Both versions provide a comprehensive collection of legal materials from the colonial period for all fifty states, as well as New York City and the District of Columbia.

The new database version allows users to access an interactive map, and by clicking on an individual state you can access its historical legal documents. Each "chapter" is compiled by a state expert and written in their own individual style. For instance, clicking on North Carolina will bring you to "North Carolina Colonial Legal Materials," co-authored by Duke Law's Interim Library Director Melanie J. Dunshee. It provides a historical background of the development of the state's laws, as well as descriptions of and sources to help locate its constitutions, organic acts, legislative materials, executive materials, and judicial materials. The new electronic interface allows users to link out directly to web resources. Most chapters include secondary sources for additional research as well as extensive bibliographies.

For help accessing or using the Prestatehood Legal Materials database, or for more information on state research, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

--Wickliffe Shreve, Reference Librarian