Friday, August 10, 2018

Self-Checkout Kiosk Now Available

While Duke Law students, faculty and staff have long enjoyed 24-hour access to both the Law School and Law Library, the Duke Law community didn't have a 24-hour service desk…until now. A Self-Checkout Station is now available at the Circulation/Reserve desk. If you need to check out a Law Library item after hours – or just feel like bypassing a line during the day – bring your items to the iPad kiosk at the service desk. Follow the instructions on the touch screen to log in with your NetID and password, use the camera to take photos of the item barcodes, and verify that the system has logged you out when you are finished.

Need to borrow items even faster? With the Duke Self-Checkout smartphone app, you can borrow Standard Loan library items right at the shelf. MeeScan Duke Self-Checkout apps for iPhone and Android devices are available at the App Store and on Google Play.

Note that this station offers checkout service only – to return items for check-in after hours, use the secure silver drop slot near the Law Library entrance. Self-checkout service is not available for items with "Library use only" restricted circulation (such as the Reference collection or federal and state codes), and is not available to users with blocks on their accounts (such as overdue recalled items).

Duke Self-Checkout stations and mobile app access are also available at the Perkins & Bostock Libraries on West Campus, as well as the Marine Lab Library in Beaufort. Please note that their kiosks differ slightly from the Law Library's, so be sure to follow the instructions on the screen at each location. More information about self-checkout can be found at the campus libraries' Duke Self-Checkout page.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Greatest Legal Movies Revisited

The ABA Journal's cover story this August updates its 2008 list of The 25 Greatest Legal Movies. The 2018 update expands the scope of the original list. More recent examples of award-winning courtroom dramas are here (such as Loving and Marshall), but the list also includes films whose subject matter intersects with the law (such as the investigative journalists in 2017's Spotlight) and legal documentaries (such as this summer's breakout hit RBG).

The 2018 list also makes a bit more room for laughs: 2001's law school comedy Legally Blonde has been added to the 2018 best-of list, and 1992's hilarious My Cousin Vinny retains its place on the list. An additional 25 Honorable Mentions are featured in the 2018 update as well. See the original 2008 list gallery and the 2018 update.

The Goodson Law Library has many of the original 25 films, as well as the new updates, in its Legal DVD collection on level 3. DVDs may be borrowed for 3-day loans; just bring the empty case to the Circulation/Reserve desk to receive the disc. Thousands of additional films are available in the Duke Libraries Catalog either through the Lilly Library on East Campus or through online databases, such as the Alexander Street Video Collection or NC Live Video. For help locating feature films or other video, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Highest Court in the Land

The U.S. Supreme Court and Sports Illustrated don't often intersect. But the July 30 issue of the popular sports magazine features a delightful story about the true "highest court in the land": the small basketball court above the U.S. Supreme Court's historic courtroom. You can read it online now, or look for the print edition in the Goodson Law Library's Leisure Reading collection soon.

Keeping with Court tradition, the story does not include actual photographs of the basketball court and its neighboring gym. As with the Court's longstanding ban on photography and video in the SCOTUS courtroom, the SI story instead features illustrations by sketch artist Arthur Lien.

The basketball court and gym began life as a Court storage room, before their transformation sometime in the 1940s. From that point on, Justices, clerks, and Court staff alike enjoy the facilities for games of basketball and other athletic pursuits – as long as the Court is not in session below, where noise from the basketball court and neighboring gym would rattle the walls of the building.

The SCOTUS basketball court has caused its share of injuries over the years. Justice Clarence Thomas tore his Achilles tendon in a 1992 pickup game with his clerks, who at the time included former Olympic athlete and NBA player Karl Tilleman. While clerking for former Justice Thurgood Marshall, current Justice Elena Kagan also sustained a leg injury from the court's unforgiving floor. Still, Kagan fondly recalls her basketball glory days, when teammates nicknamed her "Shorty" but ran plays that allowed the 5'3" now-Justice to score over much taller players.

To learn more fun facts about the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and its building, try a search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject United States Supreme Court – History. You'll find many titles, including the 1965 title Equal Justice Under Law: The Supreme Court in American Life that is referenced in the Sports Illustrated article. The library's research guide to the U.S. Supreme Court will also provide information about reference works on the Court’s history. For help with finding these resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

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.