Sunday, September 30, 2007

Researching First Monday

Monday, October 1st marks the opening day of the United States Supreme Court’s 2007-2008 term. “First Monday” usually generates a flurry of discussion in academia as well as the press, and this year is no exception. A sample for your reading pleasure:

  • The American Bar Association’s Supreme Court Preview offers copies of all merit and amicus briefs for the Court’s upcoming term, and a “Supreme Court Primer” of procedures.
  • SCOTUSblog also offers commentary and analysis on the upcoming October Term, from the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLP.
  • The Dissenter“, a profile of Justice John Paul Stevens from the New York Times Magazine.
  • Meet the Supremes“, a lengthy New York Times review of the recent Jeffrey Toobin book The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. Toobin’s book is currently being processed by the Law Library staff, and will be available for borrowing soon. In the meantime, anyone with a TimesSelect username and password may read the first chapter online through a link in the review. Don’t have a username and password for the New York Times? Contact the Reference Desk to use ours, or obtain a shared login through
  • More Supreme Court-related books in the Law Library Annex can be found with a catalog search for the subject United States. Supreme Court.

To learn more about our nation’s highest court, visit the Duke Law Library Research Guide at

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Federal Court Transcripts Available on PACER

The Judicial Conference of the United States recently announced plans to make transcripts of federal district and bankruptcy court proceedings available online through the Judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.

Under the new policy, transcripts created by court reporters or transcribers will be available for inspection and copying in a clerk of court’s office and for download from PACER 90 days after they are delivered to the clerk. (During the initial 90-day period, transcripts will be available at the clerk’s office for inspection only, or may be purchased from the court reporter or transcriber.)

Duke Law students, faculty and staff can request access to PACER from the Reference Desk. Because PACER charges under a pay-per-view system, library staff may require you to visit the library in person for an orientation to the service.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Congressional Record PDFs in HeinOnline

Has the Law Library renovation left you missing the microfiche? HeinOnline ( is here to help. The Law Library recently subscribed to a new library within the growing database, U.S. Congressional Documents. This new feature already includes searchable PDFs of the earliest sources of congressional debates: Annals of Congress (1789-1824), Register of Debates (1824-1837) and Congressional Globe (1833-1873).

However, the most exciting feature by far is Hein’s plan to digitize the complete series of the bound Congressional Record, which began publication in 1873. As law review students can unhappily attest, Bluebook rules require citation to the bound (permanent) version of the Congressional Record, which has different pagination from the daily edition available on Lexis, Westlaw, and GPO Access.

Currently, the new Hein database contains PDFs of the Congressional Record from volumes 1-10 (1873-1880) and volumes 142-149 (1996-2003). Hein will continue to upload the volumes in between; the project should be completed in 2008.

To explore this new feature, visit and scroll down to “U.S. Congressional Documents Library”.

Blogwatch: Legal Scholarship Blog

In an entry last month, D.U.L.L. News reported on two blogs devoted to linking legal scholars with upcoming conferences and calls for papers: Legal Conference Watch from the University of Washington School of Law (, and the Legal Scholarship Blog from University of Pittsburgh (

However, it’s time to update your bookmarks! Both schools have now joined forces to form the Legal Scholarship Blog ( This new, collaborative blog will replace both of the separate sites.