Friday, September 30, 2011

Easier Access to Leadership Library Yellow Books

It’s probably happened to you: maybe you’re searching the libraries’ online catalog. Maybe you’re browsing one of our excellent research guides. Maybe you’re skimming our list of Legal Databases & Links. Wherever you may be looking, once in a while you’ll see an ominous-looking note like “Password is required; see reference desk for assistance.”

It’s hardly the end of the world to have to stop and ask for the password (we’re actually very friendly), but these little hurdles can be especially problematic for late-night and weekend researchers. While the library tries to provide easy NetID-based login to its electronic resources, not every database allows us that option, and some have restrictions (such as a limit on access to only current Law School students, faculty and staff) which require a little oversight by staff.

One frequent password request at the Goodson Law Library reference desk has always been The Leadership Library, which is featured in our guides to Directories of Courts & Judges and Directories of Lawyers. The Leadership Library publishes the “Yellow Book” series of directories for government and corporate entities, like Judicial Yellow Book, Congressional Yellow Book, and Law Firms Yellow Book. Although the library also has print copies of these titles in the Reference Collection, the pace at which contact information changes along with the ability to search across the entire directory made the electronic versions particularly useful.

We’re pleased to announce that Duke University now has campus-wide, NetID-based access to The Leadership Library. Users can search the directories, browse visual “maps” of organizations to locate particular people, and build exportable lists of search results. Our research guides are being updated to reflect the change. Although you no longer need to contact us for a separate password to this resource, feel free to Ask a Librarian for assistance using the Leadership Library online.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who Was That Masked Man (In Handcuffs)?

During the ongoing "occupation" of Wall Street by protestors, police have unearthed—and enforced—an obscure state law which prohibits loitering in a public place while wearing a mask or disguise. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal reported that, since the start of the protest on September 17, at least five of the demonstrators who have been arrested were issued a summons for violating the strange old statute, which has been on the books since 1845.

The protest has roots with the online collective Anonymous, whose members often don Britain's iconic Guy Fawkes mask (as seen in the 2006 film adaptation of the graphic novel V for Vendetta) during public demonstrations. (Notable past targets of the group include the Church of Scientology in 2008, and more recently the San Francisco BART system, in response to transit officials' jamming of subway cell phone service to prevent a growing demonstration in the city.) But it wasn't only the Guy Fawkes impersonators who were corralled by the NYPD; the WSJ interviewed one protestor who was detained for wearing just a bandanna over his face.

So what does this state law say, exactly? Like most newspapers and popular media outlets, the WSJ doesn’t provide a Bluebook-ready citation. But the quoted language is enough to search the state code in either LexisNexis, Westlaw, or the free version at the NYS Legislature.

RESEARCH CHALLENGE: Can you track it down without peeking at the rest of this entry?

(We'll wait.)

OK, we’re back. If you took our test, we hope you found N.Y. Penal Law § 240.35, which states: "A person is guilty of loitering when he [...] [b]eing masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised, or knowingly permits or aids persons so masked or disguised to congregate in a public place; except that such conduct is not unlawful when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if, when such entertainment is held in a city which has promulgated regulations in connection with such affairs, permission is first obtained from the police or other appropriate authorities.”

The WSJ article provides a bit of historical background on this little-known section of the New York penal code, which we sure hope won't ruin anybody's Halloween plans. If you read about interesting statutes or cases in the news and have trouble tracking down the original sources, be sure to Ask a Librarian for help.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bwexis? Blexstlaw? Make Room for Bloomberg!

LexisNexis and Westlaw have long battled for the hearts (and dollars) of legal researchers. The two premium legal information systems are so ubiquitous in law practice that many refer to the pair of market competitors with the single, Brangelina-esque nickname "Wexis." But beginning in 2004, the financial juggernaut Bloomberg began an expansion into the legal research market, albeit one limited to use on Bloomberg Professional's proprietary computer workstations (four of which are still available in Duke's Ford Library at the Fuqua School of Business and three more at the Perkins Library's Data/GIS Computer Cluster). In 2009, Bloomberg launched an alternative web-based legal research interface, Bloomberg Law, and has provided pilot access to selected law schools, including Duke. An ABA Journal cover story in February 2010 detailed the development of this version of Bloomberg Law, and the difficulties of breaking into a market so dominated by longtime competitors.

Over the summer, Bloomberg launched a new and improved web interface, and also moved to add secondary sources to its research arsenal with the addition of titles like Business Torts Litigation (2d ed.), and The M & A Process: A Practical Guide For The Business Lawyer. The company's recent $990 million purchase of BNA Publications, which publishes such key newsletters and current-awareness services as U.S. Law Week and Securities Regulation Law Report, also leaves industry experts speculating about where those will fit into the new system.

Only time will tell if Bloomberg Law will rise to the same level of ubiquity as "Wexis," not to mention how they might be worked into the legal-research portmanteau. But in the meantime, you can check out their system and make your own comparisons to Lexis and Westlaw: Bloomberg will visit Duke Law for table days on Tuesday, September 27 and Wednesday, September 28. Current Duke Law students, faculty and staff are eligible for free password access, and can sign up in advance of the visit by filling out the online registration form (Bloomberg will then email you a username and temporary password, which should be changed to something personalized and memorable).Representatives from Bloomberg will be available to answer questions about the new interface during the table days, and also to sign up interested members of the Duke Law community who didn't pre-register with the online form. In the meantime, you can learn more about Bloomberg Law by checking out the product guides on its About page.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thunderstruck by Trial Transcripts

The Goodson Blogson is a few years behind on its leisure reading, but just finished Erik Larson's Thunderstruck (2006), a fascinating nonfiction work which interweaves the notorious 1910 North London Cellar Murder case with Guglielmo Marconi's struggle to perfect his wireless telegraph (the technology which eventually led Scotland Yard investigators to ambush their suspects aboard a transatlantic steamer ship).

American doctor Hawley Harvey Crippen and his wife Cora, an aspiring singer, moved to England in 1900. A decade later, Cora disappeared from the quarreling couple's North London home; the doctor informed concerned friends that she had returned to America and later died of an illness. Unconvinced by Crippen's story (particularly since his young secretary, Ethel Le Neve, moved into the home almost immediately, and was frequently spotted around town wearing Cora's furs and jewelry), Cora's friends alerted the police, who eventually discovered human remains buried in the doctor's coal cellar. Thanks to Marconi's invention and an eagle-eyed ship captain, inspectors were able to intercept Crippen and Le Neve on the S.S. Montrose, as they sailed toward America. Both were tried for murder in London during the fall of 1910; Crippen was found guilty and later executed by hanging, while Le Neve was cleared of all charges.

Larson's work is carefully crafted from historical accounts: newspaper reports, letters and other personal papers, and court records. Historical works like these typically require authors to consult a large number of previously-published books (like The Trial of Hawley Harvey Crippen (1920)) and also travel to specialized archives in person to view manuscript collections. But what a difference a few years makes – transcripts from the North London Cellar Murder trials are now freely available to the public on Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online, a massive electronic archive of cases from London’s famed Central Criminal Court. The archive now spans a staggering 240 years, from 1674 to 1913, although Larson could not take advantage of it while researching Thunderstruck: the site launched in 2003 with the years 1714-1759, and gradually expanded its years of coverage until the project's completion in 2008, well after the book's publication.

The Old Bailey site is searchable by a number of options (party names, verdicts, time period, etc). Quick links to the North London Cellar Murder proceedings:
The Old Bailey database has just been added to the library's research guide for Court Records & Briefs, in the "Trial Transcripts/Oral Arguments" section. For help locating transcripts in other trials, from any time period, be sure to check out the research guide, or Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Keeping Up with Law Journal Contents

School is back in session, and the student journal editors are busily preparing new issues of their law reviews and journals. With literally thousands of law review articles being published every year, keeping up with the latest scholarship in a particular area can be a challenge.

Sadly, one of our favorite law-focused current awareness services closed up shop this summer: Washington & Lee’s Current Law Journal Content service stopped updating its database in May 2011. The site lives on as a searchable archive of more than 1,400 law journals' tables of contents from approximately 2000- April 2011, and remains linked on our Legal Databases and Links page as a helpful tool for finding articles. But those who used its handy tools for saving searches as email alerts and RSS feeds will need to look elsewhere from now on.

That leaves another long-time TOC service, the University of Washington's Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP) as an obvious choice. CILP indexes the latest tables of contents to almost 600 law journals (view list), and provides links to the full text of the article in LexisNexis, Westlaw and HeinOnline. The Duke community can view a weekly CILP TOC update (changed each Friday); Duke Law faculty may also contact the Reference Desk to sign up for the SmartCILP email service, which delivers tailored lists of the latest articles from a particular journal or on a particular topic of interest.

The Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas maintains seven "current legal literature services," with free RSS feeds of the latest articles on the following topics: actual innocence/wrongful convictions, capital punishment, copyright, domestic violence, energy law, patent law and trademark law.

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) also provides email alerts from "subject matter e-journals" on a variety of topics, which include working papers as well as forthcoming ("accepted") articles from law reviews and legal journals. Free registration is required, and some e-journals are listed as "fee-based" on the subscription list, but are free to Duke Law users through our "site license." For an overview of the subscription process, watch the brief instructional video online. Once you have registered with SSRN, current Law School students, faculty and staff can "join" Duke Law School's site license to the Legal Scholarship Network. Then you can sign up for the "fee-based" journal alerts as well as the free SSRN alerts.

You can also save a topical article search as an email alert in LexisNexis, Westlaw, and LegalTrac. Individual journals and journal publisher websites also offer table of contents alerts, although most sites require free registration.

For help creating an email alert for articles in a particular journal or on a particular subject, be sure to Ask a Librarian.