Thursday, May 31, 2012

Awaiting the Verdict

As the trial of John Edwards drags into its ninth day of jury deliberations, you might wonder what is taking so long. The former U.S. Senator and 2004 vice-presidential candidate was indicted in 2011 for violating federal campaign finance laws in order to conceal his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during his 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Yesterday, the News & Observer reported that the members of the jury "have been behind closed doors for twice as long as it took the defense to present its side of the case." A note from one juror prompted several closed-door sessions between U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles and the attorneys on each side of the case. In addition, the four alternate jurors (who have not participated in the deliberations thus far) were allowed to return to their daily lives rather than spend more time waiting at the courthouse, although they remain “on call” if any of the twelve regular jurors are dismissed, and are still expected to refrain from consulting any outside media reports about the case.

While jury consultants speculate about the reasons for the continued delay, you can test your evidence-evaluating prowess at the U.S. Court for the Middle District of North Carolina’s website, which has maintained a free repository of trial exhibits and related documentation, including exhaustive transcripts of trial exhibits from both the prosecution and the defense. (Our favorite? The placeholder Verdict PDF, whose red lettering reads as increasingly irritated with each passing day.)

This repository is welcome news for legal researchers, who often must obtain federal trial-level filings for a fee, either from PACER or the court clerk’s office. If you’re researching a case where the court wasn’t kind enough to provide the exhibits online for free, our research guide to Court Records & Briefs contains tips for tracking down the same kinds of materials. For assistance with court filing research, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Online Access to the International Encyclopaedia of Laws

Earlier this spring, we invited you to test-drive the online version of International Encyclopaedia of Laws, a looseleaf set whose volumes provide a general overview of 25 legal topics, as well as country-specific monographs which describe individual nations’ legislation and case law in those areas. The set is edited by practitioners in the field, making the volumes an excellent introduction to comparative practice on a particular topic.

The library had long received 20 of the available 25 topics in print (catalog record), but their looseleaf format made them cumbersome for researchers. The Goodson Law Library is pleased to announce that the online version of International Encyclopaedia of Laws is now active, and will replace the print set for current information (although the historical volumes will remain on the library shelf, where they are kept in call number order with other materials on the set's topic).

Researchers can access any of the topical sets through a search of the libraries’ online catalog for IEL [topic], e.g. IEL Constitutional Law. The various sections of the looseleaf set for a topic are divided into folders, and individual chapters can be downloaded in PDF.

A link to the online version of IEL has been added to the library's research guide to Foreign & Comparative Law. For assistance with using this online resource, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bye Bye Blackboard; Hi, Sakai

[On Saturday, June 30, Duke University access to Blackboard course sites will expire. Digital Initiatives Librarian Hollie White offers some advice to help students, faculty and staff prepare for the transition to Sakai, Blackboard’s replacement system.]

For Students: Although the last four years of Blackboard content have been migrated to Sakai for faculty access, students will not see these past courses in Sakai. If you want to save some of your work from a previous course (such as final products from group projects) which used Blackboard, sign on to Blackboard before June 30 and find the class(es) from which you want to save material. Please remember that handouts and slides are the property of the faculty member and you should not copy, save, or redistribute these without permission from your instructor.

For Faculty: The last four years of Blackboard content has already been copied from Blackboard into Sakai. To explore your migrated classes, log in to Sakai. Classes will appear as tabs on the top of the Sakai screen. Most of your migrated content from Blackboard will be in the “Resources” or “Test/Quizzes” section for each Sakai course. Review what is in there and what is not in order to determine if the Sakai migration has preserved all the material that you would like to save from Blackboard (you may want to compare the Sakai content to Blackboard before June 30 in order to determine what is missing). For example, student content (such as wikis, blogs, discussion boards, and grades), could not be migrated and will have to copied and saved manually. Check Duke Law’s Sakai page for more details on how to save content manually.

For Staff and Teaching Assistants: If you assist a faculty member with course management, it may be beneficial to remind the instructor about the Blackboard-to-Sakai migration before the end of June. Faculty members may delegate the preservation of old Blackboard materials to you. Instructions about how to check for and transfer materials from Blackboard to Sakai can be found on the Duke Law Sakai page. If you need permissions to access a specific course in either Blackboard or Sakai, please contact Hollie White.

For more information on Sakai or questions about the migration process, please contact Duke Law’s Digital Initiatives Librarian, Hollie White.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Investor-State Law Guide (ISLG) Now Available

The Goodson Law Library now provides campus-wide access to Investor-State Law Guide (ISLG), a new research resource for international investment treaty law materials. ISLG includes the text of international agreements and decisions interpreting them from various tribunals, in addition to the rules of these tribunals. Documents are linked together by a "mapping" system, allowing researchers to quickly access case law which interprets a particular provision or article of an investment treaty. ISLG’s collections of NAFTA and ICSID materials are particularly robust; other subject areas continue to grow.

A brief online demo is available, illustrating the mapping feature and other search options within ISLG. The database can now be accessed through its link in the Foreign & International column of our Legal Databases & Links page; a current NetID is required for off-campus access.

 For more resources related to researching international law, check out our online Research Guides or Ask a Librarian.