Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A New Look for LexisNexis Academic

LexisNexis Academic, the campus-wide version of the Law School's LexisNexis online legal research system, will unveil its new interface on Monday, December 23. Details about the changes, including screenshots and an instructional video detailing the upcoming new look, can be found on the LexisNexis wiki.

The biggest change will be the introduction of a single search box, which replaces the six separate "Easy Search" options on the current interface. The new search box combines legal, news, and business searching, with an Advanced Options tab to help filter out unwanted content. (An "Easy Search" box to retrieve court opinions by citation or party name will still be available on the home page, for quick law-related lookups.)

The new link to Search by Content Type will replace the current left-hand menu which links to custom search pages for "US Legal" and "International Legal". The new interface also provides a quick link to search or browse the source directory, in order to access specific content. LexisNexis Academic includes a robust collection of case law and legislation from the U.S. federal government and states; Canadian, European Union and other foreign legal materials are also included. LexisNexis Academic also includes a large collection of law review and legal journal articles, as well as access to the legal encyclopedia American Jurisprudence 2d ("AmJur"), a helpful starting place for researching most legal topics.

For help with using LexisNexis Academic, either before or after the December 23 "interface refresh," be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Law Student Writing Competitions

Hey, law students! Do you have seminar papers from past semesters gathering dust on your desk? Consider polishing them up for submission to a student writing competition! Each year, organizations offer countless opportunities for student writers to submit papers on a variety of topics, for the chance to win prize money, scholarships, and even publication.

For example, the Legal History and Rare Books Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), in cooperation with Cengage Learning, has just announced the Sixth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, late Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Cohen was a leading scholar in the fields of legal research, rare books, and historical bibliography.

Essays for the competition may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The competition is open to students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, and related fields. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., March 17, 2014. See the contest page for details and application forms.

The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses associated with attendance at the 2014 AALL Annual Meeting, which takes place from July 12-15 in San Antonio, Texas. The runner-up will have the opportunity to publish the second-place essay in LH&RB's online scholarly journal Unbound: An Annual Review of Legal History and Rare Books.

If legal history isn't your area of expertise, there are plenty of other writing competitions available. The American Bar Association maintains a list of ABA-sponsored writing contests, with links to information about each. The University of Richmond School of Law maintains a massive Legal Essay Contest Catalog which can be sorted by topic and even prize amount. The Duke Law Daily also regularly includes announcements of student writing competitions.

For help with preparing those papers for submission, check out the library's collection of works on academic legal writing. For help locating these or more general legal writing titles, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Duke Law Magazine: A Window to History

Recently, the entire back file of Duke Law Magazine was scanned into PDF format and added to the Law School website. Readers may now browse or search issues and articles back to the first volume of the magazine in 1982. Previously, issues from 1982 to 2001 were available only in print in the Goodson Law Library's Archives collection on level 1.

The online collection from the Law School's Office of Communications provides wider access to the fascinating tidbits of Duke Law School history within. Some highlights from the magazine include Fall 1997's A Celebration of Women: 70 Years at Duke Law School or the Winter 1993 Alumnus Profile of Dr. Floyd M. Riddick, shortly before the library's Rare Books and Special Collections Room was renamed in honor of Dr. Riddick and his wife Marguerite. There are also numerous profiles of (and articles by) current and former Duke Law School faculty. (At Goodson Blogson HQ, we're partial to Senior Associate Dean for Information Services Richard A. Danner's Winter 1985 cover story about the changing role of the law library, featuring several vintage photographs.)

Browse Duke Law Magazine and other Law School publications via the link Publications at Duke Law. For assistance with accessing print copies or other archival Law School materials, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Nuremberg Trials: On Display

[Guest blogger Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow, highlights some of the items which can be found in the library’s most recent display of special collections.]

On November 20th, 1945, the Nuremberg Trials opened in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany. The trials were restricted to the "punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries." In June, prior to the opening of the Trials, delegates of the major wartime powers met in London to discuss what to do with Nazi leaders. The American delegate and chief United States prosecutor at the trials, Associate Justice Robert Jackson, told negotiators from the other nations, "What we propose is to punish acts which have been regarded as criminal since the time of Cain and have been so written in every civilized code."

The Goodson Law Library's J. Marshall Doswell, Jr. Nuremberg Trials Collection is a collection of books and memorabilia relating to the Trial and its legacy. Currently on display in the Riddick Rare Book and Special Collections Room are recent additions to the collection. Most books on display have a legal theme and many were written by attorneys involved in the trials; several focus on the psychological aspects of defendants' lives and the nature and causes of evil. Still others examine the legacy of the Trial and how it led to a heightening of social consciousness and increased moral and political recognition of the idea that a court of law is capable of sanctioning the commission of international crimes.

The two most contentious aspects of the Nuremberg Trials – the provision of a crime of aggressive war or crime against peace; and the recognition of crimes against humanity as a category of international law – are addressed in Perspectives on the Nuremberg Trials, published in 2008. The essays in this book, edited by Guénaël Mettraux, discuss the legal, political and philosophical questions raised at the time and today.

What was shocking to many observers about Nuremberg was the ordinariness of the defendants. Men who were seen as good fathers, kind to animals, even unassuming, committed unspeakable crimes. Among the books in the display is Less than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others, by David Livingstone Smith. Smith examines events such as the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade, and asks why xenophobia, homophobia, military propaganda, racism still exist in the world – what makes these atrocities possible. The essays in Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust, examine Christian responses in the Nazi era. What religious convictions sparked resistance in some and compliance in others, and why did so many people fail to act?

Perhaps the most moving of the books displayed are those which present the Nazi regime through the eyes of victims. Seeing Through "Paradise": Artists and the Terezin Concentration Camp is the catalog of a 1991 exhibit at the Massachusetts College of Art. Images in the exhibit were drawn by witnesses in the camp in Terezin, in what is today the Czech Republic. I Never Saw Another Butterfly – Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944 reproduces art by children who lived at the camp.

The display also includes disturbing examples of propaganda published in Nazi Germany. The Jewish Question in the Classroom, by a municipal school inspector in the Third Reich, instructed teachers on how to explain the "Jewish question" to students. Three anti-Semitic picture books intended for young children compare Jews to poisonous snakes, locusts and other unpleasant animal life.

Memorabilia in the collection include photographs, commemorative medals, letterhead stationery, envelopes and postage stamps, and original news articles. The most unusual item on display is a cigar wrapper from a commemorative cigar distributed by allied forces. On the wrapper is an artist’s depiction of U. S. military soldiers escorting a Nazi prisoner.

Today, many online sources are available for researching the primary documents of the Nuremberg Trials, secondary sources about the Trials, and more general materials about international criminal law. Yale Law School's Avalon Project provides access to documents relating to the trials and to documents cited in the official records of the Tribunal, as well as to documents relating to the proceedings and the post-war military government. The Library of Congress has digitized "The Blue Series", the 42-volume official record of the trials, in its web portal of Nuremberg materials. The Harvard Law School Nuremberg Trials collection includes trial transcripts, briefs, evidence files and other papers relating to the trials in the International Military Tribunal and the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals. More general materials about international criminal law can be found in the Goodson Law Library's own research guide.

Stop by the Riddick Room on level 3 of the library to see some of the most recent additions to the Library’s J. Marshall Doswell, Jr. Nuremberg Trials Collection.

--Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas for Lawyers and Law Students

On Friday, law blogger Reid Trautz unveiled his ninth annual Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers. Trautz does not limit his gift ideas to a strict legal theme, but casts a wide net for goodies that the lawyers in your life might enjoy, such as artisan gin, high-end headphones, and flash drive cufflinks. The Goodson Blogson, too, is no stranger to holiday gift recommendations, having published gift guides of our own in 2009, 2010, and 2011. We're not sure how we could have forgotten to compile a roundup in 2012 (perhaps an excess of eggnog?), but we'll make up for it with a 2013 list worthy of sending straight to Santa.

The Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop continues to be the top source of law-themed gifts for all ages and interests. Cookbook Chef Supreme was compiled by the spouses of the Supreme Court justices in memory of Martin Ginsburg, the late husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In addition to being a noted tax attorney and professor, "Marty" (as he was known to his friends) was an avid chef, and the cookbook contains his personal recipes as well as loving tributes from family and friends. The Supreme Court gift shop also offers the logo of our highest court affixed to a wide variety of household items: pens and pencils, drinkware, blankets, and bowls.

Both Trautz's blog and the Supreme Court gift shop also feature Lawsuit!, a law-themed board game which has appeared in previous Goodson Blogson holiday gift guides. Not sure what a lawsuit board game might look like? The game website posts a copy of the instructions, along with a legal dictionary of terms used in the game and other educational resources.

ThinkGeek doesn't contain a lot of specifically law-related content (unless you count the t-shirt with a police officer exhorting you to "Obey gravity. It's the law!"), but there seems to be enough intersection between lawyers and geeks to make the site worth a browse. Certainly, many lawyers might be interested in the various iPhone and iPad accessories. But if the lawyer or law student in your life also happens to be a fan of geeky favorites like Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, or Star Wars, this site may contain the perfect present.

For holiday shoppers who want to keep it local, non-profit business alliance Sustain-a-Bull promotes independent businesses in Durham, North Carolina. November 30 through December 8 will be the group's annual Shop Independent Durham Week. The Brightleaf Square area, close to Duke’s campus, features several locally owned and operated stores. Morgan Imports offers a dizzying array of toys, home goods, and furniture; just up the street is Rose's Meat Market and Sweet Shop, which features gourmet stocking-stuffers alongside its delicious prepared foods and butcher cuts. A Southern Season in Chapel Hill is another great source for gourmet gifts, both local and international, with free shipping available for many of their signature gift baskets.

Speaking of free shipping, online shoppers should be aware that Wednesday, December 18 has been designated Free Shipping Day at more than 400 retailers. Many free shipping deals can also be found on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving, when online holiday sales are said to reach their peak for the year), and at other times with coupon codes from sites like RetailMeNot.

Happy holidays to all of our Blogson readers!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Best & The Rest: Attorney Ratings and Recommendations

The legal education community seems downright obsessed with rankings at times. Even slight movements in the annual U.S. News and World Report graduate school rankings can have large ripple effects at law schools. University of Chicago Law professor and prominent legal blogger Brian Leiter even has a dedicated "Law School Rankings" blog, measuring law school faculty scholarly impact and productivity, law student admissions by LSAT scores and GPA, and employment placement figures.

So it's no surprise that the rankings bug has infected the legal profession, as well as academia. Here at Goodson Blogson HQ, we surrender. Our recently-updated research guide to Directories of Lawyers now includes the inevitable: a section of attorney rating and recommendation sites, such as Avvo and Super Lawyers. The inclusion arrives just in time for a brand-new Super Lawyers edition dedicated to business lawyers, released earlier this week.

The Directories of Lawyers guide also includes print and online resources for locating attorneys in particular states, specialties, and foreign countries. One particularly useful resource for locating lawyers is the American Bar Association's portal, which provides links for each jurisdiction with information about referral services, free or low-cost legal aid, the court system, foreclosure information, and guidance for self-represented litigants.

For more resources to locate information about an attorney, check out the updated Directories of Lawyers guide or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Those Were Hanging Times": Witchcraft on Display

[The following guest post was written by Goodson Law Library Reference Intern Kate Dickson, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Information & Library Science.]

In honor of Halloween, the books currently on display in the Goodson Law Library's Riddick Rare Book & Special Collections Room all focus, in one way or another, on the topic of witch trials. The first word that normally comes to mind at the mention of witch trials is "Salem," and the library has a number of interesting sources related to this topic. For example, the 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties, which is on display in facsimile, listed twelve crimes carrying the death penalty. The second of these—which was listed even before premeditated murder--provided:
If any man or woeman be a witch, (that is hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit,) They shall be put to death.
The provision remained in subsequent versions of the Body of Liberties, but was later disallowed by the crown.

A 1692 Massachusetts law entitled An Act Against Conjuration, Witchcraft, and Dealing with Evil and Wicked Spirits can also be viewed in the display. Section 1 of the Act provided a detailed description of what actions constituted witchcraft, and Section 2, interestingly, provided definition and punishment for a crime that might today be described as "attempted witchcraft":
[I]f any person or persons shall [attempt witchcraft], although the same be not effected and done, that then all and every such person and persons so offending, and being thereof lawfully convicted, shall for the said offence suffer imprisonment by the space of one whole year, without bail or mainprize, and once in every quarter of the said year shall in some shire town stand openly upon the pillory by the space of six hours, and there shall openly confess his or her error and offence, which said offence shall be written in capital letters and placed upon the breast of said offender.
The Act remained in effect until 1695, when it was disallowed for being inconsistent with a statute of King James.

The witch trails in Salem and surrounding towns, which took place in 1691/2-1693, resulted in the executions of at least twenty people, the first of whom was Bridget Bishop. An image of the original warrant for her execution can be seen in the library. It instructs the sheriff to convey her from jail to the place of execution and hang her, and warns that "hereof you are not to faile at your peril."

While the Salem witch trials are certainly the most famous in the United States, they were not the only ones occurring around the same time. In fact, they were predated by similar trials in England, which are described rather humorously in another book on display at the library, The Law’s Lumber Room by Francis Wyatt, published in 1898. He notes in the preface that:
There is a great deal of hanging in this book; that is only because those were hanging times. The law had no thought of mending the criminal; it ended him in the most summary fashion. The death of the chief actors was as inevitably the finish of the story as it is in a modern French novel.
In 1735, the British Parliament passed the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which made it a crime for a person to claim that any human being was guilty of practicing witchcraft, thus ending the period during which witchcraft laws were based on a genuine belief in witches. In 1944, Scottish medium Victoria Helen McCrae Duncan, known as "Hellish Nell," was the last person convicted under this law of fraudulent witchcraft, for conducting séances in her home. On hearing the news of her trial, Winston Churchill sent this directive to the Home Secretary:
Let me have a report on why the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was used in a modern Court of Justice. What was the cost of the trial to the state, observing that witnesses were brought from Portsmouth and maintained here in this crowded London for a fortnight, and the Recorder kept busy with all this obsolete tomfoolery.
An interesting book on the topic of Hellish Nell, The Strange Case of Hellish Nell: The Story of Helen Duncan and the Witch Trial of World War II, is on display at the library.

Come by the Riddick Room on Level 3 of the library to see these and many other books on witch trials. Happy Halloween!

--Kate Dickson, Reference Intern

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Great Paywall

As print subscriptions to newspapers have declined, and even major papers are resorting to newsroom layoffs, it has become increasingly common for newspaper websites to use a paywall model of access for online content. Usually under these models, a selected number of articles are available free online per month, and after that, visitors discover that the next article they wish to read is locked, and requires a paid subscription to access.

Fortunately, the Duke University Libraries have access to thousands of major and local newspapers online. To locate databases which provide access via your NetID and password, visit our link to Online Full-Text Journals and type in the title of the newspaper you wish to access. Law students, faculty and staff have additional access to many newspapers and news wire services through Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law.

But these third-party subscription databases sometimes do not include a newspaper's "web-only" or "online-exclusive" content. Occasionally, there will also be an "embargo period" which delays the latest articles from showing up for a day, a month, or even longer. How can you access a recent article if you have exceeded your free allowance? Websites offer tips like running a blocked article through Google Translate or other Google proxy servers, or accessing links via the papers' social media accounts, which tend not to count against a user's monthly allotment.

However, many of the major newspapers also offer free or deeply-discounted educational subscriptions, which may be worth exploring for the convenience of direct access to your favorite newspaper websites:
  • The New York Times offers non-subscribers 10 free articles per month. Digital-only subscriptions are available to the general public for as low as $15.00/month. However, the Times offers a steep 50% College Rate discount for students, faculty and staff with a valid .edu email address. The education discount can be applied to a print subscription (which also includes full digital access) or a digital-only subscription.
  • The Washington Post offers non-subscribers 20 free articles per month. However, the paper recently announced free, unlimited digital access for anyone with a valid .gov, .mil or .edu email address. New users will need to create and confirm an account at the Free Digital Access page. This free access includes content delivered on the website as well as through the Post's smartphone and tablet apps.
  • The Financial Times recently extended its embargo period with third-party databases from 1 day to 30 days. Subscriptions to the FT website or print edition are notably expensive, with digital-only access available for about $25.00/month, or print subscriptions or a print/digital combination available for nearly $50.00/month. Fortunately, users who register on can access up to 8 free articles in a 30-day period.
  • The Wall Street Journal was one of the first newspapers to use a paywall model, cutting off free access to its website in 1997. However, some content is still available for free on; locked articles are identified with a key icon. WSJ offers students a 75% discount on print subscriptions, which also includes access to the digital edition and mobile app versions.
For assistance with locating full-text access to a newspaper not covered here, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Revenge of the Cite-Checkers

Are you a regular user of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation? If so, the editors of this long-running legal citation manual and style guide want to hear from you. From now through Friday, November 8, a survey on is gathering opinions about the clarity and usability of the current Bluebook, to help inform potential changes to the next edition.

The detailed survey includes questions about each rule and table of the Bluebook, with plenty of room for additional comments. Share your thoughts on your favorite – or least favorite – rules; compare the print edition to its electronic counterparts (on the web and in mobile form); and contribute ideas to improve the next edition. Responses will be reviewed by the team of top law review editors who publish the Bluebook (a joint effort from Columbia, Harvard, Penn, and Yale).

The Bluebook improvement survey also includes an optional prize drawing for respondents who choose to leave their contact information. Five randomly-selected winners will receive a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. Another twenty participants will receive a free copy of the upcoming 20th edition in print, as well as a two-year subscription to the online version.

The Bluebook has been published since 1926, when it clocked in at a measly 28 pages cover-to-cover (view PDF of the first edition). The proliferation of electronic research tools and an increased need for foreign, comparative and international citation guidance has bulked up the more current editions, with the latest 19th edition (published in 2010) surpassing 500 pages.

For help with navigating the Bluebook, check out section IV of our guide to Law School Success or Ask a Librarian.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Free Legal Research for State Bar Association Members: A 50-State Survey

Many state bar associations provide their members with free access to a low-cost legal research system, such as Fastcase, Casemaker, or LoisLaw. These systems generally allow users to search or browse primary sources of law from the federal system and the various states. While the premium legal research services Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg may offer more bells and whistles (in the form of robust collections of secondary sources; case headnotes and other research aids; and superior citator tools for updating and validating legal materials), their fewer-frills cousins offer an unbeatable price point for searching the full text of case law and statutes. Some of the low-cost research services even offer unique content which is unavailable in their higher-priced counterparts. (For example, in North Carolina, the state's Pattern Jury Instructions are available exclusively on the research system available through the state bar, and cannot be found electronically in the premium legal research services. The low-cost research services also frequently include helpful local materials, such as municipal codes.)

Greg Lambert of 3 Geeks and a Law Blog created an interactive map in March 2010 to illustrate which research services were provided as member benefits of the various state bar associations. But at least eight state bar associations have changed their research subscriptions since that time. Goodson Law Library Head of Reference Services Jennifer L. Behrens has updated Lambert's original map with the current legal research member benefits offered by state bars and state bar associations. View the interactive map below, see the full-size map on, or download a static version here.

As of October 2013, Casemaker and Fastcase have an even market share of 23 states (the District of Columbia bar also offers Fastcase). Pennsylvania’s bar association continues to provide its members with access to InCite, a research service powered by LexisNexis. Three states (California, Delaware and Montana) do not offer statewide access to a legal research service as a benefit to bar members. (However, several county and local bar associations in California do provide member access to either Fastcase or Casemaker.)

Chart view: Legal Research Services by State Bar Association, as of 10/10/2013

StateService Offered
CaliforniaNone (some county/local associations provide access)
District of ColumbiaFastcase
New HampshireCasemaker
New JerseyFastcase
New MexicoFastcase
New YorkFastcase
North CarolinaFastcase
North DakotaCasemaker
Rhode IslandCasemaker
South CarolinaCasemaker
South DakotaFastcase
West VirginiaFastcase

Currently, Duke Law students can sign up for free access to Casemaker through the CasemakerX educational platform. Although there is currently no direct access at Duke Law to Fastcase, currently-enrolled law students can join the North Carolina Bar Association for free to enjoy this membership benefit. In addition, Duke students will soon see limited access to Fastcase materials through a partnership with HeinOnline which was announced this summer. As part of this agreement, HeinOnline's research libraries will incorporate links to state and federal case law which are powered by Fastcase; Hein will also integrate Fastcase's Authority Check citation analysis tool, in order to locate additional relevant case law and make note of potentially negative treatment. Although even Fastcase's own documentation admits that Authority Check is no substitute for a premium service citator like Shepard's or KeyCite, this Fastcase enhancement to HeinOnline will undoubtedly aid legal researchers.

For more information about low-cost legal research alternatives, check out the Goodson Law Library guide to Legal Research on the Web or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Federal Reserve: 100 Years of Protecting Your Piggy Bank

Today, President Obama nominated Federal Reserve vice chair Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as the head of the United States' most powerful authority in monetary policy. (Bernanke will complete an eight-year term as Fed chair in January 2014.) If Yellen's nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, her appointment will mark the first time that a woman has helmed a central bank in the United States – or any other country in the world.

So what's all the fuss about "The Fed"? A quick review of the 2012 U.S. Government Manual should clear up any confusion. The entry for the Federal Reserve System describes the weighty mission of the organization thusly: "FRS contributes to the strength and vitality of the U.S. economy. By influencing the lending and investing activities of depository institutions and the cost and availability of money and credit, the FRS promotes the full use of human and capital resources, the growth of productivity, relatively stable prices, and equilibrium in the Nation's international balance of payments. Through its supervisory and regulatory banking functions, FRS helps maintain a commercial banking system that is responsive to the Nation's financial needs and objectives."

A 2012 Congressional Research Service report provides more detail about the activities and oversight of this important independent agency, which will celebrate its 100th birthday on December 23. In preparation for its centennial, the Fed recently expanded its research system FRASER (Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research) to include more archival materials from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Harry S. Truman Library. FRASER contains a treasure trove of reports, papers, congressional hearings, and archival materials related to the history and operations of this critically important banking system.

To learn more about the Fed's history and its role in regulating the U.S. economy, search the Duke University Libraries catalog for the subject heading "Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)". You’ll find titles like the recent e-book The Federal Reserve: What Everyone Needs to Know, The Federal Reserve System: A History, and an exhaustive 3-volume History of the Federal Reserve. For help locating these or other titles, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Filling in the Government Gaps

Four days into a federal government shutdown, with no apparent end in sight, citizens are taking stock of the many services and resources which have been affected by the funding lapse. The news media has focused on the most highly-visible impact: thousands of federal workers furloughed or working without pay, hundreds of national parks and memorials shuttered from tourism, and the fate of the animals – and beloved webcams – at our National Zoo.

But the less-obvious impact of the prolonged shutdown is becoming more apparent, as researchers attempt to access the many free federal online resources which have gone dark due to lack of staff and funding. Researchers have long been able to rely on the U.S. Government Printing Office and federal agencies for free copies of federal publications, but access during the shutdown has been unpredictable. Many websites went offline on October 1, displaying only a notice about the lack of funding. Even websites which have remained online (albeit without updates) experience frequent server outages due to lack of maintenance.

We are fortunate at Duke University to have alternative access to many of the most popular federal research materials, both in electronic and print formats. Here is a quick guide to some of the best starting places to access needed federal publications while the government websites are offline.

Agency Publications

Federal executive branch agencies responded to the shutdown differently, depending upon the "essential" nature of their publications and services. The Federal Register, our daily record of executive branch rules, proposed rules and notices, is being updated only with items "that are directly related to the performance of governmental functions necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life or protection of property," and only via the Government Printing Office's FDsys site., a user-friendly version of FR materials dating back to 1994, remains available for historical research purposes but is not currently being updated with the FDsys materials.

Agency decisions, reports and other publications may still be available on some agency websites. However, if you need material from an executive agency which is not currently online (such as the Federal Trade Commission), current Duke University students, faculty and staff may be able to locate an alternate version through HeinOnline's U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions and Appeals library. This library includes PDF scans of decisions and other materials from a variety of federal executive agencies. Titles can be browsed in HeinOnline or searched in the Duke Libraries Catalog, where print versions of these publications will also appear if they are available at Duke. Check out our research guide to Federal Administrative Law for other access options to executive materials.

Congressional Publications

The Library of Congress continues to maintain its primary sites for free federal legislative information, and its predecessor THOMAS. Other Library of Congress sites (including and the historical audio recordings at National Jukebox) are back online as of October 3, but not being updated. Congressional documents, reports and hearings back to the mid-1990s are also available via FDsys.

If the federal sites experience outages during the shutdown, Duke University also has access to congressional publications through ProQuest Congressional and the U.S. Congressional Serial Set Digital Collection. Our research guide to Federal Legislative History lists other access options for congressional materials.

Education-related Materials, the online clearinghouse for education-related reports and journal articles, is another popular research site affected by the shutdown. Duke University subscribes to a commercial version of ERIC, which includes the full text of many ERIC documents and journal articles. But even readers without a current Duke NetID and password can now access ERIC resources for free during the shutdown, courtesy of EBSCO, by visiting

Statistical Data

Federal websites contain a wealth of statistical reports and other data, but sadly sites like have shuttered. At Duke, a good starting point for government statistical reports and datasets is ProQuest Statistical Insight. Other alternative sources for data are listed in the University Libraries' Recommended Databases for Data and Statistics.

For Further Assistance

To locate other types of federal material which are not listed here, or for help navigating these databases, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, September 30, 2013 The Final Countdown

For nearly two decades, THOMAS has provided free public access to information about Congress: bill text, legislative history materials, member biographies, and committee activities. But in November, the Library of Congress's newer interface is taking over as the default public website for congressional research, after a two-year beta test. (For fans of the older site, the THOMAS interface will continue to be available via a link on until late 2014, although links to and will redirect to the homepage.) offers improved search capability over THOMAS's more basic interface. Users can also link directly to search results or individual documents, and subscribe to search alerts via RSS (both features which were impossible with THOMAS's unstable URLs). will soon complete its migration of all historical content from THOMAS (currently, the full text of legislation from 1990-1992 is still available only on THOMAS). also incorporates some content which was not easily accessible on THOMAS, such as a prominent space for the Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (CONAN), an annotated version of the U.S. Constitution which contains discussion and footnotes to case law explaining each article and amendment to the Constitution. CONAN also includes helpful historical tables, such as Acts of Congress Held Unconstitutional and Overruled Supreme Court Decisions.

As noted in the September monthly update on the progress of, several design changes have been made to the site recently in response to user feedback. And the makers of are still soliciting public input on the site's sleek new look: visitors can assist with upgrades to the design of by completing a brief usability test. The anonymous exercise asks users where they might click on the homepage in order to complete certain tasks. Share your thoughts on the new site by completing the 15-20 minute exercise.

Of course, in the event of a federal government shutdown beginning Tuesday, October 1, both and THOMAS will become inaccessible, along with the rest of the Library of Congress website will become inaccessible. Follow the latest shutdown news at the Washington Post – and, while it lasts, [Update 10/1: THOMAS and remain open during the federal shutdown. All other LOC sites are inaccessible.]

Friday, September 13, 2013

Who Watches the Watchmen: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

Earlier this week, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper released a number of newly-declassified documents related to the operations of the National Security Agency. The NSA has occupied the headlines all summer, since former contract employee Edward Snowden released materials to the media which exposed details of large-scale government surveillance programs. But this week's releases were actually prompted by a ruling in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed several years earlier by the watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation (see news release & searchable collection of documents).

The documents include a number of redacted opinions and orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The operations of this mysterious federal court, which was established in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), have long been a source of interest for scholars and privacy advocates. Federal law provides that "The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court shall have jurisdiction to hear applications for and grant orders approving a physical search for the purpose of obtaining foreign intelligence information anywhere within the United States" (50 U.S.C. § 1822(c)). Other sections of the U.S. Code direct the U.S. Attorney General to provide a semiannual summary of the court's activities to select committees within the House and Senate. These reports, dating back to 1979, have been compiled and archived on the Federation of American Scientists' FISA information page. However, they contain only brief descriptions of the total number of applications to the court for electronic surveillance authorization, and the number withdrawn or granted.

But other materials from this court have proven elusive. As noted in a 2007 Congressional Research Service report, "Only one opinion has been published since the court's inception in 1978": 2002's In re All Matters Submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, 218 F. Supp. 2d 611 (full text via Google Scholar). A handful of other FISC opinions and orders, not selected for formal publication, have been collected by groups like the Electronic Privacy and Information Center and FAS, which culled them from FOIA releases and congressional document reprints. The September 10 document release includes several more opinions from 2006-2009, identified only by docket number, which shed additional light on the operations and reasoning of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

To learn more about the legal issues surrounding FISA and the FISC, check out the treatises The Law of Electronic Surveillance (KF9670 .C373 & online in Westlaw); Proskauer on Privacy: A Guide to Privacy and Data Security Law in the Information Age (KF1263.C65 P76 & online in Bloomberg Law & PLI Discover PLUS), and Privacy Law and the USA Patriot Act  (KF9430 .P67 & online in LexisNexis). For help with locating these or other treatises, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hard Jargon

In the new issue of ABA Journal, legal writing expert (and Black's Law Dictionary editor) Bryan A. Garner poses a legal vocabulary challenge. Inspired by a 1948 textbook, Garner's multiple-choice quiz offers twenty words which are not commonly found in everyday conversation, but do appear with some frequency in American court opinions (ranging from dozens of cases, to more than a thousand). So far, only four test-takers have managed a perfect score, according to Garner's Twitter feed. How did your vocabulary skills stack up?

If your quiz score was disappointing, don't despair – Garner offers his favorite vocabulary-building tip in the article. He recommends jotting down unfamiliar words as you encounter them, and then consulting a dictionary once you have amassed a good-sized list. (He suggests avoiding the temptation to perform an immediate look-up on a mobile device, as his method improves long-term retention of the definitions.)

Fortunately, you have a number of dictionaries available in the Goodson Law Library and elsewhere at Duke. Current editions of dictionaries (both general and legal) are available in the library's Reference collection. Although these items cannot be checked out and removed from the library, they're always available for consultation. Stands in the Reading Room hold the latest edition of Black's Law Dictionary (near the center staircase) and Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (near the windows). Additional print dictionaries in the Law Library can be found with a catalog search for "English language – Dictionaries".

If you need to take your vocabulary lessons on the go (despite Garner's best advice), many dictionaries are available at your fingertips. The Oxford Dictionary of English (3d ed. 2010) can be accessed online with a Duke University NetID and password, as can its super-sized granddaddy, the Oxford English Dictionary. Merriam-Webster offers a free online site for its popular dictionaries and thesauri.

Many legal dictionaries are also available online. Black's Law Dictionary can be searched on Westlaw; LexisNexis offers Ballentine's Law Dictionary. Free law dictionaries are provided on FindLaw and Nolo Press.

For assistance with locating print or online dictionaries, it is perpetually prudent to query a professional. In other words, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Social Insecurity

This week, the Goodson Law Library added the new looseleaf Social Media and the Law (2013) to its collection. This Practising Law Institute treatise, edited by information technology lawyer Kathryn L. Ossian, can also be accessed electronically with current Duke University NetID via PLI Discover Plus (campus-wide trial until February 2014) and to current Law School students, faculty and staff on Bloomberg Law.

The Ossian treatise is part of a developing literature outlining how these emerging technologies have affected the legal system. Information from social networks like Facebook and Twitter has created new opportunities (and challenges) for electronic discovery, as well as new ethical headaches for attorneys and judges. Jury instructions have been redrafted to specifically prohibit jurors from discussing pending cases on social networks on Twitter. Attorneys have faced discipline for deceptively "friending" potential witnesses on Facebook. Some recent criminal trials (including the Steubenville High School rape case, and many family law disputes) rely heavily on photographic and text evidence culled from social media sites. And in a recent case sure to have ripple effects on other technologies, a New Jersey appellate court held this week that "the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted" (see ABA Journal article). Certainly as these legal duties become more commonplace, they will likely be extended beyond text messages to include private messages on Facebook, or direct messages on Twitter.

To read more about these emerging issues in social media and the law, check out McGrady on Social Media (in the library & online in Lexis) and The Lawyer's Guide to Social Networking: Understanding Social Media's Impact on Law, in addition to the new Ossian treatise. To locate ethics opinions related to social media and the law, consult our research guide to Legal Ethics for search strategies. As always, be sure to Ask a Librarian for assistance with your research.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Trade Law Guide Now Available Campus-Wide

The Goodson Law Library now has campus-wide access to Trade Law Guide, a source for legal materials from the World Trade Organization. The database contains WTO agreements and instruments, negotiating history, precursor agreements, all related WTO and pre-WTO case law, dispute documents and other related content. The database is accessible from the Legal Databases & Links page under Foreign & International Resources.

An encyclopedic Subject Navigator organizes topics alphabetically, allowing quick access to specific agreements. Trade Law Guide also features a citator service for both articles and case law, linking users to a list of documents which have each cited back to a particular article or case. Several key agreements are also available in annotated format, linking to citing articles and cases.

Trade Law Guide will soon be added to the library’s research guide for GATT/WTO resources, alongside the competing service For help finding other international trade resources in the library, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, August 5, 2013

From Onion Skin to Online: Office of Legal Counsel Opinions

[In this guest post, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow Marguerite Most explores the history of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, just as a new collection of previously-unreleased opinions has been published.]

"Criminal Liability for Newspaper Publication of Naval Secrets"…"Use of Marshals, Troops, and Other Federal Personnel for Law Enforcement in Mississippi"…"The President and the War Power: South Vietnam and the Cambodian Sanctuaries". The Table of Contents reads like above-the-fold headlines in our nation's most respected newspapers. These are actually titles in the new series of supplemental opinions from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, most of which address the legality of executive orders. These are opinions which "with the passage of time have become publishable."

Last week, the Office of Legal Counsel released volume one of its new series: Supplemental Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel
(Op. O.L.C. Supp.). The opinions date from 1933 – 1977; many early ones were transcribed from onion-skin carbon copies in the OLC archives to the digitized PDFs which are now online in the Office's Electronic Reading Room.

Under the authority of the United States Attorney General, the Office of Legal Counsel provides legal advice to the President and to executive branch agencies. In the years following the establishment of the OLC, Attorneys General signed some opinions by name and signed opinions were eventually published in a 4-volume series covering 1940 to 1982. From 1977, opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel were published in a separate series (Op. O.L.C.); in 1982, the two series were combined with those AG opinions issued under the Attorney General’s own name appearing in the OLC volume for that year. Official opinions from 1992 forward are posted on the OLC website. Opinions from volume 1 (1977) are shelved in the Documents collection of the Library and are also available in LLMC Digital and HeinOnline.

In 1933, the year in which the OLC was established, the Office of the Assistant Solicitor General issued 83 opinions and 70 memoranda addressing the legality of executive orders. Many of these were pre-decisional advice addressing the legality of possible future actions, and were considered confidential and covered by the attorney-client and the deliberative process privileges. Opinions that were not published were deposited in the OLC archives along with memoranda and correspondence to the President, the Attorney General, and officials within executive agencies. This first volume of supplemental OLC opinions contains writings issued from 1933 to 1977, when OLC first began publishing its primary series. The supplemental series is intended to fill gaps in the record and to make public materials not deemed appropriate to release when written. The editor is careful to point out in the Foreword that "not all of the selections… reflect current law or the current position of the Office."

The foreword also includes this note of interest to the Duke Law School community: "We also wish to acknowledge the contributions of former Deputy Assistant Attorney General H. Jefferson Powell, now on the faculty at Duke University Law School. Professor Powell conceived of this project in the fall of 2011. He also did significant early spade work, combing through the OLC archives and selecting candidate opinions for publication. His initiative and efforts to bring this idea to fruition are deeply appreciated." Other law school faculty members with connections to the Office of Legal Counsel include Professor Chris Schroeder, Professor Emeritus Walter Dellinger, Professor Stuart Benjamin and Professor Sara Sun Beale.

The collection will be of interest to historians as well as to legal scholars and practitioners. The popular press has already begun mining the opinions for stories such as this one which appeared August 1, 2013 in The Atlantic: “A Chilling Memo on the Fate of Japanese Americans in 1942."

If you’re looking for a good read, look no further.

--Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A New Look for LLMC Digital

The database LLMC Digital contains a treasure trove of digitized primary and secondary legal sources, drawn from the collection of the Law Library Microform Consortium. Of particular interest to users of the Goodson Law Library are LLMC's collections of official state court case reporters, since the library's print copies are in off-site storage. LLMC also includes session laws; historical legal treatises; agency opinions and reports; court records and briefs from New York and California; and a growing collection of foreign and international legal materials, which is particularly strong for Canada and the United Kingdom.

However, LLMC Digital was sometimes overlooked by researchers due to its previously difficult-to-navigate web interface and limited search functions. Today, though, LLMC Digital unveiled a brand-new design which simplifies searching, browsing and accessing its rich collection. The new site provides a streamlined catalog search, the familiar jurisdictional browse menu, and a citation retrieval box with pre-loaded source abbreviations.

Navigating through an individual source in LLMC still presents some difficulties, compared to other legal PDF repositories like HeinOnline. Although page arrows allow you to easily browse through a source on the screen, users who wish to download or print a particular section (such as a single opinion within a case reporter) must manually specify the page range first. This can be a frustrating process for particularly long documents, especially when compared to Hein's handy table of contents sidebar which divides the individual cases and session laws for easier download.

Still, LLMC's new interface is a welcome improvement, and hopefully will increase usage of this valuable library resource. A new "Special Featured Collections" section on the home page includes illustrations and photographs designed to provide historical context for selected text-based collections, and may help users discover some new and interesting materials within the database.

LLMC Digital and many other options for digitized legal research materials can be found in the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Finding Legal Materials in PDF. For assistance with using the new LLMC interface, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dream of the 990s

It may not be obvious from their name, but non-profit (often interchangeably called tax-exempt) organizations may actually deal with vast sums of money. In exchange for special tax treatment, exempt organizations in the United States are required to file special reports with the Internal Revenue Service. These annual Form 990s provide detailed descriptions of the organization's operations, including governance structure and compensation of employees.

Form 990 can be a useful tool for evaluating how donations to a charitable organization will likely end up being distributed. The subscription service GuideStar (available to the Duke University community with a current NetID and password) and free websites like Charity Navigator (selected features available without free registration) use this data to assess the financial health of a nonprofit organization, and sometimes even provide a rating system for consumers. (For example, Duke University receives 3 stars out of a possible 4 on Charity Navigator's website. The score is drawn from both financial health of the organization – high in Duke's case – and transparency and accountability, where Duke scored lower – due in part to the difficulty of finding the most recent Form 990 posted on the university website!)

Both GuideStar and Charity Navigator provide some access to PDFs of Form 990 filings, but additional sources on the web also make searching these filings easier. Historically, the IRS has provided DVDs of Form 990 data to selected research groups. The government information advocates at Public.Resource.Org work each month to convert the data on these DVDs into a publicly-accessible free repository of filings. Reports of Exempt Organizations includes a basic search engine and filings back to 2002. Also, in May 2013, ProPublica announced a new Nonprofit Explorer search engine with filings back to the late 1990s.

To learn more about the legal issues surrounding nonprofit organizations, check out the treatises Nonprofit Organizations: Law & Taxation (KF1388 .P472 & online in Westlaw: NPOLT database) and Advising the Nonprofit Organization 2013 (online to Duke University via PLI Discover Plus & also online in Bloomberg Law). For help locating Form 990s or other materials about nonprofit organizations, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Embracing the Internet (Intelligently)

In his upcoming book Reflections on Judging (due out this fall), U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner urges his peers on the bench to embrace extracurricular web-surfing in order to better understand the cases before them. According to the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog (subscription required), which obtained a review copy of the work, Posner complains that judges' technophobia creates a vicious cycle of under-informed case records: "Judicial timidity about conducting Internet research has a negative feedback. Appellate lawyers naturally focus their briefs and oral arguments on what the judges have the easiest access to. […]The Web is an incredible compendium of data and a potentially invaluable resource for lawyers and judges that is underutilized by them."

For his part, Posner has used web searching to find common definitions of the word "harboring" (as many rising 2Ls will remember from this spring's LARW appellate brief), and also to obtain plain-English explanations of complicated technical processes. While Posner acknowledges the potential pitfalls of relying on community-edited websites such as Wikipedia, he also points out that the fact-finding process of courts can be equally flawed.

How can budding lawyers harness the Internet for fact-finding as effectively as Judge Posner does? It helps to keep a few reference guides handy. Zimmerman's Research Guide is a free online resource hosted by LexisNexis (no subscription required) which points attorneys to great starting places for a variety of research topics, including historical weather data, registries of website owners, and records for military personnel.

Several works in the Goodson Law Library's collection also help point researchers to online fact-finding sources. In particular, Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch's series Find Info Like a Pro (part I and part II) outlines a mix of free and fee-based sources for locating public records information.
Carole Levitt is also the author of Google for Lawyers: Essential Search Tips and Productivity Tools. While many of her advanced search tips in that book are still helpful, it also illustrates the fast-moving nature of online research. Several of the Google search tricks and tools which were highlighted in that 2010 book can already be found in the Google Graveyard of retired services (with another, the Google Uncle Sam government search engine, killed so quietly that it doesn’t even merit a virtual headstone).

It's hard to keep up with constant changes to existing products and the debut of new ones. So for help locating the best source for an online research question, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, July 1, 2013

ProQuest Legislative Insight: A Window into History

The Goodson Law Library is pleased to announce campus-wide access to the database ProQuest Legislative Insight, a collection of nearly 20,000 compiled legislative histories for federal laws. Coverage is strongest from 1929-present, but the database also includes selected compilations dating back to 1897.

Like its sister database ProQuest Congressional, Legislative Insight provides a handy list of congressional documents (bills, reports, debates, and hearings) which are associated with a particular law. However, Legislative Insight provides the full text of all associated documents in the compiled legislative history – even those document types which are not available in the Congressional interface (such as reports and debates, which Duke researchers previously had to access through other resources).

To view the difference in action, compare search results in each database for Public Law 78-110. On this day in 1943, Congress established the Women's Army Corps, which formally incorporated the previous civilian Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (created in 1942) to be a full part of the U.S. Army. The change allowed WAC's volunteer forces to be eligible for the same benefits which were available to male members of the Army.

ProQuest Congressional returns 6 results for this Public Law. Three are available in full text: the session law from the U.S. Statutes at Large and two congressional hearings. The other three results are committee reports, which are unavailable in full text at Duke through ProQuest Congressional, but could be obtained by visiting the separate database U.S. Congressional Serial Set Digital Collection. Debates from the Congressional Record are not available at Duke through ProQuest Congressional, but could be obtained from HeinOnline's U.S. Congressional Documents library.

ProQuest Legislative Insight's result page for Public Law 78-110, however, includes 18 publications related to this act, all of which are available as full-text PDFs. It includes the reports and debates which are missing from ProQuest Congressional at Duke, as well as alternate versions of the bill which became the enacted law.

ProQuest Legislative Insight does not include materials which are unrelated to an enacted law, so ProQuest Congressional is still a very useful resource for locating information about legislative history documents related to unenacted legislation. But if you are researching a federal law which was enacted during the time period of coverage, Legislative Insight is a very convenient starting point to access the relevant documents from the U.S. Congress.

ProQuest Legislative Insight has been added to the Goodson Law Library's Legal Databases & Links page as well as its extensive research guide to Federal Legislative History. For help using Legislative Insight, or any other federal legislative history research resource, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Life Without Google Reader

The Goodson Blogson strongly approves of any technology which allows our readers to see new postings, so the announcement of Google Reader's July 1 demise hit us especially hard. With only a few days left to export your existing RSS subscriptions to a replacement service, advice is flying from all directions of the blogosphere.

But which option should you choose? The service which has benefited the most from Google's decision to retire Reader is certainly Feedly, which has ballooned in size since Google's March announcement. Feedly allows quick import of existing Google Reader subscriptions and also exports any categorized blogs or starred items (features not available in many competitors). It's been recommended by respected law bloggers Bob Ambrogi and Jeffrey Taylor of The Droid Lawyer, as well as a popular unofficial Google tips & tricks blog.

But for a fuller range of options, check out Lifehacker's extensive guide to Google Reader alternatives, which weighs the pros and cons of Feedly, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, NewsVibe, and the soon-to-be-released Digg Reader, among others. Lifehacker also includes handy step-by-step instructions for exporting your existing RSS subscriptions. Google warns that users will be unable to export their Reader data after July 1, so undecided RSS users should export their data as soon as possible while they weigh their options.

New to RSS and not sure what all the fuss is about? Check out Common Craft's 2011 video explanation of RSS in Plain English.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Closing Out the SCOTUS Term

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its opinion in six cases, including the highly-anticipated affirmative action ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas (opinion PDF). Seasoned Court-watchers expect at least two more days of announcements, with several high-profile cases left still pending. Yesterday's New York Times outlined the issues in Fisher as well as the topics of other key remaining cases, including same-sex marriage (considered in two separate legal challenges: one to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and one to a California state law) and section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Another remaining case is not getting as much national attention, but its subject matter is likely quite familiar to many LARW alumni at Duke: whether the Indian Child Welfare Act can be used to revoke the adoption of a Cherokee child to non-native parents by the child's estranged biological father (prior N.Y. Times coverage of the case).

How can a researcher keep up with the latest news as the Court marches toward adjourning its October Term 2012? SCOTUSblog features a daily liveblog of these final announcements. The site also includes a fascinating "Stat Pack" feature, which includes useful data on vote splits, justice agreement/disagreement rates, and the length of time between argument and decision. The New York Times Supreme Court topic page is another good place to gather the latest news from the Court this week, as is the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog.

For assistance locating more information about the nation's highest court, consult our research guide to the U.S. Supreme Court or Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lexis Advance: The Final Countdown

After some time running parallel login systems for its original and next-generation interfaces, Lexis Advance will become the default way to access LexisNexis research tools beginning on or around June 22nd. At that time, usernames and passwords will be deactivated, and the single Lexis Advance ID will be used to access both research systems.

The research interface will still be accessible from within Lexis Advance. However, alerts which were set up in will need to be migrated over to Lexis Advance in order to continue operating. To create new versions of your existing alerts in Lexis Advance, run a search for the same content in Advance and select the gold bell icon to create a new search alert. To review or edit your Advance alerts, select My Workspace > Alerts at the top of any screen.

If you do not have a Lexis Advance ID or need assistance setting up your Alerts on Lexis Advance, please contact Duke Law Lexis representative Marva Woods at, or call LexisNexis Customer Service (800-45-LEXIS).

Lexis Advance and are available by individual password only to current members of the Duke Law community. The Duke University community has access to a campus-wide version called LexisNexis Academic, which includes state and federal case law, codes, and regulations; a number of treatises and secondary sources, including the full text of law reviews and the legal encyclopedia American Jurisprudence 2d; and access to Shepard’s citation service for case law and selected secondary sources.

For assistance with using either the Law School or campus versions of LexisNexis, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Got Served?

Over the weekend, singer Ciara accepted an unusual gift from a front-row concert attendee – legal papers. Hollywood gossip site TMZ shared a video of the Grammy nominee's performance at a Los Angeles Pride week event, during which she reaches to greet an audience member who hands her several pages of paper. Ciara scans the material briefly before tossing it back to the crowd, never interrupting her performance. The apparent process server picks up the discarded papers and places them back on the stage, reassuring the camera operator, "She got served," with a wide smile.

The lawsuit stems from a dispute over an appearance at an earlier Los Angeles Pride event, at West Hollywood bar called The Factory. Club owners maintain that the singer backed out of an agreement to visit the club on the day before her concert performance, but Ciara's management denies that she was ever officially scheduled to appear at the earlier event. The full complaint is available to Duke Law students, faculty and staff through Bloomberg Law. The case docket is also available for tracking through Bloomberg's docket search and updates feature.

While service of process by interrupting a singer mid-performance is unusual, the video presents an interesting potential piece of evidence that the documents were received (however briefly) by the defendant. Service of process is a critical part of any lawsuit, and improper service can result in a quick dismissal. Each jurisdiction has its own rules governing service of process, including who may serve, who may be served, and the preferred methods of service. These can generally be found in state and federal codes, with further explanations available in secondary sources like legal encyclopedias. 

For help tracking dockets in pending lawsuits like Ciara's, consult our research guide to Court Records and Briefs. For assistance with locating the service of process rules in a particular jurisdiction, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Copyright Codex, the Free-for-All Treatise

Among the many reasons why legal research can be frustrating, especially for non-lawyers, is the relative inaccessibility of research materials. Secondary sources, such as scholarly treatises, are often invaluable tools to help researchers untangle the complex interrelationships of legislation, regulations and case law. But usually these expensive and highly specialized sources can be found only on the shelves of law libraries, or locked behind subscription-only databases like Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis and Westlaw. In addition, resources which are written primarily for an audience of practicing attorneys can be difficult to understand without a legal background.

The new Copyright Codex: A Free Treatise for Lawyers and Artists attempts to remedy both of these problems, at least for the topic of copyright law. Maintained by Eric Adler, a partner in the New York office of intellectual property firm Adler Vermillion & Skocilich, this free online treatise presents copyright law in plain language and a user-friendly interface. The Basics outlines the key concepts of copyrightability and the registration process, while subsequent sections explore more complex legal issues like fair use, what constitutes infringement and even litigation procedure.

Copyright Codex is a great starting place for copyright law research. For additional resources in the Goodson Law Library's collection, such as the classic treatise Nimmer on Copyright (KF2994 .N56 & online in LexisNexis/Lexis Advance) and its major competitor Patry on Copyright (KF2994 .P355 & online in Westlaw/WestlawNext), consult our research guide to Intellectual Property Law or Ask a Librarian.