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.