Friday, January 31, 2014

High Crimes and Misdemeanors: On Display

[Note: The following guest post, by Reference Intern Kate Dickson, describes the library's new display on the history of impeachment.]

The theme for this month's rare books display -- impeachment -- was inspired by journalist Howard Fields' recent donation of his papers to Duke's J. Michael Goodson Law Library. As a correspondent for UPI in the 1970s, Fields covered the Watergate scandal, focusing on the House Judiciary Committee's inquiry into the possible impeachment of President Richard Nixon. His book on the subject, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, is an account of the Committee's investigation, which concluded that Nixon had in fact committed impeachable offenses (though he ultimately resigned before he could be impeached). Fields' book, along with several excerpts from his papers, is currently on display in the rare books room.

Impeachment has a long and interesting history in the United States, and is well represented in the Goodson Law Library's collection. At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin pointed out that impeachment would be preferable to assassination, which was its traditional alternative:
What was the practice before this in cases where the chief Magistrate rendered himself obnoxious? Why recourse was had to assassination in wch. he was not only deprived of his life but of the opportunity of vindicating his character. It wd. be the best way therefore to provide in the Constitution for the regular punishment of the Executive when his misconduct should deserve it, and for his honorable acquittal when he should be unjustly accused.

The benefits of impeachment were also discussed at length in The Federalist. Alexander Hamilton argued in issue LXIX (1788) that an impeachable American President was preferable to an unaccountable British monarch, and that:
In this delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility, the president of confederated America would stand upon no better ground than a governor of New York, and upon worse ground than the governors of Virginia and Delaware.

Impeachment was incorporated into Article II, § 4 of the U.S. Constitution and various provisions of the state constitutions, and it has been used many times against officials at all levels of government. The 19th century saw the impeachment and acquittal of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson, as well as the impeachment and removal of North Carolina Governor William Woods Holden, whose alleged crime was using the state militia to enforce Reconstruction civil rights legislation and respond to race-related violence (Holden was posthumously pardoned by the North Carolina Senate in 2011).

In the 20th century, the near-impeachment of Richard Nixon and the impeachment and acquittal of Bill Clinton were just two prominent examples among many. The 21st century has already seen the impeachment of two federal judges and several state-level officials, including most prominently Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Come by the rare books room to see some of the many impeachment-related sources the Law Library has to offer! To see other Duke University Libraries materials on the subject, try a catalog search for "Impeachments -- United States" or Ask a Librarian.

--Kate Dickson, Reference Intern

Monday, January 27, 2014

Law360 Content Coming Soon to Lexis

The latest content update to Lexis Advance, scheduled for release on February 17, will include full-text access to Law360 articles. Law360 is a popular current-awareness service which tracks litigation, legislation and corporate developments on a variety of subject areas. LexisNexis purchased the company back in 2012, but this is the first time that Law360 content has been available as part of a law school Lexis account. (For more information about the ten-year history of Law360, check out last summer's Dewey B Strategic blog post, The Improbable Rise of Law360.)

As seen on the homepage, the service organizes its headlines into about 35 topical practice areas. On, these areas are each a separate subscription. Readers can view only a brief introduction to articles which are outside their subscription areas. Law360 on Lexis Advance will include the full text of Law360 headlines, without the need to visit; researchers will be able to access Law360 articles in Lexis search results under the "Legal News" tab, and can select "Law360 Legal News" as a search filter. Alerts can also be set up in Lexis for Law360 search results on a specified topic or keyword.

The February 17 Lexis update will bring additional content to Lexis Advance, including 50-state surveys, court filings, and archived state codes and bills. Currently, this content is only available on the interface. A final update scheduled for Fall 2014 will migrate the remaining content from into Lexis Advance, most notably the foreign and international law materials. For help with navigating Lexis Advance, either before or after the February update, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Return of the 4th Circuit Records & Briefs

After several years of vacation at the University's off-site storage facility, the Goodson Law Library's print collection of records and briefs from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has returned to Level 1 of the library. The print collection includes briefs and other filings from federal cases which were appealed to the Fourth Circuit during the years 1891 to 1976. (Similar materials from 1983 to 1998 are available in the Microforms Room on Level 1; filings from 1998 to present can be found online via PACER, available to the Duke Law community through Bloomberg Law.) The Fourth Circuit hears appeals from federal cases which originated in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.

Records and briefs include the papers which were submitted to or generated by a court in a particular case, from the complaint (in a civil case) or the indictment (in a criminal case) to pleadings, motions, orders, transcripts of the trial, jury verdicts, and associated materials. Legal researchers may consult these materials to gain insight into the arguments which persuaded (or failed to persuade) the court, or to discover more factual background about the original trial than was provided in an appellate court’s opinion. Older documents contained in records and briefs compilations are often unavailable electronically.

For example, the Fourth Circuit Records & Briefs collection includes filings from some Civil Rights Era lawsuits, such as Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital (1963). Simkins represented an important victory in the continued battle against "separate but equal" racial discrimination. The suit was originally filed in a Greensboro federal District Court by African-American doctors and patients, who had been denied access to the defendants' private hospitals due to racial exclusion policies. Although the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education had invalidated the "separate but equal" doctrine nearly a decade earlier, this ruling was considered applicable only to discrimination by "instrumentalities of government." The plaintiffs' lawyers argued that the defendant hospitals received public funding from the government, but the U.S. District Court held that these connections to public funding did not make the hospitals "instrumentalities of government" for equal protection purposes.

However, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reviewed the District Court's opinion for error, reversed the lower court's opinion a year later. Local historians called it the first time the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was applied to actions by private entities. (Most law students likely associate that concept with the famous Heart of Atlanta Motel case – which was decided the following year, in 1964, following the passage of the Civil Rights Act.)

So where can a researcher go to locate filings from the original case and its appeal? Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg include the full text of the lower and appellate court opinions, but do not link to any filings for these cases (although for more modern cases, it is common to find briefs and other materials linked from the text of opinions). Although the hospitals appealed their loss to the U.S. Supreme Court (which declined to hear the case), our U.S. Supreme Court Records & Briefs database includes only a handful of filings appended to the petition for certiorari and accompanying briefs. The Fourth Circuit Records and Briefs set, on the other hand, includes more than 300 pages of materials associated with the Simkins case, including briefs for both parties, the text of the original complaint against the hospitals, affidavits of witnesses, hospital charters and organization charts, and various other exhibits.

It's important to note that the paper records and briefs are not a comprehensive collection; the set is arranged by docket number and not every case is included. But if your case is there, the print set will provide additional insights into your research which may not be available electronically. For more information about court records and briefs, consult the library's recently-updated research guide or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New York Times Academic Access Passes

We've written before about the problem of paywalls in online newspapers. Most newspapers allow free access to only a selected number of articles are available free online per month, and after that, visitors discover that the next article they wish to read requires a paid subscription to access.

In October, we highlighted options for free access to major U.S. newspapers. Since that time, the Duke University Libraries have recently added another method for reading The New York Times online. As reported last week in the campus libraries' blog, researchers may use a Duke email address to sign up for a daily "pass" to read Although each pass lasts only 24 hours, there is no limit to the number of individual passes a user can receive.

Researchers will need to register for a account with a valid Duke email address, and can claim daily passes after that by visiting Passes will be sent to the Duke email address which is associated with the account.

Remember that the Duke University Libraries provide access to thousands of other 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.

For help accessing the full text of newspapers, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Genealogy of Legal Research

The Duke University Libraries now have access to Ancestry Library Edition, the institutional subscription level for All members of the University community can now access the popular genealogy database via campus computers, or from off-campus with a NetID and password.

This news comes right on the heels of a Library of Congress blog post encouraging readers to use the holiday season as an opportunity to begin tracing family histories. But if family trees don't interest you, there may still be hidden treasures in the Ancestry database. Genealogists have long known the value of legal research materials; for example, see Kurt X. Metzmeier's 2006 bar newsletter article History in the Law Library: Using Legal Materials to Explore the Past and Find Lawyers, Felons and Other Scoundrels in Your Family Tree, available on SSRN. With this campus-wide access to Ancestry, perhaps legal researchers will discover the value of genealogical materials in turn.

Ancestry’s "Card Catalog" of available databases includes several topics of interest to legal researchers, including immigration records, military service records, property ownership and probate materials, and even selected historical "Court, Governmental and Criminal Records" from around the world. The collections are strongest in the United States and Commonwealth countries, but some international materials (particularly European) are also available. The "Birth, Marriage and Death Records" section may also be useful for people-finding research, particularly the Social Security Death Index.

Happy tracing!

Friday, January 3, 2014

What's in a Name?

Short titles, or "popular names," are an easy way for politicians to make their proposed bills more memorable. These legislative nicknames can influence public perception of the law's purpose or effect. They can also make complicated legislation more easily digestible in media sound bites – and might even help strong-arm others into approving the proposed bill. For instance, what hapless lawmaker would dare vote against something called the "Abandoned Infants Assistance Act" in an election year? (Actually, we can't tell – the Congressional Record reported only a voice vote, rather than an individual roll call vote.) And would the law enforcement surveillance powers which were expanded after 9/11 have been debated more hotly before passage, had they not been draped in the red-white-and-blue moniker "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act"? (More short titles can be browsed or searched via the Popular Names Table which is published with each version of the U.S. Code, including a free version from the federal Office of the Law Revision Counsel.)

A recent article on Inter Alia, the online edition of the Yale Law & Policy Review, traces the evolution of legislative short titles "into an overtly political and manipulative device." In SCOTUS Short Title Turmoil: Time for a Congressional Bill Naming Authority, author Brian Christopher Jones also highlights a possible unintended consequence of carelessly-nicknamed bills: namely, their review by courts as evidence of legislative purpose. The Supreme Court's June 2013 ruling on U.S. v. Windsor, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, discussed the possible significance of the act's short title in both the majority and dissenting opinions. Attorneys for both sides raised the issue during oral argument; writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy also incorporated discussion of DOMA's short title from its legislative history.

(Jones also lobbies for the creation of a federal bill-naming authority within the U.S. Congress, to help prevent misleading or inaccurate short titles. A similar system exists in the Scottish Parliament, which Jones explored in a forthcoming Florida Journal of International Law article, available on SSRN.)

In the meantime, legislators – and courts – will have to consult traditional statutory interpretation guides when it comes to these short titles. The treatise Statutes and Statutory Construction (Reserve  KF425 .S966 2007 & online in Westlaw's SUTHERLAND database) contains a few sections about the purpose of short titles along with advice for drafting. Even more guidance can be found in the Goodson Law Library's collection of legislative drafting resources, which can be searched in the Duke Libraries Catalog with the subject heading "Bill drafting – United States". For help locating these materials, be sure to Ask a Librarian.