Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Legal Research Via State Bar Associations: An Update

The vast majority of state bar associations offer their members free access to one of the major low-cost legal research services, Casemaker and Fastcase. The advantages are obvious for solo practitioners and small-firm attorneys, who rely on these research services for access to primary law and selected secondary materials. But even Biglaw practitioners can benefit from access to these alternatives to premium services like Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg: they provide uncluttered case law and statute searching, and include unique features like Fastcase's interactive search results timeline (covered in the ABA Journal last year), local legal materials such as county and city codes, and secondary sources like CasemakerLibra's Continuing Legal Education collection or Fastcase's treatise library (added after its recent acquisition of the now-defunct service Loislaw).

There have been some changes to the state bar associations' legal research offerings since the Goodson Blogson last surveyed the landscape in summer 2014. The Goodson Law Library now hosts a map of state bar association-provided legal research services. Updated for December 2015, this map provides quick access to the current research service provided by each state bar.

State bar association research offerings, Dec. 2015

Fastcase maintains a slight market edge, with 27 state bar associations providing their members free access compared to Casemaker's 22 state bars. (These numbers include Texas, still the only state to provide its members with free access to both services.) Three state bar associations (California, Delaware, and South Dakota) provide no free research benefit to their members. However, many attorneys in California receive Fastcase or Casemaker as a benefit of county or local bar association membership, while South Dakota offers its members a discounted rate for Fastcase.

Curious to see these services in action? Members of the Duke University community can access a campus-wide version of Fastcase, which does not require a separate username and password (but also does not save user search history, as an individual account through a bar association would). Current law students may create an account on CasemakerX, an educational version of Casemaker, with their Duke Law email address. 
Many state bar associations (including North Carolina) also offer free law student memberships, which include access to the research service offered. To locate the bar association in the state where you plan to practice, check out the American Bar Association's online state and local bar association directory.

For more information about the campus versions of these services, or for assistance locating the best legal research service for your needs, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, December 21, 2015

ProQuest Regulatory Insight Now Available

The Goodson Law Library has subscribed to the ProQuest Regulatory Insight database. Current members of the Duke University community may access this new electronic resource via the online catalog, or through the Legal Databases & Links list.

Much like its sister site ProQuest Legislative Insight offers for federal legislative history materials, ProQuest Regulatory Insight includes compiled regulatory histories for administrative materials related to enacted federal laws. (For an example, see the compiled history for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.) The just-released first phase of this database includes regulatory histories from laws enacted during 2001-2015. As additional regulatory histories are added throughout the year 2016, the database will eventually cover the time period 1936-2016.

ProQuest Regulatory Insight also provides detailed indexing and full-text searching of the text of the Federal Register (back to 2000) and the Code of Federal Regulations (back to 1997); over the next year, ProQuest will expand coverage of these sources back to their inception in the 1930s.

The Law Library's Federal Administrative Law research guide provides additional resources for researching regulatory history materials in both print and online formats. For help with locating administrative law or regulatory history resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Acing Your Exams

With final exams on the horizon, we wanted to review some important library information and resources to help you through the end of the semester.
Library Access
Exam time brings a temporary change to the library's access policy, most notably in the evening hours. From now until the end of exams (Friday, December 18), access to the Goodson Law Library for study purposes will be limited to current Duke Law students, faculty and staff. Card-swipe access to the library entrance will be required after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Members of the Duke University community or general public who require access to the library for legal research purposes should contact the library service desk for assistance during reference service hours (Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). Additional study space is available to all throughout the building, such as in the Star Commons.
Getting Technical
If you will use your laptop to take an exam, make sure you have installed Electronic Bluebook (EBB) well ahead of time, and practice using it to ensure that your test goes smoothly! Detailed instructions are available on the Academic Technologies' Software page. If you encounter problems while downloading the software, talk to the Academic Technologies' Help Desk staff.
Reviewing Old Exams or Sample Exams
A frequent question at the Reference Services desk during the reading and exam period is where to obtain copies of Law School exams from previous years. Past exams from your professors, when available, will be posted to your class's Sakai site. There is a common misconception that the library maintains an archive of exams as well, but the library has no Law School exams dated after 2001.

However, if your professors have chosen not to place past exams on Sakai, it may be helpful to review general law examination preparation guidebooks. These provide an overview of the most common formats for law school exams, and give strategies for studying and for writing successful answers. Often, these books also provide model exam questions and sample answers, along with explanations why a particular answer is more successful than others. Titles like Mastering the Law School Exam: A Practical Blueprint for Preparing and Taking Law School Exams can be found in the libraries' catalog with a subject search for "Law examinations—United States". A selected listing is provided in the "Exam Preparation" section of the library's Law School Success handout, along with a helpful page of recommended "Study Guides & Aids."
Anything Else?
As always, the library staff are here to help. Visit the Service Desk on level 3 with any questions. Good luck on your exams!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide for Law Students

December is almost here, which means the law students in your life are preparing for the end of fall classes and their final exams. Since 2009, the Goodson Blogson has put together a small gift idea list for your favorite future lawyers.

Attorney/blogger Reid Trautz has already released his annual gift guide for lawyers, which include "the world’s first smart earplugs" by Hush Technology. These Bluetooth earplugs can reduce ambient noise by 30 decibels, and can also be set to play noise-masking sounds in order to reduce up to 40 additional decibels. Although the plugs are designed mainly to help with a better night's sleep (currently they cannot be set to play a user's own music), law students may appreciate the noise-masking features when studying for finals in the library, or trying to catch a mid-flight nap while traveling to callback interviews.

If your law student would prefer a more versatile set of noise-cancelling earbuds, check out the brand recommendations at Soundguys.com, which also offers a round-up of best over-ear headphones under $100.

Although it's been featured every year in the Goodson Blogson holiday gift guide, we just can't ignore the unique law-related items at the Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop. Our top picks there this year for the law students you love are two attractive and budget-conscious travel mug options, each bearing the Court's seal. Top them off with a gift card to your student's local coffee joints (Cocoa Cinnamon is a Durham favorite), or a bag of gourmet coffee for home-brewing.

Beer mug patent poster from National ArchivesOther government agency gift shops, such as the National Archives & Records Administration, offer unique items as well, many of which have law themes. Law students with a home bar to decorate might welcome one of several NARA boozy poster prints, including a Prohibition-era closure notice, an 1876 beer mug patent illustration, or a 1934 "cocktail construction chart" authored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other items in the NARA shop include presidential Pez dispensers, an umbrella adorned with the text of the U.S. Constitution, and an assortment of military-style tote bags and backpacks.

Maybe your law student could use some pampering. A gift certificate to a nearby day spa, hair salon, or massage parlor could do wonders for a frazzled law student during finals. Meal delivery services like Blue Apron or HelloFresh can also relieve the stress of grocery shopping during difficult times of the semester.

Does your shopping list include someone with…unusual tastes? You might find the perfect off-kilter item at GovDeals, an auction site for government agencies who dispose of surplus equipment or confiscated items. While the average holiday shopper probably won't be in the market for a gently-used fire truck, there are categories for art, photography equipment, jewelry, and confiscated personal items which may fit the bill. Note that while GovDeals operates similarly to consumer auction sites like eBay, many of its sellers do not offer shipping or packing services; pickup may be required and can often be arranged with a local third-party service, but read the auction terms carefully.

Shipping may pose problems for gifts from GovDeals, but remember that hundreds of popular online retailers will participate in Free Shipping Day on December 17. With guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery, this is a good option for last-minute shoppers. Other shipping deals and coupon codes for your favorite gift sites can be found at RetailMeNot. And of course, don't forget your local merchants this holiday season, whether it’s on Small Business Saturday or any other time.

Happy holidays to all of our readers!

Previous Goodson Blogson gift guides:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Illustrating Medical Evidence

On Friday, December 4, the Duke University Libraries' Visualization Friday Forum series will host a lunchtime talk by medical illustrator and artist Jennifer McCormick, who creates courtroom exhibits designed to explain complex medical concepts to juries. (Sample case studies are available on her website, Art for Law & Medicine.) The event is co-sponsored by Duke Law School's Academic Technologies department and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine.

event image

The Power of Intention in Art and Medicine
Jennifer McCormick • Art for Law & Medicine
Friday, December 4, 2015 | 12-1pm
Duke Hospital Lecture Hall 2003 (map)
Lunch will be provided
Additional details: Data and Visualization Services blog.

Medical evidence can be difficult to comprehend for jurors and attorneys alike. In addition to valuable demonstrative evidence by illustrators like Ms. McCormick, a number of resources are available to aid litigators who are handling a case involving medical issues. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) sessions often address medical topics, such as the 2006 ALI-ABA handbook Anatomy for Litigators (RA1053 .H63 2006) or 2010's Cross-Examining Doctors: A Practical Guide (KF8964 .R33 2010). Additional resources are available online to the Duke Law community, such as the treatise Attorneys Medical Deskbook (on WestlawNext) or Attorneys Textbook of Medicine (on Lexis Advance). Both of these reference works are intended to give practitioners guidance on topics like basic anatomy, calculating damages for specific injuries, and even how to read an autopsy report.

For more general research resources on topics of health and medical law, check out the Goodson Law Library's guide to Health Law or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A New Look for Campaign Finance Data

Just in time for Election Day, the Federal Election Commission has launched phase one of beta.fec.gov, where it is testing new features for federal campaign finance data. The new site offers a slick new design compared to the long-running FEC Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal, which remains online as well while the beta site is developed.

The beta site currently includes a glossary of campaign finance terms, as well as a new look for campaign finance data. Users can search for an overview of an individual candidate or committee, and can also use the Receipts feature to search for an individual or corporate contributor.
  • Candidate information includes a summary of campaign financial operations, as well as links to required filings, such as financial disclosures and statements declaring candidacy. Compare, for example, leading 2016 presidential primary candidates Dr. Ben Carson and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
  • Committee information includes candidates' principal campaign committees as well as political action committees. For example, late night television host Stephen Colbert formed a Super PAC in 2011 dubbed "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow" in an elaborate response to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court opinion on free speech rights of corporations in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The FEC information page for the now-defunct Super PAC includes financial summaries and links to required filings, which likely contain more comedic commentary than most FEC disclosures.
  • Receipts are available since 2011, and include federal election contributions from individuals (including corporate entities) and committees. For an example, see the last few years of contributions from the Duke Energy Corporation.
The site also includes an improved map to find data by location, and will be adding more features over time. Planned additions include a portal for advisory opinions, an overview of the candidate registration process, and the ability to easily export customized data. The beta site already includes the OpenFEC API, allowing developers to use FEC campaign data for non-commercial projects.

Keep an eye on the new FEC beta site for more features as they are developed, and remember that the existing Campaign Financial Disclosure Portal remains online for information that isn't yet available on the new site. For help with research federal campaign data, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

From Witchcraft Judge to Abolitionist

This guest post was written by Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow.

"Men think 'tis a disgrace to change their mind… But there is not a greater piece of folly than not to give place to right reason." Samuel Sewall, January 1689. Source: Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall, a 2007 biography about Sewall in the Goodson Law Library collection.

Scholars of colonial history will know the name Samuel Sewall. He was one of nine judges who presided over the 1692 witchcraft trials in Salem, and the only one to publicly acknowledge and accept blame for the harm and horror of the trials. Sewall is almost as well-known as the author of the first abolitionist tract in colonial America.

Portrait of Samuel Sewall by Nathaniel Emmons
(1728). Massachusetts Historical Society.
In May 1692, Samuel Sewall was appointed by Massachusetts Governor William Phips to sit on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, a court created specifically to bring to trial the growing number of accused witches in Salem and nearby towns. Phip's lieutenant governor William Stoughton was appointed to head the court; it was William Stoughton who made the decision to admit spectral evidence of ghostly apparitions – spirits that were alleged to be witches and allegedly were attacking Salem residents. Stoughton's zeal as a judge seems to have equaled the Puritan religious leaders' passionate belief that the colony was under attack by the devil. Within two weeks of the court's establishment, the first witch was hanged. Before the court was disbanded on October 29, 1962, 19 people were hanged.

Five years later, Samuel Sewall stood before the congregation in the South Church in Boston as his confession of wrongdoing was read:
Samuel Sewall, sensible of the reiterated strokes of God upon himself and family; and being sensible, that as to the Guilt contracted upon the opening of the late Commission of Oyer and Terminer at Salem (to which the order of this Day relates) he is, upon many accounts, more concerned than any that he knows of, Desires to take the Blame and shame of it, Asking pardon of men, And especially desiring prayers that God, who has an Unlimited Authority, would pardon that sin and all other his sins; personal and Relative...

Sewall was the only judge to publicly repent; after his 1697 confession, he set aside a day each year to fast and pray for forgiveness for his sins in the witchcraft trials. He went on to serve for many years as the chief justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature, the province's high court. The court operates today as the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the oldest continuously operating court in the United States.

Best known today as a judge in the Salem witchcraft trials, Sewall partly redeemed his reputation with his public confession. Richard Francis, the author of Judge Sewall's Apology: The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of the American Conscience opens his 2005 book with a description of the Salem witch hunt and goes on to consider how Sewall's confession before the South Church congregation should be viewed as a turning point toward modern American values, and away from a world of evil to a world in which forgiveness is possible.

Following his witchcraft confession, Samuel Sewall became an outspoken abolitionist. In 1700, his 3-page tract, The Selling of Joseph: A Memorial, was published in Boston. This was the first public plea in America against slavery. The text contains numerous biblical references in support of Sewall’s position and sets out his understanding of a God-given command against holding slaves. Countering the prevailing social mores of the time, he argued that all men are created equal. The tract includes these words: "It is most certain that all Men, as they are the Sons of Adam, are Coheirs; and have equal Right unto Liberty, and all other outward Comforts of Life. GOD hath given the Earth [with all its Commodities] unto the Sons of Adam, Psal. 115. 16. And hath made of One Blood, all Nations of Men, for to dwell on all the face of the Earth."

In his diaries, housed in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Sewall expressed his concern not only for all slaves in the colonies, but for all men. This comment is from a diary entry in 1716: "I essay'd June, 22, to prevent Indians and Negroes being Rated with Horses and Hogs; but could not prevail."

The appendix of Salem Witch Judge includes the text of The Selling of Joseph and the text of Talitha Cumi: Or an Invitation to Women to Look after their Inheritance in the Heavenly Mansions. In Talitha Cumi, Sewall argued that women as well as men would be resurrected. The essay has been called an early argument for the equal rights of women.

The only known copy of Sewall's anti-slavery tract is in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society. A copy is on display in the Riddick Room display cabinet of the Goodson Law Library, as are several of the biographies mentioned in this post.

--Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Spectral Evidence in the Salem Witch Trials

This guest post was written by Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow.

People were accused and executed for witchcraft throughout the colonies during the seventeenth century, but especially in Massachusetts. Today dressing in a witch's costume on Halloween is a way to make merry. But in the 17th-century Massachusetts Bay Colony, Puritans, who followed strict religious rules in their daily lives, lived in a pre-science era. Witches were real, and their doings explained what could not be otherwise explained. In the years preceding the Salem witchcraft trials Puritans ministers warned from the pulpit about demonic possessions and visits from Satan. Everyday reality mingled with an invisible world inhabited by these spirits, and religious values permeated every aspect of society. Satan was said to appear as a “black rogue,” or an Indian or an animal called a witch's familiar. For the Puritans, the devil and his witches affected the world in very serious ways.

Within a four-month trial period in the spring of 1692, 156 people from 24 Massachusetts villages were prosecuted as witches. Nineteen were hanged and one was pressed to death after refusing to confess. The trials began and were concentrated in Salem town. The evidence presented in the Salem witchcraft trials included confessions under torture, supposed eyewitness testimony, and physical inspections of the accused for moles and other blemishes, said to be marks of the devil. However, the scarcity of eyewitnesses and direct physical evidence made proving witchcraft difficult, and the most damning proof came from the admission of spectral evidence based on visions of the accusers.

Specters or spirits were visible to alleged victims of witchcraft, but only to the victims. The accusers, all young girls, alleged that some Salem residents had contracted with the devil and afflicted them. "The afflicted," as they were called, testified that a specter or ghostly apparition of the accused had appeared in the shape and likeness of the accused and tormented them. Since Puritans believed that the physical body of a witch could appear in one place while the witch's specter was in another, and since the devil could not assume the specter of an innocent person, the accused witch had no defense against this kind of proof.

Judge Samuel Sewall, a judge at the trials, is said to have reported the death of Giles Corey in this way: "About noon, at Salem, Giles Corey was press'd to death for standing mute."
I will not plead
If I deny, I am condemned already,
In courts where ghosts appear as witnesses
And swear men's lives away. If I confess,
Then I confess a lie, to buy a life,
Which is not life, but only death in life.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
According to several accounts, the events leading to the trials began with fortune-telling sessions by two girls ages nine and eleven, one of whom was badly frightened by the sessions. The girls began to exhibit strange symptoms and to claim they were being bitten and pricked. When doctors could find no other explanation, one doctor concluded the girls were "under an Evil Hand." They insisted they saw the accused witch's specter tormenting them or others. In a deposition of April 11, 1692, one of the girls testified that the apparition of Elizabeth Proctor '...most grievously afflicted me by biting, pinching, and almost choking me. . .' Her evidence was accepted as valid.

A defendant who confessed and named other witches was allowed to live. And so, the accusations spread. For over seven months the jails filled with more and more accused. By September the witch hunt was slowing as respected citizens were executed, and the well-connected, including the wife of Massachusetts Governor William Phips, were accused of witchcraft. The educated elite of Boston began questioning the reliability of specter evidence. In October Harvard President Cotton Mather delivered a sermon to clergymen titled Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men. Speaking of spectral evidence Mather said "It were better that ten suspected witches should escape, than one innocent person be condemned."

The use of spectral evidence in the Salem trials has drawn the attention of scholars interested in how evidentiary standards have evolved over time and in the use of expert testimony, as well as the attention of social scientists interested in crowd memory and mass hysteria. The Salem trials were conducted by lay magistrates with no legal training. Guilt was assumed. If a guilty verdict was not delivered, the jury was instructed to reconsider – and a guilty verdict would be forthcoming.

By the time of the Salem witchcraft trials, witches were no longer hanged in England. Nevertheless, magistrates in Salem found precedent for the admission of spectral evidence in the writings of Sir Matthew Hale, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. Thirty years before the Salem trials, Hale presided at a 1662 witchcraft trial in Bury St. Edmonds, England, and his record of the trial, A Tryal of Witches at the Assizes, was cited by Massachusetts magistrates as a model for allowing spectrum evidence in the Salem trials. At the same time magistrates did look for other kinds of evidence, and the court did follow set courtroom procedures. In Judge Sewall's Apology, a biography of the only one of the nine witch trial judges to apologize for harm to innocent victims, Sewall is noted as explaining that the specter of the defendant would attack the accusers during the preliminary examination in front of those at the hearing, thereby guaranteeing the two witnesses required for a guilty verdict at trial.

Historians today have several explanations for the hysterical outbreak in 1692 Salem including class conflict in the Salem congregation, and the First and Second Indian Wars on the frontier of the New England settlement. Many of the accused were women from the "lower classes," and several scholars have suggested that charges of witchcraft were a way to control women who threatened the existing economic and social orders.

Probably the best known twentieth-century dramatization of the trials is Arthur Miller's 1953 play The Crucible, which Miller is said to have written as an allegory of McCarthyism, when the excesses of the House Un-American Activities Committee and Senator Joseph McCarthy's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations blacklisted accused communists. Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture is one of many books in the Duke libraries that examines McCarthy and his witch hunting crusade. At least one writer has suggested that the Salem witchcraft trials have "disquieting the resonances in a post-9/11 world of extraordinary rendition and practices such as waterboarding."

Stop by the Riddick Room display cabinet on the main floor of the Goodson Law Library to learn more about the Salem witch trials and their English precedent.

--Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow

Friday, October 23, 2015

U.S. GAO: The Congressional Watchdog

When the U.S. Congress needs a closer look at how federal funds are being spent, it calls upon the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Formerly known as the General Accounting Office from its creation in 1921 until its current name change in 2004, this non-partisan investigative office is nicknamed "the congressional watchdog" for its auditing responsibilities over federal agencies and programs. GAO investigations usually result in either congressional testimony or the publication of reports (or both). These reports are available online back to the agency's inception in the early 1920s, and are still commonly known as "blue books" after their former appearance in print, although they are now available only electronically. Reports & Testimony can be browsed or searched at the GAO website. The Advanced Search is recommended.

U.S. GAO reports can only be updated at the request of a member of Congress, either through legislation or via a request in a committee report. The latest edition of the House Document Reports to Be Made to Congress provides more than 15 pages of required GAO reports and their legislative authority. Researchers who find a useful, but outdated, report may be able to generate a request for an updated report by contacting their congressional representatives. Researchers might also discover that a report has been withheld from publication, due to the presence of classified agency information or other sensitive material. Earlier this month, GAO began posting title lists of restricted GAO products in order to provide greater transparency about the existence of these restricted materials. Reports which were withheld at the time of publication but later released may be found in the Advanced Search for the phrase "NI" in the report number field.

The GAO may also be familiar to legal researchers for their extensive compiled legislative histories. Since 2009, these have been available through WestlawNext to current members of the Law School community, with the database short name FED-LH or by browsing to Statutes & Court Rules > Legislative History. The U.S. GAO Federal Legislative Histories database includes PDF copies of congressional bills, debates, committee reports, and hearings related to enacted laws from 1921-1995.

Duke's research guide to Federal Administrative Law provides sources for background information on federal agencies and offices like GAO; the library guide to Federal Legislative History offers additional resources for locating compiled legislative history publications. For additional help with accessing GAO publications on a topic, or GAO compiled legislative histories, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hypnotism and the Law

Students of evidence already know that hypnotism has a long history in our legal system (for example, a 1902 Yale Law Journal article explored "Legal Aspects of Hypnotism"). Hypnotically-refreshed testimony, highly controversial on the subject of its admissibility and reliability, has received the majority of scholarly attention over the years.

But another, even older, twist on hypnotism and the law resurfaced this week – liability for harm to a hypnotist's subject. In an unusual case from Florida, a school board approved a $600,000 settlement agreement with the families of three high school students who died in 2011 after they were hypnotized by the school's former principal. During an investigation after the tragic suicide of the first student, the school discovered that then-Principal George Kenney had hypnotized as many as 75 students and staff members in the school, and also taught students self-hypnosis techniques as a method to improve concentration. (Another student also committed suicide, while the third was involved in a fatal car accident, allegedly after using the self-hypnosis technique.)

As the local newspaper reported, the former principal resigned a year after the students' deaths, and was charged with misdemeanors related to the practice of hypnotism without a license. Florida law prohibits the practice of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes except for "practitioners of the healing arts," as part of its extensive Hypnosis Law. A plea agreement allowed Kenney to receive a year of probation, after which he gave up his Florida teaching license and moved to North Carolina, where he now operates a bed-and-breakfast.

As it turns out, Florida is not the only state to legislate the practice of hypnotism. The National Guild of Hypnotists provides a 50-state survey on State Law and Legal Issues: 2015 Edition. The Guild provides common-sense advice to members about keeping on the right side of the law, including the avoidance of the word "therapy" and guidance on record-keeping and professional ethics. The end of this publication includes a brief listing of the 15 states which have passed some sort of legislative prohibition on the practice of hypnotism (including Florida), and 15 more which have laws that may be interpreted to prohibit some hypnotism practices.

General Techniques of Hypnotism (1957)
by Andre M. Weitzenhoffer.

To learn more about the history and techniques of hypnotism, search the Duke University Libraries Catalog for the subject heading "Hypnotism." You’ll find titles like 2000's Hypnotism: A History as well as classic texts like Andre M. Weitzenhoffer's General Techniques of Hypnotism and 1903's Complete Hypnotism: Mesmerism, Mind-Reading and Spiritualism, available for free via Project Gutenberg. Discussions of hypnotically-refreshed testimony can be found in most general evidence treatises, accessible through the catalog with a subject search for "Evidence (law) – United States." For help locating these or other resources on hypnosis and the law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

First Monday in October: Dos and Don'ts

Monday, October 5 marks the start of the U.S. Supreme Court's October Term 2015. Since 1916, the "first Monday in October" has been the official kick-off of Supreme Court arguments for a particular term, as outlined in 28 U.S.C. § 2. Although the last OT2014 opinions were handed down in late June, the Court doesn't exactly kick back for a lengthy summer vacation: justices have been hard at work behind the scenes this summer reviewing new petitions for certiorari.

There are already forty cases on the docket for this term (listed with brief descriptions at SCOTUSblog); the Court continues to add new cases to the term, with thirteen petitions granted just today. The cases already scheduled for oral argument can be viewed at the Supreme Court's Argument Calendars page. First in line this year is OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs, concerning the definitions of "agent" of a "foreign state" under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The SCOTUSblog case file contains a summary of previous case activity and links to the full text of the petition and briefs.

What does it take for an attorney to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court? SCOTUS maintains a bar admission process for attorneys who wish to argue before it. Although some have derided the $200 resume booster as a "vanity" credential for most attorneys who join, others highlight the perks of admission to this club, such as prime seating for other Supreme Court arguments.

For those Supreme Court bar members who do actually appear before the Court, the SCOTUS website provides Guides to Counsel with the inside scoop about oral arguments and other Court procedures and etiquette. For example:
  • DON'T walk up the front steps to the Court on argument day: there's a separate entrance for counsel, and arguing counsel can even cut in the line.
  • DO steal the pens: "The quill pens at counsel are gifts to you – a souvenir of your having argued before the highest Court in the land. Take them with you. They are handcrafted and usable as writing quills."
  • DON'T bring a legal pad to the lectern: it won’t fit. The Court recommends a single notebook instead: "Turning pages in a notebook appears more professional than flipping pages of a legal pad."
  • DO look toward the light: the Marshal will alert you to 5 minutes left of your argument time with a white light. A red light means time's up.
  • DON'T get too cute with the justices by cracking jokes: "Attempts at humor usually fall flat."
More detail about the work of a Supreme Court litigator can be found in the seminal treatise Supreme Court Practice, 10th edition (KF9057 .S8 2013 & online in Bloomberg Law: Search & Browse > Books & Treatises > Bloomberg BNA). This guide, it should be noted, doesn't say a word about the quill pen souvenirs (although it does warn about the legal-sized pads).

For more information about the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming term, check out SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court website, and the Goodson Law Library's research guide to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bringing Tort Law to Life

The average torts casebook contains a fascinating – and sobering – history of negligent acts and liability for injuries, from bringing fireworks onto a crowded train to being hit by a stray baseball and countless other misfortunes in between. But now there's a place where seminal moments in the history of U.S. tort law will really come to life. This weekend, the American Museum of Tort Law had its dedication ceremony in Winsted, Connecticut, and officially opens its doors on Sunday. The new museum is the brainchild of consumer advocate (and Winsted native) Ralph Nader, whose 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed revolutionized the consumer protection movement and resulted in the passage of federal automobile safety standards.

The New York Times reviewed the museum's development and opening exhibits. These include such well-known examples as the McDonald's "hot coffee" spill, tobacco and asbestos litigation, and the defective automobiles which spurred the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed. The museum's website discusses several of these exhibits in detail online, under the section Cases that Made a Difference. A brief Q&A about tort law basics is also available.

The Goodson Law Library has a number of resources available to help readers learn more about this topic. General tort law overviews and study aids are listed in the library's guide to First-Year Treatises. A number of other works in our collection discuss the history and stories behind seminal torts cases, including Torts Stories and the excellent 2011 documentary Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served?, which debunked a number of popular myths about the McDonald's litigation as well as misconceptions about "frivolous lawsuits" in the American legal system. To locate materials in our collection on tort law, search the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject heading "Torts – United States" or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Forms Fitting

Legal forms can be a time-saving template for any attorney, providing suggested language for the drafting of a contract or legal pleading. In some areas of practice, the use of certain forms may be required. The Goodson Law Library has just updated its research guide to Legal Forms, which provides information about locating forms in print and electronic formats. The Goodson Law Library maintains a collection of many major form book sets in print, including American Jurisprudence Legal Forms (a companion to the AmJur encyclopedia), West's Legal Forms, and Douglas' Forms (specific to North Carolina practice). Most of the general form sets can be found in the Practice & Procedure collection on Level 3; Douglas' Forms is located in the North Carolina Alcove on Level 2.

Krusty's Legal Forms, which is sadly not a real publication.
Credit: The Simpsons: The Last Temptation of Krust
(FOX television broadcast Feb. 22, 1998).

As the guide notes, members of the Duke Law community have additional access to form books as well as other form collections through the legal research services Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance, and WestlawNext. Both WestlawNext and Lexis Advance include "Forms" as a browseable source category; in all three of these services, forms may also be found in the appendices of subject-specific treatises, or included with the text of legislative code or court rule publications. For example, the North Carolina General Statutes include a number of sample or required forms, such as N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-440.24, providing a template for notice of levy in a garnishment proceeding. The research guide does not attempt to include every topical publication in the library collection which contains forms, but does include instructions for locating potentially relevant subject treatises in the campus libraries' online catalog.

In addition to the library collection and Westlaw/Lexis/Bloomberg, LoislawConnect, available to the Duke University community, includes helpful sub-libraries of "Treatise Forms & Checklists," which cull available forms from the Wolters Kluwer treatise publications available within Loislaw. To view a list of forms in Loislaw on a particular subject, click the Forms & Checklist library sub-folder, then select "Display All Forms." (Forms in Loislaw can also be accessed by viewing the full text of a specific treatise publication, but this method is a handy way to display a list of all available forms within Loislaw on a topic.)

Legal researchers should be aware of potential differences between the print sets available in a library and how they are displayed online. For example, the library's print set of Douglas' Forms includes a 2009 supplement called Transactions in Turbulent Times, containing forms related to transactional law practice topics relevant to the economic difficulties of the late 2000s. When a researcher accesses Douglas' Forms on Lexis Advance, this supplemental volume does not appear in the table of contents browse. However, Transactions in Turbulent Times can be browsed and searched as a separate source in Lexis Advance by entering the title into the main search box or in the Browse Sources search box.

If you encounter issues with accessing legal forms in our research services, or need help identifying legal form publications, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, September 4, 2015

New Research Guide to Securities Law

When even the author of a leading scholarly treatise calls its subject matter "tricky" and "a puzzle," researchers know they are in for a challenge. That's the reality of securities law, a complex area governing such negotiable instruments as stocks and bonds, as well as their secondary markets. Securities law research can include primary and secondary sources of law, at both the federal and the state levels. It is governed by a massive collection of statutes, regulations, and administrative law materials from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In addition, self-regulating organizations (SROs), such as FASB and FINRA, set standards and issue pronouncements which may also need to be reviewed when researching a securities law topic.

These sources are available free on the web in some cases, but may be more conveniently navigated in a subscription research database like Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg Law, which each have customized securities law practice pages. Need help finding your way through this maze? The Goodson Law Library has just added an extensive new research guide to Securities Law, authored by Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow Laura Scott. This guide recommends a number of helpful secondary sources to learn essential background or current developments (such as scholarly treatises, casebooks, newsletters, and blogs). Primary law is covered in detail, including:
  • A list of the major federal securities statutes and how to convert their popularly-used session law section numbers into a current U.S. Code citation. Legislative history research is also covered. 
  • Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, filings, releases, staff interpretations, and other agency guidance. 
  • Case law, including judicial court opinions as well as Administrative Law Judge and SEC decisions. 
  • Special resources for researching state securities laws, also known as "Blue Sky" laws. 
Check out this detailed new guide at our Research Guides page, linked under "Research Help" on the library website. It's listed along with nearly 40 other topical guides on legal research, all created and maintained by Duke Law Reference Services staff. There is also a link to CALI.org's Search All Law Schools custom search engine if you are researching a topic which isn't listed.

Law school library research guides are an excellent starting place for any research topic. If you need additional help researching securities law or locating a guide on a different topic, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Canadian Legal Research Guide Updated

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia heard a challenge to the Canadian province's anti-cyberbullying law, which was passed in 2013 following the suicide of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons. Parsons, a victim of sexual assault, had been harassed for several months by students at her school after a photo of the attack was circulated online. In response to her tragic death, Nova Scotia lawmakers enacted the Cyber-safety Act, which prohibits "electronic communication […] that is intended or ought reasonably [to] be expected to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another person’s health, emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation." Under the Act, victims of cyberbullying may be entitled to civil damage awards from their harassers, or from the parents of minor children who engage in online harassment.

Robert Snell, who was accused of cyberbullying by a former business partner, has challenged a protective order issued against him under this Act. His lawyer argued that the provincial legislation violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Bill of Rights), and creates civil liability for an unreasonably broad amount of free expression. Lawyers for the province argued that the wide definition of cyberbullying was necessary to prevent the law from becoming obsolete in the face of rapidly changing technology.

Once the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has issued its judgment in this case, how might a researcher in the U.S. track it down? Our recently-updated guide to Canadian Legal Research has some ideas. It turns out that we have a number of legal research options for our neighbo(u)rs to the North, including WestlawNext (Law School only), LexisNexis Quicklaw (Duke University community), and free websites like CanLII and LexUM. Government websites also provide robust access to legal materials.

Canadian national flag
The National Flag of Canada, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015.

The research guide also has suggestions for finding helpful treatises and periodical articles for background research. The encyclopedias Halsbury's Laws of Canada (on Quicklaw) and Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (on WestlawNext) also provide good overviews of Canadian legal topics. Additionally, print and electronic research guides (such as the aptly-named Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research) are included for those conducting more in-depth Canadian legal research.

For help with locating Canadian legal materials, either online or in the library's print collection, be sure to Ask a Librarian, eh?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bluebook on Display

[This is a guest post by Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow Marguerite Most.]

Whether you're returning to Duke after a summer away, or you're new to Duke Law School and just beginning your legal career, you'll soon learn that a new 20th edition of The Bluebook has arrived. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is the legal citation manual followed by journals at Duke Law School, taught in the LARW course required of all 1L students, and used at most law schools nationwide. Print copies of the 20th edition are available on reserve at the Circulation/Reserve desk and the new electronic (subscription) version is available for purchase online.

For a practical introduction to the 2015 edition of The Bluebook, see the Goodson Blogson post of June 5 which announced this new 20th edition, highlighted several significant rule changes and linked to a list of differences between the 19th and 20th editions. A change that will surely please law review editors and cite-checkers is revised Rule 16(f), which allows citation to Internet and online newspapers in place of print newspapers. Rule 15.9(c) introduces a citation format for e-books and for citing e-book locations if page numbers are not available. Updates to existing rules include added guidance in Rule 18 on citing to archived Internet sources by using Perma.cc, a tool designed to combat "link rot" (broken URLs) by providing a permanent archival source for websites.

The history of The Bluebook is generally dated to 1926, when then-2L Harvard law student Erwin N. Griswold took home the Harvard Law Review citation pamphlet for a printer in Cleveland to make copies. Griswold went on to serve as dean of Harvard Law School as well as Solicitor General of the United States. In 1991, following the publication of the 15th edition, Alan L. Dworsky, a former editor of the Harvard Law Review, published a User's Guide to the Bluebook – at 54 pages, the Guide was more than twice the length of the first Bluebook. Dworsky noted in his User's Guide for the 19th edition, that the dominant authority legal citation form is still The Bluebook. Unfortunately, this Bluebook edition – like its predecessors – is "complicated, picky, and long." The new 20th edition is over 560 pages.

Other citation systems do exist. The ALWD Citation Manual is a publication of the Association of Legal Writing Directors and is used in some law schools across the United States. The Maroonbook: The University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation was first published in 1989 and has its fans, including Judge Richard A. Posner of the Seventh Circuit. (Posner is no fan of the Bluebook; he has explained his preference for the Maroonbook in several articles posted on Chicago Unbound, the digital repository for the law school's faculty.) In the United Kingdom, lawyers and scholars look to the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA). In Canada they look to the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation.

Early Bluebooks, practice manuals designed to teach citation style to law students, and rival citation manuals are now on display in the Riddick Room cabinet, visible from the Reading Room on level 3. For anyone who prefers to examine early editions of the Bluebook online, links to PDFs of old editions from the 1st - 15th edition are posted on the Harvard Law School Library Blog.

For anyone with a serious interest in early legal citation styles, the Riddick Room display also includes several volumes illustrating early English citations from the Library's special collections. For a history of legal citation style in common law countries with citations to treatises and journal articles, begin with Anglo-American Legal Citation: Historical Development  by Byron D. Cooper, 75 Law Libr. J. 3 (1982). For anyone with only a passing interest in legal citations, suffice it to say, the author sets the stage in 1066 when William of Normandy crossed the English Channel and joined the history of England with the history of Europe – thus tracing citations back to Justinian’s Institute and Code a thousand years earlier.

Follow Citing Legally, a blog that covers "current issues of citation practice" for more fascinating news on legal citation style. For more help with finding or using a particular citation manual, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

-- Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow

Monday, August 10, 2015

Trial by Combat: Making a Comeback

Last week, a county court filing by Staten Island attorney Richard A. Luthmann became an unexpected media sensation. Luthmann is being sued by creditors of a former client, who allege that the attorney advised their debtor to liquidate assets in order to avoid a judgment collection. It’s not the sort of case which usually garners such widespread publicity, but Luthmann also isn't a typical defendant. In a July 24 reply affirmation, he derided the plaintiffs' "moronic" legal argument and "thug tactics," called opposing counsel's visualization of the case timeline "a glorified comic book piled on top of pure and adulterated extortion," and ended with a formal demand for a Trial By Combat.

What's a trial by combat, some may ask? You'd be forgiven for not knowing, since a recorded example has not occurred in centuries. Also known as "judicial combat" or "the wager of battle," a trial by combat allowed the outcome of a judicial dispute to be determined by a duel. The long history and development of this fascinating medieval practice is detailed in Carpenter's Foundations of Modern Jurisprudence (1958), available in the library and in HeinOnline; as well as in George Neilson's 1890 treatise Trial by Combat, available online.

Illustration of a marital judicial duel, 15th century Germany
Illustration of a "marital duel" from Hans Talhoffer's
15th-century Fechtbuch (Fight Book). Men were given
the physical handicap of a waist-deep pit to balance
their size advantage against a woman.
Text available at the Internet Archive.

Luthmann, an admitted fan of the book and television series Game of Thrones (set in a land where this medieval European legal right can also be invoked), details the history of trial by combat in the last ten pages of his filing with citations to the Neilson treatise and other legal history materials. He asserts that no U.S. jurisdiction has outlawed the practice, which remained legal (albeit archaic) in Britain at the time of America's founding, "and thus trial by combat remains a right reserved to the people and a valid alternative to civil action." As he told the local news media, "They want to be absurd about what they're trying to do, then I'll give them back ridiculousness in kind."

Will Luthmann prevail in the lawsuit against him, whether it's in the courtroom or a fighting pit? Interested readers can track the outcome at the New York eCourts WebCivil Supreme service, with a search for the Index Number 150175/2014. From there, researchers can access a case calendar and view e-filed documents, like the July 24 reply affirmation. The next scheduled appearance in this case should take place on Friday, August 28.

For additional tips on accessing court filings, check out the library's research guide to Court Records and Briefs. To learn more about the history of trials by combat, search the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject heading "Wager of Battle" to view available print and electronic titles like the Neilson treatise and James P. Gilchrist's A Brief Display of the Origin and History of Ordeals (1821). For help accessing these or other resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, August 7, 2015

New Title: Transgender Persons and the Law

Over the last few months, Caitlyn Jenner has shared details of her life as a transgender woman in media interviews and her reality television program I Am Cait. Jenner was well-known around the world as the 1970s star Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner, and gained new fame in the late 2000s as a part of the E! television series Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which followed the lives of Jenner's family with now ex-wife Kris Jenner. In April, Jenner disclosed her identity as a transgender woman during an ABC News interview, and revealed her new first name and physical transformation on the July cover of Vanity Fair.

Caitlyn Jenner's story has increased the visibility of transgender persons in America. Surveys have estimated that about 0.5% of Americans identify as transgender, and a poll conducted by the advocacy group GLAAD indicated that only 8% of Americans personally know a transgender individual. Jenner (and other high-profile transgender celebrities, like Emmy-nominated Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox) may help lead to a greater public understanding of the challenges faced by individuals whose assigned sex at birth does not match their gender identity. The transgender community often encounters a lack of legal protection against discrimination in employment and housing; transgender people may also be at increased risk of violent hate crimes, and face unique challenges in the areas of family law, immigration, and the criminal justice system.

cover of Transgender Persons and the Law
The American Bar Association has recently published a new edition of its groundbreaking treatise, Transgender Persons and the Law, 2d ed., available in the library at the call number KF4754.5 .H69 2015. This text provides an overview of the legal issues faced by transgender persons, including summaries of case law and statutes on the subjects of identity documents, discrimination protections, family law, and personal safety. The complete table of contents, a foreword by Phyllis Randolph Frye (the first openly transgender judge in the U.S.), and a sample chapter can be viewed on the ABA website.

Additional information on the legal issues faced by transgender persons can be found on the websites of several organizations. The American Civil Liberties Union includes a Transgender Rights section on its website, which contains research reports on topics like health care and the military. GLAAD recently published the report Understanding Issues Facing Transgender Americans, an overview of legal concerns and available protections. Lambda Legal's Transgender section outlines legal rights of transgender individuals for a variety of issues, and the Transgender Law Center provides helpful links and policy pages for a number of topics.

For help locating additional materials on transgender persons and the law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, July 27, 2015

25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Sunday, July 26 marked the silver anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark federal law which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA also created clear accessibility standards and requirements for employers, governments, places of public accommodation, and transportation services. President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990, in a ceremony on the White House lawn which included a number of disability rights advocates.

Signing ceremony for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
ADA signing ceremony, July 26, 1990.
(AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

The U.S. Congress outlined the purpose of the ADA in a lengthy and moving "Findings" section, codified today at 42 U.S.C. § 12101(a). Lawmakers noted that "physical or mental disabilities in no way diminish a person's right to fully participate in all aspects of society, yet many people with physical or mental disabilities have been precluded from doing so because of discrimination." The ADA drafters expressed concern over the lack of legal remedies available for persons with disabilities who face such discrimination, compared to the already-protected classes of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, and age. "[T]he Nation's proper goals regarding individuals with disabilities are to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for such individuals," declared Congress, and "the continuing existence of unfair and unnecessary discrimination and prejudice denies people with disabilities the opportunity to compete on an equal basis and to pursue those opportunities for which our free society is justifiably famous."

The ADA National Network has created an ADA Anniversary website which contains numerous FAQs, multimedia resources, and links to more information about the ADA, its history, and its impact on the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice enforces compliance with ADA standards. DOJ's Civil Rights Division contains a Disability Rights Section and also maintains the information clearinghouse ADA.gov. ADA.gov provides the text of the law and its 2010 amendments, as well as design standards implemented by DOJ rulemaking and technical assistance materials, such as frequently-asked questions or guidance on topics like service animals and voting difficulties.

To learn more about the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act, search the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject heading "United States. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990." You'll find titles like Understanding the ADA (KF480 .G67 2013), the Americans with Disabilities Act Handbook (KF3469 .P47 2003), and the complete legislative history of the 1990 ADA via HeinOnline. To learn more about disability discrimination in general, a subject heading search for "People with disabilities -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States" will return titles like Disabilities and the Law (KF480 .R672 2015:Spring & online in WestlawNext) and What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement (KF480 .P45 2012). For assistance with locating these or other library resources about the Americans with Disabilities Act, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, July 17, 2015

LoislawConnect: Legal Research Campus-Wide

The Goodson Law Library has just added the legal research service LoislawConnect to its database subscriptions. The service includes federal and state case law, statutes, and regulations, as well as a large practitioner treatise library of Wolters Kluwer publications and Continuing Legal Education materials from five states, including New York. Finding documents on Loislaw requires the use of Boolean searching; an extensive help menu of Expert Search Tips is available.

LoislawConnect home screen

Loislaw is one of several legal research options available to Duke users who are not affiliated with the Law School. LexisNexis Academic is a campus-wide version of the Law School's LexisNexis research service. Select Search by Content Type: Legal to view available resources, including state and federal case law, statutes and regulations, and law review articles. The University community can also search thousands of law review articles through the LegalTrac database. HeinOnline also includes a massive backfile of legal journals, as well as treatises and primary sources of law.

The Goodson Law Library's Legal Databases and Links list provides descriptions of available research databases, as well as information about access. Titles coded with the letter "D" are available campus-wide. For help using Loislaw or other campus-wide legal research databases, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

America's First Patent: 225 Years of History & Mystery

The Framers of the U.S. Constitution vested Congress with the power "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." The earliest American patent statute was enacted in April 1790, and provided successful applicants with exclusive rights in their inventions for a period of fourteen years. Only three inventors were granted patents under this version of the Act (which would be revised in 1793). The first was "Samuel Hopkins of the city of Philadelphia," who was granted patent number X0000001 on July 31, 1790. Hopkins received the first U.S. patent, signed by President George Washington himself, for his method of manufacturing pot ash and pearl ash, forms of potassium carbonate which were commonly used in the production of soap or fertilizer.
U.S. Patent No. X000001, granted to
Samuel Hopkins on July 31, 1790.
The enterprising Hopkins is also credited with securing the first-ever Canadian patent, granted the following year for the same pot ash manufacturing process by an April 1791 ordinance from the provincial government of Quebec. (For more on the history of Canadian patent law, see Gordon Asher, Development of the Patent System in Canada Since 1767, 43 C.P.R. 56, 59-60 (1965), available on level 1 of the library.) But little was known about this mysterious inventor from Philadelphia, especially after a fire swept through the U.S. Patent Office in December 1836 and destroyed the nation's earliest patent applications. Although the Patent Office attempted to re-create its early records, its 1847 index of patent-holders erroneously listed Hopkins's residence as Vermont. With the Patent Office copy lost, and Hopkins's personal copy unaccounted for, this bit of misinformation kindled a decades-long debate about the life of inventor Samuel Hopkins.

In the early 20th century, genealogical researchers connected the first patent to a Samuel Hopkins from Pittsford, Vermont. Bolstered by the Patent Office's published error, Vermont local historians reconstructed the life of this Hopkins, who later moved to a town in New York also named Pittsford. Some details didn't quite add up, especially after the discovery of the Philadelphia Hopkins's personal patent copy in the archives of the Chicago Historical Society – but the "Pittsford legend" took hold in both cities, which erected historical markers commemorating the life (Vermont) and death (New York) of this Samuel Hopkins. The Pittsford Hopkins began to receive credit in accounts of U.S. patent history as well – even in official Patent & Trademark Office publications.

In 1998, Philadelphia attorney and historian David W. Maxey published several articles debunking the conventional wisdom about Hopkins's identity, after extensive archival research. Samuel Hopkins, The Holder of the First U.S. Patent: A Study of Failure, 72 Penn. Mag. of Hist. & Biography (Jan./Apr. 1998), and Inventing History: The Holder of the First U.S. Patent, 80 J. Pat. & Trademark Off. Soc’y 155 (1998) finally set the record straight.

"An Address to the Manufacturers
of Pot and Pearl Ash," a 1791
pamphlet by inventor Samuel Hopkins.
Available with Duke NetID in Evans
Early American Imprints database.
Maxey determined that the true first U.S. patent holder was a Maryland native who relocated to Philadelphia around 1760. A shopkeeper-turned-entrepreneur, this Samuel Hopkins appeared in Philadelphia city directories as a "pot-ash manufacturer," published a pamphlet on his invention which he sent to Thomas Jefferson, and traveled to Canada to secure his 1791 patent from the government of Quebec. The head of a devout Quaker household, this Hopkins's movements could be traced through detailed meeting-house records, which recorded all member applications to relocate. It seemed that the true Philadelphia patent-holder had finally been discovered.

In 2000, the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission erected an historical marker to Philadelphia's Samuel Hopkins, which still stands near the east end of Arch St. But dismantling the commemorative signs for the other Samuel Hopkins took longer, with all three cities claiming the holder of the first U.S. patent for nearly a decade. Pittsford, New York removed its historical marker in 2007 after declaring its information erroneous (although the town continues to sell and distribute a 1993 informational pamphlet which still includes the Hopkins plaque). Pittsford, Vermont finally removed its sign in late 2013, following a dogged investigation by Corporate Counsel contributor Lisa Shuchman, which revived the Samuel Hopkins identity crisis.

Some Hopkins scholars have also revised their works in light of Maxey's discoveries, but the persistent misinformation continues to dot the World Wide Web. From Hopkins's Wikipedia page to recent Vermont travel guides, it seems that old legends, much like old habits, can be stubbornly difficult to break – and the story serves as an excellent reminder to researchers not to automatically believe the first thing you read.

For more information about the history of patent law, check out the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Intellectual Property or search the Duke Libraries catalog for the subject "Patent laws and legislation – United States – History." For help locating these resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Independence on Display

[This is a guest post by Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow Marguerite Most.]
Resolved: that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved.
With these words Richard Henry Lee of Virginia stood before the Second Continental Congress on June 7, 1776 at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall today) and advocated independence from the British Crown. Lee's Resolution began the series of events that lead to the writing of the Declaration of Independence and its adoption on July 4, 1776.

Five days after Lee's Resolution was introduced, the Congress appointed a committee to "prepare a declaration to the effect of the said first resolution." The Committee of Five – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and William Livingston – edited Jefferson's initial draft and presented it to the Congress on July 2. The Congress voted for independence from Britain. Two days later, on the Fourth of July, church bells rang out over Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence, setting out the rallying cry, and justification for the American Revolution and for ending the rule of George III over the North American colonies, had been adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies.

Independence Day display in
Riddick Room, Level 3.
The following day copies prepared overnight by John Dunlap, the official government printer, were sent to state conventions and commanders of Continental troops. New York added its support on July 9, and ten days later the Congress announced the Declaration of Independence "The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America," and ordered that it be engrossed and "signed by every member of Congress." John Hancock, President of the Congress, signed first.

The Declaration has been called "something of a press announcement...when newspapers were still an inadequate means of reaching people." The text was publicized with public readings on court days and in Massachusetts, after Sunday services. These readings were accompanied by parades of militiamen, gun salutes, and the ripping down of royal flags – all intended to rally support of the colonists.

Beyond speaking to the colonists, the signers of the Declaration were looking for foreign aid. To continue the 15 month war effort against Britain the colonies needed financial help from foreign powers. Inclusion in the Declaration that "these United colonies are & of right ought to be free & independent states" with "separate and equal station" among the "powers of the earth," announced to the world, and specifically to France, that the colonies had become a treaty-making entity. International standing freed the colonies to form alliances with foreign nations, and independent status meant foreign nations could form alliances with the colonies without meddling in Britain's internal affairs. Within the month, a committee of the Continental Congress began drafting a treaty with France, as well as a confederation binding the thirteen new sovereign entities.

Although the celebrated preamble of the Declaration of Independence declares that all men are created equal and have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, John Adams himself noted that the Declaration contained nothing novel. And political historians generally agree that the principle source of its political philosophy reflects the writing of the English philosopher John Locke. In his Two Treatises of Government, Locke refuted the doctrine of the divine rights of kings and wrote of a contractual government with God-given natural rights that precede the existence of the state. Among the rights belonging to man by the laws of nature and of God were life, liberty, property and equality.

Although Locke is considered the most famous source of American political ideas, historians mention the common law, including Magna Carta, and the treatises of Edward Coke and William Blackstone as providing legal ammunition to the colonists. Of the 55 delegates to the Continental Congress, 45 were lawyers or had legal training – they were familiar with the works of Blackstone and Coke. These English barristers wrote of the law of nature as defined by the will of God, and, like John Locke, they recognized certain natural rights guaranteed all men. Fundamental Law and the American Revolution 1760-1776 by Charles F. Mullett provides a detailed discussion of continental and common law sources of political thought known to members of the Congress.

Closer to home, Jefferson drew on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason and adopted on June 12, 1776, when he composed the initial draft of the Declaration of Independence. Both documents recognize the "natural rights" of man. As well as providing a model for the Declaration, George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights became the basis of the United States Bill of Rights and was widely copied in other colonies. Notably, Locke's natural rights included property, while the Declaration of Independence does not.

As often remarked, time can alter history in the public mind. For members of the Continental Congress and for Americans in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Declaration of Independence was not the founding document of American liberty we celebrate today, but rather, in Jefferson's words, was meant to offer "an expression of the American mind, and to give that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion." This was a revolutionary document dissolving ties with Britain, justifying the break, and clearing the way for new governments to serve the "safety and happiness" of the people.

Later generations across the political spectrum have invoked the Declaration to support their causes. Abolitionists and suffragettes, as well as populist movements, have drawn on the Declaration. Abraham Lincoln invoked the Declaration of Independence when he opened the Gettysburg Address with these words: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." And in the 1963 March on Washington, Martin Luther King recalled the Declaration of Independence with these words: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." In his 2013 inaugural address, President Barack Obama remembered the Declaration of Independence with these words: "What makes us exceptional, what makes us America, is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

In his 2013 book For Liberty and Equality: the Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence, law professor Alexander Tsesis examines how the Declaration has shaped the United States over time, and the roles it has played in the drafting of the Bill of Rights, the Reconstruction Amendments, the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, and in presidential debates and elections in the twenty-first century.

Noting our country sprang forth from a revolution in political and social structure, law professor J. M. Balkin in his article The Declaration and the Promise of a Democratic Culture argued that "we should interpret the Constitution in order to fulfill the promises that we Americans made in our Declaration, promises that are to be redeemed in history, and that we should understand many of our most important social movements as a continuation of the original social revolution against unjust hierarchy that began with the American revolutionaries."

If you are around the Library this summer, we hope you will take a few minutes to look at the Fourth of July display in the Riddick Room window. The display includes a facsimile copy of the Declaration of Independence and a selection of books from the Library’s collection. The quotes about the Declaration were identified through these books and searches of primary texts and online databases. Happy Fourth of July!

--Marguerite Most, Reference Librarian and Senior Lecturing Fellow

Additional Reading