Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Introducing Nexis Uni

LexisNexis Academic, the campus-wide version of the Law School's Lexis Advance platform, will be retired at the end of the year. In preparation, the Duke University Libraries have already switched over to the new campus-wide Lexis platform, dubbed Nexis Uni. Links on the Law Library website and research guides have been changed to this new platform.

Nexis Uni contains case law from the federal courts and all 50 states, as well as current statutory and regulatory codes, law reviews and journals, news resources, and company information. The easiest way to view available materials is by the link to Menu > All Sources in the top left corner, although the home page's search builder and the Advanced Search feature will help format a search across Nexis Uni.

A key resource in Nexis Uni for campus legal researchers is the encyclopedia American Jurisprudence 2d, a helpful starting place for unfamiliar legal topics (also available in print in the Law Library’s Reference collection). The Shepard's citation search feature, which was previously limited to only case law in LexisNexis Academic, has expanded: Nexis Uni users can now Shepardize citations to case law, statutes, court rules, regulations, and law review articles. The Shepard’s shortcut shep:[citation] in the main search box (e.g., shep: 58 Duke L.J. 1791) works in Nexis Uni as well as Lexis Advance.

One important note for Law School users of either platform: if you attempt to access both law school Lexis Advance and campus-wide Nexis Uni during a single browser session, your browser will most likely point you to whichever version of Lexis that you accessed first. (That is, if you log into your law school Lexis account and later click a link to Nexis Uni during the same browser session, you'll see…law school Lexis instead of Nexis Uni, and vice versa if you accessed Nexis Uni first.) Closing your browser completely should allow you to access the second platform without difficulty.

For help with using the new campus-wide LexisNexis interface, or with any other legal research questions, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Commemorating the National Conference on Crime

At Washington, D.C.'s Memorial Continental Hall, a distinguished group of federal officials, legal academics, and law enforcement representatives gathered to discuss crime prevention strategies. They traded the latest police investigation techniques, expressed concerns about the exploding narcotics trade, and debated the effects that media coverage of crimes has on society. While it sounds like this could be happening right now, it was actually at the Attorney General's National Conference on Crime, which took place more than 80 years ago: December 10-13, 1934.

Attorney General Homer S. Cummings (biography) announced the conference plan in July 1934, shortly before boarding a ship from Los Angeles to Hawaii ("in connection with land condemnation proceedings of the government," according to the Chicago Tribune). The Wall Street Journal reported that the planned December "crime parley" would include discussion of "prisons, paroles, bar ethics, and other problems." Throughout the fall, organizers arranged a notable group of speakers (including President Franklin D. Roosevelt and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, whose addresses would be broadcast to the nation on every major radio network). Attendees included state and local government officials, university presidents and law school professors, and representatives from law enforcement agencies and news organizations.

Duke Law School had a particularly important connection to this event: Justin Miller, on a leave of absence that year from his duties as Law School Dean while serving as Special Assistant to the Solicitor General, helped to organize the Conference on Crime. Dean Miller served as the conference's official Secretary, calling sessions to order and overseeing audience discussions. Dean Miller was also recognized during the conference for his seven-year tenure as Chairman of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section.

The Proceedings of the Attorney General's Conference on Crime can be found in the library at KF9223 .A17 1934 or online in HeinOnline. Among the fascinating discussions and prepared remarks are "Firearms: An Address" by former Massachusetts Attorney General J. Weston Allen, who described planned legislation to implement registration requirements for the permit or purchase of firearms, all of which had been thwarted by the lobbying of the National Rifle Association. In "Why Print Crime News?" Cleveland Plain-Dealer editor Paul Bellamy defended newspapers from criticism that the coverage of crime stories glamorized crime, inspired juvenile delinquency, and impeded police investigations. In "Importance of Criminal Statistics," University of Pennsylvania sociology professor Thorsten Sellin lamented the difficulty in finding reliable state and local crime statistics, with even the federal government’s relatively-new Uniform Crime Reports publication "handicapped by the poverty of local records [and] lack of complete cooperation" – issues which persist into the present day.

In his closing address to the conference (also available at the DOJ website), Attorney General Cummings stated "It would be idle, of course, to expect that the problem of crime could be solved by a single conference or, indeed, by a series of conferences, or, for that matter, in our generation." The continued relevance of many of the issues at hand certainly proves his point, but the 1934 conference is a fascinating look back at how law enforcement and legal professionals in the Depression era handled many of the same concerns which face American society today.