Monday, December 23, 2019

The Airing of Grievances

The secular holiday Festivus, popularized on a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, is celebrated on December 23. Presented by a character on the sitcom as a non-commercial alternative to Christmas glitz ("a Festivus for the rest of us!"), Festivus traditions include an undecorated aluminum pole rather than a tree, a simple dinner, demonstrations of "feats of strength," and ceremonial "airing of grievances." The episode was inspired by the family traditions of Seinfeld writer Kevin O'Keefe, who described the origins of Festivus to Time magazine in 2016.

Festivus and its "airing of grievances" immediately sprang to mind when Goodson Law Library staff came across this treasure from the Law Library Archives: the Law Library's Comment & Grievance Book for 1973/74.

Comment & Grievance Book 1973/74

This tattered spiral notebook gives a fascinating glimpse into law student life more than 45 years ago. Presumably housed at or near the service desk, library users left all sorts of comments, suggestions, and complaints in the pages over the course of the academic year. Library staff would occasionally respond with handwritten comments indicating that a problem had been reported or handled.

Some of the common complaints of the era will feel completely alien to today's law students: repeated complaints about inadequate photocopying facilities, desire to access the locked "periodicals cage" on weekends, and numerous suggestions for which print magazine subscriptions to add (someone really, really wanted Gloria Steinem’s Ms. magazine, still a relatively new publication at the time). We’re particularly relieved not to receive complaints about smokers in the modern law library:

Request to enforce no-smoking rule

However, many of the concerns will feel just as familiar to law students today as they did in the 1970s. For example:

The library was too cold!

Concerns about library being too cold

Except when it was too hot!

Concerns about library being too hot

But then it was too cold again!

Concerns about library being too cold

People kept reserve items past their due time!

Comment regarding overdue reserve items

The Comment & Grievance Book also featured an annual poetry contest in its pages during the month of April, with unspecified prizes to be awarded by staff.

7th Annual Quasi Modo Poetry Contest Rules

A few student entries incorporated some common library grievances:

It's always cold in here / It's always hot in here / But always / At the wrong time of year

Lengthy poem by student on mischievous library elf

These days, Goodson Law Library users can share their comments and concerns (whether in verse or prose) via an online Library Suggestion Box. During this holiday season, the Suggestion Box is on a short hiatus from official responses, due to various University closures and limited staffing. Administration will resume responding to new suggestions on January 6, 2020. In the meantime, we hope our community enjoys a safe and happy winter break, as well as this walk down Duke Law memory lane.

Friday, December 20, 2019

History of International Law Now in HeinOnline

The Goodson Law Library's subscription to HeinOnline now includes the module History of International Law. This library currently contains more than 2,000 titles and one million pages on international law topics, including the development of the Hague Conventions, international arbitration, the Nuremberg trials, law of the sea, and much more.

While the earliest titles in this collection date back to the 17th century, more modern texts and treatises are also available, including a number published by Duke University Press (such as 2016's Man or Monster? The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer). The full list of titles can be accessed in the Hein library, and the Duke Libraries Catalog will point to individual works in the collection as well.

For additional help with researching the history of international law, check out the library's research guide to International Law or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Resources for Ethics Research

Legal ethics should always be a matter of paramount concern for practicing attorneys. Failure to abide by ethics rules and opinions can spell disaster – including malpractice suits by clients and disciplinary action by the bar. Unfortunately, many key publications are locked behind premium legal research services like Bloomberg Law (online home of the ABA/BNA Lawyer's Manual on Professional Conduct), Westlaw, and Lexis Advance – sometimes out of reach for solo practitioners and the general public.

However, it is possible to conduct some legal ethics research without premium research tools. The University of Texas's Tarlton Law Library recently unveiled a new free resource for legal ethics research, the Thomas Woodward Houghton 50 State Ethics Guide. This new guide links to free options for state codes of attorney and judicial conduct, legal ethics opinions from state and local bars, and selected print and online resources from the American Bar Association.

For additional resources on researching professional responsibility (both free and premium), check out the Duke Law Library's own research guide to Legal Ethics or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Exam Season Excellence

Hard to believe that the fall semester is coming to an end! After the Thanksgiving holiday break, there's just one week of classes left to get your exam plans in order. Fortunately, the Goodson Law Library is here to help – and not just for quiet study space.

Past exams, if your professor chooses to make them available, will be linked on your course's Sakai site. The library does not maintain a database of past Law School examinations from recent years. (We do have some in the archives dating from the 1930s to the 1990s, but those aren't going to help you by now.) However, help is still available if your professor opts not to share a sample exam. General law school exam-taking advice can be found by searching the Duke Libraries Catalog for the subject "Law Examinations – United States."

Study aids can supplement your class material, clearing up any lingering confusion about a particular topic.
  • West Academic Library Study Aids provides full-text access to hundreds of study aids, treatises, audio lectures, and flash card sets published by West Academic. The available series include Concepts and Insights, Hornbooks, Nutshells, Black Letter Outlines, Legalines, Sum and Substance, and many more.
  • Elgar Advanced Introductions provide accessible overviews to about 15 topics, mostly in comparative and international law.
  • Additional study aid series, such as Examples & Explanations and Glannon Guides, can be found in print on Reserve with a search for the topic, limited to the Law Library Reserves collection. Part III of the library's Law School Success guide details the series available and how to locate them.

Need to block out distractions? Our friends at CALI (The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) have kindly provided us with a supply of earplugs, now available at the service desk. (We've always had disposable foam earplugs available upon request – but CALI's come in a nice plastic shell, and give you a few more color choices.) When you come to pick them up, ask the librarian on duty for the CALI registration code (or access it here with NetID if you're shy), in order to unlock more than 1,000 online tutorials on legal topics, all created by law school faculty members. CALI also features free e-books in its eLangdell bookstore.

Good luck with final examinations! For help locating study aids in print or online, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Federal Judicial Ratings

Last week, former White House lawyer Steven J. Menashi was confirmed 51-41 to a lifetime judicial appointment on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, over strong objections from Senate Democrats over Menashi's role in developing White House immigration policies and his past writings on LGBTQ issues. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described the nominee as "one of the most contemptible" he had ever considered during his time in the Senate, and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine even crossed party lines to vote against his confirmation.

Despite this controversy, Menashi had received a rating of "Well Qualified" from the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which has played a role in the federal judicial nomination process since the Eisenhower administration. The history of the ABA's evaluation process was described last year in the ABA Journal. The committee itself also provides a detailed backgrounder document, Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary: What it Is and How It Works. This document includes sample copies of the questionnaires and a template for the committee's confidential formal report.

As the ABA Journal article noted, "ratings are never made public until a judicial candidate has been officially nominated, and it elaborates on what is discovered during the evaluation process only if committee members are asked to testify before the Senate." A rating of "Not Qualified" may sink a potential nomination before a public announcement, or may complicate the confirmation process, as with a current Ninth Circuit nominee. Lawrence VanDyke made headlines for his emotional reaction to a negative ABA rating during his October confirmation hearing, disputing the committee's negative assessment of his impartiality and pointing to problems with the interview process. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on his nomination on Thursday.

Ratings for federal judicial nominees dating back to the 101st Congress (1989) are available on the Standing Committee's website. For the committee's ratings of U.S. Supreme Court nominees, more detailed rating information back to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can be found on the committee website as well. Earlier U.S. Supreme Court nominee rating summaries from 1956-2010 are compiled in table 4-16 of The Supreme Court Compendium: Data, Decisions, and Developments, 4th ed. (Reference KF8742 .S914 2015 & online).

Other assessment tools for federal judges include the interview comments in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary (online in Westlaw Edge), which provide evaluations from attorneys who have appeared before the judge. Only current federal judges are included in this resource, meaning that neither Menashi nor VanDyke have profiles yet. For judges with completed evaluations, though, AFJ can be a valuable insight into the judge's temperament and judicial philosophy. For additional resources that feature judge profiles, check out the library's research guide to Directories of Courts & Judges or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Legal Holiday Gift Guide 2019

It's that time of year again! Since 2009, the Goodson Blogson has proudly provided an almost-annual roundup of law-themed gift ideas for the lawyers and law students in your life. Entries for previous years in this series (minus 2012, when we somehow forgot) can be found in the blog archives.

Does your workaholic loved one need a little help with unplugging? Maybe work and/or school schedules don't leave much time for long vacations or travel planning. Consider giving a gift code to the "surprise travel agency" Pack Up & Go, which plans 3-day plane, train, or road trips around the United States whose final destinations are kept secret until the day of travel. Travelers complete a brief planning survey to gauge their interests, and the agency develops a suitable itinerary, advising travelers of necessary information like the weather forecast and any special items to pack. Travelers receive their itinerary via mail and email shortly before their departure.

Even if a spontaneous vacation isn't your recipient's cup of tea, all lawyers and law students could probably use a luggage upgrade for interviews, business travel, or wherever else they may be roaming. Earlier this year, Travel & Leisure profiled The Best Luggage Brands for Every Budget, providing affordable and high-end options for a new suitcase or carry-on. Don't forget about must-have travel accessories, like portable chargers, power adapters, packing cubes, and organizers; The Inventory rounded up suggestions to Make Travel Suck Less with These Seven Gadgets and Accessories.

Shopping for a public defender, privacy rights advocate, or star Crim Law student? Adversarial Fashion features clothing that is designed to trigger and confuse license-plate surveillance systems. The site includes shirts, skirts, and dresses with several styles, including the text of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution rendered in license plates. For less, well, adversarial fashion gift options, Stitch Fix offers gift cards to its personal-stylist-by-mail service, as does Nordstrom's Trunk Club service.

We’ve spruced up your loved one's travel and clothing, so maybe it's time to redecorate their office or living space. We've previously written about (and remain fans of) the National Archives gift shop's Patent Prints. But if intellectual property isn't your recipient's specialty, how about some artwork that celebrates…dare we say it…legal writing? Punctuated Law Designs, a project by UVA Law professor (and Duke University alumnus) Joe Fore, offers unique prints that present court opinions and other law documents solely through their punctuation marks. Several pre-selected opinions (Loving v. Virginia, Palsgraf) are available; custom orders (perhaps for a litigator friend's proudest victory in court?) are also available with a 3-week turnaround time.

Other adornments for office space include the various bookends, paperweights, and organizers at Uncommon Goods' Office section. Fancy pens are a thoughtful office upgrade – the Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop offers a few options, and the National Archives store even more. You can also remind a faraway loved one where they came from with a Custom Map and Pen Desk Set, featuring a map from their hometown, law school, or other noteworthy location in their life.

There's a new legal board game in town, more than a decade after the debut of Tina Nelson's Lawsuit! (previously featured in the Blogson gift guide). Chicago-based criminal defense attorney April Preyar created Trials & Triumph, featured this summer in the ABA Journal, to educate young people about the criminal justice system. Her Indiegogo page includes options to purchase copies of the game as well as packages that include both the game and a t-shirt reading "SHUT UP. LAWYER UP." A percentage of all sales will benefit Chicago's Westside Justice Center.

For a different sort of game night, Drinkin' with Lincoln is a decidedly more adult-oriented set, featuring five presidential-themed drinking games and two Honest Abe shot glasses. More legally-themed barware can be found at the National Archives Store Happy Hour section, including a Hamilton-Burr duel shot glass set and a print of the 1974 "Cocktail Construction" chart designed by a Forest Service engineer.

Elsewhere in the kitchen, the law-themed cookbook market continues its unexpected expansion. The Blogson gift guide has previously covered the late, great Marty Ginsburg's Chef Supreme and Clare Cushman's Table for 9, both worthy offerings for a legal gourmand from the Supreme Court Historical Society gift shop. This year's entry comes from the White House Historical Association, which has published Roland Mesnier's Creating the Sweet World of White House Desserts: A Pastry Chef’s Secrets.

Finally, please remember to support your local businesses this holiday season. Yesterday's announcement that Chapel Hill gourmet grocery Southern Season will close its doors in 2020 after 45 years in business is an important reminder to seek out and patronize local retailers in your community. In the Triangle, a few local sources for eclectic gifts include the Durham Craft Market at the downtown farmer's market, Morgan Imports at Brightleaf Square, and Ali Cat Toys in Carrboro's Carr Mill Mall.

As always, the Goodson Blogson wishes all of our readers a happy and healthy holiday season. We hope this year's gift recommendations have inspired you to spread some legally-minded holiday cheer.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Tax Notes International Now Available

The Goodson Law Library has added the International module to its Tax Analysts subscription (featured in the Goodson Blogson last December). This new module includes full-text access to the Tax Notes International magazine (browseable to 2001, and searchable back to 1989) and the daily news publication, Tax Notes Today International (browseable to 1999).

Use of the Tax Analysts platform requires a username and password. Current members of the Duke University community may register with their email address for access. To access the international materials, log in to Tax Analysts. The red "International" link in the top right corner will show the Tax Notes Today International home page; a link to the Tax Notes International magazine can be found by scrolling down to the "Magazines" section of the Tax Analysts home page. The orange "Subscriptions" drop-down menu in the top right corner will link to both international publications as well.

For help with registering for Tax Analysts or with navigating the system, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Democracy in America Digital Edition

Recently, HeinOnline added the new library Democracy in America, an enhanced digital edition of Alexis de Tocqueville's classic text on the American political system. There's no shortage of copies in the Duke Libraries collection (with 18 e-book versions alone), so what makes this one special?

As Hein's user guide for this new library explains, this version provides an interactive experience that links readers directly to the source material that Tocqueville referenced during the creation of Democracy in America. Alan Keely, Associate Director for Collection Services at Wake Forest Law Library, has curated links to contemporaneous source materials and supplemental editorial or translator notes. The Democracy in America library also includes the full text of Works Cited, 18 varying Editions/Translations (with a plan to eventually include all known editions and translations), and a small library of Related Works also published by Tocqueville.

The Democracy in America digital edition can be found in HeinOnline's library listing. For help with using this database, or with locating additional versions of Tocqueville's works, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Mail (Carrier) Fraud

Halloween is just around the corner. Maybe you're too busy with law school to properly plan a costume. Maybe the party store has been picked clean by the time you get around to it, and now you're stuck with a risqué postal worker outfit from the bargain bin. Oh well, you can't just show up to the party dressed as a stressed-out law student, right? Except now, that gunner from your criminal law section who reads the U.S. Code for fun starts telling you how your last-resort costume is actually a federal crime. Wait, what? Is your legal career over before it even begins?

Probably not (at least, not for this). 18 U.S.C. § 1730 does state that "Whoever, not being connected with the letter-carrier branch of the Postal Service, wears the uniform or badge which may be prescribed by the Postal Service to be worn by letter carriers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both." Originally enacted in 1872 (17 Stat. 296), Congress amended the law in 1968 to exempt actors and actresses "in a theatrical, motion-picture, or television production," following several years of requests by industry professionals. At first, the 1960s amendment also included the caveat that the portrayal "does not tend to discredit" the Postal Service. That provision was eventually removed in 1990, two decades after the U.S. Supreme Court had invalidated a similar provision about civilians wearing military uniforms in Schacht v. United States, 398 U.S. 58 (1970).

Even though the exemption in section 1730 is narrowly written to cover only actors' portrayals, it’s unlikely that anyone will find themselves in legal hot water over a postal-worker Halloween costume. For one thing, the law concerns officially-prescribed postal uniforms (so definitely don't borrow a friend's or family member's real postal uniform for Halloween). Considering that the U.S.P.S. itself sells licensed reproductions of its uniforms as children's Halloween costumes, that "sexy letter carrier" costume from the party store is, most likely, just guilty of questionable taste.

The story of section 1730's history, and that of many other unexpected and lesser-known federal crimes, can be found in attorney Mike Chase's recent book How to Become a Federal Criminal: An Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender (Cox Collection PN6231.C73 C43 2019). This entertaining legal humor text was inspired by the author's popular Twitter account, @CrimeADay, which highlights a different federal crime daily. Additional titles of interest in Duke's collection include You May Not Tie an Alligator to a Fire Hydrant: 101 Real Dumb Laws (K184 .K66 2002) and the 2016 e-book America's Oddest Laws. For help locating these or other legal humor titles, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

First Monday in October

Monday, October 7 marks the official start of oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court's new term. In 1916, Congress enacted a law establishing the Court's opening date as the "first Monday in October," although the number of sessions per year and the timing of the opening day has varied throughout American history.

This new term is already packed with dozens of cases, with still more to come as the Court continues to decide on pending petitions for certiorari. The Supreme Court website provides Calendars in PDF and HTML formats. First up on Monday morning is argument in Kahler v. Kansas (docket), on the ability of individual states to abolish the insanity defense for criminal defendants.

To learn more about individual cases on the Court's docket, SCOTUSblog offers quick access to case information and filings on its October Term 2019 page, organized by argument date. Yesterday, Bloomberg published A Lawyer's Guide to the Upcoming Supreme Court Term (Bloomberg Law login may be required), highlighting several key cases on the docket this term. The ABA also publishes a regular Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases (available in HeinOnline; Duke NetID required) that provides an overview as well as legal analysis of each featured case.

For more information about researching the U.S. Supreme Court and its cases, check out the Law Library's guide to U.S. Supreme Court research or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, September 23, 2019

SCC Online Now Available

The Goodson Law Library has recently subscribed to SCC Online, a database containing legal materials from India as well as dozens of other foreign and international jurisdictions. Access SCC Online via the Duke Libraries Catalog or Legal Databases & Links. First-time users will need to register with a username in order to access materials; this username will allow future access while connected to Duke's IP range. No password is required for IP login.

SCC Online's collection is strongest for Indian law, including current and historical case law, statutes and regulations, constitutional documents, and parliamentary bills. The "Browse Judgments by Courts" tab includes case law from dozens of additional jurisdictions for varying time periods, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and numerous African nations (including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe). International court materials are also included, such as the International Criminal Court, Permanent Court of Arbitration, and various human rights tribunals. A longer description of the contents within each category can be found at SCC's Data Coverage page.

Additional access points to SCC Online will be added to the library's various research guides to foreign and international law. In the meantime, you may also notice pointers to the database when researching in sources like Foreign Law Guide and GlobaLex, both excellent starting places for researching the law of particular jurisdictions. For additional help with foreign, comparative, and international law research, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, September 16, 2019

A New Look for Constitution Annotated

Tuesday is Constitution Day, which commemorates the signing of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. In celebration, the Library of Congress just announced a redesign of the website for The Constitution Annotated (CONAN), an invaluable treatise on constitutional history and practice. The revised web version of the publication (full name: The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation) allows readers to search from the main page, or to browse individual articles and amendments. Results provide a detailed overview of U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence on that particular article or amendment, written by staff members of the Congressional Research Service's American Law Division. CONAN also includes helpful tables on such topics as Supreme Court Decisions Overruled by Prior Decisions and Laws Held Unconstitutional in Whole or in Part by the Supreme Court.

A print edition of the most recent CONAN volume (issued in 2017) can be consulted in the library’s Reference Collection at Ref Docs Y 1.1/3: 112-9. PDF copies of this volume and prior print editions (back to 1992) are also available on the Government Publishing Office's website. For help with accessing CONAN in its various formats, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The State of State Bar Research Benefits

Effective September 1, members of the Utah State Bar now receive the legal research service Fastcase as a benefit of membership (press release). Previously, Utah attorneys received free access to Casemaker. Bar associations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia provide members with access to at least one of these two low-cost legal research alternatives, making them a cost-effective first stop in legal research by practicing attorneys.

To track the changes in bar association research offerings over time, the Goodson Law Library has maintained a map of Legal Research via State Bar Associations. The map covers only state-level offerings; local and county bar associations may similarly offer members access to one of these services.

Both Fastcase and Casemaker contain U.S. primary legal materials: federal and state case law, statutory and regulatory codes, court rules, and constitutions. Additional features vary within each service. Fastcase offers a number of secondary source libraries, including law journal access via HeinOnline, as well as treatises by various external publishers as well as its own Full Court Press imprint. Casemaker includes legal forms, a memo bank, and content from the vLex database, containing primary domestic legal materials for more than 100 countries.

Want to check out the free research benefit in the state where you plan to practice? The Duke University community has access to an academic version of Fastcase. Law students and faculty are also eligible to sign up for an educational version of Casemaker called CasemakerX. Students may also be eligible for free or deeply-discounted membership to the bar association in their intended practice state, such as the North Carolina Bar Association's free membership for law students.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Immigration Law & Policy Now in HeinOnline

The Goodson Law Library has recently added Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S. to its collection of libraries in HeinOnline. This library includes more than 2,600 primary and secondary sources related to immigration law in America, including historical editions of the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations, legislative history materials, administrative law decisions, U.S. Supreme Court briefs, scholarly articles, and books. Topics covered include the history of immigration law and international extradition policy.

A particularly useful feature of this library is the index to BIA Precedent Decisions, which provides quick subject access to Board of Immigration Appeals decisions. The decisions themselves are available here as full-text PDF scans from 1940-present.

This Hein library joins other Duke Law Library resources pertaining to immigration, such as the AILALink database and the seminal treatise by Gordon & Mailman, Immigration Law and Procedure (KF4815 .G663 & online in Lexis Advance). For help with using the new Hein library or locating additional research resources for immigration law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Elgar Advanced Introductions Now Available Online

The Goodson Law Library has subscribed to e-book versions of the Elgar Advanced Introductions to Law. This series balances accessible introductions to a particular topic with expert commentary.

Currently, the Elgar Advanced Introductions online library includes 15 e-book titles, with dozens of additional titles to be added over the next two years. Subjects skew heavily toward comparative and international law topics, and recent publications in the online library include:
  • Mark Tushnet, Advanced Introduction to Comparative Constitutional Law (also available in print)
  • Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Advanced Introduction to International Tax Law (also available in print)
  • Jaakko Husa, Advanced Introduction to Law and Globalisation
The Duke University Libraries have additional Elgar Advanced Introduction titles in print, both at the Law Library and across campus. You can locate the e-book series link as well as available print titles in the Duke Libraries Catalog with a search for "Elgar Advanced Introductions."

For additional scholarly overviews of legal topics in electronic format, you might also be interested in Oxford Handbooks in Law Online or the Concepts & Insights and Hornbook series on West Academic Library Study Aids. The Law Library has still more scholarly overviews and study aids in print format, as well. For help finding the perfect depth of treatment for your topic area, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

CourtLink Now on Lexis Advance

Effective August 1, Lexis Advance accounts at the Law School now include access to CourtLink, a service that includes state and federal court records. Current members of the Law School community can access CourtLink via the product-switcher icon in the top left corner of any Lexis Advance screen.

The search screen allows users to locate names or search terms within docket sheets and/or within available full-text documents within CourtLink. Note that while the main CourtLink search box allows for Boolean/Terms &Connectors searching, the name fields (such as for Party, Attorney, and Judge) will not recognize connectors such as "/2" between a first and last name. In those fields, simply type the names using natural language.

Documents available to educational accounts within CourtLink will be labeled Free, with a link to the full text. For commercial Lexis Advance accounts, there are three CourtLink statuses: Free, Online (available to download by request), and Runner (requires courier to be dispatched to court). Educational accounts are not eligible for runner services, or to download documents that are not already available in CourtLink. However, the Free documents include some historical filings from legacy court docket products that cannot be found on other platforms.

CourtLink also allows users to set up alerts for searches or particular dockets. This brief instructional video demonstrates the steps for searching and setting up alerts. A Quick Reference Guide is also available.

For help with searching for dockets and/or court filings, check out the library's Court Records and Briefs research guide or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Food Fight

Yesterday's New York Times contained an article on the legal battles surrounding the labeling of plant-based food products. As meatless patties like the Impossible™ Burger and Beyond Burger™ continue their gains in popularity, lobbying groups for the beef industry have ramped up efforts to block the use of certain words in the products' labeling through legislation. A number of states already have passed laws that regulate whether vegan, vegetarian, or lab-grown meat products can use terms like "meat," "burger," or "sausage." An NPR story rounds up the existing state laws. One proposed bill, still pending in the Washington state legislature, would make the production and sale of lab-grown meat a misdemeanor if enacted.

Why the concern? Lawmakers cite the potential for consumer confusion, which food labeling laws are designed to prevent. Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains hundreds of definitions of various food products, specifying their contents and labeling requirements. But as noted in the Times article, the beef industry also fears the potential market share gains by alternative burgers that have been enjoyed by alternative milk products, such as soy milk and almond milk. Once retail stores began placing alternative milks near dairy products, their sales skyrocketed; non-dairy milks now comprise 13% of the milk market share. Plant-based "meat" is currently 1% of the meat market share, but that number would likely similarly rise.

Plant-based food producers are fighting back against the labeling restrictions. Last week, the makers of Tofurky and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Arkansas. Turtle Island Foods v. Soman challenges Arkansas's law as violating First Amendment protections on commercial speech. (The full text of the complaint is available on the ACLU website.)

To learn more about this fascinating area of law, try a subject search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for "Food law and legislation – United States." You’ll find titles like Food Regulation: Law, Science, Policy, and Practice (KF3875 .F67 2017 & online) and the treatise Food and Drug Administration, 4th ed. (KF3871 .O733 & online in Westlaw). For help with locating these or other food law resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Sources for CRS Reports

Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports, produced by a nonpartisan office within the Library of Congress, have long been a valuable research resource. For a long time, though, their access was limited to the members of Congress who requested the research, constituents who requested copies via their congressperson, and those with access through commercial databases or publishers.

CRS products include the well-known comprehensive research reports as well as shorter "In Focus" documents (providing a brief overview of a topic), "Legal Sidebars" (briefly examining legal developments), and "Insights" (analyzing current topics of interest to members of Congress). Researchers at Duke have several options for locating CRS products.
  • By law, CRS reports are now posted to the free Congressional Research Service page on Users can search for a particular topic, or list all available documents by clicking the search button with no terms in the box. Currently, more than 6,500 documents are included, mostly from the last two years but with selected historical coverage.
  • is a free website containing publicly-available reports as well as other CRS product series. Currently, the site contains more than 15,000 documents. A unique feature of this site is the ability to "redline" changes to documents with the Revision History sidebar. For example, a recent In Brief publication on Regular Vetoes and Pocket Vetoes illustrates that the majority of changes since 2005 have been quite minor, but that the most recent revision last week changed 27% of the content from the previous version, mostly related to the change in Presidential administration.
  • The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has long maintained an online archive of CRS reports on various topics. This site also includes CRS annual reports back to FY1995, which predate the collection on the Library of Congress's own page (back to 2009). Annual reports often include a list of products prepared in that fiscal year, providing a helpful inventory of CRS materials for that time frame.
  • University of North Texas Digital Library also maintains a CRS report collection. This collection contains more than 41,500 items, dating back to the 1960s.
  • The ProQuest Congressional database, available to current members of the Duke University community, includes the full text of selected CRS reports and other products from 1916-present.
For help with locating the full text of a Congressional Research Service publication, check out the above resources or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Digital Detoxing

How many email addresses do you have?

More importantly, how many email addresses have you forgotten about?

In June, Lifehacker posted a helpful guide, How to Find and Delete Your Old Email Addresses. Echoing concerns raised recently by Consumer Reports, the posts noted that dormant email accounts present a serious security vulnerability – especially if you used them as password recovery addresses for linked services or other, more valuable email accounts.

Both posts detail some steps to locate and delete unwanted, dormant email addresses. A few key tips to identify past addresses to potentially shutter:
  • Conduct a web search for your known usernames and email addresses.
  • View the connected email accounts on your social media services (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) by accessing your Settings.
  • Check the secondary "password recovery" accounts listed on your primary email account and other online services.
  • Review any saved logins in your web browsers or password manager programs to identify potential accounts to close.
Not sure you captured all of the forgotten email addresses? Current members of the Duke Law community may also want to check their listing in Lexis Advance's Public Records & Find a Person (Nationwide) database, which includes email addresses associated with a particular person at the bottom of each result. If you've ever used a "burner" account to sign up for certain websites, the email address will likely show up there.

While you'll want to hold on to at least a few email accounts, you can likely reduce your associated emails to an "official" work/school address, a primary personal account, and a backup account that you use for services that are likely to generate unwanted spam.

You can take additional steps to secure the email accounts that you choose to keep. Current Duke University students, faculty, and staff are eligible for a free account to LastPass Premium, a password manager service that generates and stores strong passwords to your various online accounts (leaving you with only one master password to remember). Multi-factor authentication, required or recommended for many Duke services, is also an option on most email providers, and worth adding to the accounts you choose to keep.

For more online security advice, check out the Duke OIT Security page or consult with the Law School Academic Technologies Help Desk staff.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Oxford Historical Treaties Now Available

The Oxford Historical Treaties database is now available to the Duke University community. This database contains the full text of treaties from 1648-1919, derived from Clive Parry's Consolidated Treaty Series. Additional editorial commentaries on treaty-related topics will be regularly added by General Editor Randall Lesaffer (Tilburg Law School) and guest editors.

Just in time for Friday's centennial anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, the database has contributed several texts to a free Oxford Public International Law online collection of scholarly articles, book chapters, definitions, and expert commentary on the Treaty of Versailles and the history of international law. This collection is free to all readers until August 31; however, most of the content will remain available to Duke readers after that date, as the Goodson Law Library subscribes to most of the databases from Oxford Public International Law (including the online Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law and other titles).

Current members of the Duke University community may now access Oxford Historical Treaties via the Duke libraries' online catalog or through Legal Databases & Links. For more information about treaty-related research resources, consult our research guide to Treaties or Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Black's Law Dictionary 11th Edition

The new 11th edition of Black's Law Dictionary has arrived at the library and online. Once our hard copies are processed, you can find a print copy at the Reserve Desk and on the dictionary stand in the library Reading Room. Online, the Black's Law Dictionary database on Westlaw has already incorporated the 11th edition changes.

What's new in the 2019 edition? The publisher's description promises "new material on every page." More than 3,500 new terms have been added, bringing the total number of definitions higher than 55,000. Definitions now include information about the earliest known usage in the English language, a unique feature among law dictionaries. In addition, definitions for 900 Latin maxims have also been added to a new, separate section.

Historical editions of Black's Law Dictionary are available on Reserve. The first (1891) and second (1910) editions are also available online.

For help with locating Black's Law Dictionary or finding legal definitions, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Virtual Summer School

Interested in learning a new skill this summer? Discovered a technological weak spot at your summer job? Wanted to brush up on a foreign language before an exciting overseas vacation? Whatever the reason, the library can connect you to the resources to learn more.
  • Duke's Office of Information Technology's Online Training page points to several options, and provides tips for ensuring successful progress in online learning.
  •, linked from the OIT Online Training site, is available to all members of the Duke University community, and includes video modules for more than 6,000 topics. The subject library provides links to the lessons under each category. A number of modules are available for Microsoft Office products like Word and Excel, as well as presentation technology like Prezi, computer programming languages, and even music lessons.
  • Coursera for Duke provides Duke community members and alumni with free access to Coursera online courses created by Duke instructors. Available topics at Duke include computer programming and statistical analysis skills. Additional topics can be found at's full course catalog, and may be available in a free "audit" option that does not provide a certificate of completion.
  • Language learning resources were the subject of a January Goodson Blogson post, covering Duke subscription databases like Mango Languages and Transparent Language Online, as well as the popular freemium language app Duolingo.
For help with accessing or using these resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Correcting the Record

Live on the air during a BBC radio interview late last week, best-selling author Naomi Wolf received some unwelcome news about her new book, Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love. While discussing the history of same-sex relations in Victorian England, the program host disputed the author's claims that "several dozen executions" for the crime of homosexuality were recorded at the Old Bailey (London's Central Criminal Court). Wolf based this claim on the use of the phrase "death recorded" for defendants, such as 14-year-old Thomas Silver, whose guilty plea and death sentence for sodomy were recorded in 1859.

During the exchange, which can be heard around the 20:00 – 25:00 minute mark of the recording, host Matthew Sweet refuted Wolf's assertion that death sentences had been carried out for Silver and others convicted of sodomy or homosexuality. Sweet, whose 2001 book Inventing the Victorians debunked a number of common misconceptions about the era, pointed out that dictionaries of the era defined the phrase "death recorded" not as an actual execution, but rather as an abstention from carrying out a death sentence. Wolf pledged to look closely at this, and has already discussed her plans to correct future editions of the book.

This mortifying moment serves as an important reminder about understanding context for terminology – no matter the era that you are researching, nor how commonplace the words might seem or how straightforward their meaning might appear. Although the phrase "death recorded" is no longer found in modern editions of Black's Law Dictionary, contemporaneous dictionaries are of course a critical source to help you determine historical definitions from a specific time period. The 1st edition of Black's Law Dictionary (1891) included a headword definition for the phrase "sentence of death recorded" ("In English practice. The recording of a sentence of death, not actually pronounced, on the understanding that it will not be executed"), with a note that the practice was already "in disuse." Black’s later moved this definition to appear underneath the definition of sentence, beginning with the 2d edition from 1910, until the term was dropped from the dictionary altogether beginning with the 5th edition in 1979.

You can find other print and electronic dictionaries (both general and legal) in the Duke Libraries Catalog with subject searches for law -- [jurisdiction] -- dictionaries, e.g., law -- Great Britain -- Dictionaries. This search will return results like Mozley and Whiteley's Law Dictionary, which was cited by Black's Law Dictionary as the source for its definition. (As a further reminder that nobody’s perfect, Black's misspells Whiteley's name as "Whitley" in its source list.)

An important rule of thumb for research and fact-checking is to find multiple sources that corroborate a particular point. For her data on convictions and sentencing, Wolf likely consulted the online Proceedings of the Old Bailey, which were digitized several years ago. While the "about" pages on Punishment Sentences at the Old Bailey do not use or explain the exact phrase "death recorded," the text repeatedly notes that the majority of death sentences were mitigated, and notes that only murderers actually received the death penalty between 1840 and its abolition for minor crimes in 1861. Indeed, the Digital Panopticon (recommended in the Old Bailey help pages for determining the eventual fate of defendants) for Thomas Silver notes a prison license (parole) granted three years later, and a possible death date in 1881.

The Duke University Libraries provide a handout for evaluating the reliability of resources based on The CRAAP Test, a framework originally developed by librarians at CSU Chico. The CRAAP Test helps you evaluate print and online sources for their currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. For help with locating reliable sources of information, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, May 20, 2019

50 Years of Wright and Miller

This summer marks the half-century anniversary for many well-known events in American history: the Apollo 11 mission (July 16-24) put the first men on the moon. The Stonewall riots in New York City (June 28-July 1) galvanized the gay rights movement. The Woodstock music festival (August 15-18) showcased the music that defined a generation. The Manson Family murders (August 8-9) shocked the nation.

Legal history, too, includes a few milestones from 1969. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School Board (393 U.S. 503), an important First Amendment case protecting the free speech rights of students who protested the Vietnam War at school by wearing black armbands. In May, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was adopted and opened for signature. And late last month, publisher Thomson Reuters noted another 50-year milestone in the law: the publication of Charles Alan Wright and Arthur Miller's seminal treatise, Federal Practice and Procedure (Ref. KF9619 .W7 & online in Westlaw).

Federal Practice and Procedure (known just as well by its authors' names, "Wright & Miller") remains one of the most authoritative and respected legal treatises on American law, widely cited by courts and scholars. The multi-volume set provides a detailed overview of federal law practice topics, with substantial primary law references in footnotes. Any student or scholar researching a matter of federal law would be well advised to consult the set early in their research. The earliest volumes were similarly hailed as a worthy successor to the 1951 treatise by Barron & Holtzoff that it replaced, such as in this pair of reviews by a judge and an attorney that were published in the 1969 Michigan Law Review (via HeinOnline; NetID login required).

A new legal podcast series, in which Prof. Arthur Miller reflects upon the development, publication, and impact of Federal Practice and Procedure, has released its first episode. Additional episodes will be released throughout 2019.

For help with finding or using Wright & Miller's Federal Practice and Procedure, or for other research queries, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, May 13, 2019

WSJ Online Now Available

The Goodson Law Library and Ford Library at the Fuqua School of Business are pleased to announce a partnership to provide campus-wide access to, the online platform for the Wall Street Journal. All current Duke University students, faculty, and staff may sign up at this registration link (NetID login required) with their,, or email address. Once created, the can be used on the web and on the WSJ apps for Apple and Android.

Faculty and staff accounts will last for renewable 1-year terms for the duration of your Duke employment and the library subscription. Student accounts will be free for the duration of enrollment at Duke. After graduation, students enjoy a 90-day grace period. After that, students must transition to self-funding a personal subscription; there are discounted rates in the first two years after graduation.

If you have an existing account to with your email address, you will first need to cancel your personal subscription before joining the Duke group. More information can be found at the Ford Library FAQs for

With this new WSJ subscription, current Law School community members can now create free accounts to the online platforms of three major newspapers. Access to Financial Times ( can be set up by first registering an account with your Duke Law email account on a networked Law School computer (e.g., in the library Reading Room) and joining the Duke Law Library "group subscription." Access to The New York Times ( can be set up here by selecting Duke University School of Law from the "Find School" menu and registering an account with your or email address.

For help with access to these new subscriptions, or with accessing the full text of hundreds of other online newspapers at Duke, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Mother's Day in Legal History

For more than a century, the second Sunday in May has marked the Mother's Day holiday in the United States. A Congressional joint resolution passed on May 8, 1914 recognized the holiday, and requested that the President issue a proclamation to display the U.S. flag on the second Sunday in May in order to recognize "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." This language about the purpose of Mother's Day can still be found in the current U.S. Code, at 36 U.S.C. § 117. Woodrow Wilson issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing the national holiday one day later, on May 9, 1914; a copy of the original proclamation document can be viewed online at the National Archives.

Most modern Americans likely associate Mother's Day with flowers, greeting cards, and brunch. This news would disappoint Anna Jarvis, who is widely credited as the originator of Mother's Day. A West Virginia native, Jarvis organized early local Mother's Day church celebrations in honor of her own mother, Ann Reeves, who died in 1905; she selected the second Sunday in May since it was the closest date to her mother's death. Jarvis began a letter-writing campaign to encourage state governments to recognize Mother's Day as an official holiday. Her home state of West Virginia recognized "Mothers' Day" (note the plural vs. singular possessive) in 1910; an online copy of the proclamation can be found in the Duke Libraries Catalog.

Following the national recognition, Anna Jarvis later bristled against the commercialization of what she perceived as a "holy day" to recognize the contributions of mothers, encouraging boycotts of florists and successfully fighting against efforts to rebrand "Mother's Day" as "Parents' Day." Historian Katherine Lane Antolini summarizes this history in a Smithsonian Magazine article and gives it expansive treatment in her book Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for Control of Mother's Day (in print at Perkins/Bostock HQ759.2 .A57 2014 & online). For help with locating legislative history materials – about Mother's Day or any other topic – check out our research guide to Federal Legislative History or Ask a Librarian.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Exam-Period Library Updates

As the spring 2019 exam period approaches, the Goodson Law Library has implemented some important changes based on user feedback, in order to improve your experience.
Restricted Access in Effect
During the Law School's Reading & Examination period (April 19 – May 3), access to the Goodson Law Library for study purposes is restricted to current Law School students, faculty and staff. Others who need to access the library for research purposes may visit the library when service desk staff are on duty (Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; contact the Circulation/Reserve Desk for assistance during staffed evenings and weekends).
Quiet Study in the Library
During the reading & examination period, the entire library (including the Reading Room on Level 3) will be converted to quiet space. Excessive noise and inadequate quiet space were the top themes in our Spring 2019 student survey. Please be quiet in the library and take all phone calls outside.
New Seating, Tables and Beanbags
The library has placed new full-size, sit-stand desks with task lighting on Levels 2, 3, and 4. Additional study tables and chairs have also been placed on Level 4. In addition, by student request, several beanbag chairs have been added to Level 2.
Unlocked Study Rooms After Hours
Study rooms are now unlocked after hours and weekends (when the library is unstaffed), and available to be reserved by Law students in the online calendar system. The library's Fite Room (Level 2) and Tech Hub (Level 3) are also available for after-hours law student use.
Food Policy Changes
With the exception of light pre-packaged or vending machine snacks, the library kindly requests that food be consumed elsewhere in the Law School.
Free Coffee
Starting Monday, April 22, free freshly brewed coffee, hot water and tea will be provided at the library entrance around 8am daily, Monday to Friday (until supply is exhausted).
Infographic summary of
exam-period changes
Thank you for helping us maintain the library as a comfortable and clean space, conducive to study and collaboration. If you have feedback or additional suggestions for library improvements, please contact or use the online Library Suggestion Box.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Summer Legal Research Access

Whether you're heading to a summer job or graduating this May, your access to legal research services like Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law will change.
Continuing Students
For rising 2Ls and 3Ls, your Law School research access generally continues uninterrupted over the summer. Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law both allow student usage over the summer for educational as well as for commercial purposes. (However, check with your employer before using your Law School accounts for paid work – many employers prefer that summer associates avoid using their school accounts for researching firm matters.)

Westlaw restricts continuing students' summer access to non-commercial/educational research purposes only. The eligible categories for summer access include:
  • Summer coursework for academic credit
  • Research Assistant assignments
  • Law Review or journal research
  • Moot Court research
  • Non-profit or clinical work
  • Unpaid externship

Continuing students will receive 60 hours of Westlaw research access during the months of June and July, and full access in August.
2019 Graduates
Before leaving Duke Law, check out the library's information page on Library Services for Recent Grads/Alumni, which contains helpful details about accessing legal research services, borrowing library materials, and extending building access for bar study.

For graduating 3Ls and LLMs, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law automatically extend educational accounts for 6 months.

Lexis additionally offers the ASPIRE program, providing 12 months of free access to graduates who work in public interest. Proof of work with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is required. To learn more about ASPIRE, visit

Under Westlaw's "Grad Elite" program for Practice Ready schools, access continues for 18 months after graduation. Duke Law graduates are allowed 60 hours of usage per month for services like Westlaw and Practical Law, with no restrictions against using them for professional purposes.

For help with your summer access to these or other Duke resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian. The library's summer hours, which take effect at the end of final exams, are Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Friday, April 5, 2019

West Academic Study Aids Now Available Online

The Goodson Law Library is pleased to announce a new institutional subscription to West Academic Library Study Aids, just in time for final exam preparation. This new database provides full-text access to online versions of hundreds of West Academic Publishing study aids, treatises, audio lectures, and flash card sets.
Which of the many available study aid series will you find in the West Academic Library? Here are a few key categories:
  • Favorites from the Reserve Collection: Concepts and Insights, Concise Hornbooks, Hornbooks
  • Quick Overviews: Acing… series, Nutshells, Quick Reviews, Short & Happy Guides
  • Class Outlines/Exam Prep: Black Letter Outlines, Exam Pro, Flash Cards, Gilbert Law Summaries, High Court Case Summaries, Legalines
  • Audio: Sum and Substance, Law School Legends
  • Professional Skills: Building Skills Series, Career Guides, Developing Professional Skill

From 1L standbys like "the boat book" (a.k.a. Chirelstein's Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts) to upper-level topics and bar exam or career preparation, there is likely to be a title of interest for you. The site provides menus to navigate through 1L subjects, 2L/3L subjects, by a particular series title, and even for the eleven titles written by Duke Law faculty authors. There are also options to search across or within the Study Aids library content, and to create an individual account that allows you to designate a favorites list, annotate or highlight within titles, and download titles to read offline. Printing and copy/pasting is permitted within the browser (web-based) view of a title. For users who create an individual account, a mobile app version is also available for Apple and Android.

Links to each online study aid title will soon be added to the Duke Libraries Catalog. In the meantime, you can access the West Academic Library Study Aids through this direct link or via Legal Databases & Links. For help with using this new database, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Mueller Report: What Next?

At the close of business on Friday, news broke that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III had filed the results of a nearly two-year-long investigation, "Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election," to Attorney General William P. Barr. Today, Barr submitted a letter to the House Judiciary Committee which briefly summarized the report’s conclusions.

As reported in various news outlets, the report summary is divided into two parts: Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and obstruction of justice. The investigation described two elements of Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, but "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." The obstruction portion reviewed various actions by the President that had raised potential obstruction concerns. Notably, Barr's letter states, "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." However, the Justice Department indicated that no additional indictments are expected from Mueller, whose investigation has already resulted in numerous indictments and prosecutions (see an overview at The New York Times).

The full report of the Mueller investigation remains confidential, although Barr acknowledges the high level of public interest in the contents and pledges "to release as much of the Special Counsel's report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies." Members of Congress have indicated that they will push for the release of the full report, taking the battle to court if necessary.

For continued coverage of the legal issues raised by the Mueller report, consult the following outlets:
  • The New York Times – register with your or address for a yearlong "academic pass."
  • – Law School community members may register for an individual account here, or access the full text of articles on the Law School computers and wifi network.
  • – join the Duke Law Library "group subscription" by registering from a networked computer with your or address.
  • The Washington Post: available with your NetID through ProQuest Central.

To learn more about your access to other news outlets, try a search of Online Full-Text Journals or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Gold Standards

Over the weekend, more than 8,000 people attended the 30th annual Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico. This 26.2-mile trek through desert terrain serves as a remembrance of the approximately 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war who were forced to march through 65 miles of jungle terrain by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Thousands of the captive soldiers did not survive the journey, succumbing to harsh conditions, starvation, disease, and torture by their captors.

The memorial march's schedule of events also included a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony, at which eligible Filipino veterans of World War II (or their next-of-kin) received a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded at the original ceremony in 2017. The Congressional Gold Medal is one of several decorations that the United States Congress has awarded over the years (others include silver and bronze medals, as well as ceremonial swords), but is generally considered the highest honor that Congress can bestow.

Congress has used medals to express formal gratitude since the earliest days of America. The tradition dates back to the Continental Congress, when then-General George Washington received the first Congressional Gold Medal for "'wise and spirited conduct' in bringing about the British evacuation of Boston" on March 25, 1776. Over the years, the Congressional Gold Medal was expanded beyond military achievements to distinguished civilian contributions as well.

More information about Congressional Gold Medal history and procedures can be found in the recently-updated Congressional Research Service report Congressional Gold Medals: Background, Legislative Process and Issues for Congress. The Appendix to this CRS report includes a summary of medals awarded since 1776. The report notes that Congressional Gold Medal awards have increased in the modern era, prompting interest in imposing potential limits on the number that may be awarded and specific criteria for eligibility.

In the current Congress, there are more than twenty proposed bills concerning Congressional Gold Medals, including bills that would award medals to Aretha Franklin; Mahatma Gandhi; various groups of WWII soldiers; Fred Korematsu, who famously challenged Japanese-American internment camps all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court; and the African-American female NASA "human computers" whose story was depicted in the acclaimed film Hidden Figures. Only time will tell which of these individuals or groups will be honored with a Congressional Gold Medal. After a Congressional Gold Medal bill becomes law, the process begins to design and strike the unique medal, as well as schedule an award ceremony. The CRS report details the process and includes some sample designs from past awards.

For help with locating bills or statutes concerning Congressional Gold Medals, or with researching other formal decorations under federal law, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Introducing PitchBook

The Duke University community now has access to PitchBook, a financial technology database with extensive company and deal information. PitchBook users can search thousands of private equity and venture capital deals by hundreds of criteria, establish benchmarks, find real time data on deals, identify and analyze comparables, and search investor details.

All current Duke University students, faculty, and staff are now eligible for Academic User accounts that permit restricted amounts of data exporting and printing: 10 daily / 25 monthly rows of company, deal, fund, or people data. Faculty members at Law and Fuqua may inquire about options for a premium upgrade that allows for increased downloads. Instructions for the account creation process as well as PitchBook content guides can be found at the Ford Library's PitchBook at Duke portal page (NetID login required).

Additional campus resources for locating company information and venture capital data can be found at the Ford Library's Databases by Subject page. For help with accessing these resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

PLI Plus Database Now Available

The Duke University community now has access to PLI Plus, a full-text database of publications from the Practising Law Institute. PLI is a leading provider of legal education programs, and their online library includes full-text access to more than 1,500 PLI course handbooks, answer books, form publications, and treatises. (The Duke Law community may recall that PLI titles were previously available electronically via Bloomberg Law, but PLI Plus is now the exclusive online source for these publications.)

Some notable PLI titles include the treatises Sack on Defamation: Libel, Slander & Related Problems and Soderquist on the Securities Laws, The Pocket MBA: Everything an Attorney Needs to Know About Finance, and the textbook Working with Contracts: What Law School Doesn't Teach You. Titles can be searched or browsed at the PLI Plus site, and chapters are available for online viewing or for download as PDFs.

In the coming weeks, records will be added to the Duke Libraries Catalog to provide quick access to individual titles that are now available within PLI Plus. In the meantime, you can access the full PLI online library through the Law Library's Legal Databases & Links page. For help with locating PLI titles of interest, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

State Bar Association Benefits 2019

Earlier this month, the Washington State Bar Association became the second state bar organization in the U.S. to offer its members free access to both Fastcase and Casemaker, two low-cost research services that are frequently offered as a membership benefit by bar associations. Since 2013, the Goodson Law Library has maintained a map of state bar association legal research benefits, which has been updated to reflect this recent change.

The landscape has changed dramatically since the first such map was created by 3 Geeks and a Law Blog in 2010 (sadly, their IBM ManyEyes map no longer displays). In those days, New York State Bar Association members had access to a legal research service called Loislaw (acquired by Fastcase in 2015), Pennsylvania used a customized Lexis product called InCite (PA switched to Casemaker in 2014), and several state bar associations offered no legal research service benefit at all. Over the years, Fastcase and Casemaker gained shares of a market that now covers bar associations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Today, access to Casemaker is offered by 21 state bar associations, and Fastcase by 31; Washington joins Texas in offering members access to both services. (Each service also has deals in place with county and local bar associations, but the Duke Law map tracks only state-level associations.)

Want to learn more about these research services before heading out into law practice? Members of the Duke community have access to a campus-wide version of Fastcase that includes federal and state primary law, as well as selected treatise publications. Duke Law students and faculty can also register for an educational version of Casemaker called CasemakerX. For help with using these services, or additional options for legal research, be sure to Ask a Librarian.