Wednesday, September 28, 2022

First Monday in October

Monday, October 3 marks the start of the United States Supreme Court's October Term. Congress established the "first Monday in October" as the beginning of a new Court term in 1916, as seen in 28 U.S.C. § 2.

The term will be the first for new Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was sworn in on June 30 following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer. (A formal investiture ceremony for Justice Jackson will be held on Friday, September 30.)

With less than a week before the opening of oral argument, the Court looks a little more welcoming than it did at the end of the last term, although it has maintained some pandemic-era access protocols. In late August, the Court removed the 8-foot security fence that was erected in advance of the controversial opinion Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overruled Roe v. Wade. However, the building still remains closed to the public, except for official business. The Court began streaming real-time audio of oral argument during the pandemic, and has not yet announced any changes to that plan for the upcoming term. (UPDATED at 4:32 pm: The Court has just announced that it will continue the live audio feed of oral argument, and will allow limited public seating for oral argument during this Term.)

To learn more about individual cases on the Court's docket and petitions for certiorari under consideration, SCOTUSblog offers quick access to case information and filings on its October Term 2022 page, organized by argument date. 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. If you are interested in attending a preview event, SCOTUSblog also has a roundup of free public events highlighting key cases from the 2022-23 October Term.

For more information on the history and practices of the U.S. Supreme Court, check out the resources linked in the library's research guide or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Secondary Sources: Still the First Stop for Research

On August 28, a new law took effect in the state of Missouri, which in part added Mo. Rev. Stat. § 1.016: "A secondary source, including a legal treatise, scholarly publication, textbook, or other explanatory text, does not constitute the law or public policy of this state to the extent its adoption would create, eliminate, expand, or restrict a cause of action, right, or remedy, or to the extent it is inconsistent with, or in conflict with, or otherwise not addressed by, Missouri statutory law or Missouri appellate case law precedent."

Most law students learn that secondary sources do not constitute the actual law of a jurisdiction in their first semester of legal research instruction, so this code section's text may seem strangely obvious. However, it's not the only such law on the books enacted or proposed recently: even North Carolina has one specific to insurance law at N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-1-2 which took effect last year, and a nearly identical version of that text died in the West Virginia legislature this summer.

Why the sudden rush to codify the status of secondary sources in so many states, particularly for states that focused solely on insurance? These laws all draw their text from a model act developed by the National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), as a response to the drafting of the American Law Institute's Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance. Attorneys Lorelie S. Masters and Geoffrey B. Fehling detail the background of this controversy in a 2020 Connecticut Insurance Law Journal article. NCOIL model act drafters expressed concerns that the Restatement would provide "more of an ALI wish list than a statement of the majority rule of current law," and that courts would promptly adopt the Restatement view on various aspects of insurance law. The recent Missouri statute broadened the model act text beyond just the confines of insurance law.

Although state legislatures may continue trying to limit the adoption of secondary sources' text by courts in their jurisdiction, you should never be deterred from consulting them early in your research process! Secondary sources remain a great place to start your research for an overview of your topic and citations to selected relevant primary authority. Some sources to help you begin your project include:

  • Encyclopedias are available that cover the law across the United States (American Jurisprudence 2d on Westlaw, Lexis, and the campus-wide Nexis Uni; Corpus Juris Secundum on Westlaw) and individual states (such as Strong's North Carolina Index on Westlaw or in print in the library). Harvard Law School Library's guide to Legal Encyclopedias is a great list of links to available titles.
  • Study aid series like Nutshells and Hornbooks can provide a basic introduction to topics in an accessible, one-volume format. The West Academic Study Aid Library features Nutshells, Hornbooks, Concepts & Insights, among many other series; Aspen Learning Library includes Glannon Guides and Examples & Explanations. Additional introductory topical overviews are available in Elgar Advanced Introductions to Law.
  • Multi-volume scholarly treatises provide more in-depth analysis about a particular topic. Treatises are available online in Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg, and other databases depending upon the publisher. Guides like Georgetown Law Library's Treatise Finders are a great place to locate recommended titles, as is Appendix B of Legal Research in a Nutshell.
  • Journal and law review articles can help you focus on a more specific topic in law. Articles from major legal journals and law reviews since the early 1980s can be found in Lexis, Westlaw, and campus-wide databases like LegalTrac and Nexis Uni. The SSRN repository also contains a number of forthcoming articles and unpublished working papers in law, in addition to copies of published articles.

For help with locating relevant secondary sources on a topic, or learning more about model legislation like NCOIL's, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Global-Regulation Database Now Available

The Goodson Law Library has recently added a campus-wide subscription to the Global-Regulation database. This resource contains more than 4 million laws from 110 countries, with side-by-side machine translations provided for non-English documents. Access this resource via the library's Legal Databases & Links page or the Duke Libraries Catalog.

The Database Coverage map provides an illustration of the included jurisdictions; the Americas, Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia have the deepest coverage, with only a limited number of African jurisdictions represented.

Additional resources for locating laws of foreign jurisdictions, either in translation or original format, include:

  • Foreign Law Guide: A subscription database, available to current members of the Duke University community. Entries for a particular country will provide an overview of the legal system, details about primary sources of law, and a subject index. Foreign Law Guide includes pointers to online availability, in both free and subscription resources. Notes about English translations (either official or through unofficial secondary sources) are also often included.
  • GlobaLex: A free website maintained by NYU Law's Hauser Global Law School Program, GlobaLex’s Foreign Law Research section provides detailed guides to researching the law of most countries, including some not featured in Foreign Law Guide (such as North Korea and South Sudan).
  • Worldwide Tax and Commercial Laws (via Checkpoint > International): includes translations of business and tax laws from around the world.

For help using Global-Regulation or these other databases, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Bloomberg Law Docket Access Update

Last week, Bloomberg Law announced a change to its academic subscription docket usage caps. Effective July 2022, the system will reset educational account users' docket "billing" for the year on July 1, rather than January 1, to more closely track the academic calendar.

As many Law School community members already know, Bloomberg Law provides subscribers with robust access to federal and state court dockets and filings. Individual users can request the full text of documents that are available for electronic retrieval, and track/update pending case dockets as well. Although this service comes at a cost to commercial subscribers, Bloomberg subsidizes these costs for academic users: up to $1,500 per person each year or up to an institutional cap (equivalent to 30% of the annual subscription cost paid by the institution, which varies depending on size). (Note: Academic subscribers are not eligible to request items that require courier service to retrieve.)

More information is available at Bloomberg's Policy on Academic Use of Dockets. Users who exceed their annual allotment will be restricted from incurring additional docket charges (for retrieval or updating/tracking) until the next annual reset. Bloomberg pledges to provide 30 days' notice before suspending docket retrieval access (except in the case of data scraping or other automated download methods, which can result in immediate suspension under the terms of service). Users can always review their current docket "charges" in the top right corner of Bloomberg Law, under My Accounts > My Docket Billing.

What happens if your docket access is someday restricted, either due to your personal or Duke's institutional usage cap? Once retrieved, an individual document becomes freely available in the system (labeled "View" rather than "Request" on the docket), and subsequent readers incur no charges for accessing those materials. Current members of the Duke Law community can also access many court filings and docket materials through Westlaw (Filings tab for a particular case) and Lexis (CourtLink). CourtListener's Advanced RECAP Archive Search includes federal court documents provided by users of the RECAP browser extension

For additional options in researching federal and state dockets, check out our research guide to Court Records and Briefs or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Expanded Access to ProQuest Supreme Court Insight

The Goodson Law Library has recently expanded its access to historical content in the ProQuest Supreme Court Insight database, adding U.S. Supreme Court records, briefs, and case histories back to 1933 (expanded from its previous start date of 1975). The Duke University community can now access this nearly half-century of additional materials via the Duke Libraries Catalog or Legal Databases & Links page.

ProQuest Supreme Court Insight provides browse and search capability for U.S. Supreme Court materials. For quick access to a specific case's materials, use Search by Number or select "Supreme Court Case Name" from the Basic or Advanced search menus. A section of Landmark Cases also allows browsing or searching for selected noteworthy cases decided during the coverage period. Results will include petitions for certiorari, briefs, appendices, docket listings, and the Court's final opinion. (Cert petitions are also included in cases where the Court did not grant the petition; the Advanced Search menu allows users to restrict results to only "Heard"/"Denied" cases, if desired.)

Looking for Supreme Court case filings before 1933? The Duke community can also access the database The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records & Briefs, 1832-1978. Researchers will likely wish to consult this database in addition to ProQuest Supreme Court Insight for case materials from the overlapping time period of 1933-1978, as each may include unique materials for a particular case. For example, both databases contain results for 1L perennial favorite Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938) -- while both databases contain the petition for certiorari and the case briefs, ProQuest includes a scan of the elegantly handwritten docket and Making of Modern Law includes a 555-page transcript of record, neither of which is currently found on the competing resource.

For additional sources of U.S. Supreme Court records and briefs, check out the Law Library’s research guide or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Summer Access to Research Databases

Whether you are graduating from Duke Law this May or continuing your legal studies next year, your access to legal research services and other campus databases may change this summer. Below is a summary of policies for the major legal research databases that you might wish to access over the summer.

Graduating Students
  • Westlaw: You may opt in to Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw and Practical Law, for six months after graduation for non-commercial use. This "Grad Elite" access allows 60 hours of usage on these products per month to gain understanding and build confidence in your research skills. While you cannot use it in situations where you are billing a client, Thomson Reuters encourages you to use these tools to build your knowledge of the law and prepare for your bar exam.
    In order to activate Grad Elite access:
    1) Log in at; use the drop-down menu by your name to access Grad Elite Status
    2) Or click on this link:
    In addition to the six months of Westlaw/Practical Law access for non-commercial purposes, Grad Elite access provides Knowledge Center eLearnings and Tutorials on Westlaw for 18 months after graduation.
  • Lexis: Spring 2022 graduates will have access to Lexis+ via their Lexis law school IDs until 12/31/22. Graduates can use their Lexis IDs for job research, professional development, and commercial purposes. Graduates do not need to register for this access; it is automatic.
    Graduates going into non-profit work may apply for a LexisNexis ASPIRE ID which lasts 12 months beyond graduation. Learn more about the LexisNexis Graduate programs and/or apply for an ASPIRE ID.
  • Bloomberg Law: Access to Bloomberg Law continues for six months after graduation. Graduated students may be limited in their ability to retrieve docket filings marked "Request," update dockets, or set up docket tracking. Graduates may download docket items already uploaded in the Bloomberg system (labeled "View").
Access to most other Duke University research databases will expire upon graduation, when your status in Duke’s directory changes to "Alumni." Recent graduates who register with the Duke Alumni Association for a OneLink account receive remote access to selected databases (including ABI/Inform, several video databases, and JSTOR).
Continuing Students
  • Westlaw allows continuing students to use Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw® and Practical Law, over the summer for non-commercial research (i.e., "to gain understanding and build confidence in your research skills, but you cannot use them in situations where you are billing a client"). Examples of permissible uses for your academic Westlaw password include the following:
    o Summer coursework
    o Research assistant assignments
    o Law Review or Journal research
    o Moot Court research
    o Non-Profit work
    o Clinical work
    o Externship sponsored by the school
    Your Westlaw summer access will continue automatically - no action is needed on your part.
  • Lexis: All returning students have automatic, unlimited access to their Lexis law school IDs for the entire summer. Law School Lexis IDs may be used for non-commercial purposes, as well as commercial purposes if your employer permits such use.
  • Bloomberg Law: Your Bloomberg Law access continues over the summer automatically. IDs may be used for non-commercial purposes, as well as commercial purposes if your employer permits such use.

For questions about using legal research services or other Law Library/University electronic resources this summer, feel free to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Crime and Punishment in Victorian London

As part of a new consortial arrangement, Duke now has campus-wide access to all database titles published by Adam Matthew Digital. While the Duke University Libraries already subscribed to a number of the company's historical research titles, the deal has added more than a dozen new sources to the Duke community’s access.

One of the most intriguing of these new additions is London Low Life: Street Culture, Social Reform and the Victorian Underworld, a full-text research database of primary sources related to London in the 1800s and 1900s. The "Browse Documents" section provides easy access to materials on topics like "Crime and Justice" (pamphlets, broadsides, and news accounts of crimes and trials), "Politics, Scandal, and the News" (political cartoons and other publications, often related to legal proceedings), and "Disreputable London" (tourist guides to the seedier side of the city as well as slang dictionaries of the era). The database also includes an Interactive Map featuring 3D street views, galleries of visual material in the database (such as "An Old Bailey Trial," below), and contextual essays. 

Image of "An Old Bailey Trial" by Robert Cruikshank (1838)

 Other fascinating Adam Matthew Digital additions to the campus database list include World's Fairs: A Global History of Expositions, African American Communities (featuring primary sources related to various Black communities, including some in North Carolina); and Confidential Print: North America, 1824-1961 (foreign relations papers from the UK).

Databases and individual publication titles from the various Adam Matthew collections can be found in the Duke University Libraries catalog. For help locating and using these historical resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.