Governance and Social Development Resource Centre Document Library

The Governance and Social Development Resource Centre has put together a nice document library of citations and summaries of book chapters, reports, and journal articles arranged by keyword and by country. Links are provided to documents that are freely available on the Web. This site will help make up for the recent demise of the Intute portal.

From the Web site’s description:

“The document library is an up to date collection of the most credible publications available on governance, conflict and social development issues. It includes brief, policy-oriented summaries of each document highlighting the major findings and implications in an easy to read format, plus links to the full text online or by document delivery.

We monitor a wide range of publication sources weekly, including donors, NGOs and research institutes. Materials are carefully selected by our researchers to ensure that they are relevant to our topic area, demonstrate good practice or significant insight and represent a range of perspectives. Only the most credible and policy-relevant research, toolkits, analyses and case studies are included.”

Governance and Social Development Resource Centre Document Library

http://www.gsdrc.org/go/document-library

Save the Tweets: Library Acquisition of Online Materials

The latest issue of AIPLA Quarterly Journal (Volume 39, Issue Number 2, Spring 2011) just landed upon my desk, and at page 269 I found this article calling for “digital acquisition rights”:

Save the Tweets: Library Acquisition of Online Materials, by Jodie C. Graham

Its abstract from the AIPLA webpage:

As the Internet becomes an increasingly pervasive communications technology in society, public discussions and other born-digital documents of social and political importance frequently exist solely on various websites.  To fulfill their missions of preserving public knowledge, libraries seek to acquire and make accessible web documents to scholars, students, and other library patrons.  However, section 108 of the Copyright Act, which previously provided sufficient protection from liability for libraries’ acquisition and reproduction activities, does not adequately map onto the technological realities of acquiring digital documents over the Internet.  As a result, libraries must accept the risk of copyright infringement liability or forgo preserving historically important online documents.  This Note proposes a set of amendments that would update section 108 to extend libraries’ current limited protections from copyright liability to the acquisition, preservation, and making available of online documents.​

PACER Training Pilot Project Begins in July

PACER Training Pilot Project Begins in July
June 17, 2011

A pilot project aimed at having public libraries enhance the public’s knowledge and use of the federal judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service begins July 1, 2011.

Two libraries – the Library of Congress in the District of Columbia and the Law Library for San Bernadino, California – will kick off the pilot, but up to 50 additional public libraries may join them in future months.

PACER allows users to obtain case information from federal courts without having to visit the courthouse. The service allows an Internet user to request information about a particular case or party, and makes the data immediately available for printing or downloading at a cost of 8 cents per page.

In the pilot project, libraries will conduct at least one training class for the general public every three months, and offer training or refresher opportunities for library staff at least one a year. Those staff members, in turn, may assist library patrons in the use of PACER. For participating libraries, the first $50 of PACER use fees each quarter will be waived.

The pilot is a joint undertaking of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Government Printing Office, and the American Association of Law Libraries.

Codifying Commonsense – the Law.gov Principles

I am very pleased and proud to add my signature to the LAW.GOV PRINCIPLES AND DECLARATION just posted at public.resource.org.  These principles coalesced during the fifteen Law.gov workshops and have received the unanimous consent of the co-covenors of these Law.gov workshops.  The principles include items that we librarians have discussed for years, even decades, like vendor-neutral citation.  And these principles are consistent with the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform States Laws (NCCUSL) draft of a new “Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials Act.”

Here are the principles:

The primary legal materials of the United States are the raw materials of our democracy. They should be made more broadly available to enable an informed citizenry.

Primary legal materials include documents of primary authority issued by governmental bodies, such as court opinions, statutes, and regulations. They also include the supporting documents and other media issued and maintained by those bodies, such as dockets, hearings, forms, oral arguments, and legislative histories. These materials can be found in every branch, at every level, national, tribal, state and local, and should be available to anyone with the will and the heart to obtain them.

The following principles should govern the dissemination of primary legal materials in the United States:

1. Direct fees for dissemination of primary legal materials should be avoided.

2. Limitations on access through terms of use or the assertion of copyright on primary legal materials is contrary to long-standing public policy and core democratic principles and is misleading to citizens.

3. Primary legal materials should be made available using bulk access mechanisms so they may be downloaded by anyone.

4. The primary legal materials, and the methods used to access them, should be authenticated so people can trust in the integrity of these materials.

5. Historical archives should be made available online and in a static location to the extent possible.

6. Vendor- and media-neutral citation mechanisms should be employed.

7. Technical standards for document structure, identifiers, and metadata should be developed and applied as extensively as possible.

8. Data should be distributed in a computer-processable, non-proprietary form in a manner that meets best current practices for the distribution of open government data. That data should represent the definitive documents, not just aggregate, preliminary, or modified forms.

9. An active program of research and development should be sponsored by governmental bodies that issue primary legal materials to develop new standards and solutions to challenges presented by the electronic distribution of definitive primary legal materials. Examples include the automated detection and redaction of private personal information in documents.

10. An active program of education, training, and documentation should be undertaken to help governmental bodies that issue primary legal materials learn and use best current practices.

Adherence to these principles by governmental bodies is not just good for democracy and justice, it will spur innovation and will encourage:

1. Broader use of legal materials in all parts of our education system, including our law schools.

2. Researchers in law schools, universities, and other research institutions to have broader access to bulk data, spurring important research on the functioning of our government.

3. Innovation in the legal information market by reducing barriers to entry.

4. Savings in the government’s own cost of providing these materials through adherence to best current practices.

5. Small businesses to understand rules and regulations they must deal with, reducing their costs and increasing their effectiveness.

6. Increased foreign trade by making it easier for our foreign partners to understand our laws.

7. Better access to justice by making legal information more broadly available to citizens.

How we distribute the raw materials of our democracy is a foundational issue in our system of government. Access to the raw materials of our democracy is a prerequisite for the rule of law and access to justice and makes real the principles of equal protection and due process.

and here are the signatories:

Jack M. Balkin
Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment
 Yale Law School 

Robert C. Berring, Jr.
Walter Perry Johnson Professor of Law
Berkeley Law, University of California 

James Boyle
William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law
 Duke Law School 

Nicholas Bramble
Postdoctoral Associate in Law
 Yale Law School 

Tom R. Bruce
Director, Legal Information Institute
 Cornell Law School 

Richard A. Danner
Archibald C. & Frances Fulk Rufty Research Professor of Law
 Duke Law School 

Laura E. DeNardis
Executive Director, Information Society Project
 Yale Law School 

Edward W. Felten
Professor of Computer Science & Public Affairs
 Princeton University 

Jerry Goldman
Professor & Director, Oyez Project
 Northwestern University 

Joseph Lorenzo Hall
Visiting Postdoctoral Research Associate
UC Berkeley and Princeton University

  Jennifer Jenkins
Director, Center for the Study of the Public Domain
 Duke Law School 

Mitchell Kapor
Trustee
 Mitchell Kapor Foundation 

S. Blair Kauffman
Law Librarian and Professor of Law
 Yale Law School 

Mark A. Lemley
William H. Neukom Professor of Law
 Stanford Law School 

Lawrence Lessig
Professor of Law
 Harvard Law School 

Paul Lomio
Director, Robert Crown Law Library
 Stanford Law School 

Carl Malamud
President
 Public.Resource.Org 

Harry S. Martin III
Librarian & Professor of Law Emeritus
 Harvard Law School 

Peter W. Martin
Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law
 Cornell Law School 

John Mayer
Executive Director
Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction

  Judy Meadows
State Law Librarian
 State Law Library of Montana 

Paul Ohm
Associate Professor of Law and Telecommunications
University of Colorado Law School

  Tim O’Reilly
Chief Executive Officer
 O’Reilly Media 

John G. Palfrey
Henry N. Ess III Librarian & Professor of Law
 Harvard Law School 

Pamela Samuelson
Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law
Berkeley Law, University of California

  Stuart Sierra
Assistant Director, Program on Law and Technology
 Columbia Law School 

Stephen Schultze
Associate Director, Center for Information Technology Policy
 Princeton University 

Tim Stanley
Chief Executive Officer
 Justia 

Erika V. Wayne
Deputy Director, Robert Crown Law Library
 Stanford Law School 

Christopher Wong
Postgraduate Fellow
 New York Law School 

Tim Wu
Professor of Law
 Columbia Law School 

Harlan Yu
Doctoral Student in Computer Science
 Princeton University 

Jonathan Zittrain
Professor of Law & Computer Science
 Harvard Law School

The Eggplant That Ate the Spokane County Law Library

 

You’d better watch out for the eggplant that ate Chicago,
For he may eat your city soon.
You’d better watch out for the eggplant that ate Chicago,
If he’s still hungry, the whole country’s doomed.

 

The 3 Geeks and a Law Blog pointed me to a story in the Spokane, Washington newspaper Spokesman-Review.  I won’t rehash what he 3 Geeks blog item “Spokane County Law Library Needs Bailout for Westlaw Bills” opines, but the Spokesman-Review story by reporter John Craig, “Spokane County law library falls behind on bills,”  is disturbing to me on several levels.

The story quotes the librarian as saying that her Westlaw fees “are three times as much as the company was charging Pierce County . . . for the ‘exact same’ service.”  I do not know the details, but I can see how a reader might be led to believe that this poor county law library is being gouged by a huge monopolistic corporation. 

What is also disturbing to me is the report that the library is averaging $ 12,000 a month for Westlaw service, while its annual budget is only $ 220,000.  The library’s total labor costs are reported to be $ 78,236, which means that the county is paying Westlaw roughly twice what it’s paying its staff.   At the Stanford Law Library the total we spend for our staff is roughly twice what we spend for all materials (online and print), and that seems right to me — it’s the staff that is our most valuable resource.

The third disturbing element to the story is the suggestion that perhaps the county law library is a “relic” and should be shuttered for more “cost effective approaches” such as having public libraries (and not specialized law libraries) serve the legal information needs of the public.  To me this is short-sighted on so many levels that I could go on and on for pages about why this is a bad direction.

If this story does not help build a case for Law.gov, I don’t know what would.

Many states have discontinued publishing official state reports and rely upon West instead.  Appendix D of Fundamentals of Legal Research, 9th Edition, by Steven M. Barkan, Roy M. Mersky and Donald J. Dunn, includes a table “States That Have Discontinued Publishing Official State Reports” (excerpted below) showing what states have adopted West’s National Reporter System as the official publisher.

Washington is not one of these states.   It appears that Washington is one of the more progressive states in providing decisional law to the public for free.  The Washington State Court website contains free opinions from the last 90 days, and then links to www.legalWA.org ; the LegalWA site links directly to the Municipal Research Services Center of Washington, a nonprofit dedicated to providing free legal resources for Washington where case law from 1854 forward can be found.

There is definitely a place for expensive LexisNexis and Westlaw bills — in the high stakes world of Biglaw litigation (with clients to bill back) for certain, but in a county public law library?  There has got to be a better way.

Here’s an excerpt from that table I mentioned above:

B. STATES THAT HAVE DISCONTINUED PUBLISHING OFFICIAL STATE REPORTS.

Except for Louisiana, all states have discontinued their official reports have adopted West’s National Reporter System, or an offprint of the National Reporter System, as official.  Alaska has used the Pacific Reporter as its official reporter since it became a state.

[Copied below are the states listed in this table, next to the "Year of Last Case"]

Alabama                            1976

Ala. App.                           1976

Colorado                           1980

Colo. App.                        1980

Delaware                           1966

Florida                               1948

Indiana                              1981

Ind. App.                          1979

Iowa                                   1968

Kentucky                         1951

Louisiana                        1972

Maine                               1965

Minnesota                      1977

Mississippi                    1966

Missouri                        1956

Mo. App.                       1952

North Dakota              1953

Oklahoma                    1953

Okla. Crim.                  1953

Rhode Island             1980

South Dakota             1976

Tennessee                   1971

Tenn. App.                  1972

Tenn. Crim. App.      1970

Texas                            1962

Tex. Crim. App.       1963

Utah 2d                        1974

Wyoming                    1959

Increasing Public Access to Government Data and Laws

Our friend and hero Carl Malamud is quoted in a “special report on managing information” from the February 25, 2010 issue of The Economist.

We’ll be making the article, “The open society: Governments are letting in the light,” required reading for our advanced legal research class.

The article discusses efforts and impediments, at both the local and national level, to making government information freely available.

Locally the article quotes San Francisco CIO Chris Vein on how “providing more information can make government more efficient.”  An example is a site called San Francisco Crimespotting ”that layers historical crime figures on top of map information.”  The article notes that “[o]ther cities, including New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, are racing ahead as well.”

The article goes on to say that “[o]ther parts of the world are also beginning to move to greater openness.  A European Commission directive in 2005 called for making public-sector information more accessible.”

The article also discusses some of the impediments, such as Crown copyright where “in Britain and the Commonwealth countries most government data is state property” and there are use constraints, and PACER’s paywall.

The direction is for more openness and for “new forms of collaboration between the public and private sectors.”  And as the article concludes:

John Stuart Mill in 1861 called for “the widest participation in the details of judicial and administrative business . . . above all by the utmost possible publicity.” These days, that includes the greatest possible disclosure of data by electronic means.

Law.gov video presentation now online!

In a January 2, 2010 op-ed in the New York Times entitled “A Nation of Do-It-Yourself Lawyers,” California Chief Justice Ronald George and New Hampshire Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. asked “how can we help those who are left to represent themselves in court?”

One thing we can do is make the law of the nation freely available.  Today much of the law remains behind a pay wall, often a very expensive pay wall.

There have been efforts to liberate the law — five guys at Cornell (Cornell’s Legal Information Institute), three guys at Google (Google Scholar legal opinions), and others.  The federal government has made strides too, eCFR remains a model of free, updated legal content, but as the first paragraph explains on the eCFR website disclaims, “It is not an official legal edition of the CFR.”  State government efforts are as varied as the 50 states and District of Columbia.

So what to do?

Law.gov is a campaign to identify what a national law registry should include, and to make recommendations to the policy makers on how to structure a repository of all primary legal materials (and maybe more) at all levels of government.

The Stanford Law Library hosted a Law.gov kickoff event on January 12, 2010 and the day’s events included a terrific panel discussion with Carl Malamud, Anurag Acharya (Google Scholar lead engineer) and law professor Jonathan Zittrain, moderated by Stanford Law School lecturer Roberta Morris.  We now have a streaming video link from this discussion and it’s definitely worth viewing:

http://www.law.stanford.edu/calendar/details/3717/#related_media

African Peer Review Mechanism Report: Nigeria

African Peer Review Mechanism Country Review Report #8: Federal Republic of Nigeria

http://allafrica.com/download/resource/main/main/id/00011990.pdf

Additional country reports available at: http://www.aprm-international.org/

hat tip to Birgit Calhoun

Excerts from the foreword:

Six years ago, African Heads of State and Government came up with a jointly crafted and broadly supported agenda for advancing the basic values of democracy and good governance which together constitute the key requirements for the sustainable economic growth and development of their countries. The continental agenda, designated as the ‘African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)’, has grown from strength to strength.

This Report candidly elucidates the challenges Nigeria faces, including managing its diversity in nation-building, reducing the country’s over-dependence on oil and providing public services to its 140 million inhabitants. The Report also recognises the sound initiatives that have been taken with a view to addressing these challenges. Notably, the Federal Character principle and the Council of State initiative, which are enshrined in the country’s constitution, are already yielding tangible results in nation-building. Nigeria has also made commendable efforts in tackling corruption through the establishment of institutions such as the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). The Report has highlighted the remarkable leadership shown by President Yar’Adua in not only adhering to the constitutional requirements to declare his assets and liabilities before the Code of Conduct Bureau, but also going beyond the call of duty and making his declaration public. It is hoped that this example will be emulated at all levels of the public service and among ordinary citizens, for the betterment of the country.

We are convinced that the APRM will play a significant role in promoting courageous reforms that are needed to bring about changes in the political and economic environments of our countries, and in the living conditions of our populations. It is gratifying to note that, to date, 29 members of the African Union are currently participating in the APRM.

The Law of Access to Government

“The Law of Access to Government”

RICHARD J. PELTZ, University of Georgia School of Law

This is the only casebook geared entirely to the study of the law of access to government, or freedom of information law, in the United States. The book takes a multistate approach, familiarizing students with norms of state and federal open records and open meetings laws, and exposing students to statutes, regulations, and cases at both state and federal levels. Though the book is designed principally to employ the law-school case method of study, it is suitable as well for graduate and advanced undergraduate students in journalism schools. Extensive notes follow primary-source materials raising legal and policy questions, and providing ample fodder for class discussion. Graphic elements drawn from public-domain sources enhance the flow of the text. Coverage is organized in three parts – Access to the Judiciary, Access to the Executive, and Principal Issues in Access Law – and in ten chapters: (1) Criminal Proceedings, (2) Juries, (3) Court Records, (4) The FOIAs, (5) Law Enforcement and Corrections, (6) Homeland Security and the War on Terror, (7) Open Records, (8) Open Meetings, (9) Electronic Access, and (10) Scope of Laws. Table of Contents available for download.

Source:  LSN Information Privacy Law Vol. 2 No. 44,  11/18/2009

Another big day for Free Law – ABA launches site summarizing federal court opinions and upcoming cases

Here’s a new site is designed mainly for the press but access is free to all. Cases are summarized by professors with support from law students.  For the Ninth Circuit, for example, the content contributors are:

University of San Diego School of Law  and
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

 Here’s the site: http://new.abanet.org/SCFJI/Pages/MediaAlertsOnFederalCircuitCourts.aspx

 

Here’s the press release:

 

Release: Immediate

Contact: Dave Jaffe

Phone: 312-988-6139

E-Mail: jaffed@staff.abanet.org)

Online: http://www.abanews.org

or

Contact: Tina Vagenas

Phone: 312-988-5105

E-Mail: vagenask@staff.abanet.org

 

NEW ABA WEB SITE TO HIGHLIGHT RULINGS BY FEDERAL APPELLATE COURTS

 

CHICAGO, Nov. 18, 2009 – The American Bar Association today launched a new Web site intended to inform the media and public of important cases in the nation’s federal appellate courts. The site was officially unveiled at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., where judges and journalists were gathered for a conference hosted by the First Amendment Center. 

Media Alerts on Federal Courts of Appeals, as the site will be known, is sponsored by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements. It represents a collaborative effort to broadly disseminate timely, accurate and unbiased information about noteworthy and legally significant cases in the federal courts of appeals. The site will be updated daily with postings on key decisions and alerts on upcoming cases.

Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a founder of the project and immediate past chair of the Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements, said the site targets the media, but also will serve as a resource for lawyers, educators and the public.

“The case information not only serves a practical need, it also promotes transparency and public access, which go hand in hand with judicial accountability and judicial independence,” McKeown said. “Greater access to and understanding of the judicial process fosters public confidence in our judicial system.”

“There is nothing more important to our democracy and freedom than a well informed press and public,” said U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas of the Southern District of Texas, chair of the standing committee. “The Media Alerts on Federal Courts of Appeals site should enhance the media’s ability to help us achieve this goal.” 

Federal courts of appeals, which are at the level just below the United States Supreme Court, hear direct appeals from both federal trial courts and federal administrative agencies. Of the 11 geographically drawn circuits, the new Web site initially will highlight decisions from the Third, Fifth, and Ninth Circuits, then eventually expand to include the rest of the circuits. 

In conjunction with the ABA, cases are selected and summarized by a panel of distinguished law professors, supported by their students. The ABA is working in conjunction with professors at the law schools of Temple University (Craig Green and David Sonenshein), the University of Texas (Stephanie Lindquist and Dean Leslie Oster), the University of San Diego (Shaun Martin), and the University of Arizona (David Marcus). The academic teams will be choosing from the more than 25,000 cases filed annually in the three courts of appeals. The project aims to select a manageable number of cases so that the site will be of practical use to reporters. 

The project grew out of a shared concern between journalists and the judiciary that reporting about federal courts has been declining. The concern is due in part to new trends in media coverage, including the steadily shrinking pool of news staff in traditional media and the rise of Internet-based news sites, blogs, and other media outlets. 

“For the past decade federal judges and journalists around the country have shared their perspectives and concerns through a series of meetings sponsored by the First Amendment Center,” said U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby of the District of Maine, chair of the Judicial Branch Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which has cosponsored the programs. “This Web site is a real and tangible outgrowth of our meetings, and one that I think will bring greater public access and understanding to the work of the U.S. Courts of Appeals.” 

Following launch of the Web site, the standing committee will continue to explore opportunities for the exchange of views among judges and journalists. In 2010, the committee plans to sponsor a forum on media and the courts in conjunction with the William H. Rehnquist Center at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. 

 The Media Alerts Web site is at http://new.abanet.org/SCFJI/Pages/MediaAlertsOnFederalCircuitCourts.aspx

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.