Cuban Legal System: A Law Library of Congress Introduction

Foreign and international law librarians know things we mere mortals don’t know (yet):

“FALQs: Cuban Legal System
January 27, 2015 by Kelly Buchanan

The following is a guest post by Gustavo Guerra, a foreign law specialist covering a number of Spanish-speaking jurisdictions at the Law Library of Congress. It is the second post in our “Frequently Asked Legal Questions” series, following on from our post yesterday on French terrorism laws. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for this series!

In light of initiatives to improve relations between the United States and Cuba, and the recent visit of a U.S. government delegation to Havana, I decided to provide answers to a few questions about the Cuban legal system and where one could locate Cuban laws and information about them….” [Link to full LLoC post.]

Book Review: Levitt & Davis: “Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers”

Book Review: Levitt & Davis: “Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers”

  • Would you like a clear description of 3 free online versions of the U.S. Code?
  • Would you like useful tutorials on Fastcase and Casemaker?
  • Would you like to know about free and low-cost legal websites, legal research apps, and case law databases? How about cite-checking, dockets, federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal law, foreign, international, and comparative law free and low-cost research resource tips?

You will find those and more in “Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers,” by Carole A. Levitt and Judy K. Davis, ABA Law Practice Division, 2014.

It takes brave authors to write a book about online legal research. If badly executed, it will sink quietly to the bottom of the recycle bin. If done well, it will remain within close reach of the researcher. I keep this book nearby and I’ve already pressed it into the hands of other legal researchers.

What this book is not: This is not a book about how to search public records or to perform background checks or skip-tracing. (There are other books on those subjects: see, e.g. Note 1, below.)

What this book is and for whom:

New and experienced researchers will find tips and instructions that can save time, money, and frustration when using the free and low-cost online legal research resources described.

I reviewed the book through the lens of a public law librarian who teaches lawyers and other legal researchers on limited budgets how to research the law. I wanted a quick reference book for myself, to lend to a researcher looking at a new research site or tool, and for our motivated self-represented litigants who need free or low-cost legal research tools.

This book will be useful to lawyers, law library employees, paralegals, judicial assistants, public librarians, and self-represented litigants. It will also be a useful legal research text for students of all stripes, paralegal, library school, and law school.

It can be read from cover to cover, but it is well organized, with a useful table of contents and a good index, so the specific guidance you seek can be found without wasting time.

It includes chapters on researching legal forms, court rules, cases, dockets, citators, and much more, all with excellent advice (and caveats) regarding the strengths and limits of the reviewed resources.

The research and website evaluation tips will be familiar to law librarians and will improve the research skills of those we serve – or at least reinforce the lessons we try to teach the researchers in our midst:

  • Read the whole screen.
  • Understand the database’s (or website’s) strengths and limits.
  • Make no assumptions about database searching protocols. (They change faster than the latest secret to a long life nutrition fad: Quinoa! Kale! Pomegranate! Bacon?)

This book presents those lessons painlessly and gives readers a roadmap for exploring and evaluating all online legal research resources.

Standouts: Tips are practical and the book is highly readable with appropriate warnings about data quality and database reliability. One, among other, standout examples is the section comparing 3 U.S.C. websites (pp. 163-177).

You will want to mark up this book. That is a good thing. It is not good when after reading a legal research guide all you have to show for the effort are a couple of sticky notes that could just as well fall out, with no regret or loss.

I added lots of sticky notes for tips to try out myself and recommend to co-workers. I featured this book in a recent legal research class, where I will recommend this book among my other favorite legal research guides.

The book was well organized. I would like to have been a fly on the wall when the authors and editors met to decide which legal research resources to include in the book and how to organize them – and which ones to leave out (the toughest cuts of all). Not all of the taxonomy, legal research, and UX knowledge in the world could have made that task easy.

Index: The index is very good – and I’m not unappreciative of the fact that there is an index at all, a rare value-added feature nowadays. I did wish there was a Legislative History index term; it is a subject frequently researched. Also, you need to look under both Briefs and Legal Briefs to find all the Briefs index entries, and … no, I quibble. I was able to find just about everything I needed in the index.

Wish list: I wished for more coverage of state and local resources, however, the selection of high quality, publicly accessible state and local online legal research resources varies widely from one jurisdiction to another, so the authors didn’t leave out anything over which they had any control. Many of the state and local research resources we need just don’t exist in digital format – and state legislative history documents often top that list.

Bottom line: This book is Highly Recommended, for law libraries, public libraries, legal research instructors, paralegals, and lawyers.

Notes:

1) “The Cybersleuth’s Guide to the Internet: Conducting Effective Investigative & Legal Research on the Internet,” by Carole Levitt, J.D., M.L.S. & Mark E. Rosch, is in its 12th edition as of today.

2) You can purchase today’s reviewed book, Levitt & Davis: “Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-Cost Resources for Lawyers” from:

Internet for Lawyers (Net for Lawyers)
Also: Internet Legal Research on a Budget
ABA Bookstore

 

January 2015 ABA Journal: Pet Nups, UPL, IP for Kids, and Much More

The January 2015 ABA Journal has these articles and more:

Washington state moves around UPL, using legal technicians to help close the justice gap,” by Robert Ambrogi

“It’s unethical for prosecutors to allow debt collectors to use official letterhead, says ABA opinion,” by David L. Hudson, Jr. (ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 469)

New website explains IP to kids,” by Anna Stolley Persky

American Indians challenging eagle feather rules get a boost from ‘Hobby Lobby’,” by Lorelei Laird

Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?” by Laura Snyder and “The UK’s alternative firms are reshaping legal services

“What’s working for lawyers seeking better search engine results,” by Joe Dysart

Link to the ABA Journal.

It Takes More Than a Dumpster to Build a Digital Law Library

“It Takes More Than a Dumpster to Build A Digital Law Library: 12 Critical Components For Digital Law Library Transformation.” from Dewey B Strategic,
12/10/14

“.… For the past two decades law librarians and legal information professionals have been assessing products and developing in house solutions to support virtual library resources. We have been sharing best practices and advising legal publishers on how to build the next generation of products that lawyers will be willing to use ….” [Link to full blog post.]

ABA launches online database of collateral consequences for each U.S. jurisdiction

ABA launches online database of collateral consequences for each U.S. jurisdiction
“WASHINGTON , Dec. 16, 2014 — The American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section has completed the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction, an online database that identifies legal restrictions imposed upon individuals convicted of crimes that go beyond any sentence imposed by a court.

Available at www.abacollateralconsequences.org, the database lists federal and state laws and regulations that restrict employment, housing, and education benefits and other opportunities for people with convictions….” [Link to ABA article.]

Capital Punishment: Race, Poverty, and Disadvantage—Free Online Course

Link to details from Gallagher Blogs: “Capital Punishment: Race, Poverty, and Disadvantage—Free Online Course”

Stephen Bright is president and senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, a public interest law program that deals with human rights in the criminal justice and prison systems….

This course examines issues of poverty and race in the criminal justice system, particularly with regard to the imposition of the death penalty…. There are 40 videos, ranging from 18 to 45 minutes…. that’s a lot of instruction from one of the nation’s leading authorities on the death penalty….” [Link to blog post.]

Researching U.S. and Oregon Administrative Laws: Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR)

Here’s a round-up of our Administrative Law research resources:

Library of Congress research guide: How to Trace Federal Regulations

How to Find an Oregon Administrative Rule History

Where to Find Superseded Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) and the Oregon Bulletin

It’s Not All Online in Oregon: Attorney General’s Administrative Law Manual and other Legal Publications

CLEs: Oregon Legal Research and Adoption, Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction Law

Oregon lawyers and law librarians teach Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs (for little or no remuneration). Two upcoming programs from NBI:

1) I’m teaching one unit of this Legal Research CLE (NBI), that will be held in downtown Portland:

Find it Free and Fast on the Net: Strategies for Legal Research on the Web

2) Oregon attorneys are teaching this Adoption in Oregon CLE (NBI):

Adoption, Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction Law

The Oregon State Bar, Oregon Law Institute (OLI), Multnomah Bar Association (MBA), and other organizations also present CLEs for MCLE credit.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for research purposes only. We do not provide legal advice, nor do we endorse any person, product, or company.

Disclaimer: It is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law (ORS 9.160, 9.166 and 9.21). They may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights. They may, however, assist patrons in locating materials or links that would aid in individual research.

Report: “Marijuana and health: A comprehensive review of 20 years of research”

“Marijuana and health: A comprehensive review of 20 years of research,” by K.K. Repp, PhD, MPH and A.L. Raich, MS, MPH, October 20th, 2014

From the Executive Summary: “Rarely has there been such a divide between science and public opinion as there is with medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. The purpose of this review is to summarize over 20 years of of peer-reviewed publications from journals around the world, on the often complicated relationship between marijuana and health. With over 50 topics reviewed in detail throughout this report please reference the specific review section for recommended reading and citation of the studies summarized below.” [Link to full report.]

Federal Register: Final Incorporation by Reference Rule Implements Recommendation 2011-5

Not as obscure as you might think – and definitely in the public interest:

Final Incorporation by Reference Rule Implements Recommendation 2011-5 (from Legal Research Plus, with links to Fed Register)

Today, the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) published its final rule on incorporation by reference. See Incorporation by Reference, 79 Fed. Reg. 66,267 (Nov. 7, 2014). The Freedom of Information Act allows agencies to incorporate by reference into federal regulations extrinsic materials that are “reasonably available to the class of persons affected.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(1). ….

OFR’s final rule is a significant step towards the implementation of Recommendation 2011-5, Incorporation by Reference. The rule emphasizes that promulgating agencies have the primary obligation to ensure that incorporated materials are reasonably available to the public. . . .

The final rule also sensibly retains the requirement that material incorporated by reference be technical in nature. This is consistent with paragraph 15 of Recommendation 2011-5, which provides that agencies should clearly establish regulatory requirements in the text of their proposed and final rules, and use incorporation by reference only to provide technical detail.”

Link to Federal Register notice of Incorporation by Reference rule.

Hat tip to Legal Research Plus.