California Court Documents: Trial Court Documents and Appellate Court Briefs

California Superior (trial) Court documents note: availability and cost will vary from one Superior Court to another.

Visit the California Superior Court website where the case was filed and decided:

For example:

1) Alameda County: The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, provides the public with online access to civil case records (documents and information) through Alameda County Court DomainWeb. Searching for dockets is free but retrieving documents is fee based and anyone with a credit card can create an account to retrieve documents. (Visit the Alameda County Law Library website.)

2) Orange County: Superior Court allows any person in the 50 United States to purchase some court documents online. Here in the Law Library we do not have access. Case name search is only available if the individual has set up an account.

3) San Bernardino County: Most of the documents going back into at least the 1990s are available through the San Bernardino Superior Court website. The Court determines court document availability and cost, if any. As of the now, the Court does not charge for access. (Visit the San Bernardino County Law Library website.)

California Appellate Court briefs:

The Council of California County Law Librarians (CCCLL) has a guide to major collections of California appellate court briefs.

Other CCCLL law libraries may also have briefs in their print or digital collections.

California has an excellent family of county law librarians who work together through the Council of California County Law Librarians (CCCLL).

Don’t Be a Legal Self-Help DIY April Fool

There is a lot of legal self-help you can do that really is DIY (do it yourself), but if there is a lot of money at stake, property, children, parents, dependents, your credit rating, your reputation, your heirs or inheritance, or anything else that matters to you, please be a smart legal self-helper by doing thorough legal research or consulting a lawyer. (Or both!)

You may need only to consult a lawyer or find one to coach you through your case. And you need to find the right lawyer, so take the time and read about how to find and work with lawyers.

But it’s worth taking the time to find that lawyer. You never know when you might need to consult a lawyer again, on a debt problem, a business start-up, a neighbor dispute, a landlord-tenant problem, an estate plan, or a family legal problem.

The Oregon State Bar Information and Referral Service has a toll free number to call to get names of attorneys in your area; call their referral service at 503-684-3763 or 1-800-452-7636. More information about their services is available at their website.

There are other ways to find a lawyer including search engines and asking friends and relatives – or visit the law library and ask for lawyer referral resources.

20 Access to Legal Services and Information Apps

From the ABA Journal: “20 apps to help provide easier access to legal help,” by Joe Dysart, April 1, 2015.

Words to the Wise: DIY Lawyering can be risky – and expensive – if you have to pay a lawyer later to fix what you could have done correctly, and cost effectively, from the start. If you need to respond to a summons, draft a lease, a power of attorney, a contract, or a will, or take any legal action that requires you to know not only how to research the law, which rules of procedure to follow, and how the courts interpret the law, please consult an attorney. As a very wise lawyer/librarian says:

“If you read only what is written in the statutes, the cases, and the constitutions you will be absolutely wrong about what the law is.”

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.

The Oregon State Bar Information and Referral Service has a toll free number to call to get names of attorneys in your area; call their referral service at 503-684-3763 or 1-800-452-7636. More information about their services is available at their website.

Are Law-Lib Archives 35 years old in March 2015? Happy Birthday!

Law Librarians Rock and Rule!

I was checking the Law-Lib archives recently and noticed that the first archived Law-Lib email message appeared in March 1980. There was another one in January 1988, but the archiving didn’t pick up speed until August 1991. (Visit the Law-Lib FAQ for Law-Lib instructions.)

Can 3,564 dedicated subscribers (on 3/23/15) be wrong? Well, yes, they can! But not when it comes to crowd-sourcing our patrons’ legal research needs. The accumulated knowledge, kindness, and humor on law-lib is still awesome.

So, say Happy Birthday to your (our!) People and have a moment of reflection about how things have changed, or not, since 1980 in the law library world.

In any event, law-lib is way past infancy and heading on to middle-age. (For the record, even Jane Austen, way back when, referred to a man in his 50’s as middle-aged. And if Jane Says, then it is so.)

Law-Lib FAQ

And thank-you x 1,000 to Christopher Noe, the Keeper of the FAQ, and Judy Janes at UC-Davis for hosting all these years.

Read the 180 Day Rule Regarding “Required disclosure of customer communications or records”

U.S. Congress at Work:

18 U.S. Code § 2703:

(a) Contents of Wire or Electronic Communications in Electronic Storage.— A governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of electronic communication service of the contents of a wire or electronic communication, that is in electronic storage in an electronic communications system for one hundred and eighty days or less, only pursuant to a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) by a court of competent jurisdiction….” [Link to the full text of 18 USC 2703 at the Cornell Legal Information website.]

$60 a Year for 75,000 (NYLI) Law eBooks?!!

Visit the New York Law Institute (NYLI) website for details about the service and the free trial, which would give you access to all NYLI electronic resources.

Read the DeweyBStrategic blog post for back story and information:

New York Law Institute Goes National: Offers “Just In Time” Research, Desktop Access to 75,000 eBooks to Member Law Firms Across the US and a Free Trial!!”

Oregon Condo and Planned Communities: Bills in the 2015R Legislature: Signs & Records Disclosure

If you’re a member of an association of owners (aka HOA) and want to learn about how the Oregon Legislature makes laws, here are two bills just for you. You can track them on the Legislature’s website – no need to drive to Salem, unless you want to. And contact your State Legislator to ask about these bills. A Find Your Legislator” search tool is on the Legislature’s home page.

HB 2582: Prohibits association of owners for, or declarant of, planned community or condominium from prohibiting display of signs based on content of sign.

HB 2584: Prohibits association of owners for, or declarant of, planned community or condominium from making records of association confidential or exempt from disclosure to owners of real property in planned community or condominium.

A Public Hearing and Possible Work Session is scheduled for February 10th. Check OLIS for more information. Use the Bills search to locate your bill’s files and then enjoy your research.

Tax Forms and Free Tax Preparation Help in Oregon

1) Some public libraries and U.S. Post Offices distribute federal tax forms via the IRS “Tax Forms Outlet Program,” e.g. Washington county libraries and Multnomah County Library. Locate contact information for your own public library.

2) For tax preparation sites, visit the IRS “Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers” website:

3) AARP tax info

4) 211 Info in Oregon (to find tax preparation services for state and federal tax returns)

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