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

 

(Unpaid) College Credit Internship with Local (Oregon) Film and TV Producers

Through the grapevine:

4 Local Film Producers including the Producers of the IFC series “PORTLANDIA” have work in several states of Development, Pre-Production and Post-Production. The Internship would be ideal for a student seeking a position in Business Marketing and PR, or Law with an emphasis on Entertainment.

Interns will assist with setting up Film and Television Marketing Plans:
- Coordinate the necessary legal documents
- Produce Sales and Marketing materials including Copywriting

Interns will learn Legal, Accounting and Deliverables requirements.

The ideal candidate is someone with:
Research abilities
Strong copywriting skills
Layout and design skills
Web and multimedia knowledge
Strong database management skills

Winning candidates will assist producers in all areas of production including:
Pre Production
Fundraising and sponsorship needs
Production
Post production
Legal, accounting, and deliverables fulfillment

Interns will learn alongside producers and other production personnel in a real-world environment.

Requirements: This is an unpaid internship. Candidates must receive college credit.

To Apply: Interested applicants should send a single PDF file that includes their cover letter and resume to pdxiaintern@gmail.com. Use “Marketing-PR Intern Application” in the subject line. Also please include weekly availability in the body of the email.

 

OLR Blog Disclaimers: 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.

These blog posts are snippets of news, research tips, and commentary. They are starting places for legal research, not full legal research strategies or results. Please talk to a lawyer or law librarian if you want to research your legal issue thoroughly.

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.

Canine U.S. Supreme Court Arguments: In Dog We Trust (all others meow)

From UW: Videos of U.S. Supreme Court Arguments—at Last!

On the HBO program Last Week Tonight, John Oliver observed that without video Supreme Court oral arguments are pretty dry, even with courtroom sketches as backdrops. So he proposed that the audio be livened up with video. What video? Dogs! ….” [Link to canine Videos of U.S. Supreme Court Arguments—at Last!)

OJIN and OECI Access in Oregon County Law Libraries

The following Oregon County Law Libraries have in-library public, or staff-assisted, access to OJIN, OECI, or ACMS (court dockets). (But these locations do not necessarily have access to the full-text of filed documents. You may need visit the Circuit Court records offices for those documents.)

Contact information for the following Oregon county law libraries is at the OCCLL website.

Clackamas (OJIN & OECI)
Josephine (OJIN & OECI)
Lane (OJIN & OECI)
Marion (OJIN & OECI & ACMS)
Multnomah (OJIN & OECI)

The other county law libraries do not have these court records database, which is not to say you can’t ask your court’s Trial Court Administrator or Presiding Judge if they would allow for access from your county law library.

For more information, link to OJCIN OnLine (Oregon Judicial Case Information Network) and the OJD eCourt homepage.

Fourth Annual Oregon Archives Crawl (10/18/14)

Fourth Annual Oregon Archives Crawl (Portland-based)
Saturday, October 18th
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Everyone is invited to join us for the 4th Oregon Archives Crawl this October in celebration of Oregon Archives Month. Travel between the Portland Archives and Records Center, the Multnomah County Central Library and the Oregon Historical Society. At each location there will be a variety of activities to choose from so you might want to start early.

The Portland Archives and Records Center (PARC) is happy to be hosting nine organizations this year ….” [Link to website for full details.]

Oregon Supreme Court: LLCs, Workers Comp, and Tort Claims: Cortez v. Nacco (2014)

Antonio Cortez v. Nacco Material Handling Group, Inc.et al (TC 0503-02632) (CA A144045) (SC S060604)

“On review from the Court of Appeals in an appeal from the Multnomah County Circuit Court, Michael H. Marcus, Judge. 248 Or App 435, 274 P3d 202 (2012). The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The judgment of the circuit court is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings. Opinion of the Court by Justice Rives Kistler.

Today, the Oregon Supreme Court concluded that neither the limited liability provision in the statutes governing limited liability companies (LCCs) nor the exclusive-remedy clause in the workers’ compensation statutes barred plaintiff’s claims for negligence and violations of the Employer Liability Law (ELL) against the member-manager of the LLC where he worked. The Court also ruled that, although plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to show that the member-manager could be held liable for negligence, he had presented enough evidence from which a reasonable juror could find that the member-manager was liable under the ELL….” [Link to full case and Oregon Supreme Court 2014 opinions.]

How to Find Recent Oregon Attorney General Opinions (if you’re a mere mortal)

Assume for the purpose of this blog post that you want (and need) to find yesterday’s (August 11th) Very Important, Big News AG opinion about Treasurer Ted Wheeler. (Legal researchers are funny that way. We can’t rely just on news stories. Go figure.)

Here’s the Willamette Week story: Attorney General Says Treasurer Ted Wheeler Is Ineligible to Run For Re-Election In 2016*

Here’s the Stateman-Journal story: AG: Wheeler can’t run for reelection in 2016

Now, neither newspaper publishes (as of this moment) or links to the opinion. They may in time. But what if you need the actual opinion now?

Are the newspapers relying on a DOJ release – or do they have the actual opinion? Hard to tell, so let’s visit the DOJ website, because, maybe, it’s 2014 and this is exactly the sort of thing that websites are handy for: communication.

Let’s see if we can find that (yesterday’s) AG Opinion, at the DOJ/AG’s website:

  • Does the DOJ’s homepage help us find the AG opinion? (Nope.)
  • How about if you click on “What Can We Help You Find?” (Nope, not for this question of ours.)
  • What about that list of “Legal Resources” on the right side of that page or the Legal Resources page itself? (There is a link to AG Opinions, but ….)
  • From the Attorney General Opinions webpage? (Searching the word “wheeler” didn’t work. And a search using 2014 brought up only something as recent as June, but when I narrow it to AG Opinions, I get “No results.” Not helpful. And searching Summaries reveals that there aren’t any 2014 opinions here – and there likely weren’t any so maybe nothing is missing. (So why don’t they say, “No opinions have been issued in 2014″ so we don’t all wonder – and have to call to make sure?)
  • Maybe if we go directly to the Office of the Attorney General’s webpage itself. (Nope, no luck here.)

Maybe they give opinions out to the Media? So let’s try the 2014 Media Releases page. Nope, nuttin’ honey. The most recent entry was June 6th. Today is the 12th and the opinion was “released” early on the 11th. But this is a public agency, this decision affects everyone, and they have a public website – maybe it’s like some of those Dilbert cartoons. (Like the one (from 12/8/11) where Dilbert wonders if he has to meet up with a “newly discovered stone age tribe that has never used Skype” Like Dilbert, “I’m totally confused.”) Maybe I’m missing something here, so I’ll give them a call.

So, it took me 3 transfers and I got to a super-helpful person (hi Nancy!). She said that the opinion was sent over for posting and that should happen shortly. (It was not for me to nag her, who has no control over such matters, why an important decision like this one wasn’t posted yesterday, immediately after the affected parties were notified, which they were first thing in yesterday morning.)

So keep an eye on Opinion Summaries. The AG Opinion may appear any moment.

And then again, this is a reminder that my guide to legal resources Not Online has a growing list of new entries to add and I plan to update the last version (2013) by early September. (And this includes some of the DOJ Public Records Orders, not all of which seem to be online. But maybe that has changed in recent months. I’ll check on that before I write that blog post.)

As for us mere mortals, well, this is a problem not just at the DOJ. There are plenty of public-record court documents that appear on the very expensive court records databases, for purchase if you have the money, and way ahead of them being accessible publicly, even if you visit the courthouse itself. (This will change in time, with the advent of eCourt, but mere mortals are for now outside of that loop, too.) And not all CJ Orders are online either, by the way.

Yes, I clearly ate my Cranky Flakes this morning, but really! Really! Really! I’m totally confused.

*The Willamette Week often includes this disclaimer regarding the current AG: Full disclosure: Rosenblum is married to WW publisher and co-owner Richard Meeker. (Maybe they, and the Statesman Journal, got an early look at a press release or the opinion? Sigh.)

Why You Need to Call the Police if Your Caregiver or Employee Steals From You

Hat tip to Law for Real People blog: Why You Need to Call the Police if Your Caregiver or Employee Steals From You

Excerpt: “I just had a call from a very nice person who needs caregivers around-the-clock, 365 days a year. One of these caregivers recently stole money from from my friend. My friend said it happened about six weeks ago, and that the person was no longer serving as a caregiver, so she was just going to let it go.

I had to explain to her why it was so important that she call the police:

Because other people looking to hire caregivers are going to look at the home-care workers’ registry and look at the results of the criminal background checks, and if she doesn’t file a police report about the theft, this caregiver will appear to have both a lot of experience and no problems in her background….” [Link to full blog post.]

Oregon Adds Statewide Abuse Reporting Line: (855) 503-SAFE

You may also need to call the Medicaid Fraud Unit (MFU) at 971-673-1971 (see also the DOJ Medicaid Fraud website.)