Articles Posted in General Legal Research Resources

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One of my favorite Robert Mankoff (New Yorker) cartoons has this caption (and you can search the Cartoon Bank for a copy): “One question: If this is the Information Age, how come nobody knows anything?

Few non-librarians know about the hundreds (thousands, probably) of hidden document treasure troves, which go by many names: libraries, archives, repositories, databases, among others.

You’ve probably heard about Gutenberg and maybe even HathiTrust, but what about SCRIBD, SCETI, Feedbooks, BASE, Unglueit, and many, many, MANY more, including our intrepid public records warriers, at Public Resource and PlainSite.

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The official PDF of the Mueller report has been updated in a subtle but important way,” by Zachary M. Seward, April 22, 2019.” (Qz dot com)

See also:

“Delivering the Mueller Report in Eleven Links,” May 2019 (Jill O’Neill is the Director of Content for NISO dot org.)

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Every federal employee knows about the Hatch Act, which dates back to 1939:

Wikipedia Hatch Act article

You can Google the following searches to find out more about the Hatch Act:

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There are print versions of the April 18, 2019, Mueller Report (“Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election“) in the marketplace (although one publication has virtually unreadable tiny print) and there are multiple online versions so take your pick.

Many public libraries have the e-book and some may have the print.

Link to a PDF copy of the report from, among other places, the Wikipedia Mueller Report article, e.g. from the “External links” section of the article.

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Without access to a library that subscribes to a Congressional documents database (or that has retained the print), you will have a devil of a time finding many Congressional documents, especially those before the 94th Congress (1975-76) or after 1865. (See the LOC Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation, the National Archives, or the GPO Congressional Documents database.)

You might want to try Congress dot gov, where you’ll find bills and resolutions and, hmmm – no reports.

Let’s say you want to find this document, which is a “report.”

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Scroll down if you want to skip this intro and go right to the book’s bibliographic info.

The first article I wrote as a new law librarian (I’m now retired!) was on the difference between the meaning of “primary source”  when researching history and the meaning of “primary source” when researching the law. (Yes, there is overlap, but it’s important to understand the distinction so you don’t confuse your readers or your students.)

Then as now, the practice of law librarianship was the practice of Learning New Things Every Day. (That is also why I started this Oregon Legal Research blog when I moved to Oregon, after more than a decade teaching and learning about federal law resources. I could call this blog, What I Learned Today About Oregon Legal Research, but brevity is king and queen in the blogger-space – at least it’s aspirational, ahem.)

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If you are not a licensed Oregon attorney and you need to perform thorough legal research (vs “googling a legal problem,” yikes), you have free access to some of the same legal research databases that Oregon attorneys use: Fastcase is one of them and you have remote access to it through your State of Oregon Law Library (SOLL). (Check out their Blog while you’re at the SOLL website.)

You also have free access to NOLO (formerly Nolo Press) databases through the SOLL.

Remember, Google isn’t enough when you have to appear without an attorney before a judge. I recommend consulting an attorney* or a professional law librarian**, but not everyone (or even most) has access to either, let alone both.

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You can find PDFs of the official U.S. Reports at the Library of Congress (LOC) website (here’s a capture of today’s view of that LOC link at the Internet Archive).

More about U.S. Supreme Court Slip and Official Opinions:

You can read U.S. Supreme Court “slip” opinions online at the U.S. Supreme Court website, but these are neither final nor official opinions. Substantive and typographical edits are made before the opinions are published in the official U.S. Reports. Read the court’s disclaimer on their website regarding these “slip” opinions. (You can read their disclaimer below, i.e. as it appeared today.)

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From SLAW: Valuing Legal Information,” by Sarah Sutherland:

Excerpt: “The problem with trying to value legal information is that we mostly just talk about its price instead of its value. The value of anything is subjective, and correct legal information at the perfect time is worth a great deal, general legal information that isn’t needed at a particular moment is worth much less. This is important because the people who make decisions about how to fund legal information are often not the people who use it regularly and are generally not faced with urgent legal matters at the moment of making decisions about how much to pay for it….” [Link to Slaw blog post.]

Hat tip to the KnowItAALL service (you can subscribe to it, free)