Law Library Res Ipsa

 
     






PLoLLaw for Free

You already know about FindLaw and LexisOne. You use the Indiana government website to browse the Indiana code.  But now there is another source for legal materials on the cheap—the beta site of the Public Library of Law, or PLoL.

PLoL (http://www.plol.org/Pages/Search.aspx) is a free service newly available from FastCase, one of many relatively inexpensive alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis. You will be required to start an account, providing them with a name and e-mail address, but it does not cost anything. 

Once you are at the main page you will see helpful tabs that let you search for cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, constitutions, and legal forms in the top center of the screen.  Clicking on the Advanced Options button below the search box will allow you to limit your search by date or jurisdiction.  You can search for party names, citations, or just run Boolean searches as you would on Westlaw or Lexis.  PLoL has several of the same search features as the major search engines. 

However it is not comprehensive.  While you will have access to all U.S. Supreme Court cases, lower federal court cases are only available back to 1950, and state case law coverage starts in 1997.  If you want to look at older documents, you will usually have the option to link to FastCase—but charges will apply.  It is still cheaper than West or Lexis, but nothing beats picking up the book in the library for really cost-efficient research. 

The legal forms are also somewhat less than free.  You can see samples, and get descriptions, but to really get the full text of all the forms they offer you do have to pay.  For the most part they seem to be up front about the cost, however, and it is unlikely that you would accidentally cost yourself anything. 

The statutes, regulations, and court rules tabs are really just a collection of links to other websites (often state governments) that contain those materials—with an additional PLoL banner at the top.  However, it is still a very useful collection of links to have—one jumping off point for finding statutes for all states. 

Overall this is a great tool to know about, and one that might well come in handy when a little guerilla legal research is required, however, like all legal research tools, it is important to be aware of its limitations, and use it accordingly.

Cindy Dabney
Outreach Services Librarian

 

 

Tax Information

Federal

Less than two months until tax day!  File your federal taxes online at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website using either Free-File or E-File. 
Use free file if you earned $54,000 or less in 2007. You can use Free File to prepare and file your taxes online.
Use efile after you’ve prepared your tax return (either on your own personal computer with commercially available software or by using a paid Tax Preparer) to file using an IRS e-file Partner.  
Printable federal tax forms, instructions, and tax topic publications are available at IRS.gov.

State of Indiana

After completing your 2007 federal return, file your Indiana taxes using I-File.   All taxpayers can file state/local taxes for free (no income restriction) using I-File – the free online state tax-filing service from the Indiana Department of Revenue

Jennifer Morgan,
Documents Librarian

 

Finding Foreign Statutes

Do you need to find statutes of foreign jurisdictions? This used to be a difficult, if not thankless task, but in the last several years the Internet has finally come of age as a source of authoritative statutory material, greatly facilitating access to foreign statutes. Many jurisdictions maintain official web sites, where researchers can obtain official texts of statutes. These sites are usually maintained either by the national parliament or ministry of justice. Moreover, the sites are easy to locate either through the World Legal Information Institute list of jurisdictions, at http://www.worldlii.org/countries.html, or through online jurisdictional research guides.

Though easy to locate, and often possessed of sophisticated search interfaces, statutory web sites can be limited in many ways. Most importantly, they frequently provide access only to statutes currently in force. Many jurisdictions do not cater primarily to academic researchers, and therefore do not see the value of providing access to repealed statutes, or to pre-amendment versions. For example, jurisdictions that periodically revise their in-force statutes (Commonwealth jurisdictions, in particular) usually do not provide access to the individual session laws that together comprise the text of revised, consolidated statutes. Nor do they usually provide access to earlier consolidations. Another limitation you must take into account is that foreign statutes are available only in the language of the jurisdiction. It may be possible to locate an English-language version elsewhere on the Internet, but you must keep in mind that such translations are not authoritative, and may in fact be badly done.

Another free source of foreign statutes is GLIN, the Global Legal Information Institute, sponsored by the Library of Congress, at http://www.glin.gov/search.action. You can also link to GLIN directly from the Library’s Online Resources page. GLIN “is a public database of official texts of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other complementary legal sources contributed by governmental agencies and international organizations.” Member countries supply the full text of statutes adopted, and GLIN then supplies complementary English language summaries, subject descriptors, and a sophisticated search engine. Many jurisdictions are members, especially in Latin America. GLIN does provide access to many older, repealed session laws, and is therefore a wonderful resource for you if that’s what you need. To see a list of participating jurisdictions, together with a scope note indicating dates of coverage and the number of statutes included from each, click on the Help Center button, then select links for “About the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN)” and “Database Contents.”

Like every source, GLIN has its limitations. First, only 43 jurisdictions are represented. Second, some of those have chosen not to make the full text of their statutes accessible to the public through the GLIN Internet web site. For those jurisdictions, only the English-language summaries are provided. Second, coverage is spotty. Some jurisdictions have provided a huge amount of data, while others have provided only a selection of important statutes. Nevertheless, GLIN is a wonderful, free resource for you if you are contemplating a comparative or foreign law topic for your next research paper.

Ralph Gaebler
Foreign & Int'l Librarian

 

New & NoteworthyNew & Noteworthy:Judging a Book by its Judges

Rosenblatt, Albert M. (ed.) The Judges of The New York Court of Appeals: A Biographical History.  Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press and the Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York, 2007.
         KF 354 .N44 J83 2007

Although many books make the claim that they “fill a gap” in the literature of a particular field, more often than not the gap is merely a small crack.   So when a title truly does fill a void, it is something to be praised.  Such is the case of this impressive collection of biographical material pertaining to the New York Court of Appeals.

Edited by a former associate justice of the court (1998-2006), with the assistance of more than 80 contributors, this collection brings together a monumental amount of information into a single, easy-to-use, volume.  Anyone who has ever needed biographical information about a judge, whether from the 17th century or the 21st, will appreciate this sourcebook and long for similar collections for other jurisdictions.

Not just a biographical dictionary, this book includes the following sections:

  • Chronological and Alphabetic Listings of the Judges of the New York Court of Appeals from 1847.

  • A Brief History of New York’s High Court.

  • Justices of the Supreme Court of Judicature Colonial Period, 1691-1777.

  • Justices of the Supreme Court of Judicature after Statehood, 1777-1848.

  • New York State Chancellors after Statehood, 1777-1848.

  • Bibliography of Works Relating to the Court of Appeals before 1847.

  • Contributors Profiles.

  • Color Illustrations: People, Buildings, and Artifacts of the New York Court of Appeals.

  • Profiles of the Judges of the New York Court of Appeals, 1847-2006.

  • Ex Officio Judges of the Court of Appeals.

  • Commissioners of Appeals.

  • Second Division Judges.

  • Chief Clerks of the New York Court of Appeals.

  • Name and Subject Index.

The bulk of the more than 1000 pages is taken up by the Profiles of the Judges of the New York Court of Appeals, 1847-2006.  The profiles run anywhere from two to twenty pages and include not only biographical data and appropriate historical legal analysis, but also a listing of their progeny, a list of sources consulted, a bibliography of the judges published writings, and endnotes to the profile.  The volume is filled with illustrations and each of the court’s 106 “regular” judges’ profiles includes a portrait.

A forward by the current Chief Justice, Judith S. Kaye, is followed by the editor’s introduction.  The introduction explains the history of the publication and is quite entertaining itself.  Among the “nuggets” found in the introduction are that the longest living judge was Marvin Dye (102 years old), the longest serving judge was Stanley Fuld (1946 to 1973), the only father and son team to serve as judges on the court were Rufus, W Peckman, Sr. (1870-1873) and Rufus Wheeler Peckman, Jr. (1887-1895), three judges (Ward Hunt, Rufus W. Peckman, Jr., and Benjamin Cardozo) went on to serve in the United States Supreme Court, while five judges of the predecessor Supreme Court of Judicature also served on the US Supreme Court (sorry, you’ll have to check the Introduction to find out the names.)

Like almost all institutional histories, this collection probably fails to shine a light into the institution’s family closet (although I was impressed to find the 1992 arrest of Chief Judge Sol Wachtler covered in his profile.)  If there is any criticism that can be made of the publication, it is that publishers failed to reproduce the illustrations in a quality manner – many are too dark.  Still, this is a wonderful source of information, one that will no doubt be used by researchers for years to come.

Dick Vaughan
Acquisitions & Serials Control Librarian

 

Vote ButtonVoting and Election Information

 

Indiana’s Presidential primary election is May 6th, 2008.  While you’re waiting for the May primary, take a look at the website of the Indiana Election Division.  It includes the Voter Information Portal, where you can find information on voter registration, where to vote, what constitutes a government-issued photo ID, an election calendar, absentee voting, working the polls, and much more!

For a look at the U.S. population, selected characteristics and 2004 voting percentage of each state as it approaches its 2008 primary or caucus, visit the U.S. Census Bureau online, specifically, their In Focus: 2008 Elections webpage.  The site includes links to additional resources, such as state factsheets, top-ranked states by industry, and population estimates.

For a state-by state visual representation of the upcoming primaries/caucuses for your chosen party, see the Election Guide 2008 offered free online by the New York Times:

Jennifer Morgan,
Documents Librarian







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