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Showing posts from July, 2011

Anatomy of a Trial: A Handbook for Young Lawyers

The ABA has recently published Anatomy of a Trial: A Handbook for Young Lawyers (KF8915.S24)by Paul Mark Sandler. It examines the major stages of both civil and criminal trials, including the voire dire process, opening statements, witnesses, direct and cross examination, closing statements, and appeals. The author draws on his own experience in analyzing the process and uses excerpts from two of his cases-United States v. Rosen and Mary Jeanne Maffei v. Angela Smedley, M.D. et al, along with hypotheticals and commentary from trial judges. This book is more practice oriented than research-oriented but is very beneficial for those looking for an overview of the trial process. This book is now in the law library's new titles shelf.

The Legal Rights of the Convicted, by Barbara Belbot and Craig Hemmens. El Paso: LFB Scholarly Publishing, LLC, 2010.

The Legal Rights of the Convictedthoroughly covers the process and major issues pertaining to corrections law. The authors begin with an introduction discussing the prisoners' civil rights movement in the early part of the twentieth century, as well as expanding on the major sources of U.S. primary law and the concepts of due process relevant to those convicted. There is a chapter dedicated to sentencing issues such as the history and impact of sentencing reform as well as the consequences of a conviction or guilty plea. Other topics include probation, parole, use of force, and the applicability of first amendment protections, fourth amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures, and eighth amendment cruel and unusual punishment to those convicted, particularly those incarcerated. This title is currently in the library's new titles shelf (KF9731.B45 2010).

Information on the US Federal Debt Limit

With all this debate and concern about the US federal debt limit ceiling (including the constitutionality of it), I'm sure many of you would like to know more about it. Luckily, if you fall into that group, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has a couple of reports that you may find interesting.

The most recent report is The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases; the CRS has published several reports with this title in the past, but the most recent one, dated July 1, 2011, is piping-hot fresh. It explains how federal debt was dealt with before the institution of an overall aggregated debt limit, and details the tumultuous political wranglings over the debt limit that have occurred in the last decade. [Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog.]

The second CRS report on the debt limit, dated April 27, 2011, is entitled Reaching the Debt Limit: Background and Potential Effects on Government Operations. This report details the "extraordinary measures" the Treasury has taken…

The “Trap” of Neutral Citation? A Response to Professor Dippel

In the Spring 2011 issue of Law Library Journal (Vol. 103, No. 2), an article by Horst Dippel, Professor Emeritus of British and American Studies at the University of Kassel in Germany, caught my eye. The Trap of Medium-Neutral Citation, or Why a Historical-Critical Edition of State Constitutions Is Necessary, 2011 Law Libr. J. 14, 103 Law Libr. J. 219, is actually a very fascinating article that discusses the travails of researching historical state constitutions. However, there are two aspects of this article that bothered me.

First was the misleading title: The Trap of Medium-Neutral Citation. Although I'm sure I would have read it eventually, the ominous title was what impelled me to read the article immediately upon receiving my copy. This title clearly implied that a main thesis (if not the main thesis) of the article was to be some kind of argument against medium-neutral citations, most likely emphasizing citations to state constitutions. Indeed, the abstract provided at the…

Research Tips: The Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information

The Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), a Department of Energy program, was initially created in 1947, and its mission is to provide free, universal access to federal research and development information. In addition to information generated within the Department of Energy, its website also contains materials from other federal government agencies and links to international scientific sources.

Several areas of its website pertain to energy-related research. The "Find Key DOE Resources and More" section leads to a wide variety of options, including: the Information Bridge (which currently contains over 279,000 documents and citations to energy research reports), DOE Green Energy (citations, reports, and patents for renewable energy sources), Energy Citations Database (nearly 2.5 million citations to energy research documents), and EnergyFiles (links to other online research resources that the Department considers useful).

Coastal Zone Information Center documents now available on FDSys

FDSys is providing digital access to documents relating to coastal management that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Central Library sent to the Government Printing Office. The collection currently spans from 1951-1999, and contains approximately 5,000 documents in PDF. Items range from reports, inventories and management plans to project catalogs and preservation programs.

Part of NOAA's overall mission is to protect coastal resources from environmental damage and encourage sustainable development, and these documents help to provide further insight into how NOAA accomplishes these goals.

Public Opinion Surveys

Public opinion surveys are conducted on a wide variety of topics such as the environment, education, health, and international affairs. If your research requires information about public opinion, there are a number of resources you can use to find this type of data.

Many different types of organizations collect polling data. For instance, some news organizations such as ABC News, NPR, and the New York Times conduct polls and place the data on their websites. There are also polling organizations that make their survey results available to the public. The Harris Vault website provides data from The Harris Poll back to 1963 and the Pew Research Center website supplies data from their People & the Press surveys back to 1997.

However, the library also offers access to subscription databases that pull together public opinion datasets from a number of different sources, some of which are discussed above. The first is the iPOLL Databank from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Resear…

iTunes U and YouTubeEDU

Many people may not know that two websites often thought of as places to turn for entertainment, iTunes and YouTube, also provide access to educational content. iTunes U allows educational institutions to distribute content such as lectures, language lessons, and tours to students, and the general public, for free. Currently more than 800 universities, including the University of Houston, participate, with about half allowing public access to their content. More information about the University of Houston’s iTunes U website can be found here.

YouTubeEDU is a section of the popular video site that contains educational videos from colleges and universities. You can search for videos by keyword or you can browse videos by educational institutions such as Harvard and Stanford or by subjects such as Law, Health & Medicine, or Business. The University of Houston YouTube site can be accessed here.