Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2012

Wikipedia at the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal

A few days ago, I was alerted to a brief article that was posted to the Law News Now portion of the ABA Journal's website (hat-tip to Mon Yin) regarding a report posted to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog that asked, "Which Federal Appeals Court Cites Wikipedia Most Often?" Since this is a topic near and dear to my heart, I decided to see if I could corroborate their findings. Sorry to get picky, but I did find some small mistakes (although the gist of the posting is still accurate).The Law Blog posting claims that they "only recorded those instances in which an appeals court used Wikipedia for its own purposes, rather than citing it secondarily through a lower court or a party’s pleading" (emphasis added). But it then charged the Seventh Circuit with "36 citations". In reality, their lexis.com* search retrieved 36 cases, but not all of them were citing to Wikipedia for the court's "own purposes".[*I'm not 100% sure they used lexis.c…

Sitting by Designation

Last week, a recent federal appellate case was brought to my attention, not because of the substance of the decision or the underlying topic, but because of the make-up of the circuit panel that heard the case. The proceedings were brought up before a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel that included a district court judge. That's nothing special; literally thousands of cases are heard every year by circuit court panels that contain a district judge "sitting by designation". What got my attention about this one was the district judge sitting by designation on this Ninth Circuit panel was a judge from Maryland!This got me thinking about the "designation" process: How could a judge from Maryland end up on a Ninth Circuit panel? (Or, in other words, how could an East Coast judge end up on a West Coast panel?) I don't remember this being discussed in any of my Procedure or Federal Courts classes in law school, so I thought I'd check it out.Turns out, inter…

O'Quinn Law Library Free CLE Workshop

To help recently graduated alumni to meet the needs of a demanding legal environment, the University of Houston O'Quinn Law Library will hold a free workshop offering special training in legal research and the application of the latest information technology: two hours of intensive training in advanced Texas legal research and free or low cost online resources for lawyers, and one hour on special mobile device applications for attorneys. This workshop carries three Texas CLE credits. For details please click here.

Happy National Humor Month

Since April is National Humor Month, I wanted to celebrate by offering up a few websites and blogs where you can go to enjoy the lighter side of the law:

Lawhaha.com – Play “Spot the Tort,” browse strange and amusing judicial opinions, or read tales about law school on categories such as “Interview Faux Pas” and “Socratic Mishaps.”

Say What?! – Provides “real life Texas courtroom humor” from U.S. District Court Judge Jerry Buchmeyer’s Texas Bar Journal columns from 1990 to 2008.

Big Legal Brain – Satirical blog offering practical law office management tips such as “Keys to Building a Lebowski-Driven Practice” and how to “Boost Your Web Site with Cheesy Stock Images.”

Legally Drawn – Website featuring cartoons about life in the law.

That’s What She Said – Blog that dissects each episode of the television show “The Office” to estimate what the company would have to pay to defend itself in a real lawsuit.

This is just a sampling of the legal humor sites out there. For more examples, see …

English Translations of Foreign Law

If you need to find English translations of foreign laws, you should check out the new guide from the Law Library of Congress: Translation of National Legislation into English. As reported by the Law Library of Congress blog, this new guide has information regarding where you can find translated legal materials for 13 countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, and the Russian Federation. The guide includes information about official as well as unofficial translations. It also provides links to those translations that are available online.

The law library also provides access to the Foreign Law Guide, a subscription database containing information about laws from over 170 jurisdictions. This database can be accessed through the Legal Databases drop-down menu on the library website.

Update on E-filing in Texas Courts

E-filing has now become the norm in most Texas state appellate courts as well as with many county and district courts. According to an article available on the the Texas Lawyer Blog this week, the Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA) director, Casey Kennedy has stated, based on the Texas Judiciary's 2011 annual report, that seven of Texas's 14 appellate jurisdictions and 78 district and county clerks in 51 counties now use e-filing. The Texas Supreme Court has made e-filing mandatory since March of 2011. The blog also reports that since the current vender that manages the e-filing system in Texas will not renew its contract, OCA is now soliciting proposals from venders for an e-filing system that will have similar retrieval tools for the public as PACER. This is especially an interesting development that could allow public access to trial level decisions and filed documents, that would otherwise require a trip to the court clerk's office.

Google Launches its New Google Account Activity Tool

Google has launched, "Account Activity," a new tool designed to keep you apprised of certain activity and the Google services that you have used (see the blog posting from Google for more information). Those who sign up will receive a report each month that will provide data pertaining to usage of Google services such as g-mail activity, the country from where the user has logged in, the number of searches conducted on Google, and number of times Youtube videos have been viewed. The Law Librarian Blog in a posting on Friday, March 30, 2012, mentioned that this tool appears to track usage even if the user is not signed in to a Google account (although this may be attributable to the person using "Chrome"). While I'm not sure if I want to sign up for this service (I already have a Google account), it appears that this tool simply allows the user to see what information Google already keeps track of.