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Showing posts from August, 2014

Documents Removed from PACER

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has recently updated its online notice regarding removal of documents from the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database.According to the notice, the new PACER system is incompatible with older case documents from several courts; these documents have been removed from the PACER system.The affected courts are:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (cases filed prior to January 1, 2010 have been removed) U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (cases filed prior to January 1, 2008 have been removed)U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (cases filed prior to January 1, 2010 have been removed)U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (cases filed prior to March 1, 2012 have been removed)U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California (cases filed prior to May 1, 2001 have been removed)
Legal researchers lacking access to databases other than PACER can …

The Criminal Justice Act Turns 50

Last Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), which was signed into law by President Johnson on August 20, 2013. The CJA (codified at 18 U.S.C. §3006A) mandates funding for court-appointed counsel to represent indigent defendants charged with felonies or Class A misdemeanors in federal court. Although the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to counsel for the accused, it is silent as to whether the court must provide an attorney for a defendant who cannot afford one. It wasn’t until Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458 (1938), that the Supreme Court established the right to court-appointed counsel in all federal criminal cases.

Even after Johnson, however, no funding was provided for court-appointed lawyers. This often made it impossible for them to hire experts or investigators and to provide an adequate defense. The CJA mandated that court-appointed lawyers receive hourly fees and expenses. Six years later, an amendment to the A…

Woman Seeks to Clear Her Name With Rarely Granted Writ

On Monday, The American Lawyer posted an article on its website about Miriam Moskowitz, who was convicted in 1950 on a charge of conspiracy in a case involving the theft of U.S. atomic secrets. Moskowitz has always denied that she had any knowledge of the espionage plot between her boss, Abraham Brothman, and his associate Harry Gold. In 2008, evidence uncovered in a judicial review showed that Gold’s testimony at trial conflicted with his earlier statements to the FBI. Moskowitz, now 98 years old, is attempting to use this newly discovered evidence to clear her name.

The legal process by which she is doing so is known as a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The Latin phrase coram nobis means “before us,” and refers to errors of fact (not of law) before the court. Coram nobis petitions are sometimes used to challenge the results of cases in which evidence was withheld by prosecutors. The writ is rarely granted in criminal cases, and has been abolished altogether in federal civi…

Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documents

This week the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. added a new feature to its Legislative Sourcebook: Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documents, Sources and Explanations.  The Legislative Sourcebook is an excellent research tool for research guides and sources related to federal legislation, the work of Congress, and the Executive Branch. The Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documentsportion of the site allows users to quickly see where materials like the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, Executive Orders, Presidential Directives, Proclamations, and Signing Statements are found online. The guide indicates the years of availability of the information and includes the content holdings of both freely available online sources and subscription services.

One feature especially helpful about this guide is the inclusion of explanatory materials. For example, for Executive Orders, in addition to links to orders from 1789, links are also included to a …

Intellectual Property Materials on WestlawNext

This year more and more materials have migrated from Westlaw Classic to their permanent home in WestlawNext, including  intellectual property materials. According to Product Specialist Ryan Kaatz, by the end of the year, all intellectual property materials, including patents will have fully crossed-over to WestlawNext.

IP Tools are now available in WestlawNext and include the claims history of patents (showing all versions of the patent during the prosecution process) and a references cited section that allows users to quickly view all prior art cited in the patent application. Additionally, Asia Pacific and European patent materials have also migrated to WestlawNext.

One thing users should note is the method of accessing WestlawNext patent materials. On the WestlawNext home screen, the All Content tab separates materials included in general search of content through the search bar, and content that must be searched separately. There is a vertical line separating these materials, and…

Legal Resources for Unaccompanied Children

The University of Houston Law Center is taking part in addressing the ongoing immigration crisis by providing local attorneys with training on how to assist unaccompanied children.

Yesterday was the first such training opportunity as the Law Center, along with the South Texas College of Law, the Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law and the Harris County Attorney’s Office, co-sponsored a CLE on the rights of unaccompanied, undocumented children crossing the Texas border.  For attorneys interested in helping but unable to enroll in the CLE due to how quickly it reached capacity, the CLE materials are available online.The State Bar of Texas offers additional resources as well as links to other CLEs for lawyers outside of the Houston area.

For more information about ongoing events and future opportunities please consult the Law Center’s media release.