WeCite Project’s win-win opportunities

Analyzing how a given opinion has been impacted by subsequent decisions is an essential part of legal research.   Consequently, the work of the Free Law movement cannot stop with making opinions freely available: a free and robust citator is also needed.

A gargantuan effort will be required to build (and continually update) such a citator. The newly launched WeCite Project, co-sponsored by the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics and the free legal research platform Casetext, aims to bring the win-win power of crowdsourcing to the task. Along with the traditional crowdsourcing strategy of enabling a community of like-minded people to easily contribute,  the WeCite Project is also giving law schools the unique opportunity to do their fair share in another win-win way:  students learn about citators and citation analysis; the database grows.  Already a number of advanced legal research classes have already participated and our class this spring will join the crowd.

The Columbia Society for Law, Science and Technology is hosting a WeCite Event at Columbia Law School on March 26, 2014 (see details and RSVP here: https://casetext.com/wecite/event).  Any and all who are passionate about legal research and/or equal access to the law are invited to attend.  Those who cannot make it to New York can also participate remotely.

Importantly, any and all citator entries created under the WeCite Project (“wecites”) are public domain under a Creative Commons SA license.  Casetext will also be creating an API to allow anyone to bulk download wecites.

The beauty of crowdsourcing is that small contributions from individuals can aggregate into something magnificent.  For those who are interesting in pitching in, instructions can be found here: https://casetext.com/wecite

Ralph Nader Supports Carl Malamud & His Nonprofit Public.Resource.Org

Longtime American political activist, lecturer, author, and attorney Ralph Nader has today posted

The Law Must Be Free and Accessible to All — Not Secret and Profitable

in support of Carl Malamud, our friend and technologist, author, and public domain advocate — and perhaps best known for his nonprofit foundation Public.Resource.org.

New from Copyright Clearance Center (CCC): Open Access Resource Center

The nonprofit Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), “a global rights broker for the world’s most sought-after books, journals, blogs, movies and more” – last month launched a new Open Access Resource Center, in partnership with the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), which “aims to be a comprehensive resource for all things open access to make it easy for the marketplace to stay on top of the latest developments” (see press release here).

See also: Why I Don’t Care About Open Access to Research—and Why You Should

U.S. Census Bureau Adds New Mobile App — “dwellr” — that Delivers On-the-Go Local Statistics

Late last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released a new mobile app called dwellr that helps users find local statistics.

Please see the official news release here.

The new app is available for both Apple iOS and Android OS (operating system) mobile devices.

“Cranch Project” Launched by the District of Columbia Council to Create Open-Source, State-Level Code

The “Cranch Project” has been launched by the Council of the District of Columbia “to create the nation’s first UELMA[Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act]-compliant, open-source, state-level Code of Laws.”

For some news/commentary please see here.

Hat tip to Law Librarians.

Newly-Digitized Archival Material from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis recently expanded FRASER (Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research), by releasing newly-digitized archival material, making it the largest digital collection of Federal Reserve (“the Fed”) historical materials.

Please see:

FRASER digital library releases archival documents from the early days of the Federal Reserve [August 1, 2013]

From the news release:

These documents offer a glimpse into the founding of the Fed and its policy making activities.

Hat tip to ResourceShelf.com.

Oxford University Press Launches New Online Law Products

Oxford University Press (OUP) has launched a number of new online products.

Please see:

Oxford University Press Announces a New Age in Law Publishing Online: Oxford University Press is launching three brand new products and re-launching 3 existing products on Oxford Law Online

Hat tip to ResourceShelf.com.

Cross-posted at Law Library Blog.

Searching for law that is “well-settled.”

It is certainly well-settled that Stanford Law School graduates are doing some very exciting things in the world of legal informatics.  I’ve posted before about Ravel law, founded by our alumni Dan Lewis and Nik Reed.  Alumnus Jacob Heller is also doing some very cool things in this space (stay tuned!) and alumnus Pablo Arredondo just created the new tool described below:

The wellsettled.com search engine enables users to search two unique databases:
Unequivocal Articulations of Legal Principles 
Occasionally a court will issue a written opinion containing an unequivocal articulation
of a legal principle. If the common law were a biological genome, these articulations would
be the “genes”. Luckily, these common law genes are frequently introduced by specific phrases, the most prelevant of which are “It is well settled that…”  and “It is well established that…”
To continue with the genomics anology, these introductory phrases can be likened to the “start codons” that indicate when a DNA sequence is switching from non-coding to coding. Leveraging these common law “start codons”, the wellsettled.com engine allows users to run queries against, and only against, concise articulations of law.
Court-Generated Summaries Of Earlier Judicial Opinions 
Leading legal search companies employ armies of attorneys to read judicial opinions and generate written summaries of them. At the same time however, judges (and their clerks) are also reading and summarizing prior decisions.  Specifically, when citing to an earlier decision, judges will often include a parenthetical that concisely conveys the legal substance of the decision. Judge-generated case summaries are often of a better quality than those generated by the private sector.
To date, the judge-generated case summaries tucked away in parentheticals have been grossly underutilized. The wellsettled.com engine seeks to change that by enabling users to run queries against, and only against, these summaries. Once again common law “codons” are leveraged; in this case prime examples include  “(holding that…)”  and  (“finding that…)” .  The result is that attorneys can review case summaries that are at once concise, trustworthy, and free.
The wellsettled.com search engine is very much a work in progress, currently residing somewhere between a prototype and a beta. Phrases can be searched in quotations (e.g. “felony murder”). Rudimentary boolean searching is enabled using mySQL syntax. Full-text opinions are not available. Many full-text opinions are however freely available from a number of sources including scholar.google.com and ravellaw.com.  Any and all feedback is welcome and appreciated, and can be directed to info@wellsettled.com.
The wellsettled.com engine was conceived and built by Pablo Arredondo.  A graduate of Stanford Law School, Pablo has practiced law in California and New York and recently completed a fellowship at Stanford’s Center For Legal Informatics where his work focused on contextual (matter-specific) legal search/rankings. In college, Pablo worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Human Genome Center where, during the heyday of the Human Genome Project, he was tasked with critical duties such as replacing the liquid nitrogen tank and injecting mice with pregnant mare serum. He hasn’t shut up about genomes since.

Ineffective Assistance of Library: The Failings and the Future of Prison Law Libraries

By Jonathan Abel, in Volume 101, Issue #5 of The Georgetown Law Journal (June 2013).  Here’s the abstract:

The prison law library has long been a potent symbol of the inmate’s right to access the courts. But it has never been a practical tool for providing that access. This contradiction lies at the core of the law library doctrine. It takes little imagination to see the problem with requiring untrained inmates, many of them illiterate or non-English speakers, to navigate the world of postconviction relief and civil rights litigation with nothing more than the help of a few library books. Yet law libraries are ubiquitous in American prisons. Now, in light of a technological revolution in legal research methods, prison libraries face an existential crisis that requires prison officials, courts, scholars, and inmates to reconsider the very purpose of the prison law library. This Article takes up that challenge by providing a novel historical account of the prison law library’s development.

This Article uses original historical research to show how prison law libraries arose, not as a means of accessing the courts, but rather as a means of controlling inmates’ behavior. By placing the origin of the prison law library in the first decades of the twentieth century–half a century earlier than typical accounts–this Article shows how the law library evolved to take on a new purpose in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Supreme Court and other courts first began to fashion a law library doctrine. The central argument of this Article is simple: The courts’ attempts to graft an access-to-courts rationale onto a law library system that had developed for other purposes led to a law library doctrine riddled with contradictions and doomed to failure. This historical account helps explain a prison law library system that never really made sense in terms of providing access to the courts. As prisons look to update their law libraries in light of sweeping technological changes, it is all the more important to understand the history of the law library system so that authorities can plan for its future.

 

 

2013 Global Information Technology Report (GITR) and Networked Readiness Index (NRI)

The World Economic Forum has published

The Global Information Technology Report 2013: Growth and Jobs in a Hyperconnected World

Beñat Bilbao-Osorio, Soumitra Dutta, and Bruno Lanvin, Editors

The online edition is here.

The executive summary begins with

When The Global Information Technology Report (GITR) and the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) were created some 12 years ago, the attention of decision makers and investors was on adopting business and financial strategies that would allow them to develop in the context of a fast-moving but nascent Internet economy. Over more than a decade, the NRI has provided decision leaders with a useful conceptual framework to evaluate the impact of information and communications technologies (ICTs) at a global level, and to benchmark the ICT readiness and the usage of their economies.

Today, the world has undergone massive changes: the Internet bubble has come and gone, and emerging countries such as China and India have become prominent global users and providers of ICT equipment and services. Struggling to emerge from the financial crisis, developed economies are striving to return to higher levels of growth and competitiveness while fighting stubbornly high unemployment rates, especially among their youth. Both emerging and developed economies are focusing on innovation, competing globally for talent, resources, and market shares. Information flows and networks have spread across borders in ways that could not be imagined before the onset of the Internet, the global adoption of mobile telephony and social networks, and the rapid growth of broadband. Business models have been redefined, the workplace has been redesigned, small startups have evolved into large companies, and entire functions of society (education, health, security, privacy) are being rethought.

and is divided into the following sections, indicating the order discussion throughout the full, 409-page report:

  • ICTs, COMPETITIVENESS, GROWTH, AND JOBS: A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP
  • PART 1: THE CURRENT NETWORKED READINESS LANDSCAPE
    • Insight from the NRI 2013 on the world’s networked readiness
    • Digitization for Economic Growth and Job Creation: Regional and Industry Perspectives
    • Convergent Objectives, Divergent Strategies: A Taxonomy of National Broadband and ICT Plans
    • The Importance of National Policy Leadership
    • Fiber Broadband: A Foundation for Social and Economic Growth
    • The Economic Impact of Next-Generation Mobile Services: How 3G Connections and the Use of Mobile Data Impact GDP Growth
    • Better Measurements for Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technologies
    • Re-Establishing the European Union’s Competitiveness with the Next Wave of Investment in Telecommunications
    • The Big Opportunity for Inclusive Growth
  • PART 2: CASE STUDIES OF LEVERAGING ICTS FOR COMPETITIVENESS AND WELL-BEING
    • Colombia’s Digital Agenda: Successes and Challenges Ahead
    • The Metamorphosis to a Knowledge-Based Society: Rwanda
    • E-Government in Latin America: A Review of the Success in Colombia, Uruguay, and Panama
  • PARTS 3 AND 4: COUNTRY/ECONOMY PROFILES AND DATA PRESENTATION

Hat tip to DocuTicker.com.

Cross-posted at Law Library Blog.