Per U.S. Library of Congress, Congress.gov Is No Longer in Beta Phase

Per the U.S. Library of Congress, Congress.gov — the successor to THOMAS — is no longer in its beta phase — please see the following news release:

Congress.gov Officially Out of Beta

From the news release, here are some new features/enhancements:

  1. New Feature: Congress.gov Resources
    – A new resources section providing an A to Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress
    – An expanded list of “most viewed” bills each day, archived to July 20, 2014
  2. New Feature: House Committee Hearing Videos
    – Live streams of House Committee hearings and meetings, and an accompanying archive to January, 2012
  3. Improvement: Advanced Search
    – Support for 30 new fields, including nominations, Congressional Record and name of member
  4. Improvement: Browse
    – Days in session calendar view
    – Roll Call votes
    – Bill by sponsor/co-sponsor

Filings in Legal Databases as Possible Source for Withdrawn State Court Opinions

We wanted to share as a tip the good fortune that might be had in a legal database’s collection of “Filings” when one is searching for withdrawn state court opinions.  In our scenario, citations in both WestlawNext (“WLN”) and LexisAdvance (“LA”) indicated that a particular state supreme court opinion had been withdrawn.  The WLN & LA results for the withdrawn opinion revealed only that the opinion had been substituted, but no longer contained the text for the withdrawn opinion.  However, with some deep digging into WLN’s “Filings” linked to the substituted opinion, we were able to find a PDF copy of the withdrawn opinion attached as an exhibit to a petition for review.  Often (and as was the case here) the HTML versions of these “Filings” lack referenced exhibits, but thank goodness for PDFs…particularly for these 25-year-old, pre-electronic-filing state court cases!

We hope you’re equally as lucky in gaining ready access to withdrawn state supreme court opinions!

Book Release on Indigenous Rights in Chile ( No Nos Toman en Cuenta)

Chile Fails to Meet International Obligations Towards Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights Experts Find

Book by international team of human rights experts documents violations of indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consultation

September 9, 2013, Santiago, Chile – Nearly five years after ratifying the International Labor Organization Convention 169 (“ILO 169”), Chile continues to violate indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consultation, according to a book released today by human rights experts in the Consorcio Norte-Sur. The Consorcio is a partnership between Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, the Universidad Diego Portales (Chile), and the Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia).

The Spanish-language book, titled “No Nos Toman en Cuenta” (“They Don’t Consider Us”), provides the most comprehensive review of the consultation rights of Chile’s indigenous people to date. The book examines several ways that the Chilean government has failed to guarantee indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consultation, including the government’s failure to implement international norms within its domestic legal system. The book also features in-depth case studies that document specific rights violations caused by salmon farming projects in indigenous territory in the south of the country.

“Indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consultation guaranteed by ILO 169 is intended to ensure that these historically marginalized groups are able to participate in a meaningful way in decisions that directly affect them,” said Jorge Contesse, former director of Universidad Diego Portales’ Human Rights Center, now a law professor at Rutgers School of Law-Newark. “The failure to implement this right not only violates Chile’s international legal obligations, but also perpetuates distrust between indigenous peoples and the Chilean government, fueling conflict between the two.”

The case of the salmon hatcheries studied in the book highlights this dynamic. Researchers found that often the only consultation-like procedures were conducted by private investors, who provided special benefits for select members of indigenous communities in return for their support. Community members told investigators that this impermissible abdication of the state’s obligation to consult created conflict and upset traditional leadership structures and decision-making processes.

A “Consensus Committee” comprised of government and indigenous representatives made some progress towards developing national standards for consultation procedures earlier this year. Since June, however, the negotiations have stalled. One of the key sticking points is what consultation procedures should apply to investment projects, like the salmon farming installations that form the basis of the book’s case studies.

“Our research shows that the consultation procedures used for the salmon hatcheries, which are very similar to the procedures the government continues to use for investment projects, do not meet international standards,” said Cristián Sanhueza, one of the primary authors of the book for the Universidad de Diego Portales.

“The Chilean government cannot wait indefinitely to implement the right to free, prior, and informed consultation,” stated Daniel Saver, a graduate of Harvard Law School and the other principal author of the book. “Given the recent progress made by the Consensus Committee, there is no better time than now for Chile to uphold its international obligations and establish a consultation procedure that itself is a product of adequate input from indigenous peoples.”

The book will be launched at an event hosted by the Universidad Diego Portales, in Santiago Chile, starting at 6:30pm. More information about the event is available in Spanish here. For an electronic version of the book, see here. For inquiries, please contact Cara Solomon or Susana Kuncar.

ProPublica Launches Online, Free Service for Searching U.S. Tax Returns of Non-Profits

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, ProPublica“an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest” — has begun an online, free service for searching the U.S. tax returns of over 600,000 non-profit organizations:

ProPublica Launches Online Tool to Search Nonprofit Tax Forms

Please see:
ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer

Hat tip to ResourceShelf.

Cross-posted at Law Library Blog.

American Library Association (ALA) “State of America’s Libraries 2013″ — Part of National Library Week

A new library-related report of interest is the 83-page:

The State of America’s Libraries 2013: A Report from the American Library Association (ALA)

For the accompanying press release please see here.

The 5-page Executive Summary is here.

And for information about the ALA please see here.

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

Bloomberg Law is moving up

according to the Heard on the Street column in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Data Don’t Add Up for Thomson Reuters.”  From the story:

 a survey of legal-information customers by Claudio Aspesi of Sanford C. Bernstein in January found that 61% of respondents had a subscription to Bloomberg Law, up from 36% the year before. And some respondents said Bloomberg Law was getting closer to offering a breadth of data needed to completely replace a subscription to Westlaw or rival Reed Elsevier’s Lexis-Nexis.

Operation Asymptote – Spread the word – Download distributed PACER documents

Operation Asymptote

Overview

Operation Asymptote is an initiative designed to download as much of PACER as possible by spreading the burden across many individuals, none of whom need to spend anything by staying under PACER’s $15.00 per quarter free access allowance.

What do I need to do this?

  1. You must have five minutes.
  2. You must have a valid credit or debit card, even though it will not be charged.
  3. You must have a computer with internet access that can run Firefox.
  4. You must have a PACER account.
  5. You must have the free RECAP browser extension.
  6. You must download no more than $15.00 worth of PACER materials per calendar quarter.

. . .

Publishing cases the New York Law Journal way

I start my day reading newspapers, and I especially enjoy the obituaries.   Today’s New York Times includes an obituary for Jerry Finkelstein, publisher of the New York Law Journal, and the obit includes this observation:

In 1963, Mr. Finkelstein bought The Law Journal, the official paper of the city’s legal profession, for $1 million. Its circulation was small, and it was an ocean of tiny print: legal notices, case calendars, texts of decisions. But he turned it into a leading journal, and he wielded enormous power by deciding which cases to publish, in effect determining what the bar read — a leverage not lost on judges, lawyers and politicians.

Researching 18th Century Judicial Cases from the Parlement of Paris

The latest issue of French History offers an illuminating  article by the legal historian David Feutry on the difficulties of researching judicial cases from the Parlement of Paris, an important judicial appellate body during the Ancien Régime.  The Parlement’s defense of aristocratic privileges and corruption has influenced French thinking about the the proper role of the judicial branch since the French Revolution.

Feutry explains that the organization of the Parlement’s documents and finding aids and the often labyrinthine procedural histories of the cases make researching the files a daunting task.

“It is a complex business to find a case or judgment in the registers of the Parlement. Not only is the date of a decision required, but the way in which the matter was decided; something brought for a hearing might have been through every stage, from hearing right through to a final decision by one of the chambers of Inquests. In that case different stages of its progress would be recorded separately in all the series of the Parlement’s records.” … “a case is unlikely to be found in a single user friendly archival unit.”

In addition to the complexity of Parlement registers, the author reminds us that fires and deliberative destruction destroyed many valuable records.The article also provides an excellent diagram showing the many different paths a case could take through the chambers of the Parlement of Paris.

The Historian’s Mountain of Paper: the Parlement of Paris and the Analysis of Civil Suits in the Eighteenth Century
David Feutry
translated by Bill Doyle
26 French History 277 (2012)

California’s Prop. 8 in Federal Court: Key Timeline, Briefs, and Opinions Leading to Hollingsworth Cert Petition

On July 30, 2012, California Proposition 8 proponents petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari.  In Hollingsworth v. Perry, petitioners (the original “Defendant-Intervenors”) ask the Court to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion in Perry v. Brown, (671 F.3d 1052), which affirmed the district court’s determination that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional (Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 704 F. Supp. 2d 921).

We have prepared a timeline of key events, and gathered the main briefs and opinions, for the Prop. 8 federal cases leading up to the Hollingsworth petition.  These are intended as highlight compilations only.  Both are linked below.

Prop 8 in Federal Court_Key Timeline

Prop 8 in Federal Court_Main Briefs and Opinions

Cross-posted on the SLS Law Library Blog.