Center for Systemic Peace

The Center for Systemic Peace has numerous Web pages with historical information related to political stability and changes in regimes.

Adverse Regime Changes in Africa 1955-2004  http://www.systemicpeace.org/africa/ACPPAnnex2a.pdf

Coup d’Etat in Africa 1946-2004 http://www.systemicpeace.org/africa/ACPPAnnex2b.pdf

Major Periods of Armed Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa 1946-2004 http://www.systemicpeace.org/africa/ACPPAnnex1a.pdf

Polity IV Project Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions 1800-2007 http://www.systemicpeace.org/polity/polity4.htm

Description of the Center for Systemic Peace

The Center for Systemic Peace (CSP) was founded in 1997. It is engaged in innovative research on the problem of political violence within the structural context of the dynamic global system, that is, global systems analysis. The Center supports scientific research and quantitative analysis in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal development. The focus of CSP research is on the possibilities of complex systemic management of all manner of societal and systemic conflicts. The Center regularly monitors and reports on general trends in societal-system performance, at the global, regional, and state levels of analysis and in the key systemic dimensions of conflict, governance, and (human and physical) development. The Center is now affiliated with the Center for Global Policy at George Mason University.

Irish student’s Jarre wiki hoax dupes journalists

Irish student’s Jarre wiki hoax dupes journalists

Reuters
Thursday, May 7, 2009; 5:18 AM

“When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head,” Oscar-winning French composer Maurice Jarre once said, according to several newspapers reporting his death in March. However, the quotation was invented by an Irish student who posted it on the Wikipedia Web site in a hoax designed to show the dangers of relying too heavily on the Internet for information. The 22-year-old sociology and economics student at University College Dublin said he had expected blogs and perhaps small newspapers to use the quotes but did not believe major publications would rely on Wikipedia without further checks.

 

Source: BNA’s Internet Law News – 5/8/09

Case reversed for allowing Wikipedia entry as evidence

From the Examiner.com

Bergen judge reversed for allowing Wikipedia entry as evidence

By Jerry DeMarco

North Jersey Crime Examiner

A Bergen County judge mistakenly let a collection company lawyer cover a gap in evidence against a credit-card holder by using a Wikipedia page, a state appeals court has ruled.

. . .

“Such a malleable source of information is inherently unreliable and clearly not one whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned,” they added.

. . .

The History of CALR, Part 2: An IRS early effort to automate

Today’s is April 15th.  Tax Day.  Over at the Law Librarian Blog you can read “Tax Day Trivia” and “Celebrating April 15 with Two New Tax Op Websites.”

Here on Legal Research Plus we’ll celebrate the day with the second installment of our occasional and random look back at some of the early days of computer-assisted legal research.

Today’s intallment comes courtest of Michael J. Lynch, Director of Law Library and Professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

Another really primitive (abortive) “automated system” was one developed by the I.R.S. in the sixties called Research and Information Retrieval Activity (RIRA).  I co-authored an article which not only described this system, but argued that its contents ought to be available to private attorneys either in discovery under the Federal Rules, or in response to
Freedom of Information Act requests. 

I.R.S had compiled a “Uniform Issue List”:  the outline of concepts relevant to tax litigation.  Case abstracts were created and indexed by attorneys and microfilmed including addresses to microfilm location of all briefs and other case documents. A monthly print-out updated the list of all cases in the system by issue numbers.  A reader-printer could locate and print abstracts.  The abstracts led the users to the microfilm of briefs and documents.  The system now seems inpossibly cumbersome — a somewhat automated index to mere microfilm.  But at the time it seemed like an incredible mine of organized legal research.  As I read the description it hardly fits our concept of an “automated system.”  It seems to me that the primitive possibilities of the sixties technologies inevitably led to its abandonment.  But at the time we, the authors, proudly suspected that our claim of public access discouraged
further development. Private attorneys were really worried about the research advantage it would give the government lawyers (probably unduly worried).

The RIRA wasn’t really a computer system, it was a project that we now recognize as a computer project done with intermediate technology.  Reader-printers seemed really cool in the sixties, I suppose.  The topic outline was the sort of thing West might have done. 

For the full story, see:   Berrien C. Eaton and Michael J. Lynch, “Tax Practice as Affected by the Freedom of Information Act and the Information Retrieval System.”  Proceedings of the 17th Annual Tulane Tax Institute, p405, 1967.

The History of CALR, Part 1: More on Thomson West and FLITE Takes Flight

THE HISTORY OF COMPUTER-ASSISTED LEGAL RESEARCH (CALR)

______________________________________________________

First in an occasional series

More on Thomson West Merger and FLITE Takes Flight

********************

This is the first in an occasional and somewhat random look back at the early days of computer-assisted legal research (CALR).  It stems from a post here earlier in the week about a terrific new book by noted antitrust lawyer (and Stanford Law School alumnus) Gary L. Reback, Free the Market!: Why Only Government Can Keep the Marketplace Competitive (catalog record copied below). The very readable book gives an insider look at the merger (Mr. Reback represented LexisNexis) and as Jonathan Zittrain notes on the jacket, “Gary Reback offers a powerful defense for government’s role in protecting market competition. He draws from rich historical examples and his own extraordinary personal vantage point: his victories and defeats at the front lines of the most high-profile antitrust cases of the past two decades.”

Thomson West Merger

In 1997, Mr. Reback took a vacation to Hawaii after he had “spent a year of futility . . . trying to convince the Justice Department to block an anticompetitive merger that would raise the price of hiring a lawyer for just about every consumer of legal services anywhere in America.”

Storytelling for Lawyers and Monopolizing the Law

Chapters 14 (“Storytelling for Lawyers”) and 15 (“Monopolizing the Law”) tell the story of the 1996 merger of Thomson and West, “. . . the largest publishers of court opinions, treatises, and other materials used to do legal research. No other company was even close in terms of market share or customer usage.” And, as an earlier post here suggests, the end result of this merger created a wrecking ball for academic law library budgets. In my opinion absurd and obscene annual price increases was indeed an effect of this merger.

These two chapters trace through some of the very interesting history of legal publishing, electronic and otherwise, from the 1870s to present.

At one point in chapter 15 Mr. Reback states “. . . both Thomson and LexisNexis started charging law schools for online legal research, originally provided free of charge.” I shared this information on the law library directors listserv.

A few directors contested that statement and commented that, to their knowledge, neither Lexis nor Westlaw was ever free; a couple of other directors weren’t so sure and thought that perhaps there were some free installations.  But this comment also elicited a small flood of memories and reminiscences from directors about the very early days of CALR.

Stanford Law Library’s First CALR Terminal (Lexis only)

I myself came to stanford in 1982.  At the time the library had one Lexis terminal, and no Westlaw terminal.  The terminal was the so-called “DeLuxe” terminal, which was a large sit-down consol, reminiscent of the “con” of an early Star Trek starship.  It was located in a room shared with our photocopiers and microforms, both of which were used far more than the Lexis terminal.  For one thing, there was a daily blackout period and we could not access the database between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. There was no downloading of documents, and printing was done laboriously, one screen shot at a time.  Connection was via an internal modem and a phone line paid for, I think, by Lexis.

Dick Danner, from the Duke Law Library noted on the listserv that “the early history of Lexis from an insider’s perspective, with a bit about Westlaw, can be found in: William G. Harrington, ‘A Brief History of Computer-Assisted Legal Research,’ 77 Law Library Journal 543 (1984-85).”

The Air Force Starts Digitizing the Law – FLITE (Federal Legal Information Through Electronics) Database

And then J. Denny Haythorn, Associate Dean of Library and Information Services & Professor of Law at Whittier College School of Law shared this very interesting story about FLITE (reproduced with permission):

In the Law Library Journal article the author refers to the system the Air Force had developed by the late 1960s. The Air Force system was called Federal Legal Information Through Electronics (FLITE) and was operated from the basement of the Air Force finance center in Denver at Lowery Air Force Base.  FLITE had a large staff inputting federal court reports, administrative court reports (e.g., Comp Gen, Board of Contracts Appeals, etc.), US Code sections, CFR sections, and military regulations into databases. There was a staff of research attorneys who received calls from government lawyers for research and they would help formulate searches in the database.  The Finance Center did not use their computer mainframe at night so the searcher would run overnight and be printed.  The research attorneys would call back with the results the next day and sometimes mail the printouts to the requesting attorney.

More powerful minicomputers and the internet simplified the search process to ultimately be more like the commercial services thought FLITE kept the research attorneys for assistance with searches.  The office also continues to maintain unique databases of information use by military lawyers.  FLITE purchased the first PC computers for Air Force legal offices and began a program of law office automation using shareware software (PC Write for example), commercial software, and software specifically written by the office.

FLITE also was an early adopter of CD and DVD technology.  The goal was to have Judge Advocate General attorneys in the field with legal resources for a standalone law office.

The office still exists and is now located with the Air Force Judge Advocate School at Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, Alabama.  In the 1980s I was one of the research attorneys as they made the transition from batch, overnight searching to real time searches and then user searching directly on the internet.  I also worked on the manuals for some of the software.

Denny will be contibuting more about his experiences as a CALR pioneer, so please stay tuned for later installments of this series.

And here’s the catalog record for Free the Market!

Author: Reback, Gary L., Stanford Law School graduate, J.D.(1974)
Title: Free the market! : why only government can keep the marketplace competitive / Gary L. Reback.
Related e-resource: Publisher description
http://www.loc.gov/catdir/enhancements/fy0906/200804668
Imprint: New York : Portfolio, 2009.
Physical Description: x, 416 p. ; 24 cm.
Note: Signed by the author. CSt-Law
9-d.html

Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. [397]-403) and index.

Contents: Protecting competition — Product distribution –Patent and coypright limitations on competition —
Monopolies and market exclusion — Mergers and acquisitions.Subject (LC): Trade regulation–United States.
Subject (LC): Competition–United States.
ISBN: 9781591842460
ISBN: 1591842468

CALL NUMBER
HD3616 .U47 R136 2009

Times Machine

From an e-mail I received today from The New York Times:

 

As a home delivery subscriber you receive free access to Times Machine, our online archive of The Times from 1851 to 1922 — reproduced exactly as it originally appeared.

With Times Machine, see history come back to life:
        
        Just choose a date and see every headline, article and photo
        
        Flip electronically through page after page of history as it was happening
        
        Read about the Civil War or the sinking of the Titanic, or look through the first 70 years of advertising in The Times

Times Machine is only available for home delivery subscribers. . . .

History of censorship in the English theatre

The Times of London has an interesting article on censorship of the performance of plays in England, including historical discussions. 

A disgusting feast of filth?  by Anthony Burton. The Times. September18, 2008.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article4775754.ece?&EMC-Bltn=B9QEK9

Excerpts from the article:

It was the Licensing Act of 1737 that gave the Lord Chamberlain the role of arbiter of theatrical taste. The role, held until 1968, was introduced by the Prime Minister Robert Walpole to gag his theatrical critics, in particular Henry Fielding, by banning any offensive reference to a living person. So from the 18th century every British playwright had to obtain a licence for the public performance of a play … By September 1968 the Theatres Act was in force and the censor banished.

Using distorted words to build digital libraries

REALLY fascinating story in today’s Wall Street Journal about inventor Luis von Ahn and the use of his Captcha — “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” to help get old books and newspapers online faster and cheaper.

 

Web-Security Inventor Charts a Squigglier Course

Digitizing Books
Is Tied to Revamp
Of Captcha System

By ETHAN SMITH
August 13, 2008; Page B5

 

The primary inventor of a Web security technique is putting the system to work in another security scheme dubbed ReCaptcha.  This time he wants users to assist with what he thinks is an important public service: heling get old books and newspapers online as part of digitized libraries.

From the story:

When the ReCaptcha project is fully up and running, this month or in early September, Mr. von Ahn expects it to process about 160 books a day being scanned by the Internet Archive, a San Francisco nonprofit. The Internet Archive has paid employees scanning 1,000 books a day at 70 public and university libraries, mostly in the U.S., from the Library of Congress to the Allen County Public Library, in Fort Wayne, Ind.

. . .

Most of the books can be digitized using typical optical character recognition software. Those that prove troublesome are to be handled by ReCaptcha.

“It’s a really mind-blowing application,” says Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle.

History in the Law Library: Using Legal Materials to Explore the Past and Find Lawyers, Felons and Other Scoundrels in Your Family Tree


History in the Law Library: Using Legal Materials to Explore the Past and Find Lawyers, Felons and Other Scoundrels in Your Family Tree

Louisville Bar Briefs, Vol. 6, No. 4, April 2006

KURT X. METZMEIER, University of Louisville – Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Short but useful article, with some good biographical research tips and index references.

Abstract:
The standard law books and databases typically employed in legal research record the foibles and follies of humankind. This article discusses how these resources can be used to research local and family history.

Source: LSN: University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series Vol. 2 No. 6,  08/01/2008