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Law Library News for February 14,  2000

Mary Whisner, editor

Law Library News Archive


Lexis & Westlaw: How Do I . . . ?

by  Nancy McMurrer

Sometimes that perfect search you designed just does not work, or you have trouble selecting a file or database to search, or you want to search a particular part of a document, but cannot remember how. Remember, there are many ways to get help!

Both services have student representatives: Charles Suh is the LEXIS-NEXIS rep and Ramona Hunter and Kyle Wood are the WESTLAW reps. Check the bulletin board in the hallway leading to the computer lab for their office hours. Or use the direct help lines for each service in Room 241, across from the computer lab; those lines connect you directly to the reference attorneys at WESTLAW and LEXIS-NEXIS. If you are at home, you can call the reference attorney toll-free numbers: WESTLAW is 1-800-850-WEST; LEXIS-NEXIS is 1-800-45-LEXIS.

If you would like a quick "refresher" for LEXIS-NEXIS or WESTLAW, try the services� online tours and tutorials. They are quick and packed with useful information. For LEXIS-NEXIS tutorials, go to and look for the TUTORIAL link that is at the top right of the screen. The WESTLAW tours can be found by going to Scroll down the screen until you see the list of links below the sign-on window. Choose the WESTLAW TOURS link.

Suppose you are in the middle of searching and run into a problem. Both services have context-sensitive help. In LEXIS, look at the top right of an open window for the HELP link, or find the HELP link at the top right of the screen where your results are displayed. In WESTLAW, the HELP link is also at the top right of the screen.

And always remember that any of the reference librarians would be happy to help you find a file or database or construct a search! It's New, It's Free . . . But Is It for Real?

by Beatrice A. Tice, Law Librarianship Student Intern

Meet, the newest online legal database to hit the Web! Jurisline first appeared in December 1999 and is now in its final stages of public beta testing. The site offers full-text coverage of selected state and federal case law and statutes, as well as certain business information�and it�s growing all the time. But perhaps the most striking characteristic of Jurisline is that it is a no-cost service. In other words, it�s free. Yep, you heard right�it�s FREE!

Jurisline currently offers the following features:

  • Full text of federal case law from early 1900�s through 1998 or 1999
  • U.S. Supreme Court decisions from 1956 through first quarter 1999
  • Full text of CA, CO, DE, DC, IL, MD, MA, NY, PA, RI, VT, VA and WI case law from early 1900�s through first quarter of 1999
  • Full text of the United States Code
  • Full text of the New York Code
  • Full text of EDGAR online corporate filings
  • Stock quotes
  • Federal trademark information
  • Links to top national and legal news, weather and sports

The Jurisline database files are all easily searchable with key words, using a search interface and query language similar to those offered by our old friends LEXIS-NEXIS and WESTLAW. The site also offers a "Rapidcite" feature, which permits retrieval of a case or statute by citation. And if you register with Jurisline (remember, it�s free), you can save and download cases and statutes into dual-column format, directly to your computer.

Think this sounds too good to be true? Many legal professionals, including attorneys and law librarians, have been thinking so too. One professional legal searcher recently looked more closely at the Jurisline situation and found some potentially troubling things. First of all, nowhere in its site does Jurisline document the source of the information in its online databases. It is not clear when (or if?) the databases are updated. The coverage of historical and older case law materials seems complete, but the most recent cases in the database are no later than the "first quarter of 1999." Moreover, it is not clear just who are the people or entity(ies) actually responsible for the site. The fact that a user must register in order to download or print materials in dual-column format leaves one with an uncomfortable impression that the Jurisline folks may simultaneously be in the business of collecting personal information to sell to interested clients. This raises additional questions about the continued accuracy and timeliness of the information that will be maintained at the site.

So�the jury is still out on In the meantime, check it out! But be aware of its potential risks and limitations; remember, the best things in life (or at least in online legal research) aren�t necessarily free.

For more information, you can read the full report on at Recent developments include a suit by Matthew Bender (a legal publisher) against Jurisline for copying cases from Lexis Law on Disc CD-ROMS in violation of the license agreement.

Valentine's Day Trivia Contest

This week�s Trivia Contest honors Valentine�s Day. Turn in your answers (with your email address) to the Reference Office by Thursday at 5:00 and you could win a prize.

  1. In 1980 a federal district court, on remand from the D.C. Circuit, declared his discharge unlawful and ordered the Air Force to reinstate him. His headstone in the Congressional Cemetery says: "When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."
  2. When his affair with Margo Adams ended, she sued him for breach of contract, alleging he had promised to pay her for going with him when he traveled for his job. They settled the suit for an undisclosed amount in December 1989.
  3. In 1958 he married Mildred Jeter in Washington, D.C. After they settled in Virginia they were convicted of violating that state�s antimiscegenation statute. Their convictions were reversed by the Supreme Court in 1967.
  4. His 1997 divorce settlement made it into the 1999 Guinness Book of Records. So much stock was involved that the Securities and Exchange Commission was notified of the transfer. He remarried in 1998, with Johnny Mathis and Kenny G performing at the wedding.
  5. He released "Lawyers in Love" in 1983.
  6. He married his college girlfriend in 1954. They both attended Harvard Law School, but she finished her degree at Columbia. Now he�s a professor at Georgetown University Law Center specializing in tax. She has a good job in Washington, too.
  1. Wade Boggs
  2. Jackson Browne
  3. Martin Ginsburg
  4. Richard Loving
  5. Leonard Matlovich
  6. Craig McCaw