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Law Library News for October 8, 2001

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Email Reference

by Mary Whisner

We in the Reference Department are eager to help you use the Law Library, search databases, and solve vexing research puzzles. During the quarter, the Reference Office on the 2nd floor is staffed, as in past years, Monday-Thursday. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. You can come by or telephone (206) 543-6794.

But what if you�re home, thinking about research in the middle of the night? Or what if you just would rather write your question than telephone or come into the Reference Office? We are now offering email reference service to UW law students. You can ask a question using the form at We�ll get back to you with our suggestions.

Email reference is an extension of our traditional reference service for students, just in a new medium. That is, we still are helping you to do the research yourselves, rather than telling you the answer. So, for example, if you write that you want to find information about hay fever as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, we will suggest sources where you can look, but we won�t prepare a memo summarizing the law for you.

Our goal is to respond to your questions within two working days. It is likely that we will usually be able to reply much more quickly than that, but we don�t know what the traffic will be like. If you need quick reference assistance, please call or come by during the hours the Reference Office is open.

This service is an experiment. We will be evaluating it after about six months. We welcome your comments � and, of course, your questions!

Using LexisNexis & Westlaw

by Penny Hazelton and Nancy McMurrer

When you registered your LexisNexis ID and Westlaw password, you agreed to certain restrictions in your use of those products. Specifically, you agreed to limit yourself to "academic" or "educational" use only. But what does that mean, exactly? Here is a short definition.

Westlaw and LexisNexis may be used in research for a class for which you will receive academic credit, or in connection with unpaid work for a non-law school entity for which you will receive academic credit (EXTERNSHIPS). You may use LexisNexis and Westlaw in your work for a law school professor as a research or teaching assistant, even if you receive pay for such work. You may also use Westlaw and LexisNexis in connection with a law-school-approved law journal and in connection with activities relating to the law school's Moot Court.

You may NOT use Westlaw or LexisNexis in any volunteer or unpaid work (unless you are receiving academic credit for it) and you may NOT use either service in connection with any paid work (unless you are working as a research or teaching assistant for a law professor).

U.S. Supreme Court Term Begins

The first Monday in October marks the beginning of the U.S. Supreme Court's Term. How can you find out about the cases before the Court? Several print and electronic sources provides analysis and summaries of pending cases.

United States Law Week is a weekly newsletter that follows legal developments around the country. The Supreme Court binder gives detailed coverage of the Court, listing cases for which petitions for certiorari have been filed, granted, and denied and -- once the Court gets rolling -- summarizing oral arguments and printing the opinions. The Supreme Court Today section includes a preview of the new Term and subject matter summaries of recently docketed cases. United States Law Week is available in print (KF105.1.U5 at Reserve & Reference Office) and on LexisNexis (BNA;USLW) and Westlaw (BNA-USLW).

Preview of the United States Supreme Court Cases (KF101.1.P7, current issue at Reference Office & older in Classified Stacks), published by the Public Education Division of the American Bar Association, provides analysis by legal scholars of the issues, facts, and legal significance of each case being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court during the Term. It is available on LexisNexis (ABA;PRE-VU) and Westlaw (SCT-PREVIEW).

On the Docket,, from the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism and the Oyez Project, provides up-to-date information on cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The website includes a wealth of information such as feature news stories on selected cases, the questions presented to the Court, links to the lower court opinions, and the dates for scheduled oral arguments. The site contains material from the 1998-99 Term forward. A related site, Oyez, Oyez Oyez,, is a multimedia website dedicated to the U.S. Supreme Court. The website contains biographies and portraits of the Justices, digital audio of important oral arguments and speeches by various Justices, and a virtual tour of the Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court's website,, contains an automated docketing system (the Court's case-tracking system) containing information about pending cases. You can search for cases by docket number, case name, or keyword. If you want to travel to Washington, D.C. and attend the oral arguments of a particular case, check the Argument Calendar. In an oral argument the attorneys representing each side of a case have an opportunity to make a presentation to the Court and respond to questions posed by the Justices.