Law Library News for the Week of April 14, 2008

Cheryl Nyberg, editor

Book of the Week: Trial Stories

by Mary Whisner

One of the latest books in the Law Stories series, Trial Stories takes a look at nine trials to illustrate and reflect on trial advocacy. The authors are ten law professors who offer different perspectives on a wide range of cases illustrating different aspects of trial advocacy. The writing is nontechnical and lively.

History buffs will enjoy the essays on the trial of Aaron Burr and Clarence Darrow’s famous advocacy on behalf of Leopold and Loeb. Darrow also provided a stirring defense of Dr. Ossian Sweet and his ten codefendants, blacks prosecuted in 1925 after one of them fired shots into an angry white crowd that surrounded their house.

Michael Tigar, a law professor appointed to represent Terry Nichols-Timothy McVeigh’s alleged coconspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing-writes about that case, as well as contrasting two recent cases concerning the painkiller Vioxx.

The first essay in the book has local interest. It concerns the defense of a Pierce County woman who killed her husband in 1980 and asserted self defense based on his abuse of her. The case went to the Washington Supreme Court, which held that testimony on battered woman syndrome was admissible and that the trial court should have given an instruction that she had no duty to retreat in her own home. State v. Allery, 101 Wash. 2d 591, 682 P.2d 312 (1984). The author, Ellen Yaroshefsky, was Allery’s attorney and is now a professor at Cardozo.

Trial Stories. KF226 .T75 2008 at Reference Area

Note: Trial Stories is one of the latest entries in the Law Stories series. Other titles in the series cover administrative law, antitrust, bankruptcy, civil procedure, civil rights, constitutional law, contracts, criminal procedure, education law, employment law, environmental law, evidence, family law, immigration, intellectual property, international law, labor law, legal ethics, property law, tax, and tort law. Search the Law Library catalog by the phrase "law stories series."

Legal Research Handouts Now Outside the LRTC

by Kelly Aldrich

Did you know that Gallagher Law Library maintains the subscriptions for all of the legal research databases available to you (including LexisNexis and Westlaw)? While you’re in law school, we want you to explore these databases and learn to use them efficiently and effectively. 

So, the next time you’re interested in exploring these databases further, pick up some handouts provided by these vendors, on the shelves outside the Legal Research Training Center on Floor L2.

You’ll find handouts on topics such as an introduction to Securities Mosaic, researching employers on LexisNexis, how to cite to BNA publications, how to use certain databases to help you choose a paper topic, and more. These handouts are reference items for you to take. For more personalized reference help, consider dropping by, emailing, or calling the Reference Office. We’re here to help.


State & International Law Digests on the Internet

For many years, Martindale-Hubbell-publisher of the venerable Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory-has also published digests of laws of the U.S. states and many foreign countries. These lengthy summaries are written by attorneys practicing in the jurisdiction. For instance, the current Washington Law Digest is written by attorneys at Perkins Coie.

These digests are now available for free on the Martindale-Hubbell website.

To access this content, you must register first. Then, use the "Search Legal Topics" option and search "law digest [state or country]". The document you retrieve will be a PDF image.

This information is also available on LexisNexis: Legal > Reference > Martindale-Hubbell > Law Digests. You may also access this information (via networked DVDs) on the four public computers adjacent to the Reference Office. This material is not available on Westlaw.   

Website of the Week: The Public Library of Law

by Kelly Aldrich

Created by Fastcase, the Public Library of Law (PLoL) claims to be “the largest free law library in the world, because [it] assembles law available for free scattered across many different sites-all in one place.”

What’s available?

  • Cases from the U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals
  • Cases from all 50 states back to 1997
  • Federal statutory law and codes from all 50 states
  • Regulations, court rules, constitutions, and more…

One thing to note: though PLoL is free, you do have to register before you’re allowed to access all of the content. PLoL also includes a number of links to its sponsoring company, FastCase, which provides legal content for a fee.

The case law portion of the site consists of one Google-like search box. PLoL would prefer that you search by party name, citation, or docket number. The the search engine works okay. When I searched for Roe v. Wade (it appears to automatically search this as a phrase), it was my fourth result, assigned a relevancy ranking of 53%. When I searched the Roe v. Wade citation, 410 US 113, the case was my one and only result. When I tried a broad search for U.S. Supreme Court cases where the phrase “dormant commerce clause” appears (and I put it in quotes this time), I got 56 results (most of which appear to include the full phrase “dormant commerce clause”).

The statutes, regulations, court rules, and constitutions are links to other free online sources. For example, selecting U.S. Code from the Statutes dropdown menu links to the U.S. House of Representatives’ site—though you’re kept within the overarching purview of the PLoL site.

There is a link to legal forms—arranged first by subject/topic, then by jurisdiction—but beware that most of these cost money to download. Because of this, I wasn’t able to double-check the accuracy or quality of any of the forms.

©2011, Marian Gould Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington