Features and Columns — November, 2014

Collecting the History of Legal Technology

Sarah Glassmeyer, Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, is calling out for assistance with a project to collect our shared legal technology history before it all ends up in dumpsters! — Published July 29, 2013

Big Data, Little Privacy: Tracking the Usual Suspects

In his article, Ken Strutin examines how the 21st century use of watch lists might or might not resemble the labeling of the McCarthy period, and how the experience of that era might inform an evaluation of present-day designation of the dangerous. After first describing the two labeling mechanisms, it compares them along several axes, finding that watch listing has both repeated some 1950s failings and moved on to develop some new ones of its own. In particular, because they are compiled and used in an opaque and completely one-sided process, watch lists run a substantial risk of incorrectly including many people who pose no threat. — Published July 21, 2013

New Version of Voice Dream: first-rate program for reading e-books aloud

A new incarnation of the Voice Dream text-to-speech program--for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch--hit the Apple app store recently. David Rothman says that at $9.99 is it worth every penny. — Published July 21, 2013

LinkedIn has growing value for lawyers

Nicole L. Black's commentary on LinkedIn provides perspective on how it is billed as the “professional” social network, which is why lawyers dipping their toes into social media for the first time often start with LinkedIn. She states that the problem is that as far as social networks go, LinkedIn hasn’t always been very, well … social. However, lately her take on LinkedIn has changed a bit - she still does not think it is the most vibrant or useful social network, but that its value proposition for lawyers has changed over the past year or so. — Published July 21, 2013

FOIA Facts: The Crazy World of FOIA Fees

Scott Hodes discusses how the issue of FOIA fees may be the most complex area of an already confusing subject. There are multiple agencies involved in overseeing the issue and in general the money collected doesn’t help agency FOIA operations in the least. He clarifies that most agencies only collect a fraction of what it costs for them to process FOIA requests. Further, even if they broke even on their FOIA processing, the money does not go to them. In most cases, requesters write out checks to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, not the individual agencies processing the requests. The money goes to the general treasury fund, the same fund payments for n income taxes go to. Agencies do not get this money back, so charging exorbitant FOIA processing fees does not help their bottom line. — Published July 21, 2013

‘High Contrast’ - a treat for Chrome-browser users in search of greater Web and Kindle accessibility

David Rothman follows up on his review of the Voice Dream TTS e-book reader which can also read Web pages aloud, by highlighting the High Contrast add-on for Google's Chrome Web browser. It doesn't just add contrast to Web pages - it also turns black-on-white text into the reverse. Significantly, it works with the Kindle Cloud app within Chrome. — Published July 21, 2013

June, 2013

A to-do for the American Library Association and local and state governments: Resolutions calling for a National Digital Library Endowment

David Rothman's proposed FAQ includes suggested wording for an ALA resolution on the National Digital Library Endowment. His focus is less on the exact language at this point and more on the basic endowment concept on the agendas of various constituencies, NGOs, library associations and Washington policymakers. — Published June 30, 2013

Obama speech and PTA-Amazon alliance validate LibraryCity's K-12 priorities: Now how about a national digital library endowment?

David Rothman continues to expand upon the seminal foundation he has built with his critical advocacy for American libraries to do more to meet the digital content needs not just of K-12 students but also of their parents and other Americans. — Published June 30, 2013

Privacy Resources and Sites on the Internet 2013

Marcus P. Zillman's guide is a comprehensive, timely and actionable resource inclusive of a wide range of privacy resources for individuals as well as organizations. His guide includes references to associations, indexes, search engines as and topical websites and sources that provide current applications, information and resources on the salient topic of privacy and how it relates to your use of the internet and social media.

— Published June 27, 2013

On the Legal Importance of Viewing Genes as Code

On June 13, 2013 the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the much–awaited Myriad case, which challenged the validity of patents on isolated human genes. The Court held that the isolated genetic sequences claimed in Myriad’s patents did not satisfy the inventive threshold for patentability, although the complementary DNA (cDNA) claimed in the patents did. Prof. Annemarie Bridy examines critical elements of the case with a focus on the extent to which the outcome turned on a single conceptual choice: When assessing patentability, should the legal analysis focus on the isolated DNA’s chemical structure or its information-coding function? — Published June 16, 2013

OMB issues New Guidance for Meeting Attendance

Via the American Society of Access Professionals, of which he is President, attorney and FOIA expert Scott A. Hodes informs us about the new guidance to all federal agencies that acknowledges the need for federal employees to attend mission-related conferences and provides some best practices for approving travel and conference expenses. This new guidance adopts many of the best practices suggested in a meetings protocol that the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) provided to OMB at their request. — Published June 5, 2013

May, 2013

Job Swaps and Library Exchanges - 2013 update

This guide by Katie Thomas completely updates her previous article from 2006, and focuses on resources that promote and disseminate information about international visits and exchanges for librarian around the world. — Published May 30, 2013

Negotiating Justice: The New Constitutional Spectrum of Plea Bargaining

Ken Strutin focuses on the impact of the Supreme Court's decisions in Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, and the upcoming appeal in Burt v. Titlow in regard to placing plea bargaining front and center on the national stage. As a result, they have divided practitioners and scholars into two camps: (1) those who consider the rulings to be a new statement in the law of plea bargaining and right to effective assistance of counsel; and (2) those who believe they are only a restatement of established principles. These cases have generated interest in the centrality and regulation of plea bargaining, the ethics and effectiveness of defense counsel as negotiator, the oversight of prosecutors regarding charging decisions, sentence recommendations and pre-trial discovery, and the scope of federal habeas corpus review and remedies. Ken's article is a comprehensive annotated guide to high court opinions, scholarship and commentary regarding the themes addressed by the Supreme Court in Lafler and Frye as well as their implications for the administration of criminal justice. — Published May 19, 2013

Voice Dream e-reading app: Stellar for text to speech - and promising as a general reader

David H. Rothman reviews the Voice Dream Reader app for iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches. At $10 it is more expensive than the average app, but David's deep dive has resulted in a recommendation that there is enough value to justify the cost. — Published May 19, 2013

Promising DPLA debut--but please don't confuse with a full-fledged 'public library' demo

David H. Rothman discusses the strengths and gaps of the current site, which he notes is a demo project with which the DPLA hopes to raise money and attract more, and much needed volunteers. The organization also plans to use this iteration as an opportunity to apply lessons learned to future versions as the project navigates forward in a demonstrably challenging time for libraries. — Published May 4, 2013

Journalism Resources on the Internet

This guide by Marcus P. Zillman is a comprehensive listing of journalism resources and sites on the Internet. These sources provide researchers with a wealth of reliable, topical and comprehensive data, information, reports, images, bibliographies, style and writing guides, from a wide range of public, institutional, association, advocacy and news organizations. — Published May 4, 2013

April, 2013

Copyrights, Fundamental Rights, and the Constitution

The recent Supreme Court decision, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, addresses fair use and the “first sale” doctrine, upon whose protection libraries, used-book dealers, technology companies, consumer-goods retailers, and museums have long relied. Professor Annmarie Bridy's commentary focuses on the position that intellectual property rights in general and copyrights in particular are important, and when their scope is circumscribed to ensure the existence of a robust public domain, they benefit society. However important IP rights are, though – and reasonable people disagree pretty vigorously about that – they are not fundamental in the Constitutional sense. — Published April 28, 2013

DOE Launches New Database: SciTech Connect

Tim Byrne announced that the Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) launched a new database product called SciTech Connect that employs an innovative semantic search tool enabling users to retrieve more relevant information. Other features include faceting, in-document search, word clouds, and personalization. — Published April 18, 2013

Introducing the Central Library of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union and of the European Council

Carlo Marzocchi Head of Sector, Library & Information Service shared this announcement on the resources of Central Library Council of the European Union. The Council of the European Union is the European Union institution where the Member States' ministers responsible for specific areas (e.g. finance, health, education) meet to discuss issues of common concern within their countries. The European Council consists of the Heads of State, or Government, of the Member States, together with the President of the Council and the President of the Commission. The European Council provides the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and defines its general political directions and priorities. It does not exercise legislative functions. The administrative support to both institutions is ensured by the General Secretariat of the Council or GSC. The Central Library holds over 100,000 monographs and EU publications. Newspapers and periodicals from EU Member States are available in the reading room. The Official Journal of the European Communities is available on paper, on microfiche (until 1997), on CD-ROM (from 1998 on) and via internet. — Published April 13, 2013

Canine Assisted Investigation in the Borderlands of Privacy

Ken Strutin brings attention and focus to the fact that dog detection at airports for contraband, in traffic stops for narcotics, at fire scenes for accelerants and at suspect lineups are playing an increasingly important role in criminal investigations. At the same time, Ken documents that the thresholds of olfactory detection continue to test the limits of privacy, probable cause and due process. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases involving animal assisted investigation. The fallout from these decisions will add to the evolving body of case law in federal and state courts as they continue to sort out the constitutional limits of this type of investigation. — Published April 6, 2013

March, 2013

Statistics Resources and Big Data on the Internet 2013

Marcus P. Zillman has updated his best practices bibliography of sites and reliable sources focused on the hot topic of statistics and big data. These sources are representative of multiple publishers, national and global - government, academia, NGOs, and industry, many of which leverage open source and collaborative applications. — Published March 31, 2013

Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories

Perhaps there is a local historical society in the neighborhood where you live or work. Archivist and Librarian Celia Caust-Ellenbogen educates us about a project that seeks to uncover important archival resources held at small, primarily volunteer-run history organizations in the Philadelphia area. — Published March 30, 2013

February, 2013

LegalTech 2013: Old habits die hard, but die they do

Attorney Nicole Black's article on the LegalTech 2013 conference, sponsored every year by American Lawyer Media, updates all of us who could not attend on the latest legal technologies and innovations. — Published February 23, 2013

Another NY court on discovery of social media evidence

Attorney Nicole Black brings context to the impact of the proliferation of social media accounts among the majority of adults in the United States. The information from these accounts has become a prime source for lawyers to mine for evidence to support their clients' cases. — Published February 23, 2013

Poems by Brandon D. Johnson

LLRX is honored to publish two poems by Brandon D. Johnson, a colleague of several decades working in the legal and legislative arena in Washington, DC - providing expert services to law firms and government agencies. Brandon is an insightful and fluent poet, as well as an agile teacher of the craft. — Published February 23, 2013

New Economy Resources 2013

The world is rapidly changing as government data transparency, Big Data and the ability to access actionable information from institutional databases is increasingly released on the web without restrictive fees or subscriptions. This new guide by web research guru Marcus P. Zillman comprises the leading world wide web resources for discovering new knowledge and leveraging the latest reliable data on the New Economy. — Published February 23, 2013

Post-Conviction Representation, Pro Se Practice and Access to the Courts

After the first criminal appeal, there is no constitutional right to counsel. Thus, the convicted and imprisoned pursuing discretionary appeals and habeas corpus relief must research, investigate and litigate as their own attorney. Law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker Ken Strutin's guide documents a body of law that has developed defining the spectrum between full-blown post-conviction representation and the impact of the conditions of confinement on pro se litigants. — Published February 19, 2013

When judges, jurors and the Internet collide

In the past, attorney Nicole L. Black has described misguided attempts by judges to excessively penalize jurors for using social media or the Internet during the pendency of trials. In fact, over the last year, judges have gone so far as to fine or jail jurors who have used social media during trial, and legislators have proposed laws that would criminalize such conduct. This despite the fact that jurors have been violating judges' orders not to research or discuss pending cases since the dawn of jury trials. — Published February 12, 2013

January, 2013

Knowledge Discovery Resources 2013 - An Internet Annotated Link Dataset Compilation

Marcus P. Zillman's current annotated link compilation encompasses top value-added resources for knowledge discovery available through the Internet. The selected resources and sites provide a wide range of actionable knowledge and avenues for information discovery to leverage as part of your overall research project strategy. — Published January 26, 2013

Conclusions from the National Inventory of Legal Materials

Hays Butler and Emily Feltren document the process and successful implementation of dynamic, extensive project conducted over the past three years by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) working with law librarian volunteers around the country to build the first-ever National Inventory of Legal Materials, an inventory of print and electronic legal materials at all levels of government. More than 350 volunteers have added nearly 8,000 legal titles to the inventory so far. — Published January 13, 2013