Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.
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Pac-Info Gets New Name, Overhaul
Remember Pac-Info — an online index of public record systems? They’ve gotten a new URL, the much-easier-to-remember http://www.searchsystems.net/, and have updated their site.
The new version of the site has links to over 5300 searchable public record databases (free and paid ones are listed here — pay databases are listed with a green $ icon.) Categories are divided up geographically (there’s even a category for “outer space.”)
You can browse the site by category, or search by keyword. Be sure to get specific with the keyword search — a search for license found over 1500 results. The advanced search allows you to specify phrases and specifically exclude words.
I have been advised by the site wranglers that this should be considered a “beta” site — that there are more changes on the way. But there’s enough here right now that it’s worth a look.
Colorado Court Index
The Colorado Courts Homepage features a court index at
http://www.courts.state.co.us/ct-index.htm. Links to all the courts are listed on the left, as well as a link for the Supreme Court Library with information about the library and a way to search the its collection. There are also links to all kinds of information about Jury Duty, Probation Services, Colorado Court Rules and Legal Research.
The middle of the page focuses on news and the latest information, such as press releases and updates to Annual Reports of Statistical Data. (You can’t miss the news on the page; it’s in REALLY LOUD LIME GREEN TEXT!) A drop-down menu is at the top for direct access to a area of interest or court. There is a link to various online forms such as adoption, name change as well as county civil forms in PDF or Word format. All forms can be printed or completed online. Additional online items include a variety of pamphlets, some of which are also available in Spanish.
This is very nicely done. I’d recommend only a few changes — increase the type size on the leftmost menu, date the announcements in the middle, and date the press releases on the bottom. Tons of information here. Worth a look.
Site Features California Economy
The California Technology, Trade & Commerce Agency has launched an online portal of California business tools at
http://www.commerce.ca.gov/state/ttca/ttca_homepage.jsp. The site provides information about current issues affecting businesses in the state, such as the economy and its energy challenge. Each link in the left column opens to sources and features current “hot topics” of interest. As an example, Financial Assistance opens to a link of federal, state and private funding programs.
Current news and how-to-information is featured on the homepage. The site also features a keyword search engine that is capable of searching just the CTTCA page or the entire My California site along with a question of the week and current stats on the state.
TribalCourts (http://www.tribalcourts.com/) is a database of Native American tribal court opinions developed by VersusLaw, and with the cooperation of the
National American Indian Court Judges Association. Decisions from State and Federal Appellate courts are included with the Tribal Court opinions. The site is
not complete yet — there are only a limited number of tribal courts currently available. More will be available in the future according to the site.
Searching TribalCourts is a multi-step process, beginning with the selection of which court system to query. Queries can be narrowed by jurisdictions and
date range. Search results are listed with dates and jurisdiction. (To get more than the basics provided by the search results, you’ll have to subscribe to
VersusLaw. They have many subscription options for both attorneys and non-attorneys.) The search page also has a link to the Case Law Research Manual.
The site’s Links page lists additional Tribal Court Resources, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Native American Rights Fund.
Your Right to Know in Washington State
A group of Washington State journalists spent some time this year evaluating the access to public records in the Evergreen State. Because they wanted to determine how non-journalists would be treated requesting public information, they identified themselves as journalists only if asked.
Washington Your Right to Know (available at
http://www.openwashington.com) reports on the project and how accessing that information is not as easy as the law requires. Maps of the states show responses received in each county on such questions as home values, restaurant inspection and sex offenders plus significant responses from county personnel.
Participating newspapers are listed on the site as well as an opportunity to respond in a forum. (Unfortunately repeated attempts to reach the forum, which seems to be hosted on a different server, were unsuccessful.) There are also links to online sources of information, mostly outside the state of Washington.
–FreeFind Site Search Engine Breaks Down Pages Into Items
http://www.researchbuzz.com/articles/2001/1107freefind.html. Maybe you’ve got a site which has multiple pieces of information on one page, like LLRXBuzz. FreeFind’s site search engine lets you break up each item into its own search engine listing.
–Google Adds More Advanced Search Engine to Images, More File Types
http://www.researchbuzz.com/articles/google1106.html. Google’s gone way beyond indexing PDF files. Take a look at all the new sites they’re listing, and learn an interesting trick for finding out how many pages of a particular type they’re indexing (I’m not sure if the trick works, but you’ll get interesting numbers.)