What is RSS and how do federal courts use it? Rebecca Fordon informs us that courts vary in the types of documents they provide via RSS feeds – only about 70% of bankruptcy courts and 50% of district courts provide full feeds. The effort urging courts to fully enable RSS feeds has many advocates and would have a significant positive impact for legal researchers in all sectors.
Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: Beware of web beacons that can secretly monitor your email; Study finds Big Data eliminates confidentiality in court judgements; and Threat of mass shootings give rise to AI-powered cameras.
Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: Trick for turning your iPhone and AirPods into live spy mic goes viral; .gov security falters during U.S. shutdown; Countering Russian disinformation the Baltic nations’ way; and Why the US Government Is Terrified of Hobbyist Drones.
Ken Strutin’s latest guide on criminal law is an expansive, extensively documented, expert work that provides researchers, scholars, lawyers, judges, advocates for criminal justice, librarians, students, and Americans, a timely and essential guide to seminal issues that are currently the subject of widespread debate – in Congress, in states and local communities across the country – and litigation – in America’s courts, the court of public opinion, and on social media. Strutin takes up the immense challenge of these volatile subjects with his first statement: “There is no such thing as an “illegal” person. For the virtues of citizenship are not exclusive to law books, but found in the dignity of individuals. Ancient peoples who made the first journeys to new lands quickly discovered that humanity is a flower that can bloom anywhere. Since then, lines on maps have served to separate people from personhood. He continues – “Immigration laws and policies have the power to conflate race, ethnicity and national origin with lawbreaking, economic rivalry, and terrorism. A targeted noncitizen occupies an indissoluble bubble of isolation and obloquy that separates them from the moral force of state laws, the integrity of its officials, and the decency of its citizens. For them America is an inside out prison comprised of sensitive locations, sanctuary cities, and degrading confinement. If the immigration system bears a resemblance to criminal justice, it is because they share a forge upon which people are hammered out.” Through the outstanding scholarship Strutin offers here, it is my hope that readers will engage with these issues that are intrinsically connected to Democracy and respect for human rights.
Itai Gurari discusses Judicata’s latest technology solution – Clerk – that evaluates briefs filed in court, grading them on three dimensions: Arguments, Drafting, and Context. The grading reflects factors like how strong the brief’s arguments are, how persuasive the relied upon cases are, and the extent to which the brief cites precedent that supports the desired outcome.
Law Librarian Lora Johns shares her response to “I would like to see an amicus brief filed by Alliance Defending Freedom in Slovakia.” For all of us who did not consider that Americans might want to—or even could—file friend-of-the-court briefs in other countries’ courts, this excellent guide is for you.
Ken Strutin’s exemplary research once again advances our understanding of critical issues pertaining to our justice system in the United States. According to Strutin: ‘the number of innocent people in post-conviction confinement is counted in the thousands, the pre-trial population of the unconvicted is in the millions. Every accused has constitutional rights to liberty, dignity and innocence, and yet, confinement often arrives before conviction. Money bail has the unfortunate effect of monetizing personal liberty and alchemizing human beings into negotiable instruments. This is the slippery slope of criminal justice, the erosion of liberty and due process. So it is that excessive bail bars the way to fully realize constitutional rights and increases the risk of wrongful conviction. Present efforts to improve pretrial release and detention practices have inspired some legislative and policy changes as well as bail funds and advocacy programs. This guide and annotated bibliography covers noteworthy legislation, court decisions, reports and guides, news articles and other sources concerning bail reforms and practices.”
Jeff Roberts of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition raises the question of expanding free public access to court documents in Colorado. Specifically, he identifies the only location where a non-lawyer can view and request copies of all civil court documents from ICCES, the Integrated Colorado Courts E-Filing System. This location is the Colorado Supreme Court’s law library in the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center in downtown Denver. Fees and access to PACER have been the topic of discussion in the legal community for many years. The urgency of this discussion and a resolution that ensures free public access to court filings is critically dependent upon the future of court law libraries.
Ken Strutin argues that cut-and-paste is a laudable method for reducing transcription errors in copying citations and quotations. However, he identifies that a problem arises when it is used to lift verbatim sections of a party’s arguments into a case decision. Stipulations and proposed orders from counsel for both parties might be enviable and practicable, but judgment and fact-finding are solely in the province of the court. This has been a long standing issue that has spanned technologies from shears and paste-pot to typewriters and computers, and which might culminate in a Turing Test for case law.
Examples of the use of visualizations and graphical representations of data and documents in the legal arena are increasing. Alan Rothman’s article includes examples from the public and private sectors as well as academia.