UC Berkeley School of Law Library Begins Permanently Archiving US Supreme Court Decisions

US Supreme Court sealLink rot has plagued the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court. The UC Berkeley School of Law Library has partnered with application developer Philip Ardery to address this problem by hosting U.S. Supreme Court Web Citations, a web service that captures snapshots of any web resource cited by the United States Supreme Court immediately after their opinions are issued.  The goal of the service is to leverage current web and archiving technologies to minimize the link rot that complicates research as websites change or become unavailable over time.

When a judicial opinion cites something from the web, researchers should be able to check it later and find exactly what it looked like when it was cited.1

This is a stopgap initiative until the Court implements a permanent solution. At present there are 612 decisions archived in PDF format on the site.

1. http://scotus.law.berkeley.edu, archived at https://perma.cc/Z7BV-CJNY

CourtListener: Free Legal Research

CourtListener landing page

CourtListener is an open source aggregator of court opinions. It is a subproject of the Free Law Project.

From their site:

“We collect legal opinions from court websites and from data donations, and are aiming to have the best, most complete data on the open Web within the next couple years. We are slowly expanding to provide search and awareness tools for as many state courts as possible, and we already have tools for all of the Federal Appeals Courts.”

Some key differences of this new site include RECAP documents, oral arguments, Judge analysis, and data-rich visualizations.

The RECAP Archive is a searchable collection of PACER documents and dockets that were gathered using the RECAP Extensions for Firefox and Chrome.

The site collects oral argument audio from the Supreme Court and all of the Federal Circuit courts that provide it. State oral arguments are slowly being added.

The judges database has information about thousands of judges from federal and state courts, including their biographical and educational background, judicial and non-judicial positions held, political affiliations, American Bar Association ratings, campaign finance data, and opinions authored.

The site hosts a powerful advanced search that allows one to mine the database from many fields.

Freedom of Information Acts: A double-edged sword in a time of emotional and political unrest

In the legal academy, a petition was circulated among law professors last month that opposed the appointment of Jeff Sessions nomination to be our next attorney general.  There were nearly 1500 signatures.  The petition and its signatories are found here:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/167Ci3pVqwzOUe7_e7itlpew1qGcTo0ZD5dNICIbLQWA/pub.

This month, a reporter working for a conservative political publication relied on the Open Records Act to obtain “a copy of each email (inbound, outbound, deleted, or double deleted) for the university email accounts of Professor Andrea A. Curcio at the University of Georgia and [a colleague who also signed the letter] from the dates of December 15, 2016, to and including January 3, 2017, which includes any of the keywords “Sessions,” or “Jeff Sessions” or “Attorney General.” According the press accounts, similar requests was received by university counsel for law professor signatories working at other public institutions.

The publication is relying on the state versions, what is commonly referred to as open records laws.  Some states label them open information laws or public information acts.  In Hawaii, our version is codified at Haw. Rev. Stat. 92F.  Regardless of what the popular name of the law is, the concept is the same:  public employees are subject to the same open records laws as every other public employee in his state or open information laws that make emails and other written documentation of agencies and individuals who work for those agencies subject to public inspection.

Mindfulness Practice Resumes in Spring 2017

man meditating in fieldMindfulness practice (aka meditation) has many benefits. I attended a conference presentation last summer focused on being present and learning what other law schools and lawyers were doing to promote mindfulness into their academics and private practice.

The presentation had a useful handout giving simple beginner’s advice, list of resources, and bios on the speakers.

Below are takeaways from this presentation:

  • Kyle Courtney from Harvard noted libraries are great spaces for mindfulness and meditation. Meditation represents another point of service for the library. I have conducted weekly mindfulness sittings at the law library but I may consider a week-long session (if there is interest). Harvard holds retreats over the winter term. Some law schools adopt mindfulness into the curriculum offering credited study.
  • Jessica Fayerman, a solo practitioner in Chicago, is a member of a Chicago bar mindfulness group. She acknowledged that meditation is a great stress relief for attorneys, and it helps remind us our work is not just about us (it’s just not our personal battles). Through meditation we encompass a wider space and learn the difference between reacting and responding. Mindfulness encourages collaborative leadership.
  • Rev. Eitaro Hayashi of Shinnyo-en, a US Buddhist Order, advised us to be present and learn to do one thing at a time (avoid multitasking).
  • During the Q&A portion I learned about a law professor who lead one class with a short breathing exercise and found that it encouraged better discussion and listening. I tried this technique in one of my classes and found the students less restive and more focused.

I will resume weekly mediation sessions in January. Everyone is invited (students, faculty, and staff). I will provide an introductory period for anyone who is new. Just let me know you need some training when you arrive (or tell me in the comments section below).

Here are the details for the weekly (starting January 26) meditation sessions: Thursdays at 12 noon in room 118 of the law library. Come as you are. Drop-in or leave as needed. Each session will last approximately 20 minutes, so you should still have time to get lunch.

If you are interested in more details about mindfulness or our weekly meditations, use this contact form: