Monthly Archives: December 2009

How to Research A Legal Problem: A Guide for Non-Lawyers

The Legal Information Services to the Public (LISP) Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) just completed its latest version of How to Research a Legal Problem: A Guide for Non-Lawyers. It’s available in PDF and Word formats from the LISP website.

Also available on the LISP website is a link to the Public Library Toolkits. Check out South Carolina’s.  (Post-TC)

New Blog in Town

While reading the Small Firm Times newsletter inserted in the envelope containing my bar dues, two new resources for small firms in SC caught my attention. First, the new networking tool sponsored by the SC Bar’s Solo & Small Firm Section—the Solo and Small Firm Practice Area Directory.  Second, for you bloggers out there—the SC Small Firm blog. Check out its blog roll, links to websites, and news and practice tips relevant to small firm practice. (Post-TC)

Favorite Blawgs (Legal Blogs) of 2009

If you get bored over the holidays, check out the top blawgs of 2009.

ABA Journal’s 3rd Annual Blawg 100 is available; and, if you register with ABA, you can vote for your 10 favorite blawgs until 5pm CT on December 31st.

Avvo, a website that rates lawyers and provides free legal advice, also recently released its Favorite Legal Blogs of 2009.

There will surely be more before the end of the year.

Enjoy! (Post-TC)

Today in History: Enter the Simpsons

Happy Birthday, Bart!  And Lisa, and Marge, and Homer, and Maggie, and Santa’s Little Helper. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the premier of cartoon sitcom “The Simpsons.”

Law and pop culture intersect frequently, and over the years The Simpsons have appeared in various contexts in the courtrooms of America – from knock-off t-shirts (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. v. Accent New York (S.D.N.Y., January 10, 1992, No. 90 CIV. 7819 (PKL)) to formation of a contract (Seawright v. American General Financial Services, Inc., 507 F.3d 967 (6th Cir. 2007)) to public apprehension over new telephone area codes (New York & Public Service Com’n of New York v. F.C.C., 267 F.3d 91 (2nd Cir. 2001).

To see more of  The Simpsons’ legal antics, go to your favorite online database service and run The Simpsons as a search query. If you need help, visit your friendly reference librarians.


“Texting” and common sense

Text messages have become a staple of communication, especially among the younger set, but there are drawbacks as well as benefits to this form of social media.  Rep. James Smith will prefile a bill today in the SC House of Representatives that would ban texting while driving.   According to the State newspaper, “Smith’s bill, …, is one of three new measures put forth for the 2010 General Assembly to give law enforcement the power to ticket drivers who read or send text messages.”  Common sense, it seems, should be sufficient to prevent one from trying to text and drive.  Isn’t it reckless to text while driving?  And aren’t there already laws prohibiting reckless driving, so that a specific law dealing with texting is redundant? Apparently not.

On a different but related front, the United States Supreme Court will hear a case in its 2010 session about the privacy of text messages sent over devices provided by employers.  The case, Ontario v. Quon, which involves sexually explicit text messages sent on a city-provided pager by a California policeman to his girlfriend, will be heard in the spring.  A little common sense, professionalism, and perhaps some decorum, might have been useful in this case as well.   That’s right, decorum.  Go look it up.


Bills Pre-filed at the SC Statehouse

The 2010 legislative session of the SC General Assembly begins in January, but legislators in the SC House and Senate have begun pre-filing bills. To get a feel for the issues that will be a-buzz come next year at the statehouse, visit the Current Legislation page of the SC Statehouse website. One recurring theme is penalties for texting while driving in South Carolina, for which bills have been pre-filed in both houses. (Post-TC)

Free Full-text Online Law Review/Law Journal Search Engine

The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center has just launched a free full-text online law review/law journal search engine.  you can find it at: search engine  searches the free full-text of over 300 online law reviews and law journals, as well as document repositories hosting as well as document repositories hosting academic papers and related publications.  The site also provides Journals with free full-text content online, but which must be searched/browsed manually. Add this site it to your resource list and check it out. (Post-DEL)

Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change

The Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change begins today in Denmark. The official web site of the conference is here.  Also known as COP 15, the summit brings together representatives of 192 nations of the world to negotiate a replacement treaty to the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, not Copenhagen. A useful dictionary of terms related to COP 15 and climate change is here.  Latest news on COP 15 will be updated here throughout the conference.


I Love My Librarian

Congratulations to Dwight McInvaill, South Carolina’s ‘s first winner of the “I Love My Librarian Award” presented to ten librarians each year by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the New York Times.

Visit the ALA’s website to read Mr. McInvaill’s nomination letter and to see the other winners. (Post-TC)

Rats, Rabies, and Courtroom Theatrics: Old Case Makes Good Read

There are any number of things that one would assume people don’t have to be told, and here is an example: Curse words have no place in the courtroom. However, if we were in doubt, we can be cured and entertained by the fascinating case of Pingatore v. Montgomery Ward, 419 F.2d 1138, CA6 (Mich.). This 1969 gem from the legal vaults has it all: a rat-bit plaintiff, cross-claiming department stores, the threat of rabies, courtroom grandstanding and, yes, cursing – by the plaintiff’s attorney, yet. Come for the drama; stay for the knowledge. Use the case citation or party names to search in your service of choice, and visit your friendly reference librarians if you need navigation help.