Archives for posts with tag: the 50 states

Let’s say your legislative history has taken you back to the definition of one lousy word. I love usage citations in dictionary definitions, but they’re almost always spelled out with terrible abbreviations. Here’s “common law” from the latest multi-volume OED:

This one isn’t bad, but a Bouvier’s 1st, a Black’s 1st, will talk about little known, often name-based reporter using irritating little codes that haven’t meant anything to anyone for centuries. Here are some resources to help you decipher odd ball citations:

  • Bieber’s: All citations, all the time, Bieber will let you search by abbreviation and then get a full title. You can also look up a title and get an abbreviation, but in the U.S. we tend to prefer…
  • The Bluebook: When I know what jurisdiction I’m dealing with, I like the back tables of the Bluebook that list most reporters and major periodicals for most jurisdictions. Plus, you can get the super-official citation for American brief writing.
  • Materials and Methods of Legal Research by Frederick Hicks: This is not the only publication of it’s kind, but I love it so much that I bought my own, just in case any future place of employ didn’t have it. The main work is nice, but the appendices are invaluable: state by state list of reporters (with years), list of Anglo-American legal periodicals, complete list of English and British law reports… I could go on, but check this out for yourself. Legal research guides from times past are great because they will include resources that have fallen out of favor now, but were popular and heavily cited in the past.
  • Pimsleur’s Checklists of Basic American Legal Publications: Another option for an exhaustive list of things that were once popular (especially state by state) and now aren’t is something like Pimsleur’s. If you have a time period and a jurisdiction, these lists should help you narrow things down. The AALL State Documents Bibliography is kind of similar for states only, but has a definite gov docs focus.
  • Local chapter guides to legislative history: My local, LLSDC, has a guide to federal legislative sources because we’re in DC. But, if you’ve got a New York issue, try LLAGNY, and so forth.
  • If all else fails, just Google the entire citation. It’s amazing how many times that gets you somewhere. Oh, Internet.

I hope one of more of these sources can get you where you need to be, cite wise. There’s no real science here–just keep working at it!

What’s your go-to wonky citation solver?

I wait for the Popular Name Table supplement like a kid waiting for Christmas. Our most recent update has this gem, Tennessee’s I Hate Meth Act.

I hate meth, too. But, I tell you what I hate more (or more frequently, because I only think about meth when riding the Northeast Regional from DC to Newport News and see trailer, trailer, burned out trailer alongside the tracks): not being able to link directly to Tenn. 39-17-431 because it’s now a LexisNexis product. Miss you, Michie!

In the spirit of Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and all of the other brilliant, three-named female legal minds that have gone before me, this Saturday I am getting married and will become Megan Lulofs Kuhagen. We’ve covered all of the important family law bases:

I think we’re ready!

Wonder why I never update Library Lulu anymore? It’s because I’m blogging for the Law Library more than before. Here’s my latest installment about the new States in the Senate page over at senate.gov. King Kamehameha approves. Most importantly: Mama Lulu gets a shout out.

Mahalo!

Tired of spinning circles around the results of yesterday’s Iowa Caucus? Looking for a break from the state where hogs outnumber people? Ready to resume flying over fly over country? Tough!

The World’s Largest Bull and I are here to remind you about the Guide to Law Online for Iowa.

In case you have some pressing need for Iowa administrative, legislative or judicial materials in the next 3 years and roughly 360 days, check out the Guide–and most importantly, let me know if something is out of sorts so we can fix it.

Was this post a mere vehicle for a picture of the World’s Largest [Anatomically Correct] Bull? Yes.

But seriously folks, the Guide to Law Online covers all 50 states, nearly every jurisdiction of the world, and even international and comparative law. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s always being updated.

It’s been an unusually inspiring day on the lawbrarian interwebz. This afternoon, Robert Richards retweeted an article of Connie Crosby‘s on Slaw that I had missed: “Legal Research Services for the Public: Looking for a Solution.” The premise is simple, but the implications are huge: how exactly do non-lawyers get legal information? There are plenty of obvious restrictions (don’t give legal advice, don’t expose yourself to uninsured risk, cost and availability of resources), but not as many obvious solutions.

As part of my job, I answer Ask A Librarian questions that come in through our online form. Content of these questions ranges from pro se litigants looking for help to legal academics to non-law academics, students, and of course, somewhat off beat but still legally related issues like who said “there’s a sucker born every minute,” and did they say it in a courtroom? I help where I can, and not where I can’t.

Where can’t I? This afternoon’s brief Twitter convo between Connie, Sarah Glassmeyer and myself has certainly made me think twice, ethically, about what’s giving legal advice and what isn’t. But, one solution I suggested was using a government’s own published resources on a specific subject manner to avoid the legal advice conundrum. For example, on more than one occasion I’ve received questions about old people in Florida, for Florida is full of old people. The Florida Dept. of Elder Affairs has a pretty good website, abundant contact info, and hyper localized information that I can direct people to from our form (because they have to fill out their address). Of course, all this comes after I say, “Regrettably, we cannot offer legal advice or solutions to specific legal problems. However, here are a few local resources that I hope will be of use to you…”

I’m going to put it out there that a percentage of folks that come to law libraries for help don’t necessarily need legal assistance as much as governmental guidance. In the U.S. at least, between multiple levels of government with overlapping responsibilities, it’s tough work being the governed. Rah rah federalism, but seriously: when someone is sending in an Ask A Librarian question to my Library of Last Resort about how to take care of their grandmama in Florida, something is amiss.

Connie talked about whether public legal help could become a viable business model with independent researchers. I wonder if it can be a viable business model as a website that helps people navigate the resources that are already present? Could the people running the site then market their services to state and local governments? “Let us index you, let us build you a better product, look at how great everyone will think Florida is.” I’m all for free Law (that’s capital L, serious law), and I think all that stuff needs to be made available–but I also think there are lots of folks who won’t be able to read it or use it once it’s out there. I see this public legal research thing as a combination of proper laws, cases, etc. and administrative websites.

People have web businesses all the time. Not even the craziest idea I’ve had today.

I’m a bit of a federalism fanatic–I know it’s anti-stream lined, easy, uniform law, but I really love wonky state laws.

Click It Or Ticket? What do you mean, “You WILL get pulled over?”

Not in New Hampshire. Live free and die.

So, in that spirit (I mean of state law, not of dying in a car accident because you weren’t wearing a seat belt, which is a dumb move), I was a bit dismayed by 49-across of today’s Washington Post crossword. It’s a 7/11 themed crossword, in honor of the day, and the store. All of the long clues are about things you buy at 7/11. The clue in question reads, “Beer purchase at the store.” Whoa, there. Blue laws are notoriously different from state to state, even county to county within states. The Post serves a commonwealth, a state and a federal district–and you can’t purchase beer at a 7/11 in all of them. Come on, Post. Where’s the state love?

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