1L Orientation to the Law Library

Bloomberg, Lexis, and Westlaw
Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing (LRAW)
  • 1Ls use their Westlaw account to access TWEN and sign up for their LRAW section. The Getting Started page in the LRAW textbook has a video showing how to add a course in TWEN.
  • 1Ls complete the Legal System Pre-Class Exercise by clicking on their research professor’s name, then answering the questions in one session. (Saving answers and returning to finish later is not possible; however, referring to the online textbook is allowed.)
On the Law Library’s Website:
More Law Library Information:

@UofSCLawLib is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 1Ls who “like” or “follow” @UofSCLawLib on any of these services by August 22 will be entered into a drawing to win a reserved study carrel.

Library Fest will be September 12 during lunch. All UofSC law students are invited. The law library will offer cake and prizes, and the last-ever chance for 1Ls to win a reserved study carrel.

South Carolina Department of Social Services lawsuit

The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) is in the news because of a class-action lawsuit in federal court (The State). Two organizations—Children’s Rights and Appleseed Legal Justice Center—sued the agency, alleging that its shortcomings have caused repeated harm to children.

A settlement agreement has been proposed and preliminarily approved, and the date has been set for a hearing to finalize the settlement. The settlement proposes to ensure that case workers are not overloaded with more cases than they can reasonably handle, along with other proposed improvements.

Research perspective:

It is somewhat challenging to find the court documents referred to in the news article. Here are some clues to navigating the public record.

The case is in federal district court, and as of the June 3, 2016 date of the news article, there had not yet been a final order in the case. These two facts mean the settlement agreement will not appear in databases that focus on appellate decisions, nor will it be included in collections of trial court orders. Two places to look would be PACER or Bloomberg Law Dockets.

DSS is not a party to the case; neither are Children’s Rights or Appleseed Legal Justice Center. Searching on any of these names will lead to a dead-end. The named defendants are Nikki Haley in her capacity as governor and Susan Alford in her capacity as director.

One possible shortcut in researching a high-profile case such as this, is to see whether the parties or lawyers in the case may have posted court documents on their website. In this case, Appleseed Legal Justice Center has posted the settlement agreement as a pdf on its website. The title of the case is in the description, and the case number is stamped on the pdf; both these pieces of information would help a researcher find additional documents from the case.

Supreme Court opinions: more changeable than previously thought

Nothing could be more reliable as precedent than an opinion of the United States Supreme Court, issued earlier in the day. Yet even that could change.

The New York Times gives examples of justices altering the wording of published opinions, sometimes in ways that are legally significant, hours, days, or even years after the opinions were first issued. Sometimes the unrevised opinion remains available on respected sites for legal research. Fortunately, the Court is now making the changes more transparent, but it remains to be seen whether, or how quickly various websites will ensure that they have the current version.

Chalk it up as just one more reason lawyers need to update their legal research from a reliable and current source.

Britain’s Iraq Inquiry issues its report

Iraq

In 2009, when the UK withdrew combat troops from Iraq, the UK government began a public inquiry to consider what happened with UK involvement in Iraq from 2001 through mid-2009. The Report of the Iraq Inquiry was published July 6, 2016.

public inquiry is generally supposed to identify institutional missteps that resulted in a bad outcome, and to make recommendations for how to redesign laws and institutions to improve future outcomes.

Glen Rangwala of Times Higher Education argues that the Report of the Iraq Inquiry is so wordy and abstract that it does not succeed in the typical purpose of a public inquiry, but that it is a powerfully resonant work of academic analysis.

What do you think? Skim the report, and let the law library know on Facebook or Twitter what audience you think is well or poorly served by the report and why.

Resources relating to the five Dallas police officers

In the words of President Obama, the library is horrified at the events in Dallas on July 7.

Award issued regarding South China Sea territorial claims

map displaying disputed territories in South China Sea

Award issued July 12, 2016

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, issued its award regarding the dispute between the People’s Republic of China and the Philippines over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Background material

Permanent Court of Arbitration

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is an intergovernmental organization established by the 1899 Hague Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. The PCA has 121 Member States. Headquartered at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands, the PCA facilitates arbitration, conciliation, fact-finding, and other dispute resolution proceedings among various combinations of States, State entities, intergovernmental organizations, and private parties.

Resources relating to fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Today the library is, in the words of President Obama, deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.

Digitizing early records of the 13 colonies

Coleman Karesh Law Library has joined a special initiative to digitize the early records of the thirteen original colonies. LLMC Digital, a consortium of law libraries, is tackling the complex project of digitizing the Early State Records, an extraordinary trove of primary source materials from early British, Spanish and French colonial times to the eve of the American Civil War. The first phase of this project will focus on the thirteen original colonies and will include 1,100,000+ pages or 4,166 volumes of primary source material. In addition, LLMC Digital will catalog each document, providing title access previously not available.

Hong Kong in People’s Republic 19 Years Today

HKFlag

Today, July 1, 2016, marks the 19th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong by the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong, a former British colony, is now a Special Administrative Region in China. The Basic Law governs the relationship between Hong Kong SAR and the PRC.

An important provision of the Basic Law is Article 5 which states: “The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.”  Nineteen years has now run on this 50 year period.

For more information on the laws and legal system of Hong Kong SAR, see the Hong Kong Legal Information Institute.