Category Archives: Technology

Chat and Text with the Law Library

The law library is proud to announce that the same reference services that have long been available by phone, by email, and in person at the reference desk are now also available via online chat on our website, as well as by text to 803-219-2529.

We hope law students will find chat and text to be convenient ways to interact with the law library.

How to Use our Chat

When you see the “Chat now with a reference librarian” indicator on our website, you may click on it to begin a chat.

This message appears on our website when a reference librarian is available for chat.

Then a widget will pop up. Type in the lower portion of the widget to chat, and press Enter to send your message to the librarian. The librarian’s response will appear as part of a conversation with you in the upper portion of the widget. The chat software also allows you to send a file to the librarian, or to email a transcript of the chat to yourself.

This chat widget pops up when you click “Chat now with a reference librarian” to begin a chat.

Hours of Chat Availability

Reference chat is only available during our standard reference hours, Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, on days when the library is open. Because at times the reference librarian may be responding to multiple needs, chat may be temporarily unavailable during reference hours. During busy times and off-hours, online patrons will be advised that email may be the best way to contact us, so that we can reply as soon as we are able. Our email address is lawref@law.sc.edu.

This message appears on our website when no reference librarian is available for chat.

Reporting Noise Issues via Chat

The circulation desk also has an online chat component available through our website for reporting noise issues in the library. The same caveat applies as to the chat function occasionally being unavailable when circulation librarians attend to other duties, and at that point phone reporting is recommended.

When this message appears on our website, circulation staff is available for chat.

When no circulation staff is available for chat, this message appears on our website.

Federal Rules of Evidence online

Taking a deep dive into the Federal Rules of Evidence? Here’s how to find searchable, annotated versions of the FRE on Westlaw and Lexis Advance, as well as how to find the official pdf version from the US Government Publishing Office.

Westlaw version (searchable, annotated)
  1. Log in to Westlaw.
  2. Click “Federal Materials,” then “United States Code Annotated (USCA).”
  3. Scroll down, just below Title 28, then click on “Federal Rules of Evidence.”
  4. At this point, any terms you enter in the search box will be searched throughout the FRE, or you can click the checkboxes next to particular rules first, in order to narrow the search to just those rules.
  5. Clicking the link to a particular rule will provide the text of the rule, Notes of Decisions (case law interpreting the rule), and Citing References (all primary and secondary materials available on Westlaw that cite to that rule; use filters to narrow this down).
Lexis Advance version (searchable, annotated)
  1. Log in to Lexis Advance.
  2. Click “Browse,” then “Sources,” then type USCS and click on “USCS – Federal Rules Annotated” in the list of suggestions, then click the magnifying glass to search.
  3. Click the link to “Table of Contents – USCS – Federal Rules Annotated.”
  4. To the right of “Federal Rules of Evidence,” there is a magnifying glass with a plus sign. Clicking this will narrow your search to just the Federal Rules of Evidence.
  5. To the left of “Federal Rules of Evidence” is a triangle. Clicking this triangle will expand the rules you can choose from. Clicking the link to a particular rule will provide the text of the rule, Interpretive Notes and Decisions (case law interpreting the rule), and a link to Shepardize the rule (this reveals all primary and secondary materials available on Lexis Advance that cite to the rule; options to narrow these results are on the left side of the screen).
US Government Publishing Office version (official)

The gpo.gov website is free; no login is needed. The pdfs available on the site have wide margins that are great for marking up with your own notes. Most importantly, these pdfs are official sources of law provided by the federal government.

PDF version of Federal Rules of Evidence on gpo.gov (93 pages; may load slowly)

AI Applied to International Law

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applied to Chess

Twenty-one years ago today, on February 10, 1996, an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue beat then-reigning world champion Garry Kasparov in a game of chess, although Kasparov won the six-game match. In a rematch 14 months later, Deep Blue won the match.

chess set

photo by Alan Light

AI Applied to International Law

To win at chess, a computer has to predict how its human opponent is likely to move in response to moves the computer makes. So can a computer today predict how a human tribunal is likely to rule in a case? The answer may be yes.

Researchers have now created a machine-learning algorithm that has predicted the outcome of cases decided by the European Court of Human Rights with 79% accuracy. The algorithm was given text from the publicly available HUDOC database—summaries of submissions to the court. Based on language used, and topics and circumstances mentioned in the summary of each party’s submission, the algorithm predicted what the court would decide.

Would the results have been as accurate if the algorithm had been given the original submissions to the court, rather than the summaries? Unfortunately, the originals are not publicly available, so the answer is unknown.

Courtroom - European Court of Human Rights

photo by Adrian Grycuk CC BY-SA 3.0 pl

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