Friday, April 20, 2018

Researching Gun Regulation

Today marks 19 years since the shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in which two students killed 13 of their classmates before committing suicide. Since that tragic day, such incidents have become sadly more commonplace, with Education Week creating a statistical tracker to record school shootings in 2018. Already this year, 22 people have lost their lives in school shootings, with the majority of these victims killed during the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Parkland shooting has since galvanized the national debate about gun control reform.

Yesterday, legal research database HeinOnline announced the release of a free new online library on Gun Regulation and Legislation in America, which is now available to the Duke University community. This library compiles federal legislative histories of firearms laws, congressional committee hearings, Congressional Research Service reports, Supreme Court briefs, and related books and scholarly articles.

Duke Law's new Repository of Historical Gun Laws is another valuable resource for researching the history of firearms regulation in America. Created by Duke Law Professors Joseph Blocher and Darrell Miller, the authors of the forthcoming book The Positive Second Amendment: Rights, Regulation, and the Future of Heller, this database includes transcriptions of state and national gun laws from the medieval age to 1776 in England, and from the colonial era to mid-1900s America. A recent Duke Law News story explains the genesis of the project and describes its creation.

The Goodson Law Library and Duke University Libraries collection contains many additional resources on firearms regulation and the Second Amendment. Many titles can be found in the Duke Libraries Catalog; for assistance with finding them or with using online resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Summer Access to Research Services

Whether you're heading to a summer job or graduating this May, your access to legal research services like Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law will change.

Continuing Students

For rising 2Ls and 3Ls, your Law School research access generally continues uninterrupted over the summer. Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law both allow student usage over the summer for educational as well as for commercial purposes. (However, check with your employer before using your Law School accounts for paid work – many employers prefer that summer associates avoid using their school accounts for researching firm matters.)

Westlaw restricts continuing students' summer access to non-commercial/educational research purposes only. The eligible categories for summer access include:
  • Summer coursework for academic credit
  • Research Assistant assignments
  • Law Review or Journal research
  • Moot Court research
  • Non-profit or clinical work
  • Unpaid externship

Continuing students will receive 60 hours of Westlaw research access during the months of June and July, and full access in August.

2018 Graduates

Before leaving Duke Law, check out the library’s information page on Library Services for Recent Grads/Alumni, which contains helpful details about accessing legal research services, borrowing library materials, and extending building access for bar study.

For graduating 3Ls and LLMs, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law automatically extend educational accounts for 6 months following graduation.

Lexis additionally offers the ASPIRE program, providing 12 months of free access to graduates who work in public interest. Proof of work with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is required. To learn more about ASPIRE, visit

Westlaw's "Grad Elite" access continues for 18 months after graduation. Under this program, law grads are allowed 60 hours of usage per month for services like Westlaw and Practical Law, with no restrictions against using them for professional purposes.

For help with your summer access to these or other Duke resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian. The library's summer hours, which take effect at the end of final exams, are Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers

A new display in the Riddick Room case features material from the library's most recent archival acquisition, the Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers. The collection concerns seven people who were falsely accused of sexually abusing dozens of children at a daycare in Edenton, North Carolina in the late 1980s. The case is one example of the preoccupation with perceived abuse taking place at daycares and preschools in the 1980s and 1990s. Often, these cases also involved allegations of Satanism or devil worship. Like the Little Rascals case, most of these daycare abuse accusations turned out to be false.

Riddick Room display of Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers;
curated by Lee Cloninger & Cas Laskowski
The Little Rascals Daycare material primarily concerns State v. Kelly, the trial of Robert "Bob" Kelly, the husband of the daycare's manager, Betsy Kelly. Both were members of the "Edenton Seven." Only two of the seven ever went to trial. Although both were convicted, the convictions were later overturned. For more detail about the collection, refer to the finding aid. Potential researchers should be advised to contact the Law Library in advance of their visit to make sure the collection is on-site.

"Exonerate Edenton Seven" t-shirt from Little Rascals collection and display. Donated by Lew Powell.
"Exonerate Edenton 7" t-shirt, donated by Lew Powell.

The Little Rascals archival material was generously donated by retired Charlotte Observer journalist and author, Lew Powell. Powell has worked to keep the Little Rascals Case in the public eye as a cautionary tale, maintaining a website and blog. The site includes video from a PBS Frontline documentary broadcast series about the case, Innocence Lost.

Donor Lew Powell has also published three books about North Carolina history and trivia, including Carolina Follies: A Nose-Tweaking Look at Life in Our Two Great and Goofy States, which can be viewed in the Rubenstein Library. Powell also amassed a large collection of North Carolina souvenirs and memorabilia; in 2007, he donated that collection to the North Carolina Collection at UNC’s Wilson Library.

For more information about the Little Rascals display and collection, or for additional resources on wrongful convictions, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

--Lee Cloninger, Digital and Archival Initiatives Associate

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lexis AS ONE Now Available

Duke Law has now purchased access to a broad range of Japanese-language legal material through the Lexis AS ONE database. This resource is available to the Duke Law community and to visitors working on-campus within the University IP range by using the link on the Foreign & Int’l tab of the Legal Databases and Links page.

Lexis AS ONE is the flagship product of Lexis in Japan. Core primary law materials date from as early as 1947, but the real breadth of coverage for most sources begins around 2010. The database handles all levels of government, from a collection of treaties and international documents to the full range of relevant municipal law, including some sub-federal sources. Access to case law is exceptionally deep, with options to search for opinions stretching back to the Meiji Era (1868). The popular reporter Hanrei Times, as well as a number of topical reporters, are also included. In addition to the primary law material, Lexis AS ONE includes some serials providing legal commentary.

The search interface is very simple and straightforward. The main page is an aggregated search of all the content on the site, but there are boxes to click for easily limiting results to the categories of documents one is looking for. Three additional tabs expand the site's functionality. The middle two provide extensive options for targeted searches in the case law and legal literature, respectively. A final tab supports a browsing experience of the core serial publications. Interestingly, serials are reorganized not by issue, but in a topical index, similar to an encyclopedia.

For help with accessing or using Lexis AS ONE, or for more information about books or e-books on Japanese law topics, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

--Mike McArthur, Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian

Friday, March 16, 2018

Tax Time

With just over a month left until tax day (Tuesday, April 17), it's time to get serious about completing 2017 federal and state tax returns. Although the Goodson Law Library staff cannot answer substantive tax-related questions (such as "what forms do I need to file?" or help with interpreting the form instructions), the Goodson Blogson can recommend some starting places for finding tax information and assistance.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Public Law No. 115-97) passed by Congress in late December 2017 marked the first major reform of federal tax law since 1986. Although many of its provisions do not take effect until it is time to file taxes for 2018 or later, some portions of the new law do affect 2017 filings. The Internal Revenue Service Tax Reform page links to news releases and updates related to the new law. (If you're already thinking ahead to next year’s taxes, an interactive Withholding Calculator can help you determine if recent tax law changes should prompt a change to your federal withholdings.) A new title in the library, 2017 Tax Legislation: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Law, Explanation, and Analysis (Tax Collection KF6276.62017 .T55 2017) provides additional guidance to practicing lawyers about the recent law changes. Thomson Reuters Checkpoint contains a similar analysis of the tax reform act.

Thinking about hiring someone to help you through filing taxes? Before you pay for a professional tax preparation service, consider whether you qualify for the IRS Free File program. This service links qualifying taxpayers to free electronic federal tax preparation service (state tax preparation may also be available in some cases). Note that your adjusted gross income must be $66,000 or less in order to take full advantage of the Free File software. However, those with higher incomes can still use Free File Fillable Forms to fill out their federal returns.

You might also qualify for assistance from VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), a program in which trained volunteers assist with preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers (generally up to $54,000), as well as senior citizens. Duke Law's VITA chapter has some dates into early April; please note that advance appointments may be required. For readers outside the Durham area, the IRS maintains a locator service for VITA sites around the country.

If your taxes turn out to be too complicated, you might need to hire a professional. The IRS has tips for choosing a tax preparer as well as instructions for filing complaints if needed.

More information about federal tax law can be found in the Goodson Law Library's research guide to Federal Tax; for help locating these materials, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Thomson Reuters ProView Treatises Now Available

The entire Duke community now has access to more than 250 law treatises through the Thomson Reuters ProView platform. Titles from publisher Thomson Reuters Westlaw are visible to the University community and visitors when working on-campus within the University IP range; this link is accessible via Legal Databases & Links or the campus Law Databases page. (Off-campus access to ProView is available to current members of the Duke Law community via a current Westlaw login at the link above, or by clicking "Practice Ready" on the Westlaw Law School home page.)

The 255 available titles can be searched or sorted by title, author, jurisdiction, or subject; library staff are currently working to add individual links to the online catalog and Law Library research guides. Most titles focus on aspects of state or federal law in the United States, although selected titles relate to international law practice (such as International Capital Markets and Securities Practice) or domestic law of other countries (such as The French Commercial Code in English). 15 titles relate to the law of North Carolina, including nearly a dozen from the North Carolina Practice Series, such as Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure. While many of these titles are also available to the University community in print in the Goodson Law Library, and online to Law School users within Thomson Reuters Westlaw, ProView allows campus users the convenience of online reading and searching while working within the campus IP range.

The campus ProView subscription allows for e-book viewing, searching, and printing of insubstantial amounts to PDF. (Law School users may log in with their Westlaw account to use additional annotation and highlighting features.) For help with accessing or using Thomson Reuters ProView, or for more information about books or e-books on legal topics, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Ladies Who Law

March is Women's History Month, making it a particularly good time to remember pioneering women in the legal profession. Even today, gender diversity at top law firms remains a challenge: as reported last month by the ABA Journal, only 22% of the major law firm partners are women, and even smaller numbers have represented those top firms in court appearances. But for America's earliest female lawyers and law students in the nineteenth century, a career in the law was even tougher.

The National Conference of Women's Bar Associations maintains a helpful page of Women Lawyer "Firsts", which attempts to untangle the many historical "first" facts for women in law. Generally, Myra Bradwell is one of the most famous examples, having been the first woman to appeal for admission to both the Illinois state bar and the U.S. Supreme Court bar in the 1860s and 1870s. Bradwell lost her earliest appeals, and by the time she was admitted to both bars in the 1890s, other "first" women had joined the profession. Arabella (Belle) Mansfield was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869, and Belva Lockwood became the first woman admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court bar (in 1879).

The stories of these pioneering women are recounted in the 2013 book Rebels at the Bar: the Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America's First Women Lawyers (KF367 .N67 2013 & online). Additional works on both historical and current women in law can be found in the Duke University Libraries catalog with a subject search for "Women lawyers – United States". Results include autobiographies and biographies of female U.S. Supreme Court justices O'Connor, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan; stories of civil rights pioneers like Dovey Johnson Roundtree, and a history of Harvard Law School's female students in the class of 1964.

Interested in local history of "ladies who law"? The Fall 1997 issue of Duke Law Magazine, available online, celebrated "70 Years of Women at Duke Law" – from the time Miriam Cox became the first woman to enroll at Duke Law in 1927; to the first female graduates in 1935; to the first African-American female students in the class of 1974; to the appointment of Pamela Gann, the first female Dean, in 1988. (Professor Katharine Bartlett later served as Dean from 2000-2007, and the Law School will soon welcome its next Dean, Kerry Abrams, this summer.) The magazine issue includes a timeline of American women in law as well as profiles of Duke Law alumnae.

For help with locating these or other resources about women in the legal profession, be sure to Ask a Librarian.