From the Illinois State Library E-news :
Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois Library Association (ILA) are pleased to announce the availability of an official Barack Obama special event Illinois license plate. The plates are available for purchase at this ILA site for $50 a pair.
Proceeds will help support the ILA's activities including iREAD the summer reading program for Illinois youth. The special event license plates, which read "Illinois Salutes President Barack Obama", are unique commemorative plates that can be displayed until April 17. After this date, the Obama license plate will be available for purchase to anyone nationwide as a collectible.
( If your plates expire prior to April 30, 2009, you must renew them prior to purchasing the Obama Plate. )
Alert from Bart Davis, Collection Development Assistant, DePaul University Libraries :
The DePaul University Libraries now subscribes to even more collections from JSTOR. We now have access to all of the Arts & Sciences Collections (I-VI and the Complement), the Ireland Collection, the Biological Sciences Collection, and the Health & General Sciences Collection. All in all, the JSTOR collections we now subscribe to have approximately three dozen Law journals that we thought you might be interested in knowing about.
[ most of these law journals are also available on HEINONLINE ]
can browse these titles here.
For several years many educational institutions , including Depaul, have contracted with Apple Inc. to use their online iTunes University to make educational audio and video content available online to their own users and sometimes also to the public. Very recently two new web locations have announced their intent to make the instructional content of many educational institutions, freely available on the World Wide Web.
The first comes out of work at the video mega-site YouTube. It is a sub-site of YouTube which has been dubbed, YouTube EDU. Educational institutions had been posting a lot of content on their own to YouTube. What the new site does is aggregate this content , organize and make it searchable for users. The videos cover a broad range of topics such as full courses, lectures, cultural programs, research projects, campus tours, college news, sporting events. There are over 100 schools that have videos available through the site. Some have 10s of offerings while others have 100s. A school's videos can both serve as recruitment tools and help prospective students make more informed decisions about what schools to apply to.
A posting on this blog from Dec. 2007, " FDLP LIBRARIES OFFER FREE ACCESS TO COURT E-RECORDS ", reported that at the urging of American Library Association and the American Association of Law Libraries, the Administrative Office of the US Courts, instituted a two year pilot project to assess the effect of free public access through the Federal Depository Library (FDLP) on the operation of the PACER service.
This was part of the FDLP's attempt to eventually have no-fee public access to PACER's court filing information, provided via federal depository libraries throughout the country. Fifteen states had a depository library participating, most had only one site, CA & MI had two. While the pilot was encouraging, one has to wonder how much usable data can be gathered from transactions at a single or two libraries, for an entire state. To this observer, this study approved by the Administrative Office of the US Courts (AO), seemed more like a measure to pacify these organizations rather than a serious attempt to assess the viability of providing no-fee public access to PACER filings.
The 2008 Annual Report of the Director of the AO, states that " Electronic Public Access Program The mission of the Electronic Public Access program is to facilitate and improve electronic public access to court information at a reasonable cost, in accordance with legislative and Judiciary policies, security requirements, and user demands." ... " As mandated by Congress, the program is funded entirely through user fees set by the Judicial Conference." ( p.23-24)
While the fees are rather low : " Users must register and receive a login and password. Registration is free. PACER fees are seven cents per page,[ now 8cents] and users are billed quarterly. The fee for accessing one document cannot exceed $2.10 no matter the number of pages it contains, and users who do not accumulate $10 in fees in a year are not billed." Many members of the public may not be able to afford the fees nor may they want to register to use the service.
A recent letter by Senator Lieberman to the the Administrative Office questions whether the judiciary is moving toward making this legal information publicly accessible for free, now that the funding requirements have been changed.
In the letter, the Senator questions why the courts are still charging for this information : " While charging for access was previously required, Section 205(e) of the E-Government Act changed a provision of the Judicial Appropriation Act of 2002 (28 U.S.C. 1913 note) so that courts "may, to the extent necessary" instead of "shall" charge fees "for access to information available through automatic data processing equipment." ... " Seven years after the passage of the E-Government Act, it appears that little has been done to make these records freely available - with PACER charging a higher rate than 2002. Furthermore, the funds generated by these fees are still well higher than the cost of dissemination, as the Judiciary Information Technology Fund had a surplus of approximately $150 million in FY2006."
While the annual report mentions a pilot project to make selected audio case files from five courts available online. There is no mention of the pilot project with the (FDLP). One hopes that Senator Lieberman's comments will get the AO to affirmatively move toward free dissemination of PACER data through the FDLP.
In this spiraling economic crisis that has also hit the usually insulated law firms, a temporary silver lining may be appearing for agencies that provide legal services to those near the bottom of the economic pyramid. According to a CNN news story, big law firms that have been freezing salaries and laying off record numbers of staff and attorneys, have come up with an option that helps trim salary expenses without full scale layoffs and that benefits those legal entities whose services are sorely needed in these hard times.
Several big law firms are offering some of their attorneys a reduced salary for a period of time , if the attorney will do work for a legal services agency. New hires who have their start date postponed, can also take advantage of this arrangement.
"There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity coming out of a difficult situation," said Esther Lardent, president of the Pro Bono Institute in Washington, who began discussions this month with at least 15 corporate firms nationwide about placing unemployed attorneys in public interest firms. The project will get under way in a few months, she said."
While this infusion of legal talent comes at a crucial time for these agencies, it is designed as a time-limted measure. Depending on how long the crisis continues to impact law firm hiring, there may be a few rounds of high-priced legal talent helping out low-income individuals with the legal consequences of the economic crisis. But at some point these attorneys will have to find jobs to take care of their families and pay off the huge loans that they have accumulated from law school. The legal aid community can hope that this stretch of alternative practice for some attorneys, may lead to a long-term willingness of these lawyers to engage in more pro bono work when they and the economy,return to more normal times.
"The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers"
The often misquoted portion of a statement in the Shakespeare play, King Henry VI, is frequently used pejoratively against lawyers without an awareness of the context from which these words are taken. That context yields a very different understanding of the role of the legal profession in a democratic society.
Howard Nations, J.D., a Texas attorney who is both a personal injury trial lawyer and a civil trial lawyer, explains in his article defending lawyers, "The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers", Shakespeare's Tribute to Trial Lawyers, that:
"Even a cursory reading of the context in which the lawyer killing statement is made in King Henry VI, Part II, (Act IV), Scene 2, reveals that Shakespeare was paying great and deserved homage to our venerable profession as the front line defenders of democracy.
The accolade is spoken by Dick the Butcher, a follower of anarchist Jack Cade, whom Shakespeare depicts as "the head of an army of rabble and a demagogue pandering to the ignorant," who sought to overthrow the government. Shakespeare's acknowledgment that the first thing any potential tyrant must do to eliminate freedom is to "kill all the lawyers" is, indeed, a classic and well-deserved compliment to our distinguished profession."
Today's headlines about the courageous continuation of the "lawyers' movement" in Pakistan for the re-establishment of an independent judiciary against two successive repressive administrations, provides a modern day example of this important role that a nation's lawyers can play in preserving a democratic system. ( See: More arrests as Pakistan opposition begins protest march Kim Barker, Chicago Tribune )
A column today, in the JURIST, by Saeed Malik who is the younger brother of Muneer A. Malik, who was president of Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar Association in 2007, recounts how Pakistani lawyers and their allies continue their movement started against General Pervez Musharraf's and continuing under current president Asif Ali Zardari. Mr. Malik says "I have argued before that without a free and independent judiciary any experiment in democracy will quickly implode." He wonders whether the U.S. will support their efforts to re-establish the rule of law. Hopefully the U.S. can find its way to do so in the true spirit of the Shakespearean quote.
A previous posting on this blog, "DePaul Law School Not to Cross Congress Hotel Picket Line", reported that the law students and administration of the DePaul law school were seeking a different venue for their "Barrister's Ball" event to avoid crossing the long-standing Congress Hotel workers' picket line.
An educational program following up on the issues of the strike will be hosted by the Depaul University College Of Law Diversity Committee and moderated by Professor Terry Smith, one of four new faculty members joining the law school faculty, and a well known labor and critical race scholar.