Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Jail Library Group

The Jail Library Group from UW-SLIS has produced their 2004 annual report. For more information on the Jail Library Group, you can email them at

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pro Se Networking

Today I participated in the first national network conference call sponsored by and Pro Se Collaborative. Approximately 50 people participated. The call was led by Susan Ledray, the Pro Se Services Manager at 4th Judicial District Court in Hennepin County, MN, and moderated by Richard Zorza, consultant with Zorza Associates. Ms. Ledray gave us detailed information about the self-help centers in her county and shared their plans for expansion.

I was especially interested to hear that many county law libraries in Minnesota have become hubs for self-help centers and that librarians are often charged with the responsibilities for managing, staffing, and maintaining programs and services. Ms Ledray noted that it is important to look at the assistance needed and offered throughout the entire court process, not just the pre-filing requirements and forms. Assistance to self-represented litigants is an integrated process throughout the court and examines at its core how cases and courtrooms are managed.

More of these conference calls will be planned in the future. Go to the website for more information. Feel free to contact me for more specific information as well.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Updates to COC website

Two new links have been added to the Dane Co Clerk of Courts website:

Link to the list of supplemental court commissioners

Link to the State of the Judiciary Report

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Legal Research Tip 14

Welcome to the next issue of the DCLRC E-Newsletter "Legal Research Tips"! You can view back issues of these tips through other posts in this blawg. Enjoy!

Overview of Free Legal Research on the Internet
Many primary sources of law, such as recent court opinions, statutes, and current legislation can easily be retrieved for free on the Internet. However, secondary resources, such as treatises or practice aids, are not readily available on the Internet. Some important reminders when performing legal research on the Internet:

*Internet sources, e.g. decisions, generally are not retrospective. Most jurisdictions have been putting decisions online since 1996. The date range of available materials varies from court to court.

*Internet research does not provide the validating and updating benefits of fee based services, such as Keycite online, or Shepards, to track subsequent history or treatment of cases in the courts.

*The Internet is an uncontrolled environment for research purposes, such as many providers and different search engines. Web sites vary in quality, accuracy and currentness.

Principles to follow while performing legal research on the Internet:

*Analyze your research issue as if you were doing book research.

*Clearly define what the issue is and what type of information you are seeking.

*Build a list of favorite sites with which you have become familiar. A good place start is a comprehensive site such as the WI State Law Library website or UW-Law School Library website. Be aware that sites change their look frequently. Learn how the site works. Does it have search templates that permit keyword searching? What is the date range of the material? How often is it updated? Who maintains the site?

[Some information from this tip courtesy Oakland County Law Library, Oakland County, MI]

More than Young & Restless

To soap opera fans, Genoa City, WI is the familiar location of the daily drama of "The Young and the Restless" characters. Perhaps it is appropriate then that the Genoa City Municipal Court has sample wedding ceremonies on its website. Just another example of the multiple responsibilities of courts of law!

Internet Tip 14

Welcome to the next issue of "Internet Tips"! There are three sections to this email: a beginner's tip, an advanced tip, and a useful internet link. Enjoy!

Beginner's Tip: Adding a Chart in Word
Thanks to Stef Morrill at South Central Library System for this tip:

Let's say you're creating a report with Microsoft Word. You'd like to add a little chart to illustrate a point, but don't want to go through the rigamarole of creating a chart in Excel. Here's how to add a quick chart in Word:

1. From the "Insert" menu, choose "Picture" and then choose "Chart".

2. In the document, a chart will appear with a box that says "Document1 - Datasheet" in front. This box is similar to an Excel spreadsheet. Edit the data to match what you'd like to chart. You can add or delete rows or columns and change all of the data and labels. As you change the data, the chart will change as well.

3. Once you are satisfied with the data and labels, close the little Excel datasheet by clicking on the X in the corner.

4. Click on your document outside of the chart, and it becomes part of your document.

If you need to make any more changes, double-click the chart, and you can edit again. (You can also change the chart type from a bar graph to other settings -- check out the options under the "Chart" menu.)

Advanced Tip: Search and GO!
Don't have the time to go to your favorite search engine to find what you're looking for?

Try typing "GO" followed by what you're looking for in the "Address" (or "Location" in Netscape) input box.

If you're looking for sports news, type "go sports news" and press ENTER

Useful Link: How to Read RSS Feeds
A how-to guide regarding RSS Feeds from CNET's

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Citizen Access Project

Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project (CAP)
"This project's goal is to allow citizens "to better understand public access to local government information in all 50 states." Includes ratings that are based on the analysis of statutes, constitutions, and case law. Also includes summaries of "sunshine" laws, and comparisons of state laws. The "I can help you get started" section is not very useful; use the categories to the left instead. From the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications."

Recent Additions to the COC Website

Here are some recent additions to the Dane Co Clerk of Courts website:

TRO instructions and forms (for both civil and juvenile court) [At bottom of list under "Other"]

Juvenile Court Resource Booklet

Legal Name Change statute and Dane County Procedure

*This post will be updated when new resources are available.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

New WI State Bar Website Launched

Check out the new State Bar website.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Change to WI Case Searching

From the WI Court System's website:

Here is the notice on the Opinion Search page:
"As of April 4, 2005, the Clerk of Supreme Court's office has changed to a new case management system. As part of this change, the docket number format for Supreme Court and Court Appeals cases has changed. The new docket format contains the year, followed by the letters AP (appeals) and the case number.

For example, docket number 99-1234 will now be displayed as 1999AP001234. When [searching], if Javascript is enabled on your machine, the system will fill in the first two digits of the year and any leading zeros in the case number. For example, if searching for the old docket number, 99-2446, you can retrieve the opinion by typing 99AP2446."

Here is the notice on the Supreme Court/Court of Appeals Case Status page:
"On April 4, 2005, the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will be converting to a new database. As a result, information on this website will not be updated. The new WSCCA website will be available on or before May 1, 2005."

Friday, April 01, 2005

Situations that May Qualify for Free Legal Help

From, here are four situations that may qualify you for free legal help:
1. If you face criminal charges
2. If you've been injured
3. If you qulify for legal aid
4. If your claim involves an issue of social justice
Read more from Nolo.

Find Low-Cost or Free Legal Help in Dane County

Survey on Lawyer Discipline Systems

E-LawLibrary Weblog reports:
"The 2003 edition of the Survey on Lawyer Discipline Systems is available at the American Bar Association's Web site. The Survey, which the ABA Standing Committee on Professional Discipline publishes, reports that disciplinary actions were taken against 3,725 attorneys for misconduct in 2003. Fifty five disciplinary agencies received nearly 120,000 complaints, but over 62,000 of them were summarily dismissed. Another 45,000 complaints were dismissed after investigation. Just under 3,000 lawyers were formally charged.

The 2003 Survey consists of eight charts arranged alphabetically by jurisdiction. (The charts are Excel files.) Survey results are available back to 1998"

In 2003 Wisconsin had 21,112 lawyers with an active license. 2,261 complaints were received by the disciplinary agency that year.