Sunday, August 27, 2006

Whitman Is Law Dog of the Week

dog photo

This week's SIU Law Dog is Whitman, who belongs to Kevin Gray. Whitman is 11 years old, and his favorite pastimes include escaping from the backyard to explore the world and chewing on gallon milk jugs. Click on Whitman's photo for a larger photo.

Kevin is the first alum to contribute to the SIU Law Dog of the Week. He graduated from SIU Law in 1994 and is now Associate Librarian at the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center Library.

To see photos of all previous Law Dogs of the Week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs, which you can find under Related Links in the sidebar. See our Call for Photos for instructions on submitting your SIU Law Dog photo.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Research Tip: Is It Still Good Law?


One of the most important steps in any legal research project is determining whether the statutes, regulations, and cases that you want to cite are still "good law." This process goes by a number of terms: updating, cite checking, verifying, or validating. You may also hear it called Shepardizing or KeyCiting, after the two big citators. These terms always include, at a minimum, determining whether the authorities you cite are still applicable and current.

Whether something is good law, and how you make that determination, depends on the type of authority that you want to cite. We will cover how to determine if an authority is still good law when we cover each different type of authority, but here is an overview.

A statute cannot be good law if it has been repealed or declared unconstitutional. A regulation cannot be good law if it exceeds the statutory delegation of authority or is inconsistent with the authorizing statute. A case cannot be good law if it has been reversed or overruled, or if the statute on which it was based has been changed.

To determine whether a statute is still good law, you need to check when the statutory code you are using was last updated, and then check the session laws for statutes enacted since that update. For statutory codes in print, check the pocket part or supplemental pamphlets shelved with the code. You must also check to see if any cases have held the statute to be unconstitutional.

The process for determining whether a regulation is still good law is similar to the process for statutes. Although publishing schedules and arrangements vary from state to state, generally you must check when the regulatory code was last updated, and then check the register for regulations adopted since that update. You must also check the authorizing statute, as described in the previous paragraph.

To make sure that a case is still good law, you must check to see if any subsequent cases have reversed or overruled it. See our research guides on citators. You must also check the statutory code to see if any statutes enacted since the case was decided have changed the common law or statute on which your case was based.

Legal resources on the web can be at least as out-of-date as print resources, and it can be difficult to tell when they were last updated. Check carefully to be sure you know when the law on a website was last updated, not just when some feature of the site was updated. See Evaluating Websites and Other Information Resources.

Making sure that the statutes, regulations, and cases are good law is a lot of work, but it is much better than relying on research that may no longer be current or applicable.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Article re RSS Feeds

Bonnie Shucha, head of reference at the Univ. of Wisconsin Law Library, Madison, and blogging maven responsible for WisBlawg, is the author of the highly readable and quite informative "RSS: Making the Internet Subscribeable," available in the August 2006 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer and here. According to Bonnie: "In the article, I describe RSS and its connection with blogs, introduce the different types of RSS readers, describe potential drawbacks, and list some great RSS feeds for legal practitioners. A tech glossary and Bloglines (a RSS reader) quick guide are also included."

Of course, readers can also return to prior Law Dawg Blawg postings on "Subscribing to RSS Feeds" and "What RSS Feeds Can Do for You."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

SIU Law Dog of the Week - Call for Photos

Prof. Houdek and his stuffed Dalmation

At the beginning of last semester, I began posting a weekly dog picture from an SIU School of Law student, professor, staff member, alumnus, or friend here on Law Dawg Blawg. This has been a very popular feature, and we have posted 30 law-dog photos so far. To see photos of all previous Law Dogs of the Week, visit the Gallery of SIU Law Dogs.

With a new school year beginning, I invite you all to send me your dog pictures. Photos must be of your dogs or other dog photos you have taken (e.g., not photos you found on the web). I can also accept your drawings or other pictures that we can digitize for the web. Send them by email or give them to me directly. Although I am willing to post your dog picture without identifying you or your dog by name, I will not accept anonymous submissions.

Each SIU Law Dog whose photo is submitted will be featured—in the order the photos are received. Dogs also get their own "Law Dog of the Week" web pages. Click on any of the thumbnail photos in the Gallery of SIU Law Dogs to see the dog's page. Shown above: Prof. Frank Houdek, director of the SIU Law Library, shows off his new "law dog," Spot.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Candy Sue Is Law Dog of the Week

dog photo

This week's SIU Law Dog is Candy Sue, one of my dogs. She is a five-year-old Shetland Sheepdog who has lived with us for over two years. Shelties are herding dogs, and Candy is always looking for something to herd. Our family has not been very herd-able so far.

Candy's brother, Dakota, was our first Law Dog of the Week. To see photos of all previous Law Dogs of the Week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs, which you can find under Related Links in the sidebar. Tomorrow I will post instructions for submitting your SIU Law Dog photo.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Much Advice for New Law Students


Austin Groothuis at CALI's Pre-Law Blog compiles recent podcasts and blog posts from law professors and law students in his "Advice For New Law Students: Web Roundup." He also invites you to recommend other links.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More Research Guides


I have updated and expanded our research guide on "Evaluating Websites and Other Information Resources." It covers the basics of evaluating websites as legal research sources and provides references and links to CALI lessons, articles, tutorials and other websites for further information.

I have also added two audio guides, "Why and How to Use Secondary Sources" and "Introduction to Researching Administrative Law" to our Research and How-to Guides collection. Many of these guides have been prepared for use in the first-year Lawyering Skills course, but they are general enough to be useful in other contexts.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Timber Is Law Dog of the Week

dog photo

This week's SIU Law Dog is Timber, a 6-year-old golden retriever who belongs to 3L Tim Geiger. Here Timber enjoys a nap. Tim also contributed photos of two other dogs. Happy was Law Dog the week of June 25, and Cedar was Law Dog the week of July 31.

For information on submitting your dog photo, go to Law Dog of the Week. We will feature each SIU law dog whose photo is submitted. To see photos of all previous Law Dogs of the week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs, which you can find under Related Links in the sidebar.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How to Read a Judicial Opinion

SIU School of Law welcome sign

Orin Kerr, associate professor of law at George Washington University Law School, has written an essay, How to Read a Judicial Opinion: A Guide for New Law Students (version 2.0, August 2005). In the next few weeks, thousands of new first-year law students will be learning how to read and brief cases to prepare for class. This guide will help you get started.

SIU law students will be briefing a case for their first Lawyering Skills class, held during orientation Aug. 17–18. Briefing a case is a structured way of taking notes about a case. Although it may seem tedious at first, your case briefs will help you remember the important details of each case, both when you discuss the case in class and when you are reviewing at the end of the semester.

Prof. Kerr explains "explains what judicial opinions are, how they are structured, and what you should look for when you read them." If you are not sure about the answers to those questions, check out his essay before you read your first case. Attorney Dennis Kennedy of the Between Lawyers blog and law student Austin Groothuis of CALI's Prelaw Blog are among those recommending How to Read a Judicial Opinion.

Update: Two more recommendations of How to Read a Judicial Opinion: Susan McDonald of the Research and Writing Law Blog and, more importantly, one of our Lawyering Skills professors, Sue Liemer, of the Legal Writing Prof Blog.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

FAQ About Law Dawg Blawg

Why did you start the Law Dawg Blawg? We started this blog July 1, 2004, primarily as a way to share research tips, library announcements, news, and links to interesting articles, websites, and blogs with members of the SIU Law School community, and also with other members of the legal and library communities.

What happened to the research tips? Although we have not recently met our goal of posting a weekly research tip, we will be posting more frequent research tips when our legal research classes resume in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can link to our previous tips from Archive of Research Tips.

What's the deal with the dog pictures? The biggest – and most popular – change to Law Dawg Blawg over the past year has been the addition of the SIU Law Dog of the Week. Each week we post a dog picture submitted by an SIU School of Law student, professor, staff member, or alumnus. To see photos of all previous Law Dogs of the week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs.

Why did you name it Law Dawg Blawg? A blog is a frequently-updated website, usually arranged with new items at the top. Blawg is a term sometimes used to describe a law-related blog. Dawg comes from the fact that the mascot of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is the Saluki, a breed of dog. And Law, because our intended readers are the law school and legal communities.

What is a saluki? Salukis were the royal dog of Egypt and are believed to be the oldest known distinct breed of dog. Southern Illinois has long been referred to as “Little Egypt.”

Little Egypt? According to Baker Brownell in The Other Illinois, “Although the legend probably was invented after the fact, it is persistent. There was a drought in the northern counties (of Illinois) in the early 1800's . . . the wheat fields dried up, the streams died in their beds. But in southern Illinois rain fell and there were good crops, and from the north came people seeking corn and wheat as to Egypt of old. Thus, the name ‘Egypt.’” See also Tales and Songs of Southern Illinois by Charles Neely.

For more information on the Saluki breed, see what the American Kennel Club has to say; for a more extensive discussion of SIUC's mascot, see What the Hell is a Saluki?

How can I subscribe to Law Dawg Blawg? We have a Feedburner feed for those wishing to subscribe using a blog aggregator or news reader, such as NewsGator, MyYahoo! or Bloglines. You can also subscribe via email using the subscription form in the sidebar to the right, below the Site/RSS Feeds options. To receive one email for each day that we post something new – sent out in the early morning hours of the next day – enter your email address in the box and click on the "Subscribe Me!" button below it.

For more information about subscription options, click on Subscribing to RSS Feeds in this paragraph or toward the top of the sidebar.

Can I add a comment to an entry on Law Dawg Blawg? To avoid the problem of comment spam, we have made this a moderated blawg. Comments do not appear until one of us has had time to review and release them, but all non-spam comments will eventually be released.

You can e-mail us at For more information about our law library, visit the Southern Illinois University School of Law Library site.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Rasta Is Law Dog of the Week

dog photo

This week's SIU Law Dog is Rasta, a standard poodle who belongs to Associate Dean Wenona Whitfield. Here Rasta kisses up to Santa.

For information on submitting your dog photo, go to Law Dog of the Week. We will feature each SIU law dog whose photo is submitted. To see photos of all previous Law Dogs of the week, visit our Gallery of SIU Law Dogs, which you can find under Related Links in the sidebar.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Two New Research Guides

SIU School of Law welcome sign

The SIU School of Law's incoming class of 2009 will begin orientation in less than two weeks. One week later we will have the first legal research class of the year in Lawyering Skills.

We have added a Glossary of Legal Research Terms to our research guides to help you understand the terminology you will need to know. These definitions should help you to understand the sources of law, how they are organized, and how to use different research tools to find the law you need.

We have also added a short guide to Using the SIU Law Library Website for Legal Research to help new visitors find what they need among the hundreds of pages on the site. Our inspiration for this new guide was a similar guide at Arizona State University, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Ross-Blakley Law Library.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Research Tip: Researching Old Statutes


In research classes, we emphasize updating your legal research because it is always important to have the most current information possible.

But sometimes you need to know what the law was on a specific date in the past. Maybe you want to rely on a court decision that was based on a statute that has since been amended or repealed. Maybe you represent a client who was injured when a different version of the relevant statute was in effect.

Unfortunately, there are probably no free web resources that will have what you need. Depending on what resources you have available to you, choose one of the following approaches.

If you are near a large law library, such as a state, court, or university law library, they may have the statutory code for the year you need, either in paper or micro format.

If you have access to Westlaw or LexisNexis, they have historical or archived statutes back to the late 1980's or early 1990's. On LexisNexis, go to States Legal - U.S. > [your state] > Statutes & Regulations > Legislative Archive. On Westlaw, go to U.S. State Materials > Other U.S. States > [your state]> Statutes & Legislative Materials > Historical Statutes Annotated.

If you have a citation to a statute that has been renumbered and you have the current statutory code, go to the tables in the Index volume(s). There should be a table that will give you the current citation for the old statute. Then go to the current version of the statute and check the credit and history at the end of the statute to see when the statute was changed.

If you cannot find a copy of the statutory code for the year you need, you will have to use the credit and history at the end of the current statute to reconstruct the previous versions from session laws.

Don't worry if this sounds complex. It will make more sense after you have taken Lawyering Skills. And if you need help, just ask a law librarian. We're here to help.