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Legal Resources in Cyberspace

Legal Resources in Cyberspace

By Douglas A. Kewley, Esq.


A. Court Cases and Records

1. Court Cases

a. Federal Cases and Records

(i) Federal Cases

(ii) Federal Court Records

b. State Cases and Records

(i) State Cases

(ii) State Court Records

B. State and Federal Statutes

1. Federal Statutes

2. State Statutes

C. Expert Witnesses

D. Law Libraries and Legal Collections

1. Law Libraries

2. Legal Collections

E. Public Records

F. Statistical Information and Databases

G. Other Legal Resources and Site Examples


 

Okay. You bought your computer, plugged your modem into the wall and paid for an Internet service provider. You may even have a flashy
pocket protector. But how do you recoup your investment? You are ready to take that baby out on the information superhighway. Let’s take it out
for a spin.

A. Court Cases and Records

1. Court Cases

In the all perfect world, there would be one website you would go to and find all of the decisions of all of the courts. There are. They are called:

1. http://www.lexis.com

2. http://www.loislaw.com

3. http://www.versuslaw.com

4. http://www.westlaw.com

There are more. Of course, these all charge a fee for use. Some have more extensive databases than others. Lexis and WestLaw have been
available for years. So what is new with the Internet and where is the free stuff?

Over the last few years, more and more free court opinions have been added to the Internet. Most only go back a few years. However, the
amount of material available increases almost daily.

a. Federal Cases and Records

(i) Federal Cases

United States Supreme Court decisions from 1893 forward can be found on http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html. An interesting
Supreme Court site is Oyez Oyez Oyez. http://oyez.nwu.edu/. In addition to opinions, Oyez, Oyez Oyez contains sound files of various Supreme
Court arguments.

As do all federal appellate courts, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals maintains a website where you can research their opinions going back to
1985. While 1985 may not seem like a large database, most other federal appellate courts only go back to the mid-nineties. The federal Fifth
Circuit’s opinion site is located at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov:8081/ca5/index.htm.

Other federal decision sites include:

http://www.guo.gov/decisions/decision.htm for GAO Decisions

http://www.usps.gov/judicial/ald.htm for Post Office Administrative Decisions

http://www.law.gwu.edu/asbca/ for the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals

http://www.nlrb.gov/ for the National Labor Relations Board Decisions

http://www.oshrc.gov/index.html for OSHA decisions

(ii) Federal Court Records

Federal case records are available, but at a cost. Previously, you could access the docket sheet for the federal Fifth Circuit on line for free.
However, starting in 2000, a charge of 7¢ a page has been instituted. The appellate docket sheet can be found at
http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/caseinfo.htm. The federal Fifth Circuit’s website is located at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/.

All federal District Court’s dockets can be accessed through PACER, a fee based service. PACER originated as a non-Internet service, but can
now be accessed through the Internet at http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/ or through the federal district courts’ websites. Louisiana’s federal District
Courts all have websites, They are:

Eastern District http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/

Middle District http://www.lamd.uscourts.gov/

Western District http://www.lawd.uscourts.gov/

The Middle District currently permits viewing of the docket sheets and documents on two cases, U.S. v. Edwards and U.S. V. Brown, at no
charge.

b. State Cases and Records

(i) State Cases

At present, there are no Internet websites (other than Lexis, Lois, WestLaw, Versuslaw, etc) that provide significant searchable opinion
databases. The recent opinions of the Louisiana Supreme Court can be viewed at http://www.lasc.org/documents.html. However, the opinions
are not searchable. The Supreme Court also provides its argument docket on the Internet, but no other record information is available on-line.

The only Louisiana court of appeal that has any opinions on-line is the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit’s database is very new and only
contains published opinions dating from March 2000. The Second Circuit’s database is found at http://www.lacoa2.org/opinions.htm. Curiously,
while there are few State Court opinions available on the web, the Commissioner of Insurance’s administrative law rulings are available at
http://www.ldi.state.us/Rulings.htm.

(ii) State Court Records

Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeal has its docket on-line at http://www.la-fcca.org/docket.htm. The Second Circuit’s docket can be viewed
at http://www.lacoa2.org/the_docket.htm. The Fourth Circuit provides case record information at http://4thcir-app.state.la.us/caserecourses.htm.
At present neither the Third nor the Fifth Circuit has a web presence.

Some Louisiana district courts have record access available for a fee. The Orleans Parish Civil District Court has Remote Access available for
$250.00 for unlimited access. Http://www.orleanscdc.gov/remote,htm.

Records of the 24th Judicial District Court can be accessed through JeffNet. http://www.clerkofcourt.co.jefferson.la.us/. JeffNet also comes at a
cost. There is a $200.00 initiation fee, an $8.50 a month charge and a 25¢ a minute charge. In addition to civil and criminal records of the 24th
JDC, JeffNet can provide mortgage and conveyance records, assessor rolls, marriage license indexes and the records of both the First and
Second Parish Courts.

Similarly, St. Tammany provides computerized access to its civil, criminal and land records.
http://stp.pa.st-tammany.la.us/othergov/clerk/compindx.html. St. Tammany’s remote access has a $100.00 for single and $250.00 for
organizations (up to 10) initial setup fee, plus a 30¢ a minute charge.

Lafayette offers Tele-Search. http://www.lafayetteparishclerk.com/. Tele-Search is not an Internet site, but requires phoning Lafayette.
Tele-Search, which offers civil, criminal and land records, has a $100.00 setup fee, $15.00 monthly fee and a 50¢ a minute time charge.

B. State and Federal Statutes

1. Federal Statutes

The Internet does a much better job providing state and federal statutes to the Louisiana lawyer. The United States Constitution is searchable,
with annotation at http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/constitution/. The United States Code can be searched at
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/. The United States Code can also be searched by popular name at
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/topn/.

The Code of Federal Regulations can be found at http://www.access.gpo. gov/nara/cfr/cfr-table-search.html. The Federal Register is found at:
http://www. access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html. The Congressional Record is located at
http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces150.html.

Access to other federal codes can be found at FindLaw http://www.findlaw.com. Federal legislation can be checked on http://thomas. loc.gov/.

2. State Statutes

Only recently, Louisiana’s statutes have been put on-line. http://www.legis.state.la.us/tsrs/search.htm. The Louisiana Administrative Code can be
found http://www.state.la.us/osr/lac/lac.htm and the Louisiana Register can be found at http://www.doa.state.la.us/osr/reg/register.htm. You can
also check on pending legislation at http://www.legis.state.la.us/. The Governor’s Executive Orders can be found at
http://www.state.la.us/osr/other/exord.htm. Many of Louisiana’s municipal codes are also available in-line.
http://fws.municode.com/CGI-BIN/om_isapi.dll?&softpage=LA_Multi_Query_ Request.

C. Expert Witnesses

Finding an expert on the Internet is relatively easy. If anything, there are too many sites that list various experts. Some of these sites even have
search engines.

One of the most extensive expert lists can be found at http://experts.law.com/. You can search by name or area of expertise. Additionally, the
browsing directory is well designed for locating experts without having to guess how the site categorizes expertise.

You can search by keyword or subject category on http://www. expertfind.com/directory/expertwitness/. Expertfind even has a list of experts by
state and region.

You can search by keyword on http://www.expertlaw. com/experts/index.shtml. You search by keyword, location and name in
http://www.hg.org/ex_sel.html (Hieros Gamos). Hieros Gamos also has a list of other expert databases where you can look for an expert. You
can search by state or field of expertise on http://expertwitness.com/.

Findlaw has a list of experts at http://www.findlaw.com /13experts/witness.html . However, Findlaw’s search engine does not search just the
expert list, so is not of as much use as some of the other lists.

One of the best search engines for experts is found at http://www.claims.com/Members2/search.html. You can enter three keywords or keyword
phrases, which could involve specialties, sub-specialties, states or whatever else you might want.

There is a good list of expert lists to be found at http://www.nocall.org/experts.htm. Of course, you can always draft a search for an expert using
one of the more traditional search engines such as Altavista or Yahoo.

D. Law Libraries and Legal Collections

1. Law Libraries

Law libraries have limited usefulness on the Internet since their volumes are not accessible. The Louisiana Supreme Court’s law library can be
found at http://www.lasc.org/lawlib/lawlib.html. The Supreme Court’s site lists where to find things in the physical library. It also provides
“pathfinders” which suggest ways to research different issues such as legislative history.

The federal Fifth Circuit’s library is located at http://www.ca5.uscourts. gov/library.HTM . However, it’s catalog is not searchable.

LSU’s Law Library can be found at http://www.law.lsu.edu/library/. LSU’s Law Library’s book catalog can be searched at
http://webpac.louis.lsu.edu:8080/webpac-bin/wgbroker?061014044059855+-access+top.special.lsulaw. Tulane’s law library is found at
http://www.law.tulane. edu/library/lib.htm. Loyola’s law library is found at http://www.loyno.edu/ lawlibrary/index.html. Loyola’s Law Library’s book
catalog can be searched at http://lawcat.loyno.edu/search. While Southern’s law library is not on the Internet, its book catalog can be searched
at http://webpac.louis.lsu.edu:8080/ webpac-bin/wgbroker?061014044059855+-access+top.special.subl.

2. Legal Collections

There are a number of legal collections available on-line. If you primarily do federal research, the one site you should remember from this
seminar is www.legal.gsa.gov, otherwise known as Fedlaw. FedLaw is a portal to the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, the
Supreme Court, the federal appellate courts and many federal district courts. Additionally, FedLaw provides access to GAO decisions and
legislation. Finally, FedLaw even provides some links to state law.

Another excellent starting point is Findlaw, found at http://www.findlaw.com/. Findlaw provides references to most areas of the law and is
searchable.

For more local matters, Louisiana maintains http://www.state.la.us/ state/judicial.htm. This site lists state courts, libraries and other resources.

Similarly, the LSBA’s Sole Practitioner and Small Firm Section maintains a resource site at http://www.gnofn.org/~spsfslba/ref-la.html. This site
lists several courts, bar associations, newspapers, etc.

More general sites that contain some search capability are:

http://www.alllaw.com/default.asp.

http://www.counselquest.com/

http://www.lawguru.com/

http://www.lawinfo.com/

http://dir.yahoo.com/Government/Law/

A lengthy list of other legal collections can be found at http://www.abanet.org/yld/links.html.

E. Public Records

Information concerning how to obtain public records is more available than the actual records. You can obtain information about obtaining vital
records anywhere in the country at http://vitalrec.com/index.html.

Genealogy interest has led to the creation of databases with certain genealogy information, primarily death records. A United States site is found
at http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/. Louisiana’s part of the genealogy project can be found at http://www.rootsweb.com/~lagenweb/.

Recently, the Louisiana State Police put on the Internet a Sex Offender and Child Predator website at http://www.lasocpr.lsp.org/socpr/. On this
website, you can search for the names and addresses of convicted offenders in any area.

The Louisiana Secretary of State provides public records at http://www.sec.state.la.us/. On this site, you can research corporation, election and,
for a price, UCC information.

F. Statistical Information and Databases

The Internet contains statistical records of every conceivable kind. Its just a matter of locating the data you seek.

There are statistical sites that deal solely with Louisiana. Census information concerning Louisiana can be found at http://www.state.la.us/
state/census/census.htm
. Louisiana also has the Louisiana Electronic Assistance Program, a project sponsored and funded between the State
and small business. This site, located at http://leap.nlu.edu/, contains substantial data involving business, such as agricultural and natural
resources, economic and labor issues and vital statistic information.

Every United States government agency publishes statistics. The Department of Commerce puts out information collected in the census at
http://www.census.gov/. The Department of Justice puts out crime statistics at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/. The Center for Disease Control puts
out its data, including its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report at http://www.cdc.gov/scientific.htm. The Department of Labor’s OSHA data can
be found at http://stats.bls.gov/oshhome.htm.

There is substantial economic information available on the web. The White House puts out the Economic Statistics Briefing Room at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/esbr.html. This is an all-in-one site containing information concerning production, sales, orders, inventories,
output, income, employment, etc. The Federal Reserve puts out http://www.stls.frb.org/fred/. This site contains banking information. The USDA
puts out agricultural data, including the all important cheddar cheese prices, at http://usda.mannlib.cornell. edu/usda/usda.html. The Department
of Commerce puts out trade data at http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/industry/otea/. The Department of Transportation puts out transportation statistics
at http://www.bts.gov/. Labor statistics are found at http://stats.bls.gov/.

There are too many statistical databases to list in this paper. However, additional databases can be found at
http://dir.yahoo.com/Reference/Statistics/.

G. Other Legal Resources and Site Examples

There are numerous other sites that may be of interest to a Louisiana lawyer. The Louisiana State Bar Association’s site is located at
http://www.lsba.org/. The American Bar Association can be found at http://www.abanet.org. Information concerning Gilsbar can be found at
http://www.gilsbar.com/Home_40.asp. The Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association is found at http://www.ltla.org/. And what review of Louisiana
websites would be complete without Pelican Politics, found at http://www.pelicanpolitics.com/. At Pelican Politics, you can find the name of every
elected official in Louisiana.

Forms are abundant on the Internet. IRS forms can be downloaded at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/prod/cover.html. Patent and Trademark forms
can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/web/forms/index.html. Copyright forms can be obtained at http://www.loc.gov/copyright/forms/.

Federal District Court forms can be obtained at http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/ Forms/FORMS.HTM. Federal Appellate Court forms can be found
at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/clerk.HTM. Orleans Parish CDC forms can be downloaded at http://www.orleanscdc.gov/forms.htm.

The Library of Congress maintains a site at http://www.loc.gov/. This site contains a searchable catalog and samples of exhibits. An interesting
site with various legal articles can be found at http://www.uslaw.com/.

Switchboard, at http://www.switchboard.com/, provides a way to locate individuals and businesses. Mapquest, at http://www.mapquest.com,
provides maps, driving directions, line traffic reports, yellow and white pages, a travel guide and a city guide.

Finally, what review of legal sites would be complete without legal humor. A list of lawyer jokes can be found at
http://xar.bw-inet.com/funny/lawyer.html and http://www-personal.usyd.edu.au/~atan/jokes/canonical_lawyer.html. Canadian legal humor can be
found at http://www.legalhumor.com/. After all, how many lawyers does it take to . . .

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