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WSLL @ Your Service October 2011

What's New – Connie Von Der Heide

Upcoming Classes

There are still a few openings in our fall slate of hands-on legal research classes. In October, learn about using HeinOnline to find law review and bar journal articles, congressional and federal agency documents and more. In November, attend the Advanced Westlaw class and hone your power-user skills! In December, learn all about accessing and navigating Wisconsin appellate briefs online. All classes carry CLE credits and some classes are free - so don't delay, register today.

Librarians Speak Out

Last month WSLL staff members took a few of our training classes on the road. Amy Crowder and Carol Hassler presented "Finding Wisconsin Public Records" and "Books Unbound™" (respectively) to attorneys and staff at the Wis. Dept. of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) in Madison. Connie Von Der Heide presented "Legal Ethics Research: Where to Look for What (or What Not) To Do" during a full-morning legal ethics program in Neenah sponsored by the State Bar of Wisconsin, and "Researching Wisconsin Legislative History: Sources & Strategies" to members of the Wisconsin Association of County Corporation Counsel at their annual meeting in Wisconsin Dells. Upcoming "road shows" include a return to ETF to present "Researching Wisconsin Legislative History" and a presentation on State Law Library materials and services at the Jefferson County Bar Association's November meeting.

Is your legal agency or local bar association interested in sponsoring a legal research class, or scheduling a presentation about State Law Library materials and services? Please contact Connie Von Der Heide, WSLL Director of Reference & Outreach Services at 608-267-2202, toll free 800-322-9755, or Connie.VonDerHeide@wicourts.gov.

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This Just In… – Pete Boll

Updated! Scott and Ascher on Trusts, 2011 supplement by Mark L. Ascher and Margit T. Rigney
5th edition
Wolters Kluwer Law and Business (Aspen), 2011
WSLL Call Number: KF 730.S3 T75

This hardcover cumulative supplement updates all eight volumes of this classic treatise on the law and rules of trusts, first published in 1939. Highlights of the 2011 cumulative supplement include the following important case analyses:

  • In Ex parte Synovus Trust Co., 41 So. 3d 70 (Ala. 2009), the court held that the beneficiaries' rights were subject to the settlors' control while the trusts remained revocable, and that the trustee owed its duties exclusively to the settlors.
  • In Steinhart v. County of L.A., 223 P.3d 57 (Cal. 2010), the court held that when a revocable trust holding real property became irrevocable at the settlor's death, a "change in ownership" occurred under the pertinent statute, triggering a reassessment for tax purposes.
  • In In re Hyde, 933 N.E.2d 194 (N.Y. 2010), the Appellate Division affirmed an order charging two trusts with litigation expenses incurred by the trustee, although the expenses had been incurred in defending accounting objections brought by only one set of beneficiaries.

New Title! Writing Shorter Legal Documents: Strategies for Faster and Better Editing, by Sandra J. Oster
American Bar Association, 2011
WSLL Call Number: KF 250 .O84 2011

Many legal documents require editing or shortening to clarify text, improve readability, free up space for additional information, or to meet the length requirements specified by a court or other recipient. Writing Shorter Legal Documents advises how to adhere to grammatical and court rules for both length and construction while preserving and even clarifying your argument. Oster, an attorney with a Ph.D. in linguistics, has divided 35 precise strategies into five chapters:

  • An approach to shorten legal documents
  • Revising terminology
  • Revising lists, phrases, and sentences
  • Changing the appearance of text on the page
  • Cutting content

New Titles RSS Feed
See our latest New Titles list for a list of new books and other resources.

For assistance in accessing these or other resources, please contact our Reference Desk.


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Click to It! A brief tour of the new wicourts.gov – Carol Hassler

In September the Wisconsin Court System unveiled their newly redesigned website.

In addition to showing you their new look, here's a quick overview of what's new across the site:

WICOURTS.GOV home page

Tabbed Home Page

Recent court news has long been a feature of the wicourts.gov home page. Now there is more:

The new How do I… tab is laid out in easily relatable Q&A format, with user friendly questions linking to pages that will assist the questioner. For example, "How do I pay a court fee/fine online?" links directly to the ePayment portal. Attorneys and self-represented litigants will find quick answers from this tab.

The Quick links tab pulls together the department contacts, self-help, and eFiling links that were featured in the right-hand menu of the old court website. This tab also adds additional popular pages, like WCCA and WSCCA, for fast access from the home page.

New Menu Choices

wicourts.gov menu

A new menu option, eCourts, pulls together online payment sites, circuit and appellate court e-filing, and the CLE reporting site. eCourts also provides a link to the online forms assistant which helps self-represented litigants with family and small claims paperwork.

Publications, available as a new item in the navigation menu, are now organized by type of publication, rather than by court.

Self-Help Law Center

The new Self-help law center is linked under Services / For the public, or from the Quick links tab on the home page.

This new resource for the public pulls together information for the self represented litigant in one convenient place. Each topic includes a quick summary of the legal issue, plus court procedures, links to forms, and additional resources to which the self-represented litigant can turn.

Joining the name change topic from the old site are new pages covering divorce and family law, small claims, juvenile proceedings, probate, and domestic violence. The small claims page includes a link to the Small claims forms assistant, which guides litigants through a series of questions and ultimately helps them fill out and download necessary forms. The Small claims forms assistant also provides access information about the small claims process.

In addition, the Self-help law center consolidates educational resources on how the courts work and how to represent yourself in court. These include how to act in court, the structure of the court system, and how court staff can help.

Rounding out the resources for self-represented litigants are links to information on filing and fees, appealing decisions, making complaints, and locating county information.

Streamlined Circuit Court Forms

Frequent users of court forms will notice changes on the Circuit court forms page. Instead of a long page of links to forms, visitors to the website can now use the menu bar on the right to toggle between the topical forms pages.

The option to search all forms is also available as a persistent link in the new right-hand menu.

Educational Resources

Previously, educational information for teachers and kids could be found under the Services menu. On the new site, this information is pulled together in one place: Educational resources, found in the About the courts section of the site.

Also in Educational resources, those interested in learning about the court can access a long list of handouts created by the Court System. Handouts cover departmental overviews, jury service, CCAP, and more.

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1836 – 2011: Celebrating Our History

To culminate the year-long celebration of the State Law Library's 175th anniversary, a private reception was held at the library on September 14. About 125 invited guests heard talks by Larry T. Nix on important figures in Wisconsin's early library history and by Stu Levitan on the city of Madison's legal and political "movers and shakers" in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Interim State Law Librarian Julie Tessmer welcomed everyone and introduced the library staff, and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson presented a plaque signed by all seven justices commending the library's 175 years of exemplary service to the State of Wisconsin. A recording featuring all speakers at the event is available for viewing on WisconsinEYE.

Anniversary photos

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Tech Tip in Brief – Heidi Yelk

Searching law reviews and journals with Google Scholar

In November 2009, Google Scholar debuted a subsection of its database called "Legal Opinions and Journals." This database provides the public with a free, easy way to search both case law and legal journals. In our May 2010 issue, Carol Hassler wrote on Case Law Research with Google Scholar. This month's column will focus on using Google Scholar to search legal journals.

Google has partnered with databases such as JSTOR, HeinOnline, LexisNexis, Wiley and others to offer free full-text searching of numerous law reviews and journals, some dating back to the late 1800's. Similar to Google Books, Google Scholar provides free full text searching but only limited full text access.

A good place to start a Google Scholar legal journals search is the Advanced Search page. The Advanced Search allows users to tailor their search with specific phrases, narrow it by author or date, and target the search to a particular publication. The example below illustrates a search of the phrase "three day right to cancel" in legal opinions and journals published 1985-2005.

Advanced Search

Before clicking "search" be sure to select the "Legal Opinions and Journals" segment farther down the page, as shown below:

Legal opinions
The search results, shown below, include case opinions as well as journal articles. To further restrict the results list to journal articles only, use the drop down menu and select "articles excluding patents."

Article search

This final list of results includes 13 useful full-text articles, but most of them are not available for free. Searchers must either purchase the article through the database that provides it, or go through a library to obtain a copy. Here's where WSLL can help! Note that the results list indicates which articles are available through HeinOnline. WSLL subscribes to that database and provides access to it through our web site, wilawlibrary.gov. Visitors to any of our three libraries can access HeinOnline for free on any of our public PCs. Most registered WSLL borrowers can also use their library card number to access HeinOnline off-site, and all Wisconsin judges and court system staff can access HeinOnline from any CCAP-networked PC.

Note also that several articles on the results list below include a link to multiple versions. Click on that link to see what additional databases offer the same article. Some might be free.

Viewing Versions
Google Scholar is an important database for public access to case law, and it's also an excellent starting point for finding legal journals and law reviews. Give it a try today!

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WSLL Recommends… Class Actions: the Law of 50 States

This monthly column highlights a legal research tool, in print and/or electronic format, that is not freely available on the internet. We hope it will increase your knowledge of sources with which you might already be familiar and help to expand your legal research toolkit.

The September 2011 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer included an article about class actions, which led to the recommended title for this month.

WSLL Recommends

When researching class action litigation at the WI State Law Library, there is little doubt that Newberg on Class Actions will give you a comprehensive analysis of that area of litigation. However, as a ten volume set it is a little difficult to check out and carry from the library without a large and well-constructed bag. For a smaller overview that goes beyond a nutshell, try Class Actions: the Law of 50 States, by Thomas Dickerson (Law Journal Seminars Press).

Like the larger Newberg set, Dickerson's Class Actions provides commentary on requirements for class action cases and prefiling considerations – all heavily annotated with state cases.

Dickerson's structured analysis follows the general flow of a class action case, beginning with selecting representatives and finishing with settlements, costs, and fees. Along the way is also covered:

  • Class Action Fairness Act of 2005
  • Pre and post-certification discovery
  • Responding to motions and counterclaims
  • General state practice and notice requirements

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Odds 'n' Endings – Connie Von Der Heide

TRC Housing Law Seminars

People who work with rental housing can attend one of three identical one-day seminars about housing law being offered around the state in October by the Madison-based Tenant Resource Center (TRC).  The presentations are open to all individuals, agencies and businesses involved in rental housing, including landlords, property managers, caseworkers, advocates, lawyers and police. For more information, see the TRC’s housing law seminar web page and this Wisconsin State Journal Property Trax blog post.

October Notables

October 1, 1920 – First issue of the Wisconsin Law Review was published.

October 12, 1782 – Birth date of Henry Dodge, the first territorial governor of Wisconsin. (Source: “On This Day,” Wis. Historical Society)

October 25, 1836 – The first legislative session of the Territory of Wisconsin began. (Source:  Wis. Historical Society’s Dictionary of Wisconsin History)

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