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Posts Tagged ‘legalresearch’

Farewell, Westlaw Classic

Posted by Chi Song on August 17, 2015

Westlaw Classic is coming to an end, and all Westlaw users will be migrated to WestlawNext. At the Law Library, the sunset date is September 10, 2015. Starting on that date, anyone who attempts to access Westlaw Classic at the Law Library or the Circuit Courthouse will be automatically redirected to WestlawNext at http://next.westlaw.com.

If you are new to WestlawNext, there are self-paced training options available online. These self-paced training programs include general guides that provide an overview of WestlawNext, searching on WestlawNext and browsing on WestlawNext. Advanced, targeted trainings, such as form finder training, are also available. In addition, the Law Library is available to assist you with your online WestlawNext research.
If you want to learn more about WestlawNext or online legal databases, check out our blog posts here.

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Foreclosure Clinic Wrap-Up

Posted by Chi Song on August 14, 2015

mvls-logoLast week, the Law Library hosted its second Foreclosure Clinic. Thank you, Lonni Summers, Susan Mays, Diane Wessel, and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) for providing this much-needed service to Maryland’s self-represented litigants.

The next clinic date is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16, 2015 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. individuals are served on a first-come, first-served basis. Consultations are usually twenty minutes. Please sign up, in-person, at the Law Library’s main service desk on September 16, 2015.

We recommend that you prepare for your meeting with the attorney. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Bring all your paperwork or other information related to the foreclosure.
  • Write a list of specific questions.Organize your paperwork from most recent on top to oldest on bottom.
  • Write a list of specific questions.
  • Prepare a timeline of your matter, including any deadlines.

If you need assistance prior to September 16, 2015, check out these resources.

  • Civil Justice – Civil Justice provides Marylanders with foreclosure assistance. Check out their website or call them at 410-706-0174 for more information.
  • Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice Project – This is a free clinic open to homeowners facing foreclosure without legal representation. For information about the Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice project, check out our blog post from earlier this year.
  • Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) – MVLS may be able to represent you in your foreclosure matter. Call MVLS at 410-547-6537 for more information.

You can find a list of additional assistance resources at the People’s Law Library.

Posted in lawlibrary, Pro Bono, Self Represented | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Materials Alert!

Posted by Chi Song on July 31, 2015

The Law Library is constantly striving to develop its collection to meet the needs of and challenges faced by its user communities. Check out these new materials, which have been recently added to the Law Library’ collection!


IMG_1550American Jurisprudence, 2d
 – The Law Library has updated its print copies of American Jurisprudence, 2d, one of the most widely used legal encyclopedias. This secondary resource provides users with a comprehensive set of articles on a wide range of legal topics, organized in alphabetical order by topic. American Jurisprudence is a fantastic starting point for legal research as it provides general introductions to a vast array of legal topics as well as citations for other useful materials, including relevant primary materials such as cases and statutes.


IMG_1551American Jurisprudence Legal Forms
The Law Library has updated its print copies of American Jurisprudence Legal Forms, which can provide law library users with access to sample forms with practice notes, research references checklists and related subject guides, all organized by subject matter. You can review and copy forms related to a wide array of substantive law, including business organizations, commercial transactions, real estate, commercial transactions, estate planning and workers’ compensation.

In addition, you can access both resources through our subscription to Westlaw, which includes document delivery services (e.g., print, email, download). Please stop by the Law Library’s main service desk for assistance in locating these new materials as well as legal research instruction to increase your research efficiency and success!

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Law Day – Office of Administrative Hearings

Posted by Chi Song on July 28, 2015

IMG_1553

Here are some of the resources available at the Law Library!

In connection with the Law Library’s celebration of Law Day, we will be publishing a series of eight posts that focus on the basics of the Maryland court system and legal research.

The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) was created in 1990 through the Administrative Procedure Act, which provides for the resolution of contested agency actions through an impartial administrative hearing process. This means that Marylanders may contest actions of Maryland state agencies through OAH. In Maryland, administrative agencies may include “any agency, board, department, district, commission, authority, commissioner, official, the Maryland Tax Court, or other unit of the State or of a political subdivision of the State and the Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland.”* Examples of Maryland agencies include the Motor Vehicle Administration, Workers’ Compensation Commission and Maryland Insurance Administration. The hearing process is overseen by an Administrative Law Judge, who is an attorney trained to hear these types of matters and is independent from the Maryland agencies. To learn more about OAH and the administrative hearing process, check out this FAQ page.

OAH Library – At OAH’s main office in Hunt Valley, Maryland, the OAH has a library that is open to the public. The library’s collection includes OAH decisions, published state agency policies and other materials. Please note that in order to see an OAH decision, library users must first make a written public information request and receive approval for that request before visiting the library. For more information, please see the library’s website. Note that some decisions may not be available because they may contain confidential or privileged information.

Appealing an Administrative Decision – If you are looking to appeal an administrative decision, read this article published on the People’s Law Library, which provides an overview of the process for appealing an administrative decision. In addition, check out the Law Library’s Administrative Appeals wiki page, which includes links to useful resources and a sample form with a guide. If you have more questions, please contact us!

Foreclosure Mediation – The Administrative Law Judges at OAH also conduct mediations referred to the OAH by the Circuit Court pursuant to Maryland’s Foreclosure Mediation Law.  If you want to learn more about foreclosure mediation provided by OAH, check out this page.
*Maryland Rule 2-701.


Additional Law Library Resources
– Check out these materials, which are available at the Law Library.

  • West’s Maryland Digest 2d, 1 Md. D. 2d., Administrative Law, Key Numbers 651-821
  • West’s Maryland Law Encyclopedia, 1 M. L. E., Administrative Law and Procedure §§ 64-82
  • Maryland Civil Procedure Forms 3rd ed. / Robert D. Klein (LEXIS, 2000) –  Title 7- Chapter 200
  • Practice Manual for the Maryland Lawyer 4th ed.  / Jack L. B. Gohn, Esq. (MSBA, 2012) – §2- Chapter 8: “Challenges to Agency Action”.
  • Principles and Practice of Maryland Administrative Law / Arnold Rochvarg, M. (Carolina Academic Press, 2011)
  • Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland 5th ed. / Paul Mark Sandler & James K. Archibald  (MSBA, 2013)
  • Appellate Practice for the Maryland Lawyer: State and Federal 3rd ed. / Paul Mark Sandler & Andrew D. Levy, eds. (MICPEL, 2007) – Chapter 22: “Appeals From Administrative Agencies” by Honorable Paul W. Grimm & Robert B. Levin
  • Judicial Review of Agency Decisions / Alan M. Wilner, (MICPEL, 1997)

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Maryland Attorney General Opinions

Posted by Chi Song on July 24, 2015

IMG_1511The Attorney General is Maryland’s chief legal officer and is elected by Marylanders every four years. The Attorney General’s Office is in charge of Maryland’s legal business, including acting as a legal advisor to the State of Maryland. To learn more about the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, check out their website.

In its role as a legal advisor to the State of Maryland, when requested by the Maryland General Assembly, the Governor, the Comptroller, the Treasurer or any State’s Attorney, the Attorney General provides a formal opinion, which is a written response to specific legal questions raised by Maryland’s government officials. The legal questions can range from the construction of statute, interpretation of case law or requests for legal counsel. Often, these opinions deal with a significant legal question involving Maryland law.

Private individuals cannot request a formal Opinion of the Attorney General. However, it is a possible that an Opinion of the Attorney General addresses a legal issue that is directly related to your matter. In that scenario, a Maryland court may consider an Opinion of the Attorney General, but the Opinion is not binding authority for Maryland Courts.

You can find Opinions of the Attorney General, from 1993 to the present, online at the Maryland Attorney General’s website. The Law Library’s collection include hardbound volumes of the Opinions of the Attorney General from 1917 to 2011. You can also access Maryland Attorney General Opinions through the Law Library’s subscriptions to Westlaw (coverage from 1977 to the present) and LexisNexis (coverage from 1970 to the present).

Note that Opinions of the Attorney General are formal opinions, which should be distinguished from other written documents from the Office of the Attorney General, such as letters to state agencies and memoranda of law. In order to be a formal Opinion of the Attorney General, the document must have gone through a specified review process and adopted by the Attorney General of Maryland. More information is available here.

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Law Day – Statutes

Posted by Chi Song on July 10, 2015

In connection with the Law Library’s celebration of Law Day, we will be publishing a series of eight posts that focus on the basics of the Maryland court system and legal research.

Statutes are the laws passed by legislative bodies and probably what most people visualize when they think about the law. Statutes are generally organized by subject in a set called a “code”. For example, you would generally find statutes about divorce laws in Maryland under the Family Law Article (subject) in the Code of Maryland (code). Don’t forget, statutes are only one of the three main sources of primary law (statutes, regulations and case law), and your legal research may not be complete if you only focus on relevant statutes.

Federal Statutes. The U.S. Congress is the U.S. federal government’s legislative body and derives its power to make laws from the United States Constitution. The U.S. Congress consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Members of Congress are directly elected by citizens of the United States. To learn more about the federal legislative process, check out this article, “How Our Laws Are Made”, available on Congress.gov.

Current U.S. statutes are organized by subject matter in the current U.S. Code, which is available online here. In addition, check out our earlier blog post here about Congress.gov, the official federal website for federal legislative information. Congress.gov is a great resources that provides members of the public with access to current and historic legislative information, including bill status, bill summaries and committee reports.

The Law Library’s print collection includes the West’s United States Code Annotated. (The annotations included in the print books by the editors include references to relevant cases, law review articles and other resources that may provide the legal researcher with useful research and related primary sources.) You can also read the annotated code in electronic format through the Law Library’s subscriptions to WestlawNext and LexisNexis.

Maryland Statutes. Maryland’s legislative body is the Maryland General Assembly, which is comprised of two chambers: the State Senate and the House of Delegates. The Maryland General Assembly meets for 90 calendar days each year, beginning on the second Wednesday of January, and special sessions may be called by the Governor or a petition by a majority of each house. More information about the Maryland legislative process is available here. Current Maryland statutes are organized by article (subject) in the Code of Maryland and available online here.

The Law Library’s print collection includes current and superseded copies of Michie’s Annotated Code of Maryland West’s Annotated Code of Maryland. (The annotations included in the print books by the editors include references to relevant cases, law review articles and other resources that may provide the legal researcher with useful research and related primary sources.) In addition, you can read the current annotated code in electronic format through the Law Library’s subscriptions to WestlawNext and LexisNexis.

Local Ordinances and Resolutions. Don’t forget local ordinances and resolutions! For example, if you live in Annapolis, your legal statutory research may need to include the Anne Arundel County Code as well as the Code of the City of Annapolis.

The legislative body for Anne Arundel County is the County Council, whose members are elected. The Anne Arundel County Council generally holds legislative session on the first and third Mondays of each month (excluding August) in Annapolis, Maryland and all sessions are open to the public. For more information, check out the County Council’s website. For those you who cannot attend the sessions in person, you may be able to view live webcasts.

The Annapolis City Council is the legislative body for the city of Annapolis, and its members include the Mayor of Annapolis and eight Aldermen and Alderwomen. Information regarding the City Council’s regular meetings, public access to agendas and television schedules are available here.

The Law Library’s print collection includes current and superseded copies of the Anne Arundel County Code and the Code of the City of Annapolis. In addition, the Law Library’s collection includes copies of the Anne Arundel County Council’s Proposed Bills, Final Bills, Resolutions and Schedules.

Stay tuned for the next post in our Law Day Series, which will provide an overview of the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings.

Posted in lawlibrary, Maryland Law | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Unreported Opinions

Posted by Chi Song on June 30, 2015

In April, Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera announced that previously unreported opinions would be available on the Maryland Court’s website in order to increase free, online access to opinions. Reported Opinions of the Maryland Court of Appeals and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, from 1995 to the present, are available on the Maryland Court’s website here.

However, do not forget Maryland Rule 1-104!

RULE 1-104. UNREPORTED OPINIONS

(a) Not Authority. An unreported opinion of the Court of Appeals or Court of Special Appeals is neither precedent within the rule of stare decisis nor persuasive authority.

(b) Citation. An unreported opinion of either Court may be cited in either Court for any purpose other than as precedent within the rule of stare decisis or as persuasive authority. In any other court, an unreported opinion of either Court may be cited only (1) when relevant under the doctrine of the law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel, (2) in a criminal action or related proceeding involving the same defendant, or (3) in a disciplinary action involving the same respondent. A party who cites an unreported opinion shall attach a copy of it to the pleading, brief, or paper in which it is cited.

Also, it may be hard to believe, but reading opinions can be fun. Check out this The Daily Record article, which provides examples of some humorous opinions from the Maryland Court of Appeals.

To learn more about opinions, check out our blog post here!

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Law Day Series – What is an opinion?

Posted by Chi Song on June 26, 2015

IMG_1417In connection with the Law Library’s celebration of Law Day, we will be publishing a series of eight posts that focus on the basics of the Maryland court system and legal research.

In legal research, an opinion is not just a judge’s personal view or attitude about a matter. Instead, it is a formal, potentially binding, detailed explanation. The opinion provides an explanation of and justification for a judge’s or judicial panel’s decision that generally includes a summary of the relevant facts in a case, a statement of the legal issue or issues, the court’s decision (often referred to as the “ruling” or “holding”) and a discussion of the judge’s reasoning or rationale. These opinions make up case law (also referred to as “common law”).

Opinions matter because they can be a potentially binding, primary source of law (referred to as “precedent”) for a future court case. It’s important to realize that an opinion is only potentially binding, because there are a lot of factors that must be considered to determine whether the opinion applies to a current situation. Factors such as different facts, subsequent changes to the law and the jurisdiction of the courts involved will impact whether a previous case can be used as precedent. Check out this article from the Maryland People’s Law Library that provides an overview on whether you can rely on case law.

There are several research paths to identify relevant case law. Check out this article from the Maryland People’s Law Library regarding how to find case law by subject.

Many of the resources listed in that article, such as digests (subject index to cases), annotated statutes (e.g., Michie’s Annotated Code of Maryland), encyclopedias (e.g., West’s Maryland Law Encyclopedia) and treatises are available in the Law Library in both print and electronic forms. In addition, you can search for case law through the Law Library’s subscriptions to online legal databases such as WestlawNext and LexisNexis.

Once you have identified cases that you would like to read, you can find case law in print and electronic formats. In print, the cases are published in serials called reporters, which publish the cases in approximate chronological order.

The Law Library’s print collection includes Maryland Reports (cases from Maryland Court of Appeals) and Maryland Appellate Reports (cases from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals) as well as federal and regional reports. You can read the cases in electronic format through the Law Library’s subscriptions to WestlawNext and LexisNexis. These subscriptions include document delivery services, so you can print or email the cases.

Once you have found relevant cases, you must check to make sure they are still considered “good law” through citators, which are services that check citations of a decided case to determine whether they have been supported, overruled or distinguished.

The Law Library provides access to online citators through WestlawNext (KeyCite) and LexisNexis (Shepard’s Citations), so please come by the service desk to learn more about online citators.

Stay tuned for the next post in our Law Day Series, which will provide an overview of statutes in Maryland.

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Legal Research in the Blogosphere – In Custodia Legis

Posted by Chi Song on June 22, 2015

Legal research can be challenging, even for experienced attorneys; however, there are many resources available to assist both attorneys and non-attorneys with their legal research needs.  The Legal Research in the Blogosphere series will share blog posts and online sites that legal researchers may find useful.

In Custodia Legis (“in the custody of the law”) is the blog of the Law Librarians of Congress. The blog’s posts cover a wide array of U.S. and foreign legal topics, including legal trends, developments and issues. In addition, the blog is a great resource to learn more about Congress.gov, which is the official federal website for U.S. federal legislative information. Below, please find a sampling of posts that caught our attention.

Check out the blog at http://blogs.loc.gov/law/!

 

 

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Law Day Series – Primary Legal Sources

Posted by Chi Song on June 16, 2015

STACK OF BOOKS

Here are print copies of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

In connection with the Law Library’s celebration of Law Day, we will be publishing a series of eight posts that focus on the basics of the Maryland court system and legal research.

For the Law Library’s legal researchers, the main goal is to find the “law” that will solve his or her legal problem or answer a specific legal question. The legal researchers are looking for relevant primary authorities, which are the binding laws for their case. These primary authorities come from several different sources, and you must read all of the primary sources of law together in reaching your legal conclusion.

Before we start discussing primary legal sources, a research tip is to start with secondary legal resources because these secondary resources have already done a lot of the work for you by reviewing and summarizing the relevant primary legal sources. These secondary legal resources, such as books, articles, formbooks and websites, are often more user-friendly than primary legal sources and can provide summaries of the law, explanations of the law and, most importantly, citations to the relevant primary sources.

Returning to primary legal sources, the main sources of primary law are statutes, regulations, and case law, which this post will briefly describe below.

Statutes. Most people probably think of statutes when they are thinking about the “law”. Statutes are the laws passed by legislatures (for example, the Maryland General Assembly and the United States Congress). Statutes are generally organized by subject in a set called a “code”. For example, you can find the statutes relating to divorce in the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code.

The Law Library’s collection includes The United States Code Annotated, Michie’s Annotated Code of Maryland and West’s Annotated Code of Maryland. You can also access these statutes and statutes from other jurisdictions through our online legal databases.

Regulations. Regulations are perhaps the least well-known of primary legal sources. Regulations are made by executive agencies (for example, the Federal Aviation Agency in the United States Executive Branch and the Maryland Department of Transportation). These agencies derive their rule-making power from statutes passed by the appropriate legislature, granting them those powers. These statutes set forth the subjects and limits of the agency’s rule making powers. So, it is important to read the regulations in conjunction with the relevant authorizing statutes. In Maryland, regulations are printed in the Code of Maryland Administrative Regulations (COMAR). Federal regulations are printed in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

The Law Library’s collection includes COMAR as well as a subscription to the Maryland Register (the Maryland Register is the supplement service for COMAR that is published every two weeks). In addition, the Law Library’s collection also includes the Code of Federal Regulations and Federal Register. Drop by the Law Library, and we will show you how to use these resources!

Case Law. Case law is the law made by judges (usually at the appellate level). Judges write opinions, which are written explanations that justify a court’s decision and usually includes a statement of facts and the law. Navigating case law is a bit more difficult than navigating statutes and regulations, but equally important because case law can be binding legal authority. Stay tuned because this blog will be posting an article later this month on the topic of case law and opinions.

In the Law Library, you can find case law in print and electronic formats. In print, the cases are published in serials called reporters, which publish the cases in rough chronological order. The Law Library’s collection include Maryland Reports (cases from Maryland Court of Appeals) and Maryland Appellate Reports (cases from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals) as well as certain regional and federal reporters. You can also access the cases online through the Law Library’s subscriptions to online legal databases.

In addition, don’t forget Court Rules, which set out the procedures that you will need to follow. These procedures will vary from court to court and govern things like time limits, service, formats before, during and after a trial.

The Law Library’s collection includes the Annotated Maryland Rules and the Maryland Rules Commentary as well as resources related to the Federal Rules of Procedure.

This post is intended to provided a brief overview only. For additional information, the Maryland People’s Law Library is a great resource for learning more about legal research and how to get started in the Maryland court system. Check out these articles on the Maryland People’s Law Library.

  • Understanding Legal Research – This article provides an overview of primary and secondary authorities. (Español)
  • The Basics of Finding the Law – This article provides an overview of where to find the “law”. Read the article about Understanding Legal Research first.
  • Finding and Using Secondary Sources – Secondary sources, such as articles, encyclopedia, and form books can be very helpful and, for most legal researchers, reading secondary sources is the best place to start. This article provides guidance in locating useful secondary resources.
  • Research Guides – The Maryland People’s Law Library research guides based on subject area (for example, Adoption, Bankruptcy, Divorce, Immigration, Workplace Safety)
  • Evaluating Legal Websites – There is a lot of information available online, but not everything is trustworthy. This article provides some helpful tips to help you decide whether you should rely on what you found on a website. In addition, you can always contact us here at the Law Library.
  • Getting Help from Law Librarians – The Law Library is always happy to assist you with your legal research, but the process can be very complicated, and there are certain things that the librarians cannot do, such as provide legal advice (because we are not attorneys). This article will help you get the most out of your relationship and interactions with the law librarian.

Stay tuned for the next post in our Law Day Series, which will provide an overview of case law research in Maryland.

Posted in lawlibrary, Maryland Law | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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