Law Library News

New Laws in Maryland – The 90 Day Report: A Review of the 2018 Legislative Session

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 11, 2018

The 90 Day Report is published each year at the conclusion of the legislative session. The 2018 report was issued on April 13, 2018, less than a week after the last day of the session.  Seems pretty amazing since the report is more than 400 pages. It begins with a list of the major issues and where to find the information in the report. The major issues are identified as budget, business, education, consumer protection, health, public safety (which includes the courts), state government and transportation.

The bulk of the report is divided into 12 parts labeled A through L with a Part M being a list of bills.  Issues of interest to the legal community can be found in Part E “Crimes, Corrections, and Public Safety” and Part F “Courts and Civil Proceedings.”

Future blog posts will dig deeper into the 2018 Session by reviewing this report.


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United States Code and editorial changes to the SCRA

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 4, 2018

I recently had an attorney looking for a section of the Service Members Civil Relief Act in the United States Code on Westlaw.  The citation was for 50 U.S.C. App. §521 and the results indicated that the section had a new spot in the U.S.C. at 50 U.S.C. 3931.  When this change took place is not included in the history of the section, but there is a note indicating that the “section was formerly classified to section 521 of the Appendix to Title 50.”

The Justice Department sheds some light on the date of the change on their information page on the Service Members Civil Relief Act:

The location of the SCRA within the United States Code changed in late 2015.  Previously found at (codified and cited as) 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501-597b, there was an editorial reclassification of the SCRA by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives that became effective on December 1, 2015.  The SCRA is now found at (codified as) 50 U.S.C. §§ 3901-4043.

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel’s page on Editorial Reclassification explains the process of reclassification:

In order to maintain and improve the United States Code, the Office of the Law Revision Counsel must occasionally undertake editorial reclassification projects to reorganize areas of law that have outgrown their original boundaries, or to eliminate organizational units that are no longer efficient. No statutory text is altered by such editorial reclassification projects, other than necessary updates to references to reflect the reorganization. Relevant provisions are merely transferred from one place to another in the Code.

This page includes links to information about recent editorial reclassification projects. The link to Title 50 Appendix indicates that  “the reorganization occurred on December 1, 2015, after which the new Code citations were effective.” 

These reclassifications only move the sections and do not result in changes to the law other than references to the revised sections.  Still, it is nice to know when the change took place.

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Law Day 2018

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 1, 2018

law-day-2018-300-by-300-transparent-rgbOn May 1st, we celebrate the rule of law and the role of the law and legal processes, including the court system, in promoting democracy and freedom through our celebration of Law Day. First envisioned by the American Bar Association’s then-president, Charles S. Rhyne, in 1957, National Law Day was established as a day of national dedication to the principles of government under law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, and May 1st was designated as the official date of celebration by a joint resolution of Congress in 1961.

This year marks the 60th anniversary with the theme, Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom. The ABA’s explanation follows:

The U.S. Constitution sets out a system of government with distinct and independent branches—Congress, the Presidency, and a Supreme Court. It also defines legislative, executive, and judicial powers and outlines how they interact. These three separate branches share power, and each branch serves as a check on the power of the others. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” James Madison explained in Federalist 51. Why? Madison believed that the Constitution’s principles of separation of powers and checks and balances preserve political liberty. They provide a framework for freedom. Yet, this framework is not self-executing. We the people must continually act to ensure that our constitutional democracy endures, preserving our liberties and advancing our rights. The Law Day 2018 theme enables us to reflect on the separation of powers as fundamental to our constitutional purpose and to consider how our governmental system is working for ourselves and our posterity.

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HeinOnline Adds New Database: Gun Regulation and Legislation in America

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 27, 2018

HEIN gun regs

HeinOnline is the “World’s Largest Image-Based Legal Research Database” and “is a premier online database containing more than 155 million pages and 200,000 titles of legal history and government documents in a fully searchable, image-based format. HeinOnline bridges the gap in historical research by providing comprehensive coverage from inception of more than 2,500 law-related periodicals.”  HeinOnline is available on all court computers @ heinonline.org. (Click on the Login button in the upper right corner.)

Read more about this new database here. But don’t forget about all of the other resources on Hein such as access to journals, law reviews, early American case law and English reports.


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Ask a Lawyer in the Library: Wrap-up for April

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 25, 2018


Susan Mays, Dana Paul, Katelyn Maloney, Carole Brown, Brian Lyman, Cliff O’Connor, Frank Lozupone, Mike Ragland, and Jack Paltell were the Lawyers in the Library for April. The program was held each Wednesday in the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library and at the Glen Burnie Regional Library on the third Wednesday and at the Eastport Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday.

These volunteer attorneys provided 14 hours of free legal advice to 25 people on issues such as wills, contracts, landlord/tenant, foreclosure and employment.

The Ask a Lawyer In the Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for at least 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required in the library. Sign-up begins 15 minutes before the program start time. Time slots are determined by a lottery. In addition to the weekly program, the Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is held monthly at two Anne Arundel County Public Library branches: Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday and Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

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Thanks and Farewell to Lawyer in the Library: Mike Valadez

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 24, 2018


Mike Valadez

Mike Valadez has been with the Lawyer in the Library program since the beginning.  Mike has been the Lawyer in the Library on the second Wednesday of the odd months since 2010.  He has consistently been in the running for the lawyer with the most hours each year.  His easygoing personality was much appreciated by those he helped.  So we are really sorry that he is “retiring” from the program but understand. He will be missed. When Mike broke the news to me the other day and I mentioned all he had helped, he added that he learned so much about people talking to those who needed his legal advice. We wish Mike the best and look forward to seeing him in the law library.

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Legal Self Help Videos for Maryland

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 18, 2018

movie cameraRepresenting yourself in a civil case or just interested in learning about the law and Maryland courts?

The Access to Justice Department of the Maryland Judiciary has created a library of videos for the self-represented: My Laws, My Courts, My Maryland: A video series for the self-represented.

Family Law videos include three videos on guardianship. The Getting Started videos cover topics such as how to find legal help, legal research, deciding to represent yourself and how to work with a lawyer.  A number of topics are covered under Law Topics including expungement, rent court, foreclosure and small claims. In Court Basics learn about filing fees, getting ready for court and interpreter services.


For every video there are:

  • Transcripts in English and Spanish
  • A printable tip sheet summarizing the video
  • Links to resources, fors, and court services

To see all the topics covered see the full listing of videos.

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Report on Resources for Self-Represented Litigants in Maryland Courts 2017

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 16, 2018

The Maryland Courts’ Access to Justice Department has released its report: Resources for Self-Represented Litigants in the Maryland Courts – FY2017. For the first time all of the resources provided by the courts for self-represented litigants has been presented in one place.  The report highlights the work of Family Law Self Help Centers, the District Court Self Help Resource Centers, the Maryland Courts Self Help Center and Court Law Libraries.

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Keeping up with new laws now that the 2018 Session has ended

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 13, 2018

Keep track of bills that passed or bills that were vetoed at the Maryland General Assembly’s wepage.  Look for the Synopsis of New Legislation, the Status of All Legislation, and Vetoed Legislation as illustrated below.


Looking forward to more analysis and the 90 Day Report for this session coming soon.

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Celebrating National Library Week: The Future of County Law Libraries

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 12, 2018

Last fall I participated in the Allegheny County Law Library 150th Anniversary Symposium: The Future of County Law Libraries.


Larry Myer, Joan Bellistri, Laurel Moran, and Joel Fishman (Sara Galligan participated remotely)

I was invited to speak by Joel Fishman, law library director emeritus, along with Sara Galligan of the Ramsey County Law Library in St. Paul, Minnesota, Larry Meyer of the San Bernardino County Law Library and Laurel Moran of the San Diego County Law Library. We tasked with answering the question: do county law libraries have a future?  Our answer was, indeed, “YES”, there is a future for the county law library, but not without challenges.  County law libraries are facing an increasing need for legal services and legal information and at the same time are experiencing decreased funding and staff. However, there are new opportunities to expand county law library services through partnerships and technology.

Sara and I concentrated on the role of the county law library in access to justice. Sara described how law libraries make a major contribution to access to justice by providing access to legal information on the basic level and the advice of an attorney at the most advanced level. I continued with a discussion of partnerships that aid in the expansion of library programs.  Partnerships with the bar, legal service providers or, as in the case of the Allegheny Law Library, a law school,  provide the ability for the county law library to be seen as an integral and important component of access to justice.

 Larry started with the fact that most county law libraries have insufficient funding and that as result are doing so much more with less. He described libraries as the great equalizers and as such should have stable finding.  Larry encouraged looking outside the box by utilizing advocacy and partnerships for support.

Laurel seemed to describe what so many county law libraries are experiencing with  decreasing budgets.  She described the development of a new acquisition policy emphasizing access rather than collection. Laurel set out a good plan for making it through the transition with tips on balancing the needs of users and access to needed legal information.

You can hear and see it all right here: https://law-duq.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=5ba86ca6-b329-4550-a728-36240c7c656

We hope that county law libraries can continue well into the future for at least another 150 years just like the Allegheny County Law Library.




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