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Commentary

Medical images at your fingertips

Attorneys that specialize in Personal Injury or medical issues usually have an extensive collection of medical resources. For others looking for medical images, a great place to start is the Medical Image Databases on the Internet maintained by University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). This site has an extensive listing of online resources (over 30 databases ...

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When women judge women

Personal injury plaintiffs' lawyers have often told me they hope for female jurors — unless the plaintiff is a woman. Women judge other women harshly, the theory goes. The demographics of Anita Hill Ever since the Clarence Thomas hearings, when I was startled at how many of the female staff in my office seemed to despise Anita Hill, I've suspected ...

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Uniform laws

In an earlier post, I listed tips to improve search results (read here). One suggestion was to “start with the right engine.” We often run our search in board spectrum engines such as Google when a specialized search engine or portal may be a better answer. One such legal portal is ALSO! (American Law Source Online). ALSO! defines themselves as ...

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Let the Sun Shine In!

It’s called “insanely useful web sites” and that is just what it is! The Sunlight Foundation has a web page dedicated to government transparency. Sites listed monitor legislative activity, campaign contributions, legislative proceedings, government contracts, DOJ documents, and much more. Currently, 24 different websites are listed. I have used GovTrack since its inception to assist me in monitoring Federal legislation. ...

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Personal use of company e-mail: Where to draw the line

Nowadays, e-mail is a fixture in most workplaces, a useful tool for communication and calendaring. However, most of us also recognize that e-mail can be an enormous work distraction. For every business-related e-mail in our inboxes, we may have a dozen non-work-related e-mails. Whether a friend’s latest YouTube recommendations or questionable business propositions from deposed Nigerian politicians, non-work-related e-mails negatively ...

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Between science and voodoo: The real uses of voir dire

There he goes again. Another post from Scott Greenfield along the lines of “I love Anne Reed’s blog, but I don’t believe a word she says.” Scott was teaching at Cardozo Law School’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, and hung around for the voir dire session. His conclusion: “[M]y confidence in voir dire is restored. It’s still just voodoo.” It’s one ...

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Do you have a form for that?

I wonder how many forms the average law firm fills out in a week. It amazes me just how many exist. Regularly used forms are easy to find, but where do you look when in search of something new? Sure, you can just put the name into a search engine. That might work without too much effort. You could conduct ...

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Constitution Finder

The University of Richmond maintains a wonderful website called the “Constitution Finder.” It is a database of the constitutions, charters, amendments, etc. from several hundred countries. The site design is a clean, easy to use interface. Once the country of interest is located, the result is a list of the documents available online. In addition, each of the document listing ...

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Protecting the work product of an expert witness

One often overlooked key to successfully working with an expert witness is the protection of privilege and work product. Until the expert is actually disclosed to the other side, it’s in the best interest of the client to make sure that the expert’s work is protected. While no airtight accountant-client privilege exists, it is still possible to protect communications when ...

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Great Access to Scholarly Articles

Many launch their research by reading journal articles. Scholarly pieces can offer insight into a new area, identify seminal cases or issues, or provide much needed analysis. I rely on a few quality sites for full-text articles. One worth bookmarking is the Social Science Research Network. A significant portion of their full text articles are free to download. Users must ...

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The Jelly Bean theory of keeping jurors' attention

When you need jurors to understand new and complicated facts or concepts, you have a problem: you need to repeat the material more than once, but when you do, you're punished for it. A new and seemingly unrelated study suggests a path between the rock and the hard place. The dilemma is clear. On the one hand, you know you ...

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Site offers government abbreviations and acronyms

Library websites are often times a gold mine. I admire my colleagues’ efforts to bring quality information to the public. One such find is the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Library’s Abbreviations & Acronyms of the U.S. Government. It is an extensive listing of Federal Government abbreviations and acronyms, including even the most obscure entities. In most cases, the site includes ...

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A different map search engine

Most of us utilize Mapquest, Yahoo!, or Google for our primary map searching tool. Each offers wonderful features, like Mapquest’s Gas Prices link. However, I would like to suggest another site to check out. Have you tried Metrobot? I use this search engine to identify what businesses are at a single location. Putting in an address will produce not only ...

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Decision appears to limit trial court’s discretion

This is the second in a series of three articles discussing the recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision in Wright v. Wright, No. 2006AP2111 (Wis. Ct. App. Dec. 4, 2007) (recommended for publication). As discussed in the previous article, the appellate court affirmed most of the trial court’s rulings on property division, holding that the trial court properly excluded certain ...

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Improve your online searching skills immediately

True story: I received a request for help. The patron said that he “has been searching online for an hour” and could not locate X. In less than 15 minutes, I was delivering X to the patron. Librarian magic? Nope, I used the phone. My point is that we (me included) seem to use the computer as our “default” research ...

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The beauty of advanced search

Everyone loves the information available on the Internet. Everyone hates pages of irrelevant hits. One possible way to reduce retrieving useless results is to use the “advanced search” option offered by some engines. By starting out on this “Advanced” page, searchers can apply many useful filters and refine their results. Google, Ask, Zuula, and Exalead are all great examples. Just ...

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Wisconsin, where juries matter

I often find myself writing about cases where jury trials were messed up, from badly to horribly, and appellate courts forgave — or didn’t see — the problem. “This case must be retried on facts”There’s been a run of exceptions lately, though, right in Deliberations’s backyard. In the last several weeks, different Wisconsin appellate panels have looked at trials where ...

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Here's how to pick alternates … next time

A Seventh Circuit opinion Dec. 20 requires a quick break from Deliberations's holiday break. United States v. Mendoza instructs trial courts in the Seventh Circuit on how to, and how not to, select alternate jurors in criminal trials. Alternates at random In Mr. Mendoza's drug trial in Indiana federal court, the trial judge selected alternates in a way that will ...

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Crime and punishment: Sentencing in financial fraud cases

While investigating fraud for more than a decade, I have consistently been amazed by the disparity among criminal sentences in financial fraud cases. Of course, there are many facts that go into a sentencing decision, and so it is difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison of sentences between cases. However, it’s clear to me that there is a wide range ...

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New blog offers research tips

Welcome! The genesis of this blog was a conversation I had with two fellow law librarians. With the new design of the Wisconsin Law Journal website, we discussed the importance of librarians sharing their knowledge with those attorneys and legal professionals who do not (yet) have a librarian on staff. Fortunately, the WLJ thought it was a great idea as ...

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Tips for tracking down toy info

Whether you are researching toys for a legal matter or as a parent (it is the holiday season), two common issues are safety and age appropriateness. Check out these websites to assist in your quest. The first stop for most is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition to finding recall information, it is an excellent resource for statistics on ...

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How do you say fifth amendment?

A single word can make a big difference, especially when the word is the main noun in a critical jury instruction. This week Mark Bennett began and Jamie Spencer continued a conversation about the pattern instruction Texas judges give when a defendant does not testify. The Texas instruction is: You are instructed that our law provides that the failure of ...

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Beware the office Christmas party

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss: Every who in the office liked the Christmas party a lot, but the lawyer who advised on HR matters did not. Yes, I suspect my clients sometimes think of me as a “Grinch.” That’s okay. I understand, and I don’t take it personally. My job is to help my clients manage their legal risks, and sometimes ...

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Challenging The Peremptory Challenge: Snyder v. Louisiana

The Supreme Court is hearing argument today on Snyder v. Louisiana, another case where a prosecutor struck all the black jurors in a death penalty trial. Batson v. Kentucky says the prosecutor needed racially neutral reasons for rejecting these jurors, and the Court will decide whether the purported reasons are good enough, especially after the prosecutor invoked the O.J. Simpson ...

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Judge Posner And The Jury Trial

There's no judge quite like the Seventh Circuit's Richard Posner. Very few judges have a Facebook fan club, for example ("Richard Posner for Philosopher King," they call themselves; Judge Alex Kozinski has a fan club there too). Judge Posner's opinions have their own searchable database, Project Posner. Last December he appeared for an interview and book-"signing" on Second Life. And ...

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The grim power of grim evidence

Criminal and personal injury defense lawyers, pencils ready. Next time you ask a judge to keep gory pictures and other disturbing material out of evidence, cite David Bright. "Jurors presented with gruesome evidence, such as descriptions or images of torture and mutilation, are up to five times more likely to convict a defendant than jurors not privy to such evidence," ...

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Welcome, Mortgage Meltdown Blog

My partners Laura Gramling Perez, Chris Ware, and Ellen Brostrom, with help from a growing number of our colleagues, have unveiled a blog on all things related to the subprime mortgage crisis. It's called Mortgage Meltdown, and it covers everything from the basic ("What Is A Subprime Mortgage?") to the advanced ("FASB 157: Day of Reckoning?"). Don't take my word ...

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Corporate identity theft — it isn’t just for people anymore

You thought only people experience identity theft. Only individuals become victims of dumpster diving or poor computer security. Someone gets a credit card in your name, and you’ve become a victim. You didn’t even consider that a company could have an “identity” that could be stolen. Corporate identity theft is becoming all too common, and one of the most troubling ...

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Expect Less From Your Jury Consultant

Every once in awhile you see a "distrust" poll, ranking professions according to how much or how little people trust them. In the most recent Gallup Honesty/Ethics in Professions poll in December 2006, nurses ranked highest with 84% of respondents saying nurses' honesty and ethical standards were high or very high; car salesmen were lowest with 7%; and lawyers were ...

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