As you may already know, this week is Open Access Week, a week devoted to “promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research,” and Harvard is hosting a number of events in recognition of this important goal (you can find the full list on the Office for Scholarly Communication website).
One way you can advocate for Open Access now and in the future (while simultaneously helping your own research) is to start using Open Access Button. Once you have installed the bookmarklet, you can click on it every time you encounter an academic work that is behind a paywall. Pushing the button (which works in all browsers and also offers a Chrome plugin and a Firefox extension as well as a version for use on Android devices) will automatically search for a free version of the paper that you can access immediately and, if such a version is not found, will automatically contact the author about accessing the paper. If you can’t access the work immediately, your story will be collected and added to the list of stories used by Open Access Button to advocate for changes in the publishing approach for academic works. It is important to note that Open Access Button will make information about your use of the button publicly available, but this information will help to show the importance of Open Access in academia and just might help you find Open Access versions of scholarship you need.
The Harvard Law School Library is pleased to announce this recent acquisition, a chair with a unique provenance story and strong ties to the Harvard Law School. This adjustable back armchair, commonly referred to as a Morris chair, was first owned by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and used in his summer home in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. The chair was included in a 1935 appraisal of Holmes’ personal property in his Beverly Farms home, “Mahogany Morris Chair,” item 357. After his death, his nephew and niece Edward and Mary Stacy Holmes purchased the chair from his estate as part of a larger group of items paid for May 26, 1936. They gifted it to Felix and Marion Frankfurter in 1939, probably in honor of his appointment to the United States Supreme Court.
Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair September 2014
Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair September 2014
Holmes and Frankfurter met in 1912 and carried on a close friendship until Holmes’ death in 1935. Several years before his death, Holmes chose Frankfurter as his biographer. Part of their friendship included Frankfurter selecting Holmes’ secretary from the Harvard Law School’s graduating class; among those selected was Mark De Wolfe Howe. Howe served as Holmes’ secretary from 1933-1934 and later became Justice Holmes’ official biographer.
In a letter dated April 30, 1963, Frankfurter wrote to Howe: “One of the things that just crossed my mind is what disposition to make of the Holmes chair when the time comes to bow to the inevitable. . . . After some reflection and with Marion’s warm concurrence, I should like the Holmes chair to come to you when I can no longer occupy it, and the reason for this desire is because of the feeling the old gentleman had about you and particularly his feeling of gratitude to you.” The chair remained in Frankfurters possession until his death in February 1965. Later that year Frankfurter’s executor made arrangements to deliver the chair to Howe’s home.
John H. Mansfield seated in the chair in his Brookline residence Photo credit: Maria Luisa F. Mansfield
Howe did not have much time with the chair, surviving Frankfurter by just two years. Howe’s daughters eventually gave the chair to Harvard Law School alumnus, professor, and former Frankfurter clerk John H. Mansfield. Mansfield had strong ties to both Frankfurter and Howe. In a 1963 letter to his secretary Elsie Douglas, Frankfurter named Mansfield as one of a few individuals “whom I deem wholly qualified to write my judicial biography.” Howe and Mansfield spent nine years together on the Harvard Law School faculty and like Holmes and Frankfurter carried on a close friendship. Mansfield greatly enjoyed the chair, sitting in it every day after work and explaining to visitors the story of the legal greats who sat in the chair before him.
All of the chair’s former owners were Harvard Law School alumni and faculty members so it is extremely fitting that the chair’s final home should be the Law School.
Users of WestlawNext will be happy to know that there is a new tool that might make your research just a little bit easier. A law student from the UC Berkeley School of Law has created a browser extension called Bestlaw that, in the words of their website, “add[s] the features Westlaw forgot.” Among these features are options for a more readable presentation of the text that removes extraneous menus and addition sources, the option to share the link to a document more seamlessly via email or social media, a feature that prevents you from getting signed off automatically, and tools for copying information about the case. Perhaps more interesting for many law students, one of the pieces of information that you can copy with a single click is the Bluebook citation for the document you are reading. Right now this feature only works for reported federal cases, but there are plans to extend it to other documents on Westlaw as well. While you should always check your citations and not rely on a third party to create them for you, initial tests of this feature produced correct citations.
Currently Bestlaw is only available as a browser extension for Chrome and it only works with Westlaw, but the website for the tool says that a Firefox version and features that will work with Lexis are also in the works. If you want to try it out, you the installation process requires only two clicks and if you decide you don’t like it, the website links to clear instructions for both disabling and removing it.
As you may know, on Thursday Scotland will vote on whether or not to remain part of the United Kingdom. Some estimates put the number of voters registered to participate in the referendum at over 4 million, which is more than 95% of Scotland’s adult population. And, campaigning has remained active, and in some cases heated, in the weeks and months leading up to the referendum, with voices as disparate as the Pope and David Beckham supporting unity with Great Britain and everyone from Sir Sean Connery to Vivienne Westwood supporting independence. Even Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons (as seen below) and John Oliver (not entirely safe for work) have weighed in. Polls have differed in the exact vote predicted, but everyone seems to agree that the vote is likely to be quite close.
While this may seem largely like a political issue, there are some important laws and legal decisions underlying the vote. The first, and perhaps most important, is the Edinburgh agreement. This agreement, which was signed on October 15, 2012, set forth the agreement between the United Kingdom government and the Scottish government regarding the referendum and specified what would be included in the referendum legislation. The Memorandum of Agreement attached to the Edinburgh agreement further specified that “The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom,” a passage that has led to much speculation about what would occur if the people of Scotland ultimately vote to leave the United Kingdom.
After this agreement was signed, the Scottish Independence Referendum Act of 2013 was passed to set forth the exact procedure for the referendum. This Act includes provisions on who may vote in the referendum and restrictions on legal challenges to the outcome of the referendum among other provisions. You can see the full Act below:
Campaigning has been active on both sides of the vote and many are eager to cast their votes, including at least two prisoners who appealed the ban on inmates voting in the referendum all the way to the UK Supreme Court. The case, entitled Moohan and another (Appellant) v The Lord Advocate (Respondent), was fast-tracked to ensure that it was decided before the referendum and was heard by a panel of 7 Justices on July 24, 2014. On the same day, they issued their, in the words of The Guardian, “unusually quick summary decision less than an hour after hearing final oral submissions on the case,” in which they upheld the lower courts’ rulings that European court rulings which hold that banning prisoners from voting violates their human rights do not apply in the case of a referendum. This decision means that the referendum will go forward without the vote of prisoners, but other than this small group, voter registration has proved to be quite high. According to the BBC, 4,285,323 people registered to vote in the referendum by the September 2nd deadline, “making it the largest electorate ever in Scotland.”
While it is still unclear which side will win, if the majority of voters do cast their ballot in favor of independence, this will only be the start of a long road to complete independence. Some scholars have estimated that the timeframe for negotiated independence would take between 18 and 36 months in total. Moreover, Scotland’s status in the European Union would be uncertain if it became independent, with the two sides of the campaign disagreeing over the process the new country would have to follow to gain re-admittance into the EU and the European Commission declining to comment. No matter what the outcome of the vote, this referendum has presented a number of fascinating legal issues!
This 90-minute session is designed for the associate, judicial, law firm or government agency law clerk, intern, extern or research assistant, law student, and law review notes & comments editor. You will learn how to use ProQuest Congressional Digital Suite & Legislative Insight, the premier legal research tools for federal legislative and government materials to:
1. Develop an understanding of the legislative process both:
a. Procedurally – How did the language read as first proposed, what committees considered the proposal, when were amendments made and where was the proposal when it was amended;
b. As an adversarial process – who was lobbying in support of the proposal and what were they trying to accomplish, who was active in opposition what were their objections, who was responsible for amendments to the proposal;
2. Become familiar with the documents available pertinent to your issue;
3. Identify where in the process the changes you care about occurred – this provides a mechanism to narrow the scope of your search for explanations for why the language was changed;
4. Learn how to identify both direct and circumstantial evidence of intent.
HLS students, mark your calendars for Love Your Library Fest Friday, September 19, 2:00-5:00pm!
Library Fest is a fun orientation to the Library’s people, services, and resources. The Fest includes:
learning more about library services
a peek at an assortment of treasures from HLS and legal history
meeting some of our legal information vendors
Every law student who completes 3 stations will receive a movie ticket. For each station completed, HLS students will get an entry for the grand prize raffle, with a bonus raffle entry for completing all five stations. Prizes (one each for a lucky JD and LLM/SJD student) are New England gift baskets with a $100 Grafton Group restaurant gift card–good at Grafton Street, Park, Russell House Tavern, and Temple Bar!
Faculty, staff, and other members of the Harvard community are welcome as well. See you there!
As some of you may have already heard, PACER, the online repository for records and filings from U.S. Federal Courts, recently removed documents from five courts in preparation for an update to the system. Though efforts are underway by some private organizations to find a way to make these documents publicly available again, this has left many PACER users concerned about how to find these documents (which included records from some high profile cases) in the meantime. If you find yourself looking for these documents, there are a couple of approaches you can take.
First, all Harvard Law School students have access to Bloomberg Law, which offers a helpful docket search feature. While it does not include records for all cases, its easy search interface and the fact that new records are added all the time makes it a good first source. To search for a docket, login into Bloomberg Law and click Litigation & Dockets in the top menu. Then select Search Dockets from the resulting drop down menu.
If you don’t find the record you need in Bloomberg Law, you can also visit the RECAP Archive. This free database collects federal court documents that are gathered by the RECAP browser extension. (You might also consider installing the extension yourself; it is available for both Chrome and Firefox). While the archive does not include all court records, it is growing all the time, so it is a good starting point for items not on PACER or Bloomberg Law.
If you find that the records aren’t available electronically, we have collected information about how to request materials from each of the courts that had items removed from PACER below:
On July 14, 1789 French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, a prison that served as a symbol of the unjust treatment of the French citizenry by the monarchy, thus sparking the French Revolution. King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were dethroned during the revolution, tried and found guilty of treason, and executed by way of the guillotine.
Historical & Special Collections (HSC) holds many volumes relating to Louis XVI’s trial for those researchers interested in the ultimate demise of France’s last monarch.
Le Procès de Louis XVI, ou, Collection complette des opinions, discours et mémoires des membres de la Convention nationale, sur les crimes de Louis XVI, ouvrage enrichi des diverses pìeces justificatives … (Hollis 004040555)
[Procès de Louis XVI, ci-devant roi des francais, imprimé par ordre de la convention nationale.] (Hollis 004390413)
One volume, The Trial at Large of Louis XVI. Late King of France. Containing a Most Complete and Authentic Narrative of every Interesting and Important Circumstance Attending the Accusation — Trial, Defence, Sentence — Execution, &c. of this Unfortunate Monarch. (Hollis 004039665) is available online through Making of Modern Law, Trials 1600-1926. HSC has contributed a number of titles to this online resource, which is available to users with a Harvard ID and PIN. Included in this text is King Louis XVI’s defense of his fleeing Paris with his family – the primary impetus of the treason charge. He writes “….the motives which induced me to quit Paris: – They were, the threats and outrages committed again[s]t my family and my[s]elf, and which have been circulated in different publications; and all the[s]e in[s]ults have remained unpuni[s]hed. I thence thought it was neither [s]afe nor proper for me to remain any longer in Paris; but, in quitting the capital, I never had an intention of going out of the kingdom (pg. 20).” The account of Marie Antoinette’s trial (Hollis 013967138) is also available through Making of Modern Law.
First page of Opinion de Huet de Guerville sur le procès de Louis XVI. (Hollis 004390530)
Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, one of King Louis XVI’s lawyers in his treason trial. (olvwork_188663)
Researchers interested in this historical moment can also find two portraits of Chertien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, one of the lawyers to King Louis XVI during his treason trial, in HSC’s visual collections and made available on VIA. Malesherbes came out of retirement in order to defend the King, whom he had served in his younger years. Despite being generally well-liked and respected, Malesherbes also met the same demise as the King and Queen, beheaded at the guillotine in 1794.
We recently experimented with a new way to view our current Harvard Law School Library exhibit, Spanning the Centuries: Recent Acquisitions, 1579-1868. We used Google Earth to create a chronological tour of the exhibit, pinpointing the towns and cities where each item came from. Watch the globe spin as you click from item to item in the exhibit!
Besides being cool and fun (if a bit dizzying) to watch, Google Earth provides a graphic look at where items in an exhibit – or an entire collection – came from, in a way that plain text cannot. In our exhibit, most of the earliest material came from Europe, shifting to England and then the U.S. as the centuries passed. Though this exhibit does not delve deeply into the full provenance of the items on view, it would be interesting to use Google Earth to graphically trace every step of a book or manuscript as it changes hands over time.
We hope you enjoy this new and different look at our exhibit. Thanks to Carli Spina, Emerging Technologies and Research Librarian, for thinking of the idea and making it happen!