“Back in the 1990s, the Supreme Court said that while prisoners have the right to pursue a legal claim, they don’t have “an abstract, freestanding right to a law library.”For years after the ruling, even though it no longer had to, New York required its county jails to maintain a supply of legal reference materials, such as various chapters of New York State Consolidated Laws and case law digests.But as times of plenty have faded, New York has decided that the law library is an unaffordable luxury. After finding that the mandate imposed a “significant cost upon each county,” New York’s prison commission is proposing to relax the regulation and allow prisons to shutter their libraries. (via WSJ)
“Last week’s Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee meeting was a doozy, and not just because each public speaker got two minutes to speak and Supervisor Mark Farrell spent three hours trying to get lawyers to stop talking after their time was up. The reason that 81 people showed up to speak — almost all of them lawyers who are solo practitioners or work for nonprofits — is because they want a larger public Law Library. And straight from the “completely predictable” file, the Law Library is suing to get a larger space.” (via San Francisco Examiner)
“Dozens of lawyers made their case for more space at San Francisco’s Law Library Wednesday, but the verdict they got from a group of supervisors was not the decision they hoped for. The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance subcommittee approved a resolution stating that 20,000 square feet is enough space for the law library at a new location on 1200 Van Ness Ave., after hearing at least two hours of public comments from lawyers and library patrons supporting the library’s demands for 30,000 to 35,000 square feet of space that the site could provide.” (via SFGate.com)
“In support of the pending reorganization and realignment of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, LA Law Library will be shifting its focus at some branch locations from a brick and mortar presence to one based on self-service, and expanding hours at other existing locations. As a result of the reorganization of the courts, the spaces currently occupied by the Norwalk, Pomona and Santa Monica branches of the LA Law Library are needed to fulfill other functions.”
via Press Release
“Former San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne has a wealth of resources at her fingertips as one of the city’s top lawyers. But when she needed to research the legislative history of a 40-year-old state law for a recent case, the San Francisco Law Library was the only local source. “It plays an important role,” she said. “There are many times when the ability to find documents that aren’t otherwise available is essential.” Every county in California has a law library, run independently from the regular public libraries. For small law firms, advocacy groups, public-interest lawyers, government agencies and citizens representing themselves, law libraries are vital, advocates say. The San Francisco Law Library offers free access to expensive online legal resources such as LexisNexis and Westlaw, along with more than 250,000 law books and free assistance from eight reference librarians.”
“Robert L. Ferris, an estate-planning attorney, says the documents he has accessed through the San Francisco Law Library have helped him handle cases for nearly two decades. But he might be on his own next year when the War Memorial Veterans Building, which houses the historic library, closes for renovation in May. “The law library is a resource that I’ve relied on for years,” Ferris said. “The reason my office is located where it is is because the courts are close and the library is close.” City and county officials are required to provide space for the library and fund its operation, but a new location has not been secured.”
via California Watch
ALT – “And no, we’re not talking about the guy who sits in the front row of Federal Jurisdiction and always has his hand in the air. We’re speaking more literally — about a man with his hand not up in the air, but down in his pants….”
Madison Record – “In another bow to the digital age, those bulky law books containing officially reported Illinois court opinions soon will be going the way of 8-track tapes and boom boxes. The Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday a new way of officially citing its cases and those of the Illinois Appellate Court. This new method will eliminate the need to contractually publish and purchase the official opinions in bound volumes. It will save Illinois taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.”
AP – “The West Virginia Supreme Court is closing its regional law libraries because few people are using them.
The court already has closed one library in Huntington and is in the process of closing another one in Wheeling. The others are in Parkersburg, Beckley, Clarksburg and Martinsburg. The main library in Charleston will remain open.
Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury said most law case books are now available on the Internet. Most law firms have personal law libraries and use Internet-based services to read case laws online.
“They’re a victim of technology,” Canterbury told The Intelligencer. “Originally they were established to be a great equalizer for one-lawyer shops. … They wouldn’t be outgunned if they didn’t have the materials.”
News Tribune – “The Washington State Law Library will close its doors if the state Senate budget for 2011-2013 becomes law. This should concern citizens because the law library is used by many people who are not lawyers but need to research legal issues affecting their lives.”