Dive into Criminal Justice Data and Statistics with “Hall of Justice”

Stats and data about any aspect of the legal world have often been notoriously difficult to track down. I know that when I am asked a question about stats at the reference desk, I always prepare myself for what could be a difficult search.

That sigh of relief you are hearing is from law librarians and legal researchers across the US as Sunlight Foundation announced their new repository of Criminal Justice statistics called “Hall of Justice”. Not only does Hall of Justice collect many datasets into one convenient place, but it also, as HOJ’s homepage puts it, brings “criminal justice data transparency” to the forefront.

This data is out there and publicly available, but it can be nearly impossible for a casual searcher (or lawyer, or law faculty, or law librarian) to locate easily. With Hall of Justice, nearly 10,000 datasets are collected in one place and tagged with relevant keywords, allowing users to quickly locate data on a wide array of criminal justice topics ranging from sexual offenders to identify theft. While the repository is not comprehensive, it is still a great step forward in making this important information much more available.

The interface is very intuitive, and a searcher can use it to search by keyword, category or location. Once you have made your initial search, you can then filter the results by Groups (who owns/created the dataset), Sectors (governmental data or non-profit), or by Access Type. This makes the searching process simple and effective.

Try it out yourself and see what useful and eye-opening data you can find.  Hall of Justice can also be found on the Law Library’s database list. If you have any questions, be sure to ask a law librarian!

New Edition of Wisconsin Guide to Citation Now Available

The Wisconsin State Bar has recently published a newly updated edition of the Wisconsin Guide to Citation.

The new eighth edition reflects recent changes made to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, now in its 20th edition. New developments discussed in this edition of the Wisconsin Guide include:

  • A new section on how to cite uniform acts, model codes, sentencing guidelines, and standards
  • New sections discussing how to cite blog and social media posts
  • Update to guidelines for citing sources on the Internet
  • Update regarding how to cite legal dictionaries
  • New examples showing how to cite various sources with different pincites

I’d like to thank Attorney-Editor Rita Knauss for offering me and my Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin colleagues the opportunity to comment and make suggestions for the new edition.

More information about the Guide, including information about how to order it, is available on the State Bar of Wisconsin website.

WI Appeals Court Affirms No Constitutional Right to View Porn in the Library

Today, the Third District Court of Appeals affirmed that library patrons do not have a constitutional right to view pornography on library computers.

The defendant was cited for disorderly conduct in 2014 after a couple of students reported he was watching pornography on a UW Eau Claire library computer.

From Channel 3000:

Reidinger argued he has a First Amendment right to view legal adult pornographic material at a public library. He also alleged UW System administrators, campus police and Eau Claire County prosecutors conspired to harass him.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals rejected his arguments Tuesday, ruling that the evidence showed Reidinger’s conduct tended to provoke a disturbance. The court opted not to address his harassment allegations, calling them unsupported and undeveloped.

The full opinion is available on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Case Access system (WSCCA).

Thanks to my colleague, Mary Jo Koranda, for alerting me to the story.

DFI to Issue Apostilles & Authentications to Verify WI Docs for Use in Foreign Countries

According to a press release by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions , the DFI will join the state Secretary of State’s office in issuing apostilles and authentications – certificates needed to verify a document for use in a foreign country.

From the release:

Businesses and individuals at times need to authenticate the origin of a public document issued in Wisconsin for use in a foreign country. Some examples of such public documents are birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage licenses, corporate documents, school transcripts and trademarks. There are two ways to accomplish this:

  • By obtaining an apostille, an authentication certificate that is recognized and required by countries that are parties to a treaty called the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961. It is commonly called the Hague Convention.

  • By obtaining an authentication certificate, which is similar to an apostille but is used in countries that are not parties to the Hague Convention.

For more information, visit the DFI website.  Hat tip to Inside Track.

Recent UW Law School Faculty & Staff Scholarship

Here is the latest faculty and staff scholarship from the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies Research Papers series found on SSRN.

The University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies journal contains abstracts and papers from this institution focused on this area of scholarly research. To access all the papers in this series, please use the following URL: http://www.ssrn.com/link/u-wisconsin-legal-studies.html

Legal Information & Technology SSRN eJournal Offers Law Library Scholarship

Happy Birthday to the Legal Information & Technology eJournal which just concluded its fifth year.  This SSRN eJournal, curated by Randy Diamond and Lee Peoples, provides a platform for the dissemination of law library scholarship.

Beginning this year, the journal, which has heretofore been sponsored by  the Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries and the Mid-America Association of Law Libraries, will be self-sustaining.

I subscribe to this journal and frequently find many interesting and useful articles.  Institutional and individual subscription information is available at http://www.ssrn.com/en/index.cfm/subscribe/.  Note that many university departments and other institutions have purchased site subscriptions covering all various eJournals.

Here’s a sampling of some of the articles in the upcoming issue of the Legal Information & Technology eJournal:

Data Visualization Tools – Infographics, Timelines, Flowcharts, Maps, and Mindmaps

If you’re looking for creative ways to visualize your data, check out the following list of tools.  Most are free, web based, and relatively easy to use.

Infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly.

Easel.ly – This is one of the easier to use visual communication tools.  It offers a dozen free templates which you can easily customize.  Here’s an flowchart about worker’s compensation created with Easel.ly.

Piktochart – This tool is a little more complicated to use but has some great options.  Use it to create infographics, posters, presentations and reports like this one on copyright law or this one on how laws are made.

Timeline JS – With this simple tool, you can easily make visually appealing, media rich timelines.  Here’s an example timeline on the History of the Clinical Program at Columbia Law School and another on campus racial justice protests.

Tiki-Toki – This is another multimedia timeline tool with more sophisticated options.  Here’s an example on the history of international law.

Creately– This flowchart design tool has thousands of templates and allows collaborative design.

StatPlanet – This application allows you to create fully customizable interactive maps.  StatPlanet can be used to visualize location-based statistical data as in this example of youth and voting demographics by Congressional District.

A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information.

Mindmeister – This online mind mapping tool is easy to use and offers some advanced features.  Here’s one on how to be more productive.

Dane County Court Converts to E-records

Beginning in January, the Dane County Clerk of Court’s office will convert to electronic record-keeping.  All records must be filed electronically or scanned in on receipt.  However, print copies may be obtained at the usual statutory rate of $1.25 per page using the office’s public terminals.

According to the Isthmus, Dane County had already been keeping probate court records electronically as a test and the new system has worked well.  Other counties are also gradually phasing in the use of electronic records.

“I think Carlo [Esqueda, Dane Co. clerk of circuit court] sees the writing on the wall,” says John Barrett, clerk of circuit court for Milwaukee County. “E-filing is going to be mandatory.” Milwaukee is currently scanning in whole categories of filed documents, including criminal complaints and judgments, and receiving other filings in electronic form, as will Dane County.

Barrett notes that going electronic is “a culture shock” for some judges and others who still crave records in paper form. “I don’t think you will ever have a paperless court system,” he says. “I prefer to refer to it as paper on demand.” He believes electronic records are better for everyone involved. “You don’t have lost documents. The file itself will be chronologically in order every time you look at it.”

Gerrymandering Lawsuit to Proceed


Yesterday, a federal three-judge panel unanimously decided that a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s last legislative redistricting plan as an example of “extreme partisan gerrymandering” may proceed.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal:

“Although we believe that plaintiffs face significant challenges in prevailing on their claims, we conclude that plaintiffs’ complaint is sufficient to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” wrote the panel, which includes U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, federal Circuit Judge Kenneth Ripple and Chief Judge William Griesbach, of the U.S. District Court in Milwaukee.

The ruling means that the case, Whitford v. Nichol, will continue with trial scheduled for May 2016.

The Wheeler Report shared this press release from the Wisconsin Fair Elections Project.