Category Archives: Web/Tech

Oct 27
12:54 PM

Metadata: What you don’t know can hurt you!

MetadataLRC Legal Tech Talk Series Episode 5: Metadata
Courts and state bars across the country are weighing in on an attorney’s professional responsibility to understand and appropriately handle metadata in e-discovery and professional communications. Come find out what you need to know about metadata, the professional ethics involved, and how to avoid transmitting privileged metadata:
Thurs., Oct. 30, 2014
12–12:50pm in WH 2A
Food provided! [JML]

Mar 4
8:01 PM

Trading in your old cell phone?

iphone-106351_150You may not want to rely on the store’s salesperson to wipe your phone clean.

Woman sues Sprint over posting of intimate photos from traded-in phone

A Sprint worker found two images of the woman engaged in sex and uploaded them to her Facebook page, causing her much embarrassment, the lawsuit says…

Johnson’s suit said she traded in her HTC Evo telephone at the Sprint store … in April 2013 and was assured by a worker that its contents would be wiped clean. She had forgotten that the two intimate photos were among more than 5,000 on her old phone, her lawyer said.

About a month later, a friend called Johnson to tell her that compromising photographs had been posted on her Facebook page, the lawsuit said.

The suit said Sprint told Johnson that the telephone had been sent to a plant in Louisville, Ky., to be refurbished. Her lawsuit alleges that an unidentified Sprint employee at that plant accessed the photographs.


Sep 24
2:10 PM

Link rot in SCOTUS decisions documented; half don’t go to original material

From the ABA Journal:

The U.S. Supreme Court has cited Internet materials 555 times since 1996, but tracking down the information isn’t always easy.

According to a new study by co-authored by Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain, half of the hyperlinks in Supreme Court opinions no longer link to the information originally cited. The New York Times covers the results. “Supreme Court opinions have come down with a bad case of link rot,” the Times says.

Click for full screenshot.

According to the study, many of the links did turn up Web pages, but
they didn’t go to the original information cited or the information had
materially changed. Sometimes when the information changed, there was no
note indicating the update.

The Times notes one hyperlink in an opinion about violent video games
by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Users who click on the link are taken to
an error message
that reads: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t cite to this Web page? … If you
had, like Justice Alito did, the original content would have long since
disappeared and someone else might have come along and purchased the
domain in order to make a comment about the transience of linked
information in the Internet age.”

The Supreme Court clerk does keep a hard copy of hyperlinked
materials, but Zittrain suggest another solution: a platform that would
allow authors to generate, store, and reference archived data. He is
working on such a platform, called, which is supported by a
group of law libraries and nonprofits. Though the project would
initially focus on legal scholarship, it would also work for the Supreme
Court, Zittrain told the Times.

Source: Debra Cassens Weiss, Link Rot in SCOTUS Decisions Documented; Half Don't Go to Original Material, ABA Journal (Sep. 24, 2013).

See also:

Jonathan Zittrain, Perma: Scoping and addressing the problem of "link rot," The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It (Sep. 20, 2013).

Kendra Albert & Jonathan Zittrain, Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations (working paper on SSRN) (Sep. 21, 2013).

Adam Liptak, In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere, N.Y. Times (Sep. 23, 2013).

Raizel Liebler & June Liebert, Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996—2010), 15 Yale J.L & Tech. 273 (2013), a service, currently in beta, that allows users to create citation links that will never break.


Aug 14
5:42 PM

Our Summer Project: Flipping the Classroom

The LRC librarians were hard at work all summer on a number of projects, but my favorite summer project was "flipping our classroom." Looking to recent trends in education (most famously embodied in the Khan Academy), we decided flip our legal research class. We recorded lecture material for students to view prior to class, freeing up class time for interactive, practical exercises. It made class time more fun for the students and instructors and gave students a chance to practice their legal research skills while we were there to guide them and answer questions.

LRC reference librarians Anna Russell and Jane Larrington had the honor of presenting our work at two national conferences. In June, we presented “Technology that Counts: Tools that Improve the Quality of Legal Research Instruction” at the 2012 CALI Conference. The presentation chronicles the process of developing the lecture recordings.  Video  Slides

In July, Anna and Jane again presented the project in the form of a poster session at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries. MiniPoster [JML]

Jan 24
5:56 PM

GPS installation/tracking: USD Moot Court competition & US Supreme Court

In November 2011, the University of San Diego Moot Court Board hosted the 23rd Annual Criminal Procedure National Tournament. This year’s problem was written by USD Moot Court Executive Board member Matthew Stephens. One of the two issues argued in the competition was whether warrantless installation and use of a GPS tracking device on a suspect's vehicle to monitor its movements on public streets violates the Fourth Amendment.
Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court answered with a unanimous "yes" in United States v Jones, 565 U. S. __ (2012), but the justices differed widely on their reasoning.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Scalia (joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Sotomayor), presents the case as a fairly straightforward search and seizure case of the physical trespass variety. The Fourth Amendment guarantees persons the right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…" Jones' vehicle is his "effect." Law enforcement  physically intruded upon Jones' vehicle in the process of installing and receiving data from the GPS tracking device.  In true Originalist fashion, Scalia reasons that the framers would have recognized such physical intrusion as a search and, therefore, it constitutes a search.

Scalia summarily dispenses with more recent cases that have addressed GPS and other surveillance technology under a "reasonable expectation of privacy" analysis introduced in under Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). He reasons that this case requires no "reasonable expectation of privacy" analysis because the Fourth Amendment protects against, at a minimum, physical trespass. The "reasonable expectation of privacy analysis" is only required for actions that do not involve a physical trespass.  In Scalia's words, "the Katz reasonable-expectation-of-privacy test has been added to, not substituted for, the common-law trespassory test." Jones, slip op. 8.

In compartmentalizing physical trespass searches separately those involving no physical trespass, the court avoids answering the bigger questions about the Fourth Amendment (and other privacy law) implications of current and future technologies.

Justice Sotomayor joined Justice Scalia's opinion (winning him the majority) but also filed her own concurring opinion. Justice Sotomayor endorses Justice Scalia's framing of physical trespass searches: "the trespassory test applied in the majority’s opinion reflects an irreducible constitutional minimum: When the Government physically invades personal property to gather information, a search occurs." Jones, slip op. Sotomayor concurrence, 2. But Justice Sotomayor goes on to express concern over searches that do not involve physical trespass, even when the party seeking to protect a privacy interest has willingly provided the contested information to a third party.

Justice Alito's concurring opinion (joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan) rejects Justice Scalia's analysis of physical trespass searches, asserting that the "reasonable expectation of privacy" analysis set out in Katz provides the exclusive test for all Fourth Amendment cases. In particular, Justice Alito points to Oliver v. United States, 466 U. S. 170 (1984), in which a police trespass onto a suspect's "open field" was found not to constitute a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment: "[I]n determining whether expectations of privacy are legitimate. ‘The premise that property interests control the right of the Government to search and seize has been discredited’" (citations omitted). Jones, slip op., Alito concurrence, 6.

There's no shortage of commentary in the blawgosphere – here are just a few posts:

Washington Post: Robert Barnes, Supreme Court Warrants Needed in GPS Tracking

Slate: Dahlia Lithwick,  US v Jones Supreme Court Justices Alito and Scalia brawl over technology and privacy

SCOTUS Blog: Tom Goldstein, Reactions to Jones v. United States: The government fared much better than everyone realizes
SCOTUS Blog: Lyle Denniston, Opinion Recap Tight Limit on Police GPS Use

NY Times: Adam Liptak, Justices Say GPS Tracker Violated Privacy Rights

Volokh Conspiracy Blog: Orin Kerr, What Jones Does Not Hold

Concurring Opinions Blog: Derek Bambauer, Why Scalia is Right in Jones: Magic Places and One-Way Ratchets

Concurring Opinions Blog: Priscilla Smith, United States v. Jones: Privacy in Public Space? Piece it all Together and You Get 5

Concurring Opinions Blog: Paul Ohm, Jones is a Near-Optimal Result

Concurring Opinions Blog: Margot Kaminski, Three thoughts on U.S. v. Jones


Sep 6
4:53 PM

Free Federal Rules eBooks (Civil Pro, Criminal Pro & Evidence)

The great people over at CALI (Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction), have partnered with the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell Law School to bring free* .epub files of the Federal Rules of Civil ProcedureCriminal Procedure and Evidence. The downloads will currently work on iPads, iPhones, Nooks, and other devices that can read the .epub format (like Mobipocket if you're on Windows). Note: These are E-Book formats, so it won't work in your PDF Reader.This isn't just a bare-bones version of the Rules, either. The ebooks have the following features built into this initial version (with promises of more to come):

  • The complete rules as of December 1, 2010.
  • All notes of the Advisory Committee immediately following each rule.
  • Internal links to rules referenced within the rules.
  • External links to the LII website's version of the US Code.
*Although you can download and use the Federal Rules ePubs for free, you can show your support for the hard work of the LII crew by donating an amount (go ahead and make it an even $20.00), and help support their work and encourage them to produce even more great content.
Thanks to CALI for this great free resource and thanks to 3 Geeks for the tip! [JML]
Aug 17
11:51 AM

Google Sitelinks Enhancements

The Google engineers have been busy improving their sitelinks feature. This is a feature that provides links to subpages of a website right in your search results. The Google search algorithm takes a guess at which specific subpage you're interested in, even if you didn't include details in your search terms. For example, if I search for University of San Diego LRC, Google gives me a link to the LRC's homepage first, but beneath that Google also gives me a short list of some of the LRC subpages most popular with visitors to the website, including our hours and contact info:


The latest changes to the feature were announced on Google's blog which is a great place to keep up with the latest and greatest from our friends at Google. [JML]

May 20
10:30 AM

Law Review eBook editions: Harvard & Stanford

Harvard joins Stanford in providing eBook editions of their Law Reviews through Quid Pro Books. The eBook editions include: active Contents, linked footnotes, active URLs in citations, and proper ebook formatting for Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook as well as the iPad.

Quid Pro Books was founded by Tulane Law Professor Alan Childress, who edits the Legal Profession blog on the Law Professors Blog Network. To read more about the founding of Quid Pro Books, check out the Law Librarian Blog's interview series with Alan Childress, "Law Prof as Independent Law Book Publisher," Part 1 and Part 2.

At least two other student-edited law journals are also available in eBook format. The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy is available for the Kindle, iPad, Android tablet, computer, and cell phone. The Tulane Law Review is available for the Amazon Kindle.

Hat tip to LLB [JML].

Apr 29
4:42 PM

The Free Law Reporter

Earlier this week, CALI's latest project, the Free Law ReporterTM, went live. According to the announcement, "[t]he goal of FLR is to develop a freely available, unencumbered law reporter that is capable of serving as a resource for education, research, and practice."

It's still experimental, and very much a work-in-progress. As the CALI announcement says, "[t]he next steps will depend upon community involvement."

Current functionality is limited to basic keyword searching, but the underlying technology allows for more sophisticated search functionality down the line — facet searching and “more like this” functionality reportedly coming soon.

The cases are also being compiled as downloadable eBooks (.epub). Each state and federal jurisdiction is gathered into a volume each week. An example file can be found here, although links to all available .epub files haven't yet been posted.

FLR's current contents are posted here. To read more about the project and the technology behind it, click here. To get updates on the project and hear how you can get involved, click here. [JML]

Feb 1
3:55 PM

The Wayback Machine

Have you ever gone to website cited by an author only to find that the webpage cited no longer exists? It may be possible to find that old page!

The Wayback Machine has been around since 2001 and provides an archive of billions of webpages back to 1996. Just type in a URL and you can see the page as it existed on a variety of dates.

If you don't know the exact URL, you can browse through a list of pages that existed on a particular organization's website on a range of dates. Just type in the URL of organization's homepage and add an asterisk at the end e.g.,*.

The "classic" Wayback Machine has always been an amazing resource, but users complained that it was slow and difficult to use. A new and improved Wayback Machine has just been released in beta. Faster loading and easier navigation are among the chief improvements. The "classic" Wayback Machine is still available and allows for some advanced searching not yet available on the new beta version.

Hat tip to ZiefBrief. [JML]