South Shore Skeptics' Link Library
Legal and Legislative Resources

( Last Upgraded 7-29--01 )

See Also Fraud, Civil Rights, Pension, Public Policy, Voter Info Sites


Quick Index
Notes for Skeptic Users

Law By Topic

Dozens of subjects including family law, small business, insurance, used cars, consumer protection, , free speech, privacy etc. Sources include govt, agencies, non-profits, and law firms seeking to educate their clients online on legal requirements for cases etc.

Dumblaws.com

One of the best arguments for limited government. Over 1,000 idiotic laws in the U.S. alone, organized by state and county.


Agencies --Federal. / Executive /Branch / Legislative / Judicial

Find any agency and zero in its free information -- such as phony food supplement claims from the FTC, or budget boondoggle reports from the OMB. Find out what your legislators are up to, read congressional research studies, scrutinize White House press releases etc. Did you know there's an Office of the First Lady? Explore the constitutional principles of limited government. Did you know the majority party in Congress gets to appoint ALL committee members, who can then prevent minority legislation from reaching the floor?

Agencies -- Ohio
 
Agencies -- Other States

States differ greatly in how they solve problems, and how well that works.

Agencies and Governments -- World

Constitution -- Ohio

Constitution -- US

Court Decisions / U.S. / Ohio

Check on reports of bizarre court cases in other states. Which is more bizarre, the law or the reporter's interpretation?

Documents, Govt. / U.S. / Ohio

Ever want to file a Freedom of Information Act request? It may already be here.

Enforcement, Law

Forms, Legal

Numerous pre-written legal forms and form assistants, for drawing wills, leases, loans etc.

General Legal Tools

General-purpose research guides, law dictionaries, search engines, tricks of the trade etc. Includes the Attorney's Toolbox, explaining where to get substantiation of myriad types ( e.g. did a defective toaster meet safety code standards. Lots of linkpages, as always.

Govt. Sponsored Organizations -- International

Historical Documents

Journals, Law, and Pubs.

Many of these,are readable, and gve better in-depth analysis than newspaper court reporters.

Laws & Regs / U.S. / By State / Ohio

Libraries, Law

Schools, Law

If you're writing about public policy from a theoretical standpoint, you may need a law professor rather than a lawyer. Law schools often have the best links to experts. Some, such as Cleveland Law Library, will research points of law if you pay an annual fee.

Search Engines -- Other

These search a broader range of topics, but are less selective.

Skeptic Notes

Some useful concepts in navigating the legal system, and a few gotchas to avoid. When debating public policy, a 'top down' approach beginning with the Constitution can be useful.

Watchdog / Advocacy, also Forun Hosts and Polling Groups

A short list of groups, mainly those who monitor the integrity of the legal and legislative process from a constitutional standpoint. Your suggestions are welcome for expanding this area.


Constitution -- Ohio

Constitution (fulltext)

Constitution -- U. S

Courts and Court Decisions -- U.S.

see also corresponding agencies
 
Court Opinions -- CounselQuest, lists many alternate sites
 
FINDLAAW.com Links to many open sites
Search U.S. Supreme Court decisions 1893-present
 
House Internet Law Library

Mothballed by Congress in 1999 but still comprehensive. Includes state laws, constitutions, and charter documents.

Judicial Branch Resources ( Library of Congress )

Includes Code of Federal Regulations, Circuit Court opinions, and state regs via several law schools.

Search U.S. Supreme Court Decisions -- Cornell
Search All U.S. District Courts of Appeals -- Cornell
 
Jurists' Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court -- U. of Pittsburgh

Courts and Court Decisions -- States and Ohio

Court Decisons, Ohio -- CounselQuest, lists many alternate sites
Supreme Court of Ohio homepage -- includes live webcasts
Other Court Sites
U.S. Court of Appeals, 6'th Circuit ( covers Ohio )
I.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio

Govt. Documents -- Federal

Constitution
Executive Orders -- 1957-present
Extreme U.S. Govt. Information Server
Federal Repository Library Gateways -- backup list

These are backup sites for GPO Access databases, typically at university law libraries, and may have more complete offerings.

Ready Reference Collection by Topic -- Columbia U. Repository
U. Mich. Document Center

Govt. Printing Office ( GPO Access ) Also available via Gateway Libraries or backup

Search syntax: Phrases must be in quotes.
Performance Notes: Several-second response delay on larger documents.
Fairly decent access to any combination of the following via a simple listbox:

Descriptons ONLY of databases, dates covered etc. Not all are separately searchable.

Search across multiple databases -- fulltext

Search Specific Databases -- fulltext

By Topic

Govt. Documents -- State of Ohio

Constitution

Forms, Legal ( mostly free for to download )

Govt. Entities -- Federal

Firstgov.gov "One click" access to most commonly sought federal agencies.

Congress

Main Congressional Site ( THOMAS) ****

Congressional calendars, member directories, text of bills past and present,Congressional Record, committee reports, House and Senate rules.

Committee Hearing Transcripts
Committee Jurisdictions
Committee Schedules and Oversight Plans
Congress Today via N.Y. Times
Debates live via FedNet

Live Net broadcasts of f House and Senate floor debates, selected House and Senatecommittee hearings, gavel-to-gavel, press conferences in the House and Senate Press Galleries and on Capitol grounds, joint sessions of Congress.

Congressional Documents ( incl. historical )
Congressional Record fulltext / search
Current Legislation ( keyword search )
Legislative Archives ( Center for
Legislative Branch Search Page
Legislative Histories Via U. Mich.
Transcript Service (Federal News Service)

Searchable database of House and Senate daybooks; committee hearings and witness-prepared statements searchable by keyword. Titles are returned; full text requires subscription.)

Executive Branch -- U.S.

Executive Branch Listings (all agencies)

Federal Regulatory and Other Agencies Listed Alphabetically

White House Library
Executive Orders -- 1957-present
U.S. Justice Dept. -- "The nation's largest law firm."
Alternate Agency Listings -- CounselQuest

Judicial Branch -- U.S. See also Justice Dept (executive branch)

Judicial Branch Listings

Includes Code of Federal Regulations, Circuit Court opinions, Supreme Court decisions, laws and regulations, topical indexes, civil procedureand state regs via several law schools

U.S. Court of Appeals, 6'th Circuit ( covers Ohio )

I.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio

Circuit Court Links (FEDLAW)

Some of these links are broken, but there's more than enough redundancy to find any circuit court decision.

Govt. Entities -- States

State and Local Govt. Index ( Library of Congress )

Includes individual state homepages and agency links within that state if known.

State Search -- Nat'l Assoc. of State Information Reseach Executives

Govt. Entities -- State of Ohio

State of Ohio Homepage
main resource page -- state website
Agency Links (alphabetical
Elected Officials
Legislative Links
Legisative Services ( bill text, status reports
Phone Directories
Public Notices by Agency
     

Govt. Entities -- International

Foreign Govt. Sites by Continent and Category
 
Govt. Sponsored Organizations -- International

Law and Regulations -- Federal

FEDLAW (General Services Administration)

Includes comprehensive alphabetical subject index with links to key agencies as well as laws and bills. Also has breakdowns by chapter etc. of U.S. Code.

Law Librarians' Power Links ( OSU )
Legal News -- CA and Federal -- lawonline.net
Legal Resources -- CA and Federal -- lawonline.net
National Archives and Records Admin. and Federal Register

Federal regs, public laws, executive orders and presidential papers.

Acts of Congrss by Common Name (index), and Links to U.S. Code -- Cornell

Note: When a bill smends several sections of code,the ilinks are not shown.

Seearch Code of Federal Regulations -- Govt. Printing Ofc.
Cautions on Using CFR -- Limits of Validity -- Cornell
Browse U.S. Code -- Cornell
Search U.S. Code -- House Law Revision Counsel
Search U.S. Code -- U. of. CA.
Search U.S. Code With Cross-References -- GPO
Search U.S. Code By Title With Notes-- Cornell

Law and Regulations -- States

Administrative Codes and Registers -- All States -- National Assoc. of Secretaries of State
State Laws -- Cornell
Fulltext of Statutes and Legislation By State

Law and Regulations -- State of Ohio

Constitution -- Ohio
Legal Materials, Ohio -- Cornell
Laws and Regulations. Ohio -- state website
Ohio Revised Code -- A.V.V.
Ohio Revised Code -- Anderson Publishing Co. -
Supreme Court of Ohio homepage -- includes live webcasts
Decisons
Law Library
Law School Links
Legal Organizations -- Ohio
Other Court Sites
Law Enforcement
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
Officer.com -- sources and links used by police

Legal Tools (general)

See also: Law By Topic, Search Engines

Attorney's Toolbox ( tools lawyers use ) *****
Business Law Topical Guide
Comprehensive Web Reference -- Longwood College Librarians With A Practical Bent
Case Law Keyword Search -- State, federal, by agency or by jurisdiction
CounselQuest ( omnibus site, has caselaw search )
Encyclopedia of American Law -- selected articles, Westlaw
Law Crawler
Law Dictionary for Non-Lawyers ( use with caution )
Law.com Self-Help Resources -- separate browsing levels for laymen, students, and lawyers
LawDocs 4Consumers
FINDLAAW.com Links to a great many open sites. Well-organized and current.
LawGuru.com
Law Librarians' Power Links ( OSU )
Law Library Websites ( via Nat'l Center For State Courts )
Law School Websites ( via Nat'l Center For State Courts )
Lawyers' Guide to Internet
Internet Legal Resource Guide
Losey's Law Links
Seamless Law Website
Substantive Law Links
Virtual Law Link Library -- Indiana U.
Washburn University School of Law

Law By Topic

See Also: Legal Tools, Search Engines

Alphabetical By Topic (Cornell)
Bill of Rights
Center for Law and Computers - Kent
Civil Rights -- general heading
Communications Law ( Cornell )
Consumer Law Page.com
Constitution (Ohio)
Constitution U.S.
Cornell Topical
ConsumerLawPage.com
Disability Law
Equal Protection Guarantee ( 14'th Amendment ), Cornell
Family Law
Fedlaw Topical And By Title
First Amendment / Free Speech ( Cornell )
Food and Drug Law Institute
Gender Law Links
Health Care Rights ( Center For )
Information Law Web ( laws affecting cyberspace )
International Law (Cornell)
Law.com Topical Guides -- drop-down list of hundreds of topics
'Lectric Law Library Reference Room
Mental Health Law --- Seamless Law Site
Privacy versus Right To Publish -- Cornell
Seamless Law Website
Washlaw Web ( Washburn U. Law Library's collected Web resources )

Law Journals Online fulltext, abstracts, or idexed

Administrative Law Review -- Washington U.
Coalition of Online Law Journals -- U. Mich.
Editorial Addresses of 101 Law Reviews
E-Journals and Periodicals
General Law Reviews
The Jurist (Law Professors' Network)
Journals by Law School by state
Journals By Topic
Journals - Other
Law Journals Via Cornell
Law Review Abstracts E-Mail Archive - legalindex.org
Law Journals Via Indiana U.
Law Journals Via U.S.C.
Law Journals via Virtual Law Library
Law Journals Via Washburn U.
Law News Network
Law Street Journal
Lawyers Weekly
Regional Journals
SEARCH LAW REVIEWS -- Counsel Quest
USC Law Index of Law-Related

Law Libraries Online

Law Library Links ( via Nat'l Center for State Courts )
Emory Law Library
U. of Houston Law Library
New Mexico Supreme Court Law Libvrary
Virtual Law Library -- Indiana U.
Washburn U. Law Library

Law Schools

ReQUEST.net Law School Listings

Historical Documents

Avalon Project -- Yale

Other Search Engines

See Also: Legal Tools, Law By Topic

CataLaw
Dogpile Law Topics
GovBot -- at U. Mass. Searches 1.5 million govt./ and military Web pages".
Law.com search page
The Law Engine
LawGuru
LawRunner
'Lectric Law Library
LIBClient

Watchdog / Advocacy Groups, Polling Orgs. and Forum Sponsors

Amer. Civil Liberties Union
Annenberg Public Policy Foundation ( issue polling )
Center for Law and Public Policy ( poor and homeless )
Center for Public Integrity
Center for Responsive Politics tracks money in politics. Large database.****
Citizens for Independent Courts
Citizens for the Constitution
Common Cause
Constitutional Rights Foundation
Research Links -- incl. comprehensive media links
Electronic Frontier Foundation (Cyber-Law )
Internet Law and Policy Forum
League of Women Voters (hosts forums)
Project Vote-Smart tracks Congressional voting records vs. donations ****
Public Citizen
Twentieth Century Fund
 

Notes for Skeptical Users

Terminology: A public law is the version passed by Congress. A public law may amend one or more sections of the U.S. Code. Various agencies may then pass regulations pursuant to that law. which become part of the Code of Federal Regulations. States have a similar setup.

To find out when a federal law or regulation n went into effect, or whether it has been superceded, you can trace its history in the Congressional Record and Federal Register, published online, or view the context in the original act of Congress.

To help find related laws or regs, a few law libraries such as Cornell provide notes, links, and hypertext indexes to each section of the U.S. Code.

Government repository libraries not only serve as backups, but also differ in their search capabilities and indexing methods. Some allow you to search by common name as well as numbered section. Some show you just the page you're looking for, while others allow you to view and print entire chapters or titles. Some have boolean or inference search capabilities.

For easier searching, some govt. agencies maintain their own online archives of their regulations etc. Some agencies publish technical assistance manuals or compliance guides explaining each regulation and how it's applied, citing chapter and verse of the underlying law. These guides are written for non-lawyers. Some are in plain English; others in highly precise industry jargon.

States generally provide public access to their codes through arrangements with a law firm. The access is free, but search capabilities are somewhat limited in the free version.

A number of law firms publish free summaries and laymens' guides to various laws, legal news of value to special-interest groups etc., to help potential clients know when they have a case. Legislative action groups also publish court news and analysis, to highlight the shortcomings or effectiveness of laws or legislative proposals. Public-interest organizations sometimes publish their legal briefs and ressearch, so that similar interests can file class actions in support.

Be aware that any legal opinion is just that, even court opinions which may be overturned. Laws also differ\ in the consistency with which they're enforced, particularly when budget-cutting makes full compliance unlikely. Laws differ also in their enforceability, due to restrictions on the nature of evidence, or susceptibility to loopholes, dodges, and delaying tactics. Legal news shows how well various litigation tactics are succeeding, and which jurisdictions already have case-law precedents.

As a citizen, you may have comments for your legislators about why a particular law is or isn't working, or why better law exists in other jurisdictions. It helps to be armed with specific information and cites, rather than just your opinion. Legislators are after all in the business of crafting law.

A question to a Congressman or other legislator may be looked at far more closely than a comment. Congressmen sometimes pass questions to the Congressional Research Service, and forward you the results, particularly if you're writing an article.

Legislators are heavily bombarded by one-sided facts from special interests, so it's important that somebody ask insightful questions that expose the snow jobs. That's the main reason we have we have freedom of speech.

When you find highly interesting but little-known facts, you can air them in forums, on Usenet ( the "News" button on your browser ), or on public LISTSERVs. or you can go to public policy forums at news sites such as CNN.com. Some such sites give you a free email address and allow you to choose a screen name different from your own to avoid spam. You can also post revealing government documents and links on your homepage, and invite interest groups to link to it, thus enhancing the connectivity of the Web in your area of interest. The connectivity of the Web consists largely of individuals' link collections, to which others link in turn.

Lastly, as Mark Twain said, anyone who represents himself has a fool for counsel. Every case is different, and court procedure is tricky. A case that looks similar in print may have important differences. Even federal laws, which in theory apply in every state, may not apply in your state if the circuit court for your region has ruled otherwise. Likewise, state or local judges in adjacent regions may set conflicting precedent. Case in point: Ohio's sexual predator registration law, ruled unconstitutional in some locales but not others.

Also be aware that law librarians and law professors on the Net cannot give legal advice, only information. That's an important distinction -- slways frame your request for generic infoamation. However relevant the information may seem to your situation, it is not advice and not intended as such. Law librarians and professors are not licensed to practice law, i.e. advise clients. Some law professors even have activist agendas which can mislead, by making a case only for their side.

Many lawyers give free consultations, to see if you have a case, and what's required. If you get into a dispute, sometimes just having a lawyer write a letter will solve a problem that could drag on for months. Reading up on the law can help you organize the necessary facts, and get more out of a free consultation. You can also tell whether or a given lawyer is at all familiar with that area of law, or would have to study up with the meter running.

In a few cases you can get legal advice without paying for it yourself, if the advice is from a lawyer to an organization to which you belong, or if you join a class action. Be very sure that the association lawyer is in the same jurisdiction, and is addressing the same complete set of questions.

Some Web resources, such as the Attornies' Toolbox, show how to go about gathering background evidence for a case. Lawyers use paid investigators to find information that may alreay be on the Web if you know where to look. Some Web sites help locate expert witnesses through professional associations and such. If you know the field in which an expert witness is needed, these can be useful.

As a skeptical and vocal citizen,we all have an ironclad First Amendment right to share information about the laws and regulations cooked up by your government, as long as we're not giving legal advice. We can also share legal information, which is also a form of free speech, to immunize others against frauds, scams, and political dishonesty. One cannot however go around making public accusations of fraud or ill repute against persons or companies presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. For your own safety, invest in a paperback copy of the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual: The Journalist's Bible ( Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-10433-4 (pbk).

It's helpful (to others) if you link to primary source materials or authoritative analysis, since the Net abounds with misinterpretations. Links to accurate information can help ANYONE debunk BS, and you'd be surprised how many netizens are picky about their information. Hence the requests for more links here. -- J.K.

 


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