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Download PDF version of guide for print I. The sites described below are generally considered to be some of the best for legal research.
Nearly all of these sources are free, but a few require an individual subscription, an affiliation with Duke University or Duke Law, or an in-person visit to the Duke University Libraries.
For general tips and strategies in using the Internet for legal research, consult Carole A. Levitt and Mark E. Rosch, The Cybersleuth's Guide to the Internet: In addition to primary law from U.
FindLaw is a massive legal web portal owned by Thomson Reuters, with links to legal materials on everything from court opinions to legal forms, practice areas and news. Also includes lawyer directories by practice area and location. Provides free access to a variety of legal information, including cases, organized by jurisdiction and subject area. Also includes databases of legal blogs and social-media legal news sources and has an in-depth blog of its own, Verdict, with analysis of current legal issues.
Cornell Law's extensive collection of free legal material, including unofficial full-text copies of Supreme Court opinions, federal court rules, the U.
Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations. The Legal Encyclopedia section provides a helpful starting place for researching legal topics. Public Library of Law provides free access to primary sources in U. Legal forms are also available. Large and diverse collection of web links to legal material, maintained by the Washburn School of Law.
The information is arranged by jurisdiction and topic. Government Information The Internet remains an important source for legal information from federal, state and local governments. Below are some of the important sites for Federal Government information as well as a few starting points for locating state law information.
Federal Courts Court Links: Many courts provide at least a selection of their opinions online for free. FindLaw provides a searchable database of U.
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Supreme Court opinionsas well as a Case Summary search for lower court opinions since Google Scholar offers free searching for, and full text of, published court opinions from the U.
Supreme Court since and from the lower federal courts since Cornell's Legal Information Institute provides a searchable archive of federal court opinionsincluding Supreme Court opinions back to with selected "landmark" earlier decisions also includedas well as lower federal court opinions generally back to the mids.
Supreme Court official website includes Court calendars and schedules, background information about the Court and justices, Court Rules, bar admissions information, case handling guides and general public information. Also includes slip opinions for the current term, PDF copies of the bound United States Reports back toand "sliplist" advance sheets with links to opinions for previous terms not yet published in a bound volume.
For more information on researching the U. Several courts provide their own opinions online in PDF form.
The directory of State Court Web Sites is an excellent starting place. Google Scholar offers free searching for, and full text of, published appellate court opinions in all 50 states back to HeinOnline includes images of state case reporters in its library State Reports: LLMC Digital includes scans of historical state case reporters.
Procedural questions may be addressed to: A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society.
A judge should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved. The provisions of this Code should be construed and applied to further that objective. The integrity and independence of judges depend in turn on their acting without fear or favor.
Although judges should be independent, they must comply with the law and should comply with this Code.
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Adherence to this responsibility helps to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. Conversely, violation of this Code diminishes public confidence in the judiciary and injures our system of government under law. The Canons are rules of reason. They should be applied consistently with constitutional requirements, statutes, other court rules and decisional law, and in the context of all relevant circumstances.
The Code is to be construed so it does not impinge on the essential independence of judges in making judicial decisions. The Code is designed to provide guidance to judges and nominees for judicial office. It may also provide standards of conduct for application in proceedings under the Judicial Councils Reform and Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 28 U.
Not every violation of the Code should lead to disciplinary action. Whether disciplinary action is appropriate, and the degree of discipline, should be determined through a reasonable application of the text and should depend on such factors as the seriousness of the improper activity, the intent of the judge, whether there is a pattern of improper activity, and the effect of the improper activity on others or on the judicial system.
Many of the restrictions in the Code are necessarily cast in general terms, and judges may reasonably differ in their interpretation. Furthermore, the Code is not designed or intended as a basis for civil liability or criminal prosecution. Finally, the Code is not intended to be used for tactical advantage. A judge should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. A judge should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment.
A judge should neither lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge should not testify voluntarily as a character witness. A judge should not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin.
Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. This prohibition applies to both professional and personal conduct.
A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny and accept freely and willingly restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. Because it is not practicable to list all prohibited acts, the prohibition is necessarily cast in general terms that extend to conduct by judges that is harmful although not specifically mentioned in the Code.
Actual improprieties under this standard include violations of law, court rules, or other specific provisions of this Code. Testimony as a character witness injects the prestige of the judicial office into the proceeding in which the judge testifies and may be perceived as an official testimonial.
A judge should discourage a party from requiring the judge to testify as a character witness except in unusual circumstances when the demands of justice require. This Canon does not create a privilege against testifying in response to an official summons.
A judge should avoid lending the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others. A judge should be sensitive to possible abuse of the prestige of office.
A judge should not initiate communications to a sentencing judge or a probation or corrections officer but may provide information to such persons in response to a formal request. Judges may participate in the process of judicial selection by cooperating with appointing authorities and screening committees seeking names for consideration and by responding to official inquiries concerning a person being considered for a judgeship. Canon 2C refers to the current practices of the organization.
Whether an organization practices invidious discrimination is often a complex question to which judges should be sensitive.
City of New York, U. Rotary Club of Duarte, U. United States Jaycees, U. Other relevant factors include the size and nature of the organization and the diversity of persons in the locale who might reasonably be considered potential members. Thus the mere absence of diverse membership does not by itself demonstrate a violation unless reasonable persons with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances would expect that the membership would be diverse in the absence of invidious discrimination.
Absent such factors, an organization is generally said to discriminate invidiously if it arbitrarily excludes from membership on the basis of race, religion, sex, or national origin persons who would otherwise be admitted to membership. In addition, it would be a violation of Canons 2 and 2A for a judge to arrange a meeting at a club that the judge knows practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin in its membership or other policies, or for the judge to use such a club regularly.
When a judge determines that an organization to which the judge belongs engages in invidious discrimination that would preclude membership under Canon 2C or under Canons 2 and 2A, the judge is permitted, in lieu of resigning, to make immediate and continuous efforts to have the organization discontinue its invidiously discriminatory practices.
In performing the duties prescribed by law, the judge should adhere to the following standards: Except as set out below, a judge should not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications or consider other communications concerning a pending or impending matter that are made outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers.
If a judge receives an unauthorized ex parte communication bearing on the substance of a matter, the judge should promptly notify the parties of the subject matter of the communication and allow the parties an opportunity to respond, if requested. A judge should not approve compensation of appointees beyond the fair value of services rendered. Instead of withdrawing from the proceeding, a judge disqualified by Canon 3C 1 may, except in the circumstances specifically set out in subsections a through edisclose on the record the basis of disqualification.
The judge may participate in the proceeding if, after that disclosure, the parties and their lawyers have an opportunity to confer outside the presence of the judge, all agree in writing or on the record that the judge should not be disqualified, and the judge is then willing to participate.
Code of Conduct for United States Judges United States Courts
The agreement should be incorporated in the record of the proceeding. The duty to hear all proceedings fairly and with patience is not inconsistent with the duty to dispose promptly of the business of the court. Courts can be efficient and businesslike while being patient and deliberate. The duty to be respectful includes the responsibility to avoid comment or behavior that could reasonably be interpreted as harassment, prejudice or bias.
The restriction on ex parte communications concerning a proceeding includes communications from lawyers, law teachers, and others who are not participants in the proceeding. A judge may consult with other judges or with court personnel whose function is to aid the judge in carrying out adjudicative responsibilities.