Author Archives: Todd Venie

New Indigent Defense Research Guide

To recognize the fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, the Georgetown Law Library has created a research guide devoted to the subject of indigent criminal defense.

This new guide combines primary and secondary legal sources, as well as original source material held in the National Equal Justice Library and Special Collections here at the law library. Also included are related materials such as statistics and items from our popular materials, such as the movie Gideon’s Trumpet, starring Henry Fonda.

We have organized the material into three main sections: One dealing with the law before Gideon; one devoted to Gideon itself; and one covering post-Gideon developments. The guide is designed to help students and others who want to quickly immerse themselves in the case law, scholarship, and historical materials concerning this essential element of our criminal justice system.

Join the Student Library Advisory Board


The Georgetown Law Library is currently accepting applications for membership on the 2012-2013 Student Library Advisory Board. The Board meets periodically throughout the academic year to discuss library services and resources. Members of the Student Library Advisory Board have the opportunity to learn more about the library and provide feedback on new and existing programs and initiatives.


All students are eligible and encouraged to apply. To submit an application, please visit The deadline is Friday, October 26, at 5pm.


For questions about the Student Library Advisory Board, contact Morgan Stoddard, Reference Librarian, Georgetown Law Library,, (202) 661-6598.


Changes to Free Online Legal Material

Patrons who use our Free and Low-Cost Legal Research Guide will be interested in some recent developments in the availability of free legal material online. First, Lexis recently shut down lexisOne, their site for free case law. Now, the only way to access case law through Lexis is to subscribe to their premium services (Lexis Advance and

On a more positive note, however, the Public Library of Law (PLoL) is once again being kept up-to-date. The PLoL, provided by low-cost alternative Fastcase, was not being updated with current material for a brief time, but that problem seems to have been corrected.

Fastcase and PLoL are only two of the free and low-cost alternatives to the dominant legal research services. For more information, consult our research guide for the particular type of material you are interested in (cases, statutes, etc.). For each type of legal material, the guide has links to the relevant websites, dates of coverage, and available search options. 

Additions to National Security Archive Collection

Georgetown's Lauinger Library has recently expanded its access to ProQuest's Digital National Security Archive, adding several new document collections to its subscription.  The archive contains more than 35,000 declassified primary documents that led to U.S. national security policy decisions, and is available to all members of the Georgetown community. The newly added collections include materials related to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the reorganization of the U.S. intelligence community after September 11, 2011.



How to Get the Most out of Your Library: Ten Resources for Exam Prep and Summer Employment

With exams and the summer approaching, we would like to let you know about some of our services and resources that can be particularly useful during this time of year. A Georgetown Law Librarian will discuss materials that can be used for exam preparation, reference assistance we can provide during the summer, and many more library resources you may not be aware of. We are offering two sessions, and space will be limited, so please register online.

There will be coffee and snacks, so please take a break from studying and join us!

Sessions will be held on:

Tuesday April 26th at 5:00 PM in McDonough 110
Sunday, May 1st at 5:00 PM in McDonough 110

New Oyez Project iPhone App

The Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology has developed a new iPhone app designed to, "appeal to all Supreme Court junkies." The OyezToday app allows iPhone users to access the content of the Oyez Project, an extensive collection of material from the Supreme Court of the United States. New opinions, as well as audio and transcripts from oral arguments, are available on OyezToday the same day they are released by the Court.

OyezToday is free and available in the iTunes App Store. Apps for the iPad and Android phones are forthcoming. For more information, see the press release from Chicago-Kent or the preview of OyezToday from Apple.

Legal Research Review Session

Looking for a way to stand out among your peers and impress your employer this summer? Can’t remember the difference between the United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations? Then you should attend the 2011 Bridging the Gap program, an intensive, day-long legal research review course designed to help law students prepare for summer employment. The program will include a review of basic legal research and research strategies as well as cost-effective research methods. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to attend a subject-specific administrative law session on either securities, tax, patent, or government contracts law research. The day will conclude with a panel of attorneys from the area who will provide invaluable advice on how to have a successful summer experience.

Bridging the Gap is coordinated and co-sponsored by the Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, DC and the Young Lawyers Section of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and will take place on April 8, 2011 at the Georgetown University Law Center. All interested law students are eligible and encouraged to attend. The deadline for registration and payment is April 1, 2011.

Register online here:

New State Secrets Database

The Law Center has launched a new database devoted to materials related to the state secrets privilege. This evidentiary privilege, which has been widely discussed in legal scholarship and news media in the past few years, allows for the exclusion of evidence from litigation if its disclosure will have an adverse effect on national security. Georgetown Law Professor Laura Donohue, who has written extensively on the privilege and on national security law generally, and Georgetown’s Center on National Security and the Law, have been collecting case law, litigation documents, executive branch materials, news articles, and scholarly works related to the privilege.

This material is now publicly available through the Georgetown Law State Secrets Archives. The documents are fully searchable, and organized by subject, jurisdiction, government position, and disposition of the state secrets claim. The database is intended for use by scholars and students, as well as journalists and other researchers, and is the largest online collection of state secrets material 

Library CLE Program

During the Law Center’s 2010 Reunion Weekend In October, Georgetown’s Continuing Education Program teamed up with the Law Library to provide a program focused on alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw. Based on a successful online seminar held last August, the October program sought to help our alumni navigate the wealth of legal research Web sites and databases that have cropped up in the last few years.
While Lexis and Westlaw remain the dominant legal research services, there are a number of online resources that provide access to primary legal material. These sources have recently grown in both number and scope, and have emerged as legitimate legal research tools. For example, Google recently added a large amount of case law to its Google Scholar search engine, including all cases from the U.S. Supreme Court, and lower federal court cases issued since 1923.
In addition, low-cost databases such as Fastcase and Loislaw offer extensive libraries of case law, statutes, and regulations from every jurisdiction in the U.S. Although these databases are not free like Google, they are significantly less expensive than Lexis and Westlaw. And since some of these databases have arrangements with state and local bar associations, many lawyers will find they are already paying for access to them. While these databases all have significant limitations, attorneys who understand those limitations can use them to reduce their reliance on Lexis and Westlaw.
Georgetown law librarians regularly include discussions of these alternative resources as a part of legal research instruction for law students, and the Reunion Weekend program is part of an effort to expand that audience. By keeping Georgetown Law alumni aware of these alternative resources, particularly in the current economic climate, the Law Library hopes to provide valuable information and service to the Law Center community long after graduation. 
To learn more about this topic please consult the Law Library’s research guide to these free and low cost legal research sources (