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Lately, I’ve been playing around with the Books Ngram Viewer from Google Labs. This experimental site displays how often searched phrases appear in publications scanned by the Google Books project over time.

For example, open government really jumped in the 1970s.

And, as you may have deduced, it correlates with the rise and fall of Nixon.

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2010 is almost gone–it’s been a very eventful year here at Justia. Indulge us while we review this year’s contributions to legal information on the internet. And, we are getting plans ready for 2011–if you have any ideas about things you’d like to see at, please let us know in the comments!

Free Law!!

First of all– we have to talk about This movement really took off in 2010, and we are very proud to have been a part of the effort. There have been meetings and conferences across the United States, from which a Principles and Declaration was drafted. Google granted Public.Resource.Org $2M in furtherance of the effort, and most recently, the Report of Current Opinions was announced. RECOP will distribute current caselaw from the 50 states and the federal courts freely on the internet.
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On January 10th, the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game will feature an exciting match-up between the 12-0 Oregon Ducks and the 13-0 Auburn Tigers. Cameron Newton, the quarterback who led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season, has already garnered several prestigious college football awards, including the 2010 Heisman Memorial Trophy for being the nation’s most outstanding college player. The House of Representatives even congratulated Cameron Newton for winning the Heisman Trophy.

While Cam Newton’s athletic achievements certainly merit some form of acknowledgement, the violation of amateurism rules by his father, as determined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, is problematic. Considering that the NCAA had recently sanctioned USC, leading the BCS to vacate the Trojans’ 2005 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma, the potential disqualification of another Heisman winner and national champion cannot be entirely discounted.

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Great news, friends! Starting in 2011, Public.Resource.Org will release a Report of Current Opinions (RECOP) on a weekly basis. The Report will include a FREE HTML feed of ALL slip and final opinions from the appellate courts of the 50 states and the federal government. The feed will be available for reuse under a CC CC-Zero license, and will include page numbers. For more details, read Carl Malamud’s announcement on O’Reilly Radar. This is one of the major projects that Public.Resource.Org has undertaken since being awarded the Google 10^100 Grant in September.

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Goats on the Roof by Ky Olsen

  1. New York City street performer the Naked Cowboy is suing competing street performer the Naked Cowgirl in federal court. Both play the guitar in Times Square nearly naked except for cowboy boots and a hat. The Naked Cowboy is claiming that the Naked Cowgirl is “tarnishing the Naked Cowboy’s wholesome image.”
  2. A Wisconsin restaurant owner, who famously marketed his establishment with a herd of goats grazing on the roof, is suing a Georgia market for trademark infringement for drawing in customers with their own herd of roof goats.
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I was researching case law on state court websites recently and surveying what’s out there and who’s publishing what, when I encountered something totally surprising: public domain citation formats. I thought I was pretty up-to-date on free law and access to public information, but I had never heard of this. I turned to my colleague Cicely, the Citation Geek, and asked her if she had heard of it. She was surprised, too.

It turns out that starting in 1996, state courts began creating their own citation systems, adding paragraph numbers to their opinions, and requiring citation to these opinions in their rules.  The formats are called by various names: vendor neutral, universal, media neutral, and public domain. The citations are “vendor neutral” because they do not cite to a commercial reporter. They are “media neutral” because they can be used to cite electronic material (electronic access to public information was just ramping up in the late 90’s). They are “universal” and “public domain” because you do not need to rely on commercial publishers to get the official citation.
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DivorceDivorce can be messy with the roller-coaster ride of emotions, the legal fight over finances, child support, and dog custody, as well as the divvying up of mementos from the marriage that did not last.

For married couples who own a small business, a divorce can be particularly challenging. Even though millions of dollars may be at stake, one spouse may be in the dark about the finances of the family business. While lengthy divorces can be expensive, does that mean that you should not fight to get what you are entitled to?

Stacey Napp, the founder of Balance Point Divorce Funding, doesn’t think so. Her company just might lend you money to fight your soon-to-be-ex in court.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promotes seat belt use across the country through its Click It or Ticket marketing campaign. This program seeks to increase seat belt use rates nationwide both through educational means and enforcement measures to reduce unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.

California has one of the higher rates of seat belt use in the nation. With all the out-of-town guests descending on the Golden State during the holiday season, I am not entirely surprised that some visitors may be unfamiliar with our state’s seat belt laws. For example, I recently saw Yogi Bear and his sidekick Boo-Boo cruising down the streets of San José while perched on the trunk of a moving car. Was Yogi Bear serving as a poor role model for his young fans or does some section of the California Vehicle Code excuse Yogi Bear’s oversight in this instance?

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Last week marked the formal launch of a new Supreme Court of California resource center, SCOCAL ( SCOCAL is a joint project between Justia and our friends at the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford and Fastcase. There are lots of cool features in the site and, as ever, I encourage all our readers who are interested in California law to spend some time checking it out. Below is a brief summary of what you’ll find when you visit the site.

California Supreme Court Opinions – Browse through the full text of recent opinions by date, name or issue, or search the entire collection, which includes decisions from 1934 to the present. Click on the tabs located at the top of each individual case to access related information and documents.

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British authorities arrested Wiikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange on Tuesday based upon a Swedish warrant charging him with sexually assaulting two women there over the summer.

Assange’s arrest, along with decisions by technology companies, finance companies, and banks to distance themselves from the document-leaking web site he founded, have placed Wikileaks in a difficult position. Will the site remain under constant threat of being booted off the web?

Probably, but that just doesn’t appear likely to happen. Once Wikileaks started sharing documents with journalists around the world, it guaranteed that removing the diplomatic cables would be impossible.

Amazon evicted Wikileaks from the company’s servers, telling the group to look for hosting space elsewhere.
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