Monday, November 30, 2009

New Text Messaging Service

We have just added another way for you to reach us! In addition to live chat, email, phone, and (of course!) coming in to the library, you can now text a question from your cell phone to 978- 6 LAWLIB (978-652-9542). Questions will be answered Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30, but feel free to send a text during evenings and weekends as well, and we'll get back to you the next business day.

Texting works best for short questions, like questions about library hours, renewing books, or basic facts, like "Who are the current Supreme Court Justices?". If you do text a question that can't be easily answered in 160 characters, be sure to include your email address so we can give you a proper reply.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Patient and Family Advisory Councils

New regulations (105 CMR 130.1800-.1801) require hospitals to set up Patient and Family Advisory Councils by October, 2010. According to the Department of Public Health's advisory to hospitals, "The formation of a PFAC is intended to facilitate patient and family participation in hospital care and decision-making, information sharing, and policy and program development. The Institute for Family Centered Care has identified core concepts of patient and family-centered care as dignity and respect, information sharing, participation and collaboration." According to the regulations, the purpose of a council is  "to advise the hospital on matters including, but not limited to, patient and provider relationships, institutional review boards, quality improvement initiatives, and patient education on safety and quality matters to the extent allowed by state and federal law." Links to this and other health-related issues are available at Mass. Law About Health Care.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Free Caselaw from Google

The legal research community is buzzing about Google's announcement yesterday of a free database of full-text cases from federal and state courts via Google Scholar. The cases are well-formatted, include pagination, and include links to all cited cases that are also in the database. Here's what's included:
  • State Appellate and Supreme Court Cases since 1950
  • Federal District, Appellate, Tax and Bankruptcy Cases since 1923
  • US Supreme Court Cases since 1791
Here's how to use it:
  • To search the whole database, just go to Google Scholar, select Legal Opinions and Journals and start searching. But often you'll want to narrow your search, so instead, click on Advanced Scholar Search.
  • Type in your search terms in the boxes at the top of the page.
  • At the bottom of the page, select the juridiction(s) you'd like to search and click on Search Scholar.
Here's how to explore more content:
  • Once you have a case you like, click on How Cited at the top of the screen. 
  • The right column will include Cited By and Related Documents, giving you additional cases, articles and books
How to use library services to get the most out of the database:
  • Find a case you like and use our "Ask a Librarian" service to have it Shepardized.
  • If you are in one of our libraries and click on a law review article from the "How Cited" page, it will bring you right into that article in Hein Online. 
  • If you are at home, jot down the article citation and the go into Hein Online via our remote access service to read the article.
  • Click on the title of a book in the "How Cited" page, and then click Find in a Library in the left column to locate your nearest library that owns the book and request a copy.
It isn't clear how current the coverage is. Doing a quick search, we easily found cases from a few months ago, but were unable to find very recent cases. For Massachusetts cases from 1930 (or earlier) to 1950, or for cases from the past few months, we recommend Mass. Cases. For cases from the last few weeks, your best bet is slip opinions from Mass Reports.

Land Court Cases

Massachusetts Land Court Cases from July 2009 to date are now available online. Additional cases are being added daily. Cases can be accessed by name, docket number or date. They can also be searched full-text.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Protection for Utility Consumers

Earlier this week, Gov. Patrick signed St.2009, c.133: An Act Relative to Public Utility Companies. This new law is largely a reaction to the extended power outage in the Lunenburg area after last December's ice storm. According to the press release, the law "strengthens consumer protections, provides the necessary tools to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to levy financial penalties if utilities do not follow approved storm plans, and puts into law existing requirements for utility storm restoration plans."

"This new law will help protect people when power outages due to extreme weather strike," Speaker Robert DeLeo said. "With its passage, Governor Patrick, Senate President Murray and I are standing together to ensure that the state has the right tools to address weather-related utility problems and that utilities make adequate plans to prepare for severe storms."

More information on utility service is available at our Mass. Law About Utility Service.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Proposed Bullying Prevention Legislation

The Boston Globe reported yesterday that "After years of delays, the Legislature appears poised to crack down on bullying among schoolchildren."  A hearing will be held tomorrow on a bill sponsored by Rep. John Rogers, H483: An Act Relative to the Prevention of Bullying.  The proposed law would require all school districts to "adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination..., harassment, intimidation, bullying and cyberbullying," based on a model policy that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would create. The Joint Committee on Education will be holding the hearing on the bill tomorrow at 1:00 PM in Hearing Room A1. More information on bullying is available at Mass. Law About Bullying and Cyberbullying.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Regs for LPs and LLCs updated

The regulations for Limited Partnerships (950 CMR 108) and Limited Liability Companies (950 CMR 112) have been updated as of October 30, 2009. The Secretary of State posts some of their regulations on the web, but not all. They have not posted the new regulations as of this post, so don't forget our document delivery service. We can fax you the latest regulations from the Mass. Register. Our links from our Limited Liability Companies page at this time are to the older regulations. We are always glad to send documents at no charge.