---::--- Findings ---::---
From Maryland's First Legal Resource

---::--- Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 2007 ---::---


A Publication of the Maryland State Law Library
In This Issue:

Law Libraries: Ensuring Access to Justice

By Steve Anderson

Two recent reports made clear that public law libraries are an integral part of promoting access to the legal system, especially to those members of the community, such as self-represented litigants, who may be unaccustomed to legal language and procedures. In Clearing a Path to Justice: A Report of the Maryland Judiciary Work Group on Self-Representation in the Maryland Courts the authors name law libraries as one component among several strategies in delivering legal assistance to self-represented litigants. Law libraries in larger Maryland counties are staffed by knowledgeable librarians, many of whom assist non-lawyers every day. Court personnel, therefore, are encouraged to refer members of the public in need of legal information to court libraries when appropriate. Because of librarians' involvement with these issues, the Group proposed that law librarians be included in a future "Access to Justice Commission."

The Report specially mentions one venture aimed at assisting self-represented litigants. Through a pilot project operated by the Eastern Shore Regional Library, public library branches in that system house collections of self-help legal materials. Additionally, librarians are trained to support customers' legal reference needs. The project also features online information via the People's Law Library website. The Report recommends that this project be replicated in other jurisdictions.

Libraries' reaching out to meet the needs of self-represented litigants is a growing national trend. The National Center for State Courts recently released "Trends in Library Collaboration to Provide Access to Legal Information" as part of its "Future Trends in State Courts" series. Author Barbara L. Fritschel reported that law libraries throughout the country have significant contacts with pro se litigants and collaborate closely with court-based self-help centers.

The Maryland State Law Library actively supports the legal research needs of the general public. For example, the Library offers in its main reference area an extensive collection of "how to" legal materials from specialty publishers such as Nolo Press. In addition to the in-person assistance staff members provide to walk-in customers, the Library has been supporting research requests via e-mail and phone for many years. In fact, reference librarians responded to nearly 3,000 e-mail requests last year, many of which came from non-lawyers. During the last four years, the number of e-mails to the Library has increased 25%, and the pace is expected to grow exponentially. If the current trend continues for the next several months, it is likely that the number of requests in Fiscal Year 2008 will increase 22% from the previous year.

The State Law Library exists to serve the bench and bar, as well as all of Maryland's citizens. Anyone needing assistance with legal research is invited to contact the Library, by phone (410-260-1430; 888-216-8156) or e-mail (mdlaw.library@mdcourts.gov).

180 Years and Still Going Strong: The Maryland State Law Library

By Rudolf B. Lamy

The Maryland State Law Library began its life in 1827 as the Maryland State Library. In those days, the Library was part of the legislative branch of Maryland government and located on the second floor of the State House. It remained at that location from 1827 to 1904.

The Library changed location and mission in the early 20th Century.  At that time, the Library joined the judicial branch of Maryland government and later was renamed the State Law Library.  The Library was housed from 1904 through 1972 on College Avenue in downtown Annapolis in the old Courts Building.  That building was razed to make way for what is now the Legislative Services building. The current library has been in place in the Courts of Appeal building at 361 Rowe Boulevard since 1973. (Photographs of the old libraries are on display in the current Library for viewing.)

The Library started with 19th Century grand, neoclassical or Greek Revival architecture, including marble floors, grand staircases, wrought iron shelving and card catalogs.  It evolved through a phase of 20th Century post-modern utility.  Now, using the tools of the 21st Century, the Library is committed to greater access, and accurate and timely information delivery.  The original libraries were designed to inspire.  They were in great part all about form rather than function.  The current Library is less about form but rather more about excellence in service to the public.

The end of 2007 marks not the end of 180 years of the Library's service to the people of Maryland, but the beginning of its next century of service. The evolution of the Library's physical space and services over the past 180 years has been a reflection of changes in society, government, technology and the law.  As the Maryland State Law Library moves forward through the 21st Century and into its second century of existence, the people of Maryland can expect a continued commitment to providing the best legal information services possible.

180 Years of Memorable Moments in Maryland Legal History*

Edited By Rudolf B. Lamy

1832. In aftermath of Nat Turner rebellion in Virginia, Maryland laws enacted to restrict free African Americans.

1832. Legislation prohibited oyster dredging.

1837. Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney wrote majority opinion in Charles River v. Warren Bridge case.

1837. Whig-controlled General Assembly enacted law for popular election of governors and State senators, and rotated geographical districts of successive governors.

1837. Carroll County formed from Baltimore and Frederick counties.

1838. Voter registration system initiated in Baltimore.

1838, Oct. 3. Governor and State senators first elected by voters rather than by legislature.

1850, Nov. 4-1851, May 13. Constitutional Convention of 1850-1851.

1851, June 14. Second State Constitution adopted; Howard District recognized as Howard County.

1857. Chief Justice Taney wrote majority opinion in case of Dred Scott v. Sanford.

1860. General Assembly passed Jacobs bill to enslave free African Americans, but measure failed referendum.

1860, Nov. Maryland voters gave John C. Breckinridge (Southern rights Democrat) 42,482 votes, John Bell (Constitutional Union) 41,760, Stephen A. Douglas (popular sovereignty Democrat) 5,966, and Abraham Lincoln (Republican) 2,294 in presidential election.

1861, April 27. President Lincoln suspended writ of habeas corpus between Washington and Philadelphia.

1864, April 27-Sept. 6. Constitutional Convention of 1864 met in Annapolis.

1864, Nov. 1. Maryland slaves emancipated by State Constitution of 1864.

1865. First statewide voter registration system in Maryland.

1867, May 8-Aug. 17. Constitutional Convention of 1867; Democrats rewrote constitution.

1867, Sept. 18. Fourth State Constitution adopted by voters.

1868. State Oyster Police authorized.

1870. University of Maryland School of Law reopened.

1872. General Assembly mandated separate but equal white and black schools.

1894. First child labor law passed; first pure milk law passed.

1896. Maryland adopted improved "secret" ballot.

1896. General Assembly ended practice of electing one U.S. senator from Eastern Shore, passed law restraining courts from compelling reporters to divulge their sources.

1902. Child labor under age twelve forbidden by law.

1902. Workmen's compensation law enacted (overturned in courts), first such law in U.S.

1902. Compulsory school attendance law passed.

1904. Kerbin "Jim Crow" public accommodations law enacted.

1905, Nov. Voters defeated African American-disenfranchising Poe amendment.

1910. Pure food and drug laws and anti-prostitution measures enacted.

1910, Aug. 30. First statewide primary election in Maryland.

1912. Ten-hour work law for women, strengthened child-labor laws enacted.

1912. Haman oyster law enacted.

1912. Party presidential primary elections adopted.

1915. Education reform measures enacted.

1915, Nov. 2. Referendum and County Home Rule amendments adopted.

1916. State Board of Motion Picture Censors authorized.

1916, Nov. 7. Executive budget process, mandating balanced State budgets, established by constitutional amendment.

1920, Nov. 2. Women voted for first time in Maryland.

1928. Grammar-school education mandated.

1935. In Murray v. Pearson et al., Baltimore City Court orders integration of University of Maryland Law School. Represented in case by Thurgood Marshall, Donald Gaines Murray registered September 1935.

1937. State income tax instituted.

1938. Maryland courts ordered equal pay to African American and white teachers in all counties.

1948. Constitutional amendments limited governor to two terms, mandated annual meetings of Legislature.

1950. Law suit opened University of Maryland School of Nursing to African Americans.

1950. Jan. Alger Hiss sentenced for perjury.

1954. University of Maryland integrated, first state university below Mason-Dixon Line to do so.

1954. Public housing in Baltimore integrated.

1954. First African American elected to House of Delegates, from Baltimore.

1954, May. Thurgood Marshall and NAACP won Brown v. Board decision.

1956. Voting machines first used for elections throughout State.

1961. Political appointment of Baltimore magistrates ended.

1962. House of Delegates reapportioned.

1963. Law enacted to phase out slot machines.

1967, Sept. 12-1968, Jan. 10. Constitutional Convention of 1967-1968 met at Annapolis.

1972. State equal rights amendment enacted, approved women's equal rights amendment to U.S. Constitution.

1972, Nov. 7. First general election in Maryland where lowering of voting age to 18 years of age or older applied.

1973, Oct. Spiro T. Agnew resigned vice-presidency, pleaded no contest to felony charge.

1983, Dec. 9. Chesapeake Bay Agreement to improve water quality and living resources of Bay signed by Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, District of Columbia, Chesapeake Bay Commission, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

* Adapted from the Online Maryland Manual "Historical Chronology."


By Donna Wiesinger

Three additional Maryland-related databases have been added to the Maryland Judiciary's current Westlaw subscription:

        MD-TRIALORDERS (Maryland State Trial Court Orders)
        MD-FILING (Maryland Trial Court Filings)
        DOCK-MD-CIRCUIT (Dockets - Maryland - Circuit Courts)

The MD-FILING database covers 1994 to present, plus a limited number of documents from earlier years. Included are selected motions, trial court memoranda, pleadings and other documents filed in Maryland trial courts.

The MD-TRIALORDERS database begins with 2001 and includes a limited number of documents for earlier years. This database contains selected trial court orders from Maryland courts.  A trial court order is an order issued by a state trial court judge resolving a motion, trial, or matter.

The DOCK-MD-CIRCUIT database includes docket information on civil cases dating from January 1, 2000, available from all of the state Circuit Courts in Maryland, with the exception of cases filed in Prince George's County. Criminal docket information is also available for cases filed in Montgomery County.

Access to these databases is available to all Maryland Judiciary staff with valid Westlaw passwords. 


Another new addition to our electronic subscriptions is the LLMC-Digital collection, produced by the Law Library Microform Consortium (LLMC). Formed at the University of Hawaii in 1976, LLMC is a non-profit cooperative of libraries dedicated to preserving legal treatises and government documents on microfilm. 

Keeping pace with technology (while still retaining the analog aspect of their operation), LLMC is now in the process of scanning original documents into digitized, searchable images, which are housed on server space operated by the Library System of the University of Michigan. The reproduced pages are exact page-scans of the original documents -- useful for both preservation purposes and for cite-checking. At present, there are over 105,000 volumes in microfilm format. Of these titles, nearly 23,000 volumes have been digitized and made available in the LLMC-Digital product.

The LLMC-Digital database includes titles for the following categories:

            U.S. Federal
            U.S. States
            U.S. Territories
            Anglo-American Collections
            Foreign Jurisdictions
            International Law and Organizations
            Multi-Jurisdiction Subject Collections

Users can search the database using basic, Boolean and proximity search strategies, or they can choose searches by citation or title. In addition, LLMC-Digital allows users to search current holdings among the broader groupings listed above, or subsets (such as by state). 

Not all Maryland titles on microfilm have been converted into digitized format, and to date, some of the titles have only been partially scanned. Over time, more volumes and titles will be added to LLMC-Digital's offerings. Presently, Maryland titles include:

            Maryland Reports (several volumes are sceduled to be added in the near future)
            Bland's Chancery Reports
            Gill and Johnson's Law Reports
            Gill's Law Reports
            Harris and Johnson's Law Reports
            Harris and McHenry's Law Reports
            Maryland Chancery Reports
Access to LLMC-Digital is provided to all Library patrons at any of the Library's six public workstations.  For more information, or assistance using this database, please contact the Library's Information Desk at 410-260-1430.

Federal Government Documents Update

By Cindy Terry

The Federal Government Documents storage room has been relocated to a newly renovated room in the basement of the Courts of Appeal Building. On Monday, December 17th, the contractor for this project completed the set-up and book move. This renovation includes a new decking system and rails for the compact shelving and the addition of one more tier of shelving on each unit. The room allows the Library to more securely house some of the older documents in its collection and make them more accessible to Library staff for retrieval for customers.

Recommended General Treatises List: A Work in Progress

By Catherine McGuire

The Maryland Circuit Court Libraries Study Committee Report (2001) tasked the State Law Library and its Outreach Program with the development of several lists of publications in specific areas for use by Circuit Court libraries in collection development. Specifically, the Outreach Program was charged with drafting, revising and maintaining three lists:

  • Maryland-oriented legal treatises and practice materials
  • General U.S. legal texts, treatises and practice materials
  • General self-help legal materials

The first of these, the "Maryland List," is complete and available on the State Law Library's website. The current list was substantially revised in Fall 2006, updated again this year and is scheduled for annual updates hereafter. The Outreach Program is currently drafting a more detailed Maryland materials spreadsheet, containing price and updating information, also for website posting.

The second and third of the above lists are under development.

With the planned organization of the Conference of Maryland Court Librarians, the ambitious task of reviewing and selecting materials for a list of general treatises has been distributed among several volunteer librarians. The first step in the development of this "General List" has been the creation of a 'scope,' ensuring that, while multiple individuals participated and made choices, the basis for evaluation would be the same. The 'scope' needed to address the question of how to choose among so many alternative publications as well as provide guidance on the structure of the information to be included in the list. The final 'scope' includes as selection criteria:

  • Reliability (citation frequency in case law and other legal texts; broad acceptance as an authority on a topic)
  • General topical coverage
  • Ease of contact with the publisher
  • Currentness
  • Update frequency, reliability and regularity

The second step in the formation of a "General List" has been the development of a proposed topic list, with each librarian responsible for three to five topics. Using both the pre-existing "Maryland List" and Ken Svengalis' Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual, librarians devised a list of topics and divided them among the group.

The Outreach Program will edit the final list into a usable spreadsheet, which will be added to the Maryland Circuit Court Libraries page of the State Law Library's website. The current timeline anticipates a draft early in the New Year, with a final list available some time later in 2008.

The final list, of self-help legal materials, hopefully will be under way by the beginning of next summer.