In law school, you transform your brain into a precision legal machine. In practice, you learn that the legal machine doesn’t always work with much precision. However, it’s important that you know how it works, and one of the most basic things you need to know is what a docket is and how to access the one that contains your case.
A docket is a record of the proceedings of a court case. Dockets vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in type of information recorded, the detail of the information, and availability to the public. Some jurisdictions have free online docket systems while others require subscription to a database or even visiting the court in-person.
Federal court cases can be accessed through Pacer (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). Anyone can get a Pacer account, and if you use less than $15 a month, the fees are waived. Otherwise, you pay ten cents per page. This can be expensive, so it’s pretty amazing if you are a student with access to something like Bloomberg Law, which lets you access Pacer docket filings for free while you’re in school. Pacer is the most reliable access to federal e-filed documents, though Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg have varying levels of access to the electronic documents and do not (usually) charge by the page.
As you might expect, each state court has its own docket. You can usually find out if there is a free database in your state by doing a web search for “Arizona case search” (substitute the case of your choice for variety). Databases like Westlaw, Bloomberg and Lexis also have varying levels of state docket coverage, though these are generally much better for federal cases.
Docket searches aren’t just for boring legal research, either. You can search things like to find out if your friends and relatives have had any run-ins with the law. Some people might consider this invasive, but really, if they’d wanted privacy, they should have observed the speed limit.
Other fun Arizona dockets can be found at the websites below:
Arizona Supreme Court
Pima County Superior Court
Maricopa County Superior Court


The Arizona Memory Project

The Arizona Memory Project ( is a digitized collection providing access to primary sources in Arizona’s libraries, museums, archives, and other cultural institutions.  The collections range from government documents, photographs, maps, to objects that chronicle Arizona’s past and present. Here are some collections that may help legal researchers:

1. Arizona Appellate Briefs

This collection contains about 37 appellate briefs filed in 1982 and 1983.

2. Arizona Attorney General Opinions

This collection provides researchers with the attorney general opinions issued prior to 1999. The attorney general opinions from 1999 to 2014 are available at the Attorney General’s website.

3. Arizona Digital Newspaper Program

[Technically, this is not a part of the Arizona Memory Project; This is a separate project by the Arizona State Library.]

ADNP is a digitized collection of Arizona newspapers from 1859-1922. Researchers looking for historical documentations of Arizona may find this helpful.

4. Arizona State Archives – State, County, and Local Government Records

The records in this collection date back to 1860s. The government records included here represents a very small portion of the records at the Arizona State Archives. Thus, if this collection does not show what you are looking for, please visit or contact Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

5. Favorite Searches & Popular Items

Arizona Memory Project has features that enable researchers to search for oral history collections, maps collections, government publication collections. For example, if you click the search button next to “search government publication collections,” the database will automatically select the collections related to government publication.

The “Popular Items” box contains links to annual reports, legislative study committee reports, House received reports, and Senate received reports. This would be a good resource for those looking for Arizona legislative history materials.

The Arizona Memory Project features historical materials featuring a variety of topics. It is free, and materials are added to the collections regularly. So please take a look at the Arizona Memory Project. The University of Arizona also has digital collections related to pre- and early statehood legal materials.

Don’t Forget to Vote!! – The 2014 Midterm Elections

November 4, 2014 (tomorrow!!!) is the day for the 2014 midterm elections. Here are several free electronic resources related to election.


This is a database providing information on federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis. You can search campaign donors by name, state, zip code, occupation of donor, or recipient.

2. Election Law Research Guides

Many academic law libraries have created research guides on various legal topics, including election law. Here are a few examples:

University of Chicago D’Angelo Law Library

Georgetown Law Library

University of Washington Gallagher Law Library

Oklahoma City University School of Law

3. Arizona Department of State – Office of Secretary of State

The website for Office of Secretary of State features resources concerning Arizona elections. You will find information on campaign finance, forms for initiative/referendum/recall, and a variety of manuals and handbooks.

4. Election Law at Moritz

Created by the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, this website features information on major pending cases, news, and commentaries on voter ID law, voter registration, provisional balloting, and other issues related to election administration.

5. Roll Call

Roll Call provides news coverage on congressional elections, fundraising charts, polls, and election maps.

6. Title 52 of the United States Code

Provisions on voting and election from Titles 2 and 42 have been reclassified to create Title 52, Voting and Elections. The texts were not altered, and the provisions were merely moved to Title 52. Visit the Office of Law Revision Counsel for more information.

Arizona Attorney – the Official Publication of the State Bar of Arizona


Arizona Attorney is the magazine published by the State Bar of Arizona 11 times per year. It features articles written by practicing attorneys on various legal issues. The magazine also includes Bar activities/events and summaries of recent appellate decisions from the Arizona courts.

Some articles discuss Arizona substantive laws. For example, the February 2014 issue contains articles discussing the recent amendments to case management and trial setting rules. The April 2014 issue has an article written by judges discussing Arizona Rules of Evidence 404(b) and the “Intrinsic Evidence” Test. Other articles deal with law practice management/technology and practice tips. For example, the past several October issues focus on law office technology.

The articles in Arizona Attorney are short and intended to serve as introductions to given topics. As with other secondary sources, the prudent researcher will learn more about the topic by examining the primary and secondary sources listed in the endnotes. The website enables researcher to find articles by authors, keyword, and by issues. Issues from August 1996 to October 2014 are available online.

National Pro Bono Celebration Week

Celebrate Pro Bono 2014 image badge large

This week (Oct 19 – 25), the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is sponsoring National Pro Bono Celebration to recruit more pro bono volunteers and provide more legal services to low-income individuals. Attorneys throughout the states are hosting pro bono events to organize community support for pro bono. There are a few events being hosted in Arizona, but none will take place in Tucson. However, that does not mean the Tucson bar pays no attention to pro bono service.

Even though Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.1 does not impose mandatory pro bono service requirement, the State Bar encourages attorneys to provide pro bono services. The State Bar website and include lists of organizations providing pro bono and community volunteer opportunities. also offers resources relating to fundraising, organization planning tips, publicity planning, and etc. to help individuals plan and organize pro bono events. The U of A law clinics are also great opportunities for law students to participate in pro bono services while they gain practical experience.

Bluebooking Going Out of Style?

Does the term “Bluebooking” send chills down your spine? Tired of worrying about all those commas and whether they are italicized or not? Do you despise long strings of in-text citations?

crying over typeface

Well, then here’s some potentially good news.

In case you missed it last week, a law professor at NYU sent a letter on behalf of challenging the copyright status of The Bluebook. Research conducted by Professor Sprigman and indicated that the copyright on the 10th edition of the “Stickler’s Bible” had never been renewed, meaning that the 10th edition is in the public domain.

Additionally, they are researching the status of the current edition and arguing that it is also in the public domain. This post on LawGives blog summarizes their two key assertions. First, since many courts require use of The Bluebook, its contents have thus been adopted as an “edict of government,” placing the contents in the public domain. Second, even though the 19th edition is much larger than the 10th, many portions of the 19th were basically unchanged from the 10th and therefore no longer protected by copyright. Based on these arguments, is developing a public domain version of The Bluebook.

The challenge to The Bluebook raises a larger issue of whether any legal citation standards should be copyrighted.

Of course, as Above the Law points out, since basically every lawyer needs a copy, The Bluebook is a “cash cow” and it’s doubtful that The Harvard Law Review Association will take this challenge lying down. On the other hand, as ATL asks, does it even really matter? Don’t most people rely on the citations provided by online research databases? Who really has time to worry about all the tiny details, as long as the reader can easily locate your sources?

Don’t forget, there are other free sources of legal citations already, such as Basic Legal Citation provided by the LII at Cornell.

What do you think, time to permanently shelve The Bluebook?


As a side note, this is my last post as an active Fellow. I’m starting a new job soon as a full time librarian in Phoenix. If you’re curious, you can follow my continuing (mis)adventures on Twitter @sticksandstacks.

Mentoring – It’s Good for You!

Mr. Miyagi

Mentoring is serious business. (Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in The Karate Kid (1984))

Law school is a great time to find a mentor. Your mentor may be an attorney at your internship site, or maybe your favorite professor. My mentors were law librarians, because I discovered as a 1L that I geeked out on research and librarianship, but definitely not litigation or contracts.

Whatever your area of interest, it’s important to develop mentoring relationships. Here are some great tips from Chris Hargreaves at on how to be mentored and get the most out of your mentoring relationship.

And, on a completely unrelated but ridiculously exciting note – Don’t forget that this weekend is Tucson Meet Yourself!