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July 31, 2009

Use Newspapers for Historical Legal Research


The Marriott Library at the University of Utah has been scanning Utah newspapers since 2001, and thanks to a new donation of archives of the Salt Lake Tribune by its parent company, MediaNews Group, the Marriott Library can eventually digitize the Tribune dating back to 1871.

In the Tribune article announcing the donation, the author notes that not only did the Marriott receive approximately 100,000 issues of the Tribune, the donation included now-defunct publications, including the Junior Tribune, Salt Lake Telegram, and Intermountain Republic .

Digitized newspapers are an important resource for historical legal research. When researching Utah's Constitution or the transition from the Territory of Utah to a state, newspapers provide a glimpse into the issues and concerns of the general public, as well as controversies. Use the Utah Digital Newspapers site to search numerous newspaper titles from around the state (coverage varies). You can search the entire digitized collection, or specify which titles you would like to search. Additionally, advanced search options allow you to search by proximity or in certain fields.

July 28, 2009

Court of Appeals Briefs

The library has received 16 additional Court of Appeals briefs. The docket numbers range from 20060663-CA to 20080754-CA (list not inclusive).

If you're looking for a specific brief, contact the library by phone (801-238-7990) or email to make sure we have it. If you can't come in to make copies yourself, we offer a document delivery service for 25¢ per page and will scan and email the briefs to you.

Utah Governor's Ambassador Nomination Hearing

smsenateseal.gifLast Thursday, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., nominated by President Obama to be Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, appeared before the U.S. Senate Commitee on Foreign Relations.

Confirmation of Gov. Huntsman's ambassadorship could occur as early as this week, according to reports from the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.

In case you missed the nomination hearing, you can watch recorded video from the U.S. Senate Commitee on Foreign Relations's hearing page for Thursday, July 23rd. Click on Nominations to start the recording.

You can also read Gov. Hunstman's statement to the Foreign Relations Committee.

July 27, 2009

Wireless Password: wiper

IMG_1851.JPGThe wireless password for the week of July 27, 2009 is wiper.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

July 21, 2009

July Holiday Hours: Pioneer Day

The Law Library, and all Utah State Courts, will be closed on Friday, July 24 in celebration of Pioneer Day.

Pioneer Day has been a legal holiday for over 100 years, and was even on the law books for the Territory of Utah.

For information about the history of Pioneer Day, check out the Utah History Encyclopedia.

Fireworks & the Law

If you bought fireworks to set off for Independence Day and Pioneer Day, note that the last time you can set off fireworks this July is on July 27. Utah laws specifically state that certain Class C fireworks may be discharged in Utah three days before, on the day of, and three days after four specific holidays: July 4, July 24, January 1, and Chinese New Year.

The Department of Public Safety publishes an approved fireworks list each year. This year's list was last revised on July 1, 2009.

In addition to state law, many local ordinances list rules regarding fireworks. To find out if your city or county has a local ordinance about fireworks, locate the local municipality you want to check, and then determine if the local ordinance is available to search online. If it isn't, contact the local city or county clerk.

July 20, 2009

August Classes

columnsOur August class list is here!

Resources for People Representing Themselves in Utah's State Courts
Friday, 8/14, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Introduces the resources available for people representing themselves in court, including how to find an attorney, legal clinics, forms, the Online Court Assistance Program and other resources. The presentation will be followed by a tour of the Utah State Law Library introducing the print and electronic resources available.

Guardianship of an Adult Basics
Thursday, 8/20, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Topics include who can be a guardian, why you might want a guardianship, the difference between a guardianship and conservatorship, the rights and responsibilities of a guardian, how to request a guardianship appointment, and how to terminate a guardianship appointment.

Landlord-Tenant Basics
Thursday, 8/27, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Basic rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants, as well as provide a description of the eviction process.

All classes are held in the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City.

To register for these free classes call 801-238-7990 or email library@email.utcourts.gov.

Wireless Password: visit

IMG_1851.JPGThe wireless password for the week of July 20, 2009 is visit.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

July 17, 2009

Child Protective Orders

Under Utah law, any interested adult may ask the Juvenile Court for an order of protection for a minor child less than 18 years of age if that adult believes the child is being physically or sexually abused or is at imminent risk of harm and in need of protection. Children who are at least 16 years old can apply on their own for an order of protection using adult protective order forms and filing them in the DIstrict Court.

Child protective order forms have been updated recently and are now available on the court website. One important addition is the Service Assistance Form found on the first page of the Verified Petition. This form provides law enforcement with information about the parties and is particularly useful in helping find a respondent to serve the court papers on him or her. The information on the Service Assistance Form is not part of the court public file and is provided only to law enforcement.

Information about protective orders is available in English and Spanish.

New Book: Black's Law Dictionary, 9th edition

blacks.jpgWe have just received the 9th edition of Black's Law Dictionary.

A legal dictionary can help you decipher confusing legal terms, which can often seem like a different language. In fact, many legal terms are taken from Latin, which is a different language!

The oldest legal dictionary in our law library is A Dictionary of American and English law: with defintions of the technical terms of the canon and civil laws. Also, containing a full collection of Latin Maxims, and citations of upwards of forty thousand reported cases in which words and phrases have been judicially defined or construed by Stewart Rapalje and Robert L. Lawrence, published in 1888.

July 14, 2009

Requesting a Court Transcript Online


The Utah State Courts' website now has a transcript information page. Written transcripts for official purposes must be requested online using the new Transcript Program, listed under Online Services.

If you want to listen to a hearing but do not need a transcript, you can buy a CD recording of the proceeding from the court by contacting the judicial assistant for the judge that heard the case. Use the court's online directory, and either search for the judge by name, or choose the court where your case was heard. Judicial assistants are listed to the right of each judge's name.

You will need to download the software program FTR onto your computer in order to play the CD. The court's web page on Verbatim Copies of Court Hearings provides more information.

You can also play CDs at the law library -- our public computers have FTR dowloaded.

New Book: A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments

constitution.jpegWe've just received A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments, which provides explanations, historical background, and case citations to the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and subsequent Amendments.

For example, when discussing the sixth amendment, author John R. Vile points out that while the Sixth Amendment provides for a speedy and public trial, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to precisely define what speedy meant. After the case (Barker v. Wingo) Congress passed the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, providing for precise time frames for a "speedy trial" that the federal government must follow. If you're interested in the original text only, the appendix material includes the full text of the U.S. Constitution, Amendments, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation.

In addition to providing explanations for individual sections of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Amendments, Vile includes 50 leading U.S. Supreme Court cases interpreting the Constitution; a glossary; highlights of Constitutional history; and a list of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

July 13, 2009

Wireless Password: unite

IMG_1851.JPGThe wireless password for the week of July 13, 2009 is unite.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

July 10, 2009

Collecting a Judgment

moneyYou’ve won your case ... but how do you get your money?

Unfortunately, winning your case is only one step in the process, and collecting the judgment can be more difficult than winning it. If you are lucky the party will pay the judgment. Otherwise, you may have to go back to court to try to get the party to pay what s/he now owes you.

The court does not collect the judgment for you, but does provide tools to help you collect the judgment. Our Collecting a Judgment web page describes the different ways you can collect a judgment, such as a Writ of Execution or a Writ of Garnishment, as well as the process for finding out about the debtor's assets. That process is called a "supplemental proceeding" or "supp order."

The person to whom the judgment is owed is the creditor. The person who owes the judgment is the debtor. The creditor has eight years to collect a judgment from the debtor. (Utah Code Ann. §78B-2-311).

July 07, 2009

Tips for Searching Court Records

SCREENSHOTXCHANGE.JPGIf you're having trouble searching court records online through Xchange or using CORIS at a district courthouse, here are some tips to improve your results:

  • In either program, enter both a last name and first name to search. Searching by a last name only will match that last name with any first name. This may result in thousands of matched results, especially if it's a common last name like Smith.
  • In either program, use the * symbol after the first name to catch any variation using that name. Court records may have recorded a party's first name using a middle initial, full middle name, or with no middle name at all. You can even use the * after the first few letters of a first name or last name if you are unsure of spelling.
  • In CORIS, case result tables show cases in gray or bold. Grayed cases are closed, while bolded cases are still open.
  • In Xchange, you can narrow your search by any date range.

July 06, 2009

Representing Yourself in U.S. Tax Court

If you are representing yourself in U.S. Tax Court, check out the Tax Court's web site, which contains a wealth of information for self-represented parties.

The Taxpayer Information link provides information about filing a petition and what to expect before, during, and after the trial. And recently, video explanations have been added to help self-represented parties understand the petition process and pre- and post-trial matters.

If you need legal assistance, check out the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic list for Utah.

Wireless Password: tempo

The wireless password for the week of July 6, 2009 is tempo.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

July 02, 2009

New Book: The Criminal Law Handbook

We've just received the 10th edition of Criminal Law Handbook.

This Nolo book covers topics including talking to the police, search and seizure, arrest, eyewitness identification, book and bail, criminal defense lawyers, criminal court, arraignments, discovery, fundamental trial rights, basic evidence rules, plea bargains, sentencing, appeals, juvenile courts and prisoners' rules.

Our Law Books for Non-Lawyers handout lists other self-help books we have in the library.

Many public libraries carry Nolo titles - check your local library catalog to see if they have this or other books written for non-lawyers.

July 01, 2009

Laws Effective July 1, 2009

Over 30 laws passed by the Utah Legislature during its 2009 session become effective today. Portion of other bills passed during this session or previous session may also become effective today--check out the legislature's page for more information.

To review a list of those laws, go to the Utah Legislature's Bills Passed page. Next, select the 2009 General Session or the 2009 First Special Session. Click on the Effective Date column header to sort the list by effective date and scroll down to the listings for July 1, 2009.

The 2009 Digest of Legislation provides a subject index of passed legislation, and summary of each bill for the 2009 General Session.

Bills, or portions of bills, effective today include:

  • H.B. 64 (Substitute): Deterring Illegal Immigration
  • S.B. 187 (Substitute): Alcohol Amendments, particularly the end of mandatory private clubs. For more information, check out the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's summary of the new law.
  • S.B. 239: Transportation Revisions, which increases some motor vehicle registration fees by $20
  • S.B. 272 (Second Substitute): Driver License Sanctions and Sentencing Requirements for Driving Under the Influence and Alcohol Related Offenses