Survey Response: Can the Library Provide Access to Pacer?

Many suggested that we provide access to PACER, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system, so that students can download litigation documents, such as complaints and motions, in federal court cases. We do provide PACER access! Because the library pays a charge for every page downloaded, we ask you to see a Reference Librarian for assistance in using PACER for academic purposes (class, note, journal, etc.).

What’s more, though, all PACER documents are available for free to academic users through Bloomberg Law. Search Dockets on BLaw. Be sure to “Update” your docket at the top of the page. Download the document(s) you want. When the notice of PACER fees pops up, ignore it, and submit your document request. BLaw does not charge academic users to retrieve these documents. The document will arrive in your email inbox within moments.

While Judicial Opinions Are Often Terse, Others Are Elaborately Drafted In Verse

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin sometimes feels inspired to dispense justice with the aid of a rhyming dictionary.  His latest opinion includes lines such as:

Convicted of the forgery, insurance fraud, and theft,

he admits the first and last, but denies the charge that’s left.

He claims the sentence for insurance fraud is most certainly amiss —

he says “I may be guilty, but I’m just not guilty of this.

My sentence is inappropriate — undo the wrongful conviction”

And in the end, seeks this relief from our appellate jurisdiction.

The full decision is available here.

Appellate Decision Includes Ostrich Photo

As noted here previously, Judge Posner does not take poor briefing lightly. This time his critique is supported by visual aids!  

Writing for the Seventh Circuit in Gonzalez-Servin v. Ford Motor Company, issued on November 23, Posner critcizes appellants in the consolidated cases for failing to properly address dispositive authority.  Posner writes:  “The ostrich is a noble animal, but not a proper model for an appellate advocate.”  To underscore the point, he includes both an image of an ostrich and one of a suited man—both with heads buried in the sand.

Any idea how to cite a photograph in a judicial opinion?  Ostrich, slip op. at 5??

Veterans Day

Veterans Day, a holiday for Federal employees, will be observed on Friday, November 11.  All GMU Law Library services will operate on a normal Friday schedule: the library will be open 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Reference Services will be available 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website provides links to veterans-related legislation (106th-111th Congress) available on Thomas, the Library of Congress site for legislative information.  Additional information regarding congressional action related to veterans issues may be found on the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees’ web pages.

Other resources related to the legal rights of veterans include:

Board of Veterans Appeals:  Part of the Veterans Administration, this web page includes links to forms and BVA decisions.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims:  This Court reviews certain BVA decisions.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:  This Court’s jurisdiction includes review of UCAVC decisions.

How Would a Government Shutdown Impact Courts?

An announcement on the U.S. Courts website ( states that in the event of a shutdown, the Federal Judiciary would rely on “non-appropriated fees” to allow the courts to operate for “up to two weeks.”  However, if the shutdown continues beyond this period, the courts would need to eliminate any functions not “necessary and essential to continue the resolution of cases.”  Also payments to jurors, public defenders, and court-appointed attorneys would be deferred. 

Note that is a useful source of information about the operation of the federal court system, rules and procedures, and court careers.  There are also links to other related sites.