Wikisource talk:WikiProject Law

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To note that I have added the project to the {{active projects}} rotation. This means that it will appear 1 week in 10 in the {{welcome}} banner. If someone wants to have this as a marker on their page, one just needs to have {{active projects/base|image=Scale of justice 2.svg|project=Law|Wikisource:WikiProject Law}}

Sidenotes[edit]

A discussion point. With legislation there are many sidenotes, and traditionally we have topped and bottomed with {{sidenotes begin}} & {{sidenotes end}}, and used {{left sidenote}} & {{right sidenote}}. And now that we have Page: namespace and now transclude to the main namespace, we end up up with bow saw look. To manage that we then created {{LR sidenote}} which forced sidenotes to the right.

The issue with all of this is that with this setup is that forcing sidenotes to the right is problematic for viewing in a web environment where we cannot control the left margin, the sidenotes disappear on some screens. So it comes to the situation that we probably should be forcing sidenotes to the left, hence, I have now created {{RL sidenote}} to replace {{right sidenote}} which places on Right in Page: ns and on the left in main ns.

The next part of the issue is that we have fully justified text, and that can be problematic with some of the legislation and in general on web pages. To address this part I recently added an align option to sidenotes. Also to note, that I am considering that we could even look to utilise the recent template {{overfloat left}} in conjunction with {{left sidenote}}/{{RL sidenote}} to control how the page presents when transcluded and to be more of a web document, rather than to totally represent what has been traditionally produced in legislative publications. — billinghurst sDrewth 10:36, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Templates to review[edit]

The following are existing WS templates, and they could do with review for functionality, extensibility and recommendation for use or deletion. If to keep, to look to document. Thanks.

Proposed courtopinion class for Common.css[edit]

I proposed adding a class for styling court opinions to Common.css, go check it out and discuss. Cheers, stephen (talk) 02:47, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Bulk import of US Code[edit]

I want to do a bulk import of the US Code, and I want to hear your thoughts on the details.

I'm sure you've seen the ascii version of each title of the US Code from house.gov. It is consistently formatted and appears to be regularly updated (does anyone happen to know how often?). I made a script that can parse that file and will be able to output in a form that pywikipediabot can add to WS. The script is still a work in progress, but here is a quick overview:

At the moment, the script does a few basic things: indents via :, applies templates and fills in the available information, breaks up each section (AMENDMENTS becomes ==AMENDMENTS==, etc); and wikifies citations (including to Statutes at Large) using the WikifyCite Tool.

I see that there is been a lot of discussion about how to organize the Code. To keep the pages organized as new versions come along, I say we disambiguate by date of modification indicated in the house.gov ascii file. For example, United States Code/Title 17/Chapter 1/Sec. 104 (01/05/2009). The page 17 USC Sec. 104 and perhaps ../Sec. 104 can redirect to the current version. When a new version is imported, the old version remains but the redirect changes. A field in the header template (current = no) can flag old versions and provide a link to the current version.

I see that there has been some good work on a few areas of the code, so I am interested in hearing any suggestions on style and formatting conventions. Cheers, stephen (talk) 05:21, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

Generally, "they" say the code is "updated" in early February, but that's a load of crock - its almost always incomplete in some way or another and their method of using supplements to designated base years just makes matters more complicated.


EDIT → see the discussion page for the yearly revision schedule. Full revisions happen every 6 years - the latest being 2006 George Orwell III (talk) 22:30, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, that will be useful! Is there any reason we should follow the GPO's Base Year + Supplement structure? I think that would result in too many redundant pages on Wikisource.
Well I would think whatever is best for your script and the import process should be dictating if starting with the 2006 revision is optimal or not. I would think following the OLC's releases for at least 2006 to current is a good place to start to test all this and worry about previous revisions of the USC afterwards-- but I have no real objection to trying the below way ( I can always delete mistakes and junk if need be ). Also, I believe a test run using Title 1 or Title 4 makes more sense than anything approaching ~1000 sections like Title 6 would.
I think we should transclude the page from its most recent amendment. For example: since 6 U.S.C. § 494 was last amended in 2002, the actual statute will be located at United States Code (2002)/Title 6/Chapter 1/Subchapter IX/Sec. 494. The current year--United States Code (2009)/Title 6/Chapter 1/Subchapter IX/Sec. 494--transcludes that section via {{:United States Code (2002)/Title 6/Chapter 1/Subchapter IX/Sec. 494}}. See the most recent update of the formatting script for an example output. stephen (talk) 23:14, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
This is making the best out of imperfect situation since its the enactment or effective date that dictates if a change or addition is legally in effect a given point in time or not. The fact that the change or addition isn't published as codified until early on (Jan. Feb. or March it seems) in the year to follow, this enactment or effective date makes insuring citation accuracy problematic to say the least. Fortunately, these instances are not going to be the norm but the exception.
I guess the best thing to do is look at recent court cases and recent public laws to see what is the most commonly used USC citation in use and then decide. It would make wiki-linking and related easier to apply through out, no? George Orwell III (talk) 00:09, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
I've thought a bit about how to approach the U.S.C. subject on WS when that somebody submitted it for deletion awhile back and it didn't seem like importing the latest (or older) revisions of sections/titles would be worth tackling considering the work involved in such a project -- but my skill set is limited.
In the end, creating a universal template that links to the OLC, GPO or the coming nextgen FDsys hosted revisions of the code seemed like a better solution in providing readers with working citations typical found within various U.S. "legal docs". George Orwell III (talk) 06:25, 2 July 2010 (UTC)


I understand the concerns about keeping it current, but I don't see those problems as being enough of a reason not to be bold and give it our best try. For simplicity's sake, I propose keeping the current version of a Code section at its regular page (e.g. United States Code/Title 17/Chapter 1/Sec. 104) and keeping older versions archived by date. Otherwise, what you're proposing sounds awesome, stephen.
I'm afraid the technical details of scripts and .css are above my pay grade. I really appreciate that you're more skilled than I am in this area. Keep up the good work! - LegalSkeptic (talk) 19:22, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
The issue is not one of current versus past - don't buy into that argument as it was laid out originally by somebody who found keeping level of mayhem constant over on WP preferable than working to resolve it here thru expanding the legal "library". The idea of completely deleting the U.S. Code was unrealistic.
Since the U.S. Code, no matter what year or revision or any other sub-classification one can dream-up for it, is 100% exempt from the frequent copyright problems other works more and more frequently fall into, the issue is not so much with what you're proposing. The reality is that simply pulling pages down from something like code.house.gov won't fly for long around here - even though these are well establish, public-domain, not-likely-to-disappear, government run archives for the most part. Nobody has an axe to grind or anything - they are just not familiar with those type of archives and feel no external source is truly reliable enough to pass for acceptable contributions. Seems like nothing but redundant busy work to me but I'm in the minority on that one & being a bit more familiar with the U.S. government run archives than most.
Gauging my perceived general growing disdain for non-scanned-then-uploaded works of late, I just think attempting this route of furthering the U.S. Code project without providing some form of easy & automatic verifiable source, such as uploaded .djvu scans, at the same time will not be a acceptable form of contribution eventually (imho). George Orwell III (talk) 20:07, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
I find it useful, actually, to have obsolete versions of the U.S. Code available, as long as they are designated as obsolete. Code services that seek to present only the current U.S. Code do a disservice to legal historians. BD2412 T 15:40, 3 July 2010 (UTC)
I agree, we should include both current and obsolete versions of the code. I want to start by completing a current version, but I want to be sure to make room for both older and newer versions of the code. After mulling it over, it might be a better idea to disambiguate the parent page, United States Code. For example, United States Code (2009)/Title 17/Chapter 1/Sec. 104. Instead of reuploading the whole code each year, the best approach would be a transclusion from (or soft redirect to?) the last date that section was updated. (Since § 104 was last amended in 1998, the actual text of § 104 will be located at United States Code (1998)/Title 17/Chapter 1/Sec. 104 and transcluded from there until it is amended again).
I also agree that it is ideal to include a source to verify the text. We could convert to DjVu and upload the PDF versions that FDSYS makes available, but it does not appear that match and split will work if there is not a text layer in the DjVu. The transclusion approach makes this even more complicated (I doubt the proofread extension will cooperate, and uploading many many redundant sections of the code sounds like a bad solution).
Cheers, stephen (talk) 21:59, 3 July 2010 (UTC)
Well I'm in agreement that the more revisions of the Code & their source documents that we have hosted, the better (and more credible) WS is. However, my limited skill set in the enrire PDF → djvu area (plus that whole php scripting importation of this thing or that your bot did) and the proposed approach run contrary with my knowledge (or maybe naive belief??) of things to come - especially from FDsys. It just doesn't seem like it is necessary to convert, upload, proofread, verify then transclude the last 10 years of the Code's revisions. That seems like an awful lot of work doesn't it??? My lack of understanding may be getting in the way here but isn't it easier to use the GPO provided collections for the recent stuff and worry about obtaining and hosting the pre-2000-ish base and supplemental revisions of the code as needed instead??
Also, I've been wondering if GPO's bulk XML data makes things easier to import or host on WS in any way?? I know the USC hasn't been provided yet but that CFR xml stuff sure looks alot easier to work from than doing the whole PDF to transclusion thing.George Orwell III (talk) 22:45, 3 July 2010 (UTC)
It would not be too hard to do a bot import of the text of the Code from the GPO (and if the source is in XML, it is even easier). It wouldn't be too hard to upload the corresponding PDFs, either. Things get complicated when we try to allign everything in the ProofRead Page extension. Proofreading will be very time consuming, but that is just the nature of manually verifying a text.
Good to know re:XML -- well I'm faced with a similar situation over on the Executive Orders project. Most of the content is the way I found it over a year ago; from Reagan on forward the content was bulk created in 2006, had spotty bulk creations of HTML-ish text for 2007 & 2008 and then left pretty much untouched until I came along. None of it was properly organized or cited, never mind having corresponding scanned djvu's uploaded or anything like that. I figured fixing what's already created while we hunted down uploadable sources for both the pre- & post-Reagan EOs was the logical place to start. Eventually, I planned on cutting and pasting good content over whatever quality page scans I'd get around to uploading in the near future and then transcluding it back to the existing article namespaces. I don't see anything wrong with doing the same here (import content first then use that to fix/compliment the uploaded Indexes & Pages) as there are already a few USC title "trees" in place to prune and expand on.
LOCKSS is interesting--is it related to this LOCKSS? stephen (talk) 00:08, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
YES see here George Orwell III (talk) 00:35, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

Proposed case name guide[edit]

After a bit of discussion about naming Supreme Court cases, here is a proposed guide on court case names in general: User:Slaporte/Case_Name_Guide. Cheers, stephen (talk) 03:22, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

{{USC}}[edit]

Is this template useful? Seems it is low-functionality version of {{usc}}. I have removed it from the citation template table, and if you want to get rid of it for simplicity, I will add it to an ongoing WS:PD request. Inductiveloadtalk/contribs 02:06, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

The real reason for that template's low usage is that nobody has taken up fixing any of the articles/works where that template's particular output syntax is the primary one used for citations throughout the work yet. A good portion of those templates basically all "do" the same thing but have slightly different output text on top of some variations on the target URLs. I was never a fan of having all those incarnations personally, but that's the way they were copied from WP before I got here and fixed some to function on WS properly.
I once thought that consolidating some of the templates would be possible but it seemed more work than I could wrap my arms around at the time & simply cleaned any stray use of this and one or two other templates as much as possible in anticipation for just such a discussion and eventuality. George Orwell III (talk) 02:46, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
So you want me to add it to the WS:PD list? Inductiveloadtalk/contribs 04:33, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
I'd rather it not be deleted. I know the occasional legal-ish imports from WP have tappered off of late but as long as it is part of the WP table of templates and it is in use over there, I don't see what is gained by deleting it now just to build/restore it again later. George Orwell III (talk) 04:58, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, no problem. I took it out of the citation template table while I was trimming the red links. Feel free to put it back if you want Inductiveloadtalk/contribs 05:09, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

Cases with more than one published opinion[edit]

I've been thinking about how to handle cases with more than one published opinion. The typical example of what I mean is that a District Court publishes an opinion in Smith v. Jones. Then the Court of Appeals publishes a decision. Then perhaps there's an en banc decision or a Supreme Court decision. I was playing around with the ACLU v. NSA pages and created the following format:

I thought this made the opinions easier to find relative to each other. What do you guys think? Note that this is only for the same case being appealed, not for cases that happen to have the same name, which should just be disambiguated the way we've been doing. Also note that it's Smith v. Jones/citation, not Smith v. Jones/Circuit Court, to allow for multiple rulings by the same court.

-LegalSkeptic (talk) 15:32, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

I think that organizing case history is a great idea. Instead of subpages, I think we should just use disambig style pages. With subpages, things get complicated. All SCOTUS opinions will end up going in subpages. Cases with common names will get crazy (see United States v. Smith... neither US v. Smith (75 U.S. 587)/[district court cite] or US v. Smith ([district court cite])/75 U.S. 587 is really intuitive). It's probably best to avoid subpages, but we should definitely have a history/navigation page, either on the case disambig or elsewhere. Cheers, stephen (talk) 16:22, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
I can definitely see the cases with common names getting crazy - that is, what happens when there are different cases with the same name, and each has different opinions from different courts? I suppose my method works best on well-known cases that aren't already in need of disambiguation. Perhaps a combination of a disambiguation page plus a category (e.g., the two ACLU v. NSA opinions would be in Category:ACLU v. NSA) would be best? LegalSkeptic (talk) 16:44, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
How about an infobox for the disambiguation page, or just a simple list? One disambig page could easily fit the case history for each case with that name. A category would also work, although I think categories are better suited for large numbers of pages that need the automatic indexing. Cheers, stephen (talk) 07:15, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
So what about an infobox that looks something like this:
Case history
Certiorari denied without comment

United States Supreme Court (2008)

Tiwaz rune.svg
American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency, 493 F.3d 644

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2007)

Tiwaz rune.svg
American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency, 438 F. Supp. 2d 754

United States District Court for Eastern Michigan (2006)

I'm not exactly sure how to illustrate a remand, but I think this model would work. We could also label the arrows (appeal, petition for writ of mandamus, etc) if we really wanted to get detailed. Here is the big question: do you think the case history should go up or down? Cheers, stephen (talk) 22:58, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
That's awesome, thanks! I am going to have to ponder the up/down issue for a while. My first thought was that since you read top to bottom, it makes more sense for it to be chronological with the earlier opinion on top. But using down arrows to appeal to a higher court would be weird. And realistically, most cases will only have Supreme Court opinions for the time being, so perhaps it makes sense to put them on top. LegalSkeptic (talk) 13:32, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
It's operational at {{Case history}}. The above can be generated like this:
{{Case history
 | trial_name = American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency
 | trial_cite = 438 F. Supp. 2d 754
 | trial_court = United States District Court for Eastern Michigan
 | trial_date = 2006
 | appeal1_cite = 493 F.3d 644
 | appeal1_court = United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 | appeal1_date = 2007
 | appeal2_cite = none
 | appeal2_name = '''Certiorari denied''' without comment
 | appeal2_court = United States Supreme Court
 | appeal2_date = 2008
}}
Cheers, stephen (talk) 03:44, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Open Jurist links on case reporter pages[edit]

Once a volume of a reporter has been imported by Benchbot, is it still desirable for that volume's page to have external links to Open Jurist, or should those links be changed to internal links?

- LegalSkeptic (talk) 01:48, 17 February 2011 (UTC)


Personally I say internal links, but that just might be me. Wabbit98 talk, 6:00pm (PST), 16 February 2011
I wholeheartedly agree—we should favor links within Wikisource. I think internal links make Wikisoruce a better research tool by making it more interconnected. Eventually, we will probably need a policy similar to w:Wikipedia:External links. In general, if the text is on Wikisource, we should try to link to Wikisource. The best place for a link to OpenJurist (or public.resource.org) is on the case's Talk page. I can adjust the lists generated here and work on some other tools to make it easier to switch to internal links. I'm glad you brought this up! Cheers, stephen (talk) 07:42, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
No scans of case of opinions = need for external links to case opinions for verification purposes. Removal of such links, at this stage, makes all this work "hearsay" unfortunately. Its as simple as that - put em' back. — George Orwell III (talk) 12:33, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
But wouldn't the link to the source on a case's talk page be sufficient for verification? - LegalSkeptic (talk) 14:35, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
The source we "supposedly" pulled the content down from to begin with? Where's the independent, well-established 3rd party verification capability that I as an unfamiliar visitor to this site would like to have to insure the content is in fact credible? Source is a different function than verification isn't it?

Look, I've seen this dance a dozen times before on WS. We can streamline the content to the nth Wikipedian-best-practices degree but without scans, we are no better than any other site's content. Actually providing such scans are beyond realistic given the amount of work needed to accomplish such a huge upload & transcription... so we hobble along by linking to Jurist and piggy-back our work to their credibility (for now). I don't like it but these are the facts at hand I'm afraid and without giving the reader the ability to verify content this is all for not. — George Orwell III (talk) 14:57, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Hey, how is it going George! So we are uploading the bulk content from public.resource.org. More information on that source is available here. OpenJurist also uses the same source, so our text is similar, but we definitely do not pull any content from OpenJurist. We should verify against public.resource.org, or even better, a printed copy of the U.S. Reports.
What's your point. I know what your pullin' cause I'm here correcting it day after day. Links to OpenJurist are a well-established, recognized and, right now, easily accessed way to verify content Separate from our source, Bulk.resource.org, an unrecognized entity to the public at large for the most part.
Right now, there is a link to a case's volume on public.resource.org in the {{textinfo}} for every case (actually, per your suggestion, I think!). I agree that verification is important, but I'm not convinced that an external link is necessary on the list of cases in the U.S. Reporter. It's useful for me at the moment, but only because we have yet to upload all of the cases to Wikisoruce. I think there should be a centralized, standard place for external links for verification, and I think the best place is the case's page (/talk page). If we want to make it easier to compare to external versions of the same text, perhaps we could put some external links in the footer of the case ("See this case on Public.resource.org, Findlaw, OpenJurist, Cornell, etc..."). On the rest of Wikisource, we should favor internal/interwiki links. Cheers, stephen (talk) 18:00, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
The link to case info on the talk page is to our source. Do not pollute the citing and unfortunate linking to our source with Another link for verification. Since we don't have scans, the point everybody continues to sidestep, for verification puposes, I believe "leaving a way" without "forcing the issue" for folks to verify the content, if they choose, to should be in place. Of course, that should be done on the hoome-made lists based on the court reporters not in the easily tracked textinfo template. They are NOT the real court reporter lists anyway - no judges, no case #'s, no term, etc. It is the logical place to "corrupt" with 3rd party links since it a bastard for the most part anyway. If it where wrote from the actual court-reporters then some other subtle way to obtain verification, IF the reader so chooses, would be needed to be dreamed up.

It's working just fine the way it is... Q - U - I - E - T - L - Y fulfilling any questions on verification (if asked) independent of our (i.e. missing scans) source. — George Orwell III (talk) 19:26, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

I understand if you want to have links to a verification other than the source. I'm going to leave the remaining Open Jurist links alone unless there's consensus to do otherwise. As a caveat for our own verification purposes, we should keep in mind that as stephen said, Open Jurist also pulled its content from bulk.resource.gov, so while verifying it that way may make a casual user feel better, it won't actually accomplish much, since any errors that may have made their way into bulk.resource.gov will be present in both our copy and the Open Jurist copy. I really am sorry if stephen or I frustrated you. Just keep in mind that we're not trying to "pull" anything. - LegalSkeptic (talk) 20:05, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I know you're not trying to pull anything - but I'm not suppose to assume anything on a site who's mission it is to reproduce set content as originally published with minimal subjective presentation am I? This is not Wikipedia where folks regurgitate somebody else's POV and then bicker about its validity - there is no such thing as a good-faith edit here, Either you have posted the content as it was originally published or you haven't - it's as simple as that. Other sites will have to serve as the fall-back verification (if the reader doubts WS credibility) in light of the omission of scans here on WS of the original content as it was published. If this is still a problem, and believe me right now its not but keep bringing it up or quoting Wikipedia and things can change toot-sweet, then start uploading the scans for verification purposes instead of the clumsy workaround(s) already in place. — George Orwell III (talk) 21:29, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Government's Sentencing Memorandum: United States of America vs Harold Turner[edit]

Would someone who does nomenclature, please put this article into the right place, and do your local magic to it. Thanks. — billinghurst sDrewth 00:45, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

I've made a note of reviewing it, but I'd much rather pull down an official PDF copy of it from PACER.gov and upload it as a djvu soon after. Unfortunately, I'm up to my elbows in hidden-text layer experiments & Congressional Research Service reports (not to mention I don't even have a throw away account at PACER yet) so it might be 2 to 4 days before I can address it. Hopefully, one of the regulars in this Project will see this before then, but touchback w/me if this is still floating about unresolved at the end of the coming weekend. — George Orwell III (talk) 01:08, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, I just moved it to a more conventional name. I haven't done anything substantial to it though. LegalSkeptic (talk) 01:20, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Needs home ...[edit]

Public Law 108-476 recent addition. — billinghurst sDrewth 14:03, 18 April 2011 (UTC)