Internet for Law Enforcement: Sources and Information

By Scuro, Joseph E., Jr. | Law & Order, December 2000 | Go to article overview

Internet for Law Enforcement: Sources and Information


Scuro, Joseph E., Jr., Law & Order


INSIDE JUSTICE

The Internet can be used as a highly effective tool in researching legal issues and legislative matters. It can aid in discovering information that may be of relevance in the development and enhancement of criminal investigations and formal prosecutions, as well as provide assistance in the defense of federal and state civil litigation against police departments and their personnel sued individually.

The databases and other sources cited here are not recommended as the exclusive sources of the information sought to be obtained. On the contrary, they are suggested as an alternative and time-efficient means of obtaining preliminary legal research and other information. It is imperative, given the tendency for inaccurate or untimely information on some databases, to confirm with the primary source of information, or official record custodian, the accuracy of the information that is contained therein.

The "Internet" is the worldwide network of computers containing an almost infinite variety of information and databases. The "World Wide Web" links computer networks with what is referred to as "hypertext." Hypertext is the important link that connects to all other resources located on the "Web." The "Uniform Resource Locator," or "URL," is the computer address on the Internet that is the key for accessing the sources of information related research or other information sought by either police legal advisor, law enforcement executive or criminal investigator initiating the search for relevant research `materials.

Some of the more comprehensive sources of legal research information on the Internet are as follows:

From the Bureau of National Affairs in Washington, D.C.: Criminal Law Reports:

http://www.bna.com/resources/CWB United States Law Week Supreme

Court Today:

http://www.bna.com/resources/LWT

United States Law Week:

http://www.bna.com/resources/LAW2

ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct:

http://www.bna.com/resources/MPC

BNA's World Wide Web Home Page:

http://www.bna.com

Some of the commercial on-line providers of legal research and other collateral information on the Internet include, but are not limited to, the following:

Lexis/NEXIS:

http://www.lexis-nexis.com

Westlaw:

http://www.westlaw.com

Federal Court Finder:

http://www.law.emory.edu/FEDCTS

FindLaw:

http://www.findlaw.com

Internet Legal Resources Guide:

http://www.ilrg.com

Law Library Resources Xchange:

http://www.llrx.com

Law Runner:

http://www.lawrunner.com

LOIS Law Library:

http://www.pita.com

Meta-Index for U.S. Legal Research:

The Legal Pad:

http://www.legal-pad.com

Although there are certainly additional sources of information related to legal research, and matters related to more formal legal aspects of researching legal issues, the indicated Internet World Wide Web Sites can access formal court opinions and decisions of recent vintage, statutes and their judicial interpretation, access to legal forms and procedural guides, administrative codes and other research sources.

In addition, also made available is such information as jury instructions, attorney general opinions, local court rules and an almost infinite variety of information related to the legal profession and its impact on the law enforcement community and other aspects of daily activities.

Invariably, each state and local government has a database on the Internet that will provide information related specifically to municipal codes, public safety records, minutes and agendas of public meetings by governmental agencies, real property records, business licenses, official criminal records and arrest histories, and even the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of public officials. …

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