Can I Rely On The Library's Material?
Is It Accurate? What About Legal Stuff Generally?
A 'Lectric Law Library FAQ
! IMPORTANT !
Although we try to insure the Library's holdings are accurate and virus-free, we ONLY guarantee that it contains no intentional mistakes or defects and has no fraudulent, unlawful or improper purpose.
Otherwise there is no guarantee made or implied about the accuracy, currency, usefulness, functionality, safety, toxicity or anything else regarding the Library or anything in it, near it, related to it, or connected with it in any way. Use it at your own risk!
This means that if you use the Library's material for whatever purpose and, due to our completely negligent and idiotic error, you are embarrassed, imprisoned, bankrupted, flunked, deported, divorced, molested, castigated, outcast, crucified, sickened, beaten, drowned, excommunicated, ridiculed or elected to high public office - don't bitch to us about it. - From Ralf's Library Tour
NOTE TO LEGAL PROFESSIONALS: You can skip this part. If you don't already follow its advice you are (or will soon be): fired; disbarred; in jail; being sued; hiding from clients; under investigation; all of the above, or; serving on the Supreme Court.
Important Hints For Students, Pro Ses & Other Lay People
1. Be careful in using any of our material. While we try to insure the Library's holdings are accurate and current there is no guarantee we've always succeeded. Before using it in a real-life situation check it against a current "official" copy at your local law library or elsewhere. And this is good advice for all legal info, no matter the source. It's even rumored that the government can screw things up.
2. The laws and rules are always changing. Don't rely on your memory or old books. Remember what our Head Librarian Ralf claims to have told Aristotle, or Plato... or Pluto: "There's nothing more dangerous than an outdated lawbook -- except maybe a pissed-off judge."
3. Even if something is accurate - in context - it may not be as applied to your specific situation. For example, a form, procedure, or other information may be entirely accurate as it applies to Alabama but if you use it in Wyoming you'll be immediately burned at the stake. So please contact an appropriate professional or go to the law library.
4. Be aware that much legal information can only be a static snapshot of a constantly changing, growing, evolving concept. Also, with many subjects (e.g. many court procedural rules), even if you completely understand them, You Don't. For an approximation of what is really required in practice you can start at a real law library. However, with that said, you should also realize that certain - some say all - legal questions (e.g. to whom & what do RICO - racketeering - laws apply) have no firm, unchanging answer. This is one of the main reasons judges exist.
5. Despite what some may say, a normally intelligent person can figure out the answer to most legal questions - if they spend enough time and effort. But, do you want to spend 6 weeks learning and researching how to deal with a legal issue when a legal professional might only charge a small amount to do it?
6. Advice for lay people who will be appearing in court: Unless you're a masochist or trying to lay a foundation for an insanity defense when addressing a judge you should refer to him/her as "Your Honor" - NOT "Your Highness", "Your Holiness", "Buddy", "Sweetie", etc., and, no matter how attractive he/she is, DON'T hit on the Judge while court's in session. This may be one of the few times you should watch what the lawyers do and act like them. Just be careful you don't make it a habit! Finally, read some of the Library's transcripts, especially the ones in our News Room from the Freeman proceedings, and do the exact opposite.
7. A last bit of advice for now: If you're not sure what you're supposed to do in a given legal situation don't just wing it. Check the laws, rules, commentaries, etc. - and if you're still not sure, Get Advice From Someone Who Knows. For procedural matters a judge's or court's clerk may be able to help, while on matters of law - understanding the difference between the two is about as easy a nailing jello to the wall - contact a knowledgeable legal professional.