News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Free Online Research Tools:

  Oyez is a multimedia archive dedicated to providing free access for all to materials from and about the Supreme Court of the United States. The project is maintained by Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII), the Chicago-Kent College of Law, and An audio recording system was installed in the Court in October of 1955, and Oyez offers an extensive collection of transcript-synchronized and searchable audio recordings. Audio recordings can be accessed by locating a case, then clicking on the oral argument link. Once the media window opens, users can search within the transcript, play the entire recording, or click on a paragraph in the transcript to jump to that clip in the recording. Unfortunately, not all post-1955 cases have audio recordings available due to degradation of the original reels and other issues as explained here.

Oyez also features full text Supreme Court opinions, along with case summaries and decision information. If you are interested in learning more about individual justices from any time in the Court’s history, Oyez has detailed biographies. You can also view a virtual tour of the Supreme Court building and justices’ chambers.

Anti-SLAPP Legislation Proposed in Congress

US Capitol Building From consumer reviews, to speaking out on other matters of public concern, social media makes it easy for anyone to share their opinion on just about anything. But sharing critical opinions may cause some commentators to become the targets of lawsuits called strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP).  SLAPP suits are often filed by businesses against online reviewers in reaction to the reviewers’ negative comments about the business or its products. These types of suits are also filed in relation to other matters of public concern, and have a chilling effect on free speech in many forms of media. Several states have passed anti-SLAPP legislation that helps protect consumers and others from being silenced. However, this patchwork of legislation has led to forum shopping by plaintiffs and costly litigation for defendants.

Congress is now stepping in to the fray with HR 2304. Known as the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015, the bill is a bipartisan effort that would amend the federal judicial code to allow the defendant in a SLAPP suit to file a special motion to dismiss the claims. The suit in question must arise from statements, other expression or conduct by the defendant in connection with an official proceeding or matter of public concern. The bill defines “matter of public concern” as an “issue related to: (1) health or safety; (2) environmental, economic, or community well-being; (3) the government; (4) a public official or public figure; or (5) a good, product, or service in the marketplace.” The full text of the bill is available on, where you can also find related information and set up tracking alerts.

Fair warning: Ohio does not have anti-SLAPP laws, so think twice before you eviscerate your local pizza parlor on Yelp.

Updated Ohio Constitution Guide



Looking for information on the Ohio Constitution and current constitutional issues? Check out the Ohio Constitution – Law and History Guide, which has recently been updated. This research guide includes references to primary and secondary sources, information on Ohio’s previous constitutions and conventions, tables tracking proposed amendments, suggested resources by topic, and more.

The Court Decisions tab features brief summaries of Ohio Supreme Court opinions weighing in on constitutional law issues, now including very recent 2016 opinions. The research guide also features information on pending cases, and links to the Supreme Court’s docket and video recordings of oral arguments.

A new table was just added to track Proposed Bills and Resolutions that amend the Constitution and are currently before the Ohio Legislature. If you are looking for proposed amendments decided by Ohio voters, those can still be found under the Table of Proposed Amendments and Votes.

Another source for current constitutional issues is the Ohio Constitution News blog, operated in conjunction with the research guide.

Keep in mind that proposed amendments and constitutional revisions can be good fodder for upper level research papers.

Former Cleveland-Marshall Dean had Connections to Current Supreme Court Nominee

Back in 1997, Merrick Garland, President Obama’s current nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, was a high-ranking official in the Justice Department who was providing legal oversight and supervision for the prosecution of the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh.

federalcourtsimmigrationAt that time, Geoffrey Mearns, C|M Law’s Dean from 2005-2010, was working as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Garland recommended Mearns to be added to the trial team that helped prosecute McVeigh’s accomplice, Terry Nichols.

Mearns, who is now President of Northern Kentucky University, gave several interviews to local Kentucky news stations about his connection to Garland including these two from WCPO in Kentucky, and

The Oklahoma City Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, on April 19th, 1995 was the worst act of homegrown terrorism in U.S. History.

Next Week is Sunshine Week

Sun clip art

Did you know that March 13-19 is Sunshine Week? Celebrating its 11th year, Sunshine Week is a nationwide initiative to highlight the importance of freedom of information and government transparency. Sunshine Week was started by the American Society of News Editors in 2005, later joined by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and includes participation by news media, government officials, academic institutions, libraries, and all people interested in open government. One of the main goals of Sunshine Week is to empower the public to get involved in all levels of government and to gain access to government information that can strengthen communities and individuals.

Why should a law student care about Sunshine Week? First, government information includes legal information. Think about administrative law and all of the regulations that impact people’s daily lives. Imagine if agencies could conduct their entire rule-making process in secret, instead of with the notice, comment, and review procedures in place today. Second, think about available internships and your future career plans. It is very likely that you may need to file FOIA requests and gain access to information about government agencies and officials. Finally, you are a member of the public, yes? You have a right to know what your government is doing and why, and a duty to be an informed citizen.

Want to learn more about Ohio’s Sunshine Laws, FOIA, and open government? Keep visiting our blog throughout the week!

Get ready for Sunshine Week by testing your First Amendment knowledge with this quiz.

Read different perspectives on Open Government with these Sunshine Week opinion pieces.

Highlighted events:

  • Monday! Speakers from the National Archive and the Office of Government Information Services will discuss the use of technology to further open government (live streaming available via YouTube), click here for more information.
  • Wednesday, March 16th and Thursday, March 17th the US Census Bureau is holding public workshops discussing the Bureau’s Open Government Plan, FOIA, Records Management, and more. The workshops are free, but registration is required to receive call-in information for participating off-site, click here for more details.