Law library to offer wireless Internet

COVINGTON - The Newton County Law Library will soon offer wireless Internet access to lawyers and the general public for legal research.

Internet service is already available in the library, located on the second floor of the Newton County Judicial Center, but the wireless option is an effort to make the facility more accessible and user-friendly for the community, Superior Court Judge Samuel D. Ozburn said.

Now, rather than being confined to a cubicle, those doing Internet research can sit anywhere in the library, or even out in the hallway, and use their laptops, Ozburn said.

The new service will also make it easier to look up relevant cases during court proceedings, he said.

Currently, such research is often done from law books that can be heavy and cumbersome to carry, or proceedings sometimes come to a halt while the attorney visits the law library, he said.

"This wireless Internet will make this research tool, the law and cases available instantly in the courtroom to me, my law clerk and the attorneys representing the parties," Ozburn said.

Access to Westlaw and Lexis Nexis will be available, and eventually other Web sites may be added, depending upon requests from attorneys and the public, he said.

An informational meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 14 in Superior Courtroom Three on the second floor of the Judicial Center, located at 1132 Usher St. A demonstration and explanation of how to access the new service will be given. The public is invited to attend and bring their own laptops or follow along on an overhead screen.

Ozburn said many citizens aren't aware there is a law library available for public use, adding that it can be a helpful service to anyone doing legal research.

"The percentage of people choosing to represent themselves is really going up," he said.

Ozburn attributed that trend to the availability of resources on the Internet and the inability to afford an attorney.

In addition to law books and other legal resources, the library offers publications that explain the law in layman's terms and deal with subjects like landlord/tenant and contract disputes.

The library is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

All counties are required by statute to provide a public law library. The library is funded through surcharges on complaints filed in the clerk's office and is managed and operated by a board of trustees chaired by Ozburn. Board members are Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson, Probate Judge Henry Baker, Clerk of Superior Courts Linda D. Hays and attorneys Edward Crudup and David Strickland.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.