The Entire U.S. Code. On Your Phone

Do you have some spare memory sitting around on your iPhone and you don’t know what to do with it? How about loading it up with the entire United States Code? The drawback is the space investment, but the very real benefit is access to the Code whether or not you have a live internet connection. Very handy in those rural District courts.

U.S. Code is the creation of Assistant Professor Shawn Bayern, currently teaching at Florida State University College of Law. Professor Bayern graduated from Yale University in 1999 and the University of California at Berkeley in 2006. Not suprisingly, before his legal career, he worked in computing research, served on groups responsible for developing programming languages, and wrote several books and articles about computer programming. Professor Bayern relates that he helped design JSP and some other Java-related languages, but then dropped that effort to go to law school.  He always knew he wanted to teach, but not in the computer science field.

Professor Bayern has married his interests in computers and law by creating an application of unique interest to lawyers and researchers. The app is free and, as Professor Bayern explains, designed to be useful.

Professor Bayern contacted me last week about his app and I have now had a chance to try it out. It took quite some time to download and searches are not lightning-fast, but are not intolerably slow either. The simple interface permits searching by keywords (with auto-complete) or citation. You also can browse by title, section and subsection. When you enter a particular section, you can navigate back and forth between sections via arrows, bookmark a favorite section and email it to someone or somewhere for printing. You can view either in portrait or landscape mode. Search terms are highlighted. Entries include the language of the section and codification and amendment information.

There is nothing more than what is absolutely needed to find a Code section. There is a caveat, however, to keep in mind when using the app (link here). U.S. Code  includes the latest “official” Code sections, but does not include the most recent updates via public laws. Those most recent updates can be found in the traditional, paid resources. U.S. Code might certainly is a handy “in-hand” resource, but it should not be considered the last and final word on the law, particularly if your research results will be showing up in court papers, pleadings or motions.

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