E-briefs – Organizing documents for E-Z Reading

Writing for on-screen readers –  Article by James D. Dimitri

Want to insure that your arguments, as presented within your electronically filed brief, are received well by the judge?  Courts are moving to required electronic filing of usdcnc_imagedocuments.  The Northern District of California requires that new civil cases be filed electronically.  (There are some exceptions.)

James D. Dimitri, in a recently released article (see link below to access full text document), provides suggestions on formatting an electronic filing and also discusses the reason why this is important.  The main one is to insure that your arguments are easily conveyed to the judge.

Here are some of the discussion highlights:

What difficulties do judges face when they use electronic devices to read briefs ? As we all do, they:

  • Struggle to see how the document is organized and, thus, may easily lose their place in the document.
  • Are distracted while reading the document.
  • Skim the document rather than reading it line by line, looking for cues that lead to the most important information in the document.

Here is a summary of some of Professor Dimitri’s suggestions on how to improve the layout for a brief to insure your work is read as you might wish:

  • Make headings a central feature of the document.
  • Use scientific enumeration to label headings. (“I.A, I.B, II.A, II.B, etc.” Discussed in Dimitri’s article.)
  • Use left-aligned, substantive point headings in briefs.
  • Use hyperlinks, but don’t overuse them.
  • Use bookmarks.
  • Be concise.
  • Use consistent terminology in the document to facilitate searching within the document.
  • Use clear, informative introductions and topic sentences.
  • Use lists.
  • Use reader-friendly pagination.

“WordWise: Writing for Screen Readers in the Wake of Indiana’s E-Filing Initiative” by James D. Dimitri, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of La, December 7, 2015  Full text available on Social Science Research Network site – HERE 

Here is the abstract of the article:

ABSTRACT: In light of this move to e-filing, lawyers should recognize that, in the near future, the documents they submit to Indiana’s courts probably will be read by judges on screen rather than on paper. Indeed, in other jurisdictions where e-filings are accepted, many judges prefer to use electronic devices — particularly electronic tablets such as iPads — to read documents.

Of course, this shift by judges to screen reading is important for the efficiency it will give them. They will be able to conveniently store, carry, and read many documents on a single, portable device when those documents were once stored and carried in cumbersome physical files.

But the courts’ shift to screen reading is also significant because it will require lawyers to change how they convey information to judges in the documents submitted to them. This “how” includes not only a document’s substantive content but also the document’s appearance on screen — in other words, the document’s design. This change is necessary because skillful writers tailor documents to their readers’ needs and preferences. And research indicates that readers read on-screen documents differently from the way they read paper documents.

This article will provide a basic discussion of why and how you, as a lawyer, may effectively design electronically filed documents to meet the needs of the screen-reader judge.


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Introduction To Public Benefits Appeals – MCLE Program – Monday, February 29, 2016

Introduction to Public Benefits Appeals – MCLE program – Monday, February 29, 2016

On-line registration at http://tinyurl.com/jymusxh


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C’mon, Give Us Some Sugar









Love your law library this month.  Go ahead, we are used to being discrete.  Librarians are known for their “Ssssshhh.”

If you are buying gifts for your primary sweetie on Amazon this year, think of us, too.

Use this special link – http://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-6000109

when you make your purchase and Amazon donates to Alameda County Law Library.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


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2016 Free Tax Help in Alameda County

Tax preparation help for Alameda County residents

Tax season has arrived. (Didn’t it just leave?)  Two organizations in Alameda County have set up tax assistance programs:

Alameda County Social Services – Help for low and moderate income taxpayers

The Alameda County Social Services Agency (SSA) is providing at no cost IRS certified tax preparation assistance to low- and moderate-income taxpayers from January 20, 2016 to April 18, 2016.

Since 2002, SSA Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) preparers have helped taxpayers to receive larger tax refunds by claiming the credits they have earned. acsocialservices_imageThe Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is provided to working families and single or married individuals. Additionally, families and individuals may be eligible for other credits. Individuals and households whose 2015 income was $54,000 or less qualify for the Federal EITC.  You are invited to have your taxes prepared at no cost by our qualified IRS-certified preparers.  Have your tax refund as quickly as 7 to 10 days.

Visit one of the four no cost tax preparation sites to find out if you are eligible.

Contact for more information – 510-271-9141 or email:    vita.eitc@acgov.org.

Additional Services Offered:

  • Tax Preparation for Married Filling Separately for those who qualify; and,
  • Assistance with the completion and submission of Form W-7 by Certified Acceptance Agents (CAA) to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for those who qualify.

Dates:  January 20, 2016- April 18, 2016 (Sites will be closed on February 15, 2016 in observance of Washington’s birthday.)

Site Locations

  • Thomas L. Berkley Self-Sufficiency Center
    2000 San Pablo Ave
    Oakland CA 94612 (map) No Appointments Are Necessary!  Walk-ins are welcome during our hours of operation.
  • Enterprise Office
    8477 Enterprise Way
    Oakland CA 94621 (map) No Appointments Are Necessary!  Walk-ins are welcome during our hours of operation.
  • San Lorenzo Office of Supervisor Wilma Chan
    15903 Hesperian Blvd
    San Lorenzo CA 94580 No Appointments Are Necessary!  Walk-ins are welcome during our hours of operation.
  • Eden Area Multi-Service Center
    24100 Amador St
    Hayward CA 94544 (map) Call (510) 777-2350 for scheduling.


  • Mondays: 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Wednesdays: 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Saturdays: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

What do I bring?

  • Photo ID for each person adult person on tax return
  • Social security or ITIN card for each family member
  • W-2 forms or 1099-MISC, and all other payment documents for all jobs or income received in 2014
  • All 1098,1099 forms & any other tax forms
  • Unemployment income–1099G
  • Form 1095-A, 1095-B, 1095-C, Affordable Health Care statements, or exemption documentation
  • Child care provider information
  • Bank interest statements
  • Landlord’s name, address, and phone number for CA renter’s credit
  • Educational Expenses
  • Copy of 2013 Tax Returns, if available
  • Checking and savings account numbers; and, routing number for direct deposit

Note: Both spouses must be present to sign required forms on a married-filing-joint tax return.


And at the Oakland Public Library

logo-oaklandplThe Oakland Public Library and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) are partnering to offer free tax assistance to residents at selected libraries during the 2015 tax season.  Trained volunteers will be available to answer questions and prepare personal tax returns between February 2, 2016 and April 18, 2016.


Be sure to bring copies of federal and state tax returns for last year and all materials pertaining to your 2015 income.  Come with your spouse if filing jointly.

Dates: February 2, 2016 – April 18, 2016

Site locations

Please call ahead to confirm times.

  • Oakland Main Library, Bradley Walters Community Room (starts Feb. 3; Closed Feb. 15)

Mondays, 10am – 3pm, Wednesdays, 12 – 4pm, Saturdays, 10am – 3pm. No advance appointments:  arrive early to sign up for a time slot. 125 14th Street, (510) 238-3134.

  • César E. Chávez Branch

Thursdays, 10am – 3:30pm. Bilingual Spanish/English. Call for an appointment.  Some walk-ins may be accepted; call for information. 3301 East 12th Street, Suite 271, (510) 535-5620.

  • Dimond Branch (Closed Feb. 16)

Tuesdays, 12:30pm – 4:30pm, Thursdays, 10:30am – 3:30pm. Call for an appointment. 3565 Fruitvale Avenue, (510) 482-7844.

  • Eastmont Branch (Closed Feb. 12)

Fridays, 12 – 5pm. No advance appointments; arrive early to sign up for a time slot. 7200 Bancroft Avenue, (510) 615-5726.

  • Golden Gate Branch

Wednesdays, 10am – 3:30pm. Call for an appointment. 5606 San Pablo Avenue, (510) 597-5023.

NOTE: Tax Forms Availability for 2016

Due to severe budget cuts, the IRS is no longer providing libraries with a large selection of paper tax forms and instructions. If you need tax forms, you can either download them from the IRS website, or visit the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center at 1301 Clay Street in downtown Oakland. The Taxpayer Assistance Center is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday.

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Those Sew N Sews – Quilts From Oakland Artists Coming to ACLL

Quilts to be exhibited at Alameda County Law Library in Oakland.

Coming March 7th – April 22, 2016.

Oakland Block 2015, quilt by Marsha Carter

Works by the Sew N Sews – a mini-group of the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland  – will be displayed at ACLL next month.

This organization of local artisans has been featured this week in an article in The New York Times arts section (February 3, 2016,  National Edition, page C1, subscription required, but you can read the article through a link on the quilting organization’s Facebook page.)

Beginning this month, members of the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland will be displaying their works at various locations around the area including the Oakland City Hall Rotunda.  More information about this month’s showings is available on the Facebook page – Neighborhoods Coming Together – Quilts Around Oakland.

Below is the flyer for the exhibit to the ACLL Oakland location – 125 12th Street.  The images shown on the flyer will be displayed come March 7 in our library.




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Elder Abuse: Prevention, Detection, and Correction

MCLE program at Alameda County Law Library – Oakland, February 26, 2016.

Elder Abuse: Prevention, Detection, and Correction.

Speaker – Cheryl Poncini, Alameda County District Attorney Office, Elder Protection Unit.

On-line program registration – http://tinyurl.com/jpd5v44



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East To East – Nick Calarco – Photography – ACLL Hayward

Nick Calarco – East to East – Photography Exhibition – Alameda County Law Library ~ Hayward – Through May 5, 2016

“Star of India” (bromoil print) displayed in the ACLL Hayward’s “Attorneys’ Lounge” across the hall from the library’s entrance.

Nick Calarco’s collection of 21 photographs, entitled East to East, covers his 50 years of travels using various processes starting with black and white, color, and “evolved” into bromoil prints and solar etchings.

The exhibit runs through May 5, 2016.

Hours at ACLL – Hayward are:
Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

ACLL – Hayward is located at:
224 West Winton Avenue, Room 162, Hayward, CA.

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