Virtually Legal: Or don’t believe everything you see on the internet!
By Lorraine Lorne · October 14, 2007 · 2007 Ark. L. Notes
In categories: Legal Research
“Is it legal in Arkansas for a man to beat his wife no more than once a month with a stick three inches wide?,” the caller asked. Further questioning revealed that she was working on a project for an ethics class that involved a law purportedly still in effect but ethically questionable. Finding a possible example on the Internet, she wanted me to research it. I said that I would look into it and call her back. After searching the Arkansas Code, I called the patron and told her that beating one’s spouse (regardless of frequency and type or size of implement) is currently against the law. As I searched for an answer, one of the library assistants jumped on the internet and googled the phrase “stupid laws.” The result (over 100,000 hits on a variety of websites) was astounding! My curiosity was engaged — the search was on!
The reference librarians at the University of Arkansas’s Young Law Library answer hundreds of questions from the public, faculty, and students, in person, by phone, and via email during the course of a year. Although the questions asked may occasionally be unusual, all queries are taken seriously and answered in a timely manner. Sometimes a question offers an opportunity to consider a larger issue. One could probably spend a lifetime investigating the myriad state, national and international “crazy laws” found on the internet. The process of trying to verify this sample of purported Arkansas “laws” proved frustrating, mysterious, rewarding, informative and amusing. In this piece, the issue is the accuracy, currency and reliability of some “legal information” found on the internet.