Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Comparing Maryland Hospitals

The New York Times posted a story a few days ago about new tech tools that allow you to better select a hospital for your particular condition. One of the tools mentioned in the article is a website called HospitalCompare put out by the US Department of Health & Human Services. Using HospitalCompare, you can search for a hospital by state, zip code, or hospital name. Once you've selected a hospital, the site then provides you information on that hospital's intervention history for specific conditions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Spyware Legislation

During this past General Assembly session, a bill to prohibit the use of spyware was introduced into the legislature (Unauthorized Consumer Software Act - S.B.492, S.B.801, H.B.945, H.B.780). Unfortunately, the bill died. Much of the text of the bill, though, was modeled after a California bill (California's 2004 S.B.1436) which did become law. If you're interested in what other states have done on this issue, see Ben Edelman's page on Spyware Legislation.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

State Court Docket Information

If you're looking for Maryland docket information online, let me suggest a few sources. For federal docket information in Maryland courts, your best bet is Pacer. It's a user friendly, well designed system. Besides, it's cheap (7 cents per page viewed). For state court documents, the Maryland Judiciary provides the Judicial Information System (JIS). However, the JIS system is notoriously cumbersome to use. As a result, two familiar database vendors provide the same information in a user friendly interface: Lexis and Westlaw. Courtlink, a Lexis product, provides state court information for all district courts in Maryland and provides circuit court docket info for Montgomery and PG counties. Through the DOCK-MD-CIRCUIT database on Westlaw you can access docket information for all circuit courts except PG County. Both databases are pretty reasonably priced-$5 per search in Courtlink and $7 per seach in Westlaw.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Birth, Marriage, Death and Divorce Records

If you're doing investigative research and not having any luck trying to locate an individual's birth, marriage, death, or divorce records--there may be a reason for that. COMAR section specifies that these records can only be obtained by someone who "has a direct and tangible interest in the content of the record." As such, these records are not available online. Interestingly, though, a number of companies purport to be able to provide you these records for a fee. Given the above regulation, I don't understand how that could be permissible.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Maryland Crime Statistics

The US Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics website provides information on crime statistics by state. This page allows you to create data tables on state by state trends, trends in one variable (eg., robbery), or on crime statistics for a particular year (eg., 1975). The data set goes back to 1960. The site also includes a page on homicide trends and characteristics (eg., age, race, gender of victim, etc.) by state.