Archive

Posts Tagged ‘History’

Authentication

September 19, 2011 1 comment

“… the Constitutions of Clarendon were duly set down in a chirograph on January 29, the text written out three times on the same parchment and then torn so as to validate all three copies when joined together.” – Sharon Kay Penman, Time and Chance 210 (2002) (describing an accord between King Henry II of England and Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, 1164).

The problem of determining the authenticity of legal documents is not a new one – it is in fact a very ancient one. Medieval lawyers and kings prevented forgeries of important agreements as described above: by writing the same text on a piece of parchment and cutting it jaggedly, so the two parts fit back together like puzzle pieces, verifying that neither has been substituted for the real one. An example of this technique is on the PCL’s first floor, near the stairwell.

English charter showing jagged edge

Note the jagged top edge, with writing

If you look carefully, you can see that there is a word – probably chirograph – written across the jagged edge. Obviously this method wasn’t foolproof: It would still be possible to create a controversy by neatly altering one of the texts. (I had a music teacher who taught me to scrape text off a printed page and buff the remaining surface; it’s also possible with parchment. Scraping is actually part of the process to prepare parchment for use.)

For much of the last century, this was less of an issue. Most legal documents we relied on were obtained through trusted sources – from a reputable publisher, from the court, or directly from the government – and alterations would have been obvious. In many cases, there were so many copies (of a court’s opinion, for instance) that altering one copy would be easily discovered. (This is one of the operating principles behind some online preservation efforts – Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe.) But in an age where many researchers rely on online access, and hacking of institutional systems is not infrequent, there need to be additional safeguards in place.

Conceptually, authentication comes down to two questions:

1. Did you get the document from a source you trust, and
2. can you verify that it hasn’t changed since they gave it to you?

Acquiring a document from a trusted source is still important. One way of doing that is to go to reputable information sources, including commercial sources (like publishers), country or state governments, or non-governmental organization. When these sources are hacked, it makes news. Recently, the federal government has implemented technological systems that address the second question. The new online system to access federal documents, FDsys, incorporates an authentication process. While the details of the technology are – frankly – beyond my comprehension, authenticated documents display an eagle symbol and a notice that the document is certified by the Superintendent of Documents.

Authentication seal & certification for H.R. 36, 112th Cong. (1st Sess. 2011).

Authentication seal, certified by the Superintendent of Documents

While the federal government has taken the lead, efforts in states vary widely. Surveys of the states in 2007 and 2009 revealed that while some states are relying on online versions of their basic legal documents, almost none are authenticating those documents via any technological means. They are relying on the protections of state websites and .PDF formats, neither of which are impregnable to the dedicated hacker.

As students and practitioners of legal research and writing, you should know that the most recent citation guidelines refer to “Authenticated documents” as one type of online source that is permissible to cite (Rule 18.2.1(b)). Presumably the federal government’s initiative will spread to the various states, and perhaps by the 20th edition of The Bluebook (or maybe the 21st edition), authenticated online documents will be the norm!

Advertisements

Krispy Kreme in the Limelight

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

On July 13, 1937, Krispy Kreme was born.  To start, founder Vernon Rudolph bought a “secret yeast-raised doughnut recipe” from a Louisiana chef and began making doughnuts for local grocery stores to purchase.  He rented a building in what is now referred to as “Old Salem” here in Winston.  As people walked through Old Salem, they could smell Rudolph making these delicious treats and that’s how the hot “Original Glazed” doughnut emerged.  To appease  passersby, Rudolph cut a hole through an outside wall of his building and started selling his doughnuts directly to the people walking on the sidewalk.

Over the next 20 years, Krispy Kreme moved from making doughnuts locally at each franchised store to a more complex distribution system that has made Krispy Kreme “officially recognized as a 20th century American icon with the donation of company artifacts to the Smithsonian Institution’s  National Museum of American History.” For a full history, Krispy Kreme provides interesting facts and awards on their website.

Information about the corporation is available in various places.  For example, the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History provides access to search the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation Records from 1937 until 1997.  But, if you want to search for more current business records, you can access them for free using the North Carolina Department of Secretary of State website.  The Secretary of State website allows you to search for annual reports and other UCC documents for North Carolina corporations online. Specifically, you can search for corporation information by Corporation name or by Registered Agent.  Also, you can search for Dissolutions/Withdrawals and Name Reservations on the Secretary of State website as well. If you are worried about the currentness of the system, it is kept up to date in “real time,” meaning that the information on the filings is available on the website as soon as they are uploaded by the business.  There is no delay.

So how about a refresher on administrative law?  The Secretary of State is an agency of North Carolina (executive branch), and has only the power given to them from the North Carolina General Assembly (the legislative body).  The General Assembly enacts legislation that authorizes the Secretary of State to enforce the laws of North Carolina. Specifically, N.C. Gen. Stat. 143 A-11(Principal departments), 147- A(State Officers – Classification and General Provisions), and 147-34-54.10 (Article 4 – Secretary of State) provide the primary statutory authority for the Secretary of State.

And now back to doughnuts.  Not only has Krispy Kreme expanded out beyond the borders of North Carolina to numerous, if not all of, the United States, but it has gone global.  Specifically there are Krispy Kreme doughnut stores in Canada, Asia, Mexico, the Middle East, Puerto Rico, and Turkey.  If you need to do business related research for Krispy Kreme in any of the United States, always start with that specific company’s website and I think you will be surprised at the information available to the public. For example, Krispy Kreme provides access to their latest quarterly financial results, their 10-Q and 10-K forms, their 2011 Annual Report and the latest proxy statement.  If you don’t have luck with your businesses’ website, try the incorporating state’s Secretary of State Department.

Not for lack of being verbose, I think I’ll sum up this post with the words of comedian Mitch Hedberg, “I bought a doughnut and they me a receipt for the … I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut.  I give you money and you give me the doughnut, end of transaction.  We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this.  I can’t imagine a scenario that I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut.  To some skeptical friend, ‘Don’t even act like I didn’t get that doughnut, I’ve got the documentation right here…It’s in my file at home.. Under D.”  So the only difference here is that you will keep your corporate research in your file for Krispy Kreme… under K.