"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.
N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law


Friday, January 30, 2015

Mastering Art Law by Herbert Lazerow

Carolina Academic Press has recently published Mastering Art Law by Herbert Lazerow. Art law, as the book points out, is not a cohesive topic like Contracts or Torts but instead focuses on the legal issues faced by the art industry. The author explores the issues of freedom of expression, copyright, publicity and privacy rights, defamation trademarks, title, authenticity of the work, moral rights to a work of art, and tax matters. There is a chapter covering museum law and the author discusses issues pertaining to artifacts as well as restricting international movement of artwork. Each chapter features a "roadmap" section that summarizes what you will learn after reading the chapter and each chapter is concluded with a "checkpoints" section that summarizes the main points. There is an extensive table of cases, table  of constitutions, statutes, regulations, rulings, and treatises, and table of secondary sources. The law library currently has this title, which is available on the new titles shelf across from the reference desk. We also have the following titles that focus on art law:

  • The Deskbook of Art Law, 2d ed. (edited by Leonard D. DuBoff, Christy O. King & Michael D. Murray) (KF4288.D83) 
  • Art Law in a Nutshell, 4th ed. (2006), by Leonard D. DuBoff) (Reserves and Study Aids sections, KF4288.Z928 2006)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Law Library Brown Bag Series

Each semester the law library presents a series of presentations on legal research topics. These presentations are held at 12 noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Room 1 BLB. We will be offering the following sessions during the Spring 2015 semester:

1. Researching Texas Administrative Law
Tuesday, 2/3, Wednesday, 2/4
Emily Lawson, Reference and Research Librarian

2.Researching Oil & Gas Law
Tuesday, 2/10, Wednesday, 2/11
Chris Dykes, Reference and Research Librarian

3. Texas Legislative History Research
Tuesday, 2/17, Wednesday, 2/18
Robert Clark, Reference and Research Librarian

4. Resources for Legal Practice
Tuesday, 2/24, Wednesday, 2/25
Katy Badeaux, Reference and Research Librarian

5. International and Foreign Law Research
Tuesday, 3/3, Wednesday, 3/4
Dan Donahue, International and Foreign Law Librarian

Click here for more information about this semester's brown bag presentations.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Call for a CAR Tribunal


This past week UN investigators called for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic (CAR).  The establishment of tribunals to investigate serious crimes in a particular theater of war is not a new concept, and legal and historical researchers investigating the history of major war crimes tribunals may be interested in the following resources:
The first such international tribunal was established following the end of World War II.  The International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals, more popularly known as the Nuremberg Trials, was established in 1945 to prosecute the captured leadership of the Nazi party.  Researchers looking for the records of this tribunal can obtain the official records from the Library of Congress, various trial documents from the Yale Law School’s Avalon Project, and trial transcripts from the Hathi Trust.

In 1993, the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia was established to prosecute criminals from the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s.  Interested researchers can consult the tribunal’s official website for items such as the official court records, indictments and ongoing proceedings.  The tribunal expects to finish its last appeals this year
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More recently, the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda was established in 1994 to prosecute perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide of the same year.  Interested researchers can also consult this tribunal’s official website to locate administrative documents, case documents and individual cases.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Texas Senate 2/3 Rule Replaced with 3/5 Rule


This week the Texas Senate voted to replace its traditional 2/3 Rule with a 3/5 Rule.  The names of these rules both reflect the numbers of senators needed to overcome the Senate’s traditional blocker bill to consider new legislation; this parliamentary maneuver is intended to promote compromise by requiring more than a 50% plus one majority to enact legislation.  Given that the Texas Senate consists of 31 members, this change reduces the number of senators necessary to support a bill from 21 to 19.
The Texas Senate rules are published online, and should soon be updated to reflect this week’s changes. 

Another excellent source of Texas legislative materials is the Legislative Reference Library of Texas; its discussion of the Texas 2/3 Rule may be found here, and its collection of other resources on legislative parliamentary procedure may be found here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The 84th Texas Legislative Session- What to Watch For

This week, the Texas Legislature’s biennial legislative session began, kicking off a five-month period where Texas law may be proposed, discussed, debated, passed, and vetoed. Already 926 bills have been filed in the House, and 317 in the Senate. You can search bills and track their progress through use of the Texas Legislature Online . You may perform a bill search   by specifying author/sponsor, subjects, committee, and actions. For example, by specifying “water” as a subject, I can find ten bills already filed relating to the regulation of water in the state. To track the status of these bills during the legislative session you can create an account through the Texas Legislature Online , and add bills of interest to your alert list. Then, any time an action is taken on the bill, you will be notified by email.  

Here are a few bills that are already attracting attention:

Consolidating Health Agencies HB 550 & SB 219: The Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended that lawmakers in 2015 consolidate the state’s five health departments into one “mega-agency,” a move the commission says would make Texas’ health bureaucracy less fragmented and more efficient.

Gun control HB195: Removing the requirement that a person who may lawfully possess handguns obtain a Concealed Handgun License in order to carry a handgun lawfully in the state of Texas.


Fracking Bans HB 539: Relating to the procedural requirements for the adoption of a municipal regulation, limitation, or prohibition on the production, storage, or transportation of oil or natural gas; authorizing a fee.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Inauguration of a Texas Governor

Next week, when Governor-Elect Greg Abbott is sworn in as the 48th Governor of the State of Texas his inauguration will mark the first time in fifteen years that Texas will have a new chief executive.  In December 2000, Rick Perry assumed the office of governor after George W. Bush’s resignation following his election to the U.S. Presidency.  Since taking office, Governor Perry has presided over eight legislative sessions, vetoed 335 bills, and issued 80 executive orders. 

Thanks to Texas’ colorful history, it also had numerous presidents during the Spanish Texas period (1691-1821), the Mexican Texas period after Mexico gained its independence from Spain (1821-1835), interim leaders during the Texas Revolution, followed by  five presidents serving as leaders of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846). After annexation into the United States, James Pickney Henderson became the first governor of the State of Texas in 1846.


Through the Texas Legislative Reference library, you can explore not the executive materials produced by the Governors of Texas like messages, orders, speeches and proclamations (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/governors/search.cfm).  Of particular interest this week though, is the Legislative Reference Library’s collection of inaugural materials from 1846 to the most recent in 2011. This inaugural collection includes the text of the inaugural addresses made by each governor since 1846, as well as special materials like programs of inauguration ceremonies and invitations to inaugural festivities.

 Texans who glance through the words of the incoming governors, reading their goals and vision for the state may be surprised. Despite the great changes in all aspects of life in Texas, it is remarkable to see how Texas’ self-image remains unchanged: a steadfast sense of pride, devotion to independence, and fierce ambition for continued progress. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Supreme Court to Place Filings Online As Soon As 2016


In his 2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, Chief Justice Roberts revealed that the Supreme Court is currently in the process of creating its own electronic filing system, which may be available as soon as next year.  The system will provide the public with free access to Supreme Court filings.  Some of you may know that other federal courts use the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system, which provides the public with access to court filings through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) website.  However, Supreme Court filings such as petitions, briefs, and motions are not available through PACER, and while the Supreme Court’s website currently provides access to items such as recent dockets and orders, it does not provide access to all case filings.  This is a much-needed free resource and I look forward to using the new system!