"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, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law
Yesterday the Justice
Department’s Office of Information Policy (OIP) announced
the completion of the discovery phase of its development of a National FOIA
Portal. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted in 1966 and created a
presumptive right of public access to government documents. In practice, however, obtaining those documents has not always been easy.
The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 sought to streamline the process by directing
the Department of Justice and the Office of Management and Budget to create an
online portal that would allow members of the public to submit FOIA requests to
any agency from a single website. In other words, a one-stop shop for FOIA.
OIP has issued a report
on its findings and recommendations for the project. The portal will be
developed on GitHub with
opportunities for feedback from the public.
During the 2017 Fall Semester, the O'Quinn Law Library reference librarians will offer a series of lunchtime talks on legal research topics. The sessions will be given at 5:00 p.m. Mondays and 12:00 p.m. Tuesdays from September 25 through October 24.
FOOD AND BEVERAGES PROVIDED FOR THE FIRST TWENTY ATTENDEES!
The United States Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently published the second volume of its EDGAR Filer Manual,
which describes the process for submitting a filing with the SEC. EDGAR stands
for Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval. It is a publicly
accessible database that provides investors with information on SEC-registered companies.
For more information on EDGAR, click here.
The Free Law Project has announced that they have collected
every free written order and opinion that is available in PACER, the
online hosting source of federal court opinions and case documents. They are
now available at free.law and
are completely searchable.
Law Project reports that this collection contains "approximately
3.4 million orders and opinions from approximately 1.5 million federal district
and bankruptcy court cases dating back to 1960." The project required the
scanning and implementing OCR for more than "four hundred thousand of
these documents . . . amounting to nearly two million pages of text
This archive of opinions and orders is available for
In addition to common search categories (judge, nature of suit, etc.) it also
has advanced search capabilities including field search, as well as proximity
and fuzzy search capabilities.
The Free Law Project estimates that the cost of
obtaining that same content on a single user account would cost around $1 billion.
More information about the costs of PACER, and the methodology used to recoup
costs by the Administrative Office of the Courts, the federal organization
that runs PACER is detailed in this fascinating blog post.
It is worthwhile to note, however, that this amazing
collection does not include all documents available through PACER. The
Free Law Project has collected what have been designated by the courts as
"opinions or orders," but this does not include pleadings, motions,
responses, and briefs. Orders and opinions are defined to judges and clerks by
Act as "any document issued by a judge or judges of the court,
sitting in that capacity, that sets forth a reasoned explanation for a
court’s decision." Yet opinions may be misidentified as documents,
and may be unintentionally excluded.
Members of the Law Center community enjoy free access to all
of PACER's documents through their Bloomberg Law subscriptions. Users may
obtain any PACER document at no additional charge through the platform, which
includes dockets and documents for many state courts as well.
If you are interested in learning more about PACER, the Free
Law Project, or Bloomberg Law, stop by and visit our Reference Desk, where our
reference librarians are available seven days a week. Hats off to the amazing
work of the Free Law Project and all who work to provide us with better access
to government information!
In February of last year, the United States Government
Publishing Office (GPO) launched the beta version of govinfo.gov, which will eventually replace
the Federal Digital System (FDSys) as the GPO’s free, searchable repository of
government documents. Last week the GPO announced the addition of several new
features to govinfo. Here are some of the highlights:
New links allow you to click through from
Congressional Records details pages directly to related bills.
now displayed in the search results for applicable documents (which is very
helpful if you are searching for photos).
RSS feeds are now available for bills
and statutes, budget and presidential materials, congressional committee
materials, judicial publications, and several other types of government
To learn more about these and other recently added features, see
the latest release
Carolina Academic Press has recently published, Mastering Negotiation, by Michael R. Fowler. The author discusses choosing the best approach to negotiation including the positional bargaining and interest based negotiations. Pre-negotiation issues such as preparing for the negotiation, organizing preparation, and identifying goals are covered in Chapter 2. This book also looks at matters related to initiating talks such as setting an agenda and an constructive tone for the negotiation. There are other chapters that focus on working with interests, ethical negotiations, problem solving, closing the deal, and analyzing alternatives, leverage, and power, among other topics. This book is now on the law library's new titles shelf (located across from the reference desk) (K2390.F69 2017).