"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, May 27, 2016

Book Review: The Presidents and the Constitution

The Presidents and the Constitution: A Living History, Ken Gormley, ed. (2016), KF 5053 .P75 2016

Article II of the Constitution, at little over 1000 words, is the provision in which most of the power of the American presidency is housed.  Those words grant the office of the President great power, but its limits and relationship to the judicial and legislative branches is not well defined. In the new book  The Presidents and the Constitution: A Living History, Ken Gormely tells the story of America’s forty-four presidents and how each one interfaced with the Constitution.  With a chapter devoted to each presidency, it is a collection of essays focused on the major constitutional issues each president faced.

The collection gives each President a compact biography, followed by a discussion of the major issues that President faced relating to the extent of executive power, influence on the judiciary, and the President’s role in foreign affairs. The tightly edited collection devotes little over twelve pages to each President, preferring to concentrate on the events having the greatest long-term effects rather than the minutiae of every policy decision.  For example, the chapter devoted to Andrew Jackson, by Mark A. Graber,  focuses on his bank veto (limiting federal powers) and the Proclamation on Nullification (expanding federal powers) and the historical context for these seemingly contradictory positions. This approach allows for the reader to learn a great amount about the character of each presidency in a single sitting, and it is inviting to return to again and again.


This fascinating volume examines the tensions between the branches of government and puts them in a personal and historical perspective for each presidency. It is sure to make great election year reading, and invites the author to wonder what issues and decisions will come to define our next President’s term. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summer and Graduate Use of Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg Law Accounts

A question often asked by law students at the beginning of the summer is whether or not they can use their Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg Law accounts at their summer jobs, internships, and externships. Recent graduates also may wonder about using their accounts as they study for the bar and beyond. Here are the guidelines for each of the three services:

Bloomberg Law

You may use your Bloomberg Law account during the summer, without restriction. As with Westlaw and LexisNexis, if you are assigned a Bloomberg Law account by your summer employer, use the employer account instead. If you have questions about using Bloomberg Law during the summer, contact our Bloomberg Law rep, Michael Calder (mcalder@bna.com). Bloomberg Law also provides a great collection of resources to help you research efficiently and perform successfully during your summer employment, available here.

LexisNexis

Your law school log-in will allow you unlimited access to all legal content and news in Lexis all summer for both academic and professional purposes. Some employers may give you a Lexis ID of their own to use for work purposes.You do not need to take any action to continue using your account and you will continue to earn points during the summer.

2016 graduates will have their Lexis IDs shifted to graduate IDs on July 1. You may continue using your account until December 31, 201 for bar study and professional purposes. If you have any questions about your account, contact our Lexis rep, Billy Saqr (billy.saqr@lexisnexis.com).


Westlaw

You may extend the use of your Westlaw account for use during the summer for the following academic activities:

  • Summer law school classes and study abroad programs
  • Law review and journal - including write-on competitions
  • Research assistant
  • Moot court
  • Unpaid internship/externship

To extend your password for use during the summer, visit the Westlaw Password Extension website.
Note that this list does NOT include paid work, like working for as  summer associate at a law firm, corporation, or government organization. In those cases, you should use the Westlaw account assigned to you by the firm or organization.

2016 graduates may contact the Law Center’s Westlaw rep, Anna Guerra (anna.guerra@thomsonreuters.com) for information about extending account access through the fall.

Friday, May 20, 2016

HeinOnline App for Android Now Available


HeinOnline just announced that they have created a new app for Android devices.  This is in addition to the existing app they have for iOS devices.  The app allows users to download the PDF versions of the resources that HeinOnline has become known for such as law journal articles and federal legislative and administrative materials.  With the app, you can retrieve documents by citation, search the document collections by keyword, or browse collections to get the specific resources you need.  While both apps are free to download, please keep in mind that the HeinOnline content is only available to subscribers.  The law library provides a subscription to HeinOnline for UHLC students, faculty, and staff, and many other libraries provide it for their patrons as well.  For more information or to download the apps, see the Google Play website or the iTunes App Store website. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Database on Government Mandates from the CBO


Among many other things, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is tasked with reviewing bills and public laws under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act to determine if the legislation imposes federal mandates on various government and private-sector entities.  To help Congress, state and local governments, and the public find this information more easily, CBO has now created an online tool containing information about laws with these mandates.  For instance, the Drug Quality and Security Act requires pharmacies to monitor prescription drugs through the drug distribution system and the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act requires states to implement electronic withholding of child support payments.  

Currently, the database will allow you to search or browse through laws that contain mandates as well bills reviewed by CBO that contained mandates for 2013-2015.  However, the CBO indicates more data will be added going forward.  The new tool is replacing the annual reports that the CBO previously published on the topic, but information about prior years is still available on their website.  To access the database, or for more information regarding the CBO’s work on unfunded mandates, see the CBO website.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Critical Government Documents on the Environment

The law library now has Critical Government Documents on the Environment (KF3775.P45 2015) published by BernanPress. This book, authored by Don Philpott, looks at critical environmental issues with the goal of providing arguments for and against major environmental issues being debated today. The resources used for this book are mostly from the public domain and range from scholarly journals to government documents from various federal agencies involved in environmental regulation. Both sides of issues pertaining to global warming, clean air, clean water, and renewable energy are explored by the author. The appendices contain a timeline, glossary, and list of resources.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

New Rules Target Financial Crime


Following concerns about tax avoidance raised by last month's leaking of the Panama Papers, the United States Department of the Treasury has announced several new regulations aimed at stopping money laundering and tax evasion.

The new rules will require financial institutions to identify the owners of companies opening accounts and doing business with them, and to report their identities to the federal government.  Any owner of 25% or more of a company will be considered an owner under these rules.  Financial institutions will have two years to implement this rule by identifying the relevant owners.

The Treasury Department is also considering a rule that would require limited liability companies incorporated in the US but owned by foreign entities to identify their foreign owners.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

February Bar Exam Results Announced


The results of the February 2016 Texas Bar Examination are in, and graduates of the University of Houston Law Center achieved the highest passage rate (at 83%) among the graduates of all accredited law schools in Texas.

Congratulations to these graduates and to all of the successful examinees.