"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


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fundamentals of Government Information

Neal-Schuman has recently published the second edition of Fundamentals of Government Information: Mining, Finding, Evaluating, and Using Government Resources (ZA5055.U6 F67 2016) by Cassandra J. Hartnett, Andrea L. Sevetson, and Eric J. Forte. The authors begin with an overview of government information resources, discussing the history of government history, depository libraries before the existence of the web, classification of government documents, and government information in the era of the internet. This title also covers congressional publications, statutes, regulations, case law, and presidential and executive branch documents. There are specialized topics such as statistical, patents, health, environment and energy, and archival information. This source, now available on the law library's new titles shelf, is beneficial for anyone interested in an overview of researching government information.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Pokémon Go in the Law Library

As of the date of this posting, the Pokémon Go augmented reality game app is one of the most successful mobile games in history.  As is the case with most suddenly popular phenomena, there is no shortage of legal concerns surrounding Pokémon Go; issues touching on consumer rights, attractive nuisance and criminal law have been raised in connection with the game on a fairly regular basis since it was first launched.

Legal scholars interested in learning about or researching these topics may find useful general legal research guides on consumer rights from the Library of Congress or HG; a brief introduction to the concept of attractive nuisance is offered by FindLaw for those who have not yet encountered it in the study of property or tort law; and the Harvard Law School Library and NYU Law's LibGuides are excellent places to begin researching criminal law.

As a side note, for any Pokémon Go players who reached this page looking for game information rather than legal information, I regret to inform you that O'Quinn Law Library is not a Pokéstop.  Anyone interested in hunting Pokémon elsewhere on the University of Houston campus may find the university's visitor information website a useful resource for getting additional value out of any campus visit.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Finding Information on Sales Tax Holidays

This weekend (August 5-7) is a sales tax holiday for purchases of school supplies in Texas. Did you know that there are also sales tax holidays for emergency preparation supplies, water-efficient products, and energy-efficient products, including air conditioners, refrigerators, and dishwashers? You can find the dates of these holidays, as well as information on eligible products, on the website of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

For sales tax holidays in other states, see this handy list compiled by the Federation of Tax Administrators. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Finding Texas Laws by Date

Many times patrons at the Law Library request assistance in finding what statute (or version of a statute) was in effect on a specific date. At times, these inquiries can become quite complex, requiring the researcher to follow a trail of session laws to find the law as at existed at that date. Thanks to some new resources from the Texas Legislative Council, Texas State Law Library, researching the history of a Texas Statute has never been easier.

The Texas Legislative Council, who makes available to citizens the Texas Constitutions and Statutes online, has added a tool for finding what version of a law was in effect on a specific date. The Statutes by Date feature allows users to (1) enter a date from the present back to 2004 and then (2)choose the code, chapter (or article), and section number. The text of the statute as it read at the date selected will be displayed, along with the legislative history annotation as it read on that date. Though this method only reaches back to 2004, it is extremely useful.

If you need to look back further than 2004, you will need to read the legislative history credits notated below the statute text. This information appears both in print volumes and statutes accessed through commercial legal research systems like Westlaw and LexisAdvance. After determining what version of the law controlled on the date you are searching, you may find it useful to look at the Texas State Law Library’s Historical Texas Statutes. The state law library has digitized versions of codified Texas law spanning the years 1879-1960. The website helpfully notes which legislative sessions are covered in a specific printing of the statutes or the supplements, and the text is searchable through PDF.

For the interim period of 1960-2004, there is not an official, reliable source currently available online. In these cases, you can use the legislative history credits following the statute text to find the year and chapter number for the session law that marked the latest change in the law before the date you are researching. Then, using the Texas Legislative Reference Library’s Legislative Archive System enter the session number (beware of called vs. regular sessions in the same year) and chapter number. The results will provide a link to a PDF image of the official Texas session laws, The General and Special Laws of Texas. The session law will tell you what was amended, added, or deleted in that action.

While accessing legislative history and older code volumes has become much easier, it can still be a very complex process. Reference librarians are available to help guide you through the process and save you time and frustration.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Practical Guide to Software Licensing for Lincensees and Licensors, 6th edition

The ABA's Business Law Section has recently published A Practical Guide to Software Licensing for Licensees and Licensors, 6th ed. by H. Ward Classen. This book looks at the issues that both the licensor and licensee will likely encounter during the course of software licensing negotiations. In particular, the author covers the negotiating and contract process, terminology of a license grant, types of licenses, ancillary clauses, boilerplate clauses, software development agreements, confidentially provisions, trade secret information, and escrow agreements. Security and privacy, free and open source software, dispute resolution, and best practices for contract drafting are also among the topics discussed. There are select model forms available and a glossary and technology acronyms list are among the materials in the appendices. The library now has this under call number KF3024.C6 C56 2016 on the new titles shelf located across from the reference desk.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Winning an Appeal, 5th ed.

The library has acquired the fifth edition of Winning an Appeal by Myron Moskovitz, which is published by Carolina Academic Press. This book is ideal for the attorney or law student interested in appellate advocacy at the state or federal level. The author provides tips on constructing an outline, with instructions on reading the court records filed and determining the issues. There is a chapter that focuses on the appellate brief, including the construction of the brief itself, advice on legal research, drafting the argument, and information regarding the respondent brief and appellant's reply brief. The last chapter covers the oral argument, addressing topics such as the opening statement, respondent's argument, appellant's rebuttal, answering questions, and the proper tone to use. Five sample briefs are included at the end. This book is now currently available on the library's new titles shelf under the call number KF9050.M63 2016.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Technology Tips for Lawyers and Other Business Professionals

The ABA's Solo, Small Firm, and Practice division has recently published, Technology Tips for Lawyers and Other Business Professionals by Jeffrey Allen and UHLC alumna, Ashley Hallene. The authors provide concise practical advice on a variety of technology topics useful to attorneys. The book covers matters related to hardware and equipment such as using a tablet in court and portable hard drives. Software topics as well as advice related to travel are also covered. Security and ethics issues such as password protection and encryption are discussed.  The Miscellaneous tips section focuses on topics such as blogging, Google search tips, storing data in the cloud, creating an inexpensive electronic signature, and electronic business cards. The library has just acquired this book and it can be found on the new titles shelf under the call number,
KF320.A9A 429 2016.