"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



Friday, February 26, 2010

California Legislature Considering "Cuss Free Week"

Now for something a bit different...

California's state Assembly passed Concurrent Resolution 112 yesterday, which, if approved by the Senate, will declare the first week of March as "Cuss Free Week" in that state. The resolution grew from the efforts of a teenager in South Pasadena who started the No Cussing Club three years ago (which now has members in every state and worldwide). It encourages the people of California, including its lawmakers, to take the No Cussing Challenge - placing money in a "swear jar" for each use of foul language, and then donating the money to charity.

The resolution, if passed, is not designed as something to be enforced, but rather "to set a tone of harmony and connectedness in our communities, and to inspire ourselves to higher endeavors".

More information about the proposed "Cuss Free Week" can be found here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Student Computers

In case you have not noticed, there are new computers for our students. The LIT folks recently installed five Dells (Optiplex 960) and five iMacs in the Library. The Dells and one iMac are at the front of the Library. Each of the other four iMacs is placed at the front end of a carrel. Enjoy!

Research Tips: U.S. Energy Information Administration

I have become a big fan of the EIA website for conducting energy law research.
The EIA was created in 1977 within the Department of Energy, and "by law, its data, analyses, and forecasts are independent of approval by any other officer or employee of the United States Government."
Its website has a staggering amount of information about energy sources from petroleum to nuclear power, including U.S. and international statistical data, reports, maps, analyses, and forecasts about the outlook for all types of energy.
There are Energy Profiles for each state, as well as for 215 countries around the world. A section explaining Basic Information (such as where oil comes from, or how to compare different types of heating fuels) is also provided on the main page.

This is just a brief sample of what the EIA has to offer - check it out!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Legal Oxymoron of the Week for Feb. 23rd, 2010

This week's Legal Oxymoron of the Week is:

Generic Trademark

See, e.g., Home Builders Ass'n v. L & L Exhibition Mgmt., Inc., 226 F.3d 944, 950 (8th Cir. 2000). But see Society of Fin. Examiners v. National Ass'n of Certified Fraud Examiners, 41 F.3d 223, 226 (5th Cir. 1995).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Research Tips: European Statistics

I was recently approached with a question regarding the debt of Greece. After researching a number of Greek government websites without much luck, I decided to rethink my approach and take a different venue. I “went” to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, which provides the European Union with statistics that enable comparisons between countries and regions. On the main page within the spotlight section I found reports in English, French and German on the Greek government deficit and debt statistics, including an extensive analysis. In addition the web site provided the reports of the past 5 years that had listed the reservations on the quality of the Greek data expressed by Eurostat, as well an an action plan/list of recommendations as implemented by December 2009.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Legal Oxymoron of the Week for Feb. 17th, 2010

This week's Legal Oxymoron of the Week is:

Nonprofit Corporation

See, e.g., Citizens United v. FEC, 175 L. Ed. 2d 753, 769 (U.S. 2010).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Europe one step closer to European Family Law

February 4th 2010 marked the starting point of the cooperation between France and Germany that could lead to a European Family Code. On this day the Ministers of Justice for France, Michèle Alliot-Marie, and Germany, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, signed an agreement regarding the treatment of assets in marriages. Other EU countries may join this agreement.
Both Ministers of Justice have been outspoken proponents for a European Family Code driven by the vision that a united Europe needs a clear and workable solution for bi-national marriages. If the new instrument is successful, further joint steps may follow and it can become the spark for adjustments in family law in an integrating Europe.
The agreement is available in German and French.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To Be or Not To Be My Valentine?

According to the 2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States, the statistics of the marital status of the American Population shows more people have opted for being single since 1990. The figures are for the years of 1990, 2000, 2005, 2008:

Never Married: 18.95%, 21.1%, 21.6%, 22.1%.
Married: 59.7%, 57.6%, 56.9%, 55.7%.
Widowed: 12.1%, 10.5%, 9.9%, 9.8%.
Divorced: 9.3%, 10.8%, 11.5%, 11.7%.

Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States, Table 56, Marital Status of the Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1990 to 2008.

This trend is confirmed by a Pew Research Center survey report Not Looking for Love: Romance in America. Originally posted on February 13, 2006, this survey found that only 16% of single Americans say they are hunting for a partner. That group represents 7% of the entire adult population.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States and the Pew Research Center survey reports are two sources for statistical information. Statistical research is a very important component of empirical research. Want to know the first time empirical information being used in U.S. Supreme Court? Check out the Brandeis Brief in Muller v. Oregon, 208 US 412. In this case an Oregon legislation limiting the working hours for female workers to ten a day was challenged. The future U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Louis Brandeis, serving as the counsel for the State of Oregon, cited similar legislations in other states and foreign countries, economic and social surveys, and medical studies on the effects of long working hours on female workers and productivity to support the legislation. The result: the court decided to uphold the legislation.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Researching Texas Administrative Law Online

Administrative Law focuses on the regulations produced by agencies acting on the power delegated by the legislature. In Texas, these are announced in the Texas Register and the Office of the Texas Secretary of State compiles the final regulations into the Texas Administrative Code (TAC).

1. Texas Register

The Texas Register is available online at http://www.sos.state.tx.us/texreg/index.shtml and contains archives from January 28, 2000.

The University of North Texas contains Texas Register archives from June 1991. This is available at http://texinfo.library.unt.edu/texasregister/


2. Texas Administrative Code (TAC)

The TAC can be found online and is updated continually at http://www.sos.state.tx.us/tac/index.shtml

3. Texas Agency Decisions

The following include some of the Texas state agencies that make decisions available online:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Why Print Reporters are Still Relevant

Recently, I received a faculty request to locate the old Copyright Rules of Practice that were issued in 1909, and after various amendments were abrogated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001. I was provided with the following citations to the U.S. Reports:

214 U.S. 533 (1909) - Copyright Practice rules handed down based on the 1909 act
307 U.S. 652 (1939) - Amendments made by Supreme Court
383 U.S. 1031 (1966) - Amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure

The U.S. Reports is the official reporter for Supreme Court cases along with memorandum decisions, various amicus briefs and rules issued by the court.

I entered the citations on Lexis and Westlaw, and was not able to retrieve the rules but instead found memorandum decisions. I used these citations to locate the Copyright Rules of Practice in the print reporters of the United States Reports and successfully obtained them. While Westlaw and LexisNexis recognize "U.S." citations to cases and memorandum decisions, they do not recognize them for the rules that are published in the U.S. Reports.

Legal Oxymoron of the Week for Feb. 10th

This week's Legal Oxymoron of the Week is:

Spendthrift Trust

See, e.g., Kennedy v. Plan Adm'r for DuPont Sav. & Inv. Plan, 129 S. Ct. 865, 871-72 (2009).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Research Tips: ALR (American Law Reports)

When beginning your research about a topic, especially one that you are unfamiliar with, start with secondary sources to learn more information instead of immediately turning to primary sources such as cases. ALR is a secondary source comprised of annotations written by legal practitioners, and each annotation discusses a particular legal topic in depth. Unlike legal encyclopedias, ALR’s annotations are organized chronologically. ALR (currently in its sixth series) covers all jurisdictions, while ALR Fed concentrates on federal issues. Individual volumes are updated by pocket parts.


An annotation generally includes:

  • A brief introduction of the topic
  • Table of Contents
  • Research References (citations to other secondary sources, also key numbers for West digests)
  • Index
  • Table of Cases, Laws, and Rules (organized by jurisdiction)
  • Listing of cases, classified by different aspects of the overall topic. Keep in mind that this is not designed to be a fully comprehensive list.

ALR also has finding aids to help in locating relevant annotations. The ALR Index covers all of the ALR system, including ALR Fed. The Index also contains a history table that indicates which annotations have been superseded or supplemented by later ones. West’s ALR Digest is organized alphabetically according to the West Key Number digest system. In addition, each ALR series also has its own Table of Cases shelved with it.


If you have any questions about using ALR or any other library materials, always feel free to ask a reference librarian!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Health Care around the World

While the debate about changes in the domestic health care system is ongoing (and probably will be for a while)' let us look at what the rest of the world is doing. The first one is the World Health Organization. WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. While it is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends, it cannot cure the worlds population by itself. Other international organizations and countries have to step in and support the WHO’s mission. One of these supporting organizations is the European Union Commissions Directorate General for 'Health and Consumers'. Another one is the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), an international public health agency with more than 100 years of experience in working to improve health and living standards of the countries of the Americas. Check them out! They have a lot of information to offer.

Bluebook Offers Blue Tips Online

Need help figuring out how to cite a plurality opinion? Unsure about when to use a pincite? Authoritative guidance on these and other common Bluebook questions is now available online. The editors of the Bluebook have introduced Blue Tips, a collection of the most useful answers to questions posed by Bluebook users. The tips are organized by subjects such as cases, quotations, and signals. Bluebook users are encouraged to submit reasonable questions on subjects covered by the Bluebook to editor@legalbluebook.com. The answers to your questions may be formulated into new Blue Tips!

Legal Oxymoron of the Week for Feb. 3rd

This week's Legal Oxymoron of the Week is:

Divorce Court

Monday, February 1, 2010

Brown Bag Series this semester

The Brown Bag Series of the Spring 2010 begins this week. This is the best way to refresh one's legal research skill in special areas. Below is the time, place, presenters, and our offering for this semester. We offer two sessions for each topic, so students can choose the most suitable time to attend:

Location: 4 BLB

Time: 12:00-12:45 p.m.

2/2, Tuesday and 2/3, Wednesday
Researching Texas Legislative History
Presented by Dan Baker

2/9, Tuesday and 2/10, Wednesday
Alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw
Presented by Chris Dykes

2/16, Tuesday and 2/17, Wednesday
Health Law Research and Resources
Presented by Saskia Mehlhorn

2/23, Tuesday and 2/24, Wednesday
Researching Oil and Gas Law
Presented by Lauren Schroeder

3/2, Tuesday and 3/3, Wednesday
Researching Texas Administrative Law
Presented by Mon Yin Lung

Legal Citation Finder Bookmarklet (LII Citer)

The RIPS Law Librarian Blog (http://rips-sis.blogspot.com/) brought this to my attention:

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School has developed a tool to help with legal research: The Legal Citation Finder Bookmarklet (or LII Citer), available at http://topics.law.cornell.edu/lii/citer.

Once the LII Citer is saved as a bookmark, when you come across a citation on a webpage that is not hyperlinked to the text of the document, you can highlight the text and then click on the LII Citer in your bookmarks list. It should take you to the text you're looking for.

At this time, not all citations are supported, and those that are supported are limited to federal materials. The LII webpage provides additional information, and even provides sample citations for you to test it out on. I'll bet an app for you phone won't be far off!