"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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Research Tips: OGEL (Oil, Gas & Energy Law) Database

OGEL is an oil and gas law database with an international focus, and it can be accessed via the Legal Databases drop-down menu on the law library's homepage. It includes the OGEL Journal, which began in 2003, and concentrates on recent international developments in this area of law. All issues or individual articles can be downloaded in PDF, and it can be browsed by article author or subject category. There is also Legal & Regulatory Materials section that is under continuous development, and it contains laws, regulations, contracts, guidelines, and court awards that can be downloaded in either PDF or Word.

OGEL can be searched by keyword, article author, country, category, and date. A Help link on the search form explains how searching works within the database, and if you have any additional questions, be sure to ask a reference librarian for assistance.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Greece, the Euro and how to help a broke country

Over the last couple of month Euroland (the nickname used in Europe for those countries who adopted the Euro) has been in quite some turmoil. One of the countries, Greece, which has been a member since 2001, was at the brink of declaring bankruptcy. But as the countries of the Euro Area have very strict regulations and the health of the currency is top priority the Union stepped in and presented a plan that left many questioning the abilities of the Union to handle future crises. To find out more about the Euro check out the website of the European Commission on Economic and Financial Affairs.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Researching the Health Care Bill

Whether one supports or opposes the Health Care Bill, it is crucial to know what it contains. While the official documents are available through FDsys, the independent, non-profit newsroom ProPublica created a side-by side comparison. It allows the researcher to view and compare the full texts of H.R. 3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as passed by the Senate on Dec. 24, 2009 and the House’s reconciliation passed by the House on March 21, 2010.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Supreme Court Unveils New Web Site Design

The National Law Journal is reporting that the U.S. Supreme Court has unveiled a new Web site that is a vast improvement over the "clunky" and outdated" version that the court has maintained for the past ten years. According to the article, the content has not changed but the interface boasts major developments including enhanced search capabilities, an interactive argument calendar, improved graphics, and additional historic information. For more information, see the article available at Law.com by clicking the following link: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202446450745&Supreme_Court_Unveils_New_Web_Site_Design.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Today in German History

On March 18, 1990, the first free elections to the People’s Chamber were held in the German Democratic Republic. It was the first free election in this part of Germany since 1932. During the regime of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) elections were held as well, but these didn’t even deserve to be called such. They were rather nominations of the politician on the ballot with a voter turnout of 99%, and a similar high election result for those on the ballot.

The People’s Chamber held its constituent sitting on 5 April 1990. By the time of German unification on 3 October 1990, it had passed more than 150 laws and adopted about 100 resolutions. At a special sitting on the night of 22 to 23 August 1990, the People’s Chamber decided, by 294 to 62 votes, with seven abstentions, that the GDR would accede to the Federal Republic of Germany.

If interested in documents and television footage relating to the People’s Chamber check out the German Bundestag. In cooperation with the Federal Archives and the German National Broadcasting Archive, the Bundestag has digitized the historical printed papers, stenographic records and television recordings of the plenary sittings.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Electrical Power Outage on March 20, 2010

There will be an electrical power outage on Saturday, March 20, 2010, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CenterPoint Energy will be replacing a power pole which distributes power to campus.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

American Presidency Project

Presidential documents are important in legal research especially executive orders, proclamations, and bill signing statements. These sources can now be found free in full text on the American Presidency Project website at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/. The following sources are among those available from this database:
  • Executive Orders (1826-2010)
  • Inaugural Addresses (1789-2009)
  • The Messages and Papers of the Presidents (1789-1913)
  • Presidential Signing Statements (1929-2010)
  • Proclamations (1789-2010)
  • The Public Papers of the Presidents (1929-1993)
  • Radio Addresses (1982-2010)
  • State of the Union Addresses (1790-2010)
  • Statements of Administrative Policy (1997-2010)
  • Various documents from Presidential Elections (2000 and 2008)
  • The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (1993-2009)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Unforeseen Impact of Recession?: Arrests for Overdue Books

ABC World News has a fascinating story on their website regarding towns turning to arresting patrons with overdue library items because of the high cost of replacing materials:

Borrowers Arrested for Failing to Return Overdue Library Books, DVDs

Legal Oxymoron of the Week for Mar. 12, 2010

This week's Legal Oxymoron of the Week is:

Religious Freedom

See, e.g., Newdow v. Rio Linda Union Sch. Dist., Nos. 05-17257, 05-17344, 06-15093, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 5201, at *73, 2010 WL 816986, at *21 (9th Cir. Mar. 11, 2010), available at http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/03/11/05-17257.pdf.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beginning of the Technology Backlash?

The Washington Post published a wonderful article on Tuesday, March 9, 2010 discussing professors banning laptops from their classes:

Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls

While it may seem ironic (if not hypocritical) for a misoneist such as myself to be writing a blog entry, whether as a student or a teacher, I've always hated students having laptops in the classroom (unless the lesson dealt specifically with the technology). As the above article points out, it's too easy for students to be distracted. I can still remember my first semester, small section, Contracts class where a particularly annoying fellow student insisted on sitting in the front row where she would endlessly play Galaga or sometimes (believe it or not) Space Invaders on her computer for the rest of the class to see.

However, even when laptops are being used properly to diligently take notes, I find them still distracting: the peck, peck, peck of the keyboard keys can seem as loathsome, hideous, and grating as a Tell-Tale Heart! I for one (and speaking only for myself) can only hope that this is but the first salvo in a growing backlash against the invading kudzu of technology-for-the-sake-of-technology in education.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chief Justice John Roberts and "Unnamed Informants"

For a brief moment last Thursday (March 4, 2010) there was a rumor about Chief Justice John Roberts' early retirement. The "rumor" started by an unlikely source: a Georgetown criminal law professor. Here is the transcript of the story, reported by NPR All Things Considered.

A good lesson for not only criminal law students but anyone conducting empirical research.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dred Scott v. Sanford & Legal Research

Today (March 6, 2010) marks the 153 anniversary of Dred Scott v. Sanford (60 U.S. 393). Much have been said about the shameful U.S. Supreme Court decision. Here is one for the legal research business:

Althought the U.S. Supreme Court posts on its website the dates of the oral argument were Feb. 11-14 and Dec. 15-18, 1856; and the original decision was handed down on March 6, 1857, one would not be able to find these dates in the Westlaw version. The only date available on Westlaw (1856 WL 8721) is "December Term, 1856." And the pdf file for this case currently is not available. Lexis posts another problem: 1856 U.S. LEXIS 472 states: "March 5, 1857, Decided; December 1856 Term." Online researcher beware!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Women's History Month

As some of you may know, March is Women’s History Month. This annual recognition of the contributions and struggles of American women began in 1981 when Congress passed Public Law 97-28 authorizing and requesting President Reagan to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as Women’s History Week. As a result, President Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 4903 recognizing the first Women’s History Week.

Women’s History Month as we now know it began in March 1987 with Presidential Proclamation 5619. Each year the President issues a proclamation acknowledging the achievements of American women and celebrating the accomplishments of specific women throughout history. Consistent with this tradition, President Obama recently issued a proclamation declaring March 2010 Women’s History Month.

To learn more about Women’s History Month and the achievements of American women, visit the Library of Congress website and the Women’s History Month website.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Finding Law Journal Articles

If you are looking for articles on a particular research topic, the law library offers access to several databases that index and provide the full-text of law journal and law review articles. Each of these databases can be accessed from the Legal Databases drop-down list located on the law library’s main page.

LegalTrac indexes approximately 875 legal periodicals and provides the full-text of articles from over 100, going as far back as 1981. If the database does not provide the full-text of an article, it will provide a citation that you can use to find the article in another database or in print.

HeinOnline contains full-text, pdf copies of articles from over 1,200 law and law-related periodicals, both U.S. and international. The content typically stretches back to the first volume of each journal and is carried forward to the most current issue allowed by the publisher.

JSTOR is an interdisciplinary archive of over 1,000 academic journals, including many related to law. It provides access to the full-text of articles back to the first volume of each journal. However, like HeinOnline, the most recently published issues of each journal may not be available.

Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) indexes approximately 470 international and comparative law journals published worldwide, going as far back as 1985. Since the full-text of each article is not provided, use the citation to find the article in a full-text database or in print.

Social Science Research Network (SSRN) contains the abstracts of scholarly working papers and forthcoming papers as well as a full-text electronic paper collection. Coverage for a particular journal will vary, as articles are submitted by individual scholars.

If you need assistance using any of these databases, feel free to ask at the reference desk!