"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



Monday, November 22, 2010

ABA Online Law Review/Law Journal Search Engine

The ABA has created a search engine that does a full-text search of more than 400 law reviews and other publications that are available for free online.
It provides a list of all the journals searched, along with links to their websites. In addition, it also includes listings for online publications that are not included within the search engine.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Real Life Adverse Possession

Remember the Property lessons for 1Ls? If nothing else, we are expected to remember two doctrines: the rule against perpetuities and the doctrine of adverse possession. If you think these are just theories, think again. Yesterday New York Times published an article reporting on the modern version of this ancient common law practice in this time of foreclosure crisis: At Legal Fringe, Empty Houses Go to the Needy. I am sure somewhere there is a Property professor using this for his/her class discussion. It would be wonderful if the authors interviewed more than one law professors.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Locating Information about Judges

Practicing attorneys need to be familiar with the different sources that contain contact and background information on judges of all levels of court.There are a number of directories that the law library has on reserve that contain listings for judges as well as their staff. These sources vary with respect to the amount of the information they provide.

Federal Almanac of the Judiciary (KF8700.A19 A42 Reserve)

This source contains background on every federal judge including district and appellate judges as well as Supreme Court justices on education, experience, publications, rulings, media coverage, and evaluations from attorneys.

Judicial Yellow Book (KF8700.A19 J835 Spr. 2010 Reserve)

This contains listings of judges of federal and state courts and includes a brief summary of each judge's education and experience as well as contact information of the court and staff.

Texas Courthouse Guide (KFT 1708.A19 T487 Reserve)

This book includes basic contact information of federal and state courts and agencies within Texas and features both counties and county seat indexes.

Texas Legal Directory 2010 (KF192.T4 T55 Reserve)

This multi-volume set is largely used to locate attorney information but includes a judiciary section containg listings of all Texas state judges from the Supreme Court of Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Appeals, and District and County Courts.

2011 Harris County Bench Book (KFT 1710. Z9 H37 Reserve)

This provides contact information and rules and procedures for federal district and bankruptcy court as well as Texas district and county court judges. The creed for practicing before a particular judge is based on questionnaires sent to each judge and is the most useful feature of this source. Harris, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Jefferson, Liberty, and Montgomery counties are included.

Keep in mind that due to last Tuesday's elections, some of the listings from the print sources above will soon become out of date. The following websites will likely have more current listings:

Texas Supreme Court
http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
http://www.cca.courts.state.tx.us/

Texas Court of Appeals
http://www.courts.state.tx.us/courts/coa.asp

Harris County Courts
http://www.ccl.hctx.net/

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Downloading

As to respond to my colleague Dan Baker's posting on October 27, here is the latest legal news on downloading: a Minnesota mom was hit with $1.5 Million fine for downloading 24 Songs. Judging from what has been happening since the era of Napster, one has to wonder what would come first, the end of illegal downloading or the end of RIAA.

European Convention turns 60!

Sixty years ago today, November 4, 1950, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights, was signed and adopted by 12 member states of the Council of Europe.
This Convention was the first instrument to give effect and binding force to specific rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  and it was furthermore the first treaty to establish a supranational organ to ensure that the States Parties fulfilled their undertakings. The Convention was a milestone in the development of international law. Once states had accepted that a supranational court could challenge decisions taken by their own courts, human rights de facto gained precedence over national legislation and practice.
In order to join the Council of Europe, a State must first sign and ratify the European Convention on Human Rights, thus confirming its commitments to the aims of the Organization, namely the achievement of greater unity between its members based on human rights and fundamental freedoms, peace and respect for democracy and the Rule of Law.
The Convention was entered into force on 3 September 1953 and the rulings of the European Courts of Human Rights based on the Convention resulted in many changes to legislation and have helped to strengthen the rule of law. Any individual, group of individuals, company or non-governmental organization can apply to the Court, provided that they have exhausted all domestic remedies.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November is "Native American Heritage Month"

The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), National Park Service, National Gallery of Art, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Smithsonian Institution have jointly created a website in honor of Native American Heritage Month, which is available at the following link: http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov. This web portal provides a brief history of National American Heritage Month, includes links to various exhibits and collections, as well as audio/video clips related to American Indian History, and a schedule of events. The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian also includes a schedule of events at the following link: http://www.nmai.si.edu/anniversary/schedule.html.