"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



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Researching the Budget of the United States Government



While President Obama has been on the road, setting out his vision for the nation’s economy this week, White House officials have been meeting with Senate Republicans to start talks about next year’s budget. Two of the chief issues between the parties are whether to raise tax revenue, and how to best reign in the cost of Medicare.

The federal government’s fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30, and the President submits his budget for the next fiscal year between January and February.  The President’s proposed budget for 2014 will include deficit reduction, in accordance with the agreements made during 2012’s fiscal cliff negotiations. If you are interested in viewing the budget for next year, or past years, and additional budget information, here are some online resources to aid your research:

FDsys, brought to you by the Government Printing Office, provides digital access to official government documents from the three branches of government.  FDsys includes:

Budget of the United States Government: FY1996-FY2014
Budget Amendments and Supplementals*: FY2006-FY2013

Changes to the budget can only be requested by the President and these changes are called supplementals (for the current year) and amendments (for the next budget year). 

Federal Reserve Archive System for Economic Research (FRASER)/ http://fraser.stlouisfed.org

FRASER, the result of a partnership between the GPO and the Federal Reserve Bank St. Louis, maintains a database of each annual budget from 1923 to the present. The site also has numerous historical documents related to the Federal Reserve System, and a complete database of the monthly economic indicators from 1948 to the present.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB)/ http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb

The OMB’s website includes historical tables, which show how the United States budget has changed over time, with respect to total receipts and outlays (1798-2018 projections), as well as other data that can be viewed throughout the years.  

Congressional Budget Office/ http://www.cbo.gov

The CBO produces cost estimates that analyze the likely effects of proposed legislation on the federal budget. The estimates are posted on CBO’s website in chronological order, and they are searchable by bill number, title, committee, and program area; each generally includes a description of the legislation, a statement about its estimated budgetary impact, and an explanation of the basis for that estimate.

Friday, July 26, 2013

American Lawyer App


The popular American Lawyer magazine has a free mobile app to help you stay on top of news about the business of law, law firms, and lawyers.  The app allows you to view full-text articles from the latest monthly issue of the magazine as well as recent back issues.  It also provides access to the latest issues of affiliated publications and supplements such as Focus Latin America, The Asian Lawyer, Litigation, and Intellectual Property.  Finally, you can also access news stories from the Am Law Daily website.

The app is available for iOS devices such as iPhone and iPad as well as Android devices.  For more information and to download the app, visit the iTunes App Store or the GooglePlay Store. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

This Year in Hot Dog Law


Today, July 23, is National Hot Dog Day.  In honor of this holiday, please enjoy a hot dog (or a tofu dog) along with the following roundup of this year’s developments in hot dog law:
Federal hot dog law has not changed since Hot Dog Day 2012.  For those interested in the Federal definition of a hot dog, one may be found at 9 CFR § 319.180.
By contrast, 2013 has been an active year for hot dog law at the state level.  Missouri courts determined that ballpark attendees do not assume the risk of injury from airborne hot dogs, and New York courts vindicated the rights of disabled veterans to sell hot dogs in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  But the cutting edge developments in hot dog law this year are occurring in California: California legislators are currently in the process of defining hot dogs for the purpose of state health law compliance.  Bacon-wrapped hot dogs are still illegal at food carts in the Golden State, though.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

TexFile to Launch on September 1

The Texas Lawyer blog is reporting that TexFile, the new e-filing system for the entire state is set to launch on September 1.  Tyler Technologies is currently training attorneys, law firms, and bar associations to use the new system. They are coordinating efforts with software companies and counties that handle their own case management systems as well as several companies that currently provide e-filing services in preparation for the start-up date. According to the article, once TexFile is in use, an attorney will be able to  file a court document by sending it to one of at least six e-filing service providers, which will then submit it to TexFile. More information about the e-filing system is available at www.texfile.com.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tax Analysts Web Services

The law library subscribes to Tax Analysts web services, which is available to UHLC students and faculty by visiting the law library's website, and clicking "Tax Analysts web services" from the drop-down menu under "legal databases." This database requires connecting to the law library's VPN, when away from the law center. The library's subscription includes the following sources:
  • Tax Notes Today (TNT)
    • Published daily, provides the latest developments in federal tax law, such as proposed and final regulations, case law, pending legislation, revenue rulings and procedures as well as other agency decisions.
  • State Tax Today
    • Published daily, reports important state tax issues for jurisdictions throughout the country.
  • Worldwide Tax Daily
    • Published daily, reports tax news and developments from foreign jurisdictions throughout the globe.
  • Wordwide Tax Treaties
    • This source contains the full text of tax treaties along with the OECD, U.N., and U.S. model tax conventions.
The advanced search feature will allow the user to search all articles (from 1987 until today) from Tax Notes Today (TNT), State Tax Today, and Worldwide Tax Daily simultaneously. The Worldwide Tax Treaties advanced search option can be utilized to locate different types of tax treaties along with the model tax conventions, news articles, and other related sources.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July 4th!



July 4th! Independence Day! The 4th of July!  The day the Declaration of Independence Might Have Been Signed! Whatever you call it, our nation’s birthday is a special day. 

Independence Day first became a federal holiday back in 1870. Although it was a holidays, federal employees were not paid. It was not until June 29, 1938 that Congress made the day a paid federal holiday. Private employers soon followed suit.  The statute making July 4th (among other days) a federal holiday can be found at 5 U.S.C. 6103. This statute also defines what happens if the holiday happens to fall on a Saturday or a Sunday. 

Independence Day is the uber-American holiday.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence who went on to become President died on the same day, July 4th 1826 which also happened to be the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration.  Former President James Monroe died 5 years later on the same day.  Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872.

If you are interested in how Independence Day is celebrated around the country, I highly recommend the Fourth of July Celebrations Database. The 4th of July is an important day in American history and we need to treat it that way.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Really Using Google



If you are reading this you probably think you know how to search the internet using Google. You don’t. You think you do because you have used it your whole life or because you use it every day or because you have always found what you are looking for. But you don’t really know how to use Google because you have never taken the time to learn to use it correctly. You think because you plug in the right words you are searching. You’re not. Really searching requires coupling thinking with knowing how to use a search engine. If you don’t put these two things together you aren’t searching.

Daniel M. Russell knows how to search. Dr. Russell (Ph’d in computer science) works for Google studying how people use the product for searching. He also writes a blog entitled SearchReSearch in which he teaches search techniques and poses questions for his readers to solve; hard questions like posting a picture of a hillside and asking “What kind of trees are these and why did I hear a bell when I took this photo?” He then explains how to use Google to get the answer. Read a few of these posts and you will wonder if you and Dr. Russell are even using the same search tool.  

Dr. Russell recently gave a talk in San Antonio to investigative reporters and editors and he posted the slides from his presentation as a “tip sheet”.  The outline of the presentation consists of “8 key skills that expert searchers have” and then he explores those skills with examples of searches. The material is available on his blog here: http://searchresearch1.blogspot.com/2013/06/tipsheet-for-ire-2013-ire13.html .  If you are interested in really learning to use Google and how really find things on the internet then this is a great place to start.