"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, October 23, 2013

New Collections in HeinOnline



Recently, the O’Quinn Law Library has added two new collections to its HeinOnline collection, now available through the HeinOnline link on the law library website, in the database drop-down menu. 

Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S.
The Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S. collection is a vast compilation of documents and resources related to immigration law and policy. Included are Board of Immigration Appeals  Precedent Decisions. These are administrative decisions of the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and the Attorney General, which are selected and designated as precedent by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the BIA, and the Attorney General, respectively.  You can now search these decisions in HeinOnline by decision number or keyword. Also included in the library are legislative histories for major immigration acts, an extensive bibliography of immigration law resources, and many treatises. 

U.S. Congressional Documents
The U.S. Congressional Documents library has a variety of sources relating to the work of Congress and the documents created as part of the legislative process. Particularly notable in the collection is the complete Congressional Record from its beginning in 1873, digitized and searchable. Also included is a Congressional Record Daily to Bound Locator tool, which instantly identifies the corresponding page number from one edition to the other (Daily edition available from 1980 to present). Another great resource is the Congressional Hearings Collection, including more than 24,000 hearings and an easy to use “quick finder,” which makes finding hearings more efficient. Other items in the collection include Congressional Budget Office Publications from 1975-present, various other works related to Congress.
Be sure to check out these outstanding new collections!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The more things change...

Texas Probate Code Becomes Texas Estates Code

Beginning January 1, 2014, the Texas Estates Code is scheduled to replace the Texas Probate Code as part of the ongoing revision and codification of Texas statutes. Although the revision is non-substantive, codification will reorganize the statutes into titles, chapters, and sections, similar to other Texas codes. Anyone whose practice touches on wills, probate, guardianship, or power of attorney documents will have to spend some time acquainting themselves with the new organizational structure.

To assist with the transition, the Texas Legislative Council has included helpful documents in its Revisor’s Reports. At the beginning of each report, the foreword defines the scope of the revision and gives an overview of the new organization scheme. On a more practice level, each report contains a Disposition Table that shows the new section designation for each section of the Probate Code.

Legal publishers are also producing helpful tools. For example, Jones McClure has published O’Connor’s Estates Code Plus, which contains the text of both the Probate Code and the Estates Code with the effective date of each section at the top of the page. It also contains charts and tables that put various probate processes in step-by-step order with cross references to the new code. You can discover this volume on law library shelves throughout the Houston area.

Joseph Lawson is a guest blogger for Nota Bene and the law librarian at the Fort Bend County Law Library. Please note that the views expressed in this post do not represent an official position or opinion of Fort Bend County, Texas.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Constitute Project


Ever wonder which countries have constitutional provisions protecting freedom of expression?  Or if the United States is unique in providing a constitutional right to bear arms?  A new resource from the Comparative Constitutions Project can help you answer these questions and more!  Their recently launched Constitute Project contains information about over 175 constitutions from around the world.  You can choose to read a particular country’s constitution, search the full-text of the documents, or browse constitutional provisions by topic.  If you browse by topic, you can select from over 300 different options and see a list of countries with provisions on that subject, along with the text from the constitutions.  Broad topic areas include Amendment, Culture and Identity, Elections, Executive, Federalism, International Law, Judiciary, Legislature, Principles and Symbols, Regulation and Oversight, and Rights and Duties. 
  
If you are interested in comparative constitutional law research, you should also check out the World Constitutions Illustrated resource available in the library’s HeinOnline database.  In addition, print resources on this topic can be found in the library at K3157-K3165.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Bluebook Needs You!


The editors of The Bluebook are starting to think about revisions for the upcoming 20th edition and they are looking for suggestions from you!  They are currently soliciting feedback through a survey that will remain open until November 8, 2013.  As a bonus, completing the survey will enter you for a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader or a free copy of the 20th edition of The Bluebook with a two year subscription to the online version.

If you would like more information about the the survey, visit The Bluebook website.  Or go directly to the survey here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Law Box 2013 App

Law Box 2013, discussed in iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers (ABA), by Tom Mighell, provides access to the full text of different sources of law.  Some of the collections are free including the U.S. Constitution, Title 28 of the United States Code: Judiciary and Judicial Procedure, and different Federal Rules of Court (Appellate Procedure, Bankruptcy Procedure, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence). The Texas Statutes and Codes and the United States Code are available as added content for a fee. Other collections available include the codes for Arizona, California, Delaware, New York, Illinois, and Florida.  Law Box 2013 is available for the iPad, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices and can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Federal Legal Resources and the Government Shutdown

Legal researchers accustomed to accessing resources on federal government websites may find themselves temporarily inconvenienced, as some government websites have been closed during the current government shutdown.  The following is a brief summary of what legal researchers can expect from a few of the more popular government websites during the shutdown:
  • The Library of Congress website has been closed, with the exceptions of the THOMAS and beta.congress.gov pages.
  • FDsys will continue to update congressional materials, but Federal Register services will be restricted and no other collections will be updated.  Older materials and search functions remain available.
  • The National Archives will continue to update the Federal Register.
  • The USA.gov website will remain available.
  • The Department of Justice website will not be regularly updated, but existing reports and legislative histories remain available.
  • The PACER website remains available.
  • The Census website and the sites it hosts, such as American Factfinder, are closed.
  • The Data.gov website is closed.
  • The Supreme Court website will remain available at least through October 4, but Supreme Court operations will be reviewed if the shutdown continued beyond that date.