"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, January 28, 2014

Pregnancy and Life Support in Texas


The recent case regarding termination of life support for Marlise Muñoz, decided this past Friday, has gained significant attention from national and international news networks due to both its tragic personal elements and to the conflicting legal and ethical concerns involved in the dispute.  For legal scholars wishing to contribute to the dialogue over this case but stymied by a lack of precise legal citation in popular news reports, the following citations and resources may be of interest:

The case is Muñoz v. John Peter Smith Hospital, No. 096-270080-14 (96th Dist. Ct., Tarrant County, Tex. Jan. 24, 2014).

A copy of the final order terminating life support is hosted by the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney.

Texas statutes cited by the parties to this case include:
  • Tex. Health & Safety Code § 166.039. Procedure When Person Has Not Executed or Issued a Directive and is Incompetent or Incapable of Communication. 
    • Section (b)(1) assigns the patient’s spouse the highest priority for the purpose of making the decision to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment.
  • Tex. Health & Safety Code § 166.049.  Pregnant Patients. 
    • “A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.”
  • Tex. Health & Safety Code § 671.001.  Standard Used in Determining Death. 
    • Section (c): “Death must be pronounced before artificial means of supporting a person's respiratory and circulatory functions are terminated.”
  • Texas Penal Code § 1.07.  Definitions. 
    • Section (a)(26): “‘Individual’ means a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Are You Ready to Rock?


The Law Center’s own Professor Michael A. Olivas is an expert in more than higher education law and immigration law. He is also an expert on rock and roll. A lifelong lover of rock music, he has combined his expertise in law and music to create a brand new NPR show, The Law of Rock and Roll. The show will debut on Friday, January 24 at 8:30 am, Mountain Time. The show will be broadcast on Albuquerque, New Mexico’s NPR affiliate, KANW 89.1. The show grew out of Professor Olivas’ wildly popular continuing legal education course of the same name and his long running listserv, Michael’s Rock and Roll Posse, where he comments on all things rock and roll

The programs, at about three minutes long, feature both popular and lesser known rock and roll tunes, and the true stories of the legal entanglements found by rock musicians of all varieties. Topics include adhesion contracts, backup singers, auxiliary delivery systems, and music by deceased performers. Interspersed through these brief lessons are songs relating to both the subject matter and artists discussed.  These bite sized lessons will satisfy your appetite for both great tunes by a wide range of artists and the true legal stories behind the music.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cite-Checker App


If you are looking for a little help with your legal citations, you may want to take a look at the Cite-Checker app from Wolters Kluwer, which is part of the publisher’s popular Law in a Flash series. This app serves as a guide to the Bluebook, providing plain English explanations of the rules with examples.  It covers the rules for specific resources like cases, statutes, books, and law review articles as well as non-resource specific concepts such as the rules for quotations, punctuation, and short form citations.  The app contains 17 different sections covering various Bluebook rules and concepts and has a table of contents to help you find the information you need quickly.

The app is available for Android and iOS devices and is only $2.99.  For more information and to download the app, visit the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Law Library Brown Bag Series

Each semester the law library presents a series of presentations on legal research topics. These presentations are held at 12 noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Room 4 BLB. We will be offering the following sessions during the Spring 2014 semester:

1. Texas Legislative History Research
Tuesday, 2/4, Wednesday, 2/5, 12:00-12:45 P.M.
Emily Lawson, Reference and Research Librarian

2. Researching Texas Administrative Law
Tuesday, 2/11, Wednesday, 2/12, 12:00-12:45 P.M.
Katy Stein Badeaux, Reference and Research Librarian

3. Researching Oil and Gas Law
Tuesday, 2/18, Wednesday, 2/19, 12:00-12:45 P.M.
Chris Dykes, Reference and Research Librarian

4. International and Foreign Law Research
Tuesday, 2/25, Wednesday, 2/26, 12:00-12:45 P.M.
Dan Donahue, International and Foreign Law Librarian

5. Empirical Legal Research
Tuesday, 3/4, Wednesday, 3/5, 12:00-12:45 P.M.
Mon Yin Lung, Associate Director of the Law Library

Supreme Court Practice, 10th Edition

Bloomberg BNA has recently published the 10th Edition of Supreme Court Practice, by Stephen M Shapiro, Kenneth S. Geller, Timothy S. Bishop, Edward A. Hartnett, and Dan Himmelfarb, which is essential for the practitioner, scholar, and pro se patron alike. This treatise, which has been updated to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court's new rules, contains a convenient checklist that summarizes the Supreme Court rules regarding processing cases (including limits on document length and color covers). The authors provide a detailed overview of the U.S. Supreme Court and examine the court's jurisdiction to review federal and state appellate cases.  This book covers petitioning the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari, discussing the process involved and the different factors that the court considers in accepting these cases along with the detailed framework of such petitions. Other matters such as extraordinary writs, briefs on the merits, oral arguments, and admission to practice before the court are reviewed. The 450 page book contains several appendices including Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States, Clerk's Guidelines Regarding Filing Cases and those selected for review, admission to the bar, applicable statutes and regulations, and select forms. A detailed table of contents and index are also included. Supreme Court Practice is now available in the law library, currently in the titles shelf across from the reference desk.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Houston Bar Association to be Honored by American Bar Association


The Houston Bar Association (HBA) will be honored by the American Bar Association (ABA) on February 17 for Outstanding Law Day Activities in 2013 (press releases here and here). 
Law Day, May 1, is not a federal holiday, but is a day established by 36 U.S.C. §113 to recognize the role of law in a free society.

The Outstanding Activities that earned the HBA this honor included:
  • A “Day at the Courthouse” event, where 45 special needs students from local schools received a courthouse tour thanks to Fourteenth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Kem Thompson Frost, and watched a reenactment of the argument of Brown v. Board of Education followed by an explanation of the case by Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.
  • Readings of law-themed books to elementary school students from over 100 schools.
  • Poster, essay and photograph contests open to students from Houston area elementary, middle and high schools.
  • Poster workshops for children in low-income areas of Houston.
  • Dialogues on freedom between attorney-judge teams and local high school seniors.
  • Creation of Law Day education and legal resource packets for every Harris County district and county court.
  • Fielding 263 questions from callers during a Law Day Legal Line program.
In addition to the HBA, the ABA will be honoring the Atlanta, Georgia Law Day Dream Team and the Connecticut Judicial Branch.