"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
The library has now acquired,Immigration Practice, 15th ed by Robert C. Divine and R. Blake Chisam. This source provides an overview of immigration law and is designed for attorneys involved in immigration practice. The first part is helpful for understanding the basics of representing and interacting with clients. There is also a discussion of the different U.S. departments that are involved in regulating immigration practice as well as the rules of practice for those agencies. Researching the sources of immigration law and obtaining government files are also explored. This practice guide also covers the immigration process and focuses on non-immigrant visas and status, permanent residence, U.S. Citizenship, inadmissibility and deportability grounds, and removal proceedings. This source also explores different paths for obtaining permanent residence such as employment, family-based petitions, and asylum. There are informative charts included throughout the book and there are annotations to applicable statutes, rules and regulations, case law, and forms. The appendices contain fee schedules, lists of abbreviations used in immigration practice, government offices, and frequently used government forms. There are also tables of cases, statutes, subject index, and Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and United States Code conversion table. Immigration Practice (KF4819.D58 2014) is now available on the new titles shelf in the law library. The accompanying CD-ROM (available on reserve in the library) contains links to websites and forms.
Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, the Irwin I. Cohn Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School has authored, Advanced Introduction to International Tax Law, which provides a summary of international tax law from a global perspective. The book is essentially divided into two parts: an overview of the international tax regime; selected contemporary issues. The first part, begins with a brief introduction and then discusses both territorial and source jurisdiction. Territorial jurisdiction allows a nation to tax an individual or company within its borders and source jurisdiction allows a nation to tax citizens regardless of residence. Inbound taxation (taxation of non-residents on income taxable from sources within that country) and Outbound (taxation of a countries citizens' income from sources outside that country's jurisdiction) is explored in detail for both passive and active income. Tax treaties, source rules, and transfer pricing are also explained. The second part, covers emerging issues in international tax sand includes a discussion of the single tax principle, the challenges related to nondiscrimination (the principle that foreign taxpayers should not be treated differently domestic taxpayers) as well as the future of the international tax regime, among other issues. This book is now available on the law library's new titles shelf (K4460.A935).
The Department of State has just released
the Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, a report reviewing and
analyzing international progress against terrorist activities. It is
available online from the state department’s website here; previous years’ reports are available here.
The Country Reports on Terrorism reports are
mandated by 22 U.S. Code § 2656f. It has been an
annual report since 2004, when it replaced the then-published Patterns
of Global Terrorism report. The new report maintains the
non-statistical part of its terrorism review pursuant to the Intelligence
Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108–458), which transferred the
statistical function to the National Counterterrorism Center.
Back in 2013, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
launched a new version of its Enforcement and
Compliance History Online (ECHO) website. ECHO provides information on
environmental regulatory compliance and enforcement for approximately 800,000
facilities across the nation. Since the launch of ECHO 2.0, the site has
undergone a number of updates and enhancements, and this month saw the
introduction of ECHO Release 2.4.1. The most salient new feature is the addition
of air pollution data, compiled from the National Emissions Inventory, Toxic
Release Inventory, Greenhouse Gas Reporting Tool, and Acid Rain Program, along
with compliance information for individual facilities. To learn more about this
and other features recently added to ECHO, see this
announcement from EPA Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles.
It seems as if every day we hear about some new data security
breach, whether it involves a bank, an internet service provider, or even
the IRS. These breaches can have devastating consequences, including
identity theft. Because of these potential dangers, it’s a good idea to have a
plan of action in case your identity is stolen. A new website from the Federal
Trade Commission, www.identitytheft.gov,
can help. It provides instructions on what to do immediately (such as calling
the companies where the fraud occurred, getting a credit report, and alerting
the authorities) as well as long-term steps you might want to consider (such as
an extended credit freeze). The site also includes warning signs of identity
theft, rights of identity-theft victims, and sample letters you can use to
dispute credit card charges or deal with debt collectors.
LexisNexis recently released the results of a survey
commissioned to determine what skills and experience are most needed from new
associates, and where their employers find them most lacking. Over 300 hiring
partners and senior associates who supervise new attorneys were surveyed about
both the relative importance of various skills, and to what extent they
believed new attorneys to be lacking in those competencies.
In the area of litigation, the survey found associates
lacking in advanced legal research skills required for complex legal issues. The
attorneys surveyed placed advanced legal research skills alongside drafting
pleadings and motions as the skills both “most needed” and “most lacking” in
For those in transactional practice, new associates are
reportedly most lacking in basic understanding of fundamental financial and
business concepts. The next most cited problem area for new associates in transactional
areas was inability to conduct due diligence and draft simple contracts and agreements.
The surveyed attorneys recommended what many law schools
have begun to implement to satisfy the ABA’s Revised Standards for Approval of Law Schools: increased advanced legal research integration, more experiential
learning opportunities, and more writing and drafting exercises that reflect the
competencies needed in day-to-day law practice. You can read the complete white
While our law school
community stays hard at work during the summer months, thoughts still occasionally
turn toward vacation. Cruises are among the most popular vacation choices for
Houston-area residents as the area boasts cruise ports both in Galveston and
Pasadena, eliminating the need for costly air travel. Cruising is a big
industry for Texas as well. Six percent of all cruise passengers leave from the
Texas ports (605,000) and cruise industry expenditures in Texas exceeded $1.26
billion in 2013 (See, The Contribution of the North American Cruise Industry to the U.S. Economy in 2013,
at 57). As
travelers both depart and return from the United States it is easy for many to that
these ships are generally not subject to U.S. laws. Here are some things to be
aware of if you are planning on taking a cruise vacation.
Open Registries: Despite
the vast number of cruise ships sailing closed-loop itineraries from United
States ports, these ships are nearly exclusively registered in other countries.
Under international law, every merchant ship must be registered with a country,
known as its flag state. The country of registry has jurisdiction over the
vessel and is responsible for inspecting that it is safe to sail and to check
on the crew's working conditions. Open registries are also known as “flags of
convenience,” a term now generally understood to mean registration of a ship in
a country with an open registry for primarily economic reasons. Only one major
cruise ship is currently registered in the United States, Norwegian Cruise Line’s
Pride of America, which sails exclusively in the Hawaiian Islands from Honolulu.
The practice of
registering ships in Panama began in 1922 as a way for the passenger vessels to
serve alcohol to its passengers during Prohibition. Registering ships in Panama
grew in popularity even after the end of Prohibition as companies found it an
effective way to avoid costly compliance with labor laws and avoid taxation Once
a ship is outside of United States territorial waters the flag state exercises
jurisdiction to adjudicate and enforce laws with respect to the ship or any
conduct that occurs on the ship. In 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel
Security and Safety Act (Pub. L. No. 111-207) to provide increased security and at least some level of regulation to foreign
flagged passenger vessels operated in U.S. territorial waters. The act establishes
requirements to ensure the security and safety of passengers and crew on cruise
vessels and implements reporting of crimes that affect U.S. passengers. For
more about open registries and flags of convenience, see Brian Baker, Flags of Convenience and the Gulf Oil Spill:
Problems and Proposed Solutions, 34 Houston Journal of International Law
687 (2012); and H. Edwin Anderson, III, The
Nationality of Ships and Flags of Convenience: Economics, Politics, and
Alternatives, 21 Tulane Maritime Law Journal 139 (1996).
is the case in many consumer transactions, the cruise passenger’s ticket
contract will control the rights and remedies of the passenger. These contracts
typically contain forum-selection clauses, choice-of-law provisions, and
notice-requirement clauses that limits the time available for a passenger to
make a claim against a cruise line.
to the myriad of laws and often lax reporting requirements, historically it has
been difficult to find specific health and safety information about a given
cruise ship. Recently ProPublica brought together data from a number of sources
to provide the Cruise Control database that allows
users to search the known health and safety information and incidents for all cruise
ships sailing out of the U.S.
law comes into play if your ship returns to the cruise ports in Galveston or
Pasadena. In 2013, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced it would begin collecting personal importation taxes on alcohol and cigarettes
from passengers returning from cruises under the authority of § 107.07 of the
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Enforcement of this law requires cruisers returning through Texas to pay a duty
on alcohol and cigarettes that are considered exempt under U.S. Customs and
Border Patrol regulations. That is, the “duty free” liter of spirits you
purchased in port will not be taxed by U.S. Customs, but to enter the state of
Texas with your bottle you’ll be charged $3.75.
Happy cruising and safe
travels to all this summer! Don't forget your sunscreen!