"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



Friday, October 30, 2015

New Federal Website for Election Data


Yesterday the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) launched the beta version of a new website for election data, https://beta.fec.gov.  The website is currently a resource for locating campaign finance data, and will soon expand to offer other election information as well.

The FEC's current website for information elated to elections, http://www.fec.gov/pindex.shtml, remains accessible.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Easy Access to Federal Court Opinions Online

This week the Federal Law Librarians Special Interest Section of the Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C., announced a new online resource available on their site, entitled Quick Links and Sources to U.S. Court Opinions. The new website presents quick links to all major sources for U.S. Court opinions including sites for recent years, sites for recent and historical years, and subscription sites. It also presents direct links to court opinion sites of specific U.S. courts such as the U.S. courts of appeals as well links to opinion sites to those courts before the 1990’s.  Each specific’s court’s abbreviation and city location can also be found and there is an example of how new slip opinions can be cited. Though this list is of most use for finding opinions from the federal courts, it links to Cornell's Legal Information Institute for Texas opinions. Provided this list is updated consistently, it will be a useful bookmark for any practitioner seeking quick access to case law. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

GPO to Digitize the Entire Federal Register


This week, the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) announced that it will be partnering with the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register to digitize all back issues of the Federal Register.  The Federal Register, which started in 1936, is published daily with rules, proposed rules, and notices from federal agencies as well as executive materials.  The announcement states that this project, which will digitize two million pages, will be complete in 2016.

Digitizing all issues back to 1936 will greatly expand free access to this valuable resource.  Currently, the Federal Register is available through subscription databases such as Westlaw, Lexis, and HeinOnline back to 1936, with HeinOnline being the only database of the three providing the publication in PDF format. While free access to the Federal Register is currently available on the GPO’s FDsys website, the coverage only goes back to 1994.  In fact, many of the document collections available through FDsys only go back to the mid-1990s as well.  The digitization of these historical issues of the Federal Register is a welcome project and is hopefully just the start of more digitization projects covering historical federal legal materials!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New Death Penalty Resource From The Marshall Project


The Marshall Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization focusing on criminal justice issues, recently launched The Next to Die website, a resource with information about upcoming executions across the country.  This resource was created in conjunction with the Houston Chronicle and six other news organizations including AL.com, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Frontier, St. Louis Public Radio, the Tampa Bay Times, and The Virginian-Pilot.  According to their website, “The Marshall Project and its journalistic partners do not take a stance on the morality of capital punishment,” but see “a need for better reporting on a punishment that so divides Americans.” 

The website focuses on the nine states that have executed people since 2013 including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia, as well as Arkansas, since it is planning to resume executions.  It provides information about scheduled executions in each state and links to news coverage regarding the cases.  Finally, it also provides data regarding the history of the death penalty, with the information provided by the Death Penalty Information Center.  For more information about the resource, visit The Next to Die website.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Elephind.com Brings Together Thousands of Historical Newspapers


Here’s a website that will be of interest to librarians and history buffs alike. Elephind.com allows you to search across thousands of digitized historical newspapers from one search box. So far, the site includes over 2.6 million issues from 2,705 titles, and claims to be adding more newspapers every day. In addition to a search engine that allows you to search headlines or full text and to limit your search by country, the site also provides links to the source of each paper, which will often provide more advanced search or browsing features. To learn more, check out Elephind’s “About” page.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Rulemaking Database From SEC


The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced the launch of a new database to provide transparency into its rules and rulemaking process. The SEC currently invites public comment on proposed rules, and the new database is intended to provide “one-stop shopping” for those who wish to track the development of new rules, or to research completed rules or other actions related to rulemaking. The database is available at http://www.sec.gov/rules/rulemaking-index.shtml.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Congress Passes Revision to Affordable Care Act

The New York Times reported this week that Congress has passed legislation to amend the Affordable Care Act with the goal of protecting midsize businesses with 51-100 employees from increases in health insurance costs. These costs would result from the new requirements set to take effect on January 1, 2016. Currently, small employers, which typically are defined by states as consisting of 50 or less employees, are protected these the Affordable Care Act requirements.  The revision allows states to expand the definition of "small group" to include businesses 51-100 employees, protecting them from the new provisions as well. This act, known as Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act (PACE), H.R. 1624, was introduced by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky), and the Senate version (S. 1099) was introduced by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and Senator Jean Shaheen (D-NH) earlier this year. Congress.gov has the full text of the bill is available along with the status, CRS Summary, list of actions related to the bill, and the CBO cost estimates.