"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, December 18, 2015

Death Penalty Use Declines in 2015


This week, the Death Penalty Information Center released "The Death Penalty in 2015: Year End Report."  The report indicates that in 2015 the U.S. had the lowest number of executions since 1991.  Over the last year, there were 28 executions in just 6 states, including Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, and Virginia.  Other indicators in the report signal the decline in the use of the death penalty.  For instance, 49 new death sentences were imposed in 2015, which is the lowest number since the early 1970s when the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  The report also indicates that 6 death row inmates were exonerated in 2015, which brings the total to 153 since 1973.  In addition, 70 inmates with execution dates in 2015 received stays, reprieves, or commutations.

To read the full-text of the report, see the report’s website.  For more information about the death penalty, check the Death Penalty Information Center’s website. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Paris Agreement on Climate Change


Over the weekend, the almost 200 countries participating in the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) reached an historic agreement regarding climate change.  The agreement contains provisions to limit the rise in global temperatures, to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and for wealthier countries to assist poorer countries with adapting to climate change and switching to renewable energy. However, the agreement will not enter into force until it has been ratified by 55 countries, which must represent at least 55% of global emissions.  The agreement will be open for signing on April 22, 2016. 

To find out more about the conference and agreement, visit the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change website.  The entire text of the agreement is also available on their website.  


Friday, December 11, 2015

Land Use Regulation, 3d

The ABA section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law has recently published Land Use Regulation, 3d ed. by Peter W. Salsich, Jr. and Timothy J. Tryniecki (now available on the new titles shelf in the law library under the call number KF5698.S243). The book begins with a discussion of municipal power to regulate land use and then covers zoning, land use planning, constitutional limitations, and local approval process. There is a chapter that focuses specifically on both administrative and judicial review of land use decisions. Other topics include regulating specific uses, subdivision regulations, overcoming barriers to affordable housing, and environmental land use regulation. This book has a table of cases and subject index. The library also has the following titles on land use regulation:
  • Land Use Planning and Development Regulation Law, 3d (available on Westlaw Next)
  • Land Use Planning and Development Regulation Law, 3d (Hornbook Series) (KF5692.J84 2013
  • Land Use in a Nutshell (KF5698.Z9N65 2006)
  • Zoning and Land Use Controls (KF5698.R68) (available on Lexis Advance)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Federal Tax Procedures for Attorneys, 2d ed.

The ABA has recently published, Federal Tax Procedures for Attorneys, 2d by W. Patrick Cantrell. This book, designed for the tax attorney and the tax scholar, provides a real-world approach to tax practice issues. The information is thorough yet well organized and there are numerous practice tips located throughout the book. There are nine chapters covering topics relevant to the tax practitioner such as IRS examinations and administrative appeals within the agency. The chapter on tax litigation  covers deficiency process, tax claims and refunds, and the U.S. Tax Court. Collection enforcement matters such as levies and liens as well as collection remedies and defenses are also covered. Other topics include penalties and interest, statute of limitations on tax cases, ethical considerations, and tax fraud. There is a subject index and the appendices include a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in tax practice, IRS form letters, IRS publications of procedural topics, and IRS forms and notices used in federal tax procedure matters.  This book is available on the new titles shelf (across from the reference desk next to the public computer terminals) in the law library under the call number (KF6320.C36  2015).

Monday, December 7, 2015

Copyright Office Releases Strategic Plan

The United States Copyright Office has released a 5-year strategic plan for 2016-2020. 

Of particular interest to legal researchers is the Office's plans to deploy a public search engine to allow for online patent research, and well as its plans to digitize older (pre-1978) copyrights and place them online in a searchable format.  The Office's plans include the development of metadata standards for the new patent research system, but specific details about these standards are not yet available.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Amended

The most recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect this week, introducing several changes to the treatment of discovery.

Possibly the most significant changes were made to Rule 26, which has eliminated the requirement that discovery requests be "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence" and now explicitly states that responsive materials must be produced even if inadmissible in court.  The new version of the rule also has an increased emphasis on proportionality with a 6-factor test for balancing the interests of the parties to the litigation.

Additional substantial changes were made to Rule 37, which now applies exclusively to electronically stored information.  The rule contains new penalties for failure to preserve electronic information as well as requiring a determination of intent before any penalties can be applied.