"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



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tax Accounting Resources

Whether you are currently enrolled in a Tax Accounting course or have an interest in this area of tax law, the law library has a number of print and electronic sources available. These sources include treatises and practice guides, among others:
    • This is a two volume loose-leaf practice guide that is updated periodically. The print edition contains a subject index.
  • Federal Tax Accounting, by Stephen F. Gertzman (WG&L) (available on Westlaw Next and Thomson Reuters Checkpoint)
    • This is a part of the Warren, Gorham & Lamont series, a well respected collection of tax treatises.
    • These consist over sixty portfolios dealing with accounting for income taxes, accounting rules and disclosures, special industries and entities, management control and analysis, audit standards and practices, and accounting practice and responsibility.
The Bloomberg BNA databases and Thomson Reuters Checkpoint are available by using the drop-down under "legal databases" on the law library's website (you must be connected to the law library's VPN). All Bloomberg BNA portfolios are available on BloombergLaw.com (requires registration).

Monday, January 25, 2016

Spring 2016-Brown Bag Presentation Series

Each semester the law library presents a series of presentations covering legal research topics. These presentations are held at 12 noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and will take place in Room 1 BLB (except for Texas Legislative History Research, on Wednesday, February 17, which will be held in Room 115 BLB). We will be offering the following sessions for the Spring 2016 semester (click here for more details):

1. Texas Administrative Agency Research
Tuesday, 2/2, Wednesday, 2/3
Emily Lawson, Reference and Research Librarian

2. Researching Oil & Gas Law
Tuesday, 2/9, Wednesday, 2/10
Chris Dykes, Reference and Research Librarian

3. Texas Legislative History Research
Tuesday, 2/16, Wednesday, 2/17
Robert Clark, Reference and Research Librarian

4. Resources for Legal Practice
Tuesday, 2/23, Wednesday, 2/24
Katy Badeaux, Reference and Research Librarian

5. International and Foreign Law Research
Tuesday, 3/1, Wednesday, 3/2
Dan Donahue, International and Foreign Law Librarian

Light refreshments will be served.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Texas Digital Archive Online


This week the Texas State Library and Archives Commission made a portion of the electronic collection of the Texas State Archives searchable online.  The new Texas Digital Archive (TDA) has only just launched, and the current online collection is expected to grow significantly over the next few months; anyone looking for documents and records that are not currently available may want to check back later as the searchable collection grows.


Legal researches interested in capital punishment may be interested to know that the State of Texas' execution files are being loaded onto the TDA, and are currently available dating back to 1992.  Former Governor Rick Perry's Executive Office records are also already online, as well as those records of the Governor's Commission for Women that were created during his administration. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Text of the State of the Union Address


For those of you who might have missed President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, or for anyone who just wants to study the speech more closely, the full text is available in the Congressional Record on FDsys, an online repository of government documents maintained by the U.S. Government Printing Office. FDsys has the full text of the Congressional Record going back to 1994 (including previous State of the Union addresses), all of which is fully searchable. Older volumes of the Congressional Record can be found in print at the library, or in HeinOnline, a database service available on the library’s public computers.   

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Class Action Suit Accuses PACER of Overcharging


Courthouse News Service has reported that a recently filed class action suit accuses PACER of systematically overcharging its customers. Many of our readers will be familiar with PACER, which stands for the Public Access to Courts Electronic Records system. PACER is a government-operated, online database that provides access to federal court documents for a fee of 10 cents per page, up to a maximum of three dollars per document. The complaint, filed by Bryndon Fisher against the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts and its director James C. Duff, claims that PACER uses an erroneous formula to count the number of bytes in an HTML document, thereby inflating its page count.

“During the past two years,” the complaint claims, “Fisher accessed 184 court docket reports using PACER and was charged and paid a total of $109.40 to the AO for this access…. Over this two-year period, based on the formula contained in the PACER User Manual, Fisher should have been charged $72.40, representing an overcharge of $37.00 or approximately 51 percent.” Fisher is seeking class certification, refunds, and an injunction. The full complaint can be found here

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Congressional Record Index Added to Congress.gov

Nota Bene has been covering the development of Congress.gov for several years, and the Library of Congress staff behind Congress.gov continues to improve the product. Last month, the Congressional Record Index was added to Congress.gov, allowing users to search by index terms for content within the Congressional Record.  The Congressional Record Index provides topical access to remarks and activities by members of Congress, individuals, organizations, and legislative business mentioned during daily proceedings.

The Congressional Record Index is not a new creation, it is produced online daily and printed monthly by the Congressional Record Index Office. The office creates both the Index (updated dailas well as the  History of Bills and Resolutions that tracks the legislative progress of every piece of legislation introduced in Congress. You can view the indexes for Congressional sessions beginning in 1983 through FDsys  Congress.gov currently hosts the index for the 104th Congress (1995) to the present, and earlier terms will be added throughout the coming year.

Congress.gov has many ways to link to remarks by specific members of Congress, and results can be quickly filtered and narrowed by searching  for the member of Congress from the Congress.gov homepage. The Congressional Record Index will be of best use for researchers interested in locating mentions of businesses and organizations that are not indexed elsewhere.

As Congress.gov continues to improve both its search power and content, Thomas,the government’s original website for legislative information, will not remain for long. The Library of Congress will announce an official retirement date for Thomas in the coming months.

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Year, New Texas Laws


January 1 of 2016 saw many new laws go into effect for Texas. The measure providing for open-carry of holstered handguns (HB 910)  has received much attention, but there are many more laws that will affect Texans in the New Year. Below are just a few of the new laws you may have missed. To see all the laws that went into effect January 1, visit this list from the Texas Legislature.

Texas Franchise Tax: The Texas Franchise tax has been permanently reduced to 0.375 percent, rather than 0.5 percent, of taxable margin for those taxable entities primarily engaged in retail or wholesale trade (HB 32).

Uber and Others: Drivers for “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft are now required to hold a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance for death, bodily injury and property damage for each incident (HB 1733).

Open Government: Most state government bodies are now required to make audio and video of open meetings available online within one week of the event (HB 283).

Judicial Bypass: For Texas minors seeking to have abortions without parental consent, additional restrictions have been put into place requiring the minor to petition in their county of residence (in most situations) and disclose more identifying personal information. Judges who hear these matters will now have five days (from two) to rule (HB 3994).

Landlord-Tenant:  Landlords will be protected from liability for renting to individuals convicted of crimes (or arrested and placed on deferred adjudication) absent additional factors. The new provision clarifies that a renting to a person with a criminal record is not  sufficient, absent other factors, to bring an negligence action against a landlord (HB 1510).