Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2016

Class Action Suit Challenges Legality of PACER Fees

Back in January, we wrote about a class action suit involving PACER, the government-operated, online database of federal court documents. The complaint in that case (Fisher v. Duff) claimed that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts was overcharging users for access to docket reports on PACER, due to an erroneous formula used to count the number of documents accessed.

Last week another class action was filed against the government, this one challenging the legality of the PACER fees themselves. The plaintiffs, three nonprofit legal service organizations, claim that the fees “far exceed the cost of providing the records,” and thus violate the E-Government Act of 2002. The Act provides for the imposition of court fees for electronic access to information “to reimburse expenses in providing these services.” The complaint alleges that the Administrative Office has used excessive fees “to cover the costs of unrelated projects—ranging from audio systems to flat screens for jurors—…

Official Retirement Date Announced for THOMAS

The Library of Congress announced today that it will retire the website on July 5. Named for Thomas Jefferson, THOMAS was launched in 1995 to provide online access to federal legislative information, including bills and resolutions, treaties, voting results, and the Congressional Record. In 2012 the Library of Congress began the transition from THOMAS to, which features a more modern design and increased functionality. During the transition period, both sites have remained online, but as of July 5 the transition will be complete and THOMAS will be officially retired.

For more information, see the announcement on the Library of Congress website or this post from In Custodia Legis, the official blog of the Law Librarians of Congress.

Weathering the Storm

This week, Houston received near-record levels of rainfall (over 13 inches on Monday), resulting in floods that destroyed millions of dollars of property and even took the lives of several residents. Heavy rain is not unusual for Houston, but this type of flooding is far from ordinary. By some accounts, this week’s storms are the most damaging since the city weathered Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001. Though the recent storms did not negatively impact the Law Center and the University of Houston main campus, this was not the case in 2001.
Tropical Storm Allison dropped nearly 37 inches of rain within a 24 hour period, leaving behind five billion dollars in damage. On June 8, 2001 the O’Quinn Law Library’s underground floors were flooded when the campus’s underground tunnels, which connect utilities throughout U of H, overflowed and filled the library with eight to twelve feet of water. Over 170,000 print volumes were destroyed, and some irreplaceable materials were lost forever. T…

Will the ABA Move to Regulate Legal Service Providers?

Last week, Robert Ambrogi of the Law Sites blog noted that the number of startups providing legal services has grown dramatically over the last few years. Using data from Angel List, a site that tracks start-ups, he found that in 2014 the site listed 412 legal startups. Now, only two years later, that number has grown nearly threefold to 1094. Technology continues to have disruptive effects on numerous industries, and many have long seen the legal services market as one ripe for disruption. 
The American Bar Association has taken notice of the rapid rise in non-traditional legal service providers, and may in the future seek to regulate these legal service providers and the services they may offer. A recent discussion paper produced by the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services asks for comment on whether the ABA should encourage states to develop new regulatory structures for these non-traditional (and currently unregulated) legal service providers. According to the report, th…

Practical Guide to U.S. Taxation of International Transactions, 10th ed.

Wolters Kluwer has recently published,Practical Guide to U.S. Taxation of International Transactions, 10th ed. (KF6445.M45 2015), by Robert J. Misey, Jr. and Michael S. Schadewald. This book begins with a discussion of the basic principles such as tax jurisdiction and source of income rules. The authors review the taxation of foreign income by U.S. citizens and the taxation of foreign persons conducting business in the United States. Other issues such as international tax practice and procedure, and tax treaties are also covered. This book, which is now available on the law library's new titles shelf, contains several relevant IRS forms and a subject index.

International Tax Law

Edward Elgar (EE) has recently published the new two volume set, International Tax Law (K4460.I59 2016) and is now available in the law library. Edited by Professor Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, this source contains articles from renowned scholars dealing with international taxation issues from a global standpoint and U.S international taxation. The twenty seven articles in this source discuss matters such as the structure of international taxation, international taxation of electronic commerce, foreign tax credits, issues related to the OECD, international tax arbitrage, and the issue of fairness as it relates to international taxation. This is perfect for the scholar or student interested in international taxation.