"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
Bloomberg BNA has just published the 2016 edition of the U.S. International Tax Guide (KF1276.A2H47), which is now available in the law library. This handbook is an excellent source for U.S. tax attorneys involved in international tax. It provides an overview of topics related to general principles of international taxation, taxation of foreign persons' U.S. activities and U.S. persons' foreign activities. Matters pertaining to U.S. income tax treaties, and withholding and compliance are also discussed. There are numerous examples available throughout this book that will illustrate international tax concepts. There are also annotations to relevant primary sources of tax law including the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, tax cases, administrative pronouncements, and the Internal Revenue Manual. This source is also available electronically on BloombergLaw.com.
Want to learn more
about the upcoming presidential and congressional transitions? There’s an app
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently launched its Priorities for Policy
Makers app (available free of charge for iPhone or Android), which is
intended to “help President-elect Donald Trump and the next Congresstackle
critical challenges facing the nation, fix agency-specific problems, and
scrutinize government areas with the potential for large savings,” according to
Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. The
app allows users to search by agency or topic, and provides brief summaries of
relevant issues as well as links to more detailed GAO reports.
Back in February,
President Obama issued an executive
order establishing the Federal Privacy Council (FPC), defined as “the
principal interagency forum to improve the Government privacy practices of
agencies and entities acting on their behalf.” Given the amount of private
information handled by the federal government—everything from medical records
to income tax returns—it makes sense for agencies to coordinate their efforts
to keep that information secure.
From a legal researcher's perspective, one of the
more interesting developments to come out of the FPC is the creation of its Law Library, a compilation of laws,
regulations, and supplemental materials pertaining to “the creation,
collection, use, processing, storage, maintenance, dissemination, disclosure,
and disposal of personally identifiable information (PII) by departments and
agencies within the Federal Government.” The Law
Library's resources are not new—the site consists mostly of links to other government websites—but
scope of the issue.
The Law Library’s subscription to HeinOnline now includes a new resource in its collection of over fifty resource groups for primary and secondary legal sources: Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture, & Law. This collection brings together a vast array of legal content and materials related to slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world. This includes every statute passed by every colony and state on slavery, every federal statute dealing with slavery, and all reported state and federal cases on slavery. Beyond these primary legal materials the collection every English-language legal commentary on slavery published before 1920 and more than a thousand pamphlets and books on slavery from the 19th century. The collection also word searchable access to all Congressional debates from the Continental Congress to 1880 along with many modern histories of slavery. Edited by Paul Finkelman, an expert on slavery and American legal history, the collection identifies his picks with gold stars. Clicking on the star will open an in-depth explanation of the title’s significance. The 1836 title Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans, by Lydia Maria Child, is marked for its significance as a landmark of abolitionist literature created by American women. The collection is expected to grow continually, with both new scholarship and from additional historical material discovered. Blog readers who do not have full access to HeinOnline as Law Center community members may still explore the vast array of content in the Slavery in America and the World, at no cost, courtesy of Hein. Any interested reader may register for access here. There is no cost to register, but Hein asks registrants to consider making a donation to NAACP, the United Negro College Fund, or another charity of the user's choice which supports civil rights, equality, or the advancement of people of color. Making a donation is voluntary, and is not required to access the database. Be sure to check out this amazing collection today.
At election time, I am time and time again surprised at the
number of judicial races Texas voters decide. While direct election of judges
by popular vote in Texas is nothing new, what happened to create so many courts
and so many judges in the state? Here is a brief history of how these many
courts and judges came to be, and links to the original sources.
the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, allowed for the creation of
three district courts, and allowed for up to eight. District judges also served
as associate judges of the supreme court.
Texas joined the United States, the 1845 Constitution of Texas held that the
governor would appoint judges to the district and supreme courts. An amendment made
during the 1845 constitutional convention to allow for direct election of
judges failed to pass.
Following a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to allow
for popular vote, 75% of Texas voters approved the amendment and direct election
of judges for the Texas supreme and district courts begins.
1876 Constitution of the State of Texas creates the Texas Court of Appeals to
hear all criminal appeals and civil appeals arising from the county courts.
1891:Article V of the Texas Constitution
amended to create the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to hear all criminal
appeals, and renaming the Texas Court of Appeals to the Texas Court of Civil
Appeals to reflect its new jurisdiction. These efforts to reduce the Supreme
Court’s backlog did not achieve the desired result as new civil courts created
more litigation, more appeals, and more requests from writs of error from the
1945:A constitutional amendment expands the Texas Supreme Court’s membership from
three to nine.
1977:The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ membership rose from three to nine.
1980:The Texas Courts of Civil Appeals were renamed the Texas Courts of Appeals
and given jurisdiction over initial appeals in all criminal cases other than
capital cases. This change is due in part to the U.S. Supreme Court’s criminal procedure
revolution in the 1960s and 1970s that resulted in more legal issues for courts
to consider in criminal cases.
1992: A Republican
majority is elected to the Texas Supreme Court for the first time in its
history. This has remained unchanged, after the 2016 election both the Texas
Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will have all Republican
For more on the
history of Texas Courts, check out the excellent book by Michael Ariens, Lone Star Law, which
provided some of the references used in this post.
Not surprisingly, much of the focus of the 2016 election has
been on the presidential race.However,
in addition to electing federal, state, and local leaders, citizens in many
states will also be making specific choices about a number of important topics
when they go to the polls next week.According to
the Ballotpedia website, statewide ballot measures will be considered in 35
states this year and will affect 205 million people.The ballot measures cover a broad range of important,
and often controversial, issues such as the legalization of recreational marijuana,
establishing universal healthcare programs, and increased background checks for
To explore other state ballot measures, visit the
Ballotpedia website, where you can browse through them by state or by
Looking for a new way to stay up to date on emerging legal
issues? You might try the Talks on Law app, which provides access to video interviews with prominent attorneys
and law professors, who discuss a variety of legal topics in an easy to understand
format. The app is the companion to the
Talks on Law website, which provides access to 30 minute talks as well as
short 5 minute briefs on topics such as bioethics, constitutional law, criminal
law, and election law. For instance,
there are talks regarding abandoned DNA, government surveillance, regulating guns, and gerrymandering. All of the
talks are free for anyone to view, but for a fee you can also earn CLE credit
for the videos (currently available in New York, California, Illinois, and