Latest & Greatest – Fastcase: The Definitive Guide

 By Brian Huddleston  Published by American Bar Association Law Practice Division  KF 242 .A1 H833 2018

By Brian Huddleston

Published by American Bar Association Law Practice Division

KF 242 .A1 H833 2018

In 2017, Fastcase released Fastcase 7, a new version that promised greater ease of use with its new features and tools, including an overhauled interface. For those of you who may not know, Fastcase is an electronic legal research service providing users with access to cases, statutes, and regulations and secondary sources like treatises and law reviews. If you are new to Fastcase or just want to search more efficiently, Brian Huddleston’s book, Fastcase: The Definitive Guide, is the book for you. From the basics of searching to downloading and printing documents, Huddleston demonstrates how to get the most out of Fastcase and your time. With this book, you will learn how to:

  • Search for cases using official reporter citations or natural language or keyword searching;
  • Search across different jurisdictions;
  • Narrow search results with filters or through the Tag Cloud;
  • Perform authority checks using the Bad Law Bot;
  • Print, email, or save documents or copy and paste text; and
  • Perform legal research using the Fastcase mobile app

Fasctcase isn’t simply limited to finding relevant case law. As the author explains, users can search statutes, consult Statute Annotations Reports, and look at historic statutes and session laws. They can search regulations and administrative law resources for most states and the federal government. Based upon their subscription, users can also access secondary resources, such as treatises, law reviews, bar journals, practice guides, and forms. No matter what the search, the author provides ample illustrations throughout the book demonstrating how users can find the desired information.

Fastcase: The Definitive Guide is just as its title implies. It provides all of the information you need to know to use Fastcase 7 like an expert. You can find this book at the reference desk in our new Legal Tech Collection.

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Did you know that as a member of the State Bar of Texas, attorneys have free (yes, free) access to Fastcase? If you are a member of the State Bar of Texas, you already should be taking advantage of this membership perk.

If you would like additional training using Fastcase, Harris County Law Library can help. Come to our Free Legal Tech for Legal Professionals course offered by our Legal Tech Institute.

Latest & Greatest – Texas Collections Manual, Fifth Edition

 A Project of the Texas Collections Manual Committee  Published by TexasBarBooks  KFT 1367 .C6 T49 2018

A Project of the Texas Collections Manual Committee

Published by TexasBarBooks

KFT 1367 .C6 T49 2018

One of our newest acquisitions from the State Bar of Texas is Texas Collections Manual, Fifth Edition. Prepared and written by the Texas Collections Manual Committee, Texas Collections Manual is a practice guide for Texas lawyers who handle collections matters. Like other titles offered by the State Bar, each chapter of the manual features handy and useful forms and practice notes that discuss and analyze the issues and topics addressed in that chapter. In this manual, you will find explanatory material and forms relating to, among other things:

  • Debt collection, including a discussion of maintaining a debt collection law practice;
  • self-help repossession;
  • prejudgment and postjudgment remedies;
  • creation and enforcement of liens, including mechanic’s liens;
  • petitions and causes of action;
  • trial and pretrial procedure;
  • landlord-tenant law concerning commercial and residential property leases;
  • claims procedure in probate and guardianship matters; and
  • bankruptcy issues.

Come to the Law Library and ask for Texas Collections Manual, Fifth Edition at the reference desk.

Gender Marker and Name Change Resources for Transgender Individuals in Texas

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For the transgender community, updating one's identification and other legal documents is an important and necessary step to achieving a complete transition. Finding the right resources to help transgender individuals navigate the Texas court system can be a challenge. Fortunately, the Houston Volunteer Lawyers are ready to assist. HVL offers regular legal clinics to guide individuals through the legal transition process, providing assistance in drafting the forms required for a gender marker and/or name change. Simply visit the HVL website for details about the application and pre-screening process. Submit your completed Gender Marker Questionnaire to an HVL staff attorney who will review all applicants for suitability prior to making an appointment for the next gender marker clinic. 

Travis County Law Library in Austin also provides resources for those in need of assistance in drafting documents for a gender marker and/or name change. Visit the Travis County Law Library website for detailed information and forms. These forms are drafted specifically for use in the Travis County courts.

The University of Texas Law School also offers help via its student-run initiative, the Trans Name and Gender Marker Project, whose stated mission is "to provide low-income trans applicants with free, high-quality services in preparing petitions for legal name and gender marker changes." Like the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the Trans Name and Gender Marker Project at the University of Texas Law School requires all interested applicants to complete a short intake form, but once accepted, transgender individuals will get the help they need to both draft a petition for the requested changes as well as guidance in how to proceed with changing identification and other legal documents once a court order is granted. 

For additional information about the legal rights and challenges of transgender individuals, consult the book, Transgender Persons and the Law, which is available in our print collection at the Harris County Law Library. And don't forget to ask for assistance from our reference staff who are always available to help answer questions and direct library patrons to further resources

On a final note, sometimes the best information and support come from within one's own community. The Texas Name and Gender Marker Change Facebook group is a good place to look for answers to commonly asked questions from others who have completed the legal transition process. 

Latest & Greatest – Prisoners’ Rights: A Legal Research Guide

 By Carol A. Fichtelman  Published by William S. Hein & Co., Inc. (2017)  KF 9371 .F53 2017

By Carol A. Fichtelman

Published by William S. Hein & Co., Inc. (2017)

KF 9371 .F53 2017

The 68th volume in a collection of research guides, Prisoners’ Rights: A Legal Research Guide provides researchers with a resource covering the rights of those who are incarcerated in either a federal or state facility. Author Carol A. Fichtelman focuses her attention on both primary and secondary resources and includes some handy websites that might act as good starting points for research. Of course, the first and foremost primary source when it comes to prisoners’ rights is the United States Constitution, and the author readily directs the user to the pertinent sections. In addition to the Constitution, the author points out applicable federal statutes and regulations. She also devotes a section to listing various federal agencies that deal with the rights of prisoners. Also included in the section detailing primary sources are state statutes concerning the laws on diet, religious beliefs, health care, punishment, and grooming.

The second part of the guide focuses on secondary resources. These include legal encyclopedias, specific volumes of American Law Reports, legal periodical articles, books, and a listing of national and state prisoners’ rights organizations.

Although not meant to be a comprehensive guide, Prisoners’ Rights: A Legal Research Guide provides some of the tools necessary to locate information about the ever-changing area of prisoners’ rights.

The Legacy of Lawrence v. Texas, Fifteen Years Later

Our regular Tech Tuesday feature will return next week. 

Fifteen years ago today, on June 26, 2003, the United States Supreme Court decided Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). This landmark case struck down the Texas sodomy law which criminalized consensual sexual conduct between same-sex partners. The decision effectively recognized the right to privacy for intimate conduct between consenting adults in all fifty states.

Today is also that day that marks the five year anniversary of United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744 (2013), which struck down as unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act's definition of "marriage" as a union between opposite-sex spouses. And just three years ago today, the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___  (2015), that all states must lawfully recognize and perform marriages for same-sex couples throughout the nation.

During the month of June, the Harris County Law Library is recognizing these and other landmark civil rights victories for LGBT people and their families. Our exhibit, LGBT Legal Resources, features landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, historic federal legislation, and resources from the Law Library's print collection. Stop by the Law Library lobby to view the exhibit through the end of June. 

Also, you may wish to visit the digital collection of Lawrence v. Texas resources created and maintained by The Fred Parks Law Library at South Texas College of Law. The Special Collections Department at The Fred Parks Law Library houses the records of the Lawrence case, which were graciously donated by one of the attorneys on the case, South Texas alumnus and Adjunct Professor Mitchell Katine.