Latest & Greatest – Texas Discovery: A Guide to Taking and Resisting Discovery under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure

By Robert K. Wise and Kennon L. Wooten  Published by Texas Lawyer, an ALM Publication  KFT 1737 .W57 2019  Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

By Robert K. Wise and Kennon L. Wooten

Published by Texas Lawyer, an ALM Publication

KFT 1737 .W57 2019

Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

Recognizing that discovery is typically the most costly aspect of civil litigation, the authors set out drafting a comprehensive guide to Texas discovery for practitioners. The result was Texas Discovery: A Guide to Taking and Resisting Discovery under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Each chapter of the book is tied to a particular discovery rule and includes the text of the rule and any applicable notes and comments, a general explanation of the rule, and any related procedural information. The authors focus on Rule 190 through Rule 205 as well as sanctions under Rule 215. They cover everything from the purpose of discovery and discovery control plans to requests for disclosure, production, and admission to interrogatories and depositions with a bit of expert discovery and physical and mental examinations thrown in as well. There are plenty of bibliographic references and a table of cases pointing the reader toward more authority and elucidation.

The next time you find yourself in the discovery phase of a civil case, have a look at Texas Discovery: A Guide to Taking and Resisting Discovery under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. It may help you navigate the twisted maze that is Texas discovery.

Recursos en Español (Spanish Language Resources)

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The Law Library is pleased to announce a new collection — Recursos en Español. This collection of booklets, pamphlets, and brochures brings together information from our community partners about services that are available to Spanish speakers in Harris County. The materials, which are published in Spanish, are collected in one location near the Copy Center, and are free to all! Pamphlets covering family law matters, such as custody, parenting, adoption and mediation, as well as a selection of pamphlets from the State Bar of Texas on choosing a lawyer, writing a will, and much more are available. Additionally, information is provided by Texas Young Lawyers Association, the Office of Domestic Relations, the Federal Trade Commission, the Texas Attorney General, AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence), and other legal aid organizations. TexasLawHelp.org provides bilingual forms for divorce and annulment. Finally, a publication from the Law Library titled Manual para Litigantes Pro Se connects Spanish-speaking patrons with even more local community services. Spanish language translation services are available from 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Library staff can answer reference questions in Spanish and help patrons find the information and resources they need.

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La Biblioteca Jurídica se complace en anunciar una nueva colección: Recursos en español. Esta colección de folletos reúne información de nuestros socios comunitarios sobre los servicios que están disponibles para los hispanohablantes en el Condado de Harris. Los materiales que se publican en español se pueden conseguir cerca del Centro de Copias, ¡y son gratuitos para todos! Encontrará folletos que cubren asuntos de derecho de familia, como custodia, la crianza, la adopción, y mediación. Así también, hay una selección de folletos de la Barra Estatal de Texas sobre como seleccionar un abogado, como hacer un testamento, y muchos más. Asimismo, encontrará información provista por la Asociación de Abogado Jóvenes de Texas, la Oficina de Relaciones Domesticas, la Comisión Federal de Comercio, el Fiscal General de Texas, AVDA (Ayuda a víctimas de violencia domestica) y otras organizaciones de asistencia legal. TexasLawHelp.org ofrece formularios bilingües de divorcio y anulación. Por último, una publicación de la Biblioteca Jurídica titulada Manual para Litigantes Pro Se enumera las organizaciones que provee servicios comunitarios locales a los hispanohablantes. Servicios de traducción en español están disponibles de lunes a viernes de 8am a 5pm. El personal de la biblioteca puede responder a preguntas de referencia en español y ayudar a usuarios a encontrar la información y los recursos que necesitan.

Latest & Greatest – Homeland Security and Emergency Management: A Legal Guide for State and Local Governments

Edited by Ernest B. Abbott and Otto J. Hetzel  Published by American Bar Association. Section of State and Local Government Law  KF 4850 .L44 2018  Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

Edited by Ernest B. Abbott and Otto J. Hetzel

Published by American Bar Association. Section of State and Local Government Law

KF 4850 .L44 2018

Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

Hurricane season is the perfect time to discuss emergency management and preparedness, although here on the Gulf Coast, one should be prepared no matter the season. When a disaster strikes, there is no time to consider or contemplate; many decisions and responses must be immediate. Attorneys Ernest B. Abbott and Otto J. Hetzel have compiled a book, Homeland Security and Emergency Management: A Legal Guide for State and Local Governments, to assist state and local governments and the lawyers that advise them in keeping the public safe, mitigating any damages, and formulating and implementing a recovery plan. 

The first part addresses the source of legal authority in emergency and catastrophic events, the role of the military and the National Guard, the National Response Framework issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security and supported by the National Incident Management System, and public disclosure of information. A discussion of hazard mitigation makes up the bulk of the second part of the book. It also includes a primer on the National Flood Insurance Program. Cybersecurity, public health emergencies, and immigration issues are at the heart of Part III, as these topics have gained greater significance over time. The last section focuses on response and recovery, including legal issues associated with emergency management when dealing with vulnerable populations, such as the disabled and elderly. Another topic of interest in this last section is managing emergency evacuations. 

It is said that “hindsight is 20/20,” so why not focus on having the foresight to handle a disaster before it happens? Before the next disaster strikes, have a look at Homeland Security and Emergency Management: A Legal Guide for State and Local Governments.

On the Ballot: Texas Constitutional Amendments 2019

Ten proposed constitutional amendments will be on the November ballot. The Texas League of Women Voters has compiled a nice list of the amendments along with important voting deadlines. Compare the pros and cons of each proposed amendment, and prepare to cast your vote on Election Day, November 5, 2019.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

  1. Municipal Judges

  2. Assistance for Water Projects in Distressed Areas

  3. Tax Relief for Disaster Areas

  4. Personal Income Tax

  5. Sporting Goods Tax to Support State Parks

  6. Cancer Prevention & Research

  7. Funding Public Education

  8. Flood Control

  9. Tax Exemption of Precious Metals

  10. Law Enforcement Animals

For additional information and resources for voting in Texas, visit VoteTexas.gov And, for a brief history lesson on why the Texas Constitution is so long, with so many amendments, read this article at the Texas Tribune. Finally, for all your Texas statutory and Constitutional law research needs, the Texas Legislative Reference Library is your best free online resource.

Color the Law: Celebrate National Coloring Book Day

August 2 is National Coloring Book Day! To celebrate, we’ve compiled this list of freely available coloring pages from across the web, all related to the courts, judges, and the legal system. Have fun!

State Bar of Texas Activity Books First on the list, and deserving of special mention, are the State Bar of Texas activity books. Previously on Ex Libris Juris, we discussed the value of having these terrific resources on hand to share with families who visit the Law Library. Many thanks to the State Bar of Texas for making these coloring books available to our young visitors. Offering these activity books is a simple gesture, but keeping restless children engaged with a fun distraction while their parents deal with the stress of self representation can be invaluable. Two titles — Luis Goes to Court, and Let’s Learn a Little about The Law — can be requested at the Law Library Reference Desk or downloaded by clicking on the images below.

More Coloring Fun


For Fun: Colorful Facts About Coloring Books for Adults

At its peak in 2016, the adult coloring book craze attracted all kinds of media attention. It was also big business. Plenty of trend watchers theorized about why and how the frenzy evolved. A fair number of critics were among them, deriding those who claimed that coloring is a path to mindfulness and creative expression. Regardless, coloring as a meditative activity for adults is still a popular pastime. Other therapeutic activities have gotten a lot of attention in recent months, but simply putting colored pencil on paper is, for many, still a very satisfying activity.

Our advice: Find your favorite online source for printable coloring pages, and cue up this song to supplement your coloring joy. You may discover that, yes, coloring books (like those featured above) can be educational and interactive learning tools for children, but for adults, they are purely fun. Happy National Coloring Book Day!

Public Art Meets Courthouse Navigation

In the U.S., regardless of the jurisdiction, the court structure involves an appeals process in which a higher court can review a decision of a lower court. For many self-represented litigants, navigating the journey from court to court can be confusing and frustrating. For practicing attorneys, an appeal may not be a common task, so a resource to refresh the memory when appellate work crops up can be helpful. Our solution… public art, of course!

Not just any public art though. This summer we have been fortunate to host Helen Hartman from the Harris Commissioner Precinct One LEE Internship program. Helen’s graphic-design talents have helped us take a dry, nebulous concept and make it more approachable for patrons who need to navigate the Texas court structure in Harris County. Drawing inspiration from the Texas Judicial Branch’s “Court Structure of Texas” flowchart, we have added graphical representations of the buildings in which courts meet to bridge the gap between abstract concepts of jurisdiction and local venues where our patrons interact with the judiciary.

This public art piece is now a permanent exhibit at the Harris County Law Library. Visit Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., to see this impressive work in person.

Latest & Greatest – Make Your Own Living Trust

By Denis Clifford  Published by Nolo  KF 734 .Z9 C57 2019  Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

By Denis Clifford

Published by Nolo

KF 734 .Z9 C57 2019

Photo Credit: Helen Hartman

If you’re seeking a way to dispose of your property after your death without your heirs and beneficiaries having to go through the legal process known as probate, then a living trust might be the mechanism through which you can achieve that goal. A living trust, or an inter vivos trust, transfers property designated under the trust to your loved ones upon your death without the need for probate. Sound appealing? Then, you might want to have a look at Nolo’s Make Your Own Living Trust. Denis Clifford, an estate planning attorney, explains what a living trust is, how it works, and what its advantages and potential downsides are. With this book, you can also learn how to:

  • determine the type of trust that is right for you;

  • choose what property to place into the trust;

  • choose a successor trustee and designate beneficiaries;

  • prepare the living trust document; and

  • transfer property to the trust.

There are also plenty of sample forms to help draft your living trust and a glossary to help explain some key terms.

Before you embark on this estate-planning tool, read Make Your Own Living Trust. Find it in the Law Library’s Self-Help Collection. Other titles that you might find useful on this and similar topics are: Estate Planning Basics, Plan Your Estate, and Quick and Legal Will Book.