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.

question mark.png

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

LGBT TX flag.png

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.

Latest & Greatest – Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law

 Edited by Maria Manoli and Sandy Belle Habchi  Published by McGill University Centre for Research in Air and Space Law  KZD 1145 .M366 2017

Edited by Maria Manoli and Sandy Belle Habchi

Published by McGill University Centre for Research in Air and Space Law

KZD 1145 .M366 2017

The newest edition to the space law collection at Harris County Law Library is Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law, a selection of papers that had been presented at the 4th Manfred Lachs Conference on Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law held in Montreal, Canada.  An interdisciplinary look at issues facing the exploration and commercial exploitation of outer space, Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law examines technological developments that provide greater accessibility to the far reaches of the universe and the new threats that emerge with the advent of these advances. In this regard, the papers cover such topics as anti-satellite technologies, security concerns in and regulatory control of the Proto-zone, and conflicts relating to radio frequency interference. The participants also considered areas of potential conflict, such as those involving space weapons, active debris removal, and the selling of lunar resources. From a legal standpoint, some of the issues tackled included the intersecting challenges of space security and cybersecurity, the legal challenges arising from the action of non-state actors in outer space, and the rules of engagement for military space operations. Lastly, Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law looks to the future by analyzing the prospects for space arms control and global space governance.

If the future of outer space is of interest to you, have a look at Conflicts in Space and the Rule of Law. Another book in the Monograph Series that might pique your curiosity is NewSpace Commercialisation and the Law, which was featured in a previous Latest & Greatest blog post.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the conference is named for Manfred Lachs, a Polish diplomat and jurist who was a great influence on the development of international law following World War II.

Latest & Greatest – Rights of Prisoners

 By Michael B. Mushlin  Published by Thomson Reuters  KF 9731 .G6 2017   

By Michael B. Mushlin

Published by Thomson Reuters

KF 9731 .G6 2017


New to the library is the updated and revised Fifth Edition of Rights of Prisoners by Michael B. Mushlin. This four-volume set incorporates the sweeping changes in prison law that resulted from the more than dozen cases before the United States Supreme Court dealing with prisoners’ rights as well as federal and state legislation dealing with the treatment of prisoners. Mushlin begins his treatise with an historical overview of prisoners’ rights and a discussion of the standards used to determine whether a prisoner’s rights have been violated. He then focuses upon specific violations of constitutional amendments, such as the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In this regard, the author raises such issues as solitary confinement, use of force by prison personnel and assaults by other inmates, and prison conditions. The Eighth Amendment also comes into play when there are allegations about the inadequacy of medical care. Mushlin details the specific types of care required and the right of an inmate to refuse treatment. Other constitutionally-based issues discussed include discrimination, free speech, religious freedom, privacy rights, prison labor, and due process rights in disciplinary proceedings.

The author also devotes several chapters to topics that involve the management of prisons, such as classification decisions, transfers, and detainers. Other rights addressed include a prisoner’s right to access the courts, visitation rights, rights to send and receive written correspondence, and the right of access to the media and the corresponding right of prisons to limit or restrict such rights . Mushlin also looks at the civil disabilities imposed upon prisoners during their incarceration and any attendant constitutional issues raised by the laws that impose such disabilities. He also analyzes the Prison Litigation Reform Act and the impact it has had on jail and prison litigation. He looks at its most important provisions like the standards for prospective relief, the exhaustion requirement, the physical injury requirement, and in forma pauperis.

Mushlin ends his treatise with an examination of the private prison industry, its history, and the arguments surrounding the issue of whether the government can delegate the authority to operate prisons to a private entity.

Rights of Prisoners is a wonderful resource for those seeking to protect the rights of incarcerated clients or to keep abreast of the evolving law governing prisons. Find it here at the Harris County Law Library in our criminal law section.