Women's History Month Resources

In 1987, Congress passed a law designating March as Women’s History Month. In his proclamation, issued exactly 20 years ago on this day, President Reagan called upon “all Americans to mark this month with appropriate observances to honor the achievements of American women.”

The Harris County Law Library is doing its part to recognize this annual event and the continued commemoration of women’s roles in shaping our nation. Along with our exhibit in the Law Library lobby, which looks back at the life and legal career of pioneering Houston attorney, Camille Openshaw, we’ve put together this list of resources to help recognize the contributions of women in the legal profession today.

The great number and variety of institutes, organizations, and professional alliances that now exist are evidence of how the profession has evolved. This coalition of women in law also demonstrates the strength and support of the community that women in law have created. These organizations call attention to issues long-championed by women rights advocates including education, employment, economic security, child care, and reproductive rights. To learn more, take a look at these resources:

Training Opportunities Calendar

Attorneys need training opportunities, but finding them can be difficult. Even with so many groups offering fantastic CLEs and webinars to Houston’s legal community, it can be time consuming to track them all down. The Training Opportunities Calendar from the Harris County Law Library can help with that.

The Training Opportunities Calendar is an aggregate collection of training session announcements from local providers, like the Houston Bar Association, and names you know, like Westlaw. With a combination of local CLEs and online webinars, there are options to fit all schedules. Event listings are available in calendar format to help you find opportunities by date. You can also limit listings by whether they are local events, online webinars, or offer CLE credit. All events listed are free and links to registration information appear at the bottom of each entry.

Find new training opportunities each month on the Law Library website.

Fastcase v. Casemaker

Georgia State Seal

Georgia State Seal

A recent legal battle between two online publishers, Fastcase and Casemaker, is pitting the proprietary interests of private companies against the public good. At issue is the extent to which a publisher of online legal content is entitled to copyright claims over state rules and regulations, a seemingly uncomplicated dispute. However, according to the Georgia Secretary of State, which has designated Casemaker as the exclusive publisher of the Georgia Administrative Code, the question is indeed more complex.

The Georgia Secretary of State has granted Casemaker the right to publish, distribute, and license its rules and regulations, but Fastcase has taken exception to that right, maintaining that Georgia regulations are public law, published under statutory mandate as part of the public domain, and therefore uncopyrightable. Based on this belief, Fastcase posted the Georgia Administrative Code on its online platform, making it available to many thousands of Fastcase subscribers, including state bar association members throughout the country. Lawriter, the parent company of Casemaker, sent Fastcase a demand letter asking them to stop publishing the Georgia rules and regulations or requesting that they purchase a subscription to the electronic files. Instead of capitulating to Casemaker’s demands, Fastcase sued, saying that no private publisher is entitled to claim copyright over public regulations. The Georgia Secretary of State's office has expressed its desire to ensure that the Fastcase litigation does not hinder public access to the state's administrative laws but the Secretary of State has since made no further comment. The ultimate outcome of the case remains to be seen.

In TBJ: Local Justice a Violin Virtuoso

Justice Brett Busby, 14th Texas Court of Appeals

Justice Brett Busby, 14th Texas Court of Appeals

Justice Brett Busby’s name often appears in the pages of the Texas legal community’s newspapers and magazines next to quotes and facts about his successful legal and judicial career.* But in the February 2016 issue of Texas Bar Journal, Justice Busby is featured for his musical talent.  In the interview, he recounts an invitation he received from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to play his violin while clerking for the Court. More recently, Justice Busby performs with the Houston Civic Symphony, which holds five concerts a year. He is also chair of Artistic & Orchestra Affairs for the Houston Symphony Orchestra, through which he promotes music programs for local school children.

If you would like to read about Justice Busby’s musical endeavors, visit the Texas Bar Journal website for a digital copy or find a printed copy of the journal at the Harris County Law Library.

* See, e.g., John Council, Texas Conservative Leaders Mourn Justice Antonin Scalia, TexasLawyer.com, Feb. 22, 2016.

Latest and Greatest - Credit Repair

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   By Robin Leonard  Published by Nolo (12th Edition 2015)  HG 3756 .U54 L46 2015

By Robin Leonard

Published by Nolo (12th Edition 2015)

HG 3756 .U54 L46 2015

Is bad credit making it impossible for you to get a loan, an apartment, or even a job offer? If so, take a look at Nolo’s Credit Repair for tips on building a positive credit profile. This book will take you step by step through the process of repairing your credit. From the nuts and bolts of credit reports to cleaning up those reports, this resource will help you assess your financial situation and show you how to reduce your current expenses and debt and find ways to satisfy and negotiate the payment of those debts. In addition, the author offers suggestions on how to rebuild, create, and maintain a positive credit history. A chapter is even devoted to avoiding identity theft and the steps you should take if your identity and personal information are stolen.

Credit Repair also includes references to organizations, agencies, and publications that can offer additional information to assist you in the credit repair process. There is a list of federal agencies to which you can submit consumer-related complaints and a list of consumer protection agencies available in each state. Moreover, there are over 30 legal forms that you can use in your efforts to rebuild your credit. Remember, it’s up to you to take the first step for a better financial future. So what are you waiting for? Come to the Harris County Law Library and look for this, and many other titles, in our Self-Help Collection.

Looking Back - Texas Declaration of Independence

March 2, 1836

“We…do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic…”

The Texas Declaration of Independence as seen in Gammel's The Laws of Texas.

Thus concludes the Texas Declaration of Independence signed on March 2, 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos.  Present at the Convention of 1836 were 59 delegates, each representing a settlement in Texas and each voting in favor of independence. The document, quite similar in spirit to the United States Declaration of Independence, laid bare the grievances that the people of Texas had against Mexico. Among other things, the Declaration accused the Mexican government of failing to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its people, of changing the nature of the governmental system without the people’s consent, of imprisoning anyone who protested against the government, of failing to secure the right of trial by jury and other civil liberties, of failing to establish a system of public education, and of invading the Texas territory. As a result of these failings and issues, the signatory delegates resolved to sever all political ties with Mexico. Five copies of the document were then sent to the towns of Bexar, Goliad, Nacogdoches, Brazoria, and San Felipe.  The original document was sent to the United States Department of State and was returned to the state in 1896.

You can find both the text of the Declaration of Independence and the journals of the Convention at Washington in Gammel's The Laws of Texas, a copy of which can be found here at the Law Library. If you want to learn more about the Texas fight for independence and all things Texas, come on down to the law library and have a look at the Texas Almanac. You'll find a wealth of information.