Access to Legal Information Week: July 14-20, 2019

Today, Harris County Commissioners Court passed a Resolution recognizing July 14-20, 2019, as Access to Legal Information Week in Harris County in honor of the exemplary service to the public offered at the Harris County Law Library and the many awards recognizing the Law Library from the American Association of Law Libraries.

We would like to thank Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo for placing the item on the Court’s agenda, the County Judge and Commissioners for supporting the resolution, and Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and Judge Daryl Moore of the 333rd Civil District Court for their kind words shared on behalf of the Law Library at today’s Court session.

Learn more about the Resolution and Access to Legal Information Week with this press release from the Office of Vince Ryan, Harris County Attorney.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack, Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, County Attorney Vince Ryan, County Law Library Deputy Director Joe Lawson, County Law Library Director Mariann Sears, 333rd Civil District Court Judge Daryl Moore, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis recognized July 14-20, 2019 as "Access to Legal Information Week" during Commissioners Court, July 9.

An Important Day in Constitutional History: Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964)

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During Constitutional Law Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library, we are taking a look back at a landmark Supreme Court decision, Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964). Tomorrow marks the 55th anniversary of the decision and its role in reinforcing our Sixth Amendment rights.

Danny Escobedo was arrested without a warrant on January 20, 1960. As the prime suspect in the shooting death of his brother-in-law, he was held for questioning for more than 18 hours. Escobedo asked repeatedly for his attorney to be present, but repeatedly, his request was denied. It was only after being indicted that Escobedo was granted access to a lawyer, violating his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to due process and access to counsel. The Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966) decision just two years later implicitly overruled Escobedo, but it was, nonetheless, an important step in the process toward ensuring a constitutional right to counsel for the criminal accused.

75th Anniversary of D-Day

Not Forgotten

Today, we remember the sacrifices of the brave men and women who served our country in World War II. On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 troops composed of U.S. and allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to fight the forces of fascism. (see Army.mil Features: D-Day). Today, 75 years later, we honor those troops who fought for the very existence of democracy across the globe.

Operation Overlord

The invasion of Normandy, named “Operation Overlord,” was the culmination of months of planning and preparation. On the morning of the invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his “Order of the Day,” commanding commencement of the operation. The order informed troops that they were “about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months” and that they would “accept nothing less than full Victory!”

Find more on General Eisenhower’s D-Day preparations and orders online from the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

An Optimistic Proclamation

Against the backdrop of anticipating the greatest battle in American history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Proclamation 2614 on May 3, 1944, encouraging his fellow Americans to celebrate Flag Day on June 14, 1944. He did so with knowledge of the stakes of Operation Overlord and the possibilities for failure. And yet, FDR’s optimism rings loudly, even 75 years later, in this paragraph found on the Harris County Law Library shelves in 58 Stat. 1134:

Let us then display our flag proudly, knowing that it symbolizes the strong and constructive ideals—the democratic ideals—which we oppose to the evil of our enemies. Let us display our flag, and the flags of all the United Nations which fight beside us, to symbolize our joint brotherhood, our joint dedication, under God, to the cause of unity and the freedom of men.

Happy National Space Day

As the public law library for Space City, we’ve taken a special interest in space law. And there are plenty of interesting things in Texas law about space, including the Texas Administrative Code provision pictured here on procedures for astronauts to vote from outer space! Celebrate National Space Day by taking a look at the Harris County Law Library’s accumulated knowledge of space law via the links below:

Space Laws

  • The Outer Space Treaty, the multilateral agreement that established the governance of state activities in the exploration and use of outer space, was signed by more than 100 countries. It was first proposed by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in August of 1966, making this the 50th anniversary of its conception.

Space Law Collection

Further Reading

The Mueller Report

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice released the much anticipated Mueller Report, or Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election. A copy of the Report may be downloaded from the Department’s Special Counsel’s Office webpage along with documents related to the special counsel’s appointment, expense reports, and prosecutions related to the investigation.

The Report is presented in PDF format. A free download of the Acrobat PDF Reader is available on the Adobe website.

Happy New Year... and, also, Happy Public Domain Day!

Happy New Year!

We’ve made another successful rotation around the Sun, which means two things for sure:

  1. The Law Library is closed today, January 1, 2019, but don’t fret because we’ll be open tomorrow at 8 a.m.; and

  2. New laws go into effect in Texas! While most laws from the last Texas legislative session went into effect in September, some have an effective date of today. Check the Effective Dates for Bills page on the Texas Legislative Reference Library’s website for details.

New Hampshire  by Robert Frost is one of many works from 1923 entering the public domain on Jan. 1, 2019.

New Hampshire by Robert Frost is one of many works from 1923 entering the public domain on Jan. 1, 2019.

Happy Public Domain Day!

For many years, copyrighted works regularly entered the public domain each New Year’s Day. However, in 1998, Disney successfully lobbied Congress to extend existing copyrights by 20 years. Today marks the first time in two decades new works will be released for copyright-free use. Visit the Duke Law School Center for the Study of the Public Domain website for a listing of books, movies, and music published in 1923 that are now available to all.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Resources

On this day in 2017, Harris County was still reeling from the devastation caused by the worst flooding event in U.S. history. A year later, Hurricane Harvey's toll is still being felt throughout our community. That is why the Harris County Law Library remains committed to connecting those impacted with relevant information about resources and services to help with recovery. Visit our Harvey Recovery Resources page or visit our downtown Houston location to find information on legal helplines, referral services, and clinics that can help with the legal aspects of the recovery process.

The Sun Also Stands Still

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Today is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year with more than 14 hours of sunlight in the Houston area. On this day, the sun will reach its northernmost point, seeming to stand still. People around the world will mark the occasion with feasts, festivals, and other festivities, including rituals that honor the sun. We’re celebrating the day in the way we know best -- by sharing information. We’ve compiled a short list of interesting cases that involve the hallmarks of summer -- sunburn, mosquitoes, ice cream, barbeque, and theme parks. We're also sharing a bit of etymology.

Interestingly, the summer solstice has somewhat of a connection to the law. The word solstice is derived from the Latin solstitium, meaning the point at which the sun stands. It combines sol (sun) with the past participle stem of sistere (to stand, stay, set, or place). The stare in stare decisis derives from the same root. Its literal meaning, let the decision stand, is the basis for establishing legal precedent. In Houston, we feel the blaze of the sun all summer long as it seemingly stands still for three (or more) uninterrupted months. There is definitely precedent for the kind of heat we experience annually, and it is sure to get even hotter. Happy Solstice!