May is Constitutional Law Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library. We will feature items from our collection, including treatises, reference works, CLE course materials, form books, and other practitioner tools that may be useful in conducting constitutional law research .
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:
The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, contained in the United States Statues at Large, Pub. L. No. 85-568, 72 Stat. 426-438, established NASA and marked America’s official entry into the Space Race.
The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14: Aeronautics and Space details the purpose, function, and organization of NASA as mandated by Congress.
To accommodate the large number of astronauts who live in Texas, the Secretary of State adopted special rules, spelled out in the Texas Administrative Code §81.35, that authorize NASA to implement procedures for casting ballots in outer space.
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
January is Consumer Law Resources Month at the Harris County Law Library.
Visit our Featured Resource Section to see new and updated resources from the National Consumer Law Center.
Browse consumer law news, sample pleadings and other companion materials in the NCLC databases now available on the Law Library research computers.
Stay up to date on Texas consumer law with Advanced Consumer and Commercial Law Course books from the State Bar of Texas.
Self-represented litigants can find a copy of the HBA Consumer Law Handbook, which features a variety of legal information of interest to consumers, including guidance on buying a car, dealing with debt collection, landlord/tenant disputes, and more. Download a free copy through the HBA's Legal Handbooks website today.
For more information on Consumer Law and Protection, visit these websites:
November is Veterans Law Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library. Selected titles to help veterans achieve economic security, obtain benefits, and promote stability within their families will be on display throughout the Law Library all month long.
Recommended print resources
Veterans Benefits Manual (National Veterans Legal Services Program)
Federal Veterans Laws, Rules, and Regulations (National Veterans Legal Services Program)
Veterans Benefits: A Legal Research Guide (William S. Hein & Co., Inc.)
Social Security, Medicare, & Government Pensions - Chapter 8: Veterans Benefits (Nolo Press)
Recommended online resources
October is Wills and Probate Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library. All month long, you will find materials on wills, estate planning, and probate and trust administration on display in the Law Library and online.
Self-Help Guides from Nolo Press
Nolo’s Plan Your Estate is your go-to estate planning guide. With coverage of common estate planning goals, such as leaving property, providing for minors, planning for incapacity, avoiding probate, and reducing the estate tax, it is a go-to source for easy-to-understand estate planning information. Another useful Nolo resource is Estate Planning Basics. Both of these Nolo titles can be found in our Self-Help Collection in the Law Library. For assistance in finding these guides, please ask a member of the reference staff.
TexasLawHelp Wills & Estate Planning
TexasLawHelp.org is an incredibly useful online legal research tool for the general public. Take a look at their Wills & Estate Planning resources for information about filing a small estate affidavit, a transfer on death deed, or an affidavit of heirship. Also find a link to the Texas Probate Passport, a publication of the Texas Young Lawyer’s Association.
Harris County Law Library Research Guides
Visit our Research Guides page to download a free copy of our Probate, Trusts, and Estates Research Guide. This topical guide helps you quickly find the most practical resources available at the Law Library, including the Texas Probate System, a State Bar of Texas publication, and O’Connor’s Texas Probate Law Handbook (both of which are pictured above).Ask for these and other titles at the Law Library reference desk.
For the month of October, the Harris County Law Library will offer a pair of #shelfie opportunities for all to enjoy. Snap a photo, post it on social media, and tag us!
The first celebrates the start of another playoff run for our hometown, World Series champs - The Houston Astros! Best of luck to our down-the-block neighbors as they take on some team from Cleveland today. Everyone cheering for orange and blue is welcome to take a #shelfie with our “H” in the stacks, provided they don’t cheer too loudly while taking it… This is a library, after all…
Getting Spooky in the Stacks
Our very first Book O’Lantern will haunt our shelves now through Halloween. Snap a #shelfie with this bookish ghoul and take a look at our Spirit of the Law exhibit, which showcases early patents for jack o’lantern carving techniques, scary cases, and more! And for the real legal eagles out there, see if you can spot the CFR volume containing a definition of “pumpkin” that makes up part of this festive design. Happy October!
During the month of July, Harris County Law Library is celebrating summer! Our exhibit, Summertime and the Law, will be on display all month long. On your next visit, pause for a moment in the Law Library lobby to view the exhibit and take a whimsical look at law and some of the hallmarks of summer -- sunshine, swimming, theme parks, barbecue, swimming, and more.
Featured items in the exhibit, along with a few additional sources, are listed here:
Gabriel Gomez v. The State of Texas, Unpublished
Gabriel Gomez appealed his conviction for aggravated assault asserting that he was denied a fair trial. In his complaint, Gomez described the State’s closing remarks as childish, improper, and prejudicial, and “an embarrassment to the legal dignity of the Court.” A portion of the prosecutor’s closing statement, which referenced various Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan, Snow White, and the Seven Dwarves, is quoted in the opinion. See pages 6 and 7.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 789 F. 3d 1206 (2015)
Living in captivity at a Florida theme park called Seaquarium, an orca named Lolita was exposed to persistent ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Seaquarium tried to combat the harmful UV rays by applying a black-colored zinc oxide to Lolita’s skin, the physiological effects of which were untested and unknown. Plaintiffs argued that the park should be denied renewal of its operating license for violating the Animal Welfare Act.
The plaintiff, a manufacturer of charcoal briquettes, brought action against the similarly named Kingsfords, Inc. seeking to enjoin the defendant’s further use of the Kingsford mark on their barbecue sauce product. The District Court held that, despite the plaintiff’s aspirations to one day produce and sell a barbecue sauce under the Kingsford name, they were not entitled to trademark protection. The defendant had already established its product, developed from a family recipe, and the associated brand, so the plaintiff’s arguments went up in proverbial smoke.
Amusement Ride Safety and Inspection and Insurance Act, Vernon's Texas Code Annotated, Occupations Code, Chapter 2151. Regulation of Amusement Rides
During the month of July, print materials on all aspects of immigration law will be on display throughout the Law Library. Treatises such as Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook and a number of CLE coursebooks from TexasBarCLE will be featured. You’ll also find immigration law resources in the Law Library’s digital collection, including official immigration forms through Westlaw and the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal on HeinOnline.
June is Continuing Legal Education Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library. Explore our new collection of 2017 State Bar of Texas CLE resources, in the Law Library's print collection, for research and self-study.
If you're in search of free CLE opportunities online, take a look at our On-Demand Learning resources on the Harris County Law Library's Legal Tech Institute web page. Here you will find live recordings of our LTI CLE programs on topics such as Legal Practice Technology, Finding & Formatting Legal Forms, The Robot Lawyer: Artificial Intelligence in the Practice of Law, and Excel Essentials for the Practice of Law. Note that the courses can be viewed free of charge, and attorneys can earn MCLE credit for watching them.
The Texas Young Lawyers Association is providing another valuable resource for those seeking free CLE credit and an opportunity to improve communication with Spanish-speaking clients. Spanish for Lawyers CLE Course just launched on June 1st. The program, which was produced at the Texas Bar CLE Studio, is comprised of 10 web-based classes which are 35-45 minutes each for a total of 9 hours of instruction. The course is approved for 5.25 hours of MCLE credit and includes beginner Spanish instruction focused on the use of legal vocabulary in various subject areas, including employment law, family law, civil law, criminal law and immigration law. Class 6, which is focused on engagement and providing advice to Spanish-speaking clients is eligible for .5 hours of ethics credit. In addition to the video instruction, each class is accompanied by a presentation, a pre-class vocabulary list, post-class homework and an MP3 file for oral vocabulary practice.
Don't forget that the State Bar of Texas CLE offers some free CLE courses online, and the Texas Young Lawyers maintain an extensive library of short videos on their website, Ten Minute Mentor. Legal experts in specific areas of the law provide short instructional presentations, which, after viewing, can be reported for self-study CLE credit.
Finally, the Harris County Law Library offers a weekly, one-hour CLE program on some aspect of legal technology as part of its Hands-on Legal Tech Training series. Courses are offered at the Law Library in the Legal Tech Lab every Thursday at 2:00 pm. For the month of June, we will offer Find and Format Legal Forms, MS Word for Legal Work, and Free Legal Tech for Legal Professionals on a rotating basis. For details and to register, please visit the Legal Tech Institute website.
Today is Law Day, an annual opportunity to reflect on the legal foundation of our nation and the fundamental role that the law plays in securing the freedoms we as Americans hold dear. At the Harris County Law Library, we're observing the day with a special Law Day exhibit, which will be on display all month long in the library lobby. We are also pleased to be featuring selected winning entries from the Houston Bar Association's annual Law Day essay and poster contest. The winning posters can be seen in the video below, along with a special Law Day message from the Harris County Law Library.
In 1957, American Bar Association (ABA) President Charles S. Rhyne, who provided legal counsel to President Eisenhower, conceived of a day dedicated to the celebration of our legal system, a vision that Mr. Eisenhower would help fulfill. The following year, on February 3, 1958, President Eisenhower issued Proclamation 3221, designating May 1st as Law Day and establishing a tradition. Every administration since has issued a Presidential Proclamation for this special occasion. The 2018 Law Day Proclamation emphasizes the wisdom of our unique structure of government. Consisting of three co-equal branches -- Executive, Legislative, and Judicial -- each with its own authority and limitations, this framework has allowed freedom to flourish for nearly 229 years.
The legislative branch also recognized the importance of this special day. On April 7, 1961, Congress passed a joint resolution (Public Law 87-20, 75 Stat. 43) to officially establish May 1st as Law Day, codifying it into law in Title 36, Section 113. In the years since, Americans have observed Law Day with civic activities, educational programs, and special events consistent with the American Bar Association's annual Law Day theme. Based on a significant aspect of the American legal system (e.g., democracy, civil rights, legal history, the judiciary, or Constitutional law), this theme serves as a focal point for schools, libraries, courts, bar associations, community groups, civic organizations, and others to plan celebratory events.
This year's theme is Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom, which the ABA explains with a quote from James Madison in Federalist 51: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” On its website, the ABA elaborates:
Madison believed that the Constitution’s principles of separation of powers and checks and balances preserve political liberty. They provide a framework for freedom. Yet, this framework is not self-executing. We the people must continually act to ensure that our constitutional democracy endures, preserving our liberties and advancing our rights. The Law Day 2018 theme enables us to reflect on the separation of powers as fundamental to our constitutional purpose and to consider how our governmental system is working for ourselves and our posterity.
On this day, the Harris County Law Library invites you to reflect on the importance of a legal system designed to guard against tyranny and establish fairness, balance, and justice in the conduct of government. Don't forget to stop by our exhibit throughout the month of May, which explores the Law Day Dialogues presented on the ABA website, and encourages thoughtful consideration of this year's theme, Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom. Happy Law Day 2018!