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

Summer Solstice.PNG

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!

Celebrating San Jacinto Day

Today is San Jacinto Day! We, along with many others across the state, turn our thoughts to the final battle of the Texas Revolution that took place on April 21, 1836. The victory paved the way for a new government to form under the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas and the rest is legal research.

To celebrate the day, we're offering a #shelfie opportunity the week of April 23 at the Harris County Law Library. Grab your phone and take a #shelfie in front of our monographic replica of the San Jacinto Monument. Be sure to post it to Twitter and tag it #SanJacintheStacks!

On this Day: Magna Carta and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Magna Carta, 1297: Widely viewed as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy. On display in the David M. Rubenstein Gallery of the National Archives in Washington, DC.

On June 15, 1215, the Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede meadow in Surrey, England. View our digital exhibit to learn more about this historic document and its role in shaping our democracy.

Many of the fundamental values we cherish, including liberty, equality, and freedom from tyranny, are direct descendants of the rights established by the Magna Carta more than 800 years ago. These ideals are embodied in our nation's founding documents and embraced by people around the world, even in countries whose governments deny any such protections to their citizens.  

Following World War II and the atrocities it spawned, an effort unfolded in the United Nations to codify the inalienable rights of people everywhere. The Human Rights Commission was established in 1946 as a standing body of the UN to draft the defining document. Two years later, on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted. Nearly every country in the world accepted the 30 articles that comprise the UDHR and integrated them into their bodies of law. The UDHR, which some have described as the Magna Carta of the modern age, remains a powerful instrument today, and its impact continues to be felt all over the world.