"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Saturday, August 5, 2017

Drones Across America

The ABA has recently published Drones Across America: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Regulation and State Laws (KF2406.N55 2017) by Dr. Sarah Nilsson. This book begins with a discussion of the definition of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) as well as the different categories. Chapter 2 analyzes regulation at the federal level with a discussion of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA), proposed legislation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulatory action and relevant court cases. Chapter 3 explores commercial UAS rules, in particular focusing on relevant FMRA provisions, federal regulations such as 14 CFR Part 107 dealing with small unmanned aircraft, and state laws throughout the country. Rules pertaining to public aircraft operations as well as model aircraft are also covered. This is now available on the law library's new titles shelf (across from the reference desk).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Features Added to Govinfo Website


In February of last year, the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO) launched the beta version of govinfo.gov, which will eventually replace the Federal Digital System (FDSys) as the GPO’s free, searchable repository of government documents. Last week the GPO announced the addition of several new features to govinfo. Here are some of the highlights:
  • New links allow you to click through from Congressional Records details pages directly to related bills. 
  • Thumbnails are now displayed in the search results for applicable documents (which is very helpful if you are searching for photos). 
  • RSS feeds are now available for bills and statutes, budget and presidential materials, congressional committee materials, judicial publications, and several other types of government publications.
To learn more about these and other recently added features, see the latest release notes.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mastering Negotiation

Carolina Academic Press has recently published, Mastering Negotiation, by Michael R. Fowler. The author discusses choosing the best approach to negotiation including the positional bargaining and interest based negotiations. Pre-negotiation issues such as preparing for the negotiation, organizing preparation, and identifying goals are covered in Chapter 2. This book also looks at matters related to initiating talks such as setting an agenda and an constructive tone for the negotiation. There are other chapters that focus on working with interests, ethical negotiations, problem solving, closing the deal, and analyzing alternatives, leverage, and power, among other topics. This book is now on the law library's new titles shelf (located across from the reference desk) (K2390.F69 2017).

Friday, June 23, 2017

FBI Publishes 2016 Internet Crime Report


The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) recently published its 2016 Internet Crime Report. Here are a few interesting facts from the document:
  •  In 2016, the IC3 received 298,728 complaints of internet crimes, with reported losses of over $1.3 billion.
  • Non-payment/non-delivery was the most widely reported category of crime, with 81,029 victims. In this type of crime, a person either fails to pay for goods received (non-payment) or takes payment for goods that are never delivered (non-delivery). 
  •  Texas was ranked second in the number of victims per state (21,441) and fourth in the amount of losses per state ($77,135,765). California was first in both categories. 
The report features sections on “hot topics” in internet crime, including business email compromises, ransomware, tech support fraud, and extortion. It also contains an appendix defining the various types of internet crime. 
     The IC3 was established in May 2000 to receive complaints of internet crime. While many of these complaints are investigated by the FBI, the IC3 also makes remote searching of its database available to all sworn law-enforcement officials. To learn more about the IC3, see the About IC3 page on its website. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Federal Judiciary to Limit PACER Access?

Should some PACER filings be blocked to ensure the safety of witnesses and informants? Possibly, according to a recently published a survey of federal judges, prosecutors, defenders and probation officers by the Federal Judicial Center.

Originally reported in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required/ available via Lexis Advance), recent survey (PDF) of federal judges, prosecutors, defenders and probation offices by the Federal Judicial Center found that nearly 700 witnesses and informants perceived as snitches had been threatened, wounded or killed over a three year period. According to the Wall Street Journal article,

"Federal inmates are restricted from accessing PACER themselves, but it is easy for them to ask people outside the prison to search the online system and report the information back into the prison by phone, according to judges." Inmates are becoming more sophisticated at decoding available criminal findings within the case filings, leading to a substantial threat to these so-called snitches.

In the survey, with nearly 1,000 respondents, "[r]espondents frequently reported court documents or court proceedings as the source for identifying cooperators." Plea agreements and other identifying documents are not considered prison contraband, and may even be posted on cell walls for other inmates to view.

Survey responses encouraged action by the Department of Justice to mitigate this threat to those cooperating with law enforcement, but no specific action has been taken to limit PACER access to the public in criminal cases. Some respondents also encouraged placing more sensitive documents under seal. Both of these possibilities are viewed by some defense attorneys as detrimental to their defendant-clients cases. In addition, any limitation of public access to these filings raise First Amendment concerns about access to government documents.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Clean Water Act Handbook, 4th ed.

Bernan Press has recently published the fourth edition of the Clean Water Act Handbook by Duke K. McCall, III. Designed for the practitioner, this source cover the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, which regulates discharges to waters within the United States. The chapter on effluent limitations discusses standards that regulate discharges to waters based on what is economically and technologically achievable in one's industry. Another chapter provides an overview of Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) standards, which are designed to test the impact of pollution on aquatic life. The author also covers non-point sources such as agricultural runoff, the regulation of dredged or fill materials, storm water discharges, and regulation of sanitation systems, among other topics. Finally, the reader will learn about topics related to enforcement of the Clean Water Act, such as criminal and civil enforcement, defenses, and citizen suits. The full text of the Clean Water Act (CWA) is available in the appendix. This book is now available on the law library's new titles shelf (located across from the reference desk next to the public computer terminals) under call number (KF3790.C545 2017).

Friday, May 19, 2017

LOC Makes 25 Million Catalog Records Available for Bulk Download


Earlier this week, the Library of Congress announced that it was making over 25 million of its catalog records available for free bulk download. These records will be available at data.gov and on the Library of Congress website at http://www.loc.gov/cds/products/marcDist.php. Previously these records were only available individually or by subscription. This new free service of the LOC will be an invaluable resource for anyone doing bibliographic research.

The records are in the MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging Records) format, the international standard for bibliographic data. To learn more about MARC records, see this tutorial on the LOC website.