Sunday, August 2, 2015

Library Intersession Hours

This is just a friendly reminder that the Fred Parks Law Library has begun Intersession hours. From August 1-August 15, 2015 our hours will be as follows:

Opening Hours
Mon.-Sat.-- 8:30am-9:00pm
Sunday-- CLOSED

Patron Services Hours
Mon.-Sat.-- 8:30am-9:00pm
Sunday-- CLOSED

Reference Hours
Mon. -Thurs.-- 9:00am-6:00pm
Fri.-- 9:00am-5:00pm
Sat.-- No Reference

Special Collection Hours
Call for an appointment 713.646.1720

Regular Fall hours will begin on August 16, 2015. As always, be sure to check the right side bar of our Fred Parks Law Library Blog for any changes to our regular library hours. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Borders of Technology - Modria Resolution Center

Modria is a company that's working on developing innovations in dispute resolution.  This much is clear, and so far there's nothing controversial.  EBay uses their systems to act as online dispute resolution - Modria's systems guide the user through a series of questions, and determines which procedure is best.  It then pushes that procedure to the next step.  If it requires human involvement, it notifies the appropriate human.  In many cases, it does not require human involvement - instead, it automates results.

This is some of the value added for Modria's automated dispute resolution.  However, Modria has higher goals, and these are being implemented today.  In Ohio, tax assessment disputes run through Modria's dispute resolution system, automating a subset of the tax court.  A New York arbitration association is using it to automate settlements on medical claims for a subset of car wrecks.

Perhaps most unusual, in the Netherlands Modria's system automates divorce proceedings.  Essentially, both members of the soon-to-be former marriage answer questions about desired child custodianship, apportionment of assets, and other factors, and the system determines agreement and disagreement.  It prompts to see if a resolution can be discovered.  If resolution occurs, the results go to an attorney who confirms that neither party has given up too much, and the divorce decree then gets passed.  Presumably, if there is an irreconcilable dispute, it gets handed over to the court for a judge to preside.

Modria is looking forward to seeing this in more courts, including divorce proceedings, moving violations, tax disputes, and other factors.  According to Colin Rule, CEO of Modria, the purpose of this is to provide self-service for "simpler" legal scenarios, giving attorneys who would normally serve those roles the opportunity to serve more of the underserved.  (One may question how "simple" a divorce proceeding might be.)

There remains the outstanding question - exactly how much automation is good for the court?  Is a judgment valid if it is determined by a machine, even if a judge or court-approved attorney looks it over and says it looks okay?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Supreme Play - Scalia/Ginsburg, Opera

Don't know what you're doing in the middle of  July?  Why not attend Scalia/Ginsburg at the Castleton Festival in Virginia, an opera covering the rather turbulent relationship between these two pillars of the American legal establishment.  Can't make it to Virginia?  Watch it online!

Although the July 11 performance (which will include a talk by Justice Ginsburg on law and opera) is sold out, there is a waitlist.  There will be a livestream of the July 11 performance along with L'heure espagnole on July 11 from 6:00 p.m. CST to 8:30 p.m. CST, viewable here.  Additionally, the next live performances will be July 17 & 19.

On review of the merits of the opera, Justice Ginsburg delivered the judgment of "quite funny" and an opinion of its creator Derrick Wang as "very talented."  Justice Scalia took no part in the consideration or decision of this opera.

Read the facts of the opera here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

The members of the Fred Parks Law Library would like to wish everyone a happy, fun and safe 4th of July!

 Happy 4th of July from Fred Parks!

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Other Important Things Supreme Court Ruled

Although gay rights and healthcare are of critical importance to many Americans, there were a number of decisions passed by the Supreme Court this term.  Because they generally haven't gotten attention, here is a list of them, with summaries and links to the decisions.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 on Texas Ban on Confederate License Plates

The Sons of Confederate Veterans plate design that started the issue.
The Supreme Court ruled today that license plate designs represent state speech and not personal speech, and consequentially that the Texas DMV has the right to reject submitted specialty plate designs for ideological reasons.  In a truly rare turn, the swing vote was not Kennedy, who voted with the conservatives.  Instead it was Thomas, who voted against the conservatives and with the liberals for possibly the first time in his life.

In April 2011, the Texas DMB board did something it rarely does – it rejected a specialty plate design.  In this case, it was offered by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, ("SCV") and it featured a “Confederate battle flag” (incorrectly asserted as such – it was the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia).  They were initially deadlocked, but then civil rights groups caught wind and it rapidly turned to a unanimous rejection.  Then the SCV sued.

SCV was good to go on the appeal, as the appellate court ruled that the rejection amounted to the state inserting its own speech into the speech of its citizens.  The Supreme Court reversal is an unusual one, in that it distinguishes itself from many precedents preventing the government from asserting its own speech into the speech of its citizens.  In this case, license plates, which are a feature of a vehicle, must have a design approved of by the State.

The New York Times reports that the flag does appear on license plates in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.  It is not clear if any of those states will ban those designs now that the Federal Supreme Court has made clear that doing so passes First Amendment review.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pro Doc Summer Edition 2015 Ready for Downloading

The Summer 2015 access to ProDoc is available for download now.  Current students, staff and faculty of South Texas College of Law can access the download information in Stanley under the library tab in the Electronic Resources channel.