Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Registration for our latest program is now open! Digital Lawyering and Law Practice Technology: Tools Trends, and Ethics

The practice of law is evolving rapidly, and predictions about its future signal big changes in the delivery of legal services. As clients seek more for less, their demands for greater efficiency, affordability, and transparency are on the rise. As a result, a new model for the delivery of legal services is emerging. The ABA has recognized this shift in the practice of law with recent modifications to the competency standards of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 1.1, Comment 8 states, “a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.” The practice of law in the 21st century belongs to small firms and solo practitioners. Those who embrace emerging technologies and understand its application in the practice of law will be well-positioned to succeed.

The course is free for current students (you must register using your account) and is only $40 for all others. This course is accredited by the State Bar of Texas for for 4.5 MCLE hours, 1.5 hours ethics.

Register by clicking here or use the link the top right of our blog.  Registration closes Monday, February 3, 2014.

Don’t miss out!       

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Day in the Life at The Fred Parks Law Library

If you happened to be on the terrace of the Fred Parks Law Library yesterday around lunchtime you might have caught sight of a special  holiday visitor rappelling down the side of the House of Blues across the street. Fortunately a few of our trusty library staff were there to snap a few photos:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Legal Websites: FindLaw for Students

You may already be familiar with Did you know there is a section of the site dedicated specifically to law students as well? On FindLaw for Students you can find access to outlines, practice exams, and helpful articles, as well as information on bar courses, financing law school and finding a job. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Legal Websites: Student Division of the Texas State Bar

Did you know there is a Student Division of the Texas State Bar? There you can find resources such as seminars, mentors, CLE classes and more. Third year law students can also become a member of the law student division and you will have the same access to benefits that members of the Bar have.  You can contact the South Texas College of Law Campus Contact (found here) for more information.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Legal Websites: Jurist

Looking for the latest legal news of interest? Jurist should definitely be included on your daily list of go to sites for the latest goings on in the legal world. Jurist is a web-based legal news and real-time legal research service powered by a mostly-volunteer team of over 60 part-time law student reporters, editors and Web developers led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare

You are invited to join us this Wednesday, October 30, at 5:30 as Professor Josh Blackman discusses his new book, Unprecedented: the Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare.  Professor Blackman is an engaging speaker and his book has gotten rave reviews.  We look forward to seeing you all there!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Legal Websites: WashLaw Web

Are you looking for the Missouri Department of Agriculture's homepage?  What about the court rules for Virginia courts? WashLaw Web is a site that you should definitely have bookmarked. It provides users with links to law-related materials on the Internet from all jurisdictions including state, federal and international. Generally speaking, the information is arranged alphabetically, by subject, and by geographic location.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Legal Apps: Texas Courts App

This app provides access to the Texas Attorney Directory and contains the full text of all of the rules needed by most Texas practitioners. Additionally, this app contains the local rules for all Texas federal courts, and provides the names and addresses of every Texas federal courthouse, and using an interactive map and GPS allows you to generate driving directions from your current location.

The app can be purchased via the itunes store here. The current cost is $2.99. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

STELLA Online Catalog Temporary Disruption Scheduled

by Barbara Szalkowski, Senior Catalog Librarian

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 24, the online catalog (STELLA) will be unavailable due to a server upgrade. You will still be able to search STELLA Plus+ for materials, including specific titles, and discover library locations and call numbers, but the links to the actual online catalog will not function during the installation. We apologize for this inconvenience.

The South Texas College of Law turns 90!

by Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian
        “It will be our purpose then to seek out for students only sincere men – only earnest men, who have enlisted not for a battle only, but for a war, and upon whose persevering interest we may securely count.
        Given such students, it will be our hope and purpose to turn them out not practitioners merely, not craftsmen in tort or contract, criminal law or admiralty, but lawyers, capable of reasoning broadly and abstractly, and of testing by the same general touchstone ‘conformity to right and justice,’ every question, no matter in what particular branch of the law it may arise.”
                        -Judge Joseph C. Hutcheson, Dean, South Texas School of Law, South Texas School
                        of Law Catalogue, 1923-1924.
      The South Texas School of Law, a part-time evening law program run by the YMCA, welcomed its first class on September 24, 1923. Housed in the Fannin Street YMCA, the freshman class of 29 men and 5 women were taught by some of the most impressive members of the Houston bench and bar.  The first dean, Joseph C. Hutcheson, was a federal judge for the Southern District of Texas. Faculty members held degrees from Harvard, Columbia, and the Universities of Texas and Michigan.  The Board of Governors, which consisted of partners at some of the largest law firms in the Houston, were determined that this law school not only fill a gap by providing affordable legal education in Houston, but also that it be a first class law school. 
        The rapid growth of the oil industry in the 1920s created an urgent need for lawyers in the Houston area.  Experts in Texas law were required to examine titles, draw up conveyances, organize new corporations and generally deal with the business created by oil exploration and discovery.[i] One of the original missions of South Texas, then, was to train lawyers who would serve the needs of Houston and Harris County.[ii]  It should not be surprising that the general counsel of Humble Oil & Refining, E.E. Townes, Sr., was among the faculty.  Being the oldest law school in Houston, South Texas was an innovator in Continuing Legal Education: Townes, as Dean of the South Texas School of Law, established the Oil and Gas Lecture Series in 1935.
         South Texas has always had a high degree of integration between practice and theory.  By the early 1920s the casebook method of instruction was replacing the traditional apprenticeship model, and the prevailing belief in academia was that law professors should not practice. South Texas took a middle ground[iii] with a faculty composed of practicing attorneys and judges, all recognized experts in their fields, who taught the case system while giving students “a familiarity with the practical legal problems and difficulties, and instructive experience explained in the classroom by a real lawyer.”[iv] 
         Unlike many of the YMCA law schools, South Texas has retained its independence and part-time program. We still keep to the middle ground between practice and theory. The majority of our faculty, full-time and adjunct alike, practiced law prior to joining South Texas and all bring expert knowledge to the classroom.  Our top-ranked Advocacy program provides intensive training in the courtroom. Our extensive clinical program gives students real world experience while providing much needed legal services to the community.
           There has been a great deal of talk in the legal community about the future of legal education; many graduates lack the practical skills needed for effective lawyering. In response, educators are shifting focus, emphasizing the kind of skills-based instruction that South Texas has embraced since 1923. Preparing students to be effective legal practitioners is exactly what our founders envisioned.  By staying true to this vision, South Texas is now on the leading edge of clinical and skills-based education.  Our legacy of practice-ready attorneys is a true sign of our success over the last ninety years.
        In honor of our first 90 years, items from the College Archives are on display in the Library Lobby.  This exhibit will be up until December 20, 2013.

[i] Christopher Anglim, South Texas College of Law: Houston’s Gateway to Opportunity in Law, 39 S. Tex. L. Rev. 9210, 921.
[ii] id, 923
[iii] id,  926
[iv] E.E. Townes as quoted in Anglim, 926.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FDsys Authentication of United States Code Online.

By Jessica R. Alexander, J. D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian

A major problem posed by use of online governmental resources is authentication. FDsys stands for the United States Government Printing Office's (GPO) Federal Digital System. It provides authenticated digitally signed PDF documents, including the United States Code. The new online service makes citation to a section of the United States Code a bit easier, but with caveats.

All fifty (50) titles of the United States Code are re-published in paper volumes in their entirety every six years, e. g., 2000, 2006, 2012.  In intervening years yearly supplements are published.  As of this date the GPO has paper volumes up to Title 10 for 2012. That means that forty titles have not been published in paper for 2012, not to mention amendments in 2013 from the 113th Congress.  FDsys represents an improvement., but not a total solution as far as authentication goes. For 2012 FDsys has published up to Title 19. However, FDsys issues a caveat on the site.  They warn:
"FDsys contains virtual main editions of the U.S. Code. The information contained in the U.S. Code on FDsys has been provided to GPO by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives. While every effort has been made to ensure that the U.S. Code on FDsys is accurate, those using it for legal research should verify their results against the printed version of the U.S. Code available through the Government Printing Office."

Before FDsys,The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation R. 12.2.1. at 112 (Columbia Law Review Ass'n et al. eds.,19th ed. 2010) required citation to a federal statute "currently in force" to the official United States Code in its paper form.The rule required the writer to determine whether the title and section of the United States Code had been published in paper by the GPO. Since the GPO runs at least a year behind in paper publication the process could be cumbersome. Unfortunately, the process can still be difficult, even with FDsys.

 What to cite and how to determine the correct site:
  •  Consult a proprietary source like the United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A. West) or United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) LexisNexis) to check the date of the last amendment(s) to a particular code section.
  • Check the library's shelves physically or ask a librarian to consult the check-in records in the library's catalog to determine the latest paper publication of the Code.
  • If the paper publication is not up to date with the amendments,cite to the U.S.C.A.,or the U.S.C.S. 
  • However, if FDsys is authenticated and up to date, the user can use the official United States Code citation as if the paper publication is on the shelves in libraries, maybe. The Bluebook is not clear on this:  Rule 12.2.1 says:
  • "...a new main edition of the official United States Code is published every six years, and an annual cummulative supplement is published for each intervening year. An exact copy of the United States Code in PDF format may be found at;these versions may be cited as if they were the print code. Codified federal statutes enacted subsequent to the latest edition or supplement of the Code should be cited to an unofficial code, (e.g., West's United States Code Annotated) until published in the United States Code."
Another caveat about the Bluebook  and citation of the United States Code: Table 1 says the citation for for the United States Code and the proprietary publications begins with the volume number. This is not correct. There are no volume numbers in the set.  Instead there are title numbers (e.g. 18 U.S.C...). 
When I started writing this blog piece I thought there were set answers.  After I saw the caveat on FDsys, I realize that I should contact the Bluebook editors as well as other law librarians who may have comments on the inconsistencies both at FDsys and in the Bluebook.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The March on Washington and Taylor Branch’s Trilogy on the Black Civil Rights Movement in America

By Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian

The fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington is August 28th.  The library’s collection includes the excellent trilogy written by Taylor Branch,, on the civil rights movement:  Parting the Waters, America in the King years, 1954-63 (E 185.61 B72 v.1 1989), Pillar of Fire, America in the King Years 1963-65 (E 185.61 B72 v.2 1998), and At Canaan’s Edge, America in the King Years 1965-1968 (E 185.61 B72 v.3 2006). These books are long on the national and individual dramas of the movement.

Chapter 22 of Parting the Waters is devoted to the intrigue around the March. A student, who idolizes Dr. King said he does not want to know unflattering details about King’s personal life. I assured him that such details would lead to appreciation for the fact that an ordinary human could serve as the pivot around which those years of the movement coalesced. The books give the reader insight into the fact that no one person could accomplish such goals alone and that largely unsung black women served as backbones of the movement.

Parting the Waters was published in 1989. Now with the digitization of Congressional materials and press accounts, the reader can access full texts of government documents cited by Branch.The library's ProQuest Congressional database contains the full-text of congressional hearings and reports on proposals for civil rights bills which reached fruition in Public Law 88-352, Civil Rights Act of 1964. For example, in July 1963 a bill entitled, Public Accommodations, Senate 88-1372 was debated and considered. Proponents of the bill and segregationists governors, Ross Barnett of Mississippi and George Wallace of Alabama participated in the hearings. In the same chapter, Branch references Lyndon’s Johnson’s revival from a moribund vice-president to the historic arm twister he was. Johnson chastised the President of Houston Power and Light Company for allowing the City of Houston to "shut off dockside electricity to protest the Navy’s new policies on off-base segregation.” In a carrot and stick approach he threatened withdrawal of proposed new federal contracts for the NASA tracking station.

De jure segregation policies are brought to life by our library’s Digital Collection which contains the Houston City Code of Ordinances 1958-62 in the Houston Legal History section. The code contained provisions on bus segregation (Buses, Chapter 6, Article 5 – Segregation of Races) and criminal penalties for sexual relations between Negro persons and whites. (Crimes, Chapter 11 Section 11-102.) Everyone who was not classified as Negro was considered white.

Bayard Rustin’s, an important and controversial figure in the civil rights movement, Organizing Manual No. 2 Final Plans for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is available from a post by an organization called Civil Rights Movement Veterans (accessed on August 20, 2013.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The library is partnering with the Houston Bar Association to collect new or gently used books for readers of all ages. A collection box is located on the second floor of the library on the low reference shelves. Please bring your books to the library by the end of the day on Wednesday, September 11th. Your contribution will benefit local organizations and will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for your participation! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Post-Graduate Entrepreneurs

Today on NPR's Morning Edition there was an interesting segment on the entrepreneurial ways recent law school graduates are putting their degrees to work.

Listen here:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I Scream, You Scream...52 more days of Ice Cream!

July has come to an end and so too has National Ice Cream month, but not before we in the library had a chance to celebrate.  Sanctioned as a month for national "Vitamin I" indulgence, we felt a great responsibility to fully commemorate America's favorite frozen treat.

We even established a special decree for all STCL students, alumni, faculty, and staff: 
May the observance of National Ice Cream Month continue for 52 additional days (during which time all frozen dairy confections shall be consumed 100% free-of-guilt) and conclude on September 22, aka National Ice Cream Cone Day. 
After all, as Houstonians, our incomparable tolerance for heat and humidity entitles us to an ice cream holiday extension -- unless of course you're eager to start observing National Catfish Month -- no disrespect to catfish, but Homemade Vanilla wins that contest every time!
Learn more about National Ice Cream Month from the Government Printing Office, and watch a cool video about ice cream production in Colonial America.
And in recognition of our other true love (books!), here's a fun link to book-inspired ice cream flavors. Dig in!

For Nonpartisan Artisans: Craft Brewing in Texas...and Beyond!

On Friday, the New York Times (in partnership with the Texas Tribune) posted an interesting story about the impact of recent legislative changes on independent breweries in Texas. Effective September 1, 2013, the distribution and sale of craft-brewed beers in Texas will be much less restricted. 

The full-text of all relevant legislation (SB 516, 517, 518, 519) can be searched here, on the Texas Legislative Reference Library website:
And the NYT/Texas Tribune blog piece can be found here:
I got curious and started poking around online for additional information.  The following sites provide good detail about the laws that govern independent brewing across the nation.
Brewery Law
Legal Brewing (with a link here to two books on the subject)
Legal Libations
And this site which lists distribution laws for independently-brewed beer and wine
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) - Home Manufacture of Alcoholic Beverages State Statutes
Legal Status of Home brewing in the United States (Statutes -- Search by State)
And for a little cheese with your beverage of choice, visit the link below. The NCSL has complied a state-by-state summary of all the statutes and administrative codes that govern raw milk sales and distribution (as well as the sale and distribution of cheese made with unpasteurized dairy products).
One last resource: The library maintains a large collection of library research guides, called Lib Guides, which you can access via Stanley, the library's public site, and by searching the Web.  One of our reference librarians, Jessica Alexander, recently started her own compilation page of "Laws State by State," which you can access at the link below.  The 50-state surveys listed above (for the sale/distribution of craft brews and raw milk products) will soon be included.
Happy noshing!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Good Luck!

The librarians and staff of the Fred Parks Law Library would like to wish all our former students taking the Texas Bar this week good luck!

A Little Luck
Photo by JD Hancock cc

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Controversy Over Permanent Alimony

By Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., MLS, Reference Librarian
This morning, May 28, 2013, an NPR Morning Edition piece, Alimony Till Death Do Us Part? Nay, Say Some Ex-Spouses, featured the controversy over permanent alimony mandated by the courts of some states.  There are efforts underway to change these laws.  Opponents say that times have changed and the laws don't reflect the reality that many women can take care of themselves after divorce and the lifetime burden on mostly ex-husbands is unfair. Diane Rehm also featured this subject on her show on Monday, May 20, 2013, Debate Over Ending Lifetime Alimony.

The American Bar Association has a useful site called Family Law in the Fifty States. It features charts on various areas of family law.Their Chart 1 concerns Alimony/Spousal Support Factors. Another resource is found in the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Jurisdictional Issues Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, by Mechelene DeMaria at Volume 16, Page 243 (1999).

Section 8.001 of the Texas Family Code, Maintenance, et. seq. contains the Texas law on alimony. Texas has adopted the Uniform Instate Family Support Act, it appears beginning in Section 159.001 of the Texas Family Code.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Legal Website: Above the Law

If you are looking for legal news that goes beyond the dry and basic, Above the Law is the site for you. The site takes a look at current legal issues, institutions, and personalities from a behind-the-scenes point of view. Interesting topics include “Lawsuit of the Day,” “Bonuses” (which details what certain law firms are paying…or who they are laying off), and an entire section dedicated to law schools specifically.  The site also has a career center to help you no matter what stage you are in your legal profession, from pre-law to post graduation, as well as a page for job listings. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Legal Website: Texas Young Lawyers Association

Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) is an organization that new attorneys in the state of Texas should look into joining.  One portion of their website that might be of interest while you are still a student is the Resources for Students.  This section includes scholarships, helpful articles, online booklets, and videos to not only get you through law school but help you transition into passing the bar and practicing law. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Legal Website: Texas State Bar Resources for New Lawyers

This is the time of year 3L law students start thinking about graduation, taking the bar, and finally becoming an attorney.  The Texas State Bar has an entire section of  its site dedicated to resources for lawyers. One section that will be of interest to new graduates  is the page of Resources for New Lawyers.  This page includes important compliance information new lawyers should be aware of as well as resources to help you out in whatever legal direction you choose to take--even if that direction is not in the field of law! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Legal Website: Virtual Chase (via Justicia)

Virtual Chase is a product of Justicia specifically geared towards those in the profession of law librarianship and those interested in preforming legal research.  On this site you will find access to blogs, tweets, listservs and other resources created by and for law librarians.  Virtual Chase also links to a number of online resources for researching government, business, law, or general information. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

“WWNS?” or How Would Nina Totenberg Write an Answer to a Law Exam Question?

Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian

I have been listening to Nina Totenberg’s National Public Radio analysis of Supreme Court arguments and outcomes for many years. I still remember exactly where I was when she broke the news on the Justice Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversey.  I marvel at how she has developed the extraordinary analytical skills applied to her broadcast segments and written analysis of complex issues before the Supreme Court. Law students preparing for exams might ask themselves the question? “WWNS?” Let’s examine her analysis over the years of cases before the Supreme Court involving first year and second year courses – family, constitutional, contracts, civil and criminal procedure, property, and torts. In order to research the cases to choose from, I utilized our Bloomberg database, BNA's US Law Week.  For in-depth analysis of lower federal courts and the Supreme Court, US Law Week is the go-to source. US Law Week is also a source for analysis and briefing of cases and issues that come before the lower federal courts as well as the Supreme Court. (While Bloomberg is available only to students, faculty and staff, access to United States Law Week is available to visitors.)

For examples, listen to these segments:
Civil Procedureprevious hitAT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion,584 F.3d 849(2011 “Supreme Court Imposes Limits on Class Actions” Broadcast April 28, 2011

Constitutional  – Arizona v. United States, 641 F.3d 249, 79 USLW 4279 (2012)
“Controversial Arizona Law Reaches Supreme Court,” Broadcast April 15, 2012
Case Opinion at Supreme Court -
ContractsGeneral Dynamics Corp. v. United States567 F. 3d 1340 (2011)
“Supreme Court Weighs Military Contract Dispute,” – Broadcast January 19, 2011
Case Opinion at Supreme Court website: -

Criminal Law and  Procedure Missouri v. Frye, 133 S.Ct. 1399 (2012) “Supreme Court Rules on Plea Bargain Rights,” Broadcast March 22, 2012
Case Opinion at Supreme Court

this case was just decided by the Supreme Court April 18y: Missouri v. McNeely, summary of opinion by Nina Totenberg Broadcast April 13, 2013 "Can Police Force Drunken Driving Suspects to Take Blood Test?” transcript January 9, 2013
Case Opinion at Supreme Court
written analysis of case during oral arbuments at
FamilyAdoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, No. 12-399, “Emotions Run High as Supreme Court Hears Adoption Case,” Broadcast April 16, 2013
Supreme Court docket, etc. at

TortsMillbrook v. United States, No. 10362, 477 Fed. Appx. 4‘Prisoner's Handwritten Petition Prompts Justices to Weigh Government Immunity,” Broadcast, February 19, 2013
Case Opinion at Supreme Court

 PropertyLozeman v. City of  Riviera Beach, Florida, No. 11-626 “Supreme Court: Floating Home Still A Man's Castle,” Broadcast January 15, 2013
Case Opinion at Supreme Court

Legal Website: Justicia

Justicia provides a wealth of legal information for both the lay person and attorneys.  Portions of the website are dedicated to information on a variety of specific areas of law including an overview, definitions, and web resources for the non-lawyer. The site also provides state, federal and (limited) international primary law.  One of the most helpful features of the website is the ability to ask legal questions directly to attorneys in specific areas of law. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Library Policy: 4th & 5th Floors of the Fred Parks Law Library Now "Ultra Quiet"

Starting April 1, 2013 the 4th and 5th floors of the Fred Parks Law Library will be designated as "Ultra Quiet" throughout the entire year.  This means that cell phones, pagers, and conversations are forbidden in  the study rooms, the book stacks, and at all the carrels and tables on these floors. The library asks that all noise and conversations be taken to another floor or into the stairwells. Exceptions to this rule will be made for class tours and reference assistance.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Following the Same-Sex Marriage Cases in the Supreme Court

By Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian
Here is a short list of sources for following the same-sex marriage case arguments in the Supreme Court.  The arguments are scheduled for tomorrow (CA Prop 8) and Wednesday (DOMA).

The cases:

Hollingsworth v. Perry - the California Proposition 8 case
United States v. Windsor - the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case

United States Supreme Court briefs and filings
Oyez project at Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago Kent College of Law has a "deep dive" website on the cases.


South Texas College of Law Professor, Josh Blackman's blog has insight on the issues and legal actors in the controversies.

Listen to National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent, Nina Totenberg's, clear and incisive review of the arguments and personalities involved in the cases at

The Legacy of Lawrence v. Texas

by Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian

      This week two cases concerning gay rights will be argued before the Supreme Court. The first, Dennis Hollingsworth, et al. v. Kristin M. Perry, et al. (12-144), seeks to strike down California’s voter-approved ban on same sex marriage and declare that gay couples can legally marry not just in California but nationwide.  The other, United States v. Edith Windsor (12-307), challenges the Defense of Marriage Act. These important cases could change the lives of countless citizens, providing not just equal protection, but equal recognition of their relationships and families.
      Ten years ago this week another landmark case was heard by the Supreme Court. In Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), the United States Supreme Court voted 6-3 to strike down the sodomy law in Texas and reversed the Court’s own decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), where the Court held that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not confer a fundamental right on homosexuals to engage in consensual sodomy.  The majority, consisting of Justices Kennedy, Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer, held that the convictions under the Texas statute violated the petitioners’ vital interests in liberty and privacy, protected by the due process clause, for several reasons, among them that the statute sought to control a personal relationship between two consenting adults.  Lawrence thus invalidated similar laws throughout the United States that criminalized sodomy between consenting same-sex adults acting in private and invalidated the application of sodomy laws to heterosexual sex based on morality concerns.  Justice O’Connor agreed that the Texas statute was unconstitutional, however she based her decision on the equal protection clause, not on the due process clause, as the statute discriminated against homosexuals as a distinct class of persons.  She did not join the majority in overruling Bowers.  The dissent was written by Justices Scalia and Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist, who did not believe that Bowers should have been overruled, that the Texas statute did not violate due process nor did it infringe on a fundamental right, and it did not deny the equal protection of the laws.   Justice Thomas believed that the statute was “uncommonly silly” and should be repealed by the state legislature, however the Supreme Court was not empowered to help as there is no general right of privacy in the Bill of Rights or in any other part of the Constitution. 

     On display now in the Fred Parks Law Library lobby is The Legacy of Lawrence v. Texas, an exhibit that contains some of the briefs presented in the Lawrence case as well as materials on gay rights and marriage equality from the Library’s main collection. The Special Collections Department houses the records of the Lawrence case, which were graciously donated by one of the attorneys on the case, South Texas alumnus and Adjunct Professor Mitchell Katine.  The whole collection can be viewed online in our digital collections.  This exhibit will be up until August 31, 2013.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Legal Websites: Houston Public Library Law Databases

While the Fred Parks Law Library has an extensive collection of over 90 databases for students and patrons to take advantage of, it’s important to be aware of other resources that are available.  This may become especially relevant upon graduation when access to certain resources provided by the library may be limited. One such freely available resource is the selection of law related databases provided by the Houston Public Library. The collection includes resources you may already be familiar with through the Fred Parks Law Library such as Congressional Universe. It also includes practitioner oriented databases such as Gale Legal Forms. All one needs to access them is a library card through the Houston Public Library. Here is information on obtaining one. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Legal Website of Interest: Silva Rhetoricae

available at:
An important skill of being a more than competent attorney is the art of speaking, specifically persuading.  This is where the study of rhetoric can be helpful. For those law students, and others, who may be  interested in the topic, the website, Silva Rhetoricae, is a great place to start.
Silva Rhetoricae provides an expansive discussion on the topic of rhetoric including: definitions; terms used in rhetoric; branches of rhetoric; the canons or “categories” of rhetoric; and exercises for you to try.  While most of the information available on this site is purely academic, a fundamental understanding of rhetoric may be valuable in your career as an attorney. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Saddle up, Houston!

by Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian

It’s almost rodeo time! The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is February 25 – March 17 this year. Be aware of the parade that goes through downtown Saturday February 23, and check for street closings. Also, if you see what appears to be a trail ride, don’t spook the horses.

In honor of mutton busting, the calf scramble, and over 80 years of supporting education, facilitating better agricultural practices, and being the largest livestock show and rodeo in the world, the Fred Parks Law Library brings you Land & Cattle, a display of selected materials on farm law, animal law, agricultural law and, yes, cowboy law. These items will be on display in the second floor library lobby until March 18, 2013.

February at South Texas: a look back

by Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian

Thanks to Punxsutawney Phil predicting an early Spring (something we Houstonians already knew), I was inspired to look in the archives and find some other notable February events and occasions. Enjoy!

  • 1964: South Texas College of Law moved to its current location. Our address back then was 1220 Polk Street.
  • 1970: the first time South Texas offered seminars. We had an enrollment of 155, making us the second largest law school in Texas.
  • 1971: Dean Garland Walker announced that South Texas would be the first law school in the United States to initiate a study program for the certification of trial lawyers.
  • 1983: The moot court team of Devon H. Deker (’83), Kerry C. Hagan (’84), Harry Keith Lynch (’85), and Virginia Paige Pace (’84) won our first National Championship at the J. Braxton Craven National Invitational Moot Court Tournament at Chapel Hill. Exactly thirty years later, South Texas has won more National Championships than any other law school.
  • 1993: The John O’Quinn Classroom was dedicated.
  • 1993: The Environmental Law society sponsored the first Environmental Crimes CLE Seminar.
  • 1994: The Center for Legal Responsibility opened. The Center provides training in managing conflict, resolving disputes, and devising settlement strategies. In October 1994, it was renamed the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution, after the retired chief justice of the 1st Court of Appeals, who was the founding director of the center.
  • 2000: South Texas Advocates win their 70th National Championship at the National Constitutional Law Moot Court tournament, held at William & Mary School of Law. The team was composed of Robert Cowan, Alexandra Hogan, and Mark Junell, all class of 2001 graduates.
  • 2003: South Texas broke ground on the T. Gerald Treece Courtroom.
  • 2006: Kinky Freidman gave a speech about his current run for Governor followed by a question and answer session.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Legal Website of Interest: Legal Information Institute

The Legal Information Institute (LII) is a free, non-profit website published by Cornell University Law School.  LII provides online access to primary law and other legal resources for almost every jurisdiction, including all the states and territories, the United States of America, and most world nations.
Other features of the the LII website include:
Wex, a legal dictionary and encyclopedia created and edited by legal experts.
The LII Supreme Court Bulletin, which keeps you apprised of all pending Supreme Court cases and alerts you with the decisions as soon as they are available
LII Announce, a  blog that lets you know about what's new at the LII and in the world of legal information and research.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Legal Website of Interest:

Are you wondering just what it was that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said upon breaking his seven-year silence in court during the case of Boyer v. Louisiana? How about hearing it for yourself?  Well there is a website for that called was founded to “be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955.” On the site you can find information on each case decided in the United States Supreme Court beginning with the very first case Chisolm v. Georgia . The case profiles includes: the question posed; a case summary; docket information; Blue Book, MLA, and Chicago Manual of Style citation, a visual representation of how each justice voted, and (when available) an audio recording of the arguments in court.  The website also features biographies of all the Supreme Court Justices that have ever served.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the website is the virtual tour of the United States Supreme Court itself.  You can view both the exterior and interior of the court, including the courtroom, conference rooms, library, and several of the justices’ chambers.

There are also two separate apps for mobile users who want to access information from Pocket Justice and OyezToday