Legal Online Wills


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Legal Online Wills

  1. 1. Finding the Law What is the Law? “enacted law” -- statutes passed by law” Congress/State Legislature “man-made law” -- cases decided by judges man- law” “administrative law” -- regulations promulgated law” by agencies Federal v. State Federal statutes passed by Congress cases decided by federal courts regulations promulgated by federal agencies Texas statutes passed by legislature cases decided by state courts regulations promulgated by state agencies 1
  2. 2. What “law” do I need? Is it a federal law? constitutional right (religion/speech/voting), sex/race/age discrimination, federal taxation, bankruptcy, copyright, some drug offenses, immigration Is it a Texas law? Texas constitutional right, family law, landlord- landlord- tenant law, consumer law, probate, traffic, most crimes Federal Statutes United States Code Online: Grouped by subject in “Titles” 2
  3. 3. Also Indexed by Popular Names Texas Statutes Vernon’s Texas Codes Annotated Texas Statutes Online 3
  4. 4. Texas Statutes Most Texas statutes are grouped by subject in “codes” (Probate Code, Family Code) codes” Each code has a Table of Contents and typically is subdivided into Titles The entire set has a detailed index!!! Title 1: The Marriage Family Code-- Code-- Relationship TOC References The Statute 4
  5. 5. US Statutes Working with Index USCA & USCS have general index—updated index— annually Index at end of each title—updated when main title— volume containing it is updated—except Title 42 in updated— USCA—annually; no index in pocket parts USCA— Different code version indexes differ—may differ— need to look in USCA & USCS In Print or Online Look for terms you expect to find in the legislation Browsing General Index in print more fruitful: How do you find the penalty for carrying a machine gun? Ttile 18, Section 922 What are the construction standards for a trailer home (manufactured home)? Title 42, Section 5401 What are the penalties for tampering with a motor vehicle odometer? Title 49, Section 32709, 32703... If researching online, chose links to narrow topic and then type keywords into “Search” boxes or “Ctrl F” box. Search” F” What if you need an early version of a statute? USC Each print edition designed for permanent retention & on microfiche—Wm. Hein Publishing microfiche— Online from 1994 version to present Archival files in Westlaw for USCA since 1990 Lexis for USCS since 1992 In print-find public law number in USCA and refer to print- Statutes at Large, 108-312 108- 5
  6. 6. Statutes at Large (Session laws) Updates for statutes that haven’t made it into haven’ the code Statutes that are dispersed in the code Statutes that don’t get into the code (private & don’ non-permanent laws) non- New laws without reference to code Verifying accuracy of Titles not reenacted as positive law (only 23/50 reenacted=“legal reenacted=“ evidence”) evidence” Laws that don’t get in the Code don’ Session laws not widely accessible online LOC American Memory website—1st 43 website— congresses: 1789-1875 1789- Uncodified public laws Westlaw back to 1973 (click thru from statute to session law source) Lexis back to 1988 GPO Access back to 1995 Before 1973—separate subject index for each 1973— congress Legislative History 6
  7. 7. Federal Register Code of Federal Regulations Legislative Reference Library of Texas 7
  8. 8. Texas Legislature Online Federal Procedure Rules govern the conduct of all civil actions brought in Federal district courts. Case Law Cases are binding precedent upon future parties and situations Some cases deal with “common law” issues law” found only in case law. Some cases explain statutes -- how a statute is applied to a situation, what certain terms in a statute mean 8
  9. 9. Where do I find cases? State and federal cases are published in “Reporters.” Reporters.” Reporters compile cases chronologically, not by topic An index, called a “digest” will lead you to digest” cases based on a topic Digest to all Federal Cases Contains summaries of cases from all federal courts Texas Digest Contains summaries of cases from the state courts AND federal courts within Texas Look up topics (“Wills” or “Contracts”) (“Wills” Contracts” Choose between subtopics (“handwritten wills”) (“ wills” Until you find cases you need (Wills/handwritten wills/witness unnecessary) 9
  10. 10. Federal Cases Federal courts are divided into three levels U.S. District Courts (trial level) E.g., Southern District of Texas U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal (appellate level) E.g., 5th Circuit U.S. Supreme Court (court of last resort) U.S. Supreme Court Cases Supreme Court Reporter Online: or U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal 10
  11. 11. Federal Circuit Court Cases Federal Reporter Online: Federal District Court Cases Federal Supplement Online: 11
  12. 12. Southwestern Reporter--publishes TX, AK, MO, TN, KY cases Cases decided by the following state courts are available on the Internet Texas Supreme Court (civil cases) ch.asp Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (criminal cases) p 14th Court of Appeals (Houston-area appellate court) (Houston- 1st Court of Appeals (Houston-area appellate court) (Houston- Law blogs focus on one niche of the law or jurisdiction (monitors Texas law and politics) http://www.immigration-law-answers- http://www.immigration- law- answers- (Immigration Law & questions) (Texas Family Law) / (Texas Criminal Law) 12
  13. 13. Other Helpful Internet Sites Information covering all levels of federal courts Federal Laws & Regulations Markets do-it-yourself legal resources do- it- Houston Code of Ordinances Websites for Local Services Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County Harris County Child Protective Services http://www.hc- Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program More Local Sites Harris County District Attorney General’s Office: General’ Clerk’s Office Clerk’ Child Support Division Physical Address 713-974-4876 713- 974- 201 Caroline, Suite 4651 parents/faq.shtml Houston, Texas 77002 Legal Aid to Victims of 713-755-5734 713- 755- Domestic Abuse 713-224-9911 713- 224- /Home/Home.aspx http://www.avda- http://www.avda- Lonestar Legal Foundation 713-652-5911 713- 652- 13
  14. 14. University of Houston Law Center O’Quinn Law Library Operating Hours 12 Law Library Weekdays: 7:30 am – Midnight Houston Texas 77204 Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – (713) 743-2300 743- 7:00 p.m. Sundays: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. South Texas College of Law Fred Parks Law Library Operating Hours 1303 San Jacinto Street Weekdays: 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Houston, Texas 77002 Saturdays: 8:30 a.m. – (713) 646-1711 646- 6:00 p.m. Sundays: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School Operating Hours of Law Library Mon-Thurs: 7:00 a.m. – Mon- Midnight. 3100 Cleburne St. Fridays: 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Houston, Texas 77004 Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – (713) 313-7125 313- 10:00 p.m. Sundays: noon – midnight 14
  15. 15. Harris County Law Library Harris County Law Library Operating Hours 1019 Congress Weekdays: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Houston, TX 77002 Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 15