Secrets of the Law Library, Part 1 Presented May 2, 2007 by Barbara G. Traub, J.D., M.L.S. to A.C.R.L. Long Island Section Barbara G. Traub PLAN FOR TODAY The nature of legal research Starting with Secondary Sources Sources of Law Primary Sources
Judicial or case made law Legislative or statutory law (Secrets, Part 2) Executive and administrative law ( ) WHERE TO START? What does the patron REALLY need?
Often it is not what s/he asks for. Sources of Law 1) Custom, tradition, ethical / religious rules, philosophy etc. as they may manifest themselves in law. 2) Governmental Institutions that formulate legal rules. 50 states, federal Executive, Legislative, Judicial 3) Published manifestations LEGAL AUTHORITY
Any published source of law that sets forth legal rules / reasoning that can be used as a basis for decisions. TYPES: Primary: authorized statements of law formulated by governmental institutions. Secondary: statements about the law used to explain, interpret, or locate primary authorities SECONDARY SOURCES LexisNexis Academic Universe: NOT
necessarily the best place to start. Secondary material in LN AU: Legal News Law Reviews Legal Encyclopedias no analysis or commentary; good background and references to cases and statutes. Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS)
American Jurisprudence 2nd (AmJur 2nd ) SECONDARY SOURCES Legal Encyclopedias (contd) New York Jurisprudence 2nd (NY Jur 2nd)references to Topic & Key # System. Carmody-Wait 2nd civil and criminal practice; litigation related subjects; includes many forms.
Wests Encyclopedia of American Law geared for non-law library. SECONDARY SOURCES Nutshells Compact, concise handbook-type publication Each on a discrete topic Not detailed, but references to key cases and statutes.
See http://www.thomson.com/content/legal/ brand_overviews/wg_nutshell SECONDARY SOURCES CQ Researcher 44 / year; each examines a single issue. Other CQ product: CQ.com extensive legislative tracking service covering Congress Legal Periodicals accessing law reviews
1) LexisNexis Academic NEW INTERFACE! Old: Somewhat awkward to search Coverage: over 500 publications Find search is VERY unforgiving SECONDARY SOURCES Accessing Law Reviews (contd) 2) Pro-Quest: not all full-text ABI/INFORM: 95 titles ProQuest Direct: 243 titles Research Library: 136 titles
Criminal Justice Periodicals Index: 230 titles; 75 f-t 3) J-STOR: limited selection; moving wall; back-issues 4) LegalTrac (Gale): comprehensive indexing; limited full-text. Includes many bar journals & legal newspapers. SECONDARY SOURCES Accessing Law Reviews (contd) 5) Index to Legal Periodicals & Books (Wilson) a) b) c)
1908-1980: WilsonWebs Legal Periodicals Retro 1981 -- : WilsonWeb ILP&B database; none pre-1980; start dates vary ILP&B Full Text: same coverage; 267 titles; most from mid-late 1990s and forward. SECONDARY SOURCES Hornbooks, Treatises and Loose-Leaf Sets: In-depth treatment of a single topic or subject area. Features may vary: Author:
individual scholar Treatise or Hornbook editorial staff Loose-leaf set Single or Multi-Volume Updating: Bound volumes updated with POCKET PARTS; annual Loose-leaf updated with replacement pages; more often SECONDARY SOURCES
Hornbooks, Treatises and Loose-Leaf Sets May include sample forms *** Content is commentary, with references to primary material. Hornbook: less detailed than a treatise; generally considered a student text or study aid. E.g.: Wests Hornbook Series Loose-leafs generally include primary material (cases, statutes, regulations) and current awareness
feature (e.g. weekly newsletter) in addition to commentary and forms. SECONDARY SOURCES Identifying Hornbooks, Treatises, etc. Recommendations / requests by professor
Keyword / subject search of catalog References from other sources Legal Research Texts Collection development tools (especially Ken Svengaliss Buyers Guide Legal Looseleafs in Print SECONDARY SOURCES Using Treatises and Loose-leaf Sets Bound Volumes: DONT FORGET THE
POCKET PART! Loose-leafs: READ THE HOW TO USE SECTION. U.S. Law Week SECONDARY SOURCES ONLINE Some available in pro versions of Lexis and Westlaw. Most treatises are NOT available online at all. LLRX: http://www.llrx.com/ LII: http://www.law.cornell.edu/
FindLaw: http://www.findlaw.com/ N.Y.S. Court System: http://www.nycourts.gov/home.htm See especially CourtHelp Am. Bar Assn. Public Resources: http://www.abanet.org/public.html http://www.abalawinfo.org/ PRIMARY SOURCES
Primary Authority consists of authorized statements of law formulated by governmental institutions. Two layers of institutions: 50 states and federal Executive, Legislative & Judicial institutions in each that formulate law. JUDICIAL MATERIAL (CASES) Structure work product
publication pattern When you read a case or decision you are only reading a judges written opinion applying the law to the facts of that case. It does NOT include a trial transcript or other documents. COURT STRUCTURE (FEDERAL) COURT STRUCTURE (N.Y. S.) COURT STRUCTURE (N.Y.S.) Official & Unofficial Reporters
Law Reports or Reporters: published volumes containing the decisions and opinions of state and federal courts (Blacks Law Dictionary, 6th Ed.). Method of publication determined by statute or court rule. Those sanctioned by statute or rule = official reports. Government may print or designate a commercial printer to do so. Publication Sequence of Opinions
Slip opinions Electronic Print Advance sheets Bound reporters: Official & Unofficial NYS official reporters:
Miscellaneous Reports (Trial Court) Appellate Division Reports New York Reports (Court of Appeals) NYS unofficial reporters: New York Supplement North Eastern Reporter Publication Sequence of Opinions
Federal official reporters: Federal Supplement (District [trial] courts) (West) Federal Reporter (Courts of Appeal) (West ) United States Reports (U.S. Supreme Court) Federal unofficial reporters: Supreme Court Reporter United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Ed. Publication of Cases Coverage of National Reporter System Title of Publication
Federal Supplement Federal Reporter Supreme Court Reporter Atlantic Reporter Southern Reporter South Eastern Reporter South Western Reporter North Eastern Reporter North Western Reporter
Pacific Reporter California Reporter N.Y. Supplement
Case Headnotes Every case in the National Reporter System has at least one headnote. A headnote is a paragraph summary of a single point of law discussed in the case. Every headnote has at least one Topic & Key Number.
Headnotes appear in the order the points of law are discussed in the case. Headnote 1 Headnote 2 Digests Are Indexes to Reporters Case Reporters are arranged chronologically not what a legal researcher usually needs usually need to find cases by subject
Digests make cases accessible by subject Topics and key numbers are used to classify case headnotes by subject Digests consist of case headnotes organized alphabetically by topic then numerically by key number West Topic & Key Number System
Classification system with at least one topic and key number assigned to each point of law in each reported case Extensive outline of the entire body of case law in this country Index to entire National Reporter System, helping you locate cases with similar legal issues in any jurisdiction Topic Outline
Divides law into 400+ digest topics Each topic addresses a broad legal issue Breaks down each topic into subheadings Contains approximately 100,000 key numbers Topics are occasionally added, eliminated, or renamed Types of Digests
Generally correspond to case reporters one for each state few regional digests American Digest System Federal Practice Digests Supreme Court Digest U.S. Supreme Court Digest, Lawyers Edition
Most digests have more than one series Use Digests to Find Relevant Cases Look in Descriptive Word Index for Words that describe the pertinent facts of the case Words that describe the legal question involved Use the topic(s) & key number(s) identified in Descriptive Word Index to find relevant headnotes in case summaries volumes.
Most volumes of digest consist of case summaries Summaries are actually individual headnotes extracted from cases and rearranged by topic A single case is often represented under multiple topics in a digest Each summary includes the name of the case and its citation(s) Components of Digests
Collection of case summaries organized by topic (arranged A to Z) Topic index for case summaries (AKA Descriptive Word Index) Table of Cases Words and Phrases Updating Digest System (contd)
Lexis developed competing system for Lexis.com, used by legal professionals. No print digest system. Not part of LN AU. ANY QUESTIONS??? My contact information: Barbara G. Traub, J.D., M.L.S. Head of Reference and Instructional Services Rittenberg Law Library St. John's University School of Law
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