Anda di halaman 1dari 5

Doing Legal Research

To have knowledge of the law is to command a sovereign. I have asked all of you to obtain your states court rules which you can find at westgroup.com and if you can afford an annotated set, please spend the additional 100 or so dollars. An annotation is a section explaining court decisions that have interpreted the meanings of things. Example State Statutes Annotated, Federal Code Annotated, or Court Rules Annotated. Think of these as special additions that have more information that gives background on the topics. Also remember that a law is not a law, until a court of superior jurisdiction rules on its meaning. So annotations are key to understanding the intent of a law or rule. Lets talk about some other books that I encourage you to purchase. A Blacks law dictionary is also very handy, and always try to get the oldest issue and newest issues you can find. Blacks is now at the seventh edition. Definitions change over time, and sometimes, they end up being distorted. Legal terms typically have different meanings than common usage. For example Lets look at the following: Regular Household Dictionary Belligerent Hostile or aggressive, inclined to fight, obnoxious and rude Blacks Fourth Belligerent. In International law. As an adjective, it means engaged in lawful war. As a noun, it designates either of two nations which are actually in a state of war with each other, as well as their allies actively co-operating, as distinguished from a nation which takes no part in the war and maintains a strict indifference as between the contending parties, called a "neutral." Blacks Seventh Belligerent A country involved in a war or other hostile action. You can see that there is a similar meaning, but each is somewhat distinct in itself. Often a legal word will not even appear in a Regular dictionary, so having a good law dictionary is highly advised. These are carried by most larger retail book chains. Everyone who intends to try to put up a fight in court must have as a minimum, the court rules and a Blacks law dictionary. Remember I have always stated that a court is a chess game and the only way to move your pieces, is by citing a court rule. How can you play without the rules? You create the ability for the Judge to act on your behalf when in inundate him with supporting case law from your perspective. All case law is not treated equal. There are primary authorities, which would be Legislative law or case holdings from your specific state, Supreme Court Holdings, or if in a Federal court within your Federal region. Note Supreme court holdings are primary authority for every court. There would be secondary

authorities, which would be case law from within your Region (frequently neighboring states) or federal regions, or C.J.S. and Am Jurisprudence. Please note that case law presented to a judge outside his jurisdictional venue does not have binding effect, but the judge may take the case under advisement. Also remember that in Anastoff v. United States, 223 F.3d.898 (8th Cir.2000) litigants constitutional rights are violated when courts depart from precedent where parties are similarly situated. Now if you could find a similar ruling from within your own state, you would have a judge terrified to rule against you, for fear of being sued under Title 42. The Law Library For 90% of the audience there is a law library within 30 miles of you. Most counties have a law library open to the public. Sometimes these are found in the prosecutors office, a part of the court, or an off site building. You need to find them, as this is one of the most important resources for you. Large cities often have substantial libraries, while cities large enough to have colleges that have law departments will be a Gem if you live near one. Take the time today and find where these resources are for you. We cannot do this for you, it will be your own efforts that help insure your success. Remember in a court room, success is nothing but luck the harder you work, the luckier your get! When you find your law library the first time there, get to know the librarian, if there is one, find the copy machine, find out how to work it, how much it costs, and then roam the library and start pulling books and see what the contents are. Your first time in a law library, will normally not be very productive, but it is a familiarization time. Lets talk about some of the books you will find in a law library and what each can do for you. We will start with the broadest information first and work towards specific. Corpus Juris Secundum or C.J.S Think of these books as an extensive encyclopedia on over 400 topics. In turn it breaks each topic down into categories within that topic. You find topics within these books in three ways. There is a general index which is usually the last several books in the set. In each volume itself is an index of topics within that volume in the front. Also within the actual text of the topics you study, will also have cross-references that may lead you to other relevant topics. C.J.S. is updated by pocket parts. Pocket parts is paperback additions to each volume that contain the most recent updates. Pocket parts are a common form of updating vs- replacing books. If any book you are researching in has a pocket part, it is always good practice to check the pocket part under the same section for additional information. American Jurisprudence, Second or Am.Jur.2d This also is an extensive encyclopedia of over 430 topics, with each being broken down into sub-topics and sections. There are 4 ways to find information in AmJurs; A General multi volume index at the end of the book set. These will be the last several books in the

complete set and are labeled as index. There is also at the end a full volume called Table of Statutes, Rules and Regulation cited, and will show all topics where a particular Rule Regulation or Statute is referred to. There is a list of topics in each book as well as an extensive updated list in the pocket part of volume one. Last there is a Treated Elsewhere section at the beginning of every topic which refers to other AmJur topics that are related. Again AmJur is updated by pocket part, so refer to these before leaving you topic. American Law Report Annotations or A.L.R This is a series of books that contain court opinions, each relating to a topic. The topics are arrange by similar annotations with a simple holding of the case so you can scan through lots of cases under topic without looking up each. When a holding looks interesting write down the case label and later we will pull the full case up for further study. Digests There are State Digests, Federal Digest, and there are also 4 Regional Digests corresponding to a Regional Reporter. These are the Atlantic Digest, North Western Digest, Pacific Digest, and South Eastern Digest. A Digest is Similar to A.L.R. that the cases have been arranged by topics based on their holdings. This is a better way to find specific case law regarding your circumstances with primary or at least secondary authority. There are dozens of specialized digests also available and cover topics such as Bankruptcy digest, U.S. Supreme Court Digest, Education Law Digest, Century Digests, etc. with each relating to a specific topic or venue. Reporters There is a number of Regional Reporters published by Wests that contain appellate decisions and well go through these and you check for your State. Atlantic Reporter A or A.2d - Connecticut , Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Penn, Rhode Island, Vermont, D.C. North Eastern Reporter N.E. or N.E.2d - Illinois, Indiana, Mass, New York, and Ohio North Western Reporter N.W. or N.W.2d Iowa Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin Pacific Reporter P. or P.2d Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming South Eastern Reporter S.E. or S.E.2d Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina Virginia, West Virginia

South Western Reporter S.W. or S.W.2d Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas Southwestern Reporter Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi New York N.Y.S. or N.Y.S.2d New York courts California Reporter Cal Rptr. or Cal Rptr.2d California courts Supreme Court Reporter S.Ct. Supreme court opinions Federal Reporter - F. or F.2d or F.3d These contain opinions of the thirteen United States Court of appeals. Federal Supplement - F.Supp Contains opinions of the Federal District Courts and the United States Court of International Trade Now that you have this information a case address should begin to make sense to you now. When you see the term 114 P.2d 386 We know where to find this case. We will go to the 114th volume of the Pacific Reporter and look on page 386 for this case. For the Anastoff vs- CIA case cited earlier 223 F.3d.898 we know it is in the 223rd volume of the 3rd edition of Federal Reporters on page 898. Ok, now this is beginning to make sense to you now. Youll probably never look at a court case cite again the same way, now that you know what it means. Now lets learn how to take a case that is not binding authority to look for a similar case within your venue. Shepards Citations Shepards is a huge index of cases with a listing of other court cases that have used the authority of another case. In example in Anastoff vs- CIA we would look in the Shepards citations for Federal and look up Anastoff vs- CIA in the index, and then pull the correct volume of Shepards out. Under the Heading of Anastoff vs- CIA will be a listing of all other court cases that have used this case to reach its decision. They are arranged by State and Federal District, so you will simply thumb through the pages of listings till you find your state or district. Either photo copy the page, or write down the case addresses, and start looking them up in your regional reporter. This is one of the best ways to find hidden Gem court cases that support your cause. There is a lot of case law floating around in the patriot community, but if you dont know how to find cases that dictate primary authority on your judge, you are. There are sometimes letters in front of the sites and these are defined as S means it is the same case at an earlier stage of its litigation CC means it is a connected case involving the same parties or the same subject matter D means it was distinguished from this case J means this was the main case in dissenting opinions

F means it was controlling or pervasive authority for the decision You can also Shepardize a Statute by finding the appropriate Shepards and look up the Statute by Title and Chapter and find citations that amend, alter, or repeal the main statute. Other things that you can Shepardize is State and Federal constitutions, Court Rules, Regulations, Ordinances, Municipal Charters, and Jury Instructions.