Presentation on theme: "NATIONAL REPORTER SYSTEM ®"— Presentation transcript:
1NATIONAL REPORTER SYSTEM ® INSTRUCTIONAL AIDS SERIES
2ContentsIntroduction: Case Law, the Courts, and the Doctrine of PrecedentThe National Reporter SystemCase EnhancementsThe Topic and Key Number SystemThe Key Number DigestsTopic and Key Number Research
3Introduction: Case Law, the Courts, and the Doctrine of Precedent
4Case Law: The CourtsTrial courts are the entry to the court system. Trial courts are whereattorneys present evidence and make arguments, anda judge or a judge and jury make determinations of law and fact.Appellate courts hear appeals of trial court decisions to determine whether there were errors of law in the trial court decision, such as in the admission of evidence or in jury instructions.(There may be more than one level of appellate court. A higher-level appellate court, such as a supreme court, hears appeals from an intermediate appellate court decision.)
5Case Law: The CourtsThere is a federal system of trial and appellate courts.District courts are the federal trial level courts.Circuit courts and United States Supreme Court are the federal appellate courts.Each state has a system of trial and appellate courts. The number of appellate levels varies from state to state but each state has a trial-level court and at least one level of appellate court.
6District courts (trial-level) (Southern District of New Federal CourtSystemState CourtSystemsDistrict courts (trial-level)(Southern District of NewYork, District of Minnesota)State trial-level courtsMost, but not all, stateshave at least one level ofintermediate court(s) of appeal(s)Courts of appeals for the 13 federal circuitsState supreme courtUnited States Supreme Court
7Case Law: The CourtsAppellate courts have control over trial courts in a specific geographic area or jurisdiction.Federal District of Minnesota cases are heard in the jurisdiction of the Eighth Circuit and its decisions can be appealed only to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Decisions of the circuit courts can be appealed only to the United States Supreme Court.
8Case Law: The Doctrine of Precedent (Stare Decisis) Precedents are prior cases in the jurisdiction that are close in fact or legal principles to the case in consideration.The doctrine of precedent dictates that decisions reached in previous cases in the same jurisdiction dealing with the same or similar issues should be followed unless there is a good reason to deviate.
9The Doctrine of Precedent The decision of a court is binding authority on that court and on the lower courts in the same jurisdiction when deciding factually similar issues.The doctrine of precedent is founded on a sense of fairness and the belief that decisions should be consistent and not arbitrary so that the legal consequences of conduct can be predicted.
10The Doctrine of Precedent The doctrine of precedent explains why attorneys need access to prior cases decided by the highest court in the jurisdiction.Cases decided in another jurisdiction, although not binding as precedent, may be a valuable source of legal reasoning for an issue not previously addressed in the jurisdiction.
12Case LawWithout a coherent, uniform means of accessing cases from all state and federal jurisdictions, finding cases discussing similar points of law would be immensely difficult.The National Reporter System organizes both federal and state case law into a cohesive body of law that can be researched within and across jurisdictions.
13Case LawSince 1879, West’s National Reporter System has compiled cases from state and federal courts and organized them into various reporter sets.Volumes in a set are numbered consecutively. A new series starting with volume 1 is begun when one series becomes too unwieldy, e.g., the volume following 999 F.Supp. is 1 F.Supp.2d.
14Federal Case LawFederal district (trial) level courts are published in the Federal Supplement®.Only a selection of district court cases is reported.Citation format: 75 F.Supp. 225, 13 F.Supp.2d 881These cases are on Westlaw in the DCT and DCT-OLD databases.
15Federal Case LawU.S. district court cases can be appealed to the Federal Circuit court that hears appeals from that district. There are 13 U.S. circuit courts of appeal.The decisions of the circuit courts are published in the Federal Reporter®.Citation format: 333 F.2d 120, 37 F.3d 300
16The Thirteen Federal Judicial Circuits The Federal Reporter cases are on Westlaw in the CTA and CTA-OLD databases.
17Federal Case LawCases can be appealed from the circuit courts of appeals to the United States Supreme Court.Decisions of the United States Supreme Court are published in the Supreme Court Reporter®.Citation format: 99 S.Ct. 331.These cases are on Westlaw in the SCT and SCT-OLD databases.
18Federal Case LawThere are also federal topical reporters that are part of West’s National Reporter System:Bankruptcy Reporter®Federal Rules Decisions®Military Justice Reporter®Federal Claims Reporter™
19State Case LawOnly state appellate-level opinions are reported in the National Reporter System. Trial-level decisions are not reported.Cases from all 50 states are published in one of seven regional reporters: Atlantic Reporter®, Southern Reporter®, South Eastern Reporter®, South Western Reporter®, North Eastern Reporter®, North Western Reporter®, and Pacific Reporter®.There are approximately 30 state reporters, which are reprints of one state’s cases from a regional reporter.
20The States Included in Each of the Seven Regional Reporters These early geographical grouping reflect the population distribution at the time the National Reporter System was being developed. It was assumed that the population in each region would grow at about the same rate. This didn’t happen, but the regional reporters were so well established that the regions remain the same.
21State Case LawThis is the first page from a volume in the Pacific Reporter. It lists the states that have cases published in the Pacific Reporter.
22Federal and State Case Law on Westlaw All cases from all the federal reporters are in the ALLFEDS database.Each state has a Westlaw case law database. The identifiers are XX-CS, where XX is the state’s two-letter postal abbreviation. Examples: (NY-CS, FL-CS).All cases from each regional reporter are in separate databases, (NW, SW, SO, ATL, NE, PAC and SE).All cases from all state and regional reporters are in the ALLSTATES database.All cases from all state, regional, and federal reporters are in the ALLCASES database.
23Updating ReportersPrint slip opinions (without corrections or enhancements) of individual cases are sent by the courts to government depository libraries shortly after the cases are decided.A slip-copy version of the case generally appears on Westlaw within two to twenty four hours of receipt of the case by West.
24Updating ReportersAttorneys have access to all but the most recent cases through the advance sheets (which update the hardbound reporters) and are issued every two weeks.After going through a thorough editorial process, a case generally appears in the appropriate reporter advance sheet within six to eight weeks of receipt of the case.
26Editorial Enhancements This slip opinion appears just as written by the judge and processed and filed with the court.West attorney-editors take the language of the court, correct errors, and add features that are essential tools for the careful researcher.
27Editorial Scrutiny When West receives a slip opinion the manuscript is scrutinized for accuracyparallel citations are addedtextual information is updatedthe court is contacted if clarification or corrections are neededMore than 1.5 million case citations are checked, 500,000 parallel citations are added, and 80,000 errors in opinions are corrected each year.
28Finding ToolsBoth the advance sheets and the bound volumes of the reporters include:a Table of Cases arranged by statea Table of Statutes interpreted by cases covereda list of Words and Phrases defined by the cases coveredTables of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence that are interpreted by the cases covered in the advance sheet or reporter
29Editorial Enhancements Created by West Attorney-Editors Synopsis: A summary of the procedural history, the facts, the main points of law, and the holding of the case.Headnotes (digest paragraphs): Summaries of the points of law discussed in the body of the opinion.Key Numbers: Headnotes are assigned to a topic and key number in the West Key Number System.
30Editorial Enhancements Headnotes and synopses are prepared by West attorney-editors usingconsistent and current legal terminology instead of ambiguous, regional, or outdated wordsdescriptive terms instead of proper namesExamples:Tenant is used instead of Mr. Blake or plaintiffAspirin is used instead of Bufferin or TylenolIntoxicated is used instead of tipsy or inebriatedThese headnotes can help you retrieve many online cases that you might otherwise miss.
31Synopsis and Headnotes The synopsis is the first paragraph of every National Reporter System case.Headnotes follow the synopsis in every National Reporter System case.Headnotes appear in the order the points of law are discussed in the case.A headnote is a paragraph summary of a point of law in a case in a publication that is part of the National Reporter System.West Group attorney-editors write headnotes using consistent legal terminology even though the terms in the body of the case may vary from judge to judge or jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This enhancement is especially valuable for the online researcher who can retrieve relevant cases, using accepted legal terminology, even if the judge relied on proper names or archaic or regional terminology. For example, in a headnote the term Plaintiff will be substituted for Mr.. Jones. Headnotes also incorporate broader or synonymous terms to increase value to the researcher. For example, Billie Jones will become "child" or "minor" or "boy" or "youth"
32Editorial Enhancements and Fields Each online National Reporter System case is divided into segments called fields.A digest (headnote) field search and/or synopsis field search is an efficient way to search the online case law databases.di(wrongful! /3 terminat! discharg!)A digest field search allows you to retrieve a great number of cases that you would otherwise miss but at the same time will limit retrieved cases to ones in which the point of law you are researching is central to the holding of the case.
33Field Searches on Westlaw Synopsis field search in Westlaw case law database:sy(malpractice /p “foreign object”)Digest field (headnote) search in a Westlaw case law database:di( bystander /p “emotional distress”)A combined synopsis and digest field search in a Westlaw case law database:sy,di(landlord /p “common area”)
34Field Searches on Westlaw Other fields:Citation(volume number, the reporter, and the first page number of the case)Title or Caption (names of parties)Docket Number (the number assigned to the case when it is filed with the court; this number follows the case through its litigation history)Attorneys of RecordJudge(s)Opinion
36Headnotes and the Topic and Key Number System When West receives an opinion from the court, a West attorney-editor identifies the points of law discussed in the case.Each point of law is summarized in a headnote.After carefully analyzing the point of law that the headnote discusses, the West attorney-editor assigns the headnote to at least one key number in the West Topic and Key Number System.
37Headnote Number (2)Topic Number (92)Key Number 90.1(1.2)HeadnoteThis headnote summarizes the second point of law discussed in this case on Westlaw. The headnote is assigned to key number 90.1(1.2) under Topic 92 (Constitutional Law).
38The West Topic and Key Number System is an extensive outline of the entire body of case law in this country.is an index to the entire National Reporter System, helping you more easily locate cases with similar legal issues in any jurisdiction.is a classification system with at least one topic and key number assigned to each point of law.
39The West Topic and Key Number System divides the law into approximately 400 broad digest topics.breaks down each topic into subheadingscontains approximately 100,000 specific key numbers
40TopicsThe topic are arranged alphabetically and numbered between 1 and 450.Each topic addresses a broad legal issue.Some topics have been added after the original 414 topics were assigned numbers.See, 48A AutomobilesSee, 48B AviationOther topics have been eliminated or renamed (e.g., West attorney-editors no longer use topic 3).
41Topics and Key Numbers Each topic is broken down into subheadings. 92 Constitutional Law (Topic)92V Personal, Civil and Political Rights (Subheading)92k90 Freedom of Speech and of the Press92k90.1 Particular Expressions and Limitations92k90.1(1.2) k. Election Regulations(Specific Key Number)Each topic is broken down into subheadings.There can be as many as eight levels in the topic and key number hierarchy.This process continues until further breakdown of a legal issue is unproductive and a specific key number is assigned. See, 92k90.1(1.2), above.
42Topics, Subheadings, and Key Numbers This is a breakdown of subheading 90.1 (Particular expressions and limitations) under the Constitutional Law topic and subheading V. (Personal, Civil and Political Rights) in the print version of the digest.92k90.1(1.2) is the specific key number dealing with Election regulations.
43Currentness of TopicsTopics or portions of topics are added, renamed, expanded, contracted, merged, or eliminated as law, society, and political sensitivity dictate.Insurance topic was reorganized in 1998; Negligence topic was reorganized in 1999RICO topic was added in 1990; Sentencing topic was added in 2000Drunkards topic became inactive in 1978 and all new cases were classified under a new topic, Chemical Dependents. The new topic also contains some issues that were previously categorized under Drugs and NarcoticsInsane Persons topic was renamed Mental Health
44Currentness of Key Numbers Key numbers are added, renumbered, or transferred to other topics as law, society, and political sensitivity dictate.What was once a specific key number may be expanded over time to provide deeper analysis of a growing area of the law.Translation tables in print volumes aid in moving between the old and new classifications.On Westlaw, a “Formerly” line is added to key numbers that have changed so you can search by old or new key number. (See below.)
45Think of the topic and key number as an address: Each street in the city represents a digest topic.There are many houses on each street and each house has its own number.In order to find a particular house, you must know both the street name (topic) and the house number (key number).
47Key Numbers and Key Number Digests West’s Key Number Digests are the research link between Key Numbers and the National Reporter System cases.The digests contain the headnotes (digest paragraphs) and their corresponding topic and key numbers from every set of cases in the National Reporter System.The headnotes (digest paragraphs) are organized first alphabetically by topic and then numerically by key number.
48Key Number Digests Digest sets include: State digests Regional digests Federal Practice DigestSpecialty subjects, such as Bankruptcy, Military Justice, Federal Claims, and Education Law digestsDecennial digests, which contain all headnotes from cases for each 10-year period beginning with 1897The Century Digest, which contains headnotes from cases from 1658 to 1896
49West’s Key Number Digests Each digest series spans many volumes and is organized first alphabetically by topic then numerically by key number.
51Topic Lists in Print Digests Browsing the Topic HierarchyUse the alphabetical Digest Topics list at the beginning of each print digest volume as a table of contents.Check the key numbers under the topics that seem most relevant.
52West’s Analysis of American Law Browsing the Topic HierarchyWest’s Analysis of American Law lists all the topics and the specific key numbers with the title given to each key number.Constitutional Law TOPIC NO. 9290.1– Particular Expressions and Limitations(1.2) Election Regulations
53Descriptive Word Index When classifying points of law and assigning to key numbers, West attorney-editors choose words that describe the important facts and legal issuesThese fact and issue words are arranged alphabetically in the Descriptive Word Index volumes of the digest.The Descriptive Word Index refers you to relevant topic and key numbers.
54Descriptive Word Index Ask, “What words describe the pertinent facts of the case or legal question involved?”Most descriptive words fall into one of five categories of elements common to every case:Parties or factsPlaces and thingsIssue or basis of actionDefensesRelief sought
55Descriptive Word Index Example: John Landlord failed to replace a light bulb in the hallway of one of his apartment buildings. Jane Tenant failed to see a step and fell down a flight of stairs. She is suing John for damages.You might start by checking in the index under landlord, tenant, apartment, common area, or premise liability. At least one of these entries will probably lead you to key numbers assigned to headnotes in cases that discuss the same or similar issues.
56Secondary Sources’ Library References in Print and on Westlaw Reference to a constitutionallaw key number for an Am Jur® 2d (American Jurisprudence) section on Westlaw.Reference to relevant constitutionalkey numbers in an ALR®(American Law Reports)article on Westlaw.
57Using a Known Key Number in Print Digests Go to a print digest covering the appropriate jurisdiction and find the volume containing the topic.The digest paragraphs are arranged in numerical order under the topic.All headnotes (digest paragraphs) from all cases discussing the point of law assigned to that key number are listed along with citations to the originating cases.
58Using a Known Key Number in a Westlaw Search If you know the key number before you sign on to Westlaw:chose either a case law or a headnote (digest) database,enter the key number as your Terms and Connectors query:92k90.1(1.2)The “k” makes the term unique. You will retrieve only documents containing the key number.You can require that certain words be in the same paragraph as the key number to customize your search:92k90.1(1.2) /p speech
59New Feature – Key Number Search Use the “Key Numbers” link on the top of the screen to access the Key Number Search feature.Enter in your key words, select a jurisdiction, and the system will return suggested Key Numbers for you to use.Click on the Key Number you want, and the system will run a Custom Digest search for you.Students love this new feature!
60Search on WestlawIn case law databases, key numbers and headnotes appear before the text of the case in the order the legal issues are discussed in the case, just as in the print reporters.In the headnote (digest) databases, the key numbers and headnotes are organized by topic, then by key number, just as in the print digests.
61campaign! /p contribut! /p speech di(campaign /p contribut! /p speech) Search on WestlawIf you don’t know either the topic or the key numberin a headnote database (NY-HN, ALLCASES-HN), enter a Terms and Connectors query or a digest field search:campaign! /p contribut! /p speechin a case law database (NY-CS, ALLCASES), restrict your query to the digest field (di):di(campaign /p contribut! /p speech)Start out by keeping all terms in the same paragraph.
62The West Topic and Key Number System Allows you to quickly find all (including the most current) cases that discuss a legal issueAllows you to quickly determine the merits of your clients’ cases based on how prior cases dealing with the same issue have been decidedAllows you to move among reporters, digests, the ALR and AmJur publications and statutes using cross-referenced relevant key numbersThe Key Number System is the index to American common- law issues.
63The National Reporter System, the West editorial enhancements, the West Key Number System, and West’s Key Number Digests are an integrated research system that guides you to prior cases in any state or federal jurisdiction that discussed similar facts or points of law.
64We hope that you have found this lesson helpful. Thank You…We hope that you have found this lesson helpful.If you have more Westlaw education or training needs, please contact your Academic Account Manager or call the Reference Attorneys at WESTLAW.If you have feedback on the Instructional Aids Series, please contact Erin Jensen.