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STATUTORY RESEARCH INSTRUCTIONAL AIDS SERIES. Contents Introduction The Legislative Process Anatomy of a Statute Statutory research: Print and Online.

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Presentation on theme: "STATUTORY RESEARCH INSTRUCTIONAL AIDS SERIES. Contents Introduction The Legislative Process Anatomy of a Statute Statutory research: Print and Online."— Presentation transcript:


2 Contents Introduction The Legislative Process Anatomy of a Statute Statutory research: Print and Online Updating Statutory Research Expanding Statutory Research –KeyCite® –Case Law (Annotations) –Legislative History –Secondary Sources

3 Introduction

4 Sources of American Law Statutory Law is enacted by the Legislatures. Case Law is decided by the Courts. Regulations are issued by the Executive Branch (Agencies).

5 Federal Statutes Federal statutes are codified in the United States Code. –The United States Code (USC) is the official version of the statutes and is published by the Government Printing Office. –The United States Code Annotated® (USCA)® in print is published by Thomson Reuters. –USCA ® is the databse on Westlaw ® that contains the USCA ®.

6 State Statutes Each state has a statutes publication. The publication might be called statutes, statutes annotated, laws, code or code annotated. The annotated versions enhance your ability to find relevant cases and statutes. XX-ST-ANN (where XX is the state’s two-letter postal abbreviation) is the database identifier for annotated state statutes on Westlaw ®.

7 State Legislative Processes Most state legislatures are modeled after the United States Congress and consist of two houses. Only Nebraska has a one-house legislature. Legislation moves through state legislatures in much the same way it moves through Congress. The governor signs or vetoes the legislation and there are state provisions for overriding a governor’s veto. What is said about the federal legislative process is usually true of state legislative processes. The model for this presentation will be the federal statutes.

8 Statutes: the Neglected Side of Legal Research Most of what you learn in law school will be based on the common-law traditions of the courts. Statutory law is often obscurely or ambiguously worded. –It must be interpreted by case law. –This case law often becomes a more accessible source of law than the statute. Statutory research may seem complicated. This is due, in part, to the fact most that researches are not trained in statutory research.

9 Statutes are the Neglected Side of Legal Research But… Statutes are around to stay. They are the cornerstone of our legal system. Only a court of competence can declare a clearly worded statute unconstitutional. Don’t fight them. There is help!

10 The Legislative Process

11 Introduction of a bill (proposed legislation) Passed by both houses of Congress Signed by president or president’s veto is overridden Becomes a “session law” or “public law” Incorporated into statutory code

12 A Bill Is Introduced A bill is introduced by a sponsor(s) in one or both houses of Congress. A bill is assigned a bill number (H.R. 14, 107 th Cong, 1 st Sess. (2001)). This bill number usually follows the proposed legislation through hearings, amendments, congressional committees, etc., until enactment or the end of the current legislative period.

13 A Bill Is Introduced A companion bill may be introduced in the other house of the legislature at any time. Committee hearings may be held and amendments to the bill may be made. If the committee votes favorably on the bill, a committee report in support of the bill accompanies the bill back to the floor in many jurisdictions. A bill may die in committee and never research the full house for vote.

14 Federal bill S.904 (Leave No Child Behind Act of 2001), sponsored by Senators Dodd, Wellstone, and Kennedy, as it appears in the Congressional Bills – 107 th Congress database.

15 A Bill Becomes Law When the bill passes one house, it is sent to the other house for consideration. The other house may approve and pass the bill to the president in identical form. More likely, the other house will propose a variation of the bill and both houses must negotiate a compromise. When both houses pass the bill in identical form, it is sent to the president for a signature or veto.

16 A Bill Becomes Law If signed (or not vetoed within 10 days), the bill becomes a “session law” or “public law.” If the president vetoes the bill, the veto may be overridden by two-thirds majority in both houses. (If the president takes no activity on the bill at the end of a legislative session the bill is, in effect, vetoed. This is called a “pocket veto.”) The public law is renumbered using the number of the congressional session and the numerical order in which the law was enacted: P.L. 107-14 and P.L. 107-15 are the 14 th and 15 th bills to be enacted by the 107 th session of Congress.

17 A public law may Add a section (statute) in the statutory code Change language in a section (statute) Repeal a section (statute) of the statutory code Re-number a section (statute) Do all of the above

18 Public Laws Are Published An enacted law is first published officially by the Government Printing Office as an individual slip law and sent to government depository libraries and other libraries that subscribe to these publications. Public laws are published in compiled volumes in chronological order in The Statutes at Large, the official government publication. There is a two to four-year lag in publication of these volumes.

19 Public Laws are Published The U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News ® (USCCAN), published by Thomson Reuters, issues monthly pamphlets including newly enacted laws. The monthly USCCAN pamphlets are reissued in bound volume after each congressional session. Public laws are also published in the USCCAN and US-PL (United States Public Laws) databases on Westlaw ®.

20 A slip law as it appears on Westlaw in the US-PL database shortly after enactment. There are also archived public laws in the US-PL-OLD database, which contains public laws from 1973 to the previous session of Congress.

21 A Public Law Is Codified The public law then changes the statutory code to: Bring all laws on the same topic together Eliminate all repealed or expired statutes Unite amendments with the original statute This process is called codification The United States Code is divided into 50 titles, often called codes (see next screen) Title 11 is the Bankruptcy Code Title 26 is the Tax Code

22 United States Code is organized in broad subject categories called titles. The 50 titles are in rough alphabetical order.

23 Each title is further divided into individual sections, which contain the actual text of the statutes. (The words section and statute are usually synonymous.)

24 A single public law may amend of affect many sections in different titles of the Code. The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001 or P.L. 107-12 amended sections in Titles 42 and 15 of the USCA.

25 Sections in the public law Codification in the U.S. Code Public Law 106-120, the Intelligence Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2001, has been codified in both Title 50 and Title 21 of the United States Code. The USCA-POP (USCA Popular Name Table) database on Westlaw shows where a public law section has been codified in the United States Code Annotated.

26 Summary of the Legislative Process Bill Passes Congress or State Legislature to President or Governor Signs Bill to Session Law/ Public Law to Statutory Code Codification occurs when the language of the session or public law changes the statutory code in some way.

27 Question Which of the following is a true statement? 1.Each public law amends a single statute. 2.A slip law is the final version of a statute. 3.Codification is the process in which sections of public laws amend, add to, or repeal the relevant portion(s) of the United States Code. 4.The president’s veto of a bill may be overridden by a majority of both houses.

28 Question Which of the following is a true statement? 1.Each public law amends a single statute. 2.A slip law is the final version of a statute. 3.Codification is the process in which sections of public laws amend, add to, or repeal the relevant portion(s) of the United States Code. 4.The president’s veto of a bill may be overridden by a majority of both houses.

29 Anatomy of a Statute

30 The United States Code The United States Code (USC) Is issued every six years Is updated annually Is arranged into 50 titles References the Statutes at Large citation Includes historical notes and cross-references to related sections Includes an index, a table of acts cited by popular name, and conversion tables that allow you to move between the present version and earlier versions of the Code.

31 The United States Code The United States Code (USC), as published by the government, has several drawbacks –There is a publication lag, especially for the annual supplement. –There are no references to interpreting case law. The meaning of a statute is often unclear and must be interpreted by the courts. The decisions of the courts often become more important sources of law than the text of the statutes.

32 The United States Code Annotated (USCA) The USCA contains the text and features of the statute as they appear in the USC, plus: References to legislative history, and federal regulations References to the West Key Number System References to law review and journal commentaries Library references References to texts and treatises Notes of Decisions (annotations)

33 United States Code Annotated Citation: 18 USCA 241 Text The text of the statute in the USCA is unchanged from how it appears in the USC, as published by the Government Printing Office.

34 United States Code Annotated Credits (Text Amendments) are past session laws that Enacted or modified the statute. Historical and Statutory Notes (Editor’s Notes) are Compiled by Thomson Reuters attorney-editors and give a more detailed legislative history of the statute.

35 United States Code Annotated Cross-references (to other USCA sections) Law review and journal commentaries Library References (to many secondary sources) References to topic and key numbers Texts and treatises

36 United States Code Annotated Index to the Notes of Decisions (annotations). Subjects are listed alphabetically

37 United States Code Annotated Notes of Decisions (annotations) are summaries of how courts have interpreted the statute with links to the case law. Notes of Decisions are the headnotes from cases that Thomson Reuters attorney- editors have identified as significantly interpreting or applying the statute.

38 Question Notes of decisions are also called: 1. Headings 2. Annotations 3. Credits 4. Statutory history

39 Question Notes of decisions are also called: 1. Headings 2. Annotations 3. Credits 4. Statutory history

40 Statutory Research: In Print and Online

41 Print Research Aids An alphabetical General Index aids you in finding relevant statute sections. -- The index has “access words” that cross- reference formal index headings. -- The Index references the relevant title(s) and section(s) (statutes). The Popular Name Table, in the last index volume, helps determine where a public law was codified.

42 Sarah Jones has finished law school, passed the bar and found a job with a legal aid service. Four years of college and three years of law school have run her student loan debt to well over $100,000 and her salary will never stretch to make the payments on that amount. Sarah is considering filing for bankruptcy. Could this measure solve Sarah’s problem?

43 Finding Relevant Statutes Online: The Find Service There are several different but effective ways to find the Exceptions to Discharge in Bankruptcy statute (section). If Sarah knows the citation of the discharge statute, she can simply type it in the Find this document by citation: text box on the Law School page or click the Find link on the toolbar. 11 USCA 523

44 Find a State Statute by Citation You can type the following in the Find this document by citation: text box: -- Enter xx st nnn.nn (where xx stands for the state’s two- letter postal abbreviation and nnn.nn stands for the citation number) -- Example: mn st 313.01 (do not include paragraph letter or number, as in 313.01(a)(4)) For code states or other states with irregular numbering, simply type xx st in the Find this document by citation: textbox. See next screen.

45 State Statute Template A template for the state’s statutes is displayed. Just type in the statute number in the appropriate code’s text box. Click Go beside the text box and you will retrieve the state statute, in this case, Texas Agricultural Code, section 41.002.

46 Next and Previous Section If Sarah isn’t sure she has retrieved the correct section but believes she is very close to it, she could click on the Next Section or Previous Section links at the top of the statute.

47 Next and Previous Section Now Sarah will be viewing 11 USCA 524. The Next Section and Previous Section links at the top of the right frame allow her to move forward or backward, statute by statute just as if she were paging through the statutes in print.

48 Table of Contents for Statutes Sarah could access the Table of Contents service which is available for each statutory database on Westlaw and open it to the desired section. The Table of Contents service is also a great way for Sarah to browse the sections around the desired statute to see if any have relevance to her situation. TOC link on Links for Tab

49 A Caption and Prelim Field Search If Sarah knows that Title 11 is the bankruptcy title and she needs the exceptions to discharge statute, the following field restricted search using terms and connectors would be effective: ca,pr(“title 11” & exception) This search retrieves 11 USCA 523. The terms can be in either the caption or the prelim fields. Caption (ca) Field Prelim (pr) Field

50 A Search for a Key Number Case Law Digest Field Sarah could try a Terms and Connector search in the digest field of a case law database. (Here we will use the ALLFEDS database.) For example: di(discharge! /p “student loan”) This search yields many cases and several relevant key numbers related to 11 USCA 523.

51 Sarah notices that one headnote states that undue hardship is the only basis for discharging student loans. The key number 51K3351.10(1) assigned to this headnote links to other cases discussing the same point of law. Sarah will have to examine these cases to determine if her situation can be considered a “hardship.” There are also references to the controlling statute(s).

52 A Natural Language Search Search could run a Natural Language search, which can be very effective in annotated statute database, in that. The looser structure of a natural language search will often be more successful than a terms and connectors search in capturing the unpredictable language of a statute. The search: can student loans be discharged in bankruptcy Retrieves the Notes of Decisions shown on the next slide.

53 11 USCA 523 is the first document displayed. The “best” portion of the statute is in the annotations in the familiar language of the courts. Sarah retrieved this document even though the text of the statute does not mention a student loan exception to discharge in bankruptcy. (The text of the statute uses “educational benefit overpayment or loan”.)

54 Using Key Search to Find Statutes and Cases If Sarah is unfamiliar with both the language of the law and key numbers, the KeySearch service could be the place to start research. You can access KeySearch from anywhere on Westlaw by clicking KeyNumbers and then clicking KeySearch on the toolbar.

55 Using Key Search to Find Statutes and Cases KeySearch divides the law into widely recognized areas of the law. Bankruptcy is one such area

56 KeySearch The opened Bankruptcy folder reveals the bankruptcy subtopics, one of which is Discharge. If Sarah opens the Discharge subfolder and she will find Educational Loans.

57 Sarah selects the All Federal Cases (ALLFEDS) database. She could click the View/Edit Full Query link to see the pre- formulated query. Notice that the query is a combination of words and key numbers. Sarah could add additional terms.

58 This is one of the cases retrieved from the ALLFEDS database and it talks about discharging student loans on the basis of hardship. There is also a reference to the discharge statute.

59 Updating Statutory Research

60 Verifying that Statutory Research Is Current Sarah has found the statute and interpreting case law that says that student loans are not discharged in bankruptcy. She has found cases that state the only exception is on the basis of undue hardship. What if the statute has been recently amended or repealed or case interpretation of the statute has changed?

61 Official Print Updates Print updates Slip laws are individually printed and sent to all U.S. government depository libraries. The Statutes at Large is the earliest official compilation of all laws passed at the end of each session of Congress. –Published in chronological order –No general index –Publication lags about two years behind the enactment of the public laws

62 Most Current Print and Westlaw Updates U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN) issues monthly pamphlets. After each session, the monthly USCCAN pamphlets are reissued in a bound volume. Laws are in the US-PL (United States Public Laws) database on Westlaw within hours of passage. XX-LEGIS is the identifier for the state public law databases on Westlaw. State laws go online as soon as they are received by West.

63 United States Code Annotated Updates Always check in the following print publications to determine the current law: Cumulative pocket parts Interim pamphlets and statutory supplements that include the public law changes to the code and recent notes of decisions from cases that have construed the statute since the last supplement was published.

64 Updated a Statute Online: KeyCite for Statutes Use KeyCite History to determine whether the statute is good law

65 KeyCite History for Statutes Flags Show the Status of the Statute A red flag means that the statute has been Recently amended Repealed Ruled unconstitutional Preempted All or a portion of the statute may no longer be good law. This statute has been declared unconstitutional or preempted.

66 Click the red flag or History on the Links for tab to see that this statute has been held unconstitutional by several courts.

67 KeyCite History A yellow flag means that the statute –Has pending legislation –Has been renumbered –Has been transferred –Contains an editor’s amendment note. The statute is good law for should be monitored for changes. Both KeyCite History and Citing References link to display Pending Legislation that might affect the statute.

68 Click the yellow flag on the Links for tab to display this statute’s Proposed Legislation. Note that you can link to the bills that are pending legislation.

69 KeyCite History for Statutes includes Updating documents (recently passed public laws that have amended or repealed the statute) Pending legislation that may affect the statute Credits (citations to past public laws that have enacted, amended or renumbered a statute) Historical and statutory notes that describe the legislative changes that have affected the statute. Cases that have held that the statute is unconstitutional

70 Question A red flag on a statute can mean that the statute 1.Has been declared unconstitutional 2.Has pending legislation 3.Has been amended 4.Both 1 and 3

71 Question A red flag on a statute can mean that the statute 1.Has been declared unconstitutional 2.Has pending legislation 3.Has been amended 4.Both 1 and 3

72 Expanding Statutory Research

73 KeyCite Citing References Case law that has interpreted or applied the statute –Annotations (Notes of Decision) Legislative History Secondary Sources –American Law Reports –American Jurisprudence 2d

74 Key Citing References Many USCA sections have many citing references. In the right frame are some of the 25,756+ citing references to 11 U.S.C.A. 523.

75 Expanding Research Using KeyCite KeyCite Citing References consists of citations to legal documents that discuss or mention the statute. Citing references include: Pending legislation Notes of Decisions (Annotations) Cases on Westlaw that do not appear in notes of decisions Administrative materials (includes agency decisions) Secondary sources, such as ALR ® articles, Am Jur 2d ® sections, law reviews, and treatises Briefs

76 Limiting Key Citing References 11 USCA 523 (the Exceptions to Discharge statute) has 25,756 citing references. Click the Limit KeyCite Display button near the bottom of the screen to limit the citing references to the ones of most use to you.

77 You can limit citation results by any number or combination of: Notes of Decisions (by sub-topic) Locate terms Jurisdiction Date Document type Select the desired criteria and click Apply.

78 The original 25,756 citing documents have been reduced to the 12 documents that meet the criteria we specified.

79 Expanding Research Using Notes of Decision Many statutes are obscurely worded and must be interpreted by case law. Notes of Decisions (or annotations) are headnotes of cases that significantly interpret or apply the statute. Case law compares the language of the statute with the language of other statutes, reconciles language within the statute, and explores legislative history concerning the statute to discover the intent of the legislature. The language of the case law often becomes more useful for the researcher than the language of the statute.

80 Notes of Decisions Notes of decisions can be accessed by clicking the Notes of Decisions link on the Links for tab when viewing a statute. Notes of Decisions are preceded by a main index and, if needed, subdivision indexes. Each subdivision deals with one topic of interpretation of the statute by the courts.

81 Print Notes of Decisions As in the online Notes of Decisions, the print Notes of Decisions are the last portion of the annotated statute format. The Notes of Decisions for some statutes may be hundreds of pages long.

82 Legislative History Because so many statutes are obscurely worded: courts often look to the legislative history of a statute to determine the intent of the legislators. debates in Congress or congressional committees, early drafts of the bill, testimony of experts, amendments to the language of the proposed statute, etc., often reveal the intent of the legislature. Committee reports provide the most definitive evidence of legislative intent.

83 Earliest Legislative History Legislative history may include documents that exist even before a bill is enacted. Presidential recommendations. Congressional and committee hearings in sessions in which the bill was discussed but not passed. Agency memorandum You should not limit your research only to the legislative session in which the bill was enacted.

84 Legislative History in Annotated Statutes You can access Legislative History directly from the link on the Links for tab in the left frame. Click Text Amendments, also called Credits. They are the public laws that created and amended the statute.

85 You can also link to the Editor’s Notes, also called the Historical and Statutory Notes, that follow each USCA section. Editor’s Notes give more detailed information regarding the legislative history of the statute, including House and Senate Reports, Committee Reports and explanations of the change in language from one report or public law to the next.

86 Early Legislative History on Westlaw Early congressional hearings and testimony can be found in several databases on Westlaw, including USTESTIMONY, USPOLTRANS, CQ-NEWS, BNA-TRACK and APN-HO. Presidential messages can be found in the PRES-DAILY, USPOLTRANS, USCCAN, BNA-PRSCAL, and CQ-NEWS databases on Westlaw. Committee Reports, the most definitive evidence of legislative intent, can be found in the LH database.

87 Discussion and Testimony Regarding a Bill Discussions/debates regarding a federal bill can be found in –the Congressional Record in print and on Westlaw in the CR database –United States Code Congressional & Administrative News (USCCAN) in print and in the USCCAN database on Westlaw

88 Legislative History of Modification of Bill Language of bills as they are modified in the legislative process can be found in: microfiche in government depositories, including many law libraries materials from the clerk of the legislature Congressional Record and USCCAN in print CR, USCCAN, CONG-BILLTXT, and LH federal databases on Westlaw XX-BILLTXT (where XX is state’s two-letter postal abbreviation) databases on Westlaw.

89 The Current Status of a Bill The status of a bill can be found in Federal materials –print status tables –US-BILLTRK (United States Bill Tracking) State materials –XX-BILLTRK (where XX is the two-letter postal abbreviation of the state) databases on Westlaw

90 Under Add a Tab link above the toolbar, you can set up a Legislative History tab page. When you click any step in the legislative process, a search screen is displayed showing databases where that material can be found.

91 Secondary Sources Secondary sources are analytical materials that comment on, explain, and analyze a wide range of legal topics. Secondary-source materials are prepared by legal experts in a non-litigious context. Most contain a detailed discussion of the legal topic. Most are carefully researched. Most include references to relevant cases and statutes and other secondary sources.

92 Secondary Sources The following are some of the secondary sources that are available in print and on Westlaw that can be used to expand your statutory research. American Law Reports (ALR) – ALR database American Jurisprudence (Am Jur 2d) – AMJUR database Law review articles – JLR (Journals and Law Reviews) database Restatements – REST databases West’s Digests – -HN is suffix for digest (headnote) databases, e.g., MN-HN, ALLFEDS-HN

93 This is a portion of an ALR article discussing the legislative history of 11 USCA 523 in reference to whether student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy. The same ALR article could have been retrieved using the ALR link on the Links for tab while viewing the statute in the right frame.

94 One of several American Jurisprudence sections that discuss whether loans can be discharged in bankruptcy. This section discusses exceptions to the student loan exception of discharge of debt in bankruptcy.

95 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 1-800-WESTLAW.Academic Account Manager If you have feedback on the Instructional Aids Series, please contact Erin Jensen.Erin Jensen Thank You…

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