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Basic resources and strategies for legal research Davida Scharf, SoM Librarian Heather Dalal, Information Literacy Librarian.

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Presentation on theme: "Basic resources and strategies for legal research Davida Scharf, SoM Librarian Heather Dalal, Information Literacy Librarian."— Presentation transcript:

1 Basic resources and strategies for legal research Davida Scharf, SoM Librarian Heather Dalal, Information Literacy Librarian NJIT Van Houten Library Last updated October 2011

2 Facts of the Case & Part I Suppose college officials knew that there has been a number of assaults on or attempted rapes of female students in a certain area on campus, where a stairway was hidden by foliage and trees. Suppose they chose not to publicize these incidents and had not warned students in any way. Then another attack occurred, and the male assailant used a modus operandi similar to the one that had been used previously on the same stairway. In view of these circumstances, from the standpoint of law, and of ethics, evaluate and answer the following questions: Can the plaintiff, meet the requirements of negligence against the defendant? Is it foreseeable? Is the plaintiff likely to win? Should a college be responsible to protect its students from crime? Check: Peterson v. San Francisco Community College District, 685 P.2d 1193 (Calif. 1984) Can you find this case using Lexis-Nexis?

3 Research – Part 2 1) Is there a trend for or against holding them legal responsible? 2) What are the arguments pro and con?

4 Research – Part 2 1) Is there a trend for or against holding them legal responsible? Who are the parties? What is the issue? Who was liable? What year was the Peterson case resolved? (Appeals?) What are the arguments of each party? How many cases must you read to see a trend? Has anybody already synthesized this? 2) What are the arguments pro and con? What were the outcomes? On what arguments were they based?

5 Break it down! You will need to: 1. Find the ‘Peterson’ case & read it What was the outcome? On what legal arguments was it based? 2. Use it to find more recent similar cases & read them 3. Find out what else has been written on the issues 4. Analyze your findings for 1) trends and 2) arguments 5. Cite your sources correctly

6 Accessing Legal Information @ NJIT Academic

7 Remote access for catalog and ILL Library Subscription Databases Including Lexis-Nexis Library website Get Help 2 pathways – A to Z: Find under “L” by Subject Find under “Legal”

8 Select “Legal” databases from website

9 Find a case when you know the citation or use advanced search Use the widget... Show me! Watch a YouTube Video

10 Results for Peterson v. SF CCD Here is the citation you were given 1983 decision was superseded

11 Understand the parts of the full case document DOCUMENT HEADINGS Disposition – how was it resolved- who won Procedural posture – Overview Outcome Torts Summary Opinion Look up words you don’t know !

12 Understand the parts of the full case document the law on which the suit was based complete document Full citation for the document 4 different addresses for the same document; only one is required Sometimes just the address is also called a ‘citation’.

13 1. Use the automatic citation generator inside Lexis-Nexis 2. Copy the proper citation for the case—make sure all the elements are there.

14 Scroll down to CASE HEADINGS for ideas for keywords to find similar cases CORE TERMS are prominent legal and factual terms taken directly from the opinion HEADNOTES (HN1 … HN26) are key legal points of a case drawn directly from the language of the court. Click on the HN# to see the reference.

15 To understand trends... find cases that cite this one-- Shepardize When you Shepardize® a case, LexisNexis provides a report showing every opinion where that case has been referenced, all treatments of the case, and, most importantly, whether or not the case is "good law." If the case has been overruled, it is considered "bad law" and may no longer be cited as a legal precedent.

16 Shepard’s Summary For HELP on Shepardizing see 182 citing decisions Scroll down for cases that cited yours Positive/Negative analysis

17 Elements of a legal citation What? What is the thing cited, a case, a statute, a law review article, etc.? Where? Where can the reader go to find the information? e.g. 617 F. Supp. 341 When? When did this information come into being? Usually the date is given as a year but sometimes more specific information is required. Who? Who is the author of the information? A court? A legislature? A law student? Source: Handout on Legal Citation, Northeastern University, School of Law, Library

18 Case Citations A complete case citation has four elements 1. PARTIES The parties' names 2. ADDRESS At least one ID or address for the case 3. DATE 4. COURT Pay attention to formatting and details (e.g. italics, brackets, abbreviations, etc.)

19 Peterson v. San Francisco Community College District, 685 P.2d 1193 (Calif. 1984) How to read a case citation Pacific Reporter 2nd series (abbreviation) 1. WHO are the parties? Volume No. Starting Page # State court 2.WHERE can the reader go to find the case? (The “reporters” are the books where the legal decisions are published.) 4. WHO is the author of the information? The court. 3. WHEN=Year

20 More Sources of Legal Information Cases [Primary sources] Law reviews and journals [Secondary sources] What is the difference between primary and secondary sources?

21 Law Reviews and Journals (Secondary) Law Reviews A law review is a scholarly journal focusing on legal issues, normally published by an organization of students at a law school or through a bar association (e.g. Harvard Law Review, NYU Law Review) Law Journals (Peer-reviewed or scholarly) Feature articles written by researchers and practitioners. Recognized researchers in the field will evaluate a manuscript and recommend its publication, revision, or rejection. (e.g. Journal of Law and Health)

22 Search Law Reviews & Journals

23 Search by topic: campus AND assault

24 997 articles in law reviews & journals Or refine—add termsView tagged

25 Sample article from Law Review Cite this source: Author, Title, Volume #, Journal Name, Page #, (Year) Griffaton, Michael C., Forewarned is Forearmed: The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 and the Future of Institutional Liability for Student Victimization, 43 Case W. Res. 525 (1993). Cases may be embedded in the text. Law Review articles should be footnotes or endnotes.

26 Find relevant info, click on the in-text reference… n341

27 It links to the footnote reference n341

28 …which links you to full text of case

29 Case Law and Case Reporters (Primary) In the United States, opinions and decisions of federal and state courts create precedent which is binding on other courts; therefore, many of the opinions and decisions of these courts are published. Source: BU Law Library

30 When to quit searching for new cases… Did the courts continue to side with the victim (plaintiff) rather than the institution (defendant)? Were the conditions similar? Look for a few of the most current cases Sample cases from early 2000’s and later What happened immediately following the case – 2001? Try other states? Compare to NJ? Do you need to look at cases older than Peterson?... Until you feel you understand whether or not the tide turned. YOU MUST READ MORE CASES THAN YOU CITE

31 Online Legal Citation Guides William and Mary citation/index.php Including list of Reporter abbreviations citation/index.php#Reporter_Abbreviations Cornell

32 Rutgers Research Guides – Law* Federal Government Information ResourcesFederal Government Information Resources by Stephanie Bartz - last updated on Sep 30th, 2011 Links to online resources and starting points for research. International and Foreign Governments by Stephanie Bartz - last updated on Aug 10th, 2011 Law by Paul Axel-Lute - last updated on Sep 1st, 2011 Selected resources for legal and law-related research. Bartz International and Foreign Governments Bartz Law Axel-Lute NJ State & Local GovernmentsNJ State & Local Governments by Stephanie Bartz, Mary Fetzer - last updated on Sep 8th, 2011 Links to websites and online resources for researching information from New Jersey state and local government. BartzMary Fetzer United Nations and United Nations OrganizationsUnited Nations and United Nations Organizations by Stephanie Bartz, Mary Fetzer - last updated on Aug 15th, 2011 BartzMary Fetzer *

33 NJIT LibrarianDepartments Maya Gervits Director of the Architecture Library (973) 642-4390 - Rutgers University PhD, Art and architecture history - State Institute of Art History, Moscow, Russia MA, Art and architecture history - Russian Academy of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Russia -Architecture -Art & Design Davida Scharf Director of Reference & Instruction (973) 642-4397 AOL: davidascharf Yahoo:davida_scharf GoogleTalk: davida.scharf MLS, BA, Art & Architectural History, Columbia U. -Computer Science -History -Humanities and Social Sciences -Information Systems -Information Technology -Management Vacancy Reference Librarian contact Davida Scharf (973) 642-4397 -E-Learning -Electrical Engineering -Computer Engineering -Engineering Technology -Industrial Engineering -Manufacturing Engineering -Mathematics -Mechanical Engineering Bruce Slutsky Reference Librarian (973) 642-4950 AOL/YID-IM bruceSNJIT - Pratt MS, Organic chemistry – BS, Chemistry – City College of New York -Biomedical Engineering -Biology -Chemical Engineering -Chemistry & Environmental Sci. -Civil Engineering -Environmental Engineering & Sci. -Hazardous -Materials Science -Pharmaceutical Engineering -Physics Heather Dalal Information Literacy Librarian (973) 596-8499 GoogleTalk: heatherdalal MLIS Rutgers University MEd., University of Massachusetts, Boston -Information Literacy -Research Roadmaps ResearchHelp Desk (973)596-3210 Our librarians have expertise in a number of subject areas


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