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Introduction to Legal Research & FSU Law Library Services Presented by Robin R. Gault, Associate Director of the Law Library Presentation Originally Created.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Legal Research & FSU Law Library Services Presented by Robin R. Gault, Associate Director of the Law Library Presentation Originally Created."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to Legal Research & FSU Law Library Services Presented by Robin R. Gault, Associate Director of the Law Library Presentation Originally Created by Faye Jones, Professor & Director of the Law Library Reference Desk: 850-644-4095 Evening Service: The Hotline (Red Phone) at Reference

2 Legal Research: A Fundamental Skill The MacCrate Report, ABA Section of Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar, Report of the Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap v, 145 (Robert MacCrate ed. (1992).The MacCrate Report Fundamental Skill # 3: “In order to conduct legal research effectively, a lawyer should have a working knowledge of the nature of legal rules and legal institutions, the fundamental tools of legal research, and the process of devising and implementing a coherent and effective research design....”

3 Legal Research: A Fundamental Skill An attorney’s failure to research a client’s case properly can result in a malpractice award against the attorney (Hickox v. Holleman, 502 So. 2d 626 (Miss. 1987)), a public rebuke by the court (Massey v. Prince George’s County, 918 F. Supp. 905 (D. Md., 1996)), or even suspension (Attorney Grievance Comm’n v. Zdravkovich, 762 A.2d 950 (Md. Ct. App., 2000)).

4 Legal Research: A Fundamental Skill Legal research must be Correct Comprehensive Credible Cost-effective

5 A Legal Researcher’s Goals Find correct resources to rely upon The law that governs the facts in your case and which was in effect at the time the facts occurred Be comprehensive Mandatory primary authority, persuasive primary authority, useful secondary authority Be credible Find the strongest authority to rely upon Be cost-effective Practice, practice, practice Caveat: Ask for help before frustration sets in…

6 Legal Research: The Basics Primary Authority IS the law Cases, Statutes, Constitutions, Regulations, Rules Secondary Authority Analysis and commentary Usually the best place to begin research Treatises, Practice materials, Periodicals, American Law Reports & much more Finding Tools Digests, Citators, and other techniques Updating Tools Lexis/Nexis Shepard’s Citators and Westlaw Keycite

7 Work From A Research Plan Identify research terms Study the facts, read all available documents, and develop vocabulary before beginning to research Assess the formats available: print or online? Keep a journal as you work Find, read, and update secondary sources Develop issues for primary research Hint: It helps to write out the issues Find, read, and update primary authority Include nonlegal materials as appropriate

8 Primary Sources: Cases Courts: explain the dispute, the outcome, and their reasoning Resolve only this dispute, but Set precedent for the future Courts are reactive, not proactive. Typical court structure: Trial Appellate (Intermediate) Highest

9 Parts of a Case Caption: names of parties in the case Docket Number: court-assigned tracking number Citation: publication location Subsequent publications 34 F. 211; 34 F.2d 211; 34 F.3d 211 Parallel Citations 55 U.S. 193, 14 How. 193, 14 L. Ed. 383, 1852 U.S. LEXIS 435 (1853) Attorneys: names of counsel appearing for each of the parties in the case Judges: which judges wrote the majority opinion and any dissenting or concurring opinions Opinion: the actual decision of the judge

10 Federal Courts

11 Federal Case Reporters U.S. Supreme Court U.S. Reports Supreme Court Reporter Lawyer’s Edition U.S. Courts of AppealsU.S. Courts of Appeals Federal Reporter U.S. District Courts Federal Supplement

12 Regional Reporter System

13 Examples of Regional and Specialty Reporters

14 Florida Courts Florida Supreme Court 5 District Courts of Appeal 20 Circuit Courts Both trial and appellate courts 67 County Courts

15 Florida Case Reporters Southern Reporter Regional reporter that includes Florida Florida Cases A subset of Southern Reporter that contains only Florida cases Florida Law Weekly New Florida appellate court decisions Florida Law Weekly Federal New decisions of federal courts sitting in Florida, 11 th Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court Florida Law Weekly Supplement New selected county and circuit court decisions

16 Finding Tools Digests Comprehensive topical indexes Decennial Digest General Digest West’s Florida Digest & Florida Digest 2d Citators Using primary or secondary sources “One good case” “Mining the footnotes”

17 Is there a typical path for doing case research? Three questions: Where to begin? How to proceed? When to stop? What is accessible/most useful? Online resources vs. print resources

18 Primary Sources: Federal Statutes & Constitution Government Printing Office (Official)Government Printing Office Public Laws (slip laws) Statutes at Large (session laws) United States Code (Reorganized into 50 topics) Commercial Publishers (Unofficial) United States Code Annotated (West) United States Code Service (Lexis)

19 Primary Sources: Florida Statutes & Constitution Official Laws of Florida (session laws) Florida Statutes Unofficial Florida Statutes Annotated (West) Florida Annotated Statutes (Lexis)

20 Primary Sources: Regulations “Delegated Legislation” Federal Code of Federal Regulation Federal Register Administrative agency publications Florida Florida Administrative Code Annotated Florida Administrative Weekly Florida Administrative Law Reports

21 Rules of Procedure and Ethics Rules of courts Federal, state, and local Rules of Professional Conduct Rules Regulating the Florida Bar American Bar Association Model Rules Codes of Judicial Conduct Ethics opinions The Florida Bar

22 Updating Tools Currency is the lifeblood of the law! Shepard’s Print Lexis Keycite (Westlaw) Hint: Learn both systems!

23 Secondary Sources Treatises Practice materials Periodicals & Indexes Index to Legal Periodicals & Books LegalTrac American Law Reports Encyclopedias

24 Research Instruction by Law Librarians Librarians teaching legal research In classes: Advanced Legal Research, International Legal Research, Environmental Law Research. In research workshops & Jump Starts. In the Library Ask for help from the reference librarians Margaret Clark is the librarian liaison for 1Ls

25 FSU Law Library Guides to resources Online catalog (print and electronic resources)Online catalog Law Library databases FSU Databases E-journals Other online sources Research guides Research Workshop schedule Services Staff Hours Policies

26 Law Library Services for Law Students Individual research assistance Research instruction CALI Past exams Course reserve materials Interlibrary loan Wireless access Printing/photocopying Creation of unique research databases

27 Other Libraries Main Library (Strozier) Information Studies Medical Music Science (Dirac) Regional/National Library Catalogs

28 Research & The End Game American Bar Association Career Guides FindLaw, The Florida Bar penForm penForm Professional Organizations AIPLA, Armed Forces;; =flash; job_id=179; =flash job_id=179 FSU J.D./M.S. joint degree in law librarianship esc.cfm esc.cfm


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