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Q UINCY COLLEGE Paralegal Studies Program Paralegal Studies Program Legal Research & Writing LAW-215 Statutory Law Part 3.

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Presentation on theme: "Q UINCY COLLEGE Paralegal Studies Program Paralegal Studies Program Legal Research & Writing LAW-215 Statutory Law Part 3."— Presentation transcript:

1 Q UINCY COLLEGE Paralegal Studies Program Paralegal Studies Program Legal Research & Writing LAW-215 Statutory Law Part 3

2 Research Techniques for Locating Statutes To locate federal or state statues, there are three techniques: To locate federal or state statues, there are three techniques: Descriptive word approach Descriptive word approach Title/topic approach Title/topic approach Popular name approach Popular name approach

3 Updating Federal Statutory Research U.S.C.U.S.C.A.U.S.C.S. Read statute in main hardbound volume. Check hardbound supplements Check annual pocket part or softcover supplements Check slip laws, U.S. Law Week, or USCCAN Check U.S.C.A.’s Statutory Supplements Check U.S.C.S.’s Cumulative Later Case and Statutory Service Check slip laws, U.S. Law Week, or USCCAN Check the GPO Web site

4 Statutory Interpretation & Legislative History Under rules of statutory construction courts must first look to the plain language of the statute to interpret it’s meaning. However… Under rules of statutory construction courts must first look to the plain language of the statute to interpret it’s meaning. However…

5 Statutory Interpretation & Legislative History If, after a careful reading, the language in a statutory provision is vague or ambiguous, courts may consider evidence (found in legislative history documents) in order to determine legislative intent and thereby ascertain the meaning of the statute’s language. If, after a careful reading, the language in a statutory provision is vague or ambiguous, courts may consider evidence (found in legislative history documents) in order to determine legislative intent and thereby ascertain the meaning of the statute’s language.

6 Typical Legislative History Documents Congressional floor debate. (Congressional Record) Congressional floor debate. (Congressional Record) Presidential signing message. Presidential signing message. Congressional committee reports. Congressional committee reports. Congressional committee hearings. Congressional committee hearings.

7 Which Legislative History Documents Carry the Most Weight as Evidence of Legislative Intent? Generally: Documents that represent legislature’s deliberative process rather than the views of an individual representative. Documents that represent legislature’s deliberative process rather than the views of an individual representative. Documents generated near the end of legislative process. Documents generated near the end of legislative process.

8 Basic Sources for Finding Legislative History Documents History line and annotations in USCA or USCS. History line and annotations in USCA or USCS. United States Code Congressional & Administrative News (USCCAN). United States Code Congressional & Administrative News (USCCAN). Indexes to compiled legislative histories. Indexes to compiled legislative histories.

9 Researching Massachusetts Statutes and Legislative History

10 Sources for Recently Enacted Massachusetts Statutes Slip laws Slip laws State Bookstore State Bookstore Massachusetts Legislative Service Pamphlets Massachusetts Legislative Service Pamphlets State Senators and Representatives State Senators and Representatives The Internet (www.mass.gov/legis/) – Senate Bills and House Bills The Internet (www.mass.gov/legis/) – Senate Bills and House Billswww.mass.gov/legis/ Lexis and Westlaw Lexis and Westlaw

11 Publication of Massachusetts Session Laws Massachusetts session laws are called Acts and Resolves. Massachusetts session laws are called Acts and Resolves. Acts and Resolves: permanent laws of general application enacted by the Massachusetts General Court. Acts and Resolves: permanent laws of general application enacted by the Massachusetts General Court. Numbering of Acts and Resolves: Numbering of Acts and Resolves: EXAMPLE: Chapter 223 of the Acts of 2008 Chapter 2 of the Resolves of 2008 Internet ( Internet (

12 Massachusetts Legislative Service Contains text of Acts and Resolves. Contains text of Acts and Resolves. Provides official M.G.L. pagination. Provides official M.G.L. pagination. Timely publication (monthly advance pamphlets). Timely publication (monthly advance pamphlets). Contains legislative history citations and documents. Contains legislative history citations and documents.

13 Massachusetts General Laws abbreviated as: M.G.L. Published by Thompson/West Published by Thompson/West Also unofficial version on the Internet (www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/) Also unofficial version on the Internet (www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/)www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/

14 Massachusetts General Laws (continued) Laws under each title arranged in sections. Laws under each title arranged in sections. Cite by title and section numbers: Cite by title and section numbers: EXAMPLE: 263 M.G.L. §2. Slow publication schedule. Slow publication schedule. No research references or “annotations”. No research references or “annotations”.

15 Annotated Massachusetts Code Massachusetts General Laws Annotated (MGLA) Massachusetts General Laws Annotated (MGLA) Print Volumes (Thompson/West) Internet (Westlaw) Features similar to U.S.C.A. Features similar to U.S.C.A.

16 End of Statutory Law End of Statutory Law


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