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Legal Research & Fed. Legal Resources

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Overview of Legal Research tips and online Federal Legal Resources

Overview of Legal Research tips and online Federal Legal Resources

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  • 1. Legal Research & Online Resources Brian Huffman and Pat Dolan
  • 2. Overview
    • Legal Research
    • US Gov. 101
    • Federal Law & Resources
    • Minnesota Law & Resources
    Goals: • To familiarize you with legal system in general, and online legal websites • To provide hands-on experience using some online legal websites.
  • 3. Legal Research State the question clearly that you need to answer. Determine the jurisdiction , meaning the particular subject and locality. You must first determine which court or government agency can resolve the conflict before beginning legal research. Understand citations and abbreviations . Most law books are cited in the order of volume number, book and page. For example, 410 U.S. 113 would signify volume 410 of United States Reports, page 113. Statutes are cited by statute title and section number, such as 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for title 42 United States Code, section 1983. More info.: http://www.aallnet.org/sis/lisp/research.htm Minnesota State law library: http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/mnlr.html Legal Topics: http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/legaltopicsaz.html
  • 4. US Gov. 101
    • Federal System: 50 states and a US Federal legal system
    • Three Branches:
    • Legislative – statutes
    • Judicial – case law
    • Executive – regulations
  • 5. Types of Legal Sources
        • Primary – “The Law”
        • Statutes
        • Agency regulations
        • Cases
        • Secondary -analysis, commentary, history, background, definitions
        • Examples:
        • Legal dictionaries
        • Legal encyclopedias
        • Legal periodicals and law reviews
  • 6. Legal Authority
      • Mandatory
      • What the court must follow
      • Its own decisions and those of higher courts in its chain of appeals
      • The concept of "overruling"
      • Persuasive
      • What the court may follow
      • Decisions from other jurisdictions
      • Dicta –non binding material from other decisions
      • Influential treatises or law review articles
  • 7. Statutes http://www.drawanywhere.com/live/20146.jpg Locate Bills, Hearings, Records, Reports, Public & Private Laws, and the Code: FDSys: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/ THOMAS: http://thomas.loc.gov
  • 8. Federal Statutes
    • Main ways to find federal statutes
      • Citation
      • Code title and section www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/#TITLES
      • Popular name www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/topn/
      • Public Law citation
      • Subject
    • More information: www.gpoaccess.gov/uscode/tips.html#publaw
  • 9. Legislative History
    • Before you begin your research, you should know the following two pieces of information:
    • The public law citation or the Statutes at Large citation (e.g. P.L. 107-56; 115 Stat. 272)
    • The bill number and Congress of the Act or Resolution (e.g. H.R. 3162 from the 107th Congress)
    • Sources:
    • THOMAS http://thomas.loc.gov
    • GPO Access http://www.gpoaccess.gov
    • Century of Lawmaking http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lawhome.html
  • 10. Court Rules Federal rules of court – Several sets of general rules for the federal court. • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/ • Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcrmp/ • Federal Rules of Evidence www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/ • Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frap/ Also rules for U.S. Supreme Court, each federal Court of Appeal, each U.S. District Court, and each of the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts.
  • 11. Cases US Courts Local: United States District Court, District of Minnesota (St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth) http://www.mnd.uscourts.gov/ Appeals: 8 th District http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/ US Supreme Court: www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html All Cases: Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/
  • 12. Regulations
    • Why is it important?
    • It governs nearly all aspects of American life.
    • It plays a particularly active role in these areas:
      • Commerce
      • Taxation
      • Communications
      • Health
      • Environment
    • Sources:
    • Federal Register (1994-): http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=FR
    • Code of Federal Regulations (1996-): http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collectionCfr.action?collectionCode=CFR
    • By Agency: http://openregs.com/agencies
    Process:
  • 13. Success with Government Information
    • Basic understanding of civics
    • Understanding of government structures and responsibilities
    • Knowledge of basic online information resources
      • USA.gov
      • FDSys
      • GPO Access
  • 14. Government Documents - Databases
    • Subject-based databases:
      • PubMed (medical)
      • MedlinePlus (medical)
      • ERIC (education)
      • Agricola (agriculture)
      • NTIS (technical information)
      • TRID (transportation)
  • 15. Federal Statistics
    • Statistical Abstract
    • FedStats
    • Data.gov
    • Agency sites, for example:
      • Condition of Education and Digest of Education Statistics
      • Health, United States
      • EIA
      • BEA
    • Census Bureau
      • Variety of surveys
  • 16. Secondary Authority Not Primary law. Helps locate and explain law. Examples of secondary sources are: • Law dictionaries ( http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/ ) • Legal encyclopedias • Legal periodicals   You will not find much secondary authority on the free web. A few places where you can look for legal periodical articles are: • Law Reviews Online www.loc.gov/law/guide/lawreviews.html • University Law Review Project www.lawreview.org
  • 17. Contact Brian R. Huffman Washington County Law Librarian 14949 62nd St N., Room 1005 Stillwater MN 55082 651-430-6954 [email_address]

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