Legal Research For The Legal Assistant Basic Methods Of Finding Cases (Federal & New York)
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Legal Research For The Legal Assistant Basic Methods Of Finding Cases (Federal & New York)

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Training presentation for inexperience paralegals on how to find cases in both the federal and New York jurisdictions.

Training presentation for inexperience paralegals on how to find cases in both the federal and New York jurisdictions.

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  • 1. Legal Research for the Legal Assistant: Basic Methods of Finding Cases (Federal & New York) Janice E. Henderson, Esq., M.L.S.
  • 2. Case Research  Federal & State Court Systems  Trial Courts  Appellate Courts  Courts of Last Resort 2
  • 3. Federal Court System  Trial Court: U.S. District Court  Appellate Court: Court of Appeals  Court of Last Resort: U.S. Supreme Court 3
  • 4. Federal Court System U.S. District Courts Comprises:  94 Judicial Courts ◦ Ex. New York has 4 District Courts  U.S. Bankruptcy Courts  U.S. Court of International Trade  U.S. Court of Federal Claims 4
  • 5. New York District Courts  Southern District covers the Counties of Bronx, New York, Dutchess, Westchester, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Sullivan.  Eastern District covers the Counties of Kings, Queens, Richmond, Nassau & Suffolk.  Northern District covers the Counties of Albany, Schenectady, etc.  Western District covers the Counties of Allegany, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, etc. 5
  • 6. Courts of Appeals  Comprises 13 Circuits  Second Circuit includes: ◦ Connecticut ◦ New York ◦ Vermont 6
  • 7. 7
  • 8. Federal Court System U.S. Supreme Court State Courts of Last Resort Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Court of Federal Claims U.S. Court of International Trade U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals U.S. District Courts Tax Court Administrative Agencies: Federal Trade Commission Nat’l Labor Relations Board etc. Appellate Courts Trial Courts 8
  • 9. Federal Case Reporters District Court Cases  Federal Supplement (F. Supp.)  Federal Supplement 2d (F. Supp. 2d) Court of Appeals Cases  Federal Reporter (F.)  Federal Reporter 2d (F.2d)  Federal Reporter 3rd (F.3d) 9
  • 10. Federal Case Reporters U.S. Supreme Court Cases  U.S. Reports (U.S.)  Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.)  Lawyers Ed. (L. Ed.)  Lawyers Ed. 2d (L. Ed. 2d)  U.S. Law Week (U.S.L.W.) 10
  • 11. New York Court System  Trial Court: Supreme Court  Appellate Court: Appellate Division  Court of Last Resort: Court of Appeals 11
  • 12. New York Court System Court of Appeals Civil Criminal Non-Felonies in 2nd Dept. Civil, felonies, all 3rd& 4th Dept. cases 3rd& 4th Depts. 2nd Dept. Appellate Division of Supreme Court (4) Appellate Terms of Supreme Court (3) Supreme Court (12) County Court (57) Family Court (58) Surrogate’s Court (62) City Court (61) Town & Village Justice Court (1,487) Court of Claims District Court (12) Civil Court of the City of N.Y. Criminal Court of the City of New York 12
  • 13. New York Case Reporters Supreme Court Cases Official Reporter:  Miscellaneous Reporter (Misc.)  Miscellaneous Reporter 2d (Misc. 2d) Unofficial Reporter:  New York Supplement (N.Y.S.)  New York Supplement 2d (N.Y.S.2d) 13
  • 14. New York Case Reporters Appellate Division Cases Official Reporter:  Appellate Division Reporter (A.D.)  Appellate Division Reporter 2d (A.D.2d) Unofficial Reporter:  New York Supplement (N.Y.S.)  New York Supplement 2d (N.Y.S.2d) 14
  • 15. New York Case Reporters Court of Appeals Cases  New York Reports (N.Y.)  New York Reports 2d (N.Y.2d)  North Eastern Reporter (N.E.) (unofficial reporter)  North Eastern Reporter 2d (N.E.2d)  New York Supplement (N.Y.S.)  New York Supplement 2d (N.Y.S.2d) 15
  • 16. West Digest System A digest, first published in 1848, is a multivolume index to the law. It consists of major topic headings, thousands of subheadings, and short summaries (commonly referred to as headnotes) of legal propositions stated in published court cases. 16
  • 17. 17
  • 18. West Digest System Digest Topics by Specialty Note: Under these main headings West editors indexes the cases. There are 7 main topics: Persons Property Contracts Torts Crimes Remedies Government 18
  • 19. How to Use the Digest  Table of Cases  Descriptive-Word Index  Topic Analysis  Words and Phrases 19
  • 20. West Digest System Digest Topics by Specialty  It is prudent to begin your search by using the general index at the end of the set. The reason for this is because a topic can be discussed under different main or sub-topics throughout the set. Unless you are quite familiar with the topic, you may miss an important discussion of your issue.  Let’s look at Commercial Law as an example of where it is discussed in the digest. 20
  • 21. West Digest System Digest Topics by Specialty Example of Finding Commercial Law in the Digest under different subject headings. Commercial Law  38 Assignments  51 Bankruptcy  52 Banks and Banking  56 Bills and Notes  70 Carriers  76 Chattel Mortgages  92b Consumer Credit  92h Consumer Protection  95 Contracts  117t Debtor and Creditor  186 Fraudulent Conveyances  219 Interest  278 Novation  294 Payment  343 Sales  349a Secured Transactions  382 Trade Regulation  403 Warehouse 21
  • 22. West Digest System Table of Cases  To find when a case is discussed in the digest, search by name of the case in the Table of Cases.  For example: In re Vienna Park Properties v. United Postal Savings Association, 976 F.2d 106. 22
  • 23. How to Use the Digest Table of Cases 23
  • 24. How to Use the Digest Descriptive-Word Index Research Issue: What if you were interested in finding out if creditors have to file a financing statement (UCC Form) in order to perfect a security interest in the rents a debtor collects from his rental property? To start search the Descriptive-Word Index for the word: Perfection. Then go the designated volume. 24
  • 25. How to Use the Digest Descriptive-Word Index 25
  • 26. How to Use the Digest Secured Transactions Index 26
  • 27. How to Use the Digest Topic Analysis At the beginning of each topic in a volume, there is a detailed analysis for that topic. Start your research here if you have complete familiarity with the topic. You’ll also find here what subjects are included or excluded in the topic. 27
  • 28. How to Use the Digest Topic Analysis 28
  • 29. Other Sources of Finding Case Law  Legal Encyclopedias ◦ American Jurisprudence, Corpus Juris Secundum, New York Jurisprudence, etc.  Loose-leaf Services  Treatises  Law Reviews, Practitioners Journals & Newsletters  Annotated Statute ◦ U.S. Code Annotated, U.S. Code Service, McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of N.Y., etc. 29
  • 30. Case Opinion Outline There are several sections of an opinion:  Title  Docket Number  Decision Date  Case Synopsis  Headnotes – only with West Reporters  Opinion 30
  • 31. 31
  • 32. Shepard’s / Keysite Research Tips Why Use a Citation Service?  A citation service ◦ will tell you the status of the case by answering if the case has been overruled, etc. ◦ will also tell you what other cases has cited the case. ◦ will also give you a list of publications (law review articles, treatises) that discusses the case. 32
  • 33. Shepard’s / Keysite Research Tips What is the importance of Parallel Citations?  Parallel citations are other reporters that have the case opinions. There may be official or unofficial reporters for state cases. Not every state has both. New York is a jurisdiction that does for each court level. 33
  • 34. Shepard’s / Keysite Research Tips How do you use West’s headnotes when Shepardizing or Keysiting?  Select the headnotes that discusses the issue(s) you are interested in.  The headnotes includes the topic number and key number (issue number) in the West Digest System.  You can use the topic & key number in any digest. This system is universal. For instance, if you want to find federal cases and state cases, you’ll find the same types of cases in each digest.  Example of a digest topic & key number: ◦ Secured Transactions 183 or for Westlaw 349a 34
  • 35. 35
  • 36. Shepard’s / Keysite Research Tips What other services does a citation service provide?  Following are examples from Keycite and Shepard’s on how a citation service will tell you what other cases have cited or followed the case you’re interested in.  The service will tell you in what headnote your case is cited in.  Shepard’s on Lexis, like West with Keycite, includes Lexis’ own headnote system. 36
  • 37. Reading Headnotes KeyCite 22. Cited by: Indian Motorcycle Associates III Ltd. Partnership v. Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, 66 F.3d 1246, 1254, 27 Bankr.Ct.Dec. 1230, 1230, Bankr. L. Rep. P 76,672, 76672 (1st Cir. (Mass.) Oct 02, 1995) (NO. 94-2233) HN: 5 (F.2d) 37
  • 38. Reading Headnotes Shepard’s 2ND CIRCUIT - U.S. DISTRICT COURTS 17.Followed by: Marine Midland Bank v. Breeden (In re Bennett Funding Group, Inc.), 255 B.R. 616, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17783, 43 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. 2d (CBC) 727 (N.D.N.Y. 2000) LexisNexis Headnotes HN19 38
  • 39. Purpose of Shepardizing / KeyCite  To find out the history of the case.  To extend your research to find other cases.  To find secondary sources to further your research. 39
  • 40. The End 40