Statutory Law Research (Federal)

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Conducting Federal Statutory Law Research (Manual)

Conducting Federal Statutory Law Research (Manual)

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  • 1. Federal Statutory Law Research- Manual
    DittakaviRao
    Associate Director
    Duquesne University Center for Legal Information
  • 2. Statutory Research
    Statutes as a Primary Authority of Law
    Statutes are the laws made by the Congress/State Legislatures, the representative bodies of the people
    Statutes are binding on the people and the courts
    Levels of Statutes
    Federal Statutes
    State Statutes
    Municipal Ordinances made by municipal legislative bodies
    Generally federal statutes preempts state statutes and state statutes preempts local ordinances
  • 3. The Relationship Between Statutes and Case Law
    Statutes create new areas of law not covered in case law
    Some statutes codify, clarify or supplement case law
    Some statutes overturn the case law
    Statutes usually take precedence over case law that conflicts with statutory provisions.
  • 4. Contd…
    The constitution grants the legislative branch broad powers to create legal rules to govern society.
    The legislative’s exclusive authority to enact statutes is balanced by the court’s authority to apply those statutes and other laws, to assess the constitutionality of the statutes, and to make case law
  • 5. Statutory Law-Federal Sources
    Bills (Senate and House)
    Congressional Record (Floor debates) (Daily publication)
    Slip Law/Public Law (Before 1957 public laws are known as Chapters) (Will have a Congressional session and sequential number e.g. 111-1 and a name known as popular name.)
    Statutes At Large (session laws – Chronologically arranged at the end of the session); U.S.C.C.A.N. (U.S.Code Congressional Administrative News)
    United States Code (U.S.C.) (official code in 50 Titles/Topics) (1926) (General and permanent laws are codified)
    Annotated Codes (Provides additional information including Case Law)
    United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) (West)
    United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) (Lexis)
  • 6. Statutes At Large
    Citation
    Public Law
    Number
    Name of the
    Act
    United States
    Code Citation
  • 7. United States
    Code Citation
  • 8. Session Laws of the
    Congress
    Congressional Session
    Public Laws Included
    In the Volume
  • 9. United States Code (U.S.C.) (Official)
    Titles of United States Code – 50 Titles (Some Titles are positive law and some only primafacie of evidence) (Recent addition - Title 51(National and Commercial Space Programs)
    The relationship between Statutes at Large and U.S.C. – Laws are numerically (at the end of Congressional session) published in Statutes at Large and those permanent and general laws are organized by topic in U.S.C.)
    The functions of U.S.C. and why not to use it to do federal statutory research - (Publication and updates are slow and do not contain case law – Un-annotated)
    Updated with a monthly bound volumes during the Congressional session
  • 10. Positive Law of Evidence
    Positive law codification is the process of preparing and enacting a restatement of existing law.
    The restatement conforms to the policy, intent, and purpose of Congress in the original enactments, but the organizational structure of the law is improved, obsolete provisions are eliminated, and technical errors are corrected.
    The restatement is enacted as a positive law title
    Currently only 24 of 50 titles are positive law, the rest are prima facie evidence of law.
  • 11. OFFICIAL FEDERAL CODE (U.S.C.)
    (50 TITLES)
    New set (50 titles) is published once in six years.
    Current edition is 2006. Monthly updates are published in between.
  • 12. Notice that not all 50 titles
    are positive law. Only titles with * mark
    are positive law.
  • 13. Notice public law number, statutes at large
    citation and section number
  • 14. Annotated Statutes
    Two annotated codes are available – United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) by West and United Code Service (U.S.C.S.) by LexisNexis.
    Annotations include: Court cases; A.G. opinions; Adm. Agency decisions; C.F.R. references; Secondary sources such as law reviews, ALR annotations; Treatises; Key Number digest topics; and Electronic resources.
  • 15. Provides Case Law & Other
    Secondary References
    UNITED STATES CODE ANNOTATED (U.S.C.A.)
    (PUBLISHED BY WEST)
  • 16. Provides Case Law & Other
    Secondary References
    UNITED STATES CODE SERVICE (U.S.C.S.)
    (PUBLISHED BY LEXIS)
  • 17. Public Law Number and Statutes at Large Citation
  • 18. Cases
  • 19. Pocket Part
    Check Pocket Parts for
    Updates of statutes and new cases
  • 20. Research Federal Statutes through U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S.
    Researching the Codes
    General Index
    Title Index (at the end of last section within each title/topic)
    Title Outline (may not be detailed)
    Popular Name Table (alphabetical list of acts)
    Tables volumes (conversion-Public law >Statutes At Large>U.S.C.)
  • 21. Research Federal Statutes – Contd…
    The unique features of U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S. and why you should use both sources to do federal statutory research - (U.S.C.A. provides more case references and U.S.C.S. provides more administrative decisions and statutory sources. Both provides references to secondary sources generally more to their own publications.)
    Index Approach
    Use the general index and/or title index to locate the appropriate title and section of the U.S.C.A. or U.S.C.S.
  • 22. Contd…
    Read the text of relevant statutory provisions
    Read the ‘notes of decisions’ (cases) interpreting the provisions
    Read other commentary sources relating to the provisions
  • 23. Contd…
    Popular Name Approach
    If the short title or the name of the statute is known, use the Table of Popular Names published either with the last volume of the general index or the Tables’ volume to identify the U.S.C. titles and sections of the statutes. U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S. publishes a separate volume for popular names.
    Title Outline Approach (Beginning of each title/topic volume has a sort of contents page – May not be very detailed.)
  • 24. U.S.C.S
    General Index
  • 25. U.S.C.S
  • 26. Secondary Resources
    Cases
  • 27. Popular Name Table
    Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • 28. INCLUDES FEDERAL AND ALL 50 STATES ACTS
    ALPHABETICALLY & CASES CITED BY NAME OF THE ACT
  • 29. Update Federal Statutes
    Check annual pocket parts; notice the coverage of the laws by the pocket parts (may or may not be any changes to statutes but new cases if any are given)
    Check U.S.C.A. advance pamphlets. Notice the coverage of laws in each issue. Make sure that the coverage continues the laws covered by the pocket parts.
    Check U.S.C.C.A.N. pamphlets; U.S.C.S. advance sheets. Notice the coverage of laws for each issue. Read the ‘Current Awareness Commentary’.
    Check related session law (Public Law) if any.
  • 30. Contd…
    Use the ‘Table of Code Sections Added, Amended, Repealed, or Otherwise Affected’ in each issue to check the status of the statutes being updated.
    Shepardize the statutes in the ‘Shepard’s Federal Statute Citations’ books.
  • 31. Advance Pamphlets
  • 32. Shepards for Statutes
  • 33. Advance Pamphlet
    Pocket Part
  • 34. Uniform Laws & Model Acts
    To bring the uniformity among the laws of popular legal areas American Bar Association started the project in 1889.
    By 1912 every state appointed uniform law commissioners to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
    Drafting committees work on approved subject of law (probate, partnership, UCC etc.)
    Discussed section by section in two conference meetings and approved by members of 20 jurisdictions and officially adopted as uniform acts.
    Uniform commercial code and model penal code are popular ones.
    Individual states have to adopt them through their legislatures.
    Thomson West publishes a multi-volume set of Uniform Laws Annotated providing cases from federal and state courts. Currently, there are more than 200 uniform laws.
  • 35. Legislative History - Federal
    Legislative materials are secondary authority. They are persuasive authority helping the legal researchers and the court to ascertain the legislative intent of a statute.
    In applying a statute, a court is limited to determining what the legislature intended the words of the statute to mean and whether the legislature was within its constitutional authority in enacting that legislation; a court may not rewrite a statute or create new one.
    Legislative history helps one to understand a vague or ambiguous statute.
    Legislative history materials serve as indicators of legislative intent.
  • 36. Legislative History…Contd.
    Limitations of Legislative Materials as Authority
    Some courts do not view arguments based on legislative history materials credible because of massive collections of materials that constitute the legislative materials.
    The legislature may not have had any intent as to your situation
    The law may need to be interpreted in response to changing societal needs.
    Different types of legislative history materials may have different weight of importance. E.g. house or senate reports that accompany the bills are more important than the remarks made in the congressional floor debates or the statements added to the Congressional Records.
    None of the materials making up a legislative history truly embodies the intent of the entire legislature – except the text of the bill as passed.
    Documents to be consulted
  • 37. Documents Needed to Conduct Legislative History Research
    Bills (House/Senate)
    Hearings
    Committee Reports (House/Senate) – Most important document for L.H. (Committee reports will have a Congressional session and sequential number e.g. 101-1. Before 1969 there was no Congressional session number only a sequential number.
    Committee Prints (prepared for committee members)
    Floor Debates (Use Congressional Record)
    Presidential Signing Documents
    It is good to know how the bills
    are enacted into laws.
  • 38. Sources for Legislative History
    Published Acts (At the end of public law, find list of legislative history documents)
    Compiled Legislative Histories (Published by Govt./Commercial/Libraries)
    Congressional Record (Bills and floor debates)
    U.S.C.C.A.N. (United States Code Congressional Administrative News by West provides committee reports) – Table 4 provides all necessary info. For L.H. – Date of Statute approved; Statutes At Large citation; Committee report number; Names of committees; Congressional Record dates etc.
    Volume 88 or lower number of Statutes At Large has a table “Guide to legislative history of bills enacted into public law.” Now every public law has the same information at the end of the law.
    CIS (Congressional Information Service) Index to Legislative Histories.) (L.H. for statutes enacted after 1970). More information available in microform format.