Digests organize thousands of cases andmillions of points of law by subject• If you know what point of law you’re looking for, you cango straight to a digest
Different publishers=different systems• The West digests have been the industry standard formany years• Lexis has developed its own version• This presentation uses the Illinois Digest 2d by West• Let’s look at two ways to find information:• 1 - Use the indexOR• 2 - The “One good case” method
Use the indexThe indexhelps youidentifycorrectterminology
Remember, if you’re sure about your search terms, youcan go right to the volume you need
The “One good case” method• If you can find a case in a case reporter on the correcttopic, you can use the headnote or topic and key number(found at the beginning of the text) which corresponds toyour point of law• Then you look at this topic in the print digest (or inWestlaw)
Here’s our “one good case” fromthe North Eastern ReporterHeadnote #6 identifies thetopic “Libel and Slander” andkey number 1.After you read the paragraph,and you decide this is thepoint of law you need….
Go to the digest and look up that topicand key number [Libel & Slander, keynumber 1] …to find a list of controlling casesthat deal with that point of law[Nature and elements ofdefamation in general]
Summary• Digests organize cases and points of law by subject• Use the index if you don’t have good search terms• Use headnotes/topics & key numbers if you’ve found that“one good case”• Digests are not just for case law; they contain referencesto secondary sources, too:• ALR (American Law Reports)• Legal encyclopedias• Law reviews