Westlaw General Legal Overview


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Westlaw General Legal Overview

  1. 1. WESTLAWNEXT Legal - Overview
  2. 2. In this session we will explore: • -case law searching in Westlaw. • -statutory searching in Westlaw. • -the West Key Number System of searching. • -how to determine if a case or statute is still good law. • -ALR, aka American Law Reports.
  3. 3. This is what you see when you first open WestlawNext! The search box is designed like Google for simplicity. 24/7 assistance
  4. 4. WESTLAWNEXT Case Law Searching
  5. 5. If you know the case citation, type it in. No capital letters or periods are necessary.
  6. 6. Let‟s take the following fact pattern… • While your client was stopped for speeding, New York State Police allowed a drug dog to sniff around the car. When the dog alerted, a search of the car was conducted. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, did the search violate the 4th Amendment of the Constitution? • Jurisdiction: U.S. Supreme Court
  7. 7. When you click a link for a specific court, the 10 most recent cases from that court are automatically displayed.
  8. 8. You have the option of running a traditional Boolean search with terms and connectors, or a natural language search. Westlaw recognizes whichever search format you use. Here, we are using natural language searching.
  9. 9. 71 Supreme Court cases are retrieved. You can sort by relevance, date or most cited. The right column lists a sampling of related secondary sources and briefs.
  10. 10. You can narrow your search result using filters in the left column by jurisdiction, date, reported status, topic, judge, attorney, law firm, key number, party and docket number.
  11. 11. You can see how a specific judge has ruled on your issue, which can be helpful in litigation.
  12. 12. Out of the 71 Supreme Court cases our search retrieved, let‟s identify the case that Westlaw determines most relevant to our fact pattern.
  13. 13. LET‟S RUN THE SEARCH AGAIN, THIS TIME USING BOOLEAN CONNECTORS. Boolean searching, while not as easy as natural language searching, allows you to control your search results very specifically.
  14. 14. AND, OR, NOT… • Boolean Operators are words (AND, OR, NOT) used to combine or exclude words in a search, producing more focused results. • Click HERE for a simple visual explanation of this concept.
  15. 15. Boolean Symbols in WestlawNext Connectors and Expanders • & AND • /s In same sentence • Or OR • +s Preceding within sentence • /p In same paragraph • " " Phrase • +p Preceding within paragraph • % But not • /n Within n terms of • ! Root expander • +n Preceding within n terms of • * Universal character When and how should I use these? • When: You have a focused search in mind. • How: Use one, two, or more in combination. • How: Don‟t get overwhelmed with trying to incorporate several connectors or expanders. • You may actually ELIMINATE useful results this way!
  16. 16. Here is our same fact pattern… • While your client was stopped for speeding, New York State Police allowed a drug dog to sniff around the car. When the dog alerted, a search of the car was conducted. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, did the search violate the 4th Amendment of the Constitution? • Jurisdiction: U.S. Supreme Court
  17. 17. Back at the Home screen, select Cases.
  18. 18. Here we are taking the key concepts from our fact pattern and requiring the phrase “search and seizure” or the phrase “4th Amendment” to be in each case. We are also requiring the word “dog” or “canine” as well as the phrase “traffic stop” to be present in all of the cases we retrieve.
  19. 19. Note that each search, natural language and Boolean, retrieved Illinois v. Caballes as the key case. Boolean retrieved 75 cases, natural language 71.
  20. 20. Let‟s take these one by one.
  21. 21. Here we have mostly case briefs filed throughout the case. Also included are oral arguments, petitions and similar filings.
  22. 22. We‟ll come back to this. Is your case still good law???
  23. 23. Here we have a visual history of how your case has proceeded through the courts.
  24. 24. To see how your case has been used (cited) by other cases, administrative materials, secondary sources and briefs, click on Citing References. This is an excellent tool for attorneys and researchers for determining how cases have been interpreted, analyzed and distinguished.
  26. 26. You can determine your print layout preferences.
  27. 27. You can also email the case in PDF format.
  28. 28. Same layout options as with print
  29. 29. NEGATIVE TREATMENT Is your case still good law?
  30. 30. No flag = good law so far - Yellow flag = caution – Red flag = no longer good law (has been overruled, overturned) Click on the flag for specific negative history. We will see this soon.
  31. 31. Just because there is no flag… • … does not mean this is the best case! • A case like Roe v. Wade – (Supreme Court of the United States January 22, 1973 - 410 U.S. 113) • A very famous U.S. Supreme Court case in the 1970s has a yellow flag because some courts have not agreed with certain aspects of the Court‟s ruling – but this case has been cited over 22,000 times! • If later cases have „cited‟ to (referred to) a case thousands of times, even if there is some negative treatment, this case is still good law, and very, very important! • Bottom line: don‟t be afraid of cases with yellow flags!
  32. 32. SO LET‟S CHECK THE NEGATIVE TREATMENT for Illinois v. Caballes
  33. 33. The most negative treatment is displayed at the top of the list. A red flag warns that the case is no longer good law for at least one of the points it contains. A yellow flag warns that the case has some negative history but has not been reversed or overruled.
  34. 34. The green depth of treatment bars indicate the extent to which citing cases discuss the cited case. The headnote numbers indicate which headnotes (points of law) the citing case is discussing.
  35. 35. HEADNOTES…. …explained
  36. 36. 1. A court issues an opinion in a case. 2. A copy of the case is obtained by West, where attorney-editors read the cases and pick out the points of law or legal issues in the case. 3. These legal issues or points of law are summarized in a “headnote” and assigned a topic and key number.
  37. 37. Headnote 6 of Illinois v. Caballes is discussed extensively in State v. Griffin.
  38. 38. So is the case good law or what? • The main ways to access KeyCite information are: • while viewing a case with a KeyCite flag, click the flag. • type kc or keycite followed by the case citation.
  39. 39. Click on the flag.
  40. 40. OR…
  41. 41. LET‟S DO ANOTHER EXAMPLE. Case Law Searching
  42. 42. Terry v. Ohio Let‟s find a New York case that has applied the landmark Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio. Police may stop a person if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed or is about to commit a crime, and may frisk the suspect for weapons if they have reasonable suspicion that the suspect is armed and dangerous, without violating the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.
  43. 43. Some courts located in New York (and in all of the United States) are federal courts, which is why you see both Federal and State court listings under New York. It may seem confusing at first, but it is the U.S. court structure. The following slide contains a very simplified version of the U.S. court structure. For further clarification, ask your professor or a librarian.
  44. 44. In general, you will search these courts most often.
  45. 45. By selecting All New York State Cases, we ensure that we are getting cases from NY trial courts, appellate courts and most importantly, NY‟s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.
  46. 46. Here we are running a search for Terry v. Ohio in all NY cases.
  47. 47. We retrieved 610 New York cases containing Terry v. Ohio. Note the cases can be sorted in order of relevance (most extensively discussed)date (most recent first), most cited (referred to most by other cases) or most used (similar to most cited, but refers to Westlaw usage). Most relevant or most cited are key cases.
  48. 48. Which case do I choose? • After you have identified your issue and your key search terms (or natural language terms), and retrieved a list of cases, your challenge is then to determine which case(s) you should use. • This is where you need to take some time. Work with a librarian, ask your professor, and balance whether the case is still good law, and whether it closely follows your fact pattern. • This may sound overwhelming, but it can be done, with practice and help!
  51. 51. 1. A court issues an opinion in a case. 2. A copy of the case is obtained by West, where attorney-editors read the cases and pick out the points of law or legal issues in the case. 3. These legal issues or points of law are summarized in a “headnote” and assigned a topic and key number.
  52. 52. Corresponding Key Numbers
  53. 53. Click on “Tools” to access the Key Number System. Let‟s start from the Home screen to see how the Key Number System works.
  54. 54. Browse the list of topics to find the topic related to your issue.
  55. 55. Click on the topic, e.g., searches and seizures, to display the topic page, which contains the key numbers (subtopics) classified under that topic.
  56. 56. At the topic page, you can zero in on key numbers that match your issue. 1. 2. (Select jurisdiction)
  57. 57. By selecting the general topic searches and seizures (topic #349), and then within that topic selecting the key number(s) associated with your specific legal issue(s), you are able to easily search for cases that discuss these legal issues.
  58. 58. STILL A LITTLE UNEASY? Don‟t be. Click here for more info.
  59. 59. WESTLAWNEXT Statutory Searching
  60. 60. If you know the statutory citation, you can just type it in the search bar. As with case citations, you can do this from any screen!
  61. 61. Another way to search for statutes is to select Statute & Court Rules from the main screen.
  62. 62. This is the Table of Contents service which lets you browse statutes, and view a statute in the context of the sections around it.
  63. 63. This is the Table of Contents for the NY Penal Code.
  64. 64. Further breakdown of NY‟s complex statutory structure
  65. 65. Scroll down to the bottom of the statute. You will find a Practice Commentary at the end of each statute, written by practicing attorneys. These commentaries give practical advice for interpreting the statute.
  66. 66. This is a very extensive Practice Commentary at the end of the statute. These are extremely useful for interpreting statutes and cases that have applied the statutes.
  67. 67. You can view a statute‟s history, how other cases have interpreted the statute (Notes of Decisions), law review and journal commentaries, cross- references, library references, treatises and practice aids, and more.
  68. 68. IS YOUR STATUTE STILL GOOD LAW? The same steps for cases apply to statute: while viewing a statute with a KeyCite flag, click the flag; or type KC or KeyCite followed by a citation in the search box at the top of the page and click Search.
  70. 70. American Law Reports • American Law Reports (ALR) delivers an objective, in- depth analysis of your specific legal issue, together with a complete list of every case – in every jurisdiction – that discusses it. • With thousands of attorney-authored articles covering the entire breadth of U.S. law, ALR saves you time by taking you deeper on a topic, faster. • Use ALR to: • Quickly get up to speed in an unfamiliar area of law. • Locate all relevant case law in one easy step. • Determine which cases are controlling and understand why.
  71. 71. Searching for “Illinois v. Caballes” within these 1,773 results
  72. 72. Illinois v. Caballes is highlighted in purple.
  73. 73. Introductory paragraph in ALR
  74. 74. QUESTIONS? 1-800-REF-ATTY (1-800-733-2889) or ASK-A-LIBRARIAN!