Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Reseach Tips III
Secondary sources are commentary on the law. They are useful for background reading and finding cases, and you can cite them to courts as persuasive authority in many instances.
Encyclopedias: C.J.S. and Am.Jur.2d.
Uses: Very useful for background reading. Contain "black letter" law. Usually do not contain criticism of the law and suggestions for changes in the law. Can be used as case finders (in the footnotes), but they don’t cite to all relevant cases. Can be used as persuasive authority, particularly to show what the general law is.
How to find articles: Index–There are several volumes of indexes shelved after the main volumes. Use as you would any index. There is also a detailed table of contents at the beginning of each article that helps you find specific subtopics.
Updating: By pocket part or new volume.
Treatises: In-depth treatment of a legal subject.
Uses: For background reading. Usually more detailed than encyclopedias. Usually contain criticism of the law and often suggestions for changing the law. Can be used as case finders (in the footnotes), but don’t cite to all relevant cases. Can be used as persuasive authority.
How to find and use: On-line card catalogue. Subject matter searches or keyword sources. Can also ask a librarian for the best treatise on a subject. Most treatises will contain an index and a detailed table of contents.
Updating: Pocket part or new volume. Not all treatises are updated. Check the copyright date.
Legal Periodicals: Mainly lead articles in law reviews.
Uses: For more detailed background reading. Usually very detailed. Contain criticism of the law and suggestions for changes in the law. Can be used as case finders; often very useful for finding cases on detailed subjects. Can be cited to the court as persuasive authority.
How to find periodical articles: 1) book periodical indexes; 2) on-line periodical indexes; 3) Lexis or Westlaw. (See attached for details in finding periodical articles in our library). You can shepardize a periodical article. If you put the cite into Shepards, it will list all articles that have cited that article.
Updating: Periodical Articles are not updated.