January 26, 2009
checking the official version
If you use Westlaw to look up the case of Trustees v. Schroll, 120 Ill. 509, 12 N.E. 243 (1887), you will read the Illinois Supreme Court declare that "Appellants sue for a doby of land." And then you might wonder, just what is a doby of land? Or what did the term mean in 1887? A dictionary will explain that "doby" is often understood in the southwestern U.S. as "adobe." And "adobe" can mean the clay, a structure made from the clay, or the land the clay comes from. But in Illinois? Not much adobe here. At this point the wise researcher goes to the official version of the case, only to discover that Westlaw inverted the consonants, and the court was merely referring to a "body" of land. One more good reason to check the official version of a case.
hat tip: Prof. Emeritus Bob Beck, Southern Illinois University
January 26, 2009 | Permalink
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What a great story and teaching point! Although it would be a shame to lose the example, my experience has been that Westlaw will eventually correct these errors IF someone points them out, which is helpful to future researchers. There is considerable lag time between the notice and the correction, however, presumably because the suggestion is filtering through the editing process.
Posted by: Mark Burge | Jan 28, 2009 7:36:30 AM