Legal Research

Verifying Search Results

Finding a case or statute on point does not end the researcher's task. The found authority must be verified to make sure that it is still good law, i.e., that a higher court or the same court has not subsequently overruled or reversed the found case or law. Verification is accomplished through the utilization of case citators. With the advent of computerized research, citators such as Key Cite® and AutoCite® have become popular. However, the most widely utilized case citator is probably still Shepard's® Citations which is available in both print and on-line versions.

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In addition to telling you whether a case has been overruled or disapproved, Shepard's can also tell you whether the holding of a case has been criticized, limited, or followed by other cases. This is possible because Shepard's and most other citators tell you every case that has cited or mentioned the found or principal case.

In the highlighted column to the left, the citation history of Christensen vs. Superior Court (1991) 820 P2d. 181, is shown. The first two citations shown in parenthesis are to parallel citations, i.e., reports of the case found in other sets of court reports. Letters to the left of citations are analysis abbreviations showing case history and treatment of the case. Numbers in superscript between volume and page number of citing cases refer to headnote numbers in the principal case.

To learn how to check citations or "Shepardize" download the guide How to Shepardize in print [532 kb PDF].

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© 2015 by and Craig A. Smith

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