Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Legal Research Refresher

Legal Research summary:

Legal citation follows the format 177 N.J. Super 244. The first # (177) is the VOLUME the student must go to. The letters indicate which set of reporters they need to use. The second # (244) is the page number the case begins on. If the citation looks like 177 N.J. Super 244, 246, the third number (246) is referring to a specific page number in the volume, so in this case, it would be making reference to a quote on page 246.

Abbreviations for reporters:

N.J. New Jersey Supreme Court Reporters (beige books)

N.J. Super New Jersey Superior Court Reporters (green books)

U.S. US Supreme Court Reporters (black books)

After volume 254 of the US Reporters, our collection changes to the “Lawyer’s Edition,” “L.Ed.” Lawyer’s Editions have their own volume numbers which are different from the Reporter volume numbers. If you are looking for a US supreme court case that is in, for example, volume 300, you need to find the Lawyer’s Edition volume that contains 300 US. On the spine, you will see the a large volume number (the Lawyer’s Edition Volume) and below that it will indicate which of the US Reporter volumes are contained in that Lawyer’s Edition volume.


If a student needs to “find a case that follows” or “shepardize” a case, they are looking for cases that came after the initial case and either upheld or reversed the decision in some way. This is done using the Shepard’s New Jersey Citations books. Each Shepard volume covers a specific range of both NJ Supreme Court and NJ Superior Court cases. The student needs to find the Shepard’s volume that includes the volume of the reporter for their original citation. When you open the book, the top of the page will say either New Jersey Reports or New Jersey Superior Court Reports, so they have to make sure they are in the section of the correct section of the book for the case they are Shepardizing. There are volume numbers on the top left and right of the pages. These indicate which volume within the reporter the pages cover. The bolded numbers on the page are the second number that appears in a citation, the page number. Below each bolded number is a series of case citations. These are the citations that follow that case. A student must then go to the NJ or NJ Super Reporters and look up that citation in order to find out any more information about the case (like the year it was decided). There are specific instructions for the Shepardizing question on Maria’s worksheet in the blue binder at reference that I mentioned above.

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