Topic and Key Numbers Research

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Information about Topic and Key Numbers Research
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Published on January 11, 2008

Author: Hillary

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Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers:  Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers Topic Lists in Print Digests :  Topic Lists in Print Digests Use the alphabetical Digest Topics list at the beginning of each print digest volume as a table of contents. Check the key numbers under the topics that seem most relevant. Browsing the Topic Hierarchy Topic Analysis in Print Digests:  Topic Analysis in Print Digests Browsing the Topic Hierarchy Each topic in a digest set has an Analysis section, providing both broad and detailed outlines of the topic. Broad Analysis Detailed Analysis Subjects Included, Subjects Excluded :  Subjects Included, Subjects Excluded Many legal topics overlap in subject content. At the beginning of every new topic in the print digest are scope notes that explain which subjects are included under that topic and which are excluded. The Subjects Excluded list directs you to the digest topic under which those subjects are covered. These lists also appear in the Scope information on Westlaw. Browsing the Topic Hierarchy West’s Analysis of American Law:  West’s Analysis of American Law West’s Analysis of American Law lists all the topics and the specific key numbers with the title given to each key number. Constitutional Law TOPIC NO. 92 90.1– Particular Expressions and Limitations (1.2) Election Regulations This publication also contains Subjects Included and Subjects Excluded sections for each topic. Browsing the Topic Hierarchy Descriptive Word Index:  Descriptive Word Index When classifying points of law and assigning to key numbers, West attorney-editors choose words that describe the important facts and legal issues These fact and issue words are arranged alphabetically in the Descriptive Word Index volumes of the digest. The Descriptive Word Index refers you to relevant topic and key numbers. Slide7:  Ask, “What words describe the pertinent facts of the case or legal question involved?” Most descriptive words fall into one of five categories of elements common to every case: Parties or facts Places and things Issue or basis of action Defenses Relief sought Descriptive Word Index Descriptive Word Index:  Example: John Landlord failed to replace a light bulb in the hallway of one of his apartment buildings. Jane Tenant failed to see a step and fell down a flight of stairs. She is suing John for damages. You might start by checking in the index under landlord, tenant, apartment, common area, or premise liability. At least one of these entries will probably lead you to key numbers assigned to headnotes in cases that discuss the same or similar issues. Descriptive Word Index Secondary Sources’ Library References in Print and on Westlaw:  Secondary Sources’ Library References in Print and on Westlaw Reference to a constitutional law key number for an Am Jur® 2d (American Jurisprudence) section on Westlaw. Reference to relevant constitutional key numbers in an ALR® (American Law Reports) article on Westlaw. Using a Known Key Number in Print Digests:  Using a Known Key Number in Print Digests Go to a print digest covering the appropriate jurisdiction and find the volume containing the topic. The digest paragraphs are arranged in numerical order under the topic. All headnotes (digest paragraphs) from all cases discussing the point of law assigned to that key number are listed along with citations to the originating cases. Using a Known Key Number in a Westlaw Search :  Using a Known Key Number in a Westlaw Search If you know the key number before you sign on to Westlaw chose either a case law or a headnote (digest) database, enter the key number as your Terms and Connectors query: 92k90.1(1.2) The “k” makes the term unique. You will retrieve only documents containing the key number. You can require that certain words be in the same paragraph as the key number to customize your search: 92k90.1(1.2) /p speech Topic List on Westlaw:  Topic List on Westlaw Choose Key Numbers & Digest from the drop-down list on the toolbar. Browsing the topic hierarchy Scroll down the list of topics until you find one you want to explore. Key Number & Digest Constitutional Law Slide13:  Click the plus (+) symbols to expand the subheadings. Expand subheading folders if necessary. Browsing the topic hierarchy When you find a relevant key number: (1) type it in the text box and click GO or, (2) check the box beside it and click Search. Search 92k91.1(1.2) 2. 1. Using the Topic List on Westlaw to Perform a Key Number Search :  Using the Topic List on Westlaw to Perform a Key Number Search You can run the key number search in the headnote database of your choice. Databases You can restrict your search by date or add terms for a customized result. Add Terms Date Using a Key Number from a Case on Westlaw to Retrieve Other Cases:  Using a Key Number from a Case on Westlaw to Retrieve Other Cases A word search on Westlaw retrieves a relevant case with an on-point headnote. You can use the key number(s) assigned to this headnote to retrieve other cases discussing the same point of law. This is the most common way of finding relevant cases using key numbers. Search on Westlaw:  Search on Westlaw In case law databases, key numbers and headnotes appear before the text of the case in the order the legal issues are discussed in the case, just as in the print reporters. In the headnote (digest) databases, the key numbers and headnotes are organized by topic, then by key number, just as in the print digests. Search on Westlaw:  Search on Westlaw If you know the appropriate topic number but do not know the key number, try the following search in either a case law or headnote database: to(92) /p campaign /p contribut! The topic (to) field is the portion of the digest field that contains the topic numbers and names and key numbers and names. Search on Westlaw:  Search on Westlaw If you don’t know either the topic or the key number in a headnote database (NY-HN, ALLCASES-HN), enter a Terms and Connectors query or a digest field search: campaign! /p contribut! /p speech in a case law database (NY-CS, ALLCASES), restrict your query to the digest field (di): di(campaign /p contribut! /p speech) Start out by keeping all terms in the same paragraph. Slide19:  The query di(campaign/s contrib! /s speech)… … yields 31 cases in the CTA (U.S. Court of Appeals) database. This headnote is assigned to key number 92k90.1(1.2). This key number is under the Constitutional Law topic, but the results might also include key numbers under Elections, Civil Rights, and other topics. Slide20:  If the headnote assigned to 92k90.1(1.2) is relevant to your issue, you can easily retrieve similar cases, even if they don’t contain the terms in your original search. Most Cited Cases Databases Click Most Cited Cases link to create a Custom Digest. Select a database. Click Search. Search Slide21:  A Custom Digest contains digest paragraphs assigned to that key number from all cases in that jurisdiction. Each headnote links to its corresponding case. You have created a Custom Digest of all headnotes assigned to 92k90.1(1.2) in the in the Eighth Circuit. Custom Digest The West Topic and Key Number System:  The West Topic and Key Number System Allows you to quickly find all (including the most current) cases that discuss a legal issue Allows you to quickly determine the merits of your clients’ cases based on how prior cases dealing with the same issue have been decided Allows you to move among reporters, digests, the ALR and AmJur publications and statutes using cross-referenced relevant key numbers The Key Number System is the index to American common- law issues. Question:  Question If you have found a relevant key number, you can retrieve cases that have discussed the same or similar issues by Finding that key number in a digest Searching for the key number in a headnote (digest) database on Westlaw Searching for the key number in a case law database on Westlaw All of the above Question:  Question If you have found a relevant key number, you can retrieve cases that have discussed the same or similar issues by Finding that key number in a digests Searching for the key number in a headnote (digest) database on Westlaw Searching for the key number in a case law database on Westlaw All of the above

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