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  • 1. RESEARCHING THE LAW Chapter 4

2. Why is it important to know how to research the law? Criminal justice professionals are expected to know the law and when it changes There are many resources you can use to stay current with the law Researching the law enables you to find answers to legal questions and to understand the judicial system Keeping current with the law makes you a more credible professional 3. Popular Literature Information about the law is written for the layperson in popular literature It does not go in depth that professional or scholarly literature does Time, Newsweek, Readers DigestMost of these sources are sociological and do not report the actual law 4. Professional Literature Written for the practitioner in a given field For Criminal Justice, would include: The Police Chief FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Corrections Today UCLA Law Review The Journal of Municipal Government and NCJA Justice Bulletin 5. Professional Literature These periodicals are to keep readers current on the ever changing constitutional law Contain articles on newly enacted laws and their effect on the CJ System 6. Scholarly Journals Written for people interested in theory, research and statistical analysis Justice Quarterly-the official publication of the Academy of Criminal JusticeAll of these sources are considered secondary sources Actual cases and the opinions handed down are primary sources 7. Primary Sources Presents the raw data or the original information Include the U.S. Constitution Constitutions of the 50 states Statutes of the U.S. Congress Statutes of the 50 state legislatures Appellate court decisions of the federal and state courts 8. Secondary Sources Involves selecting, evaluating, analyzing and synthesizing data or information It is usually easier to understand than primary information Legal periodicals- record and critique the activities of legislators and judges and discuss current case law Lawschool publications, bar associations publications and special subject and interest publications 9. Secondary Sources Treatises/Texts- is a comprehensive document on a legal subject. Go into specific subject depth Legal Encyclopedias- narratives arranged alphabetically by subject with supporting footnotes Generallaw, local or state law, and special subject Co rp us Juris Se c o nd um A e ric a n Juris p rud e nc e m G uid e to A e ric a n La w mLegal Dictionaries- define words in their legal sense Ba llentine s La w Dic tio na ry , Bla c ks La w Dic tio na ry 10. Reading Legal Citations A legal citation is a standardized way of referring to a specific element in the law There are three basic parts A volume number An abbreviation for the title A page or section number Usually followed by the date 11. Reading Legal Citations U.S. Supreme Court case: Horton v California, 496 U.S. 128 (1990) Volume 496 of the United States Reports, page 128, decided in 1990Miranda v Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) Volume 384 of the United States Reports, page 436, decided in 1966 12. Reading Legal Citations Case citation is important because it shows the student exactly where to find an important point Lets the reader know if the case is relevant to the problem they are researching The citation will also point out if it is an appellate case Sometimes there are additional citations that show where a case may be found in commercial reporting services String cites 13. Case Law Court decisions are recorded as opinions Describe what the dispute was about States what the court decided and why The opinion may be written by one member of the court or many Concurring opinions an opinion written by a Justice who agrees with the holding, gives additional or different reasons for voting with the majority Dissenting opinions written by a Justice who disagrees with the holding and voted against the majority Some landmark cases have eight or nine opinions National Reporter System - Publishes regional sets of cases as well as sets for specific states 14. Reading Case Law A legal opinion usually contains A description of the facts A statement of the legal issues presented The relevant rules of law The holding The policies and reasons that support the holdin 15. Reading Case Law Caption- title of the case (U. S. v Sm ith), (La nd v Sm ith) Holding- the rule of law applied to the particular facts of the case and the actual decision Affirm- Agree with a lower courts decision Reverse- Overturn the decision of the lower court Remand- return the case to the lower court for further action 16. How to read Case Law Must be able to think in reverse1. Opinion provides the end result of the deliberations, isolate what the dispute involved, what the trial court decided, how it proceeded and what happened on appealUntangle the interplay of the basic components of a judicial decision1. Each affects the others in a process that goes back and forth and around in what may appear to be circlesDrawing inferences - Not all elements of the judicial opinion may be included1. Infer them from the decisions made 17. Briefing a Case To outline the case in a summary (brief) Contain: Case name and citation Summary of key facts Legal issues involved Courts decision Reason for that decision and Any separate opinions or dissents 18. Briefing a Case Opinions also provide judges with an opportunity to express thoughts on issues that are not essential to the courts decision Dicta Statements by a court that do not deal with the main issue of the case Additional discussion Not binding on future courts 19. Shepardizing Shepardizing a case involves using She p a rd s Cita tio ns reference that tracks cases so legal researchers can easily determine whether the original holding has been changed through any appeals Criminal justice practitioners will not have to do this 20. Example of Shepards Citing List 21. Computerized Legal Research Thanks to the Internet, researching the law is accessible to everyone Findlaw, LexisNexis, American Bar Association, U.S. Supreme Court, etc.Information Literacy The ability to effectively identify an issue, narrow that issue, access appropriate online sites, separate fact from fiction and present the findings professionally To evaluate the reliability of information on the Internet, consider the credibility of the source and the currency of the information 22. Whats Next? The online discussion group is a new development There are electronic bulletin boards and virtual discussion groups covering law and criminal justice issues Blogs are a way to get a variety of perspectives on an issue 23. Researching a Law of Interest Step 1 Identify the issue you want to research Step 2 Identify some research terms or phrases that might be used to reference your topic Step 3 Choose the resources to conduct the research Step 4 Decide how to access the resources Step 5 Access your sources and search using the terms you have identified Step 6 Interpret the results Step 7 See how other courts are interpreting the law