Law Library Journal, Vol. 107, No. 4, Pp. 605-17 (2015)
14 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2016
Date Written: December 1, 2015
Legal researchers have many powerful tools for finding cases: Full-text searching with different interfaces from different providers, annotated statutes, digests, and a wide variety of secondary sources. But there are areas where even experienced researchers are puzzled: When will an intermediate court follow rulings of a sister court? What sources can advocates cite? (or: why can advocates cite secondary sources but not unpublished opinions?) Are fewer cases considered to be cases of first impression, since the cumulative body of precedent is so large?
This essay examines each of these questions. It is accessible to beginning students, first wrestling with the questions, but should also interest more experienced researchers.
Keywords: precedent, unpublished decisions, unpublished opinions, common law, citation of authority, legal research, legal writing
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