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Legal Research
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Legalman 3 & 2 - Navy Lawyer / Jag training guide manuals
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Secondary  Sources
Military  Review  (N.M.C.M.R.).  The  case  decisions handed down by these courts can be found in official and   unofficial   publications   called   reporters.   The reporters that you will most likely come in contact with are the U.S. Supreme Court Reporter, the Military Jus- tice Reporter,  the Courts-Martial  Reports,  the Federal Reporter, and the Federal Supplement.  (NOTE: The last bound volume of  Courts-Martial  Reports  (C.M.R.) was volume 50, published in 1975. The  Military  Justice Reporter (M.J.),  Which  began  publication  in  1978,  picks up where the C.M.R. leaves off. Those cases reported in advance sheets published between 50 C.M.R. and 1 M.J. are included in 1 M.J.) Additionally, you may have in your library a state and/or regional reporter (from West’s National Reporter System) covering the deci- sions  of  state  and  local  courts  for  your  command’s location. Not all states have individual reporters avail- able. Many states use the National Reporter System developed by West Publishing Company. The size of your office, as well as the type of services provided by that office, will have a large hearing on determining what  type of reporters will be maintained in the library. Finding Tools As you can see from the previous discussions con- cerning  primary  sources,  there  are  many  different sources that cover a vast number of laws, regulations, and  court  decisions.  To  help  the  reseacher,  several different types of materials have been developed to aid in finding the information contained in the primary sources.  The  three  basic  types  of  finding  tools  are digests,  legal  encyclopedias,  and  citators. l Digests—-To impose some sort of order for the more  than  3  million  reported  case  decisions  related  to federal and state laws, digests were developed to class- ify these cases according to their legal topics and then arrange these topics in alphabetical order. These digests provide the reseacher with citations to specific uses and a very brief, often one-sentence digest of each point of  law  addressed  in  each  case.  The  digest  (called  a headnote when appearing at the head of the case in the reporter) is provided to help the researcher decide which of the cases cited might prove helpful to the researcher if the entire opinion of a particular case were to be examined. Probably  the  most  comprehensive  of  these  digests is the American Digest System published by West Pub- lishing Company. This digest system was developed for use in conjuration with West’s  National  Reporter  Sys- tem. Three  of  the  other  digests  published  by  West  are the  Federal   Digest,   the  Modern   Federal   Practice Digest, and the Federal Practice Digest 2d. The Fed- eral Digest is used for finding federal case law from 1754 to 1939, the Modern Federal Practice Digest from 1940 to 1960, and the Federal Practice Digest 2d  from 1961 to date. All three sets are needed to complete federal case law coverage although upkeep and ac- counting to JAG is required only to the latest. These three digests are common to all the NLSO law libraries you  will  encounter.  They  use  a  system  where  general topics  are  subdivided  into  smaller  subtopics  identified by key numbers that can be used for easy reference. The key  numbering  system  was  developed  by  West  Publish- ing Company to help the researcher quickly find appli- cable  laws.  The  topics  and  subtopics  are  set  out alphabetically in these digests and identified with key numbers to give the researcher cross-reference to cases involving similar subject matter. Detailed instructions on how to use this key number system can be found in each of the digests and in Price and Bitner’s  Effective Legal Research, which is published by Little, Brown, and  Company. l  Encyclopedias—A  second  source  for  finding cases is through the use of a legal encyclopedia. Even though these encyclopedias state the law, they are of dubious value in that they tend to overgeneralize. The researcher may, however, find in the footnote citations in encyclopedias a source of cases that can be used to branch out through the use of digests or a citator. The national legal encyclopedias are American Jurispru- dence 2d and Corpus Juris Secundum,  published  by  the Lawyers  Cooperative  Publishing  Company  and  West Publishing  Company,  respectively. .  Citators—Still  another  type  of  finding  tool  that can be used, more for determining the history or status of a case than as an initial source for finding the case, is the citator. The most common of these is  Shepard’s Citations. This particular citator is the most comprehen- sive and widely used citator available in that it allows the researcher to accomplish the following actions: .  To  trace  the  judicial  history  of  each  reported case, including proceedings following the cited deci- sion . To verify the current status of each reported case so as to determine whether it is still effective law, or has been  modified  or  overruled . To find later cases that have cited the main case . To find citations in periodical articles and attor- ney  general’s  opinions 2-15

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