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Page Title: Chapter 2 The Law Library and Legal Research
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CHAPTER 2 THE LAW LIBRARY AND LEGAL RESEARCH As  part  of  your  duties  as  an  LN,  you  may  be responsible  for  the  proper  maintenance  and  upkeep  of the office law library. The importance of a properly maintained  law  library  is  sometimes  overlooked.  The law library should be setup and maintained to meet the needs of those who will be using it rather than for the convenience of the librarian. Attorneys, LNs, and others involved in legal research must be able to find the current status of the law. Accordingly, the ability to efficiently perform the task of researching reference material will depend to a large extent on how well the law library is maintained. THE LAW LIBRARY A  law  library  is  a  collection  of  legal  reference materials of several different types, consisting of vari- ous  formats,  including  hardbound  volumes,  paperback supplements,  loose-leaf  services,  pamphlets,  hand- books, manuals, periodicals, and advance opinions. The  type  of  materials  contained  in  a  library  is governed by many considerations, such as the size and functions of the office it is designed to serve, and the preferences of the personnel assigned to that office. The library  in  a  small  staff  judge  advocate  (SJA)  office might consist of a few hundred volumes, whereas sev- eral thousand volumes might be needed in the library that serves a large naval legal service office (NLSO). Regardless of the library’s size, your first task as a librarian is to determine what legal reference materials are contained in the library and where they are located. Legal  reference  materials  fall  into  three  broad  catego- ries that include the following: l   Primary   sources—These  contain  the  law  as stated  in  statutes,  case  decisions,  and  regulations. . Finding tools—These are aids used to help locate the information contained in primary sources, .  Secondary  sources—These  contain  discussions or explanations of the law that can be useful in examin- ing  the  legal  concepts  and  problems  associated  with  a particular law from both a practical and theoretical point of  view. Further on in this chapter, we different  types  of  legal  reference grouped  in  these  three  categories. SOURCES OF THE LAW will examine the material that are The primary sources of law in the United States are the U.S. Constitution,  its amendments, and the  Bill  of Rights. This type of law is called the supreme law of the land and is also commonly known as constitutional law. Constitutional law addresses such matters as your right to counsel, your right to a trial of the facts by your peers, your right against self-incrimination, and your right to be  confronted  by  and  to  cross-examine  any  witnesses against  you. The  second  source  of  law  includes  those  laws passed or enacted by the various legislative bodies such as Congress or state legislatures. These laws come from the federal and state statutes and are commonly called statutory law. These laws include such matters as fed- eral and state income tax laws, controlled substance laws, drunk driving laws, and gun control laws, to name a few. A  third  source  of  law  comes  from  the  judicial system itself. This type of law is based on the concept that our judges will apply either constitutional or statu- tory law, or will apply a previous court decision to the facts in a given case, thereby rendering a fair and proper decision in the case. This type of law is referred to as case law. Case law is very important because it is often used by attorneys in an effort to persuade a judge to decide a case favorably toward their side. Case law provides guidance and in many instances the require- ments for the proper conduct of trials and for the ad- ministration of justice in cases. For example, the case of U.S. v. Allen makes  it  mandatory  for  courts  to  give every accused person credit against his or her sentence for any pretrial confinement adjudged at trial. There are thousands  of  cases  that  have  previously  been  decided by courts and each decision may have an effect on all future cases with either the same or similar facts. A  fourth  source  of  law  is  administrative  law. Administrative  law  originates  primarily  with 2-1

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