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LGLA 1303 -- Print v. Electronic Legal Research

Compares steps for conducting legal research in print to searching electronically in a legal database.

Updating with Citators

Legal information is constantly being updated. When you are researching a piece of law, like a case, you will need to keep up to date with what is going on with that particular piece of legal information. For this, you can use a legal citator, either in print or online. 

Citators are valuable to help you determine whether a case is still "good law," or overruled by another decision, or whether a statute has been found unconstitutional. Citators achieve this by listing all citing references to the case or statute that you are researching. In other words, it lists all pieces of law (cases, statutes, etc) that have discussed, mentioned or impacted your case, either positively or negatively, since that ruling.

Using Shepard's Texas Citations in Print

Shepard's Texas Citations print series

Using a Print Citator series : Shepard's Texas Citations

To check for citing references in print, you can use Shepard's Texas Citations series. To use the print citator, you must start with a case citation for the case that you are researching. 

Shepard's Texas Citations Bound Volumes

Step 1: Locate the relevant bound volume

Find the bound volume that includes the reporter series that you need. 

Example: 329 S.W.3d 104  = volume covering South Western 3rd series, vol. 329

Shepards bound volume open to SW3d page

Step 2: Locate the section for the correct reporter series

Use the reporter name at the top middle of the page to find the section for the appropriate reporter series

Example: South Western Reporter, 3d

Shepards Texas Citations open to page with 329 S.W.3d

Step 3: Locate the volume

Use the volume numbers listed in the corner of each page to locate the appropriate volume number for your citation.

Then, on the relevant page, look for the heading with the correct volume number.

Example: Vol. 329 of South Western Reporter, 3d

Shepard's Texas Citations bound volume page closeup pointing to entry for 329 S.W.3d 104

Step 4: Find the page number to get the list of citations

Under the volume heading, look for the page number from your citation. Under the page number, you will see the party names (if it is the first appearance in Shepard's) and then a list of citations. The listed citations are the works that cite the case that you are researching.

 

Shepard's Texas Citations Supplements

Step 5: Locate the most recent Supplement volumes

Shepard's bound volumes are only as up to date as when they were published. When checking citations, it is important to find all information up to as recently as possible. Shepard's updates using colored paperback Supplements. Depending on the time of year, these updates may include a Quarterly Update (yellow) and a Monthly Update (red). 

Shepard's Texas Citations example of Quarterly Supplement

Step 6: Locate the Quarterly Supplement

Locate the appropriate volume of the yellow Quarterly Supplement.

Example of looking up a case citation in a Quarterly Supplement

Step 7: Check the Quarterly Supplement for your citation.

Just like in the bound volumes, open the Quarterly Supplement and look for the reporter name, the volume and then the page number.

If nothing appears, it means that as of the date on the quarterly supplement, nothing new had cited your case. 

Example of monthly update for Shepard's Texas Citations with a box pointing to the

Step 8: Check for a Monthly Supplement

Check the shelves for a red monthly supplement. In between the yellow quarterly supplements, Shepard's updates its citator series with Monthly Supplements that have a red cover.

TIP: There should only be one monthly supplement on the shelf. Locate the newest volume (by date) on the shelf. Check the cover of the book. It will have a heading that says "What Your Library Should Contain." Check this to make sure that you are looking in all of the updates that you need to properly shepardize your case.

Example of looking up a case in the Monthly Supplement for Shepards

Step 9: Check the Monthly Supplement for your citation

Just like in the bound volumes and the Quarterly Supplement, open the Monthly Supplement and look for the reporter name, the volume and then the page number.

If nothing appears, it means that as of the date on the supplement, nothing new had cited your case. 

Online Resource: Using KeyCite in Westlaw: Step by Step

The online citator subscribed to by LSC-North Harris Library is KeyCite.  Like the print citators, KeyCite tracks the citing cases (cases that cite the case that you are researching). Since online content is updated daily, there are no supplements to check to make sure that you are getting the latest information.

To Use KeyCite in Westlaw:

  1. On the Westlaw homepage, search for your case and click on the case report..
  2. There will be tabs across the top. The two tabs that relate to Citing References are Negative Treatment and Citing References.

Westlaw Case tabs with "Negative Treatment" and "Citing References" circled

  1. The Negative Treatment tab lists any subsequent cases or laws that treated the case that you are researching in a negative way.
  2.  The Citing References tab lists all subsequent cases (and other legal resources) that have cited the case that you are looking at (including those that treated it negatively). 

screenshot Westlaw Citing References

Treatment = indicates how that case affected your case (the case that you are researching). Westlaw will list all negative treatment first, and then all other treatment in date order.

Depth = how much that case talks about your case. The more the green bar is filled in, the more your case was discussed.

Headnote(s) = which points of law were discussed in regards to your case 

For further details in using Westlaw's KeyCite, see the Westlaw Guide: Checking Citations in KeyCite.