I prepared this guide for my Legal Research and Writing class. This step-by-step guide describes how to research case law and statutes for Michigan legal research. This is to be used for law school purposes only. (I prepared this document in either '05 or '06).
I. Step 1 : Preliminary Analysis a. Secondary sources i. Restatements ii. Treatise iii. Periodicals iv. Encyclopedias II. Step 2: Check for Codified law a. MCLA – bound volume – index & find relevant statutes b. Update statute i. Bound volume ii. Pocket Part 1. for use “ 2005-2006” – its cumulative & replaces the old one 2. if older statue has changed the changes will be underlined and terms taken out iii. Michigan Legislative Service – Pamphlet ( doesn’t have statutory cite) 1. Table of Statutes added/ amended/ repealed etc. a. Look up citation , it not there it means weren’t amendments b. If there was will give you public act # c. If you have only house bill this pamphlet will tell you where to go 2. Check cumulative Index to see if there is a new or related statute 3. Slip laws c. Review and update annotations to statute i. Bound volume ii. Pocket part iii. Interim Annotation Service iv. Update Digest v. Shepardize cases d. Interim case annotations svc- updates statutory language and cases i. This updates you within a month e. to get most recent cases i. look at Westlaw gives updates of law w/I 24 hours 1 III. Step 3: looking for Binding Precedent in MI Digest a. have located codified law in step two i. notes of decisions in MCLA – got citation b. went to NW 2.d to read the cases i. if important take that head -note and key # then go to MI digest ii. read the head-notes then take the interesting ones and go to NW2d read 1. do this process until you get binding precedent 2. after doing this then update the cases a. looking in the bound volume that you are in and look at pocket part b. have topic and key number from the digest and look in pocket part to see if updates i. look at the “closing table” in digest . ii. closing with cases reported in ……… 3. pocket part closing cases says that 575 NW 2d 738 look for updates a. go to 575 NW2d and after pg 738 to get updated ( but this is too tedious ) b. at end of the book will have digest where you would look up your pg’s iii. if nothing on the shelf after the pocket part go to 1. Cumulative pamphlet – look for same topic and key number a. Now this closes with 587 pg 458 to update pamphlet supplement iv. Look at Advance sheets for new cases v. Then slip opinions published on the court’s web site IV. Step 4: Search for Persuasive Precedent : ALR a. Outside your jurisdiction i. In practice to go outside of your jurisdiction 1. where there is no binding precedent 2. have binding precedent but its not settled 3. bolster your case( strengthen it) 4. trying to change the law 2 b. best sources are ALR ( American Law reports) i. look ALR before another source like the National digests ii. they are very thorough , they tell you more iii. digests collect head-notes ( can’t rely on head-notes in digest) iv. ALR doesn’t collect head-notes , so it will be through c. How to get into ALR i. Using the ALR Index 1. series of ALR’s a. 3rd , 4th and 5th are the ones will concentrate on b. ALR fed – more recent d. How to find something in the ALR i. Sometimes will find ALR citation in footnote of case ii. If not found this way you would use an index 1. use keywords to look thorough it to find what would be helpful to you 2. in index look for pocket parts to find updates iii. some newer ALR annotations will cross reference to west annotations ex of : pg 15 handout 1. have west digest key number and want to find MI Key a. you would go to West MI Digest e. Update i. Look at pocket part first ii. Then By looking at pamphlet supplements iii. If find citation to another ALR article – “supplement” its in addition to what you already have , so its ok iv. If it says “supercedes”- then you shouldn’t look at the ALR 3rd (ex) edition , so dump it and go to the newer one V. Next step look at: West digest a. in the tapes workbook have a “west digests” listed i. National level called decennials – because usually they come out every ten years ii. “Generals” update the decennials b. use the nationals if you don’t find something in the ALR c. or if you want to double check ALR against the National digest system i. but in practice probably wouldn’t want to do this since its too time consuming 3 VI. West’s Table of cases gives the following info a. Name of case b. Parallel cite c. Topic/ key # d. History of the case VII. Expand search with a key number from a relevant head-note in a known case a. Look up the key # in West’s MI digest VIII. How to find a key # relevant to your research a. Check the index b. Check the table of contents c. Check the known case IX. After finding relevant topic and Key # - steps to update your search a. Find topic and Key # b. Review head-notes in the bound volume c. Review head-notes in the pocket parts d. Consult closing table in pocket part or pamphlet supplement – which ever is more recent e. Review slip opinions published through the last advance sheet X. Updating ALR a. Pocket parts b. Annotations History table XI. Sections in ALR a. Summary and Comment i. Only part of ALR that can be quoted ( although you probably don’t want to do this unless you the author is good source) 4
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