Friday, September 27, 2013

Legal Research 101: Check Those Citations!

A recent case from the U.S Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, reminds us to take no citation for granted.  For over 30 years the Department of Homeland Security and its predecessors had been relying on an article of the Mexican Constitution that never existed to deport people.  DHS also claimed that another article said things that it did not. Apparently nobody ever checked the citations.

While the above case involves a foreign citation, practitioners of U.S. and Massachusetts law should never take shortcuts in updating citations.  The Trial Court Law Libraries have Lexis' Shepard's and Westlaw's Key Cite available in our libraries for ascertaining whether they are citing "good law." 

Our libraries have books to keep you precise and sharp as you go about researching and doing your citing, as well as checking the opposition's cites.  Of course, The Bluebook, is the gold standard for citation. Cite-Checker: a Hands-On Guide to Learning Citation Form is available for those who want to really become citation experts.  Our Law About Legal Writing and Citations page has links to other online information and lists some of our libraries' resources.

We also have a selection of general legal research books and  the Handbook of Legal Research in Massachusetts.