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THE TOPIC KEY NUMBER SYSTEM IN THE LEGAL RESEARCH UNIVERSE






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CONTENTS. Introduction to the Doctrine of PrecedentNational Reporter SystemHeadnotesWest\'s Key Number DigestsThe Topic and Key Number SystemFinding and Using Relevant Key NumbersKeySearch. 2. . Introduction to the Doctrine of PrecedentNational Reporter SystemHeadnotesWest\'s Key Number Dig
THE TOPIC KEY NUMBER SYSTEM IN THE LEGAL RESEARCH UNIVERS

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1. THE TOPIC & KEY NUMBER SYSTEM? IN THE LEGAL RESEARCH UNIVERSE Thomson Reuters Westlaw Instructional Aid Series

2. CONTENTS Introduction to the Doctrine of Precedent National Reporter System Headnotes West?s Key Number Digests The Topic and Key Number System Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers KeySearch 2

3. Introduction to the Doctrine of Precedent National Reporter System Headnotes West?s Key Number Digests The Topic and Key Number System Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers KeySearch CONTENTS 3

4. THE DOCTRINE OF PRECEDENT Precedents are prior cases in the jurisdiction that are close in fact or legal principles to the case in consideration. The doctrine of precedent dictates that decisions reached in previous cases in the jurisdiction dealing with the same or similar issues should be followed, unless there is a good reason to deviate. 4

5. The doctrine of precedent is founded on a sense of fairness and the belief that decisions should be consistent and not arbitrary so that the legal consequence of conduct can be predicted. This doctrine explains the attorney?s need for access to prior cases in the jurisdiction dealing with the same or similar issues. 5 THE DOCTRINE OF PRECEDENT

6. Introduction to the Doctrine of Precedent National Reporter System Headnotes West?s Key Number Digests The Topic and Key Number System Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers KeySearch CONTENTS 6

7. NATIONAL REPORTER SYSTEM The National Reporter System is the name given to the entire group of publications that report both state and federal cases decided throughout the country. Some reporters cover specialty topics, such as bankruptcy. 7

8. Introduction to the Doctrine of Precedent National Reporter System Headnotes West?s Key Number Digests The Topic and Key Number System Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers KeySearch CONTENTS 8

9. HEADNOTES: CASES Headnotes appear before the text of every case in the National Reporter System. A headnote is a paragraph summary of a single point of law discussed in the case. Headnotes appear in the order the points of law are discussed in the case. 9

10. HEADNOTES (DIGEST PARAGRAPHS) Headnotes are prepared by attorney-editors using consistent and current legal terminology instead of ambiguous, regional or outdated words and descriptive terms instead of proper names Language of Opinion Language of Headnote - Mr. Brown or plaintiff - landlord - Tylenol or Bufferin - aspirin - tipsy or inebriated - intoxicated The headnotes help you retrieve many online cases that you would otherwise miss. 10

11. HEADNOTE AND KEY NUMBERS 11 The point of law discussed in each headnote is assigned to at least one West topic number and key number.

12. Introduction to the Doctrine of Precedent National Reporter System Headnotes West?s Key Number Digests The Topic and Key Number System Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers KeySearch CONTENTS 12

13. WEST?S KEY NUMBER DIGESTS The headnotes from every reported case in the National Reporter System are organized by topic and key number in West?s Key Number Digests. Headnotes become digest paragraphs. There are: federal, state, and regional digests special-subject digests digests that cover specific periods of time 13

14. Using an on-point key number, you can find similar headnotes from other cases in any National Reporter System publication. Each headnote in a digest cites, and on Westlaw? links, to the case in which the headnote appears. 14 WEST?S KEY NUMBER DIGESTS

15. 15

16. QUESTION West?s Key Number System integrates: The National Reporter System The Key Number Digests Headnotes that precede each National Reporter System case All of the above 16

17. Introduction to the Doctrine of Precedent National Reporter System Headnotes West?s Key Number Digests The Topic and Key Number System Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers KeySearch CONTENTS 17

18. THE TOPIC & KEY NUMBER SYSTEM: HEADNOTES When an opinion is received from the court, an attorney-editor identifies the points of law discussed in the case. Each point of law is summarized in a headnote. After carefully analyzing the point of law that the headnote discusses, the attorney-editor assigns the headnote to at least one key number in the Topic and Key Number System. 18

19. 19 THE TOPIC & KEY NUMBER SYSTEM: HEADNOTES

20. is an extensive outline of the entire body of case law in this country. is an index to the entire National Reporter System, helping you more easily locate cases with similar legal issues in any jurisdiction. is a classification system with at least one topic and key number assigned to each point of law. 20 THE TOPIC & KEY NUMBER SYSTEM

21. Divides the law into approximately 400 broad digest topics. Breaks down each topic into subheadings Contains approximately 100,000 specific key numbers 21 THE TOPIC & KEY NUMBER SYSTEM

22. The topic are arranged alphabetically and numbered between 1 and 450. Each topic addresses a broad legal issue. Some topics have been added after the original 414 topics were assigned numbers. See, 48A Automobiles See, 48B Aviation Other topics have been eliminated or renamed (e.g., attorney-editors no longer use topic 3). 22

23. 23

24. This is a breakdown of key number 147 (Intention of parties) under the Contracts topic and subheading II. (Construction and Operation) in the Westlaw version of the digest. 24

25. Topics or portions of topics are added, renamed, expanded, contracted, merged, or eliminated as law, society, and political sensitivity dictate. Insurance topic was reorganized in 1998; Negligence topic was reorganized in 1999 RICO topic was added in 1990; Sentencing topic was added in 2000 Drunkards topic became inactive in 1978 and all new cases were classified under a new topic, Chemical Dependents. The new topic also contains some issues that were previously categorized under Drugs and Narcotics Insane Persons topic was renamed Mental Health 25

26. Key numbers are added, renumbered, or transferred to other topics as law, society, and political sensitivity dictate. What was once a specific key number may be expanded over time to provide deeper analysis of a growing area of the law. Translation tables in print volumes aid in moving between the old and new classifications. On Westlaw, a ?Formerly? line is added to key numbers that have changed so you can search by old or new key number. (See below.) 26

27. Think of the topic and key number as an address: Each street in the city represents a digest topic. There are many houses on each street and each house has its own number. In order to find a particular house, you must know both the street name (topic) and the house number (key number). 27

28. QUESTION The Topic and Key Number System Divides the law into approximately 400 broad legal topics Divides the law into approximately 100,000 specific key numbers Is an index to every case in the National Reporter System All of the above 28

30. Digest sets include: State digests Regional digests Federal Practice Digest Specialty subjects, such as Bankruptcy, Military Justice, Federal Claims, and Education Law digests Decennial digests, which contain all headnotes from cases for each 10-year period beginning with 1897 The Century Digest, which contains headnotes from cases from 1658 to 1896 30

31. Each digest series spans many volumes and is organized first alphabetically by topic then numerically by key number. 31

32. This is a page from the Minnesota Digest Listed are all the headnotes (digest paragraphs) from Minnesota cases that discuss the points of law assigned to specific key numbers 8(2), 9, and 12 under the topic of Abatement and Revival. 32

33. Introduction to the Doctrine of Precedent National Reporter System Headnotes West?s Key Number Digests The Topic and Key Number System Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers KeySearch CONTENTS 33

34. Topic Lists in Print Digests Use the alphabetical Digest Topics list at the beginning of each print digest volume as a table of contents. Check the key numbers under the topics that seem most relevant. 34

35. 35

36. Many legal topics overlap in subject content. At the beginning of every new topic in the print digest are scope notes that explain which subjects are included under that topic and which are excluded. The Subjects Excluded list directs you to the digest topic under which those subjects are covered. 36

37. West?s Analysis of American Law West?s Analysis of American Law lists all the topics and the specific key numbers with the title given to each key number. Constitutional Law TOPIC NO. 92 90.1? Particular Expressions and Limitations (1.2) Election Regulations This publication also contains Subjects Included and Subjects Excluded sections for each topic. 37

38. Descriptive Word Index When classifying points of law and assigning to key numbers, attorney-editors choose words that describe the important facts and legal issues These fact and issue words are arranged alphabetically in the Descriptive Word Index digest. The Descriptive Word Index refers you to relevant topic and key numbers. 38

39. Ask, ?What words describe the pertinent facts of the case or legal question involved?? Most descriptive words fall into one of five categories of elements common to every case: Parties or facts Places and things Issue or basis of action Defenses Relief sought 39 Descriptive Word Index

40. Example: John Landlord failed to replace a light bulb in the hallway of one of his apartment buildings. Jane Tenant failed to see a step and fell down a flight of stairs. She is suing John for damages. You might start by checking in the index under landlord, tenant, apartment, common area, or premise liability. At least one of these entries will probably lead you to key numbers assigned to headnotes in cases that discuss the same or similar issues. 40 Descriptive Word Index

41. Secondary Source References in Print and on Westlaw 41

43. Go to a print digest covering the appropriate jurisdiction and find the volume containing the topic. The digest paragraphs are arranged in numerical order under the topic. All headnotes from all cases discussing the point of law assigned to that key number are listed along with citations to the originating cases. 43 USING A KNOWN KEY NUMBER IN PRINT DIGEST

44. If you know the key number before you sign on to Westlaw chose either a case law or a headnote (digest) database, enter the key number as your Terms and Connectors query: 95k147(2) The ?k? makes the term unique. You will retrieve only documents containing the key number. You can require that certain words be in the same paragraph as the key number to customize your search: 95k147(2) /P "FOUR CORNERS" 44 USING A KNOWN KEY NUMBER IN A WESTLAW SEARCH

45. Topic List on Westlaw Click Key Numbers at the top of your Westlaw screen. Select West Key Number Digest Outline Scroll down the list of topics until you find one you want to explore. 45

46. 46

47. Using the Topic List on Westlaw to Perform a Key Number Search 47

48. TOPIC LIST ON WESTLAWNEXT Go to the Tools tab Select West Key Number System. Scroll down the list of topics until you find one you want to explore (Topic 95 ? Contracts). You may also run a search through the headings via the Search box on the right.

49. If you know the key number before you sign on to WestlawNext: Run an advanced search under Topic/Keynumber or just run a Plain Language search, enter the key number as your Terms and Connectors query: 95k147(2) The ?k? makes the term unique. You will retrieve only documents containing the key number. You can require that certain words be in the same paragraph as the key number to customize your search: 95k147(2) /P "FOUR CORNERS" USING A KNOWN KEY NUMBER IN A WESTLAWNEXT SEARCH

50. Retrieving more cases using a Key Number from a Case A word search on Westlaw or WestlawNext retrieves a relevant case with an on-point headnote. You can use the key number(s) assigned to this headnote to retrieve other cases discussing the same point of law. This is the most common way of finding relevant cases using key numbers. 50

51. SEARCHING ON WESTLAW In case law databases, key numbers and headnotes appear before the text of the case in the order the legal issues are discussed in the case, just as in the print reporters. In the headnote (digest) databases, the key numbers and headnotes are organized by topic, then by key number, just as in the print digests. 51

52. If you know the appropriate topic number but do not know the key number, try the following search in either a case law or headnote database: TO(95) /P LANGUAGE /P INTENT! The topic (TO) field is the portion of the digest field that contains the topic numbers and names and key numbers and names. 52 SEARCHING ON WESTLAW

53. On Westlaw, If you don?t know either the topic or the key number in a headnote database (NY-HN, ALLCASES-HN), enter a Terms and Connectors query or a digest field search: contract! /p language /p intent! in a case law database (NY-CS, ALLCASES), restrict your query to the digest field (DI): di(contract! /p language /p intent!) Start out by keeping all terms in the same paragraph. 53 SEARCHING ON WESTLAW

54. 54

55. 55

56. A Custom Digest contains digest paragraphs assigned to that key number from all cases in that jurisdiction. Each headnote links to its corresponding case. You have created a Custom Digest of all headnotes assigned to 95k147(2) in the in Minnesota Cases. 56

57. On WestlawNext, If you don?t know either the topic or the key number: In a cases content set (i.e. Indiana) run a digest search under the advanced option: contract! /p language /p intent! SEARCHING ON WESTLAWNEXT

61. The West Topic and Key Number System Allows you to quickly find all (including the most current) cases that discuss a legal issue Allows you to quickly determine the merits of your clients? cases based on how prior cases dealing with the same issue have been decided Allows you to move among reporters, digests, the ALR and AmJur publications and statutes using cross-referenced relevant key numbers The Key Number System is the index to American common law issues. 61

62. Question If you have found a relevant key number, you can retrieve cases that have discussed the same or similar issues by Finding that key number in a digest Searching for the key number in a headnote (digest) database on Westlaw or WestlawNext Searching for the key number in a case law database on Westlaw or WestlawNext All of the above 62

63. Introduction to the Doctrine of Precedent National Reporter System Headnotes West?s Key Number Digests The Topic and Key Number System Finding and Using Relevant Key Numbers KeySearch CONTENTS 63

64. is a research tool powered by the respected and dependable West Key Number System identifies key numbers and terms most relevant to your legal issue integrates related key numbers from different topics into one search creates effective queries for you in the appropriate database(s) uses intuitive language and organization, making it easy to navigate 64 KEYSEARCH

65. Start your research in KeySearch when: you are unfamiliar with an area of the law you are unfamiliar with the West Key Number System you need to retrieve unreported cases or secondary-source documents as well as reported cases. 65

66. KeySearch uses the dependable and respected power of the Key Number System and the expertise of attorney-editors to retrieve relevant documents. KeySearch can be accessed from anywhere in westlaw.com by clicking the Site Map link on the top of the page. 66

67. AN EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUE 67

68. 68

69. A folder icon indicates that there are subtopics. A search icon indicates there are no subtopics. Clicking on a search icon will retrieve the search page. Discrimination has subtopics. 69

71. 71

72. 72

73. We can add search terms to the end of the query to further customize the search. Here we?ve added: /p single unmarried ?not married? ?living in sin? The last step is to click Search. 73

74. That?s it. In just a few clicks we have retrieved 31 on-point documents in the All State Cases database. Read the headnote from this case to see the success of our KeySearch. 74

75. What if you aren?t sure where to begin looking in the KeySearch hierarchy? Just type the essential terms in the Scan text box and click GO and a list of the topics and subtopics that contain your terms is displayed. 75

76. 76

77. 77

78. QUESTION KeySearch Builds on the Key Number System Adds relevant words so unreported cases and secondary sources can be retrieved Allows you to customize the automatic query All of the above 78

79. The National Reporter System, editorial enhancements, the West Key Number System, and West Key Number Digests are an integrated research system that guides you to prior cases in any state or federal jurisdiction that discussed similar facts or points of law. If you have any questions, please contact the Reference Attorneys, 24/7, at 1-800-REF-ATTY (733-2889). 79


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