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Citators. Basic Legal Skills 2006. Agenda. What is a citator? How to use a citator Citators for cases Demonstrations of Shepard’s and KeyCite In-class exercises Citators for statutes , regulations , secondary sources Currentness of citators Conclusion. What Is a Citator?.

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Basic Legal Skills


  • What is a citator?
  • How to use a citator
  • Citators for cases
      • Demonstrations of Shepard’s and KeyCite
      • In-class exercises
  • Citators for statutes, regulations, secondary sources
  • Currentness of citators
  • Conclusion
what is a citator
What Is a Citator?

A citator is a tool that shows when and how a particular legal authority has been cited.

It gives you quantitative information (the number of citing references) and qualitative information (the kind of treatment a particular legal authority has received).

purposes of a citator
Purposes of a Citator

1. For validation: to determine that a case, statute, regulation, or administrative decision is still good law and therefore can be used as the basis of your legal argument.

2. For research: to get citations to other relevant cases, administrative decisions, or secondary sources to support your legal argument.

history of legal citators
History of Legal Citators
  • Print Shepard’s Citations
    • by jurisdiction (e.g., Shepard's Federal Citations, Shepard's Texas Citations)
    • by reporter (e.g., Pacific Reporter Citations)
    • by type of authority (e.g., Shepard's Rules Citations, Shepard's Law Review Citations)
    • by topical areas (e.g., Shepard's Bankruptcy Citations)
  • Online citators
    • Shepard’s (Lexis)
    • KeyCite (Westlaw)
how to use a citator
How to Use a Citator
  • Direct History

(prior and subsequent history of your legal authority)

      • Was your case appealed? Was it affirmed, reversed, remanded?
      • Is your statute reversed, amended, affected by a pending legislation?
  • Indirect History(or Citing References)

(listing of other cases and secondary sources that cite to your legal authority)

      • Did a later case overrule, criticize, or distinguish your case?
      • Are there cases and secondary sources that cite your case?
  • Parallel Citations

Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., 125 S. Ct. 2655,

162 L. Ed. 2d 439 (2005).

What protection does the Fifth Amendment's “public use requirement” give to individuals whose property is being condemned, not to eliminate slums or blight, but for the sole purpose of "economic development" that will perhaps increase tax revenues and improve the local economy?

two leading precedents
Two Leading Precedents
  • Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954).

Upheld the taking of private property for transfer to a private development corporation as part of an urban renewal plan.

  • Hawaii Housing Auth. v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984).

Upheld a taking of private property for redistribution in order to reduce the concentration of land ownership in Hawaii.

in class practice with shepard s
In-class Practice with Shepard’s

In the Shepard’s report for Berman, 348 U.S. 26, restrict or filter the citing references by the following:

  • Jurisdiction (U.S. Supreme Court, 9th Circuit, and Washington State cases)
  • Containing words redevelop! /p blight in the citing documents
  • Documents that cite Berman for the point of law addressed in Lexis headnote 9 of Berman
  • Documents from year 2000 to present

Q: How many citing references did you see with each restriction?

in class exercise
In-class Exercise

You represent a client in New Jersey who wants to develop and sell a new line of vitamins. Your client wants to sell them, not through retail stores, but through a multi-level distribution plan. Is this legal in New Jersey? (Ignore any applicable federal laws).

Shepardize or KeyCite this case:

Kugler v. Koscot Interplanetary, Inc., 293 A.2d 682 (N.J. Super. Ct. Ch. 1972).

  • Is Kugler still good law?
  • Select 3-4 cases you would read first. Explain your choices.
  • You are interested in finding cases from any jurisdiction that mentions pyramid distribution or sales systems, or says fraud can take place even though the victim has not in fact been misled or deceived by the unlawful practice. Explain how you restricted your citator results.
statutes regulations and secondary sources
Statutes, Regulations, and Secondary Sources

Citators for statutes typically include:

  • Updating documents (e.g., recently passed public laws)
  • Pending legislation (that may affect the statute)
  • Historical and statutory notes that describe the legislative changes that affected the statute

Graphic symbols for statutes:

  • Red symbol – recently amended, repealed, ruled unconstitutional, or otherwise preempted
  • Yellow symbol – pending legislation, renumbered or transferred, or validity is otherwise called into doubt
how current are online citators
How Current Are Online Citators?
  • KeyCite
      • Direct History is added within 1-4 hours of receipt of a case.
      • Overrulings are identified by the editors within 24 hours of receipt.
      • Citing cases are listed as soon as the cases are added to Westlaw.
  • Shepard’s
      • Updated everyday, including weekends and holidays.
      • All editorial analysis are added within 24-48 hours of receipt of the case.
concluding remarks
Concluding Remarks
  • Use a citator as a finding tool early in the research process.
  • Always verify the validity of any legal authority that you rely on.
  • Do not depend solely on the flags, signals, or graphical symbols; you must read the authority to see if the negative treatment relates to the point of law that you’re relying on.
bonus information
Bonus Information
  • CheckCite (on LexisNexis) and sign in.

Click on LexisNexis Tools > CheckCite > Download Citation Tools v. 9.0

  • WestCheck (on Westlaw)

Click on Discover Westlaw > Westlaw Services > download WestCheck

(or go to

additional resources
Additional Resources
  • Citator Comparison Table
  • Shepard’s Tutorial

  • KeyCite Tutorial

Click on Discover Westlaw > Understand Westlaw > KeyCite

  • Reference Office