Cite-Checking: A Thousand Points of Citator-Speak

I recently asked law librarians for alternate, non-proprietary, ways of saying “Shepard’s” or “KeyCite” (or Shepardizing or KeyCiting). Below you’ll find a short list and a long list of responses, and not a few “namemushs.”

We focused primarily on case citators, but keep in mind you can cite-check a lot of things, including law review articles, court rules, statutes, and regulations (to name only 4).

What’s a citator? We like this concise description of Online Citators, from the University of Washington Law School librarians.

Short list of cite-check(ing) verbs and nouns:

Analyze the case’s treatment
BCite
Beypards
Check precedential value
Checking for gotchas
Checking for losers
Citate
Citating
Citation update
Citationize
Citator service
Cite-check
Cite-checking
Judicial consideration
KeyCiting
Keypardize
Keyshep
Legal research
Note-up (noting up)
Poor man’s Shepard’s (aka meatball Shepard’s, and vegan versions)
Search for subsequent history or negative history
Shepardizing
Shepcite
Treatment analysis
Using a citator
Validate
Validate holdings
Validate opinion

Full list of responses, including from Canada and Australia, where one librarian commented on the latest generation of lawyers using variations of “citators” instead of previous generations’ use of “note-up”:

  • Using a citator. Citating. Cite-checking.
  • I think “cite check” is the way most people term it. The others are trademarks and shouldn’t be used generically anyway.
  • Would “note up” work?
  • Notionally (and somewhat humorously), from a former practitioner’s perspective, you could say “checking for gotchas,” or “checking for losers”—not just cases that are losers, but cases that will make your case [a] lose[r]. I’ve heard more than one story where a motion-hearing was won or lost on whether the caselaw used in argument was still good.
  • I say: use a citator, because you can check for the current authority status of a case, but you can also use a citator to expand your research universe
  • My impression is that for anyone serious about the process, cite-checking is called “legal research” because it is such an integral part of the process. In the same way that suturing the incision is part of what is called surgery, making certain that the law you read is actually the law is legal research.
  • Cite check works.
  • As I remember it they were referred to generically as Citators back a few decades ago.
  • I once got grief from Lexis for saying “poor man’s Shepard’s.
  • I usually say “updating” as a generic label for Shepardizing.
  • When I’m speaking generically, I use “citator service.”
  • To take the “Xerox” out of photocopy, or the “Kleenex” out of tissue, I would just refer to it as a citation update.
  • Canadian terminology includes: “judicial consideration”, “note-up.”
  • I call it a citator, and then have to explain “Like Shepards, Keycite, etc.” I’ve also called it a citation index, but “index” seems to confuse people nowadays. You could also do a namesmush, like Brangelina. Shepcite? Keyshep? Beypards, if you want to get Bloomberg Law in there?
  • Searching for subsequent history to a case.
  • I refer to it as searching for subsequent history to a case.
  • I say “citator” as a noun, but there is no good verb form – checking cites, validating cases, updating. Besides S and K, all the other smaller services offer some kind of citation service. B Cite (Bloomberg Law) also provides colored signals and analysis. The others don’t provide analysis (e.g., GlobalCite in Loislaw).
  • We say “check the subsequent history” or “check the negative history” when the circumstances warrant such a phrase. We mostly use the expression “authority check” when speaking generally about Shepardizing/Keyciting. We call those services “citators” so we occasionally say “citator check.”
  • I have heard one judicial assistant say “key-perdize” but most staff members use the generic or say “Shepardize” no matter if they’re using Lexis or Westlaw.
  • I’ve seen ‘citator’ used. The problem is that students don’t know what any of them really mean anyway….
  • I use ‘citate’ when teaching.
  • I call them citators to be neutral on the vendor. I did a survey of practitioners and had more than one respond that they would put a definition of citator at the top of the survey because it took them awhile to figure out what I meant. That and the fact that MS Word tries to change “citator” to “citatory” make me want to just show my bias and call everything Shepard’s!
  • I use the term citator.
  • I use “citationize.”
  • I use Validate.
  • “See if it’s good law” is what I hear a lot of lawyers say.
  • I use “citate” as well. Of course, every time I do spellcheck goes wild.
  • How about a portmanteau, such as keypardize or shepcite? In my opinion, it always depends on what you’re asking someone to do, namely do you want them to simply verify the later appellate history of an order or opinion or do you need to know the larger historical treatment? I’ve heard some suggest “treatment analysis” or “analyze this case’s treatment” as an alternative to mean both. Either way specificity is better because time is money and the former takes much less time than the later. “Citate” or “Cite check” to me also include verifying a case’s legal proposition and particulars (style, court, year, volume, page, jump page, etc.), which may not be what you’re after.
  • Update, check precedential value, validate holdings, validate opinion.
  • You’ve probably heard this from a million other sources by now, but I believe that the generic term for Shepard’s or KeyCite or BCite would be a citator. Or a citation index, if you prefer using more words.
  • We use “citators.”
  • Online citator service. From https://lib.law.washington.edu/content/guides/citators.
  • Similarly, the noun I use as a catch-all is “citator” and it’s been the same term used by colleagues at a number of institutions.
  • We use ”Citators” to “validate” here.
  • In Australia, we call them ‘citators’ / ‘case citators.’ So if I were running a training session, I would say something like: ‘you can use a citator to find out where a case is reported and to find subsequent consideration of a case, so that you can check if it is still good law.’
  • Use the word “scrutinize” and when a confused student asks if you mean “shepardize” then you say “Quiet! Man, do you want to be sued?” (Original credit to The Simpsons).
  • I was always taught the Shepard’s was a ‘citator’ service. I always taught ‘citator’ checking.
  • Cite-check might be confusing because it is a Lexis batch checking program.
  • In Canada we “note-up” to find considerations or “update” to find appeals.
  • I’ll cast another vote for “citator” as the noun. I don’t really have a verb, I just say “use a citator”. I also let my students know that many people use “Shepardize” to refer to citator use generally, not just to the use of Shepard’s.
  • In law firms, we generally call the process “updating your research” and tools like Shepard’s and Keycite “citator services.” (These are the terms the senior partners use when giving this type of assignment to young associates, so we try to stay consistent.)

Legal Research Class: City of Damascus v. Henry R. Brown, Jr. (Oregon Court of Appeals, 2014)

I could use this case to teach an entire course on Oregon legal research to lawyers, law students, legislators, and self-represented litigants:

City of Damascus v. Henry R. Brown, Jr. (A156920)

ARMSTRONG, P. J.
This case concerns the constitutionality of a bill passed by the 2014 Oregon Legislative Assembly, House Bill (HB) 4029, which permits landowners with property located on the boundary of the City of Damascus to withdraw that property from the jurisdiction of the city….

After consolidating the cases, we requested that the parties also address whether the petitions present us with a justiciable controversy, including whether petitioners have standing, whether the petitions are moot, and whether the parties are adverse….

On the merits of the petitions in GDI and Patton, we conclude that HB 4029 is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to private individuals because the legislation delegates to interested landowners the authority to determine the city’s boundary and to find the facts necessary to make that determination without imposing any meaningful procedural safeguards on the landowners’ fact-finding function. Accordingly, we reverse the GDI and Patton withdrawals….

City of Damascus v. Henry R. Brown, Jr. (A156920 – Agency/Board/Other)

In A156922 and A156923, reversed on cross-petition; in A156920, A156921, A156922, A156923, A156963, A156964, A156982, A156983, A156984, A157037, A157042, A157043, A157044, A157045, A157046, A157047, A157130, A157166, A157167, A157345, A157455, A157456, A157457, petition dismissed.

Link Rot (404/File Not Found) Symposium: October 24, 2014

Symposium: 404/File Not Found: Link Rot, Legal Citation and Projects to Preserve Precedent:

“The Web is fluid and mutable, and this is a “feature” rather than a “bug”. But it also creates challenges in the legal environment (and elsewhere) when fixed content is necessary for legal writers to support their conclusions. Judges, attorneys, academics, and others using citations need systems and practices to preserve web content as it exists in a particular moment in time, and make it reliably available.

On October 24, 2014 Georgetown University Law Library in Washington, D.C. will host a symposium that explores the problem of link and reference rot.” [Link to symposium website.]

High Legal Research Cool Factor: wellsettled dot com

Hat tip to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites blog post: WellSettled.com Mines Cases for Established Principles,” which introduces us to wellsettled dot com: “It is well settled…

I bet you can’t search just one (word or phrase), but this “one” is a non-hedonic hyperphagia compulsion, so enjoy.

“Only 15 percent of the unique volumes in U.S. law libraries have been digitized …”

Rent a Law Book? Want to get App App Appy?

Read: “Legal Research Revolutionized,” by Dan Giancaterino, in GP Solo, Vol. 31 No. 3:

“…. Law libraries will survive, and even thrive, in the future. An article in the May 2013 issue of ABA Journal estimated that only 15 percent of the unique volumes in U.S. law libraries have been digitized….

Legal Books as Apps

We’ve all seen the typical legal advertisement on the Internet, on TV, or even on the covers of telephone books (remember them?): an image of an attorney sitting in front of a wall of legal books. It impresses potential clients. And it implies that the attorney is continually consulting the accumulated wisdom of legal scholars throughout the ages.

But the truth is you need most legal sources for only a few days or weeks. The rest of the time they just sit on your shelf looking impressive but presenting you with challenges:

They’re expensive.
They take up office space, which is a fixed cost you need to minimize as much as possible.
They need upkeep. You must file updated pages or pocket parts or you risk committing legal malpractice by relying on outdated materials….”  [Link to full article.]

(The 15% article: “Are digitization and budget cuts compromising history?”  Hollee Schwartz Temple, ABA Journal, May 1, 2013.)

Death by Failure to Research: Could You Pass a Legal Research Competency Test?

David Lankes tells a familiar “Death by Failure to Research” story in his free eBook, “Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries for Today’s Complex World:

…. In 2001 Ellen Roche, a 24-year-old lab technician, entered into a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University’s Asthma and Allergy Center. The trial was investigating how the lungs responded to chemical irritants. Researchers had Roche inhale hexamethonium. Roche was the third volunteer to do so in the study. The first volunteer had developed a slight cough that lasted a week. The second volunteer had shown no adverse reactions. Roche developed a slight cough that got worse and worse. Five days after inhaling the chemical, Roche was admitted to intensive care. Less than a month later, she was dead. What makes this story all the more tragic is that Roche’s death could have been avoided. As part of the funded clinical trial, the researcher did a literature search. He searched a database that indexed studies from 1960 to the present day. He found nothing on hexamethonium. However, had he not restricted himself to the Internet-accessible version of the database he would have found studies from the 1950’s linking hexamethonium to significant lung problems. Because of Roche’s death, all drug studies at Hopkins must now include a consultation with a librarian and pharmacist….” [Lankes, p. 80 [PDF p. 87] Link to free online versions of David Lankes’ latest book: “Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries for Today’s Complex World.”  The digital version of this book is free to download and distribute. It is in PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and iBook formats.]

Read more about “Principles and Standards for Legal Research Competency.”

 

A dog cannot recover for emotional distress? (Headnote of the Day.)

Gallagher Blogs reminds us that Headnote of the Day still lives!

A dog cannot recover for emotional distress?

You are probably well aware of the West Key Number System and headnotes but are you familiar with Westlaw’s Headnote of the Day provided on Thomson Reuters’ Legal Solutions Blog? ...” [Link to blog post.]

Oregon Legal Research Resources for Tenants and Landlords: The Facts of Life

Oregon Landlord-Tenant Law is a lot more complicated than people imagine. Landlords and tenants should seek current and accurate legal information and, in most cases, get professional legal advice from a licensed Oregon attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law.

Everyone should do this BEFORE trouble strikes.

It’s a lot more expensive to fix a legal problem than it is to prevent one -just ask any landlord-tenant attorney – or any landlord or tenant who thought leases, evictions, and escrow accounts were subject to Common Sense Rules or the If it’s Online it Must Be OK “Rule” instead of the You Have to Research the Actual Law Rule. That person is now paying a lawyer lots of money to fix a problem that might have been avoided – or gnashing teeth over the Unjustness of the World. (Yes, life is sometimes unfair in your favor, but seldom when it comes to landlord-tenant law.)

If you choose not to talk to a lawyer (even for a brief consultation) or use a county law library to do the requisite legal research, at least do a little homework (but don’t blame me if you lose in court).

Despite what your neighbor, or even your legislators may say, you cannot “google” a legal problem and expect good results, unless you are an experienced legal researcher or an attorney. (And smart attorneys and law librarians consult attorneys.)

What do I mean by “a little homework?” If you spend less than a couple hours at the law library researching the statutes, the cases, updating your research results, and reviewing the secondary sources, you have not done the bare minimum of your landlord-tenant legal research homework. This of course assumes you want to know if you have a good case, or a good lease, and if you want to prevail in whatever sticky situation you find yourself in – or might find yourself in.

So, here’s your Landlord-Tenant Homework, the Minimalist Menu:

1) Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service: website and phone: 503-684-3763

2) Oregon Law Center, Tenant’s Hotline (more info at the Oregon Law Help website): 503-648-7723

3) Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT), Renter’s Rights Hotline: 503-288-0130

4) Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO), Oregon Law Help website resources for tenants and landlords

5) Fair Housing Council of Oregon resources for tenants and landlords

6) Stevens-Ness Law Publishing: Oregon landlord-tenant handbook and related landlord-tenant forms

7) Previous OLR posts on Oregon landlord-tenant law.

8) Last, but not least: Imagine What Could Go Wrong!

Earn $1,000 – by NOT Going to Law School?

Anything But Law School Graduate Scholarship

The flip side of  “too many lawyers“:  Some reports estimate that 55% of attorneys are baby-boomers. If that % is correct, and the tail end of baby-boomer-dom was 1958, it’s quite possible we’ll need a lot of replacement lawyers really soon.

Some lawyers retire in order to do other things, but many lawyers will retire because the practice of law isn’t much fun anymore (e.g. legal research has become no “more than a google box on top of a legal database.”