What Is Shepardizing?

Shepardizing is an important part of being certain a law is still valid, or good, and thus important to a new case going to trial.

Shepardizing is a crucial component to legal research and analysis and the way in which we determine what case law is relevant to today's issues.

Cases are cited in a particular fashion according to what publication they are found in and whether they are state or federal issues. The Bluebook is the book that provides the standards necessary for proper citation. Shepard's Citations provide a way to search updated case law and this is referred to as Shepardizing.

Shepardizing not only helps check if the authorities in the case are still good but also provides a way to locate other references relevant to your research. Statutes, constitutions and ordinances can all be shepardized with success.

When perusing books for case law, you may notice supplements or pocket parts to those books. If you ignore these additions you may be missing out on something important or end up citing law that isn't good anymore. The supplements and pocket parts will also direct you to more recent cases which interpret a statute, or law, you might be researching.

But even if you rely on cases from the most recent pocket part available, there could still be one that has been overruled or reversed since the printing of that pocket part. To be certain of current case law, using Shepard's Citations is the way to go.

Every primary authority must be Shepardized, and this includes those cases such as Supreme Court rulings and courts in the same jurisdiction as your case to be considered. And every case, statute and constitutional provision must be Shepardized so the opposing side or judge does not call your side on it. All the facts are necessary for a solid argument in any case.

Another advantage of using Shepard's Citations is being able to see the history of your case as it progresses. Once your case has been decided and documented in publications, Shepard's will continue to list it and other cases which may need to refer to the ruling made in your case.

Shepardizing can be done all along the path of a case making its way to trial. In the beginning, it will give a solid base to relevant case law and as more research is necessary, it will continue to be a valid resource for locating other cases and validating those as well.

Shepardizing may seem like a lengthy process, which it can be at times. For example, you have learned of three cases that might be relevant to your own. So you decide to see if the ruling in those cases still stands. When you check Shepard's Citations, you find other cases which have mentioned those initial three and whether or not the first ruling is still good or if courts have reversed that initial decision. This is where it becomes vital to keep good track of which cases have been Shepardized so as to not get confused if the process becomes complicated. But with an organized system, it can be made easier to follow case law and provide beneficial research to your case.

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