Editorial Enhancements • This slip opinion appears just as written by the judge and processed and filed with the court. • West attorney-editors take the language of the court, correct errors, and add features that are essential tools for the careful researcher.
Editorial Scrutiny • When West receives a slip opinion • the manuscript is scrutinized for accuracy • parallel citations are added • textual information is updated • the court is contacted if clarification or corrections are needed • More than 1.5 million case citations are checked, 500,000 parallel citations are added, and 80,000 errors in opinions are corrected each year.
Finding Tools Both the advance sheets and the bound volumes of the reporters include • a Table of Cases arranged by state • a Table of Statutes interpreted by cases covered • a list of Words and Phrases defined by the cases covered • Tables of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence that are interpreted by the cases covered in the advance sheet or reporter
Editorial Enhancements Created by West Attorney-Editors • Synopsis: A summary of the procedural history, the facts, the main points of law, and the holding of the case. • Headnotes (digest paragraphs): Summaries of the points of law discussed in the body of the opinion. • Key Numbers: Headnotes are assigned to a topic and key number in the West Key Number System.
The synopsis is the first paragraph of every National Reporter System case. Headnotes follow the synopsis in every National Reporter System case. Headnotes appear in the order the points of law are discussed in the case. Synopsis and Headnotes Synopsis Headnote
Editorial Enhancements • Headnotes and synopses are prepared by West attorney-editors using • consistent and current legal terminology instead of ambiguous, regional, or outdated words • descriptive terms instead of proper names • Examples: • Tenant is used instead of Mr. Blake or plaintiff • Aspirin is used instead of Bufferin or Tylenol • Intoxicated is used instead of tipsy or inebriated These headnotes can help you retrieve many online cases that you might otherwise miss.
Editorial Enhancements and Fields • Each online National Reporter System case is divided into segments called fields. • A digest (headnote) field search and/or synopsis field search is an efficient way to search the online case law databases. di(wrongful! /3 terminat! discharg!) • A digest field search allows you to retrieve a great number of cases that you would otherwise miss but at the same time will limit retrieved cases to ones in which the point of law you are researching is central to the holding of the case.
Digest Field Includes and Key Numbers and Headnotes • Synopsis Field • Procedural History • Central Points of Law • Holding of Case • Digest Field • Key Numbers • Headnotes Topic/Key Number Field Headnote Field
Field Searches on Westlaw • Synopsis field search in Westlaw case law database: sy(malpractice /p “foreign object”) • Digest field (headnote) search in a Westlaw case law database: di( bystander /p “emotional distress”) • A combined synopsis and digest field search in a Westlaw case law database: sy,di(landlord /p “common area”)
Other fields: Citation (volume number, the reporter, and the first page number of the case) Title or Caption (names of parties) Docket Number (the number assigned to the case when it is filed with the court; this number follows the case through its litigation history) Attorneys of Record Judge(s) Opinion Citation Title Docket Number Attorneys Judge(s) Opinion
You can access a list of Fields from the Search page. Fields This is a partial list of the fields in a case law database.
Question Which of the following statements is false? • Attorney-editors spot and summarize up to five points of law discussed in the case. • Attorney-editors prepare a synopsis and headnotes, using universally recognized legal terminology. • Attorney-editors contact the court before making corrections to the decision. • Searching in the synopsis and digest fields on Westlaw allows you to retrieve more on-point documents and ensures that you retrieve only cases in which your issue is a central point of law in the decision.
Question Which of the following statements is false? • Attorney-editors spot and summarize up to five points of law discussed in the case. • Attorney-editors prepare a synopsis and headnotes, using universally recognized legal terminology. • Attorney-editors contact the court before making corrections to the decision. • Field searching in the synopsis and digest fields on Westlaw allows you to retrieve more on-point documents and ensures that you retrieve only cases in which your issue is a central point of law in the decision.