Legal Research Examples

A place for me to save and share examples of legal research quirks and answers to common questions.

Case Law | Statutes| Legislative History

Case Law

Partially Still Good Law
Schroeder v. Fageol Motors, Inc., 86 Wash. 2d 256 (1975).
Still cited for its definition of unconscionability but distinguished as to how summary judgment applies to cases of unconscionability.

“[T]he apparent prohibition in Schroeder against summary judgment proceedings where unconscionability is claimed is not universally accepted. It is true that some courts have followed the rule stated in Schroeder. . . . Others, however, have concluded that under the U.C.C. unconscionability may be decided on summary judgment.”
Nelson v. McGoldrick, 127 Wn.2d 124, 132 (1995).

Note: Shepard’s picks up a distinguishing case that KeyCite does not: Torgerson v. One Lincoln Tower, LLC, 166 Wn.2d 510, 210 P.3d 318 (2009).

Unpublished Cases Not Binding
J&G relies heavily on an unpublished decision from this Court, Plaintiffs’ Shareholders Corp. v. Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co., 486 F. App’x 786, 787-88 (11th Cir. 2012). Unpublished decisions are not binding authority and they are “persuasive only to the extent that a subsequent panel finds the rationale expressed in that opinion to be persuasive after an independent consideration of the legal issue.” Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Ohio Cas. Ins. Co., 480 F.3d 1254, 1260 n.3 (11th Cir. 2007).
Collado v. J. & G. Transp., Inc., 820 F.3d 1256, 1259 n.3 (2016)


Statutes at Large and U.S. Code conflict
“In cases, like this, where the two versions conflict, the rule is that the Statutes at Large version controls.” Midland Power Co-op. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Com’n, 774 F.3d 1, at 3 (D.C. Cir 2014) (finding discrepancy between 16 U.S.C. 825l(b) & 49 Stat. 860).

Examples of Statutory Notes
Torture Victim Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. 1350 Note (2016).
Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, 22 U.S.C. 5811 (2016).
Read more about what a statutory note is and their authority.

Private Law
Permanent Resident Status for Richi James Lesley, Pvt. L. 108-3, 118 Stat. 4026 (2004).
Note: The DREAM Act was first a private law for Tereza Lee and was morphed into a larger bill after more people asked Sen. Durbin for help.

Positive Law Codification Bill Enacted as Public Law
Enactment of Title 51 – National and Commercial Space Programs

Overturned Statute Still in the Code
18 U.S.C.A. § 700
“Punishing desecration of the flag dilutes the very freedom that makes this emblem so revered, and worth revering.”
United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310, 319 (1990).

Legislative History

Congressional Record Date Mismatch
The Senate voted to change cloture rules on April 6, 2017. However, since this was an extension of activities calendared for April 4, 2017, it was filed in the daily under April 4, 2017. 163 Cong. S-2383 (2017). To find the pages, you’d have to reference the Daily Digest for April 6, 2017, which would point you to the appropriate pages in No. 58 pt. III.

Committee Report Not Considered
“Putting the legislative history aside, we see virtually no support for respondents’ position. Under these circumstances, where everything other than the legislative history overwhelming suggests that expert fees may not be recovered, the legislative history is simply not enough.” 
Arlington Cent. Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Murphy, 548 U.S. 291, 304 (2006).

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