Fri. Jun 7th, 2024

Shepardizing – How to Shepardize a Case

CRIMJ 420: Criminal Law and Procedure

Co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD

What is Shepardizing?

Shepard’s allows you to track the citation history of a court case. When you “Shepardize” a case, you will see all of the other cases that have cited that case, and if they treated the case favorably or unfavorably. This is how you can tell if the law in your case is still considered “good law” or if it has been overturned or challenged by other cases.

Shepard’s is only available through Nexis Uni, and has been around for more than 100 years. It is a very common and important process in legal research.

How Do I Shepardize a Case?

To start, make sure you have the citation for your case, then find the case in Nexis Uni.

Once you have searched for and located your case, you will see a small symbol at the top of the case page. This symbol indicates how you should proceed with using the case law — positively, with caution, or stop and evaluate.

To Shepardize the case, on the right side of the screen, you can view the top citing reference and all citing decisions. You can also use the option to “Shepardize this document”.

To see a visual demonstration of this process, view the video below.

Interdisciplinary search tools

Both LionSearch and Google scholar allow you to search across a wide range of disciplines. Legal topics may be broad or you may be looking for different kinds of resources that covered your case. LionSearch or Google Scholar can be good starting points for seeing the larger picture. LionSearch allows you to refine you search in ways not possible in Google Scholar, and it will connect you to Penn State full text resources in many formats. Google Scholar can connect you to full text journal articles available through the University Libraries by adding Penn State University under Settings > Library Links on the Google Scholar page.

These sources will help you locate both books and journal articles. LionSearch will also recommend subject databases to allow you to explore your subject in more depth.

Interdisciplinary search tools

Both LionSearch and Google scholar allow you to search across a wide range of disciplines. Legal topics may be broad or you may be looking for different kinds of resources that covered your case. LionSearch or Google Scholar can be good starting points for seeing the larger picture. LionSearch allows you to refine you search in ways not possible in Google Scholar, and it will connect you to Penn State full text resources in many formats. Google Scholar can connect you to full text journal articles available through the University Libraries by adding Penn State University under Settings > Library Links on the Google Scholar page.

These sources will help you locate both books and journal articles. LionSearch will also recomend subject databases to allow you to explore your subject in more depth.

LionSearch Basics

For full text items, click the “full text online” link to go to the full text of the article.

  • If you see the Penn State “Get It” menu and you need to click the word “article” to get to the full text.
  • If there is no “article” link, click the word “journal” to get to the journal page and look for the correct year, volume, issue and pages for the article you need.
Tip: Save the relevant sources into the LionSearch temporary folder by clicking on the small folder icon to right side of the item.  When you are finished compiling your sources, click on the folder icon at the top of the screen and email or print (which allows you to copy into your clipboard) the references so you can easily add them to your project.
Don’t lose your work!  Unless you sign up for Refworks, items are saved in LionSearch ONLY for your current session.  You won’t be able to go back later and see a list of saved items.

Scholarly Articles in LionSearch

Refining your search to peer-review

Books in LionSearch

Limit to Book / eBook from the Content Type options

Google Scholar

 

As a lawyer or law student, any time you cite a case in support of a legal argument, you must check whether its authority has changed as a result of more recent decisions. The process by which one determines whether a case is still good law is called “Shepardizing.” It is named after Frank Shepard, a 19th century legal publisher who developed a system for indexing all of the citations that reference a particular case. Traditionally, this process required a thorough review of published volumes and supplements in search of references to a single case. However, today, most lawyers and law students prefer the ease of Shepardizing their cases automatically through online subscription-based databases, like LexisNexis or Westlaw.

What is a Case Citation?

A Supreme Court case citation is made of 3 components:

1. The volume of the United States Report in which it is found

2. U.S. (for U.S. Supreme Court)

3. The first page on which the case appears in the printed edition of the United States Report

An example: 326 U.S. 310

One challenge, depending on your case: It takes a long time for the United States Report to be printed. The most recent volume deals with cases from 2010 to early 2011. Cases that have not yet been printed in the United States Report will have a citation that looks like this:

579 U.S. _ _ _ _ (2016)

These cases are printed in other editions — The Supreme Court Reporter and Lawyer’s Edition. In order to find them in Nexis Uni, it is helpful to have the docket number.

 

 

How Can I Find My Case Citation?

If you have the name of the parties in your case, it is possible to search in Nexis Uni for the case without having the exact citation. Sometimes, though, there are many cases with similar party names, and it can be difficult to locate the appropriate case. For example: United States v. Jones — there are at least five different Supreme Court Cases wherein the parties are United States and Jones.

You can use some helpful websites to locate the full citation from the United States Report (if it has been printed) or the Case information along with the docket number (if it has not yet been printed).

Try Oyez to find information to find your case citation. It has a much less complicated interface than Nexis Uni, so locating the citation information for your case here can save you time and frustration later.

 

 

Case Help

Legal Research Strategy: Updating Research (Shepardizing)

 

 

Here are 4 guides on Shepardizing Cases:

FINDING MEDIA COVERAGE

News Sources

There are many resources available for finding news coverage, from databases to individual news organizations. See a partial selection below.

Broadcast News

Cable News

Here are Several Videos that if you watch them all you should have a well versed idea of what to do…. Good Luck, God Bless You!

 

 

 

https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/harrisburg/crimj420/locate