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Primary Authority

Your goal in legal research is to find Legal Authority you can cite to win your argument.

Primary authority is Law created by the 3 branches of government:

  • Cases .... (Judicial)
  • Statutes .... (Legislative)
  • Regulations ..... (Executive)

Secondary Authority

Secondary Authority is NOT the law. It is ABOUT the law.

Secondary authority is helpful because it:

  • provides citations to primary authority
  • explains and interprets primary authority
  • may provide analysis of what the law should be
  • gives background and overview of topic

Mandatory Authority

Mandatory = Binding

Is the law in your jurisdiction:

  • Cases from the highest Court in your state (for state issues)
  • Statutes from your state (for state issues)
  • U.S. Supreme Court cases
  • U.S. Appellate and District Court cases (federal issues)
  • federal statutes (federal issues)

Authority MUST be Primary to be Mandatory.

Persuasive Authority

Persuasive authority is all authority that is not Mandatory Authority

  • All Secondary Authority
  • All Primary that is not Mandatory in your jurisdiction