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Law Library

Legal Research Review: Citators Overview

When to Use a Citator

  • Need additional primary and secondary authority for your research.

    • know about negative (distinguishing) citing references (it's always best to know the opposition).
    • find positive citing references (do later cases agree with the analysis in your case?)
    • find helpful explanatory citing references (e.g., ALR article, treatise chapter, state encyclopedia discussion, law review article, etc.)

  • Verify that your case is still good law

    • Check the direct history for prior and subsequent history (was it reversed on appeal?)
    • Check the indirect/citing references for subsequent negative treatment (was is overruled in a subsequent decision?)

  • See if your statute has any pending legislative changes.


REMEMBER: You can't rely on the graphical symbols:  

  • A case may have a Negative symbol for a legal issue not relevant to your research; 
  • The different services may have different symbols;
  • A service may even have an incorrect symbol
  • You must read the case