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WESTLAW RESEARCH PRACTICE
Lesson Two – Researching Issues Using Secondary Authority
Objectives: Appreciation for the value of consulting secondary resources in assisting the researcher in fully understanding legal issues; in assisting the researcher in further refining legal issues; and in assisting the researcher in locating additional primary and secondary authority.
Please refer to the following scenarios and complete the steps below for each.
Joanna Spring always insisted that she did not ever want to be kept alive by machines, and even stated that when she was a young teenager. Her parents understood her feelings on the subject. Joanna married Bill Spring and one month later, was involved in an auto accident which left her in a persistent vegetative state. Joanna’s parents (Mr. and Mrs. John Winters) have sued to have Joanna taken off life support. Joanna’s husband refused to allow the hospital to do so. Joanna’s parents thing that it is only because he will not inherit Joanna’s huge estate unless he has been married to her for more than two years. The court sided with Bill Spring, and refused to order the removal of life support. The Winters now want to appeal the decision and let Joanna die in peace before bill becomes Joanna’s heir.
Shirley Baker is a young woman suffering from breast cancer. She has been on chemotherapy for several months, and has experienced terrible side-effects. She did receive a prescription for the medicinal use of marijuana while living in California, but moved to Oklahoma to be closer to her family. She did take several ounces of marijuana with her when she moved, and was arrested while smoking marijuana on the front porch of her parent’s home, the evening she arrived in Oklahoma. She was convicted of illegal possession of the drug, and wants to appeal her conviction.
Joe Valle and Fred Hamper have been partners for many years. When same sex unions became legal in California, they moved there just long enough to be “married,” and then returned to their home in New Mexico. Joe applied for health insurance for himself and his “spouse.” The insurance company refused to recognize the “marriage,’ and Joe and Fred sued. The trial court found in favor of Big Time Insurance Company, and Joe and Fred want to appeal.
Flora Findley loves plants. She had become interested in hydroponics and hybridizing plants. She began growing plants under full-spectrum sunlight lamps in her home. She also has a teenaged son who expressed an interest in growing plants. She was pleased that she and her son could share an interest. One day, a police officer investigating a burglary next door, came to Flora’s home to ask if she had seen anything. He noticed all of the plants growing under the lamps, and quickly began inspecting them. He found a small plant that he thought was marijuana, and promptly arrested Flora. Flora was convicted for possession, but insisted that the search of her home was unwarranted. She wants to appeal the decision.
Mr. Frank Incense was arrested for theft when he took $500,000 worth of tools from behind a neighbor’s shed which faced an alley. Frank insisted that he thought the tools were being thrown away. He was having financial difficulty and thought he could make some money by selling the tools. While being questioned, Frank asked for an attorney. Finally he was provided with an attorney who specialized in Bankruptcy Law, and who was required to take on criminal cases pro bono. The attorney really did not understand criminal procedure, and as a result, Mr. Insence was not only found guilty, but also received a very stiff sentence. Mr. Insence wants to appeal his case because he believes that he not only had a right to counsel, but a right to counsel who was competent in handling criminal proceedings.
Directions: Complete the following steps in the order provided
Step One: For each of the fact patterns provided, list the legal issues involved, as you identify them prior to undertaking any additional research. Note, some fact patterns may present more than one issue.
Step Two: Form a natural language search queries for each scenario based on the issues identified. Please list your search terms.
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Step Three: Use the issues/terms provided in Step One above, locate relevant secondary authority from AmJur, CJS, or ALR regarding those issues, thoroughly review the information therein, and provide the following information:
ii) Did your search return results which pertained to the issues you identified? If not, please modify your search query until your results are more on point; provide your new search terms.
iii) Did the information in the article or annotation cited cause you to change, add or refine your issues? If so, please list the issues involved in each of the fact patterns as you now identify them.
iv) Please briefly summarize they type of information (ie, case law, statutory law, constitutional provisions, other secondary resources, key numbers and other research references)
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