J.W. Long Law Library


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Digests

How do you find court opinions, which are published in chronological order regardless of subject, that are relevant to your legal issue? 

You use a digest most of which are located on the 3rd floor.

Digests consist of brief descriptions of court opinions organized by subject with citations to the volume and page where the complete opinion can be read.

For each court that produces written opinions there is a digest.  For example, the opinions of the Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon Court of Appeals are "digested" by subject in West's Oregon Digest 2d.

There are also digests for specific subject areas of the law which include digested opinions from a variety of state and federal courts.  For example, the Uniform Commercial Code Digest.

Regardless of whether the digest is jurisdictional (court, federal or state) or subject matter based (Federal Rules Digest, Federal Rules of Evidence Digest, etc.) there will be a descriptive word index and a method for keeping the digest current.  The latter usually consists of pamphlets located in the back cover of each bound volume (pocket parts) and stand-alone soft bound pamphlets (advance sheets) located at the end of the set.

Always make sure that you have consulted the pocket parts and advance sheets, if any, to the bound volumes.

The online approximation of using a digest consists of subject searches in various court opinion databases in Lexis and Westlaw and with the added feature in Westlaw of being able to conduct "key number" searches.  Westlaw and Lexis are available only to law students and faculty.


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