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Legal Research

This guide will provide basic legal information that can be found in the NMSU Library and elsewhere on the internet.

Shepardizing a Case

N.B. Shepard's is a way to determine changes in law since its inception. To "shepardize" a legal case means to trace its history and note various changes. Shepardizing is especially important for lawyers when citing cases that may have subsequently been overturned or revised in some way. For more details on Shepard's, see this helpful Lexis-Nexis help sheet.


1. First Steps in Shepardizing a Case
Go to Advanced Search--> Legal-->Cases-->United States Cases

To narrow, search by case name or citation. In this example, I searched by citation but you can search by case name (schenck v. united states)

Screenshot example of a narrow search by case or citation


2. Look at the Treatment Levels
Note the different treatment levels, outlined in PURPLE below. The yellow triangle indicates caution, showing that parts of this case law have been questioned or that different interpretations in court decisions prevail.

Screenshot example of different levels in an advanced search


3. Shepardize the Headnotes
You can also Shepardize the Headnotes. These describe the different aspects of the law. In the first example, Freedom of Speech, Fighting Words is shepardized with two cautionary notes and 8 positive ones.

Screenshot example of Shepardize the Headnotes in an advanced search


4. Display a Shepard's Map

You can view the relationships between the items in the Appellate History and display a downloadable chart for saving and printing.

Click on the Subsequent Appellate History link.

Screenshot example of a display of a Shepardize Map in an advanced search


To show a chart, click on the Map icon on the far right. (The display below shows a title view of appellate history for this particular case).


Below you see a display of the case's appellate history. In this example, the case bounced back and forth between many, many different appellate courts.