WESTLAW NEXT Tip of the Week: Checking Cases with KeyCite

June 11, 2012

Tip of the WeekSince the legal standing or authority of a case can change over time, it is important to verify that the cases you cite as precedent are still valid. This tip explains how to use KeyCite® to check your caselaw citations and proceed with confidence that your authorities are good law.

KeyCite Status Flags

Begin by accessing KeyCite and look for a KeyCite flag at the top of the document. The presence of a KeyCite status flag means the case has some negative treatment.

Red KeyCite flag
A red flag warns that the case is no longer good law for at least one of the points of law it contains. For instance, the decision was reversed on appeal or overturned years later by a decision of the same court.

Yellow KeyCite flag
A yellow flag warns that the case has some negative history but has not been reversed or overruled. For example, the reasoning of the decision was criticized or its holding was limited to a specific set of facts.

Most Negative Treatment

If a case has a red or yellow flag, the most negative treatment is displayed next to the flag at the top of the document. Most negative treatment consists of a phrase such as Overruled by, Abrogated by, or Distinguished by and includes a link to the underlying document, if available. KeyCite provides this important information up front (no clicks needed) so you can quickly determine whether to rely on the case or investigate further.

the most negative treatment is displayed next to the flag at the top ...

Case History Categories

KeyCite case history is divided into the following categories:

  • Direct History traces your case through the appellate process and includes both prior and subsequent history
  • Negative Citing References lists cases outside the direct appellate line that may have a negative impact on the precedential value of your case
  • Related References lists cases that involve the same parties and facts as your case, whether or not the legal issues are the same

Viewing Negative Treatment

The Negative Treatment tab provides the negative history for a case, which includes all negative direct history and negative citing references. To view the negative history, click the KeyCite flag or the Negative Treatment tab. The document with the most negative treatment will be marked so you can quickly spot the most relevant information. To identify the “most negative” document, KeyCite editors consider the nature of the treatment, court level, jurisdiction, date, and other factors.

Negative Treatment tab provides the negative history for a case ...

Viewing History

Click the History tab to view the direct history of a case and related references. The cases included in the direct history and related references are listed in the left column. Direct history is also displayed in graphical view on the right side of the page. You can restrict the direct history display by choosing an option from the View drop-down list.

Click the History tab to view the direct history of a case ...

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