Why You Should Start With Notes of Decisions

December 1, 2014

Legal solutions TOTWHave you ever searched in cases for a procedural issue and come up empty? Are you not sure how a court might refer to a particular word or concept in a statute or rule? If so, please do not hesitate to make Notes of Decisions your starting point. Notes of Decisions are short summaries of cases interpreting a particular aspect of the statute or rule and can quickly help you find what you need because they are organized by common procedural topics.

Notes of Decisions

To start, enter 735 ILCS 5/2-616 in the search bar. Once you have pulled it up, select Notes of Decisions on the upper-left:

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Once there, you will notice that it defaults to Hierarchical View, but that you can also choose List View. We’ll leave it at Hierarchical View and check out List View later. Our first order of business is selecting one of the topics. Let’s start with In General:

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Once we select “In General” we will see a layout of topics and can click one of them to see the corresponding notes of decisions below. Let’s select “Furtherance of justice, discretion of court”:

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Once selected, we will see the Notes of Decisions pertaining to this issue. Notice how the summaries concisely set forth the standard:

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As noted above, there is also an option to see an outline in List View:

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List View provides a high-level outline of each Notes of Decisions topic and subtopic. It assigns a Note of Decision a particular number and groups similar numbers under topics. A Note of Decision may fall under multiple topics and subtopics in the outline:

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Once we scroll down to find “furtherance of justice, discretion of court,” we can click the corresponding number to be brought to the Notes of Decisions below:

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If you do not wish to use the Hierarchical or List Views, you can always run a search in the search bar at the top:

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The Notes of Decisions topics which contain our search terms will show up in the Hierarchical or List View with parentheses showing how many Notes of Decisions from our search fall under that particular topic. If we select a topic, we can see the Notes of Decisions below:

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Notes of Decisions allow you to see how cases have construed an element or aspect of a statute or rule. They are organized by topic and can be easily searched. Instead of going straight to case law, start with the Notes of Decisions to get your answer faster.

Of course, if you have any questions, please do not forget to call or chat with the Westlaw Reference Attorneys. Contact information is at the bottom of nearly every screen on WestlawNext:

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