Basic Legal Research
It is often helpful to start with a secondary source such as a legal encyclopedia or "treatise" before researching primary authority sources (statutes and cases.) Secondary sources summarize and interpret the law in a narrative format and contain footnotes with case and statute citations on specific points of law. The following are recommended secondary sources found in the VVC library:
California Jurisprudence 3d (Cal Jur 3d)
(Ref. KFC 80 .C25)
Cal Jur 3d is a legal encyclopedia published by the West Group. There are over 70 volumes in the set, arranged alphabetically by legal topic. Each topic contains relevant references to California codes, regulations, case reporters, the West California Digest key number, and Witkin. Separate volumes at the end of the set include a subject index, a table of cases, and a table of statutes.
[Tip: Refer to the outline at the beginning of each chapter listing the structure of legal topics, subsections, and classification of the material covered.]
Summary of California Law (Witkin, 10th ed.)
(Ref. KFC 80 .W5)
A multi-volume set that presents expert analysis and an extensive, integrated treatment of all major California substantive law topics: Workers' Compensation, Parent and Child, Husband and Wife, Personal Property, Torts, etc. Relevant references to California codes, regulations, case reporters, and the West's California Digest key number system are provided for each topic. A separate index volume is also available.
[Tip: Refer to the outline at the beginning of each chapter showing the structure of legal topic and subsections identifying and classifying aspects of the material covered.]
West's California Digest 2d (West)
(Ref. KFC 57 .W53)
A "digest" contains citations and headnotes taken from cases and categorized by a legal topic. West's California Digest 2d includes cases from West's California Reporter published since 1950. The research value of West's digest lies in the combination of headnotes--a sentence-long summary of a legal issue discussed in a case--and the West's key number system. The key number system classifies the law into topics and subtopics that are arranged alphabetically in the digest:
In the example above, Key number 204 refers to "Child's preference" within the topic of Child Custody. Cases on this point are located in the digest under "Child Custody" followed by the key number. Digests are often useful for locating on-point cases based on key numbers referenced in secondary sources.
[Tip: Refer to the outline at the beginning of each chapter showing the structure of legal topics and the key number classification.]