Easier, Better, Faster – Legal Research Case Citator

This week’s improvements to JADE (7 June 2013)

Improvements to the JADE Citator

This week many improvements were made to Jade’s Citator, which we call CaseTrace.

The use of legal citators is a basic part of good legal research. Researchers use them to save time. They provide good leads. Like a detective, the researcher gets lines of inquiry for further investigation. The most basic form of citator is the legal headnote prepared in reports series. A reasonably good legal citator can tell you:

  • what cases were cited by a decision;
  • what legislation is cited by the decision; and
  • what subsequent cases have cited the decision (this, of course, is not available in the legal headnote originally published with the case).

That’s about it. At this point, the research magic stops.

If the headnote or citator is electronic, you can then start clicking on links and searching within the text for relevant parts. Even in the electronic format, the legal research process is time consuming. It generates more clutter and the opportunities to make searching errors by missing important information. Because the JADE editorial team are also legally qualified, we know about legal research. We know that there is a better way. We have made JADE to solve these issues.

JADE’s versions of legal citators

This is where Jade offers two solutions: the full report, and the JADE citator. We have just refreshed the CaseTrace box to the right of decisions to make it easier to use these two features:

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How Jade is different

The fundamental difference with Citation Reports in Jade is that they all link to the paragraph level. The other difference is the pop-up – you can stay on the page – no more clicking and ctrl + f’ing. You can also see these items beside the text in a decision. Nicely popped up.

Citation Report with pop up

The JADE Citator

The Fresher: Lets say we chose the path less travelled and clicked on JadeCitator. We would end up here. It will not look familiar – but think of it as a though you searched for Smith v R (2001) 206 CLR 650 using google. Google would be kind enough to let you know on what pages Smith v R appeared and in what context, it would also pick up that you what you mean is not only Smith v R (2001) 206 CLR 650 but also Smith v R [2001] HCA 50. Well that is essentially what Citator does; it lets you see around the citation –  lets you drill down into context.

This is exciting because the search for legal principle has long evaded the database searcher. The traditional line that gets trotted out is that electronic searching is good only for finding cases with similar facts e.g. it is easy to search a database for a case involving a pig. However, when you use Jade Citator you can see legal principle coalescing:

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Page 654 of the 206 CLR 650 has been cited on 17 occasions. 17 times a court has looked at page 654 and used it for some reason. That reason is unlikely to be a pig. The reason is of course reasoning. 17 times it has been used in Judges reasoning. Judges need principles to reason. See below or see for yourself.  No more sighing at Citation Reports. Easier – Better – Faster – Citator

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