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Searching Case Law with LexisNexis: Shepard's Citations...No Sheep Involved.

Need to do legal research and stumped by LexisNexis? This LibGuide is for you!

What is Shepard's Citations?

Okay, so you've made it.

You found a relevant case to your research.



Wait, not so fast.

Is that case valid?

Not sure?

Don't know how to look that up?


Shepard's® Citations checks the validity of case law and determines whether it is good or bad. The last thing you want to do is cite bad law.

The Good, the Bad, and Shepard's




So, how do you differentiate between good and bad case law?


A case is legally considered bad when it has been:




EXAMPLE: Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education.


WARNING: When a case has been overturned/overruled/reversed, you CANNOT automatically assume all legal issues within the case have been as well.

REMEMBER, 99% of cases deal with multiple issues.  One legal issue may be good law whereas another may be bad. 

Important Terminology: "overruled in part..."

Determining Validity by Citation

You can review the validity of a case using Shepard's® Citations in two ways: by citation & while reviewing a case.


By Citation:

Step One: Locate the Shepard's® Citation Section under the "Search By Content Type" button:

Step Two: Once in Shepard's Citations, type the citation into the search field and click "Check" box.

Step Three: Review your findings.

Symbol Legend

Not sure what the symbols mean?  Here's a legend to help you out:


Determining Validity While Reviewing a Case

You don't have to wait until you've decided upon a case to determine its validity.  LexisNexis makes Shepardizing (Yes, it has become a legal verb) easy for its legal researchers.

While reviewing a case, there are two things to look for:

If a case has any negative treatment, a warning sign will appear at the upper left side of the top bar.  LexisNexis presents a caution to the viewer: "Possible Negative Treatment." 


If a case DOES HAVE negative treatment, a different symbol will appear and the message: "Negative Treatment Indicated" will pop up.


These are two important indicators that the validity of the case should be determined.  REMEMBER: Not all legal issues within the case are invalid.  That is why it is important to Shepardize the case to determine which legal issues have been overturned.

ANALYSIS is key when determining case validity.



LexisNexis has made it easy to review these negative treatments by simply clicking on a link.  The Shepardize® link appears at the right side of the screen, above the taskbar.  Click on it to review the case's negative and positive treatments.