A JAILHOUSE LAWYER’S MANUAL
and more specific legal areas. Part III refers to “Execution and Return of Warrants.” By looking at the subtopics under Part III, you will find an entry for “Time of Execution” and an even more specific entry for “nighttime execution.” This last entry of “nighttime execution” corresponds to the key number 146 in the digest topic “Searches and Seizures.” You should then write down all possible key numbers (here, Search and Seizure 146), and look up each key number and review a few headnotes under the numbers. In this way you will find useful key numbers and potentially helpful cases.
The final way of finding key numbers is by using the general index to the digests. This index is called the Descriptive Word Index (“DWI”) and contains several volumes. The DWI lists words in their common, everyday usage. It then tells you what digest topic in the main part of the digest you should look at to find cases and headnotes related to that word. Often, the DWI will give you the key number under which to look.
For example, suppose that you wanted to know whether you were entitled to be represented by a lawyer in prison disciplinary proceedings. A reasonable place to start looking would be the digest topic “Prisons” since that is where the disciplinary proceeding is to occur. In the DWI of the New York Digest (Fourth Series), there is a subheading under “Prisons” called “Proceedings” under which you will see a section titled “Discipline and Grievance,” which includes “counsel and counsel substitutes.” Next to “counsel and counsel substitutes” is the key number Prisons 13(9).
You would then look at the digest volume containing the digest topic “Prisons” and turn within that volume to key number 13. You will see that the specific issue of whether you are entitled to be represented by counsel in prison disciplinary proceedings is discussed as the ninth heading under key number 13, or “13(9).” As indicated earlier, you should read the descriptions of the cases, write down the citations of possibly useful cases, and then read these cases. To find similar cases in another jurisdiction, look up “Prisons 13(9)” in the digest for that jurisdiction.
A more specialized digest index is the Words and Phrases Index, which is found in a separate volume of each digest series. This index gives citations of cases that define a word or phrase. For example, if you want to know in detail what is meant by the term “detention,” look it up in this index. The index will give you the citations of cases that have defined that term. Although the Words and Phrases Index will not give you a key number, you can go to the cases it cites to obtain relevant key numbers.
Whenever you mention cases, statutes, regulations, etc. in your legal writing, these materials must be referenced in a proper legal form known as a “citation.” Legal citations allow a reader to easily find the sources that you use in your legal writings.
There are many rules about citation style, and the major ones are detailed below. Also, Appendix A at the end of this Chapter analyzes the most common types of citations and will help you understand basic citation style. Detailed rules for every imaginable legal citation are contained in A Uniform System of Citation (commonly called “The Bluebook”), a publication that your prison library may have. Proper legal citation of cases, constitutions, and statutes should not be ignored, as it not only helps your readers find the materials that you are discussing, but also gives the judge a good first impression of your research.
1. Citing Cases
A case citation includes information about the parties involved in the case, the reporter in which the case can be found, the court that decided the case, and the date of decision. An example of a complete case citation is: People v. Delaremore, 212 A.D.2d 804 (N.Y. App. Div. 1995). The “case name” (a listing of the names of the parties on either side) comes first and is underlined or italicized: People v. Delaremore or People v. Delaremore. Next comes the information that tells you where to find the case, in this order: the volume number of the reporter, the abbreviation of the reporter, and the page number where the case starts (in this example, 212 A.D.2d 804). The final portion of the citation is enclosed in parentheses. It includes the court that decided the case and the year the decision was released (here, (N.Y. App. Div. 1995)). The court name “N.Y. App. Div.” stands for the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division. Note that in New York, the intermediate level of appellate court (the Appellate Division) is split into four separate “Departments.” If you are citing an Appellate Division case to a New York state court, you may also want to include which Department the decision came from. So in the example above, the court name could be expanded to “N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dept.” in order to show that the decision came from the Second Department. If the reporter that you are using publishes the decisions of only one state (for example, N.Y.S.2d), it is not necessary to repeat the state in the court name. For example, a correct citation would be: People v. Aponte, 759 N.Y.S.2d 486