How to Shepardize a Case

Shepard's Citations contain lists of citations indicating every time a published decision is cited or affected by a subsequent decision. This guide will tell you how to find citations to cases. For more detailed information check the first few pages of any Shepard's case citations volume. For information on Shepardizing statutes see How to Shepardize a Statute.

Shepard's Citations are located in the sixth floor reading room of the Moakley Library.

Locating Shepard's Case Citations

The Order of Citations in Shepards

Explanation of Shepard's Abbreviations

Case Verification on Lexis and Westlaw

A. Locating Shepard's Case Citations

1. Find the appropriate set of volumes for your citation (i.e. for Federal cases use Shepard's Federal Citations).

2. Find the most recent pamphlet of the set. The front cover will indicate what volumes are included in the set under the heading "What Your Library Should Contain". The set usually consists of bound volumes and paper supplements.

3. Select all of the volumes including supplements that contain your citation.

4. To find your citation turn to the "Table of Contents" in the beginning of each of these volumes and look for the first page of your reporter. Make sure that you are in the correct section; a single volume of Shepard's may contain citations to more than one reporter.

5. Find citations to your case by locating the volume and page number that correspond to your citation. Volume numbers appear in bold type at the top corner of each page; the page numbers will also be in bold and are set off by dashes in the columns.

B. The order of citations

1. Parallel Citations

a) Parallel citations appear in parentheses the first time the case is cited and will not appear in subsequent volumes.

b) If a parallel citation was not available at the time of Shepard's publication it will appear in the next edition.

c) If there is no parallel cite in any of the volumes, there is no parallel source.

d) Shepard's lists parallel cites to regional, state AND topical reporters.

2. Case History

a) Case histories indicating prior or subsequent proceedings in the same case appear after the parallel cite.

b) History citations will always have an identifying abbreviation letter preceding the references. See Section C in this guide for an explanation of the abbreviation symbols.

3. Treatment of case

a) This section is arranged by court. Decisions in your case's jurisdiction appear first.

b) Within the listing for each reporter, citations are listed in chronological order. There is no ranking by importance or effect on the cited case.

c) Citations to cases from other jurisdictions generally follow the cases of the home jurisdiction, although this section is sometimes limited to Federal cases.

d) In general, cases from other states appear only in the Shepard's for regional reporters and not for state reporters.

4. Secondary materials

a) Shepard's Citators include citations from secondary sources or from annotations that have cited your case.

b) State Citators include references to:
- American Bar Association Journal
- Major national law reviews
- Bar journals and law reviews published in the same state as the jurisdiction covered by a particular Shepard's

c) Shepard's Federal Citators do NOT include references to law reviews. Use Shepard's Federal Law Citations in Selected Law Reviews to locate references from law reviews.

d) Annotations in American Law Reports (ALR) are included among citing sources in state and federal Shepard's.

e) Some state Shepard's such as Massachusetts include references to attorney general opinions.

f) Shepard's Citators may include references to legal treatises published by Shepards/McGraw-Hill.

C. Explanation of Shepard's Abbreviations and Symbols

1. Shepard's uses unique abbreviations in its citation lists. To interpret the abbreviations turn to the Table of Abbreviations in the front of the Shepard's volume.

2. The letter appearing before a citation in the listing indicates how the case was treated by a subsequent proceeding or by a decision from another court. Explanations of these letters appear in the front of the bound volumes under "Abbreviations-Analysis" and on the inside of the front cover of the paper supplements.

3. The small raised number to the immediate right of the reporter abbreviation is a headnote number referring to a headnote from your case. This feature allows you to go directly to references that discuss a particular issue in your case.

4. Annotation references in Shepard's end with the letter "n" and supplemental annotation references with the letter "s".

D. Using Lexis and Westlaw to verify case history and treatment

1. Only Lexis has the Shepard's service. Shepards can be found under Check a Citation in the Lexis Research section. There is also a tutorial for Shepard's on Lexis that shows how to use it online.

2. Westlaw has the Keycite service to find case history and treatment. Go to either the KC icon or on the toolbar go to Services-Keycite to access it.

For more information see the Shepard's tutorial page.  

How to Shepardize a Statute

Shepard's Statute volumes indicate subsequent legislation and court decisions citing your citation. These volumes also allow you to Shepardize federal and state constitutions, court rules, session laws, treaties, charters and ordinances. For information on Shepardizing cases see How to Shepardize a Case.

The following instructions use the Shepard's Massachusetts Citators as an example. The method used can be applied to all state and federal statute citators. Shepard's Citators are located in the sixth floor reading room of the Moakley Library.

Locating Shepard's Statute Citations

The Order of Citations in Shepard's

Explanation of Shepard's Abbreviations

Statute Verification on Lexis and Westlaw

A. Locating Shepard's Statute Citations

1. Find the appropriate set of volumes for your citation (i.e. for Massachusetts statutes use Shepard's Massachusetts Citations). The set usually consists of bound volumes and paper supplements.

2. Find the most recent pamphlet of the set. The front cover will indicate what volumes are included in the set under the heading "What Your Library Should Contain".

3. Gather all of the volumes including supplements that contain your citation. Be sure to check every volume in the set for your citation.

4. To find your citation turn to the "Table of Contents" in the beginning of each of these volumes and find the statute division. Within the statute division the codes are covered in chronological order. Find the section covering the most recent code.

5. Find citations to your reference by locating the chapter and section that correspond to your citation. Chapter and section numbers appear in bold type at the top corner of each page and are also set off in a box on that page.

6. In addition to Shepardizing your statute as a whole, you can also Shepardize statute sections and subdivisions. Citations to the statute as a whole appear first followed by citations to sections and groups of sections. Citations to subdivisions appear under the related section.

B. Citations usually appear in the following order.

1. Subsequent legislative enactments (i.e. amendments, repeals, etc.)

2. Cases citing to the statute

3. Attorney General Opinions

4. Legal periodicals

5. Annotations in American Law Reports and United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition

C. Explanation of Shepard's Abbreviations and Symbols

1. Shepard's uses unique abbreviations. To interpret these abbreviations turn to the "Abbreviations-Analysis" section in the front of the bound Shepard's volumes or on the inside front cover of the paper supplements.

2. The letter appearing before a legislative citation indicates what happened to the statute. The citation following the abbreviation will tell you where in Massachusetts Acts and Resolves you can find the change. For Example: A 1981C508 means that the statute you Shepardized was amended by Chapter 508 of the 1981 Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts.

3. A letter appearing before a judicial citation will indicate whether the court ruled on the constitutionality or validity of the statute. For example: C 35 NE2D 246 shows that the statute was ruled constitutional in the case appearing on page 246 in Volume 35 of the Northeastern Reporter 2nd series.

D. Using Online Services to Verify a Statute

1. Only Lexis has the Shepard's service. Shepard's can be found under Check a Citation in the Lexis Research section. There is also a tutorial for Shepard's on Lexis that shows how to use it online.

2. Westlaw has the Keycite service to find statute history and treatment. Go to either the KC icon or on the toolbar go to Services-Keycite to access it.

For more information see the Shepard's tutorial page.