Methods of Legal Research

653 words | 3 page(s)

Legal research is conducted in order to determine the solutions to litigation-based problems. In order to standardize data or research material, primary and secondary authorities are categorized. The case for recognizing the legality of same-sex marriage serves as a good example for determining where to search for authorities and which materials will be most significant. Additionally, research methods used to locate both secondary and primary authorities will be considered.

Legal research is conducted in order to find “authority” for determining the correct solution to a problem (Legal Research Tip, Types of Legal Authority). Subsequently, legal research may be classified as having primary or secondary authority, and may thus be of mandatory or persuasive authority. These contrasting authorities will determine the applicability and/or strength of data in a courtroom or during a litigation process. It is therefore important to note the differences in the forms of legal authorities in context of solving a legal issue.

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Description of Authorities
Primary authority will include actual laws and rules that were created by a governing body, such as a federal or state legislature (Cornell Law, Legal Research). Examples include, constitutions, legislative codes and implemented statutes. Additionally, these forms of evidence are public information and can be found utilizing multiple methods. In contrast, secondary authorities are summaries, discussions, or commentary that have no binding effect but may help individuals or groups interpret current laws (Cornell Law, Legal Research).

Same-Sex Marriage in New Hampshire / Delaware
In order to determine weather same sex marriages that occur in the state of New Hampshire, will be recognized in the state Delaware it will be critical to find primary authority that defines the boundaries or limits or civil unions in both states. Most legal aids will begin the search for primary authority by first exploring secondary authorities such as; legal encyclopedias and, American Law Reports. Once a general understanding and direction is attained, researchers may then search the state library for both Delaware and New Hampshire, either in-person or online to read the current law. While it may not be significant to explore the laws of New Hampshire, it will be critical to locate the particular areas that describe the governing process of civil unions in Delaware. The official website of “The Delaware Code” may be utilized for finding the primary authority required to derive weather or not marriages that occur between same-sex individuals will be recognized within the context of Delaware law. Additionally, legal precedent can be used as primary authority and can be located at the official court website for the state (Delaware State Courts, The Official Website of the State).

Importance of Legal Precedent and Legal Research Methods
Due to the fact that the laws may not always be clear and secondary authorities are not considered to be binding, legal precedent is very important in solving undefined issues. Subsequently, legal precedent for a novel scenario will set standards that may be utilized to decide future solutions for related issues. One particular method for conducting legal research is by using specialized finding tools that allow for an individual to search for relevant primary authorities (Cornell Law, Legal Research). Such tools include computer databases that have collected and annotated case reports, statues, law reviews and additional secondary authorities. In particular, Westlaw will require subscription but will also provide technical support for finding persuasive secondary authority (Cornell Law, Legal Research).

In conclusion, primary mandatory authority will be required to determine the legitimacy of same-sex marriage in Delaware that has occurred in New Hampshire. Secondary persuasive authority may therefore serve to guides researcher. Additionally, multiple processes can be utilized to locate these forms of authorities. Legal precedent will be considered for cases that are not clearly or easily deciphered within the context of current law. For problems where there may be no clear primary authority and no legal precedent, precedent will be established based on the executed ruling or decision.

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