Information Connection, 0818 WYBJ, Vol. 41 No. 4. 48

Author:Debora Person, Associate Law Librarian University of Wyoming Law Library
Position:Vol. 41 4 Pg. 48
 
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Information Connection
Vol. 41 No. 4 Pg. 48
Wyoming Bar Journal
August, 2018
         The Wyoming Supreme Court’s Use of Secondary Sources           Debora Person, Associate Law Librarian University of Wyoming Law Library          In the legal academy, we rely heavily on both primary law sources and secondary sources in research and in writing. Clearly, primary resources in the form of court decisions, court rules, constitutions, statutes, regulations, legislative history materials and international conventions are the foundation of legal authority, but the use of secondary sources may be more limited in practice. To build an understanding of secondary source usage, I decided to look at which secondary sources the Wyoming Supreme Court finds persuasive. I initiated a Westlaw search to pull civil cases decided by the Wyoming Supreme Court since the beginning of 2013. Te Court referenced secondary sources in a variety of ways (citing directly, citing to cases that quoted secondary sources, citing in dissents, and discussing in footnotes, for example).          Results of Wyoming Supreme Court Search          My study included 461 cases. Of these cases, 49% referenced at least one type of secondary source.1 Topping the list was treatises, with 59% of the cases that cited secondary sources referencing at least one treatise (that’s 29% of all civil cases decided by the Wyoming Supreme Court in the last five years). Most frequently cited by a large margin was Wright and Miller’s Federal Practice and Procedure. Other favorites were Williston’s The Law of Contracts, Sutherland’s Statutes and Statutory Construction, Moore’s Federal Practice, Larson’s Workers Compensation, Couch on Insurance, McCormick on Evidence, McQuillin: Te Law of Municipal Corporations, Powell on Real Property, and Thompson on Real Property.2          A review of the remaining secondary sources shows that the next most frequently cited secondary sources by the Wyoming Supreme Court during these years were legal encyclopedias, with Am.Jur.2d and C.J.S. appearing in 34% of the cases that referenced secondary sources (17% of all civil cases during this...

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