Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Brief Post

microfiche reader
A microfiche reader
While databases like Westlaw and Lexis have the complete text of opinions issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, they lack coverage of another important resource – the briefs filed in those cases.

Luckily, the Law Library has a resource that can fill in much of that gap. We have Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Records and Briefs on microfiche, starting with cases reported in the 219th volume of the Massachusetts Reporter. That means cases starting in 1914!

With these briefs, a researcher can get an idea of the parties' competing arguments behind a legal issue, and see what parts of those arguments the Court found to be persuasive. This set of microfiche also includes the record from the lower courts that the SJC had at its disposal. Sometimes, a decision can only be fully understood in relation to the facts from which the judges worked.

The set is not comprehensive – not every case was deemed important enough to include. To find out if a particular case is included, consult the set’s Table of Cases, also located in the microfiche area.

The microfiche are located in cabinets #40-42, and #49, in the microfiche area behind Reserve. Don’t forget that you will need to get a lens for the microfiche reader at the Circulation desk to read them. 

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