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LRAW Research Fall 2022

Updating South Carolina Cases

There is a difference between finding the most recent cases on a legal issue and making sure those cases are still good law. 

You can use subscription databases (e.g., Westlaw Edge and Lexis+) and free websites (e.g., SC Judicial Department and Google Scholar) to find the most recent cases on a specific legal issue in your jurisdiction.

However, to make sure the cases you find are still good law for the legal issue you are researching, you must use a citator. Keycite® is the citator for Westlaw Edge and Shepard's® is the citator for Lexis+

Shepard's® is also available for all state and federal cases through the University of South Carolina's subscription to Nexis Uni™. 

Updating Cases Using a Citator: KeyCite® & Shepard's®

You must update every case you plan to cite to confirm that it still supports the point of law for which you are citing it. An opinion may be reversed, overruled, or superseded by statute, i.e., it has negative history.  The precedential value of an opinion may also be affected when subsequent courts distinguish it, decline to follow it, criticize it, or question its validity, i.e., it has negative treatment.

Flags and Signals
Citators in Westlaw Edge (KeyCite®) and Lexis+ (Shepard's®) use the flags and signals below to alert you to any negative history or treatment of a case:

KeyCite Flags in Westlaw Edge

A red flag warns that the case is no longer good law for at least one of the points of law it contains.

A yellow flag warns that the case has some negative history but has not been reversed or overruled.

A blue-striped flag indicates that the case has been appealed to the U.S. Courts of Appeal or the U.S. Supreme Court (excluding appeals originating from agencies).

The Westlaw Edge example below shows a red flag on the South Carolina Court of Appeals State v. Jenkins opinion that was reversed by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

State v. Jenkins opinion in Westlaw Edge assigned a red KeyCite flag.

Shepard's Signals in Lexis+

The red Shepard’s Signal Indicator indicates that citing references in the Shepard’s Citation Service contain strong negative history of the case (for example, overruled or reversed).

The orange Shepard’s Signal Indicator indicates that citing references in the Shepard’s Citation Service contain treatment that questions the continuing validity or precedential value of your case because of intervening circumstances, including judicial or legislative overruling.

The yellow Shepard’s Signal Indicator indicates that citing references in the Shepard’s Citation Service contain history or treatment that may have a significant negative impact on your case (for example, limited or criticized by).

In Lexis+, the State v. Jenkins opinion appears with a red stop sign. 

Screenshot of State v. Jenkins on Lexis with red stop sign Shepard's signal.

We use Citators for two purposes: 

  1. To update or make sure a case you plan to rely on is still good law; and
  2.  To identify cases and secondary sources that have cited that case.

The videos below demonstrate how to do both.

Westlaw Edge

State Case Law in Westlaw: Updating & Finding More Resources Using KeyCite



State Case Law in Lexis: Updating & Finding More Resources Using Shepard's