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LRAW Research Fall 2024

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 An opinion may be reversed, overruled, or superseded by statute, i.e., it has negative history.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 (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

A red flag warns the case or administrative decision is no longer good law for at least one of the points it contains. A red-striped flag warns the case has been overruled in part. You can easily identify the specific point of law in a case that has been invalidated so that other valid points of law aren’t missed. A yellow flag warns the case or administrative decision has some negative history but has not been reversed or overruled. A blue-striped flag warns the case has been appealed to the US Court of Appeals or the US Supreme Court (excluding appeals originating from agencies). An Overruling Risk warning indicates a case or administrative decision may no longer be good for at least one point of law based on its reliance on an overruled or otherwise invalid prior decision.

The Westlaw 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.


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



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