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University of Maryland Legal Research Techniques Questions

General Instructions for Learning Activities

  • Read/watch all assigned materials listed for the week in Overview.
  • Refer to assigned course materials, cases, and/or statutes to support conclusions.
  • Review the grading rubric.
  • Put your name on your file.
  • Save your work in Word (.doc or .docx), RTF, or PDF format.
  • Submit your work to the correct week’s Learning Activity link in the Assignment Folder.

Background: As a follow-up to the practice exercises for citing statutes (refer to week 6 Discussion) that Chang provided for the LCA paralegals, you and Chang discuss the value of research practice. Chang mentions that case citations in Westlaw, e.g. in Negative Treatment, Citing References, and Notes of Decisions, offer readers information about opinions’ potential relevance by identifying their deciding courts. Chang asks you to prepare a new practice exercise that can be offered to the other paralegals for their review.


Label each Part and number/letter of each response.

Part A

Read the following invented citations. You should be able to tell which court or category of courts produced the cited opinion by looking at the abbreviated reporter name and parenthetical information (if provided). The possible choices are:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court
  • A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • A U.S. District Court
  • The Maryland Court of Appeals
  • The Maryland Court of Special Appeals
  • Other – none of the above

Please Note: The lack of parenthetical information for some federal cases is intentional. Again, don’t look up these in Westlaw – they are fictitious citations.

1. 349 F. Supp. 2d 910 (D. Md. 2011) is from ________.

2. 15 F.3d 230 (11th Cir.) is from ____________________.

3. 12 A.3d 632 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2015) is from ___.

4. 22 A.3d 393 (D.C. 2018) is from _________________.

5. 421 S.E.2d 125 (Va. Ct. App. 1997) is from _______.

6. 45 U.S. 722 is from _____________________________.

7. 256 F. Supp. 2d 350 (D.D.C. 2013) is from ________.

8. 12 F.2d 710 (D.C. Cir. 1994) is from _____________.

9. 789 A.2d 24 (Md. 1998) is from _________________.

10. 608 A.2d 559 (N.J. 2003) is from ______________.

Part B

11. Assume LCA is working with a client who is being charged with impersonating a federal marshal. Go to the U.S.C.A. search page and type impersonat! /s federal marshal into the GSB. When Westlaw takes you to the results page, provide the full and correct Bluebook citation for the first statute shown, which pertains to federal officers or employees.

12. You need to find a case on federal marshals using the statute in Question 11. Click to open the statute and look to “Notes of Decisions” on the right – there are no headings that mention “federal marshals.” So, click on the tab that says Notes of Decisions, and you’ll see a search box that lets you “Search Notes of Decisions.” Type marshal into that box. This search should produce at least 2 cases. Provide the full and correct Bluebook citation for the case decided in 1997.

13. Is the opinion cited for Question 12 still good law? Explain why or why not.

14. You decide to look for additional opinions that address impersonating a federal marshal decided under the statute located in Question 11. (Cases in Notes of Decisions are deemed especially useful by Westlaw editors, but there may be other relevant opinions.) Return to the statute. Click on the “Citing References” tab. Under “VIEW,” click on, “Cases.” Under NARROW, find the “Search within results” box. In that box, type, impersonat! /s “federal marshal”−include the quotation marks! Next, click on “Apply Filters.” How many cases are returned as results?

15. Scroll to the bottom of the results page. On the left, under “Reported Status,” select “Reported” and click on “Apply Filters.” Now how many cases are returned as results?


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