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FRL 3253, 3263, 3273 and 3283: Contracts Courses

What does "Shepardize" mean?

Shepardize: To determine the subsequent history and treatment of (a case) by using a printed or computerized version of Shepard's Citations. Also, to check the precedential value of (a case) by means of shepardization.

--Black's Law Dictionary, Ninth Edition

Shepardizing: "... to see if a case has been overturned, reaffirmed, questioned, or cited by later cases."


Why is it important to Shepardize a court case? The American legal system is based on stare decisis, which is the "doctrine of precedent, under which a court must follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation" [Black's Law Dictionary, Ninth Edition]. Shepardizing determines if a particular court case has been overturned or overruled or reversed by a higher court, and thus becomes null and void.

NOTE: The Westlaw database employs a similar citator tool as Shepard's Citations called KeyCite. From the home screen of Westlaw, open the "Campus Help Guide" near the bottom of the screen for directions in using KeyCite

10 Overturned Supreme Court Cases

To get a sense of what it means when a court case is "overturned," read through these famous 10 Overturned Supreme Court Cases.