As the reader will no doubt notice, we have been referenced to cases from the beginning. The dictionaries frequently cited cases and Words and Phrases always cited cases. All of the encyclopedias were rich in case law footnotes. And McKinney’s statutes has Notes of Decisions and the CLS set has Case Notes, both features leading us to case law.
For a systematic search of case law, there are even better tools. Probably the best known case law research tool is the West Key Number system. Any given case is broken down by different points of law, each of which is assigned a key number. Cases having topics with the same key number can be found in a Digest. (West built a publishing empire with this system)
West’s New York Digest 4th, West Thomson
KFN 5057 .A2 (Gould Law Library - second floor) (also available on Westlaw)
A hardcover, updated with annual pocket parts. The topic Foreclosure appears in Volume 33 Mortgages in key numbers 320 to 624 (4). Earlier editions are:
West’s New York Digest 3d, see Volume 27;
Abbott New York Digest 2d, see Volume 18; and,
Abbott New York Digest, Consolidated Edition, see Volume 25.
All of these have the same call number, they are viewed as one series, and all are hardcover. All are located on the second floor of the Gould Law Library.
The ALR set, or more accurately sets, is another source for finding case law. It differs from the West Digests in that it sets forth cases in their entirety, whereas the West product strips out single points of law and addresses them in a single sentence. As it states in the Guide to Using A.L.R. 6th ed., “Each annotation includes thorough case law coverage of the topics, analyzed and organized to make the most of your valuable research time.” (Indeed, this writer was tempted to classify the ALR with the encyclopedias, but upon discovering that Morris Cohen put the ALR in his “Case Finding” chapter, I, too, put it under case law. See, How to Find the Law, 9th ed., page 117)
The ALR has six series, plus ALR Fed and ALR Fed 2d. There is a master index which covers all of the individual units, close to a total of 900 volumes. “Foreclosure” appears as a separate topic, with numerous subheadings under it. Although Foreclosure is its own topic, the careful researcher might also want to check under “Mortgage”. Topics found under both headings do not match exactly. Thus “Deficiency Judgment” has annotations under “Foreclosure” at 34 ALR 1015, 89 ALR 1087, 104 ALR 1141, 108 ALR 1351, 112 ALR 1492 and 151 ALR 735. Under “Mortgage” we find “Deficiency Judgment” annotations at 34 ALR 1015, 124 ALR 640 and 49 ALR3d 554. Although both have the 34 – 1015 annotations, other than that range they are all different. Keep this in mind while conducting research.