Kansas Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing

Kansas Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing

I. Introduction to Legal Research

A. Primary Sources
– Statutes: Kansas Statutes Annotated (K.S.A.)
– Case Law: Kansas Reports (official reporter) and West’s Pacific Reporter (regional reporter)
– Administrative Regulations: Kansas Administrative Regulations (K.A.R.)
– Constitutions: United States Constitution and Kansas Constitution

B. Secondary Sources
– Legal dictionaries, encyclopedias (e.g., American Jurisprudence 2d, Corpus Juris Secundum)
– Treatises on Kansas-specific law
– Law review articles, especially from the Kansas Law Review
– Practice guides and form books specific to Kansas

C. Legal Research Databases
– Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg Law
– Kansas-specific databases like Fastcase

II. Legal Citation
– Understand The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation
– Kansas Court Rules Annotated for specific Kansas citation rules

III. Legal Analysis and Synthesis

A. Case briefing
– Issue: What is the question the court is answering?
– Rule: What law is the court applying?
– Application: How does the court apply the law to the facts?
– Conclusion: What was the court’s decision?

B. Synthesizing Cases
– Identifying legal principles
– Comparing and contrasting cases
– Applying principles to new fact scenarios

IV. Legal Writing

A. Predictive Writing
– Memoranda: Objective discussions of law and its application to a fact pattern
– Elements: Questions presented, brief answer, facts, discussion, conclusion

B. Persuasive Writing
– Motions and briefs: Advocate for a particular outcome
– Elements: Questions presented, point headings, statement of facts, argument, conclusion

V. Kansas-Specific Concepts and Cases

A. Tort Law

  1. Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co.

– Issue: Was the defendant railroad liable for injuries to a distant bystander caused by an unforeseen chain of events?
– Rule: The rule of foreseeability in tort law, establishing the scope of duty.
– Application: The court found that the harm to Palsgraf was not foreseeable by the railroad and thus no duty was owed to her.
– Conclusion: The railroad was not liable for the injuries sustained by Palsgraf.

  1. Kansas Tort Law – Comparative Negligence

– Kansas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, where a plaintiff can only recover if their fault is 49% or less (K.S.A. 60-258a).

B. Contract Law

  1. Lucy v. Zehmer

– Issue: Was the written agreement to sell the Ferguson Farm made in jest, or was it a binding contract?
– Rule: A contract exists if the parties exhibit a “meeting of the minds” with intent to be bound.
– Application: Despite Zehmer’s claim they were joking, the actions and written agreement indicated a serious, enforceable contract.
– Conclusion: The court held that the contract was valid and enforceable.

  1. Kansas Contract Law – Statute of Frauds (K.S.A. 33-106)

– Certain contracts must be in writing to be enforceable in Kansas, such as those for the sale of real estate or goods over $500.

C. Criminal Law

  1. Miranda v. Arizona

– Issue: Are incriminating statements made during a police interrogation admissible if the suspect has not been informed of their rights?
– Rule: Suspects must be informed of their rights (Miranda rights) prior to custodial interrogation.
– Application: Miranda’s confession was obtained without being informed of his rights and was therefore inadmissible.
– Conclusion: The court established the requirement to issue Miranda warnings to safeguard Fifth Amendment rights.

  1. Kansas Criminal Law – The Kansas Criminal Code (K.S.A. Chapter 21)

– Understanding the elements of crimes, such as intent, actus reus, and mens rea
– The Kansas Sentencing Guidelines

D. Civil Procedure

  1. International Shoe Co. v. Washington

– Issue: Did the state of Washington have jurisdiction over the International Shoe Co.?
– Rule: A state may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant if they have “minimum contacts” with the state.
– Application: International Shoe had sufficient contacts with Washington through sales and commissions.
– Conclusion: Washington had personal jurisdiction and could require the company to pay unemployment insurance contributions.

  1. Kansas Civil Procedure – Pleading and Practice (K.S.A. 60-208)

– Kansas-specific rules regarding the filing of pleadings, motions, and responses

E. Property Law

  1. Pierson v. Post

– Issue: Who gains possession of a wild animal, the pursuer or the captor?
– Rule: Possession of a wild animal is acquired by physical capture, not mere pursuit.
– Application: Post pursued the fox but Pierson captured it.
– Conclusion: Pierson was entitled to the fox as he had captured it.

  1. Kansas Property Law – The Kansas Marketable Title Act (K.S.A. 58-3401)

– Rules regarding the transfer of title and the recording of property documents in Kansas

F. Constitutional Law

  1. Marbury v. Madison

– Issue: Does the Supreme Court have the authority to review acts of Congress and determine if they are unconstitutional?
– Rule: The doctrine of judicial review.
– Application: The court determined it had the power to declare legislation unconstitutional.
– Conclusion: Established the Supreme Court’s role in overseeing the constitutionality of legislative actions.

  1. Kansas Constitutional Law – Kansas Bill of Rights

– Similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights, but with specific applications to Kansas law and governance

VI. Practice Exercises and Resources

  • Drafting memoranda and briefs based on hypothetical scenarios
  • Moot court experiences or mock trial exercises
  • Kansas legal research workshops or tutorials
  • Reviewing Kansas continuing legal education (CLE) materials for updates on law and practice

VII. Exam Preparation

  • Practice past exam questions, focusing on issue spotting and application of Kansas law
  • Form study groups to discuss concepts and test each other on key cases
  • Regularly review your notes and summaries of key cases and legal principles
  • Utilize flowcharts or diagrams to visualize complex legal processes or relationships

In preparing for finals, remember to focus on understanding the application of law to facts, as well as the memorization of key cases and statutes. Engage in active learning through exercises and continuous review to solidify your knowledge of Kansas law and legal research and writing skills.

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