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

Title: Tennessee Law School 1L Study Guide for Legal Research and Writing

I. Legal Research

A. Primary vs. Secondary Sources
Primary sources of law are the law itself — statutes, administrative rules, and case law. Secondary sources are interpretations and analyses of the law, like law reviews, treatises, and textbooks.

B. Statutory Research
Statutory research involves looking up relevant statutes that address the legal issue at hand. Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) is the authoritative source for Tennessee statutes.

C. Case Law Research
Case law is the law established by the outcomes of former court cases. Always look for mandatory authority within your jurisdiction first, which in Tennessee would be the decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

D. Administrative Law Research
Administrative law involves rules, regulations, orders, and decisions created by administrative agencies. In Tennessee, these may be found in the Tennessee Administrative Register or the Tennessee Administrative Code.

II. Legal Writing

A. IRAC Format
A common method for organizing legal analysis is the IRAC format: Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion.

B. Legal Memorandum
A legal memorandum is a document written by a lawyer for the benefit of a client, explaining a legal issue and the lawyer’s advice on how to proceed.

C. Case Briefs
A case brief summarizes the main points of a legal case, including its background, the court’s decision, and the reasoning behind the decision.

D. Legal Citations
A legal citation is a reference to a legal precedent or authority, such as a case, statute, or treatise. In Tennessee, follow the citation according to the Bluebook Style Guide.

III. Case Law

A. State v. Burns (Tennessee Supreme Court, 1981)
Issue: Whether the defendant’s right to a fair trial was violated because he was not provided with counsel during a lineup.
Rule: The 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to counsel during critical stages of a prosecution, which includes a lineup.
Analysis: The Supreme Court of Tennessee found that Burns was not provided with counsel during the lineup, and that this was a critical stage of prosecution.
Conclusion: The court reversed Burns’ conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.

B. City of Memphis v. Greene (U.S. Supreme Court, 1981)
Issue: Whether the construction of a street barrier to reduce traffic in a predominantly white neighborhood was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
Rule: The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits the government from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Analysis: The Supreme Court found that the construction of the street barrier was rationally related to the legitimate government interest of reducing traffic and preserving neighborhoods.
Conclusion: The court held that the construction of the barrier did not violate the Equal Protection Clause.

IV. Tennessee Specific Laws

A. Tennessee Sunshine Law
This law mandates that all meetings of governing bodies are open to the public, which includes any deliberation that could or may lead to a decision.

B. Baker v. State (Tennessee Supreme Court, 1991)
Issue: Whether the Baker children, who were removed from their parents’ custody, were entitled to appointed counsel.
Rule: The Tennessee Constitution provides the right to counsel for indigents in civil cases where there are fundamental rights at stake.
Analysis: The court found that the fundamental right of family integrity was at stake.
Conclusion: The court held that indigent parents have a right to appointed counsel in termination of parental rights proceedings.

This guide provides an overview of legal research and writing in the context of Tennessee law. For a comprehensive understanding, review your course materials, textbooks, and online resources like Westlaw or LexisNexis.

Discover more from Legal Three

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading