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The many novel features of this publication justify a somewhat detailed statement of its scope and the method of its preparation.
Broadly speaking, it consists of two classes of matter: first, chronologically arranged syllabi of all points of law determined in the Supreme Court decisions; and second, notes appended to such syllabi, based upon and collecting all the subsequent citing cases pertaining thereto. These citation notes are prepared by the editors from complete numerical tables of citations wbich disclose as to each case all the subsequent cases in which it has been cited in the Supreme Court, the intermediate and inferior Federal courts, and the courts of last resort of all the States of the Union. Proceeding upon the theory that the profession wants something more than bald, unclassified numerical tables of citations, the notes aim to present complete citation information respecting each case in the most orderly and available form; and to that end the citing cases are so classified and discussed as to show the points to which they cite, their nature, their application of the cited principle, and their general effect.
It is earnestly believed that the plan of arrangement adopted in the preparation of the notes will commend itself to the large and growing class of lawyers who have already learned the utility of citation information, and convert yet others to a realization of the importance of this groove of investigation in the rapid and exhaustive compilation of authorities on any given point.
That plan bas been to examine, group, and classify the citations of each annotated case under the respective syllabus points to which they pertain. Within that classification they have been further separated, the cases which affirm, follow, or apply the syllabus principle being treated ' first, followed by the cases which distinguish, qualify, criticise, limit, or deny it, in a separate paragraph, so as most readily to indicate the present status of the case as an authority and the extent and limits of its applicability. In each instance, the notes show the circumstances or state of facts to which the citing case applies the cited principle; or, as the case may be, the grounds upon which it distinguishes or qualifies it. The cases which neither apply, nor distinguish, nor question the syllabus principle which affirm the doctrine merely in an obiter discussion - are for obvious reasons treated most briefly and placed after the applying cases and before the paragraph containing the distinguishing and criticising cases. In addition, the rule bas been where the citing case collects or reviews a number of authorities, to note that fact, and it is hoped that this will prove an assistance where the investigator is seeking a rapid compilation of authorities.
In a few of the great cases this general plan of treatment has been departed from in favor of a more elaborate and analytical discussion.
In the preparation of the syllabi, clearness, brevity, and the statement of legal principles, rather than complicated rehearsals of fact, have been earnestly striven for. Syllabi of propositions decided but not thereafter cited, included, as well as syllabi of points as to which the case has been cited. Many of these latter have not hitherto been syllabused or digestel at all, and are brought to light
for the first time by the method of preparation of this work. Obviously, this adds greatly to the value of the digest feature of the publication, which is to be supplemented and rendered accessible by a complete index of subjectmatters.
So much for the nature and scope of the notes. The writer is tempted, in conclusion, to call atttention to certain considerations which experience has forcibly shown in the practical use of the complete citations of the Supreme Court reports. That they will disclose the extent to which a case is an authority to-day is sufficiently obvious. But experience in their use further shows that they are by far the most rapid agency for the collecting of a number of authorities on a point, particularly if the point is somewhat out of the beaten track, and is touched upon by but a few cases in all of the law. Indeed, it is plain, a priori, that a decision of the National Supreme Court on any proposition of law will be more widely cited and referred to than State court cases, and consequently that its citations will collect a very considerable proportion of all the authorities on the point. Not only this, but they will often disclose cases which could not be obtained through other channels at all, for the sufficient reason that the point has been buried by failure to syllabus it.
Inasmuch as the decisions of the Supreme Court have quite thoroughly covered the domain of general constitutional and commercial law, as well as the narrower field of Federal jurisprudence, the utility of this work is by no means restricted to Federal practitioners.
WALTER MALINS ROSE.
SAN FRANCISCO, August, 1899.