West American Digest System - Print Digest

Print Digest

In print, a digest works like an encyclopedia, in that the topics are listed in alphabetical order and printed on the spines. The "Descriptive Word Index" provides guidance as to the proper topics and key numbers.

The digest system includes digests for the individual states (except for Delaware, Nevada and Utah). The U.S. Supreme Court, Bankruptcy Courts, Federal Claims Court, and military courts each have an individual digest, as well as their decisions being included in the Federal Practice Digest with the notes of decisions from the federal District Courts and Courts of Appeals. Digests are also published for West's National Reporter System. Specialty subject digests exist, such as the Education Law Digest, and the Social Security Digest.

For nationwide research, about once a month, West publishes a General Digest volume, which incorporates classified digest notes from all reporters of the West National Reporter System. These are then cumulated into a Decennial Digest. Decennial implies that this occurs every ten years, but in the past several decades, there have been Decennial Digest Parts I and II (the 11th Series now has Part III), so the cumulation is now more frequent. However, the various Decennial Digests are not cumulated. Thus, completing such a search over several decades requires consulting the Decennial Digests, and then updating that work with the most recent series of the General Digest.

Some of the state and topical digests are revised to include the first cases in the jurisdiction, while the spines of the books of some of the other digests indicate that they are from "1933 to date," for instance, indicating that one must consult a prior series for references to earlier cases. The state, federal, regional, and topical digests are updated by interim pamphlets, pocket parts, replacement volumes, or a new series.

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